09 150 years of in­spi­ra­tion

If you only go to one show this win­ter, make it this one!

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The Royal Pho­to­graphic So­ci­ety of the UK is the old­est pho­to­graphic so­ci­ety in the world, and pos­sesses an un­ri­valled col­lec­tion of his­toric photographs and arte­facts. We’re talk­ing over 250,000 images, 8,000 items of pho­to­graphic equip­ment and 31,000 books, pe­ri­od­i­cals and doc­u­ments.

The cream of this col­lec­tion, set up at the be­hest of Queen Vic­to­ria’s con­sort Prince Al­bert, is to go on show in early De­cem­ber at the Sci­ence Mu­seum in cen­tral London. This unique and his­toric ex­hi­bi­tion fea­tures some of the ear­li­est known images, dat­ing back to the 1820s, by pi­o­neers of pho­tog­ra­phy such as Roger Fen­ton, Wil­liam Henry Fox Tal­bot and Ju­lia Mar­garet Cameron, along­side con­tem­po­rary works by Don McCullin, Terry O’Neill, Martin Parr and other mod­ern greats.

Get started to­day

* The ex­hi­bi­tion is called Drawn by Light, and opens at the Me­dia Space in London’s Sci­ence Mu­seum on 2nd De­cem­ber. It will run un­til 3rd March next year, and tick­ets cost £8. Full de­tails are at * There’s so much in­spi­ra­tion to be had from the images, that it’s hard to know where to start, but what’s par­tic­u­larly in­ter­est­ing is how pho­tog­ra­phy found its own voice in the 19th cen­tury, and emerged as an art form in its own right as the tech­nol­ogy im­proved – rather than be­ing the poor relation of paint­ing. * A purely tech­ni­cal anal­y­sis of the images on dis­play rather misses the point (the best photographs are al­ways greater than the sum of their parts), but it’s worth pay­ing par­tic­u­lar at­ten­tion to com­po­si­tion. There will be noth­ing in the frame ‘by ac­ci­dent,’ that ends up un­in­ten­tion­ally dis­tract­ing you – so think about how you can ap­ply this core prin­ci­ple to your pho­tog­ra­phy. No­tice too how of­ten many great pho­tog­ra­phers ‘break the rules’. * Read our 175 Years of Pho­tog­ra­phy, free with is­sues 153-155, be­fore you go!

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Paul Strand / RPS

Learn from the pi­o­neers of pho­tog­ra­phy at the Drawn by Light ex­hi­bi­tion at London’s Sci­ence Mu­seum un­til March 2015

Dig­i­tal Cam­era

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