Three Things; Treasury – Only in England

Gallery visit - only in England

Laura visited the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool to see the ‘Only in England : Photographs by Tony Ray-Jones and Martin Parr‘ exhibition. As the exhibition does not allow photographs you will have to settle for some very shoddy quick sketches from Laura’s sketchbook and links to the images themselves – apologies!

Sketchbook drawing of Martin Parr image

This is a very quick sketch of Martin Parr’s ‘Crimsworth Dean Methodist Chapel 1977’. The bright light, dark shadows and foggy surroundings really draw you in to the photograph.

Sketchbook drawing of Tony Ray Jones image

This is Laura’s sketch of Tony Ray-Jones’ ‘Ballroom Morecambe 1968‘ again great contrasts between light and dark caught Laura’s eye.

The exhibition captures a slice of 1960s and 70s Britain which may be hugely nostalgic for some and perhaps entirely alien to younger audiences. Laura loved the scope of the work shown running the gamut of British society from Eton schoolboys to Bob Dylan fans heading to a concert on the Isle of Wight via Yorkshire May queens and ladies dozing in chapel. If you have the chance it is well worth a visit and is on until the 7th June.

But perhaps the most interesting part of the exhibition from Laura’s perspective were the excerpts from Tony Ray-Jones’ notebooks. The motivational and self critical jottings that would serve as a fine set of rules for any photographer capturing everyday life.

I have taken the liberty of reproducing a few lines here…

Approach

  • Be more aggressive
  • Get more involved
  • Stay with the subject matter (be patient)
  • Take simpler pictures
  • See if everything in background relates to subject matter
  • Vary compositions and angles more
  • Be more aware of composition
  • Don’t take boring pictures
  • Get in closer (use 50mm lens)
  • Watch camera shake (shoot 250 sec or above)
  • Don’t shoot too much
  • Not all eye level
  • No middle distance

 

I particularly like this little pep talk he has scribbled in a notebook of how to approach a potential subject. I think it gives all of us who are shy in approaching and taking the pictures of ‘strangers’ some hope.

“I am interested in the way you are living (very individual and interesting) and would like to have the opportunity of meeting you and talking with you. V. interested in your ideas and I believe that other people would be interested and would like to know about them
– Take to pub.”