Context: Commercial Considerations

When I think about my career beyond the MA, I do Imagine commercial work as a part of my practice. I believe making this work and being commissioned to make this work can be a sort of validation that offers you perspective on your personal work, allowing you to come to both with a fresh sense of rejuvenation. Again, it is the idea of problem solving for others rather than trying to come up with answers to your own questions. To say commercial and commission covers a broad remit however and I would like to clear up my thoughts around this and focus my attentions with some background of why I had made the choices I have. 

A few key milestones happened across this year before this unit to open up my ideas on this. The first of these being The Great State getting in touch with upon seeing Albatross on Instagram. They got in touch with me out of the blue and invited me in to present the work. They showed great interest as the operate the Navy’s digital communications. Nicholas (their art director) wanted to pitch the project to be used as part of their web content, and potentially commission more as advertising in some form. Sadly, the funds weren’t there as the Navy use their own in-house photographers, something the agency found frustrating. Never the less Nicholas said he would keep me in mind for future projects. I have arranged a meeting with Nicholas in February to show where I have got to and keep him updated on my newer work as well (I know that the HM Prison service are also on their books). 

Receiving and completing the two jobs from 3cc, both on film and making a good (but not great) amount of money gave me a lot more confidence. Both of these can be placed into a growing portfolio of work that looks of a far higher standard than when I started this MA. Most importantly I feel these images are towards how I personally shoot but also satisfy the needs/moodboard of a client. 

Another key moment was my visit to the Tannery. I lived on Coronation Road for two years previous to this summer and most mornings on walking out the door I could smell part of the tanning process. At first, I did not know what I was smelling, but at a glimpse one day I saw an open window in the large warehouse building down the road. There were racks and racks of animal hides hanging with a low orange sunrise lighting them up. It sparked an interest in this place and an idea. 

I have been shooting product and editorial style photography for a clothes shop in Clifton, Bristol since moving here. Though I had an interest in clothes previous to this, the passion and knowledge around contemporary menswear of the shop owner, along with certain friends I have, has crept into my life. I gained an interest in specific brands, quality heritage inspired clothing made in a contemporary way, in a way this mirrors my thoughts on moving forward with photography (Margaret Howell would be a prime example). Referential to history but not trapped in its clutches. If I wanted to make work for someone, it would be someone like this. How could I begin to set the framework to allow this to happen? 

I imagined a body of work made around a designer and their brands process, from making (a lot of these brands use traditional techniques and local workforce still) through to the finished pieces. This is a nice thought, but they would have no reason to consider me to do this, let alone actually pay me. My first thought (before starting my MA) was to consider it as a personal project somehow, getting access through offering use of the work to the brand. Then came my focus on the ship, planning, shooting, applying for the MA etc. However, throughout this I still had two thoughts running in my mind. I wanted to make this work with a designer both for myself and as a portfolio piece to get other work and show to agencies. 

The other idea that never left me was an idea of how I imagined the inside of that tannery to look. I had an image of a place that I would love to make images in. Coming in to this unit I was planning ideas around the making of the Folly artist book and a thought was to use leather for the cover. It was the perfect foil for walking into the tannery (Thomas Ware & Sons). I looked through their scrap section, none of which was suitable for a book, but the manager was happy to show me around. I’m not sure what I had imagined but this place was better. The man said he would happily let me photograph the place and the workers there as long as they didn’t mind. 

To combine these plans, I have decided to make a piece of work on the Tannery in early 2019 using the winter light and hopefully cold conditions. I intend to use this is an example when going to larger designers to give a visual reference as to the type of direction my images may go when working with them. If I could be involved with the types of designers, I intend to work with this would then be an impressive anchor in the commercial world and give me credence moving forward. 

I see this work at the tannery as both standalone and a piece that rounds off my portfolio more favourably to commercial clients and agencies.

Since these ideas I have spoken to Angus about promoting my work both independently and through companies such as Bikinilist. I had a skype session with one of the workers at Bikini list and came to the opinion that they would be a great resource to use, however they are not cheap. It would cost roughly £700 for a year of access to all of their commercial e-mail lists. 

My current situation after receiving recent work and the QEST grant allow me to see myself through till roughly the middle of next year. I have decided I do not think I could fully commit to promoting my material until I have this more commercially minded piece from the tannery made in some form. My other reason for this is if I really push marketing and get offered lots of work, I will most probably have to take that work. At the moment with the time and space created by the grant and recent paid work I have done I would really like to put my all into producing and maybe finishing Folly, rather than allowing it to run on for too long.