The Photo Social team challenge first started with picking a photographer’s name out of hat and creating a photograph inspired by them. We got Robert Mapplethorpe, who was famous for stylised monochrome studio shots sometimes of flowers (generally a Calla lily) but more often dramatically lit naked homoerotic (some say shocking) portraits. I have some of Mapplethorpe’s framed prints, though I hasten to add only the still lives of lilies. In fact I was aware only of his flower work until I visited a Hayward Gallery retrospective exhibition in 1996. I attended, in my innocence, and discovered very quickly that his body of work was more varied, and eye-opening, than I'd previously known. That was a whole lot of very naked men and oh so different that Michelangelo’s David!
Now Camden can have its edgier side but where on earth were we going to procure a naked man? When I said perhaps we should emulate his floral work one of the tutors suggested we should try for the “knob in a champagne glass” shot and if we pulled it off, a guaranteed ten! Hmmm!
Camden Town wasn't well populated, there were a couple of interesting characters but it’s a bit nippy and, huge surprise, everyone seemed to have their trousers very much on. We got back to our meeting place and struggling really to meet the brief I wondered if we should go curiously literal. I spotted one of those old table-top video games, not plugged in but it was the joysticks that caught my eye. All I needed to do what borrow a champagne glass from behind the bar and voila, I'm pretty sure we were told we should aim for “a knob in a champagne glass”.
The photograph was too busy for a Mapplethorpe studio shot so we only scraped an eight. Apparently the ten on offer was for the “real thing” and if we had got that shot I suspected we'd have been arrested. We even had a policeman as a fellow photographer so I'm pretty sure we’d have been banged to rights pretty sharpish.
If I had stumbled upon anything resembling a flower, especially a lily, I would have aimed for something like the above. This is an old photograph of a white lily from our reception, back when flowers were allowed to adorn our workplace.
The individual challenge was selfies! Urghh, the problem with selfies is that I'd much prefer to be on the other side of the camera so after some consideration and brandishing an iPhone in a variety of poor lighting scenarios, I attempted a photograph of me photographing me photographing me... At least I was able to include my lovely new hat, my beloved Leica and some bling. And bonus, managed to show relatively little of me. I got another eight for my reluctant selfie!