21st Sep 2012 11:00am-4:30pm
Centre for Research and Development Boardroom, M57, Grand Parade
Centre for Research and Development, University of Brighton, 21 September 2012
Co-convened by Dr Annebella Pollen (University of Brighton)
and Juliet Baillie (Birkbeck, University of London)
This event is made possible by the generous support of The National Media Museum and the School of Humanities, University of Brighton and forms part of the Ph: Photography Research Network’s Either/And publishing project.
Since its inception, the overwhelming majority of photography has taken place outside of the realms of professional practice, yet little sustained and empirically grounded attention has been paid to the many nuanced forms that exist within this vast, but rarely well-defined, ‘amateur’ category. Research has tended to cluster around certain sites and themes: the ideology of the family album; the apparently artless and hapless ‘snapshot’; and the ‘found’ photograph as a form of vernacular artistic inspiration, thereby neglecting a wide and varied range of amateur photographic positions beyond and between. Existing literature broadly divides between those who are, at times, vehemently dismissive of the apparently conventional aesthetics of popular practice, and those that privilege the non-professional with an almost outsider status, closer to photographic ‘authenticity’. Through bringing together, in debate, scholars and practitioners of all stripes, this symposium seeks to problematise such binary oppositions, challenge existing knowledge, and reconsider the particular and distinctive positions of the amateur photograph and photographer, both historically and in the rapidly changing present.
Papers and discussions throughout the day address the broad area of concern outlined above, and the specialist knowledge of the contributors, through the consideration of a number of clustered key issues:
Fundamentally, who are amateur photographers and how might they be defined? Where do the categorical boundaries lie? What are the particular class, gender and age demographics of the aspirational amateur photographer, and how might these be shifting in new media landscapes? What are the analytical methods by which the vast body of historical and contemporary amateur practice may come to be understood? How might changing practices and critical perspectives expand and contest traditional approaches?
What is the social significance of amateur photography beyond the ‘family function’ and the domestic sphere? How do amateur photographic institutions, societies, sites, fora and literature shape practice and products? What do new public audiences do to once private practices? What is the role of technology in constituting and performing photographic identities, past and present?
What part do pictorial concerns play in amateur practice? Why have so-called ‘serious’ amateurs been subject to such critical dismissal? What is aesthetically distinctive about the aspirational amateur photograph? Where are the points of convergence and dissonance with professional and/or art photography? How might amateur photography correlate with other amateur creative practices?
Venue: Boardroom, Centre for Research and Development (CRD), Mezzanine Floor, Grand Parade campus, Faculty of the Arts, University of Brighton
11-11.30 Registration and coffee
11.30 Welcome and introduction: Annebella Pollen
11.45-12.45 Panel 1: Money and Art
Juliet Baillie (Birkbeck) - Camera clubs, interwar amateurs and photography for profit
Graham Rawle (Brighton) – Studio Studies: Photographic ‘artistry’ in 1950s men’s magazines
1.30-2.30 Panel 2: Competition and Education
Annebella Pollen (Brighton) - When is a photographic cliché not a cliché?
Karen Cross (Roehampton) – The relational amateur
3-4 Panel 3: Communities and Futures
Roger Tooth (The Guardian) – Guardian Camera Club
Stephen Bull (University of the Creative Arts) - We are all photography geeks now: Aspiring amateurs and the global camera club
4-5 Round Table Discussion (all speakers)
5pm Wine reception
Attendance is free but booking is essential as places are strictly limited. To book, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org by 7 September 2012.
Apologies, but this event is now fully booked.
1. Modern Photography, Cover, September 1955 by Nesster http://www.flickr.com/photos/nesster/5022799964
2. ‘By the canal’ From the collection of Mike Gerrish By Mr E.A. Ife of the Post Office Savings Bank Photographic Society
3. Meta Photography? by Naotake Murayama http://www.flickr.com/photos/naotakem/5016975024
4. Image by Graham Rawle
5.165/365: Books By Playful Librarian http://www.flickr.com/photos/playfullibrarian/365745945
Thumbnail: Cameras, Cameras and More Cameras by Robert Vega http://www.flickr.com/photos/robertvega/4522191957