Photographer Benjamin Fairbanks on the RBSA Photographic Prize Exhibition

There’s still time to enter our third Photographic Prize Exhibition, in partnership with Argentea Gallery. There are four prizes including a £1,000 First Prize!

Entries are welcome from professional and emerging photographers across the region and beyond. The deadline to enter is 4pm on Monday 14 January.

For information on how to enter, click here.

Alfie Hancox caught up with our 2017 People’s Choice winner, Benjamin Fairbanks, who reflects on his experience and gives some insights into his own work…

How did you first become interested in photography?

I started photography almost 25 years ago because my brother was in a band at university and they wanted some promo pictures. I borrowed my Dad’s camera and gave it a go. They were pretty poor pictures to be honest, but I carried on and gradually improved. This was pre-digital which made things slower and processing was costly. I don’t miss the darkroom but prints made from film do have a nice quality about them.

SSP_470 copy

© Benjamin Fairbanks

What makes photography special as an art medium?

Waldemar Januszczak wrote in an article I was reading recently that it’s much easier to be a half-decent photographer than it is to be a half-decent painter. I agree with him but if you look at Kirsty Mitchell’s Wonderland series and understand the work that went into producing the images, you realise that the photography is actually quite a small part of the process that produced such stunning pictures.


Geoffrey Hodgson, ‘Shelter’ – Second Prize winner 2017

On the other hand, some photographs rely entirely on the instantaneous ability of the camera to capture a moment. These days everyone has access to some kind of camera, so most people have some experience of taking pictures. Many of us probably haven’t painted a picture since we were at school so I think digital photography is a very accessible art form.


Sam Ivin, ‘Pakistan’ – the 2017 GMC First Prize winner

What was your experience with the exhibition?

I’d had an image from the same series in the Open All Media exhibition a year or two previously, so I was excited to enter an image in a pure photography exhibition.

It was a very good experience. I was lucky because my picture was hung in a really good place which I think showed it off to its best.

The RBSA is a lovely gallery so it’s always nice to have an excuse to visit and see other people’s work. I wasn’t able to make the closing party, but my Mum and brother were there to find out I’d won the People’s Choice which was great.

moseley bog

Benjamin Fairbanks, Moseley Bog, RBSA Photographic Prize 2017 Peoples Prize winner. © The Artist

Do you have any tips for photographers entering the exhibition this year?

I wouldn’t say this is a tip, but my approach is to enter work which will stand up on its own. Some works need to be in the context of other pieces in a series but you might enter six photos and have only one selected.

Visit the Exhibition…

The Photographic Prize Exhibition opens on 14 February and runs until March. It will be displayed across RBSA Gallery Two and Argentea Gallery’s ground floor.

Prizes will be awarded by Nicola Shipley, Director of GRAIN Projects, at the Closing Party on Friday 8 March (the event will start at RBSA Gallery and include both the RBSA and Argentea Galleries).

There will also be a tour of the exhibition on 16 February (2-4pm), where you can gain some fascinating insights from some of the exhibiting photographers. To book a place call 0121 236 4253.

By Alfie Hancox RBSA Blog Volunteer

#photographicprize #photographycompetition #photographyexhibitionBirmingham #RBSAGalleryBirmingham

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