The Long Lens blog: Photography with added snaps, art and culture

The photography site for sore eyes. Featuring: Art, photography, performance and theatre. With extra writing because I'm also a writer.

Documentary photography Lightbox and Redeye

Lightbox was a week-long documentary photography course held in Liverpool (in September 2010).

A series of speakers spoke speeches about everything from magazine publishing, exhibitions, printing, social media and creative thinking – all linked to photography.

The week began obliquely with a talk by Dr Adrian West of the De Bono Foundation, experts in creative thinking. A dead ringer for Victoria Wood’s husband Geoffrey Durham (aka magician The Great Soprendo), West’s subtly camp and slightly theatrical performance was incisive and informative.

Highlight of the week was Christian Payne with a sometimes technologically baffling whirlwind performance. His talk about cutting-edge mobile technologies was punctured by the brilliant question ‘what is a retweet?’. Find out more about the Doc @documentally

Organised by Redeye, the photography network, the intensive program was designed to push the boundaries in photography for the 40 snappy snappers – and act as springboard to go on to collaborate in exhibitions for the Look2011 festival in Liverpool next year.

The collaboration aspect of the project – groups of around 10 photographers with hugely differing styles having to agree on a project to work on – has been a source of much consternation, I can tell you.

It has yet to be decided what the actual projects will be. I asked to be in the group mentored by publisher Dewi Lewis, cunningly concluding that, when exceedingly bad project ideas are suggested to him, he won’t put up with any crap.

It’s what the De Bono guys would have wanted.

But before all that is agreed, here a few quotes from Lightbox week, which was held at Liverpool’s Openeye Gallery:

Documentally – Christian Payne (Social media innovator) :
“Go mobile, don’t let it take over your life. Small talk in important. One hour of social media a day can entirely change your life.
“It used to be every photo has a price tag. Not anymore. Every photo is a window to me and what I do.”

Stephen Snoddy (director of Art Gallery Walsall):
“Photography has moved from not being seen as fine art to being at the centre of the cultural art world.”

Lee Taylor (Flux Magazine):
“Magazines and online magazines – you’ve got to treat them entirely differently.”

Dewi Lewis (publisher):
“If a book costs us more than 21 per cent of the retail price, we’ll lose money.”
“Books are not the way photographers make money.
“Honestly, I have no idea what I’m looking for but when I see it, I know it.
“I tend not to like poetry and photography together. It can work but it’s frequently very painful.
“You can do something in your own back garden which has relevance to someone in Tokyo.”

Ceri Hand (Ceri Hand Gallery):
“Ideas have to rock. I’m not necessarily interested in the best photography but something that pts hairs on your arms.
“It is not easy to sell artists’ work.
“It’s not just making money, it’s all about legacy.
“Waiting for funding is an excuse, frankly.
“Collaborative practice goes bad when everyone cancels out everyone else. You become to concerned by audiences.”
How do performance artists make their money? “They don’t.”

Lisa Creagh (Metro Imaging Lab):
“Because everyone now has a mobile phone, the public has an interest in photography that they never had before.
“sRGB is a horrible colour space, in my opinion.”

Continuing the list theme, here are a selection of websites mentioned in conversation during Lightbox week:

De Bono Foundation
Manchester Photography blog          
American Suburb X blog
Preston Is My Paris blog 
Centrepoint Collective
Blank Media Collective
Dewi Lewis Publishing

And to finish off, here is an unedited video made in Liverpool with a Nokia N900 during Lightbox week.

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