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An Intellectual Interlude

Challenging perceptions from a wildlife expert.
Accomplished wildlife photographer, highly acclaimed analyst in the field of critical judgement and Emeritus Professor working with both Manchester and Gloucester Universities, psychologist Rob Ryan provided NRPS members with an unusually high level of academic challenge at this week’s regular Thursday meeting. In a thought provoking evening, Rob encouraged us to discard the metaphorical, technical shackles of our tripod, in order to release the intuitive aspects of our otherwise logical brains, and aspire to greater levels of creativity in our photography.

Rob is more interested in the process of creating an eventual image that communicates the emotions of the captured moment than in the technical correctness of the original shot. Pursuing his mantra that “photos are taken, but images are made”, Rob urged us to plumb the depths of our subconscious skills in order to master the level of automaticity that defines the expert in any field of endeavour. In short, to improve photographically, we need to synchronise our gut feelings with our logical brains to reach deeper levels of understanding in order to maximise the emotional impact of our images on our intended audience.
Whilst his style of delivery and depth of academic references provoked quite a range of responses amongst members at the end of a long week, there was no denying the impact of the highly emotive wildlife images that Rob used to illustrate his own work, and that of his wife, Alison Price. The room fell silent as the compelling images of Orang Utans in Borneo and the daily fight for life in the Masai Mara migrations filled the screen, and had the proverbial pin been dropped, it most certainly would have been heard! Some members took the opportunity to purchase Rob’s book (“The Master Photographer, the journey from good to great”, 2017) or responded to the invitation to take part in his ongoing research into deep learning and the activation of unconscious skills. We look forward to being part of that and to future images produced by all!

There is no doubt that the evening will endure in our long term memories and Margot Witcombe warmly thanked Rob for so successfully combining psychology, learning theory and photography in an interesting talk that prompted much discussion. Members will next gather on 15th March to learn the outcomes of the most recent Open Print Competition, and are reminded that the AGM , postponed because of the weather, will now take place on March 29th.

Jenny Short