22 May 2016
Quotes from Photography Question Time
At the recent photography question time organised by the Society’s London Region a panel headed by photographer Professor Brian Griffin HonFRPS (BG), with curator and gallerist W M Hunt (WH), photographer and teacher Lisa Barnard (LB) and photographer Mark Power (MP) answered questions from the audience. It was a fascinating and insightful evening with a discussion that ranged freely around the questions posed.
Here’s some of the quotes from the evening:
Q. What’s the difference between art and fine art?
WH: “art is about intention”
BG: “I’ve been a photographer, not an artist”
LB: “any photograph is art if you say it is”; “to be an artist is someone who has good ideas, not necessarily a good photographer”
MP: “I’ve never lost sleep over whether photography is about art or not…it’s all about intention”; “we all try and make the best photographs we can”
Q. Are photobook and zines here to stay?
MP: “they’re not as fad”; “it’s never been so easy to publish your own photobooks”; “will the audience remain as big as it is?”; “photography was invented for the printed page”
BG: “sift out the good stuff”
LB: “photobooks are very achievable for young artists”; “the divide between the gallery and the photobook is getting wider”; “the gallery world is very exclusive and insular…it’s not the case with photobooks”; “[photobooks] are better for female photographers”
Q. Are people buying photobooks for the right reasons? And the impact of social media.
WH: “it’s a really fertile time for the photographer”
LB: “I really hate social media, it’s distracting”; “[the photobooks] is for the masses, it’s a different market for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram”; “I’m trying not to post my own work…because exposure will stop publication”; “if you are collecting books, you are instinctively obsessed by print runs”
BG: “I don’t even like photobooks, I don’t buy them”
MP: “I’ve always collected something”; “Photography bit its nature is about collecting things”
Q. How important is the role of the curator to a photographer?
MP: “potentially make a career”
BG: “My curators over the years do stand out in my career”
WH: “[a curator] champions and challenges you”
LB: “[photographers need] one or two people who will tell you, you are rubbish”
WH: “all these platforms and there are no editors”
Q. How do you move from being an aspiring photographer to doing it?
MP: “I fell in to photography by acceident”
LB: “I was tenacious, Mark [Power] gave me my big break”
BG: “be so consumed that there isn’t anything else you’re doing”; “you’ve got to be obsessed”
Q. How important is the size photographs are shown?
WH: “the artist has to decide how big the pictures are”
LB: “it’s important and people get it wrong”
MP: “I think a lot about what size my work should be”; “I love the intimacy of being drawn in to the print”
BG: “Most photographers are not very good and they produce big prints”
Q. How does the panel feel about appropriation and plagiarism?
LB: “I use a lot of other people’s images in my work”
MP: “I am not bothered if anyone uses my pictures”
Q. Do sharpness and composition matter?
BG: “I am really into sharpness and composition… It helps us to enjoy images”
LB: “It’s about intention and context”; “all these fantastic youngsters are all using it as a tool”
MP: “down to intention”; “I don’t collect books from photographers whose work is like my own”; “what is appropriate for the work you’re trying to make”
WH: “You, as the artist, have to make up your own mind”; “the good pictures are just right”
Q. What’s the difference between an exhibition and the book of the exhibition?
MP: “The book should be different to the exhibition”; “I try to separate the two things”
LB: “I want to see an exhibition that represents the book”
WH: “I like the theatre of the book. I like the theatre of the exhibition”
Q. What would you take to a desert island?
LB: A reading book (not photography!) The Blind Assassin; Anti-histamine tablets; Bat out of Hell.
MP: The Third Policeman; Camera, film and a darkroom; Fever by Peggy Lee.
WH: A knife, mirror, cookies and dead silence
BG: Simon Schama’s The Face of Britain: The Nation through Its Portraits; ‘the girl from the typing pool’; Minimal techno music.
Report and images by Dr Michael Pritchard