image of the week...the endless search

I feel like I spend a lot of time: -In transit

-Finding things

-Losing things

-Breaking things

-Fixing things

-Emailing

So perhaps it's time for another adventure

A tired post I warn thee. At the moment I am delving through all of my negatives in search of a few for the shows coming up this year for the HSBC award. It's a strange task. Despite being boring most of the time it is also a lovely reminder of moments easily forgotten. This image is from the trip with lucky. Rambling through the forest en route to meet some massive dogs we came across this guy. Lucky warned he might not be too receptive. Baked in light I watched him work and edged closer with caution. We spoke a little and I talked about work in London and looking back the conversation feels like a million years ago. I recall feeling like we talked for about an hour. Chatting whist I danced in between the twigs attempting to compose something, stay upright and not get in his way. This shot makes me want to run back to a forest for a bit.

OAO x

image of the week...Dench strolls

"Your hair looks glossy Pannack, what conditioner do you use?"

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dencha fb

The dictaphone appears in my peripheral as we step off the train into the salty wind of the coast at Southend Central. Dench sports a next generation hyper camera device round his neck like a medallion over his iconic Fila sports top. The tiny camera blinks at me every second recording my movements like a tracking device. What have I let myself into I think?

At this point I don't know Dench that well. I mean I've seen him at PV's and we’ve done a show together but our banter is always lighthearted, sarcastic and enjoyable. I've always just thought..Peter Dench, he's a funny man, I like him. Strangely the first time I was introduced to him was when he tagged me in a video he made at Perpignan years ago. Flattering me with an excited commentary :"Now the party has really begun, Laura Pannack has arrived in Perpignan!". This royal introduction intrigued me and I was eager to meet this humorous charmer.

So today is a chance to go beyond that and really unravel the one they call Dench. I'm surprised and honored he's asked me to be in his book The Dench Dozen where he has selected a mere 10 British photographers and interviewed them in depth. (http://hungryeyemagazine.com/great-britons-of-photography-vol-one-the-dench-dozen/#buy)

This is our interview. I requested a stroll as I think it's the best way to break down barriers and evolve a relationship. I'm also craving a trip to a seaside town.

We decide to hit the pier. It's long. Really long..so long it holds the record as the longest pier.

What's at the end? A bar? A cafe? An arcade? No. Nothing.

When we do arrive at the other end, sweaty and disappointed Dench leans into the sea breeze...snap

OAO xx

image of the week..baggy trousers

So so close...but I usually opt for rest rather than post when my eyes are falling. 

“Where would you like to shoot? It needs to be in London and have a relevance to Brexit. “ 

The mind races...everywhere has a relevance. I google the boroughs that voted to leave in London. There are four: To it is! 

Samira flies over and herself and her suitcases of clothing pile into my weeny Kia. As we cruise to Dagenham we formulate a game plan. Ideally we are looking for first time voters. First stop , the colleges . As expected we receive the full on high vis security treatment after 10 mins of loitering. Fair play. Bus stops and curb crawling next. We manage to flag down a few teens and quickly realize that the day has flown by and light is fading. Having just returned back from the sunny Texas light I realize London at 3 pm is dark as a cave. 

They flake one by one. Our last option is the only boy we spotted. With only girls clothing we are hesitant but Ryan’s white hair seem like a top option in this fading light and we manage to pull out a CK silver bomber jacket that makes him shine. I call it a day and say that rather than waste too much of his time we will shoot a few frames but return tomorrow...another paid modeling gig..sure he s up for it ...one happy 18 year old returns home. 

He’s not picking up? This is so odd. He seemed fine this morning to meet at 11..where is he? Why has he got cold feet. Rhiannon and I are concerned and prepare ourselves for a repeat day of street casting before shooting. 

“Hello” “Ryan! I thought you’d bailed” “Sorry the police stopped us. Im here , where are you?” 

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His baby face coyly greets us and explains that they were questioned for no reason and that this is a common occurrence. We shrug and drive on to our first spot. We leave Ryan to change in the car and return to find him drowning in a pair of jeans. He holds them up like clown trousers and we giggle as we manage to keep them afloat with a belt.

After switching to a few locations, one swimming with odd junk including fridges we decide the greenery was our best shout.

The sun disappears and the fleeting window of light we had vanishes. We drop Ryan off ,as he departs , he gleams and asks if he can model again. I reassure him that he would be an asset to any project, great hair, great attitude and a calm vibe. OAO x

Image of the week ...If there's no coincidence, there won't be stories

After working off a cracked Iphone screen for a week I can safely say I value the luxury of a Macbook pro more than ever. A double whammy for my lack of tenacity to persist with tiny broken technology.

As many times as we dissect the tale Andrei and I seem to resort to allowing our feet to follow our noses in search of inspiration. It had been a week, and by now my mind is riddled with doubt and over analyzed concepts.

“Look!" he says as I dreamily gaze out of the window.

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We stop the car. There are two boys playing with hand made bow and arrows. We exchange a gaze of total amazement. Their sense of adventure, choice of weapon and youthful appearance ...it was all so relevant.

Light was fading and fast. They agreed and played excitedly as I shot. Out of film I turn back to search my bag. Swinging around I see an empty darkening scene. It's silent.They have scampered off in search of more adventure.

The images don't ‘work' , not in the way I had imagined. Too literal? Bad light? Rusty composition... still the moment reminded me how fond I am of coincidences.

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BUBGva

“Do you know who owns these puppies? “I say as three beautiful black cute pupps gaze up at me as if I have just given birth to them. They keep their eyes fixed on me as they slalom drunkly between my legs, tripping me up. This game continues for almost 40 minutes until I realize I have consented an adoption.

The tanned boy in baggy clothes cooly looks back and walks towards me. He bends down and pets them.

"No idea, but I think they’re yours now"

We stroll towards his house, speaking of the past and why he lives in a sleepy, secluded, small town miles from entertainment.

The past seems riddled with regret. He speaks of being saved, blessed by good people who accept him.

I meet his cats and dogs and we watch as all of the beasts fight for a munch at the treats. After shooting a few frames I step backwards onto a snoring pile of puppies safely guarding my camera gear.

Their love reaches no limits as they attempt to follow me as I cross the highway, escaping near death, they wait patiently for my return. We have no choice but to distract them with frankfurters before dashing into the car and speeding off. I watch them sadly in the mirror as we head to our next ghost town...oao x

image of the week...time management

My slackness is becoming more than a bad habit and I need to take a class in time management For my sins two images,

It's an arduous but essential process to painfully revisit everything I've shot from Romania and this neg is one I seem to return to.

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In the cold, damp storeroom of the old school, abandoned paraphernalia lined the floor; I delved through the forgotten clutter and stumbled across these globes. It felt like someone had placed them there before I arrived. Looking at the image now I notice details that escaped me at the time; like the sellotape holding the two halves together. I have a huge urge to embark on another adventure right now; my feet are itching.

The second, another from my TIME shoot with Christine & the queens. Shooting black and white has snuck back into my process organically over the past few years and it's becoming a preference lately.  It presents an alternative reality; allocating space to see the world more simply- in lines, tones and shades. Switching between colour and black and white is a conscious yet simple decision; it's always nice to have a choice ...

oao x

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Image of the week...revealing

With little sleep and a vow to never drinking gin again I collided with Rachel in our traditional fashion. Ever expecting a late pannack her draw dropped and eyes widened at the surprisingly punctual greeting at the train barriers. Hunting for caffeine in the fresh winter sun we attempted to fill in the gaps. Rach and I have been friends for over 10 years and I’ve always wanted to shoot her. She has striking features and I knew her gaze would be focussed, meditative and committed. As most pictures of her reveal, she has an understanding of photography and it translates in how she presents herself.  She is patient, quiet and confident; participating in the act rather than being passively observed.  Like all the best subjects she likes to dance with the image-maker.

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However, after refuelling we got distracted with tales and the sun was hastily leaving us. We frantically searched for a backdrop and grabbing what we could we shot a few frames. This isn’t my fav of the shoot but Ill save that for another time; besides I am now determined to kidnap her for a reshoot.

The many faces of Luigi from Tuscany. It seems a lifetime ago but the respite of the cool walls in our classroom also acted as a perfect backdrop to practice some portraiture.  What surprised everyone about Luigi was his multi dimensional persona. What I yearned to capture was the true identity of this complex joker. He was intangible. Like an actor every frame ignited a new character, the camera seemed to trigger his desire to play and I could only surrender to his game. Whichever Luigi wanted to be portrayed in that moment I had to let appear.

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Untitled-1blog

I’m on board a flight to NY at the moment and would pay money for fresh air. Long haul flights are one of my Room 101 gifts. The trapped space and the desire to sleep or be active totally restricted. Sure it’s a first world problem, I’m lucky to be flying away and equally lucky to have just wolfed down a bunch of sleeping pills…bonne nuit OAO x

Image of the week...All for nuthin

"Who's idea was it to come to Texas anyway?" I avoid the question.

21 days and over 2000 miles later I still don't know the answer. The working title of our trip 'All for nuthin' gained a stronger relevance as the days passed. Nevertheless, the true value of any trip is the adventure. "Something will always happen" seems to be echoing in my head at the moment.

In some ways it was a disappointment; especially reflected in how little I shot. I have to remind myself that these exercises are there to challenge my practice, train my eyes, push my patience and expand my mind. Despite the frustration, I was doing what I love most; urban hiking in a foreign land with the sun on face. I rambled, talked to strangers and hunted beyond the banal.

As I paddle my way through January I have managed to form some kind of edit from the mere few rolls I shot.

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Here were the most frequent scenarios:

1 The light was perfect but there was nothing to shoot

2 The scene was perfect but there were no people about

3 It was too bright 4 It was too dark

5 It was boring beyond saving

6 It was a stereotype

The relentless empty wanderings could only be cured by:

1 Great coffee

2 Great conversations

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I shall leave you with theses images (two for my late post) and promise that more Texas tales shall follow soon OAO x  

image of the week - past lives

There are so many tales from Texas I am yearning to vent but until I've got my eyes over the film I'll hold off on the stories. In the mean time I was looking back at some images from the 'Our lives' series and thought I would post a few that didn't make the final print. Sometimes an image is too similar in content to include but often tells another story or evokes a different emotion. I wondered what instinctive part of me decided on the image I did. What controls my editing decisions?

Textures, shades and spaces that feel comfortable, expressions that draw the eye back. I wonder if the same subjective curating of the moment itself also marries the final selection of a group of images or even the one that is selected from many afterwards.

I've met many people who I consider incredible photographers but I am often shocked or disappointed by which images they choose to present or which for them, accurately reflect their skills.

Like most artists stepping outside the practice is something I struggle with. Reviewing work is something I turn to others for, which is challenging. The catch 22 of not wanting to reveal images that you are frustrated by, but equally the knowledge that you cannot improve, learn or progress without the critique of others will always be a hard fact to accept.

Is the defining moment of selecting the image from the contact sheet just as important as the moment of pressing the shutter? Personally I always feel more attached to an image when just one frame is produced, I like the idea of a sacred 60th of a second rather than one of many...but then who knows if the real moment was missed?

OAO x

image of the week... monochrome poems

Uh Oh...it's Friday.... I'm late I've been shooting more black and white recently and really enjoying how it can offer a refreshing relief. Shapes and light become a different graphic puzzle to solve.It's also helping me out when I'm in harsh sunlight.

Possibly the most unusual but perfect location to teach some students on a hot day in Italy. I confess I have posted the colour version of this already but here is a reminder: As I was getting used to the sensation of the clay on my face I reclined and swirled the murky warm water of the therma baths. Alessandra recounted meeting a couple and taking their portrait and we analysed what could have made the shoot more intimate. We agreed a long conversation with her next couple was essential.

As I left her with some friendly lovers, a girl a few meters from me smiled and I asked to take her portrait.  I felt like I knew her and we both had a wonderful open chat as we relaxed in the water protecting us from the now cooling air.

A friend saw the image and kindly provided a short poem:

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Those rushing rapids

Wet/pure

Douse, let me sink

This heavy flesh, a soaking mass

Saturated, a flood

With a spilling brim, infinity.

Infinity.

You're so soft

Paper thin

Fingers/Knives

Everything is delicate.

(R.A.Davies)

With two broken cameras in Romania I danced between both and rarely paid much attention to which one had the roll of Ilford in. However on this occasion I thought in monochrome before loading the camera. Spotting a striking young man waiting at a bus stop I hesitated and then reimagined his image in black and white. It felt better. We stopped the car. He was calm, friendly almost too relaxed....oao x

image of the week...seeing double

Past the hour but does it count? THE CHASE

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These past two weeks have been a beautiful contrast. From roaming the Danube and being bitten by wild dogs before jumping on a Eurostar to cut shapes with friends, see some great art and explore Amsterdam. I've landed back in the smoke and browsing through my edit from a fleeting trip to Romania.

I'm excited to show the work on the 21st at Francesca Maffeo Gallery and sifting through some of the negs has been revealing and enlightening. With any project the destination is never the agenda, only the journey, so making sense of it can often be gruelling. I've always shot out of instinct. Despite enjoying the research and reading I really enjoy simply immersing myself in the act itself.

These two images are from my last trip. The Danube surprised me. I try with each visit to head without expectations but after reading similar reviews I was expecting bustling wildlife and a luscious nature filled trip. Instead it was raw and isolated. Each place was a ghost town and the Danube itself indifferent. It's true I didn’t explore it all but what definitely interested me more were the ports and wilder eerie villages. Everyone was a neighbour .

After a fun filled night I'll keep this short and promise to reveal more stories next week, but here are two for my sins with captions ...bonne nuit OAO x

NEVER DO AS YOU ARE TOLD