Week 10 – reflection

I’ve been a tad side-lined this week as halfway through my husband broke his foot so I took a few nights away from my CRJ and project work to focus on him (and do all the chores/dog walking he has been doing to support me with my MA work schedule).

But what I have thoroughly appreciated this week was the conversation with Francesca Genovese of Francesca Maffeo Gallery in Leigh-on-Sea.

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Screen grab of Francesca Maffeo website

Firstly, as I am passionate about creating a photographic voice in Cornwall, it is always good to hear about other people who are choosing to locate themselves out of London. I understand that the city is a mecca for photography, but, having lived there twice, I do not feel it has to be the heart of the UK’s photographic industry. Francesca does hint that there is a strong link to England’s capital though, so for her, it seems the London-link is still very important. My hope is some of that pull towards London is slowly beginning to spread across the UK, with all areas able to compete and/or offer alternatives to what often seems like a London-centric notion that to make it as a photographer in the UK that’s where you need to be.

Perhaps I just love the sea and the fields too much.

But, regardless of location, it was interesting to hear her talk about how she determines which photographers to work with, how those relationships develop and the timescales involved.

Listening to her talk about how best to approach a gallery, I feel confident that my connection with GroundWork has hopefully laid the foundation for future talks/meetings. The research I made into the gallery definitely spoke of a synergy between its ethos and my photographic style and ethics. I am keen to show my work in similar venues; locally, the Eden Project springs to mind.

Francesca also said, “Every artist I work with has another practice of sorts whether it’s commercial, editorial; whether it’s working in education to enable them to comfortably fund and direct their fine art practice”.

This is certainly a consideration for my future plans. I would say that currently I have a number of photographic hats: my participatory alt photo workshops through ShutterPod; my personal projects such as Harena Now, Humans and Dogs of St Agnes and my #365cyanotypechallenge; and my PR work (written and visual).

How all of these will fit into my plan to develop a photographic-specific venue for Cornwall (although I am considering how similar the PZ Gallery mission is to mine) and also, the idea of starting my own environmental art space in Cornwall are all new ideas buzzing around my head. Options for creating a commercial element such as fabric, clothing or homewares could also be another hat to put on.

All of this still needs streamlining. I probably can’t do it all.

I am however meeting with Cultivator on December 21. I am hoping that this will help me to perfect my business plans and clip my tendency to want to do everything. I find it particularly hard when working alone to bounce ideas and challenge them – I find I’m talking to myself but then maybe the answers I get are just what I want to hear.

As I currently work full-time as a communications manager, I feel confident that, when I’m ready, the marketing of Harena Now and my personal/commercial projects will be covered.

What was very useful in this week’s video chat was the discussion around the pricing of work.

I know that with Harena Now I want to promote the images as the handmade, camera-less, one-off pieces they are. Yes, I have made digital copies for my website etc. but it’s the original artworks that have most value. If I pull of my plan to have the work recreated in glass that is eventually recycled, I feel the original images will earn a more elevated importance as part of the Harena Now project.

With my images, the original does not produce a negative, so a digital copy will be the only means of reproducing the artwork. Perhaps then I should consider small digital print editions of a certain number versus open editions, with the original priced at a higher percentage.

An article in the Telegraph from 2014 quotes Gemma Barnett, Print Sales Manager at The Photographers’ Gallery as saying, “Ultimately the collectors determine the price of a print as they will only pay what they feel is right for something”. A good point. But that still does not make it clear at where to start pricing your work.

Francesca pointed out that, “…you can’t just put your finger in the air and decide that I have just graduated from a Masters and I am going to be £7,000, and I am going to make an edition of 50 because I have done the maths and I want to make this amount of money out of those pictures. It doesn’t work that way…You know you have got it wrong if you are not selling it”.

She mentions that there are various places to seek advice on how to price your work – I wish she had said where so I am now researching this to try and determine a starting point.

Overall, her discussion was incredibly helpful for me around how to develop working relationships with galleries. I am sure I will refer back to her comments in the next few months as I try to gain coverage and traction for Harena Now, in particular.

References

Falmouth Flexible Francesca Meffeo interview. Available at: https://flex.falmouth.ac.uk/courses/84/pages/week-10-francesca-genovese-interview?module_item_id=6610 [accessed December 1, 2017]

Segal Hamilton, Rachel. 2014. ‘How to buy a print’. The Telegraph. Available at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/photography/10968439/How-to-buy-a-print.html [accessed December 1, 2017]