Photographer and Visual Artist

Fine Art

Experimental Snap Shots

Sometimes I just get the camera out and randomly experiment to pass the time. Here are the results of some shots taken whilst on a long journey home from Edinburgh. I was using at a high ISO setting on my D300 just as it was getting dark (Converted into B&W using Lightroom). The later colour images were done using longer shutter speeds in order to create random patterns from the available light sources. Sometimes I purposely moved the camera in random directions also. All images were taken through the passenger window whilst moving.

The Final Resting Place Shoot

Yesterday I returned to the boat graveyard in Purton to work on a second shoot following the theme of a Post Apocalyptic world with stylist Sammy Karpf. Along with her assistant Sofia Falsafi, Make Up Artist Hannah Ford and Model Isabel Dickens of Boss Model Management Manchester we set out on our journey. The sun was beating down hard and I ended up returning home with a sun burnt face and arms looking as if I had been on Holiday for a week or two. I guess that’s the price I paid for having no hair and not thinking about sun screen in advance.

Everything went swimmingly well and despite the heat many images were taken. A few of fell over a few times because of slippy mud but I managed to save the camera when I did thankfully.

On a bad note I accidentally managed to lose some images, which I am rather disappointed about, it’s a hard  lesson but one well learned. Not going to be relying on my portable memory card backup HD anymore so will be purchasing more CF cards in the near future.

The styling by Sammy reminded me a lot of the movie ‘Tank Girl’ and totally fitted the theme of a lonely survivor which was also helped by the superb make up artistry by Hannah. The boats and river provided a superb dramatic environment with countless possible areas to work with. As the rivers level lowered towards the end of the day beds of sea weed and wet mud provided a perfect background for the last couple of outfits. A job well done by all and a very enjoyable day.

Here’s a few behind the scenes and teaser shots straight out of camera.

Now let the editing commence.

Purton Hulks

Before I do a location based shoot I always like to visit the place before hand to get a feel of whats available. The only problem however is the weather as it is often very different on the actual day of the shoot. This really defies doing any test shots in my opinion as different lighting techniques may be needed upon the day to get the style we want. Well that British weather for you I guess.

Anyhow this place is absolutely awesome. Upon arrival it felt as if we were in the middle of nowhere, it was a very secluded place. Will definitely be needing wellies or work boats for the return trip as the mud is really soft in most areas.

These boats have all been banked upon the sides of the River Severn in Purton to help stop the powerful force of the river eroding the banks and merging with a very close by canal.

Enjoy the pics.

Future Projects in motion

There are a range of projects I want to get involved in and wish to complete but so many things can hold you back whilst your at Uni. You may all be led to believe that Uni is supposed to allow you to spread your wings and be creative but within my experience it seems to be opposite. Maybe it’s the way I have approached it, but as of yet I have been shooting mini projects some of which I will not be submitting as I don’t feel that the subject calls for much research due to the concepts being so plain. Even then I would just be repeating myself from previous projects which have been done in a similar way. It would be nice to just actually be able to just get on and do it and let the results say what they need to. Understandably however the evidence is needed to show that I understand as to what I am trying to achieve and to ensure that the work I am producing is of my own.

©David James Coxsell - Apocalypse Style Recce Shot from a recent day out location scouting.

Saying that I have managed to meet some interesting people who I will be working with on various conceptual projects over the next couple of months. One very creative person is Fashion Stylist Sammy Karpf as we will be exploring the theme of Post Apocalypse from three different angles. The main link between all the angles we will be taking is humanity’s own involvement in the degradation of our own environment causing the possible extinction of life as we know it or showcasing a struggle to survive. What will we become? is one subject of a shoot in discussion. It will be based on a future half humanoid half fish species evolving after the effects of pollution and over fishing of our seas. This can also be related to historical symbolism of the fish including the half fish half man God known as ‘Dagon’ and also the many fact that show how important and symbolic fish are in our lives including health and religion. I’m very excited to be involved with these projects and working with a good team of people is proving to be successful. We are able to bounce ideas off each other and locations have been springing into mind quite easily when a solid idea is in place. Having done one shoot already with Sammy the results are looking great and I can hopefully post more about that particular shoot soon.

Freeway - Movie based around the original concept of Little Red Riding Hood

Other projects on the horizon include my own modern re-telling of Little Red Riding Hood (LRRH). I aim to bring the story into a modern light using Photography as my main medium to illustrate and tell a story relating to current cultural subjects. This has of course been done before in many attempts such as the movie ‘Freeway‘  staring Reese Witherspoon and Kiefer Sutherland. ‘The Silence Of The Lambs‘ staring Anthony Hopkins is also said to be based around the original concept of LRRH.

My dissertation studies enabled me to look back to when such Fairytales as LRRH & Hansel & Gretel among many others were first told. Most of these tales are still around today thanks to collectors such as The Brothers Grimm and Charles Perrault who recorded the tales in their literal form. For many years these tales were told orally and it is said that Charles Perrault was the first to actually write the story of LLRH. However it is evidenced that the story was cut, changed and edited to meet the targeted audience of his work. It is also argued that his rendition of LRRH is the first story to have a cross audience of both child and adult meeting different demands in a different context. Children would grow with the tale, seeing and understanding different elements within it as they matured. Since then many adaptations of the story and other fairy-tales have been written and adapted to many different forms of media. Sometimes edited and edited again to meet the required audience and reflect upon the current cultural status of that time.

As well as future projects I have upcoming exhibitions at the Custard Factory, The Wild Building in Digbeth and of course the final year show at Birmingham City University. I will post more on these later.

I also have some prints for sale in the CiB shop (Created In Birmingham) opposite the Apple Store in Birmingham’s iconic Bullring. These include some texture prints and prints of images taken whilst location scouting of the surrounding areas of Birmingham. Be sure to pop by and check the shop out, there are plenty of creative items for sale there you may just like.

Chris Jordan & The Midway Journey

Research & Inspirations

A collaborative project I am currently working on with Fashion Stylist Sammy Karpf revolves around the theme of a state of Post Apocalypse relating to the attributions of humanity and natures interference into the change and evolution of life as we know it. Chris Jordan is a photographer that Sammy introduced me to and further research led me on a path to realising the unknown damaging effects that pollution causes.

Chris Jordan creates images documenting and symbolising what he believes is “evidence of a slow-motion apocalypse in progress” [1] through elements of human consumerism. His most recent work showcases many carcasses of Albatrosses found during an expedition of Midway Atol, a small island which is around 2 miles long and lies between Asia and North America. The island and others nearby have their beaches scattered in a variety of many different forms of plastic including bottles, canisters, bottle tops, cigarette lighters and even traffic cones. Plastic as small as grains of sand up to large sizes as big or bigger than traffic cones have been found. All this plastic has at some point been deposited within the sea some of which has made it’s way to the shores of Midway causing a severe impact upon surrounding wildlife. Fish, Sea Turtles and Birds have been feeding and digesting the plastic evidenced by the bite marks found upon the plastic washed ashore.

©Chris Jordan - Albatross Carcass

Chris along with four other visual artists including Bill Weaver, Jan Vozenelik, Victoria Sloan Jordan and Manuel Maqueda visited the island and have documented their findings in their very own blog [2]. Manuel Maqueda wrote in their last post about the Greek Myth of the King Sisyphus. Sisyphus was punished and cursed to roll a large boulder up an hill which rolled back down again. For eternity Sisyphus would continue to roll the boulder back up the hill. Maqueda references this to the clean up operations symbolising that no matter how much they clean these beaches, more plastic will come. Therefore the damage has already been done and is still currently in circulation, the only way this can be stopped which would still take many many years is to change the way we use plastics and other materials and how we throw them away.

This is the resulting research and findings on just one small Island. Imagine how much plastic must be present along the shores of our own beaches. Imagine how much of the dangerous toxic chemical forms of plastic have been digested by the billions of fish and possible other animals of which we also consume ourselves.

This cycle of incorrectly disposing unwanted items is being thrown back at us in an even more damaging result than most would believe. These plastics hold toxic chemicals which once consumed can cause serious health problems in all biological forms. In humans these can be passed on through acts such as breast feeding and it has been reported that these have caused birds egg casings to be thinner than normal. These are just small examples of the millions of side effects that theses actions can cause. These are not the worst or even most damaging examples but they are examples of which you may not know of and would have never imagined possible.

Chris Jordan’s images as well as the whole Midway team’s efforts are symbolic of all that has happened and that of which is still happening. What we as consumers worldwide have un-knowingly contributed, to the slow demise of our own environment.

Chris writes on his website

“As an American consumer myself, I am in no position to finger wag; but I do know that when we reflect on a difficult question in the absence of an answer, our attention can turn inward, and in that space may exist the possibility of some evolution of thought or action. So my hope is that these photographs can serve as portals to a kind of cultural self-inquiry. It may not be the most comfortable terrain, but I have heard it said that in risking self-awareness, at least we know that we are awake.”

Be sure to check out the rest of his work at the link below.

Links & Further Reading