Photography

Roman Vishniac at The Photographers' Gallery by Shaun Armstrong

Yet again caught up in documenting the visitors to an art exhibition, this time at The Photographers’ Gallery.

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It’s been a while since I’ve visited The Photographers’ Gallery and not since the major refurbishment a few years ago. I was drawn in particular to the Roman Vishniac Rediscovered exhibition in association with Jewish Museum London. Covering a body of work from 1920 to 1970 but focussed mainly on his powerful reportage work of the impoverished and oppressed Jewish community in inter-war Germany. This photography commission was aimed originally at raising awareness of the Jews in the 1930’s, against the backcloth of rising fascism. The subsequent events of the second world war made these images even more important as historic documents of a way of live now lost and like all good reportage, show observed elements of real life shot with the skill and aesthetic of a great reportage photographer.

Covering two floors of the Gallery, it also covers the period of his move to the US in 1940 where he documented Jewish families relocating and settling into their immigrant lives and his subsequent portrait work and his lifelong interest in biology and advances in colour photomicroscopy.

Roman Vishniac Rediscovered is on at The Photographers’ Gallery until 24 Feb 2019

However, I again failed to stop myself being drawn in to taking candid iPhone images of some of the other visitors to the galleries - always interesting people who, weaving in amongst the fixed displays never fail to bring out the reportage photographer in me. Including Mr Beret who punctuated each stop-and-look movement with a firm thud of his walking pole…!

Welcome to my new website! by Shaun Armstrong

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I've been looking at a change for a while and the design and functionality of Squarespace was what I needed for my personal work and plans. It's still a work in progress in parts, especially around the blog, which my old set-up didn't do as well as I wanted, but more to come here.

You will find examples of this personal work, commercial projects I'm involved with and on the blog views and opinions across a range of topics, but likely to feature photography (art and technical), music, culture, heritage and technology.

I'm currently working on artwork for sale, images for licensing and books. If you'd like to work with me in any way please do let in touch and tell me more!

I hope you like the new site as much as I do. All feedback welcome!

Shaun

Oct 2018

D-Day...the journey begins. by Shaun Armstrong

The D-Day beaches - September 2008 Why I'm a photographer.

I'm writing this around the 70th Anniversary of Operation Overlord, 6 June 1944; D-Day - the start of the end of the Second World War. It's a time of special remembrance, especially for the few veterans that still survive, and an opportunity for those not there to be reminded of the achievement and sacrifice.

But in addition, D-Day has a more poignant meaning for me as I was on the Normandy invasion beaches in 2008 when my father was critically injured in a fall at home. I never got to speak to him again. That event was the start of a sequence of events that reshaped my own history and journey, so every year I draw parallels...

The loss of a parent, besides the obvious emotional impact, is in a way like becoming a parent - a part of you changes; you evolve and you can never be the same again and no amount of information or good advice can prepare you. But after the dust has settled, it also gives you insight and perspective to life and perhaps a little wisdom.

Some six months after this event, I also lost my mother in equally sudden circumstances and was at a cross-roads career-wise so I chose to make my living as a photographer and artist.

I wanted to blend my career experience with my creative passion and I produce photography for business at mubsta.com. My artwork and photography is at shaunarmstrong.com.

It's not always been an easy path and "photographer" doesn't really sum it all up, but it has and continues to be full of challenges, great people and exciting opportunities and I have no regrets.

These are some of the last images I took in a much quieter Normandy, before "D-Day" and they continue to inform my work and style today...

Barbados Photography - a view of Caribbean life by Shaun Armstrong

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Barbados is a fascinating, beautiful and colourful part of the Caribbean. I wanted to photograph it for those who live, visit and enjoy the locations and culture. Ranging from windswept sandy beaches, interesting buildings, boats and back-waters to flora and general life, my images seek to capture topics in an interesting and artistic way. There are many images out there normally associated with this mainly holiday destination - posh hotels, sunsets, palm-trees, swimming pools and the like - but I prefer observing the elements of normal life, an unusual building a stranded item in a strange location or just business as usual. These are the real parts of a place and a test of its unique character which makes it different and individual. That said, there are my observations on the usual suspects too!

My book of Barbados photography on Blurb.

All images are shot "as they were found" and in natural light; the decision to shoot being based on the content, context, shape and colour or combinations thereof, leading the viewer to think a little more about what they are seeing and how it fits into the local day to day life. Street photography with a positive edge - in addition to the images the book has a story section at the back where I share my thoughts behind each image. No image was harmed by Photoshop digital compositing!

You can have a preview of selected pages below and buy it in hardback or e-book form. Individual Barbados images can also be licensed for use. Prints and products in development but if interested please do contact me.

 

 

POP! - a pop art exhibition at Christies, London by Shaun Armstrong

Catalogue - When Britain Went PopAlways been drawn to Pop Art in one form or another, I guess as it's a visual touchpoint for the 1960's - a period of challenge, experimentation and free thinking after the austere, post-war 50's. Whether that's bold and iconic British music and fashion via Liverpool and Carnaby Street, cool machines like the Jaguar E-Type, Ford Mustang and GT-40, Saturn V rocket or SR-71 Lockheed Blackbird; icons like JFK and the Rat Pack or Sean Connery as James Bond…the sixties rocked, or rather, swung. What a treat then to stumble, quite literally, across an exciting exhibition of iconic artworks on display at the swanky Christie's in Upper Bond Street entitled "When Britain Went Pop". For the first time in a long tome pieces by 18 artists including Peter Blake (of Sgt Pepper cover fame), Derek Boshier, David Hockney, Eduardo Paolozzi (not Enrico Palazzo from Naked Gun ;) and the quite achingly beautiful Pauline Boty, la belle de pop-art who died tragically at the age of 28 in 1966, had been brought together.

After just checking this wasn't some private sale-viewing space where they expected me to pony up a large amount of cash, I wandered around the three expansive floors, by myself mainly (aside from a good number of stern looking security guards, suitably juxtaposed in suits, ties and starch against the wild, colourful abandon of the works they were minding) drinking in the vibrant works.

An added bonus was a side room showing the 1962 film by Ken Russell "Monitor - Pop Goes The Easel" a very artistically shot and slightly trippy documentary about four of the artists, their work and the "swinging scene" which I enjoyed as it featured many of the artworks on show as they were being made in the studio and/or in their 60's context with the artists which really added impact and connection when looking at them again close up and personal. Worth a watch when you have 45 mins to spare - link below.

Fearful of being ejected onto the street should I try to photograph the works, as is the threat with most (usually photographic, ironically) exhibitions I've been to, I took none until on the way out I asked to use my phone to photograph a statement on the wall about the pop art genre and to my surprise was told I could take photos, as long as I didn't use flash. Thanks to Christies for supporting the spirit of creating art from art, I went back around with my Fuji. I've a few personal projects on the boil artistically and this was a great inspiration.

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www.christies.com

Film Pop Goes The Easel - Ken Russell 1962 

IF Milton Keynes International Festival - Official Photographer by Shaun Armstrong

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It is my pleasure to be Official Photographer for the biennial IF Milton Keynes International Festival. For 2012 I covered 39 events over 11 days from the 5:30am craning in of the Boat Project to the embers of the final evening and pretty much everything in between.

Here are some highlights from 2012...

View full and extended Galleries of all artists and performances at IF 2012

 www.ifmiltonkeynes.org

Go hoops! Go MK Lions! by Shaun Armstrong

Basketball photography and impressions from Marshall MK Lions in Milton Keynes - my local BBL basketball team.

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I've always enjoyed Basketball, when I've stumbled across it on the TV, whether that was (showing my age) the Harlem Globetrotters showboating at Wembley - Meadowlark Lemon and Curly Neal goofing up to the whistled strains of Sweet Georgia Brown or watching the last game of the 1997 season in a bar in Vancouver, between the legendary Chicago Bulls (Michael Jordan, Dennis Rodman (sans rouge) et al) and the Utah Jazz. Jordan stealing from defence in the final seconds to take a 3 point shot on the buzzer to win - classic.

At a business network event I met Vince Macaulay the then head honcho and driving force behind local basketball team MK Lions. They were really going great guns and had a strong vision and aspiration to European standards. He talked passionately and eloquently of the support of the local community from their humble beginnings and how the shopping centre with its large Middleton Hall atrium was their current "home" fixture pending a hoped-for move into the evolving MK Dons stadium complex, where we were seated having breakfast that morning, in the future. Wow - this sounded fantastic! When Stewart (who also sponsors the MK Lions!) put out an email asking who would like to go along to the next home match I put my name down straight away.

Well this was a superb event and a great win for the Lions. I enjoyed the whole thing from the pre-match warm-ups to the final buzzer with end-to-end action and 100% effort from a really dynamic set of character players. I did also notice a chap down under the hoop with a rather tasty pair of 1ds MKIII's and some L series glass (for the camera nerds) who looked like he knew his stuff - now that looks like a challenge thinks I. Now not being overly reserved I congratulated Vince on the win, told him what I did  and in a round about way asked if I could come along and take some basketball photography. By all means he smiled (what a guy) "let me have you details" So here I find myself crouched on the sidelines (need to do some yoga) along with Mr 1ds MKIII who is a Finnish guy travelling about and doing pics and reviews for the BBL.

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Now, I try and put a bit of my "take" on whatever I shoot, so these images aren't all not the normal action shots (but did try and do a few of those), but as a first time out doing this (man, do those guys shift!) I'm pleased and hope you find they share some of the effort and spirit of what goes on.  See my basketball photography 

Behind the Scenes Museum Photography at Bedford Gallery by Shaun Armstrong

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Recently, as part of the national Britain loves Wikipedia event, I had the rare opportunity of being allowed into the fascinating store-rooms of the Cecil Higgins and Bedford  Museum and to see their new "Clocking In" exhibition being assembled in the adjacent, new Bedford Gallery space, all with the view of taking behind the scenes photos! I think the idea was to take formal museum pics but that's not my preferred style so here's my take on what I saw....

I first popped into the new Bedford Gallery in 2009 when they had an exhibition of Abram Games posters (a number of which I saw on display at my time at Bletchley Park) mixed up with memorabilia from the Festival of Britain, which helped explain the logo I'd seen on the village sign outside my home for many years! The whole building and mix of projects is a mish-mash of spaces that, with ongoing rounds of funding are being regenerated as part of the Cultural Quarter (a long job I suspect) but the Gallery is airy and modern as I saw with friends at a Creative Bedfordshire networking event in January displaying the work of Edward Bawden.

Anyhoo, in following their news via Twitter they shared details of the Wikipedia competition and so off I went. They had two sessions allocated but it was only me and one other guy (who was much more in tune with the basis of the competition I think - I just wanted to be nosy, explore and get creative!) so, always under the guidance and approval of the curators, we were led through doors and up stairs into various rooms packed with all sorts of objet in cabinets that were as much artefacts as the contents - all variety of small and ancient items tagged and arranged in order amongst various bits of wrapping and packing materials. Not quite the Area 51 storage warehouse in Indiana Jones but plenty of dark and long unexplored corners and spaces, including a section of cabinets full of birds and other unfortunate creatures who had gone the way of the stuffer! Ended up in what I think was the ancient, old world collections and here time was spent and ran out so no stuffed weasel pics! :(

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After this we were whisked away to the Gallery to see the new Clocking In exhibition being put together and I did my best not to get in the way...wanted interesting angles and studies rather than the usual records and well, you can see all the images on my Flickr site.

"Clocking In" tells the story of working lives in and around Bedfordshire and opens on 27 February 2010 running until 23 May 2010.