‘Innovative’ is such an overworked term that often it is hard to distinguish the truly exceptional character of some initiatives that travel way beyond the cliché. However, the Photography weekend conceived and arranged by Trevor Griffiths, as part of Bradford College’s contribution to the British Science Festival, left those fortunate enough to attend in no doubt that they had participated in something very special.
Trevor had assembled a dazzling blend of experts, exclusive premieres and new equipment and processes for the eager audience to engage with. He explained that Faster Than The Speed of Light reflected “the rate of technological advance which changes on an almost daily basis. But while appreciating and embracing the new, it is just as important to value our photographic heritage and craftspeople. From an educational standpoint we use conventional photography as a foundation; without that we are building learning on quicksand, and we have nothing to support it when we explore advanced technologies. The phrase is also a tribute to the late Terence Donovan who used to say ‘speed of light’ when he gave his assistants anything to do.”
The weekend, held on 11th and 12th September, was opened by College Principal and Chief Executive Michele Sutton OBE, who expressed her pleasure at this exciting programme being offered during the British Science Festival’s second visit to Bradford in a hundred years. Before introducing the distinguished speakers, she noted the contribution of the College’s School of Arts and Media over almost 150 years. She also highlighted the calibre of current professional links, which included a Fellowship in Photography, in partnership with the National Media Museum, which enabled students to work alongside illustrious contemporary practitioners. For instance, our current Fellow is the internationally acclaimed Magnum photographer Donovan Wylie.Lecturer Andy Vaines perfectly set the scene for the subsequent lectures and workshops with an illuminating journey through the history of photography. Read more
The audience was then privileged to watch the premiere of a 30 minute documentary film by Richard Dunkley. The Silver Footprint is a stunning exploration of the career of master printer, Robin Bell, whose unparalleled expertise in the darkroom meant that his client list reads like a Who’s Who of photography and film, past and present: Eve Arnold, David Bailey, Steven Berkoff, Martyn Colbeck, Terence Donovan, Ernst Haas, Don McCullin, Lee Miller, Linda McCartney, Terry O’Neill, Norman Parkinson, Ken Russell, and Lord Snowdon. This was not just a loving evocation of a glorious past but an enthralling insight into a genius at work, whose services are still in demand from those who value the rich, atmospheric appeal of traditional silver gelatine prints, whether in contemporary reportage and documentary, or portraiture and fine art. The film will be screened later by the BBC and broadcasters throughout the world and will undoubtedly generate a massive return to the darkroom. You can watch the trailer here
The exclusive first showing came courtesy of one of the film’s contributors, Steven Brierley, Director of Sales & Marketing, Harman Technology Ltd (Ilford Photo). Steven noted that the film “gave an insight into a world few people would understand. To derive your living from photographic printing requires incredible skill, connections and persistence.” Steven and his team had not only supported this event but have been generous supporters of Photography at College for many years. Steven then delivered a fascinating, myth debunking talk about current developments in analogue film. Read more
While Saturday had concentrated on traditional techniques, Sunday’s sessions focussed on new technologies. Dr Kelly McErlean, award winning photographer and filmmaker, and CEO and founder of New Media Technology College, Dublin delivered a thought provoking lecture about the latest media developments and made even the most conventional photographers re-evaluate their narrative skills. Read more
Another huge supporter of Photography at College, Chris Ireland, Managing Director of Direct Digital Imaging and Capture One Complete, who has been a professional photographic consultant and photographer for over twenty-five years, treated the audience to a brief history of digital imaging from inception to the present day and beyond, before demonstrating the potential of combining pinhole with the latest Phase One digital technology. Read moreTrevor Griffiths added that the weekend had inspired everyone present to work with pinhole, whether conventionally or digitally. Participants had enjoyed the weekend's mix of expert lectures and hands on workshops so much, and there had been such demand for tickets, that Trevor will be arranging more events of this nature. Within days Trevor flew to Bollywood to develop new programmes of study for photography, film and animation, and to arrange speakers from these areas for future weekend seminars/workshops.