The Future of Work in Photography

This Symposium is an inclusive gathering for ideas and discussion about the industry. Photography is often at the forefront of change and the pace shows no sign of slowing down. The themes we will explore and interrogate over three days are uppermost in people’s minds and will impact all. Be involved and part of the conversation.

The areas we will delve into cover cultural and social shifts, the impact of technology within the industry, and political and legal ownership of work.

We would like to thank our hosting partners in 2018, The University of Salford. The programme takes place at their building at MediaCityUK, Salford.

Please note: online ticket sales close at 10:00pm on 31st October. A few tickets will be avaiable on the door at a slightly higher price.

Thursday 1 November

18:00-20:00 (doors open at 17:30) // The Pete James Lecture: delivered by Professor Elizabeth Edwards

Join us for the first in a new series of lectures that will honour the great champion of British photography Pete James, who died in March 2018.

For the inaugural lecture, we are delighted to welcome Professor Elizabeth Edwards to deliver Photographs and the Public Library: Back to the Future. Addressing the subject of libraries, historical collections, anticipated futures for photography and where that leaves us now when thinking of identity in the public sphere. Elizabeth’s recent work has involved public libraries – an area of much-discussed interest shared with Pete himself.

Dinner: this will be an informal opportunity to socialise and meet Symposium peers before the full two days of Symposium.

Friday 2 November

10:00 // Doors open

10:15-10:45 // Arrival and networking opportunities

11:00 // Introduction by Paul Herrmann: The New Photographer

The Director of Redeye opens the two days of panel discussions and sessions.

11:15 // The Future of Work Panel

As the pace of change increases, so the balance of power shifts both in photography and more broadly. This opening panel looks at some of the main currents affecting the future of work.

Which skills and talents should be nurtured, and what’s the best way to do this? How will environmental change affect our work? What is the place of creators in a society increasingly shaped by powerful technology companies? Followed by Q&A.

Mayoral Advisor of Homelessness Beth Knowles will chair the panel which will be made up of Leadership and Talent Manager Robyn Ellis, Littoral Arts Trust Director Ian Hunter, and artist, curator and publisher Sian Bonnell.

12:40 // Photographers at Work

A selection of photographers explore how their work is changing, how contemporary techniques and use of technology have touched and influenced their art, and what they are doing to prepare for the future.

Photographers Colin McPherson and Moira Lovell lead this discussion.

13:00 // Lunch

14:00 // Enduring Values

An exploration of the role and character of photographers through history – perhaps less has changed than we tend to think. An intriguing parallel of working practices over time. Historian and curator Colin Harding presents.

14:30 // Photographers at Work

A continuation of thinking on how photographers are dealing with change and the impact it’s having on their creativity.

Visual artist and photographer Kai Bastard, photographer Ian Clegg, and writer and photographer Garry Cook all present before inviting questions.

15:00 // Q&A for photographers

15:10-15:40 // Break 

15:40 // Social and Collaborative Practice

New and developing areas of work are opening up for photographers that use their visual and production skills to work with groups in community, health and welfare settings.

These new methods and techniques can change the balance of power between photographers and subjects, but can also require a rethinking of work processes. We discuss a new network of socially engaged photography led by Open Eye Gallery, to harness and use this responsibility with care.

Chaired by visual artist and activist Becky Warnock, the panel is made up of photographer Lisa Oldroyd, photographer working in community and representation Les Monaghan, artist, producer and curator Liz Wewiora, artist, writer and educator Anthony Luvera.

16:40 // Q&A, summing up

17:00 // End

17:15 – 18:00 // Extra session

Photographer John Walmsley discusses issues around infringement, how to tackle it, and protection of work.

Saturday 3 November

10:00 // Doors open

11:00 // The Algorithmic Photojournalist

Photographs are increasingly mediated, sorted and even created by automated and intelligent computer systems. These range from relatively simple algorithms performing simple tasks to organically evolving artificial intelligences capable of levels of deduction and analysis approaching those of humans. What they all have in common is the ability to drastically reshape the photographic landscape, for both good and bad. This session will discuss what the emergence of these agents portends for photographers and photography. Photographer, writer, curator and educator Lewis Bush presents this talk.

11:50 // The Use and Abuse of Photographs

Following on from the opening session, we investigate the new legal framework in which images are placed. Blockchain in photography could not only change a photographer’s ability to track their images and image use, but also might give people a new approach to developing an audience in a saturated market.

Theft and unauthorised use of photographs continues to grow, but we discuss methods to counteract this. And can we also think differently about stolen images and turn imitation to benefit?

Chaired by Redeye Director Paul Herrmann, the panel is made up of University of Liverpool learning technologist Philip Walker, and photographers John Walmsley and Jennifer Doohan.

12:45 // Q&A

13:00 // Lunch

14:00 // Who Kills our Metadata?

The internet is driven by metadata. Details like captions, keywords, creator and copyright details are attached to every digital file. Good metadata enables accurate search for images, and also protects creative work. Anyone can create it but very few understand or use it to its full potential, and organisations routinely remove it, despite the law. This session explores the routine removal of metadata and outlines possible solutions.’s Chief Strategy Officer Thierry Secretan will give this presentation.

14:45 // Break

15:00 // Rebalancing the Bias – is the future female?

Gender bias and the exploitation of women has been embedded in photography for far too long. The industry must be proactive within the global movement. How can we imagine and create a future with women and men on an equal footing? Photographer, curator and lecturer Hilary Wood, Creative Director of Sail Creative; photographer Mandy Barker, Open Eye Gallery’s Director of Development and Partnerships Tracy Marshall, and photographer Maryam Wahid will discuss this.

16:00 // Q&A followed by closing summary

16:15 // End

16:30 // Optional session: Campaigns in Photography

An informal session for those interested in driving campaigns to change our industry and sector.

Confirmed participants so far include:

  • Anthony Luvera: artist, writer, educator
  • Becky Warnock: visual artist and activist
  • Beth Knowles: mayoral advisor, homelessness and rough sleeping
  • Colin McPherson: content creator and photographer
  • Garry Cook: writer and photographer
  • Hilary Wood: photographer, curator and lecturer
  • Ian Clegg: photographer
  • Ian Hunter: Director, Littoral Arts Trust
  • Jennifer Doohan: photographer
  • John Walmsley: photographer
  • Kai Bastard: visual artist and photographer
  • Les Monaghan: photographer working in community and representation
  • Lewis Bush: photographer, writer, curator and educator
  • Lisa Oldroyd: photographer
  • Liz Wewiora: Head of Engagement, Open Eye Gallery
  • Mandy Barker: Creative Director of Sail Creative; designer, feminist and activist
  • Moira Lovell: artist and photographer
  • Philip Walker: learning technologist, University of Liverpool
  • Robyn Ellis: Leadership and Talent Manager, BookingGo, part of
  • Sarah Fisher, Director, Open Eye Gallery
  • Sian Bonnell: artist, curator and publisher
  • Thierry Secretan: Chief Strategy Officer,
  • Tracy Marshall: Director of Development and Partnerships, Open Eye Gallery



This event starts at 18:00 on Thursday 1 November, and finishes at 16:00 on Saturday 3 November.

Thursday 1 November 16:00-18:00 (Doors open at 17:30)
Friday 2 November 11:00-17:00 (Doors open at 10:00)
Saturday 3 November 11:00-16:00 (Doors open at 10:00)

This event will take place in the Digital Performance Lab in the University of Salford's MediaCity Campus.
Orange Tower, Salford Quays, Salford M50 2HE
This venue is fully accessible, but for more information visit their website.

Redeye, Chittenden Horley, Hyde Park House Business Centre, Cartwright Street, Hyde, SK14 4EH, UK
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