Submission: Charcoal Publishing Award and Alec Soth Workshop (Selected)

As part of my QEST grant I have a chunk of money left over to spend on a workshop guided in some way towards making a photobook (this could be viewed in a few ways, physical creation, sequencing etc). Deciding how to best spend this has been playing on my mind for a while, but recently these two opportunities appeared. Something about spending this money seems frivolous so I would like to choose something I would never normally get the opportunity to do, especially if it is a one-off chance that could really help push my photography/understanding of bookmaking forward. The Charcoal Publishing Prize is a portfolio review week in Chico. With a great selection of reviewers that I would choose to show my work to, and the opportunity to win the publishing of a book I felt like I had to submit. The only problem with this was the price of this review week, which with travel would come to just south of £5,000. This is just isn’t manageable for me however there were three fully paid slots available out of the 45 places. I decided to submit on the premise that I could use my funding for the £1,000 flights and travel if I got one of the fully paid slots. 

In the end I was selected as one of the 45 participants but sadly not for one of the scholarships so I had to turn it down. 

I have also applied for a workshop with Fotofilmic and Alec Soth in Vancouver. This is more financially viable and would sit within the funding I have left (plus I’d get a week or two either side of the workshop in Canada/America as I’ve never visited). The workshops is named ‘on making a photobook (that matters)’. Because of his impact on contemporary photography and the photobook world I can’t help but believe this would be a great experience that will be an amazing help at a time that I am looking to put together a book of the Folly work. Often in the past I have found workshops and residencies as concentrated periods of focusing on a specific task that really moves your work forward. I can imagine a lot of people will apply for this workshop but I hope that having previously been selected as a Fotofilmic artist, and my current position of having dummies of previous work and an almost realised body of work to will stand me in good stead. 

I have included my application text below for you to see. 

Please briefly describe your photographic background

People like to tell their story, my work centers around this notion of storytelling. Drawing on ideas from history and folklore, I am interested in the persistence of stories and their relevance to humanity. Looking towards an expanded understanding of documentary within contemporary photography I feel it is important to engage with our subjects in a number of ways, not being afraid to confront, collaborate with and record the experiences we have. 

I have worked on long-form bodies of work for the past five years since graduating from the Documentary Photography course at Newport, UK. These have included work looking towards the military, sports culture and incarceration. I am now finishing my MA in Photography at UWE, Bristol and also work as an associate lecturer in photography. 


Tell us a few words about your interests in this workshop

As a photographer I could consider my work to have a number of different outputs however I consistently find myself drawn towards the way it would sit on the pages of a book. Over the past six months I have been producing dummies of my body of work, Albatross, in the aim to figure out how it could best fit on the pages of a book. This consideration has transcended into the making of my next work, Folly, with the editing process focused on sequencing for a publication and how this could affect the work. This workshop has come at a pivotal time for me as I think about producing my first book to be published and how best to do this.


 What are you currently working on? What work are you planning on bringing to the workshop?

I would like to bring both Albatross and Folly to the workshop. I have finished shooting Albatross and made dummies that could be shown which I would love to hear other’s thoughts on. The images from Albatross were taken on the HMS Daring whilst the warship and her crew sailed home from active deployment. The ship travelled back from the Persian Gulf via the Black Sea and the Mediterranean. Sailing back from conflict and unsafe waters there was a feeling somewhere between tiredness and resilience, at once romantic and foreboding, a quiet discordant ambience that ran through the sailors, soldiers and their ship, waiting to get home. 

I am still in the process of shooting Folly however I am looking to have reached a milestone with the work around the time of the workshop. This work came about through a series of conversations with individuals who have been incarcerated. Within these conversations the ex-prisoners spoke of what led them to punishment, how they navigated the prison environment, and their eventual transition from institution to freedom. 

Less interested in a traditional documentary approach I instead wanted to hear the stories told by those who had experienced prison firsthand, an approach more akin to a folklorist. The works made include portraits and other images informed by the stories told.

Today I received the e-mail below letting me know that I have been given a place on the workshop! In addition to this they chose my image of Pete to announce that the participants had been selected.