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Mini review – The Royal Photographic Society’s 154th International Print Exhibition

West Mersea W.I.

West Mersea W.I. - Copyright Chrissie Westgate, FRPS

Yesterday I made it along to the Royal Photographic Society’s 154th International Print Exhibition. It’s currently showing in the sponsor’s swanky building’s foyer on the south edge of Spitalfields market.

The images on display were of an impressive standard, and of an even more impressive diversity.  Represented were: portraiture, sports, still-life, street photography, architecture, industrial, conceptual, and even a mini wall dedicated to ‘Kenna minimalism’. Pictures of or from the Far East seemed to be healthily represented. The prints, as you’d expect, are very well presented in minimalist steel 24×20 (approx) frames with matting as required.  Actual print sizes varied from roughly 10×8 to 20×16. I don’t have a good enough eye for a print to judge what the inkjet/traditional ratio was, but I certainly spotted some prints that I thought had that gelatin silver look, and one that was either a platinum/palladium print or a very good impression of one.

With a view to starting my own print sales, it’s interesting and encouraging to see the variety of styles and subject matter that look well as a one-off medium-sized framed print. It was good to see photographers using restraint when it came to print size; they didn’t all look to fill the (picture) frame, and as a result no image (with one exception) looked over-enlarged. There was also one excellent use of a non-rectangular matting window, which suited the dreamy nature of the flower study.  There were a couple of diptychs that were penalised by the fixed frame aspect ratio, as were the handful of panoramic images. Most prints were also available for sale, ranging in price from £75 to £2895, with most in the £200-£400 range. As is typical with these things, there was no correlation between price and quality.

Some favourites, in no particular order:

  • Peter Dazely, “Battersea Power Station Control Room” – actually two interior shots that describe the space and sense of space really well.
  • Chan Kwok Hung, “Goal” – this is a shot that wouldn’t look out of place in Steve McCurry’s back catalogue. It’s got that earthy saturation of colours and National Geographic feel.
  • Chrissie Westgate , “West Mersea W.I.” – this is a shot that wouldn’t look out of place in Tony-Ray Jones’ back catalogue! A wonderful combination of picture elements.
  • Jon Cardwell, “Tom” – chosen as my favourite portrait (just), this has a lovely casual background and a great range of tones.
  • Luke Smith, “Isolation #3″ – chosen as the ‘best designed frame’. The precision of the geometry and picture element placements are excellent.

The exhibition remains at Allen & Overy, One Bishops Square, E1 6AD until 25th August, and tours after that until May 2012.  For more info see here, and the online catalogue here.

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