Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Death of Bullfighting

A petition of 180,000 signatures to ban bullfighting has forced the closure of Barcelona's last bullring, the Plaza Monumental. Now it is being banned in the autonomous region of Catalonia altogether. Before it disappears freelance photojournalist Charlie Mahoney took an essay of pictures at the ring that are a brilliant insight into this ancient, dying bloodsport. They are reproduced in the splendid online newspaper the GlobalPost. Love the subject or hate it, his depictions of the fans and the bullfighters is a superb piece of photojournalism.

Charlie Mahoney's work in this field takes him all over the globe and has won him many awards. His brilliant website is well worth a visit.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

International Photography Awards

The photographic awards season is upon us and I decided to select a few I liked from the International Photography Awards. Just released in New York, the awards are open to pros and amateurs worldwide and has many categories. They all will compete for the overall prized title of Int'l Photographer of the Year and a $10,000 payday.

This one is called "A week in December." It's by Chris Frazer-Smith from the UK and won the Professional Book Cover category. It depicts a businessman passing a Muslim woman on a bridge in London and has a beautifully captured sense of movement, space and style.

This is "Backstage Dior" by Roxanne Lowitt from the USA, also in the Professional Book category. I love mono pictures and you can hear the clink of champagne flutes and smell the perfume. It's all about glamour.

Originality is so refreshing in photography. Here, Andreas Smetana from Australia captures the theme Teamwork by using sailors of the Australian Royal Navy to outline their warship.

And finally, one not for the squeamish. I believe photography must be directed to give it purpose and meaning. It's a powerful tool when used with passion, provoking a response in the viewer. Here, Tommaso Ausili from Italy collated an essay inside a slaughterhouse he titles "Hidden Death" to highlight the suffering and torment behind our food chain. It's not pretty but it's not supposed to be, but it is art.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Why the Paparazzi are necessary

This is why. Today's Daily Mail has an exclusive paparazzi shot of Prince William's future bride, Kate Middleton, with her mum and dad after a visit to Westminster Abbey, no doubt to see her wedding venue close up.

Why's that so clever? Because the establishment didn't want you to see it. It's not a 'photo opportunity,' stage managed to suit them, with all the right things said, polished and painted. It's an intimate moment, an insight behind the scenes, it puts us inside the story, but, without the good old paps, we would never be privileged to be there.

It's what national newspapers used to do when they had staff photographers, when a picture editor could afford to waste some staff time doorstepping possible venues. An old Daily Express staffer, Stanley Meagher, once lay in the rafters of Streatham Ice Rink for six weeks to capture the moment the young Princess Anne went ice skating for the first time. But then they had 51 photographers in London alone, they could afford it. Now they have one.

Only the paparazzi can afford the time to invest in such adventures in the hope of a big pay day. And they deserve it as long as they keep within the laws. Without the paps, such touching insights would be lost. This picture by, Bushell-Almasi-Deidda/Eroteme, will become part of the historical record. It wouldn't exist without them.

And don't be fooled by any detractors. Class act celebs know exactly how to use the paps to their advantage, and that includes the royals, the others just don't know the publicity game.

Press photography has now been privatised.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Ancient vase for sale. Any offer accepted.

So, my love and I found this vase in my grannie’s bathroom. When Grannie Flo passed on there it was, nestled between her Glastonbury wellies and the Aldermaston CND march banner she cherished unto death. Sniffing it, I guessed she used it to keep her stash of hash fresh, and later, to keep her false teeth in. It now whiffs of Steradent.

The vase is kind of bluish with a green fluorescence and, seeing a similar jug go for 53 mill at Bainbridges Auction House, we expect big things from our evaluation. Okay, not £53m, but maybe the late 30’s? We were a little peeved that the auction house would take £12mil in fees but, heyhoe, what the heck. It will leave enough to refurbish our shed into a serious player in the real ale brewery game. At least, we can clean the mysterious green mould off the containers.

Anything left over will go to my Mum’s weight lifting class to upgrade their equipment. The sight of middle-aged grannies toting purloined road bollards over their permed heads brings one to tears. I did suggest, at the annual vicarage bring-and-buy, they borrow the brass altar chalices to work out their diminishing, vapid triceps, but the vicar wasn’t best pleased.

The auction house that sold the vase employs eight people and their highest sale previously was £100,000. This latest hit, netting them the said £12m in fees, is £1.5m per head, although I doubt they will share the proceeds. I guess life isn’t like that.

And so, art lovers, here I stand, vase in hand. Don’t concern yourself with the cracks, the Araldite can hardly be seen. Although the Artists Mark may appear to be marker pen to the uninitiated and the ancient Chinese script maybe borrowed from a laundry bill Uncle Cyrus brought home from Singapore when he was deported for mistakenly flashing a Papal Nuncio in the seventies, any anonymous Chinese buyer won’t see that anyway.

I will take an offer.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Will & Maeve go Zingg

Press HERE for some serious Swiss boogie.

Silvan Zingg is a self taught Swiss piano player who fell in love with boogie woogie the moment he heard the great black jazz pianists of the 20's and 30's. For ten years he has held a boogie woogie festival in Switzerland. Not only is the event memorable for its guest piano players but the fantastic dancers who strut their stuff. Just like Will and Maeve here. Have you ever seen a better dancer than this young guy?