AIPP 50th Anniversary Exhibition

A_Campbell

Polish War Veteran; © Andrew Campbell, 2010.

Eastway_book

1996 Awards Book Ccover by Peter Eastway.

The Australian Institute of Professional Photography (AIPP) has celebrated its fifty year anniversary.  Along with a hastily cobbled together book somewhat euphemistically titled A History of Professional Photography in Australia, was an equally hastily collected exhibition celebrating photographic images connected with the Institute.   With a lengthy and worthy connection to the AIPP, Paul Curtis has managed to collate some of the history of the organisation, but it falls a long way short of being anything like its title.  My disappointment was also echoed in first seeing the AIPP 50th Anniversary Exhibition at the 2013 APP Awards in Melbourne and on initially opening the packages containing the show on its arrival at Foto Frenzy in Brisbane.

~ disclaimer – I am the Gallery Director at Gallery Frenzy, and an AIPP Member since 1975 

My disappointment with the collection was with the images that were missing.  Where were the photographs from Val Foreman, Ian Hawthorne, Athol ShmithPeter Foeden?  And more contemporary names like Robert Piccoli, George Apostolidis, Richard Bennett, Brian Brandt, Mike Connell, Robert Imhoff, Doug Spowart, John Whitfield-King and Milton Wordley?  To have an exhibition celebrating 50 years of the Institute and miss out on these names is unforgivable.

J_Starr

India; © Jason Starr, 1996.

As a long time judge within the Institute’s Awards system, I found that I had judged over 50% of the images on display and was able to recall over 60%.  Having spent hours and hours debating/discussing and anguishing over whether a highly awarded photograph deserved its score, it was interesting to spend time considering whether this selection still held their scores in the cold light of time and distance from original judging.  For me, it was a case of 47 out of 50 still holding their Gold Award (90 points or more out of 100).  Not a bad effort, and a strong reflection on the awards systems and their judges.

 

 

Mercury

© Mercury Megaloudis, 2007.

D_Oliver

Balmoral Mist; © David Oliver.

Fortunately some of my disappointment has faded as I have spent more time with the show.  There are some old photographic friends hanging on the walls.  To see one of Mercury Megaloudis’ 2007 Photographer of the Year dog portraits was a joy.  As was seeing a digital re-print (I suspect) of Peter Eastway’s 1996 PPY portfolio taken in Namibia.  Many of the images on display are the original photographs as judged – this also was a reward.  Being able to review images some years after their original assessment gives weight to the process in place at the APPA judging.  Seeing Graham Monro’s 1998 Editorial Category photograph reminds us that he had a life before becoming a wedding photographer!  One of my all time favourite images – David Oliver’s Balmoral Mist – shows clearly that good photography is not about digital, nor contrived created images; just great craft and a fine eye.

Billington

Sydney Harbour Bridge; © Robert Billington, 2000.

Polish War Veteran by Andrew Campbell is proof positive that great lighting, posing, and sensitive attention to one’s subject will override passing fads and trends.  Equally Robert Billington’s ethereal rendition of the Sydney Harbour Bridge brings a new interpretation to a photographic staple.

Leanne Darcy’s crafted photograph is probably as good an example of contemporary photographic interpretation as any contained in this exhibition.  It is original in concept, skilled in its craft and striking in its presentation – all the elements that a gallery curator looks for.

G_Munro

Runners; © Graham Monro, 1998.

This is the opportunity to put in writing a plea for the definitive exhibition of AIPP photography.  We have many skills to be proud of in this country, and the Institute has been instrumental in elevating the name of Australian photography around the world.  Let us commission a collection of quality photographs that truly represent the fifty years of our organisation.  It will take an investment of time, energy, skill and resources, but it could end up being a worthy marker in the history of Australian photography.

Little Girl

© Leanne Darcy.

2 thoughts on “AIPP 50th Anniversary Exhibition

  1. This exhibition was thrown together by Kylie who grabbed all the Gold prints from past Traveling Collections then made a final selection from what she had sourced. Agreed, not the best way to formulate an exhibition representing 50 years of the AIPP. Someone like you Poolie should have had his hand up to do the job, but then again Kylie knows best and won’t relinquish any responsibilities. Haven’t seen the book, which I believe I am in and that is another concern… what was the distribution plan for the book???

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  2. I echo your comments Ian – As a member of the AIPP since 1972 I’ve lived a significant part of the history of the organisation and been inspired by the photography of it’s best practitioners.

    I too feel that the current show is merely a contemporary flavoured quick pic and not the considered and curated reference collection that befits the milestone of 50 Years of the AIPP. I might add — where are the Honourary Fellows like David Moore and Olive Cotton?

    I endorse your concept that the true history of our photo heroes needs to be a project to be undertaken to respect the great photographers on whose shoulders we stand!

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