1 September 2023
I created this image as an entry into the 2021 Potato Photographer of the Year competition (RIP).
In case this esteemed competition passed you by, it was the child of Benedict Brain’s brain, and was first launched in 2020, inspired by photographer Kevin Abosch’s image of a potato which sold for $1million in 2016.
I was attracted to the competition for a few reasons: all proceeds from the comp’s £5 entry fee went to The Trussell Trust, to help provide food for those in poverty, there was no rights grab, and it seemed to be a light hearted rebuke to all the money grabbing, rights grabbing photography competitions which proliferate now. Plus, I was bored, and it seemed fun. Then I got carried away.
This is a series of images of a potato in motion, the motion only evident when you image a spud at 120,000 frames a second. It even leaves the ground at one point. This is a scientific revelation, but it is apparently of no use to the scientific community. Bastards. I have had some interest from Heston Blumenthal however.
I had entered the comp the previous year, managing a solid 2nd place, and was determined to better that. Unfortunately the esteemed judges did not appreciate the revelatory nature of the content (I blame Martin Parr, he clearly knows nothing about potatoes) and I came 6th. I therefore cannot claim to be the greatest potato photographer in the world.
1 August 2023
The summer of 1976… I remember it oh so well…it was hot with a capital ‘H’….
I was just starting to crack the London national press freelance market getting regular ‘shifts’ (at about £15 a day) from The Sun, BBC News, The Times and UPI (United Press International)…it was a busy time often working two shifts a day starting at 8am and going past midnight at The Sun….great times to be a stringer!
In the middle of the summer the country experienced a major heat wave with stand pipes in the streets supplying water and dozens of fires on the heathlands of Surrey and Sussex. I was based in Islington and so I got the London ‘Hot Weather’ gigs for all my clients…not too difficult as London was melting.
This picture was shot in Trafalgar Square whilst walking around town hunting for a picture…it was never published as it was almost impossible to print with extreme shadows and highlights. I found the neg a couple of years back and made a nice scan playing with the details in Photoshop until producing this image…a memory of nearly 50 years back!
1 July 2023
I have lived on the Isle of Wight most of my life. This is the view from the Military Road down into Freshwater Bay and along the cliffs to Tennyson Down. The road runs along the dramatic south west coast. It was part of the coastal defence network and was upgraded during the 1930s as a link between forts and barracks, protecting the Island from invasion. Hitler considered occupying the Island as part of his invasion plan for Britain, “Unternehmen Seelowe” (Operation Sealion). This area is also part of the Jurassic Coast known for its geology and the proliferation of fossils, most notably the Iguanodon, a large herbivorous dinosaur.
The north coast fronts onto the Solent, celebrated for sailing events and maritime history. The main event is Cowes Week, it is the largest sailing regatta of its kind in the world, with up to 8,000 competitors crewing about 1000 boats. It has been running since 1862.
This project has been going on since I started photography back in the late 70s. I am considering a small book and exhibition sometime soon.
1 June 2023
Vienne is on the site of an old Roman town situated on the Rhône River thirty kilometres south of Lyon. Being an avid jazz enthusiast and photographer, I had discovered the festival in Nice on the Cote d’Azur in 1982 after five years shooting music in dark clubs and old friend Ronnie Scott’s in Frith Street London, although my first jazz photographs were taken at the Lisbon Jazz Festival in 1971. When passing through Vienne on the A7 autoroute a friend told me about the festival which had started in 1984. I attended in 1988 and have been going ever since on the way south. Occasionally I flew back to the UK for an important commission, although one year I covered five festivals including San Sebastian. There were often commissions for editorial photography and descriptive text, and meanwhile I was building my Jazz & Blues Archive – An Eye for the Sound.
For Jazz à Vienne the main events take place in the Theatre Antique, a Roman amphitheatre seating eight thousand people. Access to the press photographers’ pit in front of the stage requires clambering over a very uneven and well-worn Roman wall in near darkness. Then begins the contest for the best position between twenty-five very competitive photographers. However, on this first night of the festival featuring Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin in a solo appearance, no one was allowed in the pit. This is becoming more frequent at festivals for photographers, who are often stationed a very long way back behind the mixing desk, from where a 500mm lens is not enough! I had to find a ‘view’ from the audience which was packed to the front of the stage on the wide flat area below the steep stone terraces of the amphitheatre. Who sat there 2000 years ago?! Now the only option is a crowded passageway behind this, about 50 metres from the stage with the seating already raised. Fortunately, being tall at 6’2”, I managed to find a narrow sightline between two peoples’ heads, glad that I had my monopod and prayed that they wouldn’t put their heads together.
Here is the full frame I was able to achieve at 200mm. Camera: Nikon 800E, Nikon VR 70-200mm f2.8. Exposure: 1/500th f4. ISO 800, not much light and not always on the performer! This was literally my last shot out of about fifty, before we were moved away, being over the proscribed time limit. I feel that it is a poignant image of a great old rocker from one of the greatest rock bands, expressing emotion, passion and dedication to the music.
A print from the cropped image of Robert Plant measures 1,20m x 0,85m, and has been exhibited at the AdLib Gallery in Fulham and the JM Gallery in Portobello Road. I feel that it is a poignant image of a great old rocker from one of the greatest rock bands, expressing emotion, passion, and dedication to his music. Considering the shoot conditions and enlargement the details are very well maintained. I have another project in the pipeline for an exhibition in the City later in the year with some of my personal favourites, perhaps comprising a separate showing of my desert and aerial work.
Here are some images from Vienne. All photographs ©Tim Motion/Jazz&Blues Archive