Last Wednesday I was lucky enough to get invited to give a talk on photography to my local Women’s Institute group. 30 years ago I would have given my viewfinder eye to have a room full of women actually interested in anything I had to say, but enough of my schoolboy fantasy world and more about the talk.
I am much more used to taking and printing photos than talking about them so I naturally prepared carefully to ensure a smooth 45minute presentation. Oh OK I just grabbed a load of my work, a few great photo books and some of my favourite album covers and worked out a beginning and an end and ad libbed the middle bit. A few mates were taking bets I wouldn’t be able to talk that long without swearing. I must confess I do like a little bit of profanity but wound my neck in for the ladies.
Started out with a quick how I got in to photography and then with the help of my beautiful assistants (my very lovely supportive partner Kim and my very lovely fellow photographer and friend Tony Greco) Talked through a few of my own fave shots. I sort of grouped them into my idea of portraits, abstracts and the lonely desolate shots that I really like taking. I am very motivated by the picture telling a story or asking questions of the viewer and worked this into the presentation. Finished up with my stuff with a little about presentation which is also vital as far as I’m concerned.
I then used album cover shots from Dead kennedys, The Clash, Bruce Springsteen and rage Against The Machine. I had an idea of how the still image can move from Reportage into the world of popular culture and vice versa and used the covers to try to sell my point. I don’t think the ladies had heard of the Dead Kennedys or RATM and as I was talking about the cover shots a folk band in the next room were jangling their mandolins which was somewhat ironic. I pointed out that if you put a picture of a burning monk on your album cover you probably don’t have that sort of music on your record.
Wound up by tying these images into the books I’d brought along which were reportage and art based. I rather daringly included a book of erotic/glamour work in which all the girls had photographed themselves, an interesting take on a genre usually shot by and aimed at men.
Rather pleasingly the ladies liked my work with the old mans feet and the dead fish proving popular. Just as pleasing was the interest in the books I’d brought and a clear indication of the enduring popularity of the still image
All in all a great experience and one I’d love to repeat. Maybe a little more prep next time, but then again the ad lib adds a little fun to what could otherwise be quite clinical. 30 years to have the ladies take notice of me but well worth the wait.
I will blog seperately on a couple of the subjects I talked about as I would be interested in comments on my ideas. Watch this space.