Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Race, Diversity and Lots More

Pete Brook at Prison Photography has come up with the excellent and ambitious idea of an online symposium on race and diversity in photography. It's a very broad brief but a vital one - I think there are so many questions that could be included here - does photography ever does break down barriers (or does it just reaffirm existing stereotypes of one kind or another), what is the purpose of passing control of images over to those who have traditionally been the subject, who is the consumer all these pictures we talk about, who should be the audience.

The focus is on race, an incredibly broad area - but taking the UK as an area of special interest, how is race portrayed here, how are the marginalised portrayed here - who are the marginalised, who are the new, invisible minorities (the identification of whom is a key part of third sector policy at present), how can they be photographed, how should they be photographed, and does it have any purpose.

Is idealization a form of discrimination - how are people with disabilities portrayed, and with mental health problems, and learning difficulties and from Britain's various underclasses. A broad area without mentioning age, gender or religion, both of which have to get a look in - anyone with any specific visual/photographic interests in these areas or pointers to people working in these areas, do comment below or write to me at or Pete at

From Prison Photography:

Early plans

This will be an Online Symposium. I would like see a concerted effort among photobloggers: I offer an open invitation to all those who wish to get involved.

The online symposium will look something like this:

- Occurring mid/late spring 2010
- A one week long, coordinated series of photo-features, interviews, op-eds, inquiries and articles.


- To communicate the wide experiences, attitudes, facts and myths in photography as they relate to race and diversity.
- To achieve respect and understanding among photographers, contributors and readers.

What Should You D0?

- Please think seriously about your experience and knowledge and if you’d like to share that as part of this community project.
- Spread the word. If you don’t wish to get involved, perhaps you know someone who would have a valuable contribution?
- Share your ideas, initially through comments below, or directly with me [prisonphotography@] and later on a devoted website.

Thanks! Please don’t hesitate to be in touch/throw ideas about. The projects’ outcomes depend on the quality and commitment of your input.


Elena Jatia said...

It's a long term project that I'm currently working on. I'm interested in participating.

colin pantall said...

Thanks Elena - that's great and developing a different perspective on things - it would be interesting to pursue this further, so let's think how we can develop it. I'll email you later.

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