So continuing the pattern of random posting here’s a portrait taken over the summer. He has an audience of 20 million and is broadcast in over 20 countries in his role as an anchor man on Chinese TV, but was very down to earth and if you excuse the cliche a very nice chap. I photographed him with his parents and also a Chinese ex-pat club in Tower Hamlets for a feature on the British Chinese returning to the birthplace of their parents- reverse immigration. There were also some great characters in the club that didn’t make it to the magazine so feel free to have an exclusive peek.
Well its been a eventful summer and although is fairly obvious to say I am not the most gushy or frequent of bloggers, quite graphaphobic actually, I thought I would post a few words about some stuff and happenings of the last few months.
Lets start with this picture by my son Fergus Max, age 5. I think its pretty good- ok he is using a canon 5d mark 2 ( that my camera not his) and maybe I helped a little with the exposure and discussed the zone system, gave him a few pointers regarding dynamic range 🙂 but still the composition is pretty good. Its quite refreshing really – I think when it becomes so easy to take pictures , “ A child could do it” we have to move beyond what is purely seductive and learn to try and take images with depth, don’t we?
I was interviewed recently for this web site ran by photographer, Jonathan cherry, who is collecting an interesting archive of photographers, where I discuss this idea and others with a little (but not much) more depth. Here’s the link
For all of you suffering digital fatigue here is a chance to see some recent work in print, I was commissioned to document the Great Yorkshire Show with a focus on the characters, livestock and general atmosphere at this Great British rural show.
Just thought I would take a few moments to post a few interesting links to any photography fans out there about some events that I have been, or am about to be taking part in.
Coming up next week, is a presentation of my Haiti work by curator Nathalie Belayche at Slideluck Potshow, Paris, http://www.slideluckpotshow.com <http://www.slideluckpotshow.com> Anyone who cant make it to Paris can download the presentation here: http://www.louisquail.com/haiti_paris3.mov
The other events have already happened but can be seen online at OPEN-i if you are a member, or at the links below. They are essentially seminars taking place on the web, where practitioners and so on contribute live. The last one was particularly interesting with blogger Pete Brook kicking off (http://vimeo.com/12406887 <http://vimeo.com/12406887>) with some very interesting material raising questions about the nature of news photography.
His ‘webinar’ was based on his research of images, taken by over fourteen separate photographers of Fabienne Cherisma, who was shot dead by Haitian police whilst supposedly looting.
There is one particularly disturbing image by Nathan Weber which shows six photographers simultaneously photographing Fabienne’s body. His video can be seen here. http://vimeo.com/9902685 <http://vimeo.com/9902685>
Pete Brook’s blog on the topic is also well worth a read and can be found at: http://prisonphotography.wordpress.com/2010/04/08/photographing-fabienne-conclusions <http://prisonphotography.wordpress.com/2010/04/08/photographing-fabienne-conclusions>
All the above was particularly relevant to me because although I hadn’t discovered this work before I went to Haiti ( and no offence intended to the photographers who are risking their necks to do their job) but it was this type of coverage which made me want to try and do something different.
Lastly, can I draw your attention to the link below which was another webinar with contributors to Foto 8’s Cross Current issue talking about their work live online, my input starts after 30 minutes http://vimeo.com/12025983 <http://vimeo.com/12025983>
Mobile number: +44(0)7958 542 437
It’s not every day you get a call asking you to photograph the Prime Minister but that’s what happened one Thursday in early March this year when the editor of the Saturday Times Magazine called me. I was being invited to be part of Gordon’s unofficial election campaign inner circle for the day, to travel on the train with Gordon and entourage to Birmingham and beyond.
Unfortunately, ‘Inner circle’ didn’t translate into ‘feel free to snap away’ – that would have been too good to be true – In reality I had about 3-4 minutes when I was allowed to photograph the PM in a way that felt intimate. The rest of the time I was thrown in with the other photographers in the various locations around Staffordshire but I still felt privileged, definitely a story to tell the grand-children – a fascinating combination of the surreal and the mundane.
The day kick-started with tea in the 10 Downing Street Café. What a great thing to have a café in your front room! Was that Gordon’s idea or maybe Margaret Thatcher’s brought about by an attack of the munchies whilst pondering the sinking of the Belgrano perhaps? There’s a mildly surreal label on a water jug saying ‘Free water’, some kind of spin I guess, a hangover from the Alastair Campbell years, a need surely to offset the fact that we have to pay for the bacon sarnnies.
The plan for the day is to go to Birmingham to see a site for a new high-speed railway station, followed by a memorial service at the National Arboretum and then onto Burton-on-Trent to visit a new care centre. So, after tea, we all get in the convoy to Euston station.
On trains, the PM travels First Class but apart from that he seems to travel like a normal citizen give or take the odd very discreet security guard and the fact he parks his car on the platform, (Maybe I’ll try that next time I’m late). The carriage is open to all which is nicely demonstrated by an irate passenger who tries to squeeze past Gordon as he is introduced to the journalist, ‘Excuse me’ she snaps only double taking once she has barged by and hears our giggles.
The trip is a whirl of rushed photo opportunities and speeding convoys: “If you are not in the car when the PM gets in his car, you will be left behind.”
“So I can’t take a snap of Gordon getting in his car then?” I said. “No!” the PR explains.
When you are working in these situations as a photographer you are always looking for an opportunity, a mercurial moment but the pace is often frenetic, and those moments few and far between. You may not even be in the right place when they happen. I have just Googled the ‘Prescott Punch’ perhaps one of the most famous political photo opps of recent times and can see no stills which implies red faces and sharp words from photo editors and no award winning snaps.
Hopefully, for me, I missed no amazing moments and took my opportunities as they presented themselves.
The day ends with an oddly mundane and paradoxically surreal train journey back to Euston with me sitting opposite Sarah Brown as the journalist interviews the PM, both of us tapping away on our laptops.
“Do you want me to move?” I asked Sarah.
“No you’re fine” she said.
“Does the Prime Minister get bothered by snappers tagging along?”
“No he’s used to it“ she said.
Right then! Tap tap tippity tap.
Actually, the Prime Minister’s wife seemed very approachable but it just didn’t seem right to engage her in small talk, much as I was tempted to raise the small matter of anti-terrorist legislation and how problematic it was that policemen across the land feel obliged to harass tourists and photographers snapping bus stations or chip shops. I think she would have agreed..
We arrive back. The PR asks if I need a lift anywhere.
“No I’m fine” I reply, then suddenly they are gone and I am left in the carriage and it’s back to just an ordinary, non-surreal, journey home.
Anne Marie, Main street Port Au Prince
My home is destroyed, I lost my brother and sister in the Earth Quake. It was terrifying houses were falling down around us, you can’t imagine and then everywhere dead bodies and people screaming I went three days without water. I was working on the street when the earth quake happened which is why I am ok, I have to look after my sisters kids now she is dead, I have no time to grieve, they are weak and not use to sleeping on the streets, I must feed them, I must work.
An earthquake magnitude of 7.0 – struck at 1653 local time, Haiti, (2153 GMT) on Tuesday, 12 January.
I am travelling by bus from the Dominican Republic into Haiti. At the border crossing the sun sets over a vast and beautiful lake. The weather is perfect and the scene as pretty as a picture postcard. It seems inappropriate somehow when I know that in Port Au Prince, my destination, bodies are still decomposing in the street and the advice going round is to wear a face mask with vapour rub on the inside to disguise the smell of death.
Haiti has just suffered its biggest earthquake in 200 years, the effects of which have been compounded, previous to this by a series of political crises and natural disasters, which have left the country in grinding poverty.
The scale of the disaster is huge:” 230,000 people killed, 300,000 injured and 1.2 million left needing emergency shelter. Survivors have lost family, homes, livelihoods and essential services. Hospitals, schools and government buildings were all destroyed” (http://www.dec.org.uk/item/200) <http://www.dec.org.uk/item/200%29>
The media response by the news agencies has been intense, and much imagery especially on the internet has been shocking, almost voyeuristic: There are photographs of bodies piled in the streets; in one picture a man removes a body from a coffin so he can steal the coffin. In another we see corpses alight in the street. Dignity in death is absent and a sense of apocalypse pervades.
There is an argument that publishing strong pictures is necessary to shock the globe into fund raising action; that the scale of the disaster and the inability of the Haitian government to cope led to unique circumstances which needed reporting. This is a fair point but I feel we need to balance this with pictures that allows us to connect with the Haitians with humanity and as equals. I wanted to show the Haiti story in a different way.
Thus, nineteen days after the earthquake, I am on a bus to Haiti with two Hasselblad bodies and seventy rolls of film( yes film). As we cross the border, I can already sense the poverty. The Dominican Republic, not known for its wealth, feels like first world in comparison to Haiti. Poverty-led deforestation makes the land look bare. Only three per cent of original rich forest remains, the trees have be cut for fuel and roofless buildings ( tax is only charged on finished houses) are everywhere not because of the earthquake however.
Within 15 minutes the first signs of the earthquake start to show. I can see why Haiti has been dubbed the unluckiest country on earth because DR is completely untouched. But it is Port Au Prince, close to the epicentre, where one really gets the sense of the devastation. This has been well documented however and although it is substantial, it might be worth mentioning not the whole of the city has been affected.
Nineteen days later the main roads in the city have been cleared and the city is functioning, some areas like Pentoville have been largely unscathed especially in comparison to down-town which has been hit badly, perhaps because the houses have been better built.
What is quite shocking however is the amount of government buildings that were damaged . Almost all the major government buildings: the Palace, the law courts, the main prison and tax office are all down.
Saddest of all this includes many schools and a nine story hospital. In a country with endemic corruption questions will and should be raised about the quality of government construction.
To my relief some of the apocalyptic scenes I had been expecting failed to materialise, as always the mainstream news can’t help but focus on the worst news and the most dramatic scenes and besides, things have moved on from the worst period. It is more than two weeks now since the quake.
The security situation seemed calm, I never felt in danger during my time there, and most but not all bodies have been cleared from the streets or sadly burnt where they lay, although underneath virtually every destroyed building the remains of the dead still lie. Recovering the bodies is a long and difficult job. I photographed one guy whose work was to recover the dead from the tax office. He got through it on rum and the knowledge that at least he was giving the families a chance of a burial.
What is undeniable though, is the massive and undeniable need of the Haitians right now. Camps have been set up on any clear space, opposite the Palace (think across from Buckingham place or in Trafalgar Sq ) thousands now live in ram shackle shelters mostly built from scavenged timber and cloth, barely protected from the sun and certainly not from the rains due in May.
The aid, even as I left a month later and still today, March the 4th, is very patchy. The international aid effort I think is struggling with its approach (I will talk about this later) but I did come across two Haitian charities who seemed to be exemplary of what is happening all over Haiti, in that they are Haitians helping Haitians
I would like to mention them and urge you to consider supporting them somehow.
The first is actually called ‘Haitians helping Haitians’ and is run by two directors one an amazing Hatian guy called Alex ( more on him later) and a lovely Catholic American called Connie who does much of the fund raising. They run an orphanage outside of Haiti, which has since turned, into a mini refugee camp and also work on other projects.
After the quake and after surviving three days without food or water Alex managed to get his van out of PAP load it up and discretely bring vital supplies into his neighbourhood. He repeated this process until the economy started moving again with one van helping about 1500 people. Check out the website if you think you may be able to help, I can vouch for them.
The other charity is not actually a charity it’s a guy, Gilbert Baily, who runs a restaurant. Within 24 hours of the quake around the time the US had taken over the airport and were deciding what to do next, this guy set up a soup kitchen and was feeding 1500 children a day a hot, balanced meal (not just giving them a solitary bag of rice which strangely seems very popular amongst some aid agencies). He is still feeding 1500 people a day and will be for a very long time I’m guessing. If you want to help go to his face book page
or search facebook under
Muncheez Food Drive Haiti
Finally a reminder, for those of you who want to donate through a mainstream organisation, of the Disaster Relief web address
Thank you for reading, more later, especially when the main set of pictures and captions are ready.
This shot of fashion designer Betty Jackson and her son Oliver, (both very nice) is worth a look. I could see the style working well in a range of magazines. It was shot for Relative Values for the Sunday Times in a hotel. The furnishing in this boutique hotel was asking to be included in the shot . When you do the RV or LIDO ( Relative Values of Life in a Day ) shots its a little bit like Ready Steady Cook, you turn up and have to make something of the ingredients in half an hour. I like this one although they chose another set up in the end, which is quite often the case.
The copy is below
This blog for me is a chance to show aspects of my work from a different perspective. I would like to introduce my portraits which you can see if you click on the following link. (http://www.louisquail.com ).
First up, Maggie Rambling:
I cant help have a fondness for the Maggie Rambling shot,posted partly because of the experience I had during the shoot . She was very direct which I found quite refreshing; shouting orders as good as any major and insisting on holding her fake cigarette. I was in and out in a hour but it was still a privilege to photograph her in her studio.
The Saturday Times commissioned this piece, the idea being that American-style Prom nights are arriving in Great Britain. Myself and the journalist Damien Whitworth traveled to three completely different nights across the country to see how UK schools are celebrating their graduation. These pictures tell the story. see Damien’s piece below