Graham Diprose, one of the co-authors of our groundbreaking new photography textbook, Photography: The New Basics, was at the recent ‘Focus on Imaging’ fair in Birmingham, UK, where he chatted to photography professionals and lecturers about the book.
‘Focus on Imaging’ at the NEC in Birmingham, UK, every March, is one of those exhibitions that attracts all manner of photographers. Ardent hobbyists, who go to see the latest offerings from Canon or Nikon, mingle with wedding photographers, alongside hard-nosed dealers looking for new products to import. Noisy students man stands extolling the virtues of their college course, right next to patient salesmen who must explain a hundred times a day, why their printers tend to not always produce anything that resembles the image on screen. Stands are tightly packed and the aisles are just about wide enough to allow for some sort of circulation.
For those returning year on year, there is some kind of rhyme and reason to this madhouse. Many companies retain their pitch in the same part of the massive hall as before, but one of the most interesting aspects of ‘Focus’ is the way that all the stands are all mixed up together. Huge multi-nationals rub shoulders with small start up businesses, which certainly works in the favour of the latter, giving them a much better chance of picking up passing trade. For the regulars, ‘Focus on Imaging’ is a bit like a massive but quite closely-knit club. A place to meet face-to-face with old friends from the sales forces of eminent companies, to catch up on both corporate and personal news, exchange yet another business card, blag free samples, look for interest in supporting a new project or exhibition, or arrange a ‘follow up’ after the show.
This year I was able to take along an advance copy of ‘Photography: The New Basics’, a new textbook that I have co-written with Digital Consultant Jeff Robins. Being part of the ‘Focus’ community allowed me to drag a number of busy salesmen away from the madding crowds, to spend a few minutes looking through the book. Their response was our first ‘front line’ test for feedback, and it was an enormous relief (having spent almost four years working on the book) as well as a glowing endorsement that it received comments such as ‘attractive, readable, great photographs’ and ‘really like the structure and the way subjects are developed’. Many said that there was a real place in education for a textbook that was ‘bang up to date’ on digital techniques, while others agreed with us that it was right to include a section on darkroom techniques in the UK edition because of its presence in the curricula of GCSE, A level, ABC, Foundation and Btec courses, as well as some BA(Hons) and Masters. It will be interesting to see how many beleaguered lecturers decide to give the exercises at the end of each chapter a try (if you are reading this as a lecturer, please let us know how you get on!). All these exercises were tried and tested on our own students first, with huge success, while Jeff and I were teaching at London College of Communication.
While Jeff and I had broadly aimed Photography: The New Basics at 16 to 25 year old students, some of the lecturers that I met at ‘Focus’ confirmed our suspicion that it will have a wider appeal among returning MA students needing an update and Graphic Design students and Practitioners. Others who deal more with keen photographic hobbyists felt there was an opportunity there for a readable book that avoided delving into advanced physics by page five.
Jeff and I plan to keep ‘Photography: The New Basics’ regularly updated through a dedicated link on Thames & Hudson’s website. Going online will also give us a chance to see how the US edition entitled ‘Digital Photography: A New Introduction’ is received in the States. We both look forward to receiving feedback and new ideas over the next year, and hopefully meeting potential and existing readers at the next ‘Focus on Imaging’ in March 2013.
See inside spreads from the book here.
Photography: The New Basics is published by Thames & Hudson in April, 2012.