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Alumni presentation&Portfolio Review

10 November 2017

On the last day of Creative Exchange Week, we had 7 Alumni come in to present an introduction to their own work and practice and then had the chance for them to do portfolio reviews on our own work. There were a range of different practices and styles of work among them, and each person gave a short presentation into who they are and what they do.

Each presentation was interesting in their own ways, and showed a range of photographic practices which were all equally engaging as a viewer. Some Alumni were more similar to my own interests than others, however it was still useful to see the others as well.

Daniel Ainsworth who runs Pupils Sphere talk was in particular interesting as it shows ways of working with photography other than taking photos. He spoke of curatorial practice and working with exhibitions.

Tom Duffield spoke about his photo book 'The Whole House is Shaking' (which I went to the launch of the night before). He mentioned what the project is about and a little bit into the inspiration behind some of the images. An interesting point about his project, was that it turned into more of a collaboration between family members which is something I can consider in the development of my own project.  One thing he said that stuck with me is about making work without knowing where its going to go, in which he ended his presentation with some of his own images. This is something I need to do more of, as I'm often focused on one project that I may miss photo opportunities for others.

Other speakers included Sophie Abbott who produced a fine art based project for her FMP but then went into fashion, Tim Brown who also spoke about his FMP and going from BA to MA in Digital Media, Nicole Jopek who produces fashion work, Laura Patrick from a commercial perspective and Sam Welburn who produces Landscapes but also worked with the Archive in his project 'Coalface'.

I also had a portfolio review with Sam Welburn as looking on his website before he has a project titled 'Son of Fire' which concentrated on his Grandfather and also combined archival material which was similar to my project I am currently starting. A few points I took from the review:

  • Keep Shooting. He mentioned I had already a good amount of images but to keep shooting as doing this will give me a wider range of material to work with. 
  • Speaking about myself being unsure if to take portraits of my grandmother, he said take them anyways. Even if I don't use them, it still works to try it and something may come from them that I hadn't thought of before. 
  • Evidence everything. Shoots, and everything in between as all this is included in the development of this project.
  • Following on from the last point, he also suggested having conversations and recording them to listen back. Through these nothing may come, yet in some, things may occur which can be useful to my project. 
  • He also commented on the wide range of approaches I had done which doesn't narrow down my project and is something I can work with moving forward.  

Book Launch // Tom Duffield

9 November 2017
This was a free day in terms of the creative week at University, so a small group of us decided to go to the launch of Thomas Duffield's new book 'The Whole House is Shaking'. It was held at Village Books in Leeds. I've heard of this book store through social media before but had never visited until today. Photo books is something I got more interested in last year when creating my own, and as I started to engage a lot more with photography in my second year, I have definitely developed an appreciation to the time, effort and detail that is required to produce one. The shop was full with the launch so I didn't get a chance to have a good look around but it's definitely a place I want to revisit, spend time in and maybe make a few purchases whilst I'm there... 
The simplicity of the photographs yet the complexity of the book is what draws me into it. Each photograph compliments the next and the edit of the book works so beautifully to the narrative portrayed. The use of pages from his sisters school books as small inserts in between the pages are a vital part of the book, and works so well against the photographs included and towards the narrative for the viewer. Overall, an amazing book from the photographs to the physical book and one that I just couldn't leave without buying.   

Frede Spence // TWENTY TWENTY Agency

8 November 2017
On Wednesday, we had a talk from Frede Spencer who runs the photo agency Twenty Twenty representing commercial and editorial work. He is also the co-founder of Photo Meet. He went through each of the artists who are represented by the agency and some of the work they each do which was very varied but each had a unique twist on the visual language they used to create the work. 
One he did mention was a Vespa advert created by Will Sanders in which he ''does what he has to do and then shoots for himself and his own portfolio'' which I thought was an interesting way of working, and a great way in order to deliver what a client wants but also work in your own creative way for yourself.  
A theme that run throughout majority of the photographers at the agency have skills in more than one creative field. Often the photographers can also produce moving images as well for example and he mentioned this is something that is looked for within the industry today. Therefore it's a good idea to aim to learn wider skills than just photography. He also spoke of networking and being open and approachable is a great way to be as a photographer. 

Another interesting aspect of Frede's talk was when he spoke about becoming an agent. He started by doing photography himself and assisting someone. After doing this, he realised he didn't want to do it but still wanted to work with photography. This is when he decided to open Twenty Twenty in order to be able to still work within the industry without being a photographer. This made me realise there are other opportunities in order to be able to work with photography and creative people without just being a photographer which I found an interesting aspect to be able to look into.

Other aspects he spoke about was Self Promotion, the importance of social media, what to do in order to get yourself out there, what he looks for which was helpful to know what you can do to make yourself stand out and the different jobs you can look into within the creative industry. 

The second section of the talk was Photo Meet, what it is and the experience of a weekend there. Talks with artists are put on over the 2 days also, but along with this it's generally a great place to hang out and get involved within the community. He spoke of how valuable the experience of photo meet can be and the different doors it can open from just attending. Portfolio reviews are just one of the benefits you can attend at the meet up, reviews are from industry professionals who you can book with from all different job roles (magazine editors, curators etc). At the end he also gave us specific information on Portfolio Reviews on what to do, how to put your portfolio together and what is looked for within them which was interesting to know.  

Lastly, two great pieces of information he gave to us that stood out to me in particular is to ''not worry about making a wrong move, just make it' and also to ''Be yourself and Be into it''  and see what happens from there.  

Photo book club // Matt Johnston Talk

7 November 2017

With the morning being filled with a talk from Pablo, in the afternoon, we had Matt Johnston which interest lies with the photo book. From making my own photo book for my narrative project last year, it really interested me in the production of a book so this talk was a must.

Considerations on the photobook - its histories, status, and the construction of meaning through the multiple.

''The photobookwork, then, is a series of images - that is tightly knit, well-edited, organised group or set of images in a linear sequence presented in book form''  

Matt brought up some really interesting points about many aspects of the photo book and sequencing images that I wouldn't of thought of before and will be points to consider in the future when sequencing images and producing work with the potential to be made into a final book. Firstly, He mentioned the Photo Book Club which he runs, what it is and why he does it, and how its expanded across the globe in order to get like minded people speaking about different photo books. Then he went onto the photo book itself and how different meanings can be made just by adding or taking a photograph away from a sequence, or pairing two images which one way could mean something, and the other way round can mean something different. Images can be sequenced in many ways, some can just aesthetically fit together due to similar colours, shapes, compositions maybe, however this isn't the only way images will sequence. We can sequence through an atmospheric feel to the images or two images may not fit together aesthetically but as a series may add important narrative that the artist wants.  As viewers of images,narrative is often made through association which creates meaning. We make connections between images which allows us to read photo books however conflict can be added (images that don't quite fit) which disrupts our own readings. Following on from this, he added a quote to his presentation which I will add here-
''Keith Smith notes the international and ambiguous nature of these sequences implying two terms; the 'Random referral' - free association made by the viewer, and the '(directed) referral' - as an intentional relationship set up by the picture maker''  This was an interesting point that stood out to me in order to consider when producing a book. The viewer will naturally make associations that are out of your control, however as the artist, you can make decisions in order to intentionally make or disrupt associations that the viewers make when viewing your book. Also in terms of sequencing, repetitive sequencing (same layout within each page for example) can get too familiar and the viewer can get to predict the next page, switching layouts throughout the book can keep the viewers attention for longer. Another important aspect that was said was also when sequencing our own work, we need to take a step back and disconnect ourselves in order to see a wider picture.

At the end of the talk, we did a workshop, in groups we had a go at sequencing images that Matt had brought in. For the first task, we were given a small amount of images to sequence and create different narratives. In the group, we made a few different sequences in which each told a slightly different narrative depending on the way we ordered them. 
For the Second
For the Second part of the workshop, in the same groups we were then given a larger amount of work from one photographers various series and then sorted and arranged them into sequence. Firstly we started with sorting the images that matched aesthetically into groups. Then we started to look at how these groups worked together. After sorting the images, we were then given sentences to add to the pictures on what we thought went together to create a narrative. The final task were to sequence the images into how they would be presented in a book, using any of the images and also adding in blank spaces.    

Multifaceted Practitioner // Pablo Antoli Talk

As part of the Creative Exchange week we had a series of guest lectures which were all very interesting and covered a wide range of approaches and skills. Pablo Antoli was the first talk I attended in the week, he covered his career so far and the different types of work he is doing which is both personal and commercial. He spoke about how he uses commercial work in order to make money alongside doing documentary projects which he wishes to do.  He spoke about how his commercial work and the project and theory work seem disconnected to each other and is figuring out a way in which all his work may fit together. This was interesting as often as creatives we may find ourselves working on more than one project at one time, but this doesn't necessarily mean they have to be completely separate. 
The importance of assisting photographers and what this can achieve was something he also spoke about. Assisting can change your own workflow and in turn can change the outcome of your own work. This allows you to be exercising your own skills and at the same time developing more skills which is valuable to your own practice. He also said 'Find work through work' which was followed by how assisting photographers can also be a good way to network and it may open up other opportunities from there. Word of mouth between photographers can be a powerful tool in order to keep going but you've got to start. Which is another point he emphasised, to send the emails asking if a photographer needs an assistant is a great way to start.
In terms of his work he showed on the day, it was a mix of different work. From his commercial to his personal work which visually were very different. His personal work was documenting his travels, some were sculptural objects using layered and folded imagery which was an interesting way of working compared to other approaches, and he also spoke about his interest with how the photographic object behaves physically and its ability to produce truth and narrative which is something I feel like I'm interesting in within my own practice.