I am using Squarespace for my WIP portfolio assignments as I liked the simplicity of the pages and presentation. I have spent this past week teaching myself to restructure how the information and galleries are accessed and have got so far. I am enquiring about investing in someone to set it up ‘properly’ for me so that I can concentrate on making and presenting images rather than learning programming languages. I have invested in a student subscription as Falmouth University is approved as an establishment with Squarespace. So far the help line has been very helpful and easy to access.
WordPress has been my initial choice for the written work for the course as it was free and recommended by tutors. Again teaching myself how to set it up I initially ran into issues and engaged help (it turned out not to be my incompetence but a glitch in the template I had chosen). Although I can post and add images I have not been able to successfully tame the galleries option in order to put my WIP portfolios there, hence having these on Squarespace. I have now subscribed to a personal account for a year to see if that helps. I hope that it gets rid of adverts that others see on my site. I have been wondering about transferring it all to Squarespace.
I remain unconvinced about Instagram and the value of followers and likes as indicators of what of my images might sell and to whom. However, on the plus side I am realising that by making it a focussed site dedicated to my research project Beauty and the Beach… I may have found a way to contribute to the rising tide of activists and more recently politicians and superstars who want to clean up our oceans for the benefit of wildlife, ourselves and the planet as a whole. I now have a strong core of followers and follow others who are active in this area. Thus one of my project goals, to raise awareness, could be achieved if people new to the movement see my images and those of others, and as a result do something, however small, in support of the campaign. I am not linked to any other social media sites.
I am not sure who to meet with to share my portfolio or even what should be in it at this stage. I do not think there will be much interest in straight images of rubbish. There has to be something novel in the way the images were taken and/or processed. I could set up a portfolio of wildlife or plants if I could find a source of interest such as local craft shops.
Perhaps creating products rather than showing mounted or digital images would be the way to go. For example, my images of birds flying on kites, flowers decorating flower pots, rubbish and beach images on jute bags and flip flops will show what potential my images have for various products. Taking this approach I can start to see that manufacturers of such products might have an interest. I will need to do some more work on this.
Before this course I have made T shirts, calendars, photobooks and canvases, cards, hessian bags and jigsaws. Thinking about my research project images from Beauty and the Beach I have been experimenting with new ideas, some of which may become Xmas presents with a twist! A selection of beautiful images intermingled with more alarming ones but all taken with the intention of raising awareness.
I have decided that some will not be commercially viable in terms of number sold if the wrong images are used. This would include for example mugs and other food items with dirty/disgusting images on them. Perhaps I should get a range made as a test set and see what a few people think.
Because the project is about reducing and recycling rubbish I would prefer to set the images on recyclable materials. An obvious choice are Jute bags of different sizes. More difficult to find are the fabrics used for cushions covers and internal padding. Less obvious, but perhaps obvious when thought about, is beach footwear and swimwear (e.g. @DavyJ and @oceanzen_bikini ). I am not sure if Surfers against Sewage would purchase new boards with my images on them. It might be worth a try especially if they could customise them by choosing the image and sizing and positioning and if there were only a few of each image that could be used in this way (thereby adding exclusivity as photographers and artists do I in saying 1/25 for example). Although I have not yet managed to source them all yet I have made mock ups using options currently available.
Then there is the packaging to consider of course!…..
Today I became an assistant again for the second time. With Sue Brown (photographer) and Madeleine Strobel (artist and helper like me) we put up Sue’s images for her exhibition at the Devon Guild of Craftsmen which runs from 9th December to mid January 2018. Housed in a beautiful riverside building in Bovey Tracey we had a room about 15 x 10 feet with one flat wall and three solid stone and brick white painted walls. The significance of the setting soon became clear. How were we to put up several large pieces on stone and brick which was uneven and would have been challenging to drill through? Having changed Sue’s hanging plan around for fear of fixings coming loose in old mortar for the heaviest and most expensive pieces we settled on a fresh arrangement.
My steep learning curve came as Madeline opened up her tool box, an essential bit of kit for the day. I now realise that I must ask for one for Xmas if I am to be faced with such adversity and challenges as we faced today. So it has to contain a hammer, D rings, a range of screws, nails and masonry raw plugs and screws, a drill with various attachments for wood and stone and fine materials, masking tape, velcro and glue, white tack, scissors, pliers, clips to keep wires flush against walls, tape measure, spirit level, pencils, pens, paper, dustpan and brush, black rubbish bag paint brushes and white paint…..etc etc! Oh and those hanging strings with metallic hooks that can be adjusted. Most of this was used today!
The high straight lines refer to all the measuring which Madeleine was a wiz at getting the pieces to be at the right height around the room. For some of the pieces I climbed a step ladder (the height) and adjusted the string positions according to getting straight vertical lines (there were two on each of the large pieces). Everything was done to perfection including drilling to put up wooden battens on which hung the heaviest pieces and checking with a spirit level. In addition, spots where previous exhibitors had left pencil marks or had damaged the walls were cleaned and painted over in order to showcase the work against a pristine white background.
Of great interest was the range of surfaces on which Sue’s images were printed. These included aluminium, glass and backlit frames as well as traditional mounts in smaller box frames. I should have written down all the exact details but was busy up the ladder or sweeping the floor and for a time had to run out to a builders merchants to get a small extension and another length of plastic trunking which had to have a bit sawn off in the shop to fit in my car.
A brief stop for lunch with some great suggestions for photographers and artists who make various creations from rubbish for my Beauty and the Beach… project and back to work for the final leg and a brilliant result.
A full day with lots of problem solving and a great result for Sue Brown as well as being for me both a steep learning curve with an improved knowledge of straight lines and with how to work up high enhanced. So now I am off to write that letter to Santa…….
This week we were asked to submit 5-7 images that tell a story and receive and give feedback on our own and those submitted by others..
I chose to use images I took recently while on a visit to the Incinerator in Plymouth (research for my project on beach debris). I asked permission of the tour leader and the attendees explaining that I was taking images for my project. I was then asked to take images of the tour for the visitors who were all members of a U3A group with it in mind to be shared and used on their website. I thought about this as the introductory talks were going on and realised that my intentions for images were somewhat different to those that were being asked for by participants. In processing the images I selected out those for participants and those I was personally interested in which roughly divided into those with people looking at things and those that were looking at the interesting structures in the buildings and technology therein.
In selecting images for this exercise I have thought about story telling as in a local newspaper. There was a lot of contention when this Incinerator was built, especially being so close to housing. MVV Environment Ltd have opened the doors to visitors and regularly run educational visits in part consolidating acceptance of the plant in the community. My intention is to depict a visit in a way that will encourage others to visit as well.
Initially I was conscious of making images with people larger for local human interest and found that subconsciously I was positioning controversial aspects of the plant (the air filters and chimney where noise and poisonous pollutants and were thought to be potential hazards when it was built) as smaller images and lower down in the story. Perhaps this stemmed from my own enjoyment of the visit and the great job the leader did in explaining that these potential hazards have been minimised to acceptable levels. I have since reviewed the sizing to be less obviously differentiated.
Thinking about captions, as local newspapers seem to like these, I have thought of the following.
Togged and ready to tour
Bringing your rubbish in
Dropping rubbish into the incinerator
Fascinating control centre
In the turbine hall
Very quiet air filters
17 stories of high-tech processing
Week 5 Meet someone new
We were asked to meet someone new as we went about our daily business and ask them about their locations, what they notice and what this makes them feel. We then had to take images from their perspective, show them to the person and receive their comments as a way of learning about others views and developing a “collaborative model” for our own work. A model that is inclusive and engaging of others this being “one that can perhaps present people in more inclusive, complex, and empowering ways.”.
My meeting was not with someone absolutely unknown to me in that we are are on the same online course and have realised that it would be possible to meet up given the proximity of our home locations. We arranged to meet at a beach side location this being changed at the last minute as a consequence of finding out the tea room would be closed. We moved to a nearby National Trust property and met in the tea room there. This being a first meeting we had not made firm plans to go beyond a coffee but in the event agreed it was a nice day and a walk would be a good idea especially as we had established that we are both interested in natural landscapes. I picked up on comments in our questions and discussions over coffee that there was a strong interest in the colours and lights of autumn, this being a favourite season as it is mine. I wondered to myself whether our likes and preferences may have been too similar for this exercise? I also noted a tinge of disappointment that you may have missed the best colours of the season. While I took images when we walked and stopped to look at views I was not sure I had captured ones that may have been from your perspective. I was lapsing into my research project world of spotting debris as we were by an estuary. After we had said our goodbyes and having reflected for a moment while in the little shop, I decided to take myself into the more formal gardens of the property and focus on seeking out images that might meet the approval of my course colleague in playing to their preferences. The tree and close ups of leaves were taken at this point. I emailed these along with an image of Birch tree polypore fungi I had taken when we both stopped to take this and a large group of Sulphur Tuft mushrooms. In addition I could not resist taking an image of a squirrel I spotted in the gardens. I thought this represented autumn although the vibrant leaf colours were not present. I also wondered what the reaction to this image would be but was more interested in the response to the autumn colours images.
I was pleased to have a great response “All of the images you have sent definitely show autumn to me.” The images received not only individual responses/reactions but I was also given advice about using light and getting in closer to an image which will be very useful to bear in mind in my work.
Reflecting on this exercise I think it could have been very different had I approached someone new rather than a course colleague who is a photographer. Our common preferences for autumn and interests including our research projects which both relate to nature and outdoor landscapes, may have resulted in too much synchronicity and not enough challenge in seeing another person’s point of view. Having said that I enjoyed the challenge, it was great to meet a colleague as our course is online and hopefully we can meet up with other colleagues in our area and gain from each others perspectives and experiences on mini field trips in the future. I may try this exercise again with someone I have not met before.
Thank you to my course colleague…..you know who you are!
The comments I received are set against the image they refer to below:
“The close up of the leaves (1st image) show the change of season and really like the shaped you managed to capture in this in image. The other image almost shows the process of the leaves loosing their colour before falling from the tree – both of these couldn’t have been taken at any other time.” Great compliments to receive for my homage to autumn colours. There is a suggestion in the feedback of a slight preference for the 4 leaf image and I agree. It was far more interesting for me to try to position myself in relation to the light in order to show the veins as well as the colour of the leaves and I think the result provides a focus for a viewer to consider. In contrast the second image is busy and your eyes dance back and forth without a main agenda item to focus on.
“The photo of the tree loses some of colour I was talking about ……….but this was because the light was very flat that day but there is some wonderful light on the base of the trees looking through them. It is a nice image and I think another a little closer concentrating on this light would have also made a nice photo.” Yes I can see and agree with what is being said here. I wonder whether a crop as well so that the leaves are in the upper third, the trunks in the middle third and grass in the lower third as well as waiting to see if the light improved as late afternoon approached would be a good idea.
“I think the photo of the squirrel is just great, this is the sort of photo that would be shown on BBC Autumn watch, captures the season perfectly.” Wow! What a compliment. I take great joy in capturing wildlife but am only a beginner technically so my images although they are gradually improving (to my mind) are nowhere near a standard required for professional airing. So this is a real confidence boost.
“The Fungi on the tree was maybe my least favourite, still an interesting image, and one I think reveals more the more you look at it.” I wondered why this was the least favourite image, perhaps lack of vibrant colours, perhaps my composition (the image could have been cropped so that the fungi was in the centre), or maybe fungi which is intrinsically linked with autumn in my mind is not a feature that my colleague usually focuses on especially as they tend to take images of wider views of landscapes. I will try to remember to ask them….
An update on my networking last week:
Week 4 Challenge: A Marketing Plan
Marketing can be challenging for photographers. A marketing plan is basically a plan for the success of your business, and there are two main points to think about: your objectives and your strategy.
For this week’s activity, we will create a marketing plan for your practice which covers the next 10 weeks. Think about what you want to achieve with your photography during that time, and how you will make it happen. Your plan should include your objectives and weekly actions. Below are a few points you might want to think about.
To raise your profile in the photography industry
To earn a certain amount of money from your photography
To develop your skills and knowledge
To arrange regular meetings with clients
To add a certain number of new contacts to your database each week
To increase hits on your website by a certain percentage
Think of this as a list of weekly actions, such as:
Editing your portfolio
Updating your website
Preparing a PDF portfolio presentation
Sending out a newsletter
Researching a new personal project
Spending 10 minutes a day on social media sharing posts on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter
Making three appointments to show your portfolio
You can discuss your plan within your tutorial this week but for now, share the draft with your coursemates below, and comment constructively on each other’s documents.
Week 4 Challenge: A Marketing Plan
•To raise my profile in the photography community concerned with beach debris including plastics
•To seek advice about contacting a stock agency to earn a certain amount of money from my generic and MA project photography
•To develop my skills and knowledge in image taking (using my iPhone and DSLR) and making (printing, paper, mounting, framing, displaying)
•To attend meetings with a local photography group and gain experienced advice on technical and aesthetic aspects of my images
•To increase visits, followers, likes and comments on my WordPress, Squarespace and Instagram accounts by 5%. Set up since June, August and October 2017 respectively totals to date on 19-10-2017 are WordPress= 32 visitors 91 views; Squarespace= 7 visitors 13 visits; Instagram= 117 followers from 38 posts and my following 308 others
Other social media sites
Having posted this on the course site I realise I have not specified time to take images and how, when, where and with what equipment to hand. I am still thinking about what to focus on as a specialisation so detailed planning and preparation is not uppermost in my thinking at the moment. However I did say in my Research Project Proposal that I would be keeping an open mind this term and not narrowing my focus too soon.