David Cooke

David Cooke is a trustee of the Royal Photographic Society (RPS), Chair of their Education Committee and editor of one of their magazines. As a photographer he describes his work as street photography that is made to look more artistic.

He displayed a number of his images at the college and visited this week to talk to us. His images were shot all over the world and while they are not all of street scenes, they are all of people in public places. They mostly have a desaturated or monochrome colour scheme and a fine art feel to the finish.

The images were all displayed as 12 inch square photographs in a rectangular cream mount and dark wood frame in order to ensure uniformity to the collection.

Cooke shoots in Raw and then edits his images in Photoshop and with the Nik Collection of filters. He seems to mainly use glamour glow, Viveza, white neutraliser and paper toner and then a high pass filter to sharpen. He also sometimes includes a texture to the image from his own texture library that he has collated.

I liked a few of the images in the collection and I quite liked the fine art appearance of them too. While some of my classmates didn’t like the heavy editing and thought that it showed that Cooke was a photographer with limited ability, I don’t mind it. A fine art painter will sometimes paint something and then paint over and over it trying to perfect it, taking days, weeks or months to create a piece of art that they are happy with. They may even have started with a snapshot of the the person, animal or thing that they are painting. I think that Cooke has done something similar. He has taken a photograph and then worked on it for a number of days, weeks or months until he has created a piece of fine art that he is happy with.

This is one of the images that I thought was quite nice.

As a collection of images I didn’t think the exhibition was particularly cohesive. Cooke has spent a lot of time creating images that look similar in terms of colouring and shape but apart from having people in them they didn’t really have a theme. And when questioned Cooke admitted that most of the photos were taken on his various holidays. He also admitted that he didn’t go out of his way to take photos or to plan them particularly.

It seems that each photograph was taken in an attempt to earn international photographic awards.

There was some criticism about the labels Cooke has given his photographs. He said that he tried to give simple titles that didn’t persuade the viewer to think anything in particular. I didn’t think much to the titles but happily ignored them and focused on the images themselves.

I found Cooke’s talk quite encouraging. By submitting his edited holiday photos to competitions and exhibitions he has become internationally recognised. Like me, he wasn’t a young person when he started seriously taking photos and in just a few years has become so respected that he is now a trustee of the RPS.

Because I liked the image of Cooke’s that is posted above and because I think the style suits the hot, dusty, African school environment, I thought I would have a go at my own version. The image here is an unedited one that I took on my holiday at a school in Kenya in 2012.

Kibera Kenya 2012 1 153

The image below was cropped and desaturated slightly in Lightroom and then has had the glamour glow added in Nik Colour Efex Pro 4. I used Viveza 2 to lighten the boy’s face and added some texture using Nik Analog Efex Pro 2. Then sharpened it using Nik Sharpener Pro 3.

Kibera Kenya 2012 1 153-Edit

I don’t know that the filters have added much to the photograph. I would have cropped the original in the edit anyway, still portrait though but I’m not sure it needed much more than that. I’d be interested to hear what you think.