Simon Roberts Lecture

A while ago we got a visit from Simon Roberts and he gave a lecture about the identity of us students as authors… lucky us right? To say i was excited was an understatment. Simon Roberts as well as a lot of other things is primeraly a documentary photographer who has travelled all over the world and documentied as he went along, places such as Russia, but he’s not interested in the places what everyone see’s he goes for the more personal and intimate areas to the people who live there and the serounding area. He takes a series of portraits and landscapes; the photos are then made into a book. So that was some background info on him but now moving back on to the theme of his talk, us as photographic authors. He considers photographers as authors rather than illustrators talking about what you are interested in and about each photo you take. His geography degree really influences his work and he incorporates it by looking at the context of an image in his photos; and documenting large areas or entire countries. After he got his geography degree he joined a photojournalist course but then soon realised that it wasn’t for him and left to get a job on a newspaper; photographing local news stories.
After and incident with a photograph he tock of John Prescott, in which he wanted to get a photograph that would made the subject look good, the agency he worked for wanted something they could sell and the news wanted something the people would like.But sadly for him he didnt manage to get the copy right over the image and so the people he worked for used it to their own means and went on to produce and earn shed loads from this image.. so the moral of the story really is CLAIM THE COPYRIGHT OF YOUR IMAGES, and he couldnt stress that enough.
After this he discovered that he wasnt that happy with working for magazines, mostly because how limited it was in the sense thats he couldnt take photographs of what he wanted and decided to go to Russia and make a book… all with images HE wanted to take and couldnt be controlled by the agency.A project inspiered by August Sander he wanted to produce landscapes that would show the connection between Russians and their homeland….Russia. So he decided to take photos of the area and the people in them and then he would interview them after to get their point of view on were they were from. He took 5000 photos which he then edited down to 150 for a book.
After that he decided to make another book called “We English”, the same theme as the Russian book in the way that now he was showing off his england. This was inspired by Day off by Tony Ray Jones, Paul Graham and Martin Parr.

He decided to explored the place where he was brought up and since there hadn’t been a lot of documentation of the British landscape in the last decade he wanted to take a year out and do so. He used a 5×4 plate camera so people would definitely see that he was making an image. And by the looks of things people didnt really start acting any differently because of it.

During making the books he set up a website so he could let people know were he was going what he was photographing and constantly getting feed back, some people even suggested places to him.. were they grew up ect, there by making this more a collective project rather then him going out and trying to capture and repesent england on his own, now england its self is helping him. Thus in doing this it also created intrest in the people and book before it was even published.
I found the talk interesting and i rather enjoyed hearing about his carrer and the ups and downs.. a good insight into how he works and the profesional world.

If you want to see this talk heres the link to watch it online..


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