Playing The Long Game: Outdoor Photography With Telezooms

Scum of the earth?


Time for an update: I still use film, though. Not vast quantities, but I have a darkroom, and I'm not afraid to use it.

I enjoy every image I take: I hope you'll enjoy looking at them.
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Scum of the earth?

20 Apr 2021 7:38AM   Views : 557 Unique : 394


As so many people keep saying, times have changed. When I was a lad, Victor Blackman wrote a column in Amateur Photographer every week, and I suppose Cameravaria, as it was called, was part of the inspiration for my blog. Each week, a few short pieces about his life as a photographer for the Daily Express – or about his life as a keen amateur photographer.

Vic was a nice bloke, I think – cheerful, open, and entirely the sort of person you’d enjoy a pint or a coffee with. Sometimes his work involved pictures of disasters, at other times he photographed pretty girls. He used the Philippe Halsmann trick of asking models to jump, though tending towards star jumps and pretty girls. I’m not sure if he ever shot Salvador Dali or John Gielgud.


His usual enthusiasm was – shall we say – tempered when he wrote about the paparazzi. In the Sixties, even the red-top British press treated their subjects with a bit of courtesy, and sneaked images of a topless actress or Royal on the beach at a private resort were not published. I am pretty sure that Vic described the paps with my title today, and maybe, specifically, Raymond Bellasario.

How times have changed. There’s a carefully unjudgmental article in this week’s AP about the paps. Peter Dench found that most practitioners of this particular black art don’t want to talk to the press or be quoted. That’s never a good sign: unless national security is involved, and not often then. What has changed?

I realised, eventually. Although newspapers used to have gossip columns, we didn’t have a national obsession with them. Now magazines like Heat are devoted to pictorial gossip. Dench writes that public interest and privacy clash here: I feel it’s important to distinguish between legitimate public interest (say, that a politician has had an affair and has lied to Parliament, suggesting that he may be untrustworthy in other, more important ways) and things that members of the public may be interested in, but which don’t matter.


Gossips build themselves up by making others look bad, and often claim to speak for society in general. They disclose the faults and failings of others (real or imaginary), and relish embarrassing or shameful information about others. “A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid a man [or woman] who talks too much” (Proverbs 20:19). Do we really want to encourage this? These things matter, but usually only to the individuals and their friends and families.

Gossip is usually harmful, often corrosive. And the paps have helped create the new ‘celebrities’ who are famous for being famous, not for anything they have done or achieved. Worse still, between them, the paps and celebs have whipped up a confection of sweet and sour ideas and pictures, have colluded in screening real news about things that matter, and added to the general level of mistrust and paranoia in society. Maybe everyone should have their 15 minutes of fame – but I’ll pass on mine if I don’t have anything to say that may be of interest…


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dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.1k 2048 England
20 Apr 2021 7:41AM
Poor quality reproductions from copies of AP, old and new: the top shot is a 2013 image of Benedict Cumberbatch, showing something of his view of the paparazzi. A couple of bits from Vic's column in 1979, and a pap portrait of the Queen: more low-grade imitation of Martin Parr than a challenge to Cecil Beaton...
pablophotographer Avatar
pablophotographer 12 2.2k 450
22 Apr 2021 12:53AM
I have read the article; a friend in the paparazzi trade, had told me that the last years the rewards had fallen dramatically.

We had our share of peculiar nude images here produced by Martin, or else known as HSM, who disappeared last year from the site. Never asked him how he managed to pull the "volunteering posers"; one could award him for that skill alone.

Kamil's picture disoriented me yesterday.
Thankfully today I could tell where the head is even from the small image in the main gallery.

My only nude image here is "not in your face", the poser held a flower and her body was behind a chiffon curtain.


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