This was a good one!
A few comments are in order following my return from The Event in Hobart. The Australian Institute of Professional Photography (AIPP) held the fourth of this series of conventions to assist professional photographers. It continues a long tradition that the Institute has maintained since the Hypo Events in the mid ’70s. It was at Hypo ’76 where I saw my first standing ovation at any event, let alone a photographic event. The late great South African born, English residing advertising photographer Sam Haskins (1926-2009) was the key-note speaker. In a pre-digital era, Haskins had mastered the black art of compositing colour transparencies into a single image. Something that is taken for granted in today’s Photoshop layers technology. Haskins was asked to show an audio visual illustrating his work; and as he then was using an Asahi Pentax 6x7cm camera, he arrived in Canberra with full sized, uncropped glass mounted images, a monster of a 6x7cm projector (possibly a Norris), and “surround sound” audio speakers. Placing speakers in all four corners of the lecture room was almost unheard of at that time, and certainly a first for me. Haskins proceed to show his images, projecting his images one by one, using the manual operated projector, in perfect sync to Procol Harum’s A Whiter Shade of Pale echoing through the lecture space. This was a time when 10-20 Kodak Carousel projector events were common, and to see a single man showing his work via a single projector, was unheard of. Each image was better than the one before, and in combination with the music it brought first a stunned silence from the audience at the conclusion and then a rapturous standing ovation. The experience was repeated by demand, two more times during the convention and then shown in Sydney days later.
This photographic standing ovation was repeated at the 2012 Event in the Hunter Valley when James Nachtwey was similarly feted following his harrowing, but impressive story of human suffering.
Some of my personal highlights were presentations by Bella West, Blake Discher, Jennifer B Hudson, Michael Kenna and the surprise that was Flavio Bandiera. Of course that is ignoring a thought provoking visit to MONA Gallery, fabulous social events hosted by Nikon, Kayell Australia and our very own Institute; and a broad ranging set of local grown talent who delivered with skill, experience, passion and self-evident talent.
British born Kenna focuses on ethereal landscapes and is an unabashed advocate of the analogue black and white process. His gentle, learned and articulate presentation was supported by a range of wonderful images taken around the world – but not from the Antipodes! Whilst a photographer of some note, with his Firefly Studio based in Chicago; Blake Discher was at The Event to talk about the power of marketing and selling for photographers who hate selling. Listening to someone who was not only well versed in his knowledge, we were treated to a photographer at the top of his game, and with a powerful presentation that was professionally delivered.
The female presenters came from both sides of the Atlantic – with Bella West from Great Britain and Jennifer B Hudson from America. West was listed on the program as delivering a presentation on classical portraiture – which in effect was a delicious portfolio of contemporary images that put an end to the theory that contemporary and quality could not co-exist. West’s images benefit from a clear understanding of classic portrait techniques, coupled with an innate ability to communicate with her subjects. Conversely Hudson relies on her unique ability to work intimately with her subjects to create a portrait that plumbs the persona and delivers an image that often defies a time and date tag. Hudson’s images are often constructs that are the result of considerable imagination on her part and a desire by the model to participate in a collaboration that produces unique images.
For me the stand out presentation came from an unexpected quarter. An Italian wedding photographer, Flavio Bandiera has studios in Rome, Milan and Turin, his credentials cover the major photography Institutes and Associations and his speaking engagements are myriad. His images were contemporary and well designed and thought out; BUT it was the language he used to describe and illustrate his images. Bandiera’s command of language in describing the various aspects of creating imagery was akin to a lecture from the best of photography’s leading academics. Despite apologising for English being his second language, his list of terms was the best I have ever heard in the description of what we do as image makers. It is hoped that the AIPP includes his presentation among the video of demand list; as it will rival the best photographic lecturers in this country.
Thank you to the Institute for a great Convention.