Photographic Exhibitions

I went to a couple of different photographic exhibitions the other day – although only a hundred metres or so separated them – they were massively disparate in style.
The V&A is hosting Shadow Catchers: Camera-less Photography until February 20. Using a variety of styles and techniques, the five artists featured work directly onto photographic paper to create imagery – removing the actual camera from the form. Sometimes that can be identifiably physical things like leaves, ladders or even a baby. And sometimes it’s the experimentation with and use of chemicals to create shapes.
Meanwhile, across Exhibition Road, the Natural History Museum continues its very popular annual Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition. To say that this is really popular, doesn’t really do “popularity” justice. The exhibition actually runs for about six months of the year, and the photography is, of course, stunning. A certain amount of jealousy tends to envelop me when I look at these photos – since a good number are from professionals who were working on assignment in far flung corners of the world. When you read a label and the photographer explains that they had to keep revisiting a place over several days or weeks, then you realise that this imagery is slightly out of the way of us mere mortals.
But that shouldn’t detract from remarkable images. The one small issue I always have is with the Young Photographers’ section. While I’ve no doubt that the kids in question did a great job, they do have some awesomely expensive gear to shoot with. You absolutely don’t need a great camera to take a great photo, although an expensive camera in the hands of a child does suggest a professional, or serious amateur parent willing to entrust their offspring with many thousands of pounds of kit. Canon 500mm lenses which run at over five thousand pounds a throw, are remarkably popular throughout this exhibition (although to be fair, one photo did seem to be have been taken with an entry-level Canon and kit lens).
I’m just bitter, twisted, and insansely jealous. Go and see the exhibition if you get the chance. And if not, Waterstones has the accompanying book for just a tenner in its current sale (a fiver cheaper than Amazon).