english paparazzi

img_3285one reason i took up photography and started writing short stories up here on wordpress was that it might feed directly back into my main concern which is songwriting. every decade or so i find myself a bit lost.. it’s not a writers block, but the inclination does vanish. it’s not a fun feeling, although the years have taught me not to panic. a good idea is to just go outside and have an ice cream among people and take some pictures… i have found photography to be a great tonic for the making of music.. it opens my eyes to the world around me, offering new images and ideas for lyrics.

when i’m out and about in london with my camera i often look just above street level.. it’s a gas what’s on view if you lift the eyes up toward the first or second floor of the buildings.

here’s hoping you enjoy my new song

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homeless people in london

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as i move through the fair with camera in hand, the compulsion to document homeless folk becomes overwhelming, even if it does send the moral compass into a spin. on one hand it feels intrusive, while on the other, the reality deserves addressing. when i encounter what my camera was born for, i can almost hear the contraption yelling at me to nail these situations, and for a split second i get to feel what it might be like for a photo journalist taking pictures in a war zone where people are anxious or under heavy duress… it’s not fun taking those kind of photographs, but ultimately i’m glad i do. they’re a true record of how life is for many mother’s sons and daughters in this ruthless city. the more it’s discussed, the more of an issue it becomes. black and white photography is particularly good for this. it keeps the essence up front, where colour could be a distraction.

the picture of the lady above gets to me because she’s so beautiful.. she knows she deserves better than this. i love her hair..it reminds me of linda lewis in the 1970’s playing her fender stratocaster singing ‘rock a doodle doo’…what i mean is she looks like she’s got all the potential in the world to be where she’d prefer to be, yet there she is.. in deep water.

and the young girl below asleep in the middle of the day..her clock all upside down…she looks so young…and then below that, the group of fellas where one has retrieved food for the rest..then the man with the dog..the look on that little dog’s face throws me for six. then the final picture of the two young strapping guys who look like they’ve got so much to offer. all these people have, if only given a chance… everybody’s got something to offer.

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soho radio

img_6566for a long time i’ve been dreaming about a return to freeform radio.. something loose and less shrill with proper music people spinning records rather than professional personalities, and as i walked past the tiny soho radio station one day last summer, my jaw nearly hit the pavement when i clocked dennis bovell the record producer inside hosting a show. i walked in waving my camera, gesturing that i’d love to take a quick photograph. he was kind and welcoming… looked right into the lens and shook my hand firmly n’all… lovely strong forthright demeanour. it was one of my first outings with an SLR camera so i guess technically it’s not a perfect shot, but dennis surely is.

there are two records of his i adore..the first is the slits version of ‘i heard it through the grapevine’. the other is linton kwesi johnson’s ‘inglan is a bitch’. here it is… a fab groove. even though written very much from a black mans perspective, it hit a nerve with all youth around 1980 when england was one gritty gritty mess.. still is, only in a weirder way now, thanks to brexit bacteria.

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savile row

Version 2my favourite time for london is early week in the early morning during softer weather. emboldened by a knickerbocker glory ice cream sundae, i like to dander up savile row around lunch time to catch the actual cutters standing outside all the famous tailors with their tape measures draped around their shoulders enjoying a crafty fag on the pavement. then at the lower end of the street i head into hauser & wirth or round the corner to the royal academy to enjoy all the mischief of top banana modern art.. beats drugs by a mile.IMG_0382IMG_0386IMG_4026 - Version 2IMG_0527 - Version 2IMG_0366 - Version 2IMG_0369

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learning to love all over again

Version 3remember… if you see somebody riding around with L plates, give them plenty of room….. it could mean they’re learning to love all over again. Version 2

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political without trying

Version 3 as i continue to dip my woefully amateur toe into photography, a thing i’m noticing is oftentimes when i feel i’ve snapped dull pictures, i flick through them on the train ride home, and discover how the camera lens was more peeled than my eye ever was … i love these young women doing what was traditionally men’s work… one black one white. both on equal footing.. hair tied back out of the way, in full control of a situation… pure london.Version 2

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dark and tender

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here’s a dark and tender photograph i took last autumn.. her name is mandana. she fled the 1976 revolution in iran and descended on soho at the age of sixteen where she now runs her own private members club… it was quite late at night when i bumped into her and we talked only for a few minutes, yet clicked instantly right there by saint annes court alley where david bowie recorded hunky dory / ziggy stardust, and where marianne faithful kept her head down during her homeless days..  when mandana spoke she reminded me of marianne’s natural sophistication and street smarts which is a combination of things i find enormously attractive in people…

she also made me think of a fashion photographer called steven meisel who in the 1990’s became interested in doing portraits of older ladies. there’s something mystical about a face that’s flown down through the corridors of culture and experience. curiously the world of fashion photography hardly ever taps into it. i saw steven meisel in midtown manhattan once at a p.j harvey concert. she was very young then, but already had an older face. patti smith always had it too. these kind of ladies exude a knowledge of art and literature that radiates from their eyes, bones and jawlines. i love them for itVersion 8

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