Shoot First? – Photographers’ Saloon

Photo social / discussion meet up, 19.30, 15/4/22, Darkroom Birmingham

I’ve been mulling on ways to build on the last 10 years of photographic culture here – it’ll be 10 years in July since I took on this space formally – so how does this sound? A monthly evening of informal collaborative discussion relating to the ongoing, developing projects and practice of those attending. We can talk projects, have crit sessions, bring photo books, look at technical questions, whatever. And then maybe go to the Old Mo after?

Francesco, who’s joined me in the studio, and I were discussing a project he’s developing, and I remembered how I used to feel about collaborative discussion, the excitement of possibility, and the value of dialogues of recognition and discovery. There are a few factors that have prevented me from hosting this kind of thing here again, but now the time seems right.

I had the idea of the Shoot First? Saloon in 2010, as I can now see from an email thread from back then. In a different space, the BCCA, and it kind of fizzled out.. and led, in a round about way, to the conversations that became Some Cities. Perhaps I miss remember. But I’d love to get us talking again, and sometimes talking leads to doing too..

Screenshot from the original invite email

I’m not sure about the tequila for a number of reasons, but I’d like to recapture some of the enthusiasm of younger days. I’m thinking a Friday, 7.30 ish, the 6th May. Drop me a line if you’re interested.


Call for collaboration

I’m looking for and open to proposals for collaboration – is there a way in which the equipment, facilities or space could be useful for a photographic – or any other – project you’d like to develop or are currently working on?

Would you like to run photography training or workshops for a group of people? Is there an experimental photographic problem you’d like to resolve? Do you need photo-specific studio space for regular work or a short term project? If so, or if you’d like to talk through any ideas, please get in touch.

There are things I’d like help / support with either setting up or maintaining, and I can offer darkroom / studio space in return, at the very least. If any of these are of interest, please drop me a line:

– analogue colour workflow / process – C41 / E6 film dev / RA4 printing. I have much of the kit required, but not the immediate capacity for the former, not the non-impaired colour vision for the latter;

– colour inkjet / giclee workflow – there’s a range of theoretically mendable Canon 1pf5100 printers, with loads of ink / paper. Anyone any good with these?

– general darkroom cleaning and chemical rotation / management: particularly when I’m away, but I”d be happy to offer someone regular darkroom use in exchange;

– social media / publicity / marketing / web development; often not my strong points and thus, often deprioritised!



Trannon Ophelia (reformations series)
Camera phone processed photograph of 120 negative, 2020

Being out of the space for a long while, I’ve had time to think about what it is I’ve been trying to do, and how this has manifested until now. This process, and the crisis born shifts of context, framing any forward motion in the arts in the UK now, are making me come back home, so to speak, to re-articulate what I want to do with analogue photography in particular, and my practice as an artist in general. I’ve been working on a new website for personal work outside of the Darkroom Birmingham project (though there is some overlap), that will be launched soon, but I’m writing here about my aspirations for a social/ interactive/ participatory practice that’s rooted in this particular space and its processes, and the communities around us here, in the Old Print Works, Balsall Heath, and Birmingham.

I’ve been thinking about the space under a number of headings, a rubric for enacting distinct functions of the space and strands of working. The first I’m writing, and working under is Darkroom as Process.

By this I mean the making of photographs that is completed here. It’s a cliche of analogue sentimentalists that the process, and the print output of silver based monochrome photography is somehow special. Although this is a new cliche, that has only emerged since the schism of digital and traditional technologies, and in spite of the many strands of reformation that break down this duality – more of which later – I think there’s truth in these value judgements. I know them, and feel them to be true, and I’m making some new work to the highest standards of quality reachable by me, here, now, in part to try and lead by example, and in part to show what’s possible, in technical the terms of fine art printed object production, at Darkroom Birmingham.

There’s another aspect to this, which is to do with process, and ideas I’ve been having about the performance of photography. I’ll write more about how this work can be seen to have been performed, and about what analogue process brings to the performance, later. The image above is from the new project.