Oxford School of Photography

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Daily Archives: April 29, 2014

What Are The Ethics of Digital Manipulation in Photography?

No there is no answer and we keep returning to this debate because it is at the core or image making in the 21st century. We have reported and commented on it a number of times in this blog here was the last, and this from a couple of months ago

Lightstalking has an article on this and interestingly fronts it up with the image of the Cottingley Fairies


As Jason Little says:

From the moment we’re old enough to play games with other children, we’re told that cheating is bad. The same principle follows us throughout the rest of our lives, but as we grow it takes on far greater implications and applies to so many more situations than a simple schoolyard game of hide-and-seek, hopefully exhibiting itself in personal, academic, professional, economic, and all other aspects of life.

Because no one likes cheaters and liars, of course.

The Case of the Cottingley Fairies

In 1917, two young girls age 16 and 10, residents of Cottingley, England, made the first of an eventual five photographs that showed Frances, the younger of the two cousins, posing delicately amongst a quartet of fairies.

Yes, fairies. Like Tinkerbell.

The girls claimed to have seen the fairies down by the stream where they often played. And for anyone who scoffed at their assertion, they had photographic proof to offer. It didn’t take long for the cousins’ astonishing photos to reach the rest of the world; some looked upon the portraits with nothing but disbelief, while others believed the images to be real. Chief among the believers was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, author of Sherlock Holmes, and avid spiritualist who was convinced the girls’ photos were legitimate evidence of psychic phenomena.

Even if you have never previously heard of this affair, you can probably guess with reasonable certainty where it’s all headed. Frances’ and Elsie’s photographed were eventually revealed as fakes, with the fairies being nothing more than cardboard cutouts that had been pinned to the girls’ surroundings in a variety of creative ways……….

However, if your intent is to create fiction, then do whatever you want, just be sure that your motives are clear to your audience. Only when a photographer presents his or her work with the intent to deceive should we call into question their professional/artistic integrity — their ethics.

We all know fairies aren’t real. The idea that there is a universal set of rules or an objective reality to which artists must adhere at all times is just as much of a myth. Do what makes you happy, yes; but also make sure you can proudly stand by the merits of your work as well.

Big question what do you think, read the rest of the article here and have your say

Photography Oxford Festival

You may already be aware of the planned festival of photography to be held biennially in Oxford, this year is the inaugural year so expect the next in 2016. Here is what they say about their plans

Photography Oxford was established in the Spring of 2013 to deliver biennial festivals of international photography in Oxford. Its founder and director is the photojournalist Robin Laurance . The first festival takes place over three weeks in the autumn of 2014.
The festivals, exhibitions of the work of leading photographers complemented by talks, panel discussions, films and workshops, will increase the opportunity for regional audiences to engage with world class photography. Importantly, it is the intention of the Photography Oxford team that Oxford becomes the place not only to celebrate photography but also where the many issues surrounding photography at the beginning of this 21st century are discussed and debated.

Welcome and thank you for coming to the web site of

If you enjoy taking photographs and enjoy looking at photographs, and if you have ever stopped to consider how photography informs our daily lives and influences the way we see the world, then you have come to the right place. In 2014 Oxford will be a world class city for photography when PHOTOGRAPHY OXFORD launches the first major new photography festival in the UK for many years.
The 2014 event, which will run for three weeks from September 14th to October 5th, will be the first of a series of biennial festivals. Our festivals will bring together the best photography from around the world, featuring all the photographic genres from fine art to the edgy realism of photojournalism. Engage with the festivals and you will be entertained, informed and amazed.

The free exhibitions will be complemented by talks, debates, workshops and films. And for those who want to pit their skills against the professionals there will be an opportunity to do just that through a project open to all-comers.


There is a range of exhibitions, talks, films and other activities, you can find details at their website or follow them on Facebook