Meeting 18 March 2013

A meeting was held on 18 March 2013. The initial focus of this meeting was looking at examples of books and also a calender that members had produced. There was also an opportunity to look at some work produced using a phone, which was followed by a discussion about photographing near where we live. The meeting concluded with a suggestion that future meetings have a theme, which are lead by different members, on a rotation basis.

Ian's notes:
The first part of our meeting on 18 March was taken up with books. Our own, now completed, Blurb production, Personal Views, was our first object of discussion. Each contributor present (unfortunately, not all of us were) gave an explanation of his own work, its origins and his intentions behind it, which was interesting and informative. Since part of the reason for the book was to advertise our group, we decided we should try to get it reviewed in the Contemporary Group Journal. [I will ask Patricia Ruddle, the Journal’s editor, if she would consider publishing a review if we obtained one, and if so I will approach Nigel Tooby, the Contemporary North East organiser, to write the review.] We considered organising a bulk-buy of the book for ourselves, since multiple orders can reduce the price of individual copies, but the logistics of this proved too much for us and we tacitly agreed that we should each purchase our own.

Then Keith talked about his own Blurb publication, Cumbrian Coast Revisited, on which he has been working for some months. Keith had previously invited us to look at the review copy on the Blurb website, and many of us had done so. It is a collection of monochrome photographs that he has taken over a number of years, all with a Leica M6 camera, on Kodak Technical Pan film, rated at ISO 25 (and therefore always using a tripod). The many images are of a uniformly high quality, reflecting the careful determination that has gone into making them, and the book is meticulously produced and presented. Those who have not looked at it on the Blurb site should do so. They will enjoy it.

The two productions illustrate the increasing importance of the digital, print-on-demand book as a means of presenting and disseminating photographic images. These books cost comparatively little, make an excellent showcase, and provide an infinity of possibilities in organising and displaying photographs. If we think of a book as an opportunity to create a work in itself, surpassing the sum of its individual images, we should surely be able to extend the boundaries of our own photography. In this connection, it is worth noting that the Contemporary Group is hoping to organise a photobook competition next year, and is currently considering the logistics of doing so. The concept of the photo book is so much in keeping with the essential CG philosophy of expressing a personal view through a collection of themed images, that we should welcome this, and perhaps bear it in mind for current work in porogress.

Much of the remainder of our evening was taken up with looking at two presentations, one by John and the other by David, of what might be termed ‘calendar work’, a series of images taken on a regular basis, marking the passage of a year. This idea has enjoyed considerable popularity in recent times thanks to its simplicity and its scope for recording in detail the passage of time in an infinite number of intimate and personal ways. John had compiled his images on a monthly basis during 2012 and had had them printed up commercially as a calendar. David is still in the process of compiling his, on a daily basis during 2013, with his iPhone while walking his dog. This concept also fits well with the ease of collecting the images together in one digitally organised place.

Lastly, we spent a little time discussing future meetings. From the latter part of this year, it is likely that I will be spending more time in Spain, which will make it difficult for me to arrange our meetings as easily as in the past. It would therefore be good if some, at least, of our future meetings could be taken over by one or another of our members, who could decide on a theme for a meeting and preside over it. Derek T has agreed to be the first to try out this concept, for our July meeting (15 July), and will let us know in due course what his ideas are. At our next meeting, on 20 May, I hope we might try once again to agree on organising an exhibition, a task that has so far eluded us. I would also like to experiment with a topic that I find increasingly interesting – what exactly is it that makes a good image? More about that a little later.