Monday, 25 August 2014

Dench Diary : January - April 2014

I read a report that mouthwash containing alcohol can significantly increase the risk of oral cancer; I stop using mouthwash.

25th “Are you Peter Dench?” “Yes I am.” “I knew it was you, you’re wearing the same clothes”. I’m not wearing the same clothes. On Thursday, for my presentation at the Dokfoto festival in Oslo, I wore a red Fila lambswool sweater with blue and white trim and a long-sleeved blue Fila crew-neck T-shirt. Sitting in the audience for today’s festival presentations by Kadir Van Lohuizen, Anna Claren and Newsha Tavakolian, I’m wearing a blue Fila lambswool sweater with white and red trim and a long-sleeved white Fila roll-neck. I explain this to my inquisitor, she seems nonplussed.  


29th A company who make gloves get in touch to ask if I will endorse their product. The gloves provide the wearer with unparalleled levels of comfort and grip, in all weathers and conditions. The gloves are perfect for all levels of sport and available in a wide range of sizes, they are designed to adapt to changes in temperature and moisture levels, ensuring that the wearer benefits from their ‘all grip, no slip’ technology. The unique materials used for the gloves mean that they fit like a second skin, never causing any disruption to the wearer. They sound fabulous and I ask about a fee; the fee would be a pair of gloves.

I read a report that the high salt content in soluble vitamin C can significantly increase the risk of heart attack and strokes; I stop taking soluble vitamin C.

February

2nd On the 26th December 2013, I posted my first picture on Instagram, a headshot of my daughter. My daughter usually resents me taking her photograph but is happy and smiling. I take another of her waving from her bedroom window, holding her bunny, playing the flute and at the fair. I’m perhaps preaching to the converted, but Instagram is a revelation, putting the joy back into taking photographs without the reasoning of Barthes or Brecht on my back. I Instagram a puddle that looks like a heart, a ripped net curtain that looks like a heart and the interior tube of of a toilet roll that looks like a heart #bumlove. I Instagram a Voga class [half Yoga half Voguing], a couple under an umbrella and a man exhausted on the beach after the Brighton marathon. I snap a double rainbow over Villiers Terrace, the sun setting over Villiers Terrace, the talented and lovely Farnham University student, Lois Banks, on a visit to Villiers Terrace and the varied views from my my seat at Villiers Terrace. I Instagram family Selfies, details of my lounge and even individual portraits of my wife. I look forward to Instagramming; I go for walks purely to Instagram and leave early for meetings in case there’s an Instagram moment along the way. I don’t obsess about followers and follow people obsessed with Instagramming food and flowers, cats and dogs, shoes and cars. For me, for some reason, I obsess about Instagramming discarded mattresses. Part of the appeal of Instagram is not being encumbered with a traditional camera, the use of which is becoming increasingly rare in my role as an image maker. Recent assignments have preferred the pen, the iPhone and the Autographer, a small, wearable, hands-free and fully automatic camera, you don’t even have to put down your pint to take a picture; that’s my kind of camera. 


20th My wife and I go to see the Oscar nominated film, The Wolf of Wall Street; it’s three hours long. We prepare in Pizza Express with a Peroni each and share a bottle of Prosecco. En route to the cinema, a bottle of Rioja is purchased from M&S. Half way through the film, the wine runs out, a rookie mistake. I first took alcohol into the cinema [when alcohol wasn’t welcome in the cinema] aged 14, to see the premier of Crocodile Dundee, a screening to which my friend, Dave Thomas, had won tickets in a competition. We drank a four pack of Fosters lager in homage to it’s Australian on-screen-star, Paul Hogan. The first time I experienced a bar actually in a cinema, was inevitably in Germany, where cans of Heineken were efficiently dispatched to accompany the black and white Beatles film, A Hard Day’s Night being shown in a Berlin cinema adjacent to the best known Berlin wall crossing point, Checkpoint Charlie. As the Wolf of Wall Street credits roll, I shake the final flecks of Rioja from my groin, and head into Villiers Terrace for a bottle of house red and a bullet shot of bourbon and reflect on how expensive the cinema experience has become.

I read a report that hidden sugar in food significantly increases the risk of heart disease; I start reducing my sugar intake.

24th After a meeting at Getty Images London HQ, I decide to walk home and plot the route on  walkit.com; it informs the distance is 3.5 miles and the estimated time, 56 minutes burning 385 calories, all of which sounds agreeable and I begin the romp towards Crouch End. Three hours and six pints of cider later, I arrive home feeling refreshed.


 
The Date from Peter Dench on Vimeo shot using Autographer

March

2nd I’m running, running as fast as I can; children are overtaking me to the left and children are overtaking me to the right. I can see the soles of my nine year old daughter’s running shoes. I shouldn’t be running, I should be lying in bed on this Sunday morning with a cup of coffee watching AFC Bournemouth thrash Doncaster Rovers 5 - 0 on the BBC’s, The Football League Show. My body feels hijacked; black dots plot a route across my eyeballs and brown mud speckles my shiny white 100% polyester zip up Fila tracksuit top. Grace completes the Bath ‘fun’ run in six minutes 55 seconds raising over £350 for the RUH Forever Friends appeal; I finish 5 seconds behind her, raising serious doubts about my mortality.


4th I receive a letter from HM Revenue & Customs; ‘Our records show that you have a new overdue Self Assessment tax payment’ [they’re not wrong]; ‘If you do not pay or contact us, we will take further action to force you to pay. We could visit your home to view your possessions and arrange for them to be sold at public auction.’ I have a look around the home at my possessions that could be sold at public auction, it could do with a bit of a de-clutter; there’s an old dehumidifier, unused electric heater, wonky chest of draws, redundant exercise weights and a framed Paul Reas print.

I read a report that regularly drinking alcohol can significantly increase the risk of developing melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer; I start applying a high SPF daily sunscreen.

5th In February the KTLA television anchor Sam Rubin, confused actor Samuel L. Jackson with Laurence Fishburne; outrageous! (Five weeks from today, football referee Andre Marriner would send off Kieren Gibbs for a deliberate handball actually committed by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain; disgraceful!) Today, I’m at White Cloth Gallery for their launch of a Slim Aarons and Gered Mankowitz exhibition, talking to who I assume is Scottish photographer Niall McDiarmid, only to realise after lengthy dialogue that it is in fact Scottish photographer Colin McPherson; easily done.


6th In 2013, the publisher of my first photo monograph, England Uncensored, went into liquidation. I was one of the more fortunate photographers whose book got funded, printed, published and delivered to the people who backed it via the Emphas.is crowd funding online platform. Other photographers weren’t so fortunate, some had the pages of their book printed then left unbound at the printers; other funded books didn’t make it that far and the money ‘disappeared’. 604 of the 1000 printed copies of England Uncensored have been residing in limbo at a garage in the south of France. I manage to afford to buy back a 100 copies and make them available for direct sale via my blog. Checking the blog, there’s a comment from David Hussey advising on where I can get a good deal on a mortgage. I don’t want the first comment on the blog to advise on where I can get a good deal on a mortgage and delete it. Checking back a little later, there’s a comment from Anonymous;

‘Why would anyone want to buy this book when you could purchase a similarly "Rare" Martin Parr for slightly more money. The mind Boggles!’

And a comment  from Penelope Howard;

‘This is the same person who made a very unsavoury joke about flood victims losing their "second home" outside of London.

Most f (sic) the people who were affected in the recent devastating floods were not 2nd home owners but hard working people who have had their lives disrupted. For a photographer who proclaims to be part of a internationally known agency his comments were very short sighted. Personally speaking my mother who had their homes swamped during the floods I find this man a total cretin.’

And another very similar comment from Penelope Howard;

‘This is the same person who made a very unsavoury joke about flood victims losing their "second home" outside of London.

Most of the people who were affected in the recent devastating floods were not 2nd home owners but hard working people who have had their lives disrupted.

For a photographer who proclaims to be part of a internationally known agency his comments were very short sighted. My mother had home (sic) swamped during the floods and has been left in total awfulness.

Personally speaking I find this man a total cretin.’

And another comment from Penelope Howard;

‘Peter

I see you have made a link via your twitter feed about my view on your awful joke about flood victims. I see you highlighted my grammatically inferior first entry.

I was so bloody annoyed about what you said that my forgot my grammar (sic).

A friend of mine spotted your joke as I am not twitter person.

Quite frankly I think your joke was distasteful and very ill-conceived and NO I have not seen your book. Not interested.

As you can see I corrected my errors.’

I wish Davis Hussey would re-post his comment advising on where I can get a good deal on a mortgage.

7th Sat on my stool in Villiers Terrace on a Friday night around 8pm, a woman asks if I'm alone. I am alone and explain it was a choice between drinking alone or going to watch Lego, the movie. She suggests I shouldn't go and watch Lego the movie alone although everyone says its brilliant. I promise her I won't and she delivers a suggestive ‘don’t be alone’ double cheek kiss while resting her hand on mine. Arriving home I ask my wife and daughter if they enjoyed Lego, the movie? My wife says it was “Shit”.

I read a report that eating too much bread can significantly increase the chances of developing anaemia and osteoporosis; I stop eating bread.

 

20th I’ve a screening of my work at the Fotojatka [Photoslaughter] Festival in the Czech Republic and pack my bag for a return to the country that holds position number one in my top ten lifelong imbibing moments. I’ve mentioned this episode briefly in a previous Dench Diary, where, each year, on the anniversary of that trip, I meet the person who accompanied me and we whisper our shame. Only now has enough time passed that I feel can write down the developments of that day in Vlčnov, a village located in the Zlin Region of the Czech Republic, in the cultural region of Maravia. The population of the village is slightly over three thousand inhabitants. Vlčnov is well known for its traditional folklore festival The Ride of the Kings (Jízda králů) held every year at the end of May. It is now also well known for the visit of photographer Peter Dench and journalist Sean Thomas on assignment for Maxim magazine to report on the festival of Pomlázka. Pomlázka is the name given to whips made from willow rods that symbolises the male phallus. It is used to spank selected girls from the neighbourhood to bring them good luck and rid them of evil spirits. In recent years, the tradition had got out of hand with reports of marauding male hordes delivering over zealous spankings; Dench and Thomas were in town to investigate. We hooked up with a band of around half a dozen brothers who had a list of 22 women to receive the whip; at the top of the list was their old school maths teacher. At 8am, she opened her door and received a cautious probing of the sticks. Each whipping is rewarded with a painted egg or shot of Slivovitz, a 70% proof clear plum brandy; the group preferred Slivovitz to painted eggs. As the number of shots went up and the number of houses on the list down, I vaguely recall a young woman being thrown in the bath and another tossed in a lake; one woman hid up a tree and another ran wailing into the wood. At around 3pm, Thomas woke me up from a doze on the riverbank, my camera kit and passport scattered all around. “I can’t remember where we parked the car” he said; neither could I. Three hours, and a few bars later, we stumbled across it while silently trying to piece together events.
 Back home in a London pub with Thomas, looking hard through the Lupe at the contact sheets for evidence of a good job done, the last contact sheet offered up a surprise. Five of the 12 frames on it had been shot with the Mamiya 6 lens mount retracted rather than extended, which results in a blurred circle; in the middle of the circles, you can just about make out Thomas crawling around the grass on all fours being flogged. He raises his eyebrows and I raise my voice towards the barman; “Two pints of Peroni please, and have you a shot of Slivovitz?”


I read a report that having five portions of fruit and vegetables a day is no longer sufficient; I increase my daily portions to seven.

April

10th I have a set of photographs that I think would make a great second visual monograph and head out to begin what I expect to be a long and laborious task of trying to secure a publisher. Looking up from the edit laid out on a table in The Photographers’ Gallery London cafe, the publisher explains they’d be delighted to publish the set of photographs as a book and decide on Autumn 2014 as the target for its release.

I read a report that giving women oral satisfaction can significantly increase the risk of throat cancer.


A&E is published by The Bluecoat Press October  2014

A version of this feature first appeared in Issue 3 Volume 2 of Hungry Eye magazine available to buy here

A selection of Instagram prints are available to buy here

Friday, 27 June 2014

Dench Diary : October - January 2014

 October 2013

“Where’s my money?”

8th Director of photography at the Sunday Times Magazine, Jone Jones, is curious why I don’t want to work for them anymore. I’m curious why I don’t as I definitely do and always have done since my first assignment from them in 1998. Jones explains he was informed by someone, that I wasn’t happy with way my work was last published in the magazine. I ask who this someone is; I would like to talk to that someone.

11th It’s 8.47am; the man behind the bar of the Devonshire House Wetherspoon pub in Crouch End gently explains he can’t serve me the requested pint of Stowford Press cider until 9am; “It’s the law”. I slowly remove my sunglasses and let his eyes rove across my scarlet scleras. He pours a pint of Stowford Press cider, slides it over and informs me he’ll ring the money through the till at 9am.

©Peter Dench/Reportage by Getty Images


“Where’s my money?”

18th 06.45am the mist slowly lifts over Brixton where fishmongers slap their cod stock over ice on Atlantic road and overhead trains thrust tired commuters towards their tie required jobs. I’m waiting for a lift to the Photoreporter festival in Saint-Brieuc, Brittany, France, where my print exhibition, The British Abroad is to premier. The white panel van arrives and I slide across the lap of VII agency snapper Donald Weber and rest my knee next to our designated driver, VII agency snapper, Anastasia Taylor Lind (ATL). ATL is embarking on the first leg of her new project, Negative Zero, about Europe’s declining populations. She hasn’t used the Garmin brand Sat Nav system before, or any brand of Sat Nav before; she hasn’t driven for a while or owned a vehicle for five years. She prods the Sat Nav into life, it directs us towards the Croydon Ikea store; a few more prods and our destination is set - estimated journey time, eight and a half hours.

En route to the Eurotunnel crossing at Folkestone, we pull in for some stomach fuel. Jade, who has four stars on her badge, is our designated McServer; the bacon is missing from my muffin and a coke is served instead of a coffee; that’s four-star service for you. We tut past Jade, head back towards the van and observe a Romanian family boiling pans of water on the roof of their current hatchback home.

Driving on to the brightly painted train that will take us under the channel, the exterior reminds us too late, not to leave our pets at home alone. ATL maneuvers the van into position and we all jump out of the front and into the back, resisting the temptation to close the curtains and rock the van from side to side to bristle the stoic middle aged, middle class couple sat in the vehicle behind peering at maps over half moon spectacles.

Ejaculating from the tunnel to the tunes of Johnny Cash, ATL explains her experience of hostile environment training and ways to extract yourself from the van if we plummet from the bridge we are careering across; I diligently write it down and am now afraid of bridges.

Weber, who is not a morning man, also has an exhibition at the festival, War Sand, about the D-Day landing beaches; in between naps he entertains us with Don’s D-Day trivia. After a diversion to Omaha beach to collect some sand to complement his exhibition and a burger and beer at the grammatically incorrect, D’ Day Bar and Hotel, the 2006 panel van finally invades the outskirts of Saint-Brieuc. Total journey time, fifteen and a half hours.

 ©Peter Dench/Reportage by Getty Images

“Where’s my money?”

19th A lone bagpiper weaves through the streets of Saint-Brieuc luring the recently arrived train of international press towards La Maison du Festival for a champagne and foie gras buffet. The venue for my exhibition, is a ten minute drive away from the town centre and the press visit is scheduled for 4.30pm; this is unfortunate as the venue of my exhibition closes at 4pm. Instead, we are all driven to the beach; this is unfortunate as the beach has no bar. I continue my lifelong quest to revive the lost art of mime (the French love mime) and deliver in silent gesture my feelings on the matter. The two men who look after the venue of my exhibition hop over for an enthusiastic “bonjour!” I ask them if the international press would be able to see my exhibition before they depart the following day; no they would not, the venue is closed on Sunday. How about I organize a Monday morning visit with the other exhibiting photographers and the delightful family of my blossoming bromance buddy, Panos photographer, Guy Martin? Not possible, the venue would only be open from 2-4pm.

20-22nd On Tuesday I do get to see my exhibition, along with 45 other visitors who have registered on the number clicker. The highlight is seeing the response from kids as they confront The British Abroad for the first time. The remaining days at the festival is spent ignoring the complimentary chicken suppers; eating offal crepes; drinking cider from bolés; hearing 2013 W. Eugene Smith Memorial Fund winner Robin Hammond unsuccessfully bark orders at bar owners to stop smoking cigarettes inside; trying to decipher how I’ll be utilised from the French language festival schedule and trying to secure an answer to the question; “where’s my money?” The Photoreporter festival aims to offer a solution to an industry in crisis by funding photographic projects that magazines are unlikely to be able to afford to commission. I was awarded a grant of €8,500 to produce my reportage, The British Abroad. The funding would be delivered in three installments; one before the reportage commenced; one after selection of the photographs for the exhibition and the final installment, between the 10th  and 15th of September 2013 after the exhibition has been printed. I advised the festival that I would begin the reportage in April and two installments would be required up front to complete the photography. The first installment arrived in May and the second installment eight days before the deadline to submit the images; the final installment has not materialsed.

24th Grumbling onto the Eurostar train home I try to sleep, I need to sleep. The old woman opposite me pops a mint in her mouth and rolls it around her gnashers; her friend next to me smells of dust. I gather my things and swagger towards the buffet bar.

 With James O Jenkins and a replica of the FA Cup

“Where’s my money?”

26th Jocelyn Bain Hogg (JBH) shifts uncomfortably in his seat; it’s not surprising, his seat is very small. The 6ft 4inch VII agency snapper counts down the last ten seconds of what has been a fidgety 90 minutes. The final whistle is blown and Manchester United have triumphed over Stoke City, twice coming from behind to win 3-2. It’s the first live football match JBH has ever seen, and I suspect, his last. We are in Manchester to deliver a Street Photography workshop to the 2013 Young Creative Chevrolet winners. The previous evening we delivered a panel discussion on the genre and ate some beef alongside modern United legend, Denis Irwin. I check the schedule: lunch at Old Trafford, done; watch match, done; drinks reception at Old Trafford Museum then return bus to the Hilton and walk to a bar; splendid!  I show JBH, he perks up, stands up, we grab fellow workshop instructor James O Jenkins and head off to indulge in our commitments.

27th I’m in Stockport and not to see photography book publisher Dewi Lewis; what are the odds!?

31st I’ve looked at the books Hollywood Dogs, Kittenhood and From the Cradle to the Grave and am now looking to bring back to life my enthusiasm for photography. Perhaps the Pentti Sammallahti exhibition in the The Photographers’ Gallery print room will provide some and I stride over from the gallery bookshop. There’s a 25 x 20cm photograph of what looks like a fish (or muppet) in front of the sun (or moon) retailing at £785 + vat framed; there’s another photograph of a windmill. I sigh onto the tube train home and watch passengers play Candy Crush as they think about the carbs they’ll crunch alongside their non-plussed lovers splayed out on the sofa. A young woman who smells of Dewberry juice smiles at me; her kid is wearing the mask of Chucky (the fictional character and antagonist of the Child’s play horror franchise of films), the child looks like his mum; I don’t smile back.

November

“Where’s my money?”

1st I think my daughter is developing a slur from the bedtime stories I read to her.

3rd How long have I spent in pubs? How much of my life have I seen reflected back at me from the mirrors behind the bar? How many times have my eyes roved around aged stained oak walls and plaster cornicing? Not enough, and I grab my coat and head towards Villiers Terrace. Sat comfortably in my seat I take a pleasing photograph of a blond woman in a peach skirt and consider the possibility of my next project: Seen From My Seat at Villiers Terrace.

©Peter Dench/Reportage by Getty Images

4th International thriller writer Tom Knox is also hyperbolic Telegraph blogger Sean Thomas. He has an idea for a blog about posh people squatting in journalism and has cast me as the battling working class hero; he’ll also mention my published memoirs in an effort to shift the remaining copies. The blog is posted and causes a rumpus and romps past 1,000 Facebook shares and over 250 on Twitter; my book sells out. A mini brouhaha breaks out in response to the blog on my personal Facebook page including a comment by renowned photographer Paul Reas;

“I worked for the Sunday Times and Telegraph magazines for many years and I don't need two hands to count the number of "Working Class" writers I worked with. As for photographers? Paradoxically the "successful" Working Class ones are those who betray their class by representing them in ways that conform to the pre existing stereotypes. And here I am thinking of people like Nick Wapplington, Richard Billingham and, I'm sorry to say, one of the biggest culprits, Peter Dench.

That’s me! I’m a success and flattered to be mentioned in such esteemed company; the books of Wapplington, Billingham and also Reas were influential in convincing me to pursue a career in photography. Reas’s image in particular, from the book I Can Help, of a man in B&Q wearing combat trousers, holding a roll of military themed wallpaper and with a fag in his mouth, was validation that a photojournalist didn’t have to board an aeroplane to the front line of a war, you could just board a bus and pop down the shop. (hear more here);


 “Where’s my money?”

5th Internationally acclaimed chef, Marcus Wareing, who has been achieving Michelin Stars since 1997, fixes me with his grey-blue eyes and passionately imparts the memory of sorting out moldy potatoes from the sack with his father. I gulp back some Nyetimber fine English sparkling wine. I’m in the elegant Pomerol private dining room at The Berkeley, where Wareing is resident chef; I’ll be giving a 20 minute presentation at the end of the four courses about my experiences photographing the British to the seated diners. The canapés in The Blue Bar alerted the taste buds of the quality to come; the salmon (poached in a bag at 58C) with watercress is a fishy delight; the Herdwick lamb, buttermilk, gem and mint, divine and the apple pre-dessert, cleansing. Remembering my Telegraph blog working class credentials, I order a pint of lager to accompany the treacle, custard and date desert.

14th Today I decide to die; not literally of course. I exercise a bit, eat healthily, my BMI is satisfactory but  I do drink too much and have conceded that is unlikely to change. Experts advise alcohol can make you depressed, I agree, I cut down yesterday and never felt so low. Booze is the hand I’ve been dealt (or bottle I’ve been handed), the die is cast and I embrace those odds.

15th My daughter’s goldfish died this morning. She asks for a rabbit to replace it. Kids can be cruel - I’m not even sure rabbits can swim.

20th I’m at White Cloth Gallery, Leeds UK, for the launch of it’s classic film poster exhibition. As a teenage boy growing up in Weymouth I was lucky enough to have a neighbour who worked at the local cinema. She was lucky enough to have a laminated free entry + 1 pass and liked me enough to lend it once a week. She also provided me with film posters for my own collection (since thrown out by my mum); Condorman, Clash of the Titans and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off among my unfolded favourites. Viewing the White Cloth classic film posters release a reel of forgotten cinema memories: Westlers hot dogs; Pearl & Dean; bad local advertisements for leather coat outlets and the silky soft thighs of Lucy and her friend Tarni.


22nd “Where’s my money?” oh there it is; I’m the first of the 13 Saint-Brieuc Photoreporter festival exhibitors to be paid in full [the majority of exhibitors would not be paid until January].

29th I skip lunch to help set up the projector and deliver a presentation of my work to Swansea Metropolitan University BA(HONS) Photography students. After the presentation, one student informs: “That’s the first lecture I’ve stayed awake for all the way through”, praise indeed; another Tweets, “I learnt one thing. You have to slut around to be a photojournalist!” I think that about covers it and bid Swansea a fond farewell. On the way out I’m offered half a carrot for my three and a half hour train journey home . . . 

December

4th The host at La Fromagerie winter cheese and wine tasting explains; “Tamie de L’Abbaye, Savoie is a monastery cheese made by Trappist Monks living a vow of silence; the richness of the milk with the hints of herbs and flowers from the grazing areas changes with each season. In the winter when the cattle are housed in smaller fields in the valleys and fed with a supplement of dry hay, the cheeses have a more farmyard aroma and taste. In the Spring, Summer and early Autumn when the cattle are grazing the mountain pastures, the cheeses have the added flora and lush grass to give the lovely nutty, mossy flavours.” I ask; “If the Monks do make a noise, is the cheeses ruined? Our host gives me a look that says it all; be quiet.

14th My mother-in-law makes sure the chicken is overcooked before we drive to a nearby Wiltshire village to view the house draped in Christmas fairy lights that is exciting the local community. I live in London, unless fairy lights guide me to a cocktail lounge I’m nonplussed. The house is raising money through visitor donations for an epilepsy charity; the lights blink rapidly, dazzling in the drizzle.

©Peter Dench/Reportage by Getty Images

15th Sat on a train opposite a disabled woman, I kindly ask if she'd like me to get her anything from my visit to the buffet? She asks if I can purchase her a gin and tonic and hands me a ten pound note. At the buffet, I order four cans of Strongbow cider, a family size bag of Quavers and the woman's G&T. The total cost is more than I expected and more than I have for my cider and crisps. Returning to my seat, I pass the woman her G&T and short change which she looks at with some concern: "Train prices eh, robbery!" I exclaim, raise my eyebrows and crack open the first of my four tinned delights.

25th There’s green dog shit on the bedroom rug and on the kitchen mat; there’s yellow dog sick in the hall. My daughter has a hacking cough, my mother-in-law has a wheezy chest. The pedometer says I’ve taken 4,208 steps today, all of them to refill my wife’s wine glass and I’ve drunk so much cider, I half expect to crap out an apple: A Crapple!!!! Merry Christmas.

January 2014

New year resolution(s);

- stop having cider for breakfast
- deny cider is booze
- start calling cider milk

1st - 15th  I wait, watching, listening for the year to fizz and pop into life; not a lot happens to be fair. I take Grace to Winter Wonderland and wear through a chair at Villiers Terrace; I’m not so much treading water as dead in the water. I eat some pickled onions, pickled eggs, pickled gherkins and buy some wine, lots and lots of wine, novelty wine. I wouldn’t ordinarily buy a bottle of wine with a small detachable plastic bull attached to the neck but my daughter likes to collect them; alright, she doesn’t like to collect them but it makes me feel better if I think she likes to collect them. If my daughter ever decides she would like to collect small plastic bulls, or you have a child that might, let me know, I have a bucket full. Cheers, may 2014 be a triumph for us all.

A wide edit of The British Abroad can be viewed here

Copies of England Uncensored are available to purchase for £20 here

A version of this feature first appeared in Issue 2 Volume 2 of Hungry Eye magazine available here


Thursday, 19 June 2014

The British Abroad : An Eyewitness Account From the Beaches of Europe

Derek, from Hull, who says he is a “good person”, doesn’t know the chunky man he is trying unsuccessfully to heave upright from the pavement. Derek is a self-confessed ‘wreck head’ and doesn’t like to leave people of any size passed out and alone on the pavement in case they get robbed. Living in Hull, I’d be surprised if Derek ever gets home at all. To be fair, the man on the pavement looks as though he has already been robbed; his feet are bare and the lack of tumescence in his pockets suggest likewise.

Derek learnt that the man was English, but failed to get his name, during a brief verbal exchange before he collapsed. Derek has decided to name the man on the pavement, Derek. “Get the F*** UP Derek!” Says Derek. Derek from Hull has no credit on his mobile phone to call 24/7, a voluntary Christian organisation that finds people who have got themselves a little messed up and helps get them back to their accommodation. As the sun reflects on to the scene from the bleach being liberally hosed around by local business employees, a group of half a dozen friends at the end of their night walk over. None of them have a phone Derek can use, or the few that admit they do, admit to not having any credit. Cars pass and splinter glass, crunching slowly away without a sideways glance from the drivers and street cleaners sweep the debris from around the sleeping giant.

©Peter Dench/Reportage by Getty Images

An ambulance arrives, the seen-it-all-before employees disembark with fluorescent efficiency, flicking the ends of the fingers of their patient and firmly squeezing his face. It works, and he pings to a seated right angle, and then throws up in a proffered bag before being guided in to the ambulance and sirened away. It’s not what Derek from Hull wanted, aware that the man could now be presented with a medical bill as hefty as his midriff. Derek spent his night partying at club Amnesia; it’s not one he’ll forget. Probably.

Welcome to San Antonio, Ibiza, one of four destinations I documented the British abroad during the summer 2013: Sunny Beach, Bulgaria; Ayia Napa, Cyprus and Magaluf, Majorca completes the quartet. It’s a typical scene, echoed each summer across the party resorts of Europe. The British binge drinking followed by public order problems are reported as increasingly common in European holiday resorts. The statistics are alarming. Arrests of British citizens in Spain have increased by a third with the majority related to alcohol consumption. A recent foreign office report flagged Greece as the most dangerous place in the world for British women after more than 40 were raped in a year; the men responsible were mainly drunk British men. Binge drinking Britons regularly top the league of drunken holiday hooligans.

A lucrative industry has evolved for drinks companies and tour operators to meet the needs of Britons seeking to party abroad. Club 18-30, founded in 1970, continues to thrive exporting 110,000 guests each year with the average age of 19. The company is reported to turnover around £50 million a year. 2wentys holidays, have been enticing the thirsty Brit abroad for 25 years with promises of scorching hot clubbing holidays and the ILOVETOUR company, who market themselves as organisers of the world’s greatest sports and group tours, transport 1000’s of British students to beach party destinations.

©Peter Dench/Reportage by Getty Images

Arriving at your destination, party promoters hawk the streets selling tickets for everything the Brit abroad has come to expect; foam parties, boat parties, water parties, luminous paint parties and the holiday staple, the organised party bar crawl. Party Hard in Ayia Napa, offer a bar crawl every Tuesday that includes five bars, drinking games, free shots and free club entry. Now in it’s 5th year at Sunny Beach, the Party Crew's, Let’s Go F**king Mental bar crawl, is three times a week. Tourists can expect a welcome cocktail, five free shots, a visit to four popular party bars and two free entrances to clubs. According to Party Crew employee Ashley, Bulgarian regulations dictate the bar crawl can’t exceed 200 people and must be off the streets (and in a club) by midnight. The bar crawl doesn’t include a visit to one of the many prominent Erotic Bars, where sex is openly tendered by the bars promoters for around €55.

From the second floor balcony of my room at the Sol Trinidad hotel, Magaluf, I slowly drink a bottle of Tempranillo and watch objects from the seven floors above cascade down. There’s a plastic waste paper bin, an electric hair dryer, a pane of glass, watermelon husks, a banana skin, an apple, peanut shells and a slice of cheese. Shoes and socks (but never a pair), a bra, bottle tops and bottle bottoms, a can of deodorant, a watch, a wallet, a newspaper, myriad take-away cartons, toilet roll, a plastic fork and various yellow tinged liquids. Some items are projected or thrown, some items fall.

©Peter Dench/Reportage by Getty Images

Most worryingly of all, an increasing number of people fall. In 2012, 23 year-old Daniel Geary fell about 20ft from a balcony at hotel Martinique, sustaining serious head and back injuries. 20 year-old Adam Atkinson, wasn’t so fortunate, falling to his death from a third floor balcony at the same hotel. Benjamin Harper, 28, plunged to his death from a fifth floor balcony at the four-star Sol Antillas Hotel. Charlotte Faris, 23, fell  to her death from the one-star Teix Hotel, and that’s just Magaluf. In San Antonio, Michael white, 27, died after he slipped and fell from a balcony at Hotel Orosol after leaning out to be sick. In 2011, at the adjacent Hotel Galera, Jodie Taylor, 25, died falling from the third floor after arguing with a guest from the floor above. In 2010, a short walk down the road, at the Sa Clau apartments, Andrew Warren died in hospital shortly after he fell more than 40ft from a balcony. A few days after I leave Sunny Beach, Liam Davies, 19, plummets ten floors to his death.

The main strip in Ayia Napa is flanked by games with balls you can kick and bags you can punch. Two deaf black girls search on the street for a lost earring oblivious to the speeding mopeds whose drivers swerve towards them whacking their horns. They don’t notice 19 year-old Calum, a plumber from Scotland, being jovially pushed along by friends in a wheelchair. Calum slipped on the floor where he was staying and fell through a patio door and off a first floor balcony, severing the tendons in both of his legs. Travel operator, Thomas Cook, arranged for three seats for him on the aeroplane home as Calum had travel insurance. It’s surprising how many  visitors I talk to that “couldn’t be bothered” with travel insurance. They should be very bothered, Adam Atkinson, wasn’t insured, and many thousands of Euros had to be raised to cover the cost of returning him to the UK.

©Peter Dench/Reportage by Getty Images

32 year-old Security Officer, George, is about to finish another nine-hour shift on the stretch of Magaluf beach he patrols alone, seven days a week, five months a year. During the night, armed with only a baton and five years experience, he had to disperse a rowdy crowd of around 20 youths trying to launch pedalos into the sea. A previous night, a Swedish tourist he interrupted being intimate with a young woman, stabbed him in his stab vest. I’m just wearing shorts and a vest, and cautiously start to photograph the British tourists slumped face down in the sand and slung limp across sun beds. They have until 6.30am before George, with the same brutal efficiency as the San Antonio medical team, starts jabbing and slapping the beach bodies awake and marching them towards their ‘can’t-quite-remember-where’ hotels. They are lucky if they still have their wallet or phone on them that George says, the dark skinned ‘looky-looky’ men, look to pinch from them during the dark.

©Peter Dench/Reportage by Getty Images

Back in San Antonio, a British father is removed from the beach on a stretcher after falling unconscious. A pale skinned man from near Manchester, recently deposited on the island by Monarch airlines, skinny-dips in the Balearic Sea. Another man washes the blood from his elbow that he thinks he split open when he smashed it through a shop window. In Ayia Napa, promoters for the ‘most popular’ strip club in town, knock on apartment doors offering a free ride to the venue and what the girls can offer off menu; “Hand jobs, blow jobs, anything you want really”. The appropriated poster girl for the venue is former British television soap opera actress and glamour model, Jennifer Ellison; I doubt she’s aware of the endorsement. The fixed grin of the unblinking omnipresent KFC Colonel rises up from the ‘finger lickin’ litter and peers down at the scenes of the pissed and the pilled-up he’s watched over for a generation, and I suspect, for many more to come.

©Peter Dench/Reportage by Getty Images

Life can at times be limiting and disappointing. When you’ve saved up all year for a week in the sun, sometimes, all you can do as a Brit abroad, is book into a cheap hotel, fasten on your highest heels, pull up your shortest shorts (men just pull up your shorts), stick a coloured straw in a fishbowl full of Rushkinoff Vodka, turn on and up ‘Play Hard’ by David Guetta (featuring Ne-Yo and Akon), put your hands in the air, and wave them them like you just don’t F**king care, because next week you’ll be back in Wigan.

An edit of the images are available to view at Reportage by Getty Images

A version of this feature first appeared in Issue #12 Volume 1 of Hungry Eye magazine available to buy here

Copies of England Uncensored - the book about the English at home available to buy here



Thursday, 29 May 2014

Unique Print of the UK

Hello!

I'm photographer Peter Dench.

Are you looking for a unique gift for yourself or loved one?

Do you have a special place in the UK you like to remember; where you proposed, first fell in love, had your first beer or lost your virginity?

If you do, then how about this: I will visit your specified place of interest, create a bespoke 'in the spirit of DENCH' 16 x 20 inch print, then delete the original digital file leaving you a unique signed limited edition of 1/1 with certificate of authenticity.

Email a suggestion of what (or even who) you'd like photographed to peter@peterdench.com

£500 all inclusive




















Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Instagram Print Sales

Hello!

I'm Peter Dench.

On the 26th December 2013, I posted my first photograph to the online photo-sharing social networking service, Instagram. It was a head shot of my daughter Grace, she liked it, I liked it, it received 11 likes. I've now posted over 100 photographs to Instagram and am delighted to offer 15 of them for sale as "8x10" [paper size] prints in editions of 25, signed and numbered in pencil en verso, printed on Giclee Pearl [a slightly textured 285g.s.m. semi-gloss paper that holds detail with punchy colours].

£35 including postage and packaging to anywhere in the world.

Simply order via the Paypal button below 
[remembering to put the number or title of the print you'd like to purchase in the 'Instructions to Merchant' box]





1. Fun Fair, Hyde Park, London, UK
2. Wet Ride, Oslo, Norway
 3. Dive, Oslo, Norway
 4. Heart Puddle, Crouch End, London, UK
 5. Double Rainbow, Crouch End, London, UK
 6. Tower Bridge, London, UK
 7. Maserati, London, UK
8. Swing Ride, Oslo, Norway
 9. Red Arrows, Weymouth, UK
10. Splash, Frognerbadet, Oslo, Norway
11. Fairground Ride, Oslo, Norway
12.  Child's Silhouette, London, UK
13. Sunset, Crouch End, London, UK
14. City of London Skyline, UK
15. Telephone Boxes, London, UK

All Images © Peter Dench

Dench is represented globally by Reportage by Getty Images





Wednesday, 5 March 2014

England Uncensored : The Book



FOR A LIMITED TIME, THE STANDARD EDITION NOW COMES WITH A LIMITED EDITION PRINT - FOR JUST £20 [EXC P + P] 


Peter Dench : England Uncensored
Hardcover, 144 pages, 255 x 280 mm, closed format, landscape, 150 gsm GardaPad Kiara paper
ISBN: 978-1909076006
Emphas.is Journalism Experiences Ltd 2012

Let me know if you want the book signed or dedicated!

[I'll do my best to deliver in 3-5 working days]







 

"England has never exactly been glamorous. Many of the English still insist on embarrassing themselves, wearing laughable clothing, eating terrible food and behaving inappropriately. Alcohol features prominently because, whether living it up at Henley Royal Regatta or at a hen's party in Blackpool, the nations favourite legal high is never far away. So many attending England's festivals, country house events, sporting fixtures, jollies and jamborees look disappointed and confused, as if they cannot quite understand why they are not having the marvellous time they were expecting or think they deserve.

England Uncensored documents the ordinary and the extraordinary. It explores all corners, from cities to tired beaches, via nightclubs, dressing rooms, cathedrals and famous sites in the country, such as Lord's cricket ground and Hampton Court Palace, as well as presenting some of England's more unusual events, e.g. the War and Peace Show in Beltring, Kent - the "largest military vehicle spectacular in the world" - where civilians can dress in military uniform and carry weapons, or the central London themed disco with adults dressing in school uniform to relive the "best days of their lives."


here's when Don McCullin dropped by my book signing in Arles


and when Jean-Francois Leroy dropped by at Visa pour l'Image



some examples of satisfied customers


video

and a few reviews courtesy of Jacket & Red

  1. England Uncensored

    By Mel Evans, 25/09/2012
     
    This has to be the best book I have bought this year. The moments caught are fantastic and look beautiful in colour.

  2.  A bright and bold view of England.

    By Chris Demott, 08/06/2012
     
    This is a beautifully printed journey through the quite often deliberately ignored side of England along with wonderful images of some amazing characters. At a time when all eyes are on us this really does give a jolting view of some remarkable events and people along with some other moments that would seem so alien to most but are captured so well and look so natural. The colours are bright and bold and the subjects are often even bolder. Ranging from charming, touching, shocking and hilarious to on occasion quite uncomfortable viewing England Uncensored really does offer a quite original view of some of this nations subjects. 


Saturday, 1 February 2014

Dench Diary : August - October 2013

August 2013

22nd The London Evening Standard newspaper publish a two page article about a commercial assignment I’m working on in collaboration with the media agency OMD. The Future of Britain initiative aims to build a comprehensive archive of what it’s like to live in modern Britain through fact finding and photography. In April I began to create a visual essay photographing in towns and cities and at events across the UK to document what I thought would reveal most about living in modern Britain; commuters, the high street, football matches, supermarkets, youths on street corners, caravan parks, modified car competitions, beauty pageants, women having a spray tan, war re-enactors, off licences and the pub. The photographs are uploaded to the futureofbritain.com website and blog. The public have been asked to get involved and suggest where I should go and what I should photograph; a digital poster campaign suggests ‘tweet Pete to come and take photographs in your area’. The Evening Standard distributes around 700,000 copies. As the issue hits the stands, I cork a Rioja Reserva 2008 Lagunilla, take a seat at my desk and wait for the avalanche of suggestions. One woman asks if I can photograph her dog at a show in Penge, another asks if I can photograph her sons under 14 rugby cup final and the Hampstead Photographic Society, call to see if I can give a presentation to it’s members. The Future of Britain is in my hands, well one hand, there’s a glass of wine in the other. I agree to one of the three suggestions.


©Peter Dench/Reportage by Getty Images

26th As co-creative director at White Cloth Gallery, Leeds UK, it’s my task to asses and respond to the stream of exhibition submissions. If in the future, you would like to submit an exhibition proposal, please accept these general guidelines for success. Find out who to send your proposal to rather than a general ‘Dear Sir/Madam’ or ‘To Whom it May Concern’ introduction; do not send half a dozen links and expect them to be edited into a coherent exhibition; try meeting the person who decides what to exhibit in person, generally exhibitions have a better chance of confirmation if you are known personally; have a look at previous exhibitions, take note of the quality, theme and content - if there’s no previous evidence of glamour, landscape or experimental photography, it is unlikely your submission will triumph. If you receive a reply along the lines of ‘Unfortunately the work isn't right for our current exhibition strategy’ you have not adhered to the above.

 
©Peter Dench/Reportage by Getty Images


September

2nd - 8th The photographer being restrained by waiters working at Le Grande Café de la Poste during the 2012 Visa pour l’Image festival of photojournalism breaks free and thunders his clenched fists towards me. Earlier, I’d passively extracted myself from the conversation at the table we were seated when he voiced a menacing dislike to my photographic style and representation of the English (the next occupant of the seat I’d vacated wasn’t so controlled and yanked him across the table thrusting his head repeatedly into the cracked slabs of the historic town square before the waiters intervened to suspend the melee). This time, I’ve no time to extract myself from the incoming outrage, quickly drop my left shoulder and take a glancing blow to the right side of the noggin. The man who has taken an enhanced dislike to my photographic style and representation of the English stoops past and is once again scrambled into restraint. The following afternoon, after unsolicited advice from the photographic community, the man who took a violent dislike to my photographic style and representation of the English fronts up for an apology; “I’m sorry, I was drunk, I don’t really remember what happened.”

A year on, at the 25th Visa pour l’Image festival of photojournalism, I reflect on the incident and post a tweet;

“Will xxxxxxx fists be making an appearance this year? #perpignan #2012highlight”

A response by email arrives;

“Peter

Can you remove the tweet about me from your twitter account.
I don't know why you have written that. It's rather childish.

Maybe you should consider spending your spare time doing something more constructive.”

Maybe I should consider spending my spare time doing something more constructive and type a reply;

“Dear xxxx

Wielding your fists in my opinion is childish.

I have posted over 7000 tweets without complaint and don't intend to start editing them now.

I made the decision to remove your first name [from the tweet] and not to write an account of your actions in my memoirs which were published last week and available to purchase via my blog.

You must be accountable in life for your actions. If you had bruised my face with your idiotic behaviour it would have jeopardised my business in Perpignan at considerable personal cost.

I have considered your request for more time than you deserve; the tweet has been posted, you should move on to something more constructive.

Peter”

I press send.

“Peter

Just remove the tweet. There is no good reason for it to be there other than to spite and to cause offense and embarrassment. I apologised to all concerned about what happened last year and to you in person.

That should be considered me taking account of my actions.

Just do the decent thing and remove it, save any further embarrassment.”

I decide not to type a reply and receive an additional email.

“Clearly you are a very spiteful individual.

I was man enough to apologise to you for what happened last year but you thought it right and proper to reignite.

As for potentially ruining your business I find that very hard to believe. Mimicking another photographers style lacks authorship and creativity. Sorry to be so blunt.

I may lack your superior social skills but photography is about the work one produces
not self- obsessed pretentiousness.

Best of luck with the memoirs.”

I type a :-) and press send.

Sipping a beer back at Café de la Poste, I swill the memory around my mouth. Another keen photographer of the English approaches and jabs his finger in my shoulder. “Are we friends?” Jab. “Are we friends?” Jab jab. “I’ve heard you’re a nice guy, but are we friends?” Jab jab jab. I consider the question. Are we friends? I holiday with my friends; meet them for drinks and nibbles in the Villiers Terrace; telephone them for advice; look after their children and lust after their wives. In that context, the man with the over active digits and I are not friends. We’re not even Facebook friends; I’d recently ‘unfriended’ him as a reprieve from the excessive posting of their work on my timeline. I chuck back the rest of my beer, thud the glass on the table, stand up and give his back a cheery slap. “Of course we friends, what are you drinking?” 

 
©Peter Dench/Reportage by Getty Images


10th Walking into the Hampstead Photographic Society (HPS) to give an evening talk, I bring the average age down significantly. I’m first substitute replacement for Vicki Couchman who had to pull out at short notice. The club chairman informs me that I was in fact second choice preferred replacement for Vicki Couchman. I grab a copy of the club programme and pour some water into an ‘A A Hampstead Living Sober’ mug and peruse: ‘May 06 - Photographers we like: Lord Snowdon and Hugh Diamond’. Oh dear. My fee for the evening is “a nice bottle of red wine”. I hope they present it before the talk and check in my bag that I brought my opener. I did and make a mental reminder to return on March 25th for: ‘An evening with Bob Slott - A chance to see Bob’s excellent images and hear how his Cape Cod club is run’. The HPS comedian and professional Chauffeur, plugs the computer into the newly acquired Epson projector (retailing at around £900), a picture of an otter flicks on to the screen. I explain that’s not one of my photographs, he seems surprised and continues to clip in wires and unclip others. I chat with Michael who looks after production of the newsletter. Michael wasn’t successful in this years Taylor Wessing photographic portrait prize award but did have some success in the Isle of Wight festival. Retired psychologist, Richard, interjects and promises to post me his published paper on Dr Hugh Welch Diamond. I wrote my photographic degree dissertation on Dr Diamond and his use of photography in the treatment of nineteenth century female lunatics; it hasn’t proved useful in the development of my career. An Optometrist looks over and regales a tale of his adventure cruise to eastern Russia and his passion for photographing birds, but not as huddled groups or flocks, as individual birds. I took books to sell at the evening, on the return journey home, my bag is heavier than when I arrived.


©Peter Dench/Reportage by Getty Images


13th I settle down in anticipation of the ‘nose to tail eating’ of a suckling pig in the private dining room of St. John’s, an English restaurant opened in October 1994 by Fergus Henderson, Trevor Gulliver and Jon Spiteri, on the premises of a former bacon smoke-house. Our host for the evening, reminds us not to photograph or tag any of the Jews, Muslims or ‘vegetarians’ in the room on social media before we all begin to tuck into the swine.

23rd Sat outside Villiers Terrace enjoying a late burst of summer sunshine, my daughters school class walk past on their way to a swimming lesson. I raise my glass of rosé wine and wave jovially at her; she doesn’t wave back.

24th “What’s in the packet?” the man behind the post office counter asks of the envelope destined for Australia. “My memoirs!” I reply enthusiastically. I’m sure I correctly hear his coughed response. “Dick”.

October

3rd Sitting down for lunch in the Groucho Club, London, with international thriller writer, Tom Knox, I order the tuna tartare to start and chicken paillard for the main course. After graduating from the University of Derby in 1995, I moved straight to London and looked for a venue to hang my degree show rather than store it in the tiny room I was renting in a shared flat. The Groucho Club had one and agreed to host the work for a two week period following Easter. Following Easter, I received a telephone call from the Groucho Club asking if I had invited anyone along to the evenings private view. I picked up the telephone and invited along my mate Craig and we jumped on the slow moving number 91 bus towards Soho. Walking into the Groucho’s exhibition room where my work was displayed, there was a buffet, a bar and two sartorially glorious barmaids. “What’s happening in here?” I asked. “It’s a private view for the photographer Peter Dench and the F***er hasn’t turned up.” I did what any self respecting photographer would do and denied my own existence “that’s outrageous” grabbed Craig and we flung ourselves among the throng jiggling about at the adjacent party where we pointed in awe at celebrities Chris Evans, Rory McGrath, Bill Nighy and Kate Moss. When I returned to collect my exhibition, there was one comment in the comments book; it read, “a bit nonplussed really”.

6th Walking into the Gamma Photo Forum, Shipley, Yorkshire, to give a morning talk, I bring the average age down significantly; they’ve promised to buy me lunch and I eagerly anticipate the early bird menu.

7th Walking into the Harrogate Photographic Society (HPS) to give an evening talk, I bring the average age down significantly, no wait! There is youth; pure, crisp, unsoiled, sweet-scented youth, courtesy of visiting 6th form students from St Aidan’s Church of England High School and Harrogate College. This is a good news; two recent meetings of the HPS began with the announcement of which members had died. I hope they all make it through my presentation, I hate interruptions.

A version of this article first appeared in  Vol: 2, Issue: 1 of Hungry Eye magazine available to buy here