Environmental Photographer of the Year 2016

EPOTY 2016My image from the wonderful Stroud Potato Day was shortlisted for the Environmental Photographer of the Year 2016 exhibition, showing at the Royal Geographical Society until 22 August. Sir Ranulph Fiennes was at the opening regaling expedition stories schmoozing. Bottom left is an image by Sandra Hoyn showing life jackets on Lesbos. It’s a worthy winner of the Changing Climate Award and hints at the enormity of the crises and dangers faced by refugees.


 

Beigel Bake Portrait Project in JC

JC

 

I’m grateful to the Jewish Chronicle for publishing my copy and images from the recent Beigel Bake portrait project, that I worked on with colleagues in #Ldntwentyfour7 Here it is in full:

As a Jew living in North west London I love spending time in this city’s creative epicentre, which for a number of years has been located over in the East End.

The area is awash with the latest trends worn by hipsters sporting the bushiest beards and skinniest of jeans. It’s been that way since cheap rents enticed a large artist community to colonise large studio space.

These days affordable living is being squeezed out, but the area hasn’t lost it’s cool factor. Designer cocktail bars proliferate and pop-ups can be seen on every street corner preparing the most innovative food fusions.

All that makes it even more incredible that 2 competing beigel bakeries in Brick Lane have been in existence for a combined total of 148 years, selling the same product in a similar stripped-back environment. Beigel Bake, the better known of the two has built up an iconic status for Londoners who come far and wide. Hungry customers arrive safe in the knowledge that they will receive a beigel so fresh it will invariably still be passed across the counter still warm.

My challenge as a portrait photographer was to submit one image to represent each hour of the day that Beigel Bake stays open. Twenty four in all. I undertook this project with 4 friends each with the same brief, for an exhibition showing as part of Photomonth.

The location was chosen on the basis that we couldn’t think of a place that better shows off the rich diversity of life in the metropolis today. Waifs and strays rub shoulders with city gents on a Tuesday morning, Italian tourists mingle with northern hen parties on a Saturday. Sundays are for cyclists and shoppers laden with flowers after returning from the flower market. And any night of the week cabbies pop in for a social and a cup of tea, as well as security guards at the dead of night and paramedics when they find time. All are served equally by women (usually) treating each customer as equal.

One of the first portraits I took for this project was a mother in a shiny electronic wheelchair sandwiched between a doting son and daughter. They were clinching brown paper bags of greasy salt beef beagles, the shop’s signature filling. Although the family had driven from Leytonstone she recounted fondly how her parents had led her to the same shop regularly when they lived nearby, and that their parents had done the same before them.

The business itself is owned and managed by 2 generations of family. Asher Cohen started the business after working for his brother next door, before eventually branching out and opening Beigel Bake in 1974. When Asher isn’t putting in a shift one of his two sons can be seen overseeing the sale and production of the 7,000 beigels that are produced each day. Despite all the gentrification going on all around the neighbourhood the price of a plain bagel is still only 25p, or under £4 with a generous slab of meet.

Brick Lane is a fun place to take a stroll and loitering at the top end was really not a struggle for this avid people-watcher. The most enjoyable times were on a Sunday when the street is at it’s most bustling, and at the short period of transition between night and day on a weekend morning, when clubbers arrive fresh from the party.

It was at such a time during the twilight hour that I came across a group who hadn’t been drinking. They were super cool DJs with an equally hip entourage. When they piled out of a van having made a beeline for Beigel Bake and I felt immensely proud that these individuals, celebrated within mainstream UK youth culture were engaging in a tradition inextricably linked with my own cultural and religious heritage.

Living in London it seems all too rare that tangible aspects of Jewish life are revered in the mainstream, as they undoubtably are at this round-the-clock London institution.

http://www.thejc.com/arts/arts-features/149222/how-humble-beigel-became-great-leveller

 

PhotoVoice Awards Shortlist

The Cornish AmericansGrow Heathrow

 

A selection of my photos from Transition Heathrow have been shortlisted for the Photovoice awards at Printspace in Shoreditch. On the theme of community, 5 other photographers have work featured showing diverse areas such as the reinvention of the Cornish in America today (Robert Herron) and Communes in Huerfano Valley (Zoe Childerley). All welcome to the Private View 20 August.

Massive college posters

OJ7A3955 OJ7A3968 OJ7A4008

 

I was delighted to see my pictures leap off the screen and onto these giant hoardings, advertising courses that the College of NW London offer. I spent 2 days going around the various departments shooting specifically for this purpose, spending more time than usual lighting as I knew the quality required was of paramount importance. 2 off camera flashes were used in mostly. The fact that this college offers lots of practical courses meant that desk/computer shots were thankfully kept to a minimum. I was relieved when I saw that the images were not pixelated even at over 2 meters tall – thanks Canon 5D3!

 

Sustainable Transport Exhibition

Exhibition Invitation

Exhibition2

In the summer of 2014 I was selected to undertake a commission in collaboration with FotoDocument, Photoworks and Bioregional. I was given 3 months to complete a photo essay on a One Planet principle: Transport. At the same time 9 other photographers were asked to complete similar essays on sustainability principles: Water, Materials, Zero Waste etc.

Previously several of my personal projects have been about either transport or sustainability issues, so this was a dream commission for me. And to top it all it was set in Brighton and Hove, the first city to gain One Planet status. That means it received accreditation from sustainable development charity BioRegional, and will therefore be able to implement more sustainability projects.

All of the projects are showing in site specific locations: Sustaianable Food is on at the Open Market for instance. Mine are up at Brighton’s main railway station until July 2015, so please use this excuse to come down to the south coast for a visit.

 

 

Shortlisted for Vignette Award

James window

I have been shortlisted for the Vignette Award 2013 (see part of the selction above). Vignette is a quarterly, free magazine focusing on photographic practice from around the world.

In terms of styles, this has to be one of the most diverse shortlist for an award I’ve seen. In the portrait section alone, there are example of street, documentary and contemporary “arty” styles. I’ll let you judge what mine falls into.

The image that I took which was shortlisted was taken of James at Grow Heathrow, my long term project. I had some feedback at the time suggesting that my pictures depicted an unfeasibly happy community without any suggestions of the daily struggle. When I mentioned this to James, her was all too happy to look meditatively out from his cabin into the barren winter landscape.

I didn’t win this award, but I think the judges have chosen a worth fine art picture. Check it out here.

Grow Heathrow pictures in exhibition

 
Made Possible by Squatting

I am showing some of my Grow Heathrow pictures at a week long exhibition entitled Made Possible by Squatting in Tower Hill. The selected photos are of Grow Heathrow residents who have created their own dwellings through recycled and reused materials, some of those featured in my Grow Heathrow gallery

The emphasis of the exhibition is on the ways that squatting has shaped London, and the personal stories and experiences that arise when people decide to seek shelter, make a home or carry out a project in an otherwise empty or abandoned building.

It’s been a year since the government made squatting in residential buildings a criminal offence, it may be that they will do the same with commercial buildings, which could bring about a big change.

One of the other exhibitors is Alex Casper, who claims that “Squats are a place where art is made, found, destroyed. But squatting is itself a form of artistic activity, injecting life into landscapes which would otherwise be morbid and desolate”.

The exhibition is on until Tuesday 16th September, details here.

 

Environmental Video of the Year

 

EPOTY

At the opening of the Environmental Photographer of the Year exhibition I was announced as winner of the Video of the Year for Shaking the Tree. The photos and videos in the exhibition at The Royal Geographic Society were selected from over 3,000 entries. I’m thrilled to be a part of it, it’s the biggest accolade  that I’ve received. Here I am in the photo talking to employees of one sponsor, Atkins Global.

The film documents how one man inspired an army of fruit harvesters in his local community. Michael and his team of enthusiastic volunteers gather tons of apples and pears each year which would otherwise rot. Too many to eat themselves, they put them to creative use by engaging with high street shoppers and residents. Thanks to the star Michael Stuart and all responsible for making the exhibition happen.

Environmental Photographer of the Year

Bee montage

Beekeeping picture at the Foto8 Summer Show

This picture’s done OK for me. You may know it from the homepage on my website, but it was also selected for the prestigious Foto8 Summer Show in East London. That’s me looking suntanned and a bit smug (that’s why I’d rather take pictures) in July 2012. The photo has also been reproduced in the Transition Free Press and helped me get my foot in the door at Friends of the Earth. As from April 10th-May 3rd it will be on show at The Royal Geographical Society in South Kensington as part of the Environmental Photographer of the Year, as well as one of my films, Shaking the Tree. The picture itself was taken during a gorgeous day in Finsbury Park, as part of a workshop. All the participants were told to don a beekeeping suit, which begs me to ask whether I should wear one more often.

Photofusion exhibition of Grow Heathrow pictures.

Photofusion exhibition

Photofusion exhibition

Thanks to Photofusion Gallery in Brixton for selecting 3 of my pictures for their Annual Members’ Photography Salon, which will open on 6th December. The pictures are all from the Grow Heathrow series, more about which is written below. They’ll be shown on a slide show.

The two featured above both depict housing. The photo on the left is of two participants preparing cob, a material used for house building composed of local ingredients: clay, sand, hay, water and earth. It is fireproof, inexpensive and has been revived in recent years by the sustainability movement. Mixing the ingredients was a very interactive, not altogether clean experience. I like the photo because, for me, it contains an element of romance between the two participants.

I have been trying to document the structures that residents at Grow Heathrow sleep in (top right). They are all unique and some very innovative due to the constraints that are placed upon them by using only renewable and found materials. This one is surrounded by tomato plants, and rather a lot of wild bushes, reminiscent to me of the Alaskan wilderness!