February - 2018
Extracts from, It Fell From an Unknown Height


Meanwhile, in London ...

Apparently it’s going to snow this month. Yeah, a milimeter of snow is not snow. It’s a tease - weather toying with us. We don’t really have snow-snow any more. When I was a child, it was a foot deep and lasted months. Now, it’s just a dusting and every media outlet cries out their panic call and we all panic and grind the city to a standstill. It’s pathetic. Humbug!

5th - You get to a point where you simply have to decide what it is that you want to do. At first, I started out in street photography. In order to get used to being close to people with a camera, I began photographing protests in London to the point where no matter what and whom I had my camera trained, I felt comfortable and relaxed. Moving on from a more journalistic approach to things, I began projects. This sort of threw me into the documentary side of things and although my projects don’t really hold up in the ‘grown up’ arena of documentary photography, it soon became something that I enjoyed. I relished in the research and preperation of an idea and loved it when a project slowly began to form and take on some sort of shape that was true to whatever visoin I had for it at the start. However, street photography had its lure. I took all my cues and asthetics from street photography, but more recently, I have become disalusioned with it all.  Not the making of a street photograph, but of the genre itself.

There is more and more street photography emerging by the day, and whilst this is a good thing, as popularity helps give the genre some artistic standing and recognition, equally, it also floods, overwhelms and saturates the genre. More and more, I have seen beginners in the craft either putting themselves on a podium, or they have been given one. Too often am I confronted with really medicore street photography that is lauded and given stage and such platforms; a voice that proclaims work to be of worth, when in reality, it really isn’t. And street photography has turned itself into an industry. It has quickly become a brand. If you can grab a camera, take a mediocre shot of someone walking by a building or stepping either into or out of shadow, then it’s
praised. If you use flash and flash photograph someone, anyone, up close, then it’s praised. Pretty much anything and everything is now praised. You can then go about stylising the work, moulding and making it appeal to the calendar loving masses, and sell it to those masses as a product.

So too has the trend been born of the collective. Any number of friends can get together and form one. All you have to do is decide on a name, build a website, get yourself some social media in place, and away you go. From there, you can dictate what the genre is and then go on to sell it. This usually comes in the form of workshops and prints; possibly a book. And whilst I am not against those products, the workshop, the print, the book, I am a little deflated in seeing such mediocrity for sale. I am not against the idea of anyone wanting to make and produce these, however, I am strongly apposed to mediocrity as a product and of a standard that is being thrown around and dictated as being what the standard itself should be and is. 

Newcomers to the genre have a plentiful array and choice of collectives to choose from and be influenced by. Your average person with little-to-no experience in photography and street photography in particular, will eventually go to these collectives and be in awe of them. That in itself is no bad thing. All photographs are subjective to the individual - what one person may like, another may not. Having said this, there is a general and overall standard in all forms of photography that is a given - there is a standard and practice that simple cannot be denied. There is simply truly great photography being made, and there is also truly mediocre and bad photography being made, and they are equally, given the same attention, recognition and platform.  They are equally, for sale.

It is because of this, and my own personal artistic failing within street photgraphy, that I have chosen to largely ignore what’s out there. I don’t seek any form of recognition. I have no interest in selling anything nor do I think I am in a position to sell my experience in photogrpahy to those coming to it. I have to be, and will always remain, realistic as to where I am and sit within the craft. 

London Fashion Week

Sometimes I feel like going, most times I do not. I’m never going to be in a position to actually get myself inside the event itself - believe me, I have tried - so my only option is to photograph the happenings and going-on’s outside the event. It’s the usual standard affair; a mass of photographers, bloggers and fashionistas all jostling for attention and for shots. It can be a bit of a scrumage at times but I’ve not minded them. When I first went to the London Fashion Week event in 2012, there weren’t that many photographers hanging around outside, so I used my time back then to simply ask people to stand in front of a plain coloured wall and proceeded to take some portraits. Not very good portraits, but it was my first time, so hey. In 2018, my choices are somewhat different. I no longer join the scrumage and no longer seek the portrait. I’m not working for a magazine or affiliated with an agency, so I don’t have to take those kind of photographs. I’m also not a fashion blogger, so I’m not too interested in those street style fashion portraits. For me, it’s simply about the people. It’s about everyone. It’s about those dressed up, those taking the shots of them, and those that happen to be watching. I’ll compose my photographs around all of those elements instead of just one, or at the very least, try to. I think my time at Fashion Week is at an end.

Backstage, for project.
Another last minute email to a company putting on a production at a theatre in London led me to Cadogan Hall in the city and to photograph a Russian ensemble celebrating the last day of winter. The production is called the Russian Maslenitsa. I’m finding that no matter what film I use, be it 800 or 200, I’m struggling in lower light conditins backstage. I can set everything up to counter the low light, but I still struggle and the photographs from this came out with terrible grain. The colour of the light didn’t come out too well either so it really was a chore to try and fix things in post. I don’t mind having to fix things, but when low light is such an issue, it becomes a battle. Ideally I’d like to over-expose than be under as I find that film retains a lot of detail in whites that can be easily pulled back, rather than trying to find detail in the darker areas if under, which leads to terrible highlighting of what grain is present.
I’m also thinking of moving away from the theatre style backstage stuff that I have been photographing. Ideally, I’d like to mix things up and get as many events where backstage preperatino is in place, but I have to be interested in the event itself in order to want to shoot it. I guess I could include a vast array of events and circumstances, but then I find it becomes tedious and laborious and I’d rather shy away from doing and including such things. Having said this, however, I really have to find a common ground - a middle arean between choices - to shoot what interests me but also what might be insightful and appealing to others. Herein lies my problem. Shooting for others and what I think others will like is something I move heavily away from. Shooting something that might be of interest to others, is ever so slightly different I guess. I have to find the happy middle ground between the two.

Podcast Interview
(my first and probably last)

I’ve never been one for exposure. It’s not something that’s been high up on my agenda. I don’t feel any particular need or rushed at want to be on everyone’s radar. It’s not something that I’ve really sought out. I like to share things ocassionally but it’s all so very limited. I guess I’m too busy trying to figure things out still, finding my way through my own personal aspirations to be tied down and under the task of putting myself out there too much. Of course, I only regard myself as a 4 out of 10, so pushing my photographs onto the public stage and into a wider arena embarrases me. I don’t feel my work is good enough and not at the standard I one day hope for it to be. Having said this, someone once asked me to answer some questions for his new blog a number of years ago and I happily agreed. At the time I thought I was the shit and knew everything. On reflection, if anything was shit it was my work and I have come to realise just how little I know about things. His blog has since evolved for him and he has started venturing into podcasts. Asking if I’d like to participate, I agreed. I turn down most people who email me to ask about my work and if I’d like to be featured in blogs and whatnot - again, I simply don’t think my work holds up and so I shy away from that kind of exposure. The podcast isn’t widely known and since I had spoken to him a number of years previous, I was happy to talk to him once more.

The website it’s produced at is German, but he has started to interview street photographer’s around the world in the English language, of which this is one.

Interview conducted by Kai Behrmann - http://gatesieben.de/podcast/marc-fairhurst/

26th - When did everyone in street photography think that photographs in some form or another have to be clever - that there has to be some element or composition that has a wow-factor or be clever in its showing of things in the scene; a covered head, a missing head, something in the way of an eye that looks like and eye but isn’t; something in the way of a head that covers the head that looks like a head but is a trick-shot gimmick, but isn’t; a missing head even, and so on. And it’s not just the playing of body parts - it extends to the scene, the things within a scene and how they are used, oftentimes in cconjunction with the headless or eyeless individual.

When did street photography go from being straight shots of general every day life to making every day life a fucking circus. Because the street photography circus is in town. And it's been in town for a long time now. And I'm seeing the same show day in day out. And it’s boring.

27th - I wish my work and projects were more clean. I wish everything was all clean and tidy and more organised - the editing of photographs, what to show, what to leave, if a photograph works as part of a set or not and how I go about presenting them. Everything feels a little off. It always has done. I can only fathom that this is because I have yet to really accomplish anything in a professional way. The work that I have produced up until now is not at a professional standard and the showing of it and even in its execution, reflects that. It all reflects my inabilities; reflects my failing and lack of getting things right; it reflects my inexperience.
I could sit here for hours pretending that things are fine and that my photographic house is in order, but it is not.

This is the reason why I have been forever swinging between the ropes of camera’s and film and digital and genre - not quite at ease with anything that I have been producing with any of them. It was never about any of those things. It was always about me and my photographic abilities. The certainty and knowledge of one’s own inabilities or lacking in particular areas in the craft, affords me the space and somewhat comfort, in knowing that I simply have to do better and not be under any impression that what I have produced so far, is worthy of print, publication or a wall. I have always relished the knowledge of this, and it is because of this, that I continue to, and strive for, not so much perfection, but to be better, with both myself and my photography. Because nothing that I have produced so far is good enough.

And I’m okay with that. I’m okay that I know it.

28th - On the last day of the month, the snow and the chill did eventually arrive. The heater is on, constantly. The electric blanket on the bed is on, without any exceptions. For a few days, London will be under the veil of the white stuff; not much of it, but enough to bring out the child in us all for a brief moment. I’ve come to loathe the cold, but I’ll take this little moment of joy. Isn't it odd, that we are suddenly aware of the beauty of all the things that surround us, more-so than ever before as we traverse through the days oftentimes blind or just simply unawares, right at the moment we are about to lose them or be denied them, or a part of them we can no longer be afforded the right to have or witness.