Brian Steptoe joined the Royal Photographic Society in the early 1980s. He gained a Licentiate in 1983, an Associate soon after and his Fellowship in 1988. He is an active Bracknell Camera Club member. Brian became very aware of the sameness in content and style of most club-based photography and became less than satisfied about this since the early 1990s. His own photography turned to working on defined projects and sets of work. His assessment of photographs has always been biased to looking for meaning and purpose in images rather than seeking the ‘wow’ factor.
Brian became a founder member of the RPS Contemporary Group in 1989. He was invited to join the RPS Contemporary Associateship and Fellowship distinctions assessment panel under the chairmanship of Paul Hill and later took over as chairman of that panel for several years from 1997. He was appointed Deputy Chairman of the panel in 2010.
Brian has been active in proposing revisions to the RPS Contemporary Associateship and Fellowship assessment criteria since 2001. In order to support his case, he made visits to many photographic college BA and MA degree shows in the summer of 2003. These changes, which mainly relate to various alternative forms for presentation of panels of work, are now an accepted part of the RPS distinctions submission process.
He was awarded the Fenton Medal and Honorary Membership of the Royal Photographic Society in October 2007 based on his contributions to the Society outlined above.
Brian has been involved with publications and publicity about the vintage funfair scene since 1994. He undertakes publicity photography for the Carters Steam Fair. He has established links with other experts on fairground history, culture and restoration in Europe, the USA and Australia. He has published six books featuring his photographic work in this area and has been commissioned to write, design, undertake photography and supply images for museums, showmen, books and calendars.
His most recent projects include a set of work entitled ‘Olympic Blue’, about the first phase of construction of the London 2012 Olympic site, from early 2007 to mid-2008, which had its first showing at the RPS in Bath in November 2008. He completed working with others on a group project exhibition and book on the theme of ‘Britishness’ in October 2009.
During 2010 he has been mentoring and curating a group of photographers working on a project about the theme of Human Response to factors outside our control, exhibited at South Hill Park Arts Centre in the autumn of 2010.
During 2011 and 2012 he worked on a personal project about the award-winning Grays Farm, Wokingham, a Pick-Your-Own soft fruit farm and farm shop. A selection of images and video clips now form a slide show in the farm shop during the open season. A large format book on the project has been published as an on-demand Blurb book.
Two further projects led to the publication of a study of how Wokingham town centre High Streets stand in relation to the High Street issues covered in the Mary Portas report to government, published as HIGH STREET 'Work in Progress' in 2013, followed by Postcode Boundaries, a perambulation of the boundaries of RG40, published as a Blurb book in 2014.
Brian undertook the planning and organisation of the first photobook exhibition of the Royal Photographic Society, in conjunction with colleague Rod Fry ARPS during 2013 and 2014. He attended numerous photobook events and added international award-winning and short-listed photobooks to his personal collection, gaining experience on this genre of photography. The RPS exhibition took place during November 2014 in Bath, with the winning, runners-up and other commended books being selected by photobook authority Gerry Badger.
He has been the designer on the team producing the quarterly publication of Contemporary Photography, the journal of the Contemporary Group of the RPS for a number of years.