Magnum Photographer Peter Marlow reviews Everyday Olympian

Winning the Magnum Shocase Sports award with Ideas Tap gave me the unique opportunity to have my work reviewed by none other than Magnum photographer Peter Marlow. See the competition entries and my winning images here:

This is what he had to say about my work:

Jaskirt I really like the ambition in this work, you have sensibly chosen to photograph accessible people within sport, going ‘local’ rather than photographing the ‘stars’ which nowadays with all  the sponsorship deals and security are almost impossible to photograph within a free and open context.

Perhaps it is the use of a medium format camera, or the consistent lighting,  that has helped to give the set a consistent ‘feel’. (I think when you know each shot has a cost attached to it in concentrates the mind and the eye, as so much of what we do these days with digital photography is designed to be deleted.)

I really do think you captured something here by maintaining a consistent energy in the portraits, with direct eye contact and flat expressions, I would say that I think the first image is the strongest, not because of the swimmers outfit, but because it seems like we can ‘know’ this person, something intangible is revealed by the way he is looking at you. I would use this as a model for any further work you do on this project, see how this photograph works and understand why some of the others do not.

Keep the shape and format constant! I think the set is weakened by the fact that there are some where you crop into the heads of the subjects, and others where the person is smiling. It will be much stronger if you address this to create a typology of images. Use a chinagraph pencil and draw a line on the viewfinder, (Or insert a transparent acetate) mark where you want the persons eyes in the frame, and the  scale of how they sit within it. Remember that very slight changes here can have a huge effect on the final set of images. Use the first image to create this ‘mask’ then roll out some more portraits within these strict limitations. It will help you! You will not worry so much about how to compose the image because that has already been pre-determined and decided, you can then concentrate on the person and the expression you need.

Try looking at the subject directly and not through the finder of the camera when you are shooting, your engagement with the person will then come across in the final image. (Look at Avedon’s ‘In The American West’ this is exactly what he used to do with his large format 10×8 plate camera, or better still see if you can find Laura Wilson’s book on how he worked, see attached)

Well done, and good luck with any further work. I hope you can continue to build on this work, I would love to see more!

Peter Marlow


Sunday Times Magazine – my image is front cover of Spectrum!!!

My photograph from Everyday Olympian featured in the Sunday Times Magazine this weekend.

The Sunday Times mag did a ten page spread about the Foto8 Summershow that launches next weekend.  Check out this fab blog post to see more:

Wednesday 4th July – Artist Talk about Everyday Olympian exhibition and more, at the Drum Arts Centre.

Jaz Dhami at Birmingham Mela

The beautiful people project on Develop Tube

The beautiful people project and my Coventry University photographic residency featured on Develop Tube.

– this includes a video I’ve made with Jason Tilley on his residency at the university and on his 10 year long project called ‘The beautiful people project’ based in India.

Vanley Burke – what a inspiration

A Birmingham legend and an internationally recognised photographer, it was my complete pleasure to meet Vanley Burke this week. Set up through my Kalaboration commission, Vanley sat and chatted with me for a few hours about his life and work as a photographer. And how inspirational it was. Firstly there were no airs and graces about him and it was as if I was catching up with an old friend! He told me about the projects he’s done in South Africa and meeting Nelson Mandela, he spoke to me about his first Kodak prize which gave him the belief to pursue photography as a passion and so much more priceless advice. Photography for him is a ‘labour of love’ as he put it and he carries a camera with him everywhere.

a famous Vanley Burke image from the 1970’s

This is in contrast with me, as I don’t always carry my camera around with me, in fact sometimes I pointedly leave it at home and have no interest in taking images all the time. Vanley’s style is different to mine that’s for sure, and the quality of his work goes without saying. His passion and enthusiasm for it is something I hope to have when 30 years from now too, he has long been in this game.

Key advice from chatting to Vanley Burke:

  • Don’t give up your day job
  • Shoot in Black and White (although I’m a colour girl tbh he was twisting my arm round to B&W for sure!!) for one of my new project ideas
  • Have several projects on the go so that when you have a creative block in one, hopefully shooting another will solve of keep you distracted from the other
  • It isn’t the camera or technology you use but the moments you are able to capture, or something to that affect
  • Follow your passion and believe in yourself
  • Have a political standpoint or social persepective to your work. Especially being a documentary photographer it’s important to know what and how your work fits into the cultural/social/political/historical context your putting it in. Something that I’ve heard reiterated many time this year by fantastic portrait photographer and lecturer Jonathan Worth too.

What I’ve realised from chatting with people like Vanley Burke and Jason Tilley these last couple of months is that I have to stay true to who I am and continue to shoot projects that I’m passionate about, otherwise I may risk losing that enthusiasm for photography all together.

See more of Vanley Burke’s work here:

Interview on BBC WM

BBC WM radio are interviewing me this evening about my Everyday Olympian exhibition. Can’t wait, although I have in hindsight realised the England match is on at the same time, never mind will sky+ it and watch on the return home!! Come on England!

Listen to the whole interview here:

Alice Baker reviews ‘Out of Focus’ exhibition at Saatchi gallery

My student Alice Baker has wrote a fab short review of the Out of Focus exhibition at the Saatchi gallery, that we visited this week. Have a read and visit her website to look at her work:

Matthew Day Jackson – ‘The Lower 48 – Wyoming

The Out of Focus Exhibition presented a variety of interesting, mainly contemporary photographs. In particular, the work of Matthew Day Jackson – ‘The Lower 48 – Wyoming’ – stood out, due mainly to the way in which it was chosen, a montage of rock faces which looked stunningly comfortable as a set, but then presented deeper meaning when looked at more closely – the rocks suggesting facial features, cleverly enhanced by Day Jackson’s use of natural light. Focusing on a completely different genre, but equally, if not more beautiful is the work of Matt Collishaw, in particular ‘Madonna’, whose use of singular coloured tiles to create stunning whole images is breath taking. Overall, the diversity of the work displayed creates an enjoyable, suited to most, viewing.

Matt Collishaw, ‘Madonna’