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Talk by Tony Othen

Report by Marjorie Burge.

On Friday 5th October our guest speaker was Tony Othen from Greenwich, with ‘Looking back is no bad thing’. Tony was looking back fifty years to the very beginning of his career, when photography was film and dark room. So much has changed since then. His beautiful mono prints and projected images showed the social history of what it was like in the late 60’s and early 70’s. Taken in the industrial cities – ‘Get Carter’ country – with real people as the stars, Tony’s aim was to show the social history of how people lived, with a view to encouraging improvement for people who were, knowing no different, content with what they had. Straight rows of terraced houses, doors opening straight onto the narrow pavements, housewives in curlers and aprons, small children playing in the empty streets; tall smoking chimneys in the background where the fathers and sons were working.

Inside the houses, granddads sat in the kitchen, by the cooking range, smoking their pipes, washing hanging above them, milk bottles on the table, radio on the mantelpiece, a single light bulb hanging from the ceiling. Photography is now mainly digital, and these streets and houses have been demolished – a way of life gone for ever. As Tony said ‘If these photos were not taken how would we know how the people lived?’. Tony’s photography means that all this history is now safely recorded, and he makes it available, so that our children will have a greater understanding of how their grandparents lived. Tony believes in having a project, a reason for taking pictures, and keeping the past alive, and his dedication to using his photography to record the passing of time and place has allowed these people from the past to live on. We were all mesmerised by the beautiful mono images, the wrinkled faces of the elderly, the unkempt hair and cheeky smiles of the young – inspiring, revealing and sobering. A delightful evening at APS, wonderful images, so many stories, we almost felt we had met those lovely people ourselves. 

Next Friday, 12th October, our judge for the 2nd PDI Competition will be Paul Adams ARPS DPAGB FDPS, a KCPA Premier Judge. Visitors always welcome. 

We meet every Friday at Givaudan Sports and Social Club, Kennington Road, Ashford TN24 0LT starting at 7.30, with coffee and bar facilities. We are a very friendly club with photographers of all levels; tuition is given at workshops for members and on club outings members can team up to gain experience. You are welcome to come along as a visitor, talk things through and make some friends, before making that final decision. Find out all about us at or telephone our secretary Katrina Devenport on 01303 814842 if you have any questions.