Thursday, 24 September 2009

Kosher doesn't fly in Iran

The shortlisted entries on the wall. © Magnus Andersson

As I mentioned in the last post, I had the privilege of going to the Frontline Club as they hosted a panel discussion on how photojournalism is suffering from citizen supplied content.

Crowd shot and the panel. © Magnus Andersson

My friend Alex was nominated in one of their competitions and on the night I bumped into fellow photographers Matt Grace and Edmund Clark and it turns out they were also shortlisted in the competition.

Only one man was sensible enough to actually sit down during the hour-long discussion. © Magnus Andersson

Sadly none of them won, but it was still a great night with a healthy debate on how to deal with content that is supplied for free, thus undercutting us professional photographers and removing our livelihood.

The panel, (L-R) Matthew, Olivier, Ben, Marc and Turi. © Magnus Andersson

The panel was chaired by Ben Hammersley from WIRED magazine and debating the issues were Matthew Eltringham from BBC News User Generated Content, photographer Marc Vallee, Turi Munthe from picture agency Demotix and Olivier Laurent from BJP.

The Frontline Club at night. © Magnus Andersson

Here's a video of the event from start to finish, the prize giving is at the end for those interested, but the highlight of the video comes at about 07:30, at which point you'll understand the title of this post.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Shooting kids

Girl in a test shot for a class photo. © Magnus Andersson

During this week and the coming two we are planning to visit 97 (!) primary schools across south London for a supplement called First Class which we do every year. We line up the reception classes of each school and get a group shot, then we put it in the newspaper hoping that it will generate lots of photo sales.

Nothing new there, and for some photographers it might sound like a mundane task but its actually been great fun doing it this week. Tomorrow is my last day and on Monday its back to 'normal' photojournalism again.

As it is their first ever week in school some of the kids are a bit confused, some are scared, one got locked into the toilet so we had to re-shoot and I've even had two kids who just wouldn't stop crying for mummy...poor little things, imagine if they realised that they have several more years of school ahead!

The setup is very simple as you'll see in one of the shots below, but I also find the test shots strangely arresting, something about the colours and the symmetry and the lack of people, so here are a few examples of benches and chairs, sans children.

Tomorrow night I am heading down to the Frontline Club where there will be a panel discussion on citizen supplied photos and the impact it has on photojournalism. I am covering for my friend Alex Masi who is shortlisted in one of their competitions, and the winners will be revealed on the night. Sadly he cant make it as he is still in India, but I'll report back here later on.

All images © Magnus Andersson

Tuesday, 15 September 2009


Bullet hole in a window of the office building next to our bedroom. © Magnus Andersson

This was quite scary; while we were asleep in our hotel in Perpignan, a shooting occurred less than 10 metres from our bedroom. When I woke up the following day I noticed the police outside our window, and they were inspecting the office building next to where we were staying.

After breakfast we went to have a look and this (above) is what we were confronted with. The amazing thing was that (apart from nobody being hit by a stray bullet) not a single person in our hotel had heard a thing; must be the fresh Perpignan sea air that gives you such a deep sleep.

A Beatles album cover?

Abbey Road, Perpignan, 2009. © Magnus Andersson

Of course not! This is photographers Sofie and Lisa, mentioned earlier here, and Mattias, leaping like a salmon out of the water, only in this case I cant quite remember why we took this picture. We were coming back from le grand finale party on Saturday night and the sun is already up (which makes it Sunday morning)...maybe that explains my amnesia.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

So what about the shows in Perpignan?

Exhibition goers at Eugene Richards' 'War is personal', Perpignan, 2009. © Magnus Andersson

Next year I will definitely try to go and see all the exhibitions, we missed some of them and sadly we didn't make it to a single one of the talks that were given by various photographers. It is difficult when you go to these places though; you need to strike a balance of trying to enjoy your holiday, make the most of the exhibitions and also the city itself, socialise and have fun, outside all of the industry hullabaloo. It is also quite easy to over do it, there's only so many harrowing stories you can take in before your mind goes numb.

Of the exhibitions we saw, 'War is personal' by Getty photographer Eugene Richards is one of the stand outs. Centred around wounded US soldiers after their return from duty, it is a very simple show, nothing fancy, just uncomplicated images and a wonderful presentation of large captions from relatives and carers, giving a strong voice to the people in the images, something that was often lacking elsewhere in the shows.

It was telling to see that hardly a word was spoken by the large crowd when we went. It was absorbing, and the viewers seemed to be really moved by the images and the words, watching in hushed silence. You felt a kind of respectfulness in Eugene's work, something which was reflected in us as we took it all in in silence. You can find a BJP interview here.

Tattooed gang member in prison by Miquel Dewever-Plana in his exhibition 'The other war', Perpignan, 2009. © Magnus Andersson

Another good exhibition was Miquel Dewever-Plana (again a BJP interview here) of Agence VU, with images of Guatemala's gang members inside prisons and with the police on the violent streets, where a human life is worth next to nothing, a country stuck in an endemic cycle of violence.

Obama with his feet up from Callie Shell's exhibition 'Barack Obama', Perpignan, 2009. © Magnus Andersson

TIME photographer Callie Shell also had a great show of Obama's journey to the presidential seat, three years in the making, showing the man we all love to love. See the whole essay online here.

One of the funniest shows was 'Only in America' by French photographer Francois le Diascorn. Humorous B&W images from the US, circa 1960 onwards, with a gentle touch an and almost Cartier-Bresson-like quality to them, but sadly I didn't take any pictures in there.

The giant screen at Place de la Republique, Perpignan, 2009. © Magnus Andersson

The one thing we didn't miss was the slide show held every night for the duration of the professional week. You could either watch it live in the stands of Campo Santo, enabling you to take in the booming voice of Jean-Francois 'the general' Leroy, or you could opt for a live transmission in the main square; Place de la Republique. We went for the latter and this meant we could also have dinner and a drink at the same time, watching the slide show on a screen at least 30m wide. Great stuff!

Friday, 11 September 2009

Wall of fame

Remy Cortin's photo of David Burnett at the Canon party at El Boca Boca, Perpignan, 2009. © Magnus Andersson

I've mentioned it before and Mattias has the shot to prove it, but legendary photojournalist David Burnett had just had his photograph (above) taken by Remy Cortin when we decided that we should have a go as well.

It was inside Canon's area at the Palais des Congres and the best shots were then displayed in a mini gallery on the wall. Safe to say that only the famous photographers got to hang on that wall, but at least we walked away with a free A3 print of ourselves from the event.

That is until someone stole my Visa Pour L'image press bag where I had stashed my print whilst I was busy doing the jitterbug on the dance floor of Habana, sometime around 3am....

Anyway, later on we had the pleasure of being in the mix of the wall-projected slide show at El Boca Boca during a VIP Canon party (OK, maybe not that VIP as we were allowed in, but people were offering us Euros for that black Canon wristband when we left), sharing the wall with selected PHOTO front covers and Remy's shots. For those not familiar with PHOTO, it basically took the Playboy cover and gave it an eighties French twist. Very good company indeed for Mr Burnett.

Conflict photographer Philip Blenkinsop sporting a black eye, signing books outside Couvent des Minimes, Perpignan, 2009. © Magnus Andersson

And then there was the story of the experienced conflict photographer above Philip Blenkinsop of the NOOR agency. Having safely negotiated his way back from his latest assignment, perhaps he forgot that the civilian world can sometimes be a lot more dangerous than his usual subjects.

He hitched a ride on a friends scooter down the narrow alley streets of Perpignan, and before you knew it the driver lost control, Philip flew off and the handlebar connected with his eye socket...I think he was lucky that he didn't suffer any permanent damage to his eye, a photographers worst nightmare.

Update: Just found it, below is the print of Mattias and me along with various others.

© Magnus Andersson

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Have you ever felt like...

MJ with an LX3, shot on an LX3. © Magnus Andersson

...someone was always looking over your shoulder? There is always this little worry that things are not quite right, that you're gonna get punched in the stomach any minute? Welcome to Perpignan 2009!

Luckily for me it was an endless journey through pain (laughing, only punched twice) and pate cuisine (food), and it was dished up by my travel companion who kept all dangers at bay.

Ladies and gentlemen, give it up for Mattias, travel partner extraordinaire!

Mattias (in a bear suit) and a museum exhibit of early Swedish man (appx. stone age). © Magnus Andersson

Sisters are doing it for themselves

Photographers Lena Kvist and Sofie Isaksson sharing a light, and the chin of Pontus Hook. © Magnus Andersson

The man who left Magnum

Charles-f. Ouellet after I put superglue on the viewfinder of his Leica, Perpignan, 2009. © Magnus Andersson

Charles and I used to work together in a camera shop here in London before he went back to his native Quebec. He taught me everything I know about medium and large format photography, but deep down he always preferred creeping around with an inconspicuous Leica rangefinder.

After belatedly going digital he opted for a Canon 5D and L-series lenses, but didn't like the bulk of the kit and decided again to switch back to Leica (now an M8.2) , and this is how I found him in Perpignan, nearly three years after we last saw each other in London.

In the meantime he has started up an image collective called N+3 and in Perpignan I met his friend Christian Lamontagne, fellow collective photographer and also a film maker. A thoroughly nice chap who kept apologising for his English not being good enough...very humble considering that my French is near non-existent and certainly not something that should be published here...again Charles is to blame/thank for this.

Earlier this year Charles started out an internship at Magnum's Paris office where he was working as 2nd to one of the main people there. A dispute (which I wont go into here) arose and Charles, being the honourable man that he is, felt that the person in question was forced to leave and that he couldn't stand by their decision, so he left to work for another agency in Paris and had an excellent time.

However, he is one of very few people who has seen a well kept Magnum secret; the thousands upon thousands of colour slides which Henri Cartier-Bresson took during his lifetime, and there are not many that has made it out of their archive, but Charles made full use of his time at Magnum and went through them all. Verdict? Not very good. The man was thinking in B&W, he just didn't see in colour.

But I digress; what Charles doesn't know about cameras isn't worth knowing, so it was quite interesting to hear how he dealt with [insert famous photographer's name] in Perpignan.

Lets just call him the 'old man in the photo vest'. He overheard our conversation of the new Leica M9, coincidentally launched today (09-09-09, geddit?) and decided to invite himself onto the topic by pointing to the taped over Leica slung on his shoulder, and yes, it was a Leica M9, not yet released.

In his eagerness to convince us of the marvel of a full frame Leica, he managed to stay over 20 minutes, leaving Charles utterly unimpressed by the his knowledge. It was quite amusing watching the old man in the photo vest growing ever more desperate in his attempt of convincing Charles, finally leaving us with the grace of a car salesman desperate for a sale.

Charles-f. Ouellet. © Magnus Andersson

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

A look back...

Dog on the lookout from his balcony, central Perpignan. © Magnus Andersson

Over the next few days I will try and go through all the stories and pictures that were accumulated during our fantastic trip to Visa Pour L'image in Perpignan. Hopefully you'll get a smattering of posts, but if you cant wait, head over to my roomie's blog here, as he kept up superb commentary while we where there, thanks to his Macbook.

Below is said roomie, Mattias Johansson, looking fresh as a daisy in the first sun rays of the day, an hour or so before we went on a Mediterranean cruise courtesy of the good folks at Canon Sweden.

Mattias Johansson in the morning. © Magnus Andersson

Monday, 7 September 2009

Au revoir Perpignan

Sunset at the end of Boulevard Henri Poincare. © Magnus Andersson

We're packed and waiting for our bus to Barcelona and one of the most enjoyable holidays is coming to an end. I'll be posting more images later but rest assured, I will definitely come back again next year!

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Perpignan day 5

Panorama of Perpignan and the Pyrenees as seen from Palais de Rois de Mallorca. © Magnus Andersson

Last nights party was immense and I kept running into people I know. We were amongst the very last to leave and despite being a lot worse for wear, we still had time to photograph the fire department putting out a blazing car.

Today has been the best day by far though. Canon again showed their worth by renting a huge boat and taking us on a Mediterranean cruise with food, wine, music and swimming. Look out for the forthcoming calendar...proper pictures and more stories to come later, above is an iPhone panorama taken from the medieval palace with The Pyrenees in the background.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Perpignan day 4 - breakfast

Breakfast at Visa HQ; Hotel Pams. © Magnus Andersson

A quick snap from the luxurious breakfast at Hotel Pams this morning, consisting of a small baguette and some coffee in a plastic cup. They spoil us!

Today I have laid hands on the not-yet-released Leica M9; full frame and 18mp at 14-bit depth; yours for just over £5000...

I also bumped into Charly and he had some juicy Magnum gossip which I might have to tell you about at some point, but dinner beckons, and then the grand finale party!!!

Perpignan day ???

Inside the photo agencies area. © Magnus Andersson

They say that you shall never blog whilst drunk, which usually is good advice, but I'm breaking the rule here tonight because time is of essence. Wifi is surprisingly hard to come by in Perpignan, mainly I get it here at the hotel so I have to be quick while it lasts.

We've just returned from a secret (and massive) Canon party at El Boca Boca courtesy of a special invite from Per Karlsson at Canon Sweden. Lets just say that we appreciated the VIP passes that granted us upstairs access and unlimited champagne! Merci Per!

Alas I am only serving up iPhone pictures so far as I didn't bring my laptop, but rest assured, there's plenty of good pix on my Lumix to come, in the meantime, check out Mattias' blog - he brought his Lumix AND his laptop!

Friday, 4 September 2009

Perpignan day 3

Poster advertising the festival in Perpignan. © Magnus Andersson

Yesterday started off with an fromage et chantarelle omelette and a properly strong cup of coffee at a small cafe, before we collected our press accreditation at the Visa HQ. Inside we bumped into photographers Robert Henriksson and Martin vonKrogh , and proceeded to pick up the press pack, which later got stolen at Habana; luckily I had my LX3 in my pocket rather than the press bag...phew.

Next we checked out three exhibitions, one on Afghanistan, one on Congo and finally one on Obama. We then headed over to Palais des Congres where got to put our mitts on two new Canon's: 7D and G11.

Of the two the G11 is the most interesting, finally we see an end to the pixel mania, this one sporting only 10MP instead of 14MP as seen on it's predecessor; the G10. The reduction of pixels in favour of quality also reveals Canon effectively as having deceived all their customers up till now, quite happily leading the masses to believe it's only about mega pixels. Of course the other manufacturers are equally to blame, but at least they are now seeing sense.

After that we had our picture taken by Remy Cortin, right after he had photographed David Burnett. In the presence of a legend, we thought about making conversation and chickened out...anyway, there were lots of free rose wine to be had at Scanpix's party.

Right after that we headed over to Place de la Loge where Nikon tried to swoon us with more wine. That would have enough for any evening but instead we headed over to the main square and the massive 30-metre screen of slide show projections led by Jean-Francois Leroy. After that we headed to the main watering hole at La Poste and then danced at Habana and got home at around 4 or 5, no one is quite sure when...and we're still quite undecided about today, head hurts a bit.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Perpignan day 2

Palm trees at Barcelona airport. © Magnus Andersson

Yesterday was a long day, we didn't arrive in Perpignan until 11pm as the group from Sweden was delayed which then meant having to go through rush hour traffic in Barcelona...but at least I got a view of some palm trees at the airport while I killed six hours!

We still managed to get food and drinks though, in fact we didn't get in bed until 3am and managed to bump into two friends from London who had decided to come last minute!

Now we're off to get breakfast and then our accreditation.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

We're on our way to Perpignan

Stansted departure lounge, headed for Barcelona and then Perpignan. © Magnus Andersson

I'm at the departures lounge in Stansted airport, waiting for the flight which will take me to Barcelona. There I will await the finest of Swedish photojournalism before we all board a bus headed across the French border to our destination; Visa in Perpignan!

I'm not sure how much blogging will get done from there, it all depends on wifi access, otherwise there'll be more on here when I'm back next week.