Photography News | Issue 35 | absolutephoto.com
Retina Photography Festival In its third year, this photography festival ran throughout July in the beautiful city of Edinburgh. We got the low-down on this growing event from organiser Roddy McRae
Interview by Jemma Dodd
Can you tell our readers a bit about the Retina Scottish International Photography Festival? So, for example, how did it come into being, who are the driving forces behind it and how long has it been going? The initial discussion goes back over 10 years from the question – ‘why has there never been a photography festival in Scotland before?’ and here we are now. Myself and photographer Chris Close joined forces with Martin Mutch who we heard was also was planning a photography festival with his friend SusanWall. This is the third year of Retina. What are the Retina Festival’s aims in the longer term? Retina Festival aims to become Scotland’s first annual International Festival of Photography and develop into one of the world’s leading photographic festivals by attracting some of the world’s greatest photographic talent to the world’s greatest festival city. We also plan to exhibit more widely across Scotland in future years subject to finances. Your first festival in 2014 attracted Rankin model and photographer Helena Christensen to launch the event. That is amazing for a new event – was it difficult getting photographers of that stature to the Festival? Who were your headline attractions in 2016? Martin Mutch was the key driver behind this. He worked closely with Anna Fremantle the director of Edinburgh International Fashion Festival who provided these high-profile introductions. This year we had fashion and portrait photographer Jason Bell headlining alongside Dougie Wallace, Kareem Black and Alma Haser. How did you choose which photographers to feature? We choose the photographers for Retina Festival through our collective knowledge within the working group and seek to provide a wide range of content and styles that will reflect Scottish photography alongside international photographers, whilst supporting emerging talent. Have you any photographers on your dream list? You know, it would be great to get them but you know it’s unlikely that it will ever happen. Interesting question. Nobody has said no yet. Next year’s headliner would qualify as a dream list though.
What has been the reaction to Retina, both locally and further afield? Locally, has been finding suitable venues to be involved in the Festival been an issue? The response has been overwhelmingly positive and extremely rewarding. This was evidenced by local, national and international press, as well as online, radio and television coverage last year. The best feedback is the small compliments and people saying how much they are looking forward to this year’s festival. Venues can be a challenge, although mainly on cost. Many of our readers are keen enthusiasts who might belong to a local camera club, do you think there is something for them in the Festival? Of course, a key element is to inspire anyone with a passion for photography. Many of the images have not been seen before and cover a wide range of themes to suit all tastes. The Photomarathon seems like a great idea. Please tell us what was the thinking behind the idea? Also, in the age of digital, what was the reasoning behind using single-use film cameras? It came about through a chance meeting with Jennifer Wood. She had been inspired by one in Glasgow back in 2007 (see panel for more on the Photomarathon.) What is your personal highlight of this year’s Festival? A tough one to answer photographically as my passion is all photography. Probably, Above FromRoad Wallah, a book by Dougie Wallace Right FromKareem Black’s project Feels Good Let’s Go Below Jason Bell’s Michael Caine Vanity Fair Hollywood portfolio 2015 Far right Findlay Napier by David Boni The best feedback is the small compliments and people saying how much they are looking forward to this year’s festival
introducing the Photomarathon as a new dimension for the event and the new and exciting venue at Customs House in Leith. How soon will you start planning for the 2017 Festival? Plans are already in place and we started back last January. The festival is run by volunteers, can anyone get involved to help out?
Yes.Wearealways looking formorevolunteers to help spread the workload, to help with setting up and taking down exhibitions and importantly invigilation at the venues that we need to staff. We are also presently seeking other specialist skills in traditional and online marketing as well. Potential volunteers can contact us thorough the website.
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