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PhotoForum rose to the forefront of New Zealand photography soon after 1973 when it was founded by a small group of photographers primarily to publish PhotoForum magazine as a record of traditions, trends and commentary, aiming also to generally promote the medium through exhibitions, workshops, and lectures, etc.
PhotoForum magazine, which incorporated New Zealand Photography and its forerunner, Photographic Art & History (edited and published by Bruce Weatherall from May 1970), started out as an ambitious bi-monthly A4 production under John B. Turner’s editorship. That was scaled down to a smaller format with more pages and has since been produced in a variety of formats and frequency, according to the nature of its content and budget.
PhotoForum magazine is now being published at least once a year, often as a book or booklet, and a 12pp members-only magazine, Momento, has been started to expand our publishing programme in the face of rising costs of print productions and the growing dominance (and excitement) of our internet publishing service.
Following landmark issues of PhotoForum, such as The Wanganui (Anne Noble, 1982), and Six Women Photographers (1987), we have also been involved in the publication of significant books reflecting the history and vitality of photography in this country. These include All Good Children: Life in a New Zealand Children’s Health Camp (Terry O’Connor, 1983), the anthology New Zealand Photography from the 1840s to the Present (William Main and John B. Turner, 1993), Four Parts Religion, Six Parts Sin (Harvey Benge, 1993), Eric Lee-Johnson: Artist with a Camera (John B. Turner, 1999); Mutton birds: Part of a Story (Bruce Connew & Dean Tiemi Te Au, 2004); Ans Westra Handboek (2006), and Wellingtonia (Julian Ward, 2006). Our publishing record over the last 33 years has been crucial to the formation of a local canon and essential in helping to make this visible.
PhotoForum also has an impressive record of exhibitions, starting off with the landmark survey ‘The Active Eye’ (1975); and including ‘Open the Shutter: Auckland Photographers’ Now’ (1994); ‘Currency’ (1995); ‘Interface’ (a video exhibition, 1998); ‘Update//The Active Eye’ (2000). This second survey of contemporary NZ photography was presented as an internet only exhibition and can be seen in its entirety on PhotoForum’s website. Our most recent exhibitions, linked to the Auckland Festival of Photography, were ‘Content & Form: Nikki Denholm, Ian Macdonald and Allan McDonald’ (2006), and ‘PhotoForum 33' a members’ show (2007).
While the parent body of PhotoForum Inc was based in Auckland, an independent chapter, PhotoForum /Wellington, was founded in the capital city in 1976. PhotoForum/Wellington ran a succession of temporary galleries with a vigorous exhibition programme, from 1976 to 1983, thereafter concentrating on producing PhotoForum/ Wellington Newsletter and subsequently, the PhotoForum ReView, as modest publications of substance.
Their most ambitious publication and exhibition was Witness to Belgian (1985), featuring the work of documentary photographers John Pascoe, Les Cleveland and Ans Westra, which toured nationally. A thorough account of this group, which closed in 1993, is given in Rear Vision: A history of PhotoForum/Wellington to 1988, by Athol McCredie (1998).
In addition to the workshops it ran for many years in Auckland and Wellington, PhotoForum has hosted workshops and lectures on various themes by a wide range of overseas photographers. Included among them were Cole Weston, Fay Godwin, Richard Misrach, Van Deren Coke, Pavel Banka, Robert Del Tredici, Morrie Camhi, David Hurn, and Bill Jay. Our most recent visitor was the Belgian photojournalist, Bruno Stevens, whose portfolio ‘Fences’ can be seen on our website.
Currently (November 2007), we are starting a new round of lectures by local photographers and commentators, starting with John Lyall, who will talk about his recent work on show at The Digital Darkroom in Mount Eden, Auckland.
Mention must be made of Photoforum’s extensive and growing internet website as a vital adjunct to our print publishing ventures. As you can see, we specialise in showing the work of established and up and coming New Zealand photographers. Through our updated news service, special features, and links, we aim to put you in touch with much of the finest work being done around the world.
Members of PhotoForum Inc (NZ) have available a separate exhibition space for their portfolios or essays, and we are regularly updating our picture and feature files as an important resource for the study of New Zealand photography and photographers by a multitude of users.
Increasingly, as our site gets better known, we aim to provide the platform for a high level forum in which serious issues about all aspects of photography can be discussed, and specific work commented on.
We invite you to join in now, to comment on items we have published and to raise issues that are important to you. With your active involvement we hope to make this forum increasingly relevant to the needs of serious photographic practitioners and the growing audience for our work.
John B. Turner,