Diversity and Inclusion in Photography: A Symposium

Vanley Burke Siffa Sound System, playing the Carnival, Handsworth Park. 1983

Fri, 21 May 2021 09:30am to 5pm | ONLINE | £5 TICKET | BOOK NOW

Diversity and Inclusion in Photography is presented by Bristol Photo Festival in partnership with the RPS and Jennie Ricketts.

The Bristol Photo Festival and the RPS are hosting a one-day online symposium, curated by Jennie Ricketts. Through the work of photographers and those working within photography it explores themes around diversity and inclusion.

In order for Diversity to have real meaning, people of different classes, ethnicity, ability, sexuality should be given equal opportunity for inclusive collaboration. Photography is arguably the most democratic universal language with a broad global reach, so it seems the perfect medium for bringing people together to achieve this. A festival that celebrates both the practice of photography in its many forms, and offers a commitment to change the disparity between one practice or another can only be a positive means of attaining that goal.

This Symposium for the first edition of Bristol Photo Festival sets out to demonstrate such a commitment. It aims to provide some insight on the work and practice of different photographers, highlight the challenges they may have faced and how they overcame them, and finally identify what is needed and how to support them in their practice now and for the future.

Running Order for the Day:

  • From 9.15: Zoom waiting room opens
  • 9:30 – 10:00: Introduction from Tracy Marshall- Grant, Bristol Photo Festival Director handing over to Jennie Ricketts.
  • 10:00 – 11:00: Keynote speaker Vanley Burke


  • 11:15 – 12:15: Joy Gregory in conversation with Jennie Ricketts
  • 12.20 – 1:00: Dexter McLean. Pre-recorded presentation.


  • 2:05 – 3:20 : Dr Shawn Sobers will have conversations with Black photographers Garfield McKenzie from Bristol and Dennis Wiley from Bath
  • 3:25 – 4:05: David Constantine


  • 4:15 – 5:15: Women in photography panel discussion with Joanne Coates, Kirsty MacKay, Fiona Rogers, Max Houghton


The other confirmed speakers include:

The keynote speaker is the renowned Birmingham photographer Vanley Burke. Often described as the ‘Godfather of Black British Photography’, his presentation will be about his 50 year career in the photography industry with particular focus on his 2012 retrospective book and exhibition ‘By the Rivers of Birmingham’.  He will live stream and take questions from the audience.  http://www.vanley.co.uk/

Joy Gregory.  Practicing since the 1980s, Joy will present an abridged summary of her career as a fine art practitioner and academic in the photography industry.  https://www.joygregory.co.uk/.

Dexter McLean.  A photographer with Cerebral Palsy, Dexter will talk about managing his work and practice while living with the condition.  https://www.dextermclean.com/contact.php.

David Constantine.  Co-founder www.motivation.org.uk.  A quadriplegic wheelchair user, David will talk about managing his practice alongside heading a disabled charity and being a motivational speaker. https://www.sittingimages.com/,

Joanne Coates. Founder, Lens Think Yorkshire. Describes herself as a working class documentary storyteller, and will talk about her practice in the rural North of England.  http://www.joannecoates.co.uk/

Kirsty MacKay. Co-founder, The Other Collective.  A Scottish documentary photographer living in Bristol will talk about her practice and work with The Other Collective.  https://www.the-other-collective.com/

Dr Shawn SobersAssociate Professor of Cultural Interdisciplinary Practice at the University of the West of England, Bristol.  Will chair a panel discussion with Black photographers Garfield McKenzie from Bristol and Dennis Wiley from Bath. www.shawnsobers.com

Max Houghton is the Course Leader for MA Photojournalism and Documentary Photography (full-time) at London College of Communication. Max is a writer, editor and curator working with the photographic image as it intersects with politics, law and human rights. Her interdisciplinary doctoral research at UCL focuses on law and the image, and, with David Birkin, she is co-founder of UAL research hub Visible Justice.”

Fiona Rogers is the Director of Photography and Operations for Webber Represents and Webber Gallery. She is the founder of Firecracker, a platform supporting female photographers, and recently authored a book published by Thames & Hudson; Firecrackers: Female Photographers Now, celebrating contemporary women practitioners. She is on the Board of the Martin Parr Foundation and The Peter Marlow Foundation and an advisor to the Royal Photographic Society.