6 minute read

Caird Hall - Neil Milne ARPS

ARPS Panel - Neil Milne ARPS

Statement of Intent

Caird Hall in Dundee is the area’s largest venue of its type and has held particular significance for me over the years. The site of my first ever rock concert, my graduation ceremony, and a place I came to know well searching it top to bottom as a Police Officer prior to VIP events.

Approaching 100 years old it has a style and faded grandeur that endures. I like its worn edges, its film noir shadows, period furniture and echoing corridors. There are art deco bars and installations by local artists to be found. The scars on stage are a testament to its age and use but it is cared for lovingly, nonetheless.

I have tried to document the hall and its features and to portray a sense of the character that it retains.

Neil Milne ARPS
Neil Milne ARPS
Neil Milne ARPS
Neil Milne ARPS
Neil Milne ARPS
Neil Milne ARPS
Neil Milne ARPS
Neil Milne ARPS
Neil Milne ARPS
Neil Milne ARPS
Neil Milne ARPS
Neil Milne ARPS
Neil Milne ARPS
Neil Milne ARPS
Neil Milne ARPS

Neil Milne ARPS

Initially I showed about 10 images of my work from Caird Hall at an RPS Scotland forum as I was thinking about using them as the basis for putting together a panel for my Licentiate portfolio.

The images were reviewed by Peter Paterson FRPS, who provided really constructive criticism. Firstly he felt a couple of my images needed to be reprocessed as the tones were a bit off and secondly, an image of two projectors was skewed and too close to the edge of the frame. Both comments were completely valid and obvious when pointed out by someone with experience and an objective eye.

Furthermore Peter felt that the images were too good a standard to be used for a Licentiate panel and should be used down the line for an Associate application. I was both delighted at this comment and perturbed as I now had to come up with another complete set of images for my L panel and take more images at the hall for a possible A panel down the line. I set about pursuing my Licentiate distinction and received it some months later.

After a brief time I revisited Caird Hall where I shot some more images and intended to reshoot the image of the two projectors. That was not to be however as in the interim they had been donated to the new V&A museum in Dundee.

The panel was always going to be submitted in black and white. My overriding idea about the look of the panel was that it should have a film noir feel so, to that end, I shot sharp angles, looked for contrast and avoided any modern trappings so as to give the images a period feel.

Ultimately, I visited the hall three times, and shot many more images both inside and outside the building but the editing process wasn’t too difficult as the 15 images I finally used gave me the look and feel I had wanted. As an exercise I think the best lesson I learned, and the thing that I have told others, is that I had a clear theme and a vision of what I wanted to achieve before I visited the hall. The building itself duly served up these images.

ARPS Panel
Neil Milne ARPS

Simon Leach FRPS - Documentary Distinctions Panel Chair

Neil introduces his project through the Statement of Intent (SOI). This is important because it is his opportunity to introduce, very briefly, what the subject is, why he has photographed it and, importantly, what he is trying to tell ‘us’, the viewer.

The aims and objectives of the SOI, his photographer’s intent, is to take us on a tour of this building with the nostalgia of so much personal history and life experience. Memories that have created a real love and connection with this building. Spaces can be very important to us. A home, a safe place, a familiar place and in this case a place that is connected to, that represents, so many key moments in a life. That is a connection that perhaps, in a way, many can identify with a little.

The submission itself shows an appropriate level of cohesiveness for an Associate Distinction with a consistent use of process, exploitation of light and attention to detail. Neil has also taken into account his preference to submit as Images For Screen (IFS). His edit, therefore, needed to take into account that the images will be assessed in sequence, one following another, not laid out together on the wall in a hanging plan as would be the case with a print submission. So we do not need to consider the ‘balance’ of the submission as you would with prints, but you have this quiet flow. There is a sense of being shown the building.

Neil’s handling of the craft of photography, the technical aspects of his work, absolutely meet the high level expected at Associate level. The techniques used are both appropriate and fundamental to the vision he has created of Caird Hall. Each image has this clear, polished grandeur that is highlighted in the SOI. The one image that perhaps does not hold completely true to this is image 07 of the old projector room, but this does give us a link to perhaps the golden age of Hollywood, the silver screen glamour, and certainly hints at the film noir.

Overall then this body of work is not just depicting the aims and objectives of the statement, but it is doing so in a cohesive manner and with real understanding being shown by the photographer. In turn this gives Neil’s submission the sense of a very individual vision of this beautiful, and to him extremely important, building. Added together these things allow Neil to communicate his message about the Hall. The staircase (06), the hallway (01), the organ pipes (10), the seating (14) are well captured in a precise manner.

As well as being a good example of how it is possible to communicate a message about a subject, it also proves an excellent example of the huge variety of subjects that the RPS Distinctions Team have already seen. It shows that the Documentary category does not have to be about people, though equally it could be just about people. We have assessed environments and objects. So whatever you have a passion for, wherever that connection is, that is where you will have the story to tell the assessment team (and anyone else) through your photography.