By Touch and By Sight

envelope

We have been giving away free tactile prints. A tactile print is a version of a photograph designed to be experienced by touch rather than sight. To receive one you simply have to be a subscriber and send an email to subs@source.ie with the subject-line 'tactile'. Include in the email your postal address and whether you are a new or existing subscriber. There are about 20 prints still available.

The print comes in an envelope with a link that will take you to a web address where you will hear instructions on how to take out and feel the print and a description of what it depicts. Some readers have already received their prints and have been describing their experience of them.


I gave a collection of prints to a class of students many of whom said that the image was much smaller than the scene they imagined. Emma Gray another reader makes a similar observation:

I found the tactile image to be a brilliant and simultaneously frustrating experience. There was so much detail in the audio description that I failed to pick up on through touch. I'd somehow managed to build up a much more complicated mental image than what was actually represented on the print. The scene turned out to be a lot smaller than what I had envisioned. The whole experience really demonstrates how much we take vision for granted and how we mentally construct images. I think engaging with a photograph through touch makes you more aware of what is important within an image and leads you to realise just how complex an image can be.

In a nice synergy the latest edition of the radio 4 programme In Our Time is about the philosopher Bishop Berkeley. In this programme Michela Massimi talks about a philosophical conundrum of Berkeley's time known as the Molyneux Problem. In this problem a person who is born blind learns to distinguish between a cube and a sphere. They then gain sight, will they be able to tell the difference between the cube and sphere by looking at them, having previously only experienced them by touch? This translation between different types of sensory experience, touch to vision, is exactly what is going on when you feel a tactile print and construct a mental image of the picture.

Here's is the film again that explains how the tactile prints work. If you are a subscriber give one a go and please email or tweet us and tell us what you made of the experience.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Portfolio Reviews, Who Benefits?

Clare-Grafik

In the new issue of Source we have a report on Portfolio Review Days. I spoke to Clare Grafik the Head of Exhibitions at the Photographers' Gallery. Last November the Gallery ran a day-long portfolio review session which photographers could attend for a fee of £75. Clare explained what the portfolio reviews were for, both in terms of the Gallery's responsibilities and as a service to photographers.

Some people are opposed to the very idea of paid-for portfolio reviews...

The argument takes different forms. One contention is that photographers should not be paying to submit their work for exhibition or publication. Another belief is that curators and editors should offer support and advice to photographers who are trying to make work for them to show or publish.

Currently the biggest portfolio review event in the UK is part of the Format Festival. Louise Clements is the Director. Asked about the value of the reviews she says, 'At Format we try to make it as cheap as possible and we try to select reviewers who offer short and long term opportunities for people. We have feedback about the reviewers from the photographers, if they're not good then we might not invite them back again.' The 2014 reviews at Format cost £250 to see eight reviewers. Clements says that photographers have different expectations of the reviews, 'It depends what experience they have. Some expect an offer straight away, some say "when can I have the exhibition?" But that's quite rare. It may be only two years later that I have space to show work'.

Portfolio review, PhotoIreland

Carlotta Cardana is a photographer who has attended a number of portfolio reviews including those at the Photographers' Gallery and Paris Photo (which started last November and cost €695). She says photographers have to be realistic about what they can expect from these events, 'I think it's a bit like speed dating. You don't go there expecting to come out with a marriage proposal.' The benefits of paying for a portfolio review are, 'To see people from different countries that would be difficult to reach – I saw two curators from Korea – and to talk to people and get their advice. People say that you can just phone them up but if I do that they don't have to give me advice. This is buying time with experts in their field. These people are overwhelmed by photographers who want to show them work.'

The contentious aspect of portfolio reviews is therefore to do with the purpose they serve and who benefits from them. The Photographers' Gallery have had a changing approach to portfolio reviews. In 1999 they started Folio Forum which 'gives a selection of photographers the chance to show work in progress in an informal atmosphere and gain feedback through group discussion.' To participate a photographer had to submit work in advance but they were led by a photography professional and were free. Then in 2011 the Gallery started portfolio reviews, 'an opportunity to discuss a body of work, and receive feedback from a member of The Photographers' Gallery team'. Initially participants were asked 'to contribute a £10 admin fee' but by May 2013 there were invited reviewers as well as gallery staff involved and the fee had risen to the current charge of £75.

Nevertheless, I attended the last portfolio review day at the Photographers' Gallery and all the photographers attending said they were there for feedback and advice rather than in expectation of the Gallery exhibiting their work. They also accepted the fee to attend. As Clare Grafik says, the staff do not have time to give feedback to any photographer who comes through the door of the gallery and a formalised portfolio review allows the exchange to be of benefit to both parties. However, although the Gallery say they have a submission process (distinct from the portfolio reviews) this is not advertised anywhere so a photographer might reasonably assume the only way to show their work to a Gallery curator is to pay them to look at it. In the end, the ideal of complete accessibility to curators comes up against the reality of shortage of time. In many cases, for a professional opinion, a photographer's best option is to attend a paid-for portfolio review.

Source Issue 77 - The Photograph Recoded

Subscribe and get
four Issues for just £21.00
including Issue 77:

Europe and International postage options here »

Source is also now available as a digital edition via Exact Editions:

View a free trial issue of Source »

Or download the Source app for iPad and iPhone »

Download the Source app for iPad and iPhone

 

Posted in Curators, Galleries, Interviews, Opportunities, Photographers, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Selling Photographs

Averil-Curci

The new issue of Source has a number of stories about the closure of galleries and the appointment of new new Curators and Directors. One unexpected story was the closure of the Brancolini Grimaldi Gallery. Unusual among galleries that sell art (rather than publicly funded galleries that just exhibit it) the programme of Brancolini Grimaldi was exlusively contemporary and included shows of little known European artists like Peter Pillar who had not shown in the UK before, alongside British photographers like Clare Strand, Peter Fraser and Sophy Rickett.

The stated reason for the closure was the ending of a lease but at the same time the two partners in the gallery (Brancolini and Grimaldi) went their separate ways. The Gallery has subsequently reappeared as the Camilla Grimaldi Gallery representing the same artists and in a nearby (temporary) gallery space. I went along to visit and spoke to Averil Curci, the Director, about their plans and how she saw the photography market in London. She says they are planning to add a few more artists to their line-up and have asked Paul Wombell (the former Director of the Photographers' Gallery and more recently the Mois de la photo in Montreal) to help them.

She sees London as a European centre for photography and expects to be involved in the planned Photo London in May 2015. I asked her if she noticed any current trends in the work she was seeing and she identified 'photography becoming more material, whether it's embroidered photographs... treating the object itself in a different way'. But before you start embroidering, they don't invite submissions to the gallery new artists will be recommended by Paul Wombell.

gallery-sign

To read more from the new issue of Source you can subscribe here. In this issue there is also a subscriber offer to win a free tactile photograph, find out more about tactile photographs and how to win one here.

Source Issue 77 - The Photograph Recoded

Subscribe and get
four Issues for just £21.00
including Issue 77:

Europe and International postage options here »

Source is also now available as a digital edition via Exact Editions:

View a free trial issue of Source »

Or download the Source app for iPad and iPhone »

Download the Source app for iPad and iPhone

 

Posted in Curators, Galleries, Interviews, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Who's on Twitter?

 

In the new issue of Source we set out to find out how many of the most important people in photography are using Twitter. To get a sample of successful people in photography we have included full time curators, members of Magnum, professors of photography and photographers shortlisted for the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize. This totals 246 people of whom 36% have Twitter accounts although some of these accounts appear to be dormant; 27% have tweeted in the last six months.

Twitter-chart-2

Curators are twice as likely to use Twitter as nominees for the Deutsche Börse Prize, they are also more active once they have signed up, producing more than double the number of tweets. Professors of photography are both the least active (writing a quarter of the number of tweets as the curators) and the least followed. Members of Magnum are the most popular attracting, on average, five times more followers than the professors.

Mark-Power

To understand more about the use of Twitter I spoke to Mark Power (@marktpower) who, confusingly, is both a member of Magnum and a professor. He explained that for him it is both a professional and a personal tool.

Val-Williams

Val Williams is also a professor and she tweets from both a personal account (@valalpinehouse) and for an account connected to her research centre PARC (@PARC_UAL).

To get the view of an art photographer and someone who doesn't use Twitter I spoke to Fiona Crisp. She signed up to Twitter (@FionaCrisp1) but rarely uses it and says she is embarrassed that people might follow her when she has no intention of tweeting.

So what conclusions can be drawn? Clearly quite a few people in photography use Twitter, but it's still a minority activity among those who have achieved the most success. It is not surprising that curators – whose job is to find out about things and communicate with people – have adopted Twitter most enthusiastically. More surprising is how few art photographers tweet. As Fiona Crisp suggests, perhaps Twitter doesn't provide the kind of engagement they are looking for from gallery visitors? I also spoke to the photographer John Davies – not a Twitter user – his response, 'Life's too short, it's not actually productive…'

To read more from the new issue of Source you can subscribe here. In this issue there is also a subscriber offer to win a free tactile photograph, find out more about tactile photographs and how to win one here.

 

 

Source Issue 77 - The Photograph Recoded

Subscribe and get
four Issues for just £21.00
including Issue 77:

Europe and International postage options here »

 

Source is also now available as a digital edition via Exact Editions:

View a free trial issue of Source »

Or download the Source app for iPad and iPhone »

Download the Source app for iPad and iPhone

 

Posted in Interviews, Photographers, Technology, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Tactile Image

The new issue of Source has an article about tactile images, versions of photographs designed to be experienced by touch. To accompany this piece, and as a subscriber offer for this issue, we are giving away 100 tactile prints for free. Watch this film in which Sue King from RNIB explains how tactile images are made and how the subscriber offer works.

The theme of this issue is 'The Photograph Recoded' and, as well as photographs transformed into tactile images there is also an article about the computer interpretation of photographs. There are photographs by Becky Beasley, Darren Harvey-Regan and David Penny. Finally, there are our usual extensive exhibition reviews including Martha Langford on John Berger, Ian Walker on Tony Ray-Jones as well as Motherhood, new magazines and spy photography.

The magazine will be in the shops soon and subscribers will be receiving their copies in the next few days.

 

 

Source Issue 77 - The Photograph Recoded

Subscribe and get
four Issues for just £21.00
including Issue 77:

Europe and International postage options here »

 

Source is also now available as a digital edition via Exact Editions:

View a free trial issue of Source »

Or download the Source app for iPad and iPhone »

Download the Source app for iPad and iPhone

 

Posted in Interviews, Uncategorized, Videos | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

We are starting to accept bookings for Graduate Photography Online 2014. This year we have made a short film about Graduate Online to introduce it to students who haven't come across it before. In the film John Duncan (my co-editor) explains how it works, Clare Gallagher talks about her experience as a student and after graduation, and Hannah Redler, who's Head of Media Space in London talks about why looking at new work on the site is useful for her.

Hannah will be looking through this year's work to make an introductory selection of the MA graduates. Other selectors are, for BA: David Drake (Director, Ffotogallery, Cardiff), Lorenzo Fusi (Director, Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool) and Karen Downey (Curator, Belfast Exposed); For MA, alongside Hannah will be Paul Moakley (Deputy Photo Editor, Time Magazine) and Dewi Lewis (photographic publisher).

The idea of the introductory selections is to give a range of professional opinions about the work and to offer a way into the site. You can search by course and by genre but there's a lot of work to look at, so it's helpful to start by seeing what has caught the eye of a curator or publisher. The purpose of Graduate Online, as Hannah says in the film, is to makes it easier for people to see the work even if they can't get to the degree shows. And this has been the experience of many people who use the site, including publishers and curators, and not only the one we invite to do so.

We also want the site to be a valuable record of the work of different courses, many of whom have taken part in Graduate Online since it started in 2007. And most of all to be helpful for the many students who have taken part in the past and who will take part this year. Either by making the site easy to use or by creating a platform to see the result of all their hard work. So, if you're graduating from a photography BA or MA have a look at Graduate Photography Online 2014 and consider taking part this year.

 

Posted on by Richard | Leave a comment

Bookshop latest

There have been a number of changes in the world of photography bookshops in the last year or so. To start with the positives, Claire de Rouen the fashion and photography shop on Charing Cross Road is now being run by Lucy Moore. I called in to see her and ask how she found running a small specialist bookshop.

Meanwhile, next door to Claire de Rouen is the largest bookshop in London, Foyles. In recent years Foyles has undergone a revival becoming far better organised so it now both contains a large stock and it is possible to find what you are looking for. It also still demonstrates the benefits of giving book buyers responsibility over the books in their departments. In the photography section this has had the unexpected result that they now stock large numbers of self published books. Mohara Gill is the Art Buyer.

I asked her why they are now stocking independently produced titles, like Cafe Royal Books (whose creator Craig Atkinson I spoke to at Copeland Book Market in July). Ironically, it would seem that the books that historically couldn't get into large bookshops are now one of the main attractions bringing customers in. This is something the dreaded Amazon cannot supply.

Elsewhere in the independent bookshop world Conor at Donlon Books says that they expect to be at their current location for at least another six months (they had expected to have to leave their current shop this year). He says they are also considering moving into a new additional venue in Dalston that would be big enough to include a gallery and events space. Conor says he is often finds people want to put on events and there is no space to do it, this would allow him to put on photography shows or 'archival book exhibitions'. He says 'everything is up in the air at the moment' but should become clearer in December.

On a less positive note Photo Books International, the last second hand photography bookshop in the country (unless anyone knows of another) closed at the end of October. The shop is currently being slowly cleared out and is being offered to new tenants. I was unable to speak to the people who ran the shop but met the owner of the building by chance. He said that they had found it hard to make the business financially viable. It had been going for 16 years.

Posted in Interviews, Publishing, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Photography and Public Art

Flying out of Belfast this morning I managed to muscle aside the small child sitting in the window seat and catch a glimpse of the city's infamous new public art project 'Wish'. This consists of a photograph of a girl rendered in earth and sand in a flat area of land by the old shipyards. Much comment has been made about the fact this work is not visible from the ground making a window seat in a departing flight from the harbour airport the only way of seeing the image, short of hiring a helicopter. Not even the gratifying sense of privilege that my unique perspective had given me could make the viewing of this picture anything other than a disappointment.

The discussions of the work online, read together, would make a good primer on debates around public art and photography. This began in August when the work was first announced on the Belfast Festival website. Artist Dan Shipsides said he found the image clichéd and too oriented towards media distribution, that it was basically PR. When 'Wish' was finished the Belfast Telegraph published their inevitable article praising its enormous size and trying to generate some mystery around the identity of the girl in the picture. But even the Telegraph soon after published a column by Fionola Meredith denouncing the post-troubles rhetoric that has been used to describe it. Finally, Daniel Jewesbury posted an extended examination of 'Wish' on the public art in Belfast blog saying, among other things, that it demonstrated an impoverished idea of what public engagement involved and making some telling remarks about the nature of aerial photographs.

My fleeting view of the picture reminded me of a remark made by Richard Hollis at a conference, that newspaper art directors in the 1970s considered that photographs should be cropped until they couldn't be cropped any more. He was dismayed by the reductive attitude this displayed. Effectively, a picture cropped in this way was designed to make the simplest point possible with the least possible context. But even the harshest picture editor would have struggled to crop an image as severely as the portrait of a girl in 'Wish' has been trimmed. She looks as if she is peering out through an aperture she wouldn't be able to fit her head through. We can't see her ears, her temples or her chin, you see more features on an emoticon. But all this paring back of the meaning of the image, what has it left us with? An unknown person symbolising a vague aspiration.

When I landed I looked at the BBC website and saw a story about the Cerne Abbas Giant being given a moustache as a publicity stunt. This reminded me of many other PR generated pictures (such as the Cerne Abbas Giant being co-opted to promote the Simpsons Movie). PR pictures generally make their points very effectively, they are often funny and can be inventively site-specific. Photographs that come about through stunts or PR campaigns form a rarely discussed genre (that I'd like to return to in a future issue of Source) in which a picture is designed primarily to infiltrate the media. 'Wish' fits that model, it's meant to be photographed rather than seen, even from a plane leaving Belfast.

Posted in Festivals, Photographers | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Win Classic Poster

At Source we try to be transparent about the way the magazine is put together. We try to be accessible to people who want to talk to us or show us their work and demystify our production process. In 2005 we produced a poster 'How it Works: The Photography Magazine' to explain, in a not too serious style, how Source is made.

We are considering doing another similar poster. What part of the photography world would you like to see explained in graphic form? Photography galleries? Art photography? Photo prizes? Tweet us your suggestions with the hashtage #photoposter.

We have also found a few remaining copies of the original poster and have 5 copies to give away. All you have to do is tweet '#photoposter giveaway @sourcephoto' between now and midday (BST) tomorrow (Saturday 28th September). The draw will be made and the winners notified via Twitter.

Posted in Opportunities, Prizes | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Media Space Opening

Last night the Media Space opened. There were speeches, champagne, and marmalade-flavoured cocktails. Richard Branson was just leaving as I went in, presumably there to see the 'Virgin Media Studio'. As at the launch event in February Michael Wilson told the story of the protracted genesis of the venue, 'There were times in the past 14 years when I had all but abandoned hope; in the time it has taken to build this gallery I have produced five James Bond films and that's not easy...' Once again Ian Blatchford, the Director of the Science Museum, was fulsome in his gratitude to the 'photography community' for supporting the venue. I spoke to Hannah Redler about the gallery and its remit.

Everyone was enjoying themselves politely. The opening exhibition is Martin Parr early work and Tony Ray-Jones. There are a set of Tony Ray-Jones prints on sale as part of the show and Martin Parr confided that he thought that they were underpriced. Ian Walker, who wrote an essay about Tony Ray-Jones for Source when there was last a show of his work at the Media Museum, said he had been made a professor.  The photographer Peter Mitchell talked about the production of his new book (again with Martin Parr's assistance). The Media Space have made a film about the show with curator Greg Hobson talking about the work. It will be reviewed in the January issue of Source.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment