Monday, 11 August 2014

Empire Strikes Back

From time to time we share our knowledge of literature, photography, film or any other form art. So when someone you follow and admire begins to share some literature, which is also accompanied by some of most prolific photographs of places, I have only ever heard of and not seen with my own eyes, well you begin to listen with ears pricked.

The context of the book is at first uncertain so I decide to look up the photographer, to get an idea of the person, I realise of course that the photographer is also published on Dewi Lewis Publishing, founded in 1994 its internationally known for its photography list.

I then investigate further and see a name I am familiar with after visiting the Open Eye Gallery, at Mann Island. That name is Charles Fréger he photographed a series of images that depict a link between man and beast and the cycle of life and that of the seasons too.

His work Wilder Mann is an outstanding piece of work, it focuses on the transformation of man into beast through the interpretation of traditional pagan rituals, these rituals differ slightly from region to region as do the images of the beasts.
© Charles Fréger

It reminded me of a conversation I had with British photographer Iain McKell, and the relationship between British identity and traditional beliefs. The conversation took place after meeting Iain at a seminar at Calumet photographic shop in Drummond Street, London.

When you view Iain’s works Beautiful Britain and The New Gypsies we begin to understand the link to identity and the way the people live, all photography is thus a documentary it is a portrait of life.

This style of photography has always had me hooked from the start; I guess it’s the learning process, the education of viewing another culture and learning from that experience through education and stimulation of ones intellect.

I like to think that is what drives me to progress further with my own photography, as I wish to produce much more work, work that will interest a future generation. Who knows it may become something much more than that. I also like to read other blogs too, though am the type of person who likes to censor what blogs I do follow or read, so I specifically choose something of which is relevant to the direction I wish to choose.

So if you’re into wildlife photography, you could follow blogs relative to that subject, so that you become more accustomed to that genre or style of photography work. It is the best way to interact with those you wish to follow.

Other books I found of interest on the list was one that Dougie Wallace had also shared on his own page, this book was relative to the identity of Britain and that of the Britishness that describes our tribe and associates that identity to the old empire, hence the title Empire, the book by British born photographer Jon Tonks is a remarkable collection of photographs that evoke so much emotion considering the current state of the empire. 
© Jon Tonks

Empire is a fascinating journey across the South Atlantic exploring life on four remote islands – the British Overseas Territories of Ascension Island, Tristan da Cunha, the Falkland Islands and St. Helena ­– relics of the once formidable British Empire, all intertwined through their shared history. - Christopher Lord

Now when I refer to the current state of the empire, I am of course referring to the possible independence of Scotland. Glasgow has recently enjoyed huge success with the commonwealth games. All these people from a wider colonial empire, and in some manner still representing a state of mind of a wider colonial empire whether it is from an Australian perspective or from an Indian.

It’s hard to think if you are only in your youth that Britain was once a huge empire that covered a quarter of the globes landmass. Since that time photography has documented so much and it is great to see that some British photographers, still think of Britain in such a way as to document its ever-changing face.

Which brings me on to the next piece of photographic literature and Dougie Wallace’s third book entitled Shoreditch Wild Life

The new book by Dougie is full of fantastic shots captured in the usual in your face style that has become Dougie’s inspiring, fresh, and evocative trademark. If any you follow his work you will know of his works including Road Wallah which is a fascinating look at the black and yellow Fiat taxis driven in what was known as Bombay now Mumbai, India.

The reason for this was the gradual phasing out for the new sleeker vehicles that would meet European Emission Standards. So those iconic cars had to be documented some how and so it was Dougie Wallace who takes up the mantle and thus creates an interesting look at the culture of Mumbai from a cab drivers perspective. 
© Dougie Wallace

With Shoreditch: Wild Life Dougie Wallace not only proves he’s here very much a street photographer, but a great photojournalist who has the inclination of capturing images that we can relate to in our own little mannerisms, we see ourselves in everyday life, those little nuances of humor we recognise in ourselves that seem to amplify, when captured at 500th of a second.

We begin to see time stop and these moments forever held with the incongruous and evocative style we have come to love from Dougie.

These photographs are very touching and quite dramatically so. If you have not seen his work I suggest you look at “Stags, Hens and Bunnies”. If you have ever been to Blackpool on a weekend for a night out or Stag or Hen weekend you will know how this is for so many couples across the UK and beyond. 
© Dougie Wallace

I myself am always bumping into Stags and Hens in Liverpool, Manchester, and London. I did a couple of trips around the United Kingdom last year for shots on my own book We The People I found Blackpool a great place to shoot as a street photographer, so if you ever venture north of Watford you're in for a great shoot.

Keep your wits about you, and you can progress onto greater things, one thought that always crosses my mind when I am shooting.

What I have learned from Dougie Wallace is be tenacious in your beliefs and you will be rewarded. The human condition opens up all possibilities, so many characters, and so many stories.


All the afore mentioned photographers have developed these skills and honed them to look for and capture the human condition, any gesture a couple hugging, a dog peeing against a piece of street furniture, a cabbie shouting. 

All these things add to the everyday drama unfolding in our lives.


Until the next time, keep clicking. 

David