Infinitely more important is the looking!


There is a William Eggleston exhibition of people just started at the National Portrait Gallery (see here for a review). On Thursday evening several of us in the group had the privilege of going to hear a conversation with him about his work. The conversation was between Bill (if I may call him that), the curator of the show and Sean O Hagan, writer on photography for the Guardian and Observer (and clearly a fan).

William Eggleston was described by Sean O Hagan as the greatest living photographer. He is now quite frail in a wheelchair but whilst he took a while to respond to questions his wit was biting - it was both an informing and hilarious evening. The work looks amazing. I am sure you don't need me to tell you that Eggleston is celebrated for the way he embraced colour photography as an art form, both causing a huge reaction and controversy in his show in New York in 1976. He is not thought of in relation to portaiture so this is quite an original representation of his work I think.

What was entertaining about the interview was that a lot of the questions were leading Eggleston to explore deeper meanings in his work or photography in general but largely he was having none of it. So to give a couple of examples he was pressed whether Warhol had influenced his work - cue 10 second pause followed by "No!". Was his work symbolic - cue 10 second pause followed by "No!". Looking back on it was it symbolic - cue 10 second pause followed by "No!". Exploring the significance of his first moving image film looking for its significance he responded "We got practically nowhere". When hanging out with various celebraties whose pictures are in the exhibition, again looking for deep conversations he responded that with Joe Strummer "Don't know what we talked about - nothing important!". It really was laugh out loud funny, as well as a lesson for those conducting the conversation into perhaps asking a few more open rather than closed question. But there were a few threads that flowed much better such as when he was asked about his friendships. 

As a photographer he only takes one frame - he can't see the point of more; he doesn't take time to set up - it's not an issue; and he doesn't crop (another "no!" answer). As he reflected on travelling he suggested 

As one wanders round the world often one doesn't know the next place you're going to be. It's usually some kind of suprise, mostly of a happy kind.

And when asked about the writing on various photographs in the show it seemed to get to the heart of the matter. He said the photographs speak for themselves. If you look they say a lot. 

More than words it's the looking at the results that's important, not the writing or the talking. Infinitely more important is the looking!

So get yourself down there and do some looking!


From time to time the group take on a challenge. The latest one was to pick names at random so that group members were put in pairs. The challenge was simply to come up with a portrait to bring back to the group. It was both a great way to get to know group members, stretching (especially if portraits is not particularly your area of experience), and good fun. Here is a selection of the results. From top to bottom they are:

  • Angelika by Marie
  • Chris by Fabrizio
  • Dorota by Ray
  • Fabrizio by Chris
  • Marie by Angelika
  • Jonny by Mel
  • Mel by Jonny
  •  Ray by Dorota
  • Angelika


Group member Chris Moxey is exhibiting in Thirteen: 

A Photographic exhibition in the Gallery of the Embassy of Croatia, 21 Conway Street W1T 6BN

20 May - 30 June 2016

Mon - Thurs, 11am - 2pm Fri, 10am - 12pm

Something for the weekend! It's only about 15mins long - about the right time for tea and cake :)

Ideas for 2016

At the November meeting we had a discussion around ideas for the group in 2016. This list is not exhaustive by any means and most will happen if someone in the group takes the initiative and brings some energy to an idea to give it legs...

    • Group exhibition - everyone up for that
    • Large format camera workshop - day to be led by Robin
    • Pechakucha presentation evening (20 photos for 20 seconds - google it) - Jonny happy to facilitate
    • Portrait challenge and themed evening? - interested in revisiting
    • Other challenges?
    • Inspired by... something or someone or a photo or an artist who has inspired you (can be a roilling theme and say a5 minutes of an evening) - Carolyn up for doing the first one
    • Street photography - Chris M to present and maybe have an evening on that theme?
    • Old processes - Robin to give a presentation/lead an evening on that
    • Technology - what do people use, how has the likes of phone and instagram changed our practices?
    • On that theme have an evening where we all bring photos taken on mobile phones