Bluecoat Press: Elswick Kids, Kickstarter Campaign for Latest Book of Photographs by the Great British Documentary Photographer Tish Murtha

Tish Murtha, one of Magnum photojournalist David Hurn’s first students at the famous School of Documentary Photography in Newport, Wales, in the 1970s, was one of the finest documentary photographers of her generation but, in the all-too-usual manner, was ignored by the photography establishment until recently thanks to the tireless efforts of her daughter Ella Murtha, The Photographers’ Gallery, Bluecoat Press, Café Royal Books and others. 

Commentary

The course at The School of Documentary Photography was unique in Britain at the time and produced many fine photographers, a couple of whom later moved to Australia.

Others went on to fame and fortune, while Tish Murtha seemed to have disappeared into the background after initial early successes and commissions, dying prematurely in 2013.

Given the way female photographers have tended to be ignored and forgotten, it is wonderful to see that Tish Murtha is finally receiving the recognition that she deserved so much in her lifetime.

Photograph from “Elswick Kids’ by the late, great British documentary photographer Tish Murtha.

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The Guardian: Tracking Edith review – gripping film about Soviet spy and photographer

https://www.theguardian.com/film/2018/jul/27/tracking-edith-review-documentary-engima-camera

“The sinew and texture of history are to be found in this grippingly detailed documentary by Peter Stephan Jungk, based on his 2015 book The Darkrooms of Edith Tudor-Hart. She was Jungk’s aunt: an Austrian-born documentary photographer and socialist, domiciled in Britain during and after the second world war, whose work brilliantly recorded the lives of the urban working classes in Vienna, London and the Rhondda valley….”

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“Her brilliance as a photographer perhaps involved a spy-like skill in ingratiating herself into a certain situation and unobtrusively recording it. The photographer as double-agent? Perhaps photographers like Tudor-Hart have to cultivate a spy-like tradecraft. Critic Duncan Forbes notes that this was partly about using a Rolleiflex camera that had to be held at waist height, away from the face.” Rolleiflex 4.0 FT twin lens reflex telephoto portrait camera, special edition. Photograph courtesy of Franke & Heidecke.

Commentary

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Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8 camera with tilting electronic viewfinder and Panasonic Lumix G 12-32mm f/3.5-5.6 Power OIS zoom lens with JJC lens hood. HDR brackets processed with Skylum Aurora HDR.

This documentary on the life and work of Edith Tudor-Hart is currently doing the rounds of cinemas and film festivals, and I hope that it will eventually become available for viewing or purchasing online.

Far too many historically important female photographers and especially female documentary photographers have been forgotten about and left out of the historical record, gallery shows and museums, and time is well overdue for Edith Tudor-Hart and so many others of her ilk to be recognized, racy political background or not.

Comments in the media about Edith Tudor-Hart’s reliance on a Rolleiflex Twin Lens Reflex aka TLR camera are interesting.

I used several Rolleiflex TLR cameras during the analog era and would have loved to have been able to buy one each of the most recent standard lens, telephoto and wide-angle lens versions of the camera, but Rolleiflexes were always hard to find and costly new or secondhand.

Their waist-level viewfinders and other viewing options made it possible to melt into the crowd when photographing in public or next-to-invisible when making portrait photographs in public or in the studio, aided by their relatively quiet leaf shutters.

There was no mirror slap as their twin lens reflex design meant they had a lower lens for making the photograph and the upper lens for viewing, with the viewing compartment mirror fixed.

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Viewfinder and filter options for Rolleiflex Twin Lens Reflex aka TLR cameras. It is a pity that few of these sort of viewing options have been produced for digital camera users.

Rolleflex and other brand TLRs such as those made by Mamiya and Yashica continue to be popular amongst certain documentary photographers who are blessed with access to good secondhand camera suppliers, but there are digital alternatives such as Fujifilm’s medium format GFX 50S with optional tilting EVF adapter and more affordably Panasonic’s Lumix DMC-GX8 and DC-GX9 Micro Four Thirds camera, both of which have built-in tilting EVFs.

It is also possible to make waist-level-style photographs with cameras having tilting LCD monitors, though I much prefer fully-articulated LCD monitors for the purpose and some Panasonic cameras have these too, on cameras including the DSLR-style Lumix DMC-GH4, GH5, GH5S and G9.

Given the choice between tilting EVFs, tilting LCDs and fully articulated LCDs, my preference by far is for cameras combining tilting EVFs with fully-articulated LCDs as they present the most versatile viewing options and thus the most ways of seeing and shooting stills and video.

Waist-level and tilting viewfinder cameras and users

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The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8’s large OLED live viewfinder features a unique tilting design to benefit working from low angles and also has an impressive 2.36m-dot resolution, 0.77x magnification, and 10,000:1 contrast ratio.

Clicking on these affiliate links and purchasing through them helps us continue our work for ‘Untitled: Stories of Creativity, Innovation, Success’.

  • Fujifilm GFX 50S Medium Format Mirrorless CameraB&H – soon to be joined by the release of its larger GFX 100S and smaller GFX 50R siblings.
  • Fujifilm EVF-TL1 EVF Tilt AdapterB&H – with the addition of this tilt adapter the Fujifilm GFX 50S in effect becomes a waist-level viewfinder camera.
  • Fujifilm VG-GFX1 Vertical Battery GripB&H – adding this battery grip helps turn the Fujifilm GFX 50S into a viable vertical/portrait format camera for handheld or tripod use for portraiture and documentary photography.
  • Fujifilm 64GB Elite II Performance UHS-II SDXC Memory CardB&H – until this fast SDXC card appeared at B&H, I was unaware that Fujifilm also makes memory cards. Worth buying and trying.
  • Panasonic Lumix DC-G9 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital CameraB&H
  • Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital CameraB&H
  • Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5S Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital CameraB&H
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital CameraB&H
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital Camera (Body Only, Black)B&H
  • Panasonic Lumix DC-GX9 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital Camera with 12-60mm LensB&H
  • Panasonic DMW-EC5 EyecupB&H – essential for getting the best out of the GX9’s small field sequential viewfinder.
  • Panasonic Hand Grip for Lumix DC-GX9 Mirrorless CameraB&H – essential for safe, secure grip of the GX9 when using medium-sized to large lenses.

Fujifilm Global: FUJIFILM x Magnum Photos Collaborative Project “HOME”

http://www.fujifilm.com/news/n170907_09.html

“Fujifilm Corporation is collaborating with Magnum Photos on a major new project exploring the subject of “HOME”. An exhibition of the work will tour to seven cities around the world starting in March 2018, and be accompanied by a photobook.

15 Magnum Photographers will explore the theme of “HOME” for the project. Known for their wide range of approaches, Magnum Photos members produce documentary photography that encompasses art and photojournalism. Sharing the agency’s legacy for humanistic photography, associated with its founding in 1947, Magnum’s contemporary practitioners are united by a curiosity about the world. This project invites them to explore a universal subject familiar to us all.

“Home” is not only defined as a space for physical living. It holds various other associations that are emotional, biological, cultural and societal. These 15 photographers have been given an open brief to explore the subject through their own individual practices, the resulting work reflecting their personal take on a subject that we all record photographically….”

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The New York Times: A Marriage of Lives and Photos (Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris Webb)

https://lens.blogs.nytimes.com/2017/08/29/a-marriage-of-lives-and-photos/

“The photographers Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris Webb have produced a book, “Slant Rhymes,” that pairs images by each of them in diptychs. In an email exchange with James Estrin, they discussed the book, photography and their relationship….”

Australian Photojournalist Michael Coyne Explores Borneo with Fujifilm X-Pro2 and Fujinon XF 23mm f/2.0 R WR

Dr Michael Coyne is a legendary Australian photojournalist and documentary photographer whose client list includes some of the most prestigious magazine, corporate and institutional clients. He is heavily involved in outreach and education, being Adjunct Professor of Photography at Melbourne’s RMIT University and Honorary Lecturer at Hong Kong University as well as a respected public speaker. 

A longtime Fujifilm camera user and Fujifilm Ambassador, Dr Coyne was chosen to test the Fujifilm GFX 50S in Tokyo in January between working on assignments and personal projects such as the one about contemporary village life depicted in this video.

FUJIFILMglobalMichael Coyne with XF23mmF2 R WR / FUJIFILM

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‘Do Not Bend: The Photographic Life of Bill Jay’ Documentary Now in Production

Do Not Bend: The Photographic Life of Bill Jay, a documentary movie about the life, photography and photography magazine work of the late Bill Jay, one of the most influential figures in the history and development of photography in the UK and who had an important effect on my own work, is currently in production. 

My attention was drawn to this documentary via a photograph of Magnum photographer Martin Parr holding a copy of A Day Off,  An English Journal by Tony Ray-Jones, one of the quintessential photography books. I bought my own copy years ago at an excess stock sell-off by the State Library Board of Western Australia. Their loss, my gain.

Mr Ray-Jones famously informed Bill Jay that his magazine was shit, when the latter was editor of Creative Camera magazine.

The list of photographers and others contributing to the production is impressive and includes a number of people whose own work has been important to me, and one with whom I worked some years ago, Bill Gaskins.

I look forward to seeing Do Not Bend when it is released.

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Image Credits:

Header image is a spread from A Day Off, An English Journal by Tony Ray-Jones.

The Great Documentary Photographer Tish Murtha Needs to Be Recognized, Exhibited and Published

This morning a mention on social media reminded me of the late, great but undervalued, almost forgotten, documentary photographer Tish Murtha.

Tish Murtha’s daughter Ella Murtha has inherited her mother’s estate and is now working on ensuring the legacy of one of the great British documentary photographers is not forgotten but is commemorated with exhibitions and the publication of her core body of work, Youth Unemployment.

Tish Murtha studied at the School of Documentary Photography in Newport, Wales, that was founded by Magnum photographer David Hurn. The School is now part of the University of South Wales.

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About: What is a Photo Essay?

This project, Untitled: Stories of Creativity, Innovation, Success, is intended to tell those stories via photo essays and short documentary movies.

While in the pre-production phase, though, I discovered that many potential story subjects are unfamiliar with the photo essay or photo story concept. I didn’t find much about photo essays online, or at least in one place, so have compiled my own About page defining the photo essay form of photography, with plenty of useful links.