Spotlight: London Independent Photography

06.11.2020

Founded in 1987, LIP is a not-for-profit photography members group that with over three hundred members, promotes free thinking and active collaboration. This week sees the launch of its annual exhibition and series of talks and lectures and due to C-19 the majority of which has had to move online.

We took some time to talk to them about the exhibition, its membership and how the organisation has evolved over the years.’

LIP was established in 1987 as a movement to support photographers in their career and providing a platform for independent thought and debate. Can you tell us a bit about LIP as a not-for-profit group and its diverse membership?

LIP is not specifically directed towards career development but follows the guidance established in our original constitution “to encourage members’ self-expression using the medium of photography through collaboration (rather than through individual competition) amongst photographers and artists at all levels of experience and expertise”.

That constitution goes on to say that “Membership of LIP is open to any person over the age of 18”. As we embrace all photographers we have in fact a membership with a very diverse ethnic & educational profile as well as including amateur, academic, and professional photographers. As we are inclusive we have not yet felt the need to record specific attributes by members and so cannot provide percentage analyses.

All the executive committee offer their services without renumeration. We do not permit
advertising but agree to promoting other organisations without charge where there is a
clearly recognised mutual benefit. Our financial objectives are to balance expenditure
against income in the long term and we therefore operate on not-for-profit principles.

With such a rich heritage have you seen the membership change over the years and as a group that has come through the analogue / digital evolution, how has this affected the organisation? For instance what would be the percentage of analogue versus digital practitioners and also how many utilise print and darkroom services?

LIP was founded as an informal gathering of like-minded photographers. As you say the membership as a group has come through the evolution of photography. We have not categorised members as analogue or film practitioners.

Our Satellite Groups provide an informal setting to discuss and create a programme of events specific to the needs of that particular group. As the industry changes so too does the needs of the LIP community. Since January 2019, 3 new special interest satellite groups have been created. These initiatives were led by 3 separate members. The Film and Darkroom Satellite Group (F&DSG) provides a platform for interested members to primarily promote the use of film with traditional darkroom printing and its inherent skills. Drawing on the success of the F&DSG, an Alternative Processes Satellite Group has been set up. This group allows for dedicated discussion to photography practices outside the traditional film format. The third recently formed Satellite Group is Photo and Text, this group’s purpose is to look at, share, and discuss texts that accompany and enhance photographs – and vice versa.

Many members have printers at home, some have darkrooms; other members outsource print and darkroom services such as those offered at Metro.

All members are encouraged to actively partake in the many offerings of LIP; the Satellite Groups, a programme of events and talks, the annual exhibition, fLIP and much more; members have multiple platforms to become engaged within LIP.

This week sees the launch of the annual LIP exhibition and talks series, can you tell us more about the timetable and also how Covid-19 has impacted on the delivery of the exhibition and accompanying talks programme?

Yes, of course. LIP Chronicles: Life Under Lockdown opening occurred this past Tuesday. However, the online exhibition went live on November 1st and will be accessible for the next two months via www.lipchronicles.org.uk.

Each Friday of November at 7pm there will be an Artist Talk via Zoom with registration available through Eventbrite, LIP’s website or @lipchronicles. We begin this Friday 6th with ‘A Brexit Conversation’ where Tereza Červenová, Natalia González Acosta and Uta Kögelsberger are joined by Emma Mowat in a presentation of their photographic projects that focus on Brexit. Each photographer is in a different stage of their careers and we bring them together in this talk to discuss Brexit and the way photography can be used to comment on our political and personal views towards Brexit.

On Friday 13th we will continue the programme of talks with Magnum photographer, Chris Steele-Perkins. The evening will encompass from the beginning of his career through to today. He will highlight work from many of his books such as Afghanistan, Fuji, Tokyo Love Hello, The New Londoners, and most his most recent book, The Troubles, which will be published in 2021.

For our third Friday Artist Talk on the 20th, we will be joined by Chris King who will share his work produced on the issue of food waste, and the thinking behind the approach he took. This approved has now informed all his subsequent work and has motivated him to launch Documenting Climate Change, which aims to promote more effective communication on the issue of climate change.

Finally, on Friday 27th, the esteemed selectors of LIP Chronicles: Life Under Lockdown: Carole Evans, D Wiafe, Professor Steve Macleod and Anthony Luvera along with LIP Honorary Member, Paul Hill, will share the bodies of work developed during Lockdown. The presentation will be followed by a Q&A with the audience.

Regarding Covid-19, it is important to mention that the entire exhibition was in fact reinvented due to the pandemic. LIP Chronicles: Life Under Lockdown was initially going to be an adjacent project as part of the 32nd Annual Exhibition. However, we soon decided to completely change our focus and made LIP Chronicles: Life Under Lockdown the main exhibition of 2020. We have been using all the digital tools available in order to remain connected and informed in this new way of living. We believe we have delivered a diverse yet critical exhibition, one that offers an online gallery and an accompanying tabloid publication. This multi-platform exhibition would not have been without Covid-19.

Can you outline what membership of LIP stands for particularly during these challenging times when it is vital to support each other in the creative community. What can any new member can expect from joining such a prestigious organisation?

We feel that LIP offers two particular advantages that are hard to come by elsewhere: the
opportunity to show and discuss work in progress and finished work in a non-competitive
sympathetic environment via our satellite groups. LIP also provides opportunities to have
work in the various exhibitions we organise. Members are also encouraged to submit work
for potential publication in our fLIP magazine. fLIP’s aim is to showcase (primarily)
members’ work and to engage readers in a wider dialogue concerning diverse approaches
to photography. fLIP is free to members and is also sold at The Photographer’s Gallery
and elsewhere.

LIP stands for a committed and collaborative creative community. Any new member can expect an opportunity to join one of our many satellite groups, which presently numbers 11. These groups have been organised by special interest groups or locality.

It’s been a real pleasure to view the varied perspectives on photography that LIP embraces, the support from member to member is incredibly strong and many give their time and advice for free in support of the common good. Where do you see LIP going in regard to direction and membership?

Our committee is aware of the changing needs of our membership. In particular we know that much previously difficult to access technical guidance is now freely available on the internet. We are also aware that the choice of association with other photographic organisations is wider than when we formed. We feel that LIP offers two particular advantages that are hard to come by elsewhere: the opportunity to show and discuss work in progress and finished work in a non-competitive sympathetic environment via our satellite groups. LIP also provides opportunities to have work in the various exhibitions we organise. Members are also encouraged to submit work for potential publication in our fLIP magazine. fLIP’s aim is to showcase (primarily) members’ work and to engage readers in a wider dialogue concerning diverse approaches to photography. fLIP is free to members and is also sold at The Photographer’s Gallery and elsewhere.

Due to Covid we have had to avoid face-to-face contact and follow government guidelines, but we have successfully replicated many of our activities using Zoom and also continue to publish our magazine in a physical form.

We have over 300 members and are seeking to expand that number by improvements in our website ( which accounts for 50% of our new members), by our increased talk programme which further publicises LIP as they are open to non-members, and by beginning a programme of targeting photography departments at academic institutions with the objective of providing a place for students to share their work and ideas once they graduate.

We invite interested individuals who want to learn more about LIP to please visit our website at www.londonphotography.org.uk.