Sunday, December 26

Street Photography Now exhibition in Berlin

Forty images from the Thames & Hudson Street Photography Now book are being exhibited now in Berlin until 15 January 2011. The exhibition takes place at CONTRIBUTED - Studio for the Arts at Strausberger Platz 16, 10243 Berlin. More details HERE.

This is the same show that premiered at Third Floor Gallery in Cardiff, and again I am very pleased to be one of the 40 photographers included.

The complete line-up is Christophe Agou, Arif Asci, Narelle Autio, Polly Braden, Bang Byoung-Sang, Maciej Dakowicz, Carolyn Drake, Melanie Einzig, George Georgiou, David Gibson, Bruce Gilden, Thierry Girard, Andrew Z. Glickman, Siegfried Hansen, Markus Hartel, Nils Jorgensen, Richard Kalvar, Martin Kollar, Jens Olof Lasthein, Frederic Lezmi, Jesse Marlow, Jeff Mermelstein, Joel Meyerowitz, Mimi Mollica, Trent Parke, Martin Parr, Gus Powell, Mark Alor Powell, Bruno Quinquet, Paul Russell, Otto Snoek, Matt Stuart, Ying Tang, Nick Turpin, Munem Wasif, Alex Webb, Amani Willett, Michael Wolf, Artem Zhitenev, Wolfgang Zurborn.

I believe that the Street Photography Now book is available to buy at the gallery, but please contact them to check before setting out...

Monday, December 20

The FinePix X100 - the street photographer's digital camera? Part 35.

As a street photographer, I've almost given up waiting for a small, discreet, digital camera with decent controls, and a optical viewfinder that I would be happy using for this sort of photography.

Having used digital compacts extensively I've come to the conclusion that I'm one of those weird people who will never be happy composing photos using an LCD at arm's length. A "proper" viewfinder is important to me.

Over the years, so many digital models have been launched that sounded promising - the Sigma D-something, the Olympus Pen-thing, the Ricoh G-doomidag and so on - but on closer inspection they all appeared lacking in one or more crucial departments.

All I want is a smallish digital camera with a short lens that focuses very quickly using autofocus, or allows me to set a manual focus instantly, and does not go "clack" when I press the shutter. And has an optical viewfinder, not an electronic one, and is not a stupid price like those Leicas. Are those outrageous demands? Certainly the technology is available, so presumably these must be niche demands!

It seems odd that although digital cameras have been readily available for about a decade now, people interested in street photography without the Leica budget are still resorting to using archaic old film cameras like the Olympus XA and the Hexar.

Maybe this Fujifilm FinePix X100 with the small, 35 mm fixed lens and built-in optical viewfinder will be the digital one. Maybe.

More details at the Wirefresh blog

It looks nice, doesn't it? Release date and price are still unconfirmed. The price is meant to be around £1000, I believe.

Friday, December 3

Nacho Santigosa - el viaje

All photographs copyright Nacho Santigosa 2010

Spanish street photographer Nacho Santigosa is currently spending a couple of weeks in England. It's maybe not the best time to be visiting the country (cold and now snow), but it was my great pleasure to meet up with him last weekend, and we had a fun day wandering around Bournemouth. At about 3.30 pm I lost all feeling in my hands, so that seemed liked a good time to stop...

Nacho has been interested in photography for over 20 years, ever since discovering a book of black and white street photography that belonged to his grandfather.

While in England, Nacho is trying out his new toy, the little Panasonic Lumix LX5 with an electronic viewfinder, and I learnt a great deal by watching him at work.

I think his enthusiasm is neatly summed up by this quote from a Flickr interview with "nativ flavaz":

"One day, in Sevilla, in 1997, I was waiting for my girlfriend, hanging around the streets, with my Canon T-90 and a 50 mm f/1.8 FD. Then I saw a boy sitting on the doorstep of his house ... and I shot ... three, four times, I don’t remember; the next two days were hard days waiting to see the results. Finally, the miracle ... that day was the day I was waiting for, the shot I was waiting for..."

See more of his photography here.

Thursday, November 25

The slapdash psychogeographic guide to Bournemouth

Almost every day, I receive an email saying (approximately)

“Paul, forgive me for asking, but could you give me some insight into the deep, dark heart of Bournemouth from your unique perspective as Britain’s leading cartographer of the psychogeographic landscape. I would be willing to pay you money for this. Do you have a Paypal account?”.

I am always humbled to receive these requests, so cast aside your Rough Guide, and let me take you on a voyage of exciting discovery around Bournemouth, my main photographic stomping ground.

I’ve taken so many photos here that I could probably create my own continuous Google street view composite of the whole town. But let’s look at the really important issues, such as where is the best Hungarian cake shop, and where was that Tony Ray-Jones photo taken?

The basics and town centre
The basics: Bournemouth is a large seaside town on the English south coast, popular with tourists, students, retired people, and stag parties.

Bournemouth town centre is pleasant, if slightly bland, and full of the usual high street shops. The town has many language schools, which gives the centre a cosmopolitan feel, with many French, German, Spanish and Italian students.

Unfortunately, the shopping zone seems to be drifting into clone town territory as the few independent shops and restaurants close to make way for chains. At odds with the generally affluent feel of the town, at the edges of the town centre – for example at The Triangle and near Bournemouth train station – there are stretches of recently closed shops. It seems that shops are still closing faster than they are opening...

Bournemouth Arcade in the pedestrianised central bit contains some interesting shops and architecture. The misleadingly named ‘Essentials’ jewellery shop in the arcade is worth a visit to see the stained glass window at the far end. I don’t know the exact history of this... There’s also a Waterstones bookshop in this arcade. Exiting the arcade, crossing the road at the traffic lights, and heading straight ahead brings you onto Westover Road, which has some posh shops and unintentionally hilarious ‘galleries’ for the well off who want something big and tasteless for their walls – these are recommended visits for a laugh

The horror...

Talking of horror, you are now close to St Peter's Church where Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein, is buried.

At the very centre of Bournemouth retail zone is a pedestrianized area called The Square, populated by shoppers, skateboarders, and a regular posse of elderly Italian gesticulators. At first glance, The Square seems a strange choice of name as it’s circular (and used to be a roundabout).

At the back of The Square is the round Obscura CafĂ©, which opened in 1999, however the titular camera obscura and viewing area upstairs is no longer operational. The Square separates the Central Gardens from the Lower Gardens, which lead down to the sea. The River Bourne flows underneath The Square, and while the name ‘Bournemouth’ might conjure up visions of a hefty river surging to the sea, all that remains of the River Bourne is a trickle.

Going south and following the Lower Gardens along the Bourne Stream brings you to Bournemouth Pier. Going in the other direction from The Square, heading northwards you can follow this narrow corridor of gardens for miles, and it become increasingly less manicured and more wild looking the further you go. Along the way are a water tower and a coy pond. Please consult a map!

If you are looking for more individual, characterful shops and experiences, I can recommend making the effort to visit the suburbs of Westbourne, Boscombe and Southbourne.

Westbourne is a genteel, well-to-do suburb to the west of Bournemouth and is well worth a look during the day. It probably describes itself as a village or something, and a visit is like stepping back to the 1970s, with loads of old-style and off-beat shops – ironmongers, florists, off-licences, ladies hairdressers, a hat shop, a chocolate shop, a vegetarian restaurant (Zoukinis), a decent fish and chip shop (Chez Fred) and an independent bookshop. Westbourne has its own arcade, which is being renovated at the moment, but its shops remain open during the work.

Westbourne’s formerly impressive ‘The Grand’ cinema is now a bingo hall. The Methodist church has recently been converted into a Tesco... It's a bit odd to queue for the self-service machine in front of a stained glass window. This is just one of about 47 Tescos in Bournemouth.

Westbourne also has one of the few ‘traditional’ style pubs in central-ish Bournemouth, the Porterhouse (113 Poole Rd), which is owned by Ringwood breweries.

Like the 1970s, Westbourne is closed on Sundays.

Westbourne is about 10 minutes’ walk from the Triangle. Or more interestingly, you can make your way up from the seaside promenade through Alum Chine (chine = narrow ravine found along coastlines, formed by the action of fast-flowing streams). There are a few chines in Bournemouth – Middle, Branksome and some others – but Alum Chine is definitely the most interesting and atmospheric. Before heading up the chine itself, visit Alum Chine Tropical Gardens to find the site of this Tony Ray-Jones’ picture… Clue: look for the sloping diagonal wall.

Alum Chine is the psychogeographic heart, or focus, of Bournemouth. You will have to trust me on this...

Walking up from the seafront along the steep-sided chine you pass under a scary pedestrian suspension bridge -

– it doesn’t look at all safe to me – and then you come to another two bridges. Stop for a moment to marvel at the root system of the tree behind you surrounding the chair, then turn left at the footpath (then look at a map to go to Westbourne). Going back to those bridges for a moment, the young Winston Churchill fell from the predecessor of one of these bridges and was seriously injured. The site of a former home of Robert Louis Stevenson is also nearby. While on the subject, other famous former Bournemouth residents include J.R.R. Tolkien, Mary Shelley, Max Bygraves and louche Alex out of Blur.

A real contrast to Westbourne… Boscombe is an interesting locale to the east of Bournemouth town centre. Until recently this area did not have – ahem – the best of reputations but there has been a concerted effort to regenerate the area. It contains a rough and ready mix of the run-down, mundane, bizarre and eclectic. Boscombe has its own, basic pier, and much of the regeneration efforts and publicity has focused on the new artificial surf reef next to the pier and the nearby luxury flats. There is also an lively ongoing debate about whether the surf reef actually works...

Commissioned public art is now appearing in Boscombe, and vintage shops are springing up again near the local train station (Pokesdown for Boscombe). Near the pedestrianised centre of Boscombe, which also contains all the familiar high-street names, the splendid old Royal Arcade is worth a visit, as is The Reptilarium, a fish and reptile outlet ideal for that impulse purchase of a 20-foot python or Komodo dragon [check availability].

Data from the Office for National Statistics show that Boscombe has the highest number of dogs in prams in England.

Around the corner from Boscombe, and near Pokesdown station, is the pleasant suburb of Southbourne. The main area of Southbourne is Southbourne Grove, a long, wide shopping street that has some interesting, non-chain shops and many cafes. Shops include a wholefood shop, Earth Foods (75 Southbourne Grove) and the arty crafty Coastal Creatives gift shop/gallery type thing.

Fisherman's Walk Gardens, guarded by many carved cormorants and featuring a bandstand and small pond (as of March 2013 containing many frogs), takes you to the beach at Southbourne.

The Russell-Cotes Museum
This is a very interesting museum, 5 minutes’ walk from Bournemouth Pier. Located on the top of East Cliff, the museum is the legacy of Sir Merton Russell-Cotes, a wealthy resident and former mayor of the town. Russell-Cotes commissioned the building in 1897 as elaborate outhouse to display his collection of art from around the world. The architecture incorporates Moorish, Japanese and French as well as Victorian influences, and is open daily, except Mondays, from 10 am to 5 pm.

Admission was free but for a 3-month pilot period from 5 July to 30 September 2011 there is an admission charge. Also, please note that the museum has recently banned photography inside the museum in a slightly tawdry and embarrassing attempt to flog a few more of their postcards.

Two piers
The Rough Guide to Dorset, Hampshire & the Isle of Wight (published 2010) describes Bournemouth Pier as being ‘stuffed with the usual amusements and arcades’.

This is not really true – outside the entrance there is an amusement arcade, but the pier itself is quite a low-key affair compared with, say, Brighton Pier. In high season there are a few rides and a helter-skelter at the end, but even these disappear in winter. There is a cafe/restaurant (Key West) and a theatre showing old-school entertainment and variety acts such as Syd Little and panto, as well as occasional film and animation festivals. There is no piped music or fast food.

The pier can be quite atmospheric at night but the opening hours seem to be entirely irregular and random, so don’t make plans. Entrance to the pier is 60p when busy, or free when not. Or otherwise.

Heading east, Boscombe Pier is a minimalist affair. Google it to find a load of similar photos facing out to sea with the windbreak in the centre (I have one, of course)!

Grumpy old men pubs, etc.
Bournemouth town centre at night is the usual vomitorium of vertical drinking establishments. In fact, Bournemouth has very few decent pubs. For grumpy old men who want to sit down, read a paper and nurse a half pint of Guinness, I can recommend

The Porterhouse, 113 Poole Rd, Westbourne (see above).

The Goat and Tricycle, West Hill Road, on the outskirts of the town centre, near the Triangle. Probably describes itself as Bournemouth’s best kept secret, or similar.

Daisy O’Briens, 77 Old Christchurch Road, right in the town centre, next to FatFace and the Early Learning Centre. A small, traditional-style pub – a nice regular crowd but its size and location means it can get over-run by rather common people at weekends, etc.

Sixty Million Postcards, 19–21 Exeter Road, centrally located just up a hill from The Square – wacky student drinking venue with chilled vibes, occasional DJs, Facebook page, etc. etc. blah blah. The security guards can be a pain at busy times during the evenings (for example after a search, I was made to leave a bottle of water at the entrance in case it contained booze - what a welcome).

Reef Encounter, 42 Sea Road, Boscombe, BH1 4DW
Stylish modern bar and eating place just up the road from Boscombe Pier. Leffe, outside drinking area, sea kelp moisturiser in the toilets. That sort of thing.

Norwegian Wood, Glen Fern Road, Bournemouth BH1 2NA. Central.
Long-running caff-style cafe serving all-day trad and veggie breakfasts. Good service and food. One of few central independent options. Owned in the 1960s by Jimmy Savile, but don't let that put you off...

Cali Cafe, 204 Old Christchurch Road, Bournemouth, BH1 1PD. Central.
Characterful, family-run cafe on this road full of restaurants. "Brazilian & Colombian specialities" as well standard cafe snacks - omelettes, etc.

Rare Books & Posters, 11 Queens Road, Bournemouth, Dorset BH2 6BA – insane, tiny bookshop between the Triangle and Westbourne with books and memorabilia piled to the ceiling. Has to be seen to be believed. Go and buy something.

Love-From-Hetty-&-Dave, 864 Christchurch Road, Boscombe – a new shop near Pokesdown station offering handmade fashion accessories and vintage clothing.

B&J Patisserie, 806 Christchurch Road, Boscombe BH7 6DF. Homemade cakes, coffee, ice-cream and toasted sandwiches from this Hungarian family business near Pokesdown station. Very reasonable prices - my new favourite shop.

The Crooked Book, 725 Christchurch Road, Boscombe – interesting tea-shop cum bookshop with vintage artifacts/nik-naks. Runs literary/arty events and stuff.

What Alice Found, 805 Christchurch Road, Boscombe BH7 6AP. Boutique shop type thing stocking an eclectic mix of clothing, accessories, hats, bags, shoes, lingerie, homeware, bridal attire, collectibles and work by local artists. Across the road from B&J Patisserie.

All photos copyright Paul Russell 2011

Monday, November 15

November print offer - Royal Wedding special

Following on from my show at Housmans bookshop in London, I have a few of these four prints available, at what I believe to be, ahem, very reasonable prices:

Set of all four prints – 9 inches by 6 inches – £20 per set plus postage.
Individual prints – 12 inches by 8 inches – £20 each plus postage.

Please email me on to express an interest, stating your country location. First come, first served!

Wednesday, November 10

Bournemouth Borders to become a Tesco

The Bournemouth Westbourne Methodist church is currently being converted into some species of Tesco (Metro, Express, etc.), and I noticed the other day that the town centre site vacated by Borders has been acquired by Tesco. I think that is five Tescos in central-ish Bournemouth now.

I hope that Tesco will acknowledge the heritage and history of the premises that they are taking over. Maybe the Tesco in ye olde Borders could have some sofas and tables where we can spend all day handling soft fruit and perishable goods until they become unsellable, thus leading to the slow demise of the supermarket.

Suggestions for the church-related Tesco are welcome.

Friday, October 15

Branding: Gap forced to abandon logo re-design

Retailer Gap Inc. has scrapped its new logo after just a week. There’s branding and there’s branding, and you can get burnt...

Tuesday, October 12

Quiz time

Who issued the following reminders to UK police forces?

"the act of taking a photograph in itself is not usually sufficient to carry out a stop. Unless there is a very good reason, people taking photographs should not be stopped."

(a) John Yates, Assistant Commissioner, Special Operations
(b) Paula Yates
(c) Yates' Wine Lodge

"Officers and community support officers are reminded that we should not be stopping and searching people for taking photos. Unnecessarily restricting photography, whether from the casual tourist or professional, is unacceptable."

(a) Chief Constable Andy Trotter
(b) Derek Trotter
(c) Leon Trotsky

No prizes - it's "just for fun".

Saturday, October 9

Street Photography Now exhibition at Third Floor Gallery, Cardiff

On now!

The latest exhibition from The Third Floor Gallery in Cardiff complements the Thames & Hudson Street Photography Now photobook and features over 40 photographers from the book.

10 October to 14 November 2010
Open: Wednesday to Sunday 12–6 pm
Tel: 02921 159 151
The Third Floor Gallery has a detailed web site and online presence.

I am very pleased to be included in the exhibition.

Contributing photographers: Christophe Agou – Arif Asci – Narelle Autio – Polly Braden – Bang Byoung-Sang – Maciej Dakowicz – Carolyn Drake – Melanie Einzig – George Georgiou – David Gibson – Bruce Gilden – Thierry Girard – Andrew Z. Glickman – Siegfried Hansen – Markus Hartel – Nils Jorgensen – Richard Kalvar – Martin Kollar – Jens Olof Lasthein – Frederic Lezmi – Jesse Marlow – Jeff Mermelstein – Joel Meyerowitz – Mimi Mollica – Trent Parke – Martin Parr – Gus Powell – Mark Alor Powell – Bruno Quinquet – Paul Russell – Otto Snoek – Matt Stuart – Ying Tang – Alexey Titarenko – Nick Turpin – Munem Wasif – Alex Webb – Amani Willett – Michael Wolf – Artem Zhitenev – Wolfgang Zurborn

The Third Floor Gallery is run by photographers Joni Karanka, Maciej Dakowicz, Bartosz Nowicki plus a team of enthusiasts, and has featured acclaimed shows by Caroline Drake, Chris Steele-Perkins, Jocelyn Bain Hogg, David Solomons and Peter Dench.

Exhibition reviews:
“A re-enchantment of the quotidian” – Chris Moyles (Radio 1 DJ).

Friday, October 8

Large stripey prints “give-away”

I am selling these two poster-size prints (~30 by 20 inches) featuring Weymouth’s distinctive fast food kiosks. I had a couple of copies of each of them made several years ago for a project that never happened, and they have been sitting rolled up ever since. About a week ago, I found and unrolled them and the next day I learnt that the kiosks are now history (see post below), which seemed a coincidence.

The hand and hut image was featured in the 148th RPS International Print Exhibition (catalogue pictured) and both images have been exhibited as part of my Beside the Sea solo shows. In short, they are dead good.

In keeping with tradition, the term “give-away” is relative but I am selling them for a similar price to just the printing costs (my standard price for 15 × 10 inch prints is £100).

You can see the images in the blog post below...

Hand and hut: £22
Ladies with scarves: £22
Both: £35
Postage: £5 UK and £10 EU.
Nikon D70 and bottle not included.

Contact me on

Wednesday, September 29

You're history: Weymouth's fast food kiosks bite the dust

It's just been announced that Weymouth beach's red, white and blue fast food kiosks are to be replaced by contemporary new designs... Some people found the kiosks tacky, but they certainly were a distinctive part of the beachscape, making any photo they appeared in very definitely "Weymouth".

Littlehampton is a good example of a small seaside town that has generated publicity via new innovative buildings; it will be interesting to see if Weymouth will do the same.

Friday, September 24

Street Photography Now

[Front cover image by Matt Stuart]

Yes, it's true – Thames & Hudson have just published a major round-up of contemporary street photography.

The weighty Street Photography Now tome stretches to 240 pages and features portfolios from 46 street photographers. The book is an impressive and beautiful summary of the state of play in this genre.

Street Photography Now is authored by Sophie Howarth, Director of the School of Life, and street photographer Stephen McLaren. Johanna Neurath of Thames & Hudson has been instrumental in bringing this exciting new publication to fruition.

I am very pleased to be one of the 46 photographers profiled, alongside well-known practitioners such as Joel Meyerowitz, Martin Parr, Trent Parke, Alex Webb and Bruce Gilden. Other names featured include up-and-coming photographers that I have long admired, such as Mark Alor Powell and Maciej Dakowicz.

Four essays draw on the work from the photographers profiled, as well as other excellent examples of street photography.

The book is available from Amazon, and will be the shops shortly. A French edition is also available.

A bookshop, yesterday.

Thursday, September 2

About the weather: it never rains on Melplash day

Photo: Paul Russell, 2010

Well, almost never.

Last Thursday, I went to photograph the Melplash Show as part of my country show series, despite the Met Office forecast showing light rain in the morning, followed by a confident prediction of heavy rain at around 4 pm.

The Melplash Show is a one-day show held on the last Thursday before the August Bank holiday. Although being the main gig of the Melplash Agricultural Society, the show does not take place in Melplash – several miles to the north – but fetches up half way between Bridport and West Bay. This is probably due to pesky historical reasons that I can’t be bothered to research...

As an admirer of the Met Office’s short-range forecasts, I was expecting to get wet but, in the event, it stayed completely dry. In 2006 I took this photo of Jack Smith, of Knapp Farm, Broadwindsor, who seems to know a thing or two about Melplash weather:

Photo: Paul Russell, 2006

“I’ve been here 67 years stewarding and I’ve only known two really wet days. Even if its been flooded out the day before, the Melplash Show always has a good, dry field.”

Source of quote: Dorset Echo

Tuesday, August 10

Justin Sainsbury – adventures in English leisure

Justin Sainsbury, a photographer based in Worthing on the English south coast, has a new web site that is well worth investigating...

“I’m mainly interested in the English disposition and how this is played out in leisure time. Without the before and after, a picture (frozen in time) has the potential to subvert what really happened. To me, this triggers an emotional response that is all the stronger if it proves playful, whimsical, irreverent or plain absurd.”

All images copyright Justin Sainsbury 2010

Truth Magazine

Cover image: copyright Michael Cinque

I have four pics in volume 3 of Richard Payne’s Magcloud magazine, Truth. The publication includes some excellent photos by Simon Kossoff, Richard Payne, Michael Cinque, Albert Ruso, Christopher Turner, James Morris, James Guppy, William Rugen, David Blumenkrantz, David Weekes, Jack Hubbell, Jonathan Allen and Lucia Fischer.

The magazine cost $8.00. Click here to buy it.

Friday, July 23

Exhibition and prints for sale at Housmans Bookshop, London

I’m currently showing 24 prints at Housmans Bookshop (5 Caledonian Rd) near Kings Cross station in a lo-fi exhibition that runs from now until September. There are 18 London pictures to tie in with their London’s Burning series of events, and a bonus six seaside pictures. The bookshop specialises in radical and psychogeographical publications. If you’re in the area, pop in...

There are a limited number of reasonably priced smaller prints available for these four pictures:

The sizes are 9 inches by 6 inches (edition of 10 for each print) and 12 inches by 8 inches (edition of four for each print). These unframed, unmounted prints can only be bought by visiting the shop.