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Essays Photography

Wheelchair Mum

I had a couple of hours to pass while waiting for my new spectacles to be fitted. Walking about Belfast city centre, I captured a few moments of street photography.

But I missed the image of the day.

Approaching Donegall Place from Castle Lane, suddenly a woman in a wheelchair, aged in her 30s, turned the corner while pushing a pram with her left hand. She was moving with speed.

This startled me; I never saw this feat before.

She whizzed past me before I could react by pulling out my phone to take a photo. I turned my head and continued to watch her, now switching hands to maintain momentum.

I let myself be inspired by this mother’s determination.

I also took my phone out of my pocket and continued my journey, now better prepared for the next unexpected decisive moment.

Categories
Essays Photography

SmugMug+Flickr: An espirit de corps?

SmugMug+Flickr: An esprit de corps?
by Allan LEONARD
21 April 2018

Flickr has announced that it is being acquired by SmugMug. At least that provides an answer to the question of what would happen next, after Flickr was spared the sunsetting list but not endorsed like Yahoo’s purchase of Tumblr. And a better outcome than Yahoo shuttering Flickr altogether.

Categories
Essays Photography

Film review: Photo City

Film review: Photo City
by Allan LEONARD
13 April 2018

Photo City is a documentary film by John Murphy and Traolach Ó Murchú, about the story of Rochester, New York, becoming the Silicon Valley of photography, with the clustering of image-based companies such as Xerox, Bausch and Lomb, and Kodak. And how this industry has defined this city and its people, even after the demise of the film producing great, Kodak.

It is a story of photography and society.

The documentarians do a fine job covering the breath of photography. The community photographer. The Facebook posterer. The musician/writer/photographer artist. The advertising man. The photojournalist. The teacher. The student. The inventor. The shop floor worker. The museum archivist.

The act of photography permeates the social fabric of the city’s neighbourhoods, across economic status, vocations, and generations.

We learn about the rise and fall of Kodak in particular, who was a dominant employer. Indeed, its annual bonus cheques would generate even more consumption and wealth for local businesses. So as is the case anywhere where a lead company shrinks, so did the prosperity of Rochester with the demise of Kodak.

But the film strikes a chord of optimism. As one participant said, “The fall of Kodak has unleashed talent to do other things.” And we are presented with how the city still attracts and retains those intrigued about photography and image making.

Photo City is a humanist film. It tells the stories of the people behind the camera.

As the photojournalist explained, “The camera is just a tool. What needs to be perfect is the subject matter to evoke an emotional response.”

This is followed by two further deeply impacting stories.

The final scene brings the wider community together, which I found to be both celebratory but also tinged with nostalgia — can the unleashed talent sustain what must be one of the most image conversant populations in America?

The film will next be screened at the One Take Film Festival in Rochester, New York. You can follow Photo City on Twitter and Facebook.

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@NorthernSlant Essays Photography

Photo Detectives: An exhibition of community-researched Irish photo history

Photo Detectives: An exhibition of community-researched Irish photo history
by Allan LEONARD
6 January 2018

Photo Detectives is an exhibition by the National Library of Ireland (NLI) at its National Photographic Archive site in Dublin, of a set of archive images that online Flickr users have assisted with research and providing illuminating further information.

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@NorthernSlant Essays Photography

Mr Turner’s apples

Mr Turner’s apples
by Allan LEONARD
27 September 2017

The Allison Collection held at the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) consists of about 1,550 photographs and 34 volumes from Allison Photographic Studios between circa 1900 and 1950. The studios were established by Herbert Thackwray Allison, who came to Ireland in 1881 with his brother. After starting in Belfast, they expanded with county branches in Dundalk, Armagh, Newry, and Warrenpoint. His son, Herbert Thackwray Jr, ended up managing the Armagh studio in 1903, where he remained for almost 50 years; his father ran the Newry and Warrenpoint studies.

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@NorthernSlant Essays Photography

A victim from the inside out: Photographic exhibition of Maurice Hobson

A victim from the inside out: Photographic exhibition of Maurice Hobson
by Allan LEONARD
6 September 2017

Maurice Hobson was a 17-year-old pupil at Dungannon Royal School when a bomb blew up in Market Square, while he was waiting to board the school bus. A car jack hit him on the left side of his head, requiring over 80 stitches.

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@NorthernSlant Essays Photography

Solace or detachment in our journeys? @Translink_NI photography exhibition

Solace or detachment in our journeys? Translink photography exhibition
by Allan LEONARD
9 August 2017

Passengers who have travelled through Belfast Central Station this summer have had an opportunity to meet others captured in photographs by students from Ulster University’s School of Art.

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@NorthernSlant Audio Essays Photography

Poetry & Place: Photographic interpretations of Louis MacNeice

Poetry & Place: Photographic interpretations of Louis MacNeice
by Allan LEONARD
25 July 2017

Women of the Ards peninsula worked with community artist, Jane McComb, to use photography not only to document social, maritime, and agricultural legacy of the area, but also to give interpretation to the writings of poet, Louis MacNeice (1907–1963), who is buried locally in Christ Church, Carrowdore.

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@NorthernSlant Essays Photography

Conflicting Images @UlsterMuseum

Conflicting Images @UlsterMuseum
by Allan LEONARD
26 July 2017

As part of its Collecting the Troubles and Beyond initiative, the Ulster Museum currently has an exhibition called Conflicting Images: Photography during the Northern Irish Troubles.

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@NorthernSlant Essays Photography

Open space photography at the Linen Hall Library

Open space photography at the Linen Hall Library
by Allan LEONARD
31 May 2017

Gaining inspiration from viewing the archive postcard collection at the Linen Hall Library, a group of participants in a community photography workshop facilitated by Belfast Exposed set out to document their views of sharing and respecting open space in the city.

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@NorthernSlant Essays Photography

Softening images of Partition

Softening images of Partition
by Allan LEONARD
24 May 2017

Although John Irvine left Northern Ireland over 15 years ago, having grown up about East Antrim, he retains “strong links” and comes home frequently. Irvine explained how one morning drive accidentally led him to his book, Partition.

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@NorthernSlant Essays Photography

Then & Now: Belfast Blitz

Then & Now: Belfast Blitz
by Allan LEONARD
17 May 2017

In an apparent continuation of their Then & Now series, the Public Records Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) has produced a new set of blended images that show the material destruction caused by the Belfast Blitz attacks (April-May 1941), alongside contemporary and more familiar landmarks.