Full marks to Derby for establishing and building such a marvellous Foto Festival - it seemed well-organised, well-laid-out, well-curated, and all for free (including lunch from the OCA - 'many thanks').
Titled 'Right Here, Right Now', the theme this year is street photography, which is, of course, highly relevant for me at the stage I'm at with People and Place. Plus, there seems to be a revival of this genre, with the 'Street Photography Now; project, the 'In-Public' Group, and some highly active Flickr groups devoted to 'street'.
I was already familiar with many, perhaps most, of the photographers whose work was on show, and even with a lot of the images. So, when tutor CliveW asked me mid-afternoon if I'd seen anything in particular that inspired me, my hesitation before answering probably said it all - plenty to inform, but perhaps nothing in particular to inspire. Some things that I would note, in no particular order:
- George Georgiou - having enjoyed his work in both Hotshoe and BJP in the last few months, it was good to see the 'genuine article'. His work is here and I particularly like the tones and colours of his 'landscapes' of the East/West 'frontier' towns. I was already aware that he often uses quite an early Sony digital camera, because it has a large sensor, giving the images something of the full-format/view camera feel; also that he deliberately likes to shoot on dull days - something that I found myself doing on the Landscape course - for the soft even light and the avoidance of highly saturated skies. In the context of his camera choice, it was worth noting that his prints were on the whole larger than the others in the exhibitions.
- Raoul Gatepin was a new name to me (see here) - empty, soulless urban landscapes, responding to the financial crisis of 2008 (the project is called Piramid), and evoking that mood very well, in my opinion. I particularly recall the image of tracks leading off a road (the system running off course); the containers locked behind wire fencing, all with the word 'Time' on the side; and the beautiful colours of a sunlit scene that wasn't real because it was shot as an out-of-focus reflection in a drab, dirty window pane.
- The work of Nate Larson and Marni Shindelman in their 'Telepathic Witness' project here was interesting - images created at the site of Tweet messages, which they have tracked via GPS, captioned with the original Tweet. It's an original idea, for a start, and they have managed to juxtapose text/image in a manner that raises questions and provokes thought e.g. the model of Concorde and a statuette on a domestic window-sill; the surveillance cameras, caged and fixed to an anonymous grey wall. OCA tutor, Jose, prompted discussion on why the images were laid out in the manner/order that they were - a closely aligned grid of nine pictures. We never really resolved the ordering, though it clearly couldn't have been random, but it did occur to me afterwards that the 'grid' resembled a bank of surveillance screens - perhaps suggesting that we are spying/prying on the purveyor of the 'private' Tweet - but that nothing is private in todays world.
I must just add that I didn't feel a very positive response to the work of Bruce Gilden (though I doubt he will be too concerned with what I think!). I've seen it in books, of course, and even commented on it earlier in my blog - in relation to my concerns about the 'hip shot' - but I have to say that I found his 'flash' portraits less that inspiring. I couldn't see that he had captured anything of his subjects beyond their (understandable) surpise at being confonted by him, his camera, and a very bright flash. Discussing that feeling with one of the tutors, he commented, and I understand and agree, that there is much more of the photographer than the subject in those images.
And finally, whilst repeating how stimulating it is to meet and talk with others in this type of event, I will have to go back to Format again before it finishes, if possible. One spends so much time discussing that one doesn't see everything - so I need to fill in some gaps.