reportage

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…!

Shuttleworth Collection Engineering Day = Grown Up Sheds by Shaun Armstrong

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There's something alluring about sheds. Havens with tools and tins and the gathered detritus of many hours tinkering and whittling. Attempts to fix or create, successfully or otherwise - in relatively undisturbed tranquility, save perhaps an old paint-spattered radio. And mugs of tea. And if you breath deeply, the smell of oil and wood-shavings. We're not talking Shoffices here - wooden garden workplaces with desks, books and wifi - but the sort of place where organisation means over-use of a Dymo label printer on old tubs and tins to reveal their assorted contents - nails, tapes and bits of electrical items that are sure to "come in handy" one day.

My Dad had such a shed-cum-workshop which as his gathered spoils and projects increased, he made it larger - cutting it in half down the middle and inserting a higher, pitched perspex roof to let more light in. As you do.

Sheds come in all shapes and sizes and whilst the ones at the Shuttleworth Collection of aircraft and classic cars at Old Warden, Bedfordshire are more "hangars", the principle is pretty much the same.

Every year they open up the engineering shed hangar to show their works-in-progress and for the engineers (the stars of the show along with the airplanes) to share their enthusiasm and chat to the visitors young and old.

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This was my first visit to Shuttleworth, so camera-wise I only had my little Fuji 100s and my phone, but was amazed how many people were gunned up with all sorts of kit - tripods, off-camera flash and more DSLR's with the brand and model stitched into the strap than you could shake a selfie-stick at. But when you think of how close to classic warbirds (especially the last flying Hurricane that saw action in WWII) you could get, plus see the innards of a Spitfire in bottom-up rebuild, you could see why there was such enthusiasm.

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Aside from the main focus (and smell) of the planes, I was more fascinated by the people - visitors and team, and the details of not only the machinery but life in the workplace not normally set for public "display". The quizzical technical interest of the more mature gentleman down to the families and children marvelling in the unusual sights of design, materials and finish, was fascinating.

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Here are some of my images from the Shuttleworth visit, spanning visitors, engineers and details of classic craftsmanship.

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.

 

 

business documenting – ITV Drama “The Bletchley Circle” Series 2 – Behind The Scenes Part 1 by Shaun Armstrong

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The second series of the highly successful drama “The Bletchley Circle” started airing on ITV on 6 January 2014 which means I can start to reveal the embargoed behind-the-scence reportage I was lucky enough to be able to capture for Bletchley Park when they were outdoor filming there in June 2013. It was only a few years ago that the WWII work and legacy of Bletchley Park was still a closely guarded secret. It is now pretty much well known across the world as the “home of the Codebreakers” and the cradle of modern computing. It has also been woven into mainstream drama and film as a rich source of stories but a major drawback of the film “Enigma” was that none of the Bletchley Park scenes were shot on location. No so with the latest Hollywood film “The Imitation Game” starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightly (not allowed to shoot this one – boo) or the ITV drama The Bletchley Circle which was critically acclaimed in 2012 (which I was – hooray!).

...read the full story and see the first gallery of images on the Mubsta Business Photography blog.

Mubsta - Official Photographer Bletchley Park Trust

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

Empty Shops Project - We Are Bedford - Reportage by Shaun Armstrong

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We Are Bedford was a community of local volunteers working together to make a difference to physical spaces. Hustled along by founders Kayte Judge and Erica Roffe, two people passionate about making the most of their home town of Bedford, this was to be done by transforming unused buildings into vibrant hubs of artistic activity by thinking creatively and being proactive; values I was delighted to support through artistic, documenting photography. Their first event, The Castle Quay Weekender, was held on 19-20 March 2011 and saw a fairly recently redeveloped, but under-occupied, area in the heart of the proposed cultural area of the town, transformed by artists, musicians and performers. It attracted over 2000 visitors! A real success and a demonstration to many people of what could be achieved “in the public domain” if you put your mind and a lot of hard work in.

That We Are Bedford event and its outcomes helped the founders generate funding from the RSA that led to further events and activities during 2011, spin-off groups and critical acclaim…plus through no coincidence all the units being let 1 year later.

See what is was all about below. This was quite an early bit of street /performance for me and there's post production elements I would be better now, with  a little more experience under my belt, but you get the vibe :)

Tate Modern - feeling arty on the South Bank with an iPhone by Shaun Armstrong

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In having to travel to London for a Full House Theatre meeting I found myself with an opportunity to have a wander around Tate Modern. I have a couple of abstract photo-art installations to deliver over the next month or so, so thought this would be "inspiring". Leaving the chunky kit at home I found myself more stimulated by the opportunities for some abstract reportage and the stealthy nature of my iPhone. A truly battery-draining experience so avoided trying to tweet these all out as I went. Do have a nosey at the full Gallery on Flickr and tweet or share if you like...

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Full Gallery here

Hipstamatic App on the iPhone by Shaun Armstrong

There's nothing quite so satisfying for a photographer (and by that I mean anyone who has an image capture device of any sort and choice) to seize a moment for posterity or artistic joy - we all do it differently but, to my mind, the least posed and set-up the better.  

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Hotel waiting, Barcelona

 

And then, there's nothing more creatively draining or boring than a lack of spontaneity...at least as a recipient. The fact that comedians, musicians, actors, architects, pyrotechnicians etc. learn and practice what they do by rote (by and large) and with great prep before we "experience" it is another matter, not sure I want to go to a "spontaneous" firework display but I digress...

Hipstamatic App on the iPhone

Craft tools Palau-Del-Vidre, France

The Hipstamatic app on the iPhone is an article of joy allowing you at a swipe (albeit a creatively directed one) to produce an image of drama and wonder from everyday happenings. A nice clean high-res photo is a record yes, but with simple effects that mimic lenses, that add to rather than merely record an image view plus the tactile nature of old film (without any post production faffing about, digital, wet or otherwise - sorry, back to the low process boredom issue) are great!

I've just come back from a family holiday and amongst the usual activities managed to have some fun with this little app without carrying around great hoards of kit and being a pest to wife, daughters et al; somehow these little walnuts of memory wouldn't have been the same or would have passed with the DLSR sledgehammer or even a competent pocket camera (I have a shiny new Ixus 300HS which does this).

Now, I've not explored some of the addtional lenses and films you can buy to add to the App (I favour the basic John S lens and Kodot film), or indeed tried the competitions (yet) but for £1.19 I would recommend it is worth a go and will reward many times over. It works best when you have a core subject, rather than wider views given it only produces little images/files for things like this, but still worth the fun. Hipstamatic images from France and Barcelona :) Credit and thanks to @Documentally for highlighting this app originally. A man of many and varied tools but like all good craftsmen, its what you do with them that counts...