Ken Scott Article

Forums Crewe PS Business Ken Scott Article

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    I’ve just emailed a letter to Photography News with a couple of observations about the Ken Scott article.

    “Thank you very much for including the Ken Scott article in the current issue.

    Ken is a man who thinks very deeply about the judging process and what photography is about. I hope many clubs and their members will read the article and give some thought to where we are going with club photography.
    I note that the membership total for my own photographic federation (one of the biggest) has not changed now for a few years. As a club we  seem to find it hard to attract and then keep new members. Could it be our emphasis on competitions rather than a proper appreciation of our members work and providing opportunities to help them?
    We recently had a session of self critique similar to that suggested by Ken and it was a great success. I think it is the way to go, but how do we wean members away from their enthusiasm for their marks out of 20?
    There is still much original, thought-provoking, meaningful work being produced in clubs, a significant amount of it from beginners. How do we nurture this? Judging standards are heavily influenced by work which does well in national and international competitions, work which is easily appreciated in 6 seconds, not necessarily what everyone wants to produce.
    John Royle
    Nantwich, Ches.



    meg cumming

    Read the Ken Scott article as well, John interesting and a possible way for the club to go in future. On one of the other pages there was a similar theme (think it was on the pinhole article). Would be good to hear what reply you get back.



    Thanks Meg. Here is Ken’s reply….

    Hi John
    Many thanks for getting in touch and for responding to Photography News. I think you have hit my nail squarely on the head, as it were. I am interested to see what more response it brings.
    I would dearly like to have written more but space lacks in a one-page article.

    Your final paragraph illustrates a big part of the problem – yes “Judging standards are heavily influenced by work which does well in national and international competitions” but equally how does that stuff keep doing well? Judges!! Judges also, especially those high up the tree, need to take a long hard look at themselves and the boxes they keep wanting to tick. I’m sure there is an answer, somewhere …

    Rest assured I will keep putting stuff out there.

    best regards
    … Ken


    Ian McNab

    Yes, Ken’s article is one of the most insightful and thought-provoking pieces that PN has published. It’s gratifying to see someone as prestigious as Ken endorsing the kinds of experiments we have been tentatively trying out in order to bring a wider range of opportunities for learning, development and creativity to our photography in Crewe.


    Ian McNab

    In a recent video, the famous American photographer, Mary Ellen Mark talks about her photography. She says she tries to make iconic, strong images in the camera. “In the art world they’re always thinking in terms of decoration, but those kind of strong images aren’t as decorative.”

    I was interested to hear her making this distinction between documentary or street photography and ‘decorative’ pictures. I think it’s a distinction that characterises club photography, too, where decorative pictures are valued above other approaches to photography.

    I understand that Martin Parr, speaking at the recent Photography Show,  also referred to the limited range of photography he sees in clubs. (Indeed, the Photography Show featured several world-famous photographers – Martin Parr, Mary Ellen Mark, Don McCullin, Susan Meiselas, Tom Stoddart, Lynsey Addario – all of whom might struggle to win a club competition!)

    It would be good to see a broadening of the range of work we encourage and experiment with in CPS to enrich everyone’s photographic experience.



    I certainly go along with the idea of valuing a wider range of work. It is easy to get despondent as you watch what is being successful in nationals and I turn for solace in what is being produced at club level, where work is more independently motivated.

    Martin Parr’s talk was exciting because he has been independently minded right from the beginning and also prepared to investigate everything – even to the extent of producing one photobook which was deliberately awful! (He has done 80-90). He said that in club photography we “miss so much” but he won’t see so much of the grass roots stuff which we see and personal work is more alive and kicking in clubs than he may think.

    Unfortunately much of the public view of club photography is shaped by national competitions and is likely to give the impression that we a pile of photoshopheads. I have to say that, even before Photoshop, we were a bit formulaic and rule-ridden. Photoshop was a blessing and a curse; freeing us from the slavery of the darkroom and enlarging possibilities but now proving to be a trap for those who think it some panacea.

    I would say just be truthful in your photography, go your own way, value other people’s work, try to understand what they are doing; and don’t take too many pink bicycles!




    An enlightened commentator indeed, much as I have expressed over the last two years. The point mentioned in these responses refers to club membership attaining and retaining. As far as “attaining” new members ,from my perspective it would seem membership levels could increase with intense publicity.A seed has to be planted in minds to register. What is more eye catching than superb 20x16s in town locations –library-shops-stores-banks etc. So many executive companies in Crewe and Cheshire East out there for the offering. People in the right place to help have to be cultivated. The whole anti needs to be raised with publicity. What a show CPS has to offer with superb photographs and programme but it is not being sold. As my late wife would say–to be big–you have to think big.Also everything should also be in Polish. Sadly I have no doubt –if things don”t alter–they will stay as they are.



    Yes, we need more people in and then make sure we keep them.


    Peter Robinson

    Club publicity was discussed at length at the last committee meeting and a lot of good ideas were aired. I know they are being followed up.



    Sorry Peter I was just getting enthusiastically carried away–ignore me. Yesterday I had a phone call just to enquire how I was going on. I was so surprised who was calling had to sit down. My support lady realising who was calling was visibly gobsmacked as I was.Thinking later how someone of that stature could help CPS. Attracting new members has to be cost effective so I also mulled over adding to the kitty for that purpose.But would not wish to interfere with the role of the experts–my apologise.

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