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 He raised ethical considerations about what content should and should not be published and how editors looked for images with a sense of action, of movement.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.