News and Blog

Archive for August, 2009

News: Steve Bloom wins three IPA Awards from Lucie Foundation

FIRST - Underwater Photography

FIRST - Underwater Photography

SECOND - Books Nature

SECOND - Books Nature

FIRST - Books Documentary

FIRST - Books Documentary


Photographer Steve Bloom has won three International Photography Awards from the Lucie Foundation. The work is selected from thousands of images and judged by a board of esteemed photo editors, curators, gallery owners, art directors and other luminaries from the international photography community.


Books (Documentary): Living Africa. FIRST.
Books (Nature): Elephant! SECOND.
Photography (Underwater): Elephant swimming, Andaman Islands. FIRST.

Edinburgh Book Festival and Beyond Words

I have just returned from Edinburgh where I gave a couple of talks at the Book Festival. Edinburgh is home to the largest arts festival in the world, with thousands of events jostling for attention. The Book Festival at Charlotte Square is a mecca for book enthusiasts during the festival season, with many thousands of visitors, non-stop book signings and fascinating talks.

One of Edinburgh’s bookshop stands out for me like no other. Nestled on a hill below The Castle is Beyond Words, a charming bookshop specialising in photography. On the shelves you’ll find a complete range of books covering many aspects of photography. Unlike the festival, which runs in the summer only, Beyond Words is always there, somewhere you can discover new and old books alike – an oasis of tactile books in an online world. There’s nothing like standing in a bookshop, browsing the wares and finding something to take home. Ahh…give me the smell of ink and the feel of paper!

Photography, painting and Deborah Poynton

Photography has always had an intimate relationship with painting.  On a recent trip to Cape Town, I visited the Michael Stevenson Gallery where I saw an exhibition of paintings by Deborah Poynton. She uses photographs as points of reference and then paints enormous canvases which somehow manage to get beneath the skin of the people portrayed, revealing their essence in an intimate and heart rendering way. There’s a translucent quality about the flesh she paints, something I have yet to see in a photograph. 

The photographic image is so often limited by the fact that it is usually a single point of view, a captured slice of time represented on a flat surface. Deborah Poynton’s paintings are derived from an amalgam of several photographs, and she layers time and viewpoints, producing paintings which more closely represent the way we interpret the world than single photographs. Our eyes dart around, capturing a multitude of impressions, and we build experiences through time.

Our way of seeing the real world presents a great challenge for photographers. Artist David Hockney has gone to great lengths to point out photography’s single-viewpoint limitations in Paul Joyce’s book, Hockney on Art. I have often experimented widely, and in one case attempted to portray an entire street in Nairobi in one very long print, layering time and different viewpoints, producing an image more allied to cubism than the ‘decisive moment’ school of photography. It appears in my forthcoming book, Trading Places – The Merchants of Nairobi. You can see the image and read about the ideas behind it by clicking here.

Photography, music and painting.

I am often asked how I know when to press the shutter. The camera is merely a tool, and no matter how good the technology, nothing can replace the art of seeing.

The artist Man Ray stressed that in art ‘why’ is more important than ‘how’. Photographer Ansel Adams compared the negative to a musical score and the print to the performance. Great photographs are made by learning technique and taking it to a point where it resides in the subconscious. After that, feelings should dictate aesthetics. In a nutshell that means ‘shoot from the heart’. The musical analogy is very appropriate when it comes to photography. The greatest music is played with total feeling. Get excited – be emotional about the photographs you take. Try to feel empathy for the subject. Then other forces come into effect and the magic of photography surfaces, often yielding great photographic surprises.

Photographer Henri Cartier Bresson coined the phrase “The decisive moment” to describe the pressing of a shutter when the elements in a scene come together in a co-ordinated and harmonious way. When Cartier Bresson was photographing the artist Raoul Dufy, Dufy asked. “How do you know when press the shutter?”. Cartier Bresson replied, “How did you know where to put that yellow dab of paint on the canvas?”

Portable Photography Exhibitions

Since the advent of the first digital cameras, the growth in photography has been phenomenal. This has had many spin-offs, one of which is the growing interest in art photography and the increase in the number of people visiting photography exhibitions. Now imagine going to an exhibition and being able to buy all the pictures on display, say about two hundred of them, all for the princely sum of about thirty quid. Imagine if you can store them in a way which does not intrude on your lifestyle and gives space for other artworks, so you only see them when you want to. They are not displayed on screens, but physical prints you can touch, and enjoy the sensation of the natural light from the window reflecting off their surfaces.

These exhibitions are, of course, called photo books, and they are astounding value for money. Printing technology today is so advanced that mass-produced books, in the right hands of course, can be produced exquisitely. And they have never been cheaper, thanks to the technology which allows plates to be made directly from digital photos, bypassing traditional film techniques. You can hold books in your hands, and they have a physical presence which goes beyond the internet.

The photo book costs less than an average meal for two in a decent restaurant. You can keep it all your life, revisit it whenever you want to, and unlike a restaurant meal, you don’t have to flush it down the toilet eighteen hours later.

Welcome to the blog.

Welcome to the blog. Having spent almost forty years making a living in many in photography’s different genres, I will occasionally share some of my thoughts and ideas. I don’t intend to write extensively about f-stops and apertures because this blog is primarily about aesthetics rather than technique.

The entries will mostly be light hearted, but I will also take a serious look at the art photography market, as well as our changing perceptions of the medium since photography’s migration from silver halides to digital pixels.

If you want to be notified when future blog entries are added, please sign up to the rss feed. Thanks for your time.


Wednesday 14th October 6.30pm – 8pm
Celebrating Amateur Photographer’s 125th year
Tickets: £29

Photographic Seminar Series 2009 in association with What Digital Camera and the SPI (School of photographic Imaging)

Exclusive seminar for up to 90 people in the Blue Fin Building, Southbank, London – ‘home’ of Amateur Photographer (AP) and What Digital Camera (WDC)
Tickets include a 90 minute presentation and Q&A session from Steve Bloom. Tea and coffee will be served afterwards, along with a chance to purchase a signed book. Delegates will be given a goody bag and a hints & tips sheet to take home, and members of the WDC and AP teams will be available to chat and answer questions during the break.

Contact: with the words ‘STEVE BLOOM SEMINAR’ in the subject line. Please include your name, address and telephone number.