Photo Story | Research | Meetings

MEETINGS is a series of photographs taken by Paul Shambroom, it was published as a book containing 40 coloured photos in September 2004.

Taken between 1999 and 2003, Shambroom says the photos “are part of my long-term investigation of power begun in previous series on nuclear weapons, factories and corporate offices, and currently on homeland security training and preparation.” He would plan road trips so that he could attend over 150 town council and town hall meetings in order to document those that attended.

Shot on a large format camera, the images all have a slightly surreal feel to them. Shambroom has captured the subjects at the right moment, making most of them look incredibly bored, when in fact he says they could be very animated at times.

I found this picture to be particularly strange looking, the depth of field makes it looks as though some of the subjects have been edited into their positions. The clothing worn by people in all of the photos is very stereotypically American looking, I think that even without the context of the American flag etc. people would automatically assume that they were taken in the States.

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Many of the photos have been taken from head on, the subjects are sat around a table with quite a bit of space between them and are placed directly in front of a wall.

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I think that I could take inspiration from Shambroom’s style and use it in my own photo story project. The Saturday morning chanter sessions often just descend into the band members drinking coffee and discussing politics and other things. Therefore I think that they could provide the opportunity to capture moments like this.

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The context provided by the walls in the backgrounds of Shambroom’s images often exaggerate the dull tone he’s trying to create, with very little colour. On his website he explains “These photographs emphasise the theatrical aspects of meetings: There is a “cast”, a “set”, an “audience” (sometimes) and a “program” (the agenda). Seating arrangements, clothing and body language all provide clues to local cultural traits and political dynamics. The subjects play dual roles as private individuals and (sometimes reluctant) public leaders. Power may be relative, but the mayor of a town of 200 has much in common with the President of the United States. We see ourselves reflected (either positively or negatively) in our leaders, exemplifying both the highest ideals and lowest depths of the human spirit. Our reactions to them help define our perceptions of our own place in society, as insiders or outsiders, haves or have-nots”.

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