We are all influenced by the images we see right through our lives and as a photographer I have been highly influenced with my travel photography by one particular book, ‘London – city of any dream’ by German photographer Erwin Fieger.
When I was in my early 20s I came across this book in my local Winchmore Hill library in north London. It was so incredibly inspiring to me that I would hang on to it until I had to take it back or pay a fine, then immediately take out again – this went on for many months.
Now I can look back and realise that the images and prints in that book have dictated my style but over the last 50 years for which I am very grateful. The book is mostly Double Page Spreads, one image running over two pages so there is the inevitable thread holding it together, but it is much better than many books I see today.
Fieger used a Leica and mostly a 200 mm lens to take the images on Agfa colour negative film. I even bought a secondhand Leica IIIb with a 50 mm f1.5 lens, the wide aperture was a revelation, but I found the style hard at first.
When I had my 2014 exhibition in a gallery opposite the British Museum, I called it ‘Kyoto – city of dreams’ as homage to the great photographer that Erwin Fieger was. I found that he had died just a few months before this and I still regret I never got in touch with him so to thank him in person for being so inspirational. I produced a book of the images as well.
Over the years I became more confident in taking photos this way and the next book which will soon be published has many images in that impressionistic style I found so wonderful, ‘Geisha Dreams’.
Books can play a great part in forming any photographer’s ideas, not to slavishly copy but to trigger your own way using the style. Art by some of the great old masters can be truly inspirational as well, For instance, paintings by Caravaggio and Rembrandt can be analysed for composition and lighting, even more to feed the mind of any creative photographer. Their work can be seen online of course, but if you have a chance, go and see real paintings in a gallery, there is nothing that can match that.
All cameras are just a device with which to tell a story, and that story is yours, whatever you make of it. But I have always thought it necessary to go further than just telling a story in a conventional way, and by doing so allowing the viewer to add their own interpretation and so involve them. It has certainly worked for me over the years and can for you too.
To see some great images that are bound to inspire you in London for free, head down to City Hall on the South Bank to view the Travel Photographer Of The Year exhibition outside which is open 24 hours now until 30th April
(c) Jeremy Hoare – 2 April 2019
In 1912 the Handley Page Company moved from Barking in Essex and established an aircraft factory at Cricklewood in north London where aircraft were built and flown from the company’s adjacent air field.
After World War 1 the factory was mothballed until Stoll Picture Productions, run by the theatre impresario Sir Oswald Stoll, took over the disused aircraft factory and converted it to become the largest film studio in Britain.
From the studio plan it would seem to be two studios, a small one and a very long one which was built for an aircraft production line. But with silent film, several films could be made simultaneously in the long studio as sound was not a problem.
The photos in this blog are mostly from a collection my father passed on to me so I am assuming that they are from Stoll Picture Productions and were left somewhere in the Stoll Theatre in Kingsway which my father was manager of in the early 1950s.
After the last production in 1956, Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh in Shakespeare’s ‘Titus Andronicus, who then held a party for cast and crew at their Notley Abbey home, my father had the unhappy job of closing it down and getting it ready for demolition.
But he salvaged a door from the Grand Circle bar and got a chippie, from the Theatre Royal Drury Lane which he then managed, to install it as the front door to our home in Palmers Green, it is still there today.
The number of silent films that Stoll Pictures made was prodigious and in 1920 Sir Oswald Stoll bought the rights to produce films based on Sherlock Holmes tales from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
So from 1921 on, Stoll Pictures produced a series of silent black-and-white films based on Sherlock Holmes stories. Forty-five short films and two feature-length films were produced featuring Eille Norwood in the role of Holmes and Hubert Willis as Dr. Watson. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle himself praised Norwood’s performance in the film role of his creation.
In the 1930s, the studio had been slow to adopt sound after the first talkie in 1928, ‘The Jazz Singer’ starring Al Jolson.
It was mainly used by independent producers and short films, but later in the decade it was used by Butcher’s to make ‘Old Mother Riley’ and John Baxter made several films there from the mid ’30s.
Sir Oswald Stoll himself, a cold and formal Australian, was an enthusiastic supporter of the British film industry but never a creative producer in the American style which must have held the company back from what it could have achieved with someone more charismatic and dynamic.
In 1938, just prior to World War 2 and after 18 years of picture production, Stoll’s Cricklewood Studios were sold to the aviation company Hawker-Siddeley to manufacture aircraft again.
It ended trading in 1948 and the studio building remained intact until the 1960s when it was demolished. Today the site of what had been Britain’s largest film studio is now occupied by a Matalan store.
My feeling is that the ‘star’ system, so prevalent in Hollywood, was not pursued so much here owing to lack of charismatic people running the film business and Cricklewood was the epitome of this. It could have been much more.
If anyone can identify these actors in the photos I’d be very happy to know who they are!
The Mitsubishi Japanese Galleries at the British Museum reopened on 27 September. They are situated in what was described as a ‘loft conversion’, albeit a rather upmarket one, and they have been closed for nine months being refurbished. Both the floor and ceiling have been replaced with pine and cherry wood respectively and much attention was paid to the acoustics so as to lessen the resonance effect which works well.
The lighting has also been improved (apparently), although I didn’t think it was that good. Museums are a bit overcautious about light levels and the type of lights used as it is only part of the visible spectrum emitting from a light that can cause damage, and that can be filtered out. I suspect there are proper museum grade lamps that already do this.
Fortunately, the displays themselves are great and ranged from an exhibit by Miyajima Matsuo’s Time Waterfall, a cascade of numbers in LED lights, round through the centuries ending up with a traditional teahouse for the tea ceremony which is a permanent feature.
The display of Bunraku puppets I enjoyed, they are operated by three people. it made me wonder if Jim Henson used knowledge of this when he created Kermit and the other characters in ‘The ‘Muppet Show’, which I worked on, and performed in, 40 years ago at ATV Elstree. Just conjecture, but as some Muppets were operated by three people, I would be surprised if he hadn’t. Jim was a clever and dedicated man.
I was fortunate enough to meet a Living National Treasure, Murose Kazumi born in 1950, who is a master craftsman in lacquer.
His work on display is a large, round lacquer box showing a central chrysanthemum on the lid, the emblem of the Emperor in Japan. It took three years to make; two years for the core, and one year to make the decoration. He also restores antique artefacts together with his son who also works with his him in their Tokyo workshop.
He was interviewed by a young reporter and camerawoman working for a major TV company in Japan, TV Asahi. With my years as a television cameraman and lighting director, I was dismayed that there was no on-camera light to lift the harsh shadows; the pictures could not look good. With the low budgets that TV companies have, nothing much would be done in post-production. Many UK television companies can be similar, slapdash work being acceptable, a main reason I quit the business in 1992.
Anyone interested in Japanese culture and history should go and see this exhibition as it is a very good display of just some of the things within the British Museum collection.
All museums and galleries have a large percentage of their exhibits stashed away somewhere because they don’t have space to show everything. But the choice that is on display echoes Japan through the centuries very well indeed.
“Keep changing, Connect with everything, Continue forever” is in the Mitsubishi Japanese Galleries at the British Museum.
(c) All images and text – Jeremy Hoare
1 October 2018
Words by Karen Coe of TPOTY;
MEET THE TPOTY JUDGES – Part 5. Photographer & TV cameraman Jeremy Hoare has been a judge of Travel Photographer of the Year since the awards began in 2003. He recently hit the national newspapers in the UK with his latest book, which contains previously unseen photographs that he had taken in the 1970s of one of the world’s most legendary racehorses, Red Rum.
Coming from a showbiz family, and after a career as a television cameraman, Jeremy Hoare now shoots mainly stills so the merging of digital stills and HD video means he can combine them. One video, ‘Lost Love’, was screened at film festivals in six countries during 2015.
During his years in television, Jeremy worked with many stars of national and international repute. Recently he has been the main cameraman on video shoots of the classical ballets Sleeping Beauty, Peter Pan, Coppelia and Don Quixote in Kyoto, Japan.
With Japan having been the main focus for his photography for many years, he has a large collection of images so has created an online gallery kyotophotogallery.com
“What I look for in any image is a sense of involvement, I want to see and feel the story in a single frame. Studying paintings by artists such as Rembrandt, Caravaggio, Turner and Cezanne can help release creativity by learning about composition and lighting.”
MEET ALL THE TPOTY JUDGES HERE: https://www.tpoty.com/2018-competition/judging/judges/
I never had formal training in photography although I’ve certainly nothing against it, for many it is a great way to start. Instead I learnt the business of telling a story with a camera from many years being a UK network television cameraman, mostly in studios on entertainment and drama for international audiences.
That, and the willingness to make many experiments with all types of photography (a lot which were dreadful failures) taught me about translating what I visualised in my mind into a tangible image for others to see as my interpretation.
I still take pictures that I have no real idea if they will work or not, but I never let the opportunity to take them go past. Life is full of so many missed opportunities but with photography it is unnecessary for just the sake of a few frames which costs nothing, so I have no hesitation taking pictures at the extremes of the technology.
I’ll take pictures by streetlight which looks grainy at a high ISO but that can be an asset and add atmosphere to the right story.
One thing that usually makes for good pictures is to keep on shooting when amateurs put their cameras away thinking it’s too dark for proper photography, or if not corrected in the camera at the time will probably be awful. Phones can shoot in most light situations but they are limited in the way images can be processed, which might be okay for internet use but usually not prints, ones that I would want to exhibit anyway.
For any photographer light then can be very interesting and shooting in mixed lighting (daylight, tungsten, fluorescent) even more so. Always shoot, even when you seemingly have little hope of success, it might work.
I have been in Japan many times and invariably take numerous frames in mixed light handheld between 1/15 to 1 second on a 50mm f1.4 as it is the fastest lens I have. If I take several frames then one will be sharp, if that’s the story, but often it isn’t.
The most magical time of day to take photos is just after the sun has gone down and while there is still enough light in the sky to shoot by, the ‘twilight hour’. Actually, an hour is just a name because it doesn’t last that long, especially in the tropics when it seems to get dark within minutes of the sun setting.
An excellent way to learn about how to be good with a camera is to study and analyse not only the work of the acknowledged experts of photography but also to look at old master paintings in art galleries or inline for both composition and lighting.
If I had to name a speciality it would be taking portraits in the classic 1930s Hollywood style using tungsten lights, never flash.
I have taught photography and TV camera and lighting techniques in several countries besides the UK; Fiji, Brazil, Philippines and Australia.
When teaching television lighting techniques to students, I tell them that Caravaggio and Rembrandt would have been great television lighting directors, they were just a few hundred years ahead of their time. That also applies to still photography; you can learn a lot from old master paintings!
So whether you have had formal training or otherwise, just keep shooting and learning, you’ll never stop. A professional always has to come back with results; excuses are not acceptable and will inevitably lead to a short career.
Back in the early 1980s I did a silkscreen printing course at Camden arts Centre, then I went again as a visitor a few times in from the mid 90s up to several years ago and the place was much the same.
But a visit the other day had me confused because it was totally different as it has been extended at the back to form two lovely new galleries with a revamped café and a bookshop.
In the main gallery with its high vaulted ceiling there was work by Japanese artist Yuko Mohri, ‘Voluta’, whose audio-spatial composition reveals the interconnectedness of man-made and natural processes, apparently.
This is not really my thing, as clever and artistic as it may be, but what really got me was some fish in a little tank where the water was very green and really should have been changed.
In galleries 1 and 2 was an exhibition by Peter Fraser, ‘Mathematics’, a photographer whose work I’ve never seen. But photography I can’t recall seeing there on previous visits so it was quite a revelation to see some on the walls.
Reflecting on the idea that time, space, and everything within it, can be described mathematically; her brings together a series of photographs of seemingly disparate and unrelated objects and encounters – including still lifes, landscapes and portraiture.
Maybe, but many of them were not particularly good photography to me and I’m always baffled by any artist/photographer who can’t be bothered to title their work. However it redeemed itself for me by showing a few really lovely works, and I guess that’s as good as it would get for any artist; I know the feeling well, some you win some you don’t.
As it was a quiet time, a lovely Italian volunteer lady by the name of Sara made it a really nice visit to this gallery as she walked around with me and we just talked about it. I told her about the traditional composition rule of thirds which first she didn’t understand but as soon as I pointed it out on a couple of the pictures and where it was absent on others she then understood completely.
The visit was enhanced by the café, and as it was a glorious day, sitting outside in the interesting sloping garden with a cup of tea, it could have been anywhere but the roar of the traffic was always there.
This is somewhere I will visit again now that photography is on show; I shall see what else they put on as photography exhibitions always interest me being one myself. I can learn from anybody, and do, I know I’ll never stop learning.
All in all, some nice spacious galleries and a very good place to view interesting exhibitions and have a tea/coffee in a pleasant garden on the corner of Finchley Road and Arkwright Road.
Brixton is for me one of those places I’ve only been to a couple of times but through many more back in my teenage years on my way to Brighton riding my James Captain 200 cc motorbike.
At the southern end of the tube’s Victoria Line, the market is just around the corner from the exit and easy to find. As soon as I entered the covered alleyways and streets it comprises of I was taken back to other worlds. The aromas could have been from many South East Asian countries I’ve known but it was much more Afro Caribbean by virtue of the local people.
The market comprises around 80 street traders selling all manner of things and with a huge variety of fish, fruit and vegetables on stalls looking so fresh and inviting, not like the tired looking versions covered in shrink-wrapped plastic in supermarkets we have got so used to.
Being a very multi-cultural area, the cafes and bijou restaurants offer a wide range of catering for many tastes.
When you tire of the colours, aromas and sights of the market, head over to Bookmongers in Coldharbour Lane next to the Ritzy Cinema which has great posters of film stars adorning the wall, including one of Charlie Chaplin who was born not far from here in East Street in 1889.
Bookmongers is a wonderful second-hand bookshop is where you can spend some time to recover your calm after the sights, sounds and aromas of the market before heading back home.
Brixton Market is a good place to witness the sights and feel the spirit of London today in all its multi-racial ethnic diversity, something that makes it the best city in the world bar none.
Around the age of ten years old, my father got me interested in stamp collecting, something he had done for many years. I loved looking at the tiny bits of paper from all over the world as I stuck them into my album, trying to imagine what the countries were really like. Later on, this curiosity would lead me to travel to many countries to find out if they lived up to my boyhood expectations.
After collecting for a while I focussed on Great Britain only as we were the first country to use postage stamps thanks to Sir Roland Hill in 1840. The iconic Penny Black was printed on unperforated sheets so had to be cut into individual stamps at Post Offices with scissors. But it lasted less than a year as the red rubber stamp marks on top to signify it had been used were hard to see. So not long after, it was followed by the Penny Red then the Tuppenny Blue as their popularity grew and they used black to mark them which was easier to see. I am fortunate that I have copies of each of these, albeit not of good enough quality to be of any great value.
The Postal Museum has a nearly complete sheet of Penny Blacks amongst its treasures I found out on my recent visit there. This small and well laid out museum is tucked away near the main Mount Pleasant sorting office in London and well worth a visit, especially if you have kids as there are many interesting things to keep them interested and amused by presenting a history of post in a very visual and interactive way.
Some old post office Royal Mail vehicles are on display such as the telegram boy’s motorbike which was in its day a quick way of getting messages around. Sadly, during wartime these boys were nicknamed the ‘Angels of Death’ as they brought telegrams informing that sons or husbands were missing or killed in action.
In 1965 Arnold Machin, an artist you might not have heard of, was commissioned to create the plaster of The Queen’s head which was been used on stamps from 1967 so everyone knows his work without realising it.
The highlight of the museum is the underground railway, Mail Rail, which is narrow gauge and was driverless when operated from 1927 until 2003. Now, with visitors squeezed into tiny carriages and the perspex door closed, it rattles along the tunnels, stopping at key points where audio visual displays are shown which are very effective and well done.
You can rest assured, they now have a driver! But I did wonder that with the traffic congestion on London’s roads today being so heavy, if it might be a good idea if the railway reverted to its original use – but this is most unlikely to happen.
When you have done the museum and the train ride, a gift shop and cafe make a nice place to relax – all in all a good place to visit.
As for my travels because of stamps;
Japan – they engaged me enough to visit the country which I fell in love with and has been a main focus of my life for over 30 years, mainly because my partner comes from Kyoto.
Tonga – the magic of this South Pacific country was another place I had to visit and it exceeded all my expectations thanks to the warmth of the people and a great friend I made there, the American writer Pat Matheson in Vava’u.
So stamps did much more for me than just bringing and sending letters, they inspired me to go around the world, something I am very pleased to have done.
The Postal Museum is at 15-20 Phoenix Pl, London WC1X 0DA
A great day of showbiz at BFI on the South Bank for the Kaleidoscope 30 Years ‘Missing Believed Wiped’ event where I met many people, some from the past, some not.
– David Hamilton; we hadn’t met for about 60 years when we were both post boys at ATV Kingsway.
– Abagail Williams; the adopted daughter of Bob Monkhouse who was such a nice man to work with on Family Fortunes, Bonkers, Golden Shot, Celebrity Squares etc.
– Gail Renard; Bafta award-winning writer and a scriptwriter of ATV’s Pipkins, a show when we would let a camera assistant to actually operate a camera for the first time.
– John Henshall; the saviour of a videotape of Top of The Pops with David Bowie singing The Jean Genie, which the BBC had wiped to save money.
– Madeleine Smith; a Bond Girl in the 1973 Live and let Die with Roger Moore, such a lovely lady who knows all about London bus routes.
– Nigel Plaskitt; puppeteer of Hartley Hare on Pipkins, he became a Muppeteer and worked on Central Television’s Spitting Image.
Thanks to Chris Perry and Kaleidoscope for a great day!
At UCL – University College London – London’s leading multidisciplinary university, with 11000 staff and 35000 students, author, novelist and journalist Lesley Downer gave a brilliant and spirited talk, “When East and West Collided”, on the 150 Year Anniversary of Meiji Restoration to an attentive audience in spite of the sauna like heat in the room. She told the story as only a writer can of Japan having to accept a complete change of life after being a closed country for 200 years.
There were also some students from Kagoshima High School who several gave short speeches about the delights of Kagoshima for visitors. Having been there myself I know they are right. But what an experience for them, they will be telling their grandchildren about speaking in such an illustrious educational place in the Central London.
Lesley gave a very spirited talk which was well received in the Gustave Tuck Theatre at UCL, as would be expected as her mother was Chinese and her father a professor of Chinese so she grew up in a house full of books on Asia. But she ended up almost by accident in Japan, became fascinated by the country, its culture and its people.
She lived in Japan on and off for some 15 years and has written many books both non-fiction and more recently fiction about Japan, the most recent being ‘The Shogun’s Queen’ which has had wonderful reviews.