Photography, Learning and inequalities in a pandemic I

July 12, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

we are all in it together I

The global COVID-19 pandemic and the response to it has had massive health, financial, social and psychological ramifications; ten million infections and half a million deaths. Until last week, the UK had registered 59,537 excess deaths since the week ending March 20, indicating that the virus has directly or indirectly killed 891 people per million – the highest per capita death rate in the world (1). The GDP has dropped by 20% with tens of thousands job losses (2). Consequent proscription of freedom of assembly (imposed social isolation, lockdown) under Regulation 6 Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 and enhanced surveillance has had major social and psychological effects.

Social isolation during COVID-19 has also exposed differences between people. The wealthy live in their second homes with garden, while zero hour contract workers are off work either via redundancy or furlough. Review of UK Office for National Statistics data has shown a two fold difference in age adjusted mortality rate between the least and most deprived London boroughs (3).

We are all in it together - NOT.  Inequalities in age adjusted COVID-19 mortality rates associated with :

1. Ethnicity ( relative risk ratio 2.69 for BAME clinicians vs caucasian - ICNARC database) (4) . Confirmed by Institute for Fiscal studies research ( threefold)(5)

2. Deprivation (relative risk ratio 2.39 - see Fig from ONS) (6) and

3. Rural vs urban living. ( relative risk ratio 6 -see Fig from ONS) (7)

4. Gender : 70% ITU patients are men ( ICNARC database). 51% men die, 43% women die (8)

5. Obesity - a body mass index (BMI) of 30kg/ sq m doubled your chance of needing ICU care in New York. A BMI greater than 35 increases risk 3.6 fold. Remember survival rates in ITU are only 50 % (9)

6. Deprivation - UK areas where there is higher deprivation scores ( Newham, Brent, Hackney)  have over twice the excess deaths of areas with low deprivation ( Office for National Statistics ) (6)

7. Religion - Jewish males had a mortality rate of 187.9 deaths per 100,000, compared with 92.6 deaths per 100,000 for Christian males.
For Jewish females, the rate was 94.3 deaths per 100,000, compared with 54.6 deaths per 100,000 for Christian females.
Muslim males had the highest rates of death involving Covid-19, with 199 deaths per 100,000 for men of all ages, and 98 deaths per 100,000 for women. (10)


The images of lockdown taken in a wealthy part of England highlight the differences described: Croquet hoops and post, a Porsche parked outside a cooperative supermarket, and a well-stocked cellar of vintage wines ( Alcohol sales in March 2020 during COVID-19 lockdown went up by 31.4% (11, 12)) which caused Baroness Ilora Finlay, Chair of the Commission on Alcohol harms to write an editorial in the British Medical Journal (13) .

Edith Tudor-Hart (1908 - 1973) was an Austrian-British photographer who studied photography  at the Bauhaus. She submitted photographs on inequality for The ListenerThe Social Scene and Design Today, dealing with issues such as refugees from the Spanish Civil War and industrial decline in the north-east of England. From the late 1930s, she concentrated more on social needs, such as housing policy and the care of disabled children.

To survive/ avoid COVID-19 It's best if you are a white woman and live in a castle/ hamlet 👸 or if you live in London,  live in Henley ( or Windsor 🤴) 🚣️.


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Concerned Photography

May 05, 2019  •  Leave a Comment

Nadav Kander Hon. FRPS's beautiful photography evoking unease  at Somerset House, London, hosted by Sony. His work, as part of the school of concerned photography touches on issues of solitude, vulnerability, industrialisation and  environmental destruction.

He is best known for his Yangtze - The Long Riverseries (2010), for which he earned the Prix Pictet Prize. Kander never photographed further than twenty miles from the river itself. In the shadow of epic construction projects we see workers, fishermen, swimmers and a man washing his motorbike in the river. Dense architecture gives way to mountains in the upper reaches towards the river's Tibetan source - a sparsely populated area where the stream is mostly broken ice and just ankle deep. The photographs are dominated by immense architectural structures where humans are shown as small in their environment. Figures are dwarfed by landscapes of half completed bridges and colossal Western-style apartment blocks that are rapidly replacing traditional Chinese low-rise buildings and houseboats.


June 02, 2018  •  Leave a Comment


Kwanon camera , Named after the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy. Originally with a Kasyapa lens, Named after Buddha's disciple.
Canon's first camera (1934) was named after the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy, Kwannon. The lens was called Kasyapa after one of Buddha's disciples, Mahakasyapa. Avcontemporaneous advertisement for Leica is also shown.

Ananda asked Maha Kashapa, “Buddha gave you the golden woven robe of successorship. What else did he give you?”

Kashapa said, “Ananda!”

“Yes!” answered Ananda.

“Knock down the flagpole at the gate!” said Kashapa.


In saying “knock down the flagpole at the gate” Kashapa declares the interview is over. But, just before that, Kashapa calls and Ananda answers: that is the meaning of Zen. Calling and answering is the direct presentation of suchness – not just the suchness of perception, but also of function.

Photographs of Charis Wilson and a pepper by Edward Weston who understood and portrayed suchness

Alfred Stieglitz's 12 Tips on how not to do Photography

June 02, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

Alfred Stieglitz - photographer, gallerie and sometime friend of Paul Strand Alfred Stieglitz was a sometime friend and mentor of the great photographer Paul Strand; some of us were fortunate to see the recent wonderful exhibition of Paul Strand's life and works at the Victoria and Albert Museum. It is arguable as to how good a photographer Stieglitz himself was; nevertheless he was a powerful force in photography, not least because he was a gallerist. His wife, the much younger Georgia O'Keefe was herself a great artist, producing some of her greatest work when she left him to live in New Mexico. Her work was covered recently at a major exhibition at the Tate Modern.

“Don’t believe that you become an artist the instant you received a gift Kodak on Xmas,” says Stieglitz in an article published in 1909 in a now defunct publication called Photography Topics. The article was entitled “12 random don’ts” (notice their inappropriate use of apostrophes).

Many of these exhortations are still applicable today.

Another great quote which is relevant to today's internet trolls and/ or pedants is : 

“Don’t believe that because of your lack of taste you are privileged to air your opinions on pictorial photography and art matters in general. The world in its entirety is not a camera club.

Alfred Steiglitz's Photo Tips (1909)Photography Topics Magazine Alfred Steiglitz's Photo Tips (1909)Photography Topics Magazine

Quiet Night Thought - Li Bai ( Tang Dynasty )

February 12, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

Moonlight before my bed
Perhaps frost on the ground.
Lift my head and see the moon
Lower my head and pine for home.

Ghost in the machine (IV)Ghost in the machine (IV)Concept of Mind

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