Creative Futures Evaluation

Yesterday I reflected on my Final Major Project and now I thought I should reflect on the Creative Futures Module. The purpose of this module is really to help us be prepared for working as a photographer and to complete commercial assignments to a brief.

We have met photographers and artists and interviewed them about their businesses, how they started out and how they keep earning a living. I particularly liked Tom Arran’s advice about doing exactly what you are asked in the brief and then going the extra mile and doing something above and beyond the brief. I was also encouraged to hear Debi Keable talk about making a living as an artist and having confidence to apply for grants. Her advice to get along to meetings and gatherings about the arts was good and something I have taken on board. I hope to be able to get along to more activities in Hull once all my assignments are completed and handed in.

I have worked with a local business and some individuals to fulfil a brief set by them. I spoke to the people from Garthwest at the final exhibition and although the website has been delayed, they are planning to use our photographs on it in the next few weeks. It has been valuable work experience and taking part in this project taught me that things don’t always go to plan so I need to be imaginative in overcoming some of the problems that may come along.

After photographing for the Freedom Festival we had a good chat with the people at a local marketing agency and the things that they will look for and expect of a photographer. Their advice about specialising and becoming the best ‘whatever’ photographer was very good and while still photographing weddings and other things I hope that panoramas and particularly travel/landscapes could become the ‘whatever’ that I am known for.

I have also done both portraits and a couple of weddings as part of this module. All seem to have been completed well and after each of them I have reflected on how I could do it better next time. I am particularly pleased with the latest wedding that I completed with a friend. We have since met and discussed how we might do it better next time (different lenses, less time on certain aspects etc.). We also plan to meet up in a couple of weeks to write a business plan about how we might do weddings together on a more regular basis.

We have been to exhibitions and art galleries and through this and my Final Major Project I have learned a lot about collating a set of images for an exhibition, how to frame and hang prints and also about atmosphere and viewing distances. I need to be precise about the purpose of the exhibition and the story that I want to tell people as they view it.

Alongside all of this I have kept taking photographs whenever I have an opportunity so that I can continue to keep refreshing my portfolio.

I haven’t entered any competitions this year but I plan to enter the Travel Photographer of the Year competition in the autumn. I missed it in 2015.

My eyes have certainly been opened to the complexities and opportunities available within the commercial industry. For me though, the main purpose of joining the BA Photography course was not only to improve my photography but after a number of career knock-backs to also increase my confidence. I certainly feel much more confident now, and have already applied for one grant and am planning to develop a part-time wedding photography business. I have also redeveloped my online presence with a new and updated website that I hope will encourage more people to take on my services.

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Creative Futures Portfolio

The Creative Futures part of our course this year has been about gaining real work experience and building a body of work. A full list of the activities I have taken part in is available on my Creative Futures page.

I am very pleased with the images from my Final Major Project and would like to include them in my portfolio but in addition to them below is a selection of images that illustrate the range of work that I have completed over the past 12 months.

I have also updated my website and moved it to Adobe’s new Portfolio programme. Doing this has helped me to streamline my online presence and neatly and clearly focus on the types of images that I want people to see.

Portfolio is very easy to use and I had my home page up and running in under an hour. It has a good selection of layouts to choose from and I chose one that I thought would display my photographs best. I still have a few bits to add in, like a contact page and a gallery for personal projects but other than that it is complete. You can see it at www.ajrphotographs.uk. I would have liked to be able to add text to the gallery pages but as it is such a new programme perhaps that will be available in a future update. And an additional bonus is that Portfolio is free while ever I am subscribing to Creative Cloud.

Creative Communities Fund

With Hull being the UK City of Culture next year there are lots of opportunities becoming available for artists to get involved. As I am coming to the end of my Photography BA and wondering what I am going to do next I thought I would take advantage of these opportunities.

The Creative Communities Fund is available to support artists wanting to put on some creative activities in 2017. There are a number of criteria that your activity needs to include but if it meets those criteria you can apply for up £10,000 and in exceptional circumstances even more than that.

Projects must celebrate arts and culture, be open to everyone, engage people and communities in Hull and be more than the every day. It should fit into at least one of the seasons that the City of Culture will be focusing on next year. That is Jan -Mar Made in Hull, Apr-Jun Roots and Routes, Jul-Sep Freedom and Oct-Dec Tell the World. Then there are a number of secondary criteria that the funders would also like projects to meet including Working in Partnership (with artists overseas), Embracing digital and technology and finally Looking beyond 2017.

I discussed a few ideas with my tutor and the idea that I really wanted to go for would mean that I would be applying for almost all of the £10,000 allowance. I doubted that anyone would give someone straight out of college (even someone as mature as me) a grant for £10,000. However, my tutor said it sounded like a great idea and pointed out that I have lots of experience in other areas.

I wrote an outline plan for a project that involves hosting a number of workshops with local residents in Hull on the theme of Freedom, then a few months later hosting similar workshops in Hull’s twin town, Freetown, Sierra Leone. The project would then finish with exhibitions of the final photographs in both Hull and Freetown.

Not having any links with Sierra Leone myself my tutor put me in touch with the directors at Nova Studios who have been working in Sierra Leone for more than 10 years. I have also independently spoken to someone who is the national director of World Vision in Ethiopia but who has previously lived and worked in Sierra Leone and I am hoping that he will be able to give me some contacts too.

Not having many links to groups in Hull, my tutor also put me in touch with someone at Creator College that uses the creative arts to educate young people not in school. He was very pleased to hear about my idea and has invited me to do some workshops with the young people at his school. I also remembered that I have a friend who has recently moved to Hull and is working on the Bransholme Estate as part of a local church and wanting to build more of a community feel on the estate. I contacted him and he was delighted to offer me the space and access to the groups that meet in their community building.

It looked like this plan was coming together so all I needed to do was knuckle down and fill in the application form. It is the first funding application form that I have completed and it took me more than two days to write it all out clearly, ensure that I had all the information they could possibly want and to double check all the details. But I have finally done it!

I won’t hear until July if I have been successful or not and it is anticipated that demand will be high but lets keep our fingers crossed and hope that the outcome is positive.

Self Promotion for Photographers Update

Since discovering Society 6 and writing about it in my previous post Self promotion for Photographers I have come across two other sites that I think compete very well.

Zazzle is a UK site  which means that ordered items can be purchased in pounds sterling and delivery times are much quicker. It has a huge range of products, much wider than Society 6 although some looked a bit tacky when I uploaded my photograph to them. It covers everything from t-shirts and cushions to usb sticks, guitar picks and headphones. On this site, you upload a photograph once but then have to load it onto each item you want to sell individually. It took me all evening to put my photograph on a range of products and by the end I was getting very bored, and being very selective about what I items I created.

These are a few of the items available on my Zazzle shop.

Redbubble is a similar website that is based in USA and in Australia. It has a good range of products that compares well with Society 6 but is not as diverse as Zazzle. What I like about this site is that you can upload an image once and it will automatically be placed on all items that it is suitable for. All you need to do after that is click through the items and ensure that the image is positioned perfectly. I uploaded a photograph and had a range of 41 products ready in less than an hour.

All three sites require photographers to promote their own products. The sites themselves draw a certain amount of traffic but there are so many artists on there that your items are easily lost. Although all sites allow you to link to your social media sites Redbubble is the only one that seems to provide html code that allows your online shop to be dropped into your own website.

I chose Redbubble to create a number of items that would compliment the images that I will be showing in my final exhibition. I will promote them on social media and see if anyone shows any interest in purchasing them!

 

Bolton-Tillbrook Wedding

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of photographing the wedding of the new Mr and Mrs Tillbrook at a beautiful setting in Oxfordshire. I had visited them at the end of last year to visit the venue and take a few engagement photographs in order to familiarise myself with the area and to help the couple be comfortable in front of the camera. Just a couple of weeks before the big day the bride asked if I would bring a second photographer to the wedding in order to photograph people arriving at the church and take some of the more candid shots so I arranged to take along a friend that I have worked with previously.

We arrived in Oxfordshire in time to go to the rehearsal at the church and speak to the parish priest about where best to stand. The bride was asking guests not to take photographs during the service – only the official photographers, so we wanted to get the usual shots but also didn’t want to be intrusive and distract from anything that was going on in the church.

The next day, my friend went to the church and I spent some time with the bride.

These area few of the photos I took at the bride’s home.

These are a few of the photos we took at the church.

There were a few formal photographs taken at the church, but most were taken at the reception venue. The bride and groom were a very willing couple and I perhaps took longer doing these than I should have done. There are a few improvements I would like to have made but on the whole I am actually quite proud of these.

The speeches were very good and had the bride and all the guests laughing one minute, crying the next and then laughing again within moments. More guests arrived in the evening and the party went on much later than I could stay up for.

We took so many photos that it has been very hard to select just a few that tell the story of the day. When Tom Arran came to visit us in class he said that he uses short bursts of photographs so that in at least one of them everyone should have their eyes open. I tried this and it is a technique I will use again but it does mean that there are loads of photos to sort through.

I also need to remember to synchronise the times on all cameras so that when I drop them into Lightroom they automatically sort into time order.

I spent a lot of time editing the photographs, not because they needed lots of editing but because I wanted to give all the photographs a uniform romantic look. I started by doing a large batch and then decided that I wasn’t happy with it. I also spent time creatiScreen Shot 2016-05-19 at 13.10.18ng a vintage look but again I didn’t think it really suited the feel of the wedding. In the end I set up presets in Lightroom, one that simply boosted the vibrancy and softened the clarity of the colour photos and another that gave me the black and white settings and a slight vignette that I liked.

I have spent a good 30 hours editing the photos just this week and I shall need to build that editing time into the fee that I charge for future weddings.

The bride was impatient for the photos so I have used WeTransfer to send her copies. Feedback has been very positive so I can breathe a sigh of relief. I have been unable to afford to keep my Smugmug account this year so I have also uploaded the best of the photos to a Photobox free gallery that she can use to share and order prints with friends and family. Since doing that I have also come across 3XM which is a kind of pay-as-you-go service for photographers. As a trial I have uploaded a few photos onto a gallery there and will perhaps use this for my next wedding in a couple months time.

Selling to Stock Photography Sites

In a previous post, Self-Promotion for Photographers, I mentioned the stock photography site Alamay and how that was probably the best site for me to start with because it offers 100% profit to its students.

While I am a student it might be quite good to take advantage of that offer but what then? The Alamay website isn’t particularly clear. It suggests that the average license selling fee is $90 but how much of that goes to the photographer I cannot see. When I look at individual images there are any number of licenses available for different uses from £9.99 to £150.00. It is all quite confusing and not easy for a busy person to get to the bottom of.

This week I have come across another stock photography site that attempts to make things clearer for everyone. Picfair offers a a single licence at a price set by the photographer. On top of that license fee they charge a 20% commission and a payment processing fee so if I were to charge £5 for my photos, they would add on £1 commission and .37p for payment processing so that my photo would be available for sale at £6.37.

The site has a very helpful area that explains all that a photographer needs to know before uploading an image and I like the idea of a catch all licence even though it doesn’t allow purchasers to use the photographs on paid for advertising (like billboards or a television advert) just yet.

I notice that they are asking for studio images on a white background, although these don’t tend to trend on the front page, they are very popular. I have some chocolate images taken on a cross-section that I may well try on there.

Chocolate Typologies
Chocolate Typology