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.
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.