Monthly Archives: January 2016

It’s a sad small world

One of Corrine’s most famous photos.

An old friend of mine, who was also my best man for my wedding, was once very much in love with a girl whom he met whilst working for an air-courier firm over at Heathrow.  Her name was Corrine Day and they became very close.  Corrine joined a model agency and became an international fashion model, my friend went into sales at which time I met him and he later set up his own business that I joined.  With Corrine’s career their relationship drifted and I later learned that she became a photographer. Her brother joined our company for a short time and he boasted that she had ‘discovered’ Kate Moss, which at the time I took with a large pinch of salt.  In 1999 I had a big falling out with my friend and I left his business and I have not been in contact with him since.

It is only today, in my research as a student photographer on a degree course have I learned all about Corrine Day, whom I never actually got to meet, although I got to know her brother through my friend and boss.  I have just today learned that, yes, she was instrumental in Kate Moses’ discovery and helped launch her career and that Corrine had a successful career herself but sadly passed away in 2010.  I know my friend always kept in touch and I hope that he was able to see her one more time before she died, I know he never quite got over his relationship with her and they always remained good friends; I know he would have felt her loss deeply.

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Jack Cardiff

http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=The+African+Queen&view=detail&mid=72C3F276401F0331BF9A72C3F276401F0331BF9A&FORM=VIRE5

Jack Cardiff (OBE, BSC) 1914 – 2009.

Jack Cardiff is a personal hero of mine and I would recommend anyone interested in photography or film making to make a point to get to know his work.

Cardiff, began as a child actor with his parents in music hall and silent films and at 15 became a camera assistant and with in introduction of sound became the clapper boy.  In 1935 he moved to behind the movie camera and when Technicolor came to England he put himself forward to be trained as the operator of the first Technicolor camera in England.  He recalls that when interviewed he confessed that he hadn’t read the manual for the new camera and was asked frankly how he imagined how he was going to get on in the business?  He answered , “Well I am an amateur artist and I like to study the old masters and copy their works to understand how the light and compose.”  He was then asked from which side did Rembrandt light his subjects?  To which Cardiff panicked and guessed.  he guessed right and the following day he was told that he was to be the first and only British camera man to be trained to operate the new Technicolor camera.  In Cardiff’s long carrier he was privileged to film many of both British and American epics / classics.  To name a few: Knight without Armour, A matter of life and death, The red shoes, Black Narcissus, African Queen, Sons and Lovers, Death on the Nile, Rambo: First blood, part II, etc.

Cardiff photographed every British and American film-star  from the 1930 until the 21st centaury with many great stars asking for him.

In the 1960’s he turned his hand to directing and his first film Sons and Lovers won an Oscar.  Cardiff recalls that on meeting  Hitchcock at the awards, Hitchcock could not conceal his surprise that a mere cameraman could not only successfully direct a film but also an Oscar winning film.

Cardiff was awarded an Oscar in 1947 for ‘Black Narcissus’ for his photography.  Check the movie out see if you can guess which of the ‘Masters’ in oil painting influenced how he photographed some of these scenes. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CZRzcLK1Ar0

In 1995 The Society for Cinimagraphers conferred a lifetime achievement award to him, in 200o he was awarded an OBE, in 2001 he was awarded an honorary Oscar for his contribution to the cinema.

Also check out the documentary on the life of Jack Cardiff you will be surprised at some of the films this guy made and the list of movie stars and directors that proudly called him friend.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pGLqNjrtsmg

Research point – Can you spot the shift away from the influence of surrealism (as in Cartier-Bresson’s work)?

I would suggest that Robert Frank with his book ‘The Americans’ suggests a shift away from the influence of surrealism to realism.  Frank’s journey across the USA photographing Americans as he frankly saw them was different to the surrealist’s creating an artistic perspective.  Frank’s images heralded a new generation of photographers such as Nan Goldin, Martin Parr, Joel Meyerowitz, Diane Arbus.

Surrealism

http://www.surrealism.org/

Surrealism, is an art form and cultural movement that developed in the 1920’s.  It’s root begins before the first world war and continued to grow during the war; but it was in the 1920’s that surrealism began to influence the art world, music, literature, philosophical thought social theory and even political thinking and practice.

Useful to photography, surrealist’s work features ideas such as elements of surprise, unexpected juxtapositions and non-logical inferred conclusions.

The photographers Man Ray and Henri Cartier-Bresson were very much influenced by this movement as was artists such as Max Ernst, Salvador Dali, Marcel Duchamp, etc.  Writers of the surrealist movement:  Andre Bretton, Pierre Reverdy, etc.

Philosophers such as Walter Benjamin and Herbert Marcuse were also influential in the surrealism movement.

Surrealism has the idea that ordinary and depictive expressions are vital and important; but that their arrangements must be open to the full range of imagination.  Freud’s ideas of free association, dream analysis and the unconscious was vital to the surrealists for developing methods to liberate imagination.  They embraced idiosyncrasy while rejecting any suggestion of underlying madness.

Following this line of thought the surrealists theorised that, ‘one could combine in the same frame elements not normally found together to produce illogical and startling effects’.  Pierre Reverdy wrote: “a juxtaposition of two or more or less distant realities.  The more the relationship between the two juxtaposed realities is distant and true, the stronger the image will be – the greater its emotional power and poetic reality.”

The surrealism movement aimed to revolutionize human experience, its personal, cultural, social and political aspects.  Surrealists wanted to free people from restrictive customs and structures and false rationality and at various times the surrealists aligned themselves with Anarchists and Marxists.

Research point – What difference does colour make to a genre that traditionally was predominantly black and white?

The medium of photography began with the development of the monochrome / black and white image and for decades photographers honed their skills learning how to work with a very limited pallet of only shades of grey.  However, photographers quickly realized that black and white could produce stunning images and could exaggerate a sense of atmosphere that normal colour vision could not.  The portraits of the Hollywood stars of the 30’s and 40’s are a good illustration on the power of black and white.

When colour photography first came in to being it was a costly process and did not really take off until the cost of film and development fell in the late 1950’s.  At this time established photographers were reluctant to start working in the new medium.  I suggest that this was partly due to being nervous about moving out of a familiar and tried and tested photographic field in to a new area that was also gaining a reputation for amateur ‘snappers’.  Professionals with reputations may have found this intimidating and threatening and at that time colour theory was still a mystery kept and only practised by the painters in the art world.  However, in the film industry colour had been in regular use since the late 1930’s and interestingly one of the great pioneers of colour film photography was a keen painter who enjoyed making copies of famous masters for his home and to understand how they were made.  I refer to the British cameraman and film director Jack Cardiff who was the first British cameraman trained to operate the Technicolor movie cameras.  I would recommend watching some of Cardiff’s films of the 1940’s to see some good examples of how Cardiff understood both lighting and colour: ‘The Red Shoes’, ‘Black Narcissus’, A ‘Matter of Life and Death’ to name just a few.

William Eggleston has been credited as the photographer who made colour photography excepted in the photographic world of fine art when John Szarkowski, )Director of Photography of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City) discovered him and his work.

Black and white works to simplify an image creating a sense of past tense something that happened, an event, a ‘moment’.

Colour adds a new dynamic, if used well, it can add impact, by using colour theory and with the right combination on colours an interesting composition can be created from something ordinary and bland.  We see in colour; and strong colours have impact on our senses and with this in mind, interesting and attention grabbing photographs can be found.

 

 

 

Research point – Robert Frank

Robert Frank (9th November 1924)

Robert_Frank_picnic-670x450

http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=robert+frank+photographer&view=detailv2&id=CD92DB350E261C9003F43B325A958F106983A024&selectedindex=23&thid=OIP.Md8695de70b6d67b81f1c6eac59266c96o0&stid=93b38e8f-4fd4-156c-2f72-2b08d34ad379&cbn=EntityAnswer&mode=overlay&first=1&ccid=2Gld5wtt&simid=608036021296958550

Frank’s most famous work is the book ‘The Americans’ which critics have said changed the nature of photography, what it could say and how it could say it.  It is considered to be the most influential photography book of the 20th century.

 

Research point – Martin Parr

Martin Parr (23 May 1952)

martin_parr1

http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=martin+parr+photography&view=detailv2&id=B4C221C49D71E3DA49056F5BCC9A1EF23196D23D&selectedindex=36&ccid=iw1vvH%2Bb&simid=608032061335277320&thid=OIP.M8b0d6fbc7f9b9502bb1367f0b01fd675o0&mode=overlay&first=1

A documentary photographer and photojournalist Parr is also a book collector.

Parr is famous for his photo projects that takes an intimate look at aspects of modern life from a satirical and anthropological prospective, documenting the social classes of England and more broadly the wealth of the western world.

Major projects: Rural Communities (1975-82); ‘The Last resort’ (1983-85); ‘The Cost of living’ (1987-89); ‘Small World’ (1987-94); ‘Common Sense’ (1995-1999).

Parr has been a member of Magnum Photos since 1994 and had published over 40 books and exhibited at over 80 exhibitions.