Archiving Community Storytelling: Challenges and Opportunities

A week or so ago I attended a seminar hosted by Digital Commonwealth at the University of the West of Scotland, in Paisley, near Glasgow. The seminar, a one day event, was on the topic of Archiving Community Storytelling: Challenges and Opportunities.

The event was an opportunity for practitioners, academics and activists to explore the issues, opportunities and challenges of archiving community-based storytelling in the digital age.


Presentations included Eilidh MacGlone (National Library of Scotland) presentating on “Archiving Digital Artefacts: Policy and Practice”, Tamar Millen‘s (Community Media Association) presentation on “Community media archiving in a research context”, Sara Thomas‘ (Wikimedian in Residence at Museums Galleries Scotland) presentation on ‘Reducing barriers to accessing open knowledge’, and more.

As a photographer, and through my work with my colleagues in Document Scotland, this was of course a topic of interest as we deal every day with concepts and implications of digital asset management, of metadata, keywording, and archiving photographs. How do we manage digital data in our long term projects? How do we archive usefully and sensibly in order that it will benefit future generations? Do we archive everything, or selectively edit and archive the edit only, and who does the editing, the artists or the community he/she is working with or documenting? There were many points brought up for discussion, with much to contemplate and take from the day’s seminar as I move forward on my projects.



I think the key point for me for the day was the very line that on our projects now, with the amount of digital data that we amass – images, audio and movie files, that archiving has to be considered and built into the project from the very outset. There has to be a workflow for managing it, cataloging it, maintaining it, and an expectation and plan for the archiving of it – from the very beginning.


Jennifer Jones, one of the organisers and hosts, has very usefully collated Tweets, links and presentations into a Storify page and I link it here (Archiving Community Storytelling: Challenges and Opportunities) as it contains information and links which may be of interest and use to those who grapple with and contemplate the above issues. Many thanks Jennifer and Professor David McGillivray for hosting the event and making it all possible.


f8 and be there.

As the old saying goes “f8 and be there”.

The online photogrpahy magazine f8Mag has very kindly donated 16 pages worth of their pixels to my work and a short interview with me about it. You can check out their wesbite and download the magazine at f8Mag.

Here’s one of my pics on the cover, good ol’ Shoko Tendo (author of Yakuza Moon), and a taster of some of the spreads of my work from inside the magazine. There is also good work by other photographers Thomas Pickard, Jon Michael Anzalone and others. Please check it out if you have some time.


Photographer in transit.

Those nice folks over at TRANSIT magazine, here in sunny Tokyo, contacted me recently wanting to post some of my photographs from Tokyo assignments, and personal work, on their website. Who was I too complain ? We had a quick chat in their office, looked at photos, I talked of my Japan assignment life, shooting portraits, editorial stories, features for magazines and all the rest…. and showed a variety of work, and we settled on a few…and this link will take you to them, me, a photographer in Transit.

Here is one of them, from my photographic Port of Call series, an ongoing, on the seas, kind of set of images…

Sunday Morning.

I found myself thinking this week about being a photographer in Tokyo and sense of communities. All started with a visit last Sunday to Zen Foto Gallery, in Shibuya, for one of their every so often ‘Gaifos’ nights, (that as in ‘Gaijin Photographers’ nights, gaijin meaning non-Japanese). Mark at Zen kindly initiated these evenings, to get non-Japanese photographers working in Tokyo, Japan, to hang out, to show work, to communicate, to debate images, and to use his gallery space as a place to create a small sense of community.
I whole heartedly support this type of thing as much as I can. It can be lonely out there on Freelance Street, working by yourself, marketing by yourself, invoicing by yourself, sending reminder invoices by yourself. It’s important to meet other photographers, see new work, talk over work and problems, thoughts on the industry, keep everyone positive and inspired. So I’m all for these Gaifos nights at Zen, everyone packs into the small gallery space, red wine and nachos.

This last get together was enjoyable. There was good work shown by those who were present, some good comments, but also there a great show on the walls to see Han Chao’s exhibition called, and this I think is a great title, “Rhapsody for my Wretched Little Universe”. A young gay guy in China photographing his family, his friends, lovers and life. A good set of work, worth seeing if you have the chance, although it only runs for another few days I think.

Amongst the people who put down their wine, and stood up in the crowd showing work that night at Zen was Takasahi Arai and his subtle but beautiful daguerreotype photographs. Yep, in this day and age of digital, it is inspiring to know there is still someone out there polishing silver plates, shooting one image with exposure times of seconds, making one off images. Not digital pixel noise that so surrounds us these days.

Nick Vroman also showed some work that he and his wife shoot, a bit more conceptual than a lot that was shown that night, which was a lot of photojournalistic type stuff. (You can see it here, Tokyo Macro/Micro). Nick works quietly it seems, shooting the details in life, the patches of light and colour, the placing of gaudy travel posters against subtle shutterngs of Tokyo streets. I enjoyed his work, so much so that on discovering we are, by Tokyo terms, close neighbours we decided to continue the photo chat a few days later over coffee elsewhere. Nick has a myriad of blogs, Circadium daily photo blog, portfolio blog (which I recommend) and various others where he writes.

Away from Zen Foto, there was also socialising with another photographer, Findlay Kember from Delhi, who was passing through Tokyo, and today Tokyo photographer Yasuhiro Ogawa is passing by to scan some new work. Jeez, more socializing than I’ve done in ages. I may have to sit down.

And then, last but not least, I decided to open a Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert Facebook page for my- to paraphrase Han Chao, for my wretched little universe. So, if you fancy being part of an online community where I’ll post my usual witterings, ramblings, some images, some videos, debate etc, then please if you’re into Facebook then please come along and click the ‘Like’ button. I appreciate not everyone is into Facebook et al, but it’d be good to see some of you there. Thanks.