• The Story Behind Every Image by Tracey McEachran

    Fifteen members gathered together on the 25th March to enjoy a fascinating illustrated talk by artist and educator Tracey McEachran. She began by explaining that her approach to photography is through the use of medium format film cameras, producing both 2¼ square inch and 5 by 4 inch negatives, followed by the careful processing of colour or black and white prints. On occasion she also uses super 8 cine film to support her work.

    During the course of the evening, Tracey presented a series of her creative projects that combined mainly photographs, along with audio recordings and poetry, that portrayed ideas and themes about which Tracey feels very strongly.

    The first of these entitled Female Guilt featured a series of self portraits posed against a background of images representing matters that gave rise to her feelings of guilt when she first became a mother. Apparently the making of this project helped to alleviate such feelings.

    Tracey then showed us a series of images aimed at highlighting the pressures of advertising by contrasting beautifully preserved dead animals from Brighton’s Booth Museum with trendy, worthless items sold to members of the public through TV advertising.

    This was followed by a series of portraits, each featuring a member of a set of teenage triplets within their family home. In doing so, Tracey placed great emphasis on the need for generous space above the subject’s head in portrait images.

    Before the interval, we were treated to an audio-visual presentation focusing upon a series of portraits of railway modellers alongside their their extensively detailed model railway layouts. Interspersed between these was cine footage of the working models and a very illuminating audio recording of a young boy explaining his love of trains and modelling.

    Following the usual break for tea, chat and raffle, Tracey presented further projects including one entitled Twine, which portrayed three images and a poem representing former family members, still life images inspired by a Dutch 17th century artist, and an intense series of portraits of young people contrasting their appearance as 10-year olds with later ones in adolescence as 15-year olds. In doing so, Tracey explained how she had tried to reflect in the faces of her subjects the brain changes that would have taken place over time.

    All in all, this was an extremely interesting and absorbing presentation, made especially rewarding by Tracey’s invitation to her audience to participate with questions and comments throughout the evening. Above all, her pictures with their strong emphasis on story-telling and projecting a wider message, were a welcome change from the usual RPS conventions adhered to by many visiting competition judges. This inspirational evening came to a conclusion all too soon with a very warm round of applause for Tracey along with an invitation for her to re-visit the club again before too long.

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