This week has been about developing my work in progress portfolio for my project The Truth & Beauty of Me, developing further a business proposition around coaching/photography concept of The Truth & Beauty of You, reading up on and listening to podcasts on the commercial realities of photography and moving our Oxfam brief forward.
I prepared my WIP portfolio and first reviewed it with Karen my wife. In the photobook Survivor by Harry Borden each survivor (of the holocaust) is photographed by Borden and given a sheet of paper to write something on to go with the image.
I found this powerfully moving and beautifully simple. I took the idea with Karen and noted down the words she used as she considered each image. The result is an early dummy link. I then shared this book with a number of people. A number of observations arose.
- Karen enjoyed the process and was able to stand back and comment on photographs of me and herself as an observer.
- I found it fascinating to see what she saw. For example she consistently disliked any images that covered part of me whether that be shadow or object.
- The words Karen used then influenced the way other viewers considered and commented on the images.
I reviewed the images with Clare Bottomley in our tutorial. As with other commentators they do appear to work as a set of images. We discussed sizing of images, how I might put a number of images on a page and the impact of sequencing. We agreed three actions to work on leading to the next tutorial.
- Play with the sequencing of the images and question what the message is. Clare and I had a good conversation about whether a dead bird well composed in an image is a beautiful comment on a life lived or dark, miserable and depressing.
- Create an artist statement to go with the project.
- Keep upping skills in photoshop and lightroom for the powerful presentation of images.
Great discussion with Anna this week on the Truth & Beauty of You. This is taking shape and we both believe there is a significant market for it. Lots of work to do on this which is covered within the project section of the CRJ. Clare asked me if this is going to be my project. I said I think not but I will develop it in to a robust product during the time frame of the MA.
Over the last couple of weeks I have listened to a number of Small Voice interviews by Ben Smith. Laura Pannack, Irina Rozovsky, Mimi Mollica, Harry Borden, Bruce Gilden, Alixandra Fazzina, Jillian Edelstone and Martin Parr. What I am left with is a feeling of how hard it is to make a living in the traditional channels of photography. It reminds me of having dinner with Clare Short in Madrid this year after seeing her show and her telling me she just about breaks even. This seems to be a common theme and even those who are famous are often struggling.
The Simon Norfolk Small Voice interview is thought provoking and very entertaining. Simon does not see photography as art, believes his wife’s job as a hand surgeon to be way more important than anything a photographer ever does and is very cynical about MA courses in photography. I sent the podcast to a friend who believes academic consideration of photography to be pseudo intellectual clap trap by a small number of specialists who can’t take photographs. I said he might hurt his neck from nodding his head in agreement too much with Simon.
However, Simon does point out that the gallery space, photobook and print sales do not make much money for most photographers. He referenced a friend in Shoreditch who wanted to break away from his studio work to do real photography. The friend was in a ‘gilded cage’ as he put it as he needed to turn over £200,000 a year doing things he did not enjoy to scrape £40-50,000 a year living. Simon refers to You Tube stars like Thomas Heaton as examples of the real photographers out there. He thinks Thomas Heaton is unlikely to appear in the posh galleries but will earn more from his brand than those who do. Simon had also carried out a laboratory to build up a big instagram following. He cites people with following of up to 1 million then being able to monetise that following with quite banal stuff like printing images on beach towels. He got up to 150,000 followers but has yet to find a way to monetise that.
Borden, H. Survivor. Cassell Illustrated. Kindle Edition. (2017)
Smith, Ben. a Small Voice. Podcast Simon Norfolk link https://bensmithphoto.com/asmallvoice/simon-norfolk accessed 15th October, 2019.