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Quarterly journal from the Documentary Group

Aug 2016 Edition 5 Photo: Sue Macpherson ARPS

Janice, Blind Boxer

Meet the Documentary Group Team Chairman : Mo Connelly LRPS

Retired from the UN refugee agency after a career as a workaholic, frequently living in a tent on remote borders in troubled regions. Have now achieved my work-life balance by getting a life after work. What do I like? Photography, photographers, being at home, travelling and people who respect human rights. What do I dislike? The fact that I am becoming a grumpy old woman and actually enjoying it.

Treasurer : Justin Cliffe LRPS

I have been interested in photography since my late teens however family and work commitments took then priority and I’ve really only got back to it over the past 5 years since retiring from a life in the City. I joined the RPS, and the DVJ group, about 4 years ago and was awarded my LRPS in 2013. I am also a member of Woking Photographic Society and the Street Photography London collective. My particular interest is ‘street photography’, something that I’m able to combine with my part time work for a charity in London.

Secretary – David Barnes LRPS

I have been interested in photography since childhood and have been actively taking and making images for many years with a few lapses caused by work and the onset of family responsibilities. I retired in 2005 after a career in the IT industry. I have since combined sport spectating with photography – I spend most Saturday afternoons in winter kneeling in the mud, camera in hand, at my local rugby club. I feel at home in towns and cities and spend time in London where there is always something happening that seems to me to be worth recording.

Committee Member and Coordinator for DG Sub-Groups: Gordon Bates LRPS

I joined the RPS in 2013 and was awarded my LRPS in 2014. My main interest is in documentary and street photography and I have been a member of the Documentary Group since joining the Society. I was instrumental in forming a Documentary Group in the Northern Region in 2015. My other involvement with photography is as a trustee and board member of the arts organisation, Multistory, in the West Midlands. - See more at: http://www.rps.org/special-interest-groups/documentary/about/ committee-for-dvj#sthash.e6NZfLgz.dpuf And the rest of the team: DM Editor:

Jhy Turley, ARPS


Jonathon Taylor

Flickr: Webmaster:

Chris Barbara, ARPS David Barnes, LRPS

Forum Moderator:


Alan Graham

Contents 4

A Word From Our Chair

7 LOOK Sue Macpherson ARPS

Distinction Success


Gordon Brown ARPS



Chris Jennings ARPS Jhy Turley ARPS

Member Images


Phone Life, Ángel Armero

50 58 65 68 74 78 80

Alan Young, Unseen China Stories of the road, Chris Hilton

Wootton and His Band, Davey Gleave

New Forest Ponies, Gerry Walden LRPS

In Search of Henri Cartier Bresson, Marj Baillie LRPS Paris Life, Rolf Kraehenbuehl

Les Rencontres d’Arles 2016 Review

86 Birmingham Pride 2016 - Central Region 94

What makes great photography? Workshop


A Word From Our Chair This edition of Decisive Moment, edited by Jhy Turley (who has been responsible for publishing DM up to now), is a wonderful showcase for members work. This is, in my view, the best DM to date. It takes us around the world in photographs, black & white and colour, and highlights the diversity of documentary photography – from planned projects to happenstance shots. Sue Macpherson’s work for her MA project, LOOK, is inspirational – not only as photography, but the way the subject has been dealt with. We look at three members’ ARPS panels. We know it’s not easy getting a distinction (and would it be worth it if it was easy?) and we hope that seeing both the images and an account of the journey will be enjoyable – and an encouragement if you’re thinking of submitting for a distinction. Mark Phillips wonderful review of Arles this month makes me think I should have a discussion with the Travel Group about a joint project to Arles next year. Please let us know if you think we’ve got the content about right, let us know if you have ideas on what you’d like to see in DM. If you gain a distinction we’d like to publish the story of your journey as well as your panel. And if you’ve taken either a single image or a series telling a story which you think works then please do submit them to DM through decisive@rps.org.


We’ll be starting a series of interviews with Hon FRPS documentary photographers as from the next edition, but our main interest will remain the work of DG members. We’d also like to set up a book review section. So, if you’ve come across a photo book you’ve enjoyed why not let us have a review of it. Also exhibition reviews will also be welcome. I hope you’re all having a good summer and enjoying your photography – I’ve been on a walkabout in Mull, Ottawa, New York and Italy. Lots of images, now just need to find the time to do something with them! As you know we now have three sub-groups: DG North, DG Central and DG South and hope to set up a couple more by the end of the year. If you would like to help set up and run a new group let me know. Don’t forget, if you’d like to set up a photoshoot of a place or an event near you let me know, and we’ll provide the backup admin for it. It’s not difficult or time consuming and enjoyable for all. Enjoy the summer, and enjoy this edition of DM Best wishes, Mo Connelly Ps. Jhy will be editor and publisher of Decisive Moment but he’d like to have two assistants to work with him. Location is not a problem as it can be done online and we’d be particularly interested to have one of our overseas members as well as someone from the upper regions of the UK. Let Jhy know at decisive@rps.org


Members Images Dave Arrives Home



LOOK Sue Macpherson ARPS Early in my teens I was inspired by Wilfrid Thesiger’s photographs of The Marsh Arabs. As I lived in Africa and had many opportunities to travel, I found that photographing people within their own environments and documenting their daily lives, was constantly fascinating. When I started teaching photography part-time I had the time and the desire to use my particular interests and skills in charitable work, preferably in Africa. The opportunity arose eight years ago for voluntary work with the Henry van Straubenzee Memorial Fund and I now travel with them annually to document the extraordinary achievements of this charity in the remote villages of Uganda. My particular interests have always been to photograph people and from my early adventures I have developed from the Cartier-Bresson approach of just trying to capture the moment, to the more collaborative and informed images of my recent social documentary project ‘LOOK’.

Dave, Setting up the Sail 7


A year ago I started an MA photography course that gave me an opportunity to concentrate on a major documentary project that I had been thinking of for a while. As a photographer my world is a very visual world. Ten years ago my mother-in-law started to lose her sight, I was involved with trying to find ways to help her cope with her difficulties and, for the first time in my life, I really had to imagine what the day to day complications were for someone who is blind. This personal experience led me to research and produce this documentary project ‘LOOK’. Through the Dorset Blind Association I was introduced to a number of people with visual disabilities who were interested in the project and were not only willing to collaborate with me, but when necessary, to ‘model’. Through discussion, the desire to show the positive approaches to tackling life with sight loss became very obvious.

Mike at Home 8


Mike, Farmer

Shani, a young woman in her twenties who has been blind since birth, is a sculptress. Early on in the process, I was talking to her about how I needed to clarify for myself the justifications for this project. She said that she had no problem with it because she felt that the greatest hurdle visually impaired people had to overcome was society’s ignorance. She said that a project that showed her sculpting would help educate people towards understanding that life for her was not just about blindness. Shani said, ‘I don’t want to be defined by my blindness; I am so much more than that’. I have gone on to photograph a small selection of people aged between 20 and 100 who enjoy activities such as marathon running, acoustic shooting, busking, boxing and goalball. I have also shown aspects of everyday life. I want these photographs to make people not only ‘LOOK’ but also to think. The pictures depict activities that we are all familiar with but if you try to imagine achieving these without sight you understand a bit more of the courage and determination that is necessary. 9

Shani, Blind Sculptress at home



Shani, Blind Sculptress



Shani,Blind Tim, Blindmarathon Sculptress runner




Molly Arrives Home

Molly, Blind 90yr old at home 16


Janice, at home

Sue is exhibiting ‘LOOK’ at the MA Show, Arts University Bournemouth in September; along with more than 30 other MA exhibits. The exhibition includes a video installation where, in a blackened room, with the aid of audio descriptions, visitors will be encouraged to imagine the portraits before they slowly emerge on the screen. In the adjoining space individual’s photographs are on display and alongside each is a tactile image that depicts the photograph. The tactile image will not only enable visually impaired people to enjoy the display but also entices sighted visitors to ‘see’ through touch. The Exhibition will also be on show at the RPS, Fenton House in October 2017. Exhibition Details: The MA Show at the Arts University Bournemouth opens on 5th September 2016 at 18:00. The exhibition will continue daily until the 10th September from 10:00 – 17:00 The Exhibition will be at the RPS, Fenton House, October 2017. If you would like to visit Sue’s exhibition, you can contact her through the details below: tel: 07936 340 439 www.suemacpherson.co.uk twitter: @sue_macpherson crowdfunding.justgiving.com/sue-macpherson 17

Distinctions – Chris Jennigs ARPS

Chris Jennings ARPS People of Markets My submission for Associateship I conceived my project on markets long before I considered joining the RPS, long before going for any photographic distinction. The project originated over ten years ago, when I still used film and had a darkroom. Having travelled frequently for many years because of family ties, I have become addicted to being in foreign parts, the more foreign the better. Paradoxically, I feel more at home, less inhibited, as a stranger. In particular, I feel myself a comfortable stranger in foreign markets. Here I can begin to scratch the surface of a distinctive culture and get behind the veneer that hides a nature of a people. I usually head for the wet markets where I find the hubbub of interaction


Distinctions – Chris Jennigs ARPS

“The reality of a job and domestic commitments meant I had to rein in my global dreams but the project benefited” between shoppers, sellers and providers of ancillary services, all defined by their tools, stock in trade, and their purchases. I have been an enthusiastic photographer since I was young and can’t remember when I first started taking photographs in markets. However I do remember the first market I visited with the express intention to taking photographs: the great fish market at Tsukiji in Tokyo. Gradually, almost unconsciously, a project conjured itself up on my mind. It was to be a grand project, documenting markets in their broadest sense, from simple bartering to great electronic trades on Wall Street. I was going to photograph the places, the people and all the ancillaries of the business. I was going to make a book. 19



Distinctions – Chris Jennigs ARPS

The reality of a job and domestic commitments meant I had to rein in my global dreams but the project benefited as I concentrated on the type of market that most attracted me in the countries I visited. I built up a collection of photographs of individual market stalls that I found either in market halls or along the street. In the meantime I had discovered the Royal Photographic Society and become a Licentiate. I immediately tried for an Associateship with a portfolio of photographs I had taken of people living on the rubbish dumps of Central America, what I considered to be my strongest project. It had been shot on film but, no longer having a darkroom, I was defeated by my inability to scan the negatives and print satisfactory images. It was almost a non-decision to base my next attempt to on my collection of market pictures. Laying out all the photographs I found that most of the good images could be considered portraits. This, and the fact that some photographer friends regard me as an environmental portrait photographer, made it easy to define an intention to produce a portfolio of environmental portraits: “People in Markets�.


Distinctions – Chris Jennigs ARPS

I thought carefully about under which category to submit: I could conceivably have submitted a Conceptual and Contemporary or Pictorial panel, but the two I considered most carefully were Applied and Travel. Applied covers so many genres and I knew that the panel might comprise studio, wedding and landscape photographers. Would they appreciate my gritty images, often made in less than ideal lighting? But Travel seemed to cover a range of genres too: documentary, street, landscape and portraiture. I decided that my photographs did not really have a sense of geographical place. I take photographs in markets because of what they are, not where they are. So, considering myself, if anything, to be a photographer of people, I decided on Applied, but it was a debate that surfaced more than once as I progressed. I took my draft portfolio to an Applied advisory session at Foxton and, after changing the hanging plan slightly and replacing two images on the recommendation of the advisers, I felt ready. But during the long wait between the advisory session and assessment I began to have doubts and I opted to take advantage of the online advice offered by the RPS. The online adviser felt that not all of the images were portraits and did not match my Statement of Intent. So, just before assessment, I changed the text and the title to “Markets”. I now think that was a mistake: my intention was to illustrate the people. Maybe I should have changed the photographs, but I do not think it would have made any difference. Although my submission was not recommended, I came away from the assessment in Bath in optimistic mood. By lunchtime, when I left, only one submission had been successful; the assessment panel had at least said that I was “almost there”. They invited me to resubmit and asked me to contact the Society once I had attended to their detailed comments and prepared a revised portfolio. The panel then asked Will Cheung FRPS to review the submission. In the meantime, I had continued to shoot and I improved the set with four new images and some changes to others. Will spent a long time with me going through my new proposal in detail, analysing the Statement of Intent (now returned to the original “People of Markets”), paying attention to the coherence of the overall set and then reviewing each image carefully. He made suggestions for further small changes. I made these, sent the images to Will, and then incorporated further small suggestions he made. I approached Bath and assessment with some foreboding, but I need not have worried. I was rewarded with the panel’s acknowledgment that I had addressed the problems they had previously noted, some very positive comments and their formal recommendation that I become an ARPS. 23



Distinctions – Chris Jennigs ARPS

What I have learned While sometimes frustrated, I enjoyed the process. I tried to be positive about every criticism I received and, when sometimes the possibility of success seemed to recede, this made me even more committed. It took a year from the time I took my first People of Markets portfolio to an advisory session until I made the successful submission. I hate to think how many prints I made and how much ink I used. But, looking back, I don’t think I ever received a comment that was not useful, I certainly never received one that was discouraging. If I compare my images now with those I originally produced, there is a big difference. My general photography has improved markedly. What I would say to photographers thinking of going for an Associateship is: 1.  Make sure that the portfolio is “you”, that it has meaning, is coherent and says something about how you see the world. 2. Start with a clear intent and try not to distort it to match your photographs. 3. The difference between technical standards expected at Licentiate and Associate levels is big, bigger than I realised (a quantum leap according to one adviser). 4. If you have any technical shortcomings, the panel will see them first and all your brilliant concepts and art will go unnoticed. I was amazed how many times the panel criticised Associateship submissions for blown highlights, printing artefacts and blocked shadows, all shortcomings that would fail at Licentiateship level. 5. Go to an advisory session, take what the advisers say very seriously, but remember that you are seeing only one or two members of the panel. Ask questions of the advisers, probe and make sure they are looking in depth at your submission. 6.  Above all, pay attention to details, if you are unsure of the anything, however insignificant it seems, work on it until you are satisfied. I have also learned that the members of the panel, however severe, serious and pernickety they appear, want you to succeed and are pleased when you do. But they are going to maintain the highest standards. We should be pleased: the more difficult an achievement, the more worthwhile is its attainment.

“Make sure that the portfolio is ‘you’” 26

Distinctions – Chris Jennigs ARPS

What next I feel I have a sort of permission now; I have more artistic freedom. I am a bona fide photographer. I won’t give up on my markets. I will probably make my book. Maybe it will all end up as the sprawling global project I originally conceived. I am already making plans to work on mini portfolios of the great wholesale markets in this country. I am consciously trying to broaden my approach, both backing away for more context and closing in for more detail. I will always photograph people but will try to show the buildings as architecture well as the minutiae as still life. I have several other projects on the go. Does not everyone? A final thought and special mention I do not think I would have ever got close to the distinction if I just went to the markets to take photographs. I am interested in, really like and depend on the people. I am not a purist when it comes to asking permission before taking photographs, but where it is appropriate and where I can, I try to engage in some sort of interaction. I never hide my intention of taking photographs and some of the subjects have had to put up with me standing around for a long time waiting for the right moment. They have at worst tolerated me and at best actively collaborated with my picture taking. Some of the subjects I see every now and then, some I will never see again. This portfolio is for all of them, as much theirs as it is mine. One particular subject almost haunts me. Once, when the project was still in its infancy, I had thought of photographing the markets of the Silk Roads. I headed for Syria to photograph the great souk in Aleppo. The image of the boy trimming the beef carcass comes from that expedition. The souk, which had been in operation for many centuries, is now largely destroyed. I wonder what happened to the boy; of all the people I have met and photographed, he is the one I would most like to see again. 27

Distinctions – Chris Jennigs ARPS

Statement of Intent I am attracted by the people of markets. I am fascinated by the vendors’ intent on their tasks and their different reactions to my camera: animated or reflective; reticent or forward; some with studied indifference, some almost coquettish. I set out to photograph them surrounded by their wares, from the basics of life, food and clothing, to luxuries and the frivolous. I seek out contrast and darkness to emphasize the people within the environment of their own little corners, showing their goods and tools. I like the gritty texture that seems to evoke the nature of these places.


Distinctions – Chris Jennigs ARPS


Distinctions – Gordon Brown ARPS

Gordon Brown ARPS Winchester Rugby club is one of the largest amateur clubs in Hampshire with nearly a thousand participating members, the majority of those being under 18. With this panel I’m telling the story of Winchester rugby club; from the players in the first team, through the children, parents and coaches that turn up on a Sunday morning, to the vital back room staff that are the backbone and unsung heroes of the club.


Distinctions – Gordon Brown ARPS


Distinctions – Gordon Brown ARPS


Distinctions – Gordon Brown ARPS


Distinctions – Gordon Brown ARPS


Distinctions – Gordon Brown ARPS


Distinctions – Gordon Brown ARPS


Distinctions – Gordon Brown ARPS


Distinctions – Gordon Brown ARPS


Distinctions – Gordon Brown ARPS


Distinctions – Jhy Turley ARPS

Jhy Turley ARPS I visited Uganda to document the work of British charity, Soft Power Education. Working with university volunteers, they regenerate schools, run an education centre and teach rural communities farming skills so they no longer rely on the national park for resources. My journey started at the schools and flagship education centre in the town of Jinja. Then travelling North to the rural areas around Murchison National Park, I visited schools and several communities working with the charity. Pride, cleanliness and the bold colours of their environment are a reflection of all the people I encountered. My panel focuses on the people and communities connected by the charity, both British and Ugandan volunteers, staff, pupils and members of the rural communities. I strived to capture them as proud individuals, set in their environment.


Distinctions – Jhy Turley ARPS


Distinctions – Jhy Turley ARPS


Distinctions – Jhy Turley ARPS


Distinctions – Jhy Turley ARPS


Distinctions – Jhy Turley ARPS


Distinctions – Jhy Turley ARPS


Distinctions – Jhy Turley ARPS


Distinctions – Jhy Turley ARPS


Distinctions – Jhy Turley ARPS


Members Images - Alan Young

Alan Young Unseen China

The Office Admin 50

Members Images - Alan Young

Alan is an amateur photographer based in East Yorkshire, England. He has been interested in photography since the 80’s and the days of film. He had a darkroom in the garden shed and developed and printed his own pictures. Thirty years later this foundation in photography led to Alan’s love of monochrome and documentary style photography. A career in the furniture industry has allowed Alan to travel extensively, documenting people and places along the way. Specifically, China. But not China as most people see it. As a factory auditor, Alan had access to areas of China seldom seen on television and travel shows. Yes, he has photographed the typical shots one often associates with China such as the Terracotta Warriors, The Forbidden City and The Great Wall. However, these types of pictures are not what makes Alan tick. He prefers being in the more rural, less affluent areas of China. Travelling up and down the east coast of China as far north as Chichihar to Foshan in the south and everywhere in between. Since 2004 Alan has travelled to China more than sixty times and lived in Panyu for six months. Alan has visited many factories in China ensuring they are compliant with western standards prior to export. What he discovered forms the basis of these images. Seldom seen insights into the working environments of the local people, manufacturing western products. What he has witnessed and photographed is truly humbling. The photographs depict the working environments of Chinese factories.


The Fetler 52


Members Images - Alan Young

The Selectors

The Welders

The Polishers 54

Members Images - Alan Young

The Expeditor

The Paint Mixer

The Boss 55

Members Images - Ă ngel Armero

Phone Life à ngel Armero Today is a typical day in any city. I look around and constantly find the same picture, people stuck to their mobile phones. No matter what is happening around them. Their attention is on the game they are about to end, on the last comment on a social network, a WhatsApp message, an email or simply browsing the photographs stored in their phone. I start thinking how I feel seeing all these people doing the same thing without being aware of what is happening beside them and I came to the conclusion that the same technology that gives us access to everything leaves us empty. We will realize one day that life passes us by as we are looking at a screen. With this small reflection on our reality, I have to leave you as I have to answer a message‌


Members Images - Ă ngel Armero


Members Images - Chris Hilton

Stories of the road Chris Hilton

It started in Sydney. There were multiple road closures in the city centre, there were diversions everywhere, the roads and pavements covered in strange symbols that conveyed multi-coloured, spray painted messages to the people digging up the streets. I was contemplating some of these as the bus pulled up. The lines were pointing straight to the back door of the bus. Now, if only the city centre pavement would stay clear for a couple of seconds, and if I could just get the foot of a passenger alighting the bus hanging down into the shot. And if I could get all that done and still get on the front of the bus, because this was my bus ... then I might just have something. 58

Members Images - Chris Hilton

I snatched the shot and still managed to catch the bus. I remembered an image by Dorothea Lange ‘Man Stepping off a Cable Car’. I liked the way the subject was stepping down into the picture and hoped to have caught something of the same feel in my own image. I checked the back of the camera and can admit to feeling pleased. The yellow line went straight to the open bus door and then on closer inspection I saw the arrow on the metal work set in the kerb, and that was pointing to the door too. I even liked the movement in the foot that was suspended in the top corner of the picture and it got me to thinking... We hear lots of travellers’ tales, stories of people on the road; but what about the road itself? What tales can it give up if we look closely enough? So, with the kernel of an idea, I set out to do just that. I looked at the road, I looked at the paths and pavements, I looked at the markings on them and I looked at the way that people and things interacted with them. The very nature of the project means that a lot of the shots are snatched with whatever is to hand, be that a compact camera or even a phone. It is also turning out to be a bit of an exercise in anticipating the shot. When it’s this quick, by the time you’ve seen it, it’s usually too late. Trying to spot what’s coming next is a good thing for honing your photography skills. ‘The Decisive Moment’ is not the moment when the bat hits the ball, it’s not telling the story for the story’s sake, and it’s so much more than that. It’s the moment when the geometry lines up. The moment when the lines and the light collide to make a perfect composition, and in that composition there’s a story, but you have to see it coming and be there before it happens. An added complication is that I quite like my compositions wonky. I’m a fan of Rodchenko. Photographing just after the Russian Revolution, he was working away from the early established norms of shooting from eye level (with a plate camera on a tripod) or from the navel (with a Rolliflex or the like). He believed that to capture something you should shoot from every position, up high or down low, he believed in the exaggerated angles that a camera could give you and eschewed the American habit of adjusting the backplate to bend verticals into looking straight. And as for horizons, he wasn’t too bothered what angle they were at! So, by the time I got off the bus, I had a plan. To shoot wonky looking compositions of lines in the road that made you think about the story they were telling. Perhaps, sometimes, I should just stop thinking... 59





Members Images


Members Images - Davey Gleave

Wootton and His Band Davey Gleave These are some photos I made of Jeff Wootton and his band. Jeff plays guitar in Damon Albarn’s band Gorillaz and also has his own band. This was a warm up show before the band went out on tour a few weeks ago with Last Shadow Puppets (Alex from Arctic Monkeys side project). I got there while it was still light hoping to get a few portraits at the back of the venue. Jeff was doing an interview with a magazine and by the time I got him it was dark outside so I was left with only the available light in the dressing room coming from a single bulb about 30 feet away. Anyway the conditions forced upon me, for the portraits at least, give them a nice look.




Members Images - Gerry Walden LRPS

New Forest Ponies Gerry Walden LRPS

The New Forest in southern England is an area of outstanding natural covering 380 square kilometres of mixed heathland, pasture land and forest. It has been grazed by ponies since the Ice Age and residents have bred them as an income source. Now a recognised breed, the ponies are a great asset to the Forest, being both a major tourist attraction and a necessity for naturally cropping the undergrowth to encourage new growth and lessen the ever-present risk of fire. Numbers of ponies have been dropping of late with many being sold at the regular auctions. In order to make it economic for commoners to keep the ponies grants from the European Commission have substantially improved the situation and numbers are again rising with the breed beginning to recover. This has had a knock-on effect on the popular pony sales where numbers being auctioned have dropped by almost 50% leading to a possibility of this age-old tradition disappearing. These images aim to capture the sales before yet another country lifestyle tradition dies out. As a freelance photographer based in Southampton, England. I try and capture the world around me and to bring some reflection of the society we all live in today. I am also a keen music fan and I have photographed many personalities from the world of music, particularly from the world of jazz which is my great love. For a number of years I have worked in a freelance capacity capturing the rehearsals and performances of the great artists that have appeared at the Turner Sims Concert Hall in my home town. National Geographic has published my work and I have had a number of solo exhibitions of my images in France, Italy and U.S.A., and at the Royal Photographic Society here in the United Kingdom. I have photographed everyone from royalty to the proverbial man in the street in locations as diverse as St. Pauls’ Cathedral (London) and the villages of Gambia. 68

Members Images






Members Images - Marj Baillie LRPS

In Search of Henri Cartier Bresson Marj Baillie LRPS “Photography is not like painting,” Cartier-Bresson told the Washington Post in 1957. “There is a creative fraction of a second when you are taking a picture. Your eye must see a composition o r an expression that life itself offers you, and you must know with intuition when to click the camera. That is the moment the photographer is creative,” he said. “Oop! The Moment! Once you miss it, it is gone forever.” In April 2016, I travelled to the Greek island of Sifnos for a photo workshop entitled In Search of Henri Cartier-Bresson. I had seen copies of his images and had read a little about him previously, but this was a chance to be truly inspired by his ideas. There would also be the opportunity to see the very street where Cartier-Bresson captured his iconic photograph of Flora. This is the only image from his time in Sifnos that appears to be available on the internet. On the first day, our small group watched a You Tube video, Henri Cartier-Bresson - The Decisive Moment 1973_ 2007*. This had me spell bound, because I was listening to the voice of the master himself. I was greatly enthused and could not wait to begin – but wondered if I would be able to capture any decisive moments! I was also keen to develop my skills in monochrome, looking for geometric shapes in the buildings and the shadows created by the bright sunlight.


Members Images


Members Images - Marj Baillie LRPS


Members Images - Marj Baillie LRPS

Sifnos is a very quiet place before the Greek Orthodox Easter celebrations. There were very few tourists and the streets were quiet. The locals were friendly. When I mentioned Cartier-Bresson, there were smiles of recognition. One woman took me inside her house to see the copy of the famous image hanging on a wall. When we visited the street, in Artemonas, a short walk from our base in Apolloni, we were disappointed to find a motor bike parked outside the famous door. No one who passed could help us find the owner (to move it). Two days later I walked there alone. I had injured my right hand due to a fall on an uneven pavement and could not lift my tripod, so I ducked out of a landscape session. I was gingerly holding the camera and hoping for the best. The owner of the bike was a young woman serving in a bar nearby. One of her friends arrived and proceeded to run up and down the street to try to replicate the famous image for me! We had great fun. For me, this replication was not the most important part of the workshop by a long way. I wanted to have time to think about how I composed images; to be prepared to wait for the light to change or for people to walk along a street; to develop a much better eye for my work. Sifnos is a small island (9 miles long by 4.7 miles wide). We used a minibus to travel around, enjoying the landscapes with olive groves and the rocky coastline. There are 365 churches on the island and they are certainly photogenic. The atmosphere in the quiet villages helped me to slow down and think before shooting. My favourite images are of two sorts. The first are the ones that could be defined as decisive moments; the second are the simple images of the shapes I saw in the streets and buildings. *Henri Cartier-Bresson - The Decisive Moment 1973_2007 produced in 1973 by Scholastic Magazines Inc., and International Centre of Photography. Edited by Sheila Turner. Marj attended a workshop run by Peter Hendrie of Light and Land. 77

Members Images - Rolf Kraehenbuehl

Paris Life Rolf Kraehenbuehl Three years ago I took up digital photography, and developed a strong interest in street photography and in photographing architecture with and without people in the frame. In my professional life, I’m a cancer research scientist. Last year I worked for six months at the Institut Curie in Orsay near Paris as a visiting scientist. This offered the opportunity to pursue my photographic interests in this charming and lively city. On a rainy winter day I encountered a man skilfully crafting giant soap-bubbles on a square near the town hall. Watching him and other onlookers for quite a while and taking photographs, I got the idea of catching the sometimes questioning looks on the faces of passers-by through the bubble. A few days later while aimlessly wandering in the streets and lanes of Saint Germain des Pres, I spotted a gentleman sitting on his own in the side-entrance of a traditional Parisian bistro, reading his newspaper. I had the impression that he might be a regular customer to this bistro, untroubled by the rather confined space he’s occupying, quietly sitting there and digesting political contents. This simple and yet atmospheric scene visualises for me a particular facet of Parisian lifestyle. With the third picture I tried to express how small, even dwarfed, people can become in their built environment, while scurrying around and minding their daily business. The clouded glass renders each person unrecognisable, and emphasises their anonymity. My aim was to have one person behind each glass element. Only when close enough to the slightly milky glass did a person register in a discernible way. During three visits to this building I took around 400 pictures of which I selected just over forty frames and created a composite image.

Human Ants behind Glass 78

Members Images - Rolf Kraehenbuehl

In the bubble

Since 1952 79

Exhibition Review - Les Rencontres d’Arles 2016

Les Rencontres d’Arles 2016 By Mark A Phillips ARPS Les Rencontres (http://www.rencontres-arles.com/Home) has been running since 1970, and is now one of the largest and longest running photography festivals. Each year it takes over the centre of Arles, with an opening in the first week of July and runs through until late September. The event is a celebration - a festival of photography -and does not focus just on documentary (like Visa held later in the year, in Perpignan). Instead it encompasses many genres. Having said that many of the exhibitions this year have a documentary focus. I’ve been fortunate to attend the Opening Week for the past few years. The Opening Week combines over 40 or so exhibition openings, talks by curators and photographers, a book fair, various evening talks and social events. There is also a ‘fringe’ event, Voies Off (http://voies-off.com). Voies Off alone would be a major event anywhere else, with around 100 exhibitions and events (free and open to all). There are also lots of ‘pop up’ events, including opportunities for portfolio reviews (for the brave!!). There is so much going on it can be a little overwhelming, it ranges from small venues with a single exhibition, to the Atelier, which alone holds over 20 exhibitions. But the beauty of the event is that you will almost certainly undercover something new or rediscover old gems and make a few new contacts. I managed to get to almost all Les Rencontres exhibitions, and several of the Voies Off, and would probably need the entire issue of ‘Decisive Moment’ to cover them all. For 2016 the stand-out events and exhibitions, from my perspective were: 80

Exhibition Review - Les Rencontres d’Arles 2016

Don McCullin (Looking Beyond the Edge). Those who went to Photo London will have seen the amazing exhibition of McCullin’s work. This exhibition was a little like it, but on steroids, with over 100 images and exhibits drawn from McCullin’s “non-conflict” work. Arranged in roughly chronological order, it showed work from his early days in London, the slums of Bradford, Berlin in the early 1960s as ’The Wall’ was being erected, Northern towns and coal mining villages, Somerset Levels and the ruins of Palmyra in Syria. There were also examples of his work (largely conflicts in Vietnam. Cambodia, Biafra, and Northern Ireland) for magazines like The Sunday Times. I also attended an interview he gave during the first week, which gave some insights into his working practices, his thoughts on photography in general and the impact he felt his work had. Eamonn Doyle (End.) A major exhibition that brings together three bodies of work (“i”, “ON” and “End”), exploring Eamonn’s native Dublin. The work sits firmly in the ‘Street’ tradition, but the use of drawings and sound by Niall Sweeney and David Donohue create a more immersive installation, that rightly won the best exhibition’ award this year.

Mark A Phillips ARPS 2016

Sid Grossman (From Document to Revelation). Often overlooked, Grossman was an American photographer who began as a socialdocumentary photographer, helping found the New York Photo League in 1936. His best-known photographs of the late 1940s were made at Coney Island and on the streets of New York. The exhibition explores his personal and expressionistic perspective, some of the more radical images could easily be mistaken for being taken today. The exhibition finishes with the influence he had of later photographers (and shows some of their work).


Exhibition Review - Les Rencontres d’Arles 2016

Peter Mitchell (A New Refutation of the Viking 4 Space Mission) – The ‘back story’ builds on the ‘myth or conspiracy story’ that following the Viking Landings on Mars in the 1970s, there was an alien survey of Earth. Peter’s photographs show no great wonders of human civilization, but instead the more mundane, earthly vernacular, focused in and around Peter’s home city of Leeds. Beautifully captured on film, using a square format, they show ‘home’ in the 70s. The three red ‘benches’ in the middle of the exhibition are actually the transportation boxes for the exhibition.

Peter Mitchell 1974

Mark A Phillips ARPS 2016

Ethan Levitas and Garry Winogrand (Radical Relation). This exhibition paired the work of iconic New York ‘street’ photographer Garry Winogrand with those of Levitas, also from New York, but who takes a more ‘interventionist’ approach. Hailed by John Szarkowski as the central photographer of his generation, Winogrand’s contribution to street photography is widely acknowledged. The exhibition provides a small selection of his work. In contrast Levitas challenges what it is to ‘look’. His images are more than those of an observer, he often actively engages his ‘subject’ creating a response and thus aims to create new meaning. His work photographing American Police Officers and the responses is quite poignant given the recent issues in the US.

Ethan Levitas


PJ Harvey and Seamus Murphy (The Hollow of the Hand). The pair travelled through Kosovo, Afghanistan and Washington DC from 2011 to 2014. Images were captured by Seamus and PJ Harvey collected words to help create poems and songs. Presented as an audio-visual that goes beyond simply ‘reporting’, they set the conflicts in context, using multiple forms. In the Opening Week it was presented as a live event in the Roman amphitheatre, with PJ Harvey reading her words to accompany Seamus’ images and video.

Exhibition Review - Les Rencontres d’Arles 2016

For those interested photobooks, the Cosmos-Arles book event (https://issuu.com/lesrencontresdelaphotographiearles/docs/ cosmos-2016_a3_print/1) is probably worth a visit in its own right. It’s free to attend, but it is only on for the first week. This year the event got its own location in the Mistral, an old college. The event included over 80 publishers offering a selection of new publications, rare books, and limited editions. There were also a few small exhibitions, talks and book signings and the event had its own bar, foods stalls and evening events, almost a mini-festival in its own right. I think I visited on at least three occasions and came away with a few photobooks, which I will try to review for a future issue.

Mark A Phillips ARPS 2016

The Manuel Rivera-Ortiz Foundation (http://mrofoundation.org/), for documentary photography and film, is based in Arles. The foundation had a number of exhibitions on, but not all were ‘officially’ part of Les Rencontres. Swiss photographer Dominic Nahr (Fractured State) explores the world’s youngest country (South Sudan) and its many challenges – the hope and the horror. His works focusses beyond the political conflicts and looks at the lives of everyday people trying to survive, and live in the ‘fractured state’. Sudan was the first place I ever visited, whilst still studying at University, I was there just as the unrest between the north and south was starting, so it brought back many memories. Another exhibition that I found profoundly moving was Pablo Ernesto Piovano’s (The Human Cost of Agrochemicals) which explores the impact of excessive use of (largely banned) agrochemicals on the health of inhabitants in South America. 83

Exhibition Review - Les Rencontres d’Arles 2016

Also exhibiting was a winner from the 2015 Voies Off event, Danila Tkachenko (Restricted Areas). Danila photographed places that used to be important in the Soviet era - scientific and secret military sites - now abandoned, no longer required as part of a utopian ideology, and not found on maps (http://www.danilatkachenko.com). Despite their intended use and history, there was something quite beautiful in the way they were photographed, trapped in icy and snow filled vistas. The last major documentary exhibition to highlight is João Pina (Operation Condor). A secret military plan started in 1975, during the Cold War, by six Latin American countries: Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Uruguay and Paraguay. Ruled by right-wing military dictatorships, these countries’ governments intended to eliminate political opponents and detractors. Pina spent nearly a decade photographing the effect on families who still have to live with the deep traumas inflicted. The design of the exhibition in a darkened hall, required you to use a torch to read the exhibit information, which added to the sense of hidden or repressed emotions and isolation. Mark A Phillips ARPS 2016

Mark A Phillips ARPS 2016 84

Exhibition Review - Les Rencontres d’Arles 2016

Mark A Phillips ARPS 2016

A ticket for the Opening Week is €49, about £40, which sounds expensive, but gives you unlimited access to over 40 exhibitions and numerous other events over the first 7 days. In my opinion, that’s a bargain. Les Rencontres is unique, the only event close to it in the UK is Format, held biannually in Derby, but Les Rencontres is on a different scale and the addition of Voies Off makes it unique, and has better wine, food and weather (sorry, I lived in Derby once). To give some sense of the scale, examples of exhibitions/ photographers I have not mentioned from this year’s event include: Fabulous Failures (which included a number of images by Matt Stuart), Eikoh Hosoe and William Klein, Yan Gross, Hans Silvester and Bernard Plossu’s extensive colour images of the Western USA in the 1970s and 1980s. There was also an exhibition documenting the building of the Statue of Liberty, a collection of exhibitions featuring African themes and photographers, and a new Virtual Reality event. 85

Documentary Group Central

Dr C Ashton - Blowing A Kiss

Birmingham Pride 2016

Birmingham Pride 2016 took place over the weekend of 27th and 28th May and turned out to be the biggest and most successful yet, with over 75,000 people attending. It was the 20th anniversary of the event which started in 1997. Since then the festival has evolved into one of the leading LGBT gatherings, second only behind London. In the past three years alone £150,000 has been raised for charity. Blessed with glorious weather, seven members of the newly formed RPS Documentary Group Central, coming from as far afield as Bristol and Malvern, met up in Costa Coffee (other coffee outlets are available) on the Saturday morning for a pre shoot caffeine shot before heading into Birmingham city centre to document the Parade. The Parade route starts in Victoria Square and winds it’s way through the city taking in New St, High St, Moor St Queensway and Smallbrook Queensway, to finishing at the Birmingham Hippodrome. The route is reasonably short, easy to follow and close access to the people and floats makes it easy to photograph. The atmosphere is totally friendly and relaxed, and people take great delight in being photographed. A photographers dream! There was a real sense of fun amongst the 30,000 or so people who took part in the parade on both sides of the barriers. A combination of whistles, drummers and constant encouragement and cheering from the spectators added to the carnival atmosphere. Famous “faces” included the likes of Her Majesty the Queen, Freddie Mercury, Thunderbirds characters and Twiggy added to what was already a very surreal atmosphere.


Documentary Group Central

Dr C Ashton - My Best Friend

Rachel Davies 87

Bob Massey 88


Jemma Graham



Documentary Group Central

Bob Massey

Paul Reynolds 92

Documentary Group Central

Jemma Graham

It was my first time at the event, even though I live just down the road in Wolverhampton, and it will definitely be on my calendar for next year. Further images can be seen on the Documentary Group Central Flickr page: https://www.flickr.com/groups/rpsdocumentarycentral/ Looking forward to seeing you there next year! Please let me know if you would like to join the group and be kept informed of future events.

Further dates for the diary: Warwickshire Pride – Saturday 20th August Walsall Pride – Saturday 27th August Leicester Pride – Saturday 3rd September Paul Reynolds ARPS Regional Group Coordinator RPS Documentary Group Central E Mail doccentral@rps.org 93


What makes great photography? Workshop An excursion through the gamut of photography genres. This workshop is designed to take us through the kaleidoscope of photographic genres, to look at what makes a great photograph, what we ourselves want from our photography, a collective review/discussion of our own and others work and a wrap up discussion.

In the course of the day we will: 1. Take a look at: What makes great photography? Why we take photographs? What do we want from our own photography? Different genres 2. A review and discussion of participants work 3. A discussion on outcomes and what we learn from examples from other photographers.



The workshop is led by Andrew Mills, MEd, MA, Cert Ed, ARPS, LBIPP, who is an award winning professional photographer specialising in Advertising, Editorial and Commercial photography for over thirty years. His personal photography is concerned with art and documentary. As an exhibiting art and documentary photographer he continues to work on a variety of projects. He is a qualified lecturer in photography and the media in general and has taught at degree level courses in university and higher education as well as at beginner level and beyond for groups and in companies for staff development. Over many years he’s built a large library of images covering many subjects, which form the basis for this work on genres. 10 September 2016 – 10:15 - 17:00 Winchester Discovery Centre, Jewry Street, Winchester, United Kingdom, SO23 8SB See more at: http://www.rps.org/events/2016/september/10/ what-makes-great-photography#sthash. dFayOrhA.dpuf Or contact doc@rps.org for more information. 95

The Documentary Group (formerly the Documentary and Visual Journalism Group) focuses on photography which chronicles everyday life in the broadest possible way, as well as topical events and photography which preserves the present for the future. It is typically found in professional photojournalism, real life reportage, but importantly for us it is an amateur, artistic, or academic pursuit. The photographer attempts to produce truthful, objective, and usually candid photography of a particular subject, often of people.


Members form a dynamic and diverse group of photographers globally who share a common interest in documentary and street photography. We welcome photographers of all skill levels and offer members a diverse programme of workshops, photoshoots, longerterm projects, a prestigious annual Documentary Photographer of the Year (DPOTY) competition, exhibitions, and a quarterly e-journal “Decisive Moment’. In addition to our AGM and members gettogether we have an autumn prize-giving for the DPOTY incorporating a members social day. Some longer-term collaborative projects are in the pipeline for the future. Additionally, we have an active Flickr group and Facebook page. Members are offered in 2016 a single-use discount of £25 on any paid DG event. Overseas members pay £5 per annum for Group membership rather than the £15 paid by UK based members. The Documentary Group is always keen to expand its activities and relies on ideas and volunteer input from its members. If you’re not a member come and join us see: http://www.rps.org/special-interest-groups/ documentary/about/dvj-membership Find us on the RPS website at: http://www.rps.org/special-interest-groups/documentary Join our Forum at: http://www.rps.org/rpsforum?g=topics&f=50 On Flickr at: https://www.flickr.com/groups/2764974@N25/ On Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/RPSDVJ/


Nagar Kirtan by Gordon Bates LRPS

www.rps.org/special-interest-groups/documentary Designed, Edited & Published by Jhy Turley ARPS www.jhyturley.com

Profile for Documentary Group, Royal Photographic Society

RPS The Decisive Moment - Edition 5 - August 2016  

The Decisive Moment, published by the Royal Photographic Society's Documentary Group, is a quarterly journal that showcases the work of its...

RPS The Decisive Moment - Edition 5 - August 2016  

The Decisive Moment, published by the Royal Photographic Society's Documentary Group, is a quarterly journal that showcases the work of its...