Archive for the ‘Portraits’ Category

The street I live on has seen much change in years gone by. It has moved on from the days it was nicknamed “Little Jerusalem” to the vast ethnic diversity that can be seen there today. I decided to go up and down the Dublin city centre stretch and show the business’s from circa 1960 to present day.

1960 Eddie Thornton’s Grocery Store

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1964 Gregory Conlon’s Curio Shop

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1975 James and Seamus Traver’s of Travers Photography

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2001 Khuram Khan Business Solutions

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2009 Waqas Baig New Image Barber Shop

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2010 Pasha Khan Style and Style

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All image credits to Shuttermaniac.

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In keeping with the family connection to explore the notion of how photography inspires us, I asked my sister to recall a story relating to a cousin of ours.

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Lisa. My younger sister.

“My brother asked me to collaborate on his photography post series Monster Under The Bed as in our family we have all witnessed first-hand the superpower of the photograph. Lee sees the world through different eyes and shares his unique view with us all through his captivating photography. I also see the world differently with the help of photographs, and I’ll explain the reasons why”.

Using Photography as a Tool for Emotional Therapy;

Most of us will look through our collection of family photographs from time to time, and remember fondly (or not so in some cases!) the event or occasion that took place when the photograph was captured – reminding us of when it was taken, who we were with, what we were doing, how that event impacted our lives etc. Such reminiscence using photographs is often used as a form of therapeutic treatment in the care of elderly dementia patients, giving them a real sense of belonging, importance and of peace, in a time of difficulty. But it doesn’t stop there – many of us will use photographs for the same purpose, remembering happy times and helping us to maintain or improve our emotional wellbeing, and in coping with life’s challenges.

To put this into context, I’ll share my cousin’s story. By the age of just 15 he had tragically lost both of his parents, my own Aunt and Uncle. His photographs of them became a treasured collection of his memories, captured ‘forever’ in print. However, some years later a devastating house fire destroyed most of these images, leaving him with only one single photograph of his mum and dad together.  This photograph of course became extremely precious to him. He realised that any other photographs of his parents would be like gold dust to come by.

My mother knew she had a photograph of my cousin’s parents in an old album somewhere and wanted him to have it, but despite her hunting high and low and in all the nooks and crannies of every inch of her house, that wee photo completely eluded her grasp. She started to accept that perhaps she had lost this over the years of house moves and life moving on, but she never quite gave up on the idea of what that one single image could mean to my cousin. Very recently she uncovered an old box in her loft containing images from a lost era . One of which was the photograph of my cousin’s parents.

There was an extra sparkle clearly visible in this photograph – it didn’t only include his parents, but also showed that my Aunt was expecting company.

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A simple photograph, and an innocent shot, from a family birthday party back in August 1980.

From the moment I called my cousin to let him know, to the excitement when I sent the email with the scanned photo attached, and to the day I received the text message from him telling me of the joy he felt to see that image– I became inherently aware of the superpower of the photograph – to bring happiness into someone’s world and sooth the delicate emotions from yesteryear. The earliest photograph of his existence so powerfully established in the simplest of their contemporary devices.  Respect fairly due to ‘the snapshot’. As Kodak’s earliest ad’s stated “You press the button, we do the rest”, Do we disagree?

Lisa Huggins.

This was a task I was to undertake for college, that I thought I would share. This is the deconstruction of an image using opinions from professionals across the fashion industry.

The Nude

Kate Moss signed up to David Yurman’s company in 2010 to model his new line of jewellery, posing with a ring from his upcoming autumn collection. Yurman himself started out in the art world as a prominent sculptor (Nordstrom, 2012), his wife also shared artistic flair being a recognised painter. The couple realised the importance of classic tradition when it comes to what should be in their advertising campaigns. The collaboration between themselves and an established photographer would make for an attractive and lucrative advertisement. Moss is photographed by Peter Lindberg (Grazia, 2010) on a beach with a few key elements on display. The ring is the main focus of the commission. I selected this particular shot because, in what it is surrounded by, the ring itself becomes redundant. This makes me question who or what is being advertised by the nude. By illustrating naked form in such a way, what cultural assumptions do we make in order to understand such powerful and seductive imagery?

Smith (2004, p56) validates that a client’s shoulders, in order to appear more interesting and less rigid should not form a horizontal line throughout the frame. Moss certainly does appear more alluring and less distant. The pose draws you in and increases the length at which you would normally gaze upon the subject. This seems to be a popular stance for models that want to appear aloof and alluring when on the final turn on the catwalk and indeed this particular pose comes from classical roots. Edward Steichen photographed Gwili Andre in an almost identical method (Ewing 2008, p 253) when she modelled jewellery by Tiffany in Vanity Fair in 1936. This shows that traditional mechanisms are still being used today to attract clients to purchase products.

Steichen suggested (Ewing, 2008, p191) that if you take good photographs the art will follow suit. I believe that Lindberg may have been inspired by this standard, although in order to appeal to a more demanding consumer, he would have had to have added something else. Tobia Bezzola commented (Ewing, 2008, p192)on De Meyer who at the time was the chief photographer of Vanity Fair, to develop a form of fashion photography that itself engages the art of seduction rather than merely serving to document the art of the couturier, meant that the objective qualities of the attire were of scant interest. This suggested that even back in 1914 fashion photographers were beginning to realise the power of the nude to increase the potential value of the model associated in the advertised image. Although this commodifies the naked model, actual, rather than suggestive exposure will increase the market value of the product on offer.

Kate Moss was discovered by the owner of Storm Modelling Agency at the tender age of fourteen in JFK international airport (MCM, 2012). During her career to her mid-thirties she has intrigued her viewers by promoting vulnerability and her dominance as the queen of Heroin Chic. The image directors knew that by placing Moss in an ad campaign on a beach, soaked and appearing fragile that the viewer would feel empowered over her and relate that feeling perhaps to the jewellery that was being advertised. She is after all hiding herself behind the ring. But as we are no longer in the early 1920’s, and the fact it’s just a ring, is she really hiding anything. Or is it in fact she is really trying to promote something else?

Considering other models would have bared themselves for promotion, I looked at the portrait of Demi Moore by Annie Leibovitz (Carter, 2008 p56). Although its popularity with audiences spanning the globe attracted considerable controversy Susan Kandel (Kandel,1992) defended Moore and Leibovitz against traditionalist right wing protesters and sympathised with the progression of the nude in contemporary art. “While the self-righteous on the right lambasted the photograph’s flamboyant immodesty, the well-intentioned on the left hailed its progressiveness. Woman displayed as an expanded object, happily complicit both with her expansion and her objectification.”  Kandel validates that the representation of the female body in twentieth century photography is laden with unease and constant negotiation between the physical and institutional bodies that constitute the very meanings of a women’s self-representation. Athough Kate Moss exposing a single nipple on the magazine advert attracted controversy we should realise that this is the movement of the times.

Many feel that the movement of exposure, in which female nudity is upon us now, stems from an attitude dating back to the early 1900’s. Josephine Baker (Rosetta, 2007) was one such icon which continues to inspire a century later. Famous for barely-there dresses and no-holds-barred dance routines, her exotic beauty generated nicknames “Black Venus,” “Black Pearl” and “Creole Goddess.” Admirers bestowed a plethora of gifts, including diamonds and cars. Even today her legacy exists in live performance, art, photography, fashion and film. With all the glamour attained by baring all for the camera it’s clear to see why culture has transgressed in this direction due to demand and reward from the audience. Contemporary audiences are no different.

John Tagg (1998, p16) observes the socialisation of production and consumption, with the mechanisms of discipline and desire to reveal that, by combining the two notions we are offering a medium by which we have little or no control. The technology of the camera itself is creating a division of power both between the controller and the possessor. Tagg states that within the space of these contradictions there is undoubtedly room for cultural resistance, although dissent rarely develops. Even if in today’s pressing advertisements, there contrives much controversy, there will never be enough negative press to assert a deceleration of such a strong cultural movement. This adheres with the age-old phrase that any publicity is good publicity.

On reflection, this image, even with its controversy, shows us a sign of progression in fashion and advertising. We realise that the nude has immense power in the stimulus of separating ourselves from our hard earned finances. Moss gains acclaim from the fashion world, in keeping with and moving forward the notions of au courant feminism. David Yurman projects his acknowledgement of the movement by the advertising of his products in the current fashion, and society is influenced by what they see in the magazine of this ultra-modern culture. Peter (Lindberg, 1998) proposes that “creativity is really a rebirth, a true tone we feel for ourselves and for our world. All this is a question of how deep we are willing to go”.­­

As mentioned in my “About Me” page and in my previous “Monster Under The Bed” post I hinted upon my Grandmothers collection of photos under the bed. As the first part of this series was a bit heavy on the text side, I’ve decided to be easy on you guys. This is a small collection of the shots which made me want to be a Photographer today. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have.

Bill & Elly Smith (c. 1948)  (1)Bill & Elly Smith (c. 1948)  (2)Bill & Elly Smith (c. 1948)  (3)Bill Smith next to his brother John's grave in Egypt 1942Elly SmithGreat Granny&Grampa SmithJohn (Ernest AJ) Smith (1919-1942)lastscanLinda Smith restored

I wont go into explicit detail as to who, what and where these were taken. I’ll let you make up you’re own mind. I will tell you though, that they span from 1945 to 1967.  From shortly after WWii finished to shortly before the best decade that music ever saw.

 

First of all it would be unfair to assume that all persons originating from Transylvania are Vampires. I live with one and my neck is relatively bite-free. I do, however keep a large garland of the age-old pungent rose in our kitchen. Joking aside, the reason I am interviewing this interesting gentleman today is to show the determination he had to provide for his family through a really tough Communist regime. These were times without Facebook and camera-phones, where making a side-living from photography could have landed him in serious trouble with the Romanian Securitate resulting in substantial fines, and even Jail. I got to know Dorin Avram and his family through my partner who happens to be his niece.

When did your passion for takings photographs begin?

“I always liked the Photography.  After I got married and we had the kids, I started it professionally to make a second income.”

Is there a photographer that you particularly liked back then?

“No, there was none.” (It’s important to state here that during Communism, only classic literature and political propaganda would have been stocked in the libraries. Researching photographers would have been near impossible).

What year did you start taking photographs to make extra income and what camera did you use?

” It was in the year of 1986. The camera was a  Zenit 35mm Rangefinder. I did weddings, baptism, birthdays and all kinds of family portraits”.

I assume you couldn’t send your negatives to a camera store to develop and print them. How did you get your hands on the chemicals and paper?

“Well, the photo paper I bought now and then from photo shops, but in bigger amounts for storage, and the solutions too at first. Later on I bought the chemicals from the pharmacy and mixed the solutions myself. I had a scale, that was very accurate. You had to have the exact amount of each chemical for the solution!”

Roughly how long during the Communist regime were you in business for?

“From 1986 until 1991 when we left Romania to come to Germany. The communist regime ended 1990, so I did it for about five years.”

It’s said that one in three Romanians was an informant for the Securitate*. Where did you do your processing and was it well hidden?

“There was a secret room in our apartment, which was my laboratory/ darkroom. I think it was around 1.5 by 2 meters long or something like that. The door to it was our coat rack and you could open it, if you pulled a secret crank and rolled the door open. The door was really heavy.”

I’m sure everyone would love to see how you organised yourself. Could you draw a quick picture of the set up?

If you were caught by the authorities what was the penalty?

“It was a high monetary penalty. How much it was, I don’t remember. Prison was less the case.”

Do you think people are as passionate about photography now, as you were back then?

“I think yes! I see Artemis for example; she takes pictures of everything… I think she is more passionate about it now than I was then. I tried a lot back then and I did everything myself (developing etc.), but today I think it would be too expensive for me…

Were there any moments when young children would sneak in and open the secret door, or turn on the light by accident, destroying your pictures?  For example young Artemis or Alexandru?

“Yes… but only the pictures on the paper were damaged, but it almost never happened. It wasn’t as tragic, because the film itself wasn’t damaged and I could just do it again and I had always enough photo paper.

Last year, at your son Alexandru’s wedding in Germany, I saw you with a Canon DSLR. Do you prefer digital cameras now, or do you still have a love for the old film?

“I prefer the digital photography, it’s so much easier!”

Would you ever get back into taking pictures for a living, or have you ‘hung up your boxing gloves’?

“If I could make good money again then probably I would.”

10-year college reunion partyBaptism group photobaptismfamily portrait

*Control over society became stricter and stricter, with an East German-style phone bugging system installed, and with Securitate recruiting more agents, extending censorship and keeping tabs and records on a large segment of the population. By 1989, according to CNSAS (the Council for Studies of the Archives of the Former Securitate), one in three Romanians was an informant for the Securitate. Due to this state of affairs, income from tourism dropped substantially by 75%, with the three main tour operators that organized trips in Romania leaving the country by 1987.

But not in Movember.

It’s coming near to the end of the month, and all around the city the Moustaches are shaping up. The variations are endless and I’ve seen pretty much all that can be achieved from “the original” to “the Zappa” and everything in between. The Dali, Fu Manchu, Handlebar, Imperial, Horshoe, Pencil, Toothbrush, Walrus, Chevron etc……

The charity’s policy is simple.

“Once registered at movember.com each Mo Bro must begin his hairy journey on the 1st of Movember with a smooth, clean shaven face. If you join the campaign a few day late don’t worry, the Mo the merrier. For the entire month each Mo Bro must grow and groom a moustache and here’s where a few basic rules come in, there is to be no joining of the mo to the sideburns (that’s considered a beard), there’s to be no joining of the handlebars to the chin (that’s considered a goatee) and each Mo Bro must conduct himself like a true gentleman.” credit.

In our local bar all five of the barmen were rounded up by the “Mo Sis” (The ladies must organise the gentlemen by distributing the collection pots and generally run each specific campaign). I’ve heard they raised a great sum of cash for the Men’s health organisations, and everyone who participated had a great time doing it.

When I saw the iPhone photos posted on Facebook I decided to rob them, and place the head-shots into the appropriate environment for each moustache.

This might cheer up the dull weather..

These edited images are going to be on full display in the bar on the official collection night. So if you happen to be in Dublin on Friday 23rd November then pop down to Ryans of Parkgate and donate a little towards a great charity. Just in case you’re wondering, it also happens to be the best bar for Guiness in the area too. You’re welcome.

Students and Teachers unite on the streets to protest for equality. Picture Credit

Three main unions came together with plans to march from the Dept. of Education to Leinster House for the ‘Valuing Education’ rally. The INTO, TUI and ASTI issued this letter to school stewards all over Leinster to attract numbers for their protest.

TO: SCHOOL STEWARDS IN COUNTIES DUBLIN, LOUTH, MEATH, KILDARE & WICKLOW

10th October 2012

‘Valuing Education” Protest Rally: 4:30 p.m. Wednesday 24th October, Molesworth Street

Dear Colleague,

For the past number of years there has been a sustained attack by Government on education provision. Each year on Budget Day, funding for education is being reduced, teaching jobs are being lost and opportunities for young people are being eroded. December’s budget is looming.

These are the reasons why your union is joining with the INTO and the TUI in a protest rally at Leinster House on Wednesday 24th October. We want to bring home to the Government why further cuts to the education budget will betray young Irish people, further demoralise our profession and undermine our capacity to rebuild our economy.

The protest rally will commence after school at 4:30pm and end at 6:00pm. Members in schools in Dublin, Louth, Meath, Kildare and Wicklow are strongly encouraged to participate in this rally to demonstrate the strength of feeling of Irish teachers about the Government’s plans for further cuts. Given the acute difficulties and cuts faced by newly qualified teachers, we are particularly keen to encourage these members to attend the protest. Cuts in education mean fewer job opportunities for new teachers.

ASTI members along with colleagues from INTO and TUI will be gathering in Molesworth Street opposite Leinster House from 4:30pm. We will have banners and placards ready for members to collect. The government is currently preparing its plans for the budget in December. Protesting now gives us the opportunity to influence this budget debate.

I would like to ask you to join this protest and to encourage ASTI members in your school to attend as well.

Yours sincerely,

_________________________

Pat King

GENERAL SECRETARY

cc. Branch Officers and CEC members

This letter and many more like it were posted out to build interest and support for the concerned majority that are strongly opposed to the many issues presently facing educational systems in the country. The last four years have seen major cuts through these, what ASTI President calls, “anti-education budgets”. TUI President Gerry Craughwell stated “We currently have a situation whereby many of our talented, enthusiastic new teachers and lecturers are attempting to survive in part-time positions, with mere fragments of jobs. They are struggling to build a career on incomes which do not provide a basic standard of living. The TUI is here to demand that these teachers have a right to jobs, not just hours”

The starting salary this year for teachers will be up to 34% less than in 2010, according to the unions. The average cut being more than €11,000 yearly. Deputy General Secretary TUI Annette Dolan said that “up to 30 per cent of second level teachers currently work less than full-time hours and this percentage will continue to rise in the next few years”. The main concern by Dolan is that with the current conditions teachers may immigrate to Australia, or anywhere else there is demand. She hopes that the government restores the previous allowances to boost their mediocre income and stop Irish teachers seeking international employment.

On a brighter side, the rally showed a strong bonding of teachers, students, union leaders and representatives and even the general public. The noise of the protest could be heard on Grafton Street, which as you know is usually a nightmare to hear your phone on. The buskers of this particular day were drowned out by chanting students and amplified union speeches on loud speakers. The feeling was highly energetic and motivational. Not a single person hesitated at the chance to air their reactions to the speeches directed at Leinster House.

Some of the more creative of the crowd slightly altered their placards, including the hilarious “Enda can kiss my left one!” with another fellow student carrying the supporting “Enda can kiss my right one!” I think my favourite though, was the well-sported “Does this hoodie belong to anyone?” with the garment attached. The spotty faced teenager lugging it around was probably hoping for a Cinderella moment. I wonder if Prince Charming found what he was looking for.

While you ponder on that, this is the speech from ASTI President Gerry Breslin


The unions saw a healthy turnout and a great protest on the day. If anything it was a great experience for the students and a deafening wakeup call to the Dáil. Let’s hope the upcoming budget yields positive news for Irish Education.