A Photographic Journey

On the evening of Monday 15th May the club ho

sted a presentation by Nigel Tooby FRPS. The title was “Of our times: The price of money” but Nigel’s alternative title was ”The Elusive Fellowship: My Personal Journey”. This latter title referred to Nigel’s path towards the Fellowship award from The Royal Photographic Society. Like most others he started by gaining his Licentiate award and he had some observations on this. The Licentiate award indicates a good, sound, solid and competent photographer and Nigel showed the panel of prints he submitted for this. He emphasised the importance of using the advisory days which are available (the next one is to be held at Brookhouse Club here in Wakefield). He showed this panel and commented on each image. Then he moved on to the next award, the Associate. Here the aim is to show specialisation with significant technical ability. It also introduces the concept of an individual style. The panel must be submitted with a “statement of intent” which identifies the purpose/theme in the mind of the photographer in constructing the panel of images. Nigel said that the theme was his own family and the feelings and relationships. In particular they were all “about” something rather than “of” something. His panel comprised of monochrome images taken over a period of years and he spoke eloquently about each image.

Following the Associate award Nigel decided to go for the highest award – the Fellowship. He realised that this required a complete reappraisal of his photography and, in essence, of himself and his approach to the subject. This took a lot of soul-searching. The RPS want to see progression showing how the photographer has developed through the awards and will revisit the work submitted for the earlier awards to check that it is there. After a lot of thought Nigel decided that his main influences were artwork from album sleeves designed by firms such as Hipgnosis and the work of Maria Falconer FRPS. This led him to decide to submit in the “Contemporary” section and then it took him 6 months of thought to decide on a theme. He actually drew what he wanted first and that led him to decide on using a photobook for his submission.

In the second part of the evening Nigel went through that particular photobook and gave a fascinating commentary to accompany the images. The book was done with pairs of images – one the drawing of the shot he wanted to create and the other the final image.. The theme was based upon greed culture within the corporate world and its effect on the employees. The drawings used a “storyboard” concept with words and sketches as an integral part of the story. The images were arresting to say the least and the audience was held in a spellbound silence. Like his previous work it was “about” not “of” this greed culture. The images had a tremendous impact but also contained a lot of subtle details, all adding to the effect. He was awarded his Fellowship at the first attempt.

It was a fascinating evening, not just for Nigel’s journey through the RPS awards but to see the development of a style and a set of ideas which culminated in engrossing body of work.

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