Silver & Light


This is my last post for 2012, the year in which this site was born.

Thank you for your company, enthusiasm and support over the last few months…see you in 2013.

I’ll leave you with a short film showing the extraordinary working methods of Ian Ruhter.

“There is a point in every person’s life when they must choose to follow their dreams or be stuck in the life they fear.” — Ian Ruhter

My thanks to Ian Aitken for bringing Ruhter’s work to my attention.

Signing, Numbering and Embossing Real Books!

As well as the creation of this site, one of the great things to come out of 2012 for me is the self-publication of my first book.

The whole process has proved to be wonderful soul-food.

So much of our photographic experience is web-based these days, the pleasure of handling prints and books can easily be forgotten.

This morning I’m relishing signing, numbering and embossing the actual books that people have kindly ordered from me.

Then, I will physically send them through the postal system to arrive as a little parcel of joy at the other end…

Spillers' Downfall: The Demolition of Spillers Mill by Jack Lowe (Printed Hardback Version), Newcastle upon Tyne

For more information on how to order your copy, please click here.

The World in 2012 According to Jon Levy


Sheesh! I’ve nearly managed to finish a blog post on the sea.

However, the bread and butter of life, along with the plethora of great material that crops up on the web, has delayed things a little.

In the meantime, I feel compelled to share Jon Levy’s thoughts on photography.  It’s not often that I reblog, in fact this might even be the first time.

Jon Levy is the founder of Foto8.  His opinions aren’t everybody’s cup of tea but he does put across clear, strong, honest views that are worth listening to.

To my mind — and as one commenter wrote — photographers of all types, including (perhaps especially) students of photography should watch this video, read the nineteen top tips, print them out, frame them and re-read them every day.

The video might seem long but it’s invaluable — I made the time to listen to it in full this evening while I tidied the kitchen…

Anyway, please feel free to leave a comment or two and share your thoughts…

“You just need a notepad, a camera and an inquisitive mind… listen on and hopefully you will be equally reassured of a few things that will empower you and blow the boring, self indulged, narcissistic fauxtojournalist documentary squatters off the face of this earth for good.” — Jon Levy

Here is my 2012 list of 10 19 things they didn’t want you to know about photography but are actually true*.

[everything needs editing, that includes me]

1. There is such thing as truth and yes you can pursue, find it, photograph it and report it.

2. Photojournalism is not dead, it has just been so utterly and completely bored stiff by the crap that “documentary artists” have been spouting that its been hibernating, waiting for them and their photo-fair ilk to go back to Monaco.

3. You cannot learn photography at university, you cannot use a degree to report, record or tell someone’s story. The photographers who need an MA are the ones who want to teach other photographers to get THEIR MAs . That’s not photography.

4. You can learn photography for FREE every single day of your life by taking pictures and looking at lots of them around you. If you insist on going to university make sure you have a brilliant time, make lots of friends and pay no attention to what the lecturer says about this exciting advent of new media, they are too old to understand it anyway.

5. There is no such thing as New Media, Multi Media or Transmedia. There is only photography and words. If you choose to make your photos move like a movie or your words audible like audio then great, just don’t tell people you’ve invented a new genre or hybrid hoping they will think your project is interesting.

6. If a publisher doesn’t want to publish your book then perhaps don’t publish it. If they want to charge you for the pleasure then make sure your granny has an inheritance for you first. (Its not worth it.) Self publishing is the photo book equivalent to those guys who are building the first citizen space rocket to the moon. You will have lots of lovely days costing lots of money but getting to the moon is not going to happen.

7. By all means do make a book dummy. If your photographs are ever going to be in a book then its great to know what kind of book you may want and test who you think it’s for. But remember books are not why you take photographs in the first or last place. If that is not the case for you then I suggest you write a novel instead. Yes, that’s bloody hard isn’t it? What made you think slapping some pictures on a page and calling it a book made it good?

8. Never tell anyone that your photographs should speak for themselves. They don’t! It’s a piece of paper with ink on it! It doesn’t speak. Photographs are how you can see emotions or render action or show what things are really like. Pictures without words are like a car with no steering wheel (and no, I don’t mean 3000 word soliloquies on the meaning of life and the language of photography or miniscule thumbnails at the back of the book hidden in shame at the back).

9. There are enough stories in the world already, for this generation at least, about transvestites and for that matter one legged footballers from Sierra Leone. There are not however enough stories about that person sleeping outside in -10degress or walking 20 miles to a foodbank in your town.

10. If you can put “around the world” after your story title (like transvestites around the world, poverty around the world, great images from around the world) then your story is a failure. The only people who have been “around the world” are astronauts and you are not one of them. Besides if your story is no good in England to the people here it won’t be better if you add 10 more places where the same thing happens and hope I end up liking at least one of them.

11. Magazines and newspapers do send people on assignment. There are lots of grumpy photographers, mostly hanging around art galleries groaning about how things have changed, who also feel they should be getting paid to gallivant from story to story. If they aren’t getting paid it’s because someone else is either better or more suited. Maybe they should make a self published book or take up university teaching instead?

12. No one makes a living selling prints in galleries. We all know that “1 in 20” or 1 in anything of a photo edition is a complete fabrication. The collectors know it too but their wallets are oversized and shopping for photographs suits them. If a 17th century painting of London by a good artists fetches £600 at auction you must be either joking or cheating if you price your digitally reproduced photograph at £2000 just because you scrawled your name on the back.

13. All photographers will gladly make an extra print for their friends or for the collector who comes along with the biggest wallet. Even after “the edition” has “sold out”.

14. If you shoot pictures exclusively for galleries and have decided you are “so over” working for magazines or newspapers then good luck. But do not ever expect to put documentary or photojournalism on your work as a validation of why its made if you are that selective about who is able to view it.

15. If you mention the phrase “compassion fatigue” you have already cast a spell on yourself stronger than the one that kept Sleeping Beauty snoring for 100 years. If this is your mantra for how you feel about things then I suggest you either change your name to Hilton or Kardashian or just come out of the closet and declare that suffering is an artistic philosophical concept and caring is something you only do whilst sipping your Cosmopolitan and wondering whether the global economic crash will make cashmere more or less expensive.

16. Photographers are not terrorists. Nor are writers and nor are radio or tv reporters. If they are working for Al Jazeera or Al Aqsa or the BBC or ABC the chances are they at least don’t instagram images of themselves in war zones because they think its cool. Leave that to the guy from CNN but none the less do not suspect you are better than them or visa versa. If a drama TV series like Homeland decides that a TV van is a good story cover for a bomb ignore them but do not ever let them make you that you should not be there doing your job of reporting.

17. You cannot tell stories if you are generally a content and laid back individual who is happy at the status quo. George Osborne is not a good chancellor and Barak Obama can aways do better. If you don’t believe these things then I suggest you go into accounting instead.

18. EARNING A LIVING is not a god-given right in photography. You are not owed a living wage for taking pictures. It’s a hard graft and not everyone makes it. You are however entitled in this day and age to get a job doing something else and STILL take pictures about what matters to you. You can still publish and tell your stories, maybe even more effectively.

19. People, mainly me, spend far too much time worrying about what institutions like Magnum or The Photographers’ gallery are or aren’t doing, if they are doing it well or properly or whether Paris Photo is good this year or bad and how as photographers they can manoeuvre their careers towards these clubs where the gatekeepers of good photography supposedly reside. The truth is there is a universe of diversity and talent out there, a myriad of different organisations and individuals making amazing work, reaching audiences in unbelievably effective ways, so go do it too and make your own rules.

*Thanks for a brilliant 2012 and may all your photographic dreams come true in 2013.

Sunday Touchline

A short tangent on a Sunday…

It may feel like a bit of a drag getting out of bed on a Sunday morning sometimes, especially knowing that I’ll be spending the first hour or two of the day standing on a cold touchline (albeit in support of one of my children).

However, as an added incentive, it’s worth me remembering that some of the football clubs are in pretty good locations.

I had a feeling that I should carry a camera with me today as we made the 40 mile journey north to Longhoughton — a small village in the wilds of Northumberland where the football ground nestles beside the East Coast Mainline…

East Coast Mainline Train Passing Longhoughton

An express train charges south towards Newcastle…

Longhoughton Winter Sun

Skinny winter sunshine over neighbouring farmland.

For those who like to know, these were shot on my much-loved Lumix LX3.

I inadvertently had the crop ratio set to 16:9, something I’m not used to but actually rather like on seeing these — very filmic, don’t you think?

Oh, my son’s team lost 4-0 by the way…

Spillers’ Downfall for iPad

My new book, Spillers’ Downfall, is now available in iBooks for iPad format (of course, it looks great on the iPod Touch and iPhone too).

It’s a beautifully elegant visual experience, especially when viewed on Apple’s new Retina displays, including the new iPad Mini.

People are already giving me glowing feedback — the images are “like jewels” I’m told!

Click here (or on any of the images below) to download your copy for just £3.99…

Spillers' Downfall: The Demolition of Spillers Mill by Jack Lowe (eBook Version)

Spillers' Downfall: The Demolition of Spillers Mill by Jack Lowe (eBook Version) Spillers' Downfall: The Demolition of Spillers Mill by Jack Lowe (eBook Version)Spillers' Downfall: The Demolition of Spillers Mill by Jack Lowe (eBook Version)

The Printed Hardback

Of course, there’s the beautiful printed hardback version too!

Until 13th December you can receive a full £7 discount from the list price by using the offer code SAVE7 at checkout.

Click here to order your copy but please do so by 12th December to guarantee delivery by Christmas…

Spillers' Downfall: The Demolition of Spillers Mill by Jack Lowe (Printed Hardback Version)

Spillers' Downfall: The Demolition of Spillers Mill by Jack Lowe (Printed Hardback Version)