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Roger Tooth FRPS, Picture Editor
By Jean Jameson
Posted on 11/6/2018 11:00 PM
The size of our audience reflected the anticipation and high expectation we had of our guest. We knew he was the former head of photography at the Guardian newspaper, working there for nearly thirty years altogether and influencing the tone and visual content of editorial decisions. Roger did not disappoint us on any count: his laidback and relaxed delivery was a reflection of his self-deprecating style and a lifetime experience of all things photographic, which he shared generously with us.

In the first half, he concentrated on particular images that had crossed his desk and had a powerful impact on him. As he talked us through the images, he explained the day to day working of a national newspaper and how images were chosen out of the thousands sent in every day from the agencies the paper subscribes to. In particular, the decision by the team, when the paper changed format, to devote the middle page spread, Eye Witness, to one large image gave new and exciting opportunities to staff photographers, like David Levene. Roger said he looked for visual impact, with high graphic content and ‘clean’ images and he particularly liked new angles and novel approaches. He raised ethical considerations about what content should and should not be published and how editors looked for images with a sense of action, of movement. He said there are no explicit guidelines, but recommended ‘Pictures on a Page’, by Harold Evans as the seminal work on the subject.

After the break, we asked for more personal information – how had he got started, what training did he do and how did he make the career decisions he had made along the way. He told us how he started in printing and then moved on to taking pictures, working for some years for the Hackney Gazette and then after working for Community Care and Nursing magazines free-lance, joined the staff at the Guardian. His informal and friendly attitude encouraged interruptions and discussion, so it was an entertaining, enjoyable and informative evening.

The Tiger Trophy was presented by Rob Wilkinson to Paul Shelley for his winning image of a cyclist in dramatic light. Paul, who is becoming used to winning, has chosen 'Bridges' as our November theme.

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