This essay, on the photography of Chris Killip and Graham Smith, was my Observer column this week. It was published on 16 October 2022, under the headline “To romanticise or demonise – not the only ways to frame working-class lives”. An old man walking between rows of terraced housing and, behind him, the sky erased by the huge bow of a ship being built. A teenager picking coal on a beach. A man manoeuvring his horse and cart around a car dumped […]
Yes, it snowed in London today, albeit briefly. So, some snow photos (not all from today, but all from south-east London). Snow and ice with a dash of colour (apart from the final black and white at night image). And if you are interested, there are more photos on my photography site, Light Infusion.
I have, over the past few weeks, been reorganising Light Infusion, my photographic website. Apart from a bit of tidying up, it’s just about completed. So, it’s open to browse – and buy prints, if you wish. (And if anyone spots any errors, do let me know.) Here is a small sample of photographs from each of the sections on the site. . Landscape . Cathedral Mountain, in Yoho National Park in the Canadian Rockies, bursting through the early morning […]
These are photos from Sadarghat, the river port of Dhaka, which in many ways is a microcosm of the city itself – in-your-face, bursting with life, tumultuous and gritty, with people and goods and boats all on the move. There are huge multi-storeyed ferries, carrying both passengers and cargo, bound for destinations all over the country. The poorest passengers simply lay a mat on the lower deck; the upper decks have individual cabins for those who can afford it. In […]
Faidabad, in the northern suburb of Uttara, is among the poorest areas in Dhaka. The narrow dirt streets and the shacks that line the main arterial road are witness to that. It is far from any tourist spot – it can take a couple of hours of driving through Dhaka’s chaotic traffic and legendary jams to reach Faidabad from the centre of the city. Faidabad is also home to a remarkable mosque, modernist, austere and strikingly beautiful. Designed by Marina […]
From the outside, the Italian Chapel on Orkney would barely catch your eye. Yet, it is a remarkable building, with a remarkable history. A house of God that is also is a monument to the human spirit. In January 1942, more than a thousand Italian prisoners of war, captured mainly in North Africa, were brought to Orkney. They were needed to construct the Churchill Barriers – four causeways that today act as links between a number of the southern Orkney islands […]
‘A wart-covered picture of America by a joyless man’, wrote the photographer and critic Minor White. ‘A sad poem by a very sick person’, snorted Popular Photography. The object of their scorn was The Americans, a collection of images of American life by the photographer Robert Frank, who died last week, aged 94. It is difficult today to recognize how revolutionary was Frank’s work when it was first published 60 years ago. His style, his mode of observation, his subject matter […]
The Western Isles and the Northern Isles, at the very edges of Britain, are rarely blessed with blue skies and bright sun. They are swaddled in cloud and wind and rain. And, yet, there is here a quality of light that you rarely see elsewhere in Britain. The cloudscape is an extension of the landscape, and as the light suffuses through the cloud, it acquires a painterly, almost ethereal, quality. It may be why there are so many artists on […]
Against the background of the debate about squalor and brutality of the USA’s immigrant detention centres – and whether they constitute ‘concentration camps’, a debate I might engage in sometime – it is worth remembering that America has a long history of mass detention camps. Among the most notorious were the internment camps for Japanese-Americans during the Second World War. ‘The Japanese race’, observed General John L DeWitt, head of the US Army’s Western Defense Command, and a key figure […]
While in Australia, I spent a couple of days on the Great Ocean Road in Victoria. It’s a beautiful coastline, with some spectacular geological features. The first part up to Apollo Bay hugs the coastline and makes for an exhilarating drive. But beyond Apollo Bay, you can barely see the ocean from the Great Ocean Road. This is where many of the geological features are – The Twelve Apostles, Loch Ard Gorge, London Bridge, etc – and you nip off […]
The Côte de Granit Rose runs along the eastern Breton coast from Plestin-les-Greves to Louannec. It’s quite unlike the rest of the coastline in Northern France. As the name suggests, it is formed of rose-coloured granite, and along sections, particularly north of Tréguier, the rocks are eroded and folded into fantastic sculptural shapes, abstract and otherworldly. .
I published a post a while back on the brutalism of London’s Southbank. That brutalism looks very different at night, darkness giving a different shape, as it were, to form and colour. Most of these photos were taken about a week ago, though a couple are from my earlier post.
It’s a tiny church in a Normandy hamlet that we stumbled upon almost by accident. But, dramatically perched on the cliff edge, with views along the northern coast of France towards Calais, it’s not difficult to see why the Église Saint-Valéry in Varengeville-sur-Mer has attracted so many painters. Claude Monet painted it dozens of times (the one above is simply called ‘The Church at Varengeville’); Pissarro, Corot and Isabey are among others who have depicted it too. Apparently when the […]
‘My prime concern was with values – what did we value in South Africa, how did we get to those values and how did we express those values,’ David Goldblatt observed. ‘I was very interested in the events that were taking place in the country as a citizen but, as a photographer, I’m not particularly interested, and I wasn’t then, in photographing the moment that something happens. I’m interested in the conditions that give rise to events.’ David Goldblatt, who died […]
Kőszeg is a small Hungarian town almost on the Austrian border. Its roots lie in the 13th century, and it is suffused with history, and full of architectural gems. Its churches are historically fascinating, being witness to shifting religious alliances and affiliations, and often strikingly beautiful. I did not, unfortunately, have the chance to visit many. The two here are St James’ Church, built at the turn of the 14th and 15th centuries supposedly from the remnants of a demolished […]