PODCAST: A Photographic Life, Episode 238: Plus Photographer Don Tonge

In episode 238 UNP founder and curator Grant Scott is in his shed reflecting nostalgically on the importance of the camera shop, gateways to photography and not being too sensitive as a photographer.

Plus this week, photographer Don Tonge 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?’

Below: This is the camera shop Grant mentions in this week’s episode and an extract from the spoof documentary programme People Like Us: The Photographer.

Don Tonge left Brownlow Fold secondary modern school in Bolton aged15 with no qualifications and started working in the storeroom handing out tools to machinists at Hick Hargreaves Engineering Co, Bolton, he then went into their foundry, but left after six months to start working in the building trade as an insulation engineer. In the late 1960s whilst, working on a job at the Ilford paper and film manufacturers he bought one of their Instamatic kits from their factory shop. He joined Bolton Camera Club in the 1970s and began to enter the club competitions with moderate success before entering competitions in photographic magazines and having his work published. Tonge won the Granada Television “In Focus” Competition around 1980 which resulted in two days of filming at his home and Haydock Park Racecourse with Nobby Clarke a London based press and theatre photographer. Tonge began working as a part-time freelance photographer in the late 1980s turning full-time as a front of house photographer for The Octagon Theatre in Bolton. He was there for 8 years, received his NUJ card and started freelancing for local newspapers and occasionally the national press. He also spent some time working with a Manchester based agency and documented the Strangeways Prison riot. A one-man show of his work was presented at The Salamander Gallery, Bolton and he has collaborated with other other photographers in numerous joint shows. Tonge is currently archiving his disorganised output locating negatives and scanning them. Cafe Royal Books have published three books of Tonge’s work from the 1970s. www.instagram.com/dontongephoto/?hl=en

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). His film Do Not Bend: The Photographic Life of Bill Jay was first screened in 2018 www.donotbendfilm.com. He is the presenter of the A Photographic Life and In Search of Bill Jay podcasts.

© Grant Scott 2022

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