Max Colson: Tales

Photojournalism MA student at the LCC

Archive for May 2011

Priceless – TFL’s new ‘art’ advertising campaign

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TFL lost property

A poster for Transport For London's 2011 Lost Property Campaign

A great idea is a great idea. This one comes from the field of advertising. TFL’s (Transport For London) recent art exhibition for their lost property office is very nice. Let’s break it down.

Real World Problem: The issue that TFL had was that only a few people were coming to lost property to claim stuff because they had already assumed that their property was stolen immediately after they left it on the tube (I surmise).

Creative Challenge: How does one suggest that the above isn’t true?

Creative Solution: Create an art exhibition out of the art objects left in lost property (cos let’s face it all of the electronics and clothing articles would have actually have been stolen).

This campaign is very slick because it communicates the value of the objects that end up in the lost property in a way that will appeal to a broad range of people, whilst cleverly using objects that actually don’t have any financial value (ie which are the ones that are mostly left in lost property). The power of words like ‘exhibition’ and ‘curation’ are impressive here.  As is the way that we perceive art. If you would like to see exactly how these marketing techniques work you can now actually buy posters of this unclaimed art from TFL’s shop. It is very savvy.

But more to the point who in their right mind is really going to ever give two hoots about a lost property advertising campaign unless it’s sexed up like this?

Ohhh sexy, artistic lost property. It’s very well done.

Playing around – April bank holiday weekend edition

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Well I should have done this a while ago, but anyway.

In the month of April came the Royal Wedding and we also had about 4 bank holidays in the space of two weeks. As a part time worker this meant that I was off work for a nice long time. I went to the country side and chilled out with some great people, some ponies and a lot of puppies. Unsurprisingly enough it was rather lovely.

Here is a collection of images from the period that I’ve put into a quick story:

Prince William Kate Middleton Cardboard Cut OutWe had to get out of London…

The big Sleep raymond chandler bank holiday weekendSo to the countryside we did go…

blowing dandelions bank holiday weekendWe blew some dandelions…

sunny bank holiday weekendWe thought of other things…

dog sunny bank holiday weekendSome of us had energy…

ponies bank holiday weekendSome of us just ate…

photographing dogsPhotographing was a challenge…

Feeding puppiesBut some of us were cunning (photograph by @Conormal)

puppy sleeping asleepAnd waited till it had calmed (photograph by @Conormal)

puppies sleeping bank holiday weekendBut it genuinely did help that some of us were also feeling very, very lazy…

Playing around – May Edition

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The day after the Champion’s League Final: A pub in High Wycombe, England.

Melanin 9 M9Rapper Melanin 9 and my bicycle

An old cradle in a garden

Pre-pub lunch japes

Written by Max Colson

May 29, 2011 at 9:43 pm

Tattoos and Tattoers for Japan

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Recently I’ve been spending a fair bit of time photographing with the very nice Henry Hate and the rest of his tattoo & piercing team (the very talented Matteo Ceccarini, Adam Lewis and Kat Fury) at Prick Tattoo in East London. I’ve been at Prick on various days, the most recent being the shop’s Tattooers for Japan event to raise money for the earthquake relief. My tactics on this topic were fairly simple really – I just wanted to convey the process of a tattoo session in a photo story. The following images are a few excerpts from some of the sessions that I was present at on that particular day.

I reckon the final edit will work more as a mosaic of moments from the different tattoo sessions, broken up with a few portraits, but for the moment I just want to get some sessions up and serialised. Let me know what you think or if you have any other ideas on how I should approach this:

Prick Tattoo East London Matteo Ceccarini

Robert, before his tattoo session with Matteo Ceccarini

Prick Tattoo East London Matteo Ceccarini

Robert's tattoo design

Prick Tattoo East London Matteo Ceccarini

Robert, halfway through his tattoo session with Matteo Ceccarini

Prick Tattoo East London

Linda's Tattoo Preparation

Prick Tattoo East London Matteo Ceccarini

Linda, halfway through the session with Matteo Ceccarini

Prick Tattoo East London Henry Hate

Adam, before his tattoo session with Henry Hate

Prick Tattoo East London Henry Hate

Adam, halfway through his tattoo session with Henry Hate

Prick Tattoo East London Kat Louise Fury

Prick's chief piercer Kat Louise Fury

Prick Tattoo East London Matteo Ceccarini

Lucy, halfway through her session with Matteo Ceccarini

Good ol’ coursemates

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A couple of weeks ago a large number of really cool people from my online MA course congregated in London for a stonking good few days of exhibitions, seminars at the LCC (our uni) and at the Tate Modern. We got lectured by Simon Norfolk, we saw excellent work on show from previous graduates on our course but most importantly we hung out and had some beers. Here are some photos that were taken when my camera was flying around.

(If you want to check out people’s work and websites just click on their names. They’re all really good so I’d definitely advise it!):

L-R: Becky, Veronika, Fjona, Bob, Christina, Moi, Italo


A “Cor that’s a big lens” moment with Italo

Me and Linka

Simon Norfolk at the Tate Modern (a Tate video)

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Bullet-scarred outdoor cinema at the Palace of Culture in the Karte Char district of Kabul - Simon Norfolk

Bullet-scarred outdoor cinema at the Palace of Culture in the Karte Char district of Kabul, 2002, Simon Norfolk

“I’m trying to photograph my disappointment. When I came [to Afghanistan] in 2001 I was angry with what the Americans had done, I thought it was a mistake…Ten sorry miserable years have gone by, half a trillion dollars have been spent on this country and it looks worse than it was…It’s a disappointment of ten years of warfare. Tens of thousands of Afghans murdered. Lots of Americans and Europeans killed as well. Billions wasted and nothing achieved: nothing, nothing, nothing achieved…” – Simon Norfolk

If you’re reading this in the UK you may have seen that the Guardian did a big feature on Simon Norfolk’s new Afghanistan photographs and their relation to John Burke’s Afghanistan photography in the Weekend magazine a couple of weeks ago. Personally I think Simon Norfolk is easily one of the most important photographers around right now (and if you don’t agree with that then you must agree regarding photojournalism at least).

Here is a 17 minute video produced by the Tate in advance of his exhibition of new work at the Tate Modern which is entitled, Burke + Norfolk: Photographs From The War In Afghanistan. Working on the understanding that Afghanistan has been the location of an imperalist intrusion for many decades Norfolk has produced a collection of photographs which link the current war with those from its past and asks the powerful question (amongst others): What has changed?

Narrated by the artist himself this video explains the work, puts the current Afghanistan war in the context of the country’s war torn history, and likens  the “billion pictures per hour” photojournalism that is pouring out of the country right now to a “sewer pipe with a crack in the side of it”. He also  comments that “beauty is a useful tool.” He then says lots more.

This is rational, conscious, and incisively critical photography of the highest order. Really, really worth watching.

A London hardcore gig

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Rucktion Records UKHC Damage Control Max Colson Hardcore dancing pit

The pit opens up for another 'beatdown'

I used to be into UK hardcore in a big way. Back in the day I was going to all of the gigs of the hardcore bands I loved: Knuckledust, Ninebar, Stampin Ground, 50 Caliber to name but a few. So I recently went back to the London hardcore scene and photographed a gig to try and catch up with what I’d been missing out on (cheers to Rucktion Records for sorting me out with everything & cheers to my coursemate Tracey Fahy for allowing me to borrow her flash for this. Much appreciated both!)

This music is pretty raw stuff, crushingly brutal, and an absolutely amazing thing to experience live. It’s also never just about the band on the stage. I guess it’s almost a cliche to say that nowadays, but with hardcore it’s true like no other. A London hardcore gig in its intimacy (they usually take place in smaller venues in London) and the tightness of the crowd (a lot of whom have grown to know each other over time) always feels more like a community event than anything else. Appropriately at a live show the crowd aren’t just encouraged to sing the lyrics, they are given innumerable opportunities to get on the mic and do it themselves. Everyone knows the lyrics and there are a lot of people who also want to show it.

Knuckledust UKHC gig LBU Rucktion Records Damage Control Max Colson

Knuckledust's vocalist Pierre (far right with chain) invites some guest vocalists join in live

I will do a longer post which will sketch out the hardcore scene and its history in a bit more detail, but for the time being I would like to quote an excerpt from the hardcore punk scene’s wikipedia entry as it’s really relevant. This excerpt concerns the dress and style of hardcore punk and is important because it partly explains why you don’t see any goth influences in the dress or the music of the hardcore scene (as you do with most other forms of rock and metal):

“While most early punk rock songs were played with mid-tempo rock beats using simple guitar barre chords in major keys, hardcore broke from this format. Like punk, many of the players lacked musical training (with a few exceptions). The DIY aesthetic of shows being held in small venues on the floors of basements, halls, schools, etc., played into the sound. Much of the style evolved to add to the energy of the live show…

This distillation of punk was further emphasized through dress. Hardcore punk fans adopted a dressed-down style of T-shirts, jeans, and crewcut-style haircuts. The style of the 1980s hardcore scene contrasted with the more provocative fashion styles of late 1970s punk rockers (elaborate hairdos, torn clothes, patches, safety pins, studs, spikes, etc.). Keith Morris comments that ‘the…punk scene was basically based on English fashion. But [the US hardcore scene] had nothing to do with that. Black Flag and the Circle Jerks were so far from that. We looked like the kid who worked at the gas station or submarine shop.’

Prowler Rucktion Records UKHC Damage Control Max Colson TRC

London based band Prowler with a guest vocalist from fellow London band TRC

Rucktion Records Prowler TRC Damage Control Max Colson

Prowler's set explodes into action

Rucktion Records Surge of Fury Hardcore LGHC London Damage Control Max Colson

Belgian hardcore band Surge of Fury perform to the London crowd

Ruction Records UKHC LBU Ninebar Damage Control Max Colson

London hardcore legends Ninebar drop an anthem

Rucktion Records Ninebar UKHC LBU Damage Control Max Colson Photography

Taking a breather

Rucktion Records UKHC Knuckledust Damage Control Max Colson Photography

Knuckledust's Pierre shares the mic (again!)

Diary – Tim Hetherington

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I’ve watched Tim Hetherington’s Diary a couple of times now and it’s really made me aware of what a loss his death was. There are obviously many war reporters on the front line and in the thick of things, but it’s rare to find a reporter who felt that it was worth making a statement about their subjectivity by publicly questioning their own practice. His sensibility is a massive loss.

Tim Hetherington – Diary

Written by Max Colson

May 2, 2011 at 9:44 am