Image © Robin Segulem

We’d set the theme at the start of the year for our July meeting as Travel. Like most things the context of that decision had now radically changed and, like a lot of things nowadays, it gave an opportunity to reconsider some fundamental assumptions.

Presentations and discussion
Frankie McAllister and Angelika Berndt led the session with two presentations on, respectively, the variations in the genre of travel photography as a consequence of the different perspective of the traveller/photographer and the ethics of representation with particular reference to photo tourism. Both accounts were full of personal insight, referring to their own practice and reflecting on the motivations for making work in environments and cultures outside the UK.

Frankie drew upon her experiences in the former Soviet republics to explore the subtle distinction of documenting staged events for tourists and of uncovering everyday situations. She skillfully highlighted the challenges of looking for meaning in these, what kind of authenticity they represent and the influence of cultural perspective

The exchange that happens between photographer and photographed, who is in control of the situation and the outcomes for both parties, was a great introduction to Angelika’s presentation. She highlighted the impact of photo tourism on the local culture and people using her own experience of a road trip across Northern Ethiopia. She discussed the dilemma often arising when photographing people in countries whose economy depends on tourism. Experienced in working with NGOs and indigenous peoples Angelika spoke of acknowledging an individual’s circumstances, accepting photography has a price and engaging with people to represent their lives with integrity.

She then invited the group to reflect on these themes which developed into an interesting, informed discussion considering the practice of ethics within as well as outside the UK.

Individual work
Three members of the group Robin Segulem, Arun Misra and Ray Higginbottom then showed their own photographs.
Robin ingeniously presented his images as a travel quiz. One for future reference!
Arun showed new work about the Gateway of India in Mumbai which echoed Jonny’s recent work on monuments.
We were also pleased to see a fascinating project from Ray using the tintype process.

LIP News
In LIP news Robin also reminded us of the LIP annual show’s theme of Life Under Lockdown and encouraged us to submit work by the deadline of August 14th.

Group activities for the rest of the year
Looking ahead to plans for the remainder of the year Sean shared ideas with the group that Mel, Frankie, Jonny and he had considered. Thanks to Jonny for the notes!

In the absence of BEAT we thought it would still be important to create a group project at the end of the year. A virtual show could be an option but we were attracted to two “real world” ideas, Windows and 2020 Newspaper.

Windows is an idea for an exhibition where a photo from each member of the group (theme to be decided) is posted in a new window (locations to be decided) each day from Decemebr 1-24. It needs developing as an idea but Jonny is happy to curate. Here’s a recent example

2020 Newspaper is an idea for the group to produce a newspaper with photos and stories/articles from 2020. We’ll need to investigate costs and come up with a model to pay for it. Mel is happy to do the design/layout. Here’s a link to get us thinking (thanks Frankie)

So there’s lots to discuss! For the next meeting in September we thought we’d make both these ideas the topic of discussion/decision. The zoom meetings have been going really well but with lockdown easing we thought of a socially distant gathering. If the weather was fine and people are comfortable we could meet early evening outdoors with a plan b of heading to the garden of the Grange to be on outdoor tables. Jonny will sound this out with the group in advance.

For October and November we’ve two themes. Dates to be decided depending on availability of presenters.
Post-production – using Chris Dorley-Brown’s The Corners as a starting point. Sean to lead. Open to others to contribute.
Negative Space – Mel will lead on this one.

Let’s not forget ideas to develop Making Strange too!

Hope everyone’s keeping well. Looking forward to seeing you all in some shape or form next month!

Best wishes, Sean