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The Official MIPP Newsletter

January 2014


Issue No. 36


So cheers are in order to start off this new year with a bang!

I hope you have all had a lovely festive season. I can’t complain really, except that as usual no matter how much I tried to stay away from second helpings, my mum’s too good a cook!

If you want your photos featured on the newsletter’s front page just send the images to Your contributions are always welcome!

So it’s back to the grind and the MIPP calendar is fast filling up with events for all of you! I don’t know how many of you keep to their new year resolutions, however I caught up with Alan Grech in this edition of the newsletter since I have followed his 365 project along the year. I must say that his end results were excellent, so make sure you read his article about how he went about it. Meanwhile I wish to remind you about the upcoming AGM on February 4th. If any of you are interested to join the Executive Committee, nominations close on 21st January. It would be nice to see new faces in the committee and we always need more helping hands especially since the Institute is growing fast! I wish you a great 2014!

Newsletter Team Editor: Therese Debono Design: Therese Debono Articles: Various contributors Editorial Advice: Kevin Casha Contact:


JANUARY 2014 pg 2 pg 6 pg 12 pg 18 pg 24 pg 26 pg 28

cover artist

president’s viewpoint mipp qualifications member’s article member’s article monthly talk mipp notices calendar

How has photography impacted Art A Photojournalistic Panel Model Matters How I cheated my 356 Project What judgles look for Nominations & Statute Mark your diaries!

Anastasia Zhukova We start off this new year 2014 with an image from the glamarous Anastasia, where she is self portrayed in her image here!



president’s viewpoint

Have you ever pondered over the title of this article? What impact did this medium have over art? Did it change many things? What is the aura of a work of on Kevin Casha’s interesting and insightful article to get your minds ticking...

Images in this article and writing by Kevin Casha

How has photography impacted Art? At the turn of the century, in his es- the 20th Century are still being felt to

say “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction”, philosopher and writer Walter Benjamin spoke about the loss of the Aura of an artwork. It was the time that film and photography had initially appeared and made it “miraculously” possible to faithfully and easily reproduce ‘reality’. Although Benjamin mainly attributes this “decline” in art to the appearance of film and photography, he also looked at this new medium with an optimistic vision for the future.

Photography, (which appeared around 1835), and film not only made this significant and important change and breakthrough, but introduced a new creative Art medium. This enabled the art world to become aware that it needed to evolve away from slavish reproduction and pseudo realism to work which was freer and more liberated. With its introduction, Photography made it necessary for artists to imbue their work with elements that photography could not provide. What was the use of realistically and painstakingly producing paintings when photography could do that in a quicker, cheaper and more perfect manner? The repercussions photography had on the Art world, coupled with the social, religious and industrial upheavals of

this day. As we know, conventional photography was subsequently followed by film, video, digital photography, internet etc; providing countless other tools to artists which hitherto had never been available before. Photography has in a way actually enabled us to “See” in a much more detailed and better manner. Although the issue is still debated to this day, I think that due to the realism of the camera, artists realized that they could experiment and search beyond realism. Many later art movements, such as Impressionism, Cubism and Modernism where very much influenced and inspired by the advent of photography. Photography has been a most positive force, galvanizing the artist to map out new horizons, explore new mediums, to create new realities. The duplication capabilities of Photography have also made Art widely accessible to the masses. How would our society be without photography? It has totally impacted our society and lifestyle in a tremendous manner. With the relatively recent introduction of Digital Photography and other technological advances, (such as internet, social media and mobiles), at no other time in the history of mankind are so


many billions of images being produced daily. Suffice to say that a recent statistic shows that 250 million photographs are posted each day in Facebook alone! Today, the taking of photographs and their sharing and viewing is globally accessible to nearly everyone. Images are impacting our lives to such an extent that they are more and more “conditioning� our lifestyle and our way of looking at the world. Photography has become integral not only as an art form or for documentary and recording purposes, but also as a powerful tool for propaganda and for social change. It is an integral part of medicine (e.g. X-rays) and science (e.g. forensic). It is a very powerful tool which has made us aware, sometimes in real time, of what is transpiring in the most remote parts of our globe. Yet, photography’s effects have not always been beneficial. Due to the many images that we are seeing it has, at times, made humankind insensitive and unmoved by tragedy. Is it not the truth that we are sometimes viewing war news, disasters and social issues like immigration and world famine, as if they are Hollywood movies and everyday entertainment? Has the photographic medium made us immune to the suffering of fellow humans? It is quite shocking that today we unperturbedly eat our dinner in front of our television screens whilst calmly watching the atrocities in Syria, or environmental disasters or people massacred by suicide bombers! Daily exposure seems to have made mankind immune.

This is a case for further reflection and thought . . .


A Photojournalistic Panel We all know Darrin from his work in local and foreign media. It was no surprise really that he got his Associateship, however like anyone of us who sat for an exam he was still excited. Here Darrin recounts his preparation for the panel, and Joe Smith gives us some insight about mentoring an already recognised professional.


Darrin says: I had toyed with the idea of applying for my Associateship for a long time, but only decided to give it a shot while chatting with Kevin Casha one evening in early 2013 at the SWPP convention in London. Opting to submit a panel of irregular immigration-related images was a no-brainer, seeing that it’s a story I’ve relentlessly worked on for over ten years as a Times of Malta and Reuters photographer. When it came to selecting the images, I picked a few which I had used as part of my MA thesis a couple of years ago - That meant that I already had a pretty tight edit of the tens of thousands of images I’ve shot over the years. To those, I added a few more recent ones to end up with a shortlist of around fifty images. I showed them to my mentor and good friend Joe Smith, who whittled them down to the required twenty, and just as importantly, came up with a display layout for the panel, picking on many elements which I probably would have missed if I was doing everything myself. There were some pictures that I thought formed part of my best work that Joe left out because they didn’t work well when seen as part of the whole panel. I questioned that initially, but once Joe explained his reasons, I was fine with it and went along with his recommendations.



Joe says: Darrin’s request for my mentoring services came as a nice surprise and I felt honoured to have been asked. I have known Darrin’s work for quite some time now and I guess like most of us, I have always admired the powerful and sometimes hard-hitting photographs from one of Malta’s top photo-journalists. I was sure that Darrin had a sizeable picture library to choose his final 20 images and our first discussion centred on this aspect. We wanted a collection of images with impact and yet conveying raw honesty. Of course, the whole panel also had to hold well together as a homogeneous work. Darrin emailed me around 50 pictures to have a look at and possibly whittle down to 25-30 so that then we could concentrate on a final process of elimination. I went over the images for a first round and selected what I thought were the most suitable for the genre and placed them in 2 rows. I left it at that and had another look the next day. I went through this process another couple of times until I had the final twenty that looked good together. I had my doubts about one particular image and decided to leave it out only because of visual considerations when looking at the


whole panel. I then submitted my choice to Darrin for his feedback. Incidentally he convinced me to re-include the image I had omitted in place of another one and I could see his point. Darrin’s work is very direct and like the good photojournalist he is, he has the ability to compose instantly, even when under pressure of sticky situations. His instinctive use of in-camera cropping might look haphazard or accidental to the untrained eye but in the context of photojournalism, it adds to the strength and immediacy of the story. It was also of great satisfaction to me to receive the news that the judging panel had considered Darrin’s work of a very high standard and awarded him the Associateship. On my part, I feel honoured to have collaborated with Darrin and to have contributed to the process. It is always an experience All Images are by Darrin Zammit Lupi which he used for his Associate Panel


Model Matters I

had the fortune of meeting Nikki Hafter whilst doing a photography workshop at the Societies Convention in London, in January 2013. It was a somewhat fortuitous meeting as Nikki was assigned by the organizers to be my model during the workshop I was conducting. I was instantly very impressed by her preparation and professionalism. We hit it off straightaway and the images which came out of our collaboration clearly evidenced that . Having worked with models for over thirty years, it’s not every day that I am impressed by up and coming models, but Nikki was one exception. Her maturity and intelligent mind actually belies her young age. So I met the news with pleasure when Juliet and Phil Jones, who regularly collaborate with the Malta Institute of Professional Photography’s (MIPP), agreed to bring over Nikki as UK lecturer John Denton’s model for the October convention. This time, during a hectic three day schedule, I took the opportunity of interviewing her and trying to discover what makes her tick. Modelling has always been a tricky and demanding job. One does not only have to be beautiful and talented, (as Nikki surely is), but intelligent enough to navigate through many pitfalls as well as sift through people who are really interested in art and the model’s professional input and those who have ulterior, not so noble motives.


member’s article

Nikki is a 23 year old full time model who hails from London, UK. She is a graduate of Fine Art so she is naturally creative in various art spheres. She models for runway, photography, video and fine art, including classic and very stylish nude work. During the last year, she has established a great working relationship with photographer and tutor, John Denton, and has been regularly working and gaining experience all around Europe. She had got to know John through a friend of hers who had previously modelled for him.


Nikki actually started out by modelling for a hair salon at the young age of seventeen. In fact an offshoot of her involvement with hair salons is that she also learned to dye her own hair. She recalls that she participated in a nationwide contest and made it not only to the grand finale, but actually winning and being given the opportunity to feature on the front cover of Hairdresser’s Journal Magazine. Her commitment to both her modelling and art career was tested when the actual cover shoot clashed with her university graduation art show. Typical of Nikki’s drive and determination, she ended up squeezing in both in one day! Whilst studying at Leeds University, she had met sculptor David Williams Ellis who invited her to model in the nude for one of his works. This was Nikki’s first experience of art nude modelling, though she had herself drawn from nude models many times during her art education. She was lucky as her parents are quite openminded and their policy with Nikki was to give her space and, in their own words let her “do whatever makes you happy.”

Above: Kevin whilst interviewing Nikki Hafter


After graduating, Nikki had spent some time at care job, but found the level of emotional commitment and long hours very challenging, so she took made her take the plunge into full time modelling. She secures her work through model agencies as well as independently and through social media. Nikki has a naturally beautiful delicate complexion and, when needed, she expertly does her own make up to perfection. I think her smooth, flawless skin is particularly ideal for strong studio lighting and will avoid the photographer plenty of tedious hours at post processing. There is really very little to correct in Nikki. Although she does not really involve herself with dieting, her lifestyle is always geared at keeping herself and her body healthy. Nikki is a pescetarian, loves fish and is intolerant to dairy products. She actively frequents a gym and loves swimming. Drinking a lot of water also helps as well as her love for the outdoor life - although she takes care to use sun cream due to her delicate complexion. No more so than during her visit to Malta! Nikki prefers working on a one to one basis with photographers as it contributes to establish a better working relationship and that way she can also collaborate more in depth through her personal input. During a work-

shop, with various participants shooting at the same time, that is not really possible. It is always better when a model and a photographer are regularly working together as this usually guarantees better and more creative results. A tip for models, coming from Nikki, is that in such a competitive world, if one thinks he or she is good at what one does, do not be afraid to ask for fair remuneration for your work. For Nikki, modelling is a serious job and, as I can vouch for, models need to do so much background work and effort to try and remain in the business – a business which, like photography, is becoming ever so more difficult to maintain due to the hordes of people now doing it for free. Still, Nikki is not bigheaded at all, and has her feet firmly planted on the ground, so she does recognize the difficulty and importance of maintaining standards. People who do not keep a bargain or take advantage highly irritate Nikki. She sometimes finds people who try to get more time or change the rules during a session. Nikki is aware of how short a model’s flame can last, so she is already looking towards the future. Her wish is to be able to have more opportunities not only to model professionally, but to involve herself in styling, make up


and props. Her keen visual sense will surely provide her with such chances in the near future. She sees her future mostly as a further extension of her artistic lifestyle and is considering involving herself more and more in the art world. Yes, another fickle and difficult job, but then with her talents, definitely not beyond her. She likes sculpting and installations and works mainly from found objects and media. Performance art is another of her pet likes – and she has had good experience on this: what is modelling but a form of performance art? Nikki motivates herself with the right people, particularly when they are creative. She mentions sculptor and installation artist, Cornelia Anne Parker as an influence and an inspiration. Nikki is looking forward to completing an artist’s residency next year, between January and March, in Berlin, considered by many to be today’s culture capital. I really wish Nikki the ability to retain her independence, retain her charm and enthusiasm for life and continue doing what she inspires her but at the same time manage to balance this with a job that can ensure her future. All she needs is her continued determination and yes, why not, the right breaks!

i &type=3 ii ii


How I cheated in my 365 Photo Project


Day 19

Day 55

Day 145

Day 174

Day 271

Day 303

Day 88

Day 108

Day 185

Day 243

Day 312

Day 348


Guilty as charged...or rather as he charged himself, Alan Grech talks about how he twisted some rules in the 365 photo project to make it work and accomodate his schedule. I still think it made a good project!

Yes, I did…to some extent at least,

and there’s no regret or guilt feelings about it. This statement however, needs to be explained. Many people who embark on such a project make their own rules. Some set guidelines where they do not necessarily take one picture a day (which is the project in its purest form) but they instead post a picture online once a day. Some take only self-portraits, others only landscapes. I set only one restriction to my photos, and this was that they had to have a square crop… but I digress…let me first clear any unnecessary accusations attached to the cheating headline. My “cheats” were in actual fact two. The first one was that if I wanted myself to feature in the photo, I sometimes let someone else take the picture for me. This means that, strictly speaking, I can’t be considered the author of the picture. The other was that in rare cases the picture was not taken on the day, but was postponed to set up a shot representative of the experience of the original day. For some purists these would be deal-breakers. As someone who rarely manages to complete lengthy tasks, I shrugged it off quite quickly. Such aids would


help me keep sane in completing such a demanding undertaking. With those qualifications out of the way, here is something about my 365 project. It all started with some sort of a new year’s resolution to sharpen my photographic skills and it ended up being something else altogether, something worth much more than that. The project ended up being more of a journal, a collection of places I have visited, things I have done and feelings I have experienced. None of the pictures I took this year can ever make it into my portfolio, but in stark comparison to previous years, where I have only accounts of some highlights, one year fading into the next, this time around I have at least 365 distinct memories of this year that passed. What is ironic in this whole process is that what started as an adventure into making pretty pictures, ended up with me scorning pictures that are just that…pretty pictures. Nowadays, I would rather have a picture with soul, with explicit intent or inherent meaning than photographs showcasing mastery of a technique just for the sake of that, technique. To justify

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their existence, pictures need to have meaning, or at least they need to start a debate. Beauty is only skin deep, if there’s no character behind the image, it will be shrugged off as just another pretty face. There’s a beautiful quote about producing art which is very close to my heart, “the more personal you make it, the more universal it becomes”. As to the tools used in completing “the more personal you this project, I opted for very unpreequipment. Only very only make it, the more universal tentious a few pictures were taken with a dslr. it becomes”. Some were taken with a Fuji x10 (my sweet retro mean machine) and the absolute majority were taken with my phone. I’m very satisfied with the pictures taken by the latter. Considering none of the pictures taken by a phone are likely to end up in a gallery, its 4 megapixels will do just fine for any social media website. Almost all of the editing was done on the mobile phone itself as well. Will I be doing the project again?…highly unlikely. The pressure to produce a photo on a very boring day doing with the most mundane of routines is sometimes too much to bear and results will suffer accordingly. In this regard, amongst other things, the major two lessons I have learnt from this kind of project are the following. First and foremost, work in a series and not just on single photos. The bigger the body of related work, the more you get to know yourself and master the message you would like to convey in your medium of choice. The second is that quality work needs time to assimilate and to grow and mature. Most probably the first draft will never be good enough, it might be too plain or too shallow. Put ideas on the backburner, let them simmer, let them breathe. This will likely infuse more personality into your work. Due to the daily turnover required, a 365 photo project is not a showcase for quality but a learning journey. What follows is just a small collection of pictures, one photo for every month: Day 19 (January) – a simple double exposure photo that would be somewhat foretelling of the year to come. Like most recent years, it was a year of hard work, but I made sure that I had my quality time sprinkled as heavily as possible between them dark days. Day 55 (February) – a photo of my good friend immortalizing his sedentary to marathon-man transformation. Work hard at everything, full stop.


Day 88 (March) – a photo of my mum…my icon of undying love, understanding and silent patience. Day 108 (April) – first visit to the Valletta bridge. Beautiful water reflections from its neon signs. The undulating saturated colours in the sea were stunning. Day 145 (May) – this light was way too gorgeous not capture it on camera. Every morning should look like this. Day 174 (June) – swimming with the Despicable Me goggles makes people laugh… we should make people laugh more often. This was not the first swim of the year but might have been the first in decently warm waters. Day 185 (July) – loved the “interaction” between the two structures…made up of simple lines, they seem to be talking to each other. Day 243 (August) – best birthday party ever….so much planning, so much stress… yet so much fun. Loved seeing people who didn’t know each other interact so well and have such a great time. Day 271 (September) – in retrospect, the most bittersweet photo I have ever taken. We had such a great time at Jean’s wedding in Portugal, it was quite an adventure, but we never knew what was coming…within two weeks Ricky lost his dad and a week after Jean lost his mum. With Dennis losing his dad earlier in the year, this year was littered with incredible losses. Day 303 (October) – Cruise liners…something I tend to see on a daily basis due to my office location. Picture looks like it was taken from a videogame simulation where people are small and insignificant…a sometimes sinking feeling…no pun intended. Day 312 (November) – My good friend Sonia with her little Jake (whom I call Gulliver) at his birthday party. A apparently quiet intimate photo in such a loud and chaotic venue. Day 348 (December) – Shooting a wedding with friends makes the physically taxing task still fun. Here we took some time to experiment with off camera flash and unusual camera angles. This is not my line of work and it feels much more like an experience rather than a job to me. This also gives me the luxury to try stuff. In conclusion, I highly recommend to give this 365 thing a try. Don’t stress too much about, at any given point in time during the year, you will only be required to produce one photo


What judges look for Why compete? What makes a great image? What does it take to compete? Knowing if your photographs are up to standard when it comes to competitions and qualifications is difficult – particularly at the early stages. Master Photographer and International judge Kevin Casha’s vast experience in the field will guide you at what to look out for when preparing your competing images. What do judges search for? What is the “Wow” factor? How can one increase his chances and make sure of submitting the right images? All this and much more in what will be an informal and highly interesting lecture. Delegates will be encouraged to participate in the debate.



Nominations & Statute Amendments for MIPP Executive Committee Dear Members, Hope you have had a great start to the New Year! As is the norm, the MIPP’s Annual General Meeting will be held on TUESDAY 4th FEBRUARY. According to the official Statute, a call for nominations for the Executive Committee and/or Amendments to the Statute of the Institute are being requested. The deadline for nominations is Tuesday 21st JANUARY. As you know, the demands on running an Institute like the MIPP keep increasing and everyone seems to be short of time. Yet, if we need to keep photography improving, it would be appreciated if more of our members come forward to help in its running. I would also like to appeal for all members to attend this AGM in order to give your input towards improving the MIPP. All members have voting powers as long as their subscription is fully paid up for the year 2014. Nominations and/or amendments to the statute are to be handed in to any current Committee member. A copy of the nomination form is attached.

Excerpts from the MIPP Statute: Clause 2 (a) Meeting.

The Executive Committee shall be elected at the Annual General

Clause 2 (b) A member standing for election to the Executive Committee must be proposed and seconded by any two fully paid members. Nomination forms, signed by all three, shall be submitted by no later than two weeks prior to the Annual General Meeting,MIPP official sponsors and/or their official representatives cannot apply to stand for election to the Executive Committee, but may be opted in as Consultants to the Committee by a majority vote from the Executive Committee. Consultants will not have voting powers in the Committee.


mipp notices

All applicants must have been fully paid up members of the MIPP for at least one year prior to that particular AGM before they can apply for committee. Clause 2(c) Members may also opt to contest one particular post in the Committee. In this case, the applicant must have been a fully paid up member of the MIPP for the last two years prior to that particular AGM. This option must be declared when submitting the nomination form. Clause 6 Alterations to this statue shall be subject to a two-thirds majority of the Eligible members present at the Annual General Meeting or an Extraordinary General Meeting. Fully paid members only may submit Statute amendments to the Executive Committee at least four weeks prior to such meetings. Members shall be sent copies of the agenda at least two weeks before the date of such meetings.


CALENDAR 7th January What judges look for! - Kevin Casha 19:30hrs, Le Meridien

4th February AGM 19:30hrs, Le Meridien

11th February MIPP PTYA Judging - Street Photography 19:30hrs, Le Meridien

20th February Monthly Talk - TBA 19:30hrs, Le Meridien



MIPP January 2014 Newsletter  
MIPP January 2014 Newsletter