Although we saw many exhibitions in a very short space of time, I shall focus on Stephen’s work. I would , at some time, like to investigate the work ‘Stories of home’ by Jon Tonks.

What: Solo within Blast! Festival of Photography

With: OCA Midlands group.

Where: West Bromwich,UK

When: 16th June, 2019

Curator: Stephen Burke (?)

Location, setting, atmosphere.

The Vine, Roebuck St in West Bromwich, is a pub / restaurant and the exhibition is outdoors. The setting and atmosphere are relaxed and informal, the many portraits, stunning. I loved the way the strong sunlight is allowed to play with the portraits, altering their emphasis:

And how much part of the place the people being portrayed seemed to be:


Learning about the football club West Bromwich Albion supporters; the fact that they sing The Lord’s My Shepherd whenever the players score was a revelation to me; how ordinary the people seemed – not so much of the laddish behaviour on display.

The interviews with some of the supporters and the singing revealed a very strong emotional connection between the players and the club.

What I took away with me about the work:

I admire photographers who can make portraits work! Like Graham MacIndoe, Stephen Burke is a superb portraitist, in my opinion, because he makes you the viewer feel that the sitters are standing there quite happily about to talk to you or about to resume a conversation you were having just before the photo was taken.

What I took away with me about me:

I cannot do what Stephen or Graham do. This is possibly because I cannot talk to strangers about nothing in particular & I cannot put people at ease with a camera between us. I know that it is possibly a learned art, but it will take a month of Sundays for me to do that. I shall, therefore, continue to admire the likes of Stephen Burke and graham MacIndoe, and continue to photograph lichen.

Next steps:

Collect more lichen and invest in a microscope lens.


It was great to meet up with fellow OCA students from the Midlands, to meet new ones and to be able to talk to the photographer in situ. I felt privileged to have had Stephen review my body of work this January because he could share his extensive insights with me. I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly he grasped what my project was all about and how, just as quickly, he could see what was missing in it.

Thanks to Allan O’Neill for organising the day for the OCA West Midlands – I guess I am now an honorary West Midlander, although not quite a West From supporter – yet!

2 thoughts on “Blast! Stephen Burke “The Lord’s My Shepherd”

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