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Tim Paton – Magnum Workshop

Tim Paton Global Head of Commercial Assignments, Magnum Photos

Tim Paton is Global Head of Commercial Assignments, based out of Magnum Photos London office and is responsible for generating commercial opportunities for the agency’s photographic membership. Tim has spent his whole career in the photography business. He started out as a photographer himself working for the legendary music Magazine the NME. He then went on to set up his own commercial photo agency called Balcony Jump, which quickly became established as one of the best agencies in London. Tim has worked with many of the worldwide leading brands including Nike, Gucci, Guess, Ford, Volvo and IBM and in doing so has helped nurture the careers of many well established photographers and produced both large and small shoots all over the world.

Tim started his talk by explaining the different commercial activities undertaken by Magnum. Magnum has a large back catalogue of images that is sells for advertising purposes. Unfortunately many of the images do not have the required model releases and that impacts Magnum’s ability to generate revenue from those images (Reflection: If there are people in the images and you are looking to sell the images commercially then it is important to get a model release.)

In addition to the Magnum back catalogue Magnum photographers undertake commercial shoots clients of Magnum include Nike, Burberry and HSBC.

Afghan Girl, National Geographic, Steve McCurry, 1984

Images from the Magnum library that have generated significant income are images such as the Steve McCurry image of the Afghan Girl.

Magnum have been involved in shooting all of the USA Presidents since the 2nd World War when Magnum was formed.

Tim referenced the work by Jonas on the HSBC campaign and Land Rover. In the case of the HSBC campaign they has a team of 3 production assistants on location in Shanghai to scout out suitable locations as the campaign had to be shoot over a short period of time.

The Land Rover campaign required the creation of still and video assets as the campaign was intended for publication across multiple media formats. This included segments of the photographer talking to video as part of the road trip.

Magnum has a large social media following circa 1.1 million on Twitter which is a useful tool for brands and Magnum sometimes allows takeovers of the feed as to support a campaign.

Phil Rylance – Magnum Workshop

Phil Rylance Creative Art Director, JWT

Originally from Warrington Lancashire (now Cheshire), Phil Rylance attended Secondary Technical school, a peculiar Northern experiment, then a foundation year at Warrington Art School before moving on to the BA Hons Graphic Design course in Liverpool. He began a successful career in advertising after moving to London and has achieved the highest honours worldwide for his creativity, He has produced many campaigns including the much lauded Creature Comforts commercials and at one point was personally responsible for making Le Coq Sportif the biggest selling poster range at the Athena stores. Ideas are his passion, and most importantly – experience has taught him that idea led content never seems to go out of fashion.

Phil’s talk focused on his part of the creative process and how that relates to the role of the photographer. He started his presentation by describing his views on the creative process. To work in advertising you need to have curiosity and creativity in equal measures which needs to be discovered and developed over time. To understand the subject that is part of the campaign speaking to experts in the field can provide useful insights that can be incorporated into the creative process. Creative will form working groups that create the concepts that will be submitted to the Creative Director for approval.

Phil stated there are three key rules to successfully shooting a campaign.

  • Rule 1: Shoot the layout
  • Rule 2: See Rule 1
  • Rule 3: See Rule 2

If as a photographer you have better ideas than the proposed layout only suggest those ideas once the layout has been successfully shoot as the layout is the proposal that was approved by all parties prior to going on set.

Phil provided the group with a number of stories from his times of going on set. One story was a shoot with Peter Turnley for a Coca Cola campaign where they travelled around Paris looking for people drinking Coca Cola. The Producer travelled with a bag of Dollar Bills to pay each person $100 dollars for the image and to get a model release form signed. During that specific shoot they shoot 82,000 images.

He described a shoot with Land Rover where they took a new model into the studio and then shoot the vehicle from every possible angle to determine the best possible angles for shooting the car on location. Though typically cars look good from the front and rear 3 quarters which is why so many car images are shoot from those positions. Most car images are heavy in terms of compositing to get the car light perfectly.  In car advertising today they is heavy use of CGI however that can still go wrong because cars get light from multiple angles and there is no longer a coherent light source.

The next story was about a Land Rover shoot in Namibia where the images contained a Freelander and a Cheetah the images were created in-camera to as it was the best way to achieve continuity.

When approaching agents recognise agents start of by following them on social media if they have a social media presence as it gives insight into the type of work they are producing. There is a hierarchy of agents who work for different levels of clients.

If you want to pitch work to art buyers and agents build up bodies of work that relate to products where you have an interest.

  • Shoot a series of images for the product (i.e. 3 images)
  • If you have never shoot a car before get a car assistant to help you on a shoot
  • If you have never shoot fashion before then get a stylist to help you

Reflection: The key takeaways from Phil’s talk are the need to shoot what has previously agreed with the creatives and the art buyer even though you might realise on the shoot that a better outcome is possible. Once the layout is in the can then suggest alternative strategies if time permits. The other key message was as a photographer you are there to create better images than the ones that are available from stock agencies.

Jonas Bendiksen – Magnum Talk

Jonas Bendiksen MAGNUM Photographer

Jonas Bendiksen is Norwegian and was born in 1977. He began his career at the age of 19 as an intern at Magnum’s London office, before leaving for Russia to pursue his own work as a photojournalist. Throughout the several years he spent there, Bendiksen photographed stories from the fringes of the former Soviet Union, a project that was published as the book Satellites (2006). In Russia and elsewhere, he often focuses on isolated communities and enclaves. In 2005, with a grant from the Alicia Patterson Foundation, he started working on The Places We Live, a project on the growth of urban slums across the world, which combines still photography, projections, and voice recordings to create three-dimensional installations. Bendiksen has received numerous awards, including the 2003 Infinity Award from the International Center of Photography, New York, and second place in the Daily Life Stories for World Press Photo, as well as first prize in the Pictures of the Year International Awards. His editorial clients include National Geographic, Geo, Newsweek, The Independent on Sunday Review, The Sunday Times Magazine, The Telegraph Magazine, and The Rockefeller Foundation.

He was a Magnum Intern which provided him with a small bursary that he used to find help fund a project in Siberia which ended up lasting for 7 years. He pitched the project to magazines. The work was about unofficial satellite states that got created in Siberia following the breakup of the Soviet Union. Each state created its own currency and governments that did not have official recognition.

The next project was called places we live and was a story about urban slums which are the fastest growing habitat occupied by humans. Jonas describes his photography as storytelling and he feels that is grounded in his personal practice and crosses over into his commercial practice.

His most recent project is titled ‘Last Testament’ is a story about 7 men who have legitimate claims to being the new messiah (the second coming) and required him to visit different parts of the world to create the body of work.

Jonas approaches all work in the same way and commercial work informs other work. There are different modus operandi that require the use of different skills and build on each other.

Jonas described a number of his different commercial assignments that play to things that he enjoys in life.

Red Bull commission a lot of outdoor action orientated campaigns. Jonas describe these as tough guy imagery such as the Search and Rescue teams from his native Norway.

The next project was a campaign for Land Rover that was conceived as a photographic road trip that captured the vehicle in situations that play to the features of the vehicle. The campaign involved bringing multiple elements together including video of Jonas. Overall the project is aligned to the brand values of Land Rover.

The final project Jonas discussed was a campaign shoot for HSBC in Shanghai where the imagery would be used in HSBC communication with Chinese clients.

Reflection: Review the above narrative I can see how Jonas  is a good example of a photographer who combines art and commercial practices together where each informs each other. Combing the two would be for me an ideal strategy for my own photographic practice however I want to combine it with a third element which my current career in Financial Services.

Sarah Thomson – Magnum Talk

Sarah Thomson Head of Art Production, One Unilever at Ogilvy

Sarah is Head of Art Production at One Unilever at Ogilvy in London. Prior to this she was Head of Art Production at Fallon and an Art Buyer at DDB London and AMV BBDO. Before working as an Art Buyer, Sarah was Gallery Manager at the Zelda Cheatle Gallery, and worked for Nadav Kander and Photographer’s Agent, Catherine Collins. She has judged numerous Photography and Illustration Awards, and advised, talked and contributed to various books on the subject of advertising, photography and illustration.

I made a series of notes from Sarah’s presentation . which are recorded below:

During the first part of Sarah’s talk she discussed the importance of the photographer having a clear definition of who they are:

  • What genre of photography is your area of focus
  • Can you articulate your personal vision photographically
  • All show your best work
  • Show work that defines you as a photographer
  • Include that show how you work (behind the scenes)
  • Put your main themes at the front
  • Other work can be included as thumbnails at the back

Reflection: Based on my current project I view myself as a visual storyteller who uses the landscape a the backdrop to those stories. Though I have lifestyle and portrait images in my portfolio.

Creating a Portfolio

  • When creating a portfolio only show your best work better to have 20 strong images than 30 images of average quality.
  • Take an iPad to show moving images. In the evolving world of commercial photography it is now important to show a creative capability for moving images.
  • Personal projects can help underpin a commercial practice with many professional photographers combining both

Reflection: My current portfolio does not include moving image clips to show work I have created in video format in the past. i should review some of my video footage and if I conclude the work is strong enough I could create a short show real from that work.

How to get going?

  • Stay passionate about your work
  • Keep you website up to date
  • When you take a assignment consider the commercial benefits beyond that specific assignment. If it will complement your portfolio and allow you to take on bigger jobs it might make sense to accept the assignment at a lower rate than your normal rate.
  • Ensure you are comfortable you can deliver on the day for any commercial assignments

Stay Visible

  • Pitch work
  • Use social media: Blog, Tweet (link and reference members of your team)
  • Use creative networks
  • Enter competitions

Reflection: I am actively posting images on social media and I am entering competitions on a regular basis so I certainly ticking a number of boxes within this space. What I need to consider is more networking activities and working on building a team for commercial work though this is probably something which needs to take a back seat until after the MA.

Get Noticed

  • Remain focused on your work and don’t get sidetracked

Approach

  • Contact people via email initially, Use LinkedIn
  • Email to arrange a meeting
  • Research sources: AoP, Campaign, FileFx
  • Search advertising credits to find names of Art Buyer, Art Producers, Integrated Producers (today the role of identify photographers for a campaign is done by a number of different roles.)
  • Take cards when meeting art directors as they provide a visual memory to your work.
  • Consider using MOO custom cards that allow you to put multiple images on business cards
  • Create an on-line version for those who want a digital version
  • Once you have a contact create a newsletter to keep contacts up to date on your work

Reflection : I have business cards and when I introduced myself to Simon Roberts and Edmund Clark i handed them samples of my work to create a visual connection.

Agents

  • For some people having an Agent to represent you can reduce the time spent on developing and following up on leads
  • Use an Agent to secure introductions and expand your contacts list
  • Even having an agent on your side it is important to stay in contact with them and ensure they are continuing to work for you
  • At the start of the engagement agree the commission percentage for securing commissions
  • Provide them with up to date work to make their task of securing work easier
  • Make older work visible as this could also be a source of commissions

Reflection: Based on m y strategy of operating a commercial practice alongside my current employment engaging an agent might be a useful strategy to allow me to focus on the creation of work rather than following up on leads.

Production

  • Build a production team so that when you undertake bigger commercial projects you have a team you can call upon to ensure you are able to deliver the required project

Working to a creative brief

  • Show layouts so that creative understand how you will interpret the brief
  • Take responsibility for the brief
  • Read all the details of the brief to ensure you have correctly understood the brief
  • Speak to the creatives who are likely to have spent months working on the brief
  • Learn about the brand and its values to ensure the brief is interpreted correctly and will reduce the risk of going against established brand rules
  • Explain how you plan to shoot the job. This provides to the creatives that you have understood the brief
  • Stay calm and evolve with the brief
  • Stay within the overall budget

How to work with Creatives?

  • Be collaborative after all it’s a team deal
  • Shared responsibility with the creative
  • Contact with the end client is likely to be via the Art Producer

Pre-Production Meeting

  • Check all of the details with in the brief
  • Walk through the different elements with the creatives
  • The PPM is the time to convince the client that you can deliver
  • The pre-production meeting can be viewed as a piece of theatre where everyone has a role to play

On Set

  • Work with the creatives and shoot the layout
  • Keep everyone happy
  • Deliver on the day
  • This is the day that the magic happens
  • Coffee and food help keep everyone happy

Usage

  • Agree fees and confirm usage which will influence the fees
  • Some clients will ask for access in perpetuity which in essence like owning the copyright as it limits the future usage of an image
  • Ensure you confirm with the Art Buyer that you can use the images for your own portfolio to allow you to pitch for future work

Edmund Clark and Johnathan Watkins at PhotoLondon – Talk

Talk with Edmund Clark and Johnathan Watkins (Director at IKON Gallery in Birmingham) which is part of the PhotoLondon Talk that accompanies PhotoLondon Show.

‘Edmund Clark: The Day the Music Died features a linked series of publications and photographic projects completed over more than 10 years. This site-specific exhibition invokes an immersive and sensory engagement with the experiences of observation, detention, and disorientation explored through the artist’s work.’ (International Center of Photography, 2018)

Clark has recently exhibited at the IKON Gallery a show that will get discussed later in the talk. Clark is currently exhibiting in New York at IPC with a show titled ‘The day the music died’ ( a song by Don MacLean.) The IPC show is the third time Edmund has exhibited work from his war on terror bodies of work. This work has already been show in different forms at the Imperial War Museum (London) and in Germany. Each time the work has been shown Edmund explained that its configuration has changed to work with the gallery space and new work has been introduced alongside previous bodies of work. (Reflection: In preparing for my own exhibition this is useful point of reflection that the space can influence the way the work is read.) The shape of the gallery allowed Clark construct a central enclosed space to house projections for new body of work titled 198 2000 which is images of abuse of people held in detention. 198 relates to the number of images released. The space means that the reader will walk in front of the projector beam and the images abuse executed in our name by government will fall on our bodies.

Installation Shoot, Day the Music Died, Edmund Clark, IPC, January 2018

The outside of the space has television screen showing images of individuals who are related to the war on terror. Another wall hosts the redacted documents related to detention of terror suspects. Another wall show picture of the safe houses used to hold detainees as they were  transported or detained alongside images from the detention camps. Clark states that the banality of these images is a way for people to connect with these places as the images could be seen as similar to the images one might take of our own homes when trying to rent a room on a site such as AirBnB.

Extraordinary Rendition was a new strategy for visual arts based around Investigative Journalism (Reflection contemporary art can take on new genres and forms as we explore different ways of telling stories and therefore one should not be afraid to explore new paths.) Clark discussed the way technology has changed views on fighting terror and the legality of unmanned drones. Nobody is there to record the effects of these weapons and impact on the ground which can make its feel this type of warfare is somehow clinical with no collateral damage that photographers and journalists on the ground would traditionally record. There are questions of the legality of these types of strikes where power is projected from homes in the USA.

The IPC exhibition was named after one of the songs played to disorientate detainees. Clark indicates knowing this fact means has fundamentally changed the way he view this song. Many other audio that we associated with our lives such as the Simpsons was also played to control those in detention alongside the use of physical interrogation techniques such as water boarding.

The talk proceeded to talk about the recent exhibition at IKON ‘A Place of Hate’ (Ikon-gallery.org, 2018)  Clark has been in residency at the prison for a number of years and the work on exhibition has been created with the approval of the HMP. ‘

Edmund Clark, In Place of Hate, HMP Grendon, 2017, courtesy of the artist Ikon and Flowers Gallery

Established in 1962, HMP Grendon requires inmates to accept responsibility for their offence. Within the prison environment they can exercise a degree of control over the day-to-day running of their lives, making a commitment to intensive group therapy and democratic decision-making, whilst holding each other to account. Evidence shows that Grendon has delivered lower levels of violence in prison and reduced instances of reoffence after release.’ (Ikon-gallery.org, 2018

Edmund Clark, In Place of Hate, HMP Grendon, 2017, courtesy of the artist Ikon and Flowers Gallery

The exhibition was split across multiple rooms each room displaying different aspects of the life of residents of Grendon. 1.98m2 is lightbox constructed based on the dimensions of a prison cell. Residents spend from 7:30pm locked down in their cells. The lightbox contains pressed flowers that Clark collected from the unused spaces in the prison. Clark explained the flower were pressed using prison paper and due to a lack of experience with the technique a number of the flowers have rotted. He explained that once residents became aware of his collecting of flowers they who inform him of the location of different flowers in the prison. The plants in the display are symbolic of the variety, detail and fragility of the residents going through therapy. Johnathan felt the exhibition was transformative in way it makes us look at people in prisons. (Reflection: Using non photographic material to help convey meaning is something that during the last module I started to do with the rubbing of the piers and surrounding structures. This something that is potentially worth considering for inclusion in the exhibition. The rubbing patterns remind me of the general ripples we see on the surface of water surrounding the landing staging stages and piers. An abstraction of a physical structure can look the same as an abstract view of the water.)

The second part of the exhibition is screen showing paths that residents can take with the walls of the prison. The videos do not contain images of residents referencing the that that when you enter prison you disappear from society. When residents accidentally entered the videos of theses walks Clark has used a mosaic effect to remove them from the videos. The longest possible journey lasts some 14 minutes and is around the perimeter of the prison. The clips are exhibited as continuous loops to mirror the repetitive nature of journey’s with the prison. (Reflection at the current time my exhibition does not incorporate any form of moving images though early in the project I did create short timelapse videos of some of my walks that were used to capture images during the “Informing Contexts” Module. This is something that is worth considering as part of the exhibition.)

The third part of the exhibition is a recording of a group therapy session based on psycho-drama where protagonists of the crime play their victims. This is based on Greek tragedy. The process is a cathartic process where we see inmates wearing masks as they play out bad behaviours and then discuss  the experience from the perspective of perpetrator, victim and witness. The session was recorded from there different angles and is displayed on three screens placed on chairs from Grendon in a therapy circle. Clark was not able to use close-ups of the inmates to ensure that if they were released at a future date they could not be recognised.

Edmund Clark, In Place of Hate, HMP Grendon, 201, courtesy of the artist Ikon and Flowers Gallery

The final part of the exhibition uses consists of projections of inmates on to the bed sheets used in the prison cells. Clark created the projections using a pinhole camera to mask the identify of the individuals in the portraits. The images were created using long exposures lasting 7 minutes. During that time subjects answered questions about themselves during the exposure. Clark commented that the images are a reflection of the words of the prisoners and this gives meaning to the images. The images do appear almost ghostly in form but when the residents was they images they made comments about the images reflecting them as a person.

The talk concluded with a questions and answers session. I asked Clark where he has show work in multiple exhibition if he felt the work was ever resolved. Clark’s response was that he felt work could be resolved even though it might be presented in different forms at future exhibitions.

I presented Clark with an invite to my FMP show in August on the back of a photograph from the series ‘Last person to leave turn off the tap’ as the images use photographic language similar to that used by Clark in his Camps series.

 

(Ikon-gallery.org, 2018)

(International Center of Photography, 2018)

 

References

  • Ikon-gallery.org. (2018). Ikon In Place of Hate. [online] Available at: https://www.ikon-gallery.org/event/edmund-clark/ [Accessed 20 Apr. 2018].
  • International Center of Photography. (2018). Edmund Clark: The Day the Music Died. [online] Available at: https://www.icp.org/exhibitions/edmund-clark-the-day-the-music-died-traveling-exhibition [Accessed 20 Apr. 2018].

David Hurn and Simon Roberts at Photographers Gallery – Talk

I decided to attend the Photographer’s Gallery talk with David Hurn and Simon Robert’s for a number of reasons. They are both exhibiting in London at the same time as my show across the river at the National Maritime Museum. Simon Robert’s work has been has contextual relevance to my practice as The Pier’s in my project featured in Simon’s Book Pierdom. While David was the source of inspiration for the print swop activity organised by Philip Singleton at the Falmouth Face to Face event in February.

I created a set of notes from the talk and include my own thoughts on the dialogue.

David and Simon first met when David critiqued Simon’s work and now they are exhibiting at the same show. David’s view is that one’s photography gets better over time. David joined the army and the start of his photographic career can be traced back to a photograph in Picture Post of a Russian soldier buying his wife a hat and that resonated with David’s childhood memory of his father buying his mother a hat. For David photography is about capturing the intimate moments between two people. For him photography hits you emotionally and can counteract propaganda. (Though there are many cases where photography has been used for propaganda purposes such as 1930’s Germany such as some of the work by August Sander during that period.) David feels his photography is actually about life and the reaction of people doing stuff. His photography can be described as observed life.

David’s view is there are many good photographer like there are many good doctors., however not all good doctors are surgeons. There are a lot of photographs being taken today and photographers need to recognise that fact. Good photographers he felt take a lot of pictures (the 10,000 hour rule.(Anon, 2018) required to become an expert) however they need to master technique which is what photographers such Don MuCullen and John Bulmer have achieved in the opinion of David Hurn. He felt mastery of photography is in essence similar to a concert pianist you play the piano a lot.

Simon Robert’s photographic degree provides structure to his photography though listening to his story about his time as a photo journalist in Sheffield you start to understand that is where he learnt to operate photography as a business. He realised the importance of owning authorship of his images there was image he took of John Prescott that was syndicated by the local newspaper and earned them more than his salary for the whole time he work at the paper. David started shooting his own projects including work about a boxer Daniel Teesdale that went on to become a story about a tap dancing boxer.

Simon said that photographers need to create stories they believe in and need to control their archive (Simon’s pension scheme.) David commented that newspapers teach you about being on time shooting regardless of the weather and he felt providing Simon with a grounding for life.

The conversation moved on to talk about Magnum Photography which David views as a benchmark for a certain type of photography. Though interestingly the most recent photographers to join the Magnum family have not photographic educations they come from other disciplines and have started to use photography as a vehicle to communicate.  David was of the opinion that a unless you are careful when selecting a photographic degree you might end up with lecturers who teach you how not to do things. He recognised the importance of selecting lecturers who are master practitioners in the an area that you want to gain mastery in otherwise there are maybe better ways to spend the money required to complete a degree. (Note: An interesting point of reflection on my own decision to go back to university to complete the Masters and the decision to select Falmouth with its reputation for having lecturers who are photographic practitioners.)

We recognise the importance of a photographer developing their own photographic voice. The last time David accepted a brief was in 1970 since then all his work has been self-initiated. When creating work from your own ideas it is important to follow through on the ideas and understand the rules of the game. David asked Simon for his strategy to which he replied that you cannot wait for others you need to work from your own personality. They both felt it was analogous to composers one say’s that Mozart is better Bach they create different work. It is important to get your work out into the public domain Editorial is shrinking now stories need to be created in 3 days. Pitching ideas to editors can make their life easier and therefore they are more likely to commission the photographer who had the idea than get another photographer. Shoot to define your voice.

Simon got a commission from Parliament from the last General Election. He had to pitch his idea to a parliamentary subcommittee, he got the commission possibly because a number of other photographers turned down the project because it stipulated in the brief that parliament would own copyright. Once he was awarded the commission he renegotiated the contract so that the work would be created as an edition of 3 and parliament would own one of each piece of work which has allowed Simon to retain copyright.

Print sales for both David and Simon are important income streams. David has a unique strategy in that he produces his work in 3 different sizes. The large two sizes are editions however he retains he right to sell small size print in an uneditioned form which he feels sits better with his own values. Simon commented on the importance of having multiple income streams so that if the market moves you are protected. For him that is editioned prints, books and commissioned work.

David made the comment that photography transitions to being art when a gallery can sell the work. David reflected on the earlier part of his career he would visit Magnum and look through loads of contact sheets to understand the work of other photographers and the fact that photographers might only select 1 or 2 images from several rolls of film to develop into prints. He referenced a lunch conversation between Henri Cartier Bresson, Eugene W Smith, Bill Brandt and himself where Bresson asked smith how many good photographs he took a year. To which Smith replied about a dozen leaving Bresson to retort you always had a high opinion of your own work. (Note of reflection if master photographers such as these might only produce a handful of great photographs in a year that is a real challenge for an MA student to develop a representative body of work for exhibition in the 2 years of a part time course where we are still developing our voices.) The conversation moved on to bias in selecting of photographers as the Great British Seaside exhibition is 4 white male photographers possible not representing gender and racial equality of society today. Similarly Magnum has been dominated by white male photographers. David’s view was that Magnum was looking to select from a certain standard of International Photographers rather than their being any form of bias in the selection process, just a lack of talent because of the environment in countries in places like South America. 

The final part of the conversation moved on to photographic legacy. David has amassed an amazing collection of photographic images which he felt is worth in the region of £3.5 million. He has used that asa bargaining tool to have the Museum in Wales agree to take his own photographic archive and create a gallery for social documentary photography. The challenge for other photographers is the cost of space required to hold archives and especially film which needs to be kept cold to prevent it deteriorating overtime. After all who wants to spend time in a chilled room reviewing negatives.

The talk concluded.

After the talk I went to speak to Simon Roberts due to his influence on my current project. I has also printed a 5×7 from the WIP of the Walton Pier Superstructure and presented it to Simon as a hand written invite to my exhibition in August. Simon though that showed a level of imagination and foresight to do that. Though on reflection I should have got someone to take a picture of me giving him the invite and then posted it on Social Media.

 

References

  •    Anon, (2018). [online] Available at: https://problogservice.com/2012/03/15/what-malcolm-gladwell-really-said-about-the-10000-hour-rule/ [Accessed 20 Apr. 2018].

Don’t Give Up The Day Job – Workshop

“Don’t give up the day job” was an event organised by Redeye for photographers, artists and makers who are looking to balance jobs that help pay the bills alongside their creative practices (Redeye, 2018). I decided to attend this course in Manchester because at least for the foreseeable future my photographic practice will not provide me with sufficient income to focus exclusively on photography. The workshop consisted of a series of talks plus the chance to discuss with others how they balance creative practice with jobs. There was also a chance to hear a visual arts researcher.

Paul from Redeye introduced the event and I had a chance to speak to the different people on the same table as me who were all makers working with different materials, including one who is upcycling washing machines and another who is working with glass.

Amy Wilkinson

Amy is a jeweller based in Manchester Craft and Design Centre. She predominately works in silver, drawing shapes and patterns with wire to produce linear, simplified shapes. Amy also works as an armature maker at Mackinnon & Saunders,  making stop-motion animation puppets. She’s worked on puppets for films and TV adverts including The Corpse Bride, Fantastic Mr Fox, and Frankenweenie. (Redeye, 2018)

Amy has established a set routine between time spent at work and time in the shop in the craft centre. She felt there was a benefit to sharing the space with other creatives as it can be lonely being a creative plus it means you share time in the shop allowing the shop to be open for longer.

Commissioned work is harder to judge especially the amount of time required to create the work which can sometimes consume (4 to 6 weeks).

The skills required for her jewellery practice are very similar to the skills required to make armatures and therefore the job and creative practice complement each other in terms of skills development. Amy felt that fact that her job and the craft centre are in the same location was important to her and this has meant that she has stayed with the same employer rather than purse work with other companies that might have been more lucrative.

Overall Amy felt that she had just about got the balance correct. I am in a different position from Amy that my own job is not using the same skills as my photographic practice resulting in a lower level of skills cross pollination between job and practice. Though I do feel it would be beneficial to find other location creatives and look to share a creative space maybe with painters rather than with other photographers.

Andrea Allan

Andrea Allan is an artist and writer based in Newcastle; her practice explores the real and the imaginary and the gap between subject and object in an attempt to better understand the links between our past, present and future. Allan is also the editor of Entitle magazine. (Redeye,2018)

Andrea’s day job is an engineer on projects and she describes herself as very much deadline driven. Her project management role has equipped her with marketing skills. Her day job is very much Monday to Friday and it is not always easy to switch off from the day job to focus on creative work. It requires discipline to fit creative work around a full-time job though working in power stations has provided some interesting photographic opportunities though it was not until Andrea completed the work did she find out that her employer had a budget to fund creative projects. Navigating large companies can make it difficult to discover departments that are responsible for this type of initiative. Having a full-time job makes it difficult to undertake residences and therefore this is something she has not pursed.

Andrea makes limited edition photobooks from her work and then visits the different art fairs around the UK to sell the work usually share a stall with a friend to help reduce the costs.

I can empathise with Andreas position as my job is Monday to Friday and consumes about 2 hours out of each day when travelling time is added on top of the working day. This can make it difficult to have energy in the evening to work on creative projects. Though I use my commute to work as a source of material for my on-going going project commuterlife that is shot in an iPhone. I find it a great way to Instagram messages on a daily basis. I try to use the commute as writing and research time for my projects though given crowding on the trains that is not always possible.

Sam Curtis

Sam Curtis is an artist, educator and curator based in London. With a conceptually driven practice that he makes manifest through various forms such as events, video, performance, text and sculpture, he is interested in art’s social function and it’s accessibility. For over 10 years he has used his day jobs as platforms or starting points from which to develop practice and projects. This has been a useful way to navigate precarity and has become a vehicle for inhabiting the grey areas and permeable boundaries between art and life. Informed by two years working as a fishmonger in Harrods, he now runs the Centre for Innovative and Radical Fishmongery, an organisation that explores how fishmongery intersects with art, individuals and society. (Redeye, 2018)

Sam provided a novel take on how you can use you day job to create your own residency and create new an original work. He described this as creating a clandestine residency where he became an artistic parasite taking from his day job to create new art. While working on the Harrods fish counter her would arrange the fish in artistic formations encouraging visitors to take pictures which they shared on social media and Sam would re-appropriate the images for his own practice.

He started to explore contact prints where he would coat the fish in ink to make prints which has references to Japanese arts forms and woodblock printing techniques such as Mokuhanga (En.wikipedia.org, 2018). This has parallels to my rubbings used of the decking of piers.  http://fineart.photography/work-in-progress-sustainable-prospects/.

I like the idea of creating a residence within my current employment but given the sensitivity around parts of my job a clandestine residency would not be appropriate. However my employer has a large photographic archive so maybe I could explore doing something with those images.

Susan Jones 

“Susan Jones is a visual arts researcher with specialist knowledge of artists’ practices and employment. Her PhD at Manchester School of Art aims to identify a new rationale for the interrelationship between artists’ livelihoods and arts policy. She is an artists’ mentor and contributor to artists’ development programmes and conferences. www.padwickjonesarts.co.uk” (Redeye, 2018)

Susan spent time sharing information about her research into artists in the North West whic his based on a sample of artists with 10 to 30 years of experience. She noted that in 2013 the average artist earned £10,000 or the equivalent of 37% of the national average wage. She is exploring the why and the how of practice. Looking at the value assigned to work and if that was fair value in the market. The reality appears to be that artists have little or no money derived from practice when it is assessed in pure economic terms. In fact artists contribution to society has been demoted to pure monetary value and not potential social enricment derived from creative practice.

Politics is driving the structure and support agenda around art and its creation. Advice provided is generic rather than reflecting the needs of individual artists. The initial results from the questionnaires analysed so far suggests that the best work is produced when artists are in a creative space. This space should support the potential for failure. It is important to create an environment which provides a circle of trust where the domestic and creative elements interact.

A creative space is viewed as an environment that supports concerted time and opportunity to create work. The work is given an appropriate level of respect after all artists care about their work. 

To be successful as an artist you need to be known. Typically Non-profit organisations are not looking for unsolicited work. There is a conundrum for artists that you need to be shown before some will want to show your work. Today social media and gallery premieres are important to being know but not all artists are social individuals and this reduces the chances that people will get to know about their work. This results in a situation where the lack of an effective framework wastes creativity.  

Susan referenced The Curve by Nicholas Lovell as a way to navigate a world where people want everything for free and create superfans who will pay for your work. The concept is to use social media to create direct relationships with people who ultimately will become high-spending superfans. (Thecurveonline.com, 2018).

Though Susan’s research sheds light on the reality of being an artist it is through better understanding of our practice the audiences that a successful path can be forged however that takes time an effort that is no longer available for creative endeavours though being a starving artist does not sound appealing either.

Julie McCalden

Julie McCalden is an artist and Paying Artists campaign Project Manager for a-n The Artists Information Company. She will provide a brief introduction to the campaign, its resources and the Exhibition Payment Guide, which recommends four core principles for artists and organisations to follow in their working arrangements around payment and gives a set of suggested payments (ranging from £150 to £6,000) to cover a wide range of exhibition scenarios and guidance for implementation. www.a-n.co.uk  www.PayingArtists.org.uk (Redeye, 2018)

Julie is a strong advocate for valuing visual artists and their contribution to society. She started of by sharing some facts about exhibitions which is something that most artists aspire to doing at some stage in their career. 71% of exhibitions pay no fee to the artist. 59% of artists do not get their expenses paid. The reality is 63% of artists turn down exhibitions because they do not have money to pay for themselves. Proposal is that exhibitions should include an artist fee within the exhibition budget. It is a case of artists starting to ask if an exhibitor will pay a fee. It is important to be informed and be discerning when engaging with galleries who are arranging exhibitions. Where shows are artist led it is more likely that the artist will get paid a fee for exhibiting. Artist network provides resources to support artists getting paid for their work. 

It is difficult for artists to get funded by the Arts Council and in most cases funding is going to established organisations who have received funding in the past. Having a track record helps secure funding so collaborating with a gallery that has got funding in the past might help get a project funded to either create the work or to get it shown. There is some evidence to suggest that collectives are being more successful in getting funding for their projects.

The talk by Julie provided me with information on resource that could help me get funding and understand how I might get paid in the future.

Conclusion

Overall the event achieved what i was hoping in that it has given me a better understanding of how I can operate my practice alongside my job. The key takeaways for me is that I need to continue to invest more time in networking and sharing my work with people. There is an interesting possibility of speaking to my employer about a residency where I use their photographic and film archives to create new work. The challenge will be to find the correct contacts in the organisation to broach the idea.

References

  • Thecurveonline.com. (2018). The Curve Online – Nicholas Lovell. [online] Available at: http://www.thecurveonline.com/ [Accessed 28 Jan. 2018].
  • Redeye. (2018). Don’t Give Up the Day Job. [online] Available at: https://www.redeye.org.uk/programme/events/dont-give-day-job [Accessed 28 Jan. 2018].
  • En.wikipedia.org. (2018). Woodblock printing in Japan. [online] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Woodblock_printing_in_Japan [Accessed 28 Jan. 2018].

London Art Fair – Exhibition

The London Art Fair is an annual Art event at the Islington Business Centre. The event covers a broad range of art forms: paintings, sculpture and photography. There is a special section for photography Photo 50. I view this event as one of the first events on the art calendar. This year I was for fortunate enough to get a free ticket from Photoworks to attend the event.

My primary purpose for attending the even is threefold firstly to see how the London Art scene has evolved in the last 12 month, look for artistic inspiration from the work of others and to network with galleries.

Similar to prior years the galleries present are predominately paint and sculpture based galleries. There was only a couple of galleries exhibiting photographic based art including an Austrian Photographers who work was on display at PhotoLondon.

The sculptures on display in many cases were abstract pieces that for mean raise interesting questions of thought process of the sculpture when creating the work and secondly how as a viewer I might interact with the work.

There were a couple of exhibits that stood out for me the first was work by Ardan Ozmenoglu who’s work I have referenced earlier in my own research in the use of layers within when transforming the 2D nature of photographs into a 3D physical resolved piece. The discussion with the Greek gallery representing her was interesting as they represent other artists using related techniques to create art pieces. They also explained that Ardan also retains drawing of each individual layer of her pieces allowing broken parts to be replaced if one got broken.

Ardan Ozmenoglu, 2018

The gallery also provided a contact in Greece who specialise in production of layered artworks.

Another artist that I found interesting was a painter who created images of a future world in oils. However rather than being constrained by a 2D representation they incorporate sculpted forms attached to the canvas to create a 3D dimensional representation. Another area of interest was the fact that the spaceship present in most of the paintings on display was computer generated and projected on to the canvas to allow the artist to create the outline for the spaceship.

Looking at the pricing of the pieces being sold by the galleries indicates that because these items are unique pieces they command a higher price that a photographic image of similar size though without undertaking a comprehensive study eliminating other factors such as artist reputation, subject material, production costs, etc it is difficult to place a scientific value on that ratio, though as a general rule of thumb indicates a ratio between 5:1 and 10:1 in favour of non-photographic art forms.

An interesting find at the exhibition was a demonstration by Samsung of their Art Series TVs that have been built with a dual purpose to display Art images when not being used as a Television. Typically most homes when not watching TV programmes have a void on the wall that over the years has got ever bigger as the cost of large flat screen televisions has become more affordable. These huge black holes have reduce available wall space that people might have traditionally used to hang other art forms. The 4K resolution of these Televisions resulted in an image that appears as a close representation of a printed image though the screen is not able to achieve the breadth of surfaces provided by different paper types though for me it felt like an interesting display form that is worthy of further exploration. I intend to approach Samsung to hopefully secure loan of 1 or 2 televisions for my final exhibition later in the year.

There were a number of other pieces of work that I considered as useful concepts that I might incorporate into future bodies of work.

In summary my visit to the London Art Fair proved very fruitful achieving positive outcomes across all objectives plus an additional avenue of exploration.

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].

ParisPhoto and OffPrint – Event

Last year we visited ParisPhoto as a field trip with Falmouth University and this year I decided to visit ParisPhoto to specifically look at work of photographers who I view as contemporary photographers such as Nadav Kander and Simon Roberts.

On the Flowers Gallery Stand was a print from Nadav’s recent Thames Estuary body of work. The print was a larger portrait image with subtle colour tones similar to the colour tones found in Jason Orton and my own work from the Essex Coast / Thames Estuary. My own images are currently presented in landscape form, though I like the idea of converting the image into a series of three panels which reminiscent of the panels that were created in the 14th century.

Simon Roberts’ Merrie Albion – Landscapes Studies of a Small Island has been produced in large print and book formats. Similar to Nadav’s work the colour tones are subtle and the landscapes included an image from Flatford Mill famously recorded on canvas by Constable with well known titles such as Lott’s Cottage.

ParisPhoto is towards the pinnacle of the photographic art market with pictures commanding prices at the higher end of the market out of reach with ownership being out of reach for most of the visitors attending on the Saturday this is a consequence of the fact that it is expensive for galleries to hire space in the Grand Palais. The show had gallery representation from the across the globe with multiple Asian galleries having made the trip to Paris.

The scale of the amazing Grand Palais could overwhelm the casual visitor and the following video is a tour of the centre section only.

 

In addition to the prints being exhibited a number of book publishers has stands and arranged book signings. The book signings provided visitors with a chance to speak to photographers and I spent time talking to the photographer Stefan Bladh about is new book Hidden Kingdom published by Kerber.

After spending time at ParisPhoto I went to OffPrint which sits at a very different position within the art market. Exhibitions having a single 6ft trestle table to house books, zines and prints. While Grand Palais atmosphere might be described as refined whereas OffPrint has a grass roots / art student vibe with exhibitors drinking glasses of wine and pints of beer. I had a chance to catch-up with Arron Morel from Morel Books who I had meets earlier in the year at a Magnum Photobook event. Arron was selling a number of books including a new limited edition surrealist photobook what was interesting about this specific book was the pricing strategy that Arron had adopted where as he sold each copy of the book he increased the book price by 1 unit of the local currency. No 1 of the edition sells for £1, €1 or $1 yet No 68 sells for £68/€68/$68 directly linking rarity to value. An interesting strategy encouraging collectors to buy close to release date.

Looking back on ParisPhoto 2016 to ParisPhoto 2017 I feel I have a better appreciation of the art market and how artists and galleries operate within the market. At ParisPhoto most galleries were showing work from multiple artists rather than UnSeen where the same galleries were showing single artists and less well recognised artists. The presence of Asian galleries reinforcing interest in vintage photographs especially by Japanese Photographers