Category Archives: Photography

p r i m r o s e c e n t u r y

[ 23:01 tuesday 19 april 2016 – old ford lock cottage, london ]

primrose harris, my grandmother, was born on a farm in worcestershire on the nineteenth of april 1916. today would have been her hundredth birthday. her parents named her primrose as a result of queen victoria designating the nineteenth of april as “primrose day”. this was a tribute to victoria’s favourite prime minister benjamin disraeli, who loved primroses, and who died on that day in 1881.

i adored granny. she had magical abilities to make flowers flourish. everywhere she went she’d take clippings of plants that caught her eye and sure enough they’d spring to life in her garden. she had great creativity that was allowed expression in her garden, in flower arranging and in knitting. my childhood and early adulthood was clad in a torrent of wonderful jumpers, many of which i still treasure today.

granny was the only person in the family whose enjoyment of my piano playing remained undimmed as i continued to hammer away hour after hour. she was the only person whose conviction of my saintliness was undaunted on occasions when everyone else had concluded i was behaving like an arrogant brat.

on her ninetieth birthday i placed an order for flowers to be delivered to her each month for the rest of her life. for her ninety-second birthday i recorded six movements of bach’s goldberg variations along with a dedication. i wasn’t there in person as i was speaking at a conference in san francisco. the next day she fell and her leg didn’t heal. she died a few weeks later in hospital in ludlow. the days i spent with her before her death remain the most powerful experiences of my life.

i wanted to find a way to mark today. last night i went through all the 35mm slides i took between 1998 and her death in 2008 (more than 12,000 slides) to pick out some of my photographs of her. here are seventeen of them along with photographs from her garden that i took on the day of her funeral.

bless you granny.

: c :

f o t o s : lyngenfjord, new year 2015

thirty-one images from midwinter at the edge of the arctic ocean. hiking with jens and martin beside lyngenfjord in the sunless indigo twilight. an emporium of components and relics in haakon’s technology-filled viking hall. a trawler torn in half by the might of a winter storm. my sincere gratitude to haakon for his hospitality and inspiration.

related post: n y t t a r

camera: rolleiflex 6008i
lens: rollei distagon el 1:4 50mm
film: fujichrome provia 400x
scanner: nikon coolscan 8000ed

f o t o s : jeddah & king abdullah economic city, november 2014

forty-four images from a brief visit to saudi arabia’s red sea coast. the ancient port city of jeddah with its crumbling mud-brick houses, labyrinthine medina, brutalist petrol stations and a freakish rainstorm. then in complete contrast king abdullah economic city; with its surreal fragments of a visionary mega-project to build a new city of a hundred thousand people in the desert, frozen in mid-construction by the global economic crisis. my thanks to fawaz farooqui for his warm hospitality and my admiration for his passion to advance the society in a positive direction.

camera: rolleiflex 6008i
lens: rollei distagon el 1:4 50mm
film: fujichrome provia 400x
scanner: nikon coolscan 8000ed

f o t o s : london, margate & finchcocks, september-november 2014

bazelgette’s 1860s northern outfall sewer where it crosses the river lee near my house plus a rare glimpse inside his cathedral-like abbey mills pumping station from 1868 complete with huge 1930s control panel; sulaiman with his new camera; gentleman bikers in becton; patrick in his studio; late summer sun at old ford lock; twilight and melancholy in margate; baroque keyboards in paladian splendour at finchcocks (thanks sam).

camera: rolleiflex 6008i
lens: rollei distagon el 1:4 50mm
film: fujichrome provia 400x
scanner: nikon coolscan 8000ed

f o t o s : pizzo & environs, september 2014

here’s the second batch of images from the rolleiflex. these were taken during a stay with giuseppe at the cinema his grandfather built in the 50s, perched on the edge of a cliff in the town of pizzo, calabria.  alongside shots of the cinema there are a couple of pictures from the gulf of lamezia with an approaching storm and one from the bottom of the cliff looking up at the cinema in the most amazing light during the storm. i included a couple of frames where i messed up the exposure or didn’t keep the camera still enough, since i like the resulting images. i wrote a description of the cinema and giuseppe’s project in this wanderer despatch.

camera: rolleiflex 6008i
lens: rollei distagon el 1:4 50mm
film: fujichrome provia 400x
scanner: nikon coolscan 8000ed

f o t o s : stromboli, august 2014

so here they are, the very first images from my rolleiflex 6008i medium format camera taken during ten days on the island of stromboli. out and about in piscita and the rest of the island; at home with paolo and enki; a night on the volcano watching the lava flow and getting covered in ash; gustl’s catcus garden; salvo in his ceramic studio; nerina in her new shop.

these images are dedicated to gusti schuldes who at the time of writing (october 2014) lies silent in a coma. we’re ready for you to come back now gusti.

camera: rolleiflex 6008i
lens: rollei distagon el 1:4 50mm
film: fujichrome provia 400x
scanner: nikon coolscan 8000ed