Photography studio, gallery and training complex

Archive for October, 2011

“See It Our Way”: Hereford Comes To Birmingham

We can’t be accused of shying away from challenging subject matter for our exhibitions here at fotofilia. As part of the Hereford Photography Festival, our next exhibition, “See It Our Way” is a look at human trafficking from the point of view of those whose lives are touched by it.

Here’s some more about the exhibition, as well as PhotoVoice and The Photographic Angle, the organisations behind the exhibition…

“Trafficking is the term used to describe the trade in people – for whatever reason. It could be for manual labour, domestic work, prostitution,
begging rings or babies for childless couples. In all cases, someone is making money out of another human being; it is modern day slavery. The issue is widespread, and often simplified in the media so that activities that involve the exploitation and degradation of a human being are not perceived as trafficking, or even as a crime.

 In 2010, international charities PhotoVoice and World Vision joined forces to run photography workshops with young people from communities affected by human trafficking and child slavery across Middle East and Eastern Europe. The countries involved were Albania, Armenia, Lebanon, Romania and Pakistan. The risks and realities of human trafficking are different in each country, and between them they represent source, transit and destination countries used by traffickers.

The young people participating in the project used their new photography skills to explore the risks and impact of human trafficking on them
and their communities. In some cases this process caused them to reconsider what can count as exploitation. The work is being used locally and
internationally to raise awareness and myth-bust about the reality of human trafficking, and to shed light on what can be done to stop people becoming victims to exploitation. 

This exhibition has been generously curated and produced by The Photographic Angle as part of the Voices exhibition that is touring Britain throughout September – December 2011.

The Photographic Angle holds free exhibitions that travel across the UK transforming vacant spaces into temporary galleries. The exhibitions showcase the contemporary work from students, graduates and enthusiasts of the art of photography giving the public the chance to see the current practices from this dynamic field.

PhotoVoice is an international charity that designs and runs participatory photography projects with marginalised and vulnerable communities in order to give them a means to speak out, be heard and become active agents for social change.”

“See It Our Way” runs at fotofilia from 31st October until 23rd November. The launch is at 5-7pm on Monday 31st October with a short presentation by Matt Daw of PhotoVoice and Antony Riley of The Photographic Angle at 5:30pm. All are welcome.


The Nettie Effect

With kind permission of Nettie Edwards

If you read my previous post about Dan Burkholder’s iPhone photography, which marked the moment when a big old shiny penny dropped somewhere in my psyche and I felt compelled to rush out to pick up an iPhone, then you mightn’t be surprised that this is an aspect of the new photographic technology that has (rather belatedly, perhaps) really seized my imagination.

I was especially fortunate then, to be told (by Nick Shale at mac) about a remarkable lady by the name of Nettie Edwards, the self-confessed “Artist, Designer, iPhoneographer and iPhone collagist; Genealogist, Vegetable Gardener, slug-slayer, digital-Scrapsmith“. Nick gave me Nettie’s card and I looked at her blog ( and was, I admit, utterly blown away.

With kind permission of Nettie Edwards

Nettie insists she is no photographer in the pure sense, but more an artist that uses photography – or more precisely, “iPhoneography” (a term that Nettie herself introduced into my vocabulary) – as a resource which can be drawn upon to create the fantastical visual images through which she attempts to communicate deeper, more personal, feelings and experiences.

With kind permission of Nettie Edwards

I invited Nettie to speak to THE CLUB at fotofilia, which she did, and inspired something of a rash of iPhone-captured work popping up on my facebook, Twitter and flickr feeds. She will shortly be coming to speak to f2, our other club, as well (I simply couldn’t deny them this), and…

Nettie Edwards will be our special guest tutor for the “iPhoneography Masterclass With Nettie Edwards” on Saturday 7th January 2012 here at fotofilia. If you’re on our mailing list, you’ll be getting details of this workshop soon, but if not, drop me a line and I’ll give you the details. Not surprisingly you will need an iPhone, and will be asked to download the apps she recommends before the class.

With kind permission of Nettie Edwards

With kind permission of Nettie Edwards

The f2 Crap Camera Challenge: Life And Soul Of The City

One of my favourite events in THE CLUB and f2’s calendar is the annual “Crap Camera Challenge”. Members are given a disposable film camera – the cheapest and nastiest one I can find. If they’re really lucky it will have a built-in flash. Such luxury. I’m too good to them, I really am. They have a month to use up their 24-27 frames on a given theme. For f2 this year’s theme was “Life and Soul of the City”. Then I develop and scan the films so that they can do any post-production they see fit.

This competition never fails to surprise me. The sheer diversity of interpretations is always amazing to me. But anyway, here are the winners and runners…

THE WINNER by Donna McMahon

This image by Donna McMahon also won the Judge’s Prize, presented by Christophe Dillinger. And the second prize went to Ros Powell.

2nd PLACE: Ros Powell

And 3rd place went to Jim Smith

3rd PRIZE: Jim Smith

The next runner-up was by Ankush Jain. You’ll notice we didn’t stipulate which city…

4th PLACE: Ankush Jain

There was a 3-way tie for 5th place so we’ll leave it there for now although I will put together a slideshow of all the images for a later post.

Thanks to everyone who took part in the competition and also to Simon Smith, fotofilia’s intern from the University of Wolverhampton who had the laborious task of scanning 30-odd films. 


Iconic Images… In Lego

Courtesy of Mike Stimpson

A year or so ago, someone sent me a pastiche of one of Henri Cartier-Bresson‘s most well-known images… in Lego, which I was thought was excellent. Since then, I’ve seen more Lego reconstructions, but it was only when Simon Parry sent me the link to Mike Stimpson‘s website this week that I was able to piece together more information about this highly unusual, but also highly amusing series.

Courtesy of Mike Stimpson (with a little inspiration from Robert Capa)

He has covered many of the most easily recognised images from the history of photography by artists as diverse as Capa and Warhol, as well as iconic images such as the Tiannamen Square protester, the butt-scratching “tennis girl”, the supposed “Bigfoot” emerging from the treeline, the moon landing etc.

Courtesy of Mike Stimpson

Stimpson has even produced a series of Star Wars-inspired images.

Courtesy of Mike Stimpson

Find out/see more at and

PS. I did ask for permission to reproduce these images but I didn’t get a response – so I’m posting them anyway.


Forgive me for using this little forum for something slightly (but just slightly) off-topic for a moment, but longtime Fotofilia associate Lisa Lester has asked me to mention something rather special that’s happening this very Saturday in Birmingham.

Ever since the owners of Pleasure Ladies Nights, John and Lisa Woodward, lost their two-year old son, they have organised a charity night each year as a way of saying thank you to the unit at Birmingham Childrens Hospital that treated him at the end of his tragically short life.

That event takes place on Saturday 15th October, from 7pm, at Oceana, Hurst Street, Birmingham. As one might expect, it’s a Ladies Night featuring the UK Pleasure Boys, as well as Black Stallion, Storm, Stallion and Fabio. Hosting the evening are Miss Penny and Marty (the girl that likes to party) Smith. Theres a raffle with some great prizes and the chance to have your pic taken with the UK Pleasure Boys and the drag queens.

You’ll excuse me if I’m not there in person, I’m sure.

In addition, Lisa is inviting photographers interested in gaining experience in club/event photography to come and work alongside her at this (and/or possibly future events) in return for a contribution to the charity. Contact Lisa direct at So what are you waiting for..?

C.A.M.O.S. – Join The Struggle!

We have taken enough. It’s time to rise and be heard. I stand before you, your representative of C.A.M.O.S, asking for your support in this, our time of greatest need.

The Campaign Against Misuse Of Sepia needs you!

For too long now, we have stood idly by while this ancient and venerable photographic trait has been misappropriated by Photoshopaholic feckwits, and visual illiterates of all types.

Now I should state here and now that yes, I have used sepia, and yes, not just for my own personal consumption. But in my defence, I have never encouraged others to use it. In fact, I have been known to actually dissuade others, such as those students, lured by it’s “cool” portrayal in certain areas of the media, who find themselves considering dabbling in sepia. Just say “No!” I tell them.

Yuk! What's wrong with black and white here?

There is nothing wrong with sepia per se. Some of my best friends have been known to use it with little or no long term damage. But it really should be treated with caution. Sadly, it can become addictive, with users feeling the urge to indulge this addiction with ever increasing frequency, in some cases entirely inappropriately.


Sepia envokes a psychological reaction in the viewer that is (increasingly) often entirely add at odds with the subject matter. Sepia has its origins in historical printing and archival techniques but has been successfully and effectively used for photographic enhancement ever since. To most, it embodies age, history, memory, warmth etc but must we be subjected to its use for all sorts of unsuitable subjects?

Aah, those hazy lazy days of the f15 fighter jet...

You will have gathered by now that this is something of a “pet hate” of mine. I like sepia – but when used with due consideration to context.

So, summing up: just because you might be offered sepia, doesn’t mean you have to use it. Stand beside me and fight this brown stain on the underwear of photography. Thank you.

Images From Broken Souls

We’ve waved a cheery farewell to Square Magazine’s wonder-rich “Square in Birmingham” exhibition and now, as I type, the next show is being screwed, pinned and otherwise secured to our gallery walls.

Images from Broken Souls” is a combination of film stills and “behind the scenes” shots by University of Wolverhampton photography student Nigal Goodship. Nigal was asked to photographically record the production of a film by the Umbrella Production Company. This he did. And the resulting images are packed with intensity, action, and in some cases, violence – but also real tenderness and pathos. A real roller-coaster of an exhibition, as one might expect, given that the themes of the film involve, among other things, gang and domestic violence.

Here’s how Nigal himself describes his involvement in the project: “The producers of the Umbrella production company came to me, looking for both a stills photographer and location shoot documentary photographer to shoot while the group worked on the Broken Souls project, so I
took them up on the offer.

The job covered indoor fight rehearsals, outside and night, work on location in and around Birmingham, over a few weeks of filming. The job was quite sporadic due to work commitments of the cast and crew as it was done on no budget, so we rolled when people were available to start, making each day a new challenge and a new opportunity to try something new.

Day by day the body of images grew, all taken on my trusty Sony A700. When the filming finished (due to finances) I found that I had over
two thousand pictures of everything from pieces of equipment and used coffee cups to hard hitting domestic violence and gang fights.

A lot of the work was done for me due to the intensity of the actors; the violence was also very real as the victims were padded up (by
the stunt sequence actor) then beaten for real. This made for some powerful images, these are not faked and people did get hurt but only by accident.”

The public opening of “Images from Broken Souls” is on Thursday 6th October, 7-9pm. The exhibition then continues until 28th October.

Gallery hours: Tuesday – Saturday 10:30-3:30.