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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:  http://www.sophiegreenphotography.com/bangers-smash/

and here’s the BJP article: http://www.bjp-online.com/2014/10/ideastap-and-magnum-award-shortlist-announced/

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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.

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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.

003 Idea – Cheltenham Racecourse Boot Sale

The Cheltenham racecourse bootsale is to be closing down on the 14th December 2014, due to the traffic caused by Evesham road and Hyde Lane. I read an article in the Gloucester Echo yesterday about the announcement of the closure of the boot sale. I thought it would be beneficial to the photograph the Boot Sale closure and try to talk to some of the stool owners to see their views and opinions on how the closure will effect them and their little businesses.

Here is the Echo article on the closure: http://www.gloucestershireecho.co.uk/Cheltenham-Racecourse-Sunday-car-boot-sale-close/story-24561528-detail/story.html

Recently there has been an article about members of the public voicing their outrage on the closure of the boot sale: http://www.gloucestershireecho.co.uk/Axing-Cheltenham-Racecourse-Car-Boot-Sale-Market/story-24573904-detail/story.html

I intend to photograph one shot of the venue from a high vantage point, to get a general veiw/establishing image, possibly taken from Cleave Hill, which I will use as my first lead shot. Followed by a general image of the stalls and their owners. At the same time keeping the Racecourse as a dominant figure in all the images, so you can tell where the images are taken. As overall, the narrative is about the racecourse closing down the boot sale. I also want to include a portrait of one of the stall owners standing behind their stall selling their goods.

I intend to photograph this all of medium format colour film.

First Shoot – Learn 2 Drift

11th November

I went down to Birmingham Wheels again on Sunday the 11th November for my first shoot with Learn 2 Drift. Thankfully they were teaching at Birmingham wheels again this month, so Andy sent me a facebook message the day before saying they’d be there.

Funny story about that actually, I was tagged in a post from Andy late Saturday night on Facebook. I click on the link to find it’s my uni work blog. He must have googled himself and found the blog address with me talking about how I found the Learn 2 Drift Team/School. Here’s what he tagged me in on Facebook.

Photo 11-11-2014 03 58 28 pm Photo 11-11-2014 03 58 37 pm

Andy also left a very nice comment on that post with the following:

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As you can see, I literally got the go ahead at like 2am Saturday night.

I went down on Sunday very early with a coffee in hand eager to photograph Andy and the drift school.

The day started off with an obligatory drivers/safety briefing in the office behind the track, where Andy would talk through the days proceedings as well as the safety briefing.

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Then the drivers were taken to the cars and immediately started off the day learning how to do donuts. They started off with the instructors demonstrating what to do with them in the passenger seat. Then they would swap and the students would have a go at doing the basic doughnut.

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After they had mastered the doughnut, the students would then be taught the basics of weight transfer by completing a small chicane section which would teach and show them the feeling of drifting the car from one side to the other – this is called a transition. Ofcource the instructors would demonstrate this first with the student in the passenger seat.

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Finally the students would be a passnger in 5 high speed passenger laps, where the instructors would take the cars out in pairs and aim to drift in proximity of the car in front. This is called tandem in the drifting world. This is to simulate the type of drifting seen in the British Drift Championships. It would also give the students an insight into what drifting actually is like when paired up with another car. Fast, adrenaline pumping fun.

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I maxed out my 16gb card by the end of the first session, straight after this group finished, another was sent in to the briefing room to get signed up. I only stayed for one session and had to head off. I said goodbye to Andy, and Ian, the professional photographer there who i got talking to who gave me a lot of useful tips. Especially in regards to my nightclub photography. He gave me alot of useful ideas and printers and ways to make money. Awesome bloke to talk to. I’ve actually bought some images off him in the past from Drifting.

Also. here’s the appropriate Risk Assessment which i filled out the day of the event.

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I know motorsport is dangerous and there are many problems that could arise, but i’ve been around motorsport and have been photographing around tracks since my early teens. So in a sense, i’ve become a custom to it and have always abided by the rules. They’re pretty straight forward, dont get in the way and always keep an eye on whats going on. If you’re moving around the track, do so in a safe maner far enough away from the live circuit that you’re not a walking target. It’s pretty simple. But for sakes of this assignment, here’s a brief Assessment written up using the UOG link.

On another note, I am also fully PLI insured up to £5m . So in the case of me being in an accident whilst photographing, I am fully covered besides kit.

Banger Racing at Birmingham Wheels – 26th October

I traveled over to Birmingham to go to photograph some banger/f1 stock car racing on a freezing cold Saturday evening, a few hours before work. I wanted to photograph the banger racing as my previous idea of photographing the Learn 2 Drift team has kind of fell through, with no more chances to photograph them in Birmingham. Therefore I wanted to just turn up to an event and photograph it, to get a taste if what the Birmingham Wheels track was like. Turns out very dark, dingy and run down.

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The event was from 5pm-11pm, which meant the night time lighting would have to be on. Which turned out to be awful. Black spots almost everywhere, yellow casts and uneven lighting across the whole track. Which makes i extremely hard to photograph, let alone pan.

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I found that the stock car racing was actually alot of fun to watch. Fairly high speed and bumper to bumper action with the occasional love tap. I didn’t expect them to reach such high speed either.

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The crowds in the stands were a mix of young kids watching with their family, drivers, working class men and older men who seemed to have grown up watching and driving stock cars over the years. It brings me back to my childhood, as my dad would take me to watch banger racing once a month at Arena Essex. My uncle used to do banger racing also, there’s tons of photos and videos of him racing around at home from when he was around my age back in 1994 or so.

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I dont know where this project is going. I’ve lost track of what I want to do. Speaking to Anthony, he suggested to make contact with some of the drivers and photograph them as they setup, prepare to race and packing up. So i’m going to have a look around on some forums and try to find drivers willing to participate.

Here’s a few more pictures of the bangers.

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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.

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http://www.spedeworth.co.uk/incarace/venue.php?name=Birmingham

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.

Richard Avedon – In the American West

MD5800 – On Assignment 

Richard Avedon has to be one of my all time favorite photographers, up there with James Nachtwey and Don McCullin. I’ve been a fan of his work since I first saw his ‘In the American West’ series in the first year of college. My old college tutor Simon Rowe showed me a bit of his work which we needed to research for out Portrait module. From then on, I have been a fan of his simplistic approach and style in the way he photographed this series of images.

In the American West is a series of portraits of “ordinary” American people from 1979 – 1984 which shows a photographic record of miners, drifters, oil patch workers, slaughterhouse workers and other marginalized folk throughout western America. The harsh realism of these portraits of the western people provides a powerful, if bleak, record of working life in the region.

I love the way it’s shot. Plain white backdrop, natural sunlight exposure with strong think contrast, which portrays and highlights the emotion of the sitters, mixed with the everyday work clothing (or lack of) brings out the stark reality of the times that they live in.

The series was shot on 8×10 large format film and was photographed in a very simplistic manor, with just a white backdrop taped onto the wall of a barn/shed/house using only natural sunlight to illuminate the subjects.

Last year I tried to recreate Avedons style of work in the Studio using a single overhead softbox. It didn’t quiet go to plan, but I do like the results.

If I were to get it spot on, I would need to separate Conor from the background more and also make sure his white top doesn’t fade into the background.

Avedon is still and probably always will be one of my most influences when it comes to portrait photography.