Category Archives: 4: Sustainable Prospects

Module 4: Sustainable Prospects

Work in Progress – Sustainable Prospects – Assignment

During the period September 2017 to December 2017 I have focused on one aspect of my Final Project Tilbury to Harwich and Journey along the coastline of Essex which are the four piers at Southend-onSea, Clacton-on-Sea, Walton and Harwich. The work combines physical process of exploration alongside the mental and emotional processes of understand of the visual artifice that surrounds us. This micro-project within the broader body of work is titled “Piers – Points of Departure” each pier representing a potential set of decisions that relate to the resolution of my project and more broadly how I now intend to develop my practice. I am not the only photographer to have undertaken a body of work that focuses on our relationship with the leisure piers on the UK coast. Probably the best-known work on the subject is by Simon Roberts which was published as a book Pierdom in 2013. His artist statement associated with the work describes the historical importance of piers and their zenith in the Victorian era for a gradual decline that has now started to reverse with a renewed interest in piers as historical and architectural objects. Most notably the recent the critically acclaimed work to restore Hastings Pier (Architecture.com, 2017) on the Sussex coast has won multiple RIBA awards.

Hasting Pier, Alex de Rijke

The coastline represents a physical border between land and sea which is not fixed due to movement caused by factors such as tidal erosion. The recent decision to leave Europe has resulted in renewed interest in boundaries and borders and my journey along part of it maybe reflect the importance of that topic to the people of Essex who were in favour of leaving Europe caused triggered by subjects such as immigration.

Piers before they became places to spend leisure time where key points of entry and departure on the coast. They are perpendicular to the coastline extending significant distances into the fluid unformed water. This is especially true of the pier at Southend-on-Sea which is 7,080ft long.

Southend-on-Sea Pier, September 2017

During the Victorian era, they became a place for gentle perambulation in the body of work I have captured and image for each pier that invites the readers gaze to visually walk along the pier.

As mentioned earlier piers have existed for hundreds of years to allow the embarkation and disembarkation of goods and people which has resulted in the need for strong superstructures to with stand the motion of the sea and the winter storms that sometimes occur and the work examines the different structures.

Southend-on-Sea Pier, September 2017

The decks of all the piers are made of wood that ages with time and over the years they have become marked by the footsteps of people walking along the pier and the environmental elements. The wood capturing a trace of those events.

Southend-on-Sea Pier, September 2017

I explored using a non-lens based process of reproduction namely taking rubbings. The resulting impressions reminded me of the surface of the water that surrounds the piers at high tide allowing land and sea to merge harmoniously together.

Impression, Walton Pier, October 2017

The pier is a permanent structure but our habitation of the pier is only temporary so we must depart into heading towards our tomorrow.

The CRJ reduced size version of my work in progress portfolio for Sustainable Prospects is attached.

[pdf-embedder url=”http://fineart.photography/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/WIP-Sustainable-Prospects-Simon-Fremont-CRJ.pdf” title=”WIP – Sustainable Prospects – Simon Fremont”]

 

References

  • Architecture.com. (2017). Hastings Pier. [online] Available at: https://www.architecture.com/awards-and-competitions-landing-page/awards/riba-regional-awards/riba-south-east-award-winners/2017/hastings-pier [Accessed 13 Dec. 2017].

Oral Presentation – Sustainable Prospects – Assignment

My Oral Presentation for the Sustainable Prospects module explores my practice in relation to the subjects covered in the module and contextualises the work created for the MA during the time period September 2017 to December 2017.

 

References

  • Clark, E. (2010). Guantanamo. Stockport: Dewi Lewis.
  • Martins, E. (2017). Home – edgar martins. [online] Available at: http://edgarmartins.com [Accessed 12 Dec. 2017].
  • Orton, J. and Worpole, K. (2005). 350 miles. [Place of publication not identified]: ExDRA.
  • Power, M. (2002). The Treasury Project. Maidstone, Kent, UK: Photoworks.
  • Roberts, S. (2013). Pierdom. Verona, Italy: Dewi Lewis Publishing.

Amy Simmons Treatment – Activity

Amy Simmons set the following treatment brief:

“This is for a European department store who is trying to break into the UK market, so that’s the client that you need to have in mind. The target market is UK shoppers, any gender aged 20 – 30. The brief itself is a campaign about how people have intimate and personal relationships with inanimate objects. You should focus on an item of your choosing within the treatment. It can be clothing, a book, a piece of art, food, electronic item, basically, anything that someone might purchase in a department store.”

Formats: this is a key point. The brief is just for one asset, so one shot, but it will be for a social media post. As I talked about earlier, please be aware in your treatment and maybe discuss how this image is going to work for the square crop for Instagram, the portrait crop for Snapchat, and the landscape crop for Facebook.

I considered many potential products someone might buy from a department store and many department stores have fragrance counters near the entrance. I considered good from other departments as potential hero objects for this treatment in the end I settled on using a fragrance as the hero. This decision was taken for practical reasons as the creative process could be realised without significant support team and production activities.

The image below is the square format version of the treatment. with the background being extended horizontally or vertically for the facebook and snapchat formats.  

Instagram Version

Once I had created this treatment I did consider if in fact if it was really an appropriate image to launch a European department store in the UK as the product I selected is available in existing UK department stores. I did spend some time research the site of on-line French store La Redoute(Laredoute.co.uk, 2017) and given more time I might have selected products from their catalogue to act as the hero for my treatment.

Reference

  • Laredoute.co.uk. (2017). La Redoute, French Style Made Easy. [online] Available at: http://www.laredoute.co.uk/ [Accessed 14 Dec. 2017].

 

Art and Commerce – Reflection

During this reflection I cover the following topics

  • Amy Simmons – Challenge
  • Felicity McCabe Talk

Unfortunately due to work commitments I was not able to attend the live Q&A Session with Amy Simmons however I did work on the treatment challenge and I created a CRJ entry for the treatment. I considered a number of different items that someone in their 20s – 30s might buy from a department store. After considering many different options from electrical goods and home furnishings I decided to go with a perfume as a product as the one thing photography is unable to convey isa sense of smell and in advertising perfume the images have to encourage us to want to wear something that is intangible within the image however perfume manufacturers are spending large sums of money to create elaborate stories behind the fragrance yet I decided to go in the opposite direction with a parred back simplistic image.

The final topic for reflection during this week was the talk by Felicity McCabe on her photographic journey to date. Similar to other talks I have attended I will only focus on aspects that I felt have relevance to my own practice or other contemporary photographers. I would overall tend to agree with the position Felicity takes though we might explore different and sometimes diverse subjects through commercial and personal projects they all emanate from the same place, our imagination therefore are part of one contiguous thread even though others might like us to split the work into distinct bodies of work. During the development of work we may revisit the same subject multiple times from different perspectives. I have revisited to topic of creating motion within the still frame within a number of projects over a few years.

Dancer in Motion, May 2014
Twin Dancer, June 2015
Gymnast, May 2016

Each of the images were over a 3 year period but all explore motion within the single image and the middle was published in 2016 in Professional Photographer along with an article I wrote for the publication.

Similar to Felicity’s work on flowers that had been spray painted or placed in an oven I have also experimented with applying different treatments to flowers.

Tears on a Rose, March 2016
Tears on a Tulip, March 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These images were part of an experiment to grow ice crystals on planets for a frozen world concept however the water applied to the flowers before freezing created frozen water balls rather than the crystal structures I had wanted. The experiment did create some interesting images a gave me an indication of the time period I could work before the small ice crystals started to melt.

Felicity talked about her project of shooting ex-dates to create her portfolio of male images I was interested in the way she describe her sitters as scalps which is a role reversal from the tradition of the male photographer’s gaze on the female sitter. This description was in stark contrast to the way Simon Frederick describes his interaction with his sitters where he very much views them as collaborators in his recent PhotoLondonTalk.

When felicity was discussing influences especially visual reference to non-photographer sources such as paintings I again contain recognise a similar set of influences in my own work. The image below is stylistically similar to the work of Caravaggio with the crushed blacks and the use of vivid reds. 

Girl with Roses, November 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The talk also made me reflect on how I would deliver a presentation on my photographic progression over the last few decades and where I will head next on that journey. Especially as my current work is very different from the images that I have used to illustrate points of comparison between the work discussed by Felicity and my own practice.

 

Lens Culture – Review

During November I submitted some of my work for Exhibition at a New York gallery which included receiving a review of the submitted portfolio.

Their feedback on the body of work in included below:

Dear Simon,

Thank you very much for sharing your work. I’ve had some time to look at and assess your imagery, and I wish to offer you my feedback.

The aspect I like the most in your work is the precision with which you photograph this abandoned Sandford Mill a water treatment plant.

On the whole, each image is interesting and well composed.

I will try to answer your main questions:

Question 1: How would this project be perceived by an audience outside of the locale of the original story.

I resequenced some your photos to give your story a bit more impact and a better flow.

Your strongest photos are from #1 to #14. I started with image #1 which is really spectacular and gives a feeling of the machines and space of this Master Control Panel. and Then I basically put the Laboratory, and then after these broader shots, I tried to put one nice still like in the # 3. end, paying attention to the colour scheme. SO Image # 4 has a nice perspective, followed by # 5 and #6 which are great stills. ANd then another larger view in #7, followed by a still in # 8, etc… I ended on image #14 of the areal view of the plant.

Your weakest photos are the ones which are more generic to an abandoned factory and not as precise in their focus from image # 15 to # 18. They are not as well composed or focused on your point of view. I would replace them in your final portfolio. I would replace them with the following: I would perhaps insert a photo of the front of the plant, the entrance, as well as some details of the windows., a logo, or the name of the plant if it still there somewhere.

Question 2: The project is a resolved body of work, however, I am in discussion with the owners of the site to record the redevelopment of the site into a new future.

I think that would make a great follow-up to this body of work. It would show the evolution of the 50’to nowadays. Perhaps it could tell a bigger story. We would like to know: why was this plant abandoned? Did people leave this community and Why? IS the redevelopment a sign that the community is reviving?

I would suggest that you put this project within a larger sociological and economic vision of your area, in your home county of Essex, UK. It would make the story more relevant to a wider audience. Perhaps you could do a book, with the plant of the 50’s and the new redevelopment.

Question 3: I am looking for guidance and advice on the market my practice and engage with a broader audience.

In order to get noticed and recognized, I would advise you build one body of work in your home county of Essex, UK. This is what you are doing. But you need to focus a bit more on the general problems and especially re-contextualize the work as mentioned in the previous paragraph.

Here are the suggestions I would make:

Give better captions. Explain to use really what these machines did. Daphné Anglès, Picture Editor, The New York Times, Paris, France says: “A good text with the pictures is short, concise, to the point, informed, descriptive. I find it helps to imagine you are speaking to a smart child who would rather be outside playing with friends: you have very little time to tell the story and explain WHY it matters. The same holds true for captions. 1st sentence: describe the image. 2nd sentence: why and how this image fits into the body of work.”

Look at the work of Taryn Simon who catalogues and documents objects in a great way.

Also get inspired by this body of work: Governors Island By Lisa Kereszi & Andrew Moore: Detroit. See how these photographs framed their project so that they could express a bigger sociological and economic shift.

Look at The New York Times Lens blog for documentary and photojournalism stories. Good examples of photographers’ own statements and captions.

I would spend some time focusing on your writings. While you are first and foremost a visual artist, being able to discuss your work is an invaluable skill. Words help a gallery be able to articulate who you are as an artist as well as the ideas your images convey.

I think that Biographical Statement (Background) should be different and longer. The background should be a written paragraph on who you are as an artist. What motivates you? Excites you?

The Artist Statement is more of a discussion of this specific series. What we are seeing, how we should engage with the work, and what you want us to take away from the series. Avoid making too many generalizations, that is not necessarily related to the body of work we are reviewing. As an example, this phrase is too vague: ‘ Simon is comfortable with this paradox of place and his work has developed a rhythm of the waves that are cyclical yet never repeated. It is a nice phrase but too vague.

When broken out, these statements combine to give us a clearer picture of you, your ideas and your artistry. Addressing these issues will open up exhibition and publishing opportunities for your work and provide added value for curators and collectors.

Once you have 15-20 of these images re-edited, and recontextualized, you could consider attending some of the portfolio reviews and resubmitting to competitions in the list below. Reviews and festivals are excellent places to meet a network of professionals and peers that can really help you grow.

Going forward, you capture the soulfulness of an abandoned plant, as so many are in so many of our industrial countries, which re-contextualized could have a universal appeal.

Thank you again for giving me the opportunity to see your images. I wish you the best in your creative endeavours.

Additional Recommendations

Recommended Books & Photographers

Robert Polidori

Governors Island By Lisa Kereszi & Andrew Moore Andrew Moore: detroit

Taryn Simon

Photo Competitions

LensCulture Exposure Awards

Other Resources

New York Times Lens blog for documentary and photojournalism stories. Good examples of photographers’ own statements and captions.

Relevant Quotes from Past Jurors

“What separates a good photo from a great photo is a feeling somewhere between what I feel physically and what I would call an ‘aesthetic experience.’ It’s almost like the beginning of a love affair, you are just drawn to the image, you are lifted off your feet, you are moved. You just have to have it. You want to ask them to dance.” — Sarah Leen, Director of Photography, National Geographic, Washington, DC, USA

“If you’ve created a series of images, think of them as a story. Choose a very strong image to start off the series to make a powerful first impression.” — Jim Casper, Editor & Publisher of LensCulture

“Every image should contribute something fresh and new to the series and help add character to the submission. A strong submission can be as few as 5 images, or as many as 10 or 15 or more.” — Jim Casper, Editor & Publisher of LensCulture

“I am interested in pictures that educate the viewer about a topic. I’m drawn to sociopolitical landscapes or personal human dramas that can be viewed in a wider context beyond the depicted subject, as well as art that pushes the boundaries of traditional photography.” — Natasha Egan, Executive Director, Museum of Contemporary Photography, Columbia College, Chicago, IL, USA

My own Reflection

Having read the review my feeling is the feedback is a positive with confirmation of the direction I have taken with this body of work and the one that I have developed for submission in the current module.

Of the images in this body of work they considered as strong 6 of those were images that were part of the London Photo Show exhibition for October which  were images 1, 3, 7, 8, 9 and 10. The remaining two images I selected for the show were 16 and 17.

There was positive feedback on the suggestion of following the redevelopment of the site which is now something that is in track to progress with the idea of creating a book which was also a suggestion from Mark Power’s review of the work

The other recommendation of shooting work focused on Essex again remains very much consistent with the direction of development within my practice.

I continue to use the mix of large scale and detail images alternating as I progress in my current body of work though I have introduced a new technique to explore the relationship between the piers and the sea that surrounds them.

 

Photography and its Fine Art Markets – Reflection

This week my reflection covers two items:

  • Harwich Pier Revisited – Shoot
  • The Talk between Francesca Genovese and Anna on Francesca Meffeo Gallery

Based on feedback from last week’s portfolio review I decided to revisit Harwich Pier to shoot new work that would align the narrative of the pier more closely to the other piers. I decided to visit the pier early in the morning to reduce the number of people on the pier as Harwich pier is the shortest of the 4 piers. Arriving at the pier I discovered the decking covered in frost so I abandoned the decision to take rubbings from the surface however the surface forest provided me with a new means of capturing the trace of people walking along the pier which was an unexpected bonus. During the time at the pier I managed to capture the required images and left confident that I now knew how these new images would complement the images already identified for inclusion in my work in progress.

In the short term, I intend to continue to operate my practice in parallel with my current employment focusing primarily on personal projects that will result in production of Limited Edition Prints and Photobooks. When I look at the different aspects of my practice my assessment is that I have the ability to identify potential personal project subjects and the technical skills to execute on those projects. These are well established due to my natural tendency  experiment and evolve these will continue to develop within my practice.

Through exhibiting my work at two shows over the last couple of years I have found a printer who can deliver physical prints to my standards plus they are willing to experiment alongside me as I look to push the boundaries of what is possible when delivering art. This included the creation of multi layered light boxes earlier this year when exploring potential presentation solutions for my final project.

For my fine art practice the missing piece of the jigsaw puzzle is the channels for distribution to potential clients. I intend to introduce a self-distribution channel using digital direct sales approach though to be truly effective I believe I need to engage with a gallery / agent to create a physical distribution channel after all the intention is for my work to be resolved in a tangible form a print or book rather than remain in a digital form.

To this end I have started to develop contacts with a couple of London based galleries though they represent artists producing work like my practice those artists are established unlikely myself who falls into the emerging or undiscovered classification so the talk between Francesca and Anna is very timely in terms of my development of distribution and sales aspect of my practice.

Francesca’s gallery representing contemporary photographers emerging and established is in Essex which places geographically at the heart of my primary subject matter.

The dialogue provided me with confirmation on feedback from Gallerists Chris Littlewood (Flowers Gallery) and Hannah Watson (T J Boulting) that when approaching galleries be clear on why you have selected the specific gallery to represent you. To that end over the last few months I have been working on the types of materials I need when approaching a gallery. In terms of initial contact I now have produced and artist statement and a pdf version of sample images from different bodies of work. I am now able to put a covering email around that material to explain why I feel it would be beneficial to establish a relationship between myself and a specific gallery.

One area the talk highlighted was the need to refine my gallery selection process to ensure I would complement existing represented artists rather being a facsimile for another artist. That is another reason that Flowers Gallery might not be a good gallery for me because my work has too many parallels to their existing artists Edmund Clark and Nadav Kander.

Francesca confirmed that my current strategy on editions where I plan to sell work as editions of 5 plus 2 artists proofs is consistent with contemporaries in the art market.

In preparation for meetings with different gallerists I have decided to invest in a new portfolio book which is A3 landscape and will hold up to 40 images which is probably more than sufficient for meetings with gallery owners.

Francesca talk about the important of building a relationship and that the speed that the relationship develops depends upon the artist which makes sense from my perspective. I think that over the last year I have compiled the raw components of a fine art practice (my intended outcome) though help through portfolio reviews and developing a relationship with a gallery could help me achieve my stated objectives.

Who Buys Photography Part 2 – Reflection

For this week’s reflection I will look back on the following items:

  • Amy Simmons Presentation
  • Portfolio Refresh – Activity
  • PhotoLondon Simon Frederick Talk
  • Filter House Follow-on Meeting
  • Southend Pier Shoot
  • Draft WIP Portfolio Review

Looking back at the week you get a strong feeling of undertaking a commercial job involves many different people and is not just a photographer taking pictures.

Amy Simmons walked us through the different roles steps that are involved in commissioning and executing a commercial photographic assignment. Understanding the different roles is important if I wish take my practice into the commercial photographic arena. Having create a strong portfolio is walking that workaround the art buyers and art producers who are an entry point for photographers. This was something Simon Frederick discussed during his PhotoLondon Talk and the fact if you want to get into the commercial arena it is important to differentiate yourself from other photographers if you want to get on to the short list of art buyers. Though the London advertising market is large but there are many strong photographers competing for work, therefore it might be better build relationships with art buyers in smaller markets to establish a relationship and add commercial work to my portfolio.

Since 2007 I have owned the domain name simonfremont.com which I have used as a platform for sharing some of my photographic work. At the start of this module I started to refresh the site in terms of design and layout as the site has not undergone any major changes for 3 years as the site is the permanent online present for my practice. When making decision decisions I looked at the website of contemporary photographers (discussed in more detail in a CRJ.)

Once you have been awarded a commission the work starts as you need to manage the different people who might be on set. I have developed a workflow where I can tether my camera and share the images via a local wireless network and tablets which minimises the number of people that need to be on set. It means that in a world of tight budgets help keep the budget by allowing art directors and clients to review the images remotely but still provide timely feedback to ensure the required images are delivered to meet the brief.

Simon Frederick shared his 3 H’s formula for successful execution of a brief which I will look to incorporate into my own photographic workflow.

Following up on the advice of Mark Power to follow the Filter House story to the next phase through contacts and Chelmsford Museum I arranged a meeting with the people behind the redevelopment of the Filter House that represent the Boat Trust and Sea Scouts. I decided to take a portfolio of images to show them the type of work I had already produced around the Filter House to help make an impact I decided to take a set of A2 prints in an A2 portfolio folder. I explained the concept behind the images and they were really impressed with the quality of the imagery created as they had only been able to see the building in its bordered up state.

Based on the advice of Mark Power I asked if I could be granted exclusive access to record the redevelopment of the site and in return I will provide them with a set of images that they can use for sharing with partner organisations who will help fund the redevelopment. They walked me through their plans for the building which include an exhibition space which hopefully will provide a permenant home for some of my Filter House images as they want to retain as many of the original features in the building as possible. This could lead to a potential further collaboration on management of the art exhibition space.

The unexpected outcome of the conversation was two offers: First to get access to a Steam Tug which is moored at Maldon Quay and is currently undergoing restoration and secondly being given access to the Chelmsford Sea Scouts photographic archive which could provide me with a new photographic project as the archive dates back over multiple decades.

During the week I made a second visit to Southend-on-Sea Pier to shoot additional images for this module’s WIP creating my first set of rubbing images for the pier. This week I was still undecided on the title for the WIP portfolio but an image I shot of the steps at the end of the pier provided me with the missing element that allowed me to settle on the title “Piers – Points of Departure”  the image below felt like a resolved point of departure.

Departure Point – Southend-on-Sea Pier, November 2017

During this week’s webinar we discussed our draft WIP portfolios. I decided to create a draft portfolio from my picks from the different Pier shoots. My draft portfolio was 25 images and included images from the different themes I had explored during the the different visits: The pier from a promenaders point of view; The superstructure of the pier from below the pier, health of the planks that make up the pier, signifiers of people that used to visit the pier and  rubbings from the pier decks. The feedback was positive and helped me refine themes that would inform the final portfolio for the module.

 

Harwich Pier Revisited – Project

Location:

Harwich Pier

Intent:

The intent of the shoot was to revisit Harwich Pier and capture additional images to broaden the selection of Harwich Pier images for consideration in the final WIP selection. A priority was to capture landscape images of the deck of the pier plus some rubbing images that were not created during the first visit.

Equipment Used:

Selected Canon 5DS and 24-70mm f2.8 for lens based image creation and for the non-lens based image making was done using black art paper and silver crayons.

Methodology:

The methodology adopted was the same as previous pier shoots where I started by shooting close up images of the superstructure in portrait format then establishing images of the promenade desk. Walking the length of the promenade allowed me to identify interesting surfaces that I identified for non-lens based reproduction.

Images:

[pdf-embedder url=”http://fineart.photography/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Harwich-Pier-Revisted.pdf” title=”Harwich Pier – Revisted”]

Research References:

No new research activities where conducted for the pier. The techniques used for the earlier shoots were refined during the shoot including taking rubbings of other parts of the pier and surrounding area.

Assessment of Outcome:

For this visit to Harwich pier I abandoned any thought of capturing non-lens based traces as the frost on the ground created its own form of trace material allowing me to capture the tread of shoes of people who had walked on the deck earlier in the morning.

References:

None

Draft WIP Portfolio – Activity

For the week 9 webinar I prepared a close to final selection of images for discussion with the group. The draft covered images from the 4 piers. I included a selection of the different. views for each pier plus view other images to gauge feedback to allow me to make an informed final selection for inclusion in the Work in Progress submission for the module.

[pdf-embedder url=”http://fineart.photography/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Draft-WIP-Mod-4.pdf” title=”Draft WIP Mod 4″]

The feedback was overall consistent from the students and tutor about the images included though some images resulted in a difference of opinion.

Image 1 was one such image with some linking the images and other finding the people sat on the benches a distraction as the other pier images are devoid of people or they were not a prominent feature of the image. This image is the only promenade deck image that has a portrait representation which I had done to avoid the light house ship on to the right of frame and to avoid coping the lamp posts on the deck. I therefore intend to reshot the image. Something that might not be possible in the future therefore when working on location and it is unclear which might be the better orientation I will aim to capture both to give me more flexibility at the post production stage.

The images of plaques on benches was viewed as a very literal simulacra to record the departure or passing of time and it was felt that the images already contained sufficient information to share that story. Plus they are the only images that contain text forcing the reader to have to focus on the image for longer than others in the series. Though I wanted to adjust the cadence of gaze the images with text force an abrupt change of cadence which is not inline with my desired intent. I instead wanted a more gentle ebb and flow to reflect the motion of the sea that surround the piers and therefore the plaque sequence is unlikely to make the final selection.

The diptych were viewed as ok but maybe too literal in nature with the exception of image 18 where the image conjures up thoughts of sea life. The other rubbings work well on their own other the need for reference to the source object.

The other images of the pier received positive feedback as they provide strong reference points drawing the reading into the image. The images of the pier superstructure received positive feedback the colour and tone of the light fro me help to create really strong compositions.

The sign showing the distance from the shore was an interesting image included to prompt discussion but not one I had intended for inclusion in the final selection.  The image from Southend Pier with the yellow paint blobs showing where future repair work might be required was viewed as strong. I personally really like the image because it contain information about past present and future within a single frame.

The final image I included in the selection is from the end of Southend-on-Sea Pier and is the steps passengers would descent down to get on to a boat. For me it felt like the final image for this series as it isa resolved point of departure.

I plan to reflect further on the feedback from the webinar but overall I believe I have a good core set of 14 images with room to add a few more before I reach the point where I have to make a final selection. 

 

PhotoLondon Talk – Simon Frederick and Renee Mussai

21st November was the first PhotoLondon Talk of the 2018 series with Renee Mussai and Simon Frederick. Renee is a senior curator at Autograph and Simon is fine art and portrait photographer and Television producer.

The talk started with a discussion of shared photographic influences which include Ghanaian photographer James Barnor that they had both meet on separate occasions. James was a major influence for both of them and was a prolific photographer in the UK but shoot covers for Drum an influential South African magazine that employed photographers across both sides of the apartheid divide covering a mix of lifestyle, fashion and journalism.

Drum, James Barnor, (the Guardian, 2017)

Renee asked Simon who he would invite to a dinner party and his response was James Brown, Malcolm X, Winston Churchill and Edmund Mosses. Renee asked why Simon had selected a male orientated dinner party to which he replied if he had known the rules he would have selected a different mix.

Simon explained he does not have any formal photographic training he only started taking photographs seriously when he was in his 30s and was working in advertising.

He explained one of his early images was taken from a car in the wing mirror because he could not stop to take the picture of two men leaning against the wall in the East End.

Renee and Simon explained his career as a series of phases. He said “When photography falls in love with you it’s the only thing you can do.”

Phase 1:

Simon’s initial break was with a photograph he took of a boy band “Damage” at the Jazz Café which got used but the Independent newspaper as they did not have a photographer at Damage’s final gig. They asked Simon to photograph Erika Badu and this lead to a successful career touring with different artists including Lenny Kravitz.

After doing concert photography for a while Simon realised he did not want to spend his life on the road. He admired the work of Testino and LaChapelle so he spent time studying images by those individuals practicing until he could create images of the same quality. He put together his portfolio shooting friends and family however when to took the work to picture editors he was at best meeting the assistants and was not getting any assignments.

Phase 2:

Simon leaves the UK for Portugal and gets a different response he gets to meet Portuguese agencies who are willing to listen to his ideas and he gets to shoot campaigns for major clients including Volvo and Audi. He says his work is based on the 3 Hs (Head for ideas, Heart for passion and Hand the craft.)

He was asked to do a shoot for Benfica Television and decided to shoot in his own way which was to take images from the dressing room an area of the stadium that fans never get to visit.

Benfica Locker Room (Canvas.pantone.com, 2017)

While in Portugal he was asked to shoot a campaign for one of the political parties which is a point where Simon says he truly realised the power of imagery and the leader is now the Vice President of Portugal. Around this time Simon shoot a 12 page spread for an art magazine with a series of gay men that was designed to be viewed by straight men. The resulting images were very striking and managed to create a strong balance between naked men and dressed men.

Phase 3:

Simon returned to London and marked his return with a project mymates@work where he created a body of work using his friends and models but each image used a different style. Typically as photographers we are told to define ourself through a recognisable style and in this case Simon decided to break that rule which help differentiate himself from other photographers at that time.

I really like a quote from Simon where he was discussing this phase of his career where he said the the difference between and amateur photographer and a professional is that an amateur only has to create one great image to define their work while a professional photographer has to get it perfect every time.

He views the subjects of his portrait images as collaborators because it requires both to work together to capture the real person. He felt anyone get capture the likeness of the person but really good photographers are able to get to the mood of the person the inner person that most people never get to see. I recognise the trait in my own portrait photography as I feel my most successful images are created when the sitting is a collaborative event

Phase 4:

Simon got invited in 2015 by Sky Arts to go to Italy. He was in the room with the Isabella Rossellini and Oliviero Toscani thinking he had been invited to be a contestant but instead they asked him to be head judge for the first series of the show. This further boosted Simon’s profile and acted as a pivotal point and a friend suggested he should go into film production.

Sky Arts Master of Photography 2015 (rts.org.uk, 2017)

Phase 5:

This brings the story up to date with Simon producing his own show “Black is the new Black” about influential black people in the UK. The shows title was taken from fashion and Yves Saint Laurents comments about the fact that every women should have a little black dress where black will always be the new black.

The individuals featured on the show resulted in portraits that’s were acquired by the National Portrait Gallery to address the lack of pictures of influential black people in UK culture.

Simon Frederick is on the 2018 Powerlist of “Britain’s most influential people of African and African Caribbean heritage”.  The final comment maybe shows that even today we still view people based on how they look rather than the person. If fact these lists that segregate people based on race or gender do the opposite of promoting diversity they reinforce division. My own view is that we should recognise people on merit to create true integration and diversity.

References

  • the Guardian. (2017). ​Celebrating ​James Barnor – the first photographer to shoot Ghana in colour ​. [online] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/world/gallery/2016/sep/22/street-style-ghana-fashion-photographer-james-barnor#img-3 [Accessed 10 Dec. 2017].
  • Rts.org.uk. (2017). Sky Arts to air pan-Europe photography talent show | Royal Television Society. [online] Available at: https://rts.org.uk/article/sky-arts-air-pan-europe-photography-talent-show [Accessed 10 Dec. 2017].
  • Canvas.pantone.com. (2017). The Locker Room S L BENFICA on Pantone Canvas Gallery. [online] Available at: http://canvas.pantone.com/gallery/6718705/The-Locker-Room-S-L-BENFICA [Accessed 10 Dec. 2017].