Get out your diaries!

7 Oct

Hello dear readers!
We have some news for you. Here and here are the events planned for our festival.

Please keep in mind, that the ticketed events are on a first come first serve basis, so pre-book through the Courtyard to avoid disappointment.

Jackie Nickerson. Girl in a Green Dress, 2007

We are looking forward to all the different events and hope you are too. The opening day of the festival, 29th October, has a few different things happening. First we have Jackie Nickerson talking about her work at Hereford College of Arts Media Center (Bath Street Campus) from 12.30pm to 1:30pm. The work featured at HPF comes from her series Ten Miles Round. These photographs focus on her own community in Co. Louth on the Northeast coast of Ireland. I will let Jackie tell you more. Be sure to be there on Friday 29th October.

And right after Jackie Nickerson at 2pm, we have the guided tour of the *20 exhibition with our curator, Paul Seawright. This will take place at the Hereford Museum and Art Gallery. This will be a great event as Paul has been a supporter and fan of the festival for many years. See for yourself. This is what the man had to say about HPF:

The Hereford Photography Festival has been bringing photography and photographers to rural Herefordshire for twenty years.Hereford has welcomed photography with a generosity and enthusiasm only exceeded by that of the many photographers who have been involved along the way.Hereford Photography Festival, until recently, was the only annual photography festival in the UK. It has always had a documentary flavour, although has never consciously adopted that title. Much of the work in TWENTY might be situated at the axis of looking out and looking in; photographers who are not only interested in how the world looks when photographed, but conscious of their place within it. Many of the locations shown here are the photographers’ home towns and cities.

The selection of twenty photographers for a celebratory exhibitions was a challenge. It would have been easy to choose twenty household names, or the most fashionable photographers, but not without ignoring those elements of the festival that have remained democratic from the start. Equally, I had no stomach for curating an exhibition that chronicled the journey of the festival – with the participants’ names getting progressively more recognisable and the work increasingly contemporary – as the festival evolved. In order to avoid such a mistake we are exhibiting primarily recent work.

Hereford Photography Festival has always been a photographers’ project; started by enthusiasts and sustained by artists happy to see their work reach new audiences outside of predictable city spaces. It has maintained an open submission show alongside the curated exhibitions, with many of those photographers invited back in subsequent years. It is perhaps fitting then, that a photographer – and not a curator – has selected the work TWENTY. Many of the photographers were at the start of their careers when they first exhibited in Hereford and the exhibition is a genuine reflection of that full twenty-year period.

Paul Seawright
Photographer and co-curator TWENTY


Behold, our new poster!

7 Oct

Hello Dear Readers.

Just wanted to show off this lovely poster for the festival. If you look at the left side, that is a list of ALL of the photographers (excluding Fringe events) featured in our festival! That’s one mighty list!

Hope to see you there!

Operation Re-start Blog!

30 Sep

Well Folks, its been rather a long time since we’ve let you know what we’ve been getting up to. I’m pleased to announce, that we are all fine and dandy and been working very hard to put together our 20th Year Celebration! This year’s festival is set to be bigger and better than ever, with a whole host of fantastic photographic work on offer. ‘Twenty’ the focus for this year’s festival is a retrospective of photographers whose work has featured in previous festivals over the last two decades. Alongside this we have ‘Open Here’ the exhibition resulting from our open submission, which showcases some brilliant new talent. We will also be showing Ken Grant’s and Stuart Whipps’ new work commissioned by Hereford Futures. We will put more details about each exhibition and dates for your diary over the coming weeks as we count down to the opening, which by the way is 29th October at the Hereford Museum and Art Gallery. I will post a calendar with all the events, like artists talks, guided tours, and such in the next week so watch this space. Please feel free to leave us comments or ask us any questions you may have. We’d love to hear from you and see who is reading our blog!

10 minutes with John Bulmer

27 May

This is the short film we did about John Bulmer. Many thanks to the Film students at Hereford College of Arts, Dave and Kaz, for all there hard work.


Student and Staff exhibition preview

20 May

Hello all, as with the other exhibitions, I have created a slide show of the images. These images were taken by the BA Photography students and staff from Hereford College of Arts. They were taken in Ledbury during February. The exhibition was curated by the 2nd year students and can be seen in person at the Cider Museum in Hereford from now until 15 June. Enjoy.

John Bulmer Interview Part Two

19 May

CG: What about the girls with the curlers?

JB: I was just standing at a street corner and saw them coming and snatched a picture. You know, to me that’s the kind of documentary photography I really like. It’s down to anticipation. You have to think ahead, to think where the people are going to be. You have to think what settings, what focus, what exposure, what aperture to have your camera on. And you grab it, because you can’t usually recreate those sort of things.

CG: Did you work too much of a brief when you were making these photographs? Or did you have a subject and they would say just go photograph it?

JB: With the Sunday Times, sometimes I would suggest ideas to them, and they would commission it or not commission it, as the case maybe. Sometimes they would have an idea and ask me to do it. But quite often, it evolved from a discussion and a session where everybody was throwing ideas around. I think it’s mostly like that. Everybody chucks ideas in the pot and some of them kind of emerge as the ones that are goers.

CG: In the late 50’s and 60’s, journalism went through some pretty radical changes. Editors and art directors with new ideas were key to giving photographers such as yourself, Don McCullin, Philip Jones Griffiths a platform for your work. It must have been a very exciting time.

JB: A renaissance of photography in Great Britain came about in the early 60’s, and I think that the one magazine or the one man that really had the biggest influence of all, was Tom Woolsey, closely perhaps followed by Mark Boxer. Tom Woolsey was picture editor of Town Magazine and Mark Boxer was editor of Queen Magazine. They both were very visually adventurous. Town Magazine started doing things that were way ahead of its time. It was surprising because it really was a men’s fashion magazine, but the documentary stories they did were nothing to do with fashion. It was funny because Don McCullin and I were doing editorial material, and David Bailey and Terence Donovan were doing fashion. So, there was a lot of interesting material in there. But, of course, it was primarily a black and white magazine. By 1963, The Sunday Times started their colour section, and that’s when things really took off because other papers started doing the same thing pretty soon.

CG: Did it feel like there was an air of change, or was it just something that was happening?

JB: Well, it was something that was happening, but it was a strange situation where I found American photographers coming over to work for the Sunday Times Magazine, rather than us going over to work for American magazines. I did work a certain amount for American magazines, like Life and Look, but not very much. I worked quite a lot for a big travel magazine called Holiday. And that was an amazing magazine, they had lots of colour pages and sent people all over the world. But during that decade, I really think the Sunday Times overtook them for visual imagination.

CG: Let’s talk about your work abroad. You have spent a lot of time making films overseas, did you take many photographs before you started your filming?

JB: During the 60’s I did go to a huge number of places. For example, the Sunday Times commissioned me to do a story called The White Tribes of Africa with the writer Richard West. And we went to, I think, 14 countries in Africa within seven or eight weeks. And they commissioned me to do two whole issues on the struggle for power in South America. We went to 90 percent of the countries in South America within a couple of months. There was a huge amount of travel. I did really go all over the place, and I went around the world three times in one year for the Sunday Times, so it was a huge time for travelling, and it was wonderful. It was time when the world was different and when you went somewhere it really was different.

CG: Were these quite remote places you went to?

JB: Some of the trips were remote and others were not. I went into pretty much the remotest parts of New Guinea. But then I also went and did stories on things like New York apartments. I preferred the wild places. That was my thing really.

CG: How prepared did you have to be to go into the remote places?

JB: You’d pack a lot of film and a few antibiotics and things like that, and hope for the best.

CG: As a photographer myself, I have to ask you who were the photographers that got you interested in photography?

JB: I think the first thing that really hit me was the exhibition The Family of Man and the book that went with it. And that suddenly was a wonderfully new open look because up until then, if you went to things like the Royal Photographic Society exhibition or the London Salon of Photography, they were extremely traditional and boring. Nobody was using a camera in a very exciting way. But then the Family of Man came along, and I started looking at Cartier-Bresson’s work, and Eugene Smith did his book on Pittsburgh. Then, while I was at Cambridge, I met some really top photographers that came on assignments. I met Burt Glinn, who came to do a story on Cambridge for a holiday magazine. I met Larry Burrows, who came to do several stories for Life Magazine during the time I was there. I suddenly realized that there was a world out there that was exciting and that it was possible.

CG: You became frustrated with photography in the 70’s and turned to documentary film making. Did you see this as an extension of what you were doing photographically?

JB: By the early 70’s really, I was bored with the still photography I was doing. I think the magazines were heading in different directions. The photographs they wanted became more like the adverts and less exciting. I liked the idea of film, partly because it had a beginning, middle, and an end; it was more of a progression. You don’t go out and do exactly the same thing you did the day before, but you’re moving along. And I think the other thing is that it’s more of a team work. Photography is quite a lonely profession, travelling the world on your own and looking for these images and making the same compositions that you made the day before or the day before that. I was attracted to the idea of film for that reason. And actually came about completely by chance. I was offered the first visa to Burma that anybody had had since the end of the Second World War. I went to the Sunday Times and said, “Look, I’ve got this visa to Burma.” And the new editor said, “Ah, Burma, well that’s not very interesting really.” So I went to the BBC and said, “I’ve never shot a film in my life before, but I’ve got this visa, will you give me some money?” And they said yes and that’s how I came to make my first film.

CG: What was happening in Burma then?

JB: Nothing was happening much, but since the war, no journalist or photographer had been there for 25 years. It was a totally closed country in the way that later North Korea became closed for years, and nobody was allowed in the door. So, it was very exciting just because of that.

CG: Was it somewhere that you personally wanted to go? Did you secure the visa yourself?

JB: No, what happened was, the Burmese stick dancers were coming on a cultural visit to London, and I think that the impresario thought that he would get more people to buy tickets if he got about them in the Sunday Times. So, he was really just looking for publicity. My eyes just lit up at the idea of Burma because it was always a place that I had fantasies about going to. There were a few places in the world that were exotic and closed like Burma and Tibet, and it was just a wonderful opportunity.

CG: Have you been able to go to Tibet?

JB: Yes, I have. In fact, I think I probably shot the first real documentary in far Western Tibet in 1990, something like that. And we got into far West Tibet and that was an extraordinary experience. We actually walked over the Himalayas from Nepal into Western Tibet. It was tough.

CG: What did you find there?

JB: We found the remnants of a lost city. The film was called “In Search for Shangri-la” and we found the remnants of a lost ancient civilization.

I then asked John to talk to me about some of the photos he had in his study on display.


JB: Well, this was taken in the Black Country for a story for Town Magazine. I think it was about 1961. It was at the time I was still working for the Daily Express. I got an arrangement where I could work three days a week, but it was the first three days of one week and the second of the other. So, I had a week on and a week off effectively. So, I spent a week in the Black Country and it’s not far from here, just north and west of Birmingham. But again, it was like a foreign country. You could drive for miles and the only thing you could find to eat were pork scratchings. It was amazing, and it was so exotic. I really loved it. This is one of my favourite pictures. It’s just so simple, a street going two ways and one old man. I didn’t ask him to do it, it was just grabbed. And you can see his breath; it was so cold because it was in the middle of winter.

CG: Was it in the morning? There’s a milk float there.

JB: I imagine it was early in the morning. But I remember the hotel I stayed in Wolverhampton had no heating in the bedroom. I remember going down early in the morning to try and get people going to work. There was ice in some places on the road. I had never been so cold in all my life. It was horrible!

CG: When you were in the Black Country, was it more reportage? Were you just walking around?

JB: It was reportage. I just drove around until I saw a likely area, and then I just walked around. I didn’t have anything set up. One of the other interesting things in those days, you could just walk into places in a way you couldn’t now. There was a steel foundry where they were pouring moulten steel into a mold and hitting it with a press. They allowed me to just walk in there and photograph it. That’s inconceivable now with health and safety.

john bulmer

JB: This one is in Papau, New Guinea in 1963. I’d actually been doing a story for the Sunday Times on Australia. We interviewed one of the heads of a local airline, incidentally, and he offered me a free ticket to New Guinea so I took it. I went up there and this is a place called Mount Hargon. It was about two or three hours walk from the town that I was taken by the local comissioner. It was really untouched in those days, there were no roads. This is what’s called a head turning ceremony. In the same way as the village dance, the young man would ask one of the girls to dance, which meant headturning. They would put their foreheads together and sway in time with the music. The music was the old men at the end of the hut chanting. As you can see, one girl got the young man and the other didn’t and she’s looking jealous as hell. But what I loved was the fact that human emotions were the same in this sort of situation. Technically this was quite a challenge, too, because it was completely dark in there. There was no light in there at all because it was night. I hate direct flash. The ceiling was completely black from the smoke of the fire so what I did, I wedged a couple of banana leaves on the roof and bounced a flash off a banana leaf and that is how this is lit.

CG: Would you have seemed exotic to them?

JB: I’m sure I seemed extremely exotic to them. The other thing I remember here, I asked the local district commissioner what I should take as a present for them because I knew we were going to this head turning ceremony or a courting ceremony. He said, “You should bring a tin of tobacco and a bag of beads.” So I went along to the local store and bought this huge tin of tobacco and a large bag of beads thinking that the tobacco would be for the men and the beads for the girls. And when I got there, the women all descended on the tobacco and the men all descended on the beads.

john bulmer

JB: This was taken in West Hartlepool. It was at a time where they used to gather sea coal off the beach. I think Hartlepool had the highest unemployment rate in the country, which is why it was a place of interest. There were seams of coal out at sea and every morning at low tide, you’d see them scraping coal off the beach and loading it into sacks and carrying them on their bicycles or pony carts and so on. This is an old man on the sea front trying to get warm throwing his arms around himself.

CG: Sorry, I’m showing my age. What is sea coal?

JB: It’s simply ordinary coal dust that comes through underwater seams. Obviously mines have seams and sometimes they come up underwater so the coal just gets washed up on the beach and they beach becomes black with this sea coal. I actually made a film later called The Black Beach. It was an extraordinary place.


CG: This is one of my favourites.

JB: These are pit ponies in a drift mine in County Durham. This was part of a story for the Sunday Times on the North of England. This was my first big colour story on the North. It’s a good example of what I was talking about taking colour pictures in fog and mist. It simplifies everything, you get rid of extraneous things in the background, and there is a certain quality to it.

CG: What were they doing when you got there?

JB: You notice their faces are clean. They are waiting to go down the mine. I’ve got other pictures, which you might have seen, of some of them after their shift. But this particular one they are still clean, and they were about to go down the mine. I did quite a few mines and one of the amazing things, again, was the access which you’d never have now. I remember one mine they just let me in, I walked in the shower room and filmed the men stark naked, cleaning themselves up after their shift. That sort of access you’d never get now.

CG: Were they quite welcome to you being there? Were they interested in being photographed?

JB: Yes. They were just interested and friendly. There was no big deal about it, but they were real relaxed about it.

CG: Do you think people have a different attitude about being photographed as we are photographed so many times a day now?

JB: I think that’s true. Years later, I was involved with a film for the BBC in Whitby. It was about Ian Berry who is a Magnum photographer going back and photographing in the same sort of area as a famous Victorian photographer, I think his name was Sutcliffe, had been. And we went to a dance hall, and Ian Berry was photographing people with his Leica. They were very suspicious. They didn’t know what it was quite, and they were worried about it. Whereas, when I came and put my big movie camera in their face, they’d say, “Oh, is that the telly?” And I’d say yes. “Oh, that’s alright then.” Because the telly was something they watched every night, and being on the telly was something normal to them. But someone with a small Leica was really worrying because they didn’t know what it was. So, I think there was an element of that. In my time, people used to accept things more. They were a working class who were used to being a bit downtrodden and they were used to people coming around and doing odd things to them. They probably just accepted it.

CG: I guess they were less suspicious as well.

JB: That’s right. I don’t think they felt people were going to exploit them in the same way.

CG: Well John, thanks for your time today. It has been most enjoyable and enlightening!

New Editions

13 May

I have been meaning to post this bit of news for awhile! I didn’t even know about this piece of work until last week. But it sounds good and I am looking forward to seeing it! This project was supported by local organization, Rural Media. It is called Bromyard Forever- Photographs of life on a rural high street. The photographs are by Andrew Fox and will be shown at the Hereford Cathedral. Here is the blurb:

A celebration of local colour, resilience and unique personalities, alive and well in the rural high street. In these difficult economic times, Bromyard identified the urgency of valuing and supporting its local economy, and commissioned a top quality photographer to honour its distinctive nature.

The High Street still includes 2 independent greengrocers, 3 butchers, 2 bakers of which one still bakes its own bread on the premises, 4 pubs, a busy joinery workshop and various other shops that sell anything you could wish to buy. The exhibition is ‘hot off the press’, with Andrew being commissioned and undertaking the work, all within May 2009. Led by Bromyard and District History Society. Supported by Rural Media and funded though grassroots grants.

For times and dates check our website

There is also an event sponsored by collective artists’ group called static3. Carl Beebee and Jaime Jackson, from the group, have worked with young people to create their own questioning of stereotypes through taking ‘labelled’; reformatted into art, text and photograph banners, video art and performance take over the town. ‘Labelled’ focuses young people’s perceptions of self-identity and placing these ideas back into the heart of the town. This is a multi-site exhibition across the town from 28th May – 20th June with a Labelled art & performance event on Friday 29th May 6pm -10pm at the Heritage Centre, Bromyard Rowberry Street HR7 4DU.

Static is also a yearly program of contemporary art & amp; live audiovisual performances in Hereford. Static brings you some of the best photography, digital media, installation, video art, & vj performances Hereford and the region has to offer. In conjunction with the festival, they have taken over the empty retail space of Franklin House Shop on Commercial Road. Franklin House Shop windows will be playing host to ‘Windows on Art’ part of ‘Seen it, done it, got creative’ campaign promoting art in the county by Herefordshire Council, in partnership with the Edgar Street Grid and Hereford City Partnerships. As well as a display of artwork by art students at Hereford 6th Form College. They will be in residence from 4th,5th, 6th June and 11th,12th June 10am-6pm, with a special static3 end of show event on 12th June 6pm-10pm.