From Chris Killip's The Station
CREDIT: © Chris Killip / from The Station. Used with permission.

Looking to the present, looking to the past - 2

Event info

This second, of a three-part series, led by Colin Pantall, consists of eight lectures. It will introduce you to the contemporary practice of photography through examples that link the historical, the contemporary, and the theoretical in a way that is dynamic, visual, and accessible to everybody.

Touching on major photographic genres such as landscape photography, portraiture, and conflict, it will look at some of the key photographers and ideas that have shaped how we see the world today and will also present a global, pluralist outlook on both the wonderful expressive and artistic qualities of the photographic image, as well as its darker side.


The series comes in three parts, each consisting of eight lectures, and all with the opportunity to ask questions and discuss the issues arising. The first series looked at the origins of key photographic genres, where they came from, how they affect the images we make and see today, and how those genres are influenced by different global theories and practices.

The second, will look at how social and cultural change in the post-war era influenced photographic practice around the world, and the final part will look at specific areas of practice within photography, from representation of the body to the photobook and archive to the family album and the body.

The series is ideal for anybody who seeks to understand how images are made and understood. It will enrich your own understanding of how images are read, and will also add layers to how you make your own images. If you have never studied photography, these lectures will give you a fast track introduction to how we can think about images, and how our visual histories can be opened up to global images and ideas. If you have studied photography, it will present new ideas and possibilities that will refresh your views of what photography is and what it can be.

Some Key Photographers mentioned: Anna Atkins, Hoda Afshar, Mohamed Bourouissa, Erwin Blumenfeld, Alejandro Cartagena, Zaharia Cusnir, Hugh Diamond, Rineke Dijkstra, Robert Frank, Amak Mahmoodian, Daido Moriyama, Malick Sidibe, Hashim El Madani, Timothy O’Sullivan, August Sander, Sebastiao Salgado, Jo Spence, Anastasia Taylor-Lind, Li Zhensheng… and many  more

Some Key theorists/writers mentioned: Ariella Aisha Azoulay, Roland Barthes, David Chandler, Paul Ekman, Juan Fontcuberta, Erving Goffman, Takuma Nakahira, Wu Hung, Susie Linfield, Audrey Linkman, Bill Nichols, Olu Oguibe, Martha Rosler, Robbie Shilliam, Jo Spence, Janina Struk, John Tagg… and many more

Lecture length: 2 hours, consisting of a 90 minute illustrated lecture and 30 minutes for questions and discussion.

Recommended readings: Each lecture will come with recommended reading and viewing on photographers and ideas connected to the series.

Series 2

1. Postwar realignments – Sentiment and The Family of Man

This lecture will look at photography during and in the aftermath of the second world war. It will look at how the narratives of the Second World War were shaped in different contexts from the Holocaust, to representation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, what was represented and what was not.

2. Street Photography, City, and Self

In this survey of street photography, we will look both at the grand tradition of Western street photography, as well as an expanded, global view of street photography that covers ideas of surveillance, technology, and voyeurism and how these mix with ideas of urban, economic, and national identity in contemporary representations of the street.

3. Japanese Photography

This lecture will look at how national, geographical and post-war narratives helped shaped Japanese photography. It will look a the overlap of influences between east and west, the role of the self in photography and the way in which nature and autobiography continue to resonate in Japanese photography today.

4. New Topographics and beyond

This lecture will look at how landscape photography was redefined following the New Topographics exhibition. It will look at how ideas of how personal and historical relationships to land began to be examined in photography, and how these have been realised in contemporary practice through different concepts of geography and space. This lecture will look at urban landscapes, concepts of space and place, and how the margins of the land have been represented. .

5. Photographing the Family

The first photography we are exposed to is family photography. We are photographed as babies, as children, in a variety of situations that are both individual yet standardised – we are photographed at family gatherings, in groups, at celebrations, on holiday. This lecture will look at how family photography both replicates idealised concepts of the family, as well as look at work where that idea of the ideal family is undermined and reinvented.

6. British Photography 1960s – 2000

The period between 1960 and 2000 saw an astonishing cultural interplay between music, politics and photography. This lecture will look at the dominant trends in photography and the ways in which different cultural streams interacted in the 1970s and 1980s in particular. It will look at activist photography, and the ways in which images became commodified in the 1980s.

7. Staged photography and self-portraiture

In this lecture, we will look at how photography, film, and literature have overlapped in staged photography and self-portraiture. Ideas of autobiography, the body, and the self will overlap with the ways in which different photographers have used cinema, national identity, and political histories to examine who they are and who, through the camera, they can be.

8. New Fictions

The boundaries between photographic genre have become blurred as definitive ideas of photographic style have merged and overlapped. This lecture will examine how photography has used fiction, storytelling, and speculation to tell a story. It will look at narrative approaches, unreliable narrators and the questioning of photographic frameworks as a means to an end in visual storytelling. How do you tell a story with images? That Is at the heart of this series of lectures and that is how this series will conclude.

Series 2 will run on Wednesdays @ 1800-2000 on 18, 25 November, 2, 9 December 2020 and 6, 13, 20, 27 January 2021, subject to a minimum number of attendees. 

For registrants details of how to access the series will be circulated one week before the first lecture.  Each lecture will be recorded and made available to registrants for two weeks afterwards. 

Image: © Chris Killip / from The Station. Used with permission. 

Event Organiser

Dr Michael Pritchard


Cancellation policy

This is an online event. The RPS will do its best to ensure that the event keeps to the published dates and timings and runs as planned. In the event of technical difficulties, the unforeseen unavailability of speaker(s), or in the unlikely event that the series or part thereof has to be cancelled all participants will be advised at the earliest opportunity. Dates will be arranged or a pro-rata refund made. No responsibility is accepted for any consequential losses.



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