Wise Words Indeed – Mike Peters

30th November 2010 

Some photographers are equally as
eloquent of thought as they are in
capturing the most mesmerizing of
street images. One such sidewalk
snapper is Mike Peters.

In a splendid and detailed interview
by Alex Wichman on Cinemafia, the
New York photographer has included the following
Wise Words Indeed…  

“You have to make your own way and learn to make images that only you can make, and once you do that, you may have something worth caring about.”  - Mike Peters. 

Mike Peters - from The Dream series
“A lot of what I see on Flickr, though popular, is not really well informed or particularly interesting. Far too many of the people posting on Flickr have no idea of any of the work that was done long before they were born, or started shooting, they seem to have no point of reference, so it’s hard for them to know what they’re doing in any context …”   - Mike Peters

Mike Peters - from The Dream series
“As far as the future of street photography, the media lost interest a long time ago for a variety of reasons too long to go into and the art world is off on a different tangent. The big issue as I see it is that photographs of real people are not so easy to hang on your wall. Taking one of my photo’s and putting it over the couch takes a real act of bravery on the part of the buyer, it’s like inviting a stranger into your home and having him or her stare at you all day long.”   - Mike Peters

Mike Peters -
from the Coney Island series
 “I believe that in order for ones work to persist, one has to work with diligence and consistency over a long period of time, and then hope that when you die your kids don’t just put it all in a dumpster.” - Mike Peters   

Great Stuff !

27th November 2010

I’ve been doing a wee bit of net trawling just of late and was chipper with excitement, pausing breathlessly to experience that inner glow of “yeah baby” at two distinct and tautologically speaking, wholly different junctures.

Dougie Wallace
Firstly, Nick Turpin highlighted the work of fellow British snapper Dougie Wallace, whose amazing series of reflection shots had me wide eyed and despite being seated, positively weak at the knees (if dodgy leg elbows can ever be seen as a plus). This stuff is seriously gorgeous and Wallace’s name is tagged boldly upon the spray painted, ever lengthening wall of impressive contemporary UK street snappers (and they play fairly good cricket these days too – even if half their team are South Africans).
Dougie Wallace (again)
Secondly, I refer to Jacques Philippe’s wonderful interview with genuine street blogging royalty, none other than the Oregonian Oracle - Blake Andrews. Now I really don’t like to gush, not in public anyhow – however Blake Andrews comes across as so karmically together in this chat that I feel just a teensy-weensy bit of a ‘man crush’ building (you know, if he didn’t look so damn scary in his pen pic I could quite conceivably turn). The photographer has recently celebrated 3 quality years of blogging and there’s such a calming commonsense to near everything the ‘B’ man utters…with revelations such as, “I can’t pass a truck rack or trash pile without examining it closely”, one garners a fascinating insight into the forensically urban voraciousness of a true photographic renaissance man.

The Oregonian Oracle

Dougie Wallace via Nick Turpin
& Blake Andrews courtesy of Jacques Philippe         

    …well worth a gander,
                  a read,
   and an earnestly reflective sigh.         

Family In The Woy Woy Shed … a stark follow up.

26th November 2010

The intense and I must admit addictive super-sleuthing re’ the two photo albums salvaged from the Woy Woy shed has uncovered a smattering of answers: most notably a terrible truth.

Arthur & Jeanette Popes eldest child Glenn was tragically killed in an accident during the January of 1978, aged just 19 years.

He was engaged at the time to marry a girl named Lauren.

Glenn’s cabinet maker father Arthur and his mother Jeanette appear to have separated a few years later, whilst his younger sister Sharyn was married sometime during the 1981/82 period (her married name remains a mystery).

Arthur himself may also have passed away as he disappeared from the electoral roll at around the time of the changing millennia.

Despite the slow going, Nowhere Man remains optimistic of tracking down Jeanette or Sharyn and returning the albums, brimming full of rich family history to their rightful home. 

The Not So High Five …

23rd November 2010 

Coincidence echoes the eerie chamber of ethereal gravitas like vaguely similar things crossing paths in a bizarrely peaked occurrence of high chance – De Ja Vudian weirdness that often descends like an angel straddling an unbridelled iron anvil.

A recent photo by Australian street photographer Jesse Marlow...
 Look No Kids !

 … and so it was just recently, for you could of knocked me down with a fist full of pillow stuffing when I read the talented Jesse Marlow in the Sydney Morning Herald lament that due to contemporary paranoia he hadn’t taken a photograph of a child on the streets in 5 years. 
A recent photo by Australian street photographer  Andrew Stark ...
Look, No Good !

For whadya know, I the Nowhere Man  must equally concede that it’s been 5 whole annual occurrences since the rusty Konica has been raised to my eye and (in a slight point of difference) anything appropriating a decent photograph has transpired to being the ultimate outcome.

Five years of one for Jesse;
five years of the other for N.Man …
or what ??? 

Nowhere Man Rescues Deceased Family From Woy Woy Shed

21st November 2010

Ok, so there’s this shed out the back of Woy Woy which hasn’t been disturbed in yonks.

Well during a particularly slow moment last Tuesday, I found myself inadvertently hack-sawing the lock, driving my left shoulder into swollen timber before poking my nosey beak inside to have a bit of a sticky. Daddy long legs spun hard to the Eagle Rock and let me tell you, the inside loosely resembled Miss Havisham’s outhouse – you know Miss H, the old jilted bride from Great Expectations; all cobwebs, wedding cake and rusty filing cabinets (little known fact; Dickens’s original draft had the central character Pip dreaming of becoming a clerk in the Mersey side civil service and he was somewhat obsessed by both Estella and the Dewey system of stacking)

Upon completing a cursory two and a half hour glance about I begrudgingly gave up on locating the missing gold bullion – making do (and off) however with two tatty photo albums, and a box of slightly soiled paper clips.
Now apparently the shed belonged to a firm of solicitors who hadn’t used the digs in many years, and after much ferreting (a phone call actually) I was able to establish that the photo albums were part of a deceased estate and that I was for all intents and purposes, “quite welcome to them” … the paper clips however were to be returned ASAP and the break and enter on said property would “of course” be vigorously pressed – the nice lady adding without any hint of irony,  “do you perhaps require legal representation ?”

Settling back that same evening to a frosted tumbler of cask white, Tom Waits growling from the stereo in the corner I began turning the pages of my days booty, those ramshackle photo albums filled with other peoples lives. Yellowing pages that housed mostly black and white images of siblings Glenn and Sharyn Pope growing up in a federation style 1960s suburban bungalow – a residence known more accurately by the local PMG foot-soldier as
12 Burnie Street, Blacktown
.  Two average looking Aussie kids born only a year or three prior to the Nowhere Man in an eerily similar, dusty western Sydney suburb.      

“Deceased Estate” – the ‘nice’ lady had said.
But how could it be? I was looking at uncomplicated images depicting fun times: school photographs, family excursions … a bunch of pictures revealing carefree days indeed…
What the hell could of  happened to these kids?
Surely all these people can’t be dead – I mean they look so alive in the photo’s ...Glenn & Sharyn with their parents Arthur & Jeanette.  
I was intrigued. And surely there is still someone out there with a genuine emotional claim to this visual documentation.  

  Bouncing to my feet with both purpose and elevation, I headed urgently toward that mythical wardrobe of high imagination. A fervent swoosh of the arm had me instantaneously donning my best Angela Lansbury overcoat …it was late, the relentless rain cannoned into the dimly lit, cobblestoned laneway outside and yet despite the inclemency, the brolly of ‘must know’ shielded all precipitory efforts to derail … for rain is really just water leaking from the sky, and truth, ah yes the sweet bird of truth – she waits, like the 6:17 to Wyong via Koolewong, for no man. My nostrils flared open and either ear took turns being pressed hard up against the grindstone of discovery … pulling Angela’s collar up high about my much lined nape  - I set out into the night, whistling with quite some proficency - “Don’t fret good folk: I’m on the case” by the Buzzcocks 

Where Have All The Dark Poets Gone ?

16th November 2010
Robert Frank - the master poet.
Perving toward the powerbase of contemporary street photography - you know, stuff being published or presented out of London ... it would appear that of late the genre has become just a wee bit flippant.
David Solomons (iN-PUBLiC)
Whilst there is no denying the output is slick, I must admit to discerning a profusion of cinematically pretty and kind of smart ass clever pic's that spill out and beyond the mid wicket boundary rope like an old school cow corner slogger in search of the mid afternoon declaration. Street photography today has lost much of it's unique rawness; that down and dirty gut instinct. Where for example is Frank's "sad poem" on the iN-PUBLiC site - it's all, knock knock, who's there - OMG it's a shard of light and an amusing juxta. Entertaining, Oh Hale and Pace yeah ... and just as Tony Ray-Jones was inspired by Charlie Chaplin then perhaps the London School of Now could count the odd Carry On film as important in their Union Jacked, knotted hanky up top evolution ... hell, I don't ever resile from the influence that Picnic At Hanging Rock had on my own street musing (Norman Gunston - now there was an actor !). 
Carry On Street Photography

Nick Turpin, the Simon Cowell of modern street photography, has previously stressed the importance of editing, and it is true that with the advent of the digital age the internet is overflowing with rapid fire JPEG accumulation - shipping containers before lunch time full of witty and fine definition grabs have in many instances replaced a more soulful, perhaps even measured personal vision. Photography has always been a concertinaed editing process; never more so than now. Cartier-Bresson's decisive moment it would seem has travelled from the cobblestoned laneway to the late night laptop as meaty street photography decision making shifts toward cosy sit down accoutrement's like cocoa, fluffy slippers and a purring moggy brushing yer lower limbs in hope of tuna flakes, salmon jelly and room temperature moo juice.

A modern day dark poet - amazingly Gary Stochl didn't feature in
Street Photography Now's top 49

Contemporary street photography is slick, and in many instances extracts a wry guffaw or even the occasional - "holly molly willya have a look at that" (thanks Trent)  yet beneath this rich and colourful frosting I'm struggling to grasp a soulful core? I mean what's the sub text ?  Or does it maybe not need an undercurrent ? Is it all perhaps so clever that the Nowhere Man has played and missed - it's frivolity serving as the perfect metaphor for this present day society of ours...  what with our damned pre frab flat packed generic burbs blending from coast to coast, filled by droningly impatient tabloid ingestors, surface swooshers who live spiritually hidden, face down in electronic gizmodum, thumbs flailing, all so craving the next side serving of cheap buzz - that we queue expectantly, nostrils flaring to the http://www.delusion/ that Derulo doing Dylan is somehow culturally profound. ???

... maybe not

Street Photography vs LIFE - for a $100 an hour

12th November 2010
Elliott Erwitt
The other day, me, the missus and Doug the relationship counsellor were in having our regular three way honesty session - you know, doing the "how does that make you feel" thang, when issues of marriage, children and the resultant death of all creativity arose woefully like a lost spectre with a four day migraine.

"LIFE" in a demonstrably suburban household littered with ADHD ankle biters, nightly performances of hysteria (an added matinee thrown in on Sundays), bio-rhythmically lunar pegged neuroses, the need to feed, and a raft of DIY home improvement expectations   ... leaves very little "self" to discover.

Home life can mess with yer mind
(photo - David 'Chim' Seymour)
   And yes, it is sadly very true ... street photography has of late become a bit of a struggle for the Nowhere Man ... output is down, continuity mimics a Coober Pedy dry creek bed, whilst moments of clarity are about as rare as Photo Flo at a Photoshop workshop. 
LIFE vs Observation.
Surface skating vs Emotional Isolation.

Is there any worthwhile middle ground ?
Some small and hallowed patch of bindi free paspalum on which things important can be both achieved and had in equal measure ?

For tokenism just ain't cutting it - you can't do this caper by allocating half an hour each Wednesday around 3, and expect anything less than bulk frustration n heaped spoon fulls of mediocrity.

... scribbling an earnest note,  Doug glanced up from his pad and gazed beyond my twitching left shoulder toward the clock on the wall.