Another visit we were able to make as part of our Profession Futures module was to Webber Represents which is a creative agency. There we met Dominic Bell who told us about the people they represent and showed us books of their work as well as there portfolios. It was interesting to see their different portfolios and how they lay them out depending on what field they’re working in. I had never thought of working with an agency before so I was glad to be able to hear what they’re all about, specifically being able to hear it from someone who works there. I can definitely see the benefits of working for an agency when it comes to working in the creative industry to help find work which is appropriate to your skills. It’s a hard field to work in because of this it would be of great help to be apart of this.
They to do not only represent photographers though, they also have moving image, stylists, set designers, creative directors and casting directors so it’s also a great place to find people in other areas to collaborate with.
As part of our professional futures module, we visited the British Journal of Photography (BJP) at their offices. We were able to have a talk by Diane Smyth the digital editor as well as other people from different roles explaining to us what each of them does. It was very interesting to be able to talk to the people who work there as I have admired and enjoyed the magazine since coming to university. We got advice on how to present our work when sending it to them. Surprisingly a lot of photographers just send an Instagram account rather than a website, and they also do not mind that as long as they can find you and your work. This is one of the mistakes they said people make is that they do not have an online presence so they can’t find the people behind some of the work they have seen. Luckily I do actually have all of my socials up and running, an Instagram as well as a website. It’s important to make sure it looks professional and accessible.
As well as giving us advice on how to get featured we were also able to see old and new versions of the magazine, showing how far it has come from when it was first created. They have really developed in the kind of work they feature which I think is great, I didn’t realise the magazine had been running for so long so that was very interesting to be able to see them going from featuring the technical side of photography as well as weddings to contemporary photographers new and established.
Katya Rezvaya is a Russian photographer interested in social issues and phenomenon, and her projects usually focus on intimate stories of personalities, their identities and occupations. This is clear from the sort of work she has already done that can be found on her website, but this project Oh my Rabbits interested me the most.
The project is based on the American Rabbit Breeder Association (ARBA) which is a national club for domestic rabbit breeders and cavy breeders which have a history of 104 years. What started small has now got around 22,000 members worldwide. Each year they have an annual convention and show in a different US city. Rezvaya has taken portraits of the members with their rabbits using a dark grey/black backdrop and even soft lighting. All of the photographs from the series are composed in the same way which adds coherence to the project, but also just creates some great projects which focus on the owner and their rabbit. Even though the way they are taken in quite traditional it’s the subject which makes them so interesting.
I was also interested in the kind of information Rezvaya added to the portrait of each person. This consists of their name, age, where they are from, the bunnies name and age and lastly has also added how long they have been breeding for, and how many rabbits they have currently. I think this definitely adds a bit of individuality between each subject other than just what they look like on the outside. This gave me inspiration that as well as their name and age in my own project I could also put how long they’ve lived in Long Sutton for, to give the audience an extra glimpse into their life.
For my second shoot, the set up was pretty much the same, and I only took two pictures again as I didn’t want to use up too much of the film testing. I also ended up taking two very similar images because for one of the shots I did a test not using the flash and one with but forgot that I had the flash on so I thought it would be overexposed but they both came out very similar. The biggest difference would probably be the colour would be different depending on and also with the brightness.
The composition, the pose and the styling is very different to the last one I did, this one came out with an 80s sort of vibe even though there’s a MacBook in the background. With the different people, I was trying to have a different vibe, but I think perhaps I need to have a bit more of a coherence between each picture. Even though these were both done photographed on their beds most of the ones I do in the future will perhaps be in a living room unless there’s enough space or it’s the better choice for a photograph as it’s quite a personal space so as these are my friends they were comfortable with me being there and taking over their space.
I think now that I have done a couple of shoots doing portraits with the large format on location I am much more confident in my ability to be able to do this with others, and I also think I have a better idea as to how I am going to do it in the future.
Shown above are my first on location portraits I have taken with large format for a few years, as well as the camera I also took location lighting equipment as their room would have been too dark otherwise and it made it a lot easier to shoot, the only issue I had was because they’re very big with, especially as I used light boxes as the hard light was too harsh and created lots of shadows which I did not want. I had to take all this equipment on a trolley on the tube to Liverpool Street from Wembley Park and then walked from the station to their room, which was at the top so we also had to carry it all up some stairs as there isn’t an elevator.
Instead of using the lights as flashes I had them on constant instead as I thought it would be easier, I don’t know however if this cause the images to be a bit darker and the colours to have come out differently. The closer portrait is also a bit soft because the shutter speed was so slow and she didn’t have anywhere to rest her head and may be moved, the other is fine and in focus. I’m really pleased with how they came out compositionally, I really wanted them to be quite simple, but as there is so much to think about I think I still have areas I need to improve, especially looking at straight lines as the second in I have a slanted wall in the background, although it can be fixed using photoshop, I would prefer to have to do as little as possible to the images.
Long Sutton is a small market town located in South Holland, on the south-eastern outskirts of Lincolnshire which makes it close to both counties Norfolk and Cambridgeshire. In 2011, it was recorded that the population of the town was 4,821. Every Friday the town has a Market which can be dated back to the 13th Century and is still alive and thriving today. Especially in the 1950s around eleven trains (when there was a train station) would come and go with transporting people and produce. The town still has Georgian architecture, St Mary’s Church is known for its 13th Century timber spire, which is now the highest and best-preserved in England. This year the town is celebrating 25 years of Long Sutton in Bloom, where a group of volunteers come together to plant flowers for the East Midlands in Bloom competition. Through this, it has frequently been named one of the ‘Best Kept Villages’ in Lincolnshire. The town itself is very interested in its own history and has but released a third A Pictorial Journey Through Long Sutton Past in 2014, 2016 and most recently in 2017. They were all made by the Long Sutton and District Civic Society and show the abundance of photographs there have been of Long Sutton over the years showing how it has changed from over 130 years ago. It’s definitely true that the people in the town seem to love its history and want to see how it has changed over the years so I’m really interested to see what people say and to also capture the town as it is now.
Ben Burfitt is an alumnus of the University of Westminster, I really like his work and how minimalistic his style is. This is definitely the kind of photographs in which I want to create for my own work. I chose one image from each of his different projects found on his website to show the different kind of work he has done. The first image for I Thank the Lord I’m Alive (2014) shows the inspiration for the title, it’s very interesting what you can find when working on a project. I also found inspiration on how to photograph different areas, especially buildings in a different way.
Martin Kollar’s book Nothing Special (2008) is a book made up of images taken in ten different countries and focused on people at leisure. What is shown are everyday situations but are also extraordinary or absurd. Some of them are also quite comical. This is what I found most interesting about his work, how the every day can be shown in such an unusual way. It’s also about how the subjects are placed within the frame which adds to this. I found it great to look at as part of my research and liked the simplicity in which it is laid out, especially having one image per spread, this means that each image stands on its own rather than being in a pairing, but because the images are so visually interesting this doesn’t really matter and it works well.
Karen Knorr has been fantastic to look at when thinking about composition and what’s in the frame. You can see that it’s thought about very carefully and even though the subject matter doesn’t relate to my work, I think it’s helpful to remember about lines and making sure everything is straight. I especially like the work shown in the middle, which is a publication, Gentleman. The use of space is very interesting, and especially having one man just outside the frame. With the pose of the model, it’s also a good mixture of constructed and simple but also relaxed. I don’t think I want the images to look too staged, but the models will need to be somewhat directed because of the format I’m using.
It’s that time of year again where the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize comes to the National Portrait Prize. There were some great pieces of work there, and as I grow and see more work in my own practice it’s really interesting to see the different paths each photographer took before getting to a place where their photograph is selected to be shown. The winner’s work was fantastic but there were a couple others which I also found really interesting that I want to discuss.
Shown above are the two images, Owen Harvey had displayed in the gallery, they’re from his series Skins & Suedes which is about the skinhead movement. With his portraits, he wanted to show a vulnerability to a culture which is known for its aggression. I had a look at the rest of the project on his website and these two images were definitely my favourite. The simplicity of the locations and pose shows that you don’t need a fancy set up to take a great portrait. I didn’t see anywhere however what they were shot on, my guess would be medium format but I can’t be sure.
Next, we have two images by Catherine Hyland from her series Wait-And-See Pudding With Patience was shot on a small Caribbean island called Nevis, known for its sandy beaches but also has sugar plantations created to bring wealth to the British Empire. The island is harnessing renewable energy resources to become the world’s first carbon-neutral nation. The series was shot on commision for the British Airways magazine High Life. It’s interesting that big companies are hiring photographers to create this kind of work for their magazines, instead of just showing the beautiful sandy beaches and women in bikinis. And again the portraits are very simple but with the lighting and the subject matter, they become a comment on a certain aspect of the subjects life.
Lastly, I wanted to talk about Danny North and their series As I Found Her – A Portrait of Eigg. The series documents the inhabitants of the Isle of Eigg in the Scottish Hebrides, which has sixty-eight residents. The residents run the area sustainably using sources of renewable energy. They were taken over the course of a year to be able to capture the close-knit community and was created to better understand this and what it means to live in the remote parts of the United Kingdom.
There are more images from the series their website which further shows different aspects of the residents’ lives. This work I found very interesting as I feel it quite closely relates to that of my own ideas as also what I would like to continue to explore after I’ve finished my degree.
Overall I always find the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize inspiring. It shows such great work but also what people are finding interesting in photography, specifically portraits. This year I was mostly interested by the work more documentary based as this is the path in which I think I might take once I finish, to them look at their gives me inspiration for what I may also want to do.