LAST WEEK’S MEETING – Tony Pioli FRPS FBPE gave us a talk on Thursday which took as throughout the British Isles and into the Alps, Dolomites and many, many other places that he had visited over the years. On the way we had lots of tips on getting good shots in exactly those conditions we find as we tour around; we can’t always be somewhere just as the lighting is perfect and, for many of us, the camera is a memory notebook, an extension of our particular interest in a place. However, stop just a moment longer, think about what you are recording, try to look at the whole frame, and you will be surprised how your pictures begin to look much better.

Tony’s talk was nostalgic in another way too; it was all on slide film. How wonderful to look again at those lovely little cardboard framed memories, pictures whose truth fairly rings out! The only things which bring you back to earth is the clunking feed mechanism and the fact that it is difficult to have everything part of the slide in focus at the same time. I began to feel like finishing off that film I have in the M6.

logoSTUART PILKINGTON – Documenting Britain is a project involving several photographers, one of whom is Stuart Pilkington who lives in Northwich. The other day he was in Crewe adding to his collection of people he meets on his walkabouts.20140628-_DSF7780 I was disappointed to hear that he had more refusals in Crewe when he asked permission to take photographs than he is used to. He has also been to Warrington, Tarporley and, most recently, Winsford. Stuart is organising a landscape competition – The 100mile Radius; details are on the front page.

KEELE THREE COUNTIES – The Keele Three-Counties Photography Exhibition opens on Wednesday 18 February and I’m pleased to say that three CPS members have had work selected. There will be over 100 framed prints on show in the Chancellor’s Building until 25 March. Peter Robinson has had all three of his entries accepted which is a remarkable achievement. There were 270 entries from 100 photographers. One of Peter’s entries was “Venetian Blizzard”  which won the mono print section of the L&CPU Annual in 2014. The picture shows Peter viewing it al the L&CPU Exhibition last summer.

TONY RAY-JONES and MARTIN PARR – ONLY IN ENGLAND – This week’s Picture of the Week is not a photograph in the usual sense, but a page from the notebook of Tony Ray-Jones. I have explained that this is to highlight the Only In England exhibition which opened at the Walker in Liverpool last Friday. It prompted our webmaster Ian McNab to make the following comment on our Forum. Since our Forums are private I have copied Ian’s words here…..

John has put Tony Ray-Jones’s fascinating notes to himself about “Approach” on the front page of the CPS site. They repay careful reflection.

Tony Ray-Jones studied graphic design at the London School of Printing. In 1961, when he was still only 19, he obtained a scholarship to Yale University School of Art, and moved to the USA. Then, in 1963, he joined the famous Design Lab classes run by Alexey Brodovitch in Richard Avedon’s Manhattan studio. There he met Joel Meyerowitz, a fellow student, and, through him, Garry Winogrand. The three would work together in the New York streets, developing the skills and techniques that came to characterise the immensely influential “New York style” of street photography. Tony Ray-Jones returned to England in 1965, and, building on his New York development, did some of his finest work over the next few years. This is on show as part of ‘Only In England’ – brilliantly reviewed here by Francis Hodgson.

Tony Ray-Jones’s list of admonitions to himself is mostly about getting closer to the subject, and about tightening and varying the composition. In this regard, it’s interesting to see the ideas he shares with Winogrand about framing to include as much relevant content as possible while maintaining coherence – “Take simpler pictures. See if everything in the background relates to the subject matter”. Winogrand describes this as “the battle between content and form”.

And Joel Meyerowitz has talked about Ray-Jones getting angry with himself over his ingrained habit of applying compositional principles from his training in graphic design when taking pictures. (This recalls Winogrand’s warning: “We know too much about how pictures look. And it’s the easiest thing in the world, it’s natural, to make those pictures we know. But it’s boring!”)

But Ray-Jones eventually – and magnificently – succeeded in overcoming those habits, and forged a new way of taking pictures. In his Guardian review of the “Only In England” exhibition , Sean O’Hagan said of Tony Ray-Jones “…it is his eye for detail and often brilliantly complex compositions that set him apart. His images often appear cluttered … On closer inspection, though, what we are glimpsing is several small narratives contained in the bigger defining one.”

Tony Ray-Jones died of leukaemia in 1972, aged 30.

KEELE THREE COUNTIES – Tuesday 17 February – Tonight was the opening of the Keele Three Counties Photo Exhibition. The Three CPS members got 6 acceptances between them, but we were not among the prize winners. But, Roger Evans, a Chester PS member, who had entered through reading about the competition on this site – WON FIRST KEELE PRIZE! Here he is (L) with one of the judges(R) admiring his winning shot!


Roger reminded me that his club (Chester PS) have a real coup in getting  Gered Mankowitz, one of the most successful rock music photographers, to speak to them on 26 March (see front page).