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THE DECISIVE MOMENT

Quarterly journal from the Documentary Group

September 2019 Edition 17

Photo: Lauren G Harris


Contents 4

Winner of the June 2019 Bi-Monthly Competition

6

A Word From Our Chair

8

Meet the Documentary Group Team

10

Interview - Grant Scott

19

The Open University Online Course

20

Agitating the FE Curriculum - Matthew Taylor, Chesterfield College

32

Miniclick - Jim Stephenson

40

The Ins and Outs of Creative Cropping - Mike Longhurst FRPS

50

Photo Scratch - Hanna-Katrina Jędrosz

56

Research in Photography - Dr Graham Wilson

58 Events

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60

Yorkshire Documentary Sub-Group - Project Yorkshire

76

Falmouth University MA Photography Final Major Projects

78

Charlotte Eades-Willis ARPS - Quiet Hour

84

Nigel Ready ARPS - Verso

92

Graham Land ARPS - Enterprising Croydon

98

Studying Photography at the University of Westminster


Interview with Grant Scott p10

Agitating the FE Curriculum p20 Photo: Lara Pearson, Chesterfield College

Miniclick p32 Jim Stephenson speaks to Gerry Phillipson LRPS

Photo Scratch p60 Hanna-Katrina Jędrosz in conversation with Mark Phillips ARPS

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Bi-Monthly Competition Winner

Winner of the June 2019 Bi-Monthly Competition

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Bi-Monthly Competition Winner

There were 25 entries for the third bi-monthly competition of 2019. As always we received the diverse range of images from across the group, so please keep entering your images. All submitted images can be seen in the Documentary Group gallery.

The winning image was ‘Dick’ by Ann Chown ARPS One of the crofters in Assynt had told me about a man who lived at Elphin (Assynt, Scotland) who chopped wood for sale for kindling. I had visited his shed a couple of times in the past but he was never there. This time, in June, he was and I explained why I was there and asked whether I could take his photograph. He was a bit bemused but was happy for me to do so. Dick was born and raised in Elphin and has lived there all his life, apart from a short spell on Skye. He used to be a postman but now spends his time recycling wood into kindling.

The fourth bi-monthly competition of 2019 closed at the end of August, the winning entry will appear in the next edition. The next deadline is 31 October 2019 for images taken during August, September and October. Winning images will appear in the December edition of The Decisive Moment. The competition asks members to include a little background to the image, providing some context. Please send your submissions to: dgcompetitions@rps.org Full details of how to enter are available on the RPS website: DG Bi-Monthly Competition.

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A Word From Our Chair ‘The eye should learn to listen before it looks’ is a famous quote from Robert Frank, who sadly passed away last month. I was fortunate to be in Berlin a few weeks ago and went to see Unseen, a retrospective of Frank’s work in C/O Berlin. The exhibition covered his seminal work, The Americans, and the work leading up to it and after. What is evident in the exhibition is his development and how he distances himself from the traditional photo essays of the day (which he describes as ‘Life stories’). Created over 60 years ago they represent a milestone in photobooks and, arguably, in documentary. Whilst there is narrative, there is no clear beginning or end. Narrative is about a story and is the foundation of successful storytelling, but it is not necessarily the whole story in itself. The new RPS Documentary distinction requires photographers to communicate ‘a clear narrative through visual literacy’ (this is a point of difference from other categories). But what does that mean? You can argue that all photography documents something, someone or somewhere. You can equally conclude that all photographs have some narrative element. An image is not objective, it depends on your viewpoint, your lens, your framing, and what you choose to include or leave out. The combination and sequencing of your images as you edit, adds further complexity and subjectivity. Your intent, how you chose to represent something, and how a viewer may interpret it, is part of that narrative. It is not simply a record. To help me consider the narrative I often draw upon the words of W. Eugene Smith who described documentary as a ‘catalyst to thinking’, or in other words, what do I want the viewer to think about or to question or to take away from this work? The first Advisory days for Documentary are being planned for early 2020, once the new advisors are in place. We will post on the RPS Events page and Newsletter once we have the details confirmed. 6


This edition of DM focuses primarily on education. Whilst many short courses and degree courses are available, they are not our only consideration. In terms of formal courses, we explore options from the Open University/RPS short course, collegebased FE courses through to BA and MA courses at Westminster and Falmouth. But we also address other ways to educate yourself and touch on some of the more challenging aspects such as building narrative and building an audience for your work. So, in addition to formal courses we also cover the educational contribution of viewing photobooks, visiting exhibitions, attending talks, listening to podcasts, attending events showing work in progress and engaging in the conversation. The interviews with Grant Scott (UN of Photography) and Hanna-Katrina Jędrosz (Photo Scratch) provide several examples of cheap or free resources. Grant has recently started a new BA photography course at Oxford Brookes after a number of successful years at the University of Gloucestershire. He describes an important element in the development of photographers as learning a ‘visual language’, where images are words and a series of images provide the sentences and paragraphs, as a construction process. That, analogous to the written word, can only be accomplished after building ‘literacy’. Given its importance to documentary, this is an area we are likely to explore again and again, bringing different perspectives to the debate.

Mark A Phillips ARPS Chair, Documentary Group

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Meet the Documentary Group Team Documentary Group Committee: Chair:

Mark A Phillips ARPS

doc@rps.org

Secretary:

David Barnes LRPS

docsecretary@rps.org

Treasurer:

Justin Cliffe ARPS

doctreasurer@rps.org

Members:

Harry Hall FRPS

Patricia Hilbert Steven Powell Dave Thorp Sub-Group Organisers: East Midlands:

Howard Fisher LRPS

docem@rps.org

South East:

Jeff Owen LRPS

docse@rps.org

Northern:

Peter Dixon ARPS

docnorthern@rps.org

Southern:

Volunteer Required

docsouthern@rps.org

Thames Valley:

Philip Joyce ARPS

doctv@rps.org

East Anglia:

Volunteer Required

docea@rps.org

Yorkshire:

Graham Evans LRPS

docyork@rps.org

The Decisive Moment: Editor: Dave Thorp decisive@rps.org Sub-Editors:

Dr Graham Wilson

Lyn Newton LRPS Editorial:

Steven Powell

Gerry Phillipson LRPS And the rest of the team: Bi-Monthly Competition Manager: Steven Powell dgcompetitions@rps.org

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Social Media:

Steven Powell

Flickr:

Chris Barbara ARPS

docweb@rps.org


Untitled 5 - David Gleave LRPS

In the Next Edition In the next edition of The Decisive Moment we will be featuring the results of the Documentary Photographer of the Year 2019 competition. If you have an idea for an article you would like to read or a feature you could write please get in touch. Assistance to work with contributors to turn our ideas into articles ready for the sub-editors is always welcome. Every edition of the journal features images from members of the Documentary Group, either finished work or projects in progress. We are always pleased to see new work so why not drop me a line and show what you’ve got? decisive@rps.org

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Interview - Grant Scott

Grant Scott

Interview by Mark A Phillips ARPS After fifteen years art directing photography books and magazines such as Elle and Tatler, Grant began to work solely as a photographer for a number of commercial and editorial clients in 2000. Grant is currently based in the South West of England. His work is held in the permanent collections of MOMA, New York, and in London in The Victoria & Albert Museum, The Tate and The British Library. He founded and curates The United Nations of Photography is a meeting place for people who wish to share opinions, for those who are engaged with building the new image making and storytelling landscape and for those who want to know more. It is a home for the inquisitive, the informed and the passionate. Grant taught at the University of Gloucestershire (UoG) for the past five years and has recently been appointed as Senior Lecturer and Subject Co-ordinator for Photography at Oxford Brookes University. He has published a number of books on photography including: Professional Photography: The New Global Landscape Explained: Focal Press (2014) The Essential Student Guide Photography: Focal Press (2015)

to

Professional

New Ways of Seeing: The Democratic Language of Photography: Bloomsbury (out in November 2019)

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Interview - Grant Scott

Grant Scott

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Interview - Grant Scott

You started your own studies in Graphic Design, so when did you first get interested in photography? I became aware of photography in the early 1970s. My family used to get The Sunday Times with the magazine, and my father was an avid music fan; so, most Saturdays would be spent in record shops. We didn’t go to exhibitions, so my knowledge of photography stemmed from album covers. I wanted to design them and learned that I needed graphic design and the best place to do it was St Martin’s School of Art (now part of University of the Arts London). I had no idea how hard it was to get in, but via a foundation course at Wimbledon, I managed to. The course at St Martin’s gave us a lot of freedom and a number of the graphic design course members went on to work in photography and video - people like Miles Aldridge, Platon, Jake Chessum, and Danny Barber (video commercials). During my first year I undertook a work placement at Elle Magazine and started working with professional photographers. I subsequently spent the next fifteen years art directing magazines, including Elle and Tatler, working with some of the best photographers of the last century and giving opportunities to new young photographers. I was working with people like William Klein, Jeanloup Sieff, Richard Avedon, Glen Luchford and Corinne Day; in the studio with Nick Knight, Herb Ritts, Bailey; commissioning Abbas, Leonard Freed, Jane Bown and Don McCullin. I used to commission Don to do portraits in the 1990s, not something many would associate him with. So, my photographic education developed through watching and learning. I worked for Tatler until I stopped working for just one magazine and started to work as a freelance art director for international brands. In 1998 I worked on Foto8 magazine with Jon Levy, art directing the first eight issues (Foto8 stopped in 2012, but there is an archive of material at: www.foto8.com/live). I started working as a full-time commissioned photographer in 2000, whilst continuing to art direct. What made you decide to move into teaching? In 2008 I left the country, as my wife had been given a book writing deal. At the time I was shooting for European brands, working across Europe and USA, so it didn’t matter where we lived. We ended up living at the top of a mountain in Mallorca. Then through a series of circumstances, I ended up as Creative Director at Sotheby’s. After a while in London, they wanted me to go to New York, which I didn’t want to do. Then, I was approached to be the Editor of Professional Photographer magazine in 2010 or 2011. I’d never been an editor but 12


Interview - Grant Scott

agreed on the grounds that I could completely relaunch it, re-direct and re-brand it for the photographers I knew. Whilst there I started to talk out about the state of photographic education in the magazine and on its podcast. That is when the Government approached me to take on the role of industry expert with the award of the Creative Skillset to university photography courses, which I did with Michael Pritchard (RPS). Through that Nick Sergeant at UoG offered me a position as senior lecturer on the Editorial and Advertising course. It was an opportunity to put my ideas into practice. The course has been very successful and last year won Association of Photographers Best Photography Course in the UK. And so, why the recent move to Oxford Brookes? Oxford Brookes is an opportunity for me to create something entirely new. A brand-new course. It is undergraduate only at the moment, but we will develop a post graduate course later. We are just about to start our first intake. It is a major commitment at Brookes with a £25m investment in a new building for the faculty. Importantly it is not a replica of courses previously taught. Photography is not where it was in the 1980s, 1990s or even 2000s. It is a new environment. We need to teach photography for how it is now. The importance of education is learning from those who have done it. I didn’t study photography. I didn’t read Sontag or Barthes. I didn’t learn to use a darkroom. Terry O’Neill taught me to load a Hasselblad, and John Swannell lent me a Hasselblad, Jeanloup Sieff how to set up lights and Jane Bown taught me how to take a light reading! So, I am not seeking to create a replica of what I was taught. I believe, if you are going to teach photography, you need to teach it for where it is now, and not where it was. I teach it as a language, and not as a practice. Many of our readers will not have the opportunity to consider a photography degree or may have completed a course many years ago… so in terms of continuing education or self-education, what do you think offer the best options? The need for things like portfolio reviews is part of what I call the ‘false narrative’ in education. I do not care what other people think about my work. I’m not looking for reassurance or validation. Some people look to education for those things. But what we should be looking for from education, is to develop the confidence to do it on your own. I could go through all the photographers I’ve worked with; they never went 13


Interview - Grant Scott

for feedback or ‘crits’, they just believed in what they were doing and worked it out for themselves. And that is what good education does. It gives you the confidence to do that. If you need that reassurance then, in a sense, I would argue, that when you left education, you weren’t ready. I get that. From my perspective in business, when you go out, you are not looking for validation. You are going out there to sell your product or service… Yes, it is exactly the same thing. You are the product, the brand, it is your work. You have to go out and sell it. Photography is commercial, it always has been - a transaction takes place, whether it’s a self-initiated ‘art’ or commissioned image. Coming back to self-education, then… what ‘education’ approaches would you suggest? I love podcasts. The idea of my podcasts is to encourage people to do it themselves. Think of them along the lines of ‘Here is a thought process, what do you think?’ People often ask me for feedback, but I think that images should be judged only as successful or unsuccessful based on the context. It is more objective. Not whether I ‘like’ it. That is very subjective and not useful. But beyond this, I think that what you might look for in photographic education depends on which strand of photography you are interested in, and your expectation of the medium. There are really two strands of photography - as a hobby or as a career. If you are looking for a career - who is the client base? It is dictated by the photography you create, not by what you want it to be. And many people do not make that connection. Alternatively, you can simply enjoy it as a hobby. This may be more relevant to the Society members. Here I would recommend listening to different photographers, going to talks, events and exhibitions. Looking at work in photobooks. Engage in the dialogue around photography. And in the ongoing conversation. If you want to teach, then you might need a Master’s or PhD. Or you might enter post graduate education if you want to and you have the time and money, or you want to really explore a project. If this route is interesting to you it is important to remember that education is a 14


Interview - Grant Scott

people business. It is about finding the right people. Ask yourself, does he/she know everything I need to know. If not, go somewhere else. It is not about equipment, or buildings. It is about people. But the most important thing is - if you see work you like, reach out, contact those photographers, tell them what you think about it. Email them and have a dialogue; engage in the conversation. Everyone is contactable but be nice. Just don’t ask too much. Be human and have empathy.

Your frequent podcasts on United Nations of Photography (UNP) attract a wide range of speakers… what inspired you to take on this ‘challenge’? What are you looking for in terms of speakers? You can learn every day, from Twitter, from books, from dialogue. I did a film recently about Bill Jay (www.donotbendfilm.com). At the beginning of the film, Bill says that he would see pictures and he wouldn’t understand them, and so he would reach out and ask the photographer to explain. Everyone he reached out to was happy to talk with him. Most of the people I contact for the podcast, are just cold calls. I don’t know them. Basically, I either know their work or know of them, and I send them an email. Or, I see something, and I think, that’s interesting, but I don’t get it. So, I want to hear what they have to say. There is no editorial control. I just ask them to record and answer the question – what does photography mean to you? in less than five minutes. 15


Interview - Grant Scott

I know you have also written quite extensively on photography as a language and also on the development of a narrative. What do you see as the particular challenge? The two most important aspects in a professional photographer are the ability to construct narrative and consistency. You often hear that everyone is a photographer now, and everyone can take good photographs, some of the time. But if I sent someone out to tell a story about an event, they cannot do it. They need to deliver a good story from that commission. That is what the degree education is about. It takes a few years to develop, or more correctly, for you to develop as a person and find the stories you want to tell. Those stories can be about anything you want, they can be short form or long form, but you need to create a narrative. To be able to tell a story. The way I teach narrative is to use the book and the written word as a metaphor. You should research and then construct and tell the story as you are shooting. You carefully construct a beginning, a middle and an end. Creating visual narrative in the same way as creating a written narrative. Even with long term projects you can do this. I did a project ‘Crash Happy’, published by Café Royal books. I spent a year photographing banger racing at Wimbledon speedway. Each week I would build the story, exactly as if I was being commissioned. So, I do not see storytelling as a selection process, but as a construction process. Coming back to storytelling and photography as a language. It is a visual language. The camera is just a box. A tool to capture light. What is important is the story you tell.

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Interview - Grant Scott

You talked about photography as a visual language. Can you talk a little more about developing that language, or the vocabulary? In some of your podcasts you talk about ‘photosketching’ - is that related? Photosketching, which I talk about more in my upcoming book, New Ways of Seeing: The Democratic Language of Photography, came about, because of my art background. If you think of artists painting or doing sculpture or ceramics… they don’t just create a masterwork. So, why is it a photographer is expected to do this by just pressing a button? One big problem photographers have, especially many enthusiast photographers, is they are trying to create what they think is a ‘good photograph’ and the rules they follow are just a replica of what they have seen before. As I said before, I don’t believe in good or bad images, only successful or unsuccessful ones, and that comes from developing the ability to see. The idea of photosketching is to use a camera you always have with you, your phone, and use it to sketch. Sketch things that interest you or that surprise you. It might be interesting light, a juxtaposition of textures, shapes, colours, or form. But, constantly sketch and make notes. And don’t stick to one field or subject. If you think about it, a sports person doesn’t just play their sport, they build their skills through a number of different exercises and training programmes. You don’t need to show these images, but just go through the process. Educate your eye. It is said that to be a photographer you have to educate your 17


Interview - Grant Scott

mind, but you have to educate your eye first. There is no point in learning how your camera works if you can’t see. In my next book, there are 70 photographs, all shot on my phone. It’s not even a good phone and some of the pictures are not very good. It’s about saying - here I am, and I am learning too. You have recently started a Patreon campaign to allow you to fund the creation of more UNP content… where do you see this going? It is a combination of things. UNP costs me money to run. Some people have suggested that I get sponsors, but that comes with issues. But I need to raise some money to allow me to expand it and grow. Because it is just me and a laptop, in a shed. So, I am asking for money, but I’m going to give you something extra for it. The Patreon campaign will provide you with access to additional material: information sheets, extra podcasts and access to my personal audio archive. It is like a community thing. And it’s cheap - the price of one cappuccino per month. I see all these activities as part of a whole… the podcasts, the books, my university senior lecturer role, as head of photography, as a working photographer, commissioning photographers… it is all learning and education.

Links to some of Grant’s activities are included below: His website: www.grantscott.com United Nations of Photography: unitednationsofphotography.com Patreon: www.patreon.com/aphotographiclifepodcast/posts The University Oxford Brookes undergraduate course is at: www.brookes.ac.uk/courses/undergraduate/photography 18


The Open University Online Course

Digital Photography Creating and Sharing Better Images This online course, which has been developed with the Open University, is designed to give you the ability to create and share good quality digital images, together with the necessary basic skills to tackle The Royal Photographic Society Licentiate Distinction (LRPS) in still photography. It is suitable for the beginner and does not assume any knowledge of photographic techniques or digital photo-editing skills. It will also appeal to those who want to top up their skills. The course is designed to be studied over a ten-week period, with approximately ten hours of study each week. The course is a creative mix of practice, learning, sharing and reflection. The course will covers a range of aspects of digital photography including 'ways of seeing' and the elements of composition, the basic principles of capturing light information digitally, the digital workflow and how to control exposure, focus and depth of field. It also covers an introduction to digital colour management, how to print and project your images and includes an introduction to photographic genres and digital aesthetics. Successful completion of the course will lead to the award of the RPS Certificate in Photography. The certificate is free to members of The Society who have completed the course and for a small fee to non-members. Members will also be entitled to attend a free Distinctions Advisory Day. The RPS website has further details including a blog of one student's journey through the course and links to galleries of images taken by people on previous courses. For full details see rps.org/online-courses. Are you enrolled in the current course? Let us know how you get on. The RPS publishes a range of learning resources on its website: rps.org/learning

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Chesterfield College - Matthew Taylor

Agitating the FE Curriculum Matthew Taylor, Chesterfield College

Invited to help plan Chesterfield College’s Level 3 Photography programme I wanted to create a course that addresses the realities of working in the photographic industry, as well as covering fundamental photographic techniques and theories in a way that encouraged creativity and helped students progress to Higher Education (HE) if they wanted to. I have fond memories of my own photographic studies as a young adult. This formative time transported me from learning about the photographic greats and optical science to the buzz of working in a dark room with my talented mentor at the weekly Boston Standard newspaper. It paved the way to becoming a Documentary Photographer for the pioneering Bradford Heritage Recording Unit in the mid-1980’s and later, a press photographer. Now, as a qualified lecturer - who still shoots freelance - I appreciate the immensely positive impact that a balanced education had on my professional life and how well-rounded studies remain as relevant as ever. Awarding body specifications mean that Further Education (FE) photography courses tend to focus on progressing students through the education system more than preparing them for non-academic work. While academic discourse helps our understanding and appreciation of the image and its role in society, culture and history, how many photographers are commissioned solely on the basis of their academic qualifications? How many FE photography students, who want to work rather than enter HE, understand media law, agency representation, the daily realities of freelance or staff photography, and have the personal skills to see them through?

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Chesterfield College - Matthew Taylor

Georgia Young (17) - UAL Level 3 Diploma Chesterfield College Tea Party at a 1950’s event 21


Chesterfield College - Matthew Taylor

In my experience, many young photographers lack practical knowledge in fundamental areas such as how the photographic industry works, job costing, and working to a brief with commercial clients. Take metadata, for example. It is essential to help protect copyright, convey licensing information, and manage digital assets; this is recognised by Skillset, a leading creative industries training provider. However, teaching about metadata isn’t required by FE awarding bodies. Neither is business practice. Despite this, when developing our latest Level 3 full-time course - which is equivalent to 3 ‘A’ levels we decided to incorporate digital asset management as well as introductory business practices. In short, we go beyond the specifications of awarding bodies. In today’s image rich, digitally connected society, it’s more important than ever that modern FE photographic curricula balance academic achievement, creative expression, and sound technical knowledge with the requirements of working in the photographic industry. To rely on dated schemes of work or narrow achievement plans denies learners opportunities and may negatively affect the way in which the FE photographic sector is perceived. Our Level 3 photography course is accredited by the University of Arts London (UAL). Their programme allows us some flexibility in content and delivery, so we can embrace both commercial and new ways of working. For instance, our students are helped as they move seamlessly between analogue and digital equipment, methods and techniques. We are fortunate to have a fully equipped, multi-format darkroom, so students can develop hybrid workflows that make for exciting imagery. Mobile phones have replaced negative carriers in enlargers, effectively creating digital negatives from which analogue prints are produced. Interest in film techniques among students has grown significantly. They love the tactile approach and, ironically, the freedom that stepping away from a computer screen brings. Our Level 3 student intake has doubled and some of our latest applicants’ portfolios have been exceptional. At our most recent graduation, over 45% of our UAL Level 3 year one Diploma students achieved a distinction.

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Chesterfield College - Matthew Taylor

Georgia Young (17) - UAL Level 3 Diploma Chesterfield College Polar bear (Ursus Maritimus) diving into water and a black-headed gull (Chroicocephalus Ridibundus) flying above

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Chesterfield College - Matthew Taylor

However, we still face challenges. “Technology poverty” is an ever present threat. There is not enough funding to provide each learner with a dedicated shooting kit that includes a range of lenses, flash equipment, accessories and individual access to editing software. Some of our learners begin the course with their own full frame DSLR kits including high-end optics, MacBook and personal Adobe software accounts. Others don’t. A few have limited home computing resources and funds to help pay for material costs. Although we make our shared pool of resources available to them (students can borrow equipment over weekends, for example), there is no denying that a reduction in education funding has limited the quantity of quality equipment. Needless to say, this affects image outcomes and the overall experience of learners. We cannot get away from the fact that photography relies upon technology and, at times, the pace of technological change is staggering. Keeping our practical learning in line with industry practices can prove financially challenging but we’ve managed to keep growing. Where possible, we buy quality second-hand kit. Whenever we are able, we repurpose. And we almost always welcome donations of film, photographic paper and good equipment. By agitating the curriculum, the hard work, creativity and determination of our students can shine more brightly.

Matthew Taylor divides his time between lecturing and freelance editorial photography. Previously, he has developed programmes that support new creative talent in association with the BBC, Central Vision TV, Screen West Midlands and the University of Hull. He has covered every kind of photographic diary work and continues to be published in newspapers, magazines and books.

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Chesterfield College - Matthew Taylor

Georgia Young (17) - UAL Level 3 Diploma Chesterfield College Interior of 1950s Ford Consul

Chesterfield College courses follow UAL Level 3 Diploma and Extended Diploma in Creative Media Production & Technology (Photography). The graded assessments are loaded towards the end of the course which prevents students that are new to photography from being at a disadvantage. Year one, (16 years plus) covers technique, media law, decisive moment etc. Major projects include the production of a documentary style photo book themed around ‘Sense of Place’ and a portfolio project of personal interest. Previous projects have encompassed street, macro and landscape. Year two requires that students explore business skills, visual language, audience, contextual studies and semiotics around two main projects: specialist studio and specialist location practice. Finally, they pursue a project of personal interest. Second year students are enrolled as RPS affiliated members with a route to RPS Licentiateship. The Chesterfield College RPS affiliation is fairly new but has already proved to support students’ learning. www.chesterfield.ac.uk/course/level-3-diploma-in-photography-2 www.chesterfield.ac.uk/course/level-3-extended-diploma-in-photography

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Chesterfield College - Matthew Taylor

Leah Horsfall (16) - UAL Level 3 Diploma, Chesterfield College A man in the street with a puppy on his lap, Sheffield.

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Chesterfield College - Matthew Taylor

Leah Horsfall (16) - UAL Level 3 Diploma, Chesterfield College Urban Silhouette, Sheffield

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Chesterfield College - Matthew Taylor

Lara Pearson (16) - UAL Level 3 Diploma Chesterfield College Ladybird

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Chesterfield College - Matthew Taylor

Luke Stoppard (16) - UAL Level 3 Diploma, Chesterfield College Hummingbird Hawk Moth macro

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Chesterfield College - Matthew Taylor

Samuel Horn (18) - UAL Level 3 Diploma, Chesterfield College Pleasley Pit Country Park, Derbyshire

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Chesterfield College - Matthew Taylor

Samuel Horn (18) - UAL Level 3 Diploma, Chesterfield College Doe Hill Country Park, Derbyshire

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Miniclick - Jim Stephenson

Miniclick Jim Stephenson Photography organisation Miniclick curates free talks and discussions, hosts participatory events, workshops and exhibitions and publishes affordable photography books and ‘zines with the remit of being open and accessible to all. Miniclick experiments with different ways of looking at images and focuses on stories and ideas instead of kit and cameras. Curated by Jim Stephenson, Lou Miller, Bryony Good, Roz Doherty, Lauren Holder, Marta Benavides, Livia Smith, Kristina Salgvik and Joe Conway, there are bases in Brighton, London and Leeds. A series of Miniclick talks at RPS HQ, Bristol began in July, curated by Jack Latham and Sadie Catt. For this edition of DM, Gerry Phillipson LRPS interviewed Miniclick founder Jim Stephenson. Images courtesy of Miniclick. When you started Miniclick who was it you wanted to reach out to and why? We formally started Miniclick in Sept 2010, but a few months earlier I’d arranged a phototalk with an organisation called Design Brighton, who I was working with at the time. What interested me was the broad audience we got for the talk. As it was part of a series of talks on art and design, we didn’t just get photographers and because the talk was informal and not kit based, everyone was able to take something away from it. This was really exciting. I didn’t have a formal photography education, so I suppose I’d been slightly intimated by the more academic photography lectures I’d paid to see up to that point, and the ones that focused on technique and cameras didn’t interest me that much. So, off the back of that test run, I thought there was a space for these more informal talks that focused on stories and I hoped they’d appeal to a really broad audience, not exclusively photographers. They’re also free, so anyone can come along. The idea was to create a series of events with as few barriers to attendance as possible. 32


Miniclick - Jim Stephenson

The Miniclick crowd at a talk given by Laura Pannack

Miniclick’s Dry Store Screening Room

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Miniclick - Jim Stephenson

Miniclick ’The Heart Grows Fonder’ interactive instillation at FORMAT17

The Miniclick Christmas Party 2017, Brighton

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Miniclick - Jim Stephenson

Why did you make a distinction between stories and ideas, and cameras and kit? Photography can be a really expensive profession and hobby. I’m sure almost all photographers have been excited by a new lens, camera or gadget at some point, but when you focus on that there’s a risk you’re encouraging people to think “Oh, if I buy that lens I’ll be able to take better photos”, which we all know isn’t true. When we talk about kit, inevitability it excludes people. Either the technical aspects exclude them, or the price of the kit excludes them. I really wanted to create an environment where everyone felt they could be a part of it. Did you intend Miniclick to be exclusively for people interested in photography? No! Absolutely not. I wanted photographers to come along, but I also wanted anyone interested in images, stories and ideas to be welcome as well. It’s nice to have non-photographers there as we can present our work to a new audience, but also having voices from outside of the photography industry is really beneficial to those inside it. We’ve extended this to the speakers as well. In addition to the hundreds of photographers we’ve put on, we’ve also had illustrators, criminologists, sculptors, psychologists, ghost hunters, historians and even a funeral director, all talking about photography in one way or another. We put on events that anyone can drop into and, hopefully, get something from. We also have a social side to our events, where everyone can stay on afterwards, have a drink and continue the conversation. How do you select the photographers and other contributors for the various events that are organised? Is there some kind of agenda or theme for a given period of time? For a long time we used to simply pick photographers whose work we liked, or who had produced a new body of work we wanted to hear about. We’d then email them - some of them we already knew, some knew people who had done talks with us before, and some were totally new to us. We’d explain what Miniclick was all about and tell them why we had approached them and take it from there. The vast majority of people we contact say yes and then we can start planning. For the last few years, largely driven by Lou and Bryony, we’ve picked a theme each month and look for photographers, and other people, we think would fit that theme. If we can, it’s always good to have two people on. Personally, I like it when we have one photographer and one person 35


Miniclick - Jim Stephenson

from a different discipline who fits with the theme. We always make events public through social media in the hope that we can encourage people to come along. We have a good crowd of regular visitors, as well, who help spread the word. We’re on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter (@miniclicktalks) and you can sign up to an email newsletter on our website. At our events we usually announce what’s coming up next. If anyone wants any more indepth info, they’re welcome to email me. The impression given of events set up by Miniclick is one of informality. Is this the Miniclick style and is it intended to avoid more serious academic / lecturing input? Yes, we try to keep them as informal as possible. In Brighton and Leeds, for instance, most of our talks are in bars and coffee shops. We’ve had some of the biggest photographers in the world discussing their work in pub back rooms! The idea is that we want to remove that feeling that the photographer is up on a pedestal. Everyone is on the same level, it’s just her or him or them with the microphone speaking this month. Hopefully that makes them seem a bit more approachable afterwards when we turn the music on and put the chairs away and have a catch up. The website refers to you producing affordable photobooks and ‘zines - Is Miniclick also a publisher? I wouldn’t go so far as to say we’re a publisher in any formal sense, but we have put out six magazines and ‘zines in the past. They all sold out, which is great, and I’d love for us to do more but since we all do Miniclick in our spare time, it can be tricky to dedicate the time to it. People often send us their work and it’s always good to see. We try to respond to everything, and we often do free portfolio reviews over the phone as well. The publications we do are usually ‘zines and magazines which are light in production. This makes them a little simpler to produce and therefore more affordable to buy. Sometimes we focus on a specific

Opposite page - Miniclick Events: Top Left “The Heart Grows Fonder at FORMAT16” Top Right “Behind the Beat Exhibition at Brighton Fringe” Middle “Panel Discussion with Firecracker” Bottom Left “Photo Sumo with Kevin Meredith at The Photographers Gallery” Bottom Right “The Confession Booth Portfolio Reviews at Brighton Photo Fringe” 36


Miniclick - Jim Stephenson

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Miniclick - Jim Stephenson

theme and feature a series of photographers and sometimes we just feature one photographer. They’re entirely self-published and we pay for the production of them ourselves. You have three bases, Brighton, Bristol and Leeds. Are these coordinated in any way and are you hoping to establish more bases? We all chat regularly, and we have an active WhatsApp group. Ideally, we want each base to feel they can put on the events that excite them, so long as they fit under the criteria of being free and they focus on ideas and stories (not kit). Roz and Bryony work on our Leeds events, Jack and Sadie are in Bristol and Lauren, Marta, Liv and I are in Brighton. We also have Joe, Kristina and Lou in London who tend to work on the larger festival events we do. We were all friends before we joined the team, so we see each other a lot and Miniclick is rarely far from the conversation! We’ve also put on events in Edinburgh alongside Simon Crofts and Sylwia Kowalczyk and we’d like to continue doing them.

We called Jack Latham and asked him to tell us about the series of Miniclick events he has curated in conjunction with the RPS in Bristol. Ultimately Miniclick is a visiting lecture series at university level but for the public. I think presenting people with opportunities they don’t usually have is such a human thing to do and it’s a pleasure to be able to bring that to Bristol. The Martin Parr Foundation is doing incredible things. I teach at the University of the West of England now, which has its own visiting lecture series, but there was something missing at grass-roots level. The RPS has very kindly given us the space to do the talks and has covered travel expenses, which is why we were able to get people coming from further afield. Its lovely to be a part of a community that I haven’t been part of before. I really credit Miniclick and the stories I’ve heard and the talks that I’ve been to for continuing the development of my own practice because you hear how other people process things. Speaking from personal experience, when I graduated from university in 2012, there was a deficit of photographic discourse and Miniclick filled that gap. Every month I was able to listen to some of the most amazing photographers who came to Brighton to talk about their careers and their stories. At that stage, just listening to other people, gave me the foundation of knowledge that I built my career on.

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Miniclick - Jim Stephenson

These opportunities are great and there should be more of them. The only way that we can continue to develop as a photographic community is for people to create these kinds of events, even if it is just a few people in a room talking about their photos. A lot of people who come to our talks aren't necessarily photographers. They are just people who are interested in stories and, because photography is obviously an amazing vessel for telling stories, it’s gone from strength to strength. It gives more people the opportunity to engage with our medium. I think the real reason we do photography is that we want to communicate with people and through these events more people come into contact with what we are doing. I’d started to engage with the Society on a few different topics and got a tour of the new space before it opened. The first place we went to was the cinema room and I thought it would be lovely for doing talks. As I was driving home, I thought, why don’t I do Miniclick for 6 months and if it goes well I’ll pass it on to someone else to do for another six months. So I’ve been working with Sadie Catt who is taking over from me in December to run the programme from January to June and so on. It’s nice to set something up and for it to have its own life.

Miniclick at RPS HQ, Bristol. The crowds gather for the talk by Vanessa Winship (left) and Jane Hilton discusses her work (right).

For information on Miniclick events... miniclick.co.uk facebook.com/miniclicktalks twitter: @miniclicktalks instagram: @miniclicktalks 39


Creative Cropping - Mike Longhurst FRPS

The Ins and Outs of Creative Cropping Mike Longhurst FRPS Whenever I see a photo club judge start his spiel by waving a couple of L shaped cardboard cropping guides about, I have to smile to myself. They’re probably going to tell the rank beginners that they shouldn’t have odd dismembered limbs of people, trees, or animals, intruding into the scene. No halves of words on signs, odd lamps, or things that make you wonder what’s going on offstage. There should be nothing that implies that this scene is not an artificially segregated thing, independent of the rest of existence. And in many cases, of course, they’re right. Clutter and distractions are not just points-losers, they are also frowned upon in RPS distinctions and avoided by better photographers everywhere. The question “If it wasn’t there, would you want to put it there?” is a very relevant test of whether something is adding or subtracting from what you have shot. But for me, that’s not the whole story, nor even sometimes the most important part of it. Cropping can alter the whole meaning of the picture and elevate it out of the mundane, but I think how and why to crop often needs to be learned, in the same way as any other photo technique. That’s why I don’t advocate taking two big black or white Ls and placing them around the picture and sliding them in until all distractions are gone. What I have taught for the last 15 years or so is quite the opposite: ‘In-To-Out’ cropping. Forget what the picture shows, start with why you took it and what you most want the viewer to appreciate. You might say all of it, but be realistic, where do you want their eye to go to? What will give them the message at a glance? Yes, you might want them to take in a lot of detail, but you need to get their attention first. They need to know why they should bother. Now if, like me, you learned your photography in the slide film era and you either got the framing right in the viewfinder, or wasted the shot, just be thankful that today’s huge megapix counts give us endless opportunities to shoot a bit wider and sort it out later.

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Creative Cropping - Mike Longhurst FRPS

I’ll start with a simple and very recent example where I just about got it right in camera. Faced with a wonderful old smithy in a castle, I naturally wanted the whole thing, but had the presence of mind (and the time there) to see that the tools themselves might be the stronger picture. If I’d only got the picture of the room and decided later that I’d really missed the point, I could have placed my real or imaginary crops round the main point of interest, the tools, got a perfectly respectable PDI [ed: Projected Digital Image] from a deep crop and depth of field would have been better too.

But what happens with a grab shot when you just have to go for it? This was part of my photo study of tourists in London a few years ago. I really didn’t need another statue doing anything, but as this girl looked up to aim a kiss, he turned and nose went into eye. No time, snap. Using ‘out-to-in’ cropping, of course I would notice the clutter on the right and either crop or clone, but does it need more than that? If I place my crops around their two heads, I really have all I need and a lot more impact. If I want to explain the scene a bit more, I can slide out as far as square and after that, I’m really struggling for reasons to go further.

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Creative Cropping - Mike Longhurst FRPS

As it was, I saw the project as a documentary one and mostly to be used in book format, so I left it uncropped, but if I wanted that for a candid competition, exhibition, etc then I’d crop. I’m really critically revisiting examples where I could have, probably should have, but often didn’t, because I did not see them as standalone images. Sometimes I use three different crops on an image for three different uses, where the point or role of the shot is different. Let’s look at a couple more from the same project. I saw these two being rather dubious about the brown liquid they had been served as coffee. Another quick grab and, as a whole picture, I think you just have to work a bit too hard to get the point apart from the fact that I have half a person on the left and a big head in the way on the right. If I start by framing what I really want, their expressions, I really don’t have to move out too far and I think I can get away with the head. All the info is there.

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Creative Cropping - Mike Longhurst FRPS

Here’s a very simple one from the same project that really doesn’t grab you at all until the cropping helps. The obvious out-to-in crop is just to tighten it up a bit. But for me it is still not working. The only merit of it is the glance across from the woman on left to the couple. It is a spatial relationship and if I start by framing just the three of them, I really don’t feel much of an urge to add height. For me it is a letterbox idea. If it still fails, I’ll dump it and on to the next.

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Creative Cropping - Mike Longhurst FRPS

The next being another selfie, but here I was committed to locating it in London, so stayed wide, but I don’t kid myself that is the ideal solution for all purposes. So, starting with defining where the core “in” is, it is clearly a rectangle round their faces and phone. But then I’ve got a disembodied stick, so go out a bit to square and it is sitting nicely. But maybe I see her belt adding info and interest, so go down a bit and it becomes a rather fat upright. And there’s still a fairly hefty clue as to where it was taken.

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Creative Cropping - Mike Longhurst FRPS

In-to-out thinking really comes into its own with very complicated and potentially messy shots. This started out as just a group of tourists who seemed never to have seen a statue in mid-air before (yes, there are a few). I saw the lady gesticulating, but it was an instantaneous thing. As it is, it told the story I wanted, but again for any higher purpose than a record in a book, it would have to work harder. All I really need is her, him and to avoid a half person either side if I can. Solution, move out as far as square and no further.

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Creative Cropping - Mike Longhurst FRPS

But as I said at the start, there can be multiple solutions. For some reason here, I wanted that ‘no pigeon feeding’ sign in. I think it was to do with it being red. Then the other man in red ran across and I thought lovely, a red triangle. I’m still happy with that, but it does all detract from the simplicity of the central person and reflection, so starting around him, I can take out all except the bollards. Or I can move the right side out to square, leaving him on the third. And if I wanted to, I could make a square to the left and have a nice diagonal with him and the sign. I think in various ways, they all work.

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Creative Cropping - Mike Longhurst FRPS

Another that might work several ways is this real brain-teaser from my recent Bishopsgate / Shoreditch project. This wonderful building site screen just had to be shot and I clearly could do no more than have a ‘person walking by’ (PWB). If I have to use a PWB, I am usually very picky and need them to enhance the thing somehow, but how? I was happy to shoot wider and confront the issue of a lamppost, gap over the top, bright pavement and superfluous yellow sign later. It was all about the PWB for me. When I saw where this man's head was going to pass through, I was sure I had something that could work with enough in-to-out thinking. So, really the minimum I need is his head in the loop and some whirly pattern. That works for pure visual art. Extending right to include the sign adds to the story and works too. Going down to his feet and possibly cloning out a bit of pavement makes it a nice candid and more like a “Street” shot and left alone works as a record describing the area.

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Creative Cropping - Mike Longhurst FRPS

Having already confessed I don’t always follow my own rules, I thought I’d end on one where I absolutely refuse to. This was part of my project on Bankside, where I was looking at light and shade caused by all the railway bridges and arches in the area. I shot the candy stripes on that wall many times, but couldn’t really do more than rip off someone else’s art. Then one day I saw a figure that I could catch just emerging into the light. My personal style is always to get a lot in and try to manage it visually. Also, to not pretend that what I’m showing is detached from the rest of the world – it is part of a continuum. So, from in-to-out, the most obvious thing you need is him and shadow from corner to corner making a nice letterbox with strong diagonal. But in this case, I’m trying to show what Bankside is all about, not nab little visual art shots that could be anywhere. Plus, I love the sheer weight of the girders above him. However, if I take the logical left end of the stripes and go up to include girders, I get a total mess. So, for my purposes, it all stays. I was down at a camera club last year listening to a discussion on a very complicated shot of a fairground, with cropping angles being waved about and it really didn’t seem to be getting anywhere, so at length I piped up with “Why not think about it from in-to-out?” Problem solved. Instant focus on what it was really all about and the solution became clear to all.

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Creative Cropping - Mike Longhurst FRPS

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Photo Scratch - Hanna-Katrina Jędrosz

Photo Scratch Hanna-Katrina Jędrosz Photo Scratch is a social, networking and feed-back event for documentary photographers, photojournalists and people involved in the associated industries of photographic picture making. At the core of Photo Scratch is the opportunity for photographers to understand how their work is perceived and gain valuable insight into how to take their projects further with the benefit of a range of perspectives. Photo Scratch is a social enterprise run by a small team of volunteers who help promote events, forge connections, scout photographers, and run each edition. Photo Scratch was founded by photographers Hanna-Katrina Jędrosz and Phil Le Gal. The first edition was in January 2016. Interview by Mark Phillips ARPS. Images: Photo Scratch/Hanna-Katrina Jędrosz/Jared Krauss.

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Photo Scratch - Hanna-Katrina Jędrosz

Why did you (and Phil) start Photo Scratch? What was missing that Photo Scratch addresses? I had been doing an online MA in Photojournalism and Documentary Photography at London College of Communication, University of the Arts. As students, a group of us started to meet up informally at my studio nearby in the Hotel Elephant Studios. It allowed us to meet up in person and to have more in-depth discussions. After we graduated, we continued to meet up, always to discuss our work, and as a way of maintaining a community and providing support. Then in 2016 we came up with the idea of a ‘scratch’. My earlier degree was in European Theatre, and in performance and theatre, there is this concept of a ‘scratch’ where you might put on a short version of your work in progress to get feedback from a target audience. Phil le Gal was on the same MA as me. His partner at the time had also been involved in similar work-in-progress events for a community of scientists, where there was also a culture of sharing research. So, we’d both seen first-hand how this kind of supportive community or network could help to create stronger work. It was about creating an avenue to put the work out there, getting input and making connections. 51


Photo Scratch - Hanna-Katrina Jędrosz

It has been running for nearly 4 years… how has that journey been? How has it evolved? The format has largely stayed the same. The first event, in January 2016, had six or seven photographers and around 40 visitors. Those numbers might vary a little, based on the physical constraints of a venue, but we typically get six to eight photographers and 60-70 visitors for events in London. I think the most we have had is around 100. It is a bit like having a big birthday party and wondering if everyone will turn up. But each event seems to get there, everyone appears! We have much more diverse participants now, with people coming from across the UK. They can be anyone from somebody just out of university to seasoned professionals. There is a lot of goodwill between participants. It is not like a portfolio review or a professional viewing, it is much more about getting different perspectives, having meaningful conversations and hopefully feeling inspired. Do you think that feedback is valuable? I’ve yet to meet someone who is so confident in their work that they do not need any input. In practice, no one works in a complete vacuum, no one gets work without a commission or a gallery or a funder; so there is always an element of feedback from somewhere. Photo Scratch provides something unique, it’s not the same as a portfolio review or other opportunities where photographers have to pay to have access. At its heart it is a safe place to be challenged to make better work. Ultimately though, it is up to the photographer to decide if they chose to act upon the feedback they receive. As photographers our work is under constant scrutiny in terms of representation and ethics. So, it is more important to get feedback to ensure it is being received in the way it was intended. It’s not about competition or trying to outrank someone, it’s about continuing to learn and to grow throughout your life and practice. At Photo Scratch we like to think that both the photographer and viewers learn and encounter new things. So it is, in part, facilitating growth in some form. What do you think have been some of the major successes? We have achieved what we set out to do, to create a forum for feedback and engagement and we have achieved it on our own terms. I think one area that has been completely unexpected is feedback from photographers saying it has helped their mental health. If you think about social media, its importance has grown as a way to reach an audience, but it is somewhat impersonal and competitive. As a medium it is limited in terms of providing meaningful feedback or support. A few years ago you would meet people in and around the dark room and that hub provided some sense of connection and an opportunity to engage others. Now, with digital technology, it seems so much more individual and remote. Photographers often work alone on their projects, but for the photographer, it is also about being 52


Photo Scratch - Hanna-Katrina Jędrosz

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Photo Scratch - Hanna-Katrina Jędrosz

human and having empathy. So this accidental benefit of Photo Scratch as a social event, somehow contributing to a sense of wellbeing for photographers, has been a wonderful thing to realise and I hope will always be part of it. Why should someone submit to Photo Scratch? If you are a working photographer with a work-in-progress and would like to put it in front of a friendly and engaged audience and get feedback or if you have a block, or something is missing, then Photo Scratch is an opportunity to get that from an outsider’s perspective; like having a test screening for a film or like presenting your research. You never know who is going to be there. We have a mix of photographers, editors, picture agencies and curators come along to events and spontaneous conversations may start up that may lead to something; a collaboration, an interview, or for people to go on to do something in education. It is, above all, a safe space for learning and making meaningful connections. What plans do you have for the future? We have two more events before the end of the year, both in London. Plans for 2020 will be announced soon. We’re currently programming the year ahead and hope to have dates and venues confirmed further in advance. Some people have suggested we should monetise it, but I think that would destroy the ethos, and frankly there are enough financial barriers in the industry as it is. We are interested in working with others to co-host events and expand what we do. Our aims generally are to continue to reach new audiences and to spread the word, but to do it incrementally and on our own terms, so we maintain the ethos of mutual support and meaningful conversations that is at the heart of Photo Scratch.

For information on Photo Scratch and upcoming events: photoscratch.org Instagram and Twitter: @photo_scratch Hanna-Katrina: @hannakatrina_photo and www.hannakatrina.co.uk It is hoped to organise another Photo Scratch event at RPS HQ, Bristol in mid2020. Keep an eye out in RPS Events for more details.

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Photo Scratch - Hanna-Katrina Jędrosz

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Research in Photography - Dr Graham Wilson

Research in Photography Dr Graham Wilson To many people ‘education’ means ‘teaching’, and there are certainly a vast number of ‘taught’ photography courses in the UK and elsewhere, both online and offline. While there are some higher and further education institutions where the predominant activity is teaching, the older universities and a growing number of the newer ones also have a strong commitment to ‘research’. It is a widely held belief that the quality of the teaching in a university will be better if the lecturers are also engaged in research, and this is as true of photography as any other discipline. What then does ‘research’ look like in a photographic context? As David Bate, Professor of Photography at the University of Westminster, explains; “All photographers already do research whether its technical, historical, theoretical etc. It is part of the job. I don't know any photographer who doesn't.” The importance of this research skill is emphasised by Prof Simon Standing, Associate Head of the School of Art, Design and Architecture at the University of Plymouth; “Photography can engage with any facet of society and, due to its ability to engage an audience through a universal language - visual representation - it has a powerful role to play in helping us understand the world around us, to engage us in questioning our fundamental knowledge of the world, and to present alternative perspectives to those of other disciplines.” In academic settings, students learn to do this kind of subject-, issue-, or causerelated ‘applied research’; it is an essential skill that is rarely taught in the largely practical courses that many photographers attend or subscribe to. Nevertheless, even at GCSE-level the foundations of this kind of research are laid. However, ‘academic research’ goes beyond this by adding to the body of knowledge of a discipline (in our case, photography) and, hopefully, moves it forwards. After a period in which many technical developments began in commercial organisations (especially within camera manufacturers) or else quickly moved there from academic research laboratories, there is a new demand for innovative technologies. David Bate suggests; “Technically the integration of photography to computing machines, automation etc, means a different framework and context for thinking about photographic images - this cannot be ignored.” There is still scope for ‘pure research’ to explore the underlying tenets of the discipline. For instance, using a psychological approach to study the different 56


Research in Photography - Dr Graham Wilson

aesthetic responses of viewers to various compositional models and contrast these in colour and monochrome could add to the body of knowledge in photography. Little work of this kind though seems to be happening today. Practice developments, rather than technological ones, especially across disciplines, are perhaps particularly likely to emerge within academic settings. For example, research into the use of photography in another discipline, such as contemporary anthropology, might allow its practitioners to use photography more effectively as a tool (in other words, it has established ‘current best practice’ for them). It also adds to the body of knowledge of photography, could affect practice elsewhere, and move the discipline of photography forwards too. In recent years, this latter form of practice-based research has expanded considerably. As Simon Standing explains; “Traditionally the domain of other academic disciplines, there are now many photographers who are undertaking PhDs through photographic practice. All of this has produced fascinating, and challenging, debates about the difference between 'practice' and 'research' in Photography.” The same shift has an impact on the ways in which photographers learn and are taught, which Dr Julia Peck, research lead for photography at the University of Gloucestershire, observes; “Constructivist and postmodern approaches to analysing photographs are still relevant, and very rich, but practiceas-research has become a much more significant activity. This still involves theory but there is a greater understanding of how making can also be research in itself.” The increasing focus on practice-based research offers considerable scope to improve the impact of photography, which in turn affects the research status of universities and their subsequent funding. Simon Standing points out; “Through what is currently called REF (Research Excellence Framework) and previously RAE (Research Assessment Exercise), universities collate researchers and place their research under scrutiny in order to be rated for the quality of the research and on which grading then leads directly to levels of funding being awarded to the institutions.” Are there potential downsides to this? Julia Peck describes one of her fears; “I think there is a risk that we're losing skills around reading and engaging with texts. Whilst many photographers will be relieved to not have to read to engage with research, I think our loss as a society will be greater. We need to hold onto attention, reading ability, vocabulary etc. I'm all for new ways of doing things, and for language changing and adapting, but I'm worried about loss of concentration.” Asked for examples of outstanding research, Julia Peck highlighted Mathieu Asselin's 'Monsanto' - an outstanding instance of investigative journalism supporting a brilliant documentary project with the book demonstrating a commitment to form, design, photography, and underpinning research. Simon Standing selected Yan Preston's ‘Mother River’ project that looked at the Yangtze and is a “classic case in point about what photography can do, as the work provided new perspectives on development in China.” 57


Events 04 October - 27 October 2019 International Photography Exhibition IPE 161 – Hull Presenting 100 beautiful, strong and accomplished images by 54 contemporary photographers including winners Catherine Hyland, Christopher Bethell, Alys Tomlinson and Oli Kellett. rps.org/events/2019/october/04/rpsipe-161---international-photographyexhibition--hull October 2019 The Northern Eye Festival Fringe Exhibitions 07-20 October. Festival Weekend 12-13 October. www.northerneyefestival.co.uk 13 October 2019 Documentary Photography at the Goodwood Races This Lecture and Practical day will focus on documentary photography with the lecture illustrating techniques for creating photo essays and In the afternoon we will go to the Goodwood races and put into practice some of the ideas from the morning. rps.org/events/2019/october/13/ documentary-photography-at-thegoodwood-races 15 October 2019 Street Photography as Research A lecture by Stewart Wall MA ARPS. rps.org/events/2019/october/15/streetphotography-and-research-a-lecture-bystewart-wall-ma-arps

19-20 October 2019 BOP Bristol 19 is a brand new photobook festival hosted by The Royal Photographic Society and the Martin Parr Foundation, which will be based at Paintworks, Bristol. It brings together a diverse range of photobook publishers from the UK and Europe and is supported by a programme of talks over the two days. BOP Bristol 19 will provide an opportunity for photographers and collectors to seek out new books directly from publishers and artists, secure recently published and established titles, as well as meet many of the photographers behind the books. Book signings will take place throughout the festival. BOP Bristol includes many of the key publishers in the photobook industry, including MACK, Hoxton Mini Press and GOST Books. New and emerging publishers, such as Loose Joints, are also a part of the Festival. rps.org/events/2019/october/19/bopbristol-19 The weekend features an extensive programme of talks by photographers. They will discuss their work with a particular focus on recent projects. Saturday's programme features Jack Latham, Grace Lau, Stephen Gill, Ioanna Sakellaraki and Aaron Schuman and on Sunday there are talks by Poulomi Basu, Liz Hingley, Sophie Green, Mark Power and Lisa Barnard. rps.org/events/2019/october/19/bopbristol-19-artists-talks

rps.org/special-interest-groups/documentary/events 58


19 October 2019

17 November 2019

Liverpool Street Photography

South East Documentary Group Meeting

This is a practical one-day shoot documenting the historic city of Liverpool, with tutor Tim Daly, who has been documenting the city since the 1980s. rps.org/events/2019/october/19/ liverpool-street-photography 20 October 2019 A Conversation with Photographer Ian Berry

Magnum

EM Region meeting. rps.org/events/2019/ october/20/a-conversation-withmagnum-photographer-ian-berry

Paul Cox from the Southern Region will be talking about his documentary projects, successful and failed, explaining his approach and why he loves the documentary genre. rps.org/events/2019/november/17/ south-east-documentary-groupmeeting 19 November 2019 Documentary Northern Group Meeting Trevor Ermel is the guest speaker this month with his presentation “All My Yesterday’s”. Bring a book or images (prints or pdi’s) for discussion after the presentation. rps.org/events/2019/november/19/ documentary-northern-group-meeting 04 December 2019

Miniclick and The RPS present a monthly series of talks by photographers. Join us for a drink, chat and to hear from the artist about their photography and approach to projects. 22 October 2019 Miniclick - Daniel Castro-Garcia rps.org/events/2019/october/22/ miniclick-daniel-castro-garcia-talk 14 November 2019 Miniclick - Laia Abril rps.org/events/2019/november/14/ miniclick-laia-abril December 2019 Miniclick Social, Bristol

Photography Ethics Symposium The symposium will cover a wide range of topics: from practical tools to become more ethical in your work, to asking the big questions about why we photograph and how we engage in processes of representation. rps.org/events/2019/december/04/ photography-and-ethics 14 December 2019 Good Picture 2019 - Imaging Revealed The symposium brings together scientists and photographers for a day of fascinating and entertaining talks. rps.org/events/2019/december/14/ good-picture-2019-imaging-revealed 59


Yorkshire Documentary Sub-Group - Project Yorkshire

Project Yorkshire Val Mather LRPS, Yorkshire Documentary Sub-Group I joined the group just after I slipped a disc in my back! Luckily, the people I met were easy-going and relaxed about the fact that I could only sit down for minutes at a time and, thereafter, I needed to pace up and down with my tea and biscuits. We are a group of like-minded documentary photographers all based in Yorkshire, with no fixed agenda, but regularly seeking suggestions from members as to what they would like to see at, or contribute to, forthcoming meetings. In March, the Chair of the Documentary Group, Mark Philips ARPS came to talk to us as part of his travels around each sub-group. The East Midlands Documentary Group have already written about his excellent presentation, so I will simply say it was informative, well received and very enjoyable. To date, our meetings have focused on individual photography projects, with attendees offering constructive advice, and asking probing questions, to help the photographer delve deeper into his or her project and what it is that they wish to say through their images. We also had Peter Mudd ARPS present his successful Documentary A Panel. He talked us through the challenges involved and the advice he received at an RPS advisory day. A number of members have achieved the LRPS and are considering attempting the ARPS - the group intends to support them in this. At Christmas, members were asked to submit five images that “said” Christmas to them and these were shared with the group at the January meeting. In May, we held a photo walk around York and shared the images at the next meeting. It is always interesting to see what makes each photographer press the shutter and how we each “see” the same scene so differently. I personally found this creatively inspiring; on both occasions the variety of different images that were made generated enthusiastic debate. 60


Yorkshire Documentary Sub-Group - Project Yorkshire

The idea for Project Yorkshire came from a desire to work as a group on a shared project. We decided that a book or exhibition was something to aim for, but initially we should undertake a smaller project, so we settled on producing a set of images for an article in The Decisive Moment. I volunteered to put the idea forward, having written a couple of articles already for DM, and knowing how supportive they are of contributions from members. After a quick email, and follow up phone call, we received the green light. The project presented both creative and technical challenges. How would we scope the project, and how would we, as a group, share our images between meetings? We tackled the creative issue by agreeing that we would limit member submissions to five images, all of which must have been taken in Yorkshire. We also produced a set of five categories to help people engage with the project as they saw fit: 1.

Landscape/seascape/cityscape/architecture

2.

A portrait of one or more persons

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Recreational pursuits

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Food

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Open category

We shared images through a free Dropbox folder. We asked for each image to be given a title or caption and a short narrative. These appear on the following pages. At our July meeting we agreed which images should appear in the DM article. As a group, I think we learned how to organise a shared project from a practical perspective. The results are visually engaging and thought provoking. In our November meeting we intend sharing our entries to the DPOTY 2019 competition, successful or not! The Yorkshire Documentary Sub-Group was formed in July 2018. It is chaired by Graham Evans LRPS (docyork@rps.org) and meets bimonthly. Feel free to join us if you can. We are always delighted to meet other photographers who share our passion for image making. Details of dates and location can be found in the Journal and on the RPS website. 61


Yorkshire Documentary Sub-Group - Project Yorkshire

Flamborough Head - Graham Evans LRPS I tried to capture the sweep of the cliffs on this fantastic headland

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Sun kissed Scarborough - Lorraine Spittle LRPS A beautiful evening as the sun gently kisses the harbour and castle 63


Yorkshire Documentary Sub-Group - Project Yorkshire

Judges, Great Yorkshire Show - Valerie Mather LRPS These two Judges at the Great Yorkshire Show sum up for me, the traditions behind this event, which has been running since 1838

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National Railway Museum - Graham Evans LRPS As a railway enthusiast I could not think of Yorkshire without including this world class museum

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Biker in Leeds - Dave Richardson LRPS This image was taken as part of a project looking at Leeds and its people

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I am the leader of the pack - Lorraine Spittle LRPS Scarborough Scooter rally Easter weekend 2019 Scarborough was filled to bursting with scooter enthusiasts

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The past and the present - Lorraine Spittle LRPS Taken in the 1930s themed Pickering station, part of the North Yorkshire moors steam railway

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It must have been some fall out - Lorraine Spittle LRPS As I walked along the sea front at Scarborough, I saw this group of people, not one of them talking - it just looked as if they had fallen out

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York Minster - Dave Richardson LRPS My submission of a cityscape - hopefully showing everyday happenings in our beautiful city of York!

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First Date Meal - Dave Richardson LRPS My favourite genre is street photography combined with people and I thought that this image caught my sense of humour.

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Yorkshire Documentary Sub-Group - Project Yorkshire

Yorkshire sheep farmer at auction - Valerie Mather LRPS I took this shot to record the stoicism and good humour of the Yorkshire farmers I have encountered at recent livestock auctions. Despite currently facing depressed market prices that threaten their continued existence, they manage to be cheery and eager to share their history and knowledge of the farming community they were born into.

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Yorkshire Documentary Sub-Group - Project Yorkshire

Wetherby racecourse - Peter Mudd ARPS They like their racing in Yorkshire and it provides a good opportunity for action and people photography - a combination which suits me perfectly

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Yorkshire Documentary Sub-Group - Project Yorkshire

Sheffield Station - Peter Mudd ARPS From 2002 onwards Sheffield Station has undergone significant regeneration. The station facade and approach are now extremely impressive, looking particularly splendid illuminated at night.

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Yorkshire Documentary Sub-Group - Project Yorkshire

Salts Mill, Saltaire - Valerie Mather LRPS A reminder of Yorkshire's industrial past. Now a retail/arts centre, the Mill, completed in 1853, was a giant in the British textiles industry: exporting worldwide until production ceased in 1986.

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Falmouth University MA Photography

Falmouth University Charlotte Eades-Willis ARPS

Graham Land ARPS

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Falmouth University MA Photography

MA Photography Nigel Ready ARPS

Several RPS members have recently completed their Photography MAs at Falmouth University. The June and September editions of DM showcase a selection of images from their Final Major Projects and gaining an insight into their experiences. The flexible online course runs over two years and aims to enhance the creative, critical, and professional skills of practitioners who are at an early stage in their careers, as well as to give those who have already established themselves within the professional arena, an opportunity to interrogate their practice and deepen the quality and sophistication of their creative output. It is designed to accommodate a broad range of practitioners, from those who use photography to question the world around them to those whose practice interrogates the medium itself. For further information see: flexible.falmouth.ac.uk/courses/ma-photography Instagram: @falmouthflexiblephoto

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Falmouth University MA - Charlotte Eades-Willis ARPS

Charlotte Eades-Willis ARPS Quiet Hour The course appealed to me as it used distance learning. It relieved me of some of the barriers to education my autism presents, mainly the sensory impact of classroom environments, and the drain of continual social interaction with peers and tutors. I was given the choice as to whether I wanted staff to know about my problems, and this was well managed. I felt fully supported. I still had interaction via webcam and email which was far smoother for me than the conventional classroom environment. Being able to watch the lectures and rerun the live ones when needed, meant I was able to take the time to fully make sure I understood and was aware of all that was said. Despite being distance learning, the course provided a top-class environment for education with access to quality resources and teaching staff. The staff all come from varied backgrounds giving different, and much appreciated, insights into work and ideas for further development. The contact points on the course were variable in time and 1-1 meeting times were always made as mutually convenient as possible. I was able to complete the private study side of the course at times and hours which suited my other commitments and health needs. This meant that I could really concentrate on the work itself without social or health issues causing distraction. Whilst the time management was helpful, it is worth mentioning at this point, the work was intensive in order to achieve a satisfactory standard. The course content and expectations are hard, and a wealth of time and dedication is required. Although clearly photographic in nature, there was a reasonable amount of written communication and documentation. There was also a helpful amount of contact with designated industry professionals, and while it may have seemed irrelevant to our personal journeys, it provided invaluable experience and ideas. Much of my work and experience through the course can be found on my Critical Research Journal or blog for short. This can be seen here criticalresearchjournal. wordpress.com. You will see the development of my work there as well as the change in topic. The majority of my work focused on migration, and I received consistently good feedback. However, despite the good grades for the final major project and final portfolio, I was guided to switch focus as tutors felt I could give a personal insight on autism as opposed to a third party approach to migration. The change in topics wasn’t as dramatic as it may first seem as there were many similarities, and I had full support with the challenges of changing. From my point of view I initially chose migration because many of the issues, although different, were similar in their impact; a stranger in a world/culture not fully understand, disorientation with the world and ability to settle. I had considered focusing on autism, but I had moved away from it, as I felt it would be too contrived. After the support I received and personal analysis of the development of my own work, as I entered into the final major project, my fears were minimal, and I felt I could do the subject justice. 78


Falmouth University MA - Charlotte Eades-Willis ARPS

'A Complicated Issue' from the Surfaces and Strategies module

Throughout the course I focused my photographic work on non-portrait subject matters, leaning towards still life and landscape. This was a conscious approach as in both subjects I wanted to avoid ‘image fatigue’, a concept I interrogated throughout the course. I used the modular based approach to migration to tackle the same and associated issues from different angles. This is the same approach I applied to Quiet Hour, my final project on autism. Tackling one issue at a time also meant there was more room, and plenty of engagement from tutors, to experiment, whether that was by photographic methods, approach or final presentation. Previously with my photographic work, I always had prints or digital files as the final outcome, however on the MA we were encouraged to consider every possible means of publication and distribution. Finally my project was presented in several different ways; as an art instillation, photo book, physical exhibition and digital images. This has hugely increased my experience and opened a wealth of possible avenues for future publication, as well as opening my work up to a much wider audience. An important part of the course was to engage with and consider the audience both in the image making process and their thoughts on the final images. This has given me much more confidence as the feedback, whilst critical and not flattering, gave true and valuable appraisals of my work. Overall my work has been well received by both target and general audiences and this has encouraged me to further pursue my photographic aims. 79


Falmouth University MA - Charlotte Eades-Willis ARPS

from the project 'Quiet Hour'

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Falmouth University MA - Charlotte Eades-Willis ARPS

from the project 'Quiet Hour'

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Falmouth University MA - Charlotte Eades-Willis ARPS

from the project 'Quiet Hour'

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Falmouth University MA - Charlotte Eades-Willis ARPS

'Resting Together'

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Falmouth University MA - Nigel Ready ARPS

Nigel Ready ARPS Verso - The Landscapes of Seamus Heaney One area of my photographic practice has been exploring the link between landscape and literature, and in particular poetry. For my final major project in the Falmouth University MA course, my intention was to produce a photo book encompassing the landscapes associated with two Irish poets, Seamus Heaney (1939-2013) and William Butler Yeats (1865-1939), both winners of the Nobel prize for literature. I wanted to draw out the contrasts between the prosaic countryside of Heaney’s childhood and the more romantic landscapes of County Sligo associated with Yeats. Over the two years of the course I made six visits to Ireland, exploring the landscapes of both these literary figures. However, when all the images had been captured, selected and sequenced, it became clear that the landscapes of the two poets would sit together uneasily in a single photo book. Accordingly, I made a late decision that the book should cover exclusively the landscapes associated with Heaney, particularly those of south County Derry where Heaney’s childhood was spent, with the aim of demonstrating how these simple, rural landscapes informed the poet’s verse. My decision seemed appropriate in view of the fact that 2019 is the 80th anniversary of the poet’s birth. Also, the creation of a photographic record of the Heaney country was more pressing in view of the irreversible changes to its landscape wrought by the extension to the Belfast-Derry motorway currently under construction. On my three visits to mid-Ulster I based myself in the small County Derry town of Magherafelt, in the heart of Heaney country. All images were captured on Leica equipment (SL mirrorless or S digital medium-format). Locations included Heaney’s birthplace at the farm known as Mossbawn outside Castledawson; the Hillhead Road where Seamus’ younger brother Christopher was knocked down and killed by a car in 1953; the forge at Hillhead (Heaney’s ‘door into the dark’); the eel fishery at Toomebridge; the track of the disused railway behind Mossbawn; the Moyola river and the fields on its banks. Other important locations were Lough Beg, in the centre of which is Church Island, and Slieve Gallion, the easternmost mountain of the Sperrins range. Heaney described these as the two limits of his childhood imagination. The final images in the book are of the Flaggy Shore in County Clare, celebrated in Heaney’s late sonnet ‘Postscript’. I have not sought to romanticise the landscape. The majority of the images were captured in autumn and winter and have a deliberately subdued palette. As I explored and interrogated the Heaney country, I determined that my approach would be to depict the landscape in its present reality rather than seeking to recreate visually the imagery of the poetry. Many of the images in the book include water. The presence in the Heaney country of Lough Neagh, Lough Beg, the rivers Bann and Moyola lend an aqueous quality to the light and water features prominently in Heaney’s work. I could not divorce my project from the historical context of the Irish Troubles. Furthermore, the unease arising from the United Kingdom’s proposed withdrawal from the European Union means that the border between Northern Ireland and the 84


Falmouth University MA - Nigel Ready ARPS

Republic is once again of great topicality – hence my image of the lonely bridge over the Termon River which forms part of the border between Fermanagh in Ulster and Donegal in the Republic. The bridge was the scene of a brutal sectarian killing in 1969. The book is cloth-bound consisting of 36 images with an initial print-run of 150 copies. Victoria Forrest, well known to Falmouth students, designed and published the book. There was much discussion concerning the sequencing of images, in particular reconciling Victoria’s purely aesthetic approach with my desire for a sequence both chronological (i.e. following Heaney’s life) and geographical (i.e. in terms of location). The concept of turning is a leitmotif of many of the images – turning sails, turning seasons, turned earth – and this gives a clue to the title of the book: the Latin versus (abl. verso) means both a line of verse and the turn made by the ploughshare from one furrow into the next, a double significance entirely appropriate for a book celebrating a poet whose work is rooted in the rural landscapes of his birth. Further information on the project can be found at nigelready.blog and to purchase the book please contact me at nigel.ready@gmail.com. 85


Falmouth University MA - Nigel Ready ARPS

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Falmouth University MA - Nigel Ready ARPS

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Falmouth University MA - Nigel Ready ARPS

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Falmouth University MA - Nigel Ready ARPS

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Falmouth University MA - Nigel Ready ARPS

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Falmouth University MA - Nigel Ready ARPS

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Falmouth University MA - Graham Land ARPS

Graham Land ARPS Enterprising Croydon How does a photographer represent someone who is ‘Enterprising’? That is the challenge I set myself in the project I undertook as part of my recently completed studies for an MA in photography with Falmouth University, under their web-based Falmouth Flexible programme. Entitled ‘Enterprising Croydon’ the project began as a series of environmental portrait studies of certain shopkeepers in my local area, all along or close to the main retail thoroughfare running South-North through Croydon, a large town 10 miles south of central London. The chosen proprietors had retail places that were distinctively different from their competitors, either by their offering or the way they presented their shop, that is, these folk were enterprising, showing initiative and resourcefulness. Like all four projects I undertook as part of my MA studies the inspiration was a singular event rather than a long thought out theme. My previous project had been environmental portraits of scientists and innovators, chosen as I’d been part of that community and had contacts. However, the difficulty of aligning suitable photoshoots with my academic schedule caused issues. A locally based project seemed to be the solution. Inspired by meeting and photographing Reg Roach, the octogenarian founder/proprietor of a photographic shop on Croydon High Street, this seemed an easier project to keep to a schedule. In the first phase my project portrayed 12 proprietors. Choosing who to approach involved lots of walking and comparative assessment and my area of focus covered several miles of road. Happily, the majority of those I approached said yes, which surprised me as it was almost always the first time they’d met me. Whilst mainly shot in full-frame digital, I captured a number of portraits with a tripod mounted secondhand Hasselblad film camera using colour negatives. I also created moving videoshots using a stabilised rig and a small mirrorless camera to capture walk-ins from the street outside to the interior of the shop and the proprietors themselves. This linked the person and shop to their immediate street environment, an aim which I feel was achieved. Examples can be seen on my website www.grahamland. photography. Later the project was expanded and became my final major project. My first choice, on a self-portraiture theme, had been abandoned mid-stream as something for another time, so this later stage was conducted quite rapidly. I was, however, able to add a couple of new High Street locations and in most cases was able to go back to my initial collaborators and capture large format environmental portraits and conduct videoed interviews. This phase was conducted in less than two months. Within a few weeks of the last shoot and interview I exhibited prints and presented recordings in The Loft, an exhibiting space in Croydon’s main shopping centre, utilising what used to be the upper-floor storage area of a shopping unit. I was delighted to get this venue as it fitted well with my shopkeeper theme. Also, the choice of print width, dictated by the commercial Point of Sale (POS) hanging system 92


Falmouth University MA - Graham Land ARPS

that I chose, is normally only in large shops and department stores. The exhibition included a short piece in collaboration with a local historian. The journey has been an extreme learning exercise with many firsts, and yes, I would have done it differently with hindsight. Whilst I feel the exhibition was effective photographically, more development is needed to bring out the documentary insights that the interviews have afforded me. However, despite the tribulations I gave myself, the project has been very rewarding. The project isn’t over as I’d like to do more to portray the livelihood and character of these enterprising folk, and without my helpful collaborators this project would not have been possible. I should also add that, whilst I’ve had a long interest in portraiture, I’m indebted to my MA tutormentors for encouraging me to enter into environmental portraiture and gain an appreciation of the value of medium and large format captured film in the process.

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Falmouth University MA - Graham Land ARPS

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Falmouth University MA - Graham Land ARPS

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Falmouth University MA - Graham Land ARPS

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University of Westminster

Studying Photography at the University of Westminster Lucy Soutter, David Moore, Andre Pinkowski & Rachel Cunningham There is a rich history of photographic education at the University of Westminster. The first courses in Photography were offered at what was then the Royal Polytechnic Institution in 1850. The Institution educated many of London’s earliest photographers, including a remarkable number of women, some of whom went on to open their own studios. The first BA degrees in Photography were offered in 1976, by which time the name had changed to the Polytechnic of Central London. Under the influential conceptual artist and writer Victor Burgin, PCL trained many prominent photographers and educators including Olivier Richon, Karen Knorr, and David Bate. University status came in 1992 along with the Westminster name. The photography and media departments moved to their current Harrow campus in 1995. Students study different photographic contexts at different levels, including BA Photography, MA Documentary and Photojournalism, MA Photography Arts, Creative Practice MRes (which may involve a photographic specialism) and PhD study (both practice-based and theoretical) through CREAM, the University’s Centre for Research and Education in Arts and Media. The courses each draw on the University’s extraordinary facilities, which span historic and cutting-edge technologies. The University has colour and black and white darkrooms and supports alternative processes, as well as pursuing state of the art new equipment including digital cameras and scanners, post-production facilities, and 3D printing. The courses each have their own distinctive character, and it is possible to pursue documentary subject matter and methodologies on each of them in different ways. As well as sharing technical facilities and some members of staff, the courses come together for the Wednesday lunchtime Photography Forum series (open to the public), which features talks by prominent photographers, theorists, and industry professionals. Recent speakers have included Vanessa Winship, Mark Neville, Mark Sealy, Lua Ribeira, Gideon Mendel, Nigel Shafran, Michelle Henning, Mishka Henner and Dafna Talmor. 98


University of Westminster

Lauren G Harris - The Boxer This series was created over 6 months during training sessions at Islington Boxing Club and was initially conceived out of a curiosity into the brutal and visceral nature of boxing. IBC nurtures some of the nation’s best amateur boxers and is a cornerstone of the community, acting as a space of freedom and expression for its young people. An intense hyper-masculinity fills the gym every evening, however, what I unexpectedly came to observe was tenderness and compassion amongst the boxers and their coaches. A co-existing strength and vulnerability, often concealed from the outside world, was revealed. The moments of care, stillness and composure captured in the project are of equal importance in the success of a boxer as their fierce performance in the ring. www.laurengharris.co.uk

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University of Westminster

BA (Hons) Photography The BA Photography is the most recent manifestation of a long established Honours course with an excellent reputation in this country and abroad for its academic and practical teaching, reflected in high application rates, a distinguished record of graduate employment in the industries it serves, and the publication, production and teaching profile of its staff and graduates. The course has a distinctive philosophy which aims to provide a holistic photographic education. It combines high levels of technical and visual photographic skills with excellent visual literacy and a critical awareness of visual culture alongside solid professional practice. Project based modules equip students with the techniques and skills of a variety of digital and analogue photographic media including moving images. Alongside this, modules with written outcomes reflect on the history and criticism of photography, drawing on related fields including art history, media and cultural theory, and sociology. There is a continual emphasis on personal and professional development throughout the course. The photography BA enables students to develop their creative production skills across a range of photographic and lens-based media, to establish a critically engaged and self-reflective creative practice. It equips each student with the skills to adapt to creative opportunities, participate in contemporary cultural debates, and increase their awareness of the political, ethical and aesthetic implications of their work. Students learn to form independent, informed opinions of their own work, and that of others. Many of our graduates go on to work as photographers and photographic artists, but equally they pursue a range of careers within the broader photographic and creative sectors, as designers, archivists, historians, magazine editors, museum and gallery curators, picture editors and researchers, teachers, and writers. Many also go on to postgraduate study.

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Abhishek Joshi - Black Park Black Park in South Buckinghamshire, criss crossed with pathways, is a prime example of our ability to manage and control nature. Yet the reserve also implies our reliance upon nature. www.ajoshi17798.wixsite.com/ajphotography 101


University of Westminster

Dominic Banes - Orbit 23,000 miles above the Earth moving at a speed of 6,710 miles per hour geostationary satellites are in full circumference around the Earth matching its rotation. With this the satellites will not appear to move in the sky which is why we see them as white dots in the image. These satellite that are mainly used for transmitting data and information such as providing internet access and bringing the news to our televisions. Satellite technology has become a priority of our everyday life using thousands of different satellites to transfer information around the world. www.dominicbanes.myportfolio.com

Amanda Denny - Bitter Revenge Bitter Revenge takes the form of a three act play, and is driven by two narrative threads set some 100 years apart with heartbreak, unstable relationships and rejection at their core. One of these is a Victorian woman’s, Christiana Edmunds, who became known as the ‘Chocolate Cream Killer’ and ‘Venus of Broadmoor’ the other is mine. From the weaving of these two narratives a third emerges, a long-awaited closure - the final act. The book considers a woman’s place in the world, mental resilience, the imbrication of time and chance encounters that alter the paths you travel on. This Victorian woman came onto the shelf of my life, igniting old memories by frequent coincidental connections between places, the Sussex police, failed romance and its cognitive effects. Using archival material, personal documents, literature and still life imagery, Bitter Revenge delves into themes of loneliness, fear of abandonment, social stigmas, mental health and memory. www.amandadenny.com 102


University of Westminster

Goda Marija Norkute - Harvest I confess. This has become a slight obsession over the past years. The length, the colours, the textures, all the shiny deep undertones and the light golden highlights. How does it feel, is it liberating or incarcerating? Perhaps neither. Who have I become? The need to preserve and control feels embedded in me as is the need to absorb it all and be consumed by it. How do I consume such an object? How do I transform myself? Harvest is a series exploring notions of envy, greed and femininity while seeking to explore objects of desire separate from the body shifting into a commercialised commodity being sold at a global scale. www.godanorkute.com

Mary Scott - The Siren These camera-less cyanotypes were created by physically walking into the sea with chemically coated paper, allowing a wave to make a completely original and direct imprint of itself. This project’s aim was to focus on photography as a process and the cyanotype technique; pushing boundaries in the ways in which we capture an image. However, in the process, a new relationship was formed between nature and myself as themes of nostalgia and loss are prominent. Based on a poem written by me about my relationship with the sea, this project explores much more than just a technical process. Instagram: @maryscottart 103


University of Westminster

Emily Kopaskie - Melakas - They are Me and I am Them Around the time we were expected to start thinking about our Final Projects, I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. While most of the symptoms attached to it such as impulsivity felt right to me, the part about lacking a strong sense of self surprised me. Since a young age, books and cinema have deeply inspired my creativity. My first impulse when finding a location for self-portraiture is to convey a character and to create an ambiguous scene. As I reflect on this process, I have realized I have absorbed a variety of female tropes into my identity which is translated through self-portraiture. By analysing my impulsivity in my performance for self-portraits, I begin to understand my emotions and the identity I have curated. www.melakas.com 104


University of Westminster

MA Photography Arts The MA Photography Arts, led by artist and writer Lucy Soutter, offers a dynamic mix of practice and research to support students’ development as photographic artists. Each student develops two independent bodies of work to exhibition and publication standard. The course has a particularly strong reputation for developing research, with each student choosing three research modules that allow them to develop their conceptual skills and understanding of the field through written assignments that are tailored to their own interests. The MA culminates in a public degree show in Central London (presented jointly with the Documentary Photography and Photojournalism MA) and a public portfolio review event. The students are diverse in terms of nationality, race and age, and they produce work in a broad range of genres and modes. Some projects engage with elements of appropriation, performance, sculpture, installation or moving image. The students who work with documentary themes often explore the boundaries between fact and fiction, spontaneous and staged.

Mogens Kjoeller - from the series 'Fragments' www.mogenskjoeller.com 105


University of Westminster

Pedro Mendes - In the Shadow

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Lala Phan - Sunny, Shop Assistant, Mauritius

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University of Westminster

MA Documentary Photography and Photojournalism The Documentary Photography and Photojournalism MA allows students to explore society through photography and related practice and within criticallyinformed ways through a combination of practice-based teaching and discussion of up to date critical contexts. The photographer David Moore has been running the course since 2016. David’s own activities as a documentary practitioner include photography, moving image, collaboration and performance. Since arriving, David has redesigned the course to see documentary photography and photojournalism as exciting and contemporary mediums, situated within their own histories but with the extra potential of taking expanded forms in the 21st Century. The Course’s external assessor, Shoair Mavlin, ex curator at Tate Modern and now Director of Photoworks Brighton has seen the course grow. She observes that: ‘The course is commendable because of its desire to evolve and take into consideration the changing nature of photography and how Documentary and Photojournalism students are taught to think about the creative process’. One of the components is student focused teaching and development of student’s own visual practice, leading towards a consolidation of learning into a high-profile exhibition in Ambika, the Universities vast Central London exhibiting space. Staff, both regular and visiting, are all practitioners; photographers, writers, publishers and artists. As class sizes are relatively small (around 20) bespoke tuition time is plentiful. David Moore says ‘we are looking for students who can really be open about their practice and as well as thinking on their feet, think intelligently about the particular approach a given set of social circumstances or idea needs’. The course may be taken in full or part time mode with some interchangeable modules with MA Photography Arts run by Lucy Soutter.

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Debbie Naylor - from the project; 'Made to Order' www.debbienaylor.co.uk

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Lucy Hunter - from the project; 'Kenny' www.lucyhunterphotography.com

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University of Westminster

Sam Anthony - from the project; 'Best Laid Plans' www.samanthony.co.uk

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Hazel Vint - Hawker Boards www.hazelvint.com

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Updated Constitution At the AGM this year, we made some minor changes to the constitution, namely to broaden the definition of ‘documentary’. Documentary photography as a practice spans a range of approaches, so makes precise definition difficult. Taken literally, all forms of photography can be described as documentary, in that they document someone, something or some place. As a working definition, the Documentary SIG uses the following: “Documentary photography communicates a clear narrative through visual literacy. It can be applied to the photographic documentation of social, cultural, historical and political events. Documentary photographers’ work always has an intent; whether that is to represent daily life, explore a specific subject, deepen our thinking, or influence our opinions.”

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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, longer-term projects, a prestigious Documentary Photographer of the Year (DPOTY) competition, exhibitions, and a quarterly online journal ‘The 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. We have an active Flickr group and Facebook page. Overseas members pay £5 per annum for Group membership rather than the £10 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. Find us on the RPS website at: www.rps.org/special-interest-groups/documentary/ about/dvj-membership

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Waiting for the chimes - Lyn Newton LRPS

www.rps.org/special-interest-groups/documentary

Profile for Documentary Group, Royal Photographic Society

RPS The Decisive Moment - Edition 17 - September 2019