Category Archives: Photography

The Best-Ever Publishing Festival Line Up

PPA-festival-line-upI’m producer of the two big content streams at this year’s PPA festival, where along with CEO Barry McIlheney and his team we’ve put together the most fantastic line-up. Four stages, 60 speakers, CEO’s, MD’s Facebook, Google and…Mushpit!

The festival is Thursday May 12th, there’s still a few tickets left, buy them here.

You lookin’ at me?

ed-walker-tube-girlTaking pictures of strangers in public places without their permission requires some nerve. Photographer Ed Walker clearly has plenty of that, as he’s taken loads of pictures in this very way.

There’s an extraordinary quality to his images. Because the sitter is given no notice that they are to be photographed, the look Ed gets is unlike any with-permission portrait.  But nor are they reportage, as the eye contact creates a sensation far stronger than just a documentary image.

ed-walker-tube-manWithout model releases of course, the commercial potential for this approach is zero. This is Art, with a capital A.

Which is why I was so pleased to be able to use some of Eds’ pictures to illustrate a presentation I’m giving next week; What’s Next For Banks. The images have the same feeling, but as all the subjects are looking at their phones, none are recognisable. See more

How the launch of Hearst’s Town & Country will help give Putin some manners

Quuen-putinIn her editors’ letter, Justine Picardie claims that the time is right for launch of Town & Country on account of  ‘a tidal wave of global wealth that is pouring into London’. She acknowledges the enduring appeal of traditional Britain, but make no mistake, it’s the international rich that advertisers want here, as opposed to a bunch of Downton fans.

Town & Country has been published in America since 1846, where, without a royal family, money really is the true indicator of social status. The big idea behind the UK edition is that this is increasingly the norm over here. If you can afford to buy your way into the highest echelons of English society, Town & Country will show you how to walk the walk.

Extreme wealth has never been a guarantee of social acceptability. The great English essayist G.K. Chesterton once said: “The rich…are egotistic, secretive, dry as old bones. To be smart enough to get all that money you must be dull enough to want it”

Whether this describes Vladimir Putin is neither here nor there, but we do need to know if Town & Country will succeed in its business of turning new money into old school charm. See more

Miley Cyrus gets naked for Rolling Stone. But look who’s taken the picture…

Here’s the annual Rolling Stone Hot List issue, which with almost perfect timing, gives us Miley Cyrus, naked in a swimming pool. Given that these special issues are planned well in advance, this suggests that the Rolling Stone editors really can see into the future, or else the whole twerking farago has been part of a much bigger, carefully thought out media campaign.

But conspiracy theories aside, this is one cracking cover. The type is old school, but well handled, the red logo pops off the green trees, and the blue of the pool recedes perfectly, allowing the young ‘star’ to project on the newsstand.

How much of this is due to the skill of Creative Director Jodi Peckman is not clear, but what is a matter of fact is that the cover photographer is Theo Wenner, the 26-year-old son of Jann Wenner, owner, publisher and Editor-In-Chief of Rolling Stone.

And it’s by no means his first cover. This story from three years back details the shoots he’s done, an appreciation from Jodi: “Theo gives us a fresh, new perspective”, and the news that he’s also worked for Vanity Fair.

This may well look to the world like nepotism, but if you’re Jann’s son and you really want to be a photographer, you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. So fair play to the bloke, this is a fantastic cover picture and he deserves the credit for it.

In other news, earlier this year Jann appointed his youngest son Gus to run rollingstone.com. 22 year old Gus will be taking the report of ‘about 15 to 20 people’.

Six reasons why the new Harper’s Bazaar is so cool

This recent issue of Harper’s Bazaar came my way as part of a motorway service station ‘value pack’; six quid for this, along with Elle and Elle Deco.

On one hand, this commodification of premium content is clear evidence of the publishing industry’s difficulties, on the other, I got to sample magazines that I might never have otherwise bought. Let’s call it even.

Harper’s has been pretty good for a while, Creative Director Tom Usher having done a fine job before moving onto Marie Claire. But I was mightily impressed by this, one of the first from new Creative Director Marissa Bourke. Here are six things I loved about it…

1. The cover picture. First class eye contact, an amazing image to re-inroduce Kate Winslet as the new Mrs Rock n’ Roll. Amy Winehouse eyes? Check. Slimming backlight? Check. Black turtle neck top? Check. Heavy wrist jewelry? Check. That’s pretty much the Harper’s reader, or at least the readers’ fantasy version of themselves.

2. The discipline in the editing. Everything in this issue points to family. Every story seems to talk about the most important relationships in our lives. It’s truly moving stuff.

3. The incredible poise in the layout. Single pages are the true heartbeat of glossy magazines, as this is the content that sits opposite the advertising, which is why these brands exist in the first place. It’s easy to chuck a beautiful picture across a spread, but another thing entirely to combine a whole series of disparate elements and create a new piece of art. This Editor’s letter is no exception. For more on multi-element pages, take a look at an earlier post here.

4. This picture of a typical Harper’s family scene. Except, in this instance, the models are Keith Richard’s grandchildren, four year old Ida, and Ella, 17. Their grandmother is of course Anita Pallenberg.

4a. The fashion credits on the picture. Denin dungarees, £55 from Topshop, and canvas Vans, for £57. Looking this cool is…easy!

5. This limited edition subscribers cover, by Tracy Emin. Worth the price of a year’s subscription all on it’s own.

6. The beautifully written interview with Tracy Emin about her relationship with David Bowie on page 136. That’s what I call access.

‘Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts’

– Winston Churchill

Giles Duley and Don McCullin

Here are two photographers. On the left, Giles Duley, on the right, photo-journalist legend Don McCullin.

Don’s story is well documented, and currently the subject of his own film, McCullin. Over his lifetime he has won many awards for his work; images and stories from some of the most hopeless situations the human race can create for itself. His pictures are breathtaking, and his courage in taking them self evident.

This is one of his memorable Vietnam war images that appeared in the Sunday Times Magazine in the sixties. Five decades later, Don, now 77 and still working, has just come back from Allepo, currently one of the most dangerous places on earth. It’s one thing to go into a war zone armed with guns and grenades, but quite another to carry only a camera. Don is one very brave man.

In its own way, Giles’ reportage is no less accomplished, winning awards for telling deeply moving stories from some very dangerous places. He sure looks happy to have met Don, and so he should be, for by any measure he should be dead.

It was while on his own commission to cover the war in Afghanistan, that Giles stepped on a mine and lost three of his four limbs.

His tale has been extensively documented in the Guardian, the BBC and elsewhere. Like Don, Giles has had to contend with Becoming The Story, but for very different reasons. As demonstrated by this incredible self portrait, created with the assistance of Simon Vinall.

To live as a triple amputee requires the sort of courage I cannot begin to imagine. But doing a TED talk, that takes real nerve. As Giles says: ‘I spent the last 40 years hiding behind a camera so I didn’t have to speak’

This ten minute talk was rated by TED’s own team as one of the very best of the year. Watch it, and you can see why.

Giles says: ‘I became aware my body was a living example of what war does to someone. But that I could use my own experience to tell that story’

And the impact of that story, at least on me, was huge. As Giles eloquently reminds us in his talk, ‘You can do anything, if you put your mind to it’.