Shane Meadows Portrait…

Shane Meadows, filmaker

I did a degree in Photography at Nottingham Trent University between 1991-94. In my final year Shane Meadows started as a third year on my course. I got to know him quite well and one day I was walking past the Broadway Cinema in Nottingham with my camera and Shane shouted over: “Chris, come and take my picture, I’m gonna be famous soon.” I remember thinking ‘what a smart-arse arrogant thing to say!’

So I went over and got him to stand against the wall and I bent down and shot upwards to capture him in a Mussolini-like pose to try and get a picture that reflected his arrogance. I think he already knew something good was happening to him back then because a few weeks later he was on the front cover of the Evening Post because Bob Hoskins was going to be in his film.

At this time I was experimenting with very slow 50 ASA unbranded cheap Jessops 35mm film and then ‘pushing’ the exposure rates and over developing it. It gave the negative the contrast you get with that process but also an unusually flat even tone with lots of grain (or as we used to say: ‘grain the size of dogs bollocks). I love the way the line of the edge of his face and head merges with the background but stands out almost like a pencil line drawing because the film grain in the background is so big.

This was all done with chemicals and lots of trial and error and you can probably just do it in photoshop now with the click of a mouse (or can you?). It ain’t the same though because with all the digital technology at hand, you wouldn’t think of pushing cheap 50 ASA film to get these results. With digital you have so much choice that it’s often a case of ‘where do you start?’. It’s the same with music and computers. Back then it was good to have those limitations. It’s good to have the computers too though.

Phil Nicholls – Photographer

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A long time ago we were at Bath Moles recording our first album and press representative Chris Sharpe from Beggars Banquet came up to the studio with about 7 photographers zipped up portfolios and placed them all on the table for us to peruse and pick a photographer to do our album and press shots. I didn’t even have to open any of them when I saw Phil Nicholls name on the front of one of the folders. I put my hand on the portfolio and said to Chris: “He’s doing it, Phil Nicholls!”

“You haven’t even looked at it?” he said.

I didn’t need to. While I was at college doing my photography degree I had been keeping a scrapbook and collecting and cutting out pictures from the music papers, especially Phils from the Melody Maker. His photographs were different to everyone else’s. They had a unique sense of stillness and pathos and a calm empathy with the subject matter. They were always immaculately printed too, almost bathed in light.

I’m proud to have Phil as a mate since that first time he came up and I’ve lost count how many times he has travelled with us, been at studios and gigs snapping his brilliant pictures. When you meet him, you understand why his pictures have such a quality about them.

Check out his website, it’s more than just music photography.

Monty Python for President!

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Did everyone get their free Sun ‘newspaper’? What a little gem that was for stirring up the passions and reminding us all of who we are! I was always led to believe I was British and I spoke English? Who are the English anyway? They are Danish aren’t they? Coming to think of it, the Saxons are German, The Scottish are Irish and the Normans are Norwegians from France. So what does that make us? According to The Sun “the best thing about being English is not having to wake up in the morning being Belgian or French, imagine that!”

Yeah imagine that! Everyone of us here doesn’t have to go back many generations to see they are probably originally from outside of Britain. People have been coming here since humans walked the planet. In the Neolithic period Aberdeenshire was considered the Monaco of it’s time, the Greeks acyually thought it was a kind of heaven with more than one harvest in a year. What about the Romans? (they gave us something to shit in and beat us 2-1 CHRIS)

So the Sun tells us we invented everything from The Police Force to the Jet Engine. Was that the Roman part of us that invented that or the German part? Was it the Norman part of us that gave the world the concentration camp?

I love my country and having lived in another country and travelled extensivly there is no other place I would rather be. It means I can vote and moan about the weather but does it mean I can have a pop at a Frenchman for being French? I suppose it does! According to The Sun that is what being English is all about too. Great, so proud!

What a load of hatred inciting insensitive jingoistic shameful claptrap that was that came fluttering through my door. And who advertised in it, sponsoring it; ALDI, Mars Bar and SKY.

Hats off to the posties up in the North West who said they wouldn’t deliver anything if they were told to deliver that piece of shit, but where were the rest of you Posties?

Recently I started a little project of taking pictures of various things I find or see cropping up outside my house on my road where I live in Central Nottingham. (I actually live between a £3000 a term private School where politicians Ed Balls, Ken Clarke and Jeff Hoon were educated.)

The slideshow above is a little funny slice of my England (used condoms and condom wrappers and dog shit were too obvious and disgusting to photograph).

One thing us English have always been good at is taking the piss out of ourselves. It doesn’t sit right, this nationalism rammed down our throats. What would Monty Python say?