Eamonn Doyle – ON

Doyle-1Eamonn Doyle’s second photo-book is called ON, and shows walking figures on the streets of Dublin. The figures are isolated and lost in thought in a similar existential way to the elderly figures in his previous book, called i – see my previous post. What caught my eye was the richness of the black & white tones, they’re like charcoal drawings.

Both books, ON and i, have received a lot of attention from the photographic press and Doyle is a “trending” street photographer. He’s yet another example of the popularity and resilience of that genre, established in the 1920s by the Leica camera and by photographers such as Andre Kertesz. The simple sight of people walking along a footpath gives photographers one of their most enduring fascinations.Doyle-2Doyle-3Doyle-9

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Eamonn Doyle – i

Doyle-i-6                                               Eamonn Doyle i

Photographer Eamonn Doyle studied photography at art school but gave it up for twenty years to focus on music. He returned with a bang. His book project i  gained international attention with Martin Parr describing it ‘the best street photo book in a decade.’

I was re-discovering the work of Samuel Beckett … I began to be drawn towards a number of solitary ‘Beckettian’ figures I saw on the streets of Dublin, people I had seen passing me every day who seemed to be treading the same ground, day in, day out.

Doyle’s photographs have a singular visual quality, unlike the crowded horizontal vistas of New York street photographers like Joel Meyerowitz.

In taking these photographs, I tried to strip away many of the elements often expected in street photography – context, obvious biographical cues and signifiers, general ‘background noise’. I shot from above, mostly, and tried to flatten the figures into the pavements and roads, and I usually tried to avoid showing the face. Not showing faces seemed to be a way to evoke the very unknowability of these people and, perhaps, by implication, of all those with whom we have such fleeting, urban encounters.

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Doyle’s public installation in O’Connell Street Dublin returned the photographs, and the people in them, to their original environment.

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Carol and Therese

Carol-rScreenshot from trailer for Carol, directed by Todd Hayne.

The new Todd Hayne movie Carol has arrived and I can state that it’s a photographer’s film.

The story is a love affair between two women in early 1950s New York, a time when gay and lesbian romance was seen as a moral lapse, or worse. The implications in this for danger and secrecy, and the teasing development of their attraction, finds its visual expression in the Oscar-nominated cinematography of Ed Lachman.

In preparing for the film’s visual style Hayne and Lachman studied early 1950s still photography, looking for the right colour palette and focal qualities. They looked at women photographers of the time including Esther Bubley, Vivian Maier, Helen Levitt and Ruth Orkin, but they found their principal reference in the work of Saul Leiter, an abstract painter and colleague of De Kooning, who had taken up photography and flourished.

Leiter’s beautiful Kodachromes captured the compression and layering of the Manhattan streetscape. He shot through shadows, blurs and reflections to capture the great cities ambiguity and mystery, and its poetry.

In the movie, Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara (both also Oscar-nominated for the film) are seen through a variety of obstacles, glimpsed in longshot, shrouded in shadow, and overlayed by reflections. It creates a rich visual texture which helps carry the film forward, rather like a writer’s literary style  creates the right atmosphere for the events in a novel. 

Lachman’s compositions as expert as Leiter’s, despite his assertion that he’s a cine photographer and not a still photographer. The movie was shot on film, in Super 16, not 35mm, to create “a certain emotional quality — you’re viewing the character through the texture of the grain but also feeling their emotions through the grain.”

One further pleasure for readers of blogs like this is that the character of Therese is a budding photographer herself, and we see her with cameras of the time and even in a picture conference at the New York Times where she works. Her interest in photography is not a casual plot point, it’s the perfect analogy for her character, discrete and watchful, her beautiful big eyes like camera lenses.

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Ebay camera 14

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Hurry. An Australian seller is offering a rare Leica camera on ebay for $38,000.

The camera is a iiG model, a variant of the successful iiiG line from the late 1950s of which only a few were made. Here’s what the seller says:

Camera body shows some signs of use but is overall in excellent cosmetic and working condition. Not tested with film. Shutter blinds in good condition. Vulcanite brittle through years of storage and has been repaired otherwise unrestored. Shutters speeds sound accurate and wind on smooth. Screw mount Elmar 50mm is included in this auction. Buyer pays all postage and insurance costs.

You would think they’d at least try it out with film. It must be a seller’s market. The international Leica community is aware of this sale and discuss it with great erudition:

“…there was in the Leitz Museum (marked as n.2238 in the Museum list) the Leica IlG prototype, the only original IIG camera known of which we can be 100% certain: also first serial number of “G”-type cameras – basically a Illg without selftimer and slowspeeds – SAME n.825001 (Lager Vol. I, p 165) of the Leica IIIG sold by Westlicht.”

It’s in very nice shape for a sixty year old, but personally, I’d be happy using a iiiG model, which reviewer Justin Webb describes as “like listening to Pavarotti singing Nessun Dorma, or savouring a 1963 Vintage Port.” You can get one of those models for 1/38th of this iiG, or alternately, buy 38 of them! Put another way, adding one lower case letter i saves you $37,000.

You can check on the sale and make your bid by clicking here.