Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen | Byker

Posted: July 3rd, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Film, Photography, Quotes

Girl on a Spacehopper 1971 © Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen

Girl on a Spacehopper 1971 © Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen

The girl on the Space Hopper! I took that in 1970. She flashed by me in a moment, bounded into a back lane and disappeared. I never found out who she was. Then, quite recently, the Space Hopper girl got in touch. She called and said her brother had found the image on the web. When she saw it she said she was transfixed and her whole childhood flooded back. She got in touch with me because she wanted to let me know that her life had turned out well. She lived in Manchester, had a family and a good job. She thanked me for taking the image. I made a big print of the image and sent it to her.

- Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen

Young Couple 1975 © Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen, Courtesy L. Parker Stephenson

Young Couple 1975 © Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen, Courtesy L. Parker Stephenson

People were baffled by my choice to live there. Not that many people had any idea where Finland was, but if they did, they thought it such a beautiful clean country, and why would I choose to come to Byker?

- Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen

Heather Playing Piano 1971 © Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen

Heather Playing Piano 1971 © Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen

When I was 14 or 15, I saw a programme about a group of documentary photographers. I knew from then on that was what I wanted to do.

- Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen

William Neilson 1971 © Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen, Courtes

William Neilson 1971 © Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen, Courtes

Photographing Byker the first time round. It was picked up by the national papers, and it was all about ‘the petite blonde on the wrong side of the lens’. I was even courted for a Page 3 appearance. It’s amusing to look back at now.

- Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen

Backlane Avondale Rd 1975 © Sirkka-Liisa KonttinenBacklane Avondale Rd 1975 © Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen

Backlane Avondale Rd 1975 © Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen

I decided to photograph every household in my street. I wasn’t that happy doing studio portraits anyway because I didn’t like the totally black background. I always feel that in portraiture, every inch of the frame is part of the story whether you like it or not, so I might as well tell a bigger story by doing it in people’s homes.

- Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen

Jean Barron with parents Stanley and Margaret wilson, 1980 © Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen

Jean Barron with parents Stanley and Margaret wilson, 1980 © Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen

To make the work interesting, for me, it’s about building relationships, where people also get to know me. I would visit them several time before I got to the point of taking a photograph.

- Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen

Agnes Jolly Smurthwaite, 1975 © Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen

Agnes Jolly Smurthwaite, 1975 © Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen

There’s a limit to one’s imagination. When you go into a person’s home, what you end up with easily is just a row of people sitting on the settee staring at you blankly, not knowing what you are doing, or what you want from them. I really dislike that kind of portraiture of the blank face, staring at the camera.

- Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen

Making up in Mason Street, 1971 © Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen

Making up in Mason Street, 1971 © Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen

There’s the obvious question of how documentary photography has changed over this period. For me it changed from an observational approach to the more collaborative method, reflecting the change in the access I had to people’s lives. Back then I lived in the area and no one worried about a young woman walking about with a camera. Nowadays people worry if there are people with cameras around children. I don’t think I would have been able to do now, what I did then.

- Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen

Byker Park Dominoes Club, 1974 © Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen

Byker Park Dominoes Club, 1974 © Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen

Often, if you go with the natural light and the fairly casual approach, you tend not to come away with stately portraiture.

- Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen

Lady with the Beehive, 1971 © Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen

Lady with the Beehive, 1971 © Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen

Mrs Potter in Mason Street, 1975 © Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen

Mrs Potter in Mason Street, 1975 © Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen


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Gavin Watson | Skins and Punks

Posted: June 5th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Film, Photography, Quotes

Skins & Punks © Gavin Watson

Skins & Punks © Gavin Watson

I was never a documentary photographer. I was just photographing my mates, it wasn’t deliberate, other people give me that label.

- Gavin Watson

Skins & Punks © Gavin Watson

Skins & Punks © Gavin Watson

I had no understanding of what I had done when I was taking those pictures at 15,16 and 17 years old. From 1979 onwards, the bulk of the historical Skins & Punks era was from the 1979 to 1981period.

- Gavin Watson

Skins & Punks © Gavin Watson

Skins & Punks © Gavin Watson

Skins & Punks © Gavin Watson

Skins & Punks © Gavin Watson

Skins & Punks © Gavin Watson

Skins & Punks © Gavin Watson

I’m not inspired by anyone else. I’m inspired by what’s in front of me. I have old cameras that I’ve bought for a few pounds, old Olympus 10s. When I do large campaigns I’ll work with a great post production editor; I’m just interested in taking the photos, not anything else. It’s all about the story, the subjects. I rarely use flash, I hate using flash actually. I will still use film because I know it will be safe, it’s a back up because you can lose 5 years of work using digital, in an instant.

- Gavin Watson

Skins & Punks © Gavin Watson

Skins & Punks © Gavin Watson

Skins and Punks was not a subject that I intentionally set out to photograph, it was my life. The images I created were down to me being a fast worker, I kept things very simple using the one camera and film, this is very much the way I still work today.

- Gavin Watson

Skins & Punks © Gavin Watson

Skins & Punks © Gavin Watson

It was Christmas ’78–79 I went down to Woolies with mum for my present. In a glass cabinet there was a pair of binoculars and a camera – a Hanimax 110. I was sure I wanted binoculars, but standing there I thought, fuck it, I’ll have the camera. I don’t know why. I loaded a roll of 110 film and took pictures of my family and friends. My whole life was family, my life was very contained…

- Gavin Watson

Skins & Punks © Gavin Watson

Skins & Punks © Gavin Watson

I sent the film away for developing and printing. When it came back and I saw my very first pictures, something just went BANG. I’d managed to pick a camera with a glass lens. It was basic, but better than the plastic lens cameras everyone else bought, such as the terrible Kodak Instamat. Because the Hanimax had a glass lens, when I got my prints back I saw they were much better than any other people’s home photos. That did it for me, I got that initial spurt and became into photography on the spot.

- Gavin Watson

Skins & Punks © Gavin Watson

Skins & Punks © Gavin Watson

But I always wanted the best, I would browse through catalogues just to write lists of the most expensive things in there. I dreamt of the best equipment, a Canon A1, out of reach in working class family. I saved up for my first 35mm camera, a Zenith, base Russian SLR built like a tank. I didn’t like it, it wasn’t good enough for me. One day I came home from school, my dad is in the kitchen and he says “I have something for you, son”. He had bought me an Olympus OM1. It was any other Wednesday, not my birthday, for no reason he whips out this expensive camera. I could feel my brothers’ eyes of envy on the my back of my neck. I still shoot with that camera.

- Gavin Watson

Skins & Punks © Gavin Watson

Skins & Punks © Gavin Watson

I had no professional photographic goals, I was more interested in being in a skinhead gang with a bit of photography on the side. I was a nervous photographer, and I still am. I’ve never gone up to a stranger and asked to take their photograph. I just couldn’t photograph other people, so it was all about my friends. My life was based around my friends, we all were all skinheads together, we all were teenagers together. If I hadn’t actually been a skinhead and set out to photograph them, the result would be very different. They’d all be V signing and shouting “fuck off, mate!”. It’s why I haven’t got the atypical pictures of what society think skinheads are, or even what skinheads think skinheads are.

- Gavin Watson

Skins & Punks © Gavin Watson

Skins & Punks © Gavin Watson

Skins & Punks © Gavin Watson

Skins & Punks © Gavin Watson

Skins & Punks © Gavin Watson

Skins & Punks © Gavin Watson

I’m not a different photographer from the one I was at 15, I’m a natural, I have a raw organic way of taking pictures. My methods have not changed.

- Gavin Watson

Skins & Punks © Gavin Watson

Skins & Punks © Gavin Watson

I don’t actually think I have a particular style, well I haven’t consciously set out to have one anyway, although I do know other people think I do, they can look at my work and know it’s a Gavin Watson. For me its more about looking through the lens and if it looks good I take it, I’m generally just happy when they are in focus (laughs), but to be honest, sometimes it’s OK with me if they are a not, they don’t always have to be perfect, maybe that’s part of my style. As I said I like to keep things very simple, I work with one camera at a time and still use film. I don’t like using a zoom lens, I prefer to move around a lot instead, this is the way i worked when i was 15 and i still do now. I do think my pictures have a certain energy within them, they actually look like real people rather that just figures.

- Gavin Watson

Skins & Punks © Gavin Watson

Skins & Punks © Gavin Watson


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Ian Berry | Whitby, England

Posted: December 20th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Film, Photography, Quotes

Whitby, England © 1974 Ian Berry / Magnum Photos

Whitby, England © 1974 Ian Berry / Magnum Photos

The point of 35 mm photography for me is to remain unobserved, working with the available light, watching, waiting and looking, discovering pictures while a scene is in motion.

-Ian Berry


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Neil Libbert | Francis Bacon

Posted: November 2nd, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Film, Painting, Photography

Francis Bacon, December 14, 1984 © Neil Libbert

Francis Bacon, December 14, 1984 © Neil Libbert

The French House in Soho was the location for this impromptu shot of Francis Bacon. Libbert had called in for a lunchtime pint and found the pub empty apart from the painter, who drank there regularly. There was no film in Libbert’s camera so he loaded it surreptitiously and then secretly took two shots. Bacon was so deep in thought he did not notice him. Libbert never intended the picture to be published but it eventually appeared in the Observer some years later alongside the artist’s obituary

- The Guardian


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Philip Jones Griffiths | England, 1964

Posted: May 29th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Film, Photography, Quotes

ENGLAND—Teenagers at a jazz festival, 1964. © Philip Jones Griffiths / Magnum Photos

ENGLAND—Teenagers at a jazz festival, 1964. © Philip Jones Griffiths / Magnum Photos

Even if not a single picture is never published, they exist. And that means that we are recording the history of the human race. If that’s all your doing, it still a very very worth while profession to be involved in.

-Philip Jones Griffiths


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