Hereford Photofestival

Well, living in London, its as easy and fast for me to get to Paris as Hereford. Of course some people will live nearer. So I need to have a really good reason to go to Hereford, and this year’s festival probably doesn’t provide it.

Unlike Photomonth, I did get a mailing about Hereford. But not to me either for >Re:PHOTO or even for About Photography (where I had one of the largest worldwide audiences for any photography web site) but for a long defunct photographic group I helped to run in the 1980s.

Photography has a lot of catching up to do. Too many people still sticking their heads in the sand about the web! The information on the 2007 Hereford festival site is a one page PDF and if you happen to have an A2 printer handy you can print out the 23.62 x 16.54 inch document and read it.

I don’t, and fortunately I don’t have to, since on a screen it is tricky to read and navigate, and I soon gave up. But, as I said earlier, my 1985 persona got a mailing through the letterbox, which turns out to be exactly this document, but folded to make it considerably more legible. It’s hard to do this with a screen, and perhaps someone should point this out to the designer concerned.

Presenting the whole thing as a single A2 page has to get some kind of medal for the least web friendly way to present information. Even as two A3 pages – as printed – would be better. Another few minutes work could have turned it into something far more useful – although even a multi-page PDF is still nothing like as good as a decently designed web site.

The print version has also to deserve come kind of award for making South African photography seem so boring (Paul Wombell, the festival director, previously managed to more or less kill off the Photographers’ Gallery so far as I was concerned, so perhaps that isn’t surprising.) The front of the leaflet has one of the least inspiring pictures of a dog you can imagine – but this may be thanks to the design, which may cover or crop significant elements. It’s hard to imagine any photographer actually producing an image like this.

Despite this, I’m sure the work of photographers like David Lurie, Andrew Tshabangu (and 12×12), Rene-Paul Savignan and Peter Hugo is worth going to see. And for May 2008 we are promised David Goldblatt and Guy Tillim.

And guess what. Like every festival these days (including the East London Photomonth) it has one of these get-a-snap things where your picture becomes a part of the show. Just say no!

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