photoblogography - Just some stuff about photography

Xavier Roy

Mais ou est Brigitte Bardot??

in Book Reviews , Monday, July 07, 2014

Over the years, a late spring long weekend on French Mediterranean coast, specifically in or around St Tropez, has become something of a tradition. Although I’m not that much into the boutique shopping, or gawping at the ultra-rich (well probably mid-high net worth actually) individuals with their floating gin palaces and Bentleys and whatever, it’s no great hardship. The beach is relaxing, the food is good, and the surroundings are gorgeous. Usually, during the shopping breaks, I manage to sneak off and indulge in a little photography. I very quickly got bored of “street” photography, the denizens of “Saint-Trop” are rarely photogenic to my mind, but instead I like trying to find hints of the past quiet, isolated fishing village, away from the glitz, the painfully bohemian and the tourist tat. So this year, I was delighted to come across an exhibition by French travel-street photographer, Xavier Roy, who’s book “L’Autre Saint Tropez” I had read about. The exhibition was a more general sample of his travel photography, with some local stuff mixed in, and it kept me entertained for quite a while. I was also able to buy one of the last copies of his St Tropez book, and get to chat with him and get my book signed. I came out with a grin plastered all over my face.

Xavier Roy: L'Autre Saint Tropez

Xavier Roy’s photography is film based, black and white, and quite timeless. His style is subtle and the delicacy of his compositions takes a while to sink in. I mentioned to him that I thought it was quite a challenge to peel away the superficial in Saint Tropez, which he agreed with. Some of the most successful images in his book make use of off-season fog to soften the ambience, but others revel in the harsh summer light. Others in turn are quite abstract, in particular a set of dense, blurry, disorientated grainy views over the bay at dusk, which to me very effectively communicate the torpid, quiet Mediterranean heat.

© Xavier Roy, click to visit gallery

© Xavier Roy, click to visit gallery

There are many more facets to the collection, much of which is included in Roy’s web galleries. They’re well worth a visit if you’re into this kind of contemplative street / travel. Actually I would say his style is better deployed on the photos he shows from his travels to Asia and especially Latin America.

Anecdotally, I was particularly struck by the cover photo. It’s not a million miles away from something I attempted two years ago, but without the distant figure which makes all the difference between expression and technique. Never too late to learn I guess - and I’m sure I’ll get the opportunity to try again next year.

Drm 2013 06 01 EP33368




Tiina Itkonen Greenland book

A deserving cause

in Book Reviews , Tuesday, June 24, 2014

A little while ago I wrote about Tiina Itkonen’s Greenland photography.  Well, a few days ago I received an email from her announcing a crowdfunding campign to publish a book, “AVANNAA – PHOTOGRAPHY BOOK OF GREENLAND´S LANDSCAPE”.

Currently 22 funders have raised €1570. Basically funding equates to a pledge to buy the book. A pledge of €115 additionally gets you a copy of Tiina’s earlier, sold out book, “Inughuit”. Also on offer are limited edition prints.

Seems a pretty good cause to me.




Tiina Itkonen

Arctic dreams

in Photography , Thursday, April 17, 2014

Anybody into arctic landscape, travel and humanist photography should take a look at Tiina Itkonen’s fabulous work.


Her gallery of Greenland icebergs is pure visual poetry, and avoids the “all the gear and no idea” look that plagues so much of this kind of photography. The way she captures the light and ambience of polar regions can only come from really wanting to convey an emotional connection to her subject (rather than a desire to get likes on Facebook).

And, quite remarkably, the one other subject she exhibits on her website, other than polar regions, is Venice. 

Clearly she’s actually quite well known, but it took a tip off from “Project Hyakumeizan” to make me notice. I’m glad I did. I’m an instant fan.


The Inspired Eye

inspiring reading

in Book Reviews , Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Although I might, I suppose, be classified as a “landscape photographer”, I’m finding published landscape photography more and more tame, repetitive, formulaic and sterile*. Certainly there are people out there pushing boundaries, but very, very rarely am I surprised. So despite being an avid reader, and least so far as online reading is concerned I find myself more attracted to other genres for inspiration. And one monthly digital publication I can strongly recommend is “The Inspired Eye”, now at Issue 6.


The Inspired Eye is the work of two American photographers, Olivier Duong and Don Springer. And when I say “work”, I mean it. They clearly put the hours on, setting and maintaining very high production values, keeping to a tight schedule, and apart from producing a monthly magazine of well over 100 pages, which quite easily matches the quality of printed publications - they also run a lively blog, podcast and informative email list.

The emphasis is on “street”, and black & white, neither of which are my thing as such, but the variety and quality of the photographers (many if whom are largely unknown) makes for some fascinating reading and some rewarding discoveries. And sometimes some other styles creep in, and sometimes (gasp) some colour, even clearly neither editor is a huge fan of a more polychromatic approach.

But this kind of publication is what is keeping photography, as oppose to camera acquisition, alive these days, and it’s providing some great exposure to some deserving, creative and very interesting characters. It’s gritty, full of life, and if not everything appeals to everyone, well actually that’s good too. And there is very, very little talk about gear (although I imagine you get a discount if you own a Ricoh GR).

At $19.95 for a 6 issue subscription, you’d get an absolute bargain and you’d be supporting a really worthwhile venture.  Give a try, you can even get Issue 1 as as free trial.

Do I need to add “highly recommended” ?

* obviously I include myself in this wild, uninhibited tirade.


Book Review: The Last Ocean

Antarctica’s Ross Sea Project

in Antarctica , Wednesday, January 15, 2014

I’m gradually building up quite a large library of Antarctica literature, science and photography books, but my most recent acquisition is easily amongst the best.

The Last Ocean - Antarctica’s Ross Sea Project”, by John Weller, caught my eye in a fairly highbrow Art bookshop, the sort that usually only stocks books with blurry, grim, preferably black & white photos.  Certainly nothing as common as nature photography.


But The Last Ocean _is_ nature photography. Actually, it is extremely good nature photography, possibly the best contemporary Antarctic photography I’ve ever seen. John Weller’s photography is restrained, giving the land, the sea, and its native inhabitants space to breathe. Unlike so much other work, these photographs are about their subject, not about where the photographer has been or how hard he/she can push the saturation slider.  They are sometimes dramatic, but it’s never forced. This photography draws you in and captivates you. It doesn’t make you go “Wow! Great Capture! You must have a great camera!”, but rather it demands that you linger and let you eyes explore. It’s meditative, subtle and thoroughly gorgeous.

But that’s not the end of The Last Ocean by any means.  Photography is only half the story. The book is full of excellent, reflective essays on the Ross Sea ecosystem, and anecdotes about making the photographs. In fact I found that I had to read the book twice, once for the essays, and once for the photos. And then I read it again, twice.  The essays are not of the clingy, preachy, hand-wringing variety one might fear, but rather are informative, scientifically literate and very readable.

The Last Ocean is associated with the wider Ross Sea Project, a voluntary organisation started in 2004 to promote the establishment of a marine protected area (MPA) in order to conserve the pristine qualities of the Ross Sea, Antarctica. There’s also a film. But start with the book. You won’t regret it.

And if you happen to browsing Orell Füssli’s art book section in Zürich, watch out, they may still have some copies. They’re near the blurry, grainy black & white naked ladies books.


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