Last week fourteen years of Conservative rule ended in the UK. It was not a surprise to anyone watching the polls or living in the country. We all knew what was coming even if the size of the Tory defeat may have shocked some die-hard believers on the right. Labour have come in and they have started speaking in a different way to that which we had become used to in our politics.

It’s very early days but there seems to be a desire to solve problems, employ experts, engage in conversation and to listen. I will admit a personal view that I am not sad to see the Conservatives lose but that is not the point in my writing this article. The point is that the outcome of the election and the responses from both sides reminds me of the factional nature of the photographic community.

One side looking forward and investing in new thinking and the other looking backwards to a past through rose-tinted-glasses with a heavy dose of cynicism. Since last Friday all I have heard from the losing party is contrition based upon a need to listen. Something no one was stopping them from doing. They have balanced this out with a large dose of disbelief that anything can be better than what they ‘acheived’ combined with loud aggresive rhetoric stating that everything will get worse based upon their opinion and no facts. I hope this soon becomes the political rhetoric of the past. However, I am not convinced.

The similarities between this response to the new and untried and that of photographers concerning analogue and digital (Yes! Still!) and computational and AI image-making are clear to me. We should not be afraid of change, but I have always believed that many of those engaged with photography are conservative by nature. That’s conservative with a small ‘c’. A bizarre position to adopt when involved in a practice based upon technological evolution but one I have observed none the less.

There is a right wing manifesto currently being promoted across the world based upon fear and a distorted view of the past. One not disimilar to the ‘photo wars’ of the last three decades. This we know. It is our choice if we buy into that message. I suggest that by adopting an open mind, looking for facts and avoiding the noise we can all make the right decision.

Whenever people ask me for some advice concerning progressing their work I always say the same thing, be nice. Polite, professional and patient. You can be forthright, straight speaking and strong minded but the three words beginning with ‘p’ are essential. It seems that many of the deposed Conservatives are unaware of this blaming others for their demise and attacking those who have opinions different to their own. Like photographers on social media too keen to stress their views without the knowledge or insight required to do so.

It has been a breath of fresh air to see and hear the approach to politics that Keir Starmer is spearheading. He is not perfect and I am sure that he and we will have choppy waters ahead but his approach is one that I think the photo community could benefit from. Less angry, less argumentative, less accusatory, less doom-mongering. Less self-centred.

I am not sure how well this article will age. I may be getting swept up in a form of post election euphoria. However, this is not my first rodeo. I have been on the horse and been thrown off a few times before. I am also aware of the political challenges taking place globally and particularly in the United States. However, I would like to polietly propose a question. How can we expect change if we do not support it and implement it in our own worlds? Do I get your vote?

Dr.Grant Scott
After fifteen years art directing photography books and magazines such as Elle and Tatler, Scott began to work as a photographer for a number of advertising and editorial clients in 2000. Alongside his photographic career Scott has art directed numerous advertising campaigns, worked as a creative director at Sotheby’s, art directed foto8magazine, founded his own photographic gallery, edited Professional Photographer magazine and launched his own title for photographers and filmmakers Hungry Eye. He founded the United Nations of Photography in 2012, and is now a Senior Lecturer and Subject Co-ordinator: Photography at Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, and a BBC Radio contributor. Scott is the author of Professional Photography: The New Global Landscape Explained (Routledge 2014), The Essential Student Guide to Professional Photography (Routledge 2015), New Ways of Seeing: The Democratic Language of Photography (Routledge 2019), and What Does Photography Mean To You? (Bluecoat Press 2020). His photography has been published in At Home With The Makers of Style (Thames & Hudson 2006) and Crash Happy: A Night at The Bangers (Cafe Royal Books 2012). His film Do Not Bend: The Photographic Life of Bill Jay was premiered in 2018.

Scott’s book Inside Vogue HouseOne building, seven magazines, sixty years of stories, Orphans Publishing, is now on sale.

© Grant Scott 2024

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Last Update: 07/10/2024