PODCAST: A Photographic Life, 198: Episode Plus Photographer Alen MacWeeney

In episode 198 UNP founder and curator Grant Scott is in his shed reflecting on a considered response to the podcast and hearing from Jim Mortram about #PhotoPrintDay.

Plus this week photographer Alen MacWeeney takes on the challenge of supplying Grant with an audio file no longer than 5 minutes in length in which he answer’s the question ‘What Does Photography Mean to You?’

You can follow Jim Mortram on Twitter @JAMortram, Photo Print Day @PhotoPrintDay and don’t forget to use #PhotoPrintDay

Born in Dublin in 1939, Alen MacWeeney became a press photographer for a local newspaper in 1952. One of his earliest bodies of work was of the semi-nomadic Irish travellers, images that were also turned into a movie, broadcast on RTÉ and BBC 4, and included in Itinérances, 28th Festival Cinéma d’Alès, which MacWeeney co-directed. MacWeeney left Ireland and moved to New York in 1961 to assist Richard Avedon. His work was getting noticed, resulting in them being shown in the Museum Of Modern Art. After working on glamorous shoots for influential titles such as Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar in Paris and New York City, MacWeeney had become disenchanted with the highly stylised nature and limitations of studio photography, and was becoming more interested and influenced by the work of documentary photographers such as Robert Frank and he returned to Ireland in late 1962. He then began an extensive career in commercial and editorial photography. His personal work from the mid-1960s capture the misty streets and cozy pubs of Dublin with Joycean affection. There are also sprawling country landscape views with flocks of sheep and ancient cairns. MacWeeney’s best-known work from this period is his series and book Travellers: Tinkers No More. At a time when this centuries-old itinerant culture shifted from horse-drawn conveyance to motor-hauled caravans, the he explored their makeshift camps with his camera and tape recorder. His work is included in the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, the Museum of Modern Art, New York and the Art Institute of Chicago. MacWeeney’s photographs have appeared internationally in magazines and books: among them, The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, Esquire, G.Q., Life, The World of Interiors, American Photographer, and Aperture, amongst many others. His work has been published books including: Irish Walls; & Ireland, Stone Walls and Fabled Landscapes, Bloomsbury Reflections, Charleston: A Bloomsbury House and Garden, The Home of the Surrealists, Spaces for Silence, Irish Travellers, Tinkers No More, Once Upon a Time in Tallaght, and, Under the Influence. MacWeeney’s archive resides at Cork University and he lives in New York and Sag Harbor, with annual travels to Ireland. www.alenmacweeney.com

Dr. Grant Scott is the founder/curator of United Nations of Photography, a Senior Lecturer and Subject Co-ordinator: Photography at Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, a working photographer, documentary filmmaker, BBC Radio contributor and the author of Professional Photography: The New Global Landscape Explained (Routledge 2014), The Essential Student Guide to Professional Photography (Routledge 2015), New Ways of Seeing: The Democratic Language of Photography (Routledge 2019).

Grant’s book What Does Photography Mean to You? including 89 photographers who have contributed to the A Photographic Life podcast is on sale now £9.99 https://bluecoatpress.co.uk/product/what-does-photography-mean-to-you/

© Grant Scott 2022

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