Wednesday, 21 August 2013

IT'S OVER by Jack Latham

IT'S OVER by Jack Latham

Jack.

I like the name Jack. When I was much younger, I used to read a lot of Jack London books and I think that maybe the reason I like the name so much. The books were full of wonderful adventures and derring do in more innocent times. Then, subsequently, I was intrigued that John F Kennedy was also known as Jack - it sounded so cool. Then there was Jack Nicholson whom I first saw in "Five Easy Pieces". I admired the way he played slightly amoral characters who stood up for what they believed was right - for example, see the scene in "Five Easy Pieces" where he clears the table in the restaurant and the scene in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" where he commentates on the imaginary football game (or was it baseball?).

But, back to Jack - Jack Latham -  the complete antithesis of Jack Nicholson. Whereas Nicholson is all knowing smiles and an uncouth manner, when I met Jack for the first time, he was very polite and looked like someone who had seen Shangri-La. His open, honest face and his easy, almost child-like wonder about his work and my project were immediately affecting so much so that I would have done anything he would have asked me to do in the shoot.

I went to his flat in Hove and we talked for quite some time before we ventured outside for the photograph. He had already suggested, and I had agreed, to photograph him as well. He took me down into a garage area below the ground floor which was like a moat around the block of flats. I had looked down upon this area from the bridge entrance to the lobby when I first arrived and thought it might make a good location for a  short film I was planning. Jack used an enormous large format camera which is the one he lugs over to the USA when he goes on his travels down the Oregon Trail. I still know nothing about cameras but this was very impressive with the large plates and the cloth to cover his head as he set up the shot. First of all, I stood by some scaffolding and he took two shots there. I then told him I had been attracted by the place I had spied from the bridge and he really liked this part where a low concrete wall stuck out at right angles to the higher brick retaining wall. He wondered about me climbing onto the lower wall but then settled for me standing against the bricks and staring straight ahead. I stood against the wall and instinctively placed my hands against it to provide balance. He took a shot and then asked me to close my eyes and slightly bow my head for the second shot and he said at the time that this was "the one". 


However, when it came to me choosing an image for my project, I preferred the first one. It was plain and simple - a man in grey leaning against a wall but there was so much more to see. The man is standing with the fingers of his left hand stretched out against the wall as a sign of, what? Moving on, going forward, not really staying still, restless. His clothes are creased by action. This is not a sedentary person; he is always doing things even if he stops every so often to think. He has his back against the wall but he will not give in. It is a brilliant shot suffused with an underlying emotion and a passion which come not only from the subject but also the photographer both of whom, in the moment the shutter has clicked, are at one.

We returned to the flat and I took a photograph of Jack with another of his cameras (don't ask me what it was). For some reason, I wanted him to be leaning over the balcony but with his head turned towards me. I wanted communication. We talked some more about his travels to the States and about the tragic death of Tim Hetherington and the birth of his own identity in his chosen art. Somehow, Roy Orbison came up and he said that "In Dreams" was his favourite song which didn't surprise me. Eventually, I said goodbye and, as I left, I felt that I was leaving some magic behind. I turned on my ipod shuffle and the beautiful voice of Brian Wilson rang out and then the magic worked and "In Dreams" came on. Jack was still with me - a good solid, gentle and sensitive man with an angelic face and a good solid name.

Jack.


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