Posted in Professional Practice

Tom Oldham

Visiting lecturer Tom Oldham came in to speak to us about his journey through his career of commercial photography and his work which has helped him get to where he is today.

In the beginning, Oldham was terrified of being a photographer and didn’t know what to do with it. He studied a two year national diploma in Plymouth which led him to become a working member of the erc in PCA. His fears of photography also included studio flash. His interests included music, as he liked to photograph what he saw. tom-oldhamTo start off, he photographed night events for local magazines to help his images get to a standard where they could be published. He aspired to be published in Sleeze Nation magazine, which was his favourite. This became his target when shooting. After a long wait, he finally found his urinal image in the magazine and later his image of nude men in the sea became a whole page spread in the magazine. He explained this as “the best feeling” he’d ever had. Following this, he decided to set up his own magazine in Brighton. He eventually got into photographing PR, events and parties which ultimately made him a freelance photographer which allowed him to pick up many jobs in London.

When getting into the depth of his career, Oldham started photographing famous people. Oldham said that in the words of Avedon, you photograph famous people to become famous. He suggested that you don’t always require a model release form when photographing famous people as they get the publicity from the images and you get the work, so it’s happy days for everyone. Oldham said it’s important when you come away with work, Photographer Tom Oldham Nikon D810 images for Nikon. Not to be reproduced without should come away with a story from it too. One of his examples for this was when he photographed Ginger Baker. He let Baker’s dog out by mistake which led to Baker to lose his temper with Oldham and call him a “bloody idiot”. This gives Oldham’s images a background and something nostalgic to remember when browsing through the images. These images got published in a magazine.

Other famous people he has photographed include: Usain Bolt, who he described as an interesting individual, who he photographed for Puma and a sports magazine; Alicia Keys, who he waited 8 hours to arrive. He used 1 light to do this shoot; Nick Cave, which used a 2 light set up for Mojo Magazine; Dave Gilmore from Pink Floyd, with whom he only had 20 minutes to shoot with 1 light and 1 fill light as he hates having photos taken; Thierry Henry for Shortlist magazine; actress and singer Skye Ferrera, who was shot in a hotel room. Oldham had to produce 3 sets in 17 minutes using just a reflective brolly like Annie Leibovitz; Richard Branson, with who he only got 3 frames before he left; Blur, who said “good luck” to Oldham as he is difficult to photograph; 1960’s singer Smokey Robinson, who he said was an honour to meet; and the Arctic Monkeys, who he researched the style of to be able to include it in his images so he wouldn’t “fuck it up”.

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When photographing John Cooper Clarke for the National Trust in Dorset, he had to use plates to create the image. This was something I had never heard of before. From what I could understand it is essentially when you photograph the subject and the background separately and then join them downloadtogether in the editing process. For this he used just 2 lights. He has several retouchers as he isn’t the best at using Photoshop.  Time and budget is important and these two factors determine which retoucher he uses for a job.

Besides the famous people, Oldham does a lot of personal work. He said that this is the work people want to see and illustrates where the photographer’s heart is within photography. One of his first personal shoots was his project on the “Durneys” which he has shot 4/5 times. He used old school retouching which he was proud of as it was his own, self-directed brief, which ultimately gives him more reward. To light the images he used either just 1 fill light or 2 elinchrom lights.

Another personal project was photographing artists before and after gigs which became a published book and exhibition. This was also on the homepage of the Guardian, NME, Kerrang and Times magazine. He also works for Puma to illustrate products being used by footballers, and takes mia+copypart in commission paid work. Although commissioned, he owns all the copyright to the images but has to wait to publish them for a while. He also photographs public events such as Black Friday Mayhem so he can market himself as someone expensive, who does take part in generic photography too.

One of his most recent projects was photographing Gilbert and George for Time Out New York. One of his images got accepted into the Taylor Gilbert&George_03Wessing Awards which he said was one of his best achievements yet.

Oldham explained that he works with various people and not just one specific publisher, which he manages to do through word of mouth, however he aims to have few clients that ask for regular work from him. He dreads working with people he’s never worked for before, which I can only imagine is because of the added pressure of getting things right, and the uncertainty of the person, but this is only my own opinion. To get himself out there, Oldham actively markets himself consistently through social media and blogs, although he said this is not always accountable.

Oldham suggested a few tips during his talk about what to say and do during photoshoots to ease tension and make the atmosphere more comfortable. One of these was to assess mid-shoot if it’s going well and if you think it is, show the model the images to see how they feel about them. He said however, that this is not as easy with females as they are much more image-sensitive. To disarm a situation, Oldham uses humour which essentially allows technical elements to work while still being creative with the client. He suggested that you have to know your stuff – not just technically but about the client too as you have to make them feel comfortable – no one WANTS to be photographed, and especially when you never get anything more than an hour to shoot, you have to make them comfortable quickly enough to get the desired shots and make the most of the time.

Leon Bridges in Shoreditch, East London UK

Oldham owns a Hasselblad H50C and 2 Nikons. He has managed to meet some real icons such as Smokey Robinson and the job has allowed him to travel a lot. Photography isn’t always worth the money you earn but gives you opportunities like the shoot he did with Leon Bridges for Time Out New York which only paid him £150 but he was published in a major magazine. Oldham said it’s not “easier” to photograph beauty. He never asks for autographs or “selfies” etc., so he can retain his professional stance with his clients, although on rare occasion he has done this. He uses a lot of battery powered lighting for outdoor shoots. Oldham earns a good wage as he is paid to take the photo and then paid for the usage of it, however he said this doesn’t last long after you’ve paid for your team and equipment – shoots cost money so Leon Bridges in Shoreditch, East London UKthe wage doesn’t last. He has had good years and bad years with work. All his team are freelancers and he promotes himself with a maximum of 2 or 3 people. He believes that talent is people’s skills and hard work and NOT photography.

Overall, Tom Oldham was a really intriguing and friendly guy to have listened to. I learnt a lot from him surrounding lighting techniques, plates, and just generally working with clients. His work is so interesting and aesthetically good to look at, and after hearing some of his personal stories from his clients it makes me wonder what other stories lay behind his images. I would be so interested in hearing from him again to learn some more about his work.


Posted in Contextual Studies

Magazine Article – Research

As part of our magazine article task, our group have decided to investigate the changing views on gender and sexual representation. As my part of the research I have looked in to the past views of these subjects and the things that have happened over the years. These are just the few key points I found out that I think are essential to include within the article.

  • LGBT goes back to before the 1600’s
  • 1102 The Council of London (Roman Catholic church council of the church in England) took measures to ensure that the English public knew that homosexuality was sinful”
  • 1395 John Rykener, known also as Johannes Richer and Eleanor, a transvestite prostitute working mainly in London (near Cheapside), but also active in Oxford, was arrested for cross-dressing and interrogated.
  • Workshop_of_Hans_Holbein_the_Younger_-_Portrait_of_Henry_VIII_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg1533 King Henry VIII passes the Buggery Act 1533 making all male-male sexual activity punishable by death and extended this into Wales in 1543
  • 1680 – same-sex marriage was annulled. Arabella Hunt married “James Howard”; in 1682 the marriage was annulled on the ground that Howard was in fact Amy Poulter, a ‘perfect woman in all her parts’, and two women could not validly marry.
  • 1810 The nineteenth century began with a wave of prosecutions against homosexual men.
  • 1835 The last two men to be executed in Britain for buggery, James Pratt and John Smith, were arrested on 29 August in London after being spied upon while having sex in a private room; they were hanged on 27 November
  • 1861 The death penalty for buggery was abolished. A total of 8921 men had been prosecuted since 1806 for sodomy with 404 sentenced to death and 56 executed
  • 1885 – Criminal Law Act was passed in the UK, which made all homosexual behaviour illegal.
  • When homosexuality was made illegal, those suspected of it could face imprisonment and hard labour for up to two years.
  • People who cross-dressed became easy targets of the law because they were associated with homosexual subculture.
  • Fanny-and-Stella-011.jpgOne of the first public trials for transvestite behaviour was that of Ernest (Stella) Boulton, and Fred (Fanny) Park, arrested in 1870 for indecent behaviour. The authorities based the prosecution on their transvestism and their soliciting of men as women – No conviction could be obtained on these grounds and they were acquitted of the charge of conspiracy to commit a felony by cross-dressing. One of the largest organisations for transvestite men in the US today is the Boulton and Park Society
  • Older generations don’t believe in LGBT, and you could have been arrested for it if the public knew it
  • It would have gone unnoticed if LGBT people were abused
  • The excuse used to cover this was that the transgender was done for fun and just for stage productions – almost like drag
  • In the 60/70s women tried to fight for their rights of how they were represented – wasn’t until 1980 that they managed to get some changes
  • Many transgender people are murdered
  • It was not until the late 1980s and 1990s that scholars recognized a need for study in the field of sexuality – due to the increasing interest in lesbian and gay rights, scholars found that most individuals would associate sexuality and gender together, rather than as separate entities
  • Between 1848-1899 multiple states in America passed anti-cross-dressing laws
  • 1940-50s – transgender communities started to rise fighting for their rights
  • Dora Ritchter – first documented male – female genital transformation in 1931 – arranged by Hirschfeld
  • Untitled1910 – Magnus Hirschfeld a Jew, wrote a book called the transvestites – he worked for the police to try and stop transgender harassment – was called “the most dangerous Jew in Germany” by Hitler – during 1930-33 he visited several states in America to preach vision on sexual science – 1933 Nazis destroyed his institute, most famous Nazi book burning
  • 1920/30’s – medical provision was very sparse, but still transsexual people managed to find doctors who would help them.
  • In the UK, Michael (formerly Laura) Dillon managed to obtain gender reassignment treatment during the war. In the late 1940s he even had a penis constructed by the plastic surgeon Sir Harold Gilles, who later became famous for his work with burns victims.
  • Harry Benjamin set up the first clinical practice in New York
  • The former head of research at the UK Gender Identity Clinic at Charing Cross hospital, Professor Richard Green, trained with Harry Benjamin.
  • When Benjamin published the first major textbook on the subject, The Transsexual Phenomenon, in 1966, gender reassignment was still the subject of extensive social stigma both publicly and in the medical world.
  • Over 40 years later, some of that stigma remains, but it is widely accepted that the only successful treatment for transsexual people is hormone therapy and surgical reassignment.
  • A 1999 appeal court decision in the UK has confirmed this view, and it is an area of medicine that is gradually gaining respectability
    Transsexual people have also become much more visible.
  • 1895 Oscar Wilde tried for gross indecency over a relationship with Lord Alfred Douglas, was sentenced to two years in prison with hard labour
  • 1897 George Cecil Ives organizes the first homosexual rights group in England, the Order of Chaeronea.
  • 1906 Dr. Louisa Martindale set up a private practice in Brighton and became the first woman GP.
  • 1910 London homosexuals began to gather openly in public places such as pubs, coffee houses and teashops for the first time. Waitresses ensured that a section of Lyons Corner House in Piccadilly Circus was reserved for homosexuals. The section became known as the Lily Pond. In 1912 London’s first gay pub The Cave of the Golden Calf opened in Heddon Street
  • 1958 The Homosexual Law Reform Society is founded in the United Kingdom to begin a campaign to make homosexuality legal in the UK
  • 1963 The Minorities Research Group became the UK’s first lesbian social and political organisation. They went on to publish their own lesbian magazine called Arena Three
  • 1965 In the House of Lords, Lord Arran proposed the decriminalisation of male homosexual acts (lesbian acts had never been illegal). A UK opinion poll finds that 93% of respondents see homosexuality as a form of illness requiring medical treatment
  • 1969 Campaign for Homosexual Equality formed as the first British gay activist group.
  • 1972 The First British Gay Pride Rally was held in London with 1000 people marching from Trafalgar Square to Hyde Park. Gay News, Britain’s first gay newspaper was founded
  • 1979 At the end of the decade, trans individuals still had neither identity rights nor legal protection.
  • 1980’s saw the increase in aids
  • BIGBIG_gianni_A35D17.jpg1988 Section 28 – stated that a local authority “shall not intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality” or “promote the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship”. The act was introduced by Margaret Thatcher.
  • 1996 A breakthrough is made in the area of AIDS treatment;
  • 2000 The Labour government scraps the policy of barring homosexuals from the armed forces
  • 2002 Same-sex couples are granted equal rights to adopt.
  • 2003 Section 28, which banned councils and schools from intentionally promoting homosexuality, is repealed in England and Wales and Northern Ireland. Employment Equality Regulations made it illegal to discriminate against lesbians, gays or bisexuals at work
  • 2004 The Civil Partnership Act 2004 is passed by the Labour Government, giving same-sex couples the same rights and responsibilities as married heterosexual couples in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales
  • 2014 Same-sex marriage becomes legal in England and Wales

In conclusion to my research it is evident that the views on LGBT have over the years become more positive. I think the reactions to LGBT in past centuries have been way too over the top – everyone should be entitled to be who they are and to be happy. No one should be able to tell them it’s wrong. It is a relief that the more modern society have allowed LGBT to become equal, and are continuing to fight for their rights.