The National Photography Symposium 2014

12 June 2014, 13:00 to 14 June 2014, 16:00

Advance booking for this event is now closed. There are a few places available on the door. Please try and arrive at or soon after 14:00 on Thursday to maximise your chance of getting a place. We will put another message here if all tickets are sold.

Redeye is delighted to announce its sixth National Photography Symposium, the essential annual gathering for ideas and discussion around photography, taking place at the Library of Birmingham.

“What a weekend. I am all photography inspired.” - Karen Strunks of the 4AM project

The Symposium explores the most critical and talked-about subjects for photography and photographers. Top experts, thinkers and commentators offer the most interesting perspectives on what's happening now and next in photography, as it affects anyone working in the medium. This year’s Symposium focuses on integrity in photography, and features three days (14:00 Thursday to 17:00 Saturday) of talks, debates, seminars and discussions.

It is delivered in collaboration with GRAIN, the Photography Hub and Network for the West Midlands.


Each of the three days has a slightly different emphasis, though all are welcome on all days. Please note that this programme may be subject to last-minute change.

Chairs for the Symposium:
Paul Herrmann (Redeye)
Nicola Shipley (GRAIN)

Thursday 12 June 2014: Routes into photography

14:00 onwards:

15:00 to 17:00
What’s on offer for students and emerging artists to help establish themselves in photography? Which of the many competitions, reviews, courses, opportunities and online services are worth signing up for? Who benefits?
Jon Levy, Foto8
Richard West, Source
David Drake, Ffotogallery
Nathan Tromans, Birmingham City University

17:00 to 17:30 parallel session
The role of the curator
Nathaniel Pitt received a GRAIN Curator's Bursary and will explore the appeal and possibilities of curatorial practice.

19:30 to 21:00
Keynote talks:
Val Williams, curator, with Paul Hill, photographer: The Midlands School
Simon Roberts, photographer

Friday 13 June 2014: Organisations and Institutions

The second day concentrates on key issues of integrity for organisations and institutions. How can they preserve their public service or members’ remit whilst improving commercial income? What new kinds of ventures are working for organisations, and what are the new types of fundraising and finance being tried? How do the larger institutions and museums deal with conflicting demands for acquisitions, collections and archives? What are the “standards” in the new photographic landscape? What’s on the horizon for some of photography’s leading companies and organisations?

10:00 to 10:55
Welcome from Brian Gambles, Director of the Library of Birmingham.

New finance and business strategies for cultural organisations.
Frankie Mullen, Dovetail, The Change-Making Agency
Simon Borkin, Community Shares Unit

11:15 to 11:25
Karen Newman: Introduction to BOM - Birmingham Open Media

11:25 to 12:45
The successful and resilient arts and photography organisation.
Emma Chetcuti, Multistory
Stephen Snoddy, New Art Gallery, Walsall
Peta Murphy-Burke, Arts Council England
Lara Ratnaraja, CidaCo West Midlands Director

13:00 to 13:45 parallel session
Some Cities - a photographic platform that enables everyone, regardless of their backgrounds or abilities, to share and submit their images to a growing interactive photographic archive of the City of Birmingham.
Andrew Jackson
Dan Burwood

14:00 to 15:15
Discussion: opening the nation's photographic collections.
A broad discussion between three key figures in the world of photographic culture, museums and libraries, investigating ways forward for managing the national collections of photography. What can we do to show more of the UK's wonderful but seldom-seen photographic collections? Can there be "vernacular distribution" to match a vernacular medium? How can the existing institutions communicate and co-ordinate better, and how can we bring smaller and private archives into the conversation? How would it be best to develop skills in photographic history, curating and conservation? What is the future for photographic archives in a digital age? How do we raise investment in our collections? How should all these matters be championed at strategic and government policy level?
Francis Hodgson, University of Brighton / Financial Times
Pete James, Library of Birmingham
Michael Terwey, National Media Museum

15:15 to 15:45 parallel session
Jenny Duffin introduces work from Birmingham Loves Photographers

15:45 to 17:00
Standards - who decides what standards are applied in photography? Where are they still relevant and needed, if at all? Is there a place for a defined standard of imagery, and how can standards of professional practice be applied?
Roger Reynolds from the Royal Photographic Society will explain the Society's commitment to distinctions
Denise Swanson of the British Institute of Professional Photography explores professional standards

17:05 to 17:45 parallel session
Mining the Archive; The Intentional and Unintentional Archive
Jason DaPonte, The Swarm

Saturday 14 June 2014: Photographers

The final day of the Symposium explores key issues around ethics, authenticity and business for all photographers. The discussions, like the Symposium as a whole, take a lead from Stephen Mayes' assertion that photographers need to redefine their product to create new value for their work. It explores new kinds of business models and collaborations that allow photographers to retain creative integrity while still making a living in a dramatically different economy. How can they deal with the pressures on copyright from new licensing models and digital distribution? What are the opportunities and constraints of ethical practice and environmental sustainability?

10:00 to 10:50
Edmund Clark has grappled with issues of artistic integrity in the face of restricted access, censorship and political resistance to his work, which concerns state subjugation, confinement and the aftermath of terrorism.

11:20 to 13:00
New Business Models for Photographers
Stephen Mayes, strategy and application for visual communication
Fiona Rogers, Magnum and Firecracker
Jonathan Shaw, Centre for Disruptive Media
Nathan Tromans Birmingham City University

14:00 to 15:00
Thinking and Doing - active session on business modelling
Adrian West and Sophie Brown, Company of Mind

15:30 to 16:30
Licensing without tears - Creative Commons and the alternatives. Licensing is one of the key drivers of the digital economy; this session guides photographers and users through the often complex options.
Serena Tierney, Bircham Dyson Bell, law firm
Christian Payne, Documentally, mobile media maker

Also have a look at and scroll through past programmes for an idea of what to expect.

“My annual refresher” – Brenda Burrell, photographer

“The most important forum in UK photography” – Francis Hodgson of the Financial Times

"Such a powerful lineup makes this one of the must attend events of the photographic year.” Pete Jenkins, NUJ

Tickets and Pricing

Ticket prices are as follows. If you are not a Redeye member but are buying a 3-day ticket, it makes sense to become a member first, then the lower price will be available to you.

Redeye Member 3-day ticket: £30
Student/unwaged 3-day ticket: £60
Standard 3-day ticket: £80
One-day tickets are available for any of the days.

Redeye Member 1-day ticket: £20
Student/unwaged 1-day ticket: £35
Standard 1-day ticket: £50

If buying a one day ticket, please email once you have booked, to let him know which day you would like to attend on

To buy a Redeye member ticket, please first log in to this website as a paid Redeye member. To book a ticket, please click the Book Ticket button below. Advance ticket sales close at 18:00 on Wednesday 11 June 2014. If there are any places left on the door, we will publish details here. Please check our terms and conditions before booking.

Venue and Timing
The National Photography Symposium will take place at the Library of Birmingham, Centenary Square, Broad Street, Birmingham, B1 2ND from 12-14 June 2014. The complete times for each day are listed below:

12 June 2014: 14:00-21:00
13 June 2014: 10:00-18:00
14 June 2014: 10:00-17:00

The library is about a 10-15 minute walk from New Street Station. If coming by car, please follow signs to Birmingham City Centre and the ICC. Parking is not available on site but nearby parking can be found at Cambridge Street and the National Indoor Arena. 

Other Photographic Events in Birmingham
During your visit to Birmingham for the Symposium, don't miss the wealth of photographic exhibitions that are taking place in the Library of Birmingham and across the city:

Sophy Rickett and Bettina von Zwehl ALBUM 31
3 April – 30 June 2014
Library of Birmingham

19 April 2014 - 31 August 2014
Library of Birmingham

Daniel Meadows Early Photographic Works

16 May 2014 – 17 August 2014
Library of Birmingham

Daniel Meadows Artist Talk

7 June 2014
Library of Birmingham

Holly Antrum A Diffuse Citizen
7 June – 26 July 2014
Grand Union

Ioana Nemes Monthly Evaluations
15 March 2014– 14 June 2014

Eastside Projects

Michel François Pieces of Evidence
30 April — 22 June 2014
IKON Gallery

Justyna Ptak The House
19 April 2014 - 12 July 2014
Wolverhampton Art Gallery, Wolverhampton

For the Record
27 January 2014 - 29 June 2014
Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery

Miners' Strike 1984-1985
11 June 2014 to 7 July 2014
Stratford Artshouse

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