Category Archives: 4 A British tradition

Project: A British tradition

Documentary Dilemmas: http://collection.britishcouncil.org/exhibitions/exhibition/documentary-dilemmas-1993  this is a new link, the old one didn’t work. It is a shame that many of the images by some of the photographers were not visible. I was able to find the relevant projects from other sources. The links are below:

Martin Parr – Hypocrisy and Prejudice?

If Parr is practising the new subjectivity in his photography then he is in danger of being thought a hypocrite.  When we stop thinking of the photographer as a neutral observer, recording objectively, we consider his motivations, background and the context in which he is photographing his subject. Some of these considerations may neutralise or override others which enable him to defend this hypocrisy. He acknowledges that photography is an exploitative medium.  As such there is often a balance to be struck.

England Uncensored – Phil Coombes on Peter Dench http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/17190001

“Humorous approach with an underlying social commentary”. I think this works in Dench’s case. It is something that requires acute observation and a readiness to shoot first and ask permission afterwards. With regard to the ethics of this kind of portrayal, I would hope that a self imposed code of conduct would be applied by the photographer. Any “social commentary” should reflect the actions or attitudes of society as a whole and not be seen to be a comment on the behaviour on the individual where he or she is identifiable.

With regard to the “British tradition” in the title of this section it seems that Parr has been at the vanguard of this movement. In my opinion,  the influence of the American  photographers on Tony Ray Jones and subsequently on Parr and his acolytes has done a great deal to mould British documentary photography over the past 30 years.