Tag Archives: Reflection

Final – Reflection

I started the MA with Falmouth in September 2016 after seeing an article on the course in a Photography Magazine as I looked for ways to develop my practice with the objective of developing a self-funding fine art practice that I could operate in parallel to the job that would remain my primary source of income and would become a full-time job when I decide to retire from the Financial Services industry.

I only applied to join the MA the August with a course due to start in September. Over that period I was busy writing my first commissioned piece that was due to be published in Professional Photography plus preparing to exhibit as part of a group show in London at the end of September. Based on the above one might ask why do an MA if you are about to be published and are exhibiting.

Though I had got positive feedback on my work from other photographers I did not feel that my practice was sufficiently developed to sustain itself over the medium to long term. My own analysis would suggest that I had developed a high level of technical proficiency in the art of image making over the last 20 years a level, though the images lack a consistent visual language. I started to realise that I would consistently return to tired and tested forms of image making. Photography had become mechanical the process off just pressing the shutter. I am reminded of a quote from Oliviero Toscani “even a donkey or monkey can press a shutter”.

The long and the short in 2016 photographically I had many positives that might be the envy other other photographers yet I am an individual who strives for going further than contemporaries why take the easy route when taking an unknown path can feed the mind and soul.

I set myself a set of goals at the start of the MA:

  • Better understanding of contemporary art language and more specifically contemporary photographic art.
  • Identify other photographers who stylistically and content wise could be considered a contemporary artists
  • Converse with art lovers, gallerists, journalists and contemporary photographers about my own work using contemporary art language
  • Able to develop a clear visual voice and present that consistently across a body of work and eventually across multiple bodies of work

Now as the MA journey reaches it’s point of arrival as the train eases into the terminus I look back on the journey and feel confident that I may not have attained full mastery against those objectives I am much better place to develop my practice into the future.

I have a better appreciation of the different elements of contemporary art photography and the different aspects of the domain able to identify different trends and identify the artists that are broadly attributed with the creation of that specific genre such as the likes Cindy Sherman, Angel Adams and other notable photographers that pre-date me. I can quote contemporary photographers who stylistically have associations with my own work. I am more confident in galleries and shows to analyse the work of others and draw my own conclusions. My photographic voice is clearer than it was 2 years ago. The final word on the definition of the methodology that defines my practice will have to wait until the day I stop creating new work. Until that date I will do what I have always done is take an idea or though and develop it and weave it to suit my own purposes. I feel it will only be possible to unpick and analyse practice in totality at that point in time.

Author, 2018, The show is over

In closing this journal

“And now we’re through
The show is over
The audience is walking out the door
You know it’s true” (Faith, 2009)

Reference

  • Faith, P., 2009, Smoke & Mirrors, Do you know the Truth or Something Beautiful, Sony Music, London.

 

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.

 

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.

 

Who Buys Photography Part 1 – Reflection

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

  • Selling my work
  • Estimate – Challenge
  • ParisPhoto and Offprint visit
  • Paris photo – creating work in an unfamiliar environment

Earlier in this module I exhibited my work at the London Photo Show for the Series “Last person to leave turn off the tap” for the exhibition I selected 8 images from last modules work in progress for the exhibition. Given the industrial nature of the prints I decided to print them on 16-inch square aluminium panels. The show allowed exhibitors to sell work directly to visitors therefore I had to make some decisions about price and if the work should be structured using editions. During a talk in Krakow Gerry Badger had covered this topic of applying editions to work as a way of buyers having comfort that a photograph can have a similar level of rarity to other art works such as paintings and sculptures.

After much reflection, I decided that this initial body of work would be for sale as a single size with an edition of 5 plus two artist’s proofs. The manufacturing process is higher than printing on archival quality paper and framing the images but I overall like the effect. When considering pricing I decided that I would apply a consistent price across the edition and not increase the price as the edition starts to sell. My view on this approach was to build trust in the brand and not appear to be cashing in on popularity. I priced the work at 2 times production cost when I compared this to other works the price compared favourably with other work for sale at the show. If I was selling via a gallery that price would need to be higher to cover gallery commission which I understand is typically 50% of sale price. Therefore, to retain the same margin as a direct sale the work would then need to be priced at 4 times production cost.

The challenge work this week was all about estimating for a commercial job. It was ironic that the commercial job was in an area of London that I know very well which provided me with a potential local knowledge advantage. I constructed an initial estimate based on my usual shooting approach which is to work on my own thought based on feedback from the tutors I produced a revised quote including an assistant which only increased the overall quote by a few percent. I decided to separate usage costs in the quote to help establish a baseline for image usage with the client, so if they wanted to extend the usage period for a longer term or expand the distribution channels for the image we had an established reference point. My view is that if the usage costs were embedded in the production costs both parties do not have a common starting point. It was interesting to see that post student’s quotes were in a range between £5,000 and £10,000 with one noticeable outlier who decided to quote over £40,000 which means most us were underpricing our work or he was deliberately highballing to avoid his quote being picked as the quote was submitted after other students had published their quotes.

I visited ParisPhoto for the second-year galleries and many photographs on display were familiar to last year or other photo shows such as Photo London or Unseen in Amsterdam. Compared to Unseen galleries are displaying higher value pieces that is reflective of the exhibition space. I went to the show on the Saturday which I feel is more of a day for the public rather than the buying of art by collectors as many of the gallerists were huddled over their laptops and did not appear to be engaging with visitors. The story was very different around the book stands where queues formed to get books signed by well known photographers which I think supports my assessment that we are not just buying work we are buying into the brand of the person who created the work. Prior to this module, I have taken a low key position with my work but I now realise if I want to have a sustainable practice I need to promote myself and my brand via multiple channels.

The final reflection point for this week is my photo shoot in Paris. The weather on the Sunday was not ideal in the past I would have kept the camera in the bag and done something else. In this case I decided to go out and shoot. Overall I did not consider the shoot a success but it did remind me that when undertaking work in locations where you do not have local knowledge it is important incorporate scouting time into the schedule and allow time for unexpected circumstances such as adverse weather. It is cheaper to add an extra couple of days of hotel time when on location rather than leave empty handed and must absorb the travel costs involved in returning to the location later.

The Current Commercial Market – Reflection

When compiling my reflections of Week 7 I considered the following activities:

  • Your Market – Activity
  • Innovative Distribution – Challenge
  • Maldon Promenade – Photo Shoot
  • Webinar – Week 7 Paul Clements

I have clear view on the channels where I currently want to sell my photography which are the Photobook and fine art print market. As mentioned in my CRJ entry Your Market I have sometimes given work away without getting payment. Though I sometimes work with models on a Time for Prints basis which is a form of barter. Typically, that will be half a dozen edited digital images that have undergone very basic editing and the model has worked with me for typically 3 hours which based on their normal fees would equate to each digital image being worth about £20.

For my fine art work, I aspire to producing high quality prints using materials such as aluminium that immediately means I need to be selling individual images at more than £200 for ensure that I cover of printing. I don’t feel comfortable selling work at that price point to family members for ethical reasons that means I need to focus on working with a gallery, or marketing the work on line to drive any form of sales. To this end, I am in the process of refreshing my main website with the intent of introducing an online store for the sale of prints, books and zines. Each at different price points to attract different audiences. All will be limited editions making them a finite resource to help drive higher unit prices.

The innovative distribution challenge is a topic I have considered for some time especially when you look for ways to break into the photographic fine art market. Just doing what everyone else is doing is no longer sufficient to get yourself recognised. The costs for a gallery to exhibit at one of the major photo fairs is significant therefore they are only going to want to exhibit established photographers during those shows. It is always difficult to determine how much work really gets sold at these events. Though I view them as a PR event if you want to be considered as high end you need to be present at these events. If galleries can not afford to show emerging artists at these events but they are important from a profile perspective you better come up with alternative ways to promote your practice which has led me to consider different ways to create an intervention that do not result in me getting arrested. This thought process is the genesis behind the #wearmyart #buymyart concept where I walk around the show wearing my own artwork then recording it for distribution via social media.

The Maldon Promenade was an impromptu shoot so I only took my DSLR with a single lens in this case a 50mm prime. I have visited the promenade recently as the passage on Thistle ended at the quay which is at one end of the promenade. I gave me a change to rephotograph the boating lake which I had shared as part of the week 5 Activity on my photographic DNA. I tried to position the camera at the same location as the original image. Another challenge was the fact that due to poor note taking in those days I did not have any details on the lens or camera settings used to capture the image so I had to make a few educated guesses. Overall I think I got close and by shooting in landscape mode I could place the original inside the new image. The promenade has main benches for people to sit on and these all have plaques to remember people. These signifiers could act as a link from the pier work into images of other parts of the Essex coast.

The webinar in week 7 was my first chance to share photographic results of my promenade deck rubbings. I had shared some behind the scenes images from the shoot so both Paul and Philip knew about the work but not how I intended to combine the photographic and rubbing forms together into a final image. There was chance for me to share this work with Andrew who I had not meet prior to this week’s webinar. Overall the images met with positive feedback. I had grouped the images together with other images taken of the pier. The images under the pier showing the dark recesses of the pier was an image that Paul highlighted as interested as the reader might be interested to enquire more closely about the detail in the shadow space. This is something that is worth exploring further with a repeat trip to Walton Pier possibly at a different time when the tide is in. The other image that was viewed as successful was the close up of one of the pier leg showing the life forms that had decided to make the pier their home. The only image in the series that received negative feedback was the over the top plaque from a bench on Clacton Pier.

Overall this week’s webinar has given me confidence that directionally the work of the 4 Essex Piers achieves my intended objective to acts as a set of devices to contemplate life and the transition point from now into the future.

 

Oral Presentation – Reflection

This week’s reflection focuses on two activities:

  • Oral Presentation
  • Clacton and Walton Pier Shoots

In the last module, I prepared a script for my Oral Presentation and recorded the presentation late in the module. Though I felt the content covered was okay the production values for the presentation suffered due to the limited time spent on the assignment compared to the effort invested in the other two assessed pieces of work. I decided I wanted to rectify that situation and therefore committed to creating a draft much earlier in the module. For this draft I wanted to focus on topics covered by the weekly activities as they applied to my practice plus a light touch appraisal of my work in progress. The reason I decided on a light touch view of the work in progress is that I am still deciding how I read the work I have developed during the module. There are a couple of different stories that the images explore and because I am still at an early stage of the edit I am not sure which direction I want to take with the final edit.

The first  option is comparing the pier to an ocean going linear the promenade deck being a parallel to the upper decks used buy the wealthier classes and the piers superstructure the experience of a passage travelling in steerage who did not have access to the views of those on the promenade deck. Some piers along the Essex coast still maintain that segregation charging for access to the pier. Whiles do not charge an access fee creating a more democratic space.

The second option focuses on the beach representing the transition between the physical fixed aspects of the land compared to the the sea which is guild and never fixed. I view land to represent the present the here, now the past. The seas is a spiritual future possibly the afterlife. Pier that are perpendicular to coastline and for me represent a way for us in the physical world to reach into the world of the spirits. This view is referenced by the fact several people have used plaques and paddocks as mechanism of remembrance for someone who is no longer there. I think this reading of the pier is has power personally for me as we are approaching the first anniversary of the passing of my father-in-law. The challenges of dealing with loss but not forgetting instead celebrating a rich life weighs heavy within our house.

I got some great feedback from Krishna and Philip Singleton on my oral presentation and the work included in the draft version. I liked Philip and Krishna’s idea to use the pier as an outdoor studio and take images of the people who visit the pier especially those piers that do not charge an entrance fee as they are more democratic spaces. Recording the variety of people who visit the pier like the work of Jamie Hawksworth and his images from Preston Bus Station which similar to the pier is a transition point. The piers at Walton and Harwich continue as operational points of embarkation for vessels. This could add a new layer to my work that I think I want to develop further during my final project activity because I will have more time to develop the theme than during this module where my work is very much focusing on the pier as a structure and creating abstract images based on different parts of the pier.

I agreed with the feedback that I should include more images and I intend to move that aspect of the oral presentation away from a static PowerPoint presentation to a television style of presentation using lower third for text information rather than the text dominating the screen. 

The other part of the week was spent expanding my work in progress of the Essex piers visiting Walton for the first time and a repeat visit to Clacton to take images to broaden the body of work based on the development of thought following a recent trip to Harwich Pier. In addition, I have decided to add another dimension to the work by taking rubbings of the promenade deck. The process of taking a rubbing is a form of mechanical reproduction that predates their introduction of film, most closely associated with the photogram process where the transfer is achieved due the object being in direct contact with the object being recorded. Rubbing only capturing. Those elements of the pier that are in direct contact with the paper analogous to the focal plan of a photocopier. Applying too much pressure and the image of the contact surface becomes blurred. The promenade deck texture is the result of the rain, foot steps and natural decay of the wood combining to create unique forms. The rubbing is a trace or simulacra of those different elements compounding at a specific point on the deck similar yet no two areas are the same.

The rubbing reminds me of the images of the sea around the pier on a day where there is a light wind the water surface showing small peaks and troughs.

Overall I am happy with the development of a different image making process alongside those using lens based image making. In the coming weeks, I am going to explore how to bring the two forms together as part of this modules work in progress.

Stronger together – Reflection

The reflection post considers the following topics:

  • Activity Networking
  • Activity Meet Someone New
  • Draft Oral Presentation
  • Chelmsford Museum Open Day

The activities this week have made me think further about my practice and the regular activities I need to undertake to ensure that the practice can become sustainable. When putting together the outline for my Oral presentation one of the things that I have listed as an objective is to be a respected local photographer which is going to be difficult in nobody knows that you are a photographer. This means I need to invest time in making sure that people know me as a local photographer within Chelmsford and more broadly Essex. I can achieve that by attending relevant events and making sure my attendance at those events is publicised. I intend to do that through a variety of channels for general awareness via social media and secondly by direct mailing and word of mouth communication. Entering competitions is an activity that I can use to generate publicity and providing details of behind the scenes images is another way to show that I am an active photographer. My own assessment is that the basics are in place I now need to focus on using events and channels to generate awareness of me as a creative.

The activity to ‘meet someone new’ was an interesting challenge I am not some who is comfortable walking up to a stranger in the street and striking up a conversation however once I engage with someone I feel I am good at getting them to relax and tell me details about themselves that would allow me to create a photographic story about them that would allow another person to gain and understanding of the people without actually meeting them. Though regularly creating short visual stories of individuals could be a useful way of developing micro projects and allow me to tune skills that could be useful if I ever undertake documentary, lifestyle or photo-journalistic assignments.

In the Strategy and Surfaces module I left creating my Oral Presentation draft until very late in the module and as I result the final submitted presentation was the weakest assessed piece of work in the module. Creating and outline for the presentation is week 5 is a significant advance on the previous module and will allow me to create a draft recording 5 weeks earlier than the last module.

[pdf-embedder url=”http://fineart.photography/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Sustainable-Prospects-Oral-Presentation.pdf” title=”Sustainable Prospects Oral Presentation”]

In the outline for the Oral presentation I have focused on the learning activities we have completed in the first 5 weeks of the module identifying weaknesses in current practice and what needs to change to ensure practice objectives are achieved to reach a position where the practice is sustainable. At the current time the two priority areas are improved use of networks and the creation of an initial client base for my work. Though as those areas improve I will need to determine if that will then require me to make changes in other areas of my practice. I will therefore ensure that I review my business plans on a regular basis to reappraise areas for improvement while recognising those areas that have improved. Self belief is an important factor for anyone running their own business and just focusing on negative could be demoralising so I need to celebrate successes as well and maintain a balanced outlook.

Attending the open day for the Chelmsford Museum is a case in point around developing networks. The Mayor of Chelmsford attended the event so I used it as opportunity to generate some social media publicity for the event via my Instagram feed.

The Production Gallery for the Television Studio at Chelmsford Museum
The Mayor of Chelmsford becomes a camera operator for a few minutes

In addition the event allowed me to speak to the curator of Chelmsford Museum and firm up plans to record events when they start the redevelopment activities at Oaklands Park in the centre of Chelmsford. Nick the Head Curator informed me that a number of the exhibits will remain in storage post the redevelopment work so creating a photographic record would allow visitors to view objects while they remain in storage. The redevelopment of the site is an important event for the museum as main of the rooms have remained unchanged for a long period of time. In addition to this project I was also provided with a contact for the redevelopment of the Filter House which is likely to become the new home for the Chelmsford Sea Cadets, this would allow me to follow through on the advice given to me by Mark Power an the Magnum Photography event that I attended in the summer. It is these types of contacts that I will need to develop to help achieve my objective of becoming a respected photographer in Chelmsford and Essex. I feel I have a course plotted it is now all about the execution.

 

 

Show and Tell – Reflection

The reflection post considers the following topics:

  • Activity begin at the beginning
  • Marketing Plan
  • Harwich Pier - Project
  • Harwich to Maldon Passage - Project
  • London Photo Show

Week 4 has been a busy week with course assignments and project related activities that have some how naturally intertwined with each other. 

The first activity was to look back at our photographic DNA the essential building blocks of practice. Though Crick and Watson may not have discovered the building blocks of DNA that was done by other scientist prior to them they did decipher the construction of the DNA in the form of a double helix (Nature.com, 2017).My own photographic practice can not be described as a linear progression from my early images to the images I create in practice today. The reality is more complex though one of my early black and white images is of a yacht moored near Maldon and this week I was on a sailing badge on passage back to Maldon there are other strands of work that interlock with this work.

There is a stream of work that is informed by abstract images and concepts such as the exploding balloon which was driven my a desire to explore the technical limits of my photographic equipment so that methods and devices do not constrain practice (discussed in the Surfaces and Strategies module

There is another strand of my practice related to fashion and lifestyle photography. I am especially interested in commissions that take fashion and put it back into the real world which creates interesting challenges for the photographer because you are not 100% in control of all of the factors in the same way you are in the studio.

Then merging the two concepts together to create a body of work around performance art.

For me each of these different threads link together and provide me with the platform where I am 100% comfortable with the different photographic tools and I can focus on envisioning the story knowing that work from a previous body or work and provide me with the platform for the most recent work.

The second activity of the week was related to the development of a marketing plan, marketing is some that I really need to develop to transform my practice from a hobby into a sustainable business. I have had accounts on social media for a long time yet I have used them as a consumer of information rather than a producer, so I have committed being more active on social media. When taking this decision I wanted to make sure it was with purpose rather than just posting content for the sake of posting content. I decided to post my material under 3 broad themes the first two are about allow a social media to gain insight into the photographer behind the work. I decided to use two hashtags to group these posts #commuterlife (my journey to and from work) and #essexlife for posts related to my life outside of the work environment. The third hashtags is related to projects and for my current project I am using the hashtag #tilbury2harwich. The number of followers on social media increased in the later part of the week when I increased the number of photographic and art magazines that I am following. I managed to double my followers in 1 week to 68.

For my work in progress I had two different shoots scheduled for the week. The first was to shoot the 3rd of the 4 pleasure piers along the Essex coast and second to passage on a Thames sailing barge to travel along part of the Essex Coast.

Harwich Pier is also known as halfpenny pier because that was the cost of the ferry between Harwich and Felixstowe. The pier is the shortest of the 4 piers however I was able to find sufficient opportunity to  photograph the pier from the same angles as Southend and Clacton that I had recorded at an earlier date. The pier is interesting because it does not stretch out into the sea in the sea in the same was Clacton or Southend do. It runs for half of its length parallel to the shoreline. I found this interesting to consider in relation to the other piers that I view as providing longer transition into the fluid ever changing world of the water. If you consider that land represents the here and now and water represents the future or spirit world a pier can be seen as a device that allows us to extend the present into the future. Harwich pier was interesting in because the pier hosts a number of benches with a plaque that records the passing of a family member acting a trace of the person that has gone before and possible spent time on the pier. The benches also provide the us with a place to sit and reflect.

The other purpose for travelling to Harwich was to get passage on the Thames Sailing barge Thistle on its passage back to Maldon which would allow me to consider out relationship with the coast from the sea. I could not use the trip exclusively for taking photographs as passage was partly conditional on me helping crew the boat on its journey to its home port. The intention was to sail for as much of the journey as possible as possible and that meant our course would be governed by the elements of wind and tide with the storm Brian due to hit the Essex coast on Monday evening. If we consider the pier as a device to extend the here and now into the future or spirit world the barges course would be most be dictated by the water and world of the future. If we did not reach Maldon on the rising tide it would be very difficult to reach Maldon Quay and be moored up before the storm arrived. This made me consider the influence we really have on the world around us and I decided to record images during the passage that showed the passing of the land but also the devices sailors use to harness the elements and navigate safely back to land.

The wind and tide was kind to us and we managed to dock on the morning tide on Monday as Tuesday was the day I needed to be in London to deliver my artwork for the London Photo Show that was due to open on Wednesday.

Tuesday morning the artwork was delivered and I got the first chance to see the Strand Gallery from the inside. The gallery was split across two levels and my work was due to be hung in the basement area. The gallery has plenty of wall space but parts of it are maybe not optimal for exhibiting work but it does provide a neutral base for exhibiting work. Being exhibited as part of a bigger show meant that I had no control over the work that would be exhibited next to mine though I had produced a hanging guide for the team to use when hanging my work.

Wednesday evening was preview evening the great thing about being at a group show is there were plenty of people present to view the work and I managed to speak to a number of different people about the story behind the work and artistic decisions I had taken. I produced promotional cards so that for people to take with them when they left the gallery. Though the limited space downstairs meant it got very hot so I did not stay with my work all evening potentially missing out on the chance to engage with more people and promote myself and my work in person.  It was nice to meet Paul Clements who got to see my work in physical form rather than the digital form which is how as flexible students most of our work is consumed. I really like the gallery construct as a way of exhibiting work as showing the work in a physical form for me feels more resolved that a digital product.

As a footnote in recent years I had been moving away from purchasing books in physical form to more of a digital presentation though having visited a number of exhibitions and exhibiting my own work there is something more permanent about photography in physical form maybe there is also a sense of nostalgia for analogue photography creeping to my practice though it is difficult to beat the flexibility of digital in the create part of the workflow.    

References

  • Nature.com. (2017). Discovery of DNA Double Helix: Watson and Crick | Learn Science at Scitable. [online] Available at: https://www.nature.com/scitable/topicpage/discovery-of-dna-structure-and-function-watson-397 [Accessed 4 Nov. 2017].

The digital new possibilities – Reflection

This weeks reflection post considers the following topics:

  • Use of social media in promoting a practice
  • Shoot preparation of Barge passage Harwich to Maldon
  • Final preparation of opening night at London Photo Show

This week has been an opportunity to reconsider the use of social media to help promote my practice. Currently I have a full time job that occupies about 60 hours of my week. Traditionally for my Photographic Practice I have focused on activities that cover all stages of the photographic lifecycle starting with the development of project concepts, execution to create bodies of work and then the associated post-production. I have been developing my practice profile through exhibitions with the London Photo Show being my second London based exhibition in the last 2 years.

When the different social media platforms stated to become popular such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn I created accounts partly because I recognised the importance of getting my piece of real estate for my name claimed on the different platforms, to allow for a consistent identity across the platforms. Though a desire to take conservative position on the use of social media due to the fact my employers introduced policies on social media usage I very much operated as a consumer. Now that social media has become more accepted as a platform for promotion and organisations understand how to engage with these platforms I am reviewing my usage of platforms to support development of my practice.

Based on my research, use of social media for marketing I believe a using Instagram alone is not necessarily the correct strategy achieve the goal of connecting with my target audience. During the week I experiment with a number of different approaches to engage with an audience and increase followers. I found that following galleries and art publications resulted in an increase in the number of followers however those followers were passive in nature. My definition of passive followers is accounts that follow you but do not interact in terms of likes, shares or reposts. Ultimately it is the level of active engagement that will increase the chance of a social media platform featuring my account and help accelerate engagement further.

I currently do not have enough data to evaluate the effectiveness of my use of social media as a marketing platform. It will require more than a few weeks of social media activity to determine which strategies work best to drive engagement though the generally accepted view appears to be that consistent patterns of usage work best to encourage and reward follower loyalty. My view as a new photographic name I need to build a social media following that is greater than the following of more established contemporary photographers. The size of a social media to drive a sustainable practice is something  that requires further consideration. Photographers such as Mark Power have 26,000 followers.

In my original research project proposal I decided to explore the Essex coastline through different perspectives,  to date my shoots have been land based however on Sunday 15th and Monday 16th of October with the help of TopSail Charters I will be on board the Thames barge Thistle when she makes passage from Harwich to Maldon as part of the crew introducing a water based or reverse coastal perspective to the work. This week I contacted the TopSail’s offices to confirm details for the passage from Harwich to Maldon the barge’s home port. This trip will allow me to observe the coast from the sea and follow part of the traditional commercial routes that would have been used to transport goods from Essex to London. It was agreed that I would embark at Harwich Pier at 16:30 and that we would either sail on the Sunday evening tide arriving back in Maldon on the midday or midnight tide depending on the weather conditions. Now it was just a case of me packing clothes and photographic equipment for the trip. Following part of the traditional trade routes for me is an important part of connecting with the history of the county especially the coastal area.

The week involved work at the other end of photographic production timeline, preparation for the London Photo Show with the final countdown to the show with final pre-show tasks to complete, these including the printing and mounting of the ‘Artist Statement’, ‘Exhibit Title’, Labels and ‘Layout Guide’ that I would provide to the team responsible for hanging my work. These activities are discussed in more detail in the following post these three activities for me highlight how much time a photographer spends on business activities when running a professional practice. For me each week is a constant challenge of balancing the time required to develop my practice while recognising the fact that it is in the start-up phase and has yet to transition to a viable business where income in the medium term equals or is greater than the associated operating costs.