Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Ben Graville's "In & Out of The Old Bailey" CONT'D

First off thanks to everyone who took the time to respond to my last post.

I would like to reply to a couple of things that Pete Brook from the excellent and perfectly placed to have a view on this subject, PRISON PHOTOGRAPHY said.

Pete Says. "Ideally, we'd not live in a paparazzi world, but we do. Do authorities then - over time - phase in windowless vans or do they not assess windows in their remand transportation fleet?"

Agreed. We do live in a world of the "pap" and they are free to spend their days photography celebrities. That comes with the territory when you "Dance with the Devil" I can accept the same with the "Evil Monsters" of the tabloid world. As far as I can tell though from Graville's pictures these are your more run of the mill prisoners whether on remand or not. As I'm sure you know many of those people especially those on remand will have many social and medical problems, mental health issues dependency problems etc not to mention mis-carriages of justice. I am taking offence at a bloke with a career plan and a big DSLR taking advantage for selfish gain.

Pete you say "While acknowledging shaky ethical ground I still find this photographic document worthwhile." I can't see that at all. What is it showing us? That some members of the public are locked up and transported between jail and court, and that when confined and humiliated and when someone trys to take their picture they react in different ways, exactly the same as people do in any situation. I don't need to pull the wings off a daddy long legs to know that if you do it's fucked for flying.

You're right Pete there is lots of Photojournalism that does nothing but exploit and make some big bucks for photographers. I've heard the stories from Don McCullin about photographers photographing a person as they die rather than helping, stories from the sixties, and I often wonder why photographers keep churning out the same images time and again and anyway that's why we invented Simon Norfolk because he brings something new to the table. Thing is that for every shithead there is a genuine, if a little naive, idealist on Lightstalkers who truly believes that his picture of an orphan will be THE one to change the world. That's not what "In & Out of The Old Bailey" is about, Graville's work's not prison reform it's "Wolf Boy"

I'll finish with a story. A while back I was in line for a commission to make some work about local cemeteries, a subject that would be an absolute minefield of cliches. Myself and a friend were racking our brains to come up with a new slant on a tired subject. As we got sillier and sicker with our ideas the idea of hiding behind the grave stones and jumping out and photographing the relatives paying their respects. Could you imagine those facial expressions? Of course we would never really do such a thing and felt ashamed of ourselves for even joking about other peoples misery. Perhaps with hindsight I should have done it and submitted it to Foto8..........

As for the windows, Like Benjamin I to have spent some time on the inside of said vans, (no doubt the main reason why I hate this work) and trust me when stuck in one for over an hour you want a window. What you don't want is some cock sticking a camera through it...............


Anonymous said...


All valid points.

My earlier rhetorical question, "Why has no-one done a series about this before?" has been answered by you in the suggestion that many have probably thought of it but never trued to peddled it to editors. Fair dos.

I have a few more things to say, but first should we be considering these couple of questions:

Did Graville seek or attempt to seek release from subjects? My guess is not ... but if he had would this make 'In & Out the Old Bailey' an acceptable project?

Are there any conditions where these images are not reprehensible and exploitative?

Anonymous said...

I should add that Graville has made attempts to answer his critics over at Foto8 although none too convincing.

A real test will be how Graville deals with this.

If he is a shameless careerist, I'll probably remove my support of the project.

But, if he follows through with actions (and donations) to demonstrate his concern for those within the criminal justice machinery then maybe the discussion will widen again.

ben said...

There seems to be an idea that there could be financial or career gain from in and out the old bailey. this is not the case. not a penny has come from the work and wouldnt. If there ever was any money it would be heading straight to m.o.j.o. miscarriages of justice organisation set up by paddy hill and john mcmanus who are dedicated to assisting innocent people both in prison and after their release. During my time working the courts I covered all the criminal appeals at the high court london. I would see and meet paddy hill who would appear at all the appeals where I covered ( to name a few ) sally clark, robert brown, gary mills and tony poole.
ben graville

Toast said...

Umm... that idea about jumping out from behind gravestones... can i steal that? that's just wonderful


Anonymous said...

Firstly, Toast - Hilarious comment.

Secondly, Ben - You should post this same reply on the foto8 forum.

Thirdly, Mark - Does a photographer's sympathies let them of the hook for the work? It's still the same images.

Fourthly, Iran is a very interesting place and I'd understand if your attentions are elsewhere.

mark page said...

#1 yes
#2 I'm pleased Ben responded
#3 Depends on the intended audience see my comment Art V Photojournalism
#4 Fuck it's huge, or could be, I hope so.........