Saul Leiter

Talking of photography, I recently was made aware of this documentary about Saul Leiter. He was a lovely man who took beautiful photographs but didn't become better known until very late in his life.

I was watching the film and Googled Saul only to find he had died just a few weeks ago. He said what I was trying to sum in in the last last post I wrote. "When we do not know why the photographer has taken a picture and when we do not know why we are looking at it, all of a sudden we discover something that we start seeing. I like this confusion."

A snapshop

The year is swiftly coming to an end. It's been one of the stranger years which has felt like a preparation for something better.

In 2013 I came to terms with the loss of my dad, I began to fight back against the forces that make living in this house unpleasant at times, and I began to prioritise my life a lot more.

My love of photography (taking and looking at pictures) has started to coalesce more. I've been buying more books of photographers work, watching documentaries and spending more time working out what I want I can do, what I want to do and what I'll probably never do. The real breakthrough is that I now understand what I was trying to do in all the thousands of photographs I've been taking since I got my first camera. Aside from pictures as mementoes, there were scores of pictures that people were stumped by. They would ask why I had taken them and question their worth. I would have no answers but I always knew there was a point. Now I can see the point and there's a trail that is obvious to me from those early shots to the ones that make me happy now.

I have stuck at photography long enough to know when I can see a picture and why I am mildly obsessive about carrying a camera with me wherever I go. For anyone who cares, these are a few of my realisations.

I love street photography
I'm too shy to be a street photographer
I love the abstract elements available through photography
A photograph should express something, not just reproduce something
I prefer natural light
I prefer to frame the picture in the camera
If someone doesn't understand why I took a picture of something I no longer care
People are endlessly interesting subjects
It is important to learn the rules of photography
It is important to know when to forget the rules

And, of course, you never stop learning.


Fruit Salad

 While clearing out at my mum's house another treasure has come to light.

This is the 1959 quotation book which belonged to my dad. You can see a piece of paper tucked inside the cover and this is one of many pieces he added with his own favourites. An example of this would be:

"Knowledge is understanding a tomato is a fruit, not a vegetable. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad."

My dad's interesting relationship with humour is better illustrated here than in anything else he left behind.



When I was eight years old, in October 1972, I played Monopoly with my mum and Gran and had to write an IOU to the bank (or banck) for £350.

I know this because we dug the old board out this weekend and found the IOU underneath the Community Chest cards. My six year old daughter is now hooked on the game and I foresee quite a few winter evenings spent in a mad rush of capitalistic game play.

There is a big difference though, and it's not just my ability to spell 'bank' correctly.

When I was eight I remember enjoying the game very much, but being aware that I was probably the only person in the room doing so. My dad would not play board games, my mum did her best, while my Gran made it fairly clear, even to me, that she would rather be doing something else. If my Gran wasn't staying then games like Monopoly were unlikely to happen. Finding anyone to play chess with, without going to my friend's house, was just not going to happen.

As hardships go, this is about as minor as they get, but I'm hoping to show my children a bit more enthusiasm for these games. The bonus is that I still want to play them. Bring on the winter.


The automatic camera

Not long ago I wrote about the Piccolette camera (above on the left). I'm still trying to get film for it and hope to have some in the new year. While waiting for some 1920s technology I was lucky enough to get my hands on an Autographer (above on the right). This is either an exciting development (excuse the pun, I'm going to try really hard not to write 'focus' now) in photography or the spawn of the devil and the end of civilisation as we know it.

The Aurographer was developed from an automatic camera that helps alzheimer sufferes by capturing key moments in their day, so they can review them later. This little machine is the consumer version. It senses movement, temperature, GPS data and light levels to make a pretty good guess at when it should take a picture. In thoery you clip it on your pocket, or wear it on a lanyard and then forget about it while it takes snapshos of your day. In practice, if you are me, you become horribly self-conscious that people will point at you and acuse you of taking sneaky pictures of them. Which you are.

What works very well with the Autographer is that it's wide angle lens captures things you might not even have thought to take a picture of, had you been toting your regular camera. I wore it for an evening when I was driving to a rehearsal studio and playing music. The results made a fascinating time lapse of dark roads, setting up equipment and bopping around to the music.

It's early days for this sort of wearable tech and I for one haven't yet managed to focus (damn!) on how I'll use it.