In which your host muses and rambles (simultaneously) down Portobello Road with a hangover draped around his shoulders. Still, between waves of nausea some interesting raw material is mined from the sodden peat of Alex’s exhausted brain.
On July 8th I travelled to Oxford to meet Paddy Summerfield in the house he has lived in since he was 18 months old and, more particularly, the house that served as backdrop to his 2014 masterpiece ‘Mother and Father’ (published by Dewi Lewis).
Paddy and his partner Patricia Baker-Cassidy live in a Edwardian villa in Oxford’s Summertown where they work together to bring a lifetime’s photography to the surface.
This year Dewi Lewis has published another collection of Paddy’s work, ‘The Oxford Pictures 1968-1978’ which are a languorous and sexually charged examination of loneliness and self discovery. Paddy has always shot on 35mm and the images in this book are exquisitely reproduced from scans and printed at the legendary EBS printers in Italy which were also the printers of my book, ‘Want More’ in 2015.
This conversation is easily the longest I have published but it is necessarily so because Paddy is engaging on the subject of photography and candid when he talks about life in general. He is a true photographer in that his life is defined by the images he makes. His energy and ambition to keep publishing his extensive work comes from a desire to represent his world and not, as is often the case, from the ego.
Please take time to listen to the piece; listen to it win tranches if necessary, as it really is worth the effort.
In which your host, Alex Schneideman, searches for a recording style that suits the vicissitudes of working and travelling and not always having the ‘correct energy’ to go to the studio and script a monologue.
Back to me – Today I take a walk down Portobello musing past the muses and wondering about why tourists spend so much money on photo gear and coming to a much deeper conclusion about selfies. I even remember my brilliant and lucky discovery about how to get shadow detail when shooting in bright sunlight.
I have been inspired by listening to other podcasts where I’ve (slightly) fallen in love with the swirling, riffing speech of people who can talk and think at the same time. I aim to learn.
One bright September morning in 2001, Heathcliff O’Malley was preparing to spend another day among the catwalks of New York Fashion Week for the Daily Telegraph. His phone rang. It was his editor in London saying that reports were coming in about a plane strike on one of the Twin Towers. This call changed the course of Heathcliff’s life was to take. From that moment he was engaged in the story of the ensuing conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya.
Heathcliff O’Malley has been a contract photographer at the Daily Telegraph for 19 years. He has covered everything from fashion shows to conflict. He has won numerous press awards and given talks at London’s Frontline Club.
In this Photographica Podcast Heathcliff talks movingly and fascinatingly about his work. He describes in details the life of a photographer covering conflicts, the highs and the deep lows. With almost two decades of time spent photographing the world’s conflict zones as well as royal weddings, catwalks and sporting events he offers many wonderful insights into the life of a photojournalist.
ABOUT HEATHCLIFF O’MALLEY – Heathcliff O’Malley is a photojournalist based in the United Kingdom where he lives with his family and has a long standing contract with the Daily Telegraph . He has travelled worldwide throughout the Americas, Middle East, Europe and Asia, covering Reportage, Portraiture, Fashion and Corporate assignments
Prior to this Heathcliff assisted a number of photographers including the catwalk photographer Chris Moore before moving on to a London based news agency.
Heathcliff’s Editorial work has been published in publications as diverse as National Geographic, Nouvel Observateur, Le Monde and the Guardian to name a few . He received an Award in the Photographer of the Year category of the Picture Editor’s Guild Awards in 2001 for his work covering the Genoa G8 Summit, 911 and the subsequent War in Afghanistan.
In 2007 Heathcliff gave a talk and slideshow presentation of his work at the Frontline Club in London focusing on the aftermath of 911 and the War on Terror which he has covered from it’s beginning until the present day.
He also appeared with a panel of war reporters during a “Talkback” session with an audience after the showing of Hollywood actor Tim Robbins “Embedded” play at the Riverside Studio’s in 2004.
In 2010 Heathcliff won a Press Photographer’s Year award for a video he shot in Helmand province whilst embedded with the Coldstream Guards.
From the 80’s to Photographica – A Personal and Fond Farewell to the Independant’s Print Edition- full transcript below.
An essay on the power of one broadsheet newspaper, The Independent, that did more for the love of black and white photography than any other media outlet in modern times.
Click ‘read more’ for full post.
Beautifully arranged spreads and layouts honoured the power of great black and white photography from its first edition in 1986. Now the Indie is going online and the end of its print edition is slated for March 2106.
This podcast pays a person homage to this great innovator and inspiring paper.
Remember – Alex is always on hand if you want to get in touch. You do so by contacting:
The first issue of the Independent in 1986 saw Andreas Whittam Smith, its editor, become a hero to photographers. The Independent boldly placed black and white photography right at the heart of it design and built entire spreads around photographs giving picture editors new, enhanced status as it brought images and text together on equal terms for the first time.
Around that time in 1986 (I was sixteen) my friend, Tom Blass and I, took to various things in order to style ourselves as ‘artistic intellectuals’. I think we might have even smoked a pipe – the memory pains me now. Tom always had the ‘ups’ on me because he wore glasses and this made him much more likely to become a proper artist or intellectual. I don’t remember there being many girls in our lives at this time.
Tom wanted to be a writer like Hemingway – I wanted to be a photographer like HCB. I mention all this because it gives you an idea of the sort of personal cultural terrain on to which that first, eagerly anticipated edition of the Independent landed. For us the Independent was a manifestation of our liberal, artistic ideals. It was serious and beautiful. Much as we would have wished ourselves to be. The advent of the Independent was to have repercussions for Tom and I right up to the present day.
In my broader group of friends the Independent became de rigueur because it spoke directly to the young. By placing black and white photography as one of its key design elements it was making a statement that it placed visual story telling in the same league as the written word. How electrifying would that be if you imagine that one day you might become a documentary photographer?
Come to think of it, I don’t think the term documentary photographer would have meant anything to my adolescent self yet it was the careful nurturing of the paper by its editors and its designers that made black and white documentary photography come alive on the breakfast tables of British broadsheet readers. It is not too hyperbolic a thing to claim that the Independent taught the British to love and value great photography for this was the first newspaper to value, simultaneously, the story telling power of black and white photography and its potential for aesthetic beauty.
And yes – I know the Sunday Times had amazing work by leading photojournalists and had blazed a trail since the Sixties with colour spreads but it was this independently minded Eighties newcomer that was the first to weave photography into the very fabric of its existence.
But the Independent never really made it to the inner circle of the British psyche. It remained aloof on key issues such as eschewing reporting on anything ‘Royal’ and its politically independent stance purposefully never found a place on either side of the political landscape; it seems we British don’t have an appetite for news supplied free of bias. This political ‘statelessness’ was perhaps to have the biggest impact on the newspaper’s success.
The Independent innovated from the word go; it was the first to change format from broadsheet to Berliner and it adopted an uncompromisingly modern aesthetic and typography but it never lost its love of photography.
Photography was always key to the newspaper’s design and often gave the lead to stories where words might more traditionally have held centre stage. To sum it all up the Independent was modernist in its values and artistically liberal at heart. In an era dominated by the Sun and the Daily Mail – both staunchly conservative and vitriolic – the Independent calmly sailed along placing the work of photographers at the heart of its journalistic output.
But this is not just about the Independent – its also about Tom and me. The Independent was the first paper to run my pictures when I was just a fledgling photographer in the early nineties and Tom has gone on to have many articles printed here. Indeed, in the last few months Tom had a large ‘excerpt’ from his new book ‘The Naked Shore of the North Sea’ excerpted (the words set amongst lovely photography of course) and I had several pages devoted to my latest book, Want More, published in its Saturday magazine.
The Indie will of course continue online… But we all know that pictures seen on a screen have not the power of their paper and ink counter parts. A picture on a screen can’t be held in two hands, wide apart, or spread on a table and lovingly studied or folded or even ripped for sticking in a notebook for later reference. The demise of the print edition of the Independent is a blow to anyone interested in the history of black and white photography.
How can we be indifferent to the passing of such a loving innovator of the medium we all love? There are at least two people working today that might never have chosen their path if it wasn’t for this risk taking, innovative broad sheet. Tom and I are very sad indeed.
Gavin Maxwell explores the liminal spaces between belief and faith and fact.
Alex and Gavin sat down to discuss his work in film and stills photography on Wednesday 10th of February at the AS Printing studios
Amongst many interesting strands of conversation these are some that stand out:
The wistful understanding of the transience of life…
The hunt for truth in the larger body of one’s work.
Shooting exclusively on film.
The existence of ‘Thin Places’.
The way a photograph should be consumed.
The strange interplay between seemingly unrelated work.
Gavin Maxwell is a leading film-maker and photographer who has spent over 20 years making natural history, anthropological and environmental programmes for the BBC Natural History Unit and BBC Science.
His Wild China and Japan: Earth’s Enchanted Islands programmes have been viewed by millions of people worldwide. Gavin has also co-written two books for Random House, and lectured at the Royal Geographical Society in the UK and abroad. This year one of his large format film photographs of a human skeleton is a finalist Royal Photographic Society International Print competition.