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Please note: RPS House is closed for our exhibition install. We will be open again from 10am on Friday 9th August 2024.

The Decisive Moment May 2020 Edition 19; Cabin Fever by Joanne Coates
CREDIT: Joanne Coates

The Decisive Moment May 2020

Cabin Fever - Joanne Coates

The May edition of the Documentary Group journal. This edition includes an article on the first Documentary Photography Distinctions Advisory Day and features work from Joanne Coates, Liz Vaz ARPS, Ron Evans ARPS, Jo Kearney ARPS, Gary Jones ARPS and Charles Ashton ARPS.

The world as we knew it has paused for the moment, perhaps changed forever. The COVID-19 situation has impacted us all in different ways and there are probably more uncertain times ahead. The challenges have resulted in many changes in the RPS and in the Documentary Group. For some, the COVID-19 situation has resulted in layoffs or furloughing, for others it has increased work. Within the Documentary Committee this has also been the case as some of us have been pulled into managing changes in businesses and education. As a result, a few things have taken us longer than planned. Our apologies, but I hope you will understand.

One big impact of the crisis has been on the touring exhibition of Documentary Photographer of the Year. Many of the planned events are now on hold or postponed, some will probably be cancelled. We hope to be able to hold events later in the year. Likewise, our AGM, due to be held at RPS HQ in April, has been postponed until later in the year. 

The RPS has run a number of online events. We are planning to do the same but are also conscious there is a lot of online activity already in progress. As a first step, we have started to provide online resources (on the RPS Documentary webpages) covering online picture archives and a summary of books relating to documentary and street photography. We will add to these lists together with short reviews of favourite photobooks. If you have any recommendations, please let us know. I’d like to be able to build a library of resources that help anyone wanting to understand and undertake documentary photography.

For some time, RPS Documentary Group has been planning a workshop series dedicated to working on documentary projects. Our intent is to provide members with the knowledge,  skills and confidence to develop stronger documentary projects. I am pleased to announce that these will be starting shortly and initially be held online and advertised in our Events page.

As well as the main talks and events, the RPS is now offering one-to-one distinction Advisory sessions online, via Zoom. I actually took the opportunity myself and found the session really helpful and constructive. So, if anyone is thinking of submitting a portfolio for a distinction, I’d recommend booking an online session via the RPS website. It is also pleasing to see that a number of our regional sub-groups are running events online in a range of different formats. The online option might provide an answer for regions that have struggled to form sub-groups or put on events, mainly due to venue and travel challenges. If anyone is interested in organising an online sub-group, we would be pleased to hear from you.


Mark A Phillips ARPS

Chair, Documentary Group