What Does Photography Mean To You?

Over here in Document Scotland HQ we’re fans of those who promote democracy within photography, who give voices to all photographers, where all opinions are welcome and valid. For that reason we enjoy the podcasts brought to us by Grant Scott’s UN of Photography every Wednesday, in which he explores the topic of the week in photography, the debate, the controversy and what’s being said on social media. The weekly podcast has become a great source of interest and inspiration, as a photographer is invited to join the chat, and to send Grant an audio file in which they try to answer the question “what does photography mean to you?”

Today, it’s the turn of Document Scotland’s Colin McPherson who gives his thoughts and opinions on where we are now when it comes to support, funding and opportunities for photographers. Although it was recorded before the current coronavirus crisis, the ideas and observations are as relevant now as they were before as we move beyond, what he describes as, “the end of photography”.

Listen to Colin here:

A while back now, in the same series, Glasgow-based photographer Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert posted his views in response to an invite from Grant. Jeremy talks in the below podcast about how he views his camera as a passport into different situations and cultures, and how he hopes his photography can be shared and make a little difference in the world, to help change prejudices, or to educate, and to share the feeling of being somewhere for those less fortunate to travel.

Have a listen, and let us know what you think, you can always tweet Grant on @UNofPhoto, Jeremy on @JshPhotog, and Colin on @germanocean. Many thanks.


We hope you have enjoyed the above article and images. Since forming in 2012 all the work featured on this site, and the work undertaken to enable it, has been free of charge. Now, times are changing. To continue we feel we need to ask for your support, to help us manage our time and energies, and to continue sharing photography we care about. Please visit our Patreon page and consider being a supporter. Thank you – Jeremy, Sophie, Colin. 

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Harry Benson, our new honorary patron.

At home in New York

Harry Benson, at home in New York © Stephen McLaren

 

Document Scotland is thrilled to announce that Harry Benson CBE, one of the world’s leading photographers of the last sixty years, and a proud son of Clarkston, Glasgow, has agreed to be our honorary patron.

Harry who lives in New York and Florida, has shot so many iconic pictures from the 20th century that it would take us too long to list them, but a quick Google search will bring up legendary pictures of the Beatles, the American Civil Rights era, massive film stars and the assassination of Robert F Kennedy. Life magazine may no longer be with us, but its influence on the history of photojournalism is huge, and Harry was its most published photographer at the time it ceased publication.

Harry arrived in America in 1964 with the Beatles, but began his career by taking wedding photographs and later working for the Hamilton Advertiser in the 1950s before moving to London for the Daily Express. Since then, Harry has continued to shoot portraits, commissions and stories in Scotland much of which is showcased on his website. Most recently, he was back in Edinburgh to unveil his new portrait of the Queen which was taken for the Scottish National Portrait Gallery whilst his portraits of the last four Presiding Officers are on permanent display at the Scottish Parliament.

 

Harry Benson unveils his new portrait of Queen Elizabeth II at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh,  July 2014. © Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert

Harry Benson unveils his new portrait of Queen Elizabeth II at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh, July 2014. © Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert

 

Stephen McLaren recently paid a visit to Harry and his wife Gigi, who makes all of his prints.  They enjoyed a conversation about photography, football and Scotland.  Despite being in his 80s, Harry shoots every other day and spoke of a recent assignment to photograph fashion icon Carolina Herrera.
When asked about his philosophy, Harry passed on a few thoughts which should stand any documentary photographer in good stead:  “If you work hard you are inclined to get lucky in photography.  Try to get out of the studio, in my opinion anything you can re-do is not good photography.  Pictures should have an edge about them, a good picture cannot happen again.  A moment that is frozen in time – it’s obvious to me this is what great photography is all about.

 

Glasgow Housewives with US Navy , © Harry Benson

Glasgow Housewives with US Navy , © Harry Benson

 

“‘Each a glimpse and gone forever,’ is my favourite line from the Robert Louis Stevenson poem From A Railway Carriage. It’s about a boy riding in a train, watching scene after scene go by. And to me that is what a photograph is, a glimpse caught and then gone forever.”

As someone who always seemed to be at the right place at the right time it is no surprise to learn that he is an incredibly self-motivated and driven photographer. “I do admire other photographers and their work, but I am more interested in looking at their pictures and asking myself if I could have shot it better.”

Document Scotland’s photographers hope that they can learn from Harry Benson’s dedication to his craft and emulate his longevity in the photography world.

 

Glasgow Dior Fashion Show, 1957 © Harry Benson

Glasgow Dior Fashion Show, 1957 © Harry Benson

 

 

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