Gravesend Street Portraits by Nigel Rumsey

I had a great couple of hour shooting some street portraits in Gravesend last Sunday. I took the opportunity to hand out some of my 'We Are Gravesend' flyers, hopefully I contacted with some interested participants. If you've landed here after meeting me on Sunday please get in touch, I'd love you to take part in the project.

A portrait of a young couple, Steve & Adele, in Gravesend.

A portrait of Wendy on the street in Gravesend.

A portrait of a young woman, Isabel, in Gravesend.

Thanks to everyone who took the time to stop.

We Are Gravesend flyer by Nigel Rumsey

This week I've started trying to get my We Are Gravesend flyers in as many shop windows and on as many noticeboards around the town as possible. If you're here as the result of seeing one please head over to my project page to find out some more information.  If you'd like to take part please get in touch. The flyer for my We Are Gravesend photography project


We are Gravesend : Genevieve Jones from Sierra Leone by Nigel Rumsey

A portrait of Gravesend resident Genny JonesIt's such a great feeling to have finally started my personal project about my home town, Gravesend, Kent. Yesterday I had the privilege of shooting and interviewing Genevieve 'Genny' Jones, an inspirational woman and one of the real life-bloods of our community. If there's a community event in Gravesend it's likely somewhere behind it will be Genny Jones - The Confident Queen. Genny was born in Sierra Leone and is the first, but my intention is to photograph and interview at least one person from each of the nationalities in the borough. In 2011 that numbered 40, I have no idea how many there may be now but it will be interesting finding out.

If you live in Gravesend, were born outside the UK and are interested in taking part please get in touch. However I understand not everyone welcomes immigration, it has effected the lives of residents here as it has in many towns in the UK. As I write we are five days from a General Election and immigration has featured significantly in all of the debates. If you were born in Gravesend and have lived here all of your life you'll have seen your town change significantly in the last 20 years. I'd love to meet you and hear your views.

You can read more about the project here.

Still riding the Inspiration Roller Coaster by Nigel Rumsey

The Coney Island Cyclone roller coaster. I wrote in my last post how I was being inspired by the podcasts of documentary radio producers talking about their work, as much as by the work itself. I'm still riding that particular inspiration roller coaster and I'm enjoying it. Earlier this week I listened to an episode of How Sound which underlined everything I'd been thinking about the power of documentary radio.

Alix Spiegel came up through the caldron of good radio storytelling that is This American Life; I'm sure some of you may be getting just a little tired of my banging on about This American Life but if you've listened to even one of their programmes I hope you'll understand my infatuation. In this episode of How Sound, called Love is a Battlefield, Alix talks about her interviewing technique, how she structures questions and the incredible amount of work she puts into her 'pre-interview', as she refers to it. What also astonished me was the length of the interviews, she says the average interview maybe 1.5 to 4 hours. At one point she says, "I don't think I've ever done an interview that's more than 5-6 hours"! While I was listening to the programme, and since, I've been wondering, aside from the inspiration, 'how can what I'm learning be applied to documentary photography'. I'm still thinking about that one, I've always liked the idea of accompanying images with recorded sounds, it's just such a tricky thing to present.

In a recent programme I heard a radio producer say (sorry, I can't remember who) that they wanted to create moments in radio where you make the listener turn to look at the radio in disbelief. I had at least one of those moments when listening to Love is a Battlefield. You can listen to the interview, which includes clips of 'Love is a battlefield' on the How Sound website or the original This American Life programme on their website.

Alix's latest project is Invisibilia.

Testing a new film: Orwo N74+ by Nigel Rumsey

This is a shot of Robin Hood Gardens in East London, it's a test from my first roll of Orwo N74+. Orwo film manufactured by FilmoTec GmbH based in the former East Germany. The company in various forms has been making film, mainly for the motion picture industry, since 1910. (more from Wikipedia).

This roll was developed in Kodak HC-110 'B' for 6.5 minutes. I'm very pleased with the results. The grain looks like a tabular film - very similar to T-Max 400 - which I'm generally not too fond of, but in this instance I quit like it. I've since developed a roll in Rodinal, but that's caught in the huge scanned backlog, so it'll be interesting to compare the two.

Robin Hood Gardens

Laura Pannack: documentary photographer by Nigel Rumsey This Rave Late video features Documentary and Editorial Photographer Laura Pannack talking about her experiences working on both commissions and personal projects.

It's interesting to hear about how she instigates projects, preferring to concentrate on subjects she feels passionate about rather than those which may be more obviously commercial. She also talks about how she tries not to go into a project with a particular outcome in mind. The work could end up being an exhibition, a book, or maybe it'll never see the light of day. I think this is an important lesson, if you're so focussed on your predetermined outcome it can't but influence the work and the way that you shoot it. You need to let the outcome be determined by the work, not the other way around.

As someone who often struggles to find ways into a project I was hoping she'd discuss a little more about the very early stages of a project. How she made an initial approach, how she got the subject to believe in the project as much as she did, that wasn't really covered, never-the-less it makes very interesting viewing.

I just came across this second video. It's a one-to-one interview, where Laura Pannack talks about her experiences starting as an assistant, then her first commission as photographer and what she looks for in a good assistant - useful viewing for any students out there. Look at the lighting on this one, there's a wonderful moment where all you can see are her head and hands.