Thursday, 24 December 2009

Christmas and a few words about the times to come

Guests have arrived to my mother's house. It has stopped raining, and the leg of deer that I have in the oven is almost ready. There's a Pedro Ximenez, cranberry and apple sauce going with it, so fingers crossed.

I have been ill during these last days, and extremely busy. Maciej Dakowicz and I are opening the Third Floor Gallery in Cardiff Bay in February. We have the first two shows scheduled already (if you're interested, get in touch, even if it's because of curiosity on how things work). I just bought the domain but we have not set up the page yet. Next goes creating something followable on facebook and flickr, so that people can stay in touch. It is going to be quite a blast. Exciting photography is coming up and I must say I'm excited myself. On the other hand it is all quite hard work and economically risky, but once in a lifetime it's worth trying. It has been a very long journey to get to this point, and it all started about a year ago.

So, I'll stop emailing, registering stuff, and so, get back to my leg of deer and wish a merry xmas.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Good times are rolling for the street

It looks like as of late lots of momentum on street photography are actually turning into products, physical objects, things you can see and find around. Up to a point this comes from the pressure and drive generated online, and how the net has allowed the few distant practitioners to group together.

Some selected items:

Publication, is the first street photography magazine to date, as far as I know. It is published twice a year and is made out of a little magazine with essays and interviews (Meyerowitz, i.e.) and 22 lovely prints on heavy paper and nicely edited together. You can buy it for £14.

David Solomons has self published two great books. One of them, Happenstance, is the best of his black and white work to date. It is a great book, with a nice flow, and very stylish pictures. The second one, Underground, reveals the underground life of the London Tube lighted up by Solomons' flash, in fascinatingly contemporary colour. You can get both books for £30, which is a steal.

Jouko Leskelä has published Tilannekuvauksen Opas. It's a title in Finnish, but as far as I know is the first practical guide to event and street photography. It covers things from themes and methods to practical tips given by the author. The style is very approachable (many of the photographs are very approachable too!) and the tips instead of patronizing just reflect the practice of the author. I wonder if something similar (or a translation) will appear in English. Price online is 24e.

Friday, 11 September 2009

Dr Karanka's Print Stravaganza: LONDON - 9th of October

The next Print Stravaganza is going to take place in The Others, in East London on the 9th of October as part of the London Photomonth. Samuel Bedford is the main organizer of this one. You're still on time to submit your work. Also, I have finally figured out how to use paypal to process donations for the Stravaganza. Yes, the Stravaganza is as close to free as it gets, but everybody is running some costs. Now the main one is submitting the accumulated work to the next venue, because we have several kilograms of prints. Samuel has been doing a great job, and the event in London will have promotion such as fliers, which incurs in extra costs. If you wonder whether your donation will be well spent, check the photographs of the events that you can find here.

Anyway, there's the donation button:

Sunday, 30 August 2009


It's fun when photographs mirror other photographs. This is mine, from some night out in Cardiff not that long ago:

And this one is from the Ma'alot massacre 35 years ago:

(Thanks to nir kristal for noticing.)

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Paintings and stuff

I was feeling a bit bloated about photography and I wandered into the Martin Tinney Gallery. This is a private art gallery I've heard of pretty positive reviews, and it's a nice large space. It's strange to check out paintings when what you do and see most of the time are photographs. It's a bit like surviving a year on documentaries and then watching two musicals in a row. I do wonder, though, how much the bluntness, and the twisting of reality that photography provide influence my taste in painting. Most of it was tremendously boring: landscapes, more landscapes, some portraits, a nude. Very few non figurative work actually, and of the little there was, I could not judge on its merit (didn't really make an impression).

I did really like some work, though.

Darren Hughes had up a number of very bleak landscapes. The dark tones, and often the extremely large fields of view resembled panoramic photographs. They were a depressing but beautiful view of the valleys. Lots of rain and fog on top of the hills.

Kevin Sinnott was my favourite, though. Interesting compositions of town life with some contemporary twists here and there, like a painting of a chap free running up a bus stop with some girls watching, or a country scene by a house that randomly happens to have naked figures in one of the groupings. I've not been able to find either one of these online, so I'll show some other of his pieces. Once again, I'm afraid I could see the first one of these being a scene shot with a Mamiya 7.

To further dig into the paralelism with the photography world, I thought that the work of Sally Moore deeply resembled things that you could find in Flickr Explore. Some sort of pop crowdpleasing. Maybe I'm just a very boring guy.

Saturday, 27 June 2009


Slowly, mindfist is growing and developing. We're a collective of photographers with intentions. I think we got together because we know how we can do things, not really knowing what things to do. Maybe I'm tired, but it's a bit like those Pistols lyrics of "I don't know what I want but I know how to get it". It's a melting pot, a small one, but the good thing is that we're all motivated. Not the best photographers or curators, but hopefully we are aware of our limitations and stick to small pieces of work that are achievable with our limited talent. Well, maybe not that limited.

Mat Newton drives his photography sideways, I think. When things start to work, he'll get interested in something different and bring it to a visually finished point somehow. He has his urban growth gallery on mindfist. Cyril Costilhes is stuck in a small town. He dreams of travelling but all he has to shoot is a corner of the French riviera. A sunny but dark town which walks the line between being empty and overcrowded, where the elderly come to die under the sun. His Down the Riviera gallery is on mindfist. Gareth Jelley is chasing the dragon. The subject of his photographs seems to have just disappeared at the blink of the eye or be at some distance in the future. Often, they are fragments of diaries to which the viewer has no access. Other times, they are stories that draw from cinema. He has been working on several series on mindfist. Then we have Philip Koch and Diada. Diada is pure photography. So pure she's not had time to put the camera down to stop and show what's going on inside her head. I've seen the stuff, and I know it's coming up soon. There's some faith you need for the waiting as there's some faith you need for getting into her images. Philip is mad, and will prove it too. He's sort of both the black sheep and the ingenious mastermind of mindfist. I have two sets in mindfist. Each tries to be presented in its own fashion, the way that resembles the most the way they would be presented in a physical form.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Into the mainstream

I shot a handfasting (sort of a wedding) last weekend. In nice sweet 220 colour film in square format. It's kind of fun to give a go to what is the ultimate breadmaker of the professional photographer. I got the film processed pretty fast, so I'm already making a dummy of the book. This is misleading in the speed, as I only got low res scans of the film, and the final copy will need rescanning of all the images that are bound to be printed.

Anyway, a truly enjoyable experience.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Shortcuts in photography: nudity = intimacy

It's quite surprising how bad photography is for capturing certain things. The lack of narrative of single images and even sequences is a large handycap compared to mediums better suited for such things (as literature or cinema). One of the main 'cheap tricks' that this has led to, I think, is the equation nudity = intimacy in photography. As soon as we have somebody naked in a remote location (tree, lake, desert) or in an enclosed space (hotel room, house), there is this tendency to give intimacy to the shot. In some cases this is the case, as with Sally Mann's Immediate Family, where the artist photographed her own children for years. But more often than not, just an illusion of closeness is created. The nudes of 100th East Street by Bruce Davidson comes to mind. I like the work, but, what's their purpose and how did the photographer get there? It's not as clear cut as Mann's work.

Anyway, if you like the nudity = intimacy equation, you might want to sign up for the newsletter Nofound(secret). It's limited to 5000 subscriptors.

Friday, 15 May 2009

Fuck, let's do it, and cheap

For me one of the main problems I have with photography is that there's not much for show where I live. Yeah, we have the ffotogallery that's cool but it's a) miles away, and b) very small. When I look at prints (and I've seen loads), I don't see them as extremely expensive items. Of course, with speculation some pieces might go for ridiculous prices, but if I asked a photographer mate of mine to send me a dozen of 8x10'' prints, it wouldn't cost him that much. That's why I set up the Dr Karanka's Print Stravaganza, which is now on a world tour. I mean, come on, if you love photography you can move your butt and send a few cool prints. And I can do my part and stick them up somewhere. And you, lurker, pop by and have a beer. Seriously, that simple, and with good results.

First I had it at home. It was pretty cool, but there wasn't that many people. The space was ok, but to make the most of it everything worked by blue tack and no attempts of framing:

Then I found a social club that gave me a room to show in. Again, very few people, but a pretty cool place to show with nice atmosphere and good beer. The show was further smartened up by using frames:

Then the whole lot of prints went to Bologna, Italy. We had a whole social house in an old market to work in. I mean, it was massive. Luckily the guys of Fotografi di Strada (twelve, fifteen of them?) were around for a good six hours of work sorting through prints, editing, sticking, gluing, making panels, hanging stuff. This time we had so much space that we arranged some 'solo' walls. On top of that there were three bands and two dj's. The whole thing carried on till 7am.

What I'm trying to say is, if you love photography, it's time to stop complaining and starting to do stuff. It doesn't need to be expensive, you don't have to do it every week, but let's just fucking throw a ball every now and then. If I get any kind of random invitation I'll most probably accept than decline, and most probably promote it too. I must say I'm quite busy, though, trying to get the photography collective I am part of into an organization that can also promote some shows. But also trying to sneak some vans displaying photography into Rencontres d'Arles. I must say this last idea is by Laura Rodari, but it's too cool to not think about it.

(Photographs, in order, by Joni Karanka, Maciej Dakowicz, David Wilson and pizzafellas.)

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Dr Karanka's Print Stravaganza @ Bologna

Dr Karanka's Print Stravaganza keeps on growing and opens on Saturday at XM24 in Bologna. The event will have also plenty of music and assorted mayhem. If you're around that bit of Italy, pop in for a beer and say hello. You might even enjoy the Bitchy Heart Killers, who knows.

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Diane Arbus in Cardiff

There will be an exhibition of 69 prints by Diane Arbus at the National Museum here in Cardiff on the 9th of May (although I can't find it on their site). If you can, contact the Museum about the opening event taking place on the 7th of May...

I managed to find a note about the whole thing in USA Today. Worryingly little publicity about this, so I'll try to confirm my rvsp.

Friday, 17 April 2009

Dr Karanka's Print Stravaganza - Tonight at the New Park Liberal Club

I'm going to hang the stuff for a week tonight in the New Park Liberal Club. There are some images of the last Stravaganza:

Starting at 6pm the a part of the same photographs (I got submissions from 60 photographers) will be hanging at the Club, that looks like this:

Thursday, 9 April 2009

East of the river Taff

As of late I've been shooting during the day around the neighborhoods of Cathays, Roath, Penylan and Splott. I like the chaos of the back alley.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Dr Karanka's Stravaganza: aftermath

This is what the walls looked like on Saturday:

I'm probably hanging the prints next Wednesday on the wall of the New Park Liberal Club in City Road for about a week. After that they are shipped to Bologna for the following event there. If you live around Bologna, stay tuned.

(Photographs by Maciej Dakowicz)

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Daily Telegraph steals the photographs of my mate, adds them enfuriating captions and publishes the whole lot

The Daily Telegraph has published online this set of photographs, that are the work of Maciej Dakowicz. This was done without asking for permission, with no payment and not even credit on the photographs. Some of the captions have been twisted on the interest of the Telegraph, even if they are untrue. I've sent them a complaint, but I wonder if they'll read it. Here it goes:

Regarding your article on "shocking photographs of drunken behaviour in Cardiff" (

You migh at least want to contact the photographer (Maciej Dakowicz), as I doubt he has given his consent in the online publication of these photographs. Among others, his name has not been cited anywhere. Also, some of the claims that have been added as captions to the photographs are untrue. One of them is that people in one of the photographs are being beaten and kicked, which I think might not be the case although the editor has happily claimed so. Another claim is that people perform sex surrounded by other people. Such sexual acts are not depicted in any of the photographs, so I think that it's again the fault of a "trigger happy" editor.

Photographers are not very keen on having their work robbed by established magazines and newspapers, so I'd like to ask for this article to be removed or ammended with the consent of the photographer.

Joni Karanka

Friday, 3 April 2009

Dr Karanka's Stravaganza - Cardiff

Tomorrow I'll be showing in my living room prints from a lot of photographers. I've been receiving these over the last month, and once they are placed in a box they will be sent to Bologna. Dates: tomorrow from 6pm in 41 Arran Street, Cardiff. On the 9th of May in XM24, via fioravanti 24, 20100 Bologna.

Some picks:

Cyril Costilhes

Joni Karanka

Vicky Slater

Ben Roberts

Jules Boast

Maciej Dakowicz

Thursday, 2 April 2009

White Sea Black Sea - Jens Olof Lasthein

I got today White Sea Black Sea by Jens Olof Lasthein. Its imagery is some of the busiest I've seen as of late. Each panoramic photograph is almost a portrait, street photograph and landscape all in one. Everywhere that you look in each frame there is something going on. One photograph has four geese walking on a line in a corner and I find it over the top. It is actually so busy that by reaching the end of the book I feel bloated. It is good though the story on the change of Eastern Europe has been done before. By the way, this pretty book is going at £15 on amazon.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

A Thousand Portraits

My mate Eamon Lane and Carlo Nicora have shot Thousand Portraits. In one weekend they shot 1000 people in London. This gives a very short term description (everybody there in one slice of time) of what you can find there. Reminds me of that Borges short story, On Exactitude in Science, in which the cartographers guild produces a map of the realm that describes the realm in a 1:1 scale, and so, occupies the whole realm.

Friday, 20 February 2009

Photographicon - Exhibition at Newport

Next week I'm taking part in an exhibition by Newport documentary photography students (as a guest). It's entitled Photographicon and I just finished framing my photographs. Should be viewable from Monday evening till the next week, and takes place at the Newport School of Art, Media and Design.

(Photograph by Chiara Tocci)

Friday, 23 January 2009


Back into work. Replaced yesterday my laptop and started scanning again today. First picture comes from Somerset, and is from the first roll shot with my new half frame camera.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Things to keep myself busy

I've lately been shooting sequences of images with a half frame. I've started to write papers out of my thesis to get something published. At the end of the month I'm going to Finland. First Helsinki, later Karstula. It will be freezing. I have to start scanning again (I don't have a laptop due to a burglary) to put things together. I bought a Mamiya 6, and hopefully it will make its way from Korea before travelling. There's some C41 in the shop around the corner, developing. I'll see if the Olympus Pen works or whether I'm wasting my time with the half frame. I bought it for 3 euros, and at a rate of 72 frames for a 36 roll of 35mm, it seems like a good deal.

If you have been missing street photography, check these interviews with Mike Peters at the b blog and Jesse Marlow at the f blog.

F double feature

Some of the stuff I shot in 2008, at the f blog. Part 1 and part 2. Both from my slightly massive night project by now entitled last orders (this link leads to older images).