Egyptian Memoir

As part of this weeks #Phonar workshop I was asked by Jonathan Worth to create multimedia piece exploring transformative storytellying. Using only archive material either personal (Family) or public archive sources, that has not been used for news circulation.

I chose a personal set of photographs from a family member and a major turning point in world history. His vision one that purely ameture, but looking back stylistically has the feeling of photojournalistic approach of the 50/60/70s .

 Serving in the British Forces between 1916-1918.  A man from a ‘The worlds biggest coal mining town’ Ashington in Northumberland,  Egypt in 1917 must have seemed a world away. Yet he recorded with beauty the things he found interesting and important, both socially and politically, while sadly wishing he could be anywhere but where he was.

This piece is not the final draft and is to be revisited, replacing some of text with voice overs.

Images © Aaron Guy

Design & Soundscape created by Aaron Guy with sounds found on

WW1 information via links below John Robson is family information. Eden to Armageddon: World War I in the Middle East (9781605980911): Roger Ford: Books;jsessionid=EAD37F9E967AD3D22B9A46EB8C35FEE9.inst2_2b?docId=102058263

Unseen Films: Blood And Oil: The Middle East In World War One (2006)

YouTube – World War I: Middle Eastern Theatre 1/4

YouTube – World War I: Middle Eastern Theatre 2/4

YouTube – World War I: Middle Eastern Theatre 3/4

YouTube – World War I: Middle Eastern Theatre 4/4

Posted in Ameture, Creativity, Personal, Photographers, Photography, Visual Diary | 4 Comments

An engineers record #1.

The theme of this post will be split into two parts this being the first.

Over the past week I have been looking at two sets of documentation both made for the same reason, to record the installation of a structure. One book is valued at auction house prices while the other would be deemed a scrap book, a simple family photo album containing an engineers visual record of the installation of a coal fired furnace in the Malaysia during the early 90s.  The photographer (engineer) has photographed all the key elements of the structure. By using montages the photographer has given the best view and vantage point.

This method is nothing new, I accept that but I certainly feel the photographer (unknown sadly) deserves a great deal of recognition for the level of creativity the work displays, I wonder if he was aware of the work of David Hockney or if the photographers’ way to over came a series of problems of vantage point and perspective was a logical method of shooting with a compact camera to create these images?


Images © NEMIPA

Part two: The construction documentation of the Eiffel Tower (Once I work out how to scan such a large book).

Posted in Ameture, Books, Compact camera, Creativity, Mining, Montage, Personal, Photography, Scrap Book, Visual Diary, Work | Leave a comment

Ryhope Seams.

The recent weeks have been a blur with so much looking going on, It is great to look at images never seen by most, with content very rarely seen by anyone but the shear volume of material sometimes becomes overwhelming, just so many images. This is not a complaint, more a problem of how do I show all this work? I have returned to a set of images I found during my first weeks in the archive nearly 12 months ago. In a pile of 6×9 negatives, dated 1951 were a set entitled Ryhope seams.

When I began scanning the material last week, the feeling that I was the only person in the shaft, not a single person in the whole set. In most other images of similar content there is normally a man, even if only to offer a sense of scale. Why were these different? There are small signs of life if the images are inspected but still very little.  Had there been an accident? A gas explosion or roof collapse? or maybe something not so sinister, was it a break time or  holidays and the photographer had some surveying to do? Either way it has produced some of the most surreal imagery I have seen, this is maybe heightened even more as there is no real context for the images.

With these questions and lack of context my mind began to wander. I remembered an interview with Eric Burdon front man of 60’s band The Animals. During the interview Burdon spoke about how his Father, an electrician at the Raising Sun pit on Tyneside and how he had taken a 12 year old Eric down a shaft during a holiday closure, leaving him to stand alone while his father attended his duties. This was just a ploy to scare him from pit work but It was these 30 minutes of solitude in a shaft had a profound effect on Burdon, leaving the vivid memory of how an empty pit was yet full of vague unfamiliar shapes. Through the initial silence Burdon remembers hearing sounds of timbers and rock yawing creaking but never really knowing what made the sounds or shadows.

When I saw this empty environment I began to get a slight sense of what he must have been feeling but for me, the images will still remain without a real context.

Text:  Aaron Guy  Images: Copyright NEMIPA 

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Never seen before

Last week I was asked by a friend and lecturer if I would be willing to let 40 students descend upon the Mining Institute to see what is  hidden amongst the piles of photographic materialin the strong room.

They came, they saw,  they gasped, laughed and those to cool for school…… yawned !!!!

Keeping everything very informal, I chose to lay the images on view on a large table, as I would for an edit. This gave everybody a chance to view, stand and discuss the material. Most of which has never been seen by anyone since the images were made. I once read in the book ‘On looking at photographs’ – A conversation with Bill Jay and David Hurn,  when showing an audience work you must always try and show them something they have never seen before.  Well I think that box is firmly ticked as far as content is concerned.

One image that caught the eye of most  was The photographers wife and her cat. The image shows that life in the North East during the 70’s wasn’t all overcast days and dirty miners to follow this, Idea I began looking for something that was not Miners I found a series portraits showing the managers of the coal board (serious no no for the working man to acknowledge) but still a very important document and some of their secretaries. So standard but yet so beautiful,  as each manager/secretary either tries to  convey or hold back personality.

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Text: Aaron Guy Images: Copyright NEMIPA©  &  Antony Chambers

Posted in Mining, News, Personal, Photographers, Photography, Work, Worth a look | 1 Comment

Brighton Photo Biennial

A few days ago I received a text from a friend asking if I would be in Brighton for the first weekend of the Brighton Photo Biennial, Is it two years already….? I am in london anyway for the Foto8 seminar on that weekend  so why not hit the south coast for a look. Sadly I will miss the first few talks but we arranged to descend on this little number could be interesting. THEN BEERS!

After our little chat I head over to my lab to drop some rolls of film for process…….The returned film threw up a canny surprise.

Images from the Magnum workshop at the 2008 Biennial……

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‘Mongst Mines and Mines #2

I not to great with all this blogging stuff so please bare with me,

The following scans are pages taken from the seminal photography book ‘Mongst mines & miners’ – Underground scenes by Flash-light J.c  Burrows dated publication 1893. The book was created on a commercial basis and was designed as a training aid for miners, geologists and engineers attending the Camborne school of mining.

That is great, and the images are amazing without the text but what really brought me into the book and made the book come alive was the witty commentary of Burrows on problems such as; the logistics of production and problems with equipment he and his team faced while making plates. These little facts and knowledge on how the photographer was working for me made the book even more special and pulled me further into each image.

Not once does Burrows moan about his task, he merely explains how hard  it is to photograph underground by flash light in the late 19th century. It is easy to forget when looking at work of this period how much had to be invented as it had never been done before. Even large proportions of underground painting was rare due to the lack of lighting source, so majority of what had been produced was reinterpreted once on the surface.

The book not only highlights through photography the working of underground mines in Cornwall of the 19 century but part 1 entitled ‘How the camera was used’ puts into context the pioneering movements Burrow’s was making in the field of photography, ultimately making him one of the worlds pioneers in the photography of this nature.



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‘Mongst Mines and Miners. #1

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Taking a little side step from the theme of my last post.

The first half of the slideshow shows the layout of the book, while the second half shows enlarged images of the original plates.

I recently found in the archive avery rare and original print of the book ‘Mongst mines and Miners – Underground scenes by flash-light. The book is the creation of J.C. Burrow, printed in 1893. It is possibly the earliest photo book of its kind documenting the working of Miners, other small works had been produced by this time, series of plates in varying types of mines with limited success due to the nature of the environment and technology available, but mine owners had realised photography was the ideal tool to help deliver commercial expansion . Burrows had documented other mines and mining appliances previously but the sole purpose for this new work was to provide illustrated guides to methods of working underground. These were for educational use at the Camborne Mining school.

The idea was suggested to Burrow by Mr.W. Thomas, the secretary of the Mining Association and Institute of Cornwall as a way for Burrow to expand his knowledge of the subject. In the preface Burrow thanks Thomas for his never ending support and for his text to explain in detail the views made by Burrows, but it is the final paragraph of the preface that is so honest, to the point and a frame of mind I think most photographers I know have been in.

Burrow’s writes

…The many difficulties experienced in carrying out the work will be sufficient apology for the incompleteness of the series, or the lack of systematic arrangement in the order of the views. It is a rather disheartening experience to find the results of a whole days work with an energetic band of helpers are not ‘printable’, but such experience was mine on more than one occasion. The work, however is so full of interest, and its performance so productive of welcome enlightenment on many critical points, that I have no intention of allowing it to remain where it is. I hope that at no distant date, the present attempt may be followed by another and more successful one.

J.C. Burrow

Camborne, November, 1893.

Out of over 100 plates made were but only 24 considered printable by Burrows. (Hopefully I can find some copies of the out takes). The honesty and witt that continues in Part 1 of the book How the camera was used’. Burrow explains his use of photographic equipment and materials, the drafting of locals to act as assistants in production and the comical problems encountered while trying to make photographs using flash underground in 1893.

But you’ll just have to wait until tomorrow for that.



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