Visual Art Weekend Review

12 April 2014

Region: Headquarters

Last weekend, the Hilton Hotel in Bristol hosted the AGM of the Visual Art Group which included three days of socialising, lectures and photography field work.  I attended an extended talk by Nicki Gwynn-Jones and then three shorter ones by other accomplished speakers after a nice friendly dinner.   

I always try to take home one tip from every speaker I see to apply to my own photographic practice. I have shared these below as you may also find them useful:


Nicki Gwynn-Jones FRPS

Work shown: Her FRPS panel, bird photographs, portraits and breath-taking landscapes.

This was the star of the show for me as it was an extended talk, which allowed Nicki to give us a thorough insight into her work and techniques.  Nicki prefers to do as much of the manipulation of the images as possible in-camera, which I found a revelation when you consider her stunning results, many of which look like beautiful hand-painted watercolours rather than photographs.  She really pushes the boundaries of what is possible without the use of post-production software.  Nicki generously shared not only extensive technical details, but also creative information, which shows real confidence as a photographer.  The breadth and scale of her body of work is staggering and her creativity boundless. What an inspiration!

Tip! Always put a picture in a frame on the wall and live with it for a while before letting it go to a gallery.  I would also apply this good advice to images you would like to sell, enter into a competition or submit for a Distinction Assessment. 


Linda Wevill FRPS

Work shown:  Her FRPS panel, lovely seascapes and coastal town detail.

Flooded Boating Pool by Linda Wevill FRPS

To see more examples of Linda's work (including the image above) click here

This was a really fun explanation of Linda’s beautiful and tranquil work and the processes she employed to achieve some gorgeous results.   Her work is the kind I covet to adorn my home, as I enjoy the peaceful feeling she achieves with her smooth milky seas and pastel colours.  She shared information on the processes involved to create her successful Visual Art FRPS panel, including some great tips and tricks on layering and shooting water in relation to other examples of her work.

Tip! To create lines in seawater coming towards you at the shoreline, time the water coming in and then set your shutter speed accordingly. 


David Cooke ARPS

Work shown: His ARPS panel.

Members' Exhibition 2013 

‘The Door to Beyond’ by Dr David Cooke ARPS
‘The Door to Beyond’ by Dr David Cooke ARPS - a Highly Commended image from the 2013 Visual Art Group Members' Exhibition.
‘The Door to Beyond’ by Dr David Cooke ARPS

This fascinating talk from David, about his long road to attaining an ARPS Distinction, is one I would recommend to anyone.  His explanations about the images he chose to exclude from his final choices were as important as to why he chose the final images.  His visual demonstrations of the evolving panels were also enormously enlightening.  As the Chair of the Education Committee for the Royal Photographic Society, it would be a wise member indeed who took on board the advice he shared with us when preparing their own panel of work for assessment!

Tip! Don’t use weak images because they fit the panel. 

Tip! You don’t have to keep buying new cameras to achieve the results you desire. Try and find workarounds with what you already have.


Viveca Koh ARPS 

Work shown: From visualisations of depression to ruined sanatoriums.

ARPS Viveca Koh 

To see her successful ARPS panel (including the image above) click here.

Viveca is a photographer that challenges with her choice of subject matter.  Although what she chooses to shoot may be uncomfortable to view, her interpretations of these subjects are always hauntingly beautiful.  While others explore the light, Viveca ventures into the dark, choosing to visit difficult personal subjects or creating fascinating studies of place.  She manipulates the way we perceive the world, both in and out of camera.  For in-camera manipulation, I particularly enjoyed her discussion of cloning which she uses to great effect.  Cloning is creating multiple shots of a person moving while the camera is in a fixed position and then merging them into one picture, so the subject appears within it several times.  She has developed a distinct personal style that fills you with keen anticipation about how her work will develop.

Tip! Create layers of texture over your pictures using image manipulation software to add extra interest.  Building up an image bank of textures is useful to this end. 



I enjoyed the whole experience so much that I will be joining the Visual Art Group. I came away truly inspired to take a fresh look at my own photography and view of the world.  I also intend to experiment with some more creative techniques, both in and out of camera. 

I would encourage anybody who hasn't yet joined a Special Interest Group to do so and not just be passive – participate!  They are ridiculously cheap to join and often include inspiring genre-specific magazines.  The wealth of information you will glean in your area of interest and through congenial conversation with like-minded photographers is priceless.

Words by Emily Mathisen.

Main image © Linda Wevill FRPS