Sunday, 16 January 2011

Portraits

Moving between Tokyo and London meant that for a long time I was without these negatives from my earlier incarnation as a photographer. On my last trip back to the UK, however, I got them out of storage (in a friend's roof) and sent them over to myself in Tokyo.

As they are 15-25 years old, and so unlikely ever to be re-used editorially, I thought that, rather than leave them unseen, I'd scan a selection of the portraits for an occasional but regular posting on this blog. I don't know how many will end up online here – maybe 25 to 50? But it'll be a way of showing my favourites.

There's a variety of portrait styles: earlier and often by preference, I photographed in black and white and only with available light, so often with fast film. Three of the principal publications I shot for (City Limits, The Village Voice and The Wire) were mostly printed in black and white anyway, and I liked that look. But others are in colour and/or employed lighting.

In the world of digital, it seems incredible that I had to go home and develop and print film in my bathroom-converted darkroom – which then converted back into a bathroom for the rest of the evening. It makes it seem even longer ago that it really is. I did all my own printing, as lab-printed black-and-white always seemed too grey to me. Colour was mostly shot on positive film, but occasionally on print film which I also printed myself.

So, these postings – click on the Portraits tag at the right to see the selection as I add to it – will be my choice of people, and if there's anything interesting or explanatory to add about the shoot, I will. I'll upload in alphabetical order…

Update, Jan 27: I thought of putting a link to information about City Limits, which was a now-defunct London listings and features magazine set up to rival the still-continuing Time Out. But there's surprisingly little about it on the web. Strange, as it was successful and well-known in its time (though not as well-known as Time Out, whose striking staff originally set City Limits up). A weekly, and mainly printed on almost newsprint-type paper with a glossy cover, it's probably not a magazine that many have kept, so all the more reason – in my mind – for me to put some of my portrait contributions up here. So, now not really celebrated, the magazine saw earlyish-career work at the time from the likes of Neville Brody (who needs no introduction on a design blog – and designed the covers for a few years), Phil Bicker (who went on to the The Face), David King (renown for his Russian-influenced covers on City Limits), John Fordham (an editor of the magazine, now a jazz writer for The Guardian and more), Jonathon Romney (film writer, who went on to The Guardian), Nick James (now editor of Sight and Sound), Lucy O'Brien (music writer and author), Steve Bell (now – and then – famed cartoonist) and a host more. It lasted for a number of years, before buy-outs and financial difficulties saw it go under. I was a freelance photographer, occasional picture editor, once or twice a designer, and a staff production manager at different times.

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