Friday, 6 May 2011

Slideshows ARE the new black

Slideshows are the way forward. Last night I went to one organised by the ASA Collective, who regularly organise such events. The first event of theirs I went to was one they did in conjunction with Contact Editions, who also regularly organise "Slideshow Slams"; two projections shown simultaneously, each curated by a different organisation. These tend to be mingling, social events, with the slideshows occuring in the background, whereas last night's event was a sit down affair; each photographer's show went on for maybe 10 minutes, accompanied by sound, and then the photographer said a few words about their work and there was an opportunity for questions.

To me, this is the future of photography; or at least, the future of showing photography. Either set-up, be it two projections at once or a more formal event, are great ways of showing work. The first time I came across the idea was in Arles last year, and it blew me away. The thing is you can showcase so much more work in a slideshow, with many more photographers. And this suits what the industry has become; most photographs, if not taken digitally, are digitised at some point for websites etc, and there are many more photographers than ever before, making it all the more competitive to get exhibition space. And then there's the cost - printing and framing work gets very expensive, and yet a projection is, essentially, free (once a good projector and screen is bought!)

It's not easy putting on a good slideshow, though. It's not just a case of lining up some great images and pressing play. If sound is involved, it has to be good, and it has to go with the work. Sound plays on emotion so much that it can totally alter the way the images come across - sometimes it adds but it's terrible if it jars in some way. It's almost better if the sound is made or composed for the purpose of being with the images... a popular tune comes with all sorts of personal connotations.

Another consideration is how long each image is up for. This could potentially be the only negative point with a slideshow - your time in front of the image is preconsidered, so it's impossible to linger and impossible to go back. Perhaps now, with the Internet and the amount of images we are confronted with on a day to day basis, we can read visuals quicker and don't need to spend time in front of them. But I think that's a shame... contemplation in front of a photograph makes us see more, think more. So, in a slideshow set up, the longer the better.

©Chloe Dewe Matthews

All the work shown last night was by female photographers. A couple I was already familiar with, due to the firecracker website, but there were two projects which were new to me which I thought were excellent. The first was by Chloe Dewe Matthews, who immersed herself in the very macho world of banger racing to make her project Banger Boys of Britain. The images are arresting, disclosing an unfamiliar world, which, as she herself states on her website, "satisfies a common human urge; to create and destroy."

The other project which I was very happy to discover was Urban Cave, by Andrea Star Reese. These photographs of people who live in makeshift dwellings around New York (but don't want to be considered "homeless") tenderly portray a nomadic lifestyle, with all its trials and tribulations. Some of the images are raw, but to me these images show how resilient and proud these people are, living outside of conventional society.

So, go see some slideshows. You could start with the Slideshow Slam I'm organising at Photofusion on 19 May, in collaboration with Contact Editions. But this isn't just a plug. It's a genuine interest and enthusiasm for slideshows. I ♥ slideshows. Go see some.


  1. I had the pleasure of witnessing this event too - very enjoyable. Some really great work. I'll try to make Photofusion on 19th.

  2. Hi Paul - it'd be great to see you at Photofusion - come and say hi!


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