Hello internet, and thank you for finding yourself here. I hope this November evening finds you warm and happy or at least somewhere around ‘fine’. This post *may* come across as slightly giddy, or perhaps rambling (CUE long sentences and repetition) because it discusses probably the most exciting thing to happen to me professionally and personally this year - the release of Jake Downs’ new mini-album Fracture!
I have been close friends with Jake since the age of about 13, so I’m fortunate enough to have a fierce personal connection and involvement with his music and career. I shot the cover for his previous two EPs, Seize the Water and Crave, and together we created a small selection of video portraits during the lead-up to each respective release. Jake also composed Shard and Shard II for my short-film Self / conscious (screened for the first time by Perspective Cafe earlier this year). Our past work has been a privilege (and often a learning curve) with us both finding our creative feet and forging our respective styles. Shooting Fracture was the first thing I really put my mind to after graduating last summer and was our first entirely analogue shoot. The shift to film felt natural, having used 35mm since I was teenager and shifting into the realms of 120mm in my final year at University. * I’m really grateful that Jake appreciated and embraced this process, considering the shrinking capacity for processing film adding time to the turnaround of images. Perhaps worse is the inability to show your sitter what you can see through the lens. I hope he would agree however that it is doubtful the same work would have been made on digital; the reflected light of the sun, soft on the mysteries of a mill pond and what lies within, seeming to belong to the ‘unknowable’ nature of analogue photography.
Fracture is incredibly important to me for personal reasons I won’t bother to bore you with and which are too complex to really even try and dissect. Jake’s incredible talent needs no affirmation - it makes itself known the moment you press play, the moment he takes the stage. I guess what I want to try and get across, in my clumsy, wordy way, is the intense authenticity in everything that Jake makes. Trying to describe the ineffable (and really digging myself a hole here) I believe there is an emotional urgency somewhere within everyone that they are desperate to share. There is a ‘drive’, akin to imagination and hot like fire, which only very seldom is handled with the kind of artistry that Jake pours into his work. For me, Jake’s music has always stood as a concrete case in point that there is real value in putting yourself and your vulnerabilities into your work. This album, in all its visceral earnestness, flies in the face of emotionless corporatism. Everything about it has been crafted meticulously in order to celebrate and lament the complexities of the heart and mind that make us human.
However, it is inevitably more difficult to make something intimate in an industry dependent on commercial appeal and sales figures. As with all creative endeavours, sadly this dependency means a lot of work never gets heard, appreciated or even realised. Jake has managed to make Fracture a reality, but this record needs support. Head to indiegogo to pre-order a copy of the CD now, and bag yourself one of many great perks from Jake Downs, gifted artist Jessica Poole and myself. If you love the cover artwork as much as I do (see video teaser below), you can choose from two options to claim a 20” print of it as part of your bundle. ONLYFIVEDAYSTOGO, so don’t hang around.
I shall shortly be updating the structure of my website and will be adding an entire gallery dedicated to my portrait work. There will be a couple of unseen shots of Jake, so look forward to seeing more of him them.
In the mean time, you can find Jake on the various digital platforms below:
And you can see more of Jess’s beautiful artwork here.
*Here I have removed a long-winded exploration of why I choose to shoot on film, which will potentially form another entry in the next month or two. Or perhaps it will disappear into the ether. Either way, it was very badly worded and on a second read rather introspective and uninteresting so be thankful.
Before I get distracted and engage with some internal anecdote*, this is just a brief post to share some photos of a very lovely exhibition that took place last month at Fieldwork Cafe.
The design and collage work of Rachel Caunt is widely known by the name Paper Covers Rock, and I had the pleasure of photographing this gorgeous exhibition during its stay on Fieldwork’s walls. Rachel is based in North London - however if you are not, never fear, you can browse and buy her work here. I’ve always been a fan of collage but have tended to make work that comes across clumsily direct, something about photo collage tends to be more abrupt. What I love about Rachel’s work is the subtlety of shapes and tones that lend themselves to an aesthetic guided, but not limited by, their respective titles. There is just enough empty space and just enough colour in each composition. They’re elegant and somehow nostalgic.
This is a small selection of images but it’s only a small space so I’ve tried to avoid repetition. I really do encourage you to go online and check out the Paper Covers Rock online store, there are so many beautiful print goodies that you could have hanging in your own space!
Also, if you’ve never heard of Fieldwork you can find us on instagram (and be tempted by photos of cakes and other sweet things) here.
Have a fantastic week.
*It has just struck me that I probably should have used my surname as a gift at some point during the whole website-creation process. Webber isn’t good for much but it could have been good here. www.christinawebsite.com? www.christinawebber’ssite.com? www.ebber.com? www.ber.com? (ASIN world wide web .ber .com !!!!!!!!)
Unfortunately, I hate the word ‘blog’. I hate its sound, I hate its childishness, I hate its round smugness on the page. I hate how self-important it seems, how much naffer it sounds than its predecessors ‘book’, ‘novel’, ‘document’, ‘record’, even ‘diary’, ‘diary’ which reads like the name of a goddess next to the mono-syllabic infant word ‘blog’. But enough griping. If there’s anything I’ve learnt this year in a wide and sweeping way it’s that griping changes nothing and gets you nowhere but very drunk and further backward. Unfortunately, as with a lot of things, I fear I may have allowed this petty dislike to put me off any kind of public online writing all the way until now, the tender age of twenty-three.*
But I guess there is more to it than serious taxonomic aversions - blogs demand regular update, often a slither of positivity** and in photographic situations concrete evidence of ambition and practice. At the same time for these kinds of endeavours to have any meaning I believe they also require honesty. And if I’m being honest this last year, my first year since graduating with a First Class BA (Hons) in Photography & Film, has seen the first period of my life scarily absent of these qualities. It has genuinely been very difficult to maintain creative momentum, to feel confident and fearless and proactive, and to deny that or even sweep it under the world-wide-web-carpet would be deceitful. But as ambition returns and the will to communicate returns so does the wish to record.
So it comes to this Friday night, a bottle of white wine, a baked potato and the crazy notion that if this isn’t the right time then there isn’t one at all. I feel as if I have tried so hard in the early days of my ‘photographic career’ (and honestly the phrase sets me on edge) to project professionalism into my work and my ‘online presence’ that it has only done harm and damaged my sense of self and creative autonomy. Why did I pursue photography in the first place? It wasn’t to get commissions. It wasn’t to make money. And it wasn’t to look like a phoney freelancer on a website I pay for and nobody cares about.
So if this seems too personal and too rambling and not in any way focused on my ‘career’ and my ‘practice’ then I apologise - but I still work 40-70 hours a week in customer-service based positions, I don’t get enough sleep and I’m currently in the habit of watching ‘coming of age’ films and wondering why the thought of actually owning a car seems like the far-away, ridiculous notions of someone twenty years older than me. I guess I’m frustrated with the way things have turned out. If you haven’t worked for 50 hours with the general public than you’re fortunate, and you don’t understand how physically and spiritually draining it is. It’s exhausting. I have ideas of what I can do and what I should do and how hard I should work and how many emails I should send and how much exposure is good exposure and how much rent is too much rent but it’s difficult to keep this up when all you want to do is go for a run and crawl into bed.
And so here is my blog. Written with a desire to connect with people, with myself and with my work. A strangely public digital planner to outline and organise. Written as a record of what I’ve been up to, and because I want this to be more personal that a short tweet or a business card: how I’ve been feeling. Already I can see that my earlier statement to not start griping has descended into almost a 100% full-scale whinge. But this is the beginning! And the beginning of anything is never perfect.
I shall update again soon with what I’ve been up to lately, leaving out all of the sandwiches I’ve made for business peoples’ lunches and the coffees I have served to students and travellers and regulars and of course myself, because these anecdotes are not entirely what this space is for. If at any point during this blog’s existence, during reading my musings, you have something to say, a response of any kind whatsoever, do please comment, or email, or something - for isn’t it a wonderful notion to try and make the word wide web that little bit smaller? To reach across the empty space into which we fling things day in and day out and actually directly connect with what someone is thinking? Please be in touch.
I guess that’s all for now. I’ll try and update with some real ~photographic~ news soon.
*I guess it is worth noting that it works backwards too - words like chunk and merlot so drippingly gorgeous I am left no choice but to love wine and cheese and chocolate. And what about the poly-syllabic joys of words such as encyclopedia and other-worldliness?
** Format, or perhaps Google Chrome, has set the dreaded red squiggly under the word positivity. There it goes again. It is questioning positivity. How many times do you wish me to re-read this word Google and ponder whether I have made up the very notion of optimism? It is correctly spelled, it is a real thing I swear. Positivity. Why must you worry me so? Red squiggly or not, I’m keeping it in. You can’t stop me.