Foster Care

Foster Care Campaign


For a while now I've been working on a campaign to encourage more people into becoming foster parents for the local council. It's another project that is quite tricky because of the various sensitive issues involved.

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Towner Exhibition

Academic Curiosity

Just after my work was taken down from the Towner Art Gallery (Sussex Open Exhibition 2017) I was contacted by an art student who wanted to write about the image.

The resulting piece can be seen here:

Suzy Ridgwell Blog

Wolfgang Tillmans at the Tate Modern

Wolfgang Tillmans exhibition at the Tate Modern

I've never been as big a fan as some of Wolgang Tillmans work as some. His casual style has often left me a bit cold. However, seeing a broad overview of lots of his work here went someway to changing my mind. Quite an impressive body of work really, with a consistency that suggests there is more craft going on than immediately meets the eye. Exhibition now closed. I suspect he is faster at updating his website than I am.



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Social Services Images in use


Recent Work

The following images were created, using real people in real life situations, while taking into account all the issues around consent, confidentiality and safeguarding.


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Music Videos

Film produced for East Sussex Music promoting their excellent music summer school.







Digital Exhibitions


Peter Pan at The Devonshire Park Theatre.

Last winter I had the wonderful opportunity to spend some time at Eastbourne Theatres while they put together their seasonal Pantomime show along with Jordan Productions. It was a massive, new, show, with a huge cast that came together in a remarkably short time considering all the various elements that had to be squeezed into the delightful but smallish Devonshire Park Theatre. I've just put a large selection of the images online, hopefully you have already had a chance to take a look, but in case you haven't, here's a link (and a photo).

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I had hoped to have a physical exhibition of the images. I may well still do - the few I've had printed so far are an absolute delight to look at, but finding the right location for such an exhibition has proved to be a bit tricky. I had the rather ambitious idea they would look good in the foyer of the National Theatre - Or perhaps in the Towner Gallery right next to the Devonshire Park Theatre itself, but both routes seem fraught with complications and difficulties. Smaller, less prestigious spaces are available locally, but I struggle to justify the expense of such an undertaking against the exposure the images would receive.

I was contemplating all these issues in the spring when I found myself at an Annie Leibovitz exhibition in San Francisco, that was touring the world - and nearly all the images were being displayed on very large digital screens. (See my blog 03/03/2016) It had more in common with a trip to the cinema than a traditional photographic exhibition, where most people viewing the images stayed still in a large hall, and the images alternated across the screens. It struck me then that going to all the trouble of printing and framing individual prints might be a thing of the past, that this is now the way to display images.

Of course, creating wonderful prints, framing them to archival standards behind non reflective glass and hanging them in a great location can still create a dramatic and wonderful effect, but the last print I had prepared in this way cost me close to £400 to produce. I had a short list of around 1000 images from my Pantomime project and creating the high quality exhibition that I was hoping for was beginning to look out of reach.

So, I came to the conclusion the pantomime project might have to be displayed digitally if I wanted it to see the light of day. The resulting images went online yesterday, on the day this year's pantomime opened at the same theatre (Snow White - I'm looking forward to seeing it myself) I sent out a few links and tweets to various people involved in the project and after about 24 hours something like 200 people have been onto the website to look at the images, staying for an average of just under three minutes each to look at the 300 or so images. If I had opened the show in a small gallery and had the same number of people in over the same time period, I'd have been delighted, and of course, the images will be available to view for a long time to come yet. My only slight disappointment is that the rather lovely physical quality and detail of the printed images will not be seen and appreciated by anyone, but maybe there will be a "proper" exhibition at some point in the future. If you have any ideas or suggestions as to how this might come about, please do get in touch and pass them on.

Martin Parr in The City.

Martin Parr at the Guildhall Art Gallery.

I Dropped into see Martin Parr's latest collection of images at the small but impressive Guildhall Art Gallery in London yesterday. I don't think this is a great collection of images, but has a few gems tucked amongst the rather straight laced collection of photographs that claim to show an unseen side of the ceremonial life of the city. There was also a refreshingly relaxed attitude to photography in the gallery too which is to be applauded.

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Exhibition is on until the end of July, Guildhall Art Gallery, London EC2V 5AE
Opening hours:
Monday to Saturday 10 - 5
Sunday 12-4
Entrance £5/£4

Website here

Recent work

Recent Work.


Shown here some samples from a campaign being run by East Sussex County Council in the south of England, promoting teaching in the area. All shot in real schools with real teachers and pupils during real lessons.


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Ouch.

Ouch.

On my recent trip to California I wrote a little about a number of incidents that I had became aware of where photographers, film makers and tourists became victims of crime where there equipment and valuables. These sorts of incidents can range in intensity, at best they are a minor annoyance, at worst they can and do lead to serious injury and even death.

There is an irony then, in the fact that I too was targeted on the last few days of my trip. Taken unawares from behind, a man snatched at my camera that was on my shoulder and attempted to run off with it. I hung onto it for a while and we had a bit of tug of war, but as I'd been taken unawares I never managed to fully gain my balance and was eventually pulled over to the ground. The camera we were fighting over sailed through the air and hit the ground with a nasty crunch. My assailant also fell over but was up faster than me, grabbing the camera from the ground and running away at considerable pace.

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There were no witnesses, despite this taking place on a public street in San Francisco, in the middle of the afternoon, there was no one around. The police arrived quickly, but there was little that could be done. My injuries were fairly minor, cut arms and hands where I had hit the ground and a very sore neck and shoulders that are still not entirely right now, but will be fine, eventually.

The sad thing is, one of my new Nikon D810 cameras was probably damaged beyond repair. What a waste. The top of the camera obviously took a real bash, and the eye piece cover was torn off. Attached to the camera was my much loved and well used Nikon 80-200 F2.8 lens that I bought way back in 1995 and has done brilliant service ever since. It had a relatively low value as it was so old, but it's cost quite a bit to replace it with an admittedly upgraded modern day version with vibration reduction. The lens hood of this lens was also shattered and torn from the lens when it hit the ground, but I suspect the breaking of the lens hood would have protected the lens and it's probably still working reasonably well somewhere, it was a tough bit of equipment.

All in all, a troubling moment, but it could have been a lot worse. I'm fine, and pretty much over this event now, but will definitely think twice about what equipment I take out on the streets for general travel work from now on. There are some parts of the world where the rewards just do not justify the risks these days.

One of the more interesting photographs of the year


Social Services Photography

The original brief for the job was to create images that were to go with the line "Child Social Services, How Far Would You Go?" in a campaign that was to attract specialist child social workers to the south coast county of East Sussex in England, UK. The idea was that they wanted to attract people who would go the extra mile for their job, as well as suggesting to people that moving to East Sussex was worth thinking about if they wanted to progress their career. To this end, the client came up with the idea of showing a social worker in a space suit, to illustrate both ideas - dressing up in a costume to bridge the gap between a professional and a child, and also as a visual representation of someone who's willing to travel to get the job done. The pictures were also required to show the area as a desirable place to live for people who might be thinking of relocating. I liked the concept a lot. The location was to be Hastings, and a group of real social workers were pressed into service for a few hours and a selection of children were rustled up from various places. For images such as this, it's never possible to use children who are actually under the care of social services because of all the issues relating to confidentiality and consent, so in the pictures for this series, the children were played by "models".
We didn't have a lot of time, and the was a need for a quite a range of different images to tell the story. The lead image for the campaign was to be a simple image of a child running towards a social worker in a space suit with as little distracting detail as possible with lots of space for copy around the image. It took a while to set everything up and we pretty much had the shot, and then I thought it would be fun to try some with the child leaping into the arms of the spaceman. We tried it four times, before stopping, as we had other things to do. The shots were quite successful, and this was my favourite image of the four:

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However, although the client was pretty pleased with the image, I was unhappy with the way the child's hand was lost behind the spaceman's glove. Without discussing it first with the client, I made some adjustments to the image and also sent them this improved version. I think it's so much better, and it's pleasing that this is the image that they decided to use.

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The replacement arm was borrowed from one of the other images. It had to be adjusted to make it look real, but the result is quite satisfactory I think.

The image in use can be seen here on the clients website, along with some other images taken on the same day.

East Sussex Music Photography


East Sussex Music Service Photography.


I just stumbled across a document using my images from last year's job for East Sussex Music Service. You can download the whole pdf document here: Download



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Women, New Portraits, Annie Leibovitz


Women, New Portraits, Annie Leibovitz.

Currently working it's way around the world, I have just managed to catch this show after missing it in London. There is a lot of new work on show here, or at least, Images that I haven't seen before, and quite a lot of old images too, but it's a real delight to see this work altogether. The 4k presentation screens deliver her images in stunning quality and at it's best it's actually pretty breathtaking. Set in a semi-derelict atmospheric industrial unit the show gathers in the audience, who are surrounded by these iconic images. The style of this show gives the whole collection a modern feel, despite her best work (in my opinion) being done in the more formal, pre-digital photography, style, rather than the casual off the cuff look that is the more modern way. Having the images on the screen also means you can't linger over the original prints as you could in a gallery - the pictures rotate and move on, making the experience as much like a film as an exhibition, but a very impressive one none-the-less.
More details here.

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Photoshop. Before and after

Photoshop in everyday use.

Every now and again comes along a picture that needs a little help. Here's a good example. This picture was taken yesterday on a trip out into the bay. It's a useful image, but the structure of the boat on the top left hand side is a bit distracting and adds nothing to the image. It's the type of thing that Photoshop is so good at correcting. The amended version is much crisper, and the change doesn't really change the context or significance of the image at all.

Before:

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…and after:

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You can see a full portfolio slideshow of my work here:

Portfolio

Trying to find a new angle

Trying to find a new angle.

So much of San Francisco has been photographed to death. Over and over again, day after day, millions of images of the same scene. The Golden Gate bridge is, apparently, the most photographed bridge in the world (Sydney's Harbour Bridge and London's Tower Bridge may raise a curious eyebrow at this claim, but let's not argue over the details here) Trying to find something that is just a little bit out of the ordinary is pretty hard. Here's an attempt I made today, to try and create something just a little bit different, with a modern feel that doesn't break too many rules, at one of the most popular locations. It's worth noting that back in 1989 when I first visited San Francisco, it would have been pretty hard to hold the details in the shadows on transparency film (in the image below), like we can today with modern digital cameras and software. Although not impossible, it definitely would have been a bit of a struggle.

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Tea Tasting in Chinatown


I was just on my way back home today, right at the end of a pretty long and tiring day in the sun, when I stumbled across this image. I actually tried to ignore it, as I was feeling pretty tired, and wasn't really looking for any more pictures. I just didn't really have the energy to get all the permissions and explain what I was doing, and so I walked on past. About 200 yards down the road, I was still thinking about it. Reluctantly, I turned myself around and went back to start negotiating with everyone involved. Didn't take too long and I actually really like the picture.

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Another Great Exhibition

I was in downtown San Francisco yesterday, trying to keep out of the rain, and stumbled across another great photographic exhibition at the Jenkins Johnson Gallery at 464 Sutter Street. The prints are mostly black and white images of the civil rights protest movement in the 1950's and 60's but there are also some wonderful portraits and some surprisingly graceful colour images too. The photographer was Gordon Parks, and the images are taken from his work for Life Magazine. Definitely worth a look, even if it's not raining outside.

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Image above by Rohan Van Twest, courtesy of Jenkins Johnson Gallery

Photo exhibition

Images above by Gordon Parks © The Gordon Parks Foundation, courtesy of the Jenkins Johnson Gallery
(Reproduced from opening reception leaflet)

Exhibition continues until April 2. 2016.

Pier 24

I've just spent a very enjoyable couple of hours at the delightful Pier 24 Photographic Gallery, here in San Francisco. Wonderfully presented work, in an almost perfect setting. You have to book in advance and numbers are restricted so that one feels as though you have the place to yourself. It's a really high quality experience, for the consideration of serious photography. All free too. The current show here by British documentary photographer Paul Graham is only on for a few more weeks, but I suspect whatever is showing at this gallery is always going to be worth seeing.

More information here.

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Cause for concern

This really isn't what one wants to read just after arriving in a new city. I'm not normally too worried about local crime reports, but this seems like a cameraman was deliberately targeted in a popular tourist area. I'm taking steps to reduce the visibility of my camera gear.

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Glorious Mud

Earlier this summer, SIT Select asked me to travel down to Devon and take some images for an article they were preparing for their journal about Jill Smallcombe and Jackie Abey who together make the partnership AbeySmallcombe. They are two creative artists, who work mainly with mud, or to be more correct: Cob. The magazine has just been published in digital form, and has lots of really interesting things in it. You can buy a copy here. Here are just a few of the images from the session.

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Good Neighbour Scheme

The latest edition of East Sussex's "Your County" magazine dropped through the letterbox this morning. Inside are two pictures of mine in that were taken last month to illustrate the story of Sue, Irene, Jennifer and Audrey all taking part in the county-wide Good Neighbour scheme. Lovely people, making the world a better place. If you are interested in the scheme, you can find more details here: www.eastsussex.gov.uk/goodneighbour

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