The emphasis in this week’s course work has been on the commercial aspects of photography. How do you start to ‘sell’ yourself as a photographer/photo-artist. And can you cross from one to the other?
Having started my photographic life in a commercial advertising studio where one day I may be building a room set to another taking pictures of Welsh gold jewellery, and subsequent roles in a portrait studio, as a medical photographer and at a newspaper, I feel I have a reasonable understanding of making a regular living from photography i.e. one that responds more to client/employer demands.
My passion for photography now lies in my participatory work through ShutterPod, my desire to create a specific-photographic international venue in Cornwall, and the creation of my own photo-art.
But this is not as straight forward as being employed to provide a photographic service such as newspaper images or editorial pictures; I have to be able to persuade my audience that they like my work enough to want to buy it.
Keeping things more low-key, I have in recent years made products such as photo clothing, cards and jewellery using the cyanotype process. They sell well at craft fairs.
But I want my work to be consider more than a pretty item. My personal practice is very much rooted in keeping my photographic footprint on the environment to a minimum, and raising awareness of the human impact on nature through the work I create.
This element of my practice is probably more suited to gallery/installation settings or as part of environmental projects that engage the art community.
I have been very fortunate this week to receive a response from the owner of a newly opened gallery that solely represents artists who see nature as a core part of their work.
I contacted GroundWork (based in King’s Lyn) to enquire if it could be a venue for my final MA exhibition. Director Veronica Sekules very kindly replied to say although not interested in supporting my MA work (she doesn’t tend to assist in student projects) she was very intrigued by my practice overall and that it “does fit in with the ethos of GroundWork gallery and what I am trying to do with it, and I would like to see more”.
I am incredibly excited by this prospect and hope to be able to meet with Veronica in the near future to discuss how we can potentially work together. This venue has such synergy with my aims and ambitions for my personal work – it has won the Nick Reeves Award for Art and Environment 2017-18 – so I fully understand how this connection could help boost the storytelling of my images.
As part of the coursework this week, we were also tasked with selling a print. I had actually sold two prints in the preceding days. These were to a friend’s mum, who is an avid collector of local art, and for that reason I didn’t charge what I would if selling to an unknown audience.
She chose the following images, and is planning on purchasing a third in the near future.
We were also tasked with thinking of a new way to promote a print to a new audience – but you couldn’t make prints, a publication, publish it in a magazine or newspaper nor online.
Having made t-shirts and jewellery before, I did consider that option but felt I would still be making a ‘print’, even if not in the traditional sense of on paper. What I have been doing recently is looking into the possibilities of creating fabric. This follows a discussion a few weeks back when my tutor said my work was reminiscent of the fabric created by Charleston – see blog To fabric or not to fabric.
I’m finalising some designs and hope to have some samples through soon.
To do this I have looked at using a company called Contrado as it offers organic options. I will at first concentrate on fabrics for upholstery to be used in up-cycling projects, but I am also keen to consider leggings for yoga and exercise.
The screen grab below shows a swatch being put together.
In feedback from a peer, Rita, she said: “Great idea for your cyanotypes. I used the Contrado service once in the first module (inspired by the works of Meltem Isik) to print the abstract image of growing hair. The quality was great, I was surprised that the print can be so detailed” – such a recommendation for the service I hope to use provides great reassurance.
Another topic touched on this week is working with an agent. This is not something I feel I need at this stage, or if I will at all. Obviously it’s good to never say never but I’m not convinced the way I work and where I want to work requires the services of an agent – but you never know. It was certainly interesting to have a glimpse into the relationship of agent and photographer. Perhaps as I develop the aspect of my practice that relates more to gallery and installation, the benefit of an agent in negotiating and providing a sounding board will indeed prove to be of great use.
Contrado. Available at: https://www.contrado.co.uk/ [accessed November 10, 2017]
Falmouth Flexible. Week 7. Available at: https://flex.falmouth.ac.uk/courses/84/discussion_topics/2801?module_item_id=6506 [accessed November 10, 2017]
GroundWork. Available at: https://www.groundworkgallery.com/ [accessed November 10, 2017]