The Innocent Eye, with Wendy Ewald (Conversations with History)

Photographer Wendy Ewald joins host Harry Kreisler in a discussion of her craft, shares her thoughts on working with children, and reflects on using a camera as an educational tool in Conversations with History   In a 1998 video interview with Wendy Ewald, American historian Harry Kreisler acknowledges the complex … Continue reading

Participatory photography – Jack of all trades, master of none?

Foreword When I wrote ‘Jack of all trades, master of none’ eight years ago I was just beginning to explore the relationship between photographers and those they picture. Participatory photography (PP) was considered rather hip at the time, partly fuelled by the success of the film ‘Born into Brothels.’ I was … Continue reading

TAKING PART: Participatory Artist In Residence programme

Photofusion host four 90-day residencies for emerging participatory lens-based artists. Photofusion is a hub for photographers of all backgrounds in South London. Working in a diverse and challenging borough since 1992, Photofusion has a proud history of community engagement including work with local schools, young offenders, social housing associations and … Continue reading

Feigned authenticity?

“The social, political and ameliorative objectives in historical social documentary photography are not dissimilar to some of the imperatives in ‘participatory’ art practice trends. These social and political aspects referred to relate to the desire to work with a social or political cause. The ameliorative has to do with the wish to correct a situation by drawing attention to it, making it visible, and the desire to ‘correct’ a situation, which, I have suggested, operates within a ‘liberal’ domain, representing a desire to ‘bring good and truth to the world’, to remediate and repair. Often, however, this operates at surface level only. In many instances it does not serve to break apart the mindsets and structures that create those situations. Strategies engaging participatory practice do not necessarily solve the photographic dilemma of finding ways to grant equal agency to both subject and photographer. In fact, these strategies often captivate the audience with a feigned authenticity, one that only serves to create another layer of ambiguity in the ‘truth factor’ of the photograph.”

 
– Natasha Christopher. “The whole truth, nothing but the truth: Photography and participatory practice.” In Wide Angle: Photography as Public Practice, edited by Terry Kurgan, 76-88 (88). Johannesburg: Fourthwall Books, 2015. iBook, e-book.

The Dad Project

“We’re not a photo family. None of us like having our pictures taken. This was pretty weird way to try changing that.” – Briony Campbell   Briony Campbell’s collaborative work with her dying father David, The Dad Project (2009), is great. I am excited about the way they made it together, and also the … Continue reading

Being Old

This gorgeous project was made by my collaborator and friend Emily Fitzgerald (we made The King School Portrait Project together). Being Old is a photo-based collaboration between Emily and a group of people from the Hollywood Senior Center in Portland, Oregon. Emily visualised that the weekly workshops she ran would be dedicated to “creating … Continue reading

Participatory project in New York City Public Housing

  While I think there are more sophisticated and visually impactful ways to co-author documentary projects than the participatory model, this project was released in book form by powerHouse books earlier in the year, and it is definitely worth having a look at (again, the caveat that I think straight … Continue reading

Prisons and photography: A conversation between San Quentin and Venezuela

  Nigel Poor, Helena Acosta and Violette Blue were introduced by email on the 22nd of January 2015 for the Open Engagement blog project, produced by Gemma-Rose Turnbull, and asked to speak to their shared interests for this blog. What follows is excerpts from their emailed conversations. Nigel Poor: Professor of … Continue reading

‘Charismatic Agency’ and the power of seduction

Image from Red Light Dark Room; Sex, lives and stereotypes, 2011.   “Despite the current enthusiasm for social practice, it is not without its tensions, especially in sectors where art and activism overlap. As agents of change, social-practice projects can seem wanting: the scale is often small, the works are temporary, … Continue reading

Shannon Ghannam on PhotoVoice

Rakma, Nasra, Asli and Zam Zam, Somali Community, Brisbane, Australia 2003 by Shannon Ghannam   A former school mate and friend, Shannon Ghannam, is a London-based Australian photography and multimedia professional, who has most recently worked on award-winning Reuters multimedia and photography projects, including The Wider Image and Times of Crisis. … Continue reading