Week 2 – reflection

Although the purpose of this MA, for me, is to transfer into a more photography-based self-employed/employed status, I am also fortunate to have gained various skills throughout my working life in the world of business promotion, marketing etc.

At present, I am a communications and marketing manger in my ‘day job’. This involves writing press releases and dealing with media requests/crisis, managing social media and website content, and designing promotional materials among other work. I am a qualified journalist, with a specialism in business reporting, and I also run my own participatory photography business. To add to this, I offer freelance PR and short promotional filmmaking to small businesses. In the past I have worked as a photographer’s assistant, a photo studio manager, a mini-lab supervisor and a medical photographer (twice).

As week two has focussed on how to set up a business, primarily creating a business plan, it has felt a tad “been there, done that’ for me. But the course has a variety of students of all ages, in various countries and at all experience levels, and I truly believe that no matter how much of an expert you may feel you are, there is always something new to learn.

The advice on copyright has been handy to  me. I know that I have a tendency with my photo-art to not be too worried if someone liked it so much they downloaded it. But I will try and remember to always use low res images on my social/websites from now on. Information relating to insurance has been useful – I do have insurance but it is very helpful to learn what else is out there and what extras I need to take into account such as goods in trust.

The task this week was to write a business plan. I struggled with this as I already have one for ShutterPod and my mind found it hard to see my MA project as a business. Instead I put myself as the commodity. I only had time to put together a brief mission statement and pointers about the product and market (as below) but I will now refine whether or not I plan to keep ShutterPod as a separate entity or combine my personal work with it. It’s good to reconsider options and make adjustments if necessary.

Mission statement

At the core of my practice is a consideration for the natural world. I aim to use the least environmentally toxic alternative photographic processess, often using camera-less techniques to create work that responds to environmental issues on a local and global scale. I also use vegan art materials where possible to ensure everyone can enjoy the work I make.

I create photographic art to sell direct to individuals, while also taking part in residencies and collaborations and responding to commissioned projects.

In addition, I also offer workshops in a number of alternative/historic photographic processes to individuals, businesses and health and social care-related organisations and can provide photographic archive support to museums or heritage centres.

The Product

Photographic art that has an environmental and ethical conscience.

Educational opportunities for individuals, business or health and social care organisations.

Support for photographic history projects in the museum/heritage sector.

The Market

Individual buyers/collectors

Art residencies/collaborations

Commissioned projects

Workshops

Health/social care-related projects

Museum/heritage sector support

Chatting in the webinar was really useful this week. It’s fascinating to see where people’s work may take them from the student working with injured veterans to the one thinking along fashion lines from a bee-related photographic project.

I spoke about what I see as my three aims. The first is me as a photo-artist; the second as a photo-artist who delivers workshops through ShutterPod; and the third as someone who has tried to gain interest and support for the creation of a dedicated photographic venue in Cornwall.

A fellow student reminded me of the work of the PZGallery. The last time I had looked into this it was early days; probably about the same time I had approached finance bodies and social enterprise support programs about creating a world-renown photography centre in Cornwall. It now seems to be on track to become a great space for photography and I will be getting in touch to see if there are any collaboration opportunities. We also discussed the new photo/video agency MAYN at Falmouth University – once more, I will be making connections there too.

It really does feel at the moment that I can return to working within photography on a full-time basis; the plan is to build on as much as I can during this final MA year so that I am ready for any new opportunities I create or that present themselves. Even though it often feels daunting, I am determined to find a sustainable way back to my first love.