Interview with Source Magazine

By , March 6, 2010 7:02 pm

Here is a copy of an interview we recently gave to Source Magazine.

Source Magazine: Can you give us some background of  The Photographers Place?

The Photographers’ Place was run by Paul and Angela Hill from 1976 to 1996, in Bradbourne, Derbyshire. Amongst those who led workshops during its previous existence were: Martin Parr, Thomas Joshua Cooper, John Blakemore, Brian Griffin, Raymond Moore, Lewis Baltz, Bill Jay, Hamish Fulton, Andy Earl, Aaron Siskind, Paul Caponigro, Jo Spence, Cole Weston and Ralph Gibson. It inspired and influenced a generation of independent image-makers. Participants included Fay Godwin and Paul Graham).

Source Magazine: Why did The Photographers’ Place stop?

“The Place stopped because Angela and I needed new challenges after sustaining ‘the cause’ for 20 years. The model and the ideals had been taken on board by others over those two decades too, which was very satisfying. I was also invited to be a visiting professor in 1995 at De Montfort University and asked to make reality an idea I had discussed with Iona Cruickshank and Greg Lucas to start an MA where the emphasis was on the primacy of the image rather than French linguistic philosophy ! The department has taught nearly 200 postgrads since it started in 1996.”

Source Magazine: How did the resurrection of TPP come about ?

Martin Shakeshaft and I had both been students on Paul’s MA course at De Montfort University. We all live around the Peak District, we walk together a lot – we all have a passion for the area. We all teach photography at university, we are in photographic education, and we recognize the need for a different type of independent course where the emphasis is not on the technical but on the aesthetic.

The workshop model is an absorbing way to immerse oneself in image-making, away from distractions. I attended The Photographers’ Place in the eighties and was blown away by it. One day Paul proposed the idea of re-visiting the workshops and it grew from there.

Martin, Paul and I all have different skills and backgrounds. Martin is a documentary image-maker. He has recently been working on a 25 year project looking at the long term effects of the closure of the coal industry on the people and landscape of South Wales. This has been widely published and exhibited both in this country and abroad. He has a huge up-to-the-minute knowledge of digital imaging and on-line publishing. I am a former chief photographer and picture editor at ITV (I worked on TV programmes as diverse at Inspector Morse, Spitting Image and Pop Idol), and my personal landscape work is concerned with ancient sites and trackways near my home in the Peak District. I have a passion for large format photography, often making pictures at night. My work has also been published exhibited in the UK and abroad. And Paul is a legend. His lyrical poetic images are in collections all over the world. He is easily the most experienced workshop leader in the country. He started off the first photography workshops in the UK, and he is an inspiration to learn and explore with. So it’s a good marriage. We see ourselves as the Three Musketeers of photography!

Source Magazine: How will the format/philosophy/approach of the workshop(s) differ from back in the 1990? Are there any new challenges ?

The social / human dynamic of passing on ideas, of sharing information, was always at the core of those successful workshops at the old Photographers’ Place. And this ethos hasn’t changed with the new sessions. Now – as then – this is an opportunity to be immersed in image-making in a supportive environment, away from distractions, with the guidance of tutors who are experienced professional practitioners, university lecturers and whose work is published and exhibited regularly. As at the original Photographers’ Place, we will work with workshop participants making pictures together, giving critiques on portfolios and giving feedback and encouragement, offering each other new ideas and ways forward, looking at exhibiting and publishing work and selling prints, exploring other contemporary practitioners. We’ll be engaging with the meaning of pictures, learning how to read photographs. Where else can you get this outside a university or art college?

But of course things have changed since days of the former Photographers’ Place, and there are many new opportunities for photographers using digital imaging. Many independent photographers haven’t grasped the full potential of digital production and dissemination of work that technology offers. We will be looking at improving digital capture, on-line print-on-demand books, websites, and much more. And of course the immediacy of digital is a gift for workshop teaching and feedback. But the emphasis will always be on the aesthetic, on making the image.

Source Magazine: Could you comment on how TPP workshops (e.g. the Landscape workshop) will differ from other residential photography workshops ?

Many landscape photography courses perpetuate a cliché-ridden aesthetic (beautiful over-romanticised places, very pictorial). We looked at a 2010 handbook of hundreds of photography courses and they struck us as “holidays with a camera”. We will look deeper and try to develop an awareness of issues of contemporary photography, at what practitioners are trying to say – self-expression, reflecting a personal approach rather than copying a cliché. Although our first course is angled around landscape, this applies to all genres of photography so we cater for those who aren’t solely into landscape as we encourage this approach throughout.

Source Magazine: How many do you hope to enrol for the Landscape course?

20 in total, split between three tutors. We are now full and booking the next workshop in June.

Source Magazine: Have you plans for other workshops/events? How regularly do you hope to? host events/workshops?

We are developing a programme for 2010. The next session is in June. We look beyond the land and will run courses for photographers making work in other genres – but always the emphasis is on the making of the image and the aesthetic. We are running sessions on environmental portraiture, video journalism using digital SLRs, the history of photography and collecting, on-line book publishing, large format photography, a beginners’ workshop – and more. We will run masterclasses with well-known practitioners leading workshops (a great strength of The Photographers’ Place) – and we will run follow-up sessions for those who are keen to come again and build on their new ideas.

Leave a Reply

Panorama Theme by Themocracy