Photo London - Magnum Awards / by Robert Darch

I recently headed down to London to spend some time visiting Photo London and to attend the Magnum Graduate Awards. It was lovely to be nominated for the award and although I knew I wasn't one of the 10 selected winners, I thought it would still be interesting to attend. Living in Devon, I feel very removed from London, sometimes it doesn't even feel like both places are in the same country. So I think it's even more important to leave the rural idyll for the bright lights of the big city every now and then. 

It was lovely catching up with friends and Colleagues and my highlights included, seeing Niall Mcdiarmid's work at the Museum of London, The Peckham 24 show, IPF exhibition at House of Vans, Ron Jude & David Chandler's talk and Dana Lixenberg at the Photographers gallery. 17 year old me also got very excited seeing Ed Templeton and having a flash back to when I met him in London 20 years ago. 

I also spent an afternoon at Offprint, which I usually find a little disappointing, as it's an event I always get excited about beforehand. I normally set myself a budget, to control my spending, though, I struggled to part with my £100 and spent most of my time judging books by their covers. Perhaps it's the intimidating amount of books, or maybe that most of the work doesn't appeal to me. On one stall, I casually flicked through a book and the publisher, (kindly) offered to explain the work to me as it was quite complex. It seems the idea has become more important than the image and there definitely appears to be a movement towards an anti aesthetic intellectualised discourse in contemporary photo book publishing. I struggle with this, as the images always have to draw me into the idea and the work. This doesn't mean I am against photographers using varied visual languages and design to realise their work in book form, it's that the images need to have some aesthetic appeal, nuance, soul or emotion to intrigue me in the first place.