Friday, March 24, 2006

A Big Exhibition from a Small Photographer

An evolving photographic exhibition. A unique experience. Capturing the essence of all that happens on the High Street during the Fringe Festival.

The good, the bad and the ugly, and that’s just my photography. Each day new images caught and displayed. An insane idea for an exhibition. And for that I’m truly proud.
What other photographer would stake his or her reputation on an exhibition they have no idea of what will be on show. I could have my worst year ever and have nothing worthy of showing. But every year for the last six years I’ve taken that risk and always had something to show for it.

It gets harder and harder for me to achieve photographs that truly inspire me. I love every photo I take “that’s why I take photos,” but there are only ever a few that truly blow me away. Sometimes the more I seem to try to better the work I did the previous year the less I seem to do. So maybe this year I’ll not push myself for photographs. Just let nature take its course and just see what happens.

The end result will always be the same an exhibition covering as much as I can on the High Street updated daily.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Life on the Street

On the High street for the rest of the year away from August there is always a little activity.
Statues, bagpipers and street vendors.

Sean the caricture artist is on the High Street for most of the year.
Life outwith the festival for me means I can still find a little to keep me occupied.

Just enough to keep my eye in for life on the street in August.

So with "summertime" here and a chance of better light it's time to get back on the street and check my balance on those so important bollards.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Jo, Playing with Fire

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Tuesday, January 24, 2006

A Slight Pause and other stuff

Over the last few weeks I've been adding as many photographs as I can to my various blogs and Flickr badges, but I've run into a couple of problems. Cd's that won't open. So I've been hunting through my negative archive and re-scanning the original negatives. Thank God I'm on film!
These Cd's are only about 6 years old and have been sitting in a box for about that length of time.

I just don't trust digital photography. It's great for speed, but not for duration, it scares me the "fragility" of this whole new world.

It's a little like the story of "The Emperors New Clothes" Everybody is so happy with what they can "see", but it's that one voice from the crowd that everyone eventually hears.

My voice I think will be lost in the din of the crowd.

So if you find images on any page or badge with a different tag it may just have been because I've re-scanned and ended up with a different file name.

How many digital files have you lost and not been able to retreive?

Monday, January 09, 2006

The Happy Sideshow

As I have mentioned briefly before, I had never seen or photographed The Space Cowboy or Any of The Happy Sideshow until about 7 years ago.
When I got the shots I did of The Space Cowboy I just had to pass them on, and he wanted to give me something for them, but it's not why I really do this.
Through my contact with all the street performers I became a sought after photographer the year they, Shep, Captain Frodo, Tiger Lil and The Space Cowboy brought their Show to the Fringe and not just the street. They asked if I'd do some promo shots for them.
They were performing at Dynamic Earth. On the opening night I headed down to see them and get some photos.

But it seemed that Dynamic Earth had no idea of what they were letting themselves in for and almost wanted to cancel the show. But with tickets and posters printed and sold a compromise was agreed and the underground car park became their theatre.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

As everything Grows and Grows

Over the last few weeks things on my blog have started getting bigger and bigger.
There are now a few hundred photographs on my Flickr badges, there maybe a little duplication with one or two. More photos posted to pages I've completed previously.

Spent a little time over the Christmas, New Year break working my way through my negative archives from previous years.

The hardest thing about my collection of negatives is that most of the time I don't have a print for reference. Anyone whose been to my exhibition party will understand why.

So I spend a bit of time just choosing images at random, they may not be the image I was truly looking for , but they may just do..

Friday, November 11, 2005

An Exhibition with a difference

When everybody turns up.
It's a great feeling.
People that have been you're insparation over the years.
Performers you've admired for their skillful shows and outstanding performances. Not to mention TV and stage stars too.
But now they are here for me.


Like my photos.
Want to use them.
Please photo credit me and drop me a link and they can be yours.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Another Year Almost Over

The High Street returns to it's quiet, normal self. The stages have been taken down. The large pillars that the shows adorne with posters have been removed. And traffic once again flows up and down the High Street; amazing when it's only supposed to be buses and taxis.

Street shows no more. Random statues, some clown with a bongo drum (how annoying, that's why there are no photos of him!)

And at weekends Todd Various takes up his spot by St. Giles. this man is great.!!

There are not many photographers who can get away with photographing magicians from where I do, and as often as I do. But at least they know I'll only use photos they approve of and nothing that lets something out of the bag or the hat!

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The Biggest Photography Exhibition in The World

When you visit any normal exhibition, the photographer or artist has had weeks or months to prepare each individual piece he or she is going to display. They select frames, mounts and the images that show their best work.

They have an opening night where all their invited guests turn up to admire their wonderful work.

But not in my case. This is not your average photography exhibition.

The exhibition starts a couple of weeks before the start of August. Sunday mornings spent in the pub before opening time, armed with a pile of prints and a lot of blue-tac. Now I could have the prints placed in neat rows or exactly square on the wall, no I go for the random spacing and squint look. It's a time saving exercise. In twenty minutes you can have twenty prints mounted on the walls.

Then as the fun and festivities start on the High Street I start recording images. They are then processed and I spend about 30 to 40 minutes a day quickly going through each film choosing images I want people to see and those I've promised people they will see. There are no photography exhibitions where people get to see promised images.

This is not your formal photography exhibition. Photos are mounted to be prodded or, moved to see what's hiding underneath, and horror of horror they even get taken.

Not only do I spend my time putting together new boards, but I have to patch up old boards where gaps have appeared.

I have to thank the pub for being as helpful in that my stuff does take up a little of their staffroom space. Crates of photos and envelopes sorted into the different street performers and Fringe shows.

Each time someone comes down to visit I should be able to point them to the board they might find themselves on or even locate some prints I have put aside for them.

The more people that visit the less I have to take home after the Festival. Which for me is always a bonus. My living room is already bursting with photos.

So when do you visit an Exhibition like mine? Well the best answer is every day. Because what could be there one day might not be there the next. It's a pub venue, so the excuse to pop in for a drink or something to eat is another couple or reasons just to visit.

As for the opening night party, well I don't have one. My party night is the last night,or as close to the last night as I can fit into my hectic schedule.

So how was my last night party. Check out the full details in Fringe Photographer.


(first posted 12.9.2005)

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

How do you judge this?

On one day during the Festival I'd been photographing Sham, he'd just had one of his worst shows. I'd arrived at the point in his show were he was looking for a lighter to get his fire torches lit. I hurriedly passed up a lighter and he finished off his show.

He thanked me profusely for being there at just the right time. As we were chatting someone approached, passed Sham his details and told him about a competition of street performers he was organizing. Sham took the details, but said politely that it was not really something he would consider. He brought me into the conversation at this point, with as many years watching and photographing street performers how can you judge different types of show.

If one show is unicycle based, one is on a pole. Does the performer juggle or escape. How do you judge.

People have their favorite performers. But each performer is still different.

The Space Cowboy wildly entertaining, JP amazing skill and dexterity. Stickman flamboyant and totally dedicated. And everyone else out there way to numerous to mention.

Every performer top of their game, if they weren't they would have no audience watching them.

Competition is about how good one person is, on the High Street in my view everyone is No.1.

The Cagebirds Great Show, Last Show.

This year my last week became quite hectic. Organising my final big party, review and photos to follow.

But to finish my run of theatrical show to shoot I'd chosen "The Cagebirds." Six women and the perception or stereotypes of women in life. Each giving their individual all. Delivering their pice to the audience with the applume of any West end Production in London.

Visual, of course, I don't like photographing avantguare theatre, where actors or actresseses are in black leotards, no sets and the audience imagines what is to be true. It might be great theatre, but not great for a photographic exhibition.

The Cagebirds, delivered great theatre. Five film show, of course. Next year I think i'll have to up my standards. Because this year no bad shows. Everyone a winner in my book.

New Faces, Beautiful Show.

Arriving on the High Street for the last week of the Festival I'd reached a point I'd not experienced before. That third and final week. My only sight of the last week had ever been the hour or so I could squeeze in after work, this was my first year with three weeks off, thanks to my boss for allowing me the time.

So what was I to expect. The street seemed a little quieter, shows that had finished their run had packed up and left. I'd said my goodbyes to friends old and new.

Now it was time to find new companies to annoy, sorry photograph.

On my usual vantage point I scanned the street, then I spotted just what I needed to give me boost for the start of my week, a couple of attractive young women, flyering. Perfect!

I jumped down camera and flyers in hand.

As I approached I was asked by one of the girls, "Would you like a flyer."
I of course accepted, this is my key.
"Well you have to pay the penalty"
"Well I have to take your photograph, and I have to give you one of my flyers."
Handing over my Exhibition flyer, I explained what I did and where the exhibition was.
In fact just across the road from their venue. "Perfect!"

There were six girls out flyering "The Cagebirds." It was their first Edinburgh Festival so they were new to the games played in flyering on the High Street. Also new to what can and can't happen on the High Street. They'd built a cage to promote their show, but Edinburgh Council officials had certified the structure to be unsafe for the street. "This got them Edinburgh Evening News Headlines."

The next day it was more of the same. Caught up with the girls again did some more photos. Asked about photographing their show, it would be my first time in The Garage venue.
That night as I was leaving the High Street, The Cagebirds were heading down to set up and get ready for their show. I tagged along, it would give me a chance to do one or two test shots and see how the kit I had would cope in the venue.

Did some shots, said my goodbyes for the evening and into The Hogshead for tea.

Next morning I headed into 1Stop Photo, had my films done from the previous night. Test shots looked great, probably have been the subject matter, more than the photography. When I met the girls later on the Street they would see the shots, and I'd have shots to use to put on a board to promote their show.

Having a Break

During my time on the High Street in August there is so much happening taking a break is almost impossible.

But I have managed to do so a couple of times in the last five years.

My breaks from the Fringe are still Fringe related.

I have a passion for portrait photography and a few years ago I met on the High street three girls who had spent most of the Fringe enjoying all that was on show. I told them about my Exhibition and managed to spend an hour just off the high street doing a few quick portraits.

Then in 2004 my friends from Firefly Productions had arrived with a new show and a few cast members I'd not met before. They are a hard working cast and crew and have little time off during their run at the Fringe. On one morning off I managed to convince three of the girls to come out, spend a morning seeing the sights of Edinburgh and have a few photographs taken.

In a couple of hours I managed to get a reasonable number of photographs done of each of them. Even as something done in my time off these photos would still be part of my Exhibition.
It was still August. It was still Edinburgh and all part of the Fringe experience.

During my time on the High street I've made friends with a lot of people and one of them thankfully is Nikki. After August 2004 I had decided to try my hand at studio portrait work. Not something I have to admit to being very good at or having had any experience of. So Nikki became my first studio model. And in our short time together has produced some of my finest photographic results.

This year I was a little busy and time off was a little hard to come by. But I did meet one or two people who I knew I wanted to photograph. The first was Caitlin and the second was Julija from La Clique.

Caitlin and Julija I managed to get one or two shots of during the Festival this year.
Julija I had hoped I'd have a little more time to photograph. But with her busy schedule it just didn't happen.
Caitlin I did manage to get to photograph after the Festival with some fantastic results, can't wait for the chance to work with her again.

Next year I'll just have to see how things go. Maybe I'll get some time off during the Festival. Maybe have found someome else to photograph in my time off, but even they will become part of the Biggest Exhibition in the World.

In The Begining

whenI came to start the exhibition six years ago. I did so with the help of friend and fellow photographer Craig.

The exhibition was my baby. My idea. Having a second person helping would certainly take a little of the strain from the work load I had forseen on the mile during the Festival.

Year two and we became official. The pub had raised the cash to get us an entry in the Fringe guide. And as luck would have it we got reviewed. A fantastic review in the British Journal of Photography. Not bad for a couple of ameutur photographers. I was on the High Street when I got a phone call from the pub, it was Maggie,
"Hi Andrew, we've just had someone in to see the exhibition, he wants to talk to you."
Nigel Shuttelworth, I'm in Edinburgh covering the photographic Exhibitions at the Fringe for the BJP. Your work is great, you really just shoot and use what you get, it's amazing.
"Yes there's nothing really corrected in any way I just don't have the time, and some of what you see might not be the best of our work, because we promise people photos will be on display."
"You promise people shots."
"Yes, theatre groups, street performers, they can come down and try and find themselves, so glad you like what we do."

The review was great. A tag line for any photographer. "One of the finest examples of street photography."

I could have given up then.

I ended up last year working alone, probably because I'm to hard a task master. Looking for to much, when you only get photographs as your reward. But for me that has always been reward enough.

All photographs © Andrew Brown

Saturday, June 18, 2005

To the Last Picture Show

Something I should have done years ago.

Add a link from here to the next blog.

The Last Picture Show