What's better than a photography festival based in a local town, learning more about what you enjoy, and a fantastic new event. Oh and some great weather.. Nothing!
PhotoEast has been very warmly welcomed by East Anglia this past weekend and we hope it's just the beginning for even more exciting things to come in 2018.
We hope you enjoy reading through our day and finding out about PhotoEast.
The Face of The Century, Julian Germain and The Family, Zed Nelson, are on display at the UCS Waterfront Gallery until 25th June 2016. The small gallery space at UCS has been transformed for the use of PhotoEast and this combination of exhibitions. On show is Julian's 101 portraits with sitters birth dates spanning every year of the 20th century. It's interesting to see this timeline of people span from a 100 year old and ending with a tiny baby. Also making a connection between the old and the young is Zed Nelson's work; very simple portraits of one family photographed every year, on the same day, at the same time, for over a quarter of a century.
Also at home in the UCS Waterfront Building is the current final year Photography Degree Show, Anywhere and Everywhere, before they make their way to Hoxton Arches, London, on the 13th June. It really is a must see show this year with a strong variety of work all presented perfectly. Stand out work and presentation for us included Rachel Dockerill, David Bull, Amanda Hook, and Natalie Wall.
Shot from the top of a double decker bus, photographer George Georgiou aims to explore towns and cities from a new perspective. The work, shot in both London and Ipswich, looks at migrations and diversity in built up areas. The movement of people continues to change both the landscape and community within it. This work is fun and really unique; being presented along a busy path between the university and halls of residence gives the viewer a chance to step back, and take in even further the surroundings of the images, and those presented in the images. This is another must see part of PhotoEast!
PhotoEast Talks and Events
A small selection of photographers filled the schedule on Saturday and we chose a few of the talks to go to. Firstly was Fiona Shields, Picture Editor at The Guardian, then photographer Chloe Dewe-Mathews in conversation with curator Katy Barron, UCS Photography course leader Mark Edwards, and finally, one of the exhibiting photographers at this year's event, Julian Germain.
Fiona Shields: Sifting through a whopping 25,000 pictures a day, the Guardian Picture Editor Fiona Shields discussed what kind of imagery is selected for publication and why. With a rough idea of what kind of stories will be highlighted each day, she looks for strong graphic images that stand out. When talking about portraiture, Fiona announced that “animation” is something they look for rather than something “dry and formal”. For the Eyewitness spread in the Guardian, the audience found out that if a group of images are printed, this means that no solo image was strong enough that day. Fiona’s preference is to print a single photograph as she finds this more effective.
The Guardian has a no editing rule for imagery submitted. Darkroom processes are allowed such as the changing of contrast but nothing else would be accepted that could compromise the truthfulness of a photograph, otherwise this would encourage the readers to question the validity of the material published, in effect causing a loss of trust. Even if an image doesn’t look technically great, there is no room for manoeuvre on their no editing policy.
Something that many of us may not have considered before is that these editors have to look at all the imagery submitted, and when there’s a catastrophic event such as a terror attack, they have to sift through masses of imagery all of a graphic nature, and this overexposure can leave them emotional by the end of the day.
Katy Barron meets Chloe Dewe-Mathews: Unlike the other talks we attended during the day, this one was much more intimate in style as it was a conversation. The talk focused solely on one body of work called Shot at Dawn produced by Chloe Dewe-Mathews over a two-year period. The project centres on the places of executions of British, French and Belgian soldiers accused of cowardice and desertion during 1914 – 1918. Each image was taken at a similar time the executions took place, and the name of the project reflects this.
Coinciding with the centenary of the First World War, this project proposed many questions about how to photograph something that happened such a long time ago, and Chloe found this an exciting prospect to consider. After researching each case in detail it was difficult to not feel an emotional connection to the stories. So when it came to showing the work, Chloe decided to only display names and dates with each image to make it more of an objective and equalising approach to seeing the work. As Katy Barron said, this allows the viewer to project onto the imagery with their own thoughts about it, making it an active process of looking rather than a passive one, Chloe added. The project allows for the people that were swept under the carpet and kept out of the history books to become remembered, and excluding the stories has let each person be as important as the other.
Mark Edwards: Mark spoke a lot about his childhood and influences he's carried with him into the work he makes today. His earliest memories of the landscape are spending time with his Grandfather at his allotment, learning of ways we utilise and shape the land. Mark later moved to Norfolk as an outsider from Liverpool and for a time, found it difficult to make work here.
Mark photographs spaces he is fond of, those he feels a connection to and where he finds beauty. As a photographer he works very slowly, almost like a painter; he takes his time to find a location and can be thinking about a spot for over a year as he runs or cycles past, before making an image. His words were "a picture will reveal itself to me”. Mark accepts that anybody can make the images he does technically, but in fact wouldn’t because of his own personal relationship with the area.
What's interesting about Mark's work is that all areas of his images are of equal importance and everything is always in focus. There's no enjoyment in creating a hierarchy of elements within the frame which is why he works on very still, calm, overcast days to avoid any movement or fleeting moments of light. He also shoots from a height to exclude any foreground and always includes small aspects of the landscape beyond.
Julian Germain: One of the talks I found the most inspiring personally was by one of the exhibiting photographers at the inaugural PhotoEast festival, Julian Germain. Photography, according to Julian, is “a great way to discover the world”. Areas of particular interest for him are family and amateur photography because they contain emotionally stronger stories. Discussing his projects and their conception, many stemmed from one to the other; Generations grew from The Face of The Century, for example.
As family photographs are a prominent theme to Julian's projects, he stated his concern and upset that our own personal memories are being ditched at this current time for more digital modes of preservation rather than the traditional printed material. Although he believes that some will survive, he said he’s yet to see something on a computer screen that moves him in such a way that something printed in your hands can. A particularly poignant moment during the talk was a video shown of a woman looking at family photographs. The room was so quiet as we watched the subject slowly open up emotionally, from a rather deadpan expression, to a smile donning her face, to tears in her eyes. This video perfectly illustrates the emotional quality that can be felt through family photographs that Julian discussed.
When asked what is more important, technique or content, Julian answered by saying that it’s more important to say something about life and that the camera doesn’t matter, the picture does.