For 25 years, the international photojournalism festival Visa Pour L’Image has been bringing together people who care deeply about the craft and its responsibility to give voice to the vulnerable and help the world see itself. It’s a responsibility not taken lightly. In honor of this, our Reportage by Getty Images photojournalists took some time to talk about which of their images has had the most significant impact on them over their long and storied careers. What follows is the third installment of the series.
Peter Dench: Make your viewer laugh, think, react
I'm known for my more humorous photographs and believe humour can be an important tool in delivering a serious message.
However, sometimes photography shouldn't be funny, clever or humorous. At times, it just has to document what is.
I was shooting a project on alcohol culture in the UK and had amassed a good number of strong, “laugh out loud” pictures. I was advised by my then-editor, that the work was good, but If I stepped out of my comfort zone, it would be better.
A night on patrol with the Bristol medical rapid response ensued. It was a night of mixed feelings: I didn't want to have wasted my time, and I didn't want anyone to get hurt. After various false alarms, at around 3 a.m., we arrived on the scene of an alcohol-related traffic accident.
It was an uncomfortable and necessary experience in my photographic development.
It showed that if I could disarm the viewer with humour [through my other photos], and then include an image like this, the impact is tenfold. A successful sequence of photographs, for me, is to take the viewer through a range of emotions and allow them to engage with the issue being presented. Make them laugh, make them think, make the react and you have a story.
About Peter Dench
Peter Dench, based in London, works primarily in the editorial, portraiture, video and advertising fields of image making.
He is a keen and astute observer of human nature, and in particular some of the more quirky aspects of life. His distinctive, strong reportage style, predominantly in color, has guaranteed regular commissions from a range of respected national and international publications including, among others: STERN Magazine, TIME, Weekend Guardian, Telegraph Magazine, Newsweek, The New York Times, The Sunday Times Magazine, GEO, Men’s Health, The National, GQ and Tatler.
Dench has achieved a World Press Photo Award in the People in the News Stories category and participated in the World Press Joop Swart Masterclass. Solo exhibitions include “LoveUK” in Cardiff, UK and “England Uncensored” at the 2011 Visa pour l’Image festival of photojournalism in France and the Periscopio festival, Spain. In 2010, Dench placed 2nd in Advertising at the Sony World Photography Awards.
Football’s Hidden Story, a FIFA-sponsored project comprising 26 stories across 20 different countries documenting the positive impact that football has had at grass root level on individuals and communities across the planet, received six global accolades including a World in Focus, AOP Open and PDN Photo Annual Award.
Dench is also contributing editor to the photography and film making magazine Hungry Eye which publishes his monthly column, the often laugh-out-loud, “Dench Diary.” He is also Creative Director at White Cloth Gallery, a film and photography events space in Leeds, UK.
Commercial clients he has worked with include Barclaycard, Barclays Bank, British Heart Foundation, Danish Bacon, FIFA, Suzuki, and Weetabix.
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