Club Night, "More than meets the Eye" - Tuesday 26th September 2017.

This week Morpeth Camera Club welcomed Alan Brown from Sunderland Photographic Association with his presentation
of projected images and prints, entitled ‘More Than Meets the Eye'. Alan likes to make his presentations interactive and
invited the audience to challenge, support or just say what they thought about the images they were about to see. He
stressed that there is a difference between looking and seeing and that what you see depends on where you stand, as
everyone sees things differently. The audience were asked to judge two prints, a seemingly uninteresting monochrome
image of a dilapidated building, and a bright colourful one of a windmill and flowers. The colourful image was initially
chosen as it seemed easier on the eye and there is usually an emotional response to colour. But on further scrutiny it
was established that the monochrome image may not be so attractive but had a story to tell, made one ask questions,
and stirred ones imagination. Generally, when appraising an image our opinions are based on our own experiences,
tastes and prejudices so there is never a right or wrong answer. He went on demonstrate this with an anecdote of how
thousands of people were prepared to queue to look at the ‘missing Mona Lisa’ at the Louvre, how people visited the
exhibition called ‘Nothing’ at the Pompidou Centre and the ‘Invisible’ exhibition at the Hayward gallery; demonstrating
that everyone has a different perspective on what they consider to be interesting.


When taking photographs Alan puts his thoughts into Content, Composition and Communication; does it have anything
to say, does it tell a story ?. We saw many examples of his work, including optical illusions which can be produced in
photography such as seemingly random letters placed in a square and, based on the theory that one always reads from
left to right they didn’t make sense but when viewed from top to bottom the message becomes clear and actually read
‘look both ways.’ Being a documentary photographer, Alan strives to make his images real, breaking all the so-called
rules of photography by leaving in objects which a photographic judge would consider a distraction, and capturing people
half disappearing on edge of the image making the scene realistic.

To make his photography purposeful Alan likes projects, such as taking photographs of works of art which include people,
creating a juxtaposition of two elements which are not usually placed together, an interaction between art and people
creating a different dynamic. Candid shots of people viewing paintings and statuary with a common link being colour,
stance, geometry or perspective produced a very interesting alternative.

The second half of Alan’s presentation consisted of digital images of candid street photography where nothing is staged
and depicts real life. An amazing array of both humourous and poignant images followed, with Alan’s perceptive eye
capturing street life at its most undisguised and in raw reality. He manages to link street advertising to contrasting
passers by; an advert for trendy trainers with foreground figures of an old couple wearing less attractive versions;
scantily dressed lingerie models with Muslim attired ladies in the foreground, highlighting the difference between
eastern and western cultures, a tattooed couple each displaying contrasting messages, an old lady looking at a youthful
bikini clad girl on a bus stop advertisement, and a Big Issue seller next to a glamorous perfume advert. Many of Alan’s
images were very funny and cleverly spotted, whilst others demonstrated that real life is not always easy on the eye,
portraying a stark contrast in lifestyle, but all had the characteristics to make one ask questions and be inquisitive as to
people's backgrounds.


A camera club member who chooses not to enter competitions, Alan gets his motivation for photography in producing
excellent books on a theme, such as Empty Chairs, The Bigger Picture, Watching over Us and Mind the Gap, which were
on display for the audience to peruse. Offering tips on candid photography and encouraging the audience to look beyond
the obvious, Alan gave us a very different and entertaining presentation of thought provoking and humorous images.
Club Chairman Mark Harrison thanked Alan for his exciting perception of street photography, after which coffee was served.