Tag Archives: Photography

Gorgie, Edinburgh – the Dickensian aspect.


Gorgie Road in April – spring doesn’t exist here (and never will). Gorgie is the dark side of Dickens, but with an inordinate volume of shitty cars, manky kebabs, and unwashed tracksuits. The pubs are usually okay if you leave before sundown. Nothing else to see here.

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Edinburgh roundabouts ….


This park is usually frequented by mutilated junkies off their tits or those wee post-Noughties hipster kids taking selfies on the swings (the Decline of Western Civilisation). You are, however, blessed once in a blue moon (Definition: informal, very rarely) by these kind of vignettes. Silence. No one in sight. Lovely.

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Gorgie/Dalry – then and now.


Some eerie, bittersweet photos in The Scotsman newspaper today of shopfronts in 1981 Gorgie and Dalry, all snaps taken by then-art student Catherine Stevenson.

Link to article:




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The Americans (1958) – Robert Frank.


Swiss-born émigré Robert Frank is still alive, now a venerated pioneer at ripe old age of 92. Perhaps it takes an outsider to capture the United States in all its contradictions and peculiarities, how else to explain how his The Americans remains the peak of photojournalist style – a little regarded anachronism upon initial release but now viewed as one of the most enduring photographic works of the last century (no hyperbole, it’s a pantheon piece).


Frank sees things no other photographer of that time did, such was the head-scratching curiosity behind the lens. In his stills everything is in uneasy transition, demographics colliding, wary-of-each-other generations co-inhabiting within the same evolving social and physical landscape.


These photos could even be mistaken as present-day portraits of America in the age of Trump, albeit shot in black and white and developed in one of those dark rooms of yesteryear, shoddily framed, apparently without regard for stylistic form and technical mastery. If Frank were to document the effects of so-called Globalism on Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania I offer the content would be eerily similar to his ’58 magnum opus.


Further reading/viewing:




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D-Day – then and now.


I love these concoctions. What do you call them? I think this is Omaha Beach, 6 June, 1944 (though I could be wrong). It’s stuff like this that gives these historical photos real reverence. The record almost comes alive here.

Further reading:


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Iconoclasm and ‘truth’ – challenging the official narrative.

Iconic moments of recent history are inseparable from the defining image which catapults them into popular consciousness – the Moon Landing, ‘Tank Man’ at Tiananmen Square, that famous kiss on VJ Day.

It’s only through viewing other photographic sources that we can escape the prism of these force-fed yarns and experience events three-dimensionally.


I see some accompanying images of articles and do wonder why, time and time again, the same stock image is used. It’s as if the rest have been erased and this one is the last Malteser in the box.

Every single piece I’ve ever read about the JFK Assassination is accompanied by stills of the Zapruder film, which has served as the basis for conspiracy theorising and debunking. No one denies its value, but it has to a large extent conveniently encapsulated and simplified the entire discourse (the ‘death’ of the American Dream, the dawn of cynicism) into a singular artefact.


It’s in our nature to seek easy explanations. What happened immediately before and after the event has been sidelined (with the causal factors and consequences), the icon seemingly enough to digest. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. That’s the problem. There’s only one picture doing the rounds.

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Civil War wacky snappage.

I must confess, I do find many an American Civil War snap to be an absolute hoot. As insensitive as it is considering the carnage of the feud, they, not Union Army general-in-chief George B. McClellan, remain for me the real mystery of the war (see U.S. Grant observation). A combination of obscenely long exposure times and the photographer and subjects’ conscious imitation of the stylistic conventions of painting results in the most otherworldly, seemingly out-of-place actors and scenes ever captured in conflict.


Lincoln and ‘chums’.

It’s as if smiling would impart a lack of gentlemanly elegance, or worse, a madness recorded for posterity. The classical aesthetic is at total odds with the haphazard, improvised nature of the battles and campaigns that claimed the lives of an estimated 620,000 men.


Lincoln and McClellan.

I picture generals halting their chatter of logistics and supplies to stare passively into space in a kind of Victorian ‘Mannequin Challenge’ whilst the bloke with the big fuck-off camera got his photo. Ghostly (or alternatively ghastly) images, they are utterly bizarre to behold.


Ulysses S. Grant, standing (centre).

Further reading:




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