Lovely to have been invited for a nice chat with the fabulous Ross Grieve and Matt Jacobs on their popular Talking Shot Podcast.
We chatted about the COVID 19 lockdown, how I started out as a photographer, my career, inspirations, philosophies on journalism and even a little about the equipment I use. Hope you enjoy the conversation.
Inauguration of Lumen, the Museum of Mountain Photography, at 2275m, perched atop Mount Kronplatz-Plan de Corones, South Tyrolean Mountains and Dolomites, Italy.
The highs and lows of photography? Well, in this case, the very highest of highs of photography, in the highest museum dedicated to mountain photography, at 2275m. Part exhibition venue, part museum, part architectural magnificence and part a fabulous place to eat, Lumen was for me an illuminating visit to a very unique place.
Uniquely, one can visit the four floors, exploring 1800 square meters of phenomenal mountain photography, then step outside and try one’s own hand at photographing the splendid views from Kronplatz mountain, situated in the Pustertal Valley, South Tyrol, Italy. The sights of The Dolomites and the Alps is breathtaking.
Not only layered landscapes but also some action shots of free falling paragliders, mountain bikers or the more sedate pace of hikers exploring the trails or the beautiful mountain flowers. I have to say that my nine hours didn’t feel enough as I wanted to continue taking in all that was on show at the museum and also make my own photographs around the magnificent venue and the views and opportunities for imagery.
Lumen is possibly the most inspiring museum I’ve been to. It’s been thoroughly thought out, beautifully designed and curated with taste and aesthetic depth. As an outsider to the world of mountain photography, my mind was opened when presented with so many aspects of imagery about the subject. Mountaineers, climbing shots, shots from the summit, images of record, all shot in a documentary way, showing the amazing feats, but also beautifully creative images of mountains in the landscape. It’s fascinating to see how mountains are perceived by different nationalities or beliefs; places of freedom and leisure, holy places, symbols of ideology. Nature, culture and symbolism.
Even the elevator has been creatively designed, with a glass back looking at a giant, four floor Lightbox, showing a journey from the valley to the peak of the mountain. Beautifully conceived and executed. Get in, press level three and start from the top. One Starts the journey by looking at the work of the pioneers in mountain photography. There is a section dedicated to the changes in photographic technology, starting with the earliest of cameras from 1840 and moving through the eras to digital. Many nowadays would have ever seen a darkroom, so I was thrilled to see a darkroom set up, along with three trays showing the steps in the development of a print, all done digitally, so no chemical stains or scents in this darkroom, just knowledge and experience.
Along with the more traditional prints, there is a lot of innovation throughout the museum. Everything from Virtual Reality headsets, allowing the visitor to experience the mountain, through to an action packed audio visual room showing the thrills of the sport of climbing.
One of the most interesting rooms to explore in a fully immersive way, was the Speigelsaal with its mirror walls, floor and ceiling. One huge wall was a screen showing images of mountains, which were then infinitely reflected through the room.
To add to the fascination, visitors walking around can see each other, or catch their own reflection, in a floating through time and space kind of way, defying gravity and hovering over a continuous montage of scenes. For those into selfies (and yes, I did take several!), this may just be the best location on the planet to do a self portrait.
The “Shutter” is a particularly impressive concept; a huge room with a floor to ceiling, circular focal plane type shutter which can be open or closed and therefore can be used as a projector screen when closed. When open, it’s a beautiful place to view the nearby mountain ranges and landscape from. A shutter through which to view and with which, to project what was already captured.
The artist in residence up to December 2019 is the supremely talented and fascinating photographer Kurt Moser, who along with project leader Barbara Holzknecht, forms Lightcatcher. There is a room dedicated to his wonderful ambrotype portraits, a film showing his workflow with this amazing technique as well as a “tiny” large format camera.
I say tiny as Kurt’s smallest regular use camera is a vintage large format Multilith Camera (USA) made in 1907, with a Charles Beseler Company 18” f3.6 lens, which when fully extended measures two meters. He calls this camera “Baby” and it can create ambrotypes up to 50x60cm.
The three meter “Lady in Red”, is the new camera which was purpose-built for Moser’s ongoing project on the Dolomites, following concern of putting the vintage baby camera through gruelling trips in the mountains. This supports both the square 90×90 cm and horizontal 90×55 cm formats. His next camera will be built into a vintage, six wheeled Russian military truck. Using an extremely rare Apo Nikkor 1780 mm and Leitz Epis 1000mm f3.5 lens, for photographing landscape images on black glass.
Kurt Moser says of the residency, “the artist in residence program of the Lumen Museum is very important for us. It is a relevant step on our way to Berlin where in 2021 we will have our big Unesco Dolomites Solo Exhibition at the Museum of Photography. The Lumen is our first exhibition and gives us the opportunity to make the ambrotype and its very special visual language accessible to a large audience. We also have videos in the Lumen which explain the procedure of ambrotypes to visitors, sharing this ancient technique. Of course our theme, the Unesco Dolomites, fits perfectly into the concept of the museum too!”
During the inauguration event, Kurt Moser did a live demonstration with “Baby”, making an ambrotype portrait of television presenter Max Moor. For the gathered crowds, the portrait was posed and lit, with the camera then being focused. After this point, the sitter had to remain completely still whilst the team rushed to their mobile darkroom to coat the glass plate with a collodion solution, which is then rendered photosensitive in a silver bath.
The prepared plate has a shelf life of only around five minutes, during which it must be processed and fixed. The coated glass plate was then rushed back into the Lumen Museum, placed in the camera and the lens cap was removed, allowing the nine second exposure. The plate was then rushed back into the mobile darkroom and processed, with the fixing stage being done outside the van, to the delight of the gathered crowd.
Once you’ve explored the museum, I can’t recommend highly enough popping into the “AlpiNN” restaurant, which combines culinary delights with the most stunning view. Even the mountain water is a sensory delight.
The summer season will continue to 13 October, open Monday to Sunday (including public holidays), between 10:00 to 16:00. Do keep in mind that the last cable car down is at 17:00! Find out more at https://www.lumenmuseum.it
Probably the most moving, revealing, honest, soul shaking and tear jerking talk I have ever been to, was last night’s event at Kings Place. Photojournalist Don McCullin opened his heart and shared his soul in a way I’ve only ever known from the very closest of friends. To say it captivated every ounce of my being would be putting it mildly.
Photojournalist Don McCullin shares a story from the Vietnam War, during his conversation with foreign correspondent Fergal Keane. Kings Place, 90 York Way, London, UK. 24 April 2019. Photo: Edmond Terakopian
Without doubt, Don McCullin is one of the very greatest photographers of our time. He was in conversation with foreign correspondent Fergal Keane OBE, as they discussed McCullin’s 60 year career, covering his extensive work in war zones across the world, his documenting of poverty throughout Britain, as well as his more recent, therapeutic landscape photography.
The evening though was made unforgettable by hearing, nay, feeling, the inner most thoughts and emotions of a journalist who has dedicated his life to showing the injustices suffered by many.
The Preoccupation With Gear
As the talk came to an end and I collected my emotions, it came as the biggest shock to hear the first question:
“What’s your favourite film stock?”…
Astonishing that the whole emotional and intellectually challenging rollercoaster ride of pure, uncensored heart felt emotions, dotted with the very best of the “stiff upper lip” humour as a temporary escape, a member of the audience’s only question was about the type of film used.
To think that the power of McCullin’s images have anything to do with the brand of film used was as astonishing as it was infuriating. McCullin of course answered patiently that it was Tri-X, but followed with his own question of “Let me ask you something; why did you come here tonight? What were you expecting?”. There was no cruelty in the question, just a genuine wonderment of why after his outpouring of emotion about the human condition, that the only thing thought worthwhile asking was about film. Of course there was no answer from the chap and the questions continued, thankfully about the actual work, not film, aperture, shutter speed or cameras.
Don McCullin’s words, on the wall in his retrospective at the Tate Britain.
During the talk, McCullin did share that sadly he felt that none of his pictures made a difference. Decades of wars continued, captured by his mastery of seeing and he moved onto wars which he didn’t cover. The futility in his voice was exceptionally moving. Thankfully, the final question of the night was as wonderful as it was powerful. A lady thanked him for his dedication and work. Saying that whilst when he was at school studying history, he didn’t have the advantage of seeing pictures by Don McCullin, she had the tremendous advantage of studying history and seeing the photographs by Don McCullin.
Anyone who knows me, knows that I take a huge interest in the equipment I use for my work, be that professional assignments and commissions, or personal work. However, this equipment is the tool which helps me create. Its part of the beginning process and not the be all and end all in my photography.
Photography has, what I think is a unique peculiarity about it. When some people look at an amazing photograph, they immediately jump to asking what camera and lens is used, or in the case of this chap from last night, what film was used. However, if the same person has a great meal in a restaurant, they would never ask the chef about the make of pans used, and the model number of the cooker used. When has anyone asked a great author about which pen, typewriter or word processor they used?
Its great to have nice gear. For me, when I started out as a photographer, I had an aperture priority only camera called the Nikon EM. It was great and I loved it. However, I outgrew it relatively quickly and I would miss photographs or not be able to craft them the way I had envisaged, because of it’s inadequacies. My second camera, a second hand, original Canon F1, had a terrible focusing screen and a stiff lens, which meant focusing became an issue when speed was of the essence. At that stage, as I began my career on my first local paper, the Ealing Gazette, I vowed that I would as much as possible, buy the best equipment I could, as I never wanted to miss a picture because my equipment wasn’t capable enough. I never wanted to blame my tools. I should take the blame, learn what I did wrong and improve.
Looking at photography, especially for those who enjoy this as the most wonderful hobby, or even those about to take the road to becoming a professional, I have one piece of advise; recognise the camera as a tool, for making wonderful imagery. Invest your money after having bought a decent camera and lens, at the beginning stages, into learning about photography. Books, exhibitions and articles written in proper, established photography magazines as well as magazines and newspapers which use great photography. Blogs and YouTube videos by self appointed gurus and influencers will do nothing for improving your photography. Search out workshops by real, proven photographers with real track records, not fake robot followed Instagram accounts by self appointed ambassadors. Photography becomes so much more joyous and interesting when one starts to invest time and money into the craft, rather than just the gear. The gear will always be there and once you know how to craft an image, then getting better gear and more lenses will elevate and not hinder your photography.
Mindfulness, intelligence and emotion, mixed with an aesthetic, a sense of timing and an understanding of the situation, makes the photograph. I’ve found that when a photographer genuinely starts to understand photography, then they truly appreciate the ability of their tools and this then elevate’s their imagery. It’s a long term thing and results in a life long love of photography. Those who just see the gear as being the important thing, will get lots of kit, get disillusioned quickly and leave photography. Play the long game is my advice.
Incidentally, if you haven’t yet seen his retrospective at Tate Britain, I can’t urge you strongly enough to catch it before it closes on the 6th of May 2019.
Very much looking forward to the Photography Show this year, which is on from March 16th to the 19th at the NEC in Birmingham.
I’m thrilled to be celebrating my 30th year as a photographer at the show, by sharing some images and thoughts, at my talk about my career, generously, supported by Lumix.
“30 years of photography; photojournalism and beyond”, Behind The Lens Theatre, 19 Mar 2019, 13:00-13:40. Edmond Terakopian shares images and stories from his 30-year career as a photographer, covering photojournalism, commercial photography and his passion for observing daily life with his street photography.
I’m also looking forward to sharing some photographs and thoughts on the Panasonic Lumix G9, which has helped me win several awards over the year, and show my work shot on the newly launched, full-frame, phenomenal S1 and S1R. I’ve had the pleasure to work with the S Series since the beginning of the year, so was one of the first wave of professional photographers from around the world to receive a prototype S1 to work with. To say I’ve been left very impressed would be an understatement!
The talks are on:
Sunday the 17th of March at 15:30. “Three Months With The Lumix S1 and S1R”
Monday the 18th of March at 10:30. “Awards and Beyond with the Lumix G9”
They will take place on the Panasonic Lumix stand, D41. I’m happy to say that a few of my images shot on the G9 and S1 will be on the stand as large prints, so I hope you will have the chance to see what these fabulous cameras are capable of.
I shall also be with the Lumix team at the Pro Lounge on:
Saturday, March 16th, from 13:00 – 14:00.
So if you’d like to see the Lumix S Series, have a chat or see my work shot on the S1 and S1R, do pop by.
As always, it gives me immense pleasure to be with the fabulous team from Snapperstuff. We’re the only stand at the show which is manned primarily by professional photographers. Come by and see the superb range of bags and accessories from Think Tank Photo and Mindshift. Meet my friends and I at stands F101 and G101, throughout the show.
If you haven’t yet booked your ticket, here is a discount code which expires on March 13th, 2019. For 20% off, use code: SPKTPS19 (not valid with any other offers).
London Independent Photography; Ealing Satellite Group Exhibition
Opens On September 7th, 2018.
19 photographers from Ealing London Independent Photography, have created a collection of work in response to a set of Oblique Strategies originally written by Brian Eno. The images address the challenges of creativity and how they can be overcome by ingenuity and lateral thinking.
Exhibition: 7th – 15th September 2018 Open weekdays 12pm – 7pm (Fridays until 8pm), weekends 11am – 6pm
The project can be seen on our Pixelrights gallery website, Ealing Photo Gallery, where there is an opportunity to also purchase prints.
Also, massive thanks to Hauke from Fire & Flame for all the fabulous design work, not only creating all the fantastic leaflets, invitations and so on, but for also creating the elegant layouts and typography for the actual exhibition pieces.
From last year’s show: “Essentials In Documentary Film Making” talk by Edmond Terakopian at the Filmmaker Theatre on behalf of Snapper Stuff. The Photography Show, NEC, Birmingham. March 23, 2015. Photo: Freia Turland
On Sunday, March 20th, 2pm-2.40pm, I’ll be giving an Olympus Visionary talk on my Opera By The River project at the Behind The Lens Theatre. I’ll share with you my thoughts and experiences on shooting this 11 month project at the prestigious Royal College of Music and naturally showing my favourite images from the reportage. I’ll also share which Olympus cameras and lenses I used along with some other equipment which were invaluable. Hope to see you there!
(L-R) Lady Billows, played by Janis Kelly and Miss Wordsworth, played by Sofia Larsson, make their way across backstage to the rear of the set. The final performance of Albert Herring by Benjamin Britten. Royal College of Music, Bitten Theatre, Prince Consort Road, London. July 08, 2015. Photo: Edmond Terakopian
There will also be a unique opportunity to purchase a copy of the book that goes with this project. Please see THIS post for details. I’ll be happy to sign your copy for you!
On Monday, March 21st, 2pm-3pm, I’ll be a panelist on a discussion in the Piazza Suite 3; “Are staged or manipulated pictures ever acceptable? The panel discusses just how far you can go…”. This discussion brought to you by Professional Photography magazine is sure to be interesting, so hope to see you there too.
Lastly, do make sure you pop by and see my friends at the Eizo stand. They’ll be showing my photographs and video work to showcase just how great my favourite monitors are. Colour and density accuracy and built in automated hardware calibration! Definitely worth asking a demo.
A self portrait by photographer and film maker Edmond Terakopian. Picture shows his Olympus OM-D E-M1 camera. London. February 23, 2015. Photo: Edmond Terakopian
My Olympus cameras which were used to photograph Britten’s Albert Herring at the Royal College of Music, Prince Consort Road, London. May 18, 2015. Photo: Edmond Terakopian