On Sunday I was at Photo Fest Ireland the annual get-together of those searching for the latest cameras, printing papers, albums or framing options with an emphasis on technical solutions to photographic problems. I had been at the Source stand for the proceeding two years and it had always proved a useful way to touch base with individual photographers.
The current issue of Source – looking at photographic archives – led to a few interesting conversations. Denis O’Shea, who organises Finglas Library Photo Group, was enthusiastic about the Dublin City Public Library collection of photographs which includes the record of the German bombing of the North Strand in 1941, as well as a number of other collections.
Next to stop at our stand was a student from Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art and Design who recalled his former role as a photographer in the Irish Army. During his stint there he had, amongst other things, taken aerial reconnaissance photographs of Spanish trawlers and helped out with a project to re-photograph and archive other soldiers personal photographs. He anticipated he would have to swap the sharp and well-lit technique of his army days for the dark and out of focus work he often saw at college.
Punctuating my conversations were calls over the PA system for the various seminars taking place as part of the event. I was unable to attend any of them but, by title, the most intriguing were: 'Beauty Retouching', 'Black and White – the Guy Gowan Solution' and a session on 'Fantasy Portraiture'.
We were pitched beside the Gallery of Photography (also taking a stand for those interested in less technical matters). I caught up with Tanya Kiang the Gallery's Director who was quick to point me in the direction of the book Where Were You? Dublin youth culture and street style 1950-2000, from among the selection they had brought along from their bookshop. At a mighty 304 pages its production was all the more remarkable for having been crowdsource funded via fundit.ie. The book had just been launched with great success at the Gallery with some of those featured in the book turning up in period costume.
Tanya was also enthusiastic about her forthcoming show by Evelyn Hofer who photographed in Dublin in the 60’s, which will be part of the PhotoIreland Festival. Angel Gonzalez Director of that Festival stopped by to bring me up to speed on the this year’s theme 'Migrations: Diaspora & Cultural Identity'. The festival is now in the final stages of preparation and will be held at venues across Dublin from 1 – 31st July during which Source will be screening its new film 'What is Conceptual Photography?'
Towards the end of the day I managed to catch up with Helen Burke director of the days events who also runs the Irish Photo News web site. She reported that although there where slightly fewer numbers this year the exhibitors had been happy with the overall level of custom. So despite the straightened economic times technical solutions are still in demand.