Max Colson: Tales

Photojournalism MA student at the LCC

Archive for March 2011

Lift – A 24 min Doc Movie

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A few weeks ago I wrote a post about Taryn Simon’s latest work Contraband, because I feel that not only is this a great work because of its actual content but because of the perception of the photographer in working out a particular point in space and time to focus on in order to make her point.

I discovered this amazing 24 minute documentary film called Lift recently, which uses the same technique although for a completely different end. In 2001 the film maker Marc Issacs set himself up in the elevator of a council estate (the phrase for project housing in England) in East London for 3 months and filmed whoever stepped in the space. As the time went on the residents became more familiar with him and started to reveal things about themselves which they wouldn’t have otherwise.

This 24 minutes is packed with characters and is an absolutely fascinating piece of social documentary. Highly recommended.

For those that are interested there’s a quick interview with the director which sheds some light on how he set this project up – here

Written by Max Colson

March 23, 2011 at 9:26 am

5 more portraits

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Boxer for Oxford University Varsity Team, Oxford vs Cambridge, 18.03.11

I’ve been shooting over the weekend at a couple of boxing fights and a modelling convention (as in minature models, not fashion ones). During the course of the shoots I tried some more portraits. I found I still need a bit more balls to direct the subjects, particularly in angling of the face against the light, but nonetheless I do like these.

 

Boxer for the Cambridge University Varsity Team, Oxford vs Cambridge, 18.03.11

Boxer for the Cambridge University Varsity Team, Oxford vs Cambridge, 18.03.11

Exhibition Attendent, Southern Expo Festival, 20.03.11

YouTube and new types of music video

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There was (and still is) the radio single, but now there is the long-form online music video. No longer do directors and artists need to adhere to MTV guidelines.

It’s great to see that the effect that online media is having on established forms of expression. I am particularly impressed with the way that YouTube is allowing the music video to evolve because of new watching occasions. This new 10 minute music/film by the much lauded NY rapper Pharaohe Monch is a great example of why independent artists no longer have to do things by the book anymore.

I’m sure the music industry is watching hard at fantastic bits of work like this. Successful experiments like the below stand by themselves:

I would also recommend watching Romain Gavras’s video for MIA’s song Born Free as another example of this new type of music video, although that said the content is not something that I’m in favour of at all: it’s pretty cynical, particularly in its use of violence.

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/11219730″>M.I.A, Born Free</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/user3148077″>ROMAIN-GAVRAS</a&gt; on <a href=”http://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Written by Max Colson

March 21, 2011 at 3:32 pm

Not to be Reproduced

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Post portrait assignment I thought that this painting Not to be Reproduced by René Magritte was rather witty:

Not to be Reproduced, René Magritte, 1937

Written by Max Colson

March 20, 2011 at 11:23 pm

5 more portraits

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The Costume Maker

As I had never really done any portrait shoots before I was a bit stressed about this assignment, particularly after realising how important lighting is to giving an appearance of complexity to the face (that insanely amazing photographer Stephan vanFleteren does this exceptionally well). However although I did use lighting in these shoots (via a reflector & available light), my main tactic with this series was to choose subjects who were in visual locations; the thought being that hopefully these would say something about them too.

Portraits are really something that I want to nail, so there will definitely be more experiments on this front from me in the future.

Here are the rest of mine:

The Barman

 

The Rapper

The Fish & Chip Shop Man

 

The Waiter (with his tummy partly chopped off unfortunately)

Written by Max Colson

March 15, 2011 at 8:49 pm

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Japan Earthquake: Before and After Interactive Images

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The devastation of the Japan earthquake is brought to life by ABC news with interactive ‘before/after’ aerial photographs. No captions needed.

Click on the screengrab to go to the site.

Written by Max Colson

March 15, 2011 at 7:29 pm

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Minature Soldier Collectors

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Although I started initially with just the model railway society, another hobby network has now come to my attention. On Friday evening I went to my first meeting of a minature soldier collecting society in west London. Fascinating stuff. I feel like it’s all going somewhere very gradually…

 

Man, woman, and dog from a bar scene

Two soldiers in Napoleonic uniform

Written by Max Colson

March 13, 2011 at 11:12 pm

Tattoos, discos, and quite a bit of over-exposure

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Portrait of myself, aged 19 (the disco on the right)

Once in a time long long ago I was a bit younger than I am today and I went and got ‘disco’ tattooed on the side of my torso with a friend of mine. Oooops!

East London’s finest tattoo artist Mr Henry Hate was the man we chose for the job way back in about 2005 and I thought I would go back to his shop ‘Prick’ for my recent portrait assignment. He agreed which was very nice of him. Check out his website here if you want to see some seriously fantastic examples of his work (they are examples of fantastically ‘disco-less’ tattooing I may hasten to add).

ANYWAY. I have to say I had one issue with this shoot and that was over lighting. Not being incredibly experienced in controlling light with portraits, I did find it quite a lot to think about when I’m also trying to maintain a comfortable, flowing conversation with my subject and direct them at the same time. I did get better over the course of the portrait assignment; in all I shot 5 people, and in practicing I gained more experience, but I’m definitely going out to do more portrait sessions so I can really get some real control over this powerful mode of photography. I can see it being real fun once I’ve got all of the technical considerations well and truly under my belt.

As I had decided not to spend a bomb on a off camera flash set up just as yet, I went for the good old natural light with Mr Henry Hate. Unfortunately for this session in my not particularly thinking state I think I made a bit of a rookie error by placing Henry in the middle of some very strong midday sunlight with white paper all around him and didn’t compensate for it properly; in the process I managed to produce a lot of over exposed photos that I’m definitely not putting up! = DOH DOH DOH.

I started to think a bit more sensibly towards the end of the shoot and dealt with the strong sunlight a lot better and cranked out some acceptable shots.

All in all it was not a great start to my portrait assignment but I do think I managed to get some decent headshots, one of which is below:

 

Henry Hate, owner of 'Prick' tattoos in London

Written by Max Colson

March 12, 2011 at 12:40 pm

The portrait of anonymity (post about Roderick Henderson’s work)

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I came across the work of Roderik Henderson after my MA coursemate Simon Bates flagged his work up. I’ve been looking through his work and I just wanted to do a little post about some of his portraits because I think they are really great.

His  series entitled Island is comprised of images which are taken of people from a community in Holland, and are set in the lifts that they use to go to and back from work.  If you look at the images you’ll see that what he has  produced is a series in which he has intentionally given the viewer  almost no insight into who the people are,  because of the location that he has decided to shoot his portraits in and because of the way that he has positioned his subjects in relation to the viewer. The cold, metallic surface of the lift is the perfect place to situate a series of portraits so scarce in personal information.

I just thought this was rather interesting given what I’ve been trying to do with the portraits on my current course assignment; I’ve chosen people with locations that will suggest something about them and what they do. But how much does this actually say about them as a person, besides the visually obvious? And when does this excercise become not worthwhile?

I thought Henderson’s intention was a provocative place to come, given my portrait assignment. It’s fascinating to see an artist who has worked so hard to make sure that what is visual does not actually give that ‘window into the soul’ that the portrait so often tries to convey.

 

 

Written by Max Colson

March 9, 2011 at 2:07 pm

Test Driving the Panasonic Lumix GF1

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After checking out people’s work from the Street Photography assignment a few weeks back, I realised that I was definitely missing having a small camera to take around with me. What originally got me into photography was the point and shoot. It’s well small. You can just stick it in your pocket and forget about it, which is represents some serious freedom for the typical DSLR user. However their build quality is seriously lacking, and after having two pack up on me I’ve decided to opt for a better build of machine as I want my next compact for the long-haul.

I saw Italo Morales was having a whale of a time on the street with his Olympus EP-1. After some immensely helpful advice from him I actually eventually ended up opting for the EP1’s direct competitor the Panasonic Lumix GF1. It is small, it is lovely and it takes nice photos. I took it out for its first proper test drive this weekend. Here are some of the adventures:

 

Wedding dinner in Chinatown

The bride and groom cut the cake

Loadsa chats

Some sleeping

 

Unidentified man in bookshop