Photography commissioned by public bodies ought to be a vital part of the photographic eco-system, benefitting both photographers and the organisations who commission. But it doesn't always go smoothly. Photographers should be paid fairly, but organisations might not be able to afford a full commercial fee, so end up unable to retain prints of the work, or use it in all the ways they would like. Photographers need to retain copyright while organisations need an appropriate usage licence, but that can be a tricky negotiation. Storage and archiving needs to be properly managed, as do sharing and touring of work. When these processes go wrong some publicly commissioned photography ends up being little seen, sold to the private market without proper acknowledgement, or even lost. What can we do to build and agree best practice guidelines and share knowledge? How can we encourage more public organisations to see the benefits of commissioning.

This morning debate starts with brief provocations from a commissioning organisation, a photographer, an agency and a researcher, followed by open discussion. Recommended for anyone interested in commissioning photography, or photographers who would like to receive commissions. 

Arranged by Redeye in association with Impressions Gallery

Speakers include

Chair: Anne McNeill, Impressions Gallery
Anne McNeill is Director of Impressions Gallery, Bradford. The gallery opened in York 1972 as one of the first not-for-profit photography galleries in Europe, and is now recognised as one of the leading contemporary photography galleries in the UK. McNeill has been the Director since 2005 and between 2005 and 2007 she was responsible for re-locating Impressions to Bradford and building its brand new venue. McNeill began her career in 1984 as a darkroom worker at the radical gallery Camerawork, London. In 1994 she was the founding director of the commissioning agency Photoworks, Brighton. She was Artistic Director of Photo 98, the UK Year of Photography. She has twenty years experience in curating, including Cockroach Diaries and other stories a survey show by Anna Fox; exhibitions with Joy Gregory, Murray Ballard and many others. McNeill is the editor of numerous books, such as Continental Drift: Europe Approaching the Millennium (1998), The Work of Trish Morrissey: Seven Years (2004), Front (2009) and Evidence (2011).

Celia Davies:
As Director of Photoworks Celia devises the strategic and artistic vision of Photoworks and the Brighton Photo Biennial.

Celia was previously Head of Exhibitions at the De La Warr Pavilion, 2002-2009. Recent projects include  Brighton Photo Biennial 2014 & 2012, The British Library by Yinka Shonibare (2013), This Storm is What We Call Progress by Ori Gersht (2012), Imperial War Museum, London and curated projects include Myth, Manners and Memory: Photographs of the American South including Walker Evans, William Eggleston, William Christenberry, Carrie Mae Weems, Susan Lipper and Alec Soth (2010), Beuys Is Here co-curated with Anthony d’ Offay (2009) and Jeremy Deller (2006). Commissions include A Return to Elswhere by Kalpesh Lathigra and Thabiso Sekgala (2014), Mumuration Rinko Kawauchi and Brighton Picture Hunt Alec Soth (2010) Seascape Susan Collins (2009).

Celia is co-editor of Photoworks Annual, visual art advisor for HOUSE festival and Chair of Blast Theory.

Colin McPherson:
Born in Edinburgh, Colin McPherson has been photographing in Scotland and abroad for a quarter of a century. He undertakes long-term projects alongside editorial commissions and assignments, and is represented by the Corbis agency. Colin’s work is published internationally and held in archives and collections such as the Scottish national photographic archive. His photography has been featured in more than 30 solo and group exhibitions; his long-term project entitled ‘A Fine Line’ was shown at Impressions Gallery in Bradford, England in 2014 as part of the ‘Made in Scotland’ exhibition by Document Scotland.


Redeye, Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art, Market Buildings, Thomas St, Manchester M4 1EU, UK
© 2010–2022 Redeye The Photography Network