Exhibition: Soundcheck Sessions, Zorki Photo Cafe, Cluj-Napoca, Romania

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Buffalo Tom’s Chris Colbourn, shot on tour in Holland in 2007

Back in April 2004, I travelled to Zagreb, Croatia, to take pictures of Nashville country-soul outfit Lambchop. I’d interviewed their genial frontman Kurt Wagner back in 2000 and seen them play a number of concerts in London. This was the period after their breakthrough album ‘Nixon’ and its delicate follow-up ‘Is a Woman’.

It was a few years after I’d really got into photography. I was looking for a project that I could return to year after year. Backstage at a Lambchop show in London, I suggested to Kurt that I would catch up with the band at various shows, shooting the cities they played in, and their concerts, and crucially the stuff the audience don’t see – especially the soundchecks. The band’s concert, at SC on the Croatian capital, was the first of a range of shows I covered, from London to Moscow, New York to Istanbul.

But that project also changed focus. Itching to practice more using the limited light at soundchecks, I began shooting other bands.

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Chefchaouen: Morocco’s blue city

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Blue plaque in hard, clear mountain light

Only two hours drive from Morocco’s chaotic port city of Tangiers, Chefchaouen feels like it’s in a different world. Home to some 45,000 people, this historic city clusters along the slopes of the Rif Mountains in northern Morocco, its houses washed in shades of blue that catch the bright, mountain light.

It’s no surprise that Chefchaouen is known to Moroccans as The Blue City. Just like the white-washed houses of Greece’s Santorini, Chefchaouen is a city described in the shades of a single colour, especially the houses surrounding the Medina and the city’s main square, Plaza Uta-el Hammam. It has none of Fez Medina’s bewildering confusion, and lacks the touristic overload of Marrakech – well, at least for now.

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A Paris day trip on film

 

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Paris tableside grit and grain… old Agfa Precisa cross-processed

Having a cupboard full of old cameras and a freezer stocked with a range of old films has its plus points – the sheer number of combinations between camera and film, and the happy accidents that come from a certain camera using a certain film. Every weekend or photographic daytrip can yield a different result.

A few months ago, I spent the day in Paris with some of my workmates, mostly to catch the Pompidou Centre’s retrospective on Magnum founder Henri Cartier-Bresson. It’s ridiculous to think that this is the first time I’ve been to Paris since 2003.

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Steve McQueen Memorial Rally 2014

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Pirate portrait, taken on a Pentax ESII and Kodak E100VS slide film

Every August, somewhere in Denmark, a bunch of people indulge in a car rally with a difference. They’re not marked on the time they take. Their cars are not inspected to make sure they have the right safety measures. In fact, the only thing governing this race is that their car has to be have built during the lifetime of a certain iconic actor.

The Steve McQueen Memorial Rally only has three criteria for entry – a car built between 1929 and 1980, fancy dress, and a distinct lack of the kind of elitist snobbery associated with classic car clubs.

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Harold Edgerton: The man who froze the world

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Bullet Through Apple by Harold Edgerton, 1964 (MIT)

(This article first appeared on BBC Future; many thanks to the Michael Hoppen Gallery for their help with the article andpermission to use Edgerton’s pictures on the blog.)

Every time you use the flash on your smartphone or camera, you should give silent praise to Harold Eugene Edgerton. In the era of vacuum tubes and radios the size of tables, Edgerton created a way to stop the world; a bullet passing through an apple; a footballer’s boot connecting with a ball; the crown-like splash created from a single drop of milk. He was the first man to harness electricity to freeze time to an instant.

Edgerton’s iconic images would be difficult enough to create today, even with computers on hand to open and close the shutter and fire the flash. But Edgerton took his pictures in the days of analogue, recording them on a motion picture camera converted to shoot at previously impossible speeds, and lighting them with an electric flash he invented himself. Intricate geometries happening so fast the human eye is incapable of comprehending them were suddenly captured for all to marvel at.

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