Tod Papageorge – Studio 54

Tod Papageorge’s Studio 54 is a photobook around the bustling nightlife in New York in the late 1970s in arguably New Yorks most infamous club. To get in to Studio 54 you either had to be a celebrity or amazingly beautiful according to the stories and posts i’ve read about this body of work. What I like about Papageorge’s photography is that the photographs arn’t all tightly cropped, there is added free/dead space around the subject which maximises the context and adds a greater understanding of the club and it’s surroundings. Tod Papageorge’s work is very different than mine, but that’s why I like it, he is documenting the life of this club that is seemingly impossible to get into in the late 70’s. Also the photography used is beautiful.

In Papageorge’s own words, “The 66 photographs in this book were made between 1978-80 in Studio 54, a New York discothèque that, through those years, was the place to be and be seen, as the celebrities, partygoers, and those crazy for dancing who filled it every night were happy to prove. Unsurprisingly, given its reputation (which quickly flamed into notoriety during a short, 33-month existence), it was difficult to get into: the imperturbable doormen who doled out access as if they were controlling passage into a fabulous kingdom made sure that it would be. Only the famous or socially connected could assume they’d find themselves shooed around the flock of hopeful celebrants milling on the street side of the velvet rope and guided through the door; otherwise, the thing most likely to help was to be beautiful. Once inside, though, everyone there seemed thrilled by the fact, no matter how they’d managed it, an excitement fed by the throbbing music and brilliantly designed interiors, which, on a party night, could suggest anything from Caliban’s cave to a harem.”

Still Looking for love – Tom Wood

Whilst researching Wood’s other book Photie Man, I ran into one of his older books Still Looking for Love (1988) which co incidentally is all about nightclub life in Merseyside. This book is exactly what I’ve been looking for. I cant beleive i’ve never found it before. It goes into the nightclubbing life in Merseyside in 1988 on film, beautiful stuff. It’s stupid of me to compare it t Photie Man, as Photie Man was published in 2005, however you can see that Looking for Love heavily influenced Photie Man with the use of hard hitting flash, ascew angles and a close relationship with the subject. It shares properties with that of Gary Winnobrand also, as Winnobrand in an interveiw says that he doesn’t really care about the technicalities of straightness of the photograph when he’s working, which is a characteristic of his works which helps make him stand out.

I love this photobook. I found an interview with Tom Woods about his career, and here are a few questions/answers that I thought were most relevant to what i’m after.

So what it is that drives you as a photographer; is it a desire to engage with these people?

I was just lucky to end up in Merseyside, I mean the people there were just great and the energy I got from just going out there. I used to go out with my camera, I mean I didn’t want to photograph in the nightclub but it was there on my door step. I’d go in there to party myself upstairs and you’d go down to the main club and I just thought I should do this.

It’s really nice, that element of your work. I mean people think you take a photograph and you’re taking something from someone else but you’re actually giving them something and there is a real exchange going on in your work. What is it about you as a character that makes you able to do that?

I just felt that I never had the right to exploit them in any way. On the cover of Looking for Love, it was my first book (in 1988), it was about nightclubbing. So the 2 girls on the front cover saw themselves in the book shop and they thought I was making loads of money and they came around to the house; I showed them the accounts and how I was making a loss every year, so I gave them a print and they were happy, you know?

Quotes source:

Here’s another little flick through video on Vimeo showcasing Wood’s work:

“Still Looking for Love is a chance to revisit a series of photographs by one of the true underground heroes of British photography and catch a glimpse of British nightlife on the cusp of rave and the acid house phenomenon”

All images from:

Photie Man – Tom Wood

Andy recently showed us this body of work for our Black and white module, I think I instantly fell in love with the work. It’s in a candid manner and is shot not to be technically correct or aesthetically pleasing, but instead to have as big of an impact as possible to the viewer. The subjects are always do close and in depth, as if you are literally in their face alongside Tom Wood. I’m pretty certain that I could begin to smell them after a while also. Woods uses cheap little point and shoot cameras to produce this body of work, which just re enforces the brilliance of it.

What I love about Wood’s work is the brutal hard hitting flash in some cases. Then you can tell that it’s taken on a cheapo point and shoot with a rubbish flash. I think Wood’s work is comparable to mine in this way, as I too have a cheap shitty flashgun that only have manual control whilst most of the time ends up in mistakes, especially for these sort of photos what I need to be quick and snappy in order to capture whats going on. As a result of this, most of the images are over exposed, simply because 90% of the time I couldn’t adjust fast enough for what was happening in front of me. Although personally I think that adds to the feeling and context of the images. If they were perfectly exposed it would run into the thin line of being borderline boring. But because some are over exposed, it adds a sort of personality to the images and makes them stand out. Much like Woods’ work. Imperfections are often beautiful. Imperfections is a good name, maybe I should use that for my title instead…?

I like the fact that the pictures were obviously taken with the subject knowing they were being photographed creating some great photos of people really engaging with the camera. For tom wood there was no hiding what he was doing, he didn’t hide his camera or anything which is what gave him the nick name from the locals as “photie man” which is where the title of the book comes from.

All images from:

Here’s a very cool little video of a flick through of his Photie Man photobook on vimeo

Here is also a very cool PDF which is the exhibition notes from The Photographers Gallery. It goes into more depth of what the body of work is about as well as Wood’s definition of documentary photography as well the way he gets permission etc. Very cool read which gives more added insight into the life of Tom Woods.

Click to access Tom_Wood_____Exhibition_Notes_5085626bddea1.pdf

001 Research – Ian Blackett

There’s not much to research with this subject. I could obviously look at motorsport and drifting photographers in general, but that’s too broad in my opinion. No one really photographs the little drifting academy shools in a Documentary fashion. So I guess i’m going to have to.

First of all i’m going to look at Ian Blackett of Blackett Photography, Learn 2 Drift’s resident photographer that travels with the L2D crew around the country photographing. I met with Ian when I shot the academy day and had a really nice chat with him about cars, photography, his past and his business. Blackett is one of the only motorsport photographers that I know that is actually making a living of it without being supported by big businesses. He’s started from scratch and it’s his own independent business.

So how does he do it? It’s a really smart way he works, in the safety briefing at the start of the day he announces who he is and what he’s doing. He then says if anyone would like pictures for X amount for 30 digital or printed images, please see me over the to side after the briefing. This way all the students know who he is and that there’s an opportunity to have some photographs of the day. Once the students have signed up, he gives them a brightly coloured magnet to stick on the drivers door of the car with a number on. This is to identify who the driver is, as well as letting Ian know who has paid for photos from those who hasn’t- which allows Ian to only photograph the paying customers, saves memory, saves time and is a really smart way of organizing the photographs.

On the day, Ian was shooting with a Canon 1D Mk4 with a 100-300mm L lens. He also gave me some very good tips on what sort of settings he generally uses, panning, business and marketing advice and also told me to think about using Auto ISO. I’ve never really considered auto ISO for motorsport, but Ian recommended it to me, and it’s actually a really useful too. You can set your shutter speed and aperture and shoot away without having to worry about the changing light. Auto ISO sorts out the varying lighting seamlessly.

What else is there to know about Ian? He is also the resident photographer at Santa Pod since 2005. He photographs pretty much every event there year in year out. From drag racing to drifting he’s there photographing. Ian’s probably the hardest working photographer I know. He attends every drift event without fail, making money every week, from prints as well as digital downloads. The way Ian works on drift days is also really smart. He explained this to me at Birmingham. He aims to get around 50 pictures of each car from the day. He’d then edit it down on the day to about 35 of each car and then post on the Driftworks forum (biggest UK drifting forum) with the number plate of the car as well as the amount of images he has of it. The owner of the car then contacts Ian and paypals him £2.50 for a preview of the images and a free signature for the forum with Ians logo on as well as a logo of the track. The driver can then contact Ian about purchasing the rest of the images. He also has a van with an employee working on the laptop showing customers images of the day from the van. He also has printing capabilities inside the van. I think it’s a really smart way of working and gets around any problem of copyright quickly and efficiently.

Here’s an example from the Driftworks forum.


and here’s an example of the images he takes, the ones with the signature image below the normal image is an example of what people pay £2.50 for.

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I learnt alot from Ian, I even have bought images from him before. Here’s the image I bought of myself drifting.


Documentary Perspectives Research

Pit crew shots aren’t as popular as driver portraits in the motorsport scheme of things. There isn’t really much in the way of articles/works dedicated to the pit crew. There are normally just one or two shots of the crew mixed in with the general motorsports action shots. That’s not to say they arn’t good, but I feel there should be more, if not a whole article dedicated to the pit crew every once in a while.

Here’s a few pieces of work I found that I really enjoyed.

First of all Jordan Butters, he has a few shots of the crew and drivers on his portfolio website under the race section. I feel that even though you cant see the whole person in frame, I like the aesthetics of the photograph. Focusing on their feet which makes you think about their feet, as well as maintaining the car in the background.

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I also found an article from a recent Rally that Larry Chen shot in Spain. Again the majority of the images from the article are of cars, as you’d expect. But Larry does dive into some mechanic/crew shots down the line. I like the crew shots that Larry has captured, they’re not glamorous and they’re not setup. They’re just doing their job, working hard to get the driver back out on track.


I like the way that he’s used the high pressure air hoses as a leading line in the foreground, it grabs your eyes attention and forces you to look at where the mechanic is. The image is simply just a good documentary image, showing the crew working hard servicing the car. That’s what they’re there for and that’s what they’re best at.


This image is fairly simular to the one above, just a very good shot of the people working their asses of.

LarryChen3 LarryChen4

I then found a really good article, which is quiet different to what I am showing, but also shares the same behind the scenes aspect of what it takes to go motor racing. The story is of a custom helmet maker in New Zealand who customizes helmets for a living. It goes into great detail into what it takes to design, make and produce a helmet. I know it’s not the same subject as what i’m shooting, but I like this piece of work as it dives into the behind the scenes aspect of motor racing that you never normally see, much like the crew members. I like the way it’s shot and I think it’s a very good documentary story piece.

Helmet1 Helmet2 Helmet3

002 in the bag!!!

So today I did something i’d never consider doing. I went to church.

I decided to give up with trying to call and email, trying to find the Elders, so I woke up early, got a shirt on and put my nicest shoes on and decided to drive down the the church for Sunday service.

The church is called The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints which is located 2 minutes away from Park Campus.


Whilst I was trying to find some research about Mormons, I came across this Echo article from the same day I met the two Elders in Cheltenham. A reporter from the Echo did a whole story on Elder Ross and Elder Shumway. Here’s the article:


So back to church, I decided to turn up on a Sunday at 10am, looking to find Elder Ross and Elder Shumway. Everyone I met and spoke to were so friendly and welcoming, they would greet me, shake my hand, pay an interest into why I was there and also help me look for the two Elders. I was pretty humbled at the kindness of the people I met today.

I met up with the two Elders just before the Sunday service got under way, again the kindness and good hearted nature of the people around was moving. I would sit down at the back with Elder Ross and instantly another Elder and two girls (Sisters), would approach us, Elder Hess would introduce himself, welcome me to the church, pay an intrest in who I was and wish me a good day. I guess it’s very odd when you go through life on your own, not many people really help you or approach you looking for friendship, but I felt that in church, there was a sense of being. Like everyone in that room loved one an other as if they were their own. It was really cool to be accepted by these people who i’d never met nor spoke to before.

Here’s a few notes I wrote down about the Service:

Photo 01-12-2014 12 24 40 am

After the service, I would ask Elder Ross and Elder Shumway if there was a small room we could go to and record this interview. The room they directed me to was pretty small, and had barely anything in it, which means there would be alot of echo. This is bad in my case as I was after the clearest audio possible. Nevermind, I got the Rode shotgun mic out, setup the tripod and got my settings correct. I shot the interview on the 50 1.8 at around f2.8 at 1/50. My frame rate was 24p, so i knew i had to double that to achieve the appropriate shutter speed.

I came totally un prepared, I just wrote down quick Who, What, Where, When questions down in my notepad in the car outside, and would then just ask questions off the top of my head after that. I feel the interview went really well, the audio isn’t the clearest, but i feel the engagement with the subjects and the topics they cover easily make up for the bad audio. At first they were both really nervous, although after a while they would relax and raise their voice to a more comfortable level. I feel the answers they gave were great, exactly what I was aiming for and gave me alot more information on what it’s like to live as a Mormon.

After the interview, I would wonder around the church with both Elders trying to get as much filler shots as possible. As I knew I wanted the video to be mostly filler shots with the Elders talking over the top. A little bit like the video Philip Bloom did about Amish people. This is what I was aiming for, the mix between face on shots with filler details around the church and of the Elders in another environment. Here’s Blooms video, I love it.

There’s also a really cool documentary about a certain set of people who are Mormon in Leeds, it follows a guy called Josh who has recently dedicated to devote his life to be a missionary. It’s a real touching documentary as you get to see his transformation from family living to becoming an Elder. It also teaches you alot about what it’s like to be Moromon, as well as some addictional rules that I didn’t know before. I found it a really powerful documentary and is really well shot. Here it is.

It was great to be welcomed and allowed to video the two Elders life in quite a lot of detail. I felt privileged to be able to video them and thanked them alot for all the help and hospitality they gave me. I dont think i’ve ever met nicer people. However, they did try to convert me.

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I joke, I wanted to learn more about their beliefs and wanted to know a little bit more about if God is real.

Onto the video editing. I’m pretty confident in editing video as i’ve done it quiet a lot with video games before. Which i blogged about earlier here:

I got the video done in about 3 hours in Sony Vegas 10. I was tempted to use Premiere Pro, but I know how to use Vegas and I dont work Premiere Pro. Knowing the software is a massive plus in the time management scheme of things. Here’s a quick screenshot of the Vegas editing timeline/suite.

mormons screenshot

Not much editing done, just playing with audio levels, making cuts and adding filler clips. I had to boost the Brightness and Contrast on some clips as it was just too dark, the interview with Elder Shumway was all too dark, so I had to up the brightness a little bit. My own fault, I didn’t adjust the settings when I moved the tripod.

I’m really happy with how the video turned out, I’ve never shot a documentary film before, let alone an interview. I enjoyed it alot. I think I actually preferred videoing today rather than photographing. It’s much more rewarding to create a video, rather than just capturing an image. I feel very happy with what i’ve achieved and have asked all of my housemates for their critiques and thoughts on the video.

I hope you enjoy the video also. Here it is, on Vimeo.

001 Research – Sophie Green

I was looking on the British Journal of Photography this evening to see a photograph of what looked like banger racing. I then googled the artists name (Sophie Green) and found her portfolio website. I was amazed at the quality of work shown and love the perspective of how she has photographed a banger race. She takes the insight of a spectator taking an inner look at the subtle details and spectators around the event with a very up close and personal attitude to it. She also chooses to focus on the people behind the drivers and starts to take a look at the spectators which helps justify what sort of crowd banger racing appeals to. I love the way her photographs are shot! Fairly wide, shallow depth of field and amazing lighting!

Here’s her website:

and here’s the BJP article:


I love how her images show the underground/working class nature associated with banger racing. By choosing subjects and details suitable, you can really get a feel and insight into the lives of the people who participate as well was spectate this type of motorsport.


I also love these detail shots of the food being served from the event, it’s such a small thing, but alternatively gives a very clear understanding to the demographic of the venue/spectators. People often say dont judge a book by it’s cover, that’s kind of what’s happening here. We’re judging the venue/sport/spectators on the quality of food being served at the event.

I love Sophies work, her “tomorrows people” portraits are outstanding! – As a result of seeing her work with the tomorrows people charity, I have just emailed 3 charities about the possibility of photographing. If i don’t get anywhere with being able to photograph, i’ll volunteer for a while, make friends and hopefully get to know them close enough so that I could come back and photograph them. In short, seeing her work has made my want to focus my efforts on working with charities.

002 idea – Mormon lifestyle

I was walking down Montpellier on the way to uni when I was stopped by 3 young men who are talking to people about the Lord, but from a Mormon perspective. They were all really nice and was easy to talk to. All 3 guys were from America, one from Idaho, another from Texas and another from Missisippi I think. They were all really nice guys and payed alot of attention to myself and what I was doing before starting to engage me in persuading me to come to the church where they worship.


I dont know anything about Mormons and would love to find out more about their lifestyle. The aim of the video will be showing their lifestyle and why they chose to be Mormon. I also want to learn more about the Mormon lifestyle and what they do on a weekly basis. Interestingly enough, there seems to be a greater Mormon following in the USA rather than the UK. It would be really cool to follow these guys around for a day or two to get an insight into their lives. They were all more than happy to have me meet up with them and video them. Although they would like me to meet with them twice and come to church with them once. Which I will do, as im genuinely interested in their lives.

I have watched one very good documentary and one very well shot video about Amish people. I intend to shoot my video in the same sort of way as the Amish video shot my Philip Bloom. The 4od Documentary has given me more of an idea of what it’s like in a Mormon way of life.

Meet the Mormons –

An Amish Man –

I’m going to test out my camera and sound whilst recording video on my DSLR this week hopefully and post it on the blog later. I’ll probably take and hide a small voice recorder as well as the DSLR sound to get higher quality audio.

I intend to call the two guys tomorrow called Elder Ross and Elder Shumway whos number is 07800614544

Mid Module panic

So, things aren’t going very good at the moment, I’ve asked Andy on Facebook last week if it was okay to come and photograph his team. He was really happy and okay with it initially and was more than happy for me to photograph his business and team. Andy fb

Although lately, the conversation of me coming down to Birmingham has slowed quite alot recently. I’ve stayed in contact with him and have tried to ask when he’ll next be in Birmingham, but I only receive one word answers or no answers in some cases. So im kind of panicing. It’s getting further into the module and time is running out, I need to shoot something and find a decent story. I could probably stick with this idea, but it will be left super late to the deadline. Which I do not want to do.

So I may take a trip down to Birmingham Wheels Raceway this Saturday to photograph the ‘Halloween Spooktacular’ which involves Banger racing and BriSCA F1 Stock Cars which look like this.

It’s a very low end level style of Motorsport with a sort of “grassroots” and banger style to it. Many drivers are working class heros with a full times job, no sponsors, no support and all out of pocket, just for the fun of taking part in Motorsport. Often these classes of Motorsport are used as gateways into other, more popular forms of Motorsports. Like a ladder system in a way. You start with bangers, then end up racing around Silverstone in a GT2 race car. At least that’s the dream.

I’m going to go to Birmingham Wheels Raceway to photograph this Halloween event this Saturday, just in case my L2D idea falls through and it gives me an excuse to photograph racing which is awesome. Here’s the timetable for the next 3 weeks at Birmingham Wheels.

BW Timetable

I’m going to call the track office on 0121 771 0725 to try to arrange track side access, so I can shoot on the infeild and not be restricted to behind the barriers. I’ve done it before at drift events, but my Public Liability Insurance ran out in March, which is often needed to photograph Motorsports events.

How did I find Learn 2 Drift?

I’ve known of Andy Arnott, the owner of the ever growing Learn 2 Drift business since I started photographing drifting in the early days in the British Drift Championships and Practice Days. I’ve seen and photographed him drive along side his team which used to be known as Slide School Drift Academy – which later was renamed to Learn 2 Drift (L2D) throughout 2012/2013/2014.


The first time I ever saw Andy drive was at Awesomefest 2o11, at Mallory Park. Awesomefest is hard to describe, but the name pretty much states it all. A 3 days event packed of drifting, BMX, live music, motocross, night time drifting and a ton of modified cars. There had never been an event to such a large scale before. Awesomefest was bonkers, I only went for the Saturday with my dad, but it was unreal. The day was mixed between a general track/drift day with high speed passenger runs in the full completion spec cars used in the BDC. The Vibe alongside the Motocross track going, BMX’ers in the air and live DJ sets throughout the day was outstanding. Unfortunately Awesomefest was a one off occurrence as they never got permission to re do the event the following year. Sadly, I dont think an event that big will ever hit the UK again. This was also the first time I saw Andy drive, in the same S14 shell he’s driving today.




I then decided to add Andy on Facebook, as much of the drifting community begins with the simple notion of a friend request. Its rare to find a drifter with no one drift related on their Facebook, it’s our way of socializing. Then BDC took place at Norfolk Arena in June 2012, where Andy and his L2D team would compete. This would be the second time I would see/photograph Andy drifting. Here is an image from that event of Andy along with his driver Jamie Kenyon.


British Drift Championship 2012 - Round 2 Norfolk Arena


The team/cars have gone through many extravagant vynl jobs over the years.

The next time I would see Andy/Jamie would be at BDC Round 1 at Lydden Hill in April 2014. With yet another eye catching paint job.

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That was the last time I photographed Andy/L2D. Although I do still have him on Facebook and we have chatted a few times.


Recently my very good friend Callum Craddy has become an instructor at the L2D team, teaching the pupils the basics of how to drift. I’ve known Callum  for years and is the main reason i’m able to get access for this project. Callum has also recently started to compete in the BDC as part of the L2D team. He has a media channel on YouTube to which he uploads all of his GoPro footage of his times with the L2D team. Here are three videos I think are worth a watch.




This is one of Callums more well made video of a drift practice day at Teesside.


I intend to photograph the L2D team on one of their teaching days at Birmingham Wheels Raceway and try to capture the teamwork spirit and banter that goes on during their time. I also want to try to capture and promote the L2D business, as it’s growing rapidly with the help of special Groupon Deals which can be found online with the added popularity and interest of the ever growing sport that is drifting.