Photography Blog

James Tarry's photography blog. Ramblings from a photographers over active mind. Email now or call +44 (0)7855 742 633.

Art of the Building 2016 competition finalist


Apologies for the slow blogging of late, its been a pretty full on last few months after The Other Art Fair with little time to sit down and update. 

This morning I woke up to the BBC website informing me that I had been selected in the final 15 of the 'Art of the Building 2016' competiton run by the Chartered Institute of Building with my triple exposure 4x5 interpreation of the Foster + Partners "The Gherkin". 

A fantastic way to end the year and an honour to be selected amongst the thousands of entries. It now goes to a public vote: So, here I am asking if you like this photo to please click the link below and vote for it. It would be very very muchly appreciated, and of course a Happy Christmas to you all :)

Limited Edition Prints of 'The Gherkin" are also available for sale via Saatchi Art on the link below:

Surfers: France

The usual time and date rolled around, as usual I do my best to get away from it and avoid it. This year we retreated back to Bordeaux for my birthday and a little R&R before the craziness of The Other Art Fair kicks in.... Its probably no secret I have a slight obsession with surfing/skateboarding visuals and love taking photos of surfing in particular so, thats where I spent my afternoon in the South Of France sunshine.   

Everyone is producing better images than you........

Hello there, its been a while since I last posted due in part to work, laziness and a holiday! I returned this week from a 8day trip to the wonderful city of Lisbon, if you've never been I would suggest you go, its fantastic and sort of like San Francisco, but cheaper! That though is not really why I am writing or for that rather tenuous click bait style title.

Before my holiday I managed to complete a third image of the surfers in San Diego (see below), and it conjured up an idea, a continuation of an idea I guess. Lisbon has a number of beaches nearby(ish) and some of those are surfing hotspots, I wanted to continue this project on that route. So, I bought a needed longer lens for my Hasselblad a couple of boxes of film and the confidence that I now know how to do and replicate these images. 

To get to the coast from Lisbon you have to take a train (if you do not have a car-which we did not) its 40mins and only 5Euros return. There are several 'hotspots' on this train line, and none of them had any surfing going on. So we walked, and walked, and googled, and walked. Nothing. The 'best' beach, which happens to hold championships on was too far to walk, too difficult to get to without a car and so we abandoned it. On the way back I spotted little dots on the horizon and we fled back the way we came and low and behold, by a jetty a nice break with 4 decent surfers on. I loaded up, and shot away......7 shots in is when is when I noticed the film was not winding on. Ripped that out, stuck a new one in and of course the surf died off. One surfer left, the others hung around for a bit and then they all left. 4 shots. Not great. 

I needed to get to the other beach but with only a couple of days left, I planned to get up early catch a train back on the Saturday and hike or rent a moped if necessary to the beach. As it turns out there were some taxis hanging around so 10Euro later I found myself having coffee over looking a stunning beach with a world class reputation..... 2 hours and a bunch of surf schools later I had to leave with virtually nothing in the can. All I got was a couple of shots of people walking with their boards and a couple of bodyboarders paddling out-Frustrating. Still, it could be enough, for at least one new shot.......... could be. I have since developed those 2 rolls of film, played around with the images, and there's nothing. Individually the photos are fairly decent, but I cannot for the life of me get them to work like the San Diego ones. I am so annoyed, which brings me to the title of this blog. 

We have discussed before that it is so easy to fall into the trap that everyone else is producing world class images, better images, more consistently and frequently. We see photos every day being shared, all over social media, we see the "look i've been awarded this", "I've been selected by this gallery" blah blah type posts every day too... It is easy to feel bummed out about your work, my work. In fact I felt it after this trip. I feel it today as I write this. It has hacked me off that I have nothing new to show, I started to feel that the San Diego shots were just a fluke. Heck, this week Twitter has had an influx of architectural photos on it and I've been beating myself up about this aspect too (the job side). 

Fellow Twitterer Jon Wilkening recently started a podcast about creatives and his latest one with Mike Sakesegawa  brings up this topic of the visible creative pressure we all go through and its well worth a listen (see below). We must remember (I must remember) that more often than not all we see on Social Media is the success, we ourselves see and live with our 'failures' so it hurts more, becomes easy to beat ourselves up about, but those people sharing all those wonderful photos and art work, they have the downs too, its just more often than not they don't share them. 

There's no simple answer to this apart from believing you are on the right track, keep keeping on, try to understand every single person who has ever tried to create anything goes through this. No, everyone is NOT producing better images than you. Me? I'm still going to sulk the heck out of last week, beat myself up, be annoyed by it, threaten to burn, crumple and destroy those negatives.....the only real way that feeling is going to change is by writing about it, sharing my fails and continuing with the project and nailing one somewhere down the line, hopefully. 


** in a random turn of events **

So shortly after this was posted on Twiter Sandeep aka @Givemeabiscuit came up with the idea of addressing the balance and sharing our not so great images... we are calling it #mediocreMonday. So come on come all, this Monday we shall all post a really boring, dull, rubbish photo that we've taken..... its a bit of fun, it helps quash all the anxiety and puts us all on a level playing field, pro or amateur! #MediocreMonday, lets make it a thing :) 

Show Your Work: The Other Art Fair

The stands have long been taken down, the dust has settled and a week has passed. The Other Art Fair at Victoria House has officially ended and is now on its way to Bristol. This was my second fair and in terms of sales, my most successful but also in just about every other way too. 

From a personal standpoint I think I had learnt a lot from the first fair that I had done, in presentation, pricing and size of prints on offer. Also, and despite having a major panic about 3 months before that 'I did not have anything new to show' my initial project idea had miraculously evolved into something else altogether. A mixture of sheer luck and half asleep inspiration, the images I had on show had come from nowhere and had thankfully caught a lot of attention. 

I am a huge believer in the "show your work' attitude to art and photography. Its taken many many years to get to this comfortable position, my first ever gallery showing I would not even go in the gallery to see my work hung, let alone "put it out there" in its progression phase. But I firmly think sharing your fails and successes help tell the story of your work, and if you have followed me on here or on any of my social media spots you will know quite how long and hard this road has been! Ultimately It helps not only to create an audience but an audience that liked what you are doing and one that will then share to friends and maybe even buy it. I've spoken before about Austin Kleon and if I did not buy into his "Show Your Work" philosophy I would now after how the fair went. It was summed up when one friend (Chris Mann), who started out as just some chap off Twitter several years ago, popped along, pointed to a print and said: "I'll take that one please. As soon as I saw you post these new photos on Twitter, I knew I had to have one" and he wasn't the only one either. Thats the power of being open to being open! 

No doubt I have a lot to learn still. Like many photographers and Artists I think we can quite often have a terrible judgement on our own work. I was convinced that the Eiffel Tower photo (Above and Centre) would be the photo that stopped people, but in fact it was the San Diego Surfer photos, especially 'San Diego Surfers V1' (below) that stopped most people in their tracks on my little stand-I have since sold that lovely big edition of 25 twice now, which is incredibly pleasing. The architectural prints tended to stop people because they recognised them but never felt like they were ever going to sell-but thats ok, I still love them and they were a massive part in the progression of where I am and where it is all going.

Did my costs break even at the end of it? No, not even close. But I felt a lot of progress, in the sales I did make, how to market my work and more importantly that I feel I am on the right track with this series as a whole. We all want to sell our art, while creating something tangible is the number one reason we all do this, selling it is and it being on peoples walls is close behind. All in all, considering the first fair I sold exactly £0 this was an improvement! 

Standing on my feet for four days, talking constantly, answering questions on questions (especially on "how did you do it?", "What camera did you use?" ...... sigh) and trying to sell is exhausting that is for sure and this week, a full working week straight after has been hard. October 2016 is the next event I will apply for, yes, I will go for it again. Why? Because:

a/ I love The Other Art Fair- the team, organisation, PR. The amount of people that they get through the doors and past your art work (12,890 visitors this year) you just would not get at a gallery in such a small space of time. Also, I get to hang around with a number of other incredible artists.....  this time: Andrew McGibbon and his insanely good animal photography. The crazy talented storyteller Gillian Hyland, newbie Gareth Hayward with his gorgeous stripes and Colin McCallum's fantastic eye popping paintings. 


b/ Showing my art work.... thats all I want to do. 

Big thanks to all that organised it and those that came by, supported, said hello and dipped into their pockets. You all know who you are! Until next time. 




Discussion: Show your work

This week a video by Chase Jarvis was posted on Youtube (see below) about "showing your work" and featured Austin Kleon. Now, I had not previously heard of Austin but a couple of clicks and a few video talks later, I now do. Austin has written books called "Steal like an Artist" and "Show your Work" and I would highly recommend checking him out. 


Almost immediately the Chase video found its way on to Petapixel and one of the first comments underneath was "And _definitely_ don't ever show your fails", something that I find utter poppycock. I have always shown and encouraged others to show their workings, also at most major exhibitions they quite often show the workings of the artists prior to the "successful" final image. Why? Its so we, you, I can learn. Its also to see the growth in your work, to see where you have come from, how you have got to where you are and where you will go next. Showing "fails" is not a bad thing at all. If you have a great community around you (for example on Twitter) it can often help you where you might be stuck. And guess what we ALL GET STUCK. 

April 7-10th I shall be showing my work at The Other Art Fair in Victoria House, London. The body of work has gone through several stages, it has taken the best part of a year and a half to get to the stage its at now. It is still probably only 80% of what I had in my head when I first started, and I have documented everything along the way. All the frustrations, hopes, successes and fails have been put on this blog. Without doing that (and my girlfriend constantly being a huge support) this may not have got to the stage its at..... so, go out, create, experiment and SHARE YOUR WORK. 

You can find:

Chase Jarvis here: blog , Twitter 

Austin Kleon here: Web , Twitter 

Below is a brief pictorial 'how I got from the start to where I am now'

Started as B&W....

Started as B&W....

Which then turned into this

Which then turned into this

which moved to colour: "a fail"

which moved to colour: "a fail"

then months later it evolved into this

then months later it evolved into this

And by chance I finally got it (nearly) to what I had wanted to achieve over 18months earlier..... 

And by chance I finally got it (nearly) to what I had wanted to achieve over 18months earlier..... 

The 30" x 30" perspex mounted print ready for the Exhibition 

The 30" x 30" perspex mounted print ready for the Exhibition