A revival is under way worldwide. Pilgrim numbers are rising on the roads to Santiago de Compostela, the Hajj to Mecca and at the Kumbh Mela in India. People everywhere are stepping out of their lives into the unknown to go walking. It's a curious modern phenomenon, and one that virtually all of us can take part in. In this height of pilgrimage popularity, it is reassuring to see people taking to the road as a gesture of change, adventure, reverence and a good old lust for life. But we don't have to travel across the globe in order to join in and express ourselves through our feet. That is partly what drew me to this series of photographs from Birmingham photographer Stephen Filer.
Stephen lives in Handsworth, one of the most multicultural areas in Birmingham, which is one of England's most multicultural cites. A commercial photographer by trade, Stephen has been photographing Handsworth for almost half of his life. Photography for Stephen, allows him access into the more unreachable corners of his neighbourhood and offers him the opportunity to get to know his neighbours, community and in turn, himself. So recently, during Easter, he photographed a local gathering at the end of his road. His road has a church at the end of it, St Augustine’s, and on good Friday every year a procession set out along the streets of Handsworth to remember the crucifixion of Jesus. The congregation meet at St Augustine’s then gradually walk the route, passing by local businesses, and the surrounding community. Along the way the procession gains momentum, passers-by and onlookers merge with the group as they make their way on foot to the green at St Andrew’s Sports and Community Centre. After the procession reaches the final resting place of the cross, the story of the crucifixion is then told. At the end of the re-enactment, the gathering of people pause for group reflection and prayer, they embrace or shake hands, then disperse and continue on with their lives.
For me, whats fascinating about it all, is that for a brief period of time, walking had brought these strangers together. In one of the countries most racially charged hotspots, racial differences subside and people are drawn together through this simple act. Furthermore these photographs demonstrate that the most profound and touching moments can be found quite literally, at the end of your street.
You can see more of Stephen Filers work on his website here.
Last year the New York Times magazine commissioned the French artist JR to make an image for the front cover of the April issue. You can see an interesting short film about the making of the image Walking New York here.
In November I spent 6 days with the photography collective MAP6 in Lithuania. We each worked on a new series of work, mine documents my walk around the Vilnius TV Tower and is called Bokstas 25. The new series will be exhibited in London early next year, alongside the other members of the collective. Pictured is a model found in the towers museum. More news coming soon...
At the end of September MAP6 were in Lithuania, working on a new series. For my part, I spent the week walking the capital city of Vilnius, covering more than 170km on foot. It wasn't random walking however, I was photographing the Vilnius TV Tower. We are currently working on an edit of the work, as well as other developments such as a new website. More news to follow in the coming weeks...
On October 25th the photography collective MAP6 will be flying out to Vilnius in Lithuania for our annual gathering. There, each member will have a week to produce a new series of images that will come together in a group project. During our time away we will be posting updates and images online which you can see on our Facebook page here. You can find out more about the MAP6 photography collective on our website here.
In his wonderful series Camino del Diablo photographer Mark Klett captures the historic path running through the Arizona desert into California. On his journey Klett came upon objects that emphasised the differences between a 21st-century and a 19th-century trek on the path: live bombs and rockets, bales of dope, villages made out of shipping containers and people crossing in air-conditioned vehicles.
You can find out more about the work on his website here.
In 2013, the UK government unveiled plans for a High Speed railway connecting London with Birmingham and onwards to Manchester and Leeds. Photographer Toby Smith set out to make a photographic project following the exact route. Walking and camping over 10 weeks, he covered every mile from London to Birmingham.
You can check out his series HS2 Walk The Line on his website here.
“If I was waiting for a supernatural revelation I would rather cross the desert. The sun stunning to my temples like a gong, the sand crunching under my feet -knowing that each step takes me a little closer to salvation-. And yet, I stop to consider the mirage of staying here where I truly belong. And, if eventually, I make out the top of palm trees, later on, below the stars and curl up next to the wells, I will dream of snakes rolled up to my legs dragging me home”.
Canícula, or Dog Days in English, is the on-going series by Spanish photographer Cheo Diez. From June to September, and only between the hours of 11:00 and 15:00, Diez makes photographs during the most blinding and scorching time of the year. Interested in the Poetry of wide open spaces and the landscape of the Spaghetti western (The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, Once Upon A Time in the West and For A Few More Dollars were all filmed along the coast in Almeria), he sets out to capture the sensory experience of walking in the desert around Orihuela in Alicante.
You can see more work from Cheo Diez on his blog here.
White Mountains National Park in Crete centres around the Samariá gorge. At a length of 16km the Samaria gorge is the longest in Europe, and one of the most impressive gorges in Greece. The trek starts at an altitude of 1,230m at Xylóskalo and descends into the gorge for between 6 to 8 hours until it reaches the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. Inhabited for thousands of years, the gorge of Samaria played an important role as a place to flee from the oppression of foreign invaders. I made the trek in 2013, on the last day of the season.
I recently got the chance to catch up with the Brighton based photographer Ian Hughes. I first came across Ians work during the London Festival of photography, where he was selected as a finalist for the 2012 street photography awards. More recently I discovered a series of his photographs that he has been compiling for the past 20 years. This new collection is called The World at my Feet.
Could you briefly tell me your background as a photographer.
I took up photography while I was at Art College near Liverpool around 1986. I was very lucky to have Tom Wood as a tutor and he encouraged me to walk the streets of Liverpool taking photos. For the following 8 years I was based in America where I worked as a cruise ship photographer on various cruise ships. It gave me the chance to take pictures of all kinds of people in some great parts of the world. In 2004 I began taking photographs of the areas surrounding football grounds, when the floodlights are switched on for a game. The series is called Around The Floodlit Grounds and I eventually aim to publish a book of the work.
Walking seems to play an important part in your photography, how?.
Having a curiosity in the world is crucial in photography and walking is the best way to explore your surroundings. I often combine cycling with photography but I always end up in a tangle and I miss too much. Walking and photography go hand in hand. I hate to walk anywhere without a camera. You see so much when you are out walking that it seems such a pity not to capture it in pictures.
Tell me a little about your new series The World at my Feet.
When I am out walking I am hunting for photos. With this series it is the photos that find me. If I look down while I’m walking and find an object, a sign at my feet, or something that I think says something about the world, then I photograph it. I don’t go looking for these photos, they have to be in my path, literally found at my feet. It was if each picture was destined to happen! This is a series of pictures taken almost subconsciously, while I was on the way to look for something else.
How do you choose what to photograph when your out walking?.
I don’t think too long and hard about whether or not to take the picture. I decide later if it fits into the series, however if something makes me smile or feel a bit sad then it’s definitely in. If it symbolises a theme that I am interested in then I also include it. The first photograph made in this series was taken in Kenya in 1994, of a shoe in a puddle. I included my own feet in that one for visual impact and it seemed like a good idea to carry on including my feet for continuity. It has also turned out to be a great document of my choices in footwear over the last 20 years!.
What does the future hold for The World at my Feet?.
As long as I can walk then the world at my feet will continue to be documented. I started taking these over 20 years ago and apart from a couple of hand made dummy books made in 2005, I haven’t used them. In recent years I have included them in a few photography talks that I have done, but they were mostly met with disinterest by the audiences. I’ve not even included them on my website yet. The idea and title The World At My Feet, seems so simple that I was sure it had to have been done before me by another photographer. I googled it however and thankfully I did’t find anything similar.
It was a year to this day that I set off on my journey, walking hundreds of miles across Norfolk and Suffolk, following in the footsteps of one of the regions most brilliant minds. I have sat on the work for the past year, but over the previous month I have began to piece the work together, trying to make sense of the thousands of images and hundreds of pages of diary notes I made during my walk. The series is tentatively called "An English Pilgrimage" and I will have more news about it soon. This photograph was made in the beautiful town of Southwold. I remember finishing my days walk with fish and chips and a pint of Adnams. Good memories.
It has been a busy few months for the photography collective MAP6, as we have been working on a new project together. The central theme of the project is HOME and each of our 6 new series will depict an individual response to this proposal. The work is nearing completion and we have began the process of putting an edit together. Like our Moscow Project, the new work will also take the form of a publication and an exhibition. On top of this, we have been busy planning our next trip abroad. Since the success of our trip to Moscow we have been itching to get away together again, to make new work. We are glad to announce that our next chosen location will be Vilnius in Lithuania. Furthermore, we will be updating our website with lots of new work, which you can visit here. There will be more news about our various projects soon, but for now you can keep up to date with what we are doing by liking our facebook page here. 2015 will be a busy year for MAP6, we are very excited.
The images are created by placing negatives inside a pair of shoes and going for a walk. The shoes themselves have holes in them in the toes and the sides, causing light leakages; the physical act of walking coupled with the repetitive bodily movements and friction creates abstract patterns on the negative. Due to the constant friction, areas of the emulsion are worn away emphasising the physical nature of the work.
The work is currently on show at Banks Mill as part of Format Festival.
Images © Ciaran Jones
Night Walk, the new book from photographer Ken Schles, takes a fascinating look at the nightlife of New york. Grainy and confrontational, the work paints a harsh picture of New york and the suffering of its inhabitants.
The book itself seems to follow a loose walking narrative. We are taken through the book by the inclusion of occasional images featuring people passing through the streets on their way to some unknown location. Further in, we are taken around seedy apartment blocks and clubs where we see a version of 80's New york life that has rarely been seen before. Curiously, we occasionally see images of individuals heading towards fireworks in the sky. This gives the impression that although the individuals seem to be enjoying their anarchic lives, they also long for an escape.
We are never told the intention of the work and are thankfully left to make up are own version of the story. In the final images of the book we are shown the smiling faces of women as the cityscape turns to day. The night has come to an end and they look happy to begin a new day, ending the book with a sense of hope. I have waited a long time for this book to be released and it was well worth the wait. I also highly recommended checking out the brilliant Invisible City by Ken Schles, likewise published by Steidl.