RPS The Decisive Moment - Edition 25 - September 2022

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Photo: Simon Street FRPS

September 2022 Edition 25 ISSN 2634-8225

Quarterly journal from the Documentary Group THE MOMENTDECISIVE

2Contents04 From Our Chair 06 Documentary Group Team and Goals 08 Documentary FRPS Panel - Nick Hodgson FRPS 34 Documentary FRPS Panel - Simon Street FRPS 58 Ukraine - Simon Maddison LRPS 70 This Is What The Menopause Looks Like - Catrin Osborne 90 Linx Photography Project - Double Identities 106 RPS Documentary Events 108 Documentary Group Online

Simon Maddison reflects on images of Ukraine - p58

3 Double Identities -p90

Nick Hodgson Documentary Fellowship Panel - p8


This Is What The Menopause Looks - p70

We also feature a number of successful distinctions in the Documentary genre, and we plan to showcase more of these as they become available as we know this is of interest to many members.

Welcome to another edition of The Decisive Moment.


This issue features interesting projects from a wide range of photographers on a diverse range of topics. It is really good to see and share the work of others, especially in-depth bodies of work. If you have something you think is of interest, please get in touch with the Editor.

To support those wishing to pursue a distinction, we are looking to host some talks where members show their successful panels followed by a Q&A session. We have teamed up with both the Contemporary Group and the Peer-to-Peer Group who act as self-help for those considering a Fellowship. If you are interested in these P2P meetings then please get in touch.

Our Documentary Photographer of the Year Exhibition is in the later stages of its tour with exhibitions in Inverness, Chatelherault House near Glasgow and then, finally, Chippenham. All are on the RPS What’s On page, just filter for ‘documentary’. We are beginning to think about the next DPOTY in 2023. We would like to do something similar, with opportunities for Members, Students and an Open category, and to put on a touring exhibition again. Maybe with the focus more on the exhibition than the competition per se?

From Our Chair

Our Engagement Talk series is about to restart with two talks confirmed and others in the booking and preparation stage. First up we have Barry Lewis - he worked as a freelance photographer, covering international stories for magazines and newspapers as well as working on over twenty books. Then we have Colin Wilkinson, the founder of Bluecoat Press, a book publisher that has featured the work of many important UK documentary photographers. It is rare that Colin gives talks, so do not miss this one!!

It sounds a lot, but with a small team it is not onerous and offers an opportunity to develop some new skills, or refresh some old ones. Personally, I have found volunteer roles useful to help make connections, learn some new skills and build a network to help me develop my own photography. Please get in touch if you can help.

However, the only way we can put any of these events on is through our volunteers and Regional Sub-Groups. If you would like to be more involved in the world of Documentary Photography then please get in touch and lend your support to one of these activities.

Best MarkMarkwishesAPhillips ARPS Chair, Documentary Group

We are looking to build on our ‘Telling Stories’ series by developing a new workshop focused on helping those working on a live project. This would probably be an online session followed by an in-person event. We are still gauging interest, so please let us know if this is something that would appeal.


There are roles still to be filled in the small team working on Documentary Photographer of the Year 2023. There are plenty of opportunities and a chance to help create something of value. To deliver DPOTY involves a range of activities including planning, finding sponsors and judges, producing promotional materials, and organizing mail shots and social media. We need to make sure the entry and judging processes runs smoothly and put on an Awards Event. The touring exhibition involves producing the prints, working with regions and others to find and plan venues, and manage the logistics of moving it around.

Editorial: Gerry Phillipson LRPS, Ray Hobbs ARPS, Rachael Hill

Secretary: Nick Linnett LRPS docsecretary@rps.org

Southern: Christopher Morris ARPS docsouthern@rps.org

Central (w/Contemporary): Steff Hutchinson ARPS

Social Media: Volunteer Required docweb@rps.org

Flickr: Volunteer Required

Treasurer: Andrew Ripley doctreasurer@rps.org

South East: Jeff Owen ARPS docse@rps.org

East Anglia: Malcolm English ARPS docea@rps.org

And the Rest of the Team:

Bi-Monthly Competition: Volunteer Required dgcompetitions@rps.org

Thames Valley: Philip Joyce FRPS doctv@rps.org

Northern: Peter Dixon ARPS docnorthern@rps.org

The GroupDocumentaryTeamDocumentaryGroupCommittee:

Yorkshire: Carol Hudson LRPS docyork@rps.org

Members: Harry Hall FRPS, Chris Martinka, Valerie Mather ARPS, Wayne Richards, Dave Thorp

Publishing Dave Thorp

Chair: Mark A Phillips FRPS doc@rps.org

East Midlands: Volunteer Required docem@rps.org

The Decisive Moment:

Editor: Dave Thorp decisive@rps.org

Sub-Group Organisers:

Sub-Editor: Lyn Newton LRPS

Engagement Talks

Overall Objective

Connect – promote belonging and inclusivity, by supporting and engaging widely

These activities are focussed around showcasing and celebrating high quality photographic work and thinking, which is fundamental to the RPS’s purpose:

To engage with more people and connect with other communities, including those who are not photographers, to appreciate the value of documentary photography, so that it is enjoyed and accessible to as many people as possible:

Documentary Group Bi-Monthly Competition Monthly Newsletter

To support the RPS Strategic Plan Photography for Everyone and to enhance the relevance for Documentary Photography by engaging more diverse audiences and ensuring our activities self-fund. We have focussed our goals and 2021-2024 targets under the RPS Mission of inspiration, creativity, and connection:

Work with groups outside RPS Regional and international activities Website and social media

Create – encouraging a deeper understanding of photography and providing resources for photographic education

Inspire – showcase inspiring photography and to shed new light on subjects of importance

The Decisive DocumentaryMomentPhotographer of the Year (DPOTY)

DPOTY Exhibition

The Documentary Group Plans for 2021-2024

To develop the range and reach of our educational activities. We want to help photographers develop their practice, and also educate non-photographers about what is current in documentary photography: ‘Telling Stories’ Workshops Distinction Advisory Engage University courses Support individual development


Nick Hodgson FRPS

The freeminers of the Forest of Dean are a tiny community mining small amounts of coal which is sold to local residents. Freemining dates back to a 13th Century Royal Charter and to qualify, a freeminer must be born in the immediate area. However likely climate change legislation, together with low levels of local births, means this is the last generation of freeminers and probably marks the end of coal mining in Britain. The community is fiercely independent, proud of its heritage,

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9 and stoically determined to preserve its culture. The freeminers have a profound attachment to their land and are bound together by trust, camaraderie and teamwork. My intent is to document the freeminers’ work, culture and personalities. Shot over three years, this project has deep personal interest as my greatgrandfather was a freeminer and one of my earliest childhood memories is being taken inside a working freemine. FRPS Panel - Nick Hodgson FRPS



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For his submission Nick has selected a project with which he had a personal connection and therefore gave him an excellent starting point that he was then able to grow and develop. This personal understanding behind a body of work is so important to creating an engaging documentary narrative.

The craft of the printing and presentation again demonstrated the commitment to the work as a whole. Nick obviously valued the project, its narrative and the access he had been given to tell that story. Put all of this together and you have the distinctive work of a single photographer.

Simon R Leach FRPS - Chair of the Royal Photographic Society Distinctions, Documentary Genre

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Another thing which I have found is extremely beneficial in developing a documentary work is access to the subject matter. Regular and unrestricted access can be developed in most situations and allows the photographer that time for both the thoughts and images to evolve. Nick obviously had that initial connection to the free miners and has demonstrated his commitment over time. This is not just detailed in the statement, it can be seen through the images. This period of time enabled Nick to gain a wide variety of images, demonstrating the trust and understanding of the miners that developed. The result is a documentary of the processes involved and, perhaps more importantly, a narrative around the characters and relationships, between fellow miners and to the landscape. This is a story of free mining which Nick presents through just 21 images.

Through the selection of images Nick cleverly allows us to see his understanding of photographic craft. Balancing extremes of condition and differences in subject matter into a body of work that has the cohesion to draw all these different elements together without hindering our view of his intended narrative. A strong and clear individual vision has aided the cohesion, creating an image selection that has given us portraits, working practices and the wider landscape, all of which add to the narrative. There are no distractions; Men bound together by trust in each other, camaraderie and maybe the odd bit of humour, and perhaps aware of the fate of their profession. A slight melancholy through the selection and monochrome can be identified. Whilst these concepts are presented through the statement of intent and set the objectives for the work, they are importantly, equally visualised through the presentation.

Nerve-racking! I knew for completeness that the body of work had to include actual mining activity, but I’m mildly claustrophobic so had to get ‘into the zone’. Thankfully the freeminers are constantly chatting away in the tunnels. That, together with making sure I didn’t whack my helmet on the low roof whilst keeping my camera away from the damp and grime as best I could, meant I probably shot some of my most rewarding work.


How did the project originate?

Panel Hodgson FRPS

Nick Hodgson FRPS

For a number of reasons. There’s barely any colour underground apart from some of the miners’ overalls. The colour palette in the Forest of Dean is gorgeous throughout the year but I felt that a mix of colour and monochrome would not sit right for an F panel submission. The project is about coal, a black material. And the tonal range I wanted to achieve in both the portraits and landscapes was always, in my mind’s eye, going to be best achieved in monochrome.

My initial interest was in the landscape and the relationship between nature’s reclaiming of mankind’s physical scarring - a strange juxtaposition of beauty and melancholy. But I quickly realised that the freemining personalities were as much of the story as the landscape itself. So whilst the MA work was purely landscape, I broadened my project as it progressed by documenting the free miners’ work, culture, and personalities - above and below ground. I did my research and approached the free mining community, and slowly but surely gained their trust and with it access to the mines. I knew I had ‘earned’ this trust when six months into the project I was invited to join their private Facebook group. This was an incredibly important moment, and integral to the subsequent results.

It meant going underground. What was that like?

How did the project evolve over the three years?

Why did you choose black and white?

The story started in 1966 when as a young boy I was taken down a family-owned coal free mine to show me how this branch of my family had earned its living for decades. It created a lasting impression! Fast forward to early 2019, I was a student on the Falmouth MA photography course and decided that the free miners, and the landscape they work in, would make an ideal subject-matter for my Final Major Project (the MA final submission). The project would also allow me to reconnect with my family history.

- Nick

And did any personal favourites not make the final panel?

What technical issues did you encounter?

Which image gives you the greatest satisfaction?

Above ground, I’m glad to report that the infamous wild boar of the Forest of Dean didn’t charge my tripod, although I did manage to tear a knee cartilage stumbling through the undergrowth. But underground, there’s obviously the grime, the pitch darkness, and the damp. Thankfully there’s no methane in these mines. However, space is obviously at a premium, so the challenge was thinking about lighting from both the helmet lamps and flash and crouching down to find the best compositional position whilst the mining work was going on all around. And my Nikon kit didn’t let me down, which is testament to its construction and durability.

Quite a few! My two one2one review sessions with Simon Leech FRPS were really instructive and made me part company with some favourites. But I think the final edit, with the key ingredients of a strong narrative thread, sequencing, pace, and cropping, really worked well. The panel assessors thankfully thought so as well.

Did you consider a book for this project?

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Yes, in fact almost all of these images will be part of a larger book on the project which is being published in September by VIKA Books. I wanted to provide a record of free mining activity in the early 2020’s for future generations to refer to, and a physical book with an ISBN means a copy will be placed in the British Library. As a photographer, there’s no substitute for seeing one’s work in physical form, be it as a print, in a zine or in a book. As students we were encouraged to explore printed publication options on the MA course, so I’m delighted this is happening. It’ll be available at this year’s BOP22 Books on Photography photobook festival at RPS House and MPF in Bristol in early October. nicholashodgson.photoshelter.com

That’s a difficult one. When I look at the panel now, I’m amazed with myself that I ever went underground! But my favourite is 14, which I’ve titled ‘Wardy exiting Folly’. It was just the briefest of moments at the end of a shift when he was walking beside the cart which was being slowly hauled out of the mine entrance in dappled light. I think this image captures a raft of themes. And there’s a nod to the interwar Soviet propaganda poster photography of Mark Markov-Grinberg, Arkadi Shaikhet and Semyon Fridlyand.


Simon Street FRPS

My local London racecourses were founded on serving a Victorian social hierarchy from ‘Punters’ to ‘Owning Classes’.

My interest is in conveying a sense of the changing mix, behaviour and attire of those at work and play at my races. Sometimes in sun; sometimes stormy.

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As a passionate people photographer, little had changed as my capture of the pageant of characters began in 2016.

The panel provides a flavour of that shifting dynamic: the declining traditionalists; the growing modernists.

Welcome to the ‘New Victorian’ racing community!


I hope the viewer can spot the shifting diversity and dress informality. The rise of so-called ‘exuberant behaviour’ also caught my eye. Three aspect ratios gave compositional flexibility in sometimes chaotic race scenes.

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Lockdown started. My narrative-based people photography had to stop. I looked around for a house project which became a fascination with macro images of broken glass. My first Fellowship followed in Visual Art.

A hint of anger is an interesting starting point for a documentary project. In 2016, I attended a race meeting at my local racecourse. I am not a racing person. For me it was just a lazy opportunity to take pictures of people. I was amazed to find a 1950s social hierarchy at work – owners, premier enclosures, punters, stable people. Where was the inclusive, diverse world which is found elsewhere? I took plenty of images back then – and one or two I thought were strong. However, the idea was left on hold as I went through the gears of LRPS and ARPS where my interest in story telling matured a little.

Looking back at the presentation layout, I confess there is still a hint of anger in there. Images 1, 8 and 15 all show what I thought were the ‘old school’. There were moments of great sadness – Image 2 of the jockeys awaiting a race was taken as they told me of their personal poverty and injuries resulting from their chosen career. There were moments of hope – I found several women jockeys winning major races – Image 11 in the centre was one. There were moments of humour where people’s attire just begged to be taken – Images 6 and 13 for example. Finally, there were moments of fear – Image 16 shows a group of drunk people.

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My first panel draft was messy. It had one of every role in the race meetings but lacked a coherent focus. I had arranged a one2one review with Simon Leach. Simon saw the potential to tell a clearer story of how the mix of attendees had changed over the 5 years I had attended the race meetings. Bingo – thanks Simon! There was my documentary theme: change through time. I was able to find a few older images to start my story. The selection of later images began to fall into place. A few gaps needed filling and the Statement of Intent was torn up and re-written.

Short breaks in lockdowns started but travel was restricted. The light bulb went on: how about building on my people at racecourses project. I have several racecourses within 5 miles of my house. This time I got permits to take photos and attended every meeting I could. For me, the most important consideration in a Fellowship project after interest in the content, is the ability to make repeated visits. I got to know the staff and jockeys well. I would talk for 20 minutes to many of them while shooting from the hip to provide an unobtrusive and distinctive style. The only subject I was not interested in was the racehorses.

Simon Street FRPS

My interest in people photography did not stop there. I have worked on other narrative-based Fellowships that you may enjoy on my website: www.simon-streetphotos.com. Perhaps I will come back and tell you next time about how one people project in a holiday resort resulted in a smashed camera by a paratrooper. But not today.

Shutter speeds are 1/500s. That is the minimum to freeze movement.

If a sky looks flat, I will use a lighter preset from EfexPro (most create halos and over-sharpen).

I shoot with a Fuji XT4 with a 24-55mm F2.8 wide zoom. It has a deep depth of field so is forgiving for not having time to focus.

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Most of my processing is in Lightroom, but I cannot resist messing about in Photoshop to adjust each light zone of an image.

For my candid images I shoot from the hip. This has a terrible success rate and you are often shooting against a bright sky.

I use DeepPRIME in PureRAW2 by DxO to clean-up grain.

But look closer at the group leader in the bottom right. His posture was very threatening, and he had clearly taken something stronger. That was the last image I took on the entire project. I left quickly still shaking.

My technique for people photography:

If and only if I know I will have a few seconds to grab a picture, I will shoot at 8 FPS.

58UkraineSimon Maddison LRPS Ukraine - Simon Maddison LRPS

Simon’s Flickr site and his Ukrainian albums can be found at: www.flickr.com/photos/simonmaddison/sets

Now tragically my images, particularly of the children, have a new and I find poignant meaning. A record of innocent play and exploration, typical of so many children’s games - playing soldiers. Children playing on the remnants of past wars themselves become a history of past times. Where are the children and their parents now? How much of their homes and city will remain if they are ever to return? We shall almost certainly see (if you haven’t already) images of Ukrainian children playing on burnt out tanks and guns, a testimony to a kind of “play/life goes on”, as in images of the bomb sites of London. My images have no great significance but show a recent time quickly gone and how changing events give them a new meaning.

Ukraine - Simon Maddison LRPS

I visited the Ukraine in the Spring of 2019, a pretty standard tourist trip with the highlight being two days at Chernobyl. We started in Kyiv, written as Kiev in our tour notes. A walk through Independence Square where the Maidan Revolution took place in 2014. There I was given a piece of blue and yellow ribbon which I tied to my camera without much thought. Little did I know that three years later this symbol of resistance to Russian aggression would be everywhere. Then past the onion domed Saint Sophia Cathedral stopping to photograph young women wearing Russian colours in front of a statue to a Ukrainian Cossack hero, nothing remarkable about that. Then down the long cobbled Saint Andrew’s Descent with its stalls - one selling Putin toilet paper just seems like a bit of fun. At another, old cameras and Russian posters seem quaint, and a bookseller offers volumes on Stalin. I reach Arsenalna, the deepest underground station in the world, where a couple kiss on the escalator with no thought that it would soon be used as a bomb shelter.


My destination was the Museum of the Great Patriotic War built to honour the heroes of World War 2 when the Ukraine, as part of the then Soviet Union, fought Nazi Germany. Along the walk, ending at the huge Mother Motherland statue, were tanks and guns dating from both the 2WW and of more recent vintage. It’s a Saturday and children have fun and are playing on the military equipment and their parents take photos of them. I do too. At the Memorial, just before the statue, a young boy is the latest to polish the bronze of the submachine gun in the gigantic frieze and young girls use it as a background for a photo session. I don’t put my photos up on my Flickr site as they seem pretty standard.

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This Is What The ThisLooksMenopauseLikeIsWhatTheMenopauseLooksLike-CatrinOsborne


Catrin Osborne and Tindara Sidoti-McNary (who made video installations to go in the show) outside HOLD Creative spaces in Ramsgate, one of the galleries the exhibition toured to, and where Catrin’s studio is based (Image Stephen Daley)

Catrin Osborne

The interaction and dialogue culminated in an exhibition which she also crowdfunded whilst waiting for (successful) Arts Council funding. This enabled her to continue with her project, travelling further afield to gain deeper understanding of individual women’s stories.

This year she began touring with her installation, including a day of events in Bristol’s Arnolfini where she highlighted her work alongside other artists and their Catrinworkshops.travelledthe

All women will go through the menopause but, like many other experiences women in our culture go through, it is still hidden, secretive and shameful.

UK meeting menopausal women and recording their positive and negative experiences of the menopause. She wanted to celebrate women going through peri and post menopause and give them a voice.

71 Catrin Osborne is a Kent based artist who gained an MA in Performance Design and Practice at Central St Martins College of Art and Design in London ten years ago. Following a challenging and early menopause herself, she set out to discover other people’s experiences and understanding of the menopause. She interviewed a number of women, photographing them and scribing their stories and experiences.

This Is What The Menopause Looks Like - Catrin Osborne

When I gained the funding, I felt a huge responsibility to make sure the people I met and interviewed were diverse. On the advice of Amy from POW Thanet (Power Of Women), I used a wheel of privilege to make sure that I achieved this. I still feel there are a few gaps, but I’m fairly happy with how diverse the people are. It was important to me that my photographs represented people from all demographics, and people looking at the exhibition could find similarities with the subjects.

By January 2022 I’d completed all the photographs and interviews except for Cardiff. Omicron hit and I was unsure whether to go but an old friend I know through the circus invited me to stay so I went. I’m really glad I did because I met some amazing women and ended up in Newport near where my Grandma and Grandad were born. It felt like the end of a very personal journey.


I began interviewing and photographing women in 2019 and produced a series of portraits. I then looked at how I could extend this. My partner had given me a desk to write on in the spare room just before the pandemic but then he had to use it to work from home during lockdown. I lost my job as a yoga teacher, resorting to teaching on line in the evenings. Then the lake I was cold water swimming in to help with my symptoms shut down. I set up a little desk in the corner of the living room, wrote to the Arts Council, began to look at booking venues for a tour, and decided to travel to those venues to meet people to photograph/interview if my bid was successful.

This Is What The Menopause Looks Like - Catrin Osborne

My mum had warned me of her early menopause (at 44), but she had minimised the impact and her thoughts around it. She had been a full time teacher, bringing up three children and caring for elderly parents, so had limited time to think about her own experience.

I spent about 18 months with very difficult physical symptoms, like severe headaches, insomnia, and anxiety. I was trying to avoid going on HRT because there had been so much negative press about it and older women at work advised me not to. I felt isolated as no one my age seemed to be experiencing it. I felt I hit rock bottom. I then met Diane Danzebrink through a menopause yoga workshop, and she told me about gel based HRT made from yams and suitable for vegetarians. My doctor fortunately prescribed this for me, and I began taking Oestrogel. It was the following year, whilst I was devising my yoga course - The Embodied Menopause - that press headlines announced the cancer link with HRT was flawed.


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Is What The Menopause Looks Like

Picfrom opening in London at Ridley Road Social club

Bawdy poet Sophie Camereon aka Violet Malice in HOLD Creative Spaces opening event performing with sculptures by Maxine Chester in foreground

Video installation at The Arnolfini, Bristol

This Is What The Menopause Looks Like - Catrin Osborne


Performers Serena and Kay at opening in London at Ridley Road Social Club

Through my generation speaking out about their experiences I’d like to think that the next few generations will be better informed and better equipped for their menopause. Menopause isn’t an illness, or a secret, it’s a healthy transition into - in the words of David Bowie - ‘the person you always should have been’.

An exhibition of the work, featuring the seven Sheffield women, is going up at Weston Park Museum, part of Sheffield Museums on Monday 19 September for three months.


I think the Davina McCall documentary has encouraged more women to be less afraid to take HRT and it will help younger women, who are about to go through menopause, think and plan more for theirs. My peers and me are about the same age as Davina McCall and we shout about stuff, being ex ravers, ex punks, Generation X, born in the 70s.

I met and photographed Kat in Bristol who went through premature ovarian failure at 39. They have since written a show called Dry Season which is currently touring the UK. I also met another Cat in Greater Manchester who went through it in her 20s. She has now found the treatment she needed, HRT, but it was a struggle to get. She is an ultra-marathon runner and has an adopted son, an awesome role model for the next generation I feel!

I didn’t really get a chance to speak to men about their experiences or perspectives on the female menopause, although I would be very interested in meeting and photographing a trans man about it. I had to turn away women who wanted to be involved but would like to revisit the project to gain a wider societal view.

Is What The Menopause Looks Like - Catrin Osborne


You can see more details and information at Catrin’s website: osborneandwhat.co.uk and Instagram: @catrinosborne

My priority now is to create a book of my pictures as so many visitors to the touring exhibition are asking for it. I am also planning a group show next year, with Tindara Sidoti-McNary, who I photographed, making the video installations and Serena Bobowski, who has produced the Crone Interviews sound installation and curated the first exhibition of my photographs from 2019 at her Bad Fruit try out night for art created by women.

When I started HRT I felt better almost the next day. I still don’t sleep that well and the night sweats are horrendous. I know I’m trying to find which HRT is right for me. You just become far more in tune with your body. I was referred to a specialist gynaecologist who suggested I go on the gel and have the merina coil fitted. I also explained my symptoms to a private consultant who thought I would benefit from a testosterone implant.

I run marathons and ultra-marathons. Someone’s got to! I’m not massively into the competitions although I adore running. When we adopted our child and I became a mum last year I wanted to do something to remind myself who I am. I love being a mum, but I also want to be me.


I’m so proud to live in Rochdale, but there’s no getting away from the fact that it is poor. Socially and economically we’re a very divided community. There are so many women in Rochdale not getting help because they’re not properly educated or confident enough to be able to go back and say “No, you’re wrong”. It really saddens and angers me. It’s not fair on my community. The NHS is doing the best it can, it’s just over-stretched. The training for medical professionals on the menopause is really limited and there needs to be more awareness.

This Is What The Menopause Looks Like - Catrin Osborne

Rochdale. Age 36. Works at Rochdale Pioneers museum, Mum, and ultra marathon runner.

This Looks - Catrin Osborne



Is What The Menopause

I’ve started to suffer with the brain fog which is frustrating. I can identify what it is as other women have described it to me, but nobody can prepare you for the complete blank that happens. For someone who’s generally able to express themselves quite eloquently it’s quite unnerving. I’m just going into it and it’s hard to know what to do because the advice that’s out there is so contradictory, and the symptoms are so contradictory. I’ve thought about HRT, but my doctor refused to discuss it with me. She said as I’m still having periods I’m not menopausal.

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Islington, London. Age 51. Civil Servant.

Debs - In the nail bar in Dalston with Louis the dog

Debs - Outside work in Victoria with Louis

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Rachel - Going to work

Low moods, bordering depression. You don’t know whether it’s the menopause or not, because there’s a lack of information out there. Less tolerant of bullshit. I can look forward to developing a different life. Not getting PMT and having to think about carrying sanitary wear with me. The not caring what other people think. It’s like my daughter’s 17 and she won’t leave the house without make up. It’s all about what she looks like, whereas now I don’t care.

Rachel - Relaxing on the balcony

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Rachel. Stoke Newington, London. Age 52. Receptionist in a care home.

Gemma - On the beach with her dog Bow


This Is What The Menopause Looks Like - Catrin Osborne

Margate, Kent. Age 39. Social prescriber for the NHS. I was in severe pain, things weren’t how they were supposed to be. I went to the GP, and I felt ignored. I was ringing every month about the same problem. My first appointment was in February and by July I only ended up in A&E because I rang the hospital in London and the nurse said “you need to go to A&E”. I was diagnosed and treated for stage 3 cervical cancer. The radiotherapy and chemo have caused me to go into premature ovarian failure. I was told it would happen, but not that it would happen instantly. I found that really hard - trying to recover from all that treatment, and experiencing the symptoms such as hot flushes, insomnia and extreme night sweats. We were trying to get pregnant before the diagnosis and now I won’t be able to have children naturally. I still thought I had plenty of time.


This Is What The Menopause Looks Like - Catrin Osborne

Gemma - In the park with Bow, where they walk

This Is What The Menopause Looks Like - Catrin Osborne


Jacqui - Inside her studio with some of her work

Jacqui. Sheffield. Age 54. Textile Artist.


The rage is frightening because it’s almost uncontrollable and you don’t know what to do with it. That’s scary. I remember having a conversation about women in their 40’s and 50’s and being like, “They’re horrible, aren’t they?” I had that conversation! I feel terrible now. There are certain tropes, like the ‘Angry Black Woman’ I don’t want to fit into, but at the same time I am really annoyed that people have set this up because you need to give us a break, this is really hard. I now think that women of that age are justifiably angry, there’s a reason why we’re annoyed. We’re not allowed to talk about it, and if you do, it’s like, “Aw, look at you, is it that time for you?” And you kind of think “Don’t do that, because it’s Blackdisrespectful.”womenare justified about being angry, we’re not angry about nothing, there’s a reason for it. I feel this way about being menopausal. The positive thing is it’s not about colour or creed or anything. It really pulls the women together. It connects us. I’m having some really great relationships with women my age and a little bit older. It’s a great sisterhood. That’s a huge positive. The menopause is no respecter of colour, race, class, disability or neurodiversity… all you need to be is female. It’s true that you can also be non-binary or trans, but it’s one of the things where it is quite empowering to be a woman. It’s horrible, I think we should be honest about her studio in Sheffield

it.Jacqui - Outside

This Is What The Menopause Looks Like - Catrin Osborne

Kat - Rehearsing for their show ‘Dry Season’

I stopped recognising the person that I was becoming and I didn’t like them. I was like “who is this paranoid, neurotic, insecure, over-emotional wreck?” I just felt feeble and weak. Like I should have been able to deal with this; I’d travelled, I’d lived in a truck. My resilience and sense of self was taken from me. I just didn’t know who I was anymore. Waking up really hot, panic attacks, getting really hot. At this stage everything had been interrupted because my Mum died. I told someone at work (who was in her 50’s) and she said “it sounds like a hot flush” so I went to the Dr. I couldn’t get an appointment, I burst into tears on the phone and said “I can’t cope”. I was told it was menopause.

Bristol. Age 39. Writer, Performer.

This Is What The Menopause Looks Like - Catrin Osborne


This Is What The Menopause Looks Like - Catrin Osborne


Kat - In the doorway of Aston Court where rehearsals took place

Titus. Stoke Newington, London. Age 63. Cabinet Maker.

Titus - Relaxing with a cup of tea in the


You just have to tough it out and not give a shit as the world is not on your side as an older woman. I feel less tired, my energy is better. As I get older I’m appreciating what I’ve got and valuing it as I know it’s not going to last forever.


- On the back of partner Tessa’s moped after yoga Catrin

This Is What The Menopause Looks Like -


Joyce - Outside the Centre for Refugees where she volunteers

I am 50 and started getting the signs last year. Sometimes I get a hot flush. You’re just sitting there, and you start sweating really badly and you think “Oh, is this a high fever or what?” Within seconds, you get cold and start shivering. You get confused; you don’t know exactly what’s wrong with your body. This might make you panic and think it’s something else because we don’t know it’s the menopause. A minute later you get annoyed about nothing! My friends were worried about me. They said “The Joyce we know? She was a lovely woman, laughing and joking, but when you ask her something small she gets annoyed so quick!” I didn’t realise those were the signs of menopause until I Googled it.

This What The Menopause Looks Like - Catrin Osborne

Joyce - Catching some sun in Cardiff Bay


I had a hysterectomy 10 years ago, so I was thinking I might not go through it, but because they left my ovaries in, my hormones are still active and working like any other woman.


Joyce. Cardiff. Age 50. Former grocer in Uganda, Mother, volunteer in Cardiff. I’m originally from Uganda. I’ve been living in Cardiff for almost 16 years. I’m still an asylum seeker. I’m still awaiting my status.

Lara - On stage at a Screaming Alley Cabaret rehearsal

This Is What The Menopause Looks Like - Catrin Osborne



Lara - Having a cigarette at the back of The Red Arrow Club in Newington, Ramsgate


I never wanted children, and I now can’t have children so people don’t pressure me into having children, or ask when I’m going to have them, which is great. Another positive is I haven’t had to lie about my age on OkCupid, because people presume that if you’re in your 40’s you’re there to have a kid, so they don’t want to go on a date with you, so I’ve had much better options on online dating. Psychologically, there’s a kind of teenage energy that I’ve felt which is both good and bad. I had troublesome mood swings with periods; I have suppressed periods through most of life with the pill and coils. I think with the menopause those hormones that I’ve suppressed for years are back. The good is a kind of vibrancy, being very emotional, very present.

This Is What The Menopause Looks Like - Catrin Osborne

Lara. Ramsgate. Age 50. Independently Producing Sex-Positive / Feminist / Queer Performance & Cabaret since 2003.

John Dilworth talks about the Middlesbrough based Linx youth project and how Covid was the starting point for introducing young people to tell their stories through the medium of photography.

90Linx ProjectPhotographyDoubleIdentities

Linx Photography Project - Double Identities

Photography Project - Double Identities

Image Mike Berry



There were several discussions with the young people involved with Linx, but it was a younger group of 10 to 15 year olds who showed the most interest. As the project developed, we had a regular group of eight who were really engaged. It was very much, for all of us, a learning experience and we realised quickly that it would take time if we wanted the photography to be fun as well as encouraging the group to really think about the story they wanted to tell.

The next step was to seek partners to collaborate with, so in June 2022, I invited members of the local camera club - Gallery Photogroup in Middlesbrough - to support the project. Not long afterwards, award winning documentary photographer Joanne Coates who, coincidentally, had been commissioned to do some other work with young people in Middlesbrough joined us. Through her, local artist and photographer Kevin Howards agreed to run a workshop. The next to come on board was Carolyn Mendelsohn whose Bradford based project Through the Lens had encouraged young people to document their experiences.


Photography Project - Double Identities

When Covid hit, we looked afresh at how we could help our young people. We realised that while we at Linx are very good at recording activities and events on the web and social media, our images were taken by us and mostly of young people doing things and rather less about them as people. The Covid pandemic was a particularly difficult period for these young people (and everyone!), so we came up with the idea of involving them in documenting their own experiences through their own eyes.

We initially thought smartphones would be the mainstay, but we found that not all young people actually have access to one. We began with borrowed DSLR’s although with the success of the project, Linx has now invested in its own digital cameras. Although very few of the young people had ever used a camera before, it didn’t prove a problem and with support, they quickly got to grips with the technology.

Linx started in 1993, out on the streets, with the aim of supporting young people between the ages of 14 and 19 living in the Hemlington area of south Middlesbrough. Now it has grown across the whole of the town, has access to premises, and with the help of employed staff and volunteers is supporting around 900 young people each year. I’ve been involved since 1993 and have been a member of the Board of Management for the last 15 years.


Lesson with Lilly - John Dilworth

Learning the Basics - Poppy

Double Identities

Linx Photography Project -

Carolyn - John Dilworth


Photography Project - Double Identities

Stars - John Dilworth

Carolyn also led a workshop for our young photographers. These coaching and workshop experiences have really helped to build confidence in our group, as well as creative, technical and life skills.


And now, a theme has emerged - Double Identities - the idea of portraying what it is like to be a young person living in Middlesbrough today. The image making has been impressive – one young author, Lilly, won a Best Newcomer prize in a competition sponsored by the Hope Foundation and the group’s work has been exhibited at the Danby North York Moors National Park Centre. Two prints from that exhibition were actually sold. The group now documents local community events and Middlesbrough Council will also be publishing some of their photographs. Other exhibitions are planned locally.

Two features have helped to make the project a success so far. Firstly, it is a collaboration with all involved having a voice. Secondly, the young people themselves are the photographers. The challenge now is to go on to engage with an older cohort say, 15 to 18 years of age and from more diverse backgrounds. Being involved with a youth work project with committed staff and some resources obviously helps with access but those we are aiming to include next are likely to be vulnerable and difficult to reach – and that’s our next challenge.

We began with days out locally at Teesmouth, and then as we gained confidence, we went further afield into the Yorkshire Dales as well as organising more structured indoor sessions facilitated by Joanne. A real bonus too is that some members of the group are now studying photography at school, and they are able to share their skills with the others. For safeguarding reasons we have permission from parents, some of whom have met with the group on various occasions. They’re very supportive of what we are all doing. One parent has even expressed interest himself in joining a camera group.

Linx Photography Project - Double Identities

www.linxyouthproject.co.uk www.facebook.com/LinxHemlington carolynmendelsohnphoto.comwww.joannecoates.co.uk

Selfie Smartphone - Tilly


Photography Project -

Double Identities


Flowers in Lobster Pot - Annie

- Double Identities

Linx Photography Project

We Three - Tarlin

Double Identities


Photography Project -


Selfie Shadow - Lilly

Linx Photography Project - Double Identities


Lewis - Tilly

Photography Project -

Double Identities

Linx Photography

Project - Double Identities


Precious - Poppi

Studio - Poppi


Photography Project - Double Identities

103 Linx Photography Project - Double Identities

Green Shoots - Lilly

Kevin and Lewis - Tilly


Linx Photography Project - Double Identities

Project - Double Identities


Linx Photography

Photography Friends - Sarah

All upcoming RPS Documentary Events can be found on our events page.

Our Engagement Talks series, Documentary Events and Exhibitions:

RPS Documentary

Park Museum, Sheffield osborneandwhat.co.uk/tour

Eventsevents.rps.org - Documentary

Engagement Talk - Barry Lewis - 06 October 2022 events.rps.org/en/engagement-talk-barry-lewis

Engagement Talk - Holly-Marie Cato - 01 December 2022 events.rps.org/en/engagement-talk-holly-marie-cato

These workshops are intended to provide expert practical guidance for those considering or already working on long term projects (documentary, contemporary or travel).

Engagement Talk - Colin Wilkinson, founder of Bluecoat Press - 03 November events.rps.org/en/engagement-talk-colin-wilkinson-founder-of-bluecoat-press2022

Shirley Baker and documentary photography - 09 November 2022 events.rps.org/en/shirley-baker-and-documentary-photography

This Is What The Menopause Looks Like - 19 September to 15 December Western2022

They aim to address some of the challenges in three areas: Starting out (building a photographic series, defining your intent, planning and researching your project), The Shoot (field work, shooting to a narrative, keeping it going and staying motivated) and Editing and Sequencing (selecting images for exhibitions, panels & books, sequencing them and getting your work out there). Check out the latest workshops on our Events page.

Our Telling Stories with your Camera workshop series:

Chatelherault House, nr Glasgow - 01 to 30 September 2022

As well as centrally organised events, our Regional Groups put on local events. These include talks and presentations, local workshops or exhibitions of members work, group projects, visits and photo walks, feedback and critique sessions and online Zoom meetings. We currently have Groups in: Northern, Yorkshire, East Anglia, Thames Valley, Southern, South East, and joint groups with Contemporary in Central and North West.

Chippenham - 15 October to 12 November 2022

Members of the combined Documentary and Contemporary group in Central region have created an online book showcasing their work. Introducing... can be viewed here: Issuu.com/royalphotographicsociety/docs/introducing

Chippenham Museum, 9-10 Martket Place, Chippenham events.rps.org/en/dpoty-exhibition-chippenham

Chatelherault Country Park, Ferniegair, events.rps.org/en/dpoty-exhibition-chatelherault-house-nr-glasgowHamilton

RPS Documentary Photographer of the Year 2021 - Exhibitions

Group Meetings:

RoyalFlickr Photographic Society - Documentary Group

Contact: docweb@rps.org

We also have a closed group Facebook page, exclusively for our members. If you want to join us there, you can share your pictures with us, ask for advice, and engage with our online community.



FacebookFacebook Page - facebook.com/rpsdocumentary

Group Online

Our public Facebook page is new, but it already highlights the successful projects that entered our Documentary Photographer of the Year competition. You can also find albums for the Bi-monthly Competition winners and short texts from our Journal The Decisive Moment (DM) there – these updates are designed to be easy to read on a phone screen that also provides you with the link to the full Facebookarticles.

Group - facebook.com/groups/RPSDVJ

an image-based social media platform, so think of our profile as of an online gallery. If you follow us there, you can see pictures from our competition winners, DM contributors and members along with invitations to events and images from these occasions. Instagram is the place where we want to promote the work of our group and our members to the wider public and encourage them to follow and engage with our projects.

Documentary Group members run an active group on Flickr with plenty of images and the opportunity to discuss them with the group.

The documentary group has a presence on the following platforms, come and join in the conversation. We understand that not everyone has a social media profile or wants to create one. That’s why all our profiles are public and can be viewed by everyone, no matter whether you have an account or not. This means you will be able to view all our posts and book on to ticketed events. Checking our RPS page and searching for events is still a good way to keep informed with all that is happening in the Documentary group. If you have any questions you can always e-mail us – all our contact details are listed there.


page is for short important updates such as events, exhibitions, call for entries or other announcements. If you do not have much time for scrolling on social media but still want to be in on the action, we recommend you to follow us there. We promise we’ll be short and concise.

Issuu.comIssuu - Documentary Group, Royal Photographic Society


The Decisive Moment is published on the Issuu platform where you can read each edition online or download pdfs to read offline. Please follow the Documentary Group in Issuu and use the buttons to like and share your favourite editions or individual features - it really helps support the Documentary Group.


Interest Group has a section on The Royal Photographic Society website. Here you can learn more about the group, hear about recent news and future events and access an increasing number of documentary photography resources. There are now nearly 100 recommend photobooks, nearly 20 reference books on approaches and issues in documentary and around 30 street-photo references/books, plus links to 24 online archives. All free and available to anyone.

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 Group 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.

If you’re not a member come and join us. Find us on the RPS website at: rps.org/documentary

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’.

Some longer-term collaborative projects are in the pipeline for the future. We have a active membership who participate in regional meetings, regular competitions and exchange ideas online through our social media groups.

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.

Click on the image above to view Introducing... featuring work of Central Region group members Cover Image: The Convex View - Clive Haynes FRPS