Sunday, January 3, 2010

New book on Rotherhithe: Rotherhithe Photographs: 1971-1980 (Paperback)

Rotherhithe Photographs: 1971-1980 (Paperback)
By Geoff Howard
Vane Publishing
ISBN-10: 095613890X
ISBN-13: 978-0956138903

Available from I have it on order.

There's a review on the British Journal of Photography. Here's an extract (has one of the photos from the book):

Geoff Howard is an unassuming man, and he only mentions in passing that he once exhibited in the Whitechapel Gallery and published his work in Creative Review, and that his photograph of Martin Parr hangs in the National Portrait Gallery. But if his humble nature makes self-promotion tricky, it's also the secret to his fascinating fly-on-the-wall shots of 1970s Rotherhithe. 'I met Pam and Alan Field, a young brother and sister from Rotherhithe, at a party in north London when I was still attending college (at the London College of Printing),' he says.

'We got talking and they invited me down to their local in Rotherhithe. It was packed and there was a very aggressive atmosphere - when people finished their drinks they'd just drop their glasses on the floor, so by the end of the night you were ankle-deep in broken glass. But I got interested in it, so I started shooting pictures. It was very working class and I'm middle class but I can get on with most people and fit in. You just see how people live.'

His approach was anything but subtle though - using a Leica with a 25mm lens and a big flash, he'd simply walk up to groups and shoot them. But although he had some problems, he had less than you might expect. 'People were very amiable, and I don't think they really took me seriously,' he says. 'Plus I'd just take the shot and move on quickly. But I wanted to be aggressive and do that flash (of light) to capture what was going on. I was an available light photographer but the pubs were very dark so you couldn't shoot them like that - you'd need to really push the film and use a very slow shutter. I wanted to show it like it was, not just capture the atmosphere.'

Here's also what Southwark Weekender has to say (with another one of the photos from the book):

A photographer is searching for a woman he caught on camera nearly forty years ago.

The haunting shot is part of a series chronicling the lives of youngsters in 70s Rotherhithe and is now featured on the front cover of a book.

If the woman - walking down Rotherhithe Street on Christmas Day 1973 - can be found, the photographer will send her a free copy of the book.

Filled with evocative images of Southwark Park festival, old pubs and strip clubs, and now much-changed scenery, the shots cover life in the area from 1971 to 1980.

Geoff Howard, the photographer, told the 'News' that to begin with, his experience of south London was the Elephant and the London College of Printing, where he studied photography.

Geoff said: "In my final year I happened to meet a young couple, brother and sister, while at a party - they lived in Eugina Road with their divorced mother. We all became friends and I took to visiting frequently. As I always have done, I took photographs. The local pub, The Apples and Pears, had a very definite atmosphere, and these pictures were the start of me shooting more seriously.

"Documentary photographs acquire a different meaning with the passing of time. In some ways 1980 doesn't seem that long ago, but in other ways it seems a very long time ago - much has passed since then. The docklands redevelopment was certainly the end of the things I saw in Rotherhithe. I'm just glad I saw the things I did."

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