Photography Shows

Sex in Photography

At the end of November I attended a Symposium: Women FIX Photography, a panel discussion and networking event as part of FIX Photo 2018 run by Laura Noble, writer and gallerist.

A rather startling statistic was put forward during Laura’s introduction that although 85% of students studying photography are women, the industry switches that figure on its head, and is made up of just 15% of females. That doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

This year marks 100 years since women got the (partial) vote in the UK. Del Barrett, Vice President of the Royal Photographic Society has spear-headed 100 Heroines this year, compiling a list of 100 influential female photographers from across the globe who are transforming photography today. Also, last week saw the launch of the 209 women project, where the 209 Female MP’s were photographed by 209 female photographers.

This, I am sure is all vital work.

I have found it hard to compile this blog, despite knowing there is something to be said. I asked my 18 year old son (who I understand to be a feminist) to read my unfinished words, and that got us into a deep discussion about women and the easy adoption of stereotypes. I will round up what he said at the end.

Symposium: Women FIX Photography. In the room:  Visible (l-r) Victoria from Christie’s Auction room  Rhiannon Adam, Artist  Chloe Rosser, whose work Form and Function you can see on the walls  Laura Noble, Organiser  Not visible:  Del Barrett, Vice President of the RPS and founder of @100heroines  Karen Harvey, director of Shutter Hub  Renee Jacobs, Photo de Femmes, was skyped live from Florida when the floor was opened up for discussion!

Symposium: Women FIX Photography. In the room:

Visible (l-r) Victoria from Christie’s Auction room

Rhiannon Adam, Artist

Chloe Rosser, whose work Form and Function you can see on the walls

Laura Noble, Organiser

Not visible:

Del Barrett, Vice President of the RPS and founder of @100heroines

Karen Harvey, director of Shutter Hub

Renee Jacobs, Photo de Femmes, was skyped live from Florida when the floor was opened up for discussion!

I am a woman, and I was once a girl. I’ve been working in the photographic industry for all of my adult life, working as an assistant for many years in the advertising & editorial sectors, and building up to a freelance practitioner. Within that time I have become a mother, and along with his Dad, raised a child.

Everyone I worked for regularly as a Photographer’s assistant was a man. For years, I barely saw women working in photographic labs and all the couriers I can picture were men - for those who are too young to remember, London was once awash with couriers on bicycles transporting rolls of film, in various states across the city; to studios, labs, and clients in offices. They would gather at a roadside cafe, much like the way Deliveroo workers do now. I don’t recall ever seeing a female courier.

Another factor in any debate about the history of photography and who works/worked in it, is one of privilege. Without a doubt, when I was starting out, those with money or creative parents were at an advantage. Nowadays there are millions of photos taken every minute on smartphones, but the industry still relies heavily on expensive equipment and/or processing techniques to produce most of the work that is accepted by publications and galleries.

Apart from one panel member, I did not know any of the women very well. The photographic industry is huge, and depending on what you photograph and for whom, you’ll only know a certain number of people. I feel that the industry has become a friendlier place overall since the onset of digital, because it has become far more democratic, and you hear the word collaboration a lot more than was ever the case; when people clung onto clients and were very secretive about commissions.

The day before attending FIX Photo festival I had been to a talk given by award winning photographer, and thoroughly nice chap Tom Hunter at The Cass, London Metropolitan University. Tom talked about his illustrious career, which is still going strong.

As I sat in awe, listening to him regale his entry into photographic notoriety, it didn’t really cross my mind that Tom’s approach would most likely have been easier as a young, testosterone fuelled man. He was not scared to confront authority, or push his way into a situation to get the results he wanted.

Of course we could turn to the work of Nan Goldin to see a woman taking pictures in places that many people wouldn’t dare to tread. There have been, and always will be, exceptions to the case, but maybe we shouldn’t pluck these individuals out, as if to say ‘see, what are you worried about? etc. etc.’ It seems that sometimes the stereotypical character traits we align with either sex are so ingrained they do not get noticed. Maybe this is the point: we do need to talk, to sound this stuff out, so we can understand how we are where we are?

You can see why I had so much trouble articulating anything here. Once you start to debate a problem, it spreads into many tributaries, and everyone has their own experience of being a woman, or man: basing their findings on their own experience and knowledge base.

Tom Hunter talking about his degree project ‘The Ghetto’ when he made a complete model of the street he lived on as a squatting tenant.  The Ghetto  title was inspired by an article printed in the Hackney Gazette, giving a scathing report on the alternative community Tom knew and loved. His photographs and model formed part of a campaign to save the community from developers and Hackney Council. It was saved, and Tom still lives in the neighbourhood today.

Tom Hunter talking about his degree project ‘The Ghetto’ when he made a complete model of the street he lived on as a squatting tenant. The Ghetto title was inspired by an article printed in the Hackney Gazette, giving a scathing report on the alternative community Tom knew and loved. His photographs and model formed part of a campaign to save the community from developers and Hackney Council. It was saved, and Tom still lives in the neighbourhood today.

At FIX, the fifty-strong audience consisted of two men. When the conversation turned to that of motherhood, one of the men, I believe Norwegian, said we would never be having this conversation in Norway because maternity/paternity rights are much more even. The mention of motherhood was like a touch-light in the room, with several women sharing their experiences.

For me, I do believe that the single most-effecting element of why I might feel in any way disadvantaged as a woman in the photographic industry is through becoming a mother. This, I know is a feeling shared by women doing all kinds of jobs, but as a creative freelance professional, there are many obstacles, both physical (meaning logistics rather than carrying equipment) and mental to deal with.

Talking of mothers, this is what my son pretty much said The thing about some of these movements (#metoo was mentioned) is that they breed polarisation. He is certainly affronted by the idea that men are often presumed to be ‘the enemy’, and I fully get his position.

These are shared issues, and ones to discuss together. Even in these times of shifting identities men will still be our fathers, our lovers and our sons.

There is more to being a woman, than being a woman. Amanda Eatwell

FIX 2018

FIX 2018

PS. Within the time I wrote this, I read an interview between Jane Graham (Big Issue) and Stella Rimington, Ex MI5 Chief. Asked which day of her life she would relive if possible she said the day she met members of the KGB. She was the only woman at the table, and during the concluding speech one of them said ‘“In your country you have a woman Prime Minister, you have a lady Queen, and now we have a woman leading your intelligence service”. She said “there was a sense of ‘you must be mad’.”

But still, she was there, and women should always be there, here, everywhere.














Putting on a show: Shutter Hub Open

On the wall at Shutter Hub Open 2018

On the wall at Shutter Hub Open 2018

This year has been a roller-coaster for me, and by that I mean exhilarating.

I have visited four countries, fought and won my first boxing match, and moved home. I have not however written many blog posts, and I had the hunch that I haven’t taken many pictures in 2018, but I seem to be wrong.

When you are a photographer who participates in many other pursuits, both work-wise, and in their private lives, as well as having a young adult to keep track of, it can seem that there is no time for your first love and passion. I wonder if photography is such an integral part of my life, that I often don’t realise that somehow, it is always there?

I have produced a few small series of work this year, and got some cracking shots in Morocco that I plan to make available for purchase - an online store may be in sight!

The most recent show I had work selected for is the Shutter Hub Open. If you’re reading this as it’s published, you could see it for yourself as it ends tomorrow at 6pm.

It seems the organisers have even surprised themselves with the overwhelmingly positive reaction to the show - it really is their best yet!

Teaming up with Newspaper Club all of the images were printed onto newsprint paper. I was a little concerned with how the pictures might reproduce, but they looked fantastic!

The private view was held last Thursday, the same night Photo Month began across the east of the city, and formed part of Photomonth’s time-tabled events schedule.

Shutter Hub is a photography organisation offering opportunities, support, and net-working for their members. At their helm is a woman who does all she can to promote the work of the Shutter Hub community. I was really touched, as I was about to leave the Private View, when Karen Harvey thanked me for always getting involved, being encouraging and spreading the word. I told her it cuts both ways.

Pictures pop off the walls.

Pictures pop off the walls.

Having worked in photography for over two decades, I have seen it change from an industry of individuals, keeping their ideas and clients close to their chests, to an open forum for discussion and ideas sharing. Obviously that has a lot to do with the digital explosion, and a need to change, but it has opened up the floor to people like Karen who work tirelessly to keep us photographers on show.

Funny enough, I spoke to a photographer that I assisted for years in the editorial sector yesterday: he was always driven by money, and we used to have heated debates about politics. He asked me if I make any money from all these exhibitions I do, in the same way my Dad, or my ex-partner would. Ironically they are all Capricorns, but I digress! Do I make money? I don’t know, probably not, but you never know, in a round-about way.

I thought we were living in the times of ‘do what you love’? Well, I worked that out for myself at a young age, and despite the peaks and troughs over the years I know I made the right choice.

Long live Photography!

Two images from my Face Pack project were chosen for display: Super Fruits, and Flowers in her hair.

Two images from my Face Pack project were chosen for display: Super Fruits, and Flowers in her hair.

Simplicity in Execution: Paper and Tape.

Simplicity in Execution: Paper and Tape.

The show is being held at:

11 Dray Walk, Old Truman Brewery, London E1

Just off of Brick Lane

Open 11 - 6pm today and tomorrow, Tuesday 9th October









fLIPin Heck! That was a good week for photography

Hobnobbing with Martin Parr, Brian Griffin, and Bruce Gilden

Hobnobbing with Martin Parr, Brian Griffin, and Bruce Gilden

Earlier this year I became Editor of fLIP magazine which aims to provide readers with a broad dialogue concerning photography. It includes an informative Events listing and each edition has an overarching theme, the next of which is Nomadic.  The magazine is produced three times a year by London Independent Photography, who are currently celebrating their thirtieth year. Though primarily a showcase for members work, submissions are welcome from all photographers, worldwide.

Last week in London was awash with all things photography. Here's what I did:

Wednesday started with a breakfast invitation for Surface Tension, curated by Cheryl Newman and held at the Magic Gallery, underneath Charing Cross Station. A group show from members of both LIP and The Royal Photographic Society: it was well orchestrated, with some clever hanging devices - my favourite being an abstract flock of birds by Pennie Dixie printed onto a large piece of vinyl and hung from the ceiling. 

Within minutes of arriving I was offered a croissant and a choice of beverages - I kickstarted the morning with a Black Velvet, which was new on me - Guinness and Champagne. Nice!

Magic Gallery.jpg

From here, I hot-footed it along the Strand to Somerset House.  Photo London was about to kick off, and fLIP's designer, Anita Chandra and myself attended a 10am Press Call. We had a welcome and introduction to Photo London which is now in it's fourth year from the founders and directors, as well as from Jonathan Reekie, the director of Somerset House.

They say that "the fourth edition of Photo London celebrates the power of photography to profoundly alter the way in which we see things". There was a lot of new and expansive work, as well as some iconic images, held by famous galleries and sold for tens of thousands of pounds.

This year's fair included over one hundred galleries from eighteen different countries, but since attending the last three shows I still haven't shaken off my bittersweet reaction when I first walk in: with a £30 entrance fee, it feels a little exclusive.  However, once you're over the heavily coiffured and immaculately dressed there is so much photography to feast your eyes on, and of course I welcome sales and promotion of photography as an art-form. 

After the press call which included an on-stage informal discussion between Edward Burtynsky ( I liked when he said "we are experiencing a renaissance of lens based art") and Es Devlin we headed to the show proper. We split for an hour to look at work, and discussed our favourites after hooking up: Anita was drawn especially to a lot of the American Artists showing great vistas and American culture, whilst I was time and again pulled in by the work of Japanese photographers.  I learned of Provoke Magazine, which was a short-lived production from the late 1960's, comprising a small group of critics, photographers and writers. Anita and I were both a little smitten by the work of Anja Niemi, represented by a rather dismissive pair from Little Black Gallery. The artist stages and performs all of her own shots, and her current work She Could have been a Cowboy is a delight.

Bruce Gilden's images are scary enough on Instagram, so to see these faces, with their teenage acne and scars in mega scale was powerful. Images from Gilden's latest work  Farm Boys & Farm Girls USA

Bruce Gilden's images are scary enough on Instagram, so to see these faces, with their teenage acne and scars in mega scale was powerful. Images from Gilden's latest work Farm Boys & Farm Girls USA

On Thursday I made a quick visit back to Photo London to see Bruce Gilden's work, and The Photography on a Postcard display. So there I am wandering in one of the new galleries and I spot Brian Griffin having a cup of tea. I went to say Hi, and realised he was in deep conversation with Martin Parr. As I looked around I saw a friend of mine and Brian's, Lizzie Brown, who is Events coordinator of LIP. She was there with her husband, so I sat down for a catch up. In walks Bruce Gilden, who was about to do a book signing, and that was when I realised this was too good an opportunity to miss, so thanks to being acquainted with Brian, I introduced myself and the magazine, and Lizzie took the picture above! Serendipity at it's finest. 

133-Rye-Lane.jpg

 

Friday evening I headed to Peckham 24 which acts as a fringe event to tie-in with Photo London. In stark contrast to the palatial setting of Somerset House, this festival is on the streets, in the warehouses and all around. Peckham had my attention the moment I stepped out of the station. It was raw and alive with people sights and sounds. I've been hearing a lot about Peckham, so I'll be heading back to explore for sure. 

Bussey Building.jpg

There were several smaller venues holding exhibits, but I spent the evening across Copeland Park, a former industrial estate and the Bussey Building which used to be a cricket-bat factory. Just on the edge of the industrial estate were two dilapidated terraced houses that had been used to host Solid Liquid by Jo Dennis, and 'Overhaul' which featured collaborative works from Rhiannon Adam, Laura Pannack and Natasha Caruana. Clever methods of display added to the venues bare walls, lack of floorboards and bare electric sockets. A refreshing change.

'virtue is more infectious and contagious than vice' so says the mirror. Had a long and meandering conversation with this guy about Auras, crystals, photography and setting myself free! I then headed for the bar.

'virtue is more infectious and contagious than vice' so says the mirror. Had a long and meandering conversation with this guy about Auras, crystals, photography and setting myself free! I then headed for the bar.

Emma Bowkett curated My London in the Copeland Gallery - showcasing nine photographers that she had commissioned for the Financial Times Weekend Magazine over the past year. An eclectic mix of imagery in two large rooms full of dynamic young image-makers, and a few more established ones too!

Juno Calypso and friends.

Juno Calypso and friends.

With my appetite whetted, I thought I'd go for a final helping on Sunday!

Another Kind of Life Photography on the Margins showing at the Barbican until 27th May has been widely covered in the Press. It's a collection of works from twenty photographers, individually curated through a series of snaking rooms. This was more story-telling through pictures, across several decades, honing in on groups of individuals who may not fit social norms or have created their own worlds. Two of my favourite photographers were represented, Alec Soth and Daido Moriyama (again!). There is an abundance of work, so it's hard to reflect on all that I saw- kind of wish I bought the Show Book now.

I visited with a friend, who in fact was a large part of the frame-making arm of this exhibition. Very nice frames they were too!

Because of the content of some of the work, it seems odd to call them favourites, but in his approach to photographing some of the California street kids, Jim Goldberg's Raised by Wolves was very stirring. Including items of clothing, drawings and notes written by the teenagers he got to know so well as he followed their paths, sometimes to destruction.