SP Coursework weekly activities

Who buys photography? (part 2) 22/11/18

This week was about the financial aspect of selling photography. Having read it I have downloaded the documents ready for when I might need them. They can also be seen here:

Pricing your photography

Terms and conditions

Estimates, Production, Invoices

Who buys photography? 13/11/18

The main sectors, taken from this week’s lecture:

  1. Communication agencies
  2. Businesses
  3. Magazines and newspapers
  4. E-commerce and catalogues
  5. PR companies
  6. Record companies and music companies
  7. Book publishers
  8. The general public

Numbers 7 and 8 are the most relevant to my work. Its focus on vernacular narrative means that my images are unlikely to be bought as singles, but as sets which form a photo book. However, I do have images which are not narrative in style. These are aesthetically pleasing singles which in theory could be used in magazines or possibly PR companies.

Challenge – innovative distribution. 5/11/18

This task required us to find new ways to distribute our work, without printing or posting online.  I had to work on this task quickly as I was preparing for my face to face weekend at Paris Photo:

I have a transcript of recent communications between myself and a genealogy researcher friend. I’ve taken a screenshot of part of it, and overlaid with some images which form parts of the narrative I’m trying to tell, relating to a 1920s photo album I’m working with.

My idea would be to use parts of the transcript, elements of text and photos from the original album, alongside my new images. Each resultant image would be narrative – heavy . The method of distribution I would choose would be projection – either onto a surface photographed in one of the originals (eg a harbour wall, Pathé studios), or more locally within an empty shop – if I was allowed permission), library or the trees in a public garden.

Although I rushed this task,  it gave me a lot to think about and I could really see it working as a means to show my work to the general public.

If I were doing this properly, I would separate the text out more and use it in a fragmented fashion, perhaps in similar sentence lengths to text in the album.

Tutor feedback on my forum post suggested that I look at the work of Steve Messam http://www.stevemessam.co.uk/cv.htm (Links to an external site.) and Rebecca Smith  https://www.urbanprojections.com/ (Links to an external site.) ; think about who sees my work and what they gain from it; how I wish them to respond. After mentioning that I still struggle to see who realistically will be my audience, one idea is that I show it in local libraries in places that are mentioned in my albums – and catch the audience off guard. This is an attractive idea that I will consider once my project is complete.

Networking – 25/10/18

My plans to network more are evolving. Therefore I will keep this update brief, and include an outline of my activities and plans:

1. I have signed up for the Coventry City of Culture 2021 newsletter, as I have an idea I would like to broach with them. Before I do so though I want to make sure I’m up to date with what’s already happening with the run up to the year.

2. In town I noticed a new shop had opened and went in and engaged in a conversation with the owner. She has the upstairs to her premises opening next week and will feature work from local artists. We exchanged some details about each other, such as creative interests, ambitions etc and said we would keep in touch (initially via Instagram).

3. Visited the local museum (even Kettering has one)! I was hoping for some networking possibilities here but unfortunately this didn’t happen. I will go again to look at the ‘what’s on’ section, although the area where I live is a quite sparse, culturally. I guess it’s up to me to find something,I just need to keep looking – and in the right places.

4. I have emailed four organisations to ask if they would be willing to collaborate on a project with me. Adapting my email for each recipient, I explained what I would like the to do, and why. Briefly, I wanted them to take a photo on their phone of something (no people) and email it to me. I promised to acknowledge and reference their work. The organisations I emailed were:

a) Monte Carlo Casino

b) British Pathé

c) Grand Hotel Londra, San Remo, Italy

d) Barry (South Wales) Tourist Office

e) Cheltenham Tourist Office

f) MAYN Creative

I emailed one of these yesterday, and all of the others today. So far I have had one reply, complete with four photo attachments. I will be very happy if I receive just one more reply!

Collaboration - photo credit to J. Hoyle,  British Pathé
Figure 12. FigCollaboration – photo credit to J. Hoyle, British Pathé
Figure 11. Collaboration – photo credit to J. Hoyle, British Pathé

5. I continue to follow more people on Instagram, especially whose work I admire or can give great photography tips and advice, and am starting to make my FaceBook page look more business like before I make it ‘live’.

Finally, I am considering joining one of the RPS speciality groups, but so far can’t decide which one my work fits best into. So I will look further at their blogs and portfolios before I decide.

Task – meet someone new – 25/10/18

When I am in my classroom with 30 odd teenagers I feel comfortable, confident, authorative and friendly. I can talk with ease In front of 300 odd people and not let the nerves show. Parent meetings don’t phase me. I’m experienced in restorative justice processes in the work place (this means more listening, prompting than talking). Work routines and being well prepared suit me.

But ask me to start talking to someone I don’t know, someone I may not have anything in common with, or know what to talk about , and that confidence quickly evaporates. I’ll feel uncomfortable. I’ll still come across as friendly (I hope), but certainly more introvert, or at least that’s how I feel. I don’t like small talk, preferring to read a magazine at the hairdressers than to pass the time of day.

So today I took a 10-year old on a trip to Leicester and I promised myself that I would try this challenge. Knowing that I was going to visit a certain fabric market stall, I prepared ahead and looked at their website, found out who the owner was and what some of their core values are. This meant that I was able to initiate a conversation with something to talk about.

The stall owner wasn’t there – this is the information I remember the employee telling me. (I kept it in my head until I left the market and wrote it on my phone. I also took these photos ‘snaps’ on my iPhone.)

Martin has worked on the stall for a number of years now, but not as long as the owner Stuart – 37 years. He thinks the market is losing customers because it’s become a bit run down, dowdy. Work is about to start on updating, starting with the area to the right of this stall. The roof is going to be improved. He thinks that hopefully it will bring in more customers.

I said to Martin that he didn’t sound like he had a Leicester accent. He said he had a bit of everything, so I asked him to go on. He thought there was a bit of Welsh as well as Leicester and other places. So picking up on Welsh, I asked him whereabouts – he didn’t know but thought it might be somewhere in the valleys.

Although the (relatively short) conversation in some respects wasn’t easy for me (what if he thought I was trying to chat him up / wanted a discount?), actually it went well. By the time we left , Martin had become more jovial, laughing, and wishing us a happy day. As do many sales assistants – but he repeated it to us when he saw us walking past a few minutes later.

Perhaps Martin told me more – writing it down on the spot would have helped, but then I couldn’t have kept eye contact and it would have felt more invasive.

I took a couple of shots which showed empty market stalls in amongst others that are thriving,  the roof that’s going to be worked on, and Stuart’s fabric stall at the back. Not very imaginative photos I’m afraid, for me the most important aspect of this exercise was the communication , I learnt a lot about myself.


Week 4 – Begin at the beginning

As I have never worked in the field of professional photography, I am using the term ‘work’ here to mean images that I have produced in response to a particular, personal state of mind or emotion. This is opposed to images that I might call ‘snaps’ in the traditional sense, such as family photographs, holidays and other things that I take in order to record a memory of a particular place or time.

Today, my practice is still more involved with making than taking images, although they are more narrational in style, and are not personal. (Except in the odd one where I use myself as a prop!) You’ll rarely find a landscape photo that I have taken, or something that hasn’t been edited post-production in some way (although this is a habit that I try to break periodically).

I see myself as an artist who works with photography, rather than a photographer.

A marketing plan

Getting to grips with a business plan is a real challenge for me, two main reasons: a) I don’t have a business mind (hence the importance of this module for me), and b) I still struggle to think that anyone will pay to see (or own) my work.  So I have had to think long and hard and try to be as objective and honest with myself as possible. Although this plan may be basic, my aim is to persevere in meeting all my objectives, and if possible set myself new challenges within the next 10 weeks (that’s the teacher in me) as my plans develop.

My long term plan is for me to leave my current job at the end of the academic year. I wish to pursue a career in an area which gives me as much satisfaction as I have in teaching, but with new challenges. If this is to materialise, I will have to have made a decision by the end of May 2019. It’s clear that photography is not going to earn me a living, but it may subsidise something else – alternatively I may look to continue my education. The following points are in no particular order yet. Next week is a work holiday and a great opportunity for me to develop this plan more strategically and start putting it into action.

1. The relative success I achieved last week on IG was short lived. To maintain the level of engagement I will post more regularly, and keep my subject matter relevant and professional. I now have a personal and a business account, the latter in the process of being tidied up. It is linked to a FaceBook page which also needs setting up properly. My twitter account has been inactive for a while but I intend using this regularly to post links to relevant articles / exhibitions / the photography art world. Naturally these accounts will need to be linked to each other as well as my website. The website needs tidying up a little, especially in terms of gallery titles. Presently these reflect work in progress or working titles – mostly because I find it difficult to give them meaningful names. This will improve as a matter of urgency.

2. I’ll decide which images to print for an up to date portfolio. Listening to this week’s guest lecturer Maximus Barnett has helped me to consolidate my thinking, particularly paying attention to colour, shape and textures as well as subject matter.

3. Most of my images don’t work as stand – alones, but as sets; therefore I feel my market is limited. Researching possible clientele is near the top of my to-do list, before I do this it’s vital that I find a way of describing my work more succinctly (as discussed in last week’s webinar).

4. The postcards I made have yet to be posted, as I have been researching appropriate places to send them. As mentioned by Maximus and Anna this week in their discussion, sending the cards to professionals who have no interest in the subject matter is a waste of time (and money).

5. I intend to create a strategic plan after choosing 4-5 photographers or artists whose work I particularly admire. Looking at their qualifications, experience, success and failures (we all have them!) will give me inspiration and ideas on how to progress with my work and promote it.

6. My workspace is in need of a spring clean as it’s presently cluttered and disorganised. This has come about due to work loads and not spending enough time to maintain a tidy and organised working environment. This includes both physical and digital spaces.

7. Last module I paid for a professional scan of my work, which is in pdf format. Ideally I would like to print this and send it to potential clients.

8. Presently I am unsure how (who) to approach to see my work, I would like to arrange meetings but this is something I need help with.

9. There will be an opportunity for portfolio reviews at the upcoming face-trace event in Paris, which I will take advantage of.

10. Positivity breeds positivity. I aim to be more positive and confident about my work and what I can achieve. Another tip to myself from the guest lecture – spend more time with my own ideas.

Week three activity: image virus

This task has really got me thinking, and experimenting; and I’ve certainly not finished yet. My initial image came about using a found 1920s photo album as stimuli.

I did start off by emailing my image to contacts, but decided not to pursue that avenue as they weren’t the audience I was looking for.

So far I have posted four versions of the same image on Instagram; each of them designed to be enigmatic, part of a story. I’ve had more views when I’ve added them to my story.  Following this, I made postcards of my four images:

Screen shot of the four images
Screen shot of the four images, each one of them now a postcard too

As they all relate to the found album, I photographed the postcards together with scans of some of the album photos. Additionally, I purchased some WW1 memorabilia, linking to the album and also my images. I photographed one of these items with the postcard and original photo:

Scan of original photo over my image, with WW1 RAF uniform button
IMG_5443 copy
Scan of original photo of Monte Carlo harbour, over my image

The postcards I printed will be be posted, once I have made a list of relevant contacts.  They will be posted together with one of the scans, a piece of memorabilia; and will have my email and website address on the back, nothing else. Afterwards I will keep an eye on the stats for my website to see if this exercise has any effect.  Photos of my ‘mixes’ will be posted on IG.

Week 3 task: Instagram

Mostly I have used my IG account for photos ‘on the go’ – straight out of my iPhone, with no filters. Only occasionally have I posted anything else until this week, when I have taken part in the virus challenge. This has made me think far more deeply about what I am posting; and I have noticed a distinct change in my ‘likes’. My personal friends like my personal posts, whereas this week I have had more likes and followers from other photographers and artists. (This is not to say I’ve had very many, though). I realise that to get more followers and therefore more people seeing my images, I need to develop my signature to enable my audience to know what to expect from my work. Mixing personal and professional images is not a good strategy for me. Some professional photographers keep their IG feeds entirely free of their work, and still have thousands of followers; I would expect that this strategy only is viable after their own ‘brand’ and reputation has been established. Additionally I need to do further research into hashtags, I am very much a novice at this.As of yesterday my account is now a business one, and linked to a Facebook page. I’ve looked at the times of day / week when my audience are most likely to see my work, and have downloaded an app so that I can plan my posts in advance. I’ve looked at the promotion tools in order to boost a post, and this is something for me to consider once I have my signature brand decided.Things to do next:

1. Check out and improve hashtag usage

2. Separate my personal and professional accounts

3. Decide on my own particular style for IG

4. Post at regular intervals and at the same time of day

4. And then decide on an image to promote

Week two

Copyright law

In week two we looked briefly at copyright law; in particular the case between Prince vs. Cariou. The link to the case can be found  here

My thoughts were as follows. This practice isn’t limited to the photography world, it’s also commonly seen in the music industry where one artist ‘borrows’ the work of another – think cover versions and sampling for example. Listen to Rihanna’s SOS and hear the same riff taken from Soft Cell’s Tainted Love. Whether or not she sought permission, I’m unsure.

My own work uses found photography, and always at the back of my mind are the ethical questions of ‘whose work was / is this?’ ;  how might the family of the original feel if they saw my work ?’  Appropriation has been long – used in art.

Personally, I think that if the original artist is still living then where possible their permission should be sought to use their work. In the music industry, after the artist has been dead for 50 years it’s fair play.

A peer commented on my post, and discussed copyright law, writing:

 “UK law would seem to be on your side with found photography, as it stipulates that copyright is not infringed when “it is not possible by reasonable inquiry to ascertain the identity of the author”. Or “that the author died 70 years or more before the beginning of the calendar year in which the act is done or the arrangements are made.” Reference: Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. 2018. Legislation.gov.uk [online]. Available at: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1988/48/part/I/chapter/III/crossheading/miscellaneous-literary-dramatic-musical-and-artistic-works [accessed 2 October 2018].

I’ll be adding the link to my reading list.

Let’s talk business

Providing a mission statement for our discussions this week was difficult! By necessity it meant tidying up all the loose ends of my thinking and try to work out what it was exactly that I wanted to do, post degree. I am happy with my overall vision, but it definitely will be tweaked quite a lot as my work progresses and my ideas modify.

  • Mission statement

Name’ creates high quality bespoke personalised artwork for its clients; following a period of research and resourcing.

After an initial collaboration to involve the client providing objects such as old photographs and memorabilia, the artist creates a series of new photographs of a contemporary design, using the originals as stimuli.

Often the work involves independent research to uncover relevant historical information. This may involve genealogical research should the client wish this; as well as the sourcing of relevant artefacts to further aid design.

The result is a modern, unique product which celebrates and preserves the memory of family ancestry, or other histories.

  • The product

The product comes in the form of either a Photobook, or a series of prints. Each Photobook is individually designed and available for purchase solely by the client. In addition to photographs, the book may contain samples of other relevant memorabilia – examples of this could include tickets, flowers, text, and archives.

Historically, family photo albums have served to preserve the memories of our ancestors; however these become worn or damaged over time, with many of them being given to flea markets or sold at auction. This new product will enable family history to be remembered in a contemporary way.

Clients will be able to choose a selection of larger prints as an alternative to the book.

  • The market

Commissions will be made to order. Families who wish to have a bespoke familial item of art in their home would use this service.

Additionally, the hope would be to eventually create similar designs for places of specific cultural interest where arts councils or museums wish to celebrate or promote their heritage. An example to aspire to would be to produce such a piece for the city of Coventry as it becomes the next City of Culture.

Week one

Task: take one photo a day for a week that defines both myself and the week.

I made the decision early on not to take photos of my family, tempting as it was. Also, it’s difficult for me to leave my images alone, one I’ve taken them.  The originals of these five pictures were taken on five different days this week, although three of them were post-processed today, as it was my day off. They are representative of some of the activities I’ve been doing this week.

  • Me time, checking social media at the hairdresser’s
Me time
  • The back of one of the 1920s photos I am researching for my current project. Who were the Athertons?
Research time
  • Bathroom towel, printed on sun-sensitive paper; water and fairy liquid (shower gel didn’t work) splashed over the top of it and left in the sun to dry. Original shown with new image overlaid. The towel belongs to my husband who is away  on business. Dog walking and house duties are my responsibility.
  • Headphones from my classroom, printed on sun sensitive paper. Left to fade in the sun, and helped with a bit of post-processing,
IMG_20180927_0003 copy
Key Stage 3 Music
  • Lunchtime duty at school. I took a bag and picked up some of the rubbish from the field. A small amount of it was placed on sun-sensitive paper. Before and after photos overlaid.
Lunch duty