A curious film

By , August 22, 2011 1:07 pm

I was directed to a short film on the CNN website today called “Film: Not Dead Yet”.

Among working photographers that should come as no surprise. But I am intrigued as to how often I am stopped by people I encounter in my work who enquire whether I am shooting on film or digitally. Clearly there is an expectation among layfolk that if you are a “professional” photographer, you must being doing something that sets you apart from the hoi palloi.

This is a slightly curious film, certainly in so far as the manner of its narration (it gives the impression of being a computerised archivist in a library of the future), but with contributions from six proponents of doing it the old fashioned way, including no less a man than Elliott Erwitt, it achieves its effect of painting analogue practice as the “true” photography. There are many that no doubt will take issue with that idea, and Erwitt to his credit tempers any such notion with what I regard as an absolute truth that to be a successful photographer you have first and foremost to be curious.

Personally, I regard all these arguments as being so much hot air and a distraction from the world we should be taking an interest in. Analogue or digital, they are all just tools. It is the subject which interests me most.

Final resting place

By , August 20, 2011 6:13 pm

Apparently yesterday, Friday, was World Photography Day. News to me, I have to say, but I thought perhaps I should share what I was doing on such an auspicious day.

I got up at sparrow fart and drove to Poole to photograph the finishing touches being put to some large roof light sections of the new Farringdon Rail Station in central London. I photographed the same sections at a much earlier stage in their fabrication, but yesterday was to see two of these enormous erections transported from one side of the country to the other and raised into place.

It dawned on me that it would be the only journey these structures would ever make, and that once in position they will never move again until such time as the station is demolished, and who knows when that might ever be. I then realized that I am the only person to have witnessed the entire journey from the ground in a yard in Poole, to the roof of the station. But by the power of photography, you can witness it too.

Roof light lifted onto the wagon at the fabricator's yard in Poole, Dorset

Roof light lifted onto the wagon at the fabricator's yard in Poole, Dorset. This is one of nine such sections, eight of which, like this one, weigh 13 tonnes. Photo: © Michael Cockerham 2011

Loaded onto the wagon and ready to go. Two rooflights were moved in convoy with escort vehicles.

Loaded onto the wagon and ready to go. Two rooflights were moved in convoy with escort vehicles. Photo: © Michael Cockerham 2011

Once out of Poole the roof sections head for London on the M27.

Once out of Poole the roof sections head for London on the M27. Photo: © Michael Cockerham 2011

The convoy parks up at Fleet Services for a rest.

The convoy parks up at Fleet Services for a rest. Photo: © Michael Cockerham 2011

The convoy had to leave the M3 at junction 3 and go across country to avoid a low bridge on the motorway.

The convoy had to leave the M3 at junction 3 and go across country to avoid a low bridge on the motorway. Photo: © Michael Cockerham 2011

There were many places along the route where the clearance between items of street furniture was measured in fractions of an inch.

There were many places along the route where the clearance between items of street furniture was measured in fractions of an inch. Photo: © Michael Cockerham 2011

Last light as the covoy passes through Hanger Lane.

Last light as the convoy passes through Hanger Lane. Photo: © Michael Cockerham 2011

Once the haulier pulls up outside the site on Farringdon Road, the erection team get to work quickly to attach the rigging ready for the lift. All the traffic on the road is stopped once the lift begins.

Once the haulier pulls up outside the site on Farringdon Road, the erection team get to work quickly to attach the rigging ready for the lift. All the traffic on the road is stopped once the lift begins. Photo: © Michael Cockerham 2011

Once lifted from the wagon, the section is raised to the roof by a 600 tonne crane.

Once lifted from the wagon, the section is raised to the roof by a 600 tonne crane. Photo: © Michael Cockerham 2011

The section is gently lowered into place on the roof of the new station building. The crane driver is blind at this point and the whole operation is guided by a skilled banksman.

The section is gently lowered into place on the roof of the new station building. The crane driver is blind at this point and the whole operation is guided by a skilled banksman. Photo: © Michael Cockerham 2011

In their final resting place the roof light sections wait for the first day break they will see from the same position for the rest of their lives.

In their final resting place the roof light sections wait for the first day break they will see from the same position for the rest of their lives. Photo: © Michael Cockerham 2011

Great locations

By , August 15, 2011 3:13 pm

Most of the time when you’re commissioned to make a portrait and given very little leeway to produce something interesting, the biggest challenge is the location itself. But every now and then, a little gem presents itself. So it was when I was asked to photograph Richard Garriott, games maker extraordinaire, space entrepreneur and astronaut recently.

It’s not the first time I have photographed him by a long shot, but I wasn’t holding out much hope of anything interesting in an academic building in London. How wrong I was! My problem was not the location so much as the over abundance of red light. Bit of off camera flash resolved that, and a suitably space-age image of a space man was the result:

Cosmonaut Richard Garriott at The Centre of the Cell, QMUL. 2011

Cosmonaut Richard Garriott at The Centre of the Cell, QMUL, London. © Michael Cockerham 2011

Just because the weather is crap…

By , August 12, 2011 12:34 pm

… it doesn’t mean that your wedding photos have to be boring. In fact, far from it. The dark and dramatic skies can allow you to create imagery that would not otherwise be possible with the clear blue skies that all brides and groom hope for (and at the moment, very few seem to get!).

 

Mollie with brooding skies.

Mollie strikes a pose in front of the shattered remains of a once huge tree, while skies threaten behind. Photo: © Michael Cockerham 2011

Last week I had a wonderful couple, Alex and Mollie. They were lucky. Despite the best efforts of the weather, and horrendous problems with traffic thanks to the M25 being closed for hours on end, they still had a wonderful day. I for one was delighted to be there with them.

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