Image: AJ Wood ARPS
Newsletter of the RPS Documentary Group In this Issue: • Feature - Our New Documentary Workshop Series • • • •
Upcoming Events Our June bi-monthly competition winner and gallery Liz Johnson Artur - Turner Prize recipient Help needed for DM, Newsletter and DPOTY 2021 (please)
Feature - our New Documentary Workshop Series As part of our plan to support the RPS Strategy, we identified the need for more educational activities focussing on documentary. Beyond doing an actual degree, there are limited resources for not just RPS members interested in documentary, but anyone – most courses are either introductory or very expensive. With this series we aim to address that need, and also: • Support the RPS objective of educating their members (and non-members) • Deliver comprehensive tuition to assist RPS members in delivering compelling documentary photographic series • Provide three modular courses covering every major step of the documentary process • work in partnership with Creative Escapes, an award-winning creative education company • Provide on-line courses that are highly interactive, with plenty of engaging exercises to build your skill-set • Our feedback has been excellent, with demand strong, all our courses so far have sold out. So, we have added more dates ... If you are interested, please check the Events section or our RPS Documentary Events
Our New ... Documentary Workshop Series
There are three courses, Starting Out, Execution and Finishing Up. These cover the stages of any documentary project - each reveals a tool kit of professional techniques to help you develop, shoot and complete your project. Each course is listed in our Documentary Events section on the RPS website. The price for each workshop is £56 for members (and £75 for non-members). Each course consists of 5 hours of instructor-led tuition and a 50 page guide to keep, plus free access to our closed facebook page, where course participants can have ongoing feedback and support.
SOME OF OUR FEEDBACK .... This was a great overview of documentary photography which also provided valuable tools to help you focus and define your project. I enjoyed all of the course, but found mindmapping one of the most useful tools. I liked the worked example too. JUDY FORD Great course, well presented, by very experienced speakers. Understandable. No or little jargon, hence accessible and understandable for newbies. Great that there’s after-course support. ROLF KRAEHENBUEHL I think you and the team did a great job. The methods/tools you presented were exactly right and, incidentally, are the very tools that I use. SIMON HILL FRPS
Our New Documentary Workshop Series Course Tutors Mark A Phillips Jon Cunningham Mark is a documentary photographer based in South Buckinghamshire, near London UK. His photography is focussed on ‘constructive’ documentary projects with an emphasis on the environment and sustainability. Mark originally studied engineering, has a PhD from the University of Cambridge and researched innovation and social ecosystems. That research informs his current projects. His work has been published in various newspapers and magazines and at exhibitions in UK and in Europe. He is currently Chair of the RPS Documentary Group. Website
Jon has been a professional photographer for over 20 years - and is the founder of award winning creative education company Creative Escapes. His work can be seen in The Guardian, Daily Telegraph and The Sunday Telegraph, has photographed 7 books and is the author of ‘Teach Yourself : A Complete Photography Course’ by Hodder & Stoughton. He’s been a multiple finalist in the Canon / New York Times Photojournalist Competition and in the last decade has taught creativity and photography to corporations, schools and private individuals in 15 countries worldwide. Website Creative Escapes
Some background ... via a few questions How did the courses come about? Mark: The RPS has a membership and educational remit, but in the documentary space there were few courses to recommend. Time to change that! We decided to create our own. Why partner with Creative Escapes? Mark: Their award-winning courses have been around for a long time, we had heard good things from other RPS members, with lots of expertise in delivering engaging, contemporary courses, endorsed by The Guardian, Telegraph etc. Importantly they shared the same teaching ethos - “show not tell”. Who are the courses for? Mark: Anyone with an interest in telling stories with photography, so they obviously appeal to Documentary members, but are designed for a wider audience, those looking to build a body of work to tell a story, including non-members. Jon: They are designed to support anyone embarking on, or part way through a project. We know how many pitfalls there are, so this is a tool kit to guide you through those challenges, and produce meaningful pieces of work. It is modular, and can be done in any order – we aim for these to be a manual to a successful project. It’s really aimed at degree level education – we all have high expectations for our work, so you need that level of detail to produce it.
Documentary Workshop Series ... some more background What level of photographer do you need to be? Mark: These are simply aimed at anyone interested in documentary or storytelling, irrespective of your current level. We hope that relative beginners, and experienced photographers will get something from this. Jon: The best courses still teach you something long after you’ve completed them. The evolution of a photographer beyond learning the basics is in small increments of improvement, little eureka moments, when something suddenly makes sense; we’ve packed these courses full of those, so whatever level you are you’re going to get a massive amount out of it. What is the style of tuition? Jon: Show not tell, with lots of live demonstrations, group discussions, and illustrated examples – we want high levels of engagement so that you build the tool kit that suits your kind of photography. There isn’t a one sized fits all approach to documentary, so we show you everything and you can decide which bits suit you.
The first cover essay Building The Fort Peck Dam, 1936 by Margaret Bourke-White
Why three courses, not one? Mark: We take degree-level material distilled into three days. It supports every stage, from ‘Starting Out’, to ‘Execution’ and ‘Finishing Up’. By having three courses, we can delve into digestible detail about each.
How are the courses delivered? Mark: We had planned to deliver them in person, indeed this might still happen, post covid-19, with some residential dates in 2021, but for now it’s online. The content has been specifically created to work best online, to get maximum engagement, and so all of the tools we show can be used right away once the course has been completed. Do I need to complete the courses in order? Mark: No. The courses can be done in any order but we recommend doing all three courses, over time. That way, you’ll have the complete picture of what you need to do at each stage of development. There is a download guide for each course, plus you get help on our private closed Facebook page. How many have you run so far? Jon: We’ve run five courses so far, all sold out, so we’ve responded to demand and listed five more forward dates in the next few months. More will come over Winter and into 2021. What is your hope once people complete the course? Jon: Producing a competent documentary series can be challenging, and whether you’re producing a series for an RPS distinction, a book, a magazine, a local exhibition, then we know the decades worth of experience in the tips we’re revealing, at all stages of the documentary process, will make the end product much better. What support do you offer after the end of the course? Mark: One of our pet hates is the lack of support once a course ends; you try to put everything into practice, but get stuck at some point. Now what? Jon: We aim to solve that by giving every attendee membership to the RPS DOC Facebook Private Group so you can post work, ask questions and get the help you need – we even offer private 1-to-1 mentoring should you need it. In addition, our courses have ‘homework’ set each week after the course (and posted on the FB page for review) – these challenges expand your understanding of some of the key tools revealed on the courses, and allow you to try them out in a supportive environment.
Mark: In addition to us manning the FB page, weâ€™ve also got an RPS Fellow plus RPS Distinctions assessor to offer advice. Where do I find these courses? Mark: The Documentary Events page on the RPS Website (and in the Upcoming Events section later in this newsletter).
... from the Chair The pandemic continues to impact our daily lives. One side effect of the cancellation of all our physical meetings and events has been the proliferation of online events. We have almost been spoiled for choice, and unlike physical events, location did not really matter, enabling many to participate who may not have otherwise done so. Some of our regional sub-groups have embraced the Zoom world and are continuing to run their events online. If any regional sub-group would like help or support in getting Zoom meetings or events up and running (we will fund Zoom membership in lieu of meeting rooms), please let us know. Our planned DPOTY Touring Exhibition has, however, been a victim with the first two venues being cancelled. We are hopeful that later in the year we may manage a real physical exhibition. In the meantime we are planning an online talk, linked to our upcoming AGM. We have succeeded in getting our planned Documentary Workshop Series up and running, The series of three workshops is aimed at anyone working on projects covering starting-out, execution (including field work) and finishing-up (editing and sequencing). This is one of our major objectives for the year and we are really proud of it, and we are very pleased with the feedback received. It has had some small changes to make it work on-line, but we have now run several fully-booked and successful events with great feedback. We have more workshops scheduled for late August and September. Check out the Documentary Events page. In this issue of the Newsletter we focus mainly on online opportunities. We have recently updated our Resources page on the RPS Documentary website, this now provides lists of reference materials, suggested documentary photobooks, talks and online photo archives. If you have any recommendations, please let us know. The pandemic continues to impact our daily lives. One side effect of the cancellation of all our physical meetings and events has been the proliferation of online events. We have almost been spoiled for choice, and unlike physical events, location did not really matter, enabling many to participate who may not have otherwise done so. Shortly, we hope to announce our own series of online talks by prominent documentary photographers and some talks in collaboration with RPS Contemporary Group. In 2021 we plan to run DPOTY again, hopefully even bigger and better than before. But we need help. If you are able, please offer some time as a volunteer. Many thanks. Stay safe. Mark A Phillips Chair, RPS Documentary
Features - Liz Johnson Artus, a Turner Prize recipient
In Decisive Moment Issue 16 (June 2019) we featured Liz Johnson Artur who lives and works in London. In place of this year’s Turner Prize, Liz is one of ten artists awarded a oneoff bursary of £10,000. Here, we revisit our DM article with the Ghanaian-Russian photographer about her expansive archive of the richness and complexity of black British life, and her work across Europe, America, Africa and the Caribbean for more than three decades. She calls this ongoing project the Black Balloon Archive, alluding to a 1970 song lyric by Syl Johnson that describes a black balloon ‘dancing’ in the sky, which is how Liz imagines her own movement when taking photographs. She has exhibited internationally, including group exhibitions at Serpentine Galleries, London; David Nolan Gallery, New York; The Photographers’ Gallery, London; Kunstverein Leipzig; the 10th Berlin Biennale. Her monograph with Bierke Verlag was listed by The New York Times in ‘Best Photo Books 2016’, and in 2017 she was nominated for the Aimia | AGO Photography Prize. For more information about her work, see: www.lizjohnsonartur.co.uk
Upcoming Events RPS Documentary Events 13/08/2020 29/08/2020 30/08/2020 10/09/2020 19/09/2020 20/09/2020 24/09/2020 26/09/2020
10:00- 10:00- 10:00- 12:00- 10:00- 10:00- 19:00- 10:00-
12:00 15:00 16:00 15:30 15:00 15:00 20:30 15:00
Yorkshire Documentary Group Meeting (all welcome) Documentary Workshop - Building a Photographic Series (1) Documentary Workshop - Editing and Sequencing a Series (3) Yorkshire Documentary Group Meeting (all welcome) Documentary Workshop - Building a Photographic Series (1) NEW - Documentary Workshop - Execution (2) AGM and online DPOTY talks (details soon) Documentary Workshop - Editing and Sequencing a Series (3)
Online Online Online Online Online Online Online Online
For an up to date list of Documentary and other RPS Events, please us the links below:
Link to RPS Documentary Events
Link to other RPS Events
A selection of Other Events and Online Talks you might find interesting, and as location is no object we list some overseas events too ... Collecting Photography: From Daguerreotype to Digital (Online V&A, London, free) Syd Shelton: Rock Against Racism (Online at Gallery Oldham, free) Dorothea Lange: words and pictures (Online MoMA, NY, free) Virtual Views: Gordon Parks (Online MoMA, NY, free) London Street Photography Festival - 28-30 August 2020 (Online) Don McCullin - Retrospective - Tate Liverpool, 16 September 2020 â€“ 9 May 2021
Talks: Magnum Quantantine Conversations (various) (Online, free) TPG Artist Talk: Mark Neville (Online, recorded) TPG Artist Talk: Poulomi Basu (Online, recorded)
THE JUNE BI-MONTHLY COMPETITION WINNER IS ...
Ian G Wright - Rooted An image from my project on rural life in the Lincolnshire Wolds, begun in September 2019. The image captures some important elements of my narrative. It portrays one of the central features of rural culture - the close relationship farmers have with their working dogs against a landscape backdrop typical of the area. The ancient drainage ditches are a prominent element of the landscape and in autumn and winter the mist commonly descends on the rolling hills - it’s a myth that Lincolnshire is uniformly flat. This is a very English area with traditional patterns of life and values; big fields; small hamlets and market towns in existence for a thousand years or more. Mark – the subject of my portrait and one of the characters through which I tell my story – manages 6,000 acres spread over several farms.
Bi-monthly Competition Website - call for entries (A reminder that the revised rules now allow any images taken within the last 12 months) Competition Page
Help and Volunteers needed ... The RPS Documentary Group is currently looking for help (and volunteers) for the following: Decisive Moment and Newsletter We are looking for someone to join the editorial team to help produce our regular newsletter and The Decisive Moment. The work involves creating some timely articles and liaising with photographers and other contributors to turn ideas into features for publication. Please contact Dave at firstname.lastname@example.org Mark at email@example.com DPOTY 2021 (two volunteers) We would really like to expand the competition in 2021 to include competitions for Doc members, and also RPS and Under 35 categories. We are still considering the option of having an open competition category, but this will depend on resources. We also plan to have a touring exhibition. We are looking for help and two volunteers in setting up DPOTY 2021. The roles will include help with planning the competition, managing the entry process and helping with entrants queries. In the first instance, please contact Mark at firstname.lastname@example.org
ÂŠ All images and text are the copyright of the individual contributors and may not be copied without their consent Newsletter articles and features: Please send to email@example.com Decisive Moment articles and features: Please send to firstname.lastname@example.org All Text in Word format, Images in jpg format max 2Mb (no watermarks please) Documentary Resources Information on reference books, photobooks, websites and archives Other Documentary Group links here: RPS Website Facebook Instagram Decisive Moment
Newsletter of the RPS Documentary Group, featuring our new documentary workshops