Author Archives: Paul Herrmann

The story of Fotografiska – a new photography museum

Fotografiska photo by Giuseppe Milo via Flickr:

Fotografiska; photo: Giuseppe Milo via Flickr

Fotografiska in Stockholm, Sweden, is one of Europe’s great photographic successes, and a new kind of museum, opened in 2010. Pauline Benthede, Fotografiska’s Exhibitions Manager, tells Redeye’s Paul Herrmann the story behind the organisation.

Paul Herrmann (PH): What do you think are the key ideas about Fotografiska that encouraged people to support it – Fotografiska’s best or most inventive qualities?
Pauline Benthede (PB): Our best quality is that we aim to be a venue for all people – photography enthusiasts, amateurs, art lovers, and everyone in between. ”Photography is the technology to capture life. We provide and support life worth capturing.” Fotografiska is a meeting place for all kind of photography and visual culture – fashion, documentary photography, video art, examples of how photography can raise awareness on different social and political issues, and much more. This approach has been with us from the very beginning and is part of our DNA. We work as much on making our guests feel welcome no matter who they are, as we do on our exhibitions. And I believe our guests and supporters can feel this from the moment they step inside our venue. We also have many different kinds of exhibitions running simultaneously, with different genres. So if you arrive at Fotografiska to see, for example, a big exhibition on fashion photography, you might also experience an exhibition on a young, emerging video artist. That’s a balance we always aim for, so our guests can experience something unexpected that might deepen their interest even more and open up for new thoughts.

PH: What were the tipping points along the development process when you really felt there had been some progress?
PB: We have been completely independent from the very beginning, and up to the grand opening in 2010, we were also a very small team. Therefore I would say there was no real tipping point, but rather a steady process from the very idea of a meeting place for photography, to where Fotografiska is today. Through this process, we have been honoured to have many supporters who have believed in Fotografiska from the beginning. With this said, we are in a constant development, always aiming towards getting better on all areas, so the progress is never ending.

PH: Can you explain how the museum was, and is now, financed?
PB: We are completely private, which means we have no tax money income or other governmental funding to rely on. Our main revenue is the entrance fee.

PH: What do you think the photography centre or museum of the future will look like?
PB: I believe Fotografiska is in the frontline of a new kind of art experience, where it is not only about the exhibitions, but also about the atmosphere, the food, and being a meeting place. The exhibitions are our core activity, but many of the comments we receive from our guests also include the restaurant, the museum shop, and even how great our bathrooms are. An exhibition on a great photographer can certainly be fantastic, but if the access was bad, the information you received wasn’t great, or the meal you had afterwards left you disappointed, that will certainly lower your overall experience.

PH: Have you got any thoughts on how the growing number of archives and collections in photography might best be managed? Do you have your own collections?
PB: We have our own collection. It is partly based on donations from artists we have worked with, but also art works that Fotografiska has bought for the collection. Having been open for nearly six years only, the collection is of course still smaller than others, but increasingly growing.

PH: How are state photographic collections managed in Sweden?
PB: There are huge collections at the government organisations with national responsibility for collecting and preserving photography, however it is not too often that these collections are made available to the public.

PH: How can we balance decreasing funding with growing collections and archives? How can we increase the public interest in collections?
PB: Being completely independent, our collection is not depending on external funding.
We believe that the interest in photography in general, not only collections but also in exhibitions, is to speak to a larger audience. Photography is a worldwide used medium, an everyday tool for people to interact, share, and save moments. It’s closer than any other art form, and part of our daily lives. Therefore, in order to bring awareness on what photography is and can be, the history of the medium and its future, we need to speak to everyone. Not only to the academic or the professional, but to everyone who is part of our society and visual culture.

NPS videos

Here are some videos of interviews at the last National Photography Symposium in 2014 at the Library of Birmingham. They give a snapshot of the kinds of topics discussed. They were filmed and edited by Katrina Houghton.

Francis Hodgson discusses the purpose of the Symposium:

Denise Swanson reflects on the Symposium, and the value of standards in photography:

Photographer Simon Roberts talks about building a career in photography:

Writer Richard West reflects on portfolio reviews in photography – are they useful and do they give value for money?

Jason DaPonte explains his innovative archive linking project, Mining The Archive:

Christian Payne discussed old and new business models:

Glocal in the work of C Y Frankel

A guest post by Camilla Brown, a speakers at this year’s Symposium.


This image is taken from a series titled Careful by a recent MA Photography graduate from Middlesex University, where I work. I first came across C Y Frankel’s work at BA level when he was working on his series My Brent Cross made around the 1970s shopping centre in North West London. When he was studying, the university photography department had recently relocated to the Grove Building in Hendon. Frankel was living at home locally whilst studying. This more recent work, Careful, broadens out from earlier themes but still has its roots both metaphorically and geographically in the same area of London.

As it happened I started working at Middlesex University at about the point they relocated to Hendon in part as the photography department moved quite literally to the end of my street. Working freelance as a mother of young children my work was becoming increasingly local in nature. Frankel’s work therefore had a very particular resonance for me as he captured and played back to me the area I knew so well. It is an odd area and an odd image, a suburban area not deprived yet equally not regenerating at the pace of so many other parts of London. There is the continual ebb and flow of new communities to the place and yet it is also home to a distinct and entrenched demographic who have for generations called it their own. This image is a particularly quiet work and captures a typical home. It has been caught at a moment where a mist hangs eerily around the house. It is a place that is at once ubiquitous and yet also unique and for residents it is instantly recognisable in Frankel’s work.

It is so local that I was keen in conversations with Frankel to see how he could widen out its appeal. How could something so specific become more universal? Of course countless personal photography projects make this leap: Larry Sultan’s Pictures from home; Richard Billingham’s Rays a laugh to name but two. But at a nascent stage it can be hard to work out which students can do it. In part my role at Middlesex is to help with the students’ professional development, which leads me to often repeat that making the work is only the tip of the iceberg. Often the real graft is getting the work out there and showing it to people. There are many ways to try to do this which require a big expense, or one could suggest investment, of time and money. But of course that is where living in the Web 2.0 age offers us all new horizons and possibilities – the virtual network.

Frankel submitted this series to a Lensculture Emerging Talent 2015, at which point I was not involved in any way with their work. Through his work’s merit he was one of the award winners for that category which gave the work some online exposure and meant it was also exhibited. For him the best outcome was the online portfolio feedback session with an internationally connected photography specialist. Dialogue and feedback on projects and work is often the thing most photographers want. Submitting work to a black void with no response leaves them with so many unanswered questions. Virtual platforms seem a new way to offer that global perspective, and Lensculture is a website keen to nurture and develop an online community for photographers.

The Lensculture platform has not transformed life for Frankel still working to find his way as a photographer but it has answered one specific question – could the local work he made have a global reach and appeal? could he embrace the glocal? Resoundingly so, and for me that is the curatorial question that can only be answered by having your work seen in amongst your international peers’. As a curator it is partly by looking at a lot of work that you can assess where someone’s practice sits. Some fly others flounder. Frankel flew on this platform with a sincere, questioning and quiet documentary series. As is often the case – it is not the work that shouts the loudest that has the greatest impact but the understated and the considered, perhaps the work that is ultimately more Careful.

Camilla Brown trained as an art historian completing her BA at Leeds University she then studied for her MA at the Courtauld Institute of Art. She is a curator, writer and lecturer on contemporary art, specialising in photography. For ten years she was Senior curator at The Photographers’ Gallery, London previous to which she was Exhibitions Curator at Tate Liverpool. She is on the Board of Directors at Quad.

Since 2012 she has held an academic post as Senior Lecturer in Creative Industries at Middlesex University, and in 2015 was appointed Visiting Fellow in Photography at the University of Derby. She regularly gives talks at universities, museums and galleries. She writes for artists’ monographs and history of photography books, and is also writes submission reviews for Lensculture. In 2016 she will publish a chapter titled ‘A curators perspective’ for a forthcoming book Photography and research: the idea, the process and the project, a Practical Guide for Photographers to be published by Focal Press.

Examples of her work appear on her website.

Click here for further information on C Y Frankel.

Camilla will be speaking at this year’s symposium about her own work over the past 8 months with Lensculture. She will explore what such online platforms offer photographers and curators and what the challenges are of presenting work in this context.

Find out more and book your place on the Format website.

Image at the top by C Y Frankel

2016 Programme


Now in its seventh edition, NPS 2016 is organised this year in partnership with FORMAT International Photography Festival off year and QUAD. It explores three main themes: new online photographic communities that are revolutionising learning and showing of work; the challenges of making – and forgetting – visual history in an age when everything is recorded. And it also explores the recently announced transfer of the National Photography Collection from the National Media Museum in Bradford to London’s V&A Museum.

To book your ticket for the National Photography Symposium (20th – 22nd April) please click HERE.

Tweet: #NPS16



18:00 Doors and registration open

18:30 to 19:30: Opening Keynote Address by Hester Keijser: On clouds, islands and diversity in the digital biosphere – a call for climate change in online photographic communities.

The two main themes of the symposium explore issues raised by the networked technologies that many photographers find themselves using on a daily basis. The talks and panel discussions will elaborate how we take part in and shape the digital culture that has evolved. The keynote by Hester Keijser will address risks and challenges facing us as we inhabit this digital biosphere. To what extent are we in control of our online presence and participation? What qualities need to be negotiated for peer to peer communities to thrive? How is the perceived need for narrative photography related to the rise of social media?

Hester is an independent curator and author specialising in contemporary photography. Currently she is advisor for the Mondriaan Foundation and is engaged as associate curator of the Noorderlicht Foundation in the Netherlands. Based in The Hague, she blogs as Mrs Deane, a name borrowed from a spiritualist medium.


9:30 Doors and registration open

Morning session – New Communities

Exploring the intersection between photography and digital culture, the photographic communities that are springing up, and the tools for learning and developing as a photographer that are emerging in consequence. How flexible and dynamic are online communities; does this also mean they are less permanent and does that matter? How effective are the new learning and development approaches that they foster? What is the role of traditional institutions and associations – how are they responding to changes and developments?

10:00 to 11:00: Presentations
Camilla Brown – LensCulture
Camilla will consider her work over the past 8 months with LensCulture ( She will explore and discuss what such online platforms offer photographers and curators and what the challenges are of presenting work in this context. What are the pros and cons of this new virtual frontier and how might we creatively respond in our glocal age?
Jonathan Shaw – Disruputive Media Learning Lab
Jonathan will introduce the pioneering work of his Disruptive Media Learning Lab which acts as an agent of change for new models for education, teaching and research, and other innovations in pedagogy, in the fields of photography and culture.
Followed by Brief Q&A

11:00 to 11:20 Break

11:20 to 12:05: Presentations
Karen Harvey, Creative Development Director of Shutter Hub:
In her work Karen explores new ways to reach out, to share, and to show talent to a hugely diverse and varied audience, without being confined by timescales, costs, or situation/location.
Scarlett Crawford – independent practitioner and educator. Scarlett will give an introduction to herself and her practice as an independent practitioner and educator. She will discuss whether the priorities for learning and development in photography have changed in the context of social and technological change in the last decade. She will discuss what she thinks we need to do to ensure that the widest range of people can access and benefit from learning opportunities including increasing representation, integration and cross cultural exchange, and an overall change of the industrial education system.
Tim Gander, commercial photographer and a moderator for the EPUK (Editorial Photographers UK) email forum, will outline EPUK’s origins and purpose, highlighting its campaigning efforts and its evolution in a changing media world. He will also describe the benefits and challenges of running an email discussion group from the perspective of the moderator team, as well as the pros and cons of this model from its users’ point of view.

Straight into…

12:05 to 12:45: PANEL DISCUSSION Chaired by Paul Herrmann
Including the morning participants and Hester Keijser

12:45 to 14:00: Lunch

Afternoon session – Making Visual History

Many photographers set out to record or document for posterity and history. In the past this has involved multiple selection and editing processes, with ultimately relatively few images stored long term. But now that no image need be deleted and almost everything is stored, how will our era be remembered visually – will it have a “defining” narrative, and if so what part do individuals have in shaping that narrative? There is an ethical dimension to this; does the perceived need for narrative affect the truth or fact of what is being remembered? Has “forgetting” become a conscious act of deletion, disposal or even hiding? We invite you to explore with a range of photographers and historians what it now means to photograph for history.

14:00 to 15:10: Presentations

 Joy Gregory – artist working with photography and related media
Here today… Over the last 10 years Joy’s interest has been captured by disappearances of intangible histories. She has used a range of photographic materialities to be record their existence. This seems ironic when one considers the fragility of the digital image, which is constantly threatened by the instability of our many storage devices (including the Internet) and the continuing advance of technology. Joy will be taking the issues at the centre of her more recent projects as a prism through which to reflect on the future of the photographic image in the 21st-century.

Alan Ward – artist and designer
The Gearing Archive Re-imagined. In 2013, while an artist in residence, Alan Ward bought some glass negatives on a whim from eBay. They had no provenance or documentation, though seemed to show a single extended family and its travels and activities. Over a three-year period of what he calls “forensic research and voyeuristic obsession” Alan worked out the locations shown, pieced together the story told by the images, and in doing so uncovered – re-imagined – the history of the Gearing family and the society in which they moved.

15:10 to 15:40 break

15:40 to 17:15: Panel session with the above speakers and:
Sarah Fisher, Director of Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool
Graham Harrison, Editor of Photo Histories, The Photographers’ History of Photography

Introduced and chaired by Kelley Wilder – Director, Photographic History Research Centre, De Montfort University.


The National Collections Debate

Friday is given over to discussing future possibilities for the UK’s national photographic collections, and the role of institutions in supporting photography into the future. We are delighted to welcome speakers from key institutions, as well as photographers and researchers, with a view to generating new ideas and potential outcomes for the photographic community.

Confirmed speakers for the day:

Michael Terwey, Head of Collections & Exhibitions at the National Media Museum
Martin Barnes, Senior Curator, Photographs, Victoria and Albert Museum
Michael Pritchard, Director-General of The Royal Photographic Society
Colin Ford, first director of the National Museum of Photography, Film and Television
Anne McNeill, Director of Impressions Gallery, Bradford
Francis Hodgson, Professor in the Culture of Photography, University of Brighton
Jo Booth, artist and researcher
In addition Graham Harrison, Sarah Fisher and Paul Herrmann will take part.

10:00 to 11:30: The background to recent proposals and changes including: the history of the UK’s national photography museum; the decline in cultural sector funding; the location of cultural assets, and the dominance of London.


Colin Ford (with intro from Paul Herrmann):

Michael Terwey

Michael Pritchard

Martin Barnes:

Q & A with Michael Terwey, Michael Pritchard, Martin Barnes and Paul Herrmann:


We are anticipating a lot of questions and comments at Friday’s debate and suggest that you send questions in advance. Please email any questions/comments to Please include your full name; questions may be published. Please get your email questions/comments to us no later than 18:00 on Thursday 21st April. We will also be handing out slips should you wish to write your question during the symposium. These can be handed in to Redeye staff or volunteers up until 9:45 on Friday morning.


11:50 to 13:00: How might we move forward from this to create a stronger photography sector? Exploring both centralized and distributed case studies internationally and from different disciplines; the future for collections; mapping resources and joined-up thinking.


Sarah Fisher and Francis Hodgson:

Panel session Friday – the above and Jo Booth, Graham Harrison with Paul Herrmann:


13:00 to 14:00 Lunch break

14:00 to 15:30: Break outs, idea generation and discussion sessions.


16:00 to 16:30
Conclusions and next steps.


Friday reports back and conclusion:


Alongside Friday’s Symposium sessions are the FORMAT International Portfolio Review all day at QUAD. FORMAT has carefully selected 25+ international experts in the field of photography, from around the world to be available for meetings. For the reviewer list and to book, visit the link here.

More speakers being confirmed weekly. Speakers may change.

Who should come?

This event is strongly recommended for anyone interested in photography and the future of the medium, whether photographers, curators, academics, students, writers, collectors or organisation staff.


Weds 20 April 2016: 18:00 to 19:30
Thurs 21 April 2016: 10:00 to 17:30
Friday 22 April 2016: 10:00 to 16:30


Prices are as follows:

Standard three day ticket: £45
Concession, low waged or student: £35 for three days
Redeye member or portfolio reviewee £25 for three days

To book your ticket for the National Photography Symposium (20th – 22nd April) please click HERE.

Photo credit: from the Gearing Archive: Girl c. 1936; from Alan Ward’s presentation on the discovery and re-imagining of a family history

Routes in for the photo artist

David Drake, Director of Ffotogallery, Cardiff, spoke at the Symposium in 2014 and here outlines his concerns for the starting photographer.

I set out three different routes to establishing yourself in the art/documentary photography world, which are somewhat stereotypical but based on real experience:

1) the exceptional graduate who comes to the attention of the local gallery/arts centre, receives a small grant from the Arts Council and develops a strong portfolio, pays to attend a number of UK and European portfolio reviews, leading to an offer from a European photography publisher to make and distribute a book of the work for a fee of £15-20K. The photographer raises the money and the book gets good reviews and an editorial feature, leading to exhibition opportunities.

2) the Internet-savvy graduate who crowd-funds a self-published book, and with the enthusiastic community of interest around the book, it receives positive feedback on various influential blogs and comes to the attention of an influential ‘taste-maker’ like Martin Parr, who buys 25 copies of the book and declares it the most exciting self-published photo book of the year, leading to several European photo book awards and the entire first edition selling out. Second hand copies of the book change hands for silly prices, and subsequently there is an offer from a leading German publisher to produce a second edition.

3) the graduate who has produced a strong and coherent body of work, and responding to an open call from a European photography festival gets her work selected for a thematic group show. The photographer is required to supply digital files and inkjet prints are made by the festival for exhibition purposes. Exposure at the festival leads to interest from a UK gallery and that organisation offers a first solo exhibition. However, Arts Council cuts have left the gallery with no money for artist fees, and they can only meet half of the production and presentation costs so the onus is on the photographer to find significant funds to produce the work for the exhibition, which appears to be an important opportunity for increased exposure.

Whereas it is positive that there are many different routes to success in the photography world, it does concern me that the above three examples place almost all the responsibility for financing their early career development on the emergent photographer, who has already borne the financial cost of getting through higher education. I would like to see more equity between the individual photographer/artist and the commissioning gallery/publisher, with a fairer sharing of the financial cost and risk, and a commitment to work together over a period of time to achieve the best possible outcome, artistically and professionally, for both parties. Galleries and publishers should not act as privileged ‘gate-keepers’ who hold the keys to success; they should utilise their professional judgement and influence to help the most talented individual photographers to maximise their creative potential, and build sustainable careers.

I believe that good work will generally find its audience, one way or another. However, I feel the photography world is currently structured in a way that inhibits opportunities for the many thousand emergent photographers and protects the interests of the already established ‘names’ – a somewhat exclusive group of mostly male photographers and photo book publishers operating on a New York-London-Paris-Berlin axis of power. There are signs of change in the way that social media and artist-led initiatives have opened new routes for producing, publishing, exhibiting and distributing work, and through increased artist mobility in the form of residencies, commissions, international networks and collaborative working.

Finally, it pays to remember that immediate success is very rare, and photographers who want exposure and recognition need to strategically plan their career progression route, alongside building networks and supporters, producing excellent work and seizing good opportunities as they arise.

Innovative Business Models

Here’s the list Paul Herrmann quoted at the NPS of photographers with interesting and innovative business models. Some of them are on the edge of what might be considered a “professional photographer”, but others have only made a few changes to how they do things – enough to bring in new business and stand out.

In many cases they have explained their business models at Redeye (or other) events, or interviews, and the links below might not give the full story. As always, if you are interested in any of them, it’s worth seeking them out at public talks and events for a chat. The comments are Paul’s brief interpretation, not the photographers’ own.

Karen McBride – independent, web-based, defines her own terms

Andy Sewell – establishing a network for pre-selling limited edition books

Rob Hornstra  – The Sochi Project – loyalty scheme, crowd funding plus

Stephen Gill – web shop for limited edition prints and self-made books

Esther Teichmann – cross-fertilising balance of artistic work, commissions and teaching

Christian Payne – Photojournalism -> YouTube -> AudioBoo -> social media & tech pioneer

Liz Hingley – seeking out the right clients – awards, competitions, submissions, commissions

Daniel Meadows – online connecting stories and thinking about his archive

Susan Meiselas – towards collaboration (AKA Kurdistan, Postcards from America, Re-framing history)

Chromasia – Blogging -> commercial work -> training -> web skills and SEO

The Caravan Gallery – touring, workshops, engagement – a hook for public projects

Broomberg & Chanarin – photography as the end-product of a conversation, smart subversion

Sebastian Junger and James Brabazon – broadening the documentary form with a multifaceted approach to storytelling: video, photography, writing

In-Public – genre-focussed collective

Piece of Cake – a collective with quarterly group development workshops often linked to festivals

Daniel Arnold – decided one day to sell prints via Instagram

2014 Programme

Integrity and new business models

Symposium Chairs throughout:
Paul Herrmann, Redeye
Nicola Shipley, GRAIN

Thursday 12 June 2014 – Routes into photography

From 14:00: Registration

15:00–17:00 Room 104
Routes in – panel discussion
What’s on offer for students and emerging artists to help establish themselves in photography, and who benefits from these multiplying possibilities? Which of the many competitions, reviews, courses, opportunities and online services are worth signing up for, and how can photographers navigate this ocean?
Introduction: Paul Herrmann, Redeye
Jon Levy, Foto8
Richard West, Source
David Drake, Ffotogallery
Nathan Tromans, Birmingham City University

17:00-17:30 Room 103
The role of the curator
Nathaniel Pitt received a GRAIN Curator’s Bursary and will explore the appeal and possibilities of curatorial practice.

17:30-18:00 DIY Session, Room 104
Arts Council funding – practical advice with Denise Fahmy, Arts Council England

19:30-21:00 Room 104
Keynote talks:
Val Williams, curator, with Paul Hill, photographer: Making Networks in British Photography in the 70s and 80s: The Midland Group Gallery
Simon Roberts, photographer

Friday 13 June 2014 – Organisations and institutions

The second day concentrates on key issues of integrity for organisations and institutions. How can they preserve their public service or members’ remit whilst improving commercial income? What new kinds of ventures are working for organisations, and what are the new types of fundraising and finance being tried? How do the larger institutions and museums deal with conflicting demands for acquisitions, collections and archives? What are the “standards” in the new photographic landscape? What’s on the horizon for some of photography’s leading organisations?

09:00 onwards: Registration

10:00-10:55 Room 104
Welcome from Brian Gambles, Director of the Library of Birmingham.
New finance and business strategies for cultural organisations
Frankie Mullen, Dovetail, The Change-Making Agency
Simon Borkin, Community Shares Unit

10:55-11:15 Break

11:15-11:25 Room 104
Karen Newman: Introduction to BOM – Birmingham Open Media

11:25-12:50 Room 104
The successful and resilient arts and photography organisation
Emma Chetcuti, Multistory
Peta Murphy-Burke, Arts Council England
Lara Ratnaraja, CidaCo West Midlands Director
(Edit: Stephen Snoddy was indisposed for this session)

12:50-14:00 lunch break (includes session below)

13:00-13:45 Room 103
Some Cities – a photographic platform that enables everyone, regardless of their backgrounds or abilities, to share and submit their images to a growing interactive photographic archive of the City of Birmingham.
Andrew Jackson and Dan Burwood

14:00-15:15 Room 104
Discussion: opening the nation’s photographic collections.
Ways forward for managing the national collections of photography. What can we do to show more of the UK’s wonderful but seldom-seen photographic collections? How can the existing institutions communicate and co-ordinate better around issues such as acquisitions, exhibitions and conservation, and how can we share knowledge and skills with smaller and private archives and bring them into the conversation? How would it be best to develop skills in photographic history, curating and conservation? What is the future for photographic archives in a digital age? How do we raise investment in our collections? How should all these matters be championed at strategic and government policy level?
Francis Hodgson, University of Brighton / Financial Times
Pete James, Library of Birmingham
Michael Terwey, National Media Museum

15:15-15:45 Room 103
Jenny Duffin introduces work from Birmingham Loves Photographers

15:45-17:00 Room 104
Standards – who decides what standards are applied in photography? Where are they still relevant and needed, if at all? Is there a place for a defined standard of imagery, and how can standards of professional practice be applied?
Roger Reynolds from the Royal Photographic Society will explain the Society’s commitment to distinctions;
Denise Swanson of the British Institute of Professional Photography explores professional standards

17:05-17:45 Room 103
Mining the Archive: The Intentional and Unintentional Archive
Jason DaPonte, The Swarm

Saturday 14 June 2014 – Photographers

The final day of the Symposium explores key issues around ethics, authenticity and business for all photographers. The discussions, like the Symposium as a whole, take a lead from Stephen Mayes’ assertion that photographers need to redefine their product to create new value for their work. It explores new kinds of business models and collaborations that allow photographers to retain creative integrity while still making a living in a dramatically different economy. How can they deal with the pressures on copyright from new licensing models and digital distribution?

09:00-10:00: registration

10:00-10:50 Room 104
Edmund Clark has grappled with issues of artistic integrity in the face of restricted access, censorship and political resistance to his work, which concerns state subjugation, confinement and the aftermath of terrorism.

10:50-11:20 BREAK

11:20-13:00 Room 104
New Business Models for Photographers
Stephen Mayes, strategy and application for visual communication (remote contribution)
Fiona Rogers, Magnum and Firecracker
Jonathan Shaw, Centre for Disruptive Media
Nathan Tromans, Birmingham City University

13:00-14:00 lunch break including the session below

13:10 to 13:55 Room 103, DIY Session:
Pricing photography with Michal Dybowski

14:00-15:00 Room 104
Thinking and Doing – active session on business model generation
Adrian West and Sophie Brown, Company of Mind

15:00-15:30 break

15:30-16:30 Room 104
Licensing without tears – Creative Commons and the alternatives. Licensing is one of the key drivers of the digital economy; this session guides photographers and users through the often complex options.
Serena Tierney, Bircham Dyson Bell, law firm
Christian Payne, Documentally, mobile media maker

16:45 CLOSE

2014 date and venue announced

The sixth National Photography Symposium explores integrity in photography, considering:

  • Ethical routes into photography (who benefits from the many courses, competitions and opportunities on offer);
  • New business models for photographers that take account of changes in the economy;
  • Fairness in licensing and copyright;
  • The future for photo organisations – commercial cleverness and public service;
  • Sustainability, both as a photographic subject and in terms of best practice.

Plus special presentations on the Midlands school of photography; new thinking on archives; scans of the horizon by leading companies and institutions; and much more.

Dates and times: 2pm on 12 June to 5pm on 14 June 2014

Venue: The Library of Birmingham

Tickets on sale from 10 April 2014

2013 Symposium Report

Here’s a full report on the 2013 National Photography Symposium – NPS5 – by writer Vicky Anderson. A summary is followed by more detail on each individual contribution.


A fascinating mix of speakers across the fields of academia, journalism, science and technology and the arts took to the Bluecoat to address the fifth National Photography Symposium.

Taking place on the same day as the launch of Look 13, the symposium was inspired by the festival theme ‘who do you think you are’, and examined a range of issues relevant to current theory and practice in photography, as well as considering the future of the profession.

With a format adapted from last year’s event, NPS5 had been programmed to take into account the broad interests and concerns of Redeye members of all backgrounds, including working professionals, keen amateurs, students and teachers.

As such, it incorporated everything from talks by veteran photographers to the awarding of the second Rob Sara Bursary, highlighting some exciting up-and-coming talent; and looked at techniques and approaches across the industry from to the impact of Instagram to the enduring appeal of black and white film.

The day began with a talk from Carol McKay, a lecturer from the Northern Centre of Photography at the University of Sunderland. Posing the question “are we all photographers now?”, she examined the rise of social media and photosharing websites such as Flickr and Instagram, and their impact on professional photographers.

Exploring how arts organisations and individual projects are increasingly seeing the value in crowdsourcing amateur photography through competitions and open calls, not only as a way to engage with audiences but also help as a marketing tool and with funding applications, McKay observed that professional photographers will need to respond to the change in perception of the practice that this democratisation has brought about.

The academic theory of performatism was introduced by second speaker Dr Raoul Eshelman, who discussed his ideas of the post postmodern movement in photography and the arts. Turning away from the hyper-artificial, faux-amateur style of postmodernism, performatism instead considers a higher sense of order and transcendence that reaches beyond the photograph.

The final speaker of the morning was Howard Hopwood, chairman of Harman Technology, the UK’s largest photographic manufacturer. Giving an insight into the history of the company, which incorporates the long-established Ilford Photo, he talked about the science behind some of its most popular products including multigrade paper and developer – and how you might even be wearing some of their technology in your socks. Hopwood revealed that to ensure the company’s future as “the best in black and white”, it has most recently diversified to employ the same silver halide compound used in its photography products as an active ingredient in odour control footwear.

After a question and answer session and lunch, the talks resumed with photojournalist David Hoffman, who has spent four decades taking pictures of protests, riots and demonstrations – with the scars, missing teeth and court cases behind him to prove it. Hoffman spoke of his mistreatment at the hands of the police over the years, and what he perceived to be the failure of the Met to view journalists at the scene of protests to be impartial observers, instead treating them as troublemakers and keeping files on their movements. From the Brixton riots in 1981 to the G20 demonstrations of recent years, he has seen it all – and told of his fear of the powers of police surveillance in the future.

This was followed by Susan Jones, the director of a-n, the Artists Information Company, who discussed problems in funding for artists. A recent survey by a-n highlighted the increasing trend of artists being expected to exhibit their work for nothing, even by flagship galleries. “Where has all the money gone?” she asked, suggesting that the artists’ lack of motivation for profit may see many taken advantage of, settling for much less than their time and creative efforts are worth, while others benefit.

Finally, some of the new legal issues facing professional photographers were addressed in a practical session by Gwen Thomas, the legal and business director of the Association of Photographers, and Nick Dunmur, a non-executive director of the AOP and chair of the British Photographic Council.

With changes to come in copyright and licencing legislation that will affect working photographers, they warned that although a great deal of speculation and scaremongering abounds, it still pays to protect your work for the future, and gave practical tips for copyrighting work and displaying online.

The day concluded with the awarding of the Redeye Printing Bursary with Rob Sara, now in its second year. After a showcase of work by the shortlisted photographers, the winner was named as Gillian Gilbert, a final year student at the University of Cumbria. Sara is one of the most respected printers in the UK, and offers two days of directed hand printing in his studio to produce a series of prints for the winner’s portfolio.

The theme of Look 13 – ‘who do you think you are’ – by accident or design may have inspired NPS5 to look inwardly at the practice of photography as well seeing the bigger picture. As the variety of speakers showed, the industry faces its own challenges in a rapidly changing climate, but as always there is common ground and support to be found in all sorts of different places; and its champions are as passionate as ever, whatever the future may bring.



In the first talk of the day, Carol McKay posed the question ‘Are We All Photographers Now?’ and shared her thoughts on the pros and cons of sharing and exhibiting photography online.

Illustrating her talk with work by her colleague Arabella Plouviez, McKay, a photography lecturer at the University of Sunderland, discussed modern photosharing platforms including Flickr, their impact on professional photographers and the democratisation of the practice.

Crowdsourcing of images has become a source of fascination for professionals and amateurs alike in recent years, and social media has become a powerful tool. More than just sharing a quick snap on Pinterest or Instagram, these sites have become a key way for cultural organisations to engage with potential audiences, even spawning exhibitions in their own right.

Photography competitions open to all are a prime example, increasing in popularity and easier to participate in than ever in the age of digital photography and smartphones.

Such methods are as much a savvy marketing ploy as a commitment to art – and in some cases have become a useful device in supporting funding applications; one of the most successful examples being the Street Photography Now project, that saw 20,000 images uploaded to Flickr in a year.

McKay said photographers need to think how to respond to the changes social media has brought about.

“What has become clear is photographers’ interface with social media and online platforms is of great importance,” she said. “The changing expectations of photographic audiences is a challenge, as audiences are likely to engage in complex and varied practice of photography in a way that might be different to audiences of other practices.”

To highlight the impact of social media photography and how it has changed the landscape of the practice, McKay cited the work of two artists who have tried to contextualise this: Erik Kessell, in his 2011 installation Photography in Abundance, where he printed off all pictures uploaded to Flickr in a 24 hour period to fill a physical gallery space, and Ekke Vasli’s piece Watch Flickr Downloading Live, a fast-changing screen that can barely seem to keep up with the onslaught of new content.



In his talk Performatism: Photography After Postmodernism, Dr Raoul Eshelman approached NPS5 as a cultural critic, to explain the concept of his term for post postmodernism. Performatism, he argued, is applicable to all strands of the arts and represents a new type of photography in itself, as opposed to a “warmed over modernism”.

To highlight his theory he used examples of work from photographers including Thomas Demand, Kurt Tong, Andreas Gursky and Mike Perry.

He explained that postmodernism in photography is recognised through its hyper-artificiality or amateurish, ironic style. This anti-aesthetic, superficial attitude can be seen in the type of photographs that are made to look random and taken off the cuff but belying great complexity and skill, such as Lee Friedlander’s Las Vegas (2002).

Alternatively, performatism uses space in an affirmative way to create a dynamic sense of order, and the viewer can assume an aesthetic attitude – suggesting a higher sense of order, a transcendence that reaches beyond the photograph.

Motifs include urban and industrial landscapes with a hint of spirituality, such as the ‘non-ironic Americana’ of the work of Mike Sinclair; nature and culture; people, placed in settings to suggest transcendence (for example, Nikita Pirogov’s The Other Shore series); interiors, opening out into other worlds (eg Kurt Tong’s People’s Park series); objects that have been made to transcend; and natural order overcoming chaos.

Dr Eshelman is a lecturer in Slavic literature at the Maximilian University, Munich.



Harman Technology is the UK’s largest photographic manufacturer, and its chairman and new business director Howard Hopwood gave an insight into the company in his talk Inspired by Imagination… Shaped by Science.

Mr Hopwood gave a short history of Harman Technology, as well as explaining what goes on behind the scenes in the firm’s plant and discussing the challenges faced by manufacturers in the photographic industry today.

Harman Technology, formerly ILFORD, is named after Alfred Harman who founded the company in 1879. It was put on the map in 1940 with the invention of multigrade paper, which revolutionised black and white photography. In the 1980s, the firm decided to specialise and concentrate solely on developing this product and becoming “the best in black and white”.

With the rise and rise of digital photography, Mr Hopwood maintains there will always be a market for film. “I try to maintain the view that film is the best way to capture an image”, he said. “I believe that not just because it is my livelihood but because you can have the confidence that if you capture something on film it is going to last.”

As well as longevity, another advantage to using silver gelatin prints is that it is valued by collectors as the format makes it difficult to replicate originals.

But as the market for physical photographs – and the support structure around it – gets smaller, Herman Technology faces problems including the volatile price of silver and raw materials becoming more difficult to source.

The firm continues to introduce new products, and one way of diversifying has been finding an alternative use for its silver halide compound – as the active ingredient in odour control socks.

Mr Hopwood says: “The Alfred Harman legacy is still alive. We are still there and still working on it. We will be the best in black and white and I think we are about there. We will be the last man standing in traditional photography – we have committed ourselves to that. It is a valuable business, and we are keeping it going. Through socks!”



David Hoffman was introduced to the symposium as “the second most arrested photographer in the UK”, and went on to give a short history of his 35 year career as a radical photographer, capturing images of civil unrest around the country.

His first-hand accounts of riots, demonstrations and protests – and the price he has paid to be at the scene over the years – gave a rare insight into the policing of these events and how it has changed, including an increasing wariness of on-the-spot photographers, who are now just as likely to be watched as any criminal.

From the 1981 Brixton Riots to the more recent G20 protests, Hoffman’s experiences of aggressive policing and what he claims to be tactics including the deliberate provocation of protesters and crowds by police – as well as the court cases he himself has won after being assaulted and arrested by officers under false pretences – not only told of threats to journalists but the danger of the UK “sleepwalking into a surveillance society”.

Hoffman’s photographs have on occasion captured images that illustrated aggressive police behaviour against photographers and civilians, from pictures of officers appearing to strangle a colleague in the 1980s (for which damages were awarded), to photographic evidence of his own bloodied and bandaged head after an assault.

“Attacks on working journalists are attacks on democracy,” says Mr Hoffman, who has won a number of court cases against the police thanks to the legal support of the National Union of Journalists.

Photographers working on these demonstrations have been followed, filmed and treated as protesters by police. Their details are on police databases part of a move, says Hoffman, to create “a perfect storm of surveillance” in order to deter people from involvement in protests.

“The police are determined to oppress dissent,” he says. “I’m not a protester or activist. I’ve never been a member of a political party. I’m a journalist, and have been for 37 years. Yet [the police] have filmed me dozens of times – there is even a file on me on the national register of violent extremists.”



“The millennium was a golden age for the arts, which really flourished at that time. So where has all the money gone?” asked Susan Jones, director of a-n, the Artists Information Company.

In her talk, she revealed some of the more telling results of her organisation’s 2013 artists’ survey, in which half of those who responded said it had become too expensive to exhibit work – with less than a third saying they had not received any fee whatsoever to exhibit, and earning less than £200 was to be expected. In addition to this, increasingly artists are being expected to pay a fee to exhibit or enter into competition.

Jones argued that the altruistic nature of creatives –  those freelancers not motivated by profit, yet making the work on which the jobs those more securely employed in galleries depends – not only risks them being taken advantage of, but also devaluing their work and that of others as well.

“Artists increasingly hear ‘there’s no budget’. There is – but what that means is that the budget has gone somewhere else. That doesn’t stop there being good practice,” she said.

This was illustrated with a quote from fine art lecturer Pavel Büschler, who puts it thus: “The artist’s ‘old’ job is taken over by the intermediaries who ‘deliver’ the art to the public, who facilitate public access to art – curators, critics, arts administrators – and whose role it is to negotiate the practical and ideological terms and conditions of the ‘services’ provided by artists in society.”

As such, the artist remains in a precarious position, subject to market preferences and trends and vulnerable to all kinds of uncertainty when working on projects.

Ultimately, Jones asks, we have to ask: Art feeds the soul, but who feeds the artists?



In the final talk of the afternoon, Gwen Thomas and Nick Dunmur discussed new legislation for photographers to be aware of and ways for professionals to protect their livelihoods in The Photographer of the Future.

Ms Thomas, the legal and business director of the Association of Photographers, and Mr Dunmur, a non-executive director of the AOP and chair of the British Photography Council, began with an overview of new legislation to copyright reform soon coming into effect. Issues include the way orphan works – images that cannot be traced back to their owner – will be made available for anyone to use; and the introduction of extended collective licensing, that will allow organisations to collect money on behalf of non-members as well as members unless they take steps to opt out.

They offered the following advice for photographers in the face of new legislation:

● Keep yourself informed – scaremongery abounds.

● Join a trade association or union, to provide a balanced view

● If your work is in a library or you sell online, consider registering with a copyright office in the US

● Join a registry, eg PLUS.

● Metadata is strippable, despite this being a criminal offence – make incorporating it in all your images part of your workflow.

● Be clear about what your photographs can be used for. Build in licences as part of your paperwork trail – this can also be built into your metadata.

● Consider adding a watermark to all online photographs.

● You can also consider extending the canvas of your image and add information as part of the image itself.

● Make sure all paperwork is watertight – incorporate standard terms and conditions, and include these again in your invoices.

● Be careful using social media – some sites will strip metadata. Only post photographs of little or no value, and nothing with an exclusive licence.

● Get out and meet people. Networking face to face still the best way to find work.

Not all of these steps will be relevant to everybody but choose the steps that are most appropriate to your particular work.

If you need to provide information about licensing and copyright to your clients, look at the Copyright4Clients section of the AOP website.

LOOK/13 Festival Guide

LOOK/13 is one of the UK’s most important photography festivals, and is supported by Redeye. Here’s a short summary of what’s happening, in particular around the opening weekend of 16-19 May 2013.

View LOOK/13 Venues in a larger map. If it doesn’t load, refresh the page
Key to map: Turquoise = Festival venue // Yellow = Redeye Lighbox venue
Red = Parallel venue // Pink = Party

Redeye’s activities at LOOK/13:

Events at The Bluecoat – don’t miss:
The National Photography Symposium; 17 May
Tom Wood talk; 18 May
John Davies and Laura Pannack talks; 16 May
The Perfect Portfolio; 16 May

Portfolio reviews, Photo Activist Boot Camp and Editing workshop are now sold out.

Other festival opening weekend events:

Kurt Tong talk // Lightnight // Made in Liverpool // Launch Party; 17 May
Photo Pulse // Fabricate // Caravan Gallery talk; 18 May
Eva Stenram & Lucy Soutter; 19 May

Museum of Liverpool; 18 May
Exhibition Research Centre // The Bluecoat; 19 May

Main Festival Exhibitions:

Sander // Weegee // Adam Lee // I Exist (in Some Way) at The Bluecoat
Charles Fréger // Eva Stenram at Open Eye Gallery
Rankin // Keith Medley // Martin Parr // Tom Wood at Walker Art Gallery
Kurt Tong at Victoria Gallery
Rob Bremner at Wolstenholme Creative Space
Blackout at Exhibition Research Centre
Caravan Gallery at Museum of Liverpool

Redeye’s Lightbox exhibitions (group and collective shows from our workshop programme; part of parallel programme):

Fabricate Collective at Fallout Factory
Lamp Post Collective at The Brink
* Possessed at 81 Renshaw Street
Stranded on The Strand (Merseyside Planet Vessel and next to Travelodge)

Parallel Programme (official fringe):

Art of Pop Video at FACT
Barbara Kruger // Moyra Davey at Tate Liverpool
* Caravan Gallery at 79 Renshaw St and on the Wirral
E Chambre Hardman at The Hardmans House
Emotive Matters // Lawrence Giles at The Bluecoat
* Fab Collective at The Domino Gallery
In Parallel (Marc Beaussart, Peter Mearns, Tabitha Jussa) at St George’s Hall
Ken Grant at Beaconsfield Community Centre
Mark McNulty at Bold St Coffee
Nick Danziger at The Brindley
Pete Carr at Leaf
Processing (Kevin Casey, Stephen King, McCoy Wynne) at Cornerstone
Tom Wood at CASC Chester
3+2=1 Collective at 81 Renshaw Street

* Exhibitions with an opportunity to submit your work


Ilives – Tony Mallon and Crisis Skylight
Searching – Marc Provins

Opening times:

Some venues are closed Sundays or other days. Please click on the specific date you want to visit on the festival calendar.
Some venues are by appointment: Beaconsfield Community Centre and The Hardman’s House.

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