Meetings: Visiting Lecturers

Each of these visiting lectures and reviews provided me with valuable information and advice. I will attempt to recapitulate these encounters and where they have left me. 

Victoria Forrest

I was excited to see Victoria as I have spent the last four years looking through the anthology book she designed for Paul Graham which has been a huge resource for me. A few things stood out about Victoria’s talk. The simplicity with which Victoria produces her design and the pragmatism of her business is something to admire. I always think that limitations can inspire things to be greater, and I feel this may be the case with her design. Another point that stuck with me was the want to be involved with projects that are not entirely complete. Victoria was keen to have a say in what the book may or may not need. 

Following this I showed Victoria my work. Less interested in the Albatross work Victoria seemed positive about turning Folly into a book. Various points were made. She thought the images were successful, that the edit made sense, that it tapped into something she understood and would potentially be interested in working with. Her positivity was encouraging. We talked about further steps, opportunities that may help push the production of the book and how quickly it could be turned around. I did not have much time to think on the spot but I said I was more than interested in working together and that I would arrange a meeting to sit down and go through ideas. I will follow up on this in more detail in my passage on book making. 

Rodrigo Orrantia

Rodrigo’s inclusion as a visiting lecture ended up helping me out logistically. I had been in contact with him after Francesca had told me to get in touch. We had arranged a meeting in London but as it fell on the day after his talk in Bristol, we cancelled it and just looked through my work on the day. 

I felt a synergy between some of Rodrigo’s thoughts and mine through his talk. A belief in the craft, handmade, material and bringing it back into photography and a more than normal obsession with birds are both ideas that I share with him. I also have the note written – making spectacle out the ephemeral, a lot of my writing on photography has revolved around these ideas. In our time together, Rodrigo talked around the work in a way showing understanding. He was calm and collected and I tried to give him the space to look through it. I explained thoughts towards publishing Folly, but also my reservations about rushing it. He seemed very sure about not rushing the work and had a strong belief it would be published eventually.

Something had started to appear across this review and the previous one. I was presenting a body of work that when showed to these individuals there was no advice about how to change the method, or presentation, they simply seemed to enjoy it. I do think this partly arises from being calmer about what I am producing because I am genuinely happy with the pictures, but potentially the work is also something that people feel they can get on board with. 

Jem Southam

Showing Jem my work raised two key points. We had an extensive chat about printing, which I had to steer the conversation away from eventually to talk about the work itself. This arose because when looking through the images Jem was editing some out because of the print (I only had work prints at this stage). Through this I recognised the importance of consistency in a series of images. Any drop in quality or change in sensation when viewing images can take away the suspension of disbelief. Following this Jem seemed particularly interested in what the title was. I explained my ideas around the Folly which he nodded in agreement at. I then said about trying to find the right phrase around this word. He said it was important, and to give it a lot of time. I agreed. 

Maria Salvati

Maria Salvati’s personal brand and spot of beauty is a very interesting way of looking at a culture of marketing within photography. It also raises very important questions regarding branding in relation to artistic practice and its importance versus its relevance to the work. Without interrogating these ideas further (minefield) I believe that Maria has a good grasp on what it takes to promote your ideas and work in the contemporary industry framework. 

When talking to Maria it felt jarring. I get the feeling her tactic for understanding what a photographer’s work is about is to be a provocateur and to look for the blurb that summarises the person and subsequently their work. I have a genuine belief that there is scale that works around the understanding of my photos in particular. I do not believe in giving people too many answers, or really allowing them to go ‘oh yes, I get it now’. I want them to keep looking and to keep finding. I tried to put this across, but Maria disagreed. So I followed her protocol and gave her my personal information, feelings etc, or at least as much as I could in 5 minutes. This led to Maria agreeing, the less I say the better. Whether this was because she agreed with my original statement or because she simply didn’t get it I could not figure out. 

This talk and review with Maria has been another important step in understanding my questions around context through text, imagery and personal story. All things I seem to contend with regularly. 

Tim Clark

It was great to see Tim again, and I’m happy I got to hear more about what he does and his motivations behind this. I think his ideas around creating different types of magazines, critical thoughts on how reviews and text around work can be made and marrying up of his experiences with potential underlying reasons were enlightening. I also enjoy the consideration that goes into how Tim speaks. 

I did not show Tim Albatross again as it had hardly changed since he last saw the work, so we had an extended time with Folly. I talked about it in a similar way as I have before, integrated a bit about my thoughts on how I feel the work is dense, and thick with history, primarily in relationship to the English landscape. Tim seemed to understand this and agree, also saying he had not seen much work like it. I was pointed towards the work of Bill Henson. He talked about how it felt like a mood piece, which I find a good explanation of sensation when viewing it. I also suggested looking for more of an urban presence in the pictures to come to balance the work out, something that Aaron suggested, and I felt was a good step, this also seemed to be something he thought would be a good idea.