I have been asked to make a short video about my experience on the MA Documentary Photography course at the University of Wales in Newport. I was there from 2003- 2005. There will be a group show in October this year featuring work from ex students and staff. When I think back to what I really learned on the course the main things that stand out are reading and writing. I know it sounds odd to get that on a photography course, but it was there that I learned to articulate and explore my thoughts and ideas, to write them down. And it also got me reading.
I came across this great quote recently from the legendary American photographer Tod Papageorge, which really sums it up – “If your pictures aren’t good enough, you aren’t reading enough.”
This past week I haven’t taken any photographs for myself (except iPhone pics) and that makes me very uneasy. A stockpile is mounting up, of the images on my list that I need to take. I can at least console myself that I am reading and building up a couple of new ideas for future projects. Newport set me on the right path and made me realize how reading other people’s ideas and their explanations of current situations, helps to clarify why I am drawn to particular subjects. I can then begin to understand exactly what it is that interests me, and that I feel I need to explore through my photography. I now know how reading can influence and aid my photography. The course at Newport taught me how to take photographs that are about something, that say something and can tell a story. In my case I didn’t achieve this until after I had finished the course, but it was the catalyst that started the ball rolling.
Big thanks to Clive, Ian, Ken and my fellow students.