The Queen looks grumpy, Andy Murray looks sated and that man about to deliver economic news looks like he’s trying to look confident. Welcome to another press awards exhibition albeit one that sets the bar for quality high and by being sited in the rotunda at the Museum of London one that manages to make you feel that there are moments like this happening all around. Now.
It’s Mark Stewart’s shot of the Queen that’s been used in all the promotional material I’ve seen. The downturned lips almost look like some kind of sadface photoshop. The unseen grey sky and the look of everyone’s granny make it as British as HP sauce on a sausage sandwich. It’s tremendous. And there are plenty of other fun ones like it too. As well as sporty ones (Murray, a mix up at the stumps in an international, Arsenal celebrating). And the more serious ones too – although there is nothing too bloodthirsty as this is very much an outdoors public display anyone can see. There is a photo essay of Syrian fighters though which makes for very uncomfortable viewing.
The exhibition reminds you just how much quality news and reportage photography there is these days. At a time when we can feel swamped by selfies on the one hand and lectured by conceptual art photography on the other being able to take time to look at these decisive moments is a reminder that one of photography’s strengths is its ability to find these split second moments of ‘truth’ – and to make us as viewers question all the more whilst doing it.