My name is Steve Jacob, I live in London and I love photographs. That’s enough of a bio for now, because unseenery.com is not about me or my images. It’s about images in general and the people who make them.
So what is ‘unseenery’?
Any image we haven’t seen before could potentially be unseenery, but don’t worry – I’m not planning to share my holiday snaps. In an era where billions of new images are made available to public view every day, there is scope for being selective. So selective in fact that even a beautiful, technically perfect image doesn’t necessarily qualify. If it tries too hard to conform to the ideals of the genre, if it looks too much like all those lovely landscapes or perfect portraits we’ve seen before, it may as well be seenery.
I plan to focus on images that challenge our preconceptions a little, that don’t look a postcard, or show someone’s best side. They may be scenes we would not normally think to photograph, such as the Uncommon Places of Stephen Shore, or which show us a different perspective, like the winter scenes of Istanbul’s backstreets in Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s Cinemascope images. They may also be portraits that are compellingly disturbing, like those of Andrzej Dragan, or which challenge social stereotypes, such as Cyndy Sherman’s self-portraits.
We don’t even have to ‘like’ a particular image. Sometimes it’s more interesting to consider where our reactions comes from, but it’s always useful to look at technique and composition where it’s used to effect. Nor does it matter if an image is staged or manipulated, as long as no deception is involved. Staging a portrait is not the same as staging a riot for press photographers, and using Photoshop for artistic effect is not the same as cloning out a mobile phone because it doesn’t conform to our preconceptions of Africa.
So unseenery.com is about discovering photographers and photographs, and how we go about finding or making images ourselves. As Dorothea Lang said “The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera”. Easy enough to say, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth exploring how we can learn to see better.
I will be submitting regular posts in random photographic topics, but key topic categories are also added to the menu to make them easier find once they are off the front page:
SPOTLIGHT: This will highlight new photographers and images for us to look at and discuss. Please feel free to write in with your own suggestions.
EVENTS: I will periodically provide a list of current and up-coming photographic exhibitions in London, as well of reviews of ones I have been to. If there any in your local area, feel free to tell us about them.
LOCATIONS: In these posts I will highlight interesting places I know about that are not on the tourist trail. Again, most will feature London, but also other places I know well. If you want to submit your own, along with some images, I would be happy to feature them as well.
More may be added in the future, such as technical and post-processing tips.
In the near future, I also plan to publish two e-books, including a phone-based walking guide to London containing 80km of lesser known areas to explore, and a technical guide to cameras, which untangles all the jargon you are likely to come across in reviews of digital cameras and lenses. Look out for those in the next few weeks.
A few notes and some rules
This site is about photographs, not cameras. There are much better sites for gear reviews and discussions. Your gear should suit your style, but your images should speak for themselves. An iPhone, digital SLR or view camera all have their uses. Only a photographer can make an interesting image.
So just one gentle warning. Brand wars, trolling, flaming or abuse of fellow posters and contributors will see posts deleted. First comments will be moderated, but you are free to post after that. I will revise this policy if I end up deleting too many or getting complaints. I hope I don’t have to. Let’s keep it friendly.