The picture painted in the headline to this article is not a very attractive, aspirational or enticing one but it may be a description that is familiar to many of you who attend talks given by photographers about their work, exhibitions, projects and aspirations. It may also bring back memories to many of you who have delivered talks such as these.
So why do we do it? Why do we put ourselves through the preparation and anxiety of talking to small crowds in unsuitable spaces and why do we attend such presentations huddled together with unfamiliar faces? Questions that occurred to me recently when I saw a photograph online of a photographer talking about his latest project in what looked to me like a basement nuclear bunker with just a few hardy souls in attendance on a cold weekday evening.
The answer of course is simple, because such meetings of minds are essential to our learning, to our experiences with the medium, to the nourishment of both mind and soul. However, much we connect online through social media platforms, forums and blogs personal connection cannot be underestimated in its importance. It’s good for our mental well being and our sense of physical belonging.
The life of the photographer can be a solitary one and an excuse to get away from the computer screen and share views should not be over looked. Opinions and beliefs can provide an essential life line for many struggling with both their personal demons and the devil that can be creative and professional photographic fulfilment. Experience needs to be expressed and shared. You need to feel that you are not alone!
So, the next time you see a talk advertised, go along, talk to the person next to you and ask questions. Get engaged in debate, drink the bad coffee or stale wine and feel good that you are supporting not only the person giving the talk but also yourself and those seated around you, no matter how few there maybe.
Grant Scott is the founder/curator of United Nations of Photography, a Senior Lecturer in Professional Photography at the University of Gloucestershire, a working photographer, and the author of Professional Photography: The New Global Landscape Explained (Focal Press 2014) and The Essential Student Guide to Professional Photography (Focal Press 2015). His next book New Ways of Seeing: The Democratic Language of Photography will be published by Bloomsbury Academic in 2019. He is currently work on his next documentary film project Woke Up This Morning: The Rock n’ Roll Thunder of Ray Lowry.
His documentary film, Do Not Bend: The Photographic Life of Bill Jay has been screened across the UK and the US in 2018 and will be screened in the US and Canada in 2019.
© Grant Scott 2019