Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Visiting Lecture from Peter Baistow retired from the Sunday Times

Today I was lucky enough to be able to drop into a guest lecture by Peter Baistow, retired Associate Design Director of the Sunday Times. He was primarily aiming the lecture to the journalist students on magazine layout and production of images.

His lecture started with an interesting collection of photographs (photographed) on the way of his study, he explained that he liked to place one image next to another and draw likeness. Some of places he has visited and then older paintings that looked similar. One I found of interest was Botticelli's - Birth of Venus, next to an iconic image of a Streaker in the 70's (images below)
Note the figure to the right with a flowing cape
See the official running with the rain coat.
The idea being that a visual composition is in a lot of images that can be well placed in layouts. Not necessarily just alone in layout, but always thinking how the images we capture could be used otherwise.

Other examples he showed us among many others included a picture of Micheal Heseltine reading a paper, the page turned towards the camera an article on himself. A complete chance, and by all accounts Mr. Heseltine asked for a copy as he liked it so much, but warned he'd get his own back on the Photographer some day.

Also to a degree the sensitivity of dealing with deaths of celebrities. The paper he worked on the time had a great debate over the 'un-official' use of a picture taken of Marylin Monroe dead on the mortuary table. Although they did use it, they placed a picture taken of he two weeks before showing her happy, despite the depression she suffered.

He also then went on to discuss the Royal wedding and the small details in pictures that gave things away about the marriage, and how Princess Diana was exploited by the Press to start with, but in the end she used them to her advantage. Pictures of the un-happy family, but then the next frames a happy family - and how frames used can make a difference to how the Editor wants to run a story.

He then added how we have a moral sense of duty to report the truth, and also have principles on how we could use our images - parallels ran with a recent lecture and previous post. A story which I had missed was the altered image taken in the Iraq conflict in 2003, ran by the LA Times accusing Commandos of killings in Basra. (see link gif also slows alteration) what worth noting look at all the images and see how the final image changes what really happened.

Needless to say the paper had to run a retraction and the Photographer lost his job. This reinforced how now due to the digital age we all have a more enforced sense of duty to report the truth in what we do. Arguably yes the final image makes stronger image, and alone without publication for his own personal satisfaction it is okay - but not when it misinforms and damages the credibility of Photographer and the New reporters.

During his time on staff he remember the impact the change from a Broadsheet to a Tabloid, this effected the Photography completely as the images we often smaller, odd shapes and the copy had to fit around advertising (which of course pays the wages of the paper) But then also insensitivity that arose when a story on famine ran with supporting advertising of food from supermarkets. All of which was completely by accident. But due to the nature how the layout was made, copy and advertising never knew what was running where.  

All in it was a good informative lecture and some lines of further study will no doubt follow.

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