Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Paul Hill - Scottish Photographers

Last Saturday saw me starting to get my head back into gear for the start of the new term, and what better way to do it than in the company of some of the Scottish Photographers group and Professor Paul Hill at Street Level.

I first came across Paul Hill through his book 'Approaching Photography', recommended reading for photo students. He is regarded as a major influence on contemporary British photography and has an MBE for his services to it to prove it! On top of that, he was a really nice chap and it was a great day.

Paul originally started out as a photojournalist which he left to concentrate on his own photography and his work in photographic education. He sees himself as a storyteller; saying something in his images. He believes that: 'everyday, if you have a camera, can be an adventure'. I was particularly interested in several aspects of his work that he talked about, for example, at one point he realised that although his images were technically of someone else, they were actually about him.

I really liked two projects that he worked on: 'Displacements' and 'White Peak, Dark Peak'. 'White Peak, Dark Peak' is a series of images taken around his own area in the Peak District over the different seasons. It explores not just how the area changes over winter, summer etc, but about the marks made on the landscape by nature. 'Displacements' examined man-made mammoth gestures on the landscape - the change of land use (the anger and aggression caused by big land developments; people's reaction to it), our escape to the countryside and what we leave behind. Needless to say it's this last aspect that captured my attention the most.

The second part of the day was Paul critiquing portfolios brought along by the members of the group, which was very constructive.

Other highlights of the day including Tom Cooper (TJC's more common name!) coming along for lunch as he and Paul are very old friends, and having drinks with Paul and Sandy afterwards. He was such an interesting man and it was just such a great day; a very good way to get the head back in gear!!


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