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THE DECISIVE MOMENT

Quarterly journal from the Documentary Group

June 2017 Edition 8 Photo: Patsy Southwell ARPS


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 Documentary 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.

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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.

Committee Member and Decisive Moment Editor: Jhy Turley ARPS Photography has been part of my life ever since I was at art college. After a trip to Nepal in 2006 my passion was ignited and I’ve been developing my photographic abilities ever since. Having experimented in a variety of photographic genres I now focus on longer term documentary projects. I’ve worked closely with commercial photography throughout my career in advertising but enjoy all forms of documentary and travel for my personal work. I joined the DG to be part of a like minded community of peers and by happy chance have ended up editing our groups digital magazine.

DM Editorial team: Sub Editor: 

Belinda Bamford

Sub Editor: 

Graham Wilson

DPoTY 2017 team:

And the rest of the team:

Organiser: 

Bi-monthly competition manager:  Steven Powell

PR: 

Mo Connelly LRPS Dee Robinson ARPS

Entry Manager: Chris Barbara ARPS Technical: 

Jhy Turley ARPS

Facebook:  Flickr: Webmaster:

Jonathon Taylor Chris Barbara ARPS David Barnes LRPS 3


Contents 5

A Word From Our Chair

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Interview - David Goldblatt HonFRPS

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Documentary Photographer of the Year 2017

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The Photobook

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David Gleave LRPS - In the City

22 30 34 38 42

David Sage ARPS - Lacock – A Changing English Village John Eaton ARPS - Traces Left Behind John Walker LRPS - Home at Last Interview - Olivio Argenti FRPS

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Winner of the 1st Bi Monthly Competition

Member Images

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David Barnes LRPS - Beside the Seaside

50 60 68

74 82

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Cheryl Meek ARPS - Windows of London

Brian Vickers LRPS - The dog walkers of Bunny Hill Edward Forster ARPS - The Summertime Americana Festival Holland-Avery FRPS - Windsor Jubilee Bonfire 1977 Jim Grover - 48 Hours on Clapham High St Sean Bulson LRPS - London Underground

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Book Review - New Documents 1967

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Exhibition Review - Harry Gruyaert


A Word From Our Chair Now the sun is shining I’m reluctant to sit at my computer. So, this will be a short letter. The DPoTY will close at the end of June, when we’ll be handing all the entries, anonymously, over to our three judges. Apart from Chrissy Barbara, who’s pulling all the entries together, no one has seen any of the entries so I’m looking forward to looking at them. In addition to theprintspace exhibition we are looking at two other exhibition spaces for the winning images outside of London. We’ll keep you posted. The Bi-monthly competition for single images now seems to be well established and we’ve seen some great images. The current competition ends on 30 June 2017. I had a great time last month interviewing David Goldblatt Hon FRPS for this edition of Decisive Moment. For me the opportunity to interview such wonderful photographers for DM is the highlight of being a volunteer with the RPS and makes the time spent overall on DG work very worthwhile. Happily, we’re moving forward with getting Documentary better recognised within the RPS. Two Applied Advisory Days later this year with a focus on documentary, an advice booklet is in the pipeline and the RPS Journal will be devoting a whole issue to documentary photography in August. It’s another great edition of DM this month – thanks to Jhy and his team. The recent RPS Journal highlighted the work of volunteers in the RPS and Jhy was interviewed about his volunteer work in putting out our e-journal. Congratulations Jhy, well-deserved publicity. The DG is only possible with the hard work of all our volunteers – from the organisation of competitions and events to the running of our sub-groups as well as all the admin involved with our website, our finances, our membership. How fortunate we are to have so many good volunteers. Anyone want to join us? There are various events and meetings coming up – most are already on the website with four more in the pipeline. I hope to see you at some of them. Enjoy the summer, Mo Mo Connelly, Chair, RPS Documentary Group

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Interview - David Goldblatt HonFRPS

David Goldblatt, Hon FRPS, is one of South Africa’s most renowned photographers, internationally acclaimed for his documentary work there over the last 70 years. He specialises in photo essays reflecting the many aspects of life in South Africa both during and post-apartheid. Born in South Africa in1933, and still creating fresh studies, his work is held in permanent collections throughout Europe and the USA as well as South Africa. The author of some 20 books, he has held around 150 solo and joint exhibitions, has received many awards, including three Honorary Doctorates, and became an Honorary Fellow of the RPS in 2007. His book, “TJ/Double Negative”, which was published in 2010 is two works in one: TJ is a collection of his work from 1948-2010 while ‘Double Negative’ is a novel by Ivan Vladislavic. It won the 2011 Best Photography Book at the Krasna-Kraus Foundation Book Awards.

David Goldblatt HonFRPS

His latest project is “Ex-Offenders at Scene of Crime: South Africa and England / 2008 – 2016”. The England side of this project was done in collaboration with Multistory West Bromwich.

A woman in her parlour, Bezuidenhout Valley. November 1973 6

In the Alexandra Street Park, Hillbrow. 1972


Interview - David Goldblatt HonFRPS

MC: Your books reflect South African society in the last 70 years. Which came first your interest in your community or photography? DG: I’m not sure of the answer to that; they developed very closely together. Photography enabled me to be in places that I wouldn’t have been in otherwise and also demanded the beginnings of coherent thought on the society in which I lived. MC: Who fostered your interest in photography?

DG: No individual, nobody, myself. Life magazine, Look magazine, and Picture Post from London stimulated my interest in photography, and in particular of the world around me. So, there were no individuals. Photographers were distinctly lacking in my part of the world; they were either members of camera clubs or news photographers. MC: Who influenced it, then?

DG: For a long time, magazines were a window on the world for millions of people –before television became widespread they were publishing superb work. They were at the height of their popularity – Life and Picture Post stimulated me and made me lust after being a member of that elite crew. MC: Were there particular photographers you admired?

DG: Kurt Hutton on Picture Post, Bert Hardy, Bill Brandt, and many of the photographers who worked on these magazines. MC: And, why documentary?

DG: From a very early stage, I felt impatient with so called ‘pictorial’ photography and camera club photography. I’m not a joiner. I went to one meeting of the Randfontein Camera Club and I knew instantly that this was not for me. I couldn’t compete for marks, or compose by thirds, and do all those things that were regarded as essential if you wanted to win competitions. So, I sought a home for myself as it were, even if it was only an unreachable ideal, in those magazines. For me, that was real photography. MC: Are you trained or self-taught as a photographer?

DG: I’m certainly not trained. I was entirely self-taught; I never had a teacher, and never went to a college. Photography as a craft is quite easily learnt from books and magazines, but the quality of photography is a different thing entirely. You can learn as much technique as you like but that doesn’t make you a good photographer. The eye must be there, but the ability to recognise situations that lead to interesting photographs is something that I think you have to find within yourself and cultivate. I don’t think it can be taught. MC: Why documentary work rather than photojournalism?

DG: I can’t easily distinguish between these two; I distrust these terms.

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Interview - David Goldblatt HonFRPS

MC: You weren’t published in newspapers, but went straight into long term projects. Why? DG: I became interested in certain subjects around me in South Africa and, very soon, discovered that I needed more than one or two pictures to talk about these things. So, from very early on I began to try to develop series of photographs – similar to what was being published in those magazines – they very rarely published single photographs. Invariably any photographer – whether it was Cartier Bresson, Kubrik, or whoever - did essays, a connected series of photographs; and the technique of setting those photographs on the pages was terribly important. The various layers of information they gave were very carefully designed and thought through. That way of conveying information was something that I began to cultivate. It took me a long time.  The story of that influences a lot of other things.

 In the 50s I went into my father’s business – as a temporary stopgap after failing to find a ‘home’ with a professional photographer. I stayed in the business for 12 years, not by my own choice. When my father died I sold it and, on 15 September 1963, I became a full-time photographer. I had no training, very sketchy equipment and very little knowledge of technique. I began to work on two essays – on Afrikaners and on the dying gold mines. Over a period of years, until around 1968, I gradually accumulated many photographs, but I had no idea how to put them together.  That was when I met, and became very strongly influenced by, one photographer: Sam Haskins. He was an extraordinarily generous man. I told Sam about the essays and that I had no idea what to do with them. Sam said he would help me put together a maquette. I gave him a whole load of contact prints and he put them together. I spent six months in the dark room making the prints – at that time the only way of showing a publisher what you were talking about was to make a physical book. It was a huge job and I put together a book with Sam’s suggestions. He introduced me to his publishers, Bodley Head in London. They suggested that I went to New York to find a co-publisher. I did, but emerged with my tail between my legs because I was rejected. They were invariably very friendly, praised the work, but they each said; “where’s the apartheid?” It was endemic in the pictures, and that’s when I began to realise where I was, what I was, and understood better my own way into the photographic world because I realised that it was no good showing photographs, that I was interested in, outside the country. You had to be inside it, and marinated in our juices, to grasp what the pictures were about. Otherwise it was like explaining jokes to people; once you’ve explained a joke it’s not funny. Many of my photographs would have been instantly understood by a child from Soweto, from Cape Town, or from Velkop – it was our ‘language’. However, those overseas wouldn’t immediately grasp them, and I didn’t want to explain them. That led to a period of quite painful regurgitation. 8


Interview - David Goldblatt HonFRPS

 Barney Simon – a good friend – questioned whether these layouts of Sam’s were how I had intended, as he’d put pictures together on a page, and in the nakedness of a book, which suggested a relationship between them. These implied relationships were not my intention. If I took a photograph of you and then another three months later of someone else doing something similar, I never intended to put you together to create new meaning. I had to scrap Sam’s dummy and develop an approach of my own.  What emerged was severely classical: picture on one page, caption next to it on the other page. And that’s basically how I’ve operated ever since. If I’m doing photographs for anybody it’s firstly for myself and secondly for my compatriots. If along the way people along the way outside the country begin to take an interest in what I’m doing that’s great, but I’m not going to try and cater for that.

Senderwood Post Office. February 1974 9


Interview - David Goldblatt HonFRPS

Lunch-hour, Pretoria Street, Hillbrow. 1966

MC: When you became a professional photographer, you were already married with a young family. How did you make your living whilst pursuing photography? DG: I’ve been very privileged throughout my life – I’m white and had a very good education, I came from a good middle-class Jewish family. There was a lot behind me as it were. I came out of my father’s shop with enough money to live for about a year. I can only say that serendipity has been with me. I’ve never been good at selling myself, knocking on doors. Before I became a full-time photographer, I’d sent some work to Time magazine, which at that time was all the rage. The assistant editor was a woman from South Africa and they commissioned me to do some work on Anglo American Corporation which they published and that was a tremendous boost for me. When the same woman came back to SA to live she became the editor of a local magazine, the South African Tatler, which was a magazine for the ‘mink and manure’ set - avant garde design, photography, strong writing and design. She commissioned me to do a lot of work. I learnt a lot from her, she was a first-class magazine journalist and editor. In the process of that work, I developed the ability to work with text. After that I didn’t want to become a photographer in private photography – portraiture, weddings and babies – I kept away from all that. It grew topsylike from there. 10


Interview - David Goldblatt HonFRPS

MC: Do you see your work as not just for the present, but an archive for the future that will allow future generations of South Africans to see what the past looked like? DG: As I entered my 70s, around the turn of the century, I had to give thought as to what to do with my work. Was it of interest? Yes. Whether my work was good, bad or indifferent I had done so much in different areas of South Africa for those pictures to be of interest to other people.  In thinking about that I had to consider South African photography in general. I’d become very well acquainted with many photographers; particularly the younger generation, who’d become very active and lively in the 1980s. They’d supplied lots of the work that went into the anti-apartheid propaganda in London. We differed in our attitude to what constituted a proper relationship of the photographer to reality, nevertheless we became good friends. At first, they distrusted me; they thought I was a sell-out, but it became clear that I wasn’t. Because of that knowledge I knew that there was work in South Africa that would become of great interest subsequently, and so I nagged people at the University of Cape Town, which has a long history of teaching photography, to set up a documentary centre. Eventually they did. They invested 500,000 rand in a cold room to store film and paper, and appointed Paul Weinburg, someone who knew a great deal about photography in SA. Paul became the curator of the growing collection of work and which was being properly archived. I had entered into a contract with the university to bequeath my work on my death, and I’d already put in some of it. This was going very well, Paul built up a very lively set of activities around this archive. But, it didn’t go well with the library management; relations were not good and they gradually withdrew support, especially after student action in 2014 against anything seen as a symbol of apartheid and white dominance. The University of Cape Town examined every bit of art work in the collection and either removed or covered anything deemed to be potentially offensive to black students. To me this is a gross abrogation of freedom of expression, especially in a university which had stood up against the National Party regime for academic freedom. I wrote to the University cancelling my contract and withdrawing my work from it. It will now go to Yale in the United States. I’d already donated work to the V&A in 1987 because I feared that there would be a real night of darkness in South Africa. PW Botha was extremely reactionary and we might not have the opportunity of getting our work out of the country. I’d had an exhibition touring England, so I donated that to the V&A. MC: Do you then see your photography as being part of the history of SA? DG: A small part, there are others, and together it constitutes a very important facility for the future. 11


Miriam Diale at home, 5357 Orlando East, Soweto. 18 October 1972

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MC: A phrase in Double Negative said ‘documentary photographs are a more reliable record of the past than written history books’. Do you believe this? DG: I don’t approve of the term documentary photography. Philosophically speaking all photographs are documents. There isn’t a photograph made that isn’t a document. So how do you distinguish between the so-called documentary photograph and the fashion photograph? In ten years’ time, what is today a fashion photograph becomes material for documents. I don’t like that term, I don’t use it myself. MC: What term do you use?

DG: Photography. I’m a photographer. Everything becomes a document in the end. DG: No, I don’t think photographs rival history books. They are two different media and each has its own place. I don’t think that written history books are necessarily reliable. They are interpretations of the past by people who write about such things. Photographs, by their very nature (unless they’ve been grossly interfered with), are obviously a true reflection of the world as it stood when the photography was made. It’s almost a tautology that it should be so. But I think they’re two different media and, in terms of what we would like to see in our history books and in our knowledge of the world long past, they both have a place. MC: Was it a very hard path for you to get to the publication of your first book in 1973? DG: It was.

MC: And you’ve updated it for republication recently, why?

DG: I’ve updated both of my early books. If a book of mine is to be republished I look at it and say that photography isn’t so good, but this one should be in instead. So, I’ve made some changes to the content and sometimes to the order and also to the text that I supplied. MC: How much are you involved in the publication of your books? How much control do you have? DG: Intimately. I’ve learnt some very hard lessons by, in some cases, not being sufficiently involved, for example bad printing. The difference between a book and an exhibition is that an exhibition is there for three weeks, or three months, but books stick around. And, if you’ve messed up, it’s there for a long time. MC: What have been the high and low points in your career?

DG: There are numerous high and low points. I can’t easily isolate any one of them. The low points are when, as a professional, I screwed up a job and had to repeat it – and that happened several times. The high points have been very rewarding moments where people, in one way or another, indicated that my photography was meaningful. It’s been a very rewarding profession for me.

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Interview - David Goldblatt HonFRPS

MC: Is there any particularly meaningful photograph?

DG: I don’t know. I’ve been asked this question many times and I don’t know. Photographs are strange animals. I’ve found that many years later after discarding a photograph I’m looking through contact prints and I find something I think ‘actually that’s not bad’. At my age now I don’t have 25 years left to wait. I’ve got to make my decisions more rapidly. MC: Is there something you’d like to do that you haven’t tackled yet?

DG: I’m tackling the land in South Africa, something that during the years of apartheid I refrained from as it seemed self-indulgent. I would like to make my own version of lyrical photographs of the land. I always envied people like Edward Weston who could travel the West of America and photograph all sorts of things and I don’t think he ever gave a thought to who owned the land. In South Africa, you can’t do that. I guess that would be something I’d like to do a lot more of. MC: How did you tackle the change from analogue to digital?

DG: My life has been a series of events that were accidental or unplanned but were serendipitous in many ways. About 2000, I had to dismantle my dark room because of rising damp. This coincided with an interest in digital reproduction, digital photography only came later. I worked for years on one magazine and its satellite – a leadership magazine in SA. I learnt a lot about reproduction, I often laid out the magazine or commissioned reproduction, so I became fairly familiar with it. It was clear that digital reproduction was far

While in Traffic. 1967 14


Interview - David Goldblatt HonFRPS

This is our new world. Read the morning newspaper for the new generation - Beeld, Braamfontein. October 1976

superior, in many ways, to previous technology and was becoming the dominant method of reproduction. Like it or not it had to be used. My darkroom having been dismantled, I had to learn to use it for my own work. DG: In the last five years, I started using a digital camera; it’s a technology that is useful. I’ve recently bought a medium format digital camera because I want to replace my 4x5 view camera, which I still use with film. I don’t know yet whether it will work. MC: How important has the high regard of your work been to both stimulating you to continue and confirming the importance of documenting the present for the future? DG: Whether or not my work had come to be recognised, I think I would be documenting in the same way. Not necessarily for the future, but for the conversation between myself and my compatriots. It’s still my dominant motive for doing things.  I don’t think particularly about the future. The use of my photography in the future is a by-product of what I do. A photographer, by the very nature of what he’s doing is looking at what is present. So, when I see photographs under fancy titles in exhibitions, which somehow claim to be about the future, I’m very sceptical. 15


Interview - David Goldblatt HonFRPS

The living space of photographer Nkosiyabo Ndlovu, his wife and their year-old child in the subdivided living room of a Hillbrow apartment. His photograph was taken by Terry Kurgan as part of a community. 23 January 2002

MC: Is there a single book of yours which is more important to you than any of the others? DG: I don’t think so, each of them has been of importance at the time for whatever I was interested in. Some of them have been more successful than others. The most difficult was ‘In Boksburg’ about a middle-class white community in the 70s and 80s. The book which was the most ambitious, and probably the least successful, was ‘South Africa: The structure of things then’, which took me 15 years to produce; 10 years of photography and 5 years of writing and research. When I speak about things I’d like to do, one would be a sequel to that – I’ve done quite a lot of work on it but not nearly enough. MC: How did your current project on released prisoners come about?

DG: We have an extremely high crime rate in South Africa and both my wife and I, as well as my daughter, at some stage, have all been violent confronted by crime. In 2008, I asked myself who are the people doing this to us, holding us to ransom like this – are they monsters, could they be my children, could I be one? I then decided that I would like to meet people who’d been in trouble with the law. But I didn’t want to meet them as prisoners 16


Interview - David Goldblatt HonFRPS

or as numbers. I wanted to meet them as ordinary people I might meet in the street. So, I found out names and cell phone numbers of people who’d been released or were on parole and evolved a method of working with them. I wanted to do a portrait of each of these people I met, but the portrait had to be related to the crime or offence that they were alleged to have committed. And, so that led me to decide I wanted to meet them at the scene of the crime or arrest. Not to re-enact the crime but simply to be there. Being at the place of the crime would surely be of some importance; certainly for me and I hoped also to the ex-offender. I wanted to hear about their lives. I recognised that it would be difficult and unwelcome to ask someone who’d been in jail for 8-10 years to go back to the scene of crime. Why would they? It’s not pleasant. I decided that I’d pay for that. Enough money to make it clear that I was serious but not so much that I couldn’t afford to do it. In South Africa, I paid 800R and here in England £80* to allow me to photograph them at the scene of crime, tell me the story of their life, and to sign a release allowing me publication rights and exhibition rights. I needed to make sure also that people understood absolutely that I wasn’t going to make money, this was not the purpose I’ve undertaken to give away any money that comes to me after paying any exhibition expenses towards prisoner rehabilitation organisations. Despite paying, which is not what good journalists would do, I’ve found that people seem to trust me because of the way I’m doing it. And, for many of them it’s probably the first time they’ve told their story to someone who isn’t judging them. I’m not a journalist, I’m not a social worker, I’m not a social activist, so there’s no reason why they have to hold anything back from me and I’ve been told many things about crimes which have never been charged. I gained trust. MC: David Goldblatt thank you it’s been a pleasure and a privilege for me to interview you. Interview by Mo Connelly

*David was invited by Multistory to undertake the same project in the UK, in the Midlands, who then organised exhibitions in HM Prisons Birmingham and Manchester to share the images and stories from both South Africa and England with the prisoners and staff. A brilliant idea. I’d like to thank Multistory, based in West Bromwich, (http:// multistory.org.uk) for facilitating this interview, for inviting me to the opening of David’s exhibition, ‘Ex-Offenders at the Scene of Crime’, at HMP Birmingham, and for their hospitality. It’s been the highlight of my year so far! I look forward to the book. 17


DPoTY 2017

Documentary Photographer of the Year 2017 The closing date for Documentary Photographer of the Year competition is getting closer, final date for submissions is the 30th June. As the saying goes, “you have to be in it to win it” and a day with Stuart Franklin as first prize is a fantastic opportunity. If that isn’t incentive enough there is a fully funded private view at theprintspace in London, plus many more prizes. The competition is free to all RPS members. You will find all the information via this link. http://rps.org/special-interest-groups/documentary/about/ documentary-photographer-of-the-year-2017 We are looking for a photo essay, plus title, in either Colour or Monochrome consisting of 5 images on a subject of your own choosing. The judges will be looking for documentary photographic essays that are representative of the subject matter. The finalists plus the overall winner will be announced at a Documentary Group private view to be held on 19th October at theprintspace. They will print and mount the winning images, exhibit them for two weeks and will offer prints available to purchase. 70% of the sale price goes to the photographer.

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DPoTY 2017

The prize for the overall winner is a one on one all day session with Stuart Franklin HonFRPS, former president of Magnum and the Chair of the Judging Panel for the World Press Photography Awards. The second winner (either Colour or Monochrome): 4 hours one to one tuition with the Nikon School in London** 2 x Runners Up: 2 hours one to one tuition with the Nikon School in London** 3rd Prize:

ÂŁ75.00 cash prize

**Any entrant who is unable to collect their prize in London will be provided with the cash equivalent. RPS Medals: RPS Gold Medal: Winners Colour and Monochrome Sections RPS Silver Medal: Runners up Colour and Monochrome Sections RPS Bronze Medal: 3rd prize Colour and Monochrome Sections Judges for this year will be; Ken Lennox Hon FRPS Steve Kingswell ARPS Alison Baskerville ARPS

We are extremely proud and thankful for the support that both theprintspace and Nikon have given DPoTY. Good luck Dee Robinson ARPS

DPoTY is proudly supported by theprintspace. Their online platform: thehub allows artists and photographers to easily promote & sell fine art limited edition prints of their work and order award-winning prints, mounts and frames for exhibitions. 19


Feature - The Photobook

The Photobook Digital, digital, digital. It’s all we hear these days. Tablets, smartphones, laptops, apps, website, blogs and Instagram! As documentary photographers and storytellers, are digital platforms doing our work justice? Are they the best medium for us to be using? It’s easier than ever to share our work, but is it equally as easy to dismiss and forget! In this digital age, where most of us use digital cameras and computers, the printed book may not be our first choice of medium to present or share our work. In recent years tech companies and publishers have invested heavily in digital publishing platforms (ironically such as the one you are reading this on now). Increasingly, photobooks have become a very powerful tool for photographers to disseminate their work. Much like vinyl records, books in general are seeing a resurgence. The once prophesied death of print and the dominance of digital publications never arrived.

”An antidote for the internet” Martin Parr

What the digital world has given photographers is the ability to self-publish, and usually at a fairly reasonable price. Over the past 8 years I’ve created five photobooks, have started and binned another three and I’m almost finished working on a sixth. Each very different, yet all have been rewarding for different reasons. Most of all, it is the physical object you have when you’re finished. You can hand it to someone and they can feel and interact with your work. It’s a completely different experience to a website, slideshow, prints or an exhibition. The world of photobooks is a vast spectrum, at one end you have globally recognised books by contemporary photographers such as Alex Soth and Zed Nelson HonFRPS. Then at the other end you have hobbyist’s creating books for personal achievement or as a record of their work. Photobooks are equally available to everyone via online publishing services. As documentary photographers I feel the photobook is one of the best tools we have at our disposal to present and share our work. The success of books like Bruno Ceschel’s ‘Self-Publish Be Happy’, and independent publishers (like the Hoxton Press) who are increasingly present at international photo festivals, is a testament to that. What’s clear is that the photobook is more than a series of photos. By placing them into a single physical format and designing the way in which they are presented, we as photographers are adding another layer of ourselves to the project, the images and its message. Our decisions for sequence, placement and size of images on the page, the extent we support the images with words, caption (or don’t caption), influence how our work is received and consumed.

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Feature - The Photobook

"The longevity of the physical book is the magic" Dewi Lewis

Online resources like Bob Books and Blurb have given access to print on demand publishing that allows photographers to bypass the traditional publishing industry hurdles of editors, designers and printers. We can now do it all ourselves. However, anything worth doing is rarely easy. Once you have taken your photos the hard work begins. You become the editor, copywriter, designer, proof reader and publisher. Then if you want to sell the book, PR and sales person. As quoted in Darius D. Himes and Mary Virginia Swanson’s book Publish Your Photography Book “(Books) are also multifaceted objects requiring a range of skill sets to produce that you alone probably don’t possess”. The process of creating a book can be a complicated one. Firstly you need to have a clear vision. Simplify that vision and know exactly what you are trying to convey. Then start editing. You will need to be ruthless to keep to your vision, and get rid of anything that doesn’t add to it. A great image is useless if it doesn’t support the overall idea or work with the rest of the book. Experiment and try the different arrangements of images. Get organised! Photos, words, and any additional supporting information such as illustrations, letters or maps. Now start the design process. Don’t underestimate how important this is, the size and format of the book, paper choice, typography and layout all come together as the vehicle to deliver your vision. Spend some time researching and considering the design of other photobooks, which inspire you. Get a second, third and fourth opinion. It is easy to get blinkered by a project. When we are too close, the obvious can be overlooked. Proof read, and then get someone else to proof read as well. Then if you’re truly happy you can upload your files and in less than a couple of weeks you have a book. On the following pages we take a look at five very different books created by our members. Each has been created with a very different intention, on a variety of subjects. They are all successful for one reason or another, for me the most successful aspect of all of them is that they exist. Created to preserve and document people, places and society. They are real physical objects that have taken the authors time and care to bring into existence, not easily changed or replaced that hopefully provides an enduring record. Ultimately that adds so much more value to a project than simply uploading images to an online gallery or website to be lost in the ever increasing void of the internet. I’ve found creating photobooks has evolved from being a process to becoming a journey and one I would implore you all to explore. Jhy Turley ARPS 21


Feature - The Photobook

Cheryl Meek ARPS Windows of London I’m an amateur Photographer and have been shooting seriously for about 6 years. Originally I was shooting landscapes but soon discovered the street & documentary genre, which allowed me to shoot on my way to work. I undertook a 365 project, so finding a picture each day became important to me. 5 and a half years later, I still post a picture each day. Many of my shots are of what’s happening that day and taken during my commute. There are a lot of train shots and images of people doing the same as me. Largely, ordinary moments grab my eye.

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I received a lot of requests to create a book of my train images. The RPS London Urban group, were running a project I joined and they wanted images for a book. Somehow I never submitted my pictures. I recall that I had too many pictures and editing is not my forté, so fear of that task was probably partly to blame. Not letting the challenge of editing or creating a book get the better of me, and aware that I hadn’t printed anything for some time, I felt I should create a record of my work. An annual book seemed to be the best medium. The topic ‘Windows of London’ was an obvious choice as it’s my view or window of London. Selection of images for the book was quite simple, as I had already picked a selection of shots for a camera club talk, so the choice was partly done. For the book I paid attention to matching tones and took care to match facing pages. There are also a handful of images that pinpoint time, such as the Queen’s birthday and Brexit, which help to place when the book was created. To get over my editing issues, I decided to tell myself that the book was for me and it should be my choice and not conform to rules of others. That took the pressure away and eased the process. The choice of Blurb was made purely because I had seen their books before and I had a discount voucher. Blurb is available as a ebook, PDF and soft cover, offering a range of prices. I think my next book will be larger, possibly hardback with a better quality finish. http://www.blurb.co.uk/b/7653489-windows-of-london

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David Gleave LRPS In the City I decided I wanted to make a book. Initially it was going to have chapters including portraits, street photography and live music photography. I then noticed how much of my work was actually city based and on the street, so I decided to do away with chapters and just make all the content urban shots whether candid or street portraiture. The cohesion being in that they all have an urban city backdrop. Once I’d made that decision, it meant I couldn’t use a lot of my favourite shots, as they didn’t fall into that category, but I still had a lot of material to choose from. I created a single collection of all the potential images I would use and messed about with the order until it looked right and that was it. Looking at the book now I’m very happy with it. There are probably 4 or 5 images I should have omitted. The size of the book and the number of pages was dictated by the budget. The paper quality is excellent. The project took around five to six weeks from first idea to taking delivery of the book. I didn’t make the book as a money making project. I sold as many as I could to recoup as much of the cost as possible, but I saw it as a PR exercise. The book has been on sale at The Open Eye Gallery in Liverpool, The Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester and at HOME in Manchester, so the book has been among some great company in these gallery shops. And they have sold. The book received a fair amount of press coverage, resulting in it being included in the Streets sans Frontieres exhibition in Paris recently.

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David Sage ARPS Lacock - A Changing English Village A series of photographs was commissioned by the British Council to illustrate a promotional pamphlet, “English Villagers” and published in 1945. The black and white photographs depicted daily life in the village of Lacock during World War II. The original silver gelatin prints, by Harold White FRPS, embody the notion of a ‘People’s War’ showing how daily life continued undeterred and how the Home Front was represented by all the community, from school children to the local postman, contributing to the war effort. Only by looking very carefully at the prints are effects of the war visible. The Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre (WSHC) acquired the printed images as part of their Lacock Unlocked project. This was created to save the nationally important Lacock Archives and was funded by a Heritage Lottery Fund grant. We were asked to digitise Harold White’s images so they could be used on their website. As part of the project the WSHC was collecting stories and memories from the villagers of Lacock. We visited many of these villagers to take their photograph to go with their memories. At the same time we decided to produce a set of images to illustrate Lacock 70 years on. Many of these images were comparisons with Harold White’s images, but many were taken to illustrate the memories of the villagers or to show if Lacock had changed. Working with the WSHC, approval was granted from the Heritage Lottery Fund extending the project to make it more accessible to the public. We have put on several local exhibitions and given talks to clubs in our area. The icing on the cake was the publication of this book “Lacock a Changing English Village”. To tell the story of Lacock then and now, we edited text from the villagers oral history to fit with the images, decided on the book’s sections and layout, and finally producing a word version. With the help of a Lacock design company, Sheard and Hudson, who waived their fee, it was put together for professional printing. We followed the printing process through to its conclusion with a local printing company in Corsham. The collaboration, from start to finish, worked extremely well. Through both the photographs and text we leave the reader to decide if Lacock has changed since 1945. Further information on the Lacock Unlocked project can be found at http:www.wshc.eu/lacock. Copies of the book can be obtained from WSHC email: Heritageadmin@wiltshire.gov.uk cost £5+p&p, all proceeds to the WSHC Lacock was co-authored with Bob Bray. 30


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John Eaton ARPS Traces Left Behind Photography became an important aid to my re-entry to “normal” life when I retired from a rather demanding job in Silicon Valley a decade ago (I lived and worked in California since the late 1980s). I had a deep interest in architecture all my life — my father, brother and son are all architects – and historical projects suited my passion for monochrome. My first post-retirement project was to document the interiors of all the English medieval cathedrals (www.englishmedievalcathedrals. com). After that I was seeking opportunities nearer to home and discovered a fascinating workshop organized by Mark Maio exploring the derelict grain silos in Buffalo (www.markmaio.com/silo-city). Mark is a great photographer, a wonderful guy, and I can strongly recommend him! In the 19th century, through a combination of a favorable geographical location, local engineering innovation, and entrepreneurial businesses, Buffalo became the major transshipment point for grain from the Great Plains heading for the East coast and overseas. Buffalo maintained it’s leadership position through to the opening of the St Lawrence Seaway in 1959, which enabled ocean-going ships to directly access the Great Lakes and by-pass Buffalo. Consequently, the majority of Buffalo’s elevators and silos closed down in the 1960s and 70s, abandoned and left to slowly decay.

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Initially the grain silos were made out of wood and the elevators lifting the grain out of the ships to the top of the silos were steam driven: as a consequence, fires were extremely common! However, 1906 saw the construction of the American elevator and silo, Buffalo’s first tall (~125-feet) cylindrical silos using slip-formed reinforced concrete. This rapidly became the dominant form of silo construction and came to define and characterize the Buffalo skyline. The strength of reinforced concrete is what has preserved so many of the silos as it’s very difficult and expensive to demolish. Think of inter-continental missile silos, only above ground! From a photographer’s point of view, this is a paradise of industrial archaeology: the elevators and silos are unique and very dramatic subjects against the skyline and Buffalo river; inside lies a maze of abandoned machinery and equipment, warehouses, offices and labs. And, as much of the machinery had to be installed on the floor above the top of the silos, it meant climbing seemingly endless staircases up and down the silos and elevators (largely in the dark!) or, alternatively, dropping down into dank basements to the conical steel bin-bottoms and conveyors that took the grain out of the silos. The resulting images make it all immensely worthwhile! The project all came together in book form so that I could place the images in context: to explain the role that the unique economic infrastructure and local innovation and engineering played in creating these architectural icons; to illustrate the mechanics as to how the silos and elevators worked together to store and move grain; and to show the ancillary labs, offices and other facilities. I used Blurb to publish the book as I was already familiar with using it from previous projects and knew the format would work and the reproduction would be acceptable. http://www.johneatonphotography.com/gallery_625971

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John Walker LRPS Home at Last

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Being brought up in East Yorkshire in the 1950s and 60s I was always surrounded by the legacy of the WWII bombing raids on the North East Coast towns. When I started taking 35mm images in my early teens I enjoyed recording the bomb damage yet to be repaired. My interest in “Urban Decay” stayed with me and has been a recurring theme of my practice to this day. When you combine this interest with my employment experience this in some way explains my interest in people on the edges of society. In brief, my work led me to support people in and out of custody. I have worked for the Prison Service, Suffolk Constabulary and the Probation Service, as well as variety of drug and alcohol support agencies, dealing with people with mental health issues, alcohol and drug addiction, social exclusion, domestic abuse as well as homelessness. During my work I came across many people striving to drag themselves out of their situations and contribute again to society. Sadly society does not always offer the opportunities they need. Once I retired, I began looking for some way to still be involved using photography as the main medium. I was reluctant to follow what seems to be the current fashion of using homeless people in dire circumstances as models for street photography. I do not feel this voyeurism provides any level of help or support to those looking to resolve their current predicament. I did some work with the Big Issue sellers in and around Norwich who are generally people looking to move their lives on, perhaps by doing the only work that is currently open to them. Quite a few of my images where published in “The Big Issue in the North”.

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I heard of the Emmaus homeless organisation and wanted to explore more of what they do and what they offer to people living on the street. I visited Emmaus Norwich and asked if I could undertake a project involving some of their “Companionsâ€?. The Manager said a few people had asked for similar access but had been refused permission. She said she would put my request to the group meeting. Apparently the community were not terribly keen on the idea at first, but one lady said she would be willing to give it a try. So I set about to hopefully gain her trust by explaining my self-designed brief. Whilst taking some images of her I got to win others over and the idea of creating a Photobook started taking shape in my mind. Emmaus companions are people who have previously been homeless. They are provided with accommodation, food and clothing (plus a little pocket money) in return for providing 40hrs per week work. They also have to agree to stop drawing any benefits and the site is drug and alcohol free. The charity takes donations of household items and sells them from the site, which is an old nunnery with beautiful buildings and grounds. Companions repair the donations, staff the reception and cafĂŠ, and drive a van to pick up or deliver large items of donated furniture. In fact they do whatever is necessary. I decided my book would be simple and fairly short and I selected only five of the 18 companions in residence at the time as models. I wanted the images to show hope and be uplifting, reflecting how people can move on. Each companion is seen in three images. The main building near an inspirational decorative sign (These were originally placed there by the nuns many years ago and have been refreshed a couple of times); an image of them at work; and an image in a place they said was their favourite on the site. Text is kept to a bare minimum. The cover image of the book was taken on one of the windowsills of the building, with the items lying untouched and just as they were found. I could see quite a lot of symbolism which I felt encapsulated the work of Emmaus in helping people move on from their past socio-economic issues. I see captivity in the birdcage, nourishment in the cup and reflection of self in the window. The fact that the window is open represents freedom to explore new possibilities both within and without or maybe its just reminding us to remain positive. I enjoyed meeting the companions and the ethos of Emmaus so much that I now volunteer one day a week offering what skills I can. I have currently been given the brief by the Trustees to record the activities of the companions, customers and support staff over the next year and the images are being used on a regular basis to refresh advertising material to attract funding to the cause.

You can find out more about Emmaus from the following websites: https://www.emmaus.org.uk/ http://www.emmaus.org.uk/norwich 41


Feature - The Photobook

Olivio Argenti FRPS Olivio Argenti was awarded both his Associate and Fellowship distinctions using book submissions. I asked Olivio some questions that would hopefully inspire us to both create our own books, and to also consider using books for distinction submissions. Olivio was born in Italy in 1955 and moved to the UK after high school. He graduated in Economics from the University of London in 1981 and Agricultural Economics from University of Oxford in 1982. He returned to Italy in 1990 to work in Rome as an Agricultural Economist with the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations, where he retired in 2015. In this time, he has travelled to more than sixty countries. Olivio began taking photographs in 1995. He has received international awards and published various books, with his works being exhibited in China, Colombia, Italy, Peru, Switzerland and Tunisia. His exhibitions “Atrapados” and “Wrestlers and wrestling” were both included in the in the “Year of Italy in Latin America” (2015) promotion program by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He is a Fellow of the RPS and President of the Italian Chapter. He organises Distinctions advisory days in Italy where he is the portfolio reader. His book “Atrapados”, in which he was awarded his Fellowship, is held in the RPS Collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

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JT: After a career as an Agricultural Economist, can you tell us how you became interested in photography and what drew you to documentary and story-telling projects? OA: I started taking pictures of food markets around the world, visited as part of my professional duties, to illustrate technical documents. JT:  You’ve been taking photos since 1995, when did you publish your first book and what was it about? OA: My first book “Wrestling” was published in 2008, with the occasion of the Olympic Games in Beijing where I was invited to make an exhibition by the International Wrestling Federation, which partly funded the publication of the book. JT:  You’ve made many of your projects into books. What is it that appeals to you about presenting your work as a book? OA: A book helps bringing together a set of images to narrate not only a hopefully objective story of external events (“Atrapados”, “Losers of a forgotten conflict”) but also one’s interpretation of places or events (“Traits d’union”; “The beauty of memory”) or one’s internal feelings (“Silent walks”). A book is an instrument to help the photographer rationalize their views and thoughts, and express them more clearly and simply. It is not an end in itself. JT:  Why do you think that photo books work so well for documentary projects? OA: Books work well for any project (documentary, travel, contemporary) provided there is an underlying thought and related strong and interesting images. JT:  The world of photo books has never been so popular. Why do you think that is? OA: The advent of digital technology has made everybody owning a camera into a so-called “photographer” and it has dramatically reduced the cost of publishing (often at the expense of printing quality) facilitating also own publishing efforts. These two elements have pushed many people into making their own photo book, either in printed or digital format, and books which will most probably never cover their publishing costs, if sold at all. JT:  What photographers and their books have inspired you? OA: There are quite a number of photographers: Cartier-Bresson, Salgado, Arbus, Natchway, Mapplethorp, Golding. Not sure I can name specific books that have inspired me. All books give me something, both positive and negative, which help me develop my own approach to my books. I should mention here the strong influence on my photographic development, including my approach to photo book editing, is that of my printer, Luciano Corvaglia, whose experience and critical perspective have been invaluable, throughout the years, in my development as a photographer and book author. 43


Feature - The Photobook

JT:  When you are working on a project, are you consciously thinking how the images will work in a book, or do you not even consider the book until after the project has be photographed? OA: I do not consider the possibility of a book until the project has ended. Sometimes, projects do not end. JT:  Do you have a process to creating your books, working out sequences, editing and design? Or does it work differently for each project? OA: When I feel that I have somewhat completed my project, or that I have enough material that could be useful to make a narration, make some sort of statement, or express something about myself, I first structure the sequence, and then start on the editing, which is the lengthiest process, and one that is redone many times. The creative process is easier for books that narrate an external event. Much more difficult when I try to express my own feelings through images, without the support of an external story which would bring with it, its own inherent structure. JT:  Once you have your design and layout how do you publish your books? Do you self-publish or work with a book publisher? OA: I have designed and produced all my books, so my experience in book design is limited in comparison to professional book designers. One could say that the design of my books is somewhat repetitive and not very artistic, but that works for me. I am much more interested in the images than in the container. All the independent photo designers I have contacted, had a rather predetermined style and approach, which minimized the importance of the photographer but focused on the images as they appear to the eyes of the external editor. This runs the risk of developing a book whose impact was very different from the one I intended and worked for. This is why I design my own books. I never approached famous publishers. Only a few local ones who did not show much interest in my photographic production. Maybe this is because social reportage is not easily marketable. Or maybe because I was not an interesting photographer. Additionally, the ones I approached asked for considerable financial contributions from my side for the design and printing and refused to share with me any sales revenue. I also could not accept that I was not allowed to have any say in the editing and design of a book which contained photos I had produced.

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JT:  Having made so many books, what are the biggest differences to your approach now, compared to the early books you created? OA: I now look at a book only as an instrument to help me put together my work in a coherent manner and in a way that helps me achieve my narrative or expressive goal. Due to the difficulty of selling my printed books, I only publish digital images. This allows me to make changes to my books whenever I feel it necessary, and in response to a process of never ending critical revision of my books. JT:  What is the biggest mistake you have made and learned from whilst working on a book? OA: My first three books (“Atrapados”, “Wrestlers”, “Wrestling”, the only ones which were printed) naively followed the expectation, that if one produces a book, then it automatically follows that someone, somewhere will be interested in buying it. My biggest mistake has been to assume that there would be people interested in my photographic work and prepared to buy my books. This is obviously an important lesson if one looks at a book as a way to disseminate one’s work. My printed books were refused by the Photographers’ Gallery in London. My book “Atrapados”, which is the RPS collection at the V&A Museum, sold less than ten copies. Most of my books “Wrestlers” and “Wrestling” were donated by me to the wrestling community in Italy. I also leant how difficult it is to find someone able to write an analytical and critical text of my work, who is interested in both the photographer and his/her images, not only the images. For me, the two dimensions are intimately related and can’t be separated. Never accept to have someone – however well known – write about your photographic work if he/she is not prepared to meet with you and discuss your work at length. Obviously if one considered it necessary to sell one’s books in order to recuperate some investment, then it will be advisable to undertake a market analysis and identify means of effective distribution and promotion. All the above obviously does not apply, if all one wants is to publish a book, and is prepared to cover the financial conditions of a publisher, bearing the resulting financial loss. JT:  You used books that you had already completed for both your Associateship and Fellowship distinction submissions, can you talk us through the decision to present books over prints? OA: The books that I presented for the RPS Distinctions contained complex narrative efforts, and not just collections of images. Hence it would not have made sense for me to only submit selected images without the context to which they belonged. Even those images that are now identified as the key ones, would have lost their strength if taken individually.

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JT:  Had you considered what you would have done had your books not been successful for the distinctions you presented them. Would you have re-worked the books or considered presenting prints instead? OA: Difficult to answer. Bearing in mind that when I submitted my books for the ARPS and – three months later – for the FRPS, I had no real knowledge and understanding of the RPS, largely unknown in Italy, I would probably not have pursued my efforts in obtaining a Distinction from the RPS. Having now developed a good understanding of the RPS and of the whole Distinction process – having been a panel member myself – I now would have resubmitted a different set of images, possibly from other projects. JT:  What advice would you offer our members that are considering using a book for a distinction submission? OA: 1)  Submit a book that means a lot to you and one whose content talks about you as a photographer rather than a set of nice pictures. 2) Make sure that the existence of the book has a clear purpose for you and that this clearly comes out from the images and from the accompanying text.

3) Make sure that each image serves a purpose in the book and that the overall sequence is well developed. Get external advice but do not surrender your decision to others.

4)  Consider a book submission if your images show strong evidence of a personal style.

5) Make sure that the design and printing of the book are of a high standard.

One must bear in mind that any of the RPS Distinction processes is more likely to result in a favorable assessment if the submission was based on a collection of selected photos. Must remember that the time devoted by panel members to viewing a panel of 15-20 images will be the same as the one devoted to flipping through a book. So, one should consider whether one will be able to attract the interest and attention of panel members with a book whose photos are well edited, they are all strong and justified (very difficult), are not impaired by poor printing, and there are no duplications. Lastly, if one submits a panel of individual images, the assessor may request the substitution of a selected images to make the panel reach the Distinction standards. This facility will not be available to those submitting a book.

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JT:  Are there any key things to avoid when creating a book, specifically if you are hoping to present it for a distinction? OA: Apart from the negatives to all the points above, I strongly recommend avoid putting together a book only for submission to a Distinction. If at all, only submit a book that was developed totally independently of a Distinction process. JT:  If you were creating a book specifically to present for a distinction, do you think you would do anything differently to how you work now? OA: I would not create a book specifically to present for a distinction. Obviously, if I had to, then I would make sure that my book clearly conforms to the expectations of the panel as indicated in the criteria detailed for such submissions by the RPS, and which may vary from category to category. JT:  Finally, can you tell us what projects you are working on at the moment? OA: Having retired from the UN, and thus no longer travelling as I used to, I am much less active on reportage and travel photography. I am now much more interested in portraits and in creating images that express my feelings and emotions, paying little, if any, attention to external opinions unless they are coming from a competent and respectful source, something difficult to find and/or enlist.

Cover image from the book Atrapados

Thanks to Olivio for giving us an insight in to his work and his books. Please take a look at his website and his work, I hope it inspires you as it has me. If you have created a book on a project, maybe it’s time to think about a distinction. http://www.olivioargenti.it/ 47


Bi Monthly Competition Winner

Winner of the 2nd Bi Monthly Competition

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Bi Monthly Competition Winner

There were 30 entries for the second bi-monthly competition. It’s wonderful to see the diverse array of work from across the group, so please keep entering your images. Congratulations to Glyn Powell-Evans LRPS for his winning image ‘Under the Pier’ and his prize, the book “The Documentary Impulse” by Stuart Franklin HonFRPS, has been sent to him.

The third bi-monthly competition, for images taken from the 1st May 2017 until the 30th June 2017, is now open. So get shooting... Please send your submissions to dgcompetitions@rps.org and visit the competition page on the RPS website for details. http://www.rps.org/specialinterest-groups/documentary/ blogs/2017/january/ documentary-group-bi-monthlycompetition 49


Members Images - Brian Vickers LRPS

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Brian Vickers LRPS The dog walkers of Bunny Hill The objective of my project was to document, photographically, the people who walk their dogs on and around the green-space of Bunny Hill. As a dog owner myself, I have found that fellow dog walkers make up a natural transient society. Brought together without agenda or cause, yet with a common interest, they meet infrequently whenever their paths cross. It’s not unusual to find gatherings of walkers exchanging news and opinions or sharing advice – which rarely extends beyond their dogs’ ailments and vet fees. Thinking this would make an interesting project, I began in November 2015. Having approached my first ten subjects, I happened to visit Tate Modern and the exhibition ‘Performing for the Camera’, which I discovered included a similar project by Keith Arnatt from the late 1970s. This encouraged me to continue the project for another 12 months, capturing 40 subjects. The dog owners all live within a five miles radius of Bunny Hill and include Sales Assistants, Teachers, Accountants, a retired Etymologist and a student of Data Forensics. They were all happy to have their photos taken for this, my first project since gaining my Licentiateship. The images included here are of Wayne and Amanda with Rio and Maggie – the latter having a litter of 10 the following week; Jackie with Ted and Lily; Chris with Arnie and Alfie; Mike and Julia with Tetley and Tinkerbell; Gordan and Sallyanne with Morris; and Judy with Syd.

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Members Images - Brian Vickers LRPS

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Members Images - David Barnes LRPS Drawn to the seaside to watch the sea

David Barnes LRPS Beside the Seaside I was brought up by the seaside. Winkles for tea on Sundays, whelks and ring doughnuts (with a helping of blood from the bait) whilst fishing from the piers, fortune tellers and sun bathers all figure large in my memory. Now that I live in London I look for other things although food from the sea still plays a big part in my life.

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Taking a break from looking into the future. 55


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Soaking up the sun and something else. 56


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Playing on the sea.

Kipper rolls prepared by Jack and Linda Mills - a delicacy. 58


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Learning to take on the sea.

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Members Images - Edward Forster ARPS

Edward Forster ARPS The Summertime Americana Festival ‘Americana’ is contemporary music that incorporates elements of various American roots music styles, such as country, roots-rock, folk, bluegrass, R&B and blues. The three day Summertime Americana Festival is held annually in July at the Sage Gateshead on the banks of the River Tyne. There is a full programme of music, talks, films and exhibitions, and there is the opportunity to purchase merchandise, food and drink. Headline performers play at the indoor auditoriums, usually in the evenings, where there is a cover charge for entry. From mid-day until 7pm there are two free stages – the indoor concourse and the larger outdoor “Jumpin’ and Hot Club”. The event gives me the opportunity to combine my two main hobbies, photography and music. The latter, purely listening to a wide range of music genres, as my skill as a musician are restricted to playing “chopsticks” on the piano and limited sounds on the harmonica. Opportunities for the documentary photographer are in abundance. Access to the front of the stages is possible, (with due consideration given to members of the audience so not to spoil their enjoyment), to photograph the performers up close. Activities in and around the Sage building offer further scope. I have attended the Festival for a number of years and now treat the event as a continuing project, documenting the event as a whole rather than concentrating purely on the musical performances.

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Members Images - Edward Forster ARPS

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Members Images - Edward Forster ARPS

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Members Images - Holland-Avery FRPS

Holland-Avery FRPS Windsor Jubilee Bonfire 1977 There was something very special about 1977 and the nation was invited to join in the celebrations. The Silver Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II would be happy and unforgettable. During the year, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh enjoyed six major UK tours and visited 36 countries covering a total of 56,000 miles. The climax of our national celebrations came in early June, and whilst there was much activity in London, I was invited to photograph events in and around Windsor during the Silver Jubilee celebrations. The climax of these was the lighting by the Queen of a bonfire beacon on Snow Hill in Windsor Great Park on Monday 6th June, and this action initiated the lighting of a chain of beacons across the country. Having got the necessary permissions I proceeded to the proposed site for the Windsor Jubilee Bonfire which was approximately 100 yards south of the Copper Horse statue and just over two miles south of Windsor Castle. Here I met a group of workmen, carefully constructing the bonfire, which was quite a scientific structure. I felt it more appropriate to pose the men and a tea break was due, so that made for a more relaxed photograph. Then I got permission to climb up inside the structure which gave me an image showing the bonfire’s location, including the Copper Horse. Windsor Castle can just be seen in the distance. When the big day arrived the organisers experienced a substantial problem which would be difficult to overcome. Television cameras were in place and two separate electrical generators were provided, each to supply power for one line of lighting. Unfortunately one of the generators failed to work so that guests, visitors and the TV itself had to work with reduced lighting and from one side only. However, nobody panicked and the reduced lighting just added to the atmosphere. 68


Members Images - Holland-Avery FRPS As the bonfire nears completion the workmen have a well-deserved tea break.

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Members Images - Holland-Avery FRPS

The view from the top of the bonfire showing its location relative to the Copper Horse statue, with Windsor Castle two miles to the north. 70


Members Images - Holland-Avery FRPS

A black Land Rover arrives bearing the Queen and her family.

The Queen moves forward with her torch. Then she smiles with satisfaction, and I have my photograph, which will go on to win the Martini Royal Photographic Competition for 1977. 71


Members Images - Holland-Avery FRPS

The bonfire crackles and roars into action as spectators move away safely.

A giant screen relays the live TV broadcast whilst another large display shows a map of the British Isles which becomes brighter as many lights appear in order to indicate the many beacons now being lit across the country. 72


Members Images - Holland-Avery FRPS

A very happy Royal Family settles down to watch the firework display that closes the show.

The police estimated the crowd to be about 250,000 but they were all very well behaved and gave no trouble. Then the people got quite excited as a black Land Rover arrived bearing the Queen and her family, and the cheering increased in volume. I moved to my pre-planned position, but there was uncertainty in my mind as to what was really about to happen. There was some meeting and greeting amongst the VIPs but somehow order emerged as we all got into position. A tall Boy Scout handed a lighted Olympic-style torch to Her Majesty. As the visibility was not good I switched my flash gun onto full power, 85mm Takumar lens on Pentax to f5.6 using Tri-X film, focused manually, and just concentrated on the action. Then the Queen moved forward with her Olympic torch, she smiled with satisfaction and I took my picture. The queen continued to smile and everyone smiled and cheered and was happy. Afterwards, at the Martini Royal presentation in London, a reporter asked me how I captured such an ethereal photograph of the Queen. As the celebratory bonfire crackled and roared into action, the spectators moved away safely, but many appeared to be more interested in the royal party than the bonfire. Behind the crowd a large map of the British Isles brightened as lights come on to indicate the many beacons being lit. In the following minutes some 600 beacons were lit across the country. There was more meeting and greeting as the royal party settled down to enjoy the closing firework display. It was a great occasion and no one appeared to be in a hurry to go home. 73


Members Images - Jim Grover

Jim Grover 48 Hours on Clapham High St

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Members Images - Jim Grover

My photographic interest is story-telling, and telling the stories of people local to me. In my experience, if you look hard enough, there are always photo-story opportunities on your doorstep. A couple of years ago I documented the life of our local vicar, over the course of 12 months, which resulted in my photo-essay ‘Of things not seen’ (www.ofthingsnotseen.com). I enjoyed the challenge of creating this work and seeing how viewers engaged with it. Clapham High Street has been on my doorstep for almost 30 years and it felt like a suitable and challenging subject. So, I decided to see what I could make of it. As a local resident, I knew there was a ‘full on’ nightlife at the weekends (the street is packed from 11pm-3am, especially the North side) and at other times, it is much more sedate. It’s the co-existence of these ‘two worlds’ that make Clapham High Street distinctive. To highlight this split personality, I pursued a distinctive photographic approach by dividing the High street into two. At night (5pm - 5am) I stayed on the North side and only used black and white images, while during the day (5am - 5pm) I constrained myself to the South side, and only used colour. I also limited myself to a 48-hour shooting time (hence the title) but spent many pleasurable days and nights on the street during the autumn of 2016. There was no formula to how I spent my time. Some days I would chat with people who worked on the High Street or I watched ‘the world go by’, experiencing its ebbs and flows and daily rhythms. Some days I might grab 30 minutes on the street, others I would spend the best part of the day or night. The project is now online (www.48hoursonclaphamhighstreet.com) and was exhibited at Omnibus, Clapham, in April of this year. The exhibition included 48 captioned prints, 24 in colour and 24 in B&W. The combination of the subject matter (‘It’s just a high street!’, to quote one of its long-time residents) and the unusual photographic approach resulted in very helpful media coverage, from The Guardian and the BBC. The experience on one hand, was ‘damn tough’ and I now understand why some photographers spend years on these sorts of projects, especially given that not much happens for a lot of the time. However, it has also been a huge pleasure and very rewarding. I’ve had some wonderful conversations and discovered so many new things about ‘my home patch’. One shop owner has been on the High street for 58 years, my entire lifetime, with so many memories to share. It has also led to commissioned photography and a request for an exhibition of new work this autumn.

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Members Images - Jim Grover

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Members Images - Jim Grover

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Members Images - Jim Grover

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Members Images - Jim Grover

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Members Images - Jim Grover

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Members Images - Jim Grover

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Members Images - Sean Bulson LRPS

Sean Bulson LRPS London Underground

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Members Images - Sean Bulson LRPS

People living in ‘London have the highest anxiety in the UK’ and London commuters are the ‘most anxious people in UK’. These were among headlines reported in October 2013, based on the survey findings of the Office of National Statistics (ONS). More than one in five Londoners reported very high anxiety levels and the ONS concluded that “London has the most disposable income, but very little life satisfaction and very high anxiety”. As a photographer with an academic background in Sociology, I wanted to add photographic insight to the debate surrounding the quality of life in the capital, and to see if I could produce a series of photographs which reflected the ONS findings. The project title is a deliberate echo of Walker Evans’ ‘Many are Called’. As the founding father of public transport photography, Evans documented passengers on the New York subway between 1938 and 1941. There are similarities in the method employed by these respective projects. Both were shot on film (the XPan is a unique panoramic camera, with no digital equivalent), in monochrome (for aesthetic and practical reasons), and the portraits were not staged, catching the subjects unaware. In the Forward to ‘Many Are Called’, writer and critic Luc Sante notes that the subway “is a neutral zone in which people are free to consider themselves invisible… the protocols of subway riding advise turning the gaze inward, you can take off the face you wear for the benefit of others”. Evans took the opportunity to photograph when ‘the guard is down and the mask is off’ and it is this ‘reckless intimacy’, which gives public transport photography its emotional charge. Evans went to great lengths to make the subject as unaware of the camera as possible (for example, as the camera was carefully concealed in his winter coat, he had to put the project on hold during the warmer months). While sharing his documentary approach, I find that my camera in comparison is widely ignored on the Tube (with passengers perhaps used to seeing photographic equipment). It helps that the XPan is a quiet and relatively small rangefinder camera. I also devised a method that allowed me to carefully compose images without holding it at eye level. While Evans achieved a general, ‘democratic’ survey of passenger ‘types’, my approach was more selective. Documenting the Underground provided a wide opportunity to capture the stress, ennui and anxiety, which the ONS had associated with life in the capital. Evans used ‘Many are Called’ to secure the renewal of his Guggenheim Fellowship, and subsequently never took another subway photograph. Rather than suddenly finding my project complete, I have continued to photograph on the Underground, but with a greater emphasis on the architectural environment that aesthetically reflects the tone of portraits. 83


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Members Images - Sean Bulson LRPS

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Members Images - Sean Bulson LRPS

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Members Images - Sean Bulson LRPS

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Members Images - Sean Bulson LRPS

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Book Review

New Documents 1967 Arbus Friedlander Winogrand (MoMA 2017) Fifty years ago, John Szarkowski, the then Director of the MoMA Department of Photography, organised what was to become a seminal exhibition of 20th century photography and chart a new course for documentary photography. However, no catalogue or exhibition publication was produced to accompany it. This new book compiled by the current Director, Susan Hermanson Meister, along with an essay by photographer Max Kozloff, addresses this gap. The book not only provides the equivalent of the exhibition catalogue, with a page dedicated to each of the 94 monochrome images, it also provides some insights into the exhibition, its planning and how it was received. As such, it represents an important documentary record of an important milestone in documentary photography. As a collector of photobooks, this had to be in my collection. For anyone with an interest in the history of documentary photography and its development this is one of several books that are essential reading or viewing. The book opens with John Szarkowski’s introductory wall text for the exhibition, itself an insight into the progression of documentary, from showing what was wrong with the world, in an attempt to change it, (for example the images of Lange and others in the FSA project) towards a more personal approach, not to ‘reform life’, but simply to ‘know it’. They display the ordinary, the exotic, elegant metaphors, and even vulgar depictions of human society. The book contains samples of documents from the planning and installation stages, showing how intent morphed into actuality: the loss of eleven colour transparencies of Gary Winogrand when a projector caught fire, the theft of one of Diane Arbus’ images from the gallery, the opening, the opening party and entertainment budget, through to the close and the return of images to the photographers. These documents alone provide an interesting insight into the challenges. Just as interesting are the reviews. Chauncey Howell writing for Women’s Wear Daily in March 1967 described Friedlanders work as the “least interesting”, Winogrand as someone “interested in man as a lonely social animal”, and “a few of his pictures are memorable”, and described Arbus as having “an eye for the grotesque”! More praise-worthy reviews came from the New York Times (March 5, 1967) and the Newark News (March 5, 1967), with both preferring the work of Arbus. At just over £20 it is a bargain and worthy of inclusion in any documentary photographers library.

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Exhibition Review

Harry Gruyaert Western and Eastern Light This small commercial exhibition of Magnum photographer Harry Gruyeart’s well-known images only displays a dozen or so pictures, but they represent some of his major work. Gruyaert was born in Belgium in 1941, and studied photography and film-making. He made a few films for Flemish television before turning to colour photography in Paris in the early 1960s where, for a while, he was assistant to William Klein. In the 1970s, he travelled widely and was influenced by the Pop Art movement, moving away from journalistic approaches to the more ‘artistic’. He was one of the early European photographers to work in colour, which had already been adopted in the USA by the likes of Joel Meyerovitz, Saul Leiter, William Eggleston, and Stephen Shore. Quoted in a recent BJP article (27 July 2015), “There is no story. It’s just a question of shapes and light”, Gruyaert is interested in all the elements in a photograph: “the decor and the lighting and all the cars: the details were as important as humans”. This is evident in the images in this exhibition, where the people are often incidental, their faces unseen and something else, a balloon or stand or a dog, is the focal object. The non-narrative images are complex with dense compositions, saturated colours and bold graphics. They can be seen as ‘documentary’, but not ‘journalistic’ in nature.

Michael Hoppen Gallery, London SW3 3TD On show until 27 June 2017 www.michaelhoppengallery. com/exhibitions/157/overview/ 91


The Documentary 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, through both individual images and documentary ‘stories’. 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.

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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 online journal “Decisive Moment’. In addition to our AGM and members get-together 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 2017 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/

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Bulent Acar 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 8 - June 2017  

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 8 - June 2017  

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