Independent Reflection – Week 3 – Art and Commerce

This week has shown the challenge of time management with so many wonderful themes to explore. The reading and enquiry in to the subject of the week, the relationship between art and commerce in photography, could easily consume all the time available. Equally the pull of the work in progress portfolio, an idea for a business proposition around ‘The Truth & Beauty of You’, a photobook for the work in progress and then the small matter of the Oxfam ‘In Your Street’ climate change pitch. Exhausting, yes. Exhilarating, definitely.

Art and Commerce

The photography industry is changing fast and as it does so is not clear what it is. Technology capabilities are killing traditional practitioners but also presenting an infinite number of new possibilities. I am comfortable and excited in this world. For me it remains the individual human eye and brain that creates the image. If you can find a distinctive way of doing that for your images then you can make a killing or inspire others to use their eyes and grow.

Something that has stuck from the reading is the importance of narrative ability, authenticity and subjectivity in work in work produced today. (Morton, 2017). If a sequence of images can tell a visual story, be authentic and subjective it will have a good chance of success. Then it is important to find the right market for it.

In my coaching business I loved coaching and hated the selling. I can see I am going to come up against the same challenge in photography so need to be imaginative about how I can find a way of enjoying it.

Oxfam Pitch – Climate Change In Our Street

This has been an exciting introduction to the MA with the idea of ‘doing it for real.’ (Anna quote). I became challenged as I sought evidence that Oxfam had cleared up its image associated with abuse of people it is supposed to be helping and their own staff. All I could find were articles by Oxfam congratulating itself on its actions but nothing from charity authorities or the press. The photography department at Falmouth has taken the view that the ‘do it for real’ value to the MA outweighs the misdemeanours of a small number of staff and poor decisions by senior management.

I struggled with this as I always take the view that if I don’t like something I should do something about it or not complain. In this instance I have chosen to do the work for the learning as I like the team I am in but I will not do work for Oxfam should we win unless I see evidence they really have put their house in order.

The team of Hilde, Clodagh, James and Chris is a strong one. Our challenge is that this is potentially a huge workload to produce a professional pitch. It feels like it will be important to time ring fence it so that work that gets marked (wip, crj, video) get worked on. It will also be important to structure the tasks, share them out and then bring together again.

The meet with Jesse and Anna went well. They were impressed with where we have got to at this early stage and made suggestions and offers of help. Ideas of getting input from future generations are interesting as is producing an app that could show what is going as climate change moves on. Lots to do.

Other

Work in progress is full of ideas and I will remain in the play and explore space for the next three weeks. Looking at where my emotions are and sensory activity will prompt work. I have more ideas than time for shoots so need to bring in some discipline.

I am excited about the business prospect of The Truth & Beauty of You which is written about elsewhere in the blog. Over 50 people have seen this post and I am getting some fantastic inputs. Again time is going to be the constraint and require some real discipline and focus. I would love to be able to structure a retreat on the topic.

The sitting part of the sculpture of me is now over. After 25 hours of sitting I am going to miss it. Fantastic job by John Vickers the sculpture and Katherine Waters the teacher. In a couple of weeks we continue with the oil painting portrait of me by Mairi Brydon.

References

Morton, H. The New visual testimonial: Narrative, authenticity, and subjectivity in emerging commercial photographic practice. Media and Communication Journal. Vol 5, Issue 2. 2017

Categories: Coursework SP, Sustainable Prospects

LEN

I am a Photographer. As well as taking many photographs I am currently studying for an MA in Photography at Falmouth University. I will direct my attention through the lens of my camera for the next couple of years and see what shows up. I see a photograph as a little bit of magic capturing a moment in time. If successful it surprises and engages your emotions. It tells a story about the wonders of being alive or tells us what we need to change to make it a better world to live in. That is enough for me to get going and then like walking a 1000 miles, which I did across the UK in 2010, or walking 200 miles across Cyprus, which I did in November last year, it is one step at a time.

I was a writer. The title of my unpublished book was ‘You Would Have Done The Same.' It is about a successful guy in love with his wife who lets her die when he discovers her in the process of committing suicide. The title gives a clue as to what I think you would have done. The book is 200 pages long. I found it cathartic to write it but after two years of work and reviewing with agents decided it probably needed another 2000 hours to get the whole book up to the standard of some of the pages. Writing is great but it is a lot of sitting down so I decided to get out and walk, play tennis, play bridge, go birding, watch football at Nottingham Forest, Arsenal and Valencia and anywhere else if I can, meditate, cook and eat. I was a writer who has so far failed to become an author.
I was a young man who loved Mathematics and thoroughly enjoyed getting a BSc at Liverpool University. While there I went often to Anfield and the Philharmonic Hall. I was all set on doing a PhD until I went for interview practice at BP and got seduced by the excitement of an International business career. BP was a great adventure building trading teams and businesses in London, Antwerp, Cleveland Ohio and Singapore. Fabulous people and some great challenges and also very hard work, constant jet lag and lots of fun along the way. I married Karen, my stunning wife, and had the most amazing time with her and our three boys Alex, Tom and Dan. She has multiple sclerosis and we have taken on many challenges together but somehow keep creating a new normal against the horrors thrown our way. She is the love of my life.

After BP I decided to coach senior executives and quickly realized I had a lot to learn
about what makes people tick. I had a fantastic 18 months on the International Programme of the Cleveland Gestalt Institute. A great faculty and a
wonderful group of people on the programme. We studied and worked in Dingle, Singapore, Holland, Cape Town and
Lisbon. This also got me interested in the way we think and make decisions so I studied for an MSc in Psychology atUniversity College London in 2010. The
Masters was in Cognitive and Decision Sciences and I found it fascinating what
we do know but also how much we don’t know about how we think and make
decisions.

I loved coaching and making a difference. I got a number of people to hear themselves, remove some of their own chains and free up the way they thought about the world. I remain fascinated by how people react to and engage with the world. My Masters thesis was why do two people given the same information make different decisions? Put simply, it is because each of us are unique in the way we are constructed.

Since returning from Singapore I found English winters tough so moved to Spain where I now live. The people are lovely, the scenery amazing, food delicious and the sun shines all the time. Almost.

All of these experiences will feed in to my time now as a Photographer. Three motivations I am lucky to have are enthusiasm, curiosity and a continuous interest in learning. All the time I look forward to meeting old friends and making new friends and experiencing this wonderful life together.