When I first met the wonderful Helen Sloan, she told me that all photographers are creeps. I was a bit taken aback, but she’s right - photographers want to see without being seen, to capture things that wouldn’t necessarily happen if people were aware that we’re there, quietly shooting away. Just as when this sleeping man caught my eye at Le 104 the other day, though I was quickly outcreeped by his girlfriend Agathe, who snuck in for a close-up. She’s also a photographer, of course.
I got some concerned calls from friends and family in Ireland when they saw I was out taking photographs at the Gilet Jaunes protests. I assured them I was fine, having learned a valuable life lesson during my first ever riot*.
The current protests also remind me of attending a much quieter riot during the winter of 2011 in New York.
And of going to the May Day riots in Berlin, which turned out to be a very civilised affair.
*I was seventeen and had just started taking photographs when I went my first riot, which kicked off during a squatter’s protest in Nørrebro, Copenhagen. Unfortunately I didn’t get any good pictures - after a few hours hanging around in case something happened, when it actually did I was too busy running down a narrow city street as fast as I could from a terrifying wall of charging police, equipped with dogs and waving long mahogany batons. I didn’t have a press card, but even if I had it would have made absolutely no difference - they were determined to pacify everyone on the street with extreme force, no matter who they were. So my top riot tip is this: in a riot, stay as far away as possible from the people who are most likely to hurt you, and those people are probably the police.
My book of New York photos is available online. Limited-edition prints from the book are available for purchase at The Copper House Gallery in Dublin. You can see a piece I did on New York for Narratively here.
L'Absinthe, 1876, by Degas
L'Absence, 2012, by me
About eighteen months ago I had a screenplay to finish and wanted to go somewhere warm, cheap and interesting* to get it done, and Lisbon sounded like it would be just the place. It didn’t happen in the end, but I did get to visit for a couple of days last January and very nice it was too.
*When a friend from Northern Ireland overheard what I was looking for, she couldn’t stop herself blurting out “Then why on earth would you move to Lisburn?”
I’ve just begun a new writing project.
“You look like the kind of people who probably bump into each other a lot...maybe at the same library” - Alan Sparhawk of Low, nailing the audience demographic at last night‘s gig in Rouen.
I’ve loved Low’s melancholy songs, distorted guitars and eerie harmonies for some time, so it was a real treat to get to see them live.
They didn’t disappoint, with this being a highlight of the evening.
Friday was supposed to be Brexit day. I took the train to London to see “Grief is a Thing with Feathers” at the Barbican. It was extraordinary. I walked through London the next day, and it has its own sense of loss at the moment. You can feel it.
I barely had a clue what I was doing. Talking to Jarlath recently reminded me of this promo, my very first outing as a lighting cameraman. It came out alright, though- I think wobbly cam was a thing back then. I connected with Siobhan again years later, and we got to hang out in Nashville when I was there to shoot a portrait for the So Far book.
Saw a great comment on the Youtube video, which I just had to respond to…
A quick visit, but I was able to see something I often pine for when I’m in Paris.
I also got to pick up the Irish edition of Nicole Flattery’s new book, which I’m really looking forward to reading. Nicole is a brilliant, seriously funny writer. I met her shortly after arriving in Paris, and we did some portraits in the Centre Culturel Irlandais that have become her author pictures.
There’s another portrait of her in the ‘Writers’ gallery which is being used as the author picture in the UK edition of the book. It’s out today - highly recommended.
I shot this portrait of Ali, a friend’s daughter, while working in Sri Lanka. I like it so much I made it part of my entry to this year’s lensculture portrait awards. Sometimes the simplest portraits are the best.
It was cold, half-overcast, but still good to be beside a body of water.