Max Colson: Tales

Photojournalism MA student at the LCC

Archive for June 2011

Ken dumps Barbie and Barbie gets locked up (Greenpeace’s latest protest video)

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Greenpeace have produced a YouTube video of their latest protest activity against the toy maker Mattel. In this video we find that *horror of horrors!* Ken has dumped Barbie because he is not happy that the packaging of her toys is made of paper culled from deforestation. In the subsequent PR stunt outside the Mattel HQ Barbie is eventually jailed by the Police for protesting against Ken’s claims and explains that:

“I’m Barbie, as long as I look good who cares about some tigers in some distant rainforest…”

I may be just a humble stills photographer but I take stuff like this as inspiration. This may have a nice big marketing budget behind it which has helped it become the PR stunt that it is, but at its core its just about sitting down and thinking simply about what you want to communicate, how you want to communicate it, the best location to communicate it, and pre-empting what you think the real-world effects of your activity will be and working with them (the person who knew that the Police could be manipulated to create the real-world arrest of Barbie is very, very on the ball.)

Really, really slick. And more importantly, completely sharable.

*I say thankyou to Benedict Pringle who writes the very readable and succinct Political Advertising blog for bringing this to my attention.

What if you and your viewers could refocus your images after you had taken them?

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The Lytro camera – allows you and your viewers to refocus your images in real-time after you’ve taken them. Here’s a vid that explains the concept:

More information on this, including pictures you can refocus for yourselves, on Mashable.

If it’s a hoax let’s just put it in the Sci-Fi section –  it’s still a v cool idea with some interesting implications for photographers and their supposed authority over the meaning of their photographs…

Written by Max Colson

June 23, 2011 at 9:54 am

Marketing the revolution in Egypt

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vodafone egypt video

The last frame from a video produced by Vodafone's advertising agency after the Egyptian revolution

I’ve been reading a few posts from various sites, which have been dealing with the response of advertisers (as in companies like Coca Cola, Pepsi etc etc) to the Egyptian revolution. I’d thought I’d summarise the bare bones of the articles.

Here’s the Wall Street Journal’s article from a few days ago on this:

“Since thousands of protesters ousted former President Hosni Mubarak in a nearly three-week revolt, the enthusiasm for revolution has been redirected and repackaged for television ads, billboards and jingles selling products including hair gel, soft drinks and candy…

Ad spending in Egypt actually increased to about $329 million in May from $310 million in February, according to data from Ipsos, a global advertising and marketing research firm.”

The most interesting of these is a controversial video (which actually looks like it was intended to be a submission to an advertising awards show – it’s got engagement stats and everything) that was produced by the advertising agency JWT, for its client Vodafone. This strongly suggests by quoting specific tweets from Twitter & YouTube* that Vodafone  played a role in the revolutionary solidarity at the time.

*user comments quoted are:

“Vodafone inspired us before the revolution by their power to you ad. it was touching and inspiring when they said “it’s everyone’s power” “[sic]

“The new Vodafone Egypt campaign is amazing inspiring a generation to change their country” [sic] – most importantly this the endframe of the whole video

Here is the video which has now been taken down from YouTube because of a ‘copyright claim’. It is still available on Daily Motion however:


Both JWT and Vodafone have since distanced themselves from the video and Vodafone has done so at the most length, which can be seen in the following statement which was published on the Brand Republic website:

“Vodafone Egypt denies responsibility for the video that circulated on social media channels including highlights of a Vodafone commercial. Hatem Dowidar, CEO of Vodafone Egypt, confirmed that the company does not have any connection to this video and had no prior knowledge of its production or posting on the Internet. He added that Vodafone Egypt is part of a global Company that has strict policies refraining associating the Brand name with any political or religious affairs of any country in which it operates.

“Dowidar further clarified that this video was produced by JWT company for its internal use and not for public display, and he added that Vodafone has never used this video and is not responsible for its messages or claims.”

Additionally both Coca Cola and Pepsi have also produced much less arrogant videos in the revolution’s aftermath which celebrate people power using some easily recognisable visual metaphors:

Coca Cola

Pepsi

Obviously these latter two adverts are interesting in a completely different way to the Vodafone video.  These well-produced adverts are good examples of how the visuals can be used in quite an evasive fashion; whilst these images endorse the idea of change they actually visualise little else apart from the generics of people power. But considering no one can really predict with any certainty where Egypt is going politically this is nothing but good old business sense I guess.

Sources:

Wall Street Journal

Brand Republic

Fast Company

The Battle of Waterloo, its re-enactment, and some images of it

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As mentioned in my previous post I went to a re-enactment of the Battle of Waterloo on the weekend. Here are some of the other images. Rather bizarrely (and annoyingly) the aesthetic and the idea that I had for some of the project run closely parallel to the work of another photographer who has only just been unearthed to me. Not ideal at all. I need to go back to the drawing board and re-arrange my thoughts perhaps…

(yep I realise that there is some dust on my sensor too – haven’t had a chance to cleanse the images yet!)

'max colson' 'historical re-enactment' '94th regiment of the foote' 'old scotch brigade' waterloo deserters

Some deserters

'max colson' 'historical re-enactment' waterloo 'calvary charge' calvary

Napoleon's cavalry charge the English

'max colson' 'historical re-enactment' waterloo 'old scotch brigade' '94th regiment of the foote'

Skirmish in the forest

'max colson' 'historical re-enactment' waterloo napoleonic general

Senior officer from Napoleon's army

'max colson' 'historical re-enactment' waterloo napoleonic general

Peering into the dark

Role-playing

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I just got back from a trip to Belgium where I was part of the re-enactment of the the Battle of Waterloo.

Although I was out on the battlefield with the men I was also living in an 1815 style military camp with the rest of the Allied forces trying to learn the ways of the 1815 military, light fires, follow orders, and hold muskets. Serious thanks to the brilliant 94th Old Scotch Brigade for allowing me to be embedded whilst they were part of the 1000 man re-enactment. Unfortunately I didn’t get to fire any weapons but we’ll have to save that for next time.

More to come but I thought I’d give you my self portrait of me being the action hero first. I have my mean face on and everything:

max colson photographer re-enactment

Self-portrait with musket and 1815 English military 'red coat' uniform

Scarface School Play

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Oh god people are so weird. Why oh why oh why

Written by Max Colson

June 20, 2011 at 3:19 pm

Day out in Rochester for the Dickens Festival

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I went to Rochester a couple of weeks back to take in the glories of the Dickens festival. I find it exotic enough just getting out of London period but one thing’s for sure – when half of any town town have dressed up in Victorian costumes for a three day weekend it’s got to be a pretty amazing place.

I was only able to make it for a one day unfortunately but I still had a laugh.

max colson Rochester old couple

An old couple and a pigeon

Rochester cathedral tombstones churchyard max colson

Rochester cathedral

Punch and Judy Rochester Max Colson

The end of a Punch and Judy show

child playing near a castle Max Colson

Child playing by a castle ruin

dickens festival rochester max colson

Some Dickens fans in front of a parked van

fantasy armoury max colson

Fantasy armoury (with skull)

street photography rochester max colson

Men, waiting

england boy flag and castle max colson

Boy dressed in Victorian costume

bill sykes dickens festival rochester

Bill Sikes (from Oliver Twist) lookalike

Stoopid advert

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Cultural stereotyping now comes in brightly coloured Japanese animation variety

Written by Max Colson

June 14, 2011 at 9:35 pm

Messing around with perspective: historical and otherwise.

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Firstly my congratulations to Irina Werning for winning Burn’s emerging photographer award 2011. She is so cool. Here are some of her wonderful photographs from her series Back to the Future:

20_lali-web irina werning

LALI IN 1978 & 2010, Buenos Aires [photograph by Irina Werning]

MARITA & COTY IN 1977 & 2010, Bueno irina werning

MARITA & COTY IN 1977 & 2010, Bueno [photograph by Irina Werning]

IAN IN 1984 & 2010 Irina Werning

IAN IN 1984 & 2010, London [photograph by Irina Werning]

PANCHO IN 1983 & 2010 Irina Werning

PANCHO IN 1983 & 2010, Buenos Aires [photograph by Irina Werning]

She is obviously very wicked.

There is another talented artist who also produces work which playfully deals with how the photograph can be used to visualise a sense of ‘history-ness’ and create nostalgia. His name is Michael Paul Smith*. Michael Paul Smith is a model maker whose mind is full of mid-20th century Americana. Using his considerable model making skills he has been creating small scale sets of an imaginary American town called Elgin Park that he cannot get out of his mind (it is reportedly located somewhere near Pittsburgh where he was born). After making the sets he then sources locations in the real-world which provide the background to photograph them against. These late naughties photographs of the 1960s look bloody REAL. Here are some examples of his work. Fantastic stuff:

MIchael Paul Smith - Elgin Park

 My Childhood Home [photograph by Michael Paul Smith]

Newspaper photo - Corliss Dink's '37 Studebaker - Michael Paul Smith

Newspaper photo: Corliss Dink’s ’37 Studebaker [photograph by Michael Paul Smith]

Edge of Town - Michael Paul Smith

 Edge of Town [photograph by Michael Paul Smith]

Michael Paul Smith

Michael Paul Smith with one of his sets and a background behind him

The NY Times wrote an article about him and there’s a paragraph that I think summarises the attempt of his work very nicely:

Driving Mr. Smith’s creation of Elgin Park were his memories of Sewickley, Pa., a real steel-mill town a few miles north of Pittsburgh. He spent his first 17 years there, and it still holds his heart. “Elgin Park is not an exact re-creation of Sewickley,” he explained, “but it does capture the mood of my memories.”

*My very talented illustrator friend Phoebe Dickerson told me about Michael Paul Smith. If you want some visual inspiration check out her very cool, and very funny, Tumblr blog.

A train to England

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I’ve been working on this story on Britain’s railway enthusiasts for a while. At first I think I was working on this piece because of the novelty value of working with such a fantastic community, but the more I work on this the more I become overwhelmed with what the community is actually interested in: a way of looking at Britain’s history. This is something that I need to do a lot of research on, but I thought I’d share a couple of snippets of what I’ve been photographing recently…

max colson british rail railway enthusiast

max colson british rail railway enthusiast