Monday, 12 November 2012
Press photography must be an extremely hard job to do. Not necessarily in terms of the learning and technique involved - after all, the spray-and-pray paparazzo counts as a press photographer - but more in terms of the subjects involved: war, destructive storms, hardship and poverty to name a few. Every year this exhibition includes some photos that are difficult to look at for long, including the grief-stricken faces and the dead bodies, and this year is no exception.
So it's not suitable for young children, but everyone else who is interested in photography should see it, in my opinion, so that we not only learn more about the world but also so that we come to appreciate the job these people do in bringing us the news.
Next time you consider whether to pack your ND grad filters for that scenic landscape walkabout, or whether to pack a long lens for a bit of street action in the local market, consider also the guy lugging a lot of heavy kit about inside a lethal war zone.
World Press Photo Exhibition 2012
Until 27 November 2012 Free admission
Daily 10.00 - 23.00
Southbank Centre, Royal Festival Hall
Given that I'm someone who isn't fond of black and white photography, and who thinks that processing colour photos into black and white sucks the life out of most of them, why would I be reviewing an exhibition featuring the photos of one of the most well-known street photographers who shot almost exclusively in black and white?
The answer is in the nature of the exhibition. Henri Cartier-Bresson thought that black and white photography couldn't be bettered. The curator of the exhbition, William E. Ewing, sees the exhibition as a 'challenge and response' - the photos of the master showing the 'decisive moment' that he was so good at capturing, and some of the photographers that Mr Ewing considers as making 'great strides' towards achieving the same end using colour photography.
The exhibition includes a number of black and white prints of some of Cartier-Bresson's work, though not necessarily his best-known, interspersed with prints by other photographers from different eras, including the modern.
It seems to me that one of the best examples of Cartier-Bresson's 'decisive moment' is the photo of a man leaping over a puddle, titled _Derriere la Gare Saint-Lazare_ which can be seen here. Yet I don't recall seeing a print of this anywhere in the exhibition. In fact, this 'decisive moment' seems to be missing from some of the photos on display, both Cartier-Bresson's and those by other photographers.
No matter, this isn't the main point of the exhibition.
Since admission to the exhibition is free, it's well worth the journey to Somerset House to make your own mind up as to whether the curator has fulfilled his aim - for it is his and not the aim of the photographers featured in the exhibition.
People with mobility impairments should note that the exhibition is at the south side of Somerset House, across a lot of very bumpy tiles from the main entrance. There is a lift that goes from the Embankment straight up to the exhibition.
Cartier-Bresson - A Question of Colour
Runs to 27 January 2013
South Building Strand, London WC2R 1LA
Featuring portrait photography by contemporary photographers, the Taylor Wessing makes its annual visit to the National Portrait Gallery. As in previous years, I found many of the portraits to lack a certain something. Whether that's because these days a lot of photography (much of mine included) seems to aim to grab the attention or simply because the photographers chose subjects and/or settings that fail to inspire.
That's not to say that the exhibition isn't to be enjoyed - I spent more than half an hour looking at the few dozen photos on display, and these days £2 isn't a great deal to pay for half an hour's enjoyment.
The Taylor Wessing exhibition runs to 17 February 2013. While you're there, why not have a look at the other photographic exhibitions currently showing, including Mario Testino's _Royal Portraits_.
Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize
National Portrait Gallery
St Martin's Place, WC2H 0HE
Thursdays and Fridays until 21:00