The Good News … but … The Saddest News Of All …

I confess … it’s hard to write this one … (but please read on … )

Two women … one young and vibrant … the other a little older but with an immense strength … two very different stories. 

The link … apart from a little similarity of pose etc … is that both have just been announced as Winners of Bronze Awards in the Budapest International Foto Awards (BIFA – Hungary). images ©Brian Cassey

The saddest and must unfair news is that Carol (“The Skin I’m In” – first pic) died last weekend at the end of a far too short life full of tragedy, pain and many triumphs of will  … on the very day these awards were announced. Carol was severely burnt in a house fire as a young mum. Her family was told she would not survive. Following a year of coma, countless skin grafts and care … survive she did. She made the most of it … 

She dedicated the years since the accident to spreading the message to other burns survivors that there is still much to live for and celebrate. Carol’s rationale in allowing me to make personal images of her showing the extent of the burns to her body was part of that ideal. The work … and the positive reaction to the work … gave Carol added confidence to engage in speaking engagements that provided hope to many.

My images of Carol turned up in numerous awards, news articles and TV programs … and there are links to many on my blog pages. Amongst them are … “They Did It … Pics In Space X 3” which tells of Carol’s image (and two others of mine) being sent and projected in ‘Space’ and the resulting feature on the TV program “The Project” .  More on the subject here at “Pics in Space’ … Out of This World with ‘Portrait of Humanity” .  (The projection of Carol’s pic in ‘space’ and transmitted across the Universe … now seems very fitting.) There are many more and Carol’s images have been a regular occurrence on my ‘Awards Page’.

I spent more time talking to Carol than actually photographing her … she was my friend … myself and the community will sorely miss but never forget her.

… and then we have Bonn Marie … young, vibrant and all red hair, freckles and an innate curiosity with the World. She’s fun, deep and intelligent … and a joy to work with. Couldn’t help but name the second image “Bonn – Asking the Question”.

Somewhat strange that these two pics were recognised together with Bronze Awards … Carol’s in People Portrait and Bonn’s in Fine Art Portrait.

Images © Brian Cassey

Budapest International Foto Awards (BIFA) 2020 - Bronze Award - People Portraits - "The Skin I'm In" by Brian Cassey

Budapest International Foto Awards (BIFA) 2020 - Bronze Award - Fine Art Portraits - "Bonn - Asking The Question" by Brian Cassey


Dubai, London and Budapest …

One of the absolute truths of being a working photographer is that you always appear to be … well … ‘working’. We don’t even qualify for a ‘busman’s holiday’ … definition … “a holiday where you do something similar to your usual work instead of having a rest from it”. It’s the ‘holiday’ part of the definition that doesn’t happen.

The fact of travelling is that the camera is always slung over your shoulder … and if it isn’t on your shoulder you WILL eventually regret it.

I’ve just returned from nearly a months travel to Dubai, the UK and Hungary where a camera rarely left my grasp … and where my time was also spent productively visiting photography work in galleries or meeting editors, printers or others involved in the industry.

In Dubai I worked on some ground work and initial photography for a new World class environmental venture to be opened later this year (my reason for travelling to the UAE … but more on that down the track). I also found a little time to make two contrasting images of daily life in the principality. Away from the glitz and opulence of downtime Dubai I spent early mornings among the thousands of wharfies and sailors who worked on the traditional wooden dhow trading boats that ply their goods around the Arabian Sea from their base at Dubai Creek. Near all were ‘foreigners’ from Iran, Pakistan or elsewhere. My fav pic was the portrait I made of old Hossain in front of the most beautiful weathered rosewood dhow hull. (top below).

In contrast was the image (also below) I made in a segregated ‘male only’ carriage on the Dubai Metro … one of just a handful of railway systems in the World that operate segregated carriages for women to address sexual harassment and unwanted contact .

London is proudly my heritage … and I spent some time fruitlessly digging around for reminders of the London of old. These two pics (3 and 4 below) came closest to the required nostalgia levels. Wandsworth Common on a cold foggy morn with the young football players from Broomwood FC brought back memories of my own youthful footballing days. The portrait subject is Lewisham street trader Alan Hogg. Born in Lewisham Hospital (as was I) Alan is the quintessential south east Londoner of old. He runs ‘Pitch 45’ at Lewisham High Street market selling, according to his licence, ‘fruit and vegetables or flowers or xmas novelties’. Lewisham has now long been a diverse multicultural society and cloth capped characters of Alan’s ilk have almost disappeared. Pure nostalgia …

The last image is deliberately different … a quirky image from Budapest Hungary … a city now best known for it’s beautiful city architecture. However, metres below the World Heritage Castle district on the Buda side of the city there exists a cold war nuclear bunker … complete with gas masks and ‘occupants’!

Ain’t travel … and work … grand !

All Images © Brian Cassey – from top – Dubai UAE x 2, London England x 2, Budapest Hungary

Dubai, UAE - portrait of Hossain at the Dubai Creek wharf - by Brian Cassey

Dubai Metro - crowded male Metro carriage segregated by sex (female carriage half empty) -image by Brian Cassey

Football on a foggy day at Wandsworth Common, London - image by Brian Cassey

P{portrait of market stall holder Alan Hogg at Lewisham Market, London - image by Brian Cassey

Pic from the Cold War nuclear bunker in Budapest, Hungary - Image by Brian Cassey