A photographer’s guide to period properties.
Photographers

A photographer’s guide to period properties.

One of the most amazing things to photograph and look at closely is period properties, especially those that are in London. There’s some amazing features and elegant design that really has huge attention to detail and can create some amazing photos. I’ve taken a look at some of the most amazing things in London when it comes to the period properties and I’ve taken quite a few pictures of them for us to enjoy here. I’ve also borrowed some from the internet and they’re also appropriately sourced. So let’s not waste any time and get started with the photographers guide to period properties.

Amazing sash windows that create the most special pictures(and shades of lighting in a property).

Because sash windows were designed in a time where tradesmen were relatively cheap the design is absolutely flawless and just a beauty to behold. If you look at this picture that I’ve taken and borrowed from London Sash Window Repairs Ltd you’ll see just exactly what I mean. Actually, interestingly enough they were actually repairing this bay window.

wood splice repairs resin sash windows.

wood splice repairs resin sash windows. Source : londonsashwindows.com

But either way it’s nice to see that it’s being maintained because if you look at the picture that’s taken it just looks stunning it gives lots of different light shades and levels that you can only get from such depth of a window. Unfortunately plastic windows just simply won’t give this kind of picture because they don’t have the depth and 3D effect.

Beautiful Yellow Bricks as Yellow Stock

Just take a look at this beautiful external facets of London period property that has amazing colours, even the mortar looks amazing. Because the stock brick is not dirty because it’s just been cleaned, you can see what it would look like over 100 years ago. It was designed in such a way that it just was extremely pleasing on the eye, basically it was an art form and where they cleaned this break it was such a great opportunity to be able to take a photograph of this history and effectively capture 100 years of in just one picture. It’s amazing to think that we just simply don’t have the materials or the ability to make properties of this grandness anymore. It’s just such a shame that the world has developed in a way where we can’t produce such quality.

Beautiful iron railings that make amazing photography

Just take a look at these amazing iron railings.

source : www.pinterest.co.uk

They’ve got such amazing contours and depth that they just create the most special pictures. I can’t think of any modern design that really gives this kind of level of thought provocation. It’s a shame that they’ve been painted over so many times, but I presume it would be extremely expensive to have them cleaned off(it’s clear the owner paid out for this considerably), nonetheless they still look really special and it gives a real appearance of the highest quality that simply can’t be replicated. I was glad to be able to grab a snap of this; it’s an amazing art form and all from my SLR Magic anamorphot.

Beautiful fireplaces and an amazing photo to finish.

Fireplaces were a key feature of Period properties and homes, and this beautiful example was no exception. It’s like a mantel piece but with a fireplace extension. It does really make the property stand out, and just imagine if you were to have a huge portrait of a long relative and long-standing family heritage.

source : www.pinterest.co.uk

It would really create a lot of conflicting thought and interest. If you think about the design of a room, the fireplace was built beautifully by the Victorians and even before then, they really worked out how to get things done and we should be thankful for the photography opportunities that has been provided.

City Focus: Los Angeles – Some Kind of Monolith
Photographers

City Focus: Los Angeles – Some Kind of Monolith

This month Los Angeles played host to the newest edition of the renowned Paris Photo art fair, now taking place in both Europe and the US. Daniel C Blight reports on the fair and the city.

Los Angeles – an incomparably strange city. It stretches out, incorporating immense neighbourhoods and seemingly endless freeways: a place where every taxi costs fifty dollars. If you can’t drive or afford the fare, you’re forced to twist a friend’s arm into chauffeuring you around the sprawl, admiring the vacuous glamour of the place. Art, and everything else for that matter, is at the service of the market here. There is only one industry aside the movies: superhuman confidence. The place is awash with hyena smiles, loose-fitting unbuttoned shirts, aviator sunglasses and burnt sienna tans.

Paris Photo Los Angeles

Paramount Studios – the renowned film studio founded as the Famous Players Film Company in 1912 and merging to form Paramount Pictures in 1916 – hosted this art fair dedicated to photography, with precisely the sort of aplomb one would expect. A huge wall mural reflected the blue sky at the fair’s entrance, expensive automobiles and red carpets were thrown about the place, celebrities confidently ponced around and all the while the sun shone down, gradually pinking my pasty skin. I was burnt both by the sun and a profound sense of being confronted by privilege: nowhere else have I been where one’s normal calm sense of things is so quickly skewered by all-pervading grandiosity.

Paramount Pictures Studios, Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles

Paramount Pictures Studios, Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles

Paris Photo Los Angeles, entrance to Stage 5 on the opening night

Paris Photo Los Angeles, entrance to Stage 5 on the opening night

Sound and Vision Curated Programme

A new location for the fair in a city that has a contemporary art scene as developed as Paris – where the fair has taken place for the past 16 years – was an important opportunity for the organisers to pep-up their engagement with the changing nature of contemporary photography. Unfortunately, it seems little risk was taken with the programme of talks and screenings; much of the emphasis instead appeared concentrated on the fair’s venue and its industry associations, rather than the public programme. There were some great moments, but several of the talks too quickly reclined into anecdotal storytelling, and the idea to have a renowned curator or critic, as the programme notes explain, “conceptually meditate” on the relationship between the still and moving image was a little pretentious. As one of the speaker’s put it, with some innuendo: ‘Curator’s don’t often have the opportunity to meditate on anything’…

Over the course of the fair, from the opening party on Thursday evening to Sunday when the fair closes, a series of films were screened. Sitting alongside the talks programme, this was the highlight of the fair’s public events.

Bruce Connor, Breakaway (1966) installation view

Bruce Connor, Breakaway (1966) installation view

The film programme – nothing short of excellent – included Chris Marker’s La Jetée (1962); Bruce Conner’s Breakaway (1966) Philippe Parreno’s Anywhere Out of the World (2000); Glenn Ligon’s The Death of Tom (2008); Kerry Tribe’s The Last Soviet (2010) and Michael Snow’s WVLNT (Wavelength [For Those Who Don’t Have the Time]), 1966-67/2003.

Bruce Conner, the late American filmmaker who pioneered the use of pop music in artist’s film, and was thusly labelled the father of MTV – to which he would reply ‘Not my fault’ – opened the fair with a screening of his marvellous Breakaway work from 1966. The film, with music by Ed Cobb and vocals and dancing by Toni Basel, punctuated the atmosphere of the opening party with its pop sound bleeding out around the gallery booths from the screening room.

Toni Basel prances around in what can only be described as clown trousers and a bra. Her song of the same title plays while she continues to pout and pose in various suggestive outfits, eventually appearing topless in a series of quickly cut blurs and abstractions. ‘She’s gonna breakway from all the chains, see her friends and do what suits her fine’, as the lyrics state. After a few minutes of sped-up black and white footage and the music playing regularly in accompaniment, the sound fades away and then reappears reversed in a wash of aural displacement, to great effect.

Conner’s films are known for their intelligent comments on the media and the state of popular culture; but aside this interest the film also successfully reverses, both literally and conceptually, one’s expectations of the pop music video in terms of the medium’s duration and its various effects. It’s clever, but you can still dance to it.

John Chiara at Rose Gallery

American artist John Chiara (b. 1971) wonders how much information is lost in the process of film enlargement during analogue printing in the darkroom. It’s an interesting question and one that has allowed him to produce a number of unique and really quite beautiful images over the last ten years. Rediscovering and utilising various ways of exposing directly onto photographic paper, has led him to create a number of projects based on variations on a single technique: a lengthy exposure taken while inside a trailer-sized, home made camera obscura.

John Chiara, installation view, Rose Gallery booth, Paris Photo Los Angeles

John Chiara, installation view, Rose Gallery booth, Paris Photo Los Angeles

21st at San Bruno 30” x 40” image on Cibachrome Paper through Cellophane, Unique Photograph, 2003

21st at San Bruno 30” x 40” image on Cibachrome Paper through Cellophane, Unique Photograph, 2003

Chiara places and transports the camera on his trailer, positions it somewhere, climbs inside it and exposes various landscapes onto negative and positive photographic paper. Interestingly – and necessarily – the process involves unrolling and cutting the paper in the pitch black camera, in order to ready it for exposure. Chiara is then left with a jagged-edged, beautifully coloured print complete with dodges and blurs made by his hands in front of the lense. His escape from the box in order to do this involves clambering out of a light-tight human chrysalis, which extends from the rear of the camera itself. The whole somewhat comical procedure is revealed in this video.

Taryn Simon at Gagosian

‘Archiving systems impose an illusory structural order on the radically chaotic and indeterminate nature of everything.
’—Taryn Simon

Indeed. It is this structure that Simon investigates with a new body of work The Picture Collection on display at the Gagosian stand. In typical blue chip white cube manner, there is not a caption or explanatory text in sight – so I ask the gentlemen to explain to me what the work is about.

The New York Public Library archive contains 1.2 million prints and Simon has drawn out a number of images having searched the arhive by category. These images, including pictures from the categories of Handshaking, Haircombing, Express Highways and Beards, are layered over one another so that only a part of each image within a category may remain visible.

A kind of analogue Google image search, Simon has a number of theoretical and cultural observations about what are essentially quite humorous tabula rasa compositions. Unlike some of her other work, Simon has managed to pair humour and visual immediacy with conceptualism here.

Taryn Simon, Folder: Express Highways, 2012

Taryn Simon, Folder: Express Highways, 2012

he fair in general – courting celebrity status and branding itself up to the hilt – has taken photography as an increasingly popular form of contemporary art practice, to new heights with this endeavour. Let’s hope that in the midst of this fantastic exposure for a medium greatly admired, we are not left with an emptyness the size of Paramount Picture Studios.

When Adolph Zukor founded Paramount almost 100 years ago, he intended it to serve as a business to make films that speak to working and middle class America. Much like the current state of most Hollywood film, this fair speaks at people about the status of class and privilege as much as it attempts to develop a wider understanding of photography and culture.

Stanley Kubrick at LACMA

The fair’s catalogue and press pack suggests what else one might visit in Los Angeles during the fair, in order to add wider context and relevance to Paris Photo’s Los Angeles debut. Without doubt the strongest exhibition I saw during my visit was the inimitable Stanley Kubrick’s show at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

This beautifully installed exhibition divides Kubrick’s approach – both to photography, filmmaking and his wider relationship to literature and art practice – into several sections. Combining video displays of extracts from his filmography, objects and props from his various film sets, photographs of and by Kubrick himself and various works of art that serve to contextualise Kubrick’s thinking process, the display completely absorbed me for a long while.

I’ve always struggled to “think” the entirety of the filmmaker’s career – it being both ridiculously complex and highly intelligent – but this exhibition allows one to move through his work by theme and quite clearly proves, and explains, the case for his greatness.

From the very onset of the work on the film we all discussed means of photographically depicting extraterrestrial creatures in a manner that would be as mind-boggling as the being itself. And it soon became apparent that you cannot imagine the unimaginable. All you can do is try to represent it in an artistic manner that will convey something of its quality. That’s why we settled on the black monolith – which is, of course, in itself something of a Jungian archetype, and also a pretty fair example of “Minimal art.”

– Stanley Kubrick

Black Monolith in the Baroque Room, production model, 2001: A Space Odyssey, 1968

Black Monolith in the Baroque Room, production model, 2001: A Space Odyssey, 1968

Kubrick exhibition, Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Kubrick exhibition, Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Kilfitt Makro-Kilar 2.8/90mm lens used by Kubrick

Kilfitt Makro-Kilar 2.8/90mm lens used by Kubrick

British artists Jane and Louise Wilson feature in the Kubrick exhibition, with their video installation Unfolding the Aryan Papers. The project, based on Kubrick’s unfinished film Aryan Papers which was abandoned by Kubrick in 1995 – purportedly due to, and I imagine amongst other reasons too, Spielberg’s releasing of Schindler’s List two years earlier – sees the artists interviewing the woman who was cast by Kubrick to play the role of aunt Tanya, Johanna ter Steege. Steege recounts both her meeting with Kubrick and also repeats lines that would have appeared in the film itself.

‘The film is very much a reflection on the process of a film becoming’, says Louise Wilson in this BFI interview. There is also this interview available, made by LACMA for the exhibition.

The installation appears at LACMA in the same form as it did at the British Film Institute in 2009: a single video projection and two mirrors of the same size are installed in a darkened room. The mirrors reflect and repeat the film itself.

Tabitha Soren at Kopeikin Gallery

To the south-west of Hollywood, if one makes one’s way towards Marina Del Rey and the Pacific coast, is the Culver City Gallery District. The area is full with commercial gallery and project spaces which line both sides of La Cienega Boulevard and the adjacent streets.

One of the stronger photography exhibitions in the district was at  Kopeikin Gallery, which featured the body of work Running by Tabitha Soren, the former MTV News reporter. The project, which essentially depicts various individuals legging it from some unidentified thing, pairs a quite hilarious visual idea with some rather more serious artist statement.

The exhibition press release speaks of the primal urge to run from something one is afraid of, and that this act has a certain beauty to it. I’m not sure that would be my take on the work, as it strikes me as a set of images that perhaps unintentionally reveal the sort of base humour one finds in a horror movie when a character is fleeing his or her attacker. Where an image does possess a fear or sense of horror it is contrasted by another photograph that just can’t be taken that seriously. Therein lies the strength of the project in some affable manner. I imagine these people running from Soren’s interview technique – perhaps best exampled by her casual-yet-really-not-casual minutes spent with the late rapper Tupac Shakur.

Tabitha Soren’s Running, installation view, Kopeikin Gallery, Culver City

Tabitha Soren’s Running, installation view, Kopeikin Gallery, Culver City

Tabitha Soren, Running 003279, 2012

Tabitha Soren, Running 003279, 2012

Tabitha Soren, Running 005747, 2012

Tabitha Soren, Running 005747, 2012

Daniel C Blight works in education at The Photographers’ Gallery, lectures at universities and writes about photography for publications including 1000 WordsThe GuardianNotes on MetamodernismPhilosophy of Photography and Source.

Claire Aho and 1950s Finnish Photography
Photographers

Claire Aho and 1950s Finnish Photography

Finnish photographer Claire Aho performed a combination of roles throughout her successful career. During the 1950’s she was one of a small handful of female fashion photographers in Finland; as a product and advertising photographer she was one of even fewer; and as a female filmmaker she was the only example of her kind actively practicing. ‘There was only Leni Riefenstahl and me’, she joked in an interview much later. It is only now that the narrative of Aho’s pioneering career is slowly emerging from her private archives.

Aho has appeared on the register of Finnish photo history for some time, but the breadth and quality of her work has not yet been fully acknowledged. One of the contributing factors to this is no doubt her relocation to Sweden in the 1970´s, and the fact that she did not continue her commercial practice after moving. In 2011 Helsinki Art Hall exhibited her work for the first time in a major solo exhibition, introducing her to an entirely new audience – the majority of whom were not even born when Aho was professionally active. The current emergence and re-appraisal of her work is an important addition to Finnish and Scandinavian histories of fashion, product and advertising photography.

The importance of colour

Aho´s commercial practice began in the 1950´s while working within the family business Aho & Soldan, founded by her father Heikki Aho and her step-uncle Björn Soldan in 1925, the same year that Aho herself was born. Aho & Soldan was famous for their documentary and PR films for Finnish industry, and both founders were

photography enthusiasts. 1950´s Finland was recovering from World War 2 and there were still strict rationing programs in force, which effected the availability of photographic materials in the country. A definitive turning point was the Helsinki Olympics in 1952, when Finland re-opened its doors to international influence. The most visible and popular symbol of these new and buoyant times was the arrival of Coca-Cola onto the Finnish market. The cultural atmosphere was shifting, as the war-weary country engaged itself in frenzied reconstruction work.

The Finnish magazine industry was also recovering. Regulations on paper stock were lifted and the amount of pages in individual magazines began to rise. Colour was the sign of new, affluent times: aptitude for colour photography and printing which had almost disappeared during the war years, re-emerged in post-war Finland.

Heikki Aho was one of the first to re-engage with colour processes. His mail orders from the United States included guidebooks and Kodak´s 9×12 cm colour slide film sheets, compatible with large-format studio cameras of the time. Aho & Soldan film company was expanded to include a studio and a colour laboratory on their premises, situated right in the centre of Helsinki, in Northern Esplanade.

Aho was responsible for the new studio and the colour laboratory. An assistant was hired, and Aho’s father Heikki enforced strict quality control. He checked each colour photograph with extreme care before they were handed over to clients, often using a densitometer, the non-compromising tool of the day for the measurement of technical quality.

Stainless Finland, c. mid 1960s © JB, courtesy of the artist

Stainless Finland, c. mid 1960s © JB, courtesy of the artist

One might approach colour in two ways.  Firstly, we might consider an element of realism, such as the photographer striving to match colour in an image to what we perceive in the real world. Secondly, the alternative to a realistic element, is the expressionistic element, capable of evoking emotions and allowing for certain distortions to take place.

In Finland during the 1950´s there was a strong need for realistic colour photography, as fashion and product photography turned from black-and-white to colour. One could still find an occasional hand-coloured black-and-white photograph in Finnish magazines at the time, despite the fact that colour films had entered the international market in the 1930´s. Colour control was new; it required skill and proficiency, and there were not many photographers who could guarantee the permanence and accuracy of colours along the whole production line, from garment or product through to the photograph. Clare and Heikki Aho excelled at this.

Fashion for magazines

Aho trained in photography while travelling with the Aho & Soldan film crew in Lapland and elsewhere in Finland, and also studied journalism. In the early 1950’s she started to work primarily in the studio, creating fashion shoots for the magazine Sorja. Founded in 1944 and changing it’s name several times, the magazine lasted until the 1990´s and was the longestrunning fashion magazine in Finland.

Assigned regularly by women’s magazines from the established publication Eeva, to the more modern Me Naiset (We Women)Aho shot fashion stories and celebrity portraits. This was a time when a new and modern type of celebrity was emerging in Finland, one who was becoming known to the public, via newly available television sets. We see many of those television personalities in Aho´s pictures, either posing for individual portraits or acting as fashion models.

1950s’ fashion became spectacularly lavish, as the nation threw itself into a spending spree after the meagre war years. Influenced by photojournalism, Aho occasionally took her models and garments outdoors to the market place or to the parks. Two iconic Finnish design labels, Marimekko and Vuokko, were founded around this time, and Finnish design in general was collecting awards in Milan and other design fairs the world over.

Aho participated in this boom of Finnish design with her pictures of garments, furniture and glass. Underwear was still considered a very delicate area of fashion photography, and Aho, being female,  certainly had an advantage when navigating issues of modesty with her sitters. The models often wanted to remain anonymous, and so faces were hidden inventively with crops, poses and even masks. Aho was not the only female photographer who turned this to her advantage. In Finland, fashion photography has traditionally been the field where women photographers have been able to develop and sustain successful careers.

Figura Bra Campaign, c. mid 1950s © JB, courtesy of the artist

Figura Bra Campaign, c. mid 1950s © JB, courtesy of the artist

Product abstractions

From the made-up models and tulle dresses of Aho’s fashion shoots, to the cool practicality of her product shots,  the photographer shot all manner of consumables. One can imagine her agonising for hours over how to make the Kis Kis candy from Finland’s best known sweet factory Fazer ‘fly’ in the air with the help of transparent nylon thread – each shot requiring precision timing as the studio lights melted the chocolate. Aho’s product photography at the time appeared to border on magic: the spectator falling completely for her imperfect illusions. Sixty years later, in the age digital tricks and perfection, the images reveal these naïve constructions.

Aho patiently created these illusions and built carefully composed still-lives complete with coffee packets, soft drinks and other foodstuff. She had learned the rules of composition as a child from her grandmother, celebrated artist Venny Soldan-Brofeldt, and wife of author Juhani Aho. Aho’s grandmother used the lid of a cigarette box, in which she had cut a square, to compose her paintings (the very act of smoking cigarettes was a radical, emancipatory gesture for a woman at the time). She taught the same trick to young Aho and encouraged her to take up photography. Aho maintained a keen eye for composition across her broad spectrum of image-making, but never was it more evident than in her product shots.

What is remarkable about Aho´s product compositions is the clear desire to abstract. Commercial photography may not be the most natural arena for such effects, but in many examples of Aho’s work she managed to marry her own formal interests with the commercial aims of the advertiser. Aho’s staged and directed images can be seen as tableaus of early consumer culture. In the 1950´s consumption was still optimistic and innocent; the happy consumer had no idea that the miraculous detergents would prove to be harmful to the environment , or that smoking would lead to lung cancer. New devices and electronics were developed to assist in day-to-day chores of the home. The refrigerator, one such newly available item, is photographed by Aho, stuffed with packaged food and drinks, alongside a model whose smile reflects the shinny optimism of the new appliance.

In Aho´s advertising images we can still glimpse a time when consumer culture was untainted by cynicism, shame or guilt. Almost sixty years later it looks like a lost continent. The photographer herself is still alive and well and, with the help of her son, may brings forth new treasures from her extensive archive.

Rosenlew Compressor Refrigerator, c. mid 1950s © JB, courtesy of the artist

Rosenlew Compressor Refrigerator, c. mid 1950s © JB, courtesy of the artist

Merja Salo, Professor of Photography and Visual Communication, Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture, Helsinki.

Lucy Soutter: Why Art Photography?
Photographers

Lucy Soutter: Why Art Photography?

In this short talk, recorded at The Photographers’ Gallery on 22 Feb 2013, Lucy Soutter discusses her new book Why Art Photography? (Routledge, 2013).

The talk focuses on the chapter “ Beyond Photography”, which looks at works of art that combine photographic elements with aspects of painting, sculpture, video, performance, audience participation and installation, pointing to an expanded field or post-medium condition for photography. Examples include works by Walead Beshty, Rachel Harrison, Clifford Owens and JR. While the separation between photography and other art forms may have eroded, the photographic endures as a set of specific reference points and conceptual strategies as well as technologies and forms. This talk argues for the continuing relevance of photographic ideas within the broader arena of contemporary art.

Lucy Soutter is a photographer, critic and art historian. She teaches in the Department of Critical and Historical Studies at the Royal College of Art and has written about contemporary art and photography for publications including Afterimage, Portfolio, Source and frieze. Her essays have appeared in anthologies including Girls! Girls! Girls! in Contemporary Art (Intellect, 2011), and Appropriation (Whitechapel Gallery and MIT Press, 2009). Her book Why Art Photography? (Routledge, 2013) provides a lively, accessible introduction to key debates at the heart of contemporary photography.