Jim Stephenson’s Miniclick talks have become the cornerstone of the Brighton photographic community, bringing in the best local photographers like Luca Sage and Ewen Spencer, and snappers from further away like Maja Daniels and Chris Floyd, to talk about their work. Jim tells us about Miniclick’s Photo Fringe events, including the Pecha Kucha night he’s doing with SOURCE, and how photo talks don’t need to be about cameras.
Miniclick has grown so quickly – is it what you wanted it to be?
I honestly didn’t have a plan when I first started. It was only really about a year ago that I started to think, actually this is starting to become something, It’s getting a bit bigger than just these fun talks that we do in a café. It’s become a bit of a centre for photography in Brighton. I really like the social aspect of it, that people stay for drinks afterwards without putting a camera on the table or anything like that.
People still do occasionally ask gear-related questions but it’s not really about the craft of photography, it’s about the content, right?
Exactly. Part of the reason we started the talks is because I think the internet is a terrible place to look at photography generally. I mean it serves a purpose and that’s probably how I view most of the photography I look at. But it doesn’t give you any context.
It seems like quite a lot of work, and you don’t earn anything out of it, so what makes you do it?
I think people reckon it’s more work than it actually is. I’m quite surprised that it isn’t already happening everywhere in the country because all I really do is email a photographer whose work I see that I like. The Fringe has been a lot of graft because we’re doing ten events in six weeks. But generally it’s not that much work and I get to see, you know, a free photography talk.
What have you got going on for the Photo Fringe?
Me and Lou have worked really hard to just get a good line-up, so we’ve got about 30 different photographers that we’re working with. We’ve got Simon Roberts doing a talk, Laura Pannack, Aaron Schumann, Phoot Camp, Maciej Dakowicz and Peter Dench, plus workshops… I’d like to do it once a year really. Part of the reason why we’re doing so much for the Fringe is that I wanted to do a festival of photography anyway, so we might carry this on next year and make it annual.
So what do you think of the Biennial and the Fringe?
There’s a few things in the Biennial that I’m very excited about, Jason Larkin for example, but I think the Fringe is going to appeal to me more this year. The Fringe is fortunate because it doesn’t really have any responsibilities, so I tend to find it a little bit more exciting. But to have that focus on Brighton, that’s what’s really exciting. We’ve got all these amazing photographers that are all based here – like Ewen Spencer, Simon Roberts, Simon Norfolk and Lisa Barnard – who are internationally known, but perhaps Brighton isn’t as internationally known itself. We just need to show off as much as we can and say, “Look we’re killing it down here and we’re doing amazing stuff.”
Do you want explain the Pecha Kucha event that you’re doing with SOURCE?
The Pecha Kucha format was invented in Japan and it’s a way of presenting in a succinct manner, so each presenter gets 20 slides and 20 seconds on each slide. You go away with this bombardment of ideas that’s really exciting and they tend to be quite informal and a bit of a laugh. We’ve got 16 photographers who are going to blow people away. It’s gonna be fantastic. It’s just a really unbelievable line up. I really doubt that there’s ever been an event that isn’t at Perpignan or Arles that’s had such a concentration of pleasing photographers in one place
Do you need to know anything about photography?
No, absolutely not. The whole idea behind the talks is that they’re free and accessible. We’re not talking about cameras, we’re not talking about the technical aspect, we’re talking about ideas.