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Paying it Forward: Stuart Franklin on teaching the next generation of photographers

Stuart was a member of the original Photogragraphers Workshop when we were based in St Marys Road Oxford. It was a darkroom and studio hire centre so anyone interested in making their own photographs could come and develop film and make prints. Stuart lived in Oxford at that time and would come to make prints, he is a very friendly and helpful man so I am not surprised as his role as a Magnum photographer he is teaching the next generation.

The urge to document their world photographically is a drive that has undoubtedly been felt by many Magnum photographers; and it’s a practice that Stuart Franklin explores in his 2016 book The Documentary Impulse, charting the motivation to visually tell stories and represent the world far back beyond the invention of the camera, all the way to cave painting. From pre-history onwards he explores a history of photographic representation in visual culture and many of the practical and ethical issues that form the backdrop to the current landscape of the industry. Through teaching, Franklin aims to help a new generation of photographers go beyond the practicalities of technique and understand their practice within the weight of this context. Here, Franklin discusses what there is to gain from a photography education, and explains how he experienced the ‘documentary impulse’ himself. You can read more here

Stuart Franklin Tiananmen Square, Beijing, China 26th May 1999. ©Stuart Franklin

On a personal level, how have you felt or experienced the ‘impulse’ in your own practice?
An impulse or obsession is almost crucial to a life in documentary. I have explored a number of ideas – still working on some today – with an irrational drive, where work that I’m pursuing, and the way I’m doing it, makes absolutely no economic sense. Most of my books evolve in that way: Footprint, The Time of Trees, Narcissus, La Città Dinamica – even The Documentary Impulse. I work on projects because I am impelled to do so.

“In visual storytelling coherence across a body of work is an essential part of authorship”

– Stuart Franklin

Read the full article here and find out about the course Stuart is running

Stuart Franklin is teaching on the Intensive Documentary Photography Course with London College of Communication and Magnum Photos. More information about this course, including details on how to apply can be found here.

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Open for Business – Magnum Photos Exhibition

Open for Business is the story of British manufacturing and industry told through the lens of 9 Magnum photographers.

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Princess Yachts, Plymouth. 72 foot motor yachts. L/R, Tony Bruce, Darrell Bratcher, Craig Wickes, Mark Lavis
Credits : © Chris Steele-Perkins / Magnum Photos
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Pelamis wave machines, the Sound of Hoy, Orkney Islands
Credits : © Stuart Franklin / Magnum Photos

In 2013, Multistory and Magnum Photos commissioned nine of the world’s leading photographers to document contemporary British manufacturing.  During a period of great economic instability, and where questions are being raised about the strength of western economies within the worldwide market, there has never been a more relevant time to explore the condition of Britain’s manufacturing future.

22 August 2014 – 2 November 2014 Science Museum London

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Conor. Tate & Lyle sugar refinery, London
Credits : © Bruce Gilden/MAGNUM PHOTOS
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Renishaw, Bristol. Worker on the assembly line at the precision engineering plant
Credits : © Martin Parr / Magnum Photos

In 2013, Jonas Bendiksen, Stuart Franklin, Bruce Gilden, David Hurn, Peter Marlow, Martin Parr, Mark Power, Chris Steele-Perkins and Alessandra Sanguinetti photographed over 100 workplaces across the UK, from one-man businesses to FTSE 100 companies.

Through eye-opening photography and film footage, Open for Business celebrates the resilience of British industry. From traditional, handmade crafts, foundries and assembly lines to modern, intelligent automation, laboratories and high-tech cleanrooms, this economic sector demonstrates an extraordinary adaptability and diversity.

Discover a different side of London in the work of award-winning American street photographer, Bruce Gilden, who focuses on the varied manufacturing taking place in the city. Creating unflinching portraits of workers at the Tate & Lyle and Vauxhall factories, Gilden demonstrates the physical impact of work, and raises questions about the social responsibilities of companies to their employees.

As British industry faces several challenges, Open for Business reveals the daily struggle at a human level as businesses attempt to cut costs, streamline processes and level up to international competition. The project captures British manufacturing’s effect on regional culture and community life, and celebrates the work, activities and lives of its employees.

For more information about the project, visit the Open for Business website.

See behind the scenes images of the photographers’ shoots on the Open for Business Tumblr.

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Inspection and service hatch on a section bending machine
Credits : The Angle Ring Ltd, Tipton, Black Country. Large scale metal bending. © Peter Marlow / Magnum Photos
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Bombardier, Derby. Train production
Credits : © Mark Power / Magnum Photos

Stuart Franklin: how I photographed Tiananmen Square and ‘tank man’

Back in the day, as they say, Stuart Franklin was a member of the Photographers Workshop. We had darkrooms and studio for hire and were the photographic hub of Oxford. Any photographer who needed processing facilities and wanted to be part of the photographic family ended up at The Photographers Workshop. Stuart was a lovely man, the most famous of our clients but always happy to talk to anyone about photography. “As a photographer, the objective is to crystallise the emotion of an event and communicate that as effectively as possible. My pictures follow the different efforts I made to come to terms with the events as they were unfolding, to tell the story even as it was changing.”

In the Guardian Stuart talks about one of his most iconic images and tells the story of Tianamen Square

CHINA. Beijing. Tien An Men Square. 1989.The ‘Tank Man’ stopping the column of T59 tanks on 5th June 1989. Photograph: Stuart Franklin/Magnum Photos

CHINA. Beijing. Tiananmen Square. 1989.A student on hunger strike gestures in Tiananmen Square, 1989. Photograph: Stuart Franklin/Magnum Photos

The Magnum photographer tells his story of the 1989 protests, from peaceful demonstration to bloody crackdown, the iconic ‘tank man’ – and how hamburgers gave him his big break, read the full story here

Norman McBeath – Photographer

This is part of our Photographers Workshop alumni series. I have known Norman for nearly 30 years and only ever as a photographer although there are rumours that he had a life before he picked up a camera although I would guess it was never as much fun as it has been since he did. Norman was one of the many people who came to our original incarnation at The Photographers Workshop where we hired darkrooms and taught people how to develop and print and how to be a photographer. As I have said many passed through our doors in the 25 years or so that we operated as a darkroom hire centre and some became professional photographers. Norman went from trade to art. Norman did a lot of work for various publishers and the university but his heart was always in the art sphere of photography. He moved to Edinburgh and there worked exclusively as an artist whose first medium was photography. This is what he has to say.

Professor Richard Dawkins, ethologist and evolutionary biologist ©Norman McBeath

My life changed forever after I came across The Photographers’ Workshop in Oxford. This happened twenty-five years ago, when I’d just moved to Oxford after seven years living overseas and at a time when I wanted to give up my teaching career to become a photographer. It was perfect timing and the perfect place – lots of very friendly, helpful people and a huge open-access darkroom where I could learn about printing and processing and so start to hone my skills as a photographer. Keith Barnes, who ran the place, was one of the first people I met there and he has remained a very close friend ever since.

There were always interesting prints being produced at the Workshop but there’s one which I watched appearing in the developing tray which I’ll never forget. It was probably the first really top-quality print I’d ever seen and I thought it was wonderful – the incredible range of tones, the deep blacks, the quality of the image and the powerful balance of the composition looking up at a military helicopter coming in to land. A month later I came across that same picture. This time it was the cover of one of the Sunday magazines and I learned that the person who had taken it and who had been gently rocking it into existence under the red light that day was Stuart Franklin, former President of Magnum.

 People have always fascinated me so right from the start I was drawn to reportage photography, then portraits after I’d had more experience. I worked a lot for the University of Oxford and Oxford University Press as well as covering glitzy events and parties for Harpers & Queen magazine in London. Although working in such different environments, a lot of the skills involved were very similar – the ability to be unobtrusive, to gain peoples’ trust quickly and to be ready at just the right moment.

Princess Margaret and Dame Elizabeth Taylor ©Norman McBeath

Baroness Margaret Thatcher ©Norman McBeath

 Dame Beryl Bainbridge ©Norman McBeath

My work at the university in particular brought me into contact with a lot of well known people which in turn led to me devoting more time to portraits. The National Portrait Gallery in London now have forty-four portraits of mine in their permanent collection. (http://www.npg.org.uk/collections/search/person/mp10633/norman-mcbeath). The Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh have fourteen works in their collection and two other portraits are in the Australian National Portrait Gallery’s collection in Canberra.

 

 Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger ©Norman McBeath

Sir John Tavener ©Norman McBeath

Things change though and about ten years ago I moved to Edinburgh – rather sad to leave so many close friends and such an interesting place as Oxford but at the same time very much looking forward to the challenge of new circumstances and living in another beautiful and characterful city. But I have to admit I was completely unaware and unprepared for the impact that the digital revolution would soon have on photography – clear evidence of which was the near bankrupting purchase of two new Leicas shortly before the move. I had thought these cameras would serve me well for the rest of my working life. However, not only had I failed to realise how soon they would be superceded but (apart from the lenses) they turned out to be the most unreliable cameras I’ve ever had.

 The new environment of Edinburgh had a huge impact on my life and work linked, in many ways, to a curious parallel with my time at the Photographers’ Workshop in Oxford. This time my epiphany was the result of contact with another open-access studio, Edinburgh Printmakers, a printmaking studio with a world-wide reputation in fine art printmaking. Here I discovered the incredible beauty of photogravures – one of the earliest techniques for printing photographs, relying on inked metal plates pressed onto dampened, hand-made paper using a traditional etching press.

 Photogravure – Ibis ©Norman McBeath

 I have recently collaborated with two leading poets: Plan B (Enitharmon Press, 2009) with the Pulitzer prize-winning poet and former Professor of Poetry at Oxford, Paul Muldoon and Simonides (Easel Press, 2011) with Robert Crawford, Professor of Modern Scottish Literature at the University of St Andrews. Both these collaboration have been exhibited as part of the Edinburgh Art Festival. Simonides is due to be exhibited at Yale University in September.

 I had a photograph showing, as an invited artist, at this year’s Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition in London and currently have four photographs showing in an exhibition called  Cast Contemporaries at Edinburgh  College of Art as part of the Edinburgh Art Festival. The next thing is a trip in mid-September to Yale with the poet Robert Crawford  to give a talk about our Simonides exhibition which will be showing there until October.

Norman McBeath 2012

Although Norman is serious about his work, his art, he also has, as anyone who knows him, a lighter, fey side that is full of humour and joy. When I speak to past clients about their time at the original Workshop they often comment on Norman’s explosion of laughter that could be heard above the excellent tunes we were always playing. Here are some from the section on his website called ‘Documentary”

Edinburgh ©Norman McBeath

Spider Boy, Paris (from ‘City Stories’) ©Norman McBeath

St. Mark’s Square, Venice ©Norman McBeath

Here are a couple of related posts about Norman’s exhibition and book Body Bags

https://oxfordschoolofphotography.wordpress.com/2011/08/25/norman-mcbeath-edinburgh-arts-festival-body-bags-simonides/

https://oxfordschoolofphotography.wordpress.com/2011/07/21/exhibition-by-norman-mcbeath-edinburgh-arts-festival/

You can see more of Norman’s work on his website here