For a male and female to live continuously together is biologically speaking, an extremely unnatural condition. Robert Briffault
Robert Briffault (1876-1948) was a French surgeon who moved to Britain. His interest spread to anthropology and he later became a successful novelist. He was a polymath, a raconteur and a wit.
Below is Briffault’s Law, which is one of the most important pieces of social anthropology you’ve never heard of.
‘Where the female can derive no benefit from association with the male, no such association takes place.’
By ‘association’, Briffault specifically meant a sexual encounter. His Law has an effect every time a man and a woman have sex as well as in the broader context of ongoing relationships. The consequences of this affect everyone.
I’m at the local motorcycle repair shop where Sherwyn, a most competent mechanic and pleasant cove, is replacing a brake master cylinder on the Blaze. He first thought to replace only the seals, but he can’t find the right size. A new cylinder is 400 pesos, just under six quid, an unwell encephalopod. I just tell him to get on with it. Sherwyn works in the open space outside a motorcycle parts shop, where he seems to buy most of his stuff, although, as today, sometimes he has to go further afield. While I wait I sit on a wooden bench in the shade and observe the street life. Baklas soon begin to appear; it’s like they’re in the woodwork.
In 1979 I was living in Exeter, in Devon in England. I had just started Art School, at the old Earl Richards’ Road campus. It was a wild place. I already knew that photojournalism was my thing. The corrosion of Postmodernism had already begun to infect the school, even then and the painting school was collapsing. Even Sculpture was showing signs of infection. Only Photography and Printmaking seemed to be holding up, probably because without at least some craft skill, these areas are off-limits.
The Head of Photography, the late Oscar Mellor, was very kind and helped me. He brought me a book of some nude photographs taken in a ‘domestic setting’. I think it was called ‘ A model in the House’ or something like that. They were all silly, stunted-up, ersatz toss that had no value.
I though, ‘I can do better than that,’ and I did. Nothing posed or stunted, all straight photojournalism.
Bastille Day is a huge celebration in Molinot, the village where I live in France. While the festivities are less impressive than they used to be, it’s still an important day. But in the early years of the century it was a huge affair, and the children from the village school all took part and put on a mime show. As always, willing adults were drafted in to help.
In 2002 the theme was The Wild West — with a very French flavour.
You can read about these in my hilarious French Onion Soup! series of books. The second, Croutons and Cheese! will be launched in September 2017. Meantime why not score a copy of the first, to get all the background detail?
Weddings are a rarity in the village now, but this was nice. It was the last wedding we saw here.
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On the 25th of February, we went to Malolos, the capital of Bulacan, to see a ladyboy parade; but it never appeared. Ladyboy levels of disorganisation are, of course, legendary, in addition to which, they were probably working on Filipino time, which makes ‘manana’ sound urgent. Still, a couple of nice cold Red Horses and some good pictures.
All Pix: Rod Fleming
Street photography, long established as an art and a specialist form of photojournalism, requires very similar techniques to those needed to photograph field sports, notably football (soccer, not that American nonsense). You need sharp reactions, complete confidence in technique and total reliance on reflex. As soon as you see an image, it’s gone, so you just have to go with it.
Markets everywhere are wonderful for this sort of thing. They’re very colourful and people are concentrating on selling, not watching the photographer. I was using a DSLR for most of these, with no issues. As usual with digital, you have to watch the exposure. I find using the old tranny technique of underexposing by 2/3 of a stop is useful in holding highlight detail.
Gallery 1: Malolos
Gallery 2: Malolos Palenke
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Arbroath January 1972 . I was living in the house at 9 East Grimsby. My Dad had died the previous year and I was still struggling with it. But I had a few things going for me: music, a camera and my books. It wasn’t a lot but it helped.
Russ Black, the art teacher at school encouraged me to use its darkroom. I had lost my own a couple of years before when we moved house. This is one of the earliest rolls I still have from then.
The camera was a Leica Model III fitted with a Ross Xtralux 50mm f2, an excellent lens. I used the name ‘Xtralux’ for a band some years later, in Exeter. Film was Ilford FP3.