The British Landscape Photographed by John Davies

Article written by Diane Smyth about the work of landscape photographer John Davies and posted on the British Journal of Photography website.
The British Landscape Photographed by John Davies

Westgate, 2001 © John Davies

 Respected British landscape photographer John Davies has his first-ever solo exhibition in the US at L Parker Stephenson Photographs

The British Landscape…is a long-term ongoing project about the enormous changes that have taken place in the UK – the world’s first industrial society and the first to de-industrialise,” says John Davies.

“Much of Britain’s infrastructure and the rapid expansion of industrial cities were created through the unprecedented growth of the Industrial Revolution. By the early 1980s, when I started this project, many of these large-scale industries and industrial communities were in terminal decline.”

Born in country Durham and brought up in farming and mining communities, Davies’ first subject was the rural landscape in Ireland, Scotland and England, which he shot between 1976-81 and published in 1985 in the book Mist Mountain Water Wind. But by 1981 he had turned his camera to the lasting impact of the Industrial Revolution in Britain, and by 1987 he had published his seminal book A Green and Pleasant Land – which took its title from Jerusalem, William Blake’s excoriating poem about the smoke-belching factories, and depicted the post-Industrial landscape in Northern England and South Wales.

The British Landscape Photographed by John Davies

Runcorn Bridges, Cheshire, 1986 © John Davies

This series was exhibited at The Photographers’ Gallery, and images from the project also went on show at venues such as the Museum of Modern Art New York and the Pompidou Centre in Paris; Davies went on to shoot many more, interconnected series of contemporary landscapes in the UK and beyond. The British Landscape, a selection of his work from 1979-2006 was published by Chris Boot in 2006, and was shown in major retrospectives at PhotoEspaña, the National Media Museum in Bradford, Galerie Vu’ in Paris, Walsall Art Gallery and Cube in Manchester. It also won Davies a place on the 2008 Deutsche Börse Photography Prize shortlist.

His most recent book, Shadow: Slag Heaps of Northern Europe was published by Edition Loco in 2016; in 2018, his work is on show in group exhibitions at The V&A Museum, London, the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, and The Towner Art Gallery in Eastbourne. Now, he has his first solo show in the US, with an exhibition of The British Landscape on show until 15 February at L Parker Stephenson Photographs – a New York gallery that specialises in “selling works by 20th century visionary photographers” .


The British Landscape Photographed by John Davies

Stalybridge, 1983 © John Davies

The British Landscape Photographed by John Davies

Ladbrook Grove, 1985 © John Davies

Beautiful Polaroids of LA by Christopher Thomas

Article published on the Amateur Photographer website showing the Type 55 black and white Polaroids capture on a Linhof 4×5 large format camera by the German photographer Christopher Thomas.
Beautiful Polaroids of LA by Christopher Thomas

Hollywood Sign I, Hollywood Hills, 2017, Credit: Christopher Thomas

The documentation of the American landscape is a firmly established practice in American photography, both past and present. The city of New York, for example, has found itself subject to the scrutinising eyes of many artists, including Helen Levitt, Richard Sadler and Matt Weber. Equally, Stephen Shore and Walker Evans have amply documented the often mundane suburban and rural slices of life that make up large swathes of the country. The most famous of these figures is, of course, Ansel Adams whose images of California have become influential to generations of artists. However, within the state of California there lies a city that despite its fame remains largely unexplored through the eyes of contemporary photographers.

It may seem odd to suggest that Los Angeles is photographically under-represented, but a look through the medium’s history reveals it has been somewhat overlooked as a place of visual interest, though Julius Shulman’s The Birth of a Modern Metropolis is a work worth seeking out. This under-representation makes sense in many ways. Despite its beautiful architecture and light, Los Angeles is a city designed to be viewed on the fly; it’s a landscape often viewed as a blur through the car windscreen as commuters drive from home to work and back again. To travel through LA on foot is almost unheard of (the writer Will Self tried it once or twice without much success). Photography, particularly landscape photography, requires studied meditation, time and patience. It requires legs.

Beautiful Polaroids of LA by Christopher Thomas

Venice Sign, Venice, 2017. Credit: Christopher Thomas

In his new book, Lost in L.A., a collection of ‘city portraits’, shot on a Linhof 4×5 large-format camera and Polaroid Type 55 black & white film, Munich-born photographer Christopher Thomas noted this dearth of documentation and decided to get out and reveal the splendour of a city that, as many have noted, seems to exist in a place between dreams and consciousness.

“Back when I started photography, I was working on a lot of advertising photography, particularly car shoots,” says Thomas. “Eventually, I wanted to do something to balance that out and that’s when I started producing large-format portraits of my hometown of Munich. Later on, I expanded my scope and that was when I continued these portraits through my images of New York, Paris and Venice. What’s interesting about those cities is that they are all locations largely defined by their iconic buildings, such as the Empire State Building in New York, and the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Los Angeles is a little different.”

Thomas had already been travelling back and forth between Munich and Los Angeles several times a year over three decades while working as an advertising photographer. During one of his later trips he decided to apply the ideas developed over his previous projects to LA. So, in 2014, he jumped in a campervan and began the first of several month-long investigations of the City of Angels.

Lost in LA Capitol Records Beautiful Polaroids of LA by Christopher Thomas

Capitol Records Building, Los Angeles, 2016. Credit: Christopher Thomas

A different city

“Los Angeles, compared to the cities I have previously shot, lacks the kinds of immediately recognisable architecture and landmarks that form the make-up of many iconic cities,” says Thomas when I ask him why he was drawn to the city. “The most obvious one is the Hollywood sign, although not many people know that it began life as a real-estate advertisement.

“What really drew me to LA was the challenge of finding the hidden beauty of the city. I was also keen to find a view that was distinct from the clichés of the beaches and girls on roller skates. I was much more interested in the quiet and hidden parts of the city.”

During his initial excursions, Thomas prepared extensive research notes, where he marked down notable architecture, possible times of day to shoot, best times of year, ideal weather, position of the sun and even where to park.

One of the most notable and surprising aspects of the polaroids, aside from the gorgeous and immediately recognisable bleeding Polaroid edges, is the fact that they are devoid of people and vehicles. It’s a quality that makes the images appear timeless, as though they have been dug up from the earth from an unknown period of history.

“I’ve always admired the old photography of European cities taken around 1900,” says Thomas. “The images were interesting for their structured clearness and peacefulness. In those images, you just see the city. There are no people, no horse carriages, nothing. Just the city as it is. The reason for that, as you may have guessed, is the fact that these photographers, due to technical necessity, were working with long exposures, which were often five to ten minutes long. So, while there were people present in the areas in which they were shooting, they vanished within the long-exposure. I really wanted to continue that tradition because I was seeking to capture the true essence of LA. That involved me making sure that people and cars were not present in the frame by shooting long exposures. People became invisible within the frame.

“On a technical level, I was able to reduce things as much as possible by shooting large-format black & white Polaroid. Eschewing colour in some ways helps to take the images outside of time. Furthermore, removing colour makes the images quieter and helps me and the viewer to hone in on exactly what I want to show in terms of the graphic, geometric forms of the architecture. I also tended to shoot quite early and sometimes at night. This all required a great deal of patience because there could often be obstacles to work around, such as someone parking their car in front of a building, the weather not being quite right, or the fact that a building’s lights weren’t switched on during a night shoot.”

Lost in LA Randys Donuts Beautiful Polaroids of LA by Christopher Thomas

Randy’s Donuts, Inglewood, 2017. Credit: Christopher Thomas

While Los Angeles does not perhaps contain landmarks that immediately spring to mind, that’s not to say the city is devoid of distinctive locations. The city does after all host restaurants such as the world’s oldest McDonald’s, Norms, Randy’s Donuts, as well as Sleeping Beauty’s Castle in Disneyland, Santa Monica Beach, various gas stations, piers and the more-than-impressive Walt Disney Concert Hall. The city is also a canvas for futurist Googie buildings, such as the Capital Records building and Theme Building. The fact that all of the images were shot on Polaroid offers the project a kind of taxonomic feel. Lost in L.A. feels like something that sits between a survey and portrait project. In fact, all of these locations are captured under the banner of what Thomas terms ‘city portraiture’.

“When I shoot a portrait of a person, I’m attempting to reveal the character and the soul of that person,” he says. “There’s no reason not to apply that same notion to a place, a city. Los Angeles has its hidden treasures and it possesses a kind of beauty that’s not revealed on first sight. It has an extensive variety of ‘faces’. By capturing the vast diversity of locations, I’m able to bring to light the huge diversity of the city’s character.”

That diversity extends to the weather. When you think of Los Angeles, you think of vast blue skies and scorching sun. But in Thomas’ work, we find a Los Angeles at odds with our preconceptions.

“I really had a great deal of luck with the weather when I was in Los Angeles at the beginning of this year,” says Thomas. “The weather was wild, wet and foggy. In some of the images in the book and exhibition, you’ll see great dramatic skies such as the one over Coasters Drive-In or clear skies marked by brushstrokes of cirrus cloud over the Walt Disney Concert Hall.”

A great success of any project of landscapes and cityscapes lies in its ability to surprise viewers who are familiar with the locations. We can all become blasé with our surroundings, walking with our heads down, our ears plugged with music. It’s a distinctly modern malady.

“There’s always one common reaction I get from people either viewing my books or seeing the exhibitions,” says Thomas. “And it’s that they say they live around the corner of the location and pass by it every day but they have never seen it in this way before. Despite the familiarity of the location, it’s almost like they’re seeing it with fresh eyes. That’s the kind of endorsement for my work that I really appreciate.”

Lost in LA Union Station II Beautiful Polaroids of LA by Christopher Thomas

Union Station II, Los Angeles, 2017. Credit: Christopher Thomas

All polaroids copyright Christopher Thomas.

Photographic History at The Bishopsgate Institute

The Past People and Streets of East London.

This is a sponsored article on behalf of Bishopsgate Institute.

The Bishopsgate Institute Special Collections Photography
Around the turn of the century in 1900 and afterwards, postcards became a popular and well-used form of communication for many Londoners. They depicted street scenes and iconic images of London’s buildings and environments. This postcard from 1910 shows a Liverpool Street Station unrecognisable to users of its services today.

From fledgling photographers attempting to capture the flourishing docks and shipyards of the Isle of Dogs, to the work of their contemporary counterparts, London’s East End has long provided a source of creative inspiration for those looking to capture the life of the city on film. These evocative images tell the story of the everyday Londoner, and make for a fascinating insight into the history of the city.

The Bishopsgate Institute Special Collections and Archives hold more than half a million such images, with a particular emphasis on street photography in the East End. Ranging from the 1850s onwards, these iconic and unique collections of early photography are a must-see for those looking to understand the social and cultural history of the capital and its people.

The collections were started by the Bishopsgate Institute’s second librarian, Charles W.F. Goss — a collector of the highest order — and they continue to accept images and collections to this day. You can check out a small sample of imagery from the collection below, some of which have been sourced from the most unusual of places, including a set of 1979 US tourist snaps purchased by the Library on eBay.

The Bishopsgate Institute Special Collections Photography
John Thomson and Adolphe Smith’s 1877 book Street Life in London was one of the first to publish photo documentary of the employment and experiences of everyday Londoners, including this image of a convicts’ home in Drury Lane, described in the book as being ‘…frequented by hungry convicts or ticket-of-leave men, who find kindly welcome and may, if they choose, receive wholesome advice from the owner of this strange establishment’.
The Bishopsgate Institute Special Collections Photography
The Institute holds a collection of over 4,000 glass photographic slides of London covering the period from the 1880s to the 1950s, digitised during a project from 2006 to 2009. This scene from the collection shows a market stall in Hoxton Street, Shoreditch, although the cause of all the attention is not known.
The Bishopsgate Institute Special Collections Photography
This photo is part of a series of over 20 images taken by Essex studio photographer C. A. Mathew of the streets of Spitalfields in 1912. Although the motives of why he took the photos are of some debate, they remain an important record, documenting this area of London when populated by families and dispelling myths about the levels of poverty in this area of London.
The Bishopsgate Institute Special Collections Photography
The extensive political and radical collections held at Bishopsgate Institute also contain fine examples of London social life, including this wonderful snap of Labour leader George Lansbury on the campaign trail in Bow in the 1930s.
The Bishopsgate Institute Special Collections Photography
The images taken by Hungarian photographer László Moholy-Nagy in Mary Benedetta’s 1936 book The Street Markets of London have now become iconic depictions of street life in the capital at the time. Shown here is a rather fine fellow from Petticoat Lane Market.
The Bishopsgate Institute Special Collections Photography
Dennis Anthony was commissioned to take images of Petticoat Lane Market in the 1960s. His images showing the customers and stall-holders have an almost filmic gaze.
The Bishopsgate Institute Special Collections Photography
For over 30 years, photographer Phil Maxwell captured the life and residents of Brick Lane and its environs. His archive, consisting of thousands of images, is now held at the Institute and offers an unparalleled record of the area in a period of rapid change.
The Bishopsgate Institute Special Collections Photography
Between 1990 and 1991, Mark Jackson and Huw Davies decamped to Spitalfields Market to document the workings and characters of the world-famous fruit and vegetable market just as it was about to move to its current home in Hackney Wick. Their legacy of over 5,000 images are now held by the Library.

Exhibition by Alec Byrne

Must see exhibition for 60s and 70s music fans. Unseen photographs of David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Marc Bolan and many more pop icons of the decades.
unseen archive of photographer Alex Byrne

Lovers of Bowie, Bolan or indeed anything to do with the rich pantheon of rock and roll and the equally rich photographic imagery that accompanies it will be veritably salivating at the prospect of London Rocks.

The show at London’s Proud Central presents the unseen archive of photographer Alex Byrne, who came to prominence in the 1960s and 70s, celebrating the passion and grit of the musicians in his impressively starry sphere. He began his career under contract to shoot live acts for NME at just 17 years-old, and rather sickeningly described his then-scheduled as “The Who on Thursday, The Rolling Stones on Saturday, Led Zeppelin on Monday — just incredible’.”

Alongside celebrating Byrne’s clear photographic prowess, the exhibition looks to simultaneously explore the cultural significance of rock ’n’ roll in the 60s and 70s “swinging” London, including Bowie, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones.

Mostly shot in moody black and white – with a notable exception for the gorgeous curls and brilliant pink and yellow smiley t-shirt of Marc Bolan, the images brim with personality; each one really does appear to speak a thousand words about an unprecedentedly exciting cultural moment. “His intuitive approach was of a rock n’ roll mindset,” says the gallery, “favouring candid photography over a studio setting. Byrne’s desire to capture the most powerful imagery saw him battling to the front of crowds and racing home from performances to develop his work through the night.”

The exhibition features many previously unseen photographs, and coincides with the UK launch of Byrne’s book London Rock: The Unseen Archive, distributed by Ebury Publishing.

London Rock: The Unseen Archive by Alec Byrne runs until 28 January at Proud Central London.

unseen archive of photographer Alex Byrne
unseen archive of photographer Alex Byrne Exhibition
Unseen archive of photographer Alex Byrne Exhibition
unseen archive of photographer Alex Byrne

Designing your Photography Website Portfolio

Post that can help direct our online portfolio design. Written by British Journal of Photography

What do photographic agents, curators, editors and commissioners look for on an online portfolio? Five industry professionals offer their perspectives.

The photography portfolio has, some might argue, been eclipsed by its digital counterpart. Offering an opportunity for almost limitless invention and innovation, mastering this mode of display involves a whole new set of challenges. From the colour scheme to layout, every element of a photographer’s website deserves careful consideration.

When designing a website, however, it is also important to carefully consider your audience. What is it that you want your online platform to say about you as an artist and how do you plan to communicate this? To help better understand what makes a compelling website, we asked five industry professionals about what they look for and why having a strong online portfolio is so important today.

What do you look for in a photographer’s website?

Diane Smyth, Digital Editor – British Journal of Photography: A website that’s both clear and easy to navigate – the design comes after. Images need to be large enough to see them properly, but small enough to load quickly. I don’t like seeing watermarks on images. It’s helpful if the images are divided into separate series, with text before each series giving a quick idea of what it’s about. I also like to have a quick bio of the photographer somewhere on the site and (obviously) details of how to contact them. It’s better to have a small number of really good images than a large volume that includes weaker shots.

Ken Flaherty, Founder – Doomed Gallery: I like to see the one image that really defines the photographer on their landing page. I also like to know the story behind a body of work. Photographers can be unwilling to express their ideas and motives in words; for the viewer, a brief explanation or critique, can help us look more and understand what we are seeing better.

John Wyatt-Clarke, Founder – Wyatt Clarke & Jones Photo Agency: I see a glaring divide between websites that are trying to achieve something and those that are just reflective of a photographer’s fascination with themselves. A good online platform should be designed to guide an ideal visitor towards a specific action, whether it be commissioning, buying work or enquiring about an exhibition. It’s also important to clearly distinguish the work that is most important to you, to give a sense of what direction you’re going in as an artist, and consequently, where you’ll be in a few years. As an agent, I’m interested in the future, and I want a website to give me an idea of that.

Fiona Shields, Head of Photography – The Guardian: At The Guardian we will always view an online portfolio before commissioning a photographer for the first time so it is important that we can gauge the range, breadth and style of imagery. I would always advise making contact details very prominent on the opening page and including your geographic location, along with your phone numbers, email address and Twitter account – I will often try all three if I’m looking to contact a photographer as a matter of urgency. This landing page is a shop window for your talents so be scrupulous over quality and keep the edit varied but tight.

How important is your first impression when looking at a photographer’s website? And would you say that this is dictated more by the nature of the work, or the way in which it is presented?

DS: I’m much more interested in the work itself, but if the website takes ages to load or I can’t find my way around it easily I’ll definitely come away with a bad impression.

Matt Martin, Co-Curator – Doomed Gallery: A bit of both. If the work doesn’t jump out at me immediately then it’s rare that I will look through the rest of the website. Good design and a strong lead image can help with this, but it’s also important that the site is easy to navigate.

JW-C: I spend a great deal of time on photographers’ websites. We get up to 50 emails a week from photographers looking for representation and consider each one carefully. First impressions aren’t that important because we’re trying to find people we can work closely with for years, so looking at their work more thoroughly is always necessary.

FS: Always check that your website can be found simply on a Google search under the name and keyword ‘photographer’, and that the website  loads swiftly on desktop and mobile. Any picture editor looking to make a commission immediately, or who is considering a number of photographers, will be frustrated by a complex portfolio that can’t be accessed easily.

Should a website exist solely as a platform for the featured work, or is it important that it has a distinctive aesthetic too?

DS: I don’t have much of an opinion on this one, either one is fine by me if I can find and see the work and find contact details for the photographer. It’s sometimes nice when I come across an unusual or quirky website. But in general I’d say the aesthetic of the website should come lower down a photographer’s priority list than their work.

KFI’m really interested in the idea of the virtual gallery as somewhere you can explore. I also really like it when photographers provide further insight into their work through the inclusion of interviews or short text.

JW-C: It’s the photos that count above everything else. An online platform can complement your photography but no site will ever be good enough to disguise poor work. Conversely, if your work is good enough, from the perspective of an agent, you can get away with bad presentation. It would be our job to help you improve your online presence. I’d advise devoting more attention to the architecture, signposting and navigation than the graphic design.

FS: Consider design and allow a slick presentation for anyone navigating their way through your portfolio. If you have particular publications you admire, or would like to attract commissions from, then it’s worth paying attention to their visual sense. Equally, if your style is aesthetically distinct then do play to this strength as it may encourage a picture editor to cast you for a specific brief.

With the digital realm becoming increasingly integral to our everyday lives, would you say that having a strong online portfolio is more important than ever?

DS: Definitely – I rarely get shown physical portfolios now, in fact it seems a bit old fashioned when I do.  It’s interesting to see some of the shifts in how photographers are presenting themselves – websites used to be quite formal, presenting work projects in separate series, but on Instagram photographers tend to include more behind-the-scenes images – shots of them installing a show, for example, or photographs from their everyday life. I don’t have a preference about which is better or worse. Whichever format you use, and however you present yourself, all that really matters is that your work is online and that it includes your contact details.

MM: This boils down to the question of where are people looking at photographer’s work the most? Ultimately, I think that when it comes to photography a website is the best place to showcase your work. An online platform provides the optimum space to present images clearly and organise them to communicate any narrative running through a series. However, I do still think that it’s important to have a strong physical portfolio or book.

JW-C: I can’t imagine how anyone would get work without one. A more vital question is how do you get people to look at it? And obviously that’s where social media comes in. A site is useful as a centre for all your social media activity, a place where all these disparate platforms lead back to and where you can showcase a more comprehensive overview of your work. That’s why it’s so important to understand what you want your website to do, so you can focus all this energy in the right direction instead of dissipating it.

FS: Yes, often we are seeking to commission photographers globally who it would be difficult to meet face-to-face so an online presence is the best opportunity to review a portfolio. It is a competitive market so it’s worth spending time presenting work with consideration and keeping the portfolio up to date.

Haruka-Website Portfolio

Haruka Sakaguchi

Ursa-Premik Portfolio

Ursa Premik

John Claridge’s East End Photography

We are now posting the photography and articles that interest and inspire.

This was posted back in 2012 on the excellent Spitalfields Life featuring the remarkable images captured by John Claridge.


East End Photography by John Claridge

The window on the top right of this photograph was John Claridge’s former bedroom when he took this astonishing portrait of his neighbours in Plaistow – Mr & Mrs Jones – in 1968, on a visit home in his early twenties. Once, at the age of eight, John saw a plastic camera at an East End fun fair and knew he had to have it. And thus, in that intuitive moment of recognition, his lifelong passion for photography was born. Saving up money from his paper round in the London Docks, John bought a serious camera and recorded the world that he knew, capturing the plangent images you see here with a breathtaking clarity of vision. “Photography was a natural language,” he assured me, when I asked him about taking these pictures, “This was my life.”

“My father was a docker – everyone worked in the docks, did a bit of boxing or they were villains. My dad went to sea when he was thirteen, he did bare-knuckle boxing, he knew how to rig a ship from top to bottom, and he sold booze in the states during prohibition. I used to get up at five in the morning to talk to him before he went to work and he told me stories, that was my education. People say life was hard in the East End, but I found the living was easy and I loved it.”

With admirable self-assurance, John left school at fifteen and informed West Ham Labour Exchange of his chosen career. They sent him up to the McCann-Erickson advertising agency in the West End where he immediately acquired employment in the photographic department. Then, at seventeen years old, John bravely travelled from Plaistow to Hampstead to knock on the door of Bill Brandt to present one of his prints, and the legendary photographer invited him in, recognising his precocious talent and offering encouragement to the young man.

“I used to meet my mum after work in the Roman Rd where she was a machinist, and you couldn’t see the next street in the fog,” John recalled, when I enquired about the distinctive quality of light in these atmospheric images. At the age of nineteen, John left the East End for good and at the same time opened his first studio near St Paul’s Cathedral. It was the precursor an heroic career in photography which has seen John working at the top of his profession for decades, yet he still carries a deep affection for these eloquent haunting pictures that set him on his way. “My East End’s gone, it doesn’t exist anymore,” he admitted to me frankly with unsentimental discernment, “These are pictures I could never do again, I don’t have that naivety and innocence anymore, but seeing them now is like looking at an old friend.”

East End Photography by John Claridge

Collecting firewood, 1960

East End Photography by John Claridge


East End Photography by John Claridge


East End Photography by John Claridge


East End Photography by John Claridge


East End Photography by John Claridge


East End Photography by John Claridge

Ex-boxer, 1962

East End Photography by John Claridge


East End Photography by John Claridge


East End Photography by John Claridge


East End Photography by John Claridge

Mass X-Ray, 1966

East End Photography by John Claridge


East End Photography by John Claridge


East End Photography by John Claridge

Flower Seller, 1959

East End Photography by John Claridge


East End Photography by John Claridge

Shoe Rebuilders, 1965

East End Photography by John Claridge

London fog, 1959

East End Photography by John Claridge

Going to work, 1959

East End Photography by John Claridge

London Docks, 1964

Photographs copyright © John Claridge

Peter Manseau on Photography.

Article from The LA Times by Peter Manseau on photography.

We might look back on 2017 as the year we argued about images.

The Trump era began in earnest when the White House contested aerial photographs showing diminished inaugural crowds. The fight over football players kneeling during the national anthem has played out, in part, through Photoshopped memes of NFL stars burning American flags. After Hurricane Harvey devastated Houston, social media users passed around jpegs of sharks swimming along a freeway. Just how much distance was there between Sen. Al Franken’s fingers and Leeann Tweeden’s flak jacket? Did Sarah Huckabee Sanders really bake that Thanksgiving pie?

These debates reveal that the relationship between seeing and believing is rarely as simple as the old saying suggests. Even as we strive to maintain a tenuous grip on objective reality in this truth-challenged time, we tend to see what we want to see — and perhaps it’s best if we all acknowledged that fact.

After 180 years of living with photographs as part of human experience, we’re still not quite sure how to treat them. The estimated 1 billion photographs we collectively take every day have perhaps taught us to recognize, when we pause to think about it, that all images are framed, composed or selected. Yet we still hold them up as the ultimate documentary evidence. (“Pics or it didn’t happen,” goes the online mantra.) The emotional power of photographs to serve as, in the words of one early observer, “mirrors that remember” causes us to forget that, at best, images are never the whole truth; at worst, they can tell dangerous lies.

“Nothing can be so deceiving as a photograph,” Franz Kafka once said, and the technology of photography has been complicit in this deception from the beginning.

The earliest known photo depicting human activity was itself a work of inadvertent obfuscation. When the man usually credited with inventing photography, Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre, pointed his camera at the Boulevard du Temple in Paris one morning in 1838, the image he developed showed two figures — a shoe-shiner and his client — standing among trees and buildings beside an otherwise empty road. It’s a striking image. The view it provides is so bereft of movement that two men present could be the lone survivors of a plague.

Mandé Daguerre Boulevard du Temple in Paris Photography

That boulevard was in fact bustling when Daugerre took his picture. In the infancy of the art, exposure times were measured in minutes rather than fractions of seconds, and so the horses, carriages and pedestrians going about their business cannot now be seen. Only those subjects that remained as still as the trees or buildings would be recorded by history. Like any photograph, the scene it shows is proof only that a picture had been made, not of what it seems to portray.

As photography became commercial, the deceptive possibilities of this theoretically objective art became a feature rather than a bug. Some enterprising 19th century portrait artists offered to make stereoscopic blended images of young lovers, supposedly providing a glimpse of the faces of their future children. Others promised to touch up their photographs with paint to remove blemishes or make appearances more appealing. When the renowned photographer Mathew Brady took Mary Todd Lincoln’s picture in 1861, he allayed her fears that she looked too matronly by making her hands more dainty and shaving a few inches off her waistline.

Not long after, Brady helped photography find its most potent realm for deception on the battlefields of the Civil War. He and other chroniclers of the conflict, including Alexander Gardner, Timothy O’Sullivan and Peter Weaver, are now known to have staged photographs of the dead at Gettysburg. The very men rightly heralded as the progenitors of photojournalism were also pioneers of fake news.

In many cases, their intentions were honorable. As the New York Times reported on Brady’s and Gardner’s work, they succeeded in bringing home “the terrible reality and earnestness of war.” Their less scrupulous contemporaries, however, preyed on the widespread belief that photographs provide true depictions of reality. They fed American hunger for a final look at lost relatives via a booming post-war market in ghost pictures, including an infamous image of the alleged spirit of Abraham Lincoln himself.

The inescapability of photographs in our media-besotted and advertising-saturated times makes it difficult to appreciate just how miraculous they must have seemed when they were novelties, and how utterly convincing they were as a result.

Yet insofar as we are now more savvy in our relationship with images, it is only relative to those who saw them with uncomplicated eyes.

Even now, photographs remain beguiling enough that we are only selectively suspicious — and thus selectively naive — inevitably interpreting images through the lens of preexisting beliefs. The possibilities for altering and sharing images far surpass our capacity for detecting deception, and we are left only with our gut feelings and biases to separate fact from fiction. We remain desperate for photographic evidence while unable to trust what we see.

Peter Manseau is the author most recently of “The Apparitionists: A Tale of Phantoms, Fraud, Photography, and the Man Who Captured Lincoln’s Ghost.” Follow him on Twitter @plmanseau.

If you want LinkedIn to work for you make sure you have a professional headshot that is up to the job.

Professional London studio corporate photography

A photo of you taken whilst at a pub/party/holiday/wedding, or one taken on your phone, does not present a professional image and will do more damage to your business profile than you may believe.

Facebook and Instagram photos won’t work as your professional profile pic, let’s be clear on that! Also, be careful not to have anything too cheesy, sultry or flirty. Make sure it’s also recent, if you have 30 years of experience and a picture taken just after university, then clients or employees will notice.

Remember first impressions count, so invest in having a professional corporate headshot taken.

Also you now have the ability to add a background photo so think carefully what to use and how it illustrates your business sector.

professional corporate headshots in London studio

See how we create our LinkedIn headshots.


Why should companies use a professional corporate photographer?

Interesting blog post by a professional corporate photographer working in Melbourne. We found this a refreshing approach to blogging and brought home the benefits good business photographers can bring to a client.


Whether you are an entrepreneur, working professional or an executive, you need an expert business photographer in Melbourne to promote your brand. Professional headshots right for websites, business cards, pamphlet and any of your marketing and social media requirements. So, make sure that your own personal brand stands out from other professional business photography of rivals. That is why you should hire an expert and highly skilled business photographer.

Clients basically want a variety of photography such as, environmental portraiture, work floor, safety application, skilled personnel, a relationship between employee and customers, as well as detailed product photography. Choose a photographer who is expert to capture any kind of photography.

professional corporate headshot in London offices

There are abundant benefits of hiring a business photographer this will help your business to grow.

More Publicity- An amazing image will actually be share widely and hence you need to have high-end photography. If people cannot read, they identify products through clear images. So, better the image, the more people attract towards your products or services and you will gain more publicity. A good professional photographer also captures the basic of what you want to describe. So, you can attract the right targeted audience who actually has an interest. Besides, these people share photography in their groups and thus your customers and sales will increase. The main thing is a photographer must be highly skilled and experienced.


Shift your potential customers to current customers- Nowadays, most of the people do online shopping. So, while making online shopping, images matter a lot. Even many people do not read the complete details. However, some people read, but eventually, images attract more. That means your product photo must be clear, appealing and say all that you need to describe to your customers regarding your products.

Saves Time- Business owners already have busy schedule regarding the various meetings, projects and for other things. In this situation, they can’t get enough time to verify the quality of an image and upload it to social media. If you place your products and services in the hands of skilled business photographers, you will not need to worry about light, equipment, editing and retouching, backgrounds and much more things. So, it is a time saving and hassle-free option.

Enhance your business- According to one research, good images sell more than just written contents and advertising tool. So, if you hire a professional business photographer, it will be a great investment. As your sales increases, your business will grow greater.

So, we have seen a number of benefits of hiring an expert business photographer. But, while choosing a photographer, evaluate his skills and expertise. Besides, make sure he is a licensed photographer and have an extensive experience in this field.

If you also want to enhance your business and hire an expert business photographer, come to the Corporate photography Melbourne. We specialize in corporate headshots, profile images, group photos, website images and more. We understand the requirement of a clear and crisp, professional image and hence we help you to create the perfect business photography for your needs. Having 14+ years of experience, our friendly, professional staff is always there to help you.


Approachable & Professional Headshots.

Corporate headshots – The professional and approachable style

Corporate headshots. The professional and approachable style.

Corporate headshots. The professional and approachable style.

These headshots were taken for a client who wanted to look professional and approachable. This is a request we get frequently and it can be quite hard to pin down exactly the style the client is hoping to receive. We quoted on a shoot recently and sent over some sample headshots. When we asked if the samples meet with their requirements the client mentioned that they were really good but they were not what they were looking for as the men in the headshots had ties on. We now class the ‘professional & approachable’ style as smart relaxed headshots without a tie.

Grantly Lynch © Corporate Photography Ltd