A certain kind of photography is in no small part a craft of access. Get access, and all you need to do is pull focus and get the exposure right, and beautiful images will fall out onto your lap. —Craig Mod

This quote from CM’s excellent new pop-up newsletter about jazz kissas in Japan, nails a feeling I have on many shoots. Specifically, how the places & people that I photograph hugely influence the quality of my images. I always make usable pictures — that’s part of being professional. But sometimes I’m dropped into a scenario so special that magic happens wherever I point the camera…

I found this short poem in a text file from 2016 while clearing out my Dropbox:

A warm full moon seen,
through a break in the clouds,
Hangs above red taillights,
streaming away into darkness.

I have no idea if I wrote it or copied it from elsewhere.

Week Notes 004, 005 & 006 — W/E 30 April, 7 May & 14 May 2023

I missed the last three weeks of weeknotes. A weekend ran away from me, followed by two more weeks… I’m rolling them all together here so I don’t break the chain. And now they are so late, I have to write another one almost immediately!

It’s hard to find the time during busy weeks, but weeknotes feel like a productive practice so far. They’re clarifying to write and I’ll feel that I’ll value having snapshots of my life and thinking week by week.

I want to avoid a pile-ups in the future, so I’ll be heeding James Clear’s advice for future issues:

When in doubt: keep the schedule, reduce the scope.

W/E 30 April

Private dinner in Claridges's Art Space for Alexi Lubomirski's book The Sittings. There is the end of a table entering the left of frame. It's lit by candles and guests are eating dinner. The space has a concrete floor and white walls. There are large photos printed mosiac style onto a black band that runs around the way of the room. There's a picture of Julia Roberts's smile reflected in a convertible's rearview mirror and the exhibition text on the wall to the right of frame.
  • Shot at the private dinner to celebrate the launch of Alexi Lubomirski’s new book in Claridge’s new art gallery. I loved the way he presented the prints without frames, mosaic-style, playing with scale and juxtaposition. I massively overshot, given the magazines needs (~12 pictures), but the extra coverage helped with the tricky lighting conditions. Due to bad planning / mixed messages about deadlines / desire to work when the flat was quiet, I worked late on both the on-the-night preview edit (0200) and then the final grade a few days later (0400). I love working in the early hours as I feel so peaceful and focussed, but I don’t think it’s a good long-term solution to distracted days. I get a huge amount done, particularly on projects I’ve been putting off, but it pushes my clock around, leading to a cycle of late waking and late working that getting more and more extreme. I often wish I was one of those larks who can jump out of bed at 0500 and get 3 hours of creative work in before the world wakes up.
  • I really enjoyed My Life as a Courgette, a beautifully animated film set in a children’s home. It’s dark, funny, and philosophical, with an ease that is inimitably French. It doesn’t shy away from tough subjects but never slips into lazy pessimism or unrelenting bleakness. The visuals are a treat, with great attention paid to gesture that reveals character. I loved the styling of the vehicles, with their boxy, low-slung silhouettes and tiny wheels.
  • On Friday, I walked past a small crew taking pictures of a model against the wall of my block. I thought that the background was a bit dull (photo snob!), so I invited them into the building to take pictures from the top-floor walkway and interior staircases. They had come to London from Japan to shoot for their fashion brand. The photographer had studied at LCF (or maybe somewhere else?) so she knew London well. I grabbed a quick pic of them, directed them to a few nice spots, and left them to explore.
portrait of four Japanese fashion photoshoot crewmembers standing on an 5th floor open-air walkway in North London. Behind them, the view shows moody clouds and Canary Wharf on the skyline

W/E 7 May

  • First trip out of London with baby last week — to the South Coast near Rye to visit my mum. Worked over the weekend before so that I could relax (hence no weeknotes). The day we left was particularly stressful. I worked until 0400 the night before to finish an edit. Then I spent the next morning locating every picture from my old site in my archive to export out in high res for my new site to upload while away. Of course, I did nothing of the sort. Time just dissolved into the aether throughout the week… It wasn’t totally in vain though. Going away was exactly the kind of artificial deadline that I needed to stop procrastinating and get on with the one thing that had been holding up work on the site for weeks.
  • The trip was good, with mostly pleasant weather. Baby T gained a new nickname, Yuri, as she looked like a little cosmonaut in her car seat. We walked at an acute angle into strong winds on Camber Beach. We visited friends and had a tour of their House of Many Staircases. I ate veggie pasties and we drank all the drinks at the new cafe on Rye Nature Reserve. We marvelled at the wild orchids, tulips, and mega fennel at Great Dixter. We graciously accepted any and all compliments directed at our Cute Baby. We ate excellent pizza (while standing up and soothing T) at bucolic hipster paradise, Tillingham. We were mildly devastated to arrive at The Fish Shack at Dungeness to find them out of their famed fried potatoes. We drove home. We accept that this chronology is deeply garbled.
View down the beach at Camber Sands shot from the dunes. The grass and sand of the dunes are in the foreground and wrap around to the skyline on the left of frame. The strip of the sandy beach and the sea are to the right of frame. The sky is blue and there are some hazy clouds. There is an orange flag flying on a white flagpole in the distance in the center-right of the picture, at the edge of the dunes.
  • Back to London to shoot street pictures around the Coronation. I’d hired a Leica M10-R to trial over the long weekend. I’ve been obsessing over the idea of buying a Leica digital rangefinder for a while now, but I wanted to try one out to avoid a very expensive mistake. The last film camera that I used was an M6 TTL, so it’s a way of working that I’m familiar with and enjoy, but I didn’t know if my desire to re-adopt that approach was pure nostalgia or G.A.S.. In any event, I picked it up on the Saturday morning from Leica Mayfair and then headed further south in search of action. I was a bit nervous at the prospect of taking a multi-thousand-pound camera and lens out into the soggy conditions, but my worries were soothed by the Leica rep. He said that the only reason they can’t call the camera weather-sealed is because there is no gasket to seal the lens mount and that they are otherwise pretty hardy. I still made an effort to keep the camera out of the worst of the weather and wiped it down regularly like Macbeth trying to wash his hands of imagined blood.
  • The M10-R held up brilliantly in the rain and I enjoyed working in the rangefinder mode again. I love the RF viewfinder experience — you can see the action around the frame and there’s no mirror black-out to hide the moment that you captured. I also love the physical skills and mental acuity required to shoot with the camera — no AF, manual/range focussing every frame, guessing distances, making decisions about depth-of-field, framing, positioning, and exposure compensation to anticipate the needs of the next picture to present itself to you. It’s a very embodied way of working and it’s brilliant for sharpening your attention. My only frustration was with the slow start-up time. I was keeping the camera switched off and turning it on to shoot like I do with my X-T4s and GRIII. But the Leica’s slightly slower wake-up window meant that I missed a few nice opportunities. I think if I owned one I would just buy more batteries and leave it on while shooting, but as I only had one battery to last all day I had to baby it.
  • I shot for a good few hours, before rain and Union Jack-induced burnout hit. I started at a small screening party in Grosvenor Square to get warmed up and get used to the camera. Then I walked down to Green Park, along the marshalled route to Hyde Park, down into the screening area near the Serpentine, then along to Piccadilly, and finally down to Trafalgar Square before wending my way home. I didn’t get anything amazing, but I really enjoyed the process and still got a nice set to document the day.
  • Bumped into my friend Georgia by Tottenham Court Road tube on the way home. We sat outside a bar, huddled under the table umbrella, and had a catch-up. Then I shot a quick portrait of her at the base of Centre Point.
Portrait of actor, Georgia Winters, standing against a grey tiled wall against the base of Centre Point. She is wearing a black jacket and a light grey hoodie, with the hood up.
  • I tried and failed to organise some more test scenarios for Sun and Monday. I wanted to use the camera in circumstances that reflect my usual working environments and was feeling grumpy and frustrated for not planning further in advance. Imogen sensibly kicked me out of the house on Sunday afternoon to shoot some street stuff to combat the aforementioned grumpiness. I walked into town via Regents Park and picked up my sister on the way. We walked down Portland Place to Oxford Circus and then curved down to Leicester Square via Piccadilly, before walking up to Tottenham Court Road to get the bus home from near Warren Street. I got a nice pic of an older Asian couple in Piccadilly and then one of my better street portraits — a lady and a young boy selling plastic children’s toys on the pavement near Goodge Street station. So even though I was bemoaning leaving late and missing the best light, it was still well worth it. The magic of street photography for me is that even if you get nothing but crap you’ve still had a good walk and spent a few hours paying closer attention to your surroundings than you would have otherwise.
  • On Monday before taking the camera back, I went for a walk around Regents Park with Imogen and T, as well as Imogen’s friends and their kids. I’d been annoyed that I hadn’t had a chance to use the Leica in a documentary situation. But trying to manually focus on two children under 7 years old as they dashed around, rode on shoulders, demanded to be aeroplanes, and bedecked a buggy with picked flowers was the perfect test of whether I was fast enough to work with the M10 in a fast-moving situation. These were some of the nicest pictures of the weekend (and much appreciated). More and more, partially inspired by this post on The Online Photographer talking about the photographer’s responsibility as a documentarian, I believe that one of the key responsibilities of the photographer is to make pictures that document the lives of you, your family and your friends. Don’t sweat the arty shit for a day, forget your worries about ‘authenticity’, and release your aspirational desires. Make pictures of the friends, family, cute kids, great dogs, evil cats, and loveable oldies that are woven into your life. Everything is changing all of the time — and everything that you think is integral to your life will be gone forever soon enough.
small child in a yellow rainsuit waving two small Union Jack flags at the Coronation of Kings Charles celebration in Hyde Park. The child is standing on grass, under the shelter of a sycamore tree, whose branches are just visible at the top of frame. There is a younger child in a blue rainsuit to the right, and two adults in red rain gear on the left. There is a large crowd surrounding the main subjects that extends into the distance.

W/E 14 May

  • shot a quick job at the beginning of the week. Turned it around in good time. Apart from having very little time to shoot and some tricky mixed lighting, all went smoothly.
  • Great day out at Photo London with Mathieu Chaze. I went for the first time last year (also with Mathew) and I’m not sure why I left it so long. Even when most of the work doesn’t resonate with me it’s a great place to wander around and bump into old friends or legends of the UK photo scene. We had coffee at a table next to Martin Parr in the morning and in the afternoon I nearly collided with Julian Marshall, a photographer turned painter who I used to assist when I was starting out. It’s a shame the weather was crap, as it curtailed the courtyard people-watching that was a big part of the experience last year. Lots of attendees were ostentatiously carrying cameras to let others know that they were phototographers. And to my eye, there were far more Leicas on display than seemed representative of the UK photo community…
  • I saw a lot of individual nice pictures and some beautiful photobooks, but a lot of the work felt either obtuse, derivative, or corporate/cheesy, particularly in the central tent. There were still plenty of black and white ‘fine art’ nudes of a type that I thought died out in the 70s. High contrast T&A clearly still has a market.
  • I’d already seen them at COB gallery, but Jack Davison’s incredible etchings printed from his photos were a highlight for me. I also liked Finnish photographer Aapo Huhta’s project Omatandangole and thought that Michael Christopher Brown’s post-photography, A.I. ‘reportage’ project, 90 Miles about the Cuban boat people and the conditions in Cuba that prompted their journey to Florida was a more interesting approach to generative imagery. Too many good single images to mention by name (shout out to insane talent coming out of Japan, as always). On the book front I really liked the light and mood in Nemurushima (The Sleeping Island) by Kentaro Kumon. It’s a series of quiet and contemplative pictures made on a small island that only has a dozen or so residents left. I also liked the Secret of Light catalogue from a Ralph Gibson retrospective show. (The person manning the store said Gibson found the show a little odd, as it felt like he was already dead). I really like Gibson’s moody and surreal B&W work from La Trilogie which is included in Secret of Light. But I enjoyed seeing his new-to-me contemporary colour work. It’s clean and minimal, and a little uncanny. All the trickery and symbolism of the work I was familiar with is gone, replaced with incisive attention to form and texture.
  • Imogen swung by Somerset House with Baby T at in a break within rainstorms for Mathieu to meet our new addition. She slept through the entire process, so it wasn’t much more than ‘Look! We made a baby.’ I made my way home after Mathieu did his signing for his brilliant book Rock, Paper, Scissors
  • Lovely social weekend. Breakfast with family, then a friend of Imogen’s came around in the afternoon for a baby viewing on Saturday. Coffee in perfect sunshine outside Italo in Bonington Square with one of Imogen’s authors, then on to Camberwell for an impeccable lunch at Imogen’s friend’s new flat. Light filled and suffused with calm.
looking up at a narrow staircase running over the center of the frame. Curved staircases lead up to it from both sides with intricate ironwork railings. A woman is walking up the lefthand staircase. The top of a photo booth is seen above the bottom edge of the frame. It has a black illuminated sign with a white border and white text that reads 'Photographies'

Music

6°30'33​.​372"N 3°22'0​.​66"E by Emeka Ogboh — Ambient techno, experimental electronica, and dub sampling the day to day bustle around Ojuelegba bus station in Lagos.

Cendre by Fennesz and Ryuichi Sakamoto — elegant and beautiful interweaving of Sakamoto’s piano and Fennesz’s electronics.

Shebang by Oren Ambarchi — delicate, intricate, and hypnotic.

Watched

Two great episodes of Paulie B’s Walkie Talkie series:

  • Poupay Jutharat — written about here
  • Melissa O’Shaughnessy — Melissa is such a brilliant interviewee — she’s great at dissecting her process, talking about her mentorship from Joel Meyerowitz, and advocating for new perspectives in street photography. She’s got some great quotes in her pocket too.

Read

Alice Zoo — Photographing Childhood

Austin Kleon — The Thing that Sticks Out — Perhaps the things that make you or your work weird are the most important things?

Listened

Two great interviews: Emma Hardy - A Small Voice

Mentors & Marketing w/ Zoe Whishaw

In between pictures from 25 hours in Venice. 📷

Dil Green on the difference between care and cleverness:

Care is regenerative. If you care for someone and you put care into a system, it becomes more capable of caring for you. Cleverness, though, is always extractive. Cleverness looks at a situation, goes away, and thinks, “Aha! I’ve made a new idea out of that.” It’s taken something away from a system or situation and all it’s come up with is a clever idea.

Via Jack Cheng #396 Maintenance Ethic

In flight street photography 📷

A Transcendental Gap

“With your thought you can’t encapsulate everything that an apple is, because you forgot to taste it. But biting into an apple won’t capture everything an apple is either, because you forgot to tunnel into it like a worm. And so with tunneling too. What you have, in each case, is not the apple in itself, but apple data: you have an apple thought, you have an apple bite, you have an apple tunnel. A diagram of every possible access to the apple throughout all of time and space—assuming it could be made (which it couldn’t)—would miss the kind of apple that a less complete diagram would capture. And in both cases you wouldn’t have an apple, you would have an apple diagram. But for sure there is apple data: apples are green, round, juicy, sweet, crunchy, packed with Vitamin C; they make an appearance in Genesis as the most unfortunate snack in human history, they sit on boys’ heads waiting for arrows to shoot them in stories…. None of these things are the apple as such. There is a radical gap between the apple and how it appears, its data, such that no matter how much you study the apple, you won’t be able to locate the gap by pointing to it: it’s a transcendental gap.”

—Timothy Morton, Being Ecological (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2018), xxix–xxx.

Via The Path of Aliveness by Christian Dillo 📚

I loved this Walkie Talkie Interview with NYC-based, Thai photographer Poupay Jutharat (Jutharat Pinyodoonyachet ).

She’s got an insane eye for character, detail and juxtaposition that she applies it as ferociously on the street as she does at VIP parties. On top of that, she radiates positivity, drive, and love for photography. And she uses a pink flash that looks like a hairdryer. What’s not to like?

Avoid confusing the editor’s cold detachment with the inner critic. The critic doubts the work, undermines it, zooms in and picks it apart. The editor steps back, views the work holistically, and supports its full potential.

The editor is the professional in the poet.

From The Creative Act by Rick Rubin

Skylines and gateways 📷

From my collaborative newsletter, Signal Chain, with @duncangeere@vis.social

Present, Spacious, Alive

Following on from the previous post, I loved this podcast/dharma talk

Christian Dillo on the case against happiness, the problem of having a problem with our problems, merely doing it, unconditional aliveness, the difference between pain and suffering, and saying ‘yes’ to the truth of your experience.

Suffering = Pain x Resistance

Christian Dillo on Pain and Letting Go

I.

We need to reverse the habituated get-away-from-pain dynamic and create a new turn-toward-pain dynamic. This turning toward is friendly or, as I will call it going forward, kind, because contrary to our common and deeply embedded habit of resistance, it accepts and even welcomes what is already the truth of our experience. If something is already the truth of our experience at this particular moment, why resist it, why not be intimate and present with it as it is?


II.

For most people, letting go of pain means getting rid of pain. This is an understandable error because the pursuit of happiness compels us to maximize pleasure and minimize pain. We can begin to enter a deeper understanding of letting go when we turn the idea upside down and explore what it means to let pain come. Look at it this way: letting go is the opposite of grasping and also the opposite of pushing away. Let’s look at both, one at a time.

From The Path of Aliveness

Week Notes 003 — W/E 23 April 2023

Work

  • Shot one small commercial job. Finished the edit over the weekend and just dispatched the grade [on Monday]. (I was battling spotlights throughout the shoot — they’re the bane of my photographic life.) I tweaked some of the shortcuts on my Loupedeck CT which really helped me speed up a few common processes.
  • Lots of progress on my new site — though it’s sadly invisible outside of my computer. I’ve created Lightroom folios to mirror the site folios, so that it’s easy to process new images for the site without hunting in my archive for images from individual projects. I’ve recreated the folios from the old site almost exactly to use in the short term. I’m going to refine them once the new site is live. There are so many updates to make that if I wait until I’ve finessed each sequence to ‘perfection’ before launch, it will take months. I’ve learned that it’s better to get things out of the door and then iterate and improve, rather than taking forever to create the canonical output (which is almost always outdated on release). In particular, a website is a garden to tend, not a sculpture that is fixed in its final form. I’ve added a film section too and need to populate it with embeds, thumbnails, and summaries.

Be prolific, not perfect

  • I’ve been posting at least a picture a day to this micro.blog and I’ve enjoyed diving into my archive to find an image that resonates. While I have to turn around most work shoots in 1-5 days, I’ve shot personal images that I haven’t seen since I downloaded them from the SD card. I feel like I’m discovering some of these pictures for the first time. I have a sense that if I continue to shoot more, without looking at the images that I’ve made in the past, I’ll be working blind. If I don’t revisit old work, I’m likely to miss themes and subjects that I’m drawn to subconsciously and won’t be able to strengthen my work by developing these hidden threads further. I want to set aside at least a few hours a week for editing personal work, to tie the pictures I’m making now to the images that came before.

AI

The speed at which AI is improving in different fields really hit me in a visceral way over the last couple of weeks. In photography, there was the first viral AI image mistaken for a photo, Pope in a Puffer; the AI ‘portrait’ that would have won a Sony photography prize if the creator hadn’t revealed its provenance, and the first AI ‘photo’ to fool me in the wild. I tapped on the latter in my Discover feed so that I could check out what seemed to be an excellent doc-style portrait of a young woman in a diner. It took reading the caption to recognise that it wasn’t made with a camera and that the woman and the diner don’t exist.

I’ve understood for a while that AI ‘photography’ would cannibalise the product, ecomm, stock, and maybe fashion spaces. But I thought genres like documentary or street photography, where authenticity is a cornerstone of their appeal, would be safe for a while. Perhaps that’s true philosophically, but soon it’s going to be nearly impossible to tell which bodies of work are real and which are synthetic. The ability to create consistent characters in believable environments is improving week on week.

Regarding music, I’d been predicting to friends that we would see an AI-generated hit within 1–3 years, maybe 5, but now I’m radically revising that down. I heard the pseudo-Drake x The Weeknd track Heart on my Sleeve last week. Not only does it sound like them, it’s also a solid commercial hip-hop track. I’d bet that it would be indistinguishable from tracks from the usual suspects in Spotify’s ‘Made For’ playlist. Instead of my previous ‘hmmm, cool trick’ response to most AI demos, hearing this was a definite oh shit moment.

I’ve known intellectually that AI would overtake all the drudge work, and then eventually all the aspirational occupations, but this is the first time I felt it emotionally. I want to get more hands-on experience with the key tools to gain a tacit understanding of what’s possible. Consuming breathless articles and podcasts about singularities, rapid takeoff scenarios, and the end of work, won’t actually ground me in their real-world applications or the best way to leverage them for their creative possibilities. I think that we’re in for an insane few years…

Food & Drink

Two great and new to me places this week:

  • The Pitted Olive — delicious and hearty Turkish lunch of gozleme and salads for £10 just south of St Pancras
  • Hakata — brilliant ramen joint a hundred meters or so from White Cube Bermondsey. Incredible vegan chocolate and coconut & lime ice cream too…

Recent discoveries added to the Want to Go list:

Art

Saw two shows on Saturday:

  • Af Klint & Mondrian at Tate Modern — I enjoyed this despite not being a huge fan of either artist. As always, it’s interesting to see how skilled many abstract painters are when painting representationally early in their careers. Mondrian in particular had a great eye and hand for rendering subtle lighting effects. I’m a sucker for botanical drawings and really enjoyed the wall of Klint’s intricate sketches of various flowers, grasses, and weeds. Such precision and delicacy. I preferred Mondrian’s work that he was making just before he found his way to the grids and primary colours that he is known for. The palette is softer and the compositions have a little more dynamism and structural looseness. The group of large-scale Klint’s in the final room were a powerful end to the show and included my two favourite pieces of hers. They were so large that the gallery recedes and you feel like you are inhabiting the paintings
  • Marguerite Humeau — meys at White Cube Bermondsey — a large dim room of sculptures that have organic forms, and seem to be made from natural materials, but on closer inspection bear the mark of computer-aided design and production techniques. I loved that the artist considered each sense in order to create an immersive experience. Sounds emanate from deep within some of the sculptures — knocks, clicks, drones — and they blend into an ambient soundscape that envelops the space, and covers the noise of the visitor’s movements. The smell of beeswax creeps up on you as you move past the structures that are made of discs, covered with hexagonal cells, piled up to make a larger form (reminiscent of fungus on the trunk of a tree). Lastly, there were curved seesaws of knobbly wood that you’re invited to lie on. They pose a fun contradiction — the rocking motion is relaxing, but the ridges and mounds on the surface made it impossible to find a comfortable position.

Tools

I’ve been fiddling with Raycast all week. As a long-time Alfred user, it’s been interesting to switch out my app launcher. Alfred still feels snappier, and I prefer its approach to snippets (having a dedicated shortcut to pull them up immediately), but otherwise, I’m really enjoying the change. I like that much of Raycast’s standard functionality e.g. natural language input for calculations and currency conversions, required slightly janky workflows in Alfred. I’m signed up for the Raycast AI beta, so we’ll see how I feel when/if it gives me automation superpowers. I have a lifetime license for Alfred, so there’s no pressure to make a choice yet. I’m going to keep dialling in my Raycast setup and will see what sticks.

I’ve been experimenting with Narrative Select for culling the crap from big shoots. It’s good at ditching the obviously bad pictures, those with funny expressions or blinks for example, but it’s hopeless at pushing good pictures to the fore. Unfortunately, sometimes the best pictures also get pulled into the ‘rejects’ stream if they’re very dynamic — people laughing or moving and so on. It would be great to have help with the initial cull before I finesse the edit and select hero images, particularly while on a tight deadline, but it’s nowhere near ready for prime time. Its best feature has nothing to do with AI — I love how snappy it feels when flicking between pictures. It’s the main reason that I often use it for my first run through the images, before shipping the one stars to (slow and bloated) Lightroom CC. See Craig Mod on Fast Software, the Best Software for a refined take on the pleasures of speed.

Music

Reading

I’m rawing near the end of The Creative Act by Rick Rubin. I’m going to do a write-up of my notes once I wrap it. About 40 pages left. I’m still reading The Path of Aliveness by Christian Dillo too…

Read a couple of good articles over the last few days:

…traditional architecture has always tended to be structurally dishonest. So if this is what makes contemporary traditional architecture pastiche, then most traditional architecture has been pastiche since the faux timbering of the Parthenon. Contemporary traditional architects have most of the great builders of our history as their companions in guilt.

The modernist critic thus has two alternatives: either to concede that neither the modern nor the premodern traditional architect is a pastiche artist, or to claim that both are, and hence that Greek, Roman, Renaissance, Baroque architecture – and potentially many others – should all be condemned as fake. The latter option is consistent but hard to take seriously. It is difficult to resist the conclusion that, however important an understanding of structure may be in our appreciation of certain buildings, structural honesty is no more necessary to good architecture than originality is.

Marguerite Humeau — meys, White Cube Bermondsey, April 2022 📷

Some Favourite Jazz Albums

A few jazz recommendations that were too good to languish solely in a reply to @gosha@merveilles.town:

Some favourites — classic edition:

  • John Coltrane — A Love Supreme
  • Keith Jarrett — The Köln Concert
  • Yusef Lateef — Eastern Sounds
  • Alice Coltrane — Ptah The El Daoud
  • The Dave Brubeck Quartet — Time Out

Some favourites — contemporary edition:

  • Sam Gendel & Sam Wilkes — Music For Saxofone and Bass Guitar
  • Nubya Garcia — Nubya’s Five
  • Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah — The Emancipation Procrastination
  • The Necks — Travel
  • Mammal Hands — Floa
  • Robohands — Violet
  • Group Listening — Clarinet & Piano: Selected Works, Vol. 1

🎵

Northern Soul at Rivoli Ballroom, June 2022 📷

Man lit by flash dancing to northern soul at the rivoli ball room. He's wearing a short sleeved white shirt and his head is thrown back with his eyes closes. You can see a man and woman dancing in the background. She is looking to camera. The background is red from the ambient lighting.

There Should Be A Guy

by Max Lavergne

There should be a guy who every morning rides his bicycle down to the main street and sets up a small glass case of beautiful cakes he has made. He should sell the cakes at a reasonable price to whoever comes. The cakes should be both beautiful and inspiring. They should be sumptuously iced and decorated with fruits and sugared flowers which are not only lovely to behold but genuinely delicious. He should sit on a low half wall and read a newspaper folded into quarters until the cakes are all sold. As soon as the last one is sold he should tie the glass case to the back of his bike and cycle to the market to buy fresh eggs and flour, chocolate, fruit, all the things he needs to make cakes for tomorrow. And then he should ride his bicycle home, where he should kiss the top of the low door frame leading into his widower’s cottage because it will always remind him of her. And then he makes the cakes for the next day. Now that’s what should happen. It should be happening already, in towns all over the country. Hell, all over the world. If it’s not then fuck it. Let the bombs fall. Let them turn the beaches to glass. Return us to hunter gatherers, cowering in caves. Miserable dirty people dying of cold when it rains for too long. Let us slowly work our way back up if we can’t get even that part right when it should be so obvious. See if the next crop are smarter. And if they aren’t then try again. As long as it takes. Let our distant descendents hide in the shadows of the brick walls we built. I don’t think that’s too extreme.

Link to original

Pride, London, 2022 📷

street photo of a man's legs with his upper body hidden by multi-colored balloons. The man is seen from the back and wearing white trainers and a white sequined top

LA Foods, Queen’s Crescent, 2022 📷

Vaugines, France, 2018 📷

Outside Tottenham Court Road station 📷

# Week Notes 002 — W/E 15 April 2023

  • On Wednesday I shot installation pictures before an evening event in the cloisters and garden at Westminster Abbey. It was a such a beautiful environment to work in, particularly when the late afternoon light broke through the clouds, slicing through the arches and warming the stone. I loved the feeling of standing on ancient paving slabs, smoothed and rounded by hundreds of years of footsteps. Even amidst the buzz of activity, a sense of peacefulness and quiet suffused the space.
  • The cloisters reminded me of my favourite Serpentine Pavilion: Peter Zumthor’s 2011 black box which concealed a garden at its centre. I love architecture that is open-centred; that wraps around a tranquil, contemplative space. Think Moroccan riads, Mexican courtyards and Zen Gardens. I particularly like courtyards with cloisters. They blur the boundary between inside and outside, creating a transitional space to rest in or pass through.
  • I’ve enjoyed following Jack Cheng’s progress through the Building Beauty course, which centres on the design and architectural principles of Christopher Alexander. In another life I might have been an architect, so it’s been so fun to read about the assignments that he’s been set and how he is working through them (and of course thinking about what I would do in his place!). My favourite so far is A House for Oneself — a project to design your dream house, anchoring the plan to your ‘project jewels’, the five to seven elements of a home that are most important to you. The post covers the whole process from staking out the site, scribbled plans, and on through building models of progressively increasing complexity. I love the approach of working through ideas using models not computers. The crudeness and inaccuracy of working with cardboard is a feature that one can harness to steer their creativity. It encourages experimentation with volumes and areas in search of a harmonious whole, without getting distracted by details and precision. I think that the ideas about balancing different elements, solidifying the relationships between them and enhancing natural centres have a lot of parallels with successful photographic composition and image editing and sequencing.
  • The edit was pretty brutal to turn around, even with a couple of days to do it. Lots of multi-hour straight-through editing and grading sessions. I was pretty square-eyed by the time I finished on Friday evening. Everything seems slower and harder to achieve with a baby, or maybe you are more aware of all the time that you aren’t spending with your new (beloved and sometimes nightmarish) addition, so the time spent on a project has more ‘weight’.
  • lots of baby viewings towards the end of the week and over the weekend. Great reviews from all.
  • ran errands in town on Saturday then walked back through the park. Decided to walk between all of my stops so that I could make use of the beautiful light and shoot some street. As it’s harder to go out for the whole day with baby, I’m trying to use the gaps between errands/appointments or the journeys to and from them, to shoot on the street and keep my eye in. A long time ago I read a (potentially Austin Kleon?) post about building margin into your day and using that time for your personal creative work. The writer gave the example of ordering food and immediately leaving to pick it up so that you can write in your journal or sketch while you wait at the restaurant. Not only do 10mins here and 20 mins there add up, but this approach has the positive side effect of making your life less stressful — you have some padding built in for life’s delays. Since I adopted this approach I’ve gone from being a pathological Latey-Matey to being early or punctual 90% of the time.
  • I’ve enjoyed posting random pictures and thoughts to micro.blog. It feels less precious that posting to my Instagram grid, which has to remain more of a curated professional space. This blog is intended to be looser and more playful — a place to work in public.
  • I keep trying and failing to make time to play around with the headless version of the Dirtywave M8 that I have set up on a Teensy 4.1. I’m looking forward to seeing how the tracker workflow fits with my brain. Who knows what the results will be, but I am very excited about the prospect of making some music.
  • The big goal this week: not to let work drift into the evenings when the flat is quieter, but instead use that prime time for personal creative projects or reading and unwinding. Likewise, I need to carve out some time for exercise and longer meditations as I’ve been letting both slide and they keep me happy and functional.

Music

Lots of great music this week:

Watched

  • You People — so bad that I can’t link to it in good conscience.
  • BEEF — one episode in — not sure how I feel about it yet. It feels like it could pick up steam, but at the moment I’m a little ambivalent.

Reading

  • The Creative Act by Rick Rubin
  • The Path of Aliveness by Christian Dillo

Recorder and rollerskates, Oxford Street 📷

Westminster Abbey after hours. 📷

Two incredible Tiny Desk Concerts:

Fred Again.. — a beautiful blend of technical skill and pure soul

C Tangana — (literally) sun-drenched and full of joy

🎵