Inspiration on my doorstep – Michael Gardner AOTW

I have always felt very fortunate living in London. As a keen photographer and lover of interesting and eye catching things, this great capital offers so much visual beauty!

I am not a photographer who focuses on the hustle and bustle of the everyday lives of the Londoner. Instead, I love to capture the history and character of the Ol’ Smoke, through its architecture and sculpture, each possessing its own story.

Michael Gardner - David Wall

Michael Gardner - David Wall

Last summer, I decided to undertake a project focused on the unique, hidden sculptural gems dotted across the city. After researching the most under recognised and beautiful public pieces, I set off with my walking shoes on and my camera in hand. For anyone new to London, or even those not, I would always recommend walking as the best way to see the city (beats cramming onto the tube!). Over a 4 hour period and 9 miles of walking, I had managed to locate and snap all of my targets; the wonderful thing was that I also found some other surprises lurking around the various neighbourhoods I visited.

Michael Gardner - Doves

Michael Gardner - Doves

Upon returning to my studio, I scanned my camera for the most captivating perspectives and began to consider the style I wanted the project, ‘The Old Smoke’ to take. I decided to keep it very simple, using silhouettes to emphasise the shapes and lines of these statues, against vibrant block colours that bring the images to life!

Michael Gardner - Ballet Dancer

Michael Gardner - Ballet Dancer

My favourite piece of this collection has to the ‘The Looking Man’. I love the composition, colour and the way the statue evokes a sense of curiosity – what is he gazing at so intently?

Michael Gardner - The Looking Man

Michael Gardner - The Looking Man

For summer 2013, I am hoping to plan another big trip around my favourite area of London, Greenwich. Steeped in maritime history, with the Old Naval College, Cutty Sark and the Royal Observatory, I want to capture the impact the navy and the sea has had upon this great part of the city! Keep your eyes peeled for more to come.

Follow the link to see ‘The Old Smoke’ collection (Project #5).

Michael Gardner – The Shed Artist of the Week

Photography caught me by surprise!

I have always been creative. During my younger years, I was often found doodling away in my notebook or painting colourful artwork around the house. Photography was an unknown quantity for my younger self; cameras were basic and disposable. It was only when I left home for university, that I bought my first decent camera and began my lifelong obsession with photographic art.

Every time I aim my lens, I am thinking of my next piece of art. I believe that any scene, taken from a different perspective, can be transformed into something unique and attention grabbing. I am passionate about using bold colours, strong shapes and distinct patterns in my work – merging photographic detail with artistic flair!

Michael Gardner - Breitling Plane

Michael Gardner - Breitling Plane

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Capturing moments

One of my all time favourite pieces is the ‘Sacre Couer’

Michael Gardner - Sacre Coeur

Michael Gardner - Sacre Coeur

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Paris is one of my favourite cities to visit. With so many picturesque and iconic landmarks, I always find something to amaze me! But the Sacre Couer is by far the most stunning architectural wonder and this piece captures the fine lines and curves of the cathedral.

Inspiration is never far away!

I find inspiration in many places and people. One of my favourite artists is Roy Lichtenstein. I love his use of strong, high impact imagery and use of bold colours. His famous piece, Whaam! encapsulates everything I admire about Lichtenstein’s style – powerful, simple yet eye catching! I hope my artwork can have a similar impact upon others too.

Whaam! 1963 by Roy Lichtenstein 1923-1997

Whaam! 1963 by Roy Lichtenstein 1923-1997

Finding my creative zone

Like many artists, I have bursts of creative energy that can happen at any time. I love exploring urban spaces on foot, finding inspiration in the architecture and urban sculptures that I encounter along the way. Being in the buzz of city life helps get my creative juices flowing. Some of my favourite cities for inspiration include Havana, Berlin and of course my home town, London.

Michael Gardner - The Berlin Dom

Michael Gardner - The Berlin Dom

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My golden rules to a stunning photo

I believe anyone can take an amazing photo – they just need to follow a simple set of rules. Firstly, always find a central subject. Whether it is a person, a statue or a building, it needs to have character and an interesting viewpoint. Secondly, I have found using the rule of thirds i.e. the main subject lies on the intersections of a 9 box grid, an invaluable tool for the perfect composition. Lastly, sometimes less is more. Decluttering a photo and keeping it simple helps to increase the impact and focus upon the main subject.

Art that I love on the Shed

Since joining the Shed community at the start of 2013, I have enjoyed browsing through the tremendous art of fellow Shed artists. One of my favourite pieces on the Shed is ‘Coloured Eye 2’ by John Hunt.

John Hunt - Coloured eye 2

John Hunt - Coloured eye 2

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I love the urban feel to this photo and the many layers of colour that merge into the bigger picture.

Commissions

I would love to hear from anyone who is interested in commissioning their own masterpieces. I am very flexible and accommodating to client needs and I am passionate about collaboration that merges your ideas with my creative spark.

Albion at the Period of Grace Gallery

People watching has to be one of life’s pleasures. Here in the Period of Grace Gallery in Bristol on a bright May day I’ve been idly watching the commuters, students, tourists and locals going about their business. The other pleasure is getting to talk to those who venture inside to look at the exhibition.

Michelle Frederick - Battersea Power Station

Michelle Frederick - Battersea Power Station

The most talked about pieces have been Michelle Frederick’s ‘Battersea Power station’ sculpture made from recycled wood, Lauren Fox’s steel letters (I wish my name began with an A or a B so I could buy one and put it on my wall!)

Steel Letters by Lauren Fox at Albion

Steel Letters by Lauren Fox at Albion

Fiona Robert’s ‘River Irt for Caroline’, how timeless B/W photography is and Maisie Hill’s ‘Brian’ which is one of our most viewed images on the website.

Black and White Wall at Albion

Black and White Wall at Albion

We were interested to see how the show would be received in the West Country as opposed to London and whether the same pieces would sell. Interestingly the landscapes are indeed getting greater attention and we have sold Surf’s up! by Lois Wakeman as well as her beautifully atmospheric 5 Trees at Dawn , Pete Hackett’s E80 and Benjitas’ Boats at beer. I began to think some of the more abstract pieces wouldn’t find a home and as I was writing this I sold Kirsty Fenton’s ‘Draped cloth’. I have always believed that selling artwork is about finding the right image for the right person and patiently working away. We are only a week in and 3 weeks left, be interesting to see what else walks out the door!

Some of the images sold recently at the Albion exhibition in limited edition.

Lois Wakeman - Surf's Up

Lois Wakeman - Surf's Up

Lois Wakeman - Five trees at dawn

Lois Wakeman - Five trees at dawn

Pete Hackett - E80

Pete Hackett - E80

Benjitas Photography - Boats of Beer Devon

Benjitas Photography - Boats of Beer Devon

The Escape exhibition by AOTW Philippa Gedge.

I love making new friends and so when I met like-minded photographer Charlotte Fielding I was excited at the prospect of being able to work with someone who understood our trade. Someone who worked in the same way and actually cared about her clients and what she was producing in the same way that I do.

Our first meeting was in London’s prestigious Fortnum & Mason where we sipped tea and ate cake and discussed our ideas at some kind of collaboration. We explored everything and eventually decided that an exhibition of what we already had would as good a place to start as any, and so ‘Escape’ was born. That was July 2012 and nearly a year on we are about to open our first exhibition in Notting Hill.

‘Escape’ is all about seeing beyond the everyday with the pieces in the show bringing together all the different facets within the notion of  the word escape. Whether it be a physical or emotional escape; an urgent flee or a daydream in your head there are a number of ways to explore these escapes and what they mean to an individual. Both Charlotte and I love to travel and this exhibition has given us the opportunity to show-off some of this personal work.

There are some people you meet that just exude an enthusiasm for their craft that goes above and beyond ‘work’ and Philippa and Charlotte are two such people. Philippa has that eye that catches those fleeting moments and makes the ordinary, extraordinary. Her photographs always delight. When I first saw Charlotte’s portfolio the depth of subject matter and quality of imagery just leapt out at me, I knew I had to work with her.” Chelsea Davine of The Shed Photography

Choosing the content for the show has been a gruelling task but once we had the theme it made the process a little easier. It took one long coffee-fuelled session of brain-storming but we nailed it eventually and both settled comfortably on the word ‘escape’. It conjured up all sorts of emotions for us and suited the work we most wanted to show.

My ‘Help Me’ series of cars is a good example of how the word escape can be interpreted. I had been exploring Route 66 when I stopped off for a night in a scary motel read the full story here. My trip had been a knee-jerk reaction to a bad break-up, a time when I needed to run away from London and myself. I had the time of my life and came back with some fabulous photography and some thrilling stories. The emotional rollercoaster I was on and the sheer fact that I had run away from my ‘normal’ allowed this series quite a large space amongst our walls. In this case it isn’t the cars that tie them to ‘escape’ but the journey I was on at the time.

Philippa Gedge - California Ford

Philippa Gedge - California Ford

Philippa Gedge - California Nash

Philippa Gedge - California Nash

Philippa Gedge - California Volkswagen

Philippa Gedge - California Volkswagen

Philippa Gedge - California Chrysler

Philippa Gedge - California Chrysler

Philippa Gedge - California Chevrolet

Philippa Gedge - California Chevrolet

Philippa Gedge - Help Me

Philippa Gedge - Help Me

Help me series © Philippa Gedge

My ‘Navimag’ series photographed whilst exploring the Chilean fjords on a cargo ship were all shot just minutes after an enormous storm had passed. The world seemed so calm after the gale-force winds and violent sea-sickness we had all experienced for the past three days. At the time I felt lucky to be alive after such an horrific ride and honestly felt we had had a very narrow escape from the elements. Despite the beauty of the fjords I wouldn’t hurry back to the Gulf of Penas in a hurry. The clue should really have been in the name of the gulf we were scheduled to sail in, Gulfo de Penas translates as Gulf of Distress in English..

Philippa Gedge - Boat deck

Philippa Gedge - Boat deck

Philippa Gedge - Girl gazing out 1

Philippa Gedge - Girl gazing out 1

Philippa Gedge - Man reading

Philippa Gedge - Man reading

Philippa Gedge - Rainbow on deck

Philippa Gedge - Rainbow on deck

Philippa Gedge - Girl gazing out 2

Philippa Gedge - Girl gazing out 2

Navimag series © Philippa Gedge

Finding the space for the show was also a tall order. It had to be affordable and not too far off the beaten track. It needed some natural light and we wanted it to be attached to a food and drink outlet. Charlotte trawled for a day and finally found the ideal solution that was close to home and didn’t want the earth in gallery fees. They don’t take a cut of sales and are flexible about most things. We were in.

Six months later and we are nearly there. The invitations for the private view are about to go out, the fliers and posters printed for local galleries and coffee shops and we are even working on a competition that we want to open up to a local school. There is so much to do and we underestimated vastly what was involved. Our bright idea of getting some funding early on has paid off and we now have seven really great sponsors, one of which is The Shed so thank you to Chelsea and Ben for helping to make this show both beautiful and hopefully a success.

We are confident that the chosen selection is a good one. It is varied but that’s the nature of interpretation.

Philippa Gedge - Diner chair, Flagstaff

Philippa Gedge - Diner chair, Flagstaff

Philippa Gedge - Yellow chair, Portobello

Philippa Gedge - Yellow chair, Portobello

Philippa Gedge - Market chair, Roseau

Philippa Gedge - Market chair, Roseau

Chairs series © Philippa Gedge

Both Charlotte and I work as commercial photographers in our own right and spend our time photographing weddings, events and portraits. We are hoping that exhibiting our personal work will become something we can do again in the future and invite you to come and see us. If you are in London in June 2013 then please do pop by. The exhibition details are as follows:

 

WHAT… Photography Exhibition with around 50 pieces forming an exhibition of “Escape”

WHERE… The Tabernacle, 34-35 Powis Square, London, W11   WHEN… 17th – 23rd June 2013

WHO…

Philippa Gedge Photography  

Charlotte Fielding Photography 

You can also find details about the show on our blog and on Facebook.

Both Charlotte and Philippa are members of The Shed and you can BUY any of the images on this blog by clicking on the pictures above.

Philippa Gedge – Where it all started and what inspires me.

The Shed have chosen me to be artist of the week this week and it is a real honour, I feel like I’ve won an award!

I have been a practising photographer since 2005 when I accepted redundancy from a rather dull marketing job with an academic publishing house in London. I had completed a BA in Graphic and Media Design a few years previously and suddenly found myself with a qualification I didn’t really want to use, and feeling too young to make any ground breaking decisions found a temping job in the city to make ends meet. This job quickly became full time and after four years’ I decided it wasn’t for me. There was no scope for the creative and I missed it. I missed the dark room, my camera, I couldn’t see things properly anymore, my vision had narrowed and I needed to get out. As if by magic the company announced their move to Oxfordshire and offered my friends and I voluntary redundancy. Within hours I had drafted my acceptance letter and so here I am, eight years later, happy to be doing what I know I was put here to do.

With hindsight, the temping job, redundancy and subsequent career change was a well planned path. When I left publishing so did my friends, they all went off to shiny new jobs most of which required photographers and I became their obvious first choice. With no strict training I learnt the art of being a photographer on the job. As well as being exciting times they were also petrifying, my flash gun the scariest beast of all! My BA had taught me how to use my film camera and develop the black and white photos I was taking; I had learnt about composition and light and capturing the moment; my dissertation had focused on subjectivity in the art of war photography; Photoshop was a new tool, and we still used floppy discs. So I was slightly on the back foot and decided to take a week off and do a crash course in studio lighting. An odd choice but it got me back in the classroom and at my old college, Central St. Martins, where I learnt – once again – how to see light. Feeling more confident I started touting for work, both cold calling and begging friends to hire me, I worked mostly for free covering book launches, author portraits, weddings and then got an assisting job with a food photographer. For two years I lived off the leftovers of the food we were shooting in the studio whilst quietly setting myself up as a photographer in my own right.

It isn’t and hasn’t been easy. Photography is a competitive industry and constantly changing. Cameras now do more and suddenly everyone can be a photographer with minimum effort but I don’t want to get on my soap box about that…

I was first drawn to photography on a trip to the Grand Canyon when I was ten years’ old. The scale of the canyon was awe inspiring and I vowed to go back one day when I had a ‘proper’ camera and take some ‘proper’ photos. I never forgot and eventually in 2011 I fulfilled that dream – of which there are still many.

Philippa Gedge - Bright Angel, Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon was one of my earliest inspirations. I can still remember my reaction of seeing it for the first time. It can take time to find what inspires you: time and patience and experimentation. Inspirations also change with age. Seeing what other artists are up to and going to exhibitions and the theatre are all inspiring but don’t reach those depths that seeing the sea or riding my bike does. I grew up in Dorset, near the coast and amongst green hills in a small market town. I always liked going to the beach, back then it was an excuse to eat chips and play in the waves but now I like to just sit and gaze at the view. I get energy from it and it clears my mind, allowing me to think clearly, a sort of meditation but with open eyes and sea gulls. I am always the most thoughtful after a visit to the seaside and find that I can deal with anything.

Philippa Gedge - Walking the dog in West Bay, Dorset

bill-brandt-31Bill Brandt, the 20th century photographer, was also inspired by the sea and used the beaches of England and France in his work. His unusual images of colossal ears, arms and hands on pebbly beaches were disturbing abstract portraits of his subjects – who he was reportedly too shy to shoot – and inspired the painter in me. Latterly he was at the forefront of my mind on my recent ‘ear’ shoot.

 

 

After two years as a food photographer’s assistant I eventually tired of subjects with no voice and no soul – a fruitarians argument would start here – and wanted to explore the area I knew most about, people. I love people. Now many would argue that we all do but I am a self confessed voyeur, I am nosey, I like to pry and hear about how other people live their lives. Being a spy was out of the question – I’m not cunning enough – and so portrait photography was the next best thing. Portrait photography can be tough. It is deemed a luxury product and so convincing people they want and actually need to have beautiful portraits of themselves is a hard task but is always well worth it. Sure anyone can take a simple head shot but can they light the subject, use a flattering angle, the right lens for the job and keep the subject at ease doing it? I’d argue not and so that’s why people hire us. We know how to get the best out of our subjects and this comes with experience. Whether it is on the street or in the studio there is a list of factors that are key to a successful photograph: light, composition, angle and content. My ‘Navimag’ series shot in Chile in 2009 are a good example of waiting until the light is just right. They were taken after a storm as the sun set over the Pacific and show fellow passengers on the ferry.

For some people these factors come naturally, others have to practice hard to achieve them. Elliott Erwitt, the Magnum photographer known for his black and white documentary photographs focused on irony and the absurd in everyday life. His work is always un-posed and appears snapshot-like but you can see that he just had an eye for composition. He always knew where to stand to get the best shot and instinctively did it. His work is unforced and always beautiful. Having studied the Magnum photographers closely during my dissertation I was heavily influenced by their style, in particular by that of Henri Cartier-Bresson, the French photojournalist famous for always being able to capture the moment. My ‘Girl in the cafe’ below was taken during this period of my life and is my most sold image to date. When I ask people why they love it the words ‘nostalgia’ and ‘romance’ are the most common.

Philippa Gedge - The Girl in the Cafe, Stoke Newington, London

I am constantly trying to find the romance in a photograph. In a portrait and at a wedding it might be a look of love or vulnerability. At an event it is usually an emotion or gesture and when I travel it is most often a feeling that will remind me of that place, a certain angle or detail that will remind me what I felt at the time. When an emotion isn’t so obvious it is the photographer who needs to create one. Very early on I understood the theory of this but didn’t know how it would ever be possible. How would I ever be able to direct people and steer them into a mood I had generated? And how can you find an emotion somewhere where one doesn’t really exist? Eve Arnold once said, “If a photographer cares about the people before the lens and is compassionate, much is given. It is the photographer, not the camera, that is the instrument.”

mayilyn-by-eveTechnicalities aside we are there to create and if the subject is crying when we need a smile then we need to step up and shift things around. To be a good photographer you need to like people and learn to be patient with them. One of my favourite photographs is of Marilyn Monroe taken by Eve Arnold in 1961 and shows Marilyn resting between shoots on-set of ‘The Misfits’. She is relaxed with Eve and everything about the shot is effortless. The light is soft, Marilyn’s skin is soft, the sheets are soft, it shows a much harassed woman at rest, it is peace, it is romantic.