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Hunter & Penrose Camera
CREDIT: Alan Hodgson ASIS HonFRPS

Truth and Photography

Studying stuff for inspiration

Five months as President. Having spent a lot of time out and about talking to members I can report on some recurrent themes. Questions like "what are my plans"; "where do you stand" feature regularly. So I wrote a VoiceBox column for April edition of The Journal and a significant element of this was my recent journey around truth in photography

My journey started with a group of digital media students who were visiting the RPS Gallery and presenting projects on the subject of truth. A truly fascinating experience and it set me down the path of considering truth in my professional work, photography and indeed The RPS.

A lot of my professional work has involved photography to establish truth, for academic papers and to document identity. I wrote the Journal article on the way to a conference in Portugal on this topic as I still work on print in identity – technologies to secure portrait identity in documents such as passports.

I visited a number of photographic exhibitions in Portugal, again exploring the concept of Truth. All of these had some element of photojournalism, starting with the work of Cartier-Bresson.

But it was while in the Centro Portugues de Fotografia I stumbled upon a camera that resonated with me in so many ways. First it was big – I had built large format cameras in the past but never on this scale. Second it had come from the Portuguese Mint and I was on my way to a conference where I would meet with some of their delegates. But finally, it had been used to photograph artwork to generate printing plates to certify truth in documents like bonds and currency. Another area where photography was and still is used to document truth and generate trust. We have a legacy to uphold and I found this thought inspiring.