Dean O'Brien's Blog

Phil Brooks Talk at Coventry University….

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Listening to Phil doing this talk was a real insight into ‘real world’ photography.  He managed to take us on a visual journey with his 60 degrees north project.  Phil discussed the reason for taking up this project and the camera techniques used to achieve his images in very harsh conditions.  Many images were taken using a Hasselblad film camera (6×6 format) although for many fast moving street shots a digital slr was used ‘shooting from the hip’.

The part of Phil’s speech which really fascinated me was when he travelled to Siberia.  The whole journey through Russia had me gripped.  I have travelled to many Eastern European countries myself so the bombed out old soviet apartments with women adorning ‘supermodel’ looks on the street was a very familiar sight.  These countries are going through a massive change and this is notable through western advertising and clothing.  Documenting these changes is fantastic and brilliant to see.

Having people come and do these speeches at the University is vital as it shows us ‘real people’ just like us who are making an impact in the real world of photography.  Going away and doing these projects are not ‘pipe dreams’ but real possibilities that can happen if we want them to.  Phil mentioned the importance of ‘networking’ and making contacts to take us onto the next step of our journey.  Funding played a vital part with him being able to continue with his projects and this is something else which I need to look into.  However, I’m not going to build my projects around the possibility of funding.  If i can get it, all well and good but if not then they will still go ahead.

Towards the end when we were asked to ask questions, I did make a comparison between Phil’s work and that of Simon Roberts whose book ‘Motherland’ I had recently purchased.  Phil was quite flattered that I had made such a comment and went on to tell me that he knows Simon and that he was a big inspiration for him to do this project.  Earlier this year I spent 10 nights travelling across Poland to the Ukraine myself taking various images throughout my journey.  Phil’s speech achieved what it was meant to do – It got me thinking .  Thinking about planning my own path into photography.  I need to start planning my trip for 2010.  It wont cost a lot, as like Phil as I complete most of mine via the rail network.  Where to go seems to be the big question, but I will keep you informed.

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Written by Dean O'Brien

November 17, 2009 at 8:17 pm

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