Is Anybody Listening? Photo Ethics Discussions

Alongside the touring exhibition, a series of photo ethics discussions took place. These discussions invited audiences to explore the ethics of image capture, representation, permission and how heritage is documented and shared.

The four discussions were held during the run of each exhibition on the tour, at:

In each location, these conversations evolved, with new contexts and audiences contributing to and enriching the discussions.

Open Eye Gallery, Feb 2023

At the first discussion hosted by Open Eye Gallery, conversations ranged from issues of ongoing consent to reaching audiences beyond gallery walls. With 80 people joining Easton, Liz Wewiora (Head of Social Practice, Open Eye Gallery), and Mariama Attah (then Curator, Open Eye Gallery live on Zoom, the conversation was rich with insightful questions and provocations from the audience.

Watch the full recording of the Photo Ethics Discussion hosted by Open Eye Gallery:

Blackpool School of Art & Leftcoast, March 2023

For the photo ethics discussion in Blackpool, Easton was joined by Open Eye Gallery’s Head of Social Practice Liz Wewiora and LeftCoast’s Creative Producer Laura Jamieson. They used the Thatcher’s Children work as a starting point, with the original images of the Williams family taken in Blackpool in the 1990s. LeftCoast also supported Easton in reconnecting with the family in 2016.
The discussion delved into the motivations behind revisiting the story, the development of socially engaged documentary practice, and the connection to people and place throughout the work. In addition, students from Blackpool School of Arts participating in Our Time, Our Place had the opportunity to hone their skills and gain experience through capturing the event on the day.

Attendees to the Craig Easton Photo Ethics Discussion in Blackpool watching the panel.
Craig Easton, Laura Jamieson and Liz Wewiora laughing together while sat around a table in front of Easton's large black and white photographs installed at Blackpool School of Art.
Two young people with cameras, looking at their work and taking images in front of Craig Easton's large, black and white Photographs.

University of Salford, Nov 2023

In Salford, Craig Easton was joined at the New Adelphi Theatre by Liz Wewiora and socially engaged photographer Gwen Riley Jones. Wewiora, who alongside her role at Open Eye Gallery is also the programme leader for the Art & Design MA courses at the University of Salford, and Riley Jones who supported much of the Our Time, Our Place activity in Salford, joined the discussion adding challenges and new perspectives.

The hybrid audience for the November discussion in Salford included a mix of students and staff from across the University alongside members of the public. The conversation in Salford was rich and explored several topics, including discussions around responsibility, parenthood, and the power of photography as a tool for shaping and influencing public opinion. Easton discussed his role as a photographer, and emphasized the importance, in his view, of documenting experiences beyond one’s own and using one’s privilege and position to tell the important stories of the time.

Watch the full recording of the Photo Ethics Discussion hosted by the University of Salford:

Williamson Art Gallery & Museum, March 2024

The final photo ethics discussion took place at the Williamson Art Gallery & Museum in Spring 2024. Local photographers, gallery friends, and regular attendees gathered with Easton at the gallery to delve into the ethical considerations and the evolving role of social documentary photography in contemporary society.

At the Williamson, the format shifted, as Easton started the event with a tour of the exhibition, introducing the two series of work, Bank Top and Thatcher’s Children. This served as a starting point for the conversation, exploring topics such as the role of the ‘outsider’ photographer, ethical and critically engaged approaches to community collaboration, and the growing responsibility of photographers in an era where social media alters the dynamics of storytelling.

Is Anybody Listening? Our Time, Our Place is presented by the University of Salford and generously supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund.