All posts tagged: San Francisco

Christopher Bethell traces his grandfather’s wayward steps across the US

The medium of photography is inherently entwined with memory and nostalgia, especially when it relates to family history. For Christopher Bethell, the recollections of his American grandfather, Joseph ‘Joey’ O’Donnell, were shaped by the few photographs he saw of his relative while growing up in the seemingly unglamorous northern town of Stockport, England. Joey passed away when Bethell was a baby, and the photographer developed a fiction around him – that of a jazz musician who had left his family for a doomed second shot at his career, before falling for the temptations of Las Vegas and ending up in an early grave. Yet when he eventually sat down with his grandmother to find out what she remembered of Joey and their life together in the US, he uncovered “a story that was far more complex and much less cinematic”. In an attempt to deconstruct his own romanticised timeline of his grandfather and – as a dual citizen of the UK and the US – to discover America for himself, Bethell took a six-week road trip taking in Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Reno and Seattle in 2015, ending the journey in Clarkston, Washington, where his grandfather had settled at the end of his life. The subsequent series is affectionately titled The Duke of Earl, a reference to the song by Gene Chandler, which Joey had sung to his future wife the first time they met. Divided into four chapters, Bethell’s images are prefaced with a family photograph of Joey, each followed by its inscription on the back, penned by Joey.

2018-01-23T13:55:06+00:00

A sense of the strange in Zhao Qian’s Offcut, the edge

“I hope the project can make the audience feel like they walking through a cloud of mist.” Zhao Qian, a Chinese photographer living in San Francisco, has recently been announced as a runner-up in this year’s BJP Breakthrough Awards. His series, Offcut, the edge, is inspired in part by the feeling of jetlag, which he describes as creating a fog on his surroundings.

2017-10-19T11:52:27+00:00

Spot the ball: Robin Maddock’s uncompromising, ambiguous vision of California

From the title of his photographic blog, Ugly Moments Strung Together, you sense that Robin Maddock is prone to critical self-analysis and distrust of aesthetic purity. Despite having two well-received photobooks already published by Trolley (or maybe because of it), Maddock says that he felt disoriented and perplexed when it came to finding inspiration for a new project or approach to work towards. His third book, III, also published by Trolley and shot largely in the harshly-lit urban topography of Los Angeles and San Francisco, is the culmination of this period of introspection and points to a future direction of enquiry that seems at odds with his documentary roots. His first book, Our Kids Are Going To Hell (2009), resulted from his work following police on raids in Hackney. The second, God Forgotten Face (2011), shot in his home town of Plymouth, was already more introspective, even if it remained recognisable as a documentary project, capturing the city as a kind of microcosm of Little England. Or so Maddock thought when he started, thinking of it as a kind of …

2016-01-13T14:44:56+00:00

The private spaces in the most explicit of workplaces

At first glance, the spaces in Elizabeth Moran’s The Armoury resemble theatre stages. They are in fact empty sets once used by porn production company Kink.com. Interested in the conflict between private emotion and public persona in places of work (previous series have included a genetics lab and the architecture of corporate culture), Moran contacted the company asking if she could photograph their backdrops and props. “I moved to San Francisco in 2011 and wanted to continue the series I had been working on about work spaces,” she says. “I began researching companies and the type of industries that reflected San Francisco’s personality. I approached several companies and Kink.com was very interested in the idea. I found myself drawn to an industry where private and public collide, but one that also mirrors its customers’ lives. “What is produced on these sets is a reflection of what is watched privately.” And although people may be absent from the images, there is a sense that something is about to happen, or has recently taken place. In one …

2015-10-07T17:40:05+00:00

BJP Staff