opinion

Its art Jim (Jimmy James) but not as we know it!

I’ve just been to Kent for the weekend to attend a pals wedding. I was probably the worst guest in the world. On the Friday night I was in bed by 20:15 and on the wedding night, I was out of there by 21:00; nursing what I had hoped to be the end stages of Man-Flu.

Unfortunately it is now a chest infection and I’m unlikely to out and about much. Anyway, a while ago I published a post about art and asked what is art and what is not.

At the hotel there were some abstract paintings that I liked and they grew on me for the couple of days we were there. To be honest if the other half had of liked them I might have even asked if they would sell them or at the very least taken details of the artist.

It got me thinking about that question ‘What is art and what is not’. I’ve told you before that I struggle with this and in particular; when it comes down to photography.

We entered the black wall tunnel as I was pondering this, so I decided to take some abstract photos and see what I could produce from the passenger seat.

So, there are intent in the following images, framing settings and post capture. Is that enough to make them art.

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Blackwall Tunnel 1 ©2016 Jim Jimmy James (Marr)

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Blackwall Tunnel 2 ©2016 Jim Jimmy James (Marr)

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Blackwall Tunnel 3 ©2016 Jim Jimmy James (Marr)

Thanks for stopping and looking. Please feel free to give your opinion: Art or Not?

Kind regards,

Jim Jimmy James

Private gardens or sheep?

Yeah that title is a bit strange isn’t it…. Sorry about that.

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I was planning on doing a bit of a post about London’s private gardens. The squares that should in my opinion be open to the public to enjoy but instead are there for the privileged that can afford to buy or rent homes in the areas that have these large open green spaces within our concrete jungle. There just for those that can also afford to pay the annual key costs; not the average working class person, not your average Londoner.

This beautiful looking green space is Eccelston square in London, SW1. Increasingly it feels like I need to move away from my city. Increasingly it feels like you need to be earning a huge income or next to nothing – topped up with housing benefits, tax credits, child allowance and other benefits that people wouldn’t need if they were given a decent London Living Wage.

Increasingly I find things like these private gardens frustrating. Perhaps its my shifting political opinions, perhaps its because I just think its bloody unfair the way hard working people that fall within that middle income seem to be the worst off in this bloody city I love.

These park areas are dotted around and closed to the hoi polloi; God forbid that the elite should have to mingle with commoners… Don’t get me wrong here, I have nothing against wealth but I do have what some might call ‘a chip on my shoulder’ about particular issues.   I don’t have the time to do a full personal project on these gardens and perhaps that is just as well.

You might be wondering where do sheep come into this? You might have even forgot that the word sheep is in the title?

I read a post on one of the blogs I follow, how this chap came across some fish leaving the  water as they ate, he stood and watched for a while because he had not seen this before. His post reminded me of seeing a long line of sheep walking across a field. One by one they stopped under a tree and looked up before they carried on with their journey across the field. Have you ever heard of the saying ‘People are like sheep’?

Well its true. I stopped to take the image above and people stopped to see what I was photographing. Its not the first time; it happens a lot. It amuses me that I will stop to take a photo and then two three or more people will stop to take the same photo. I’m not talking about the tourist attractions or something spectacular but just normal things like concrete stairs. What is that about, why on earth does that happen and what do they think they are missing?

Want to try an experiment?  You and a friend stand in the street and look up at something and I guarantee people will join you.

Kind regards,

Jim Jimmy James

Blogging Idea

Unlike Pete, I don’t have to put much thought into what my next blog will be. I don’t really even need to plan them. My blog is and will most likely always be about the images I’ve taken and the project I am doing along with the odd random thoughts like this one………

I don’t have a big following and I put images out across a number of platforms and that is perhaps a bit of a downfall of using various sites; not building a good foundation with an online community. Anyhow, these images are mostly different although there may occasionally be some cross over between the sites.

Well this post is kind of about photography because that is where I come into the equation and it is also what made me think about communication and communication barriers despite having a common language and even a good command of a second language.

Effective communication relies on three things, the words chosen, the intonation and speech pattern, body language including facial expression and eye contact.

I’ve said it before but for the benefit of those that are here for the first time…. I rely heavily on those aspects of communication in my day-to-day work. No I am not a customs and excise officer, no I am not a police officer and no I am not an interrogator for some totalitarian state. I do a very normal job that just needs to have a good awareness of communication skills.

I find communicating difficult when it comes to blogging and social media outlets.

One wants to keep things simple and not too long-winded but without using those small fill words or giving a full back story, the written word can very very very easily be taken out of context.

This was evident today.

On one of the photo-sharing sites I use, I commented on a lady with a chopper!

Some of you will already be smiling. One or two of you may be laughing. Some may be thinking ‘WTF’ and others might be thinking ‘what the f**k’ does WTF mean?!

It was actually a photo of a woman with an axe and my comments were along the lines of ‘most mens nightmare is a woman with a chopper!’

Here is the thing, even between English-speaking countries there are variations in terminology, colloquialisms and slang.

Have a look at this online dictionary for the word chopper.

Some of you get the joke, some of you don’t, some of you that understand the intention behind the wording will be offended because you’ll take it as a slur against trans-gender, semi sex-change persons or what ever term we are politically correctly supposed to be using; even though that is in my mind clearly not the intention.

In the case of the lady holding the axe, a pretty woman with a chopper! This pun may well have been lost in translation despite having a common language with our American and Canadian cousins.

This is just one example….. Okay, You may remember a post about Helmut Newton and another blogger perhaps took this as an uneducated dig. It wasn’t. I just wasn’t struck by the work on display. It was an opinion, my opinion and my opinion is as valid as anyones; in much the same way as your thoughts are. It’s not to say he was not a talented photographer.

This also brings me on to my blog about David Bailey and the disbelief in my class that I could question his greatness. Well, actually there was never any criticism of his ability to use a camera. He, like Newton, knew how to get results and worked hard to get where they are. In the case of Bailey, is it Sir now? I’ll stick with Dave or Mr. Bailey…. In the case of Bailey I simply expressed an opinion that anyone with a good understanding of image taking could be in his position with the opportunities he had at that time. Again, it’s just an opinion.

Onto another photography post, someone commented on a Lee Jeffries  image expressing their preference for a completely blacked out background.

Some people commented and may have just been pointing out that he (Jeffries) is well-known for his style of work and this may have been done assuming that the person commenting didn’t know his onions.

I don’t often read a lot of the remarks under photos, sometimes I do and this time I did. It made me chuckle because I could just picture people’s faces with regards to thinking who is this chap to critique someone considered a master in his field. Not dissimilar to my comments at college about Newton & Bailey.

The guy expressed an opinion and may have felt scoffed at by some of the remarks. I commented that it made me chuckle but of course he does not have the full back story to why I was amused. Simple communication that was easy to resolve but to some extent unavoidable without a big long, even boring prelude to set the scene.

Unless the wording is blatantly aggressive and nasty, I think in most instances comments need to be taken lightly. I definitely think they should be read two or three times and returned to, prior to responding.

Thankfully I’ve not upset anyone today. hopefully I’ll keep it that way.

No photo, no tips and hints, just a thought process noted down for future reference and my own mindfulness that a common language does not mean a common interpretation.

Is this my third post in three days?

Rest assured that is the last one for a short while… I hope y’all have a good weekend.

Jim Jimmy James.

Street photography project

I am about to start a street photography project. While I have shot strangers in the past, this will be different.

In the past I have felt a safe distance away from the subjects in candid shots and those that I have taken portraits of, I’d approached and sought permission.

Street photography is going to take me right out of my comfort zone, candid shots up close and personal. I have a great deal of anxiety about doing this.

Partly because I feel like I stick out like a sore thumb. I wouldn’t say I’m a handsome chap and I’m not the ugliest creature to walk this earth. I’m not tall or particularly short. I’m a little over weight but I carry it reasonably well… With the exception of sometimes looking like I am stuck in the ’70s & ’80s I think look really very average. so why do I think I stand out..

I’m using a DSLR that is big and unsubtle. Even in soho and the west end of London people do notice the larger more pro looking cameras.

On top of this is body language. This is my Achillies heel.  I have watched a few videos and observed a couple of street photographers and for the most part I am the polar opposite. The photographers that who produce the images I like are almost anonymous in the crowd, even when they are the subject and the photographer are the only two people in the street. They have a way about them; their body language is relaxed, they look non confrontational, they don’t make eye contact, they are quick and agile leaving the subject wondering if they had just had their photo taken and then thinking nothing of it.

Conversely I often get asked if I was in the military and on occasions get asked if I am a police officer. I’m always the person that gets asked for directions; even when out with a group of friends, the baffled looking person that is holding their mobile phone or an A-Z makes their way directly to me.

I think I am observant and aware of my surroundings but I put that down to where I grew up as a kid. I do tend to make eye contact and I can’t help that, I come into contact with a lot of people in my working day, eye contact, facial expression & body language are important. The visual clue is an important part of communication and because I rely on this I may hold eye contact longer than the average person.

Even wearing “normal clothes” I’m just the sort of person that does not blend into my surroundings. So, the reason I have chosen street photography is the challenge. As a genre of photography I have a huge range of options open to me.

I want to shoot soho life, the buildings, the people, the characters, the transient population and the resident community.

My big question at this point, and it really isn’t something I should be concerned with at the moment, is whether to shoot in black & white or colour.

Naturally as I go through the images I will get an idea of any theme in the content but here is the thing:

Lots of street photos are in black and white, often high contrast.

Some say the colour should be as seen and the image processed in a way to reflect the reality.

I personally like slightly desaturated images and this is likely to be my preference for the project but I’m just not sure it will show the grim or vibrance, the poverty, the glamour or the undercurrent of the area.

There seems to be no obvious consensus and it is really just a matter of taste.

If any readers can point me in the direction of any street photographers that use desaturated colour that would be extremely useful but I’d also like your opinion. What is your preference?

Black & white, Coulour: Desaturated or realistic?

No need for postcards, you can answer below…

Kind regards,

Jim Jimmy or James