I am continuing to consider the ways in which to disseminate my work, which is a continuation of the discussion I had in my post ‘Are you Drowning Yet?’ and also in my post ‘Hunters and Farmers’
Simon Norfolk’s critique of the photo book is a valid response to a sometimes esoteric world of photography, however there are photographers who are able to both create a work in the form of a beautifully presented book whilst at the same time disseminating that work with a broader audience, or at least with the people that helped to create the work.
I have been following the work of Schneidermann since the start of this module, after having the work recommended to me at the end of the last one. I really connect with the aesthetic of her work, especially ‘I Called her Lisa Marie’ (Fig. 1), which contrasts Elvis fans of South Wales with images from Elvis’s home in Memphis and really creates the idea of community formed through a connection to the culture and music of Elvis Presley and blends portraiture with environmental imagery, that Schneidermann says “help to breath between each portrait” (Rosenberg, 2016).
Her commitment to working with communities as well as within them is something that also resonates with me as I look to work closer with my own community. For example, her project ‘It’s Called Ffasiwn’ is a collaboration between Schneidermann, stylist Charlotte James, and the youth clubs of the South Wales Valleys (Fig. 2), which is referred to as a “fashion-cum-documentary-cum-participatory community project that challenges the static way the region has been portrayed by the media through celebrating the creativity of its younger inhabitants” (Wright, 2019). The work seeks to work in collaboration with the people who live in the South Wales Valley region, one of the most deprived areas in the UK in order to change the perception of how the area is represented through images of deprivation left after the decline of the coal industry in the 1980s.
Although the series is primarily a fashion work, I find the tools of collaboration a positive way of re-framing the way a culture can be depicted, which is a kind of decolonisation of the poverty that we automatically attribute to these areas. The project has been exhibited at the Martin Parr foundation, which has been set up to focus on work created in the British Isles, something that I feel my work could aspire to. My own work is fundamentally about British community and would sit quite comfortable in this space (Fig. 3). Schneidermann has produced photobooks as part of her work, however for ‘It’s Called Ffsiwn’ a magazine was produced and was also shared in the local newspaper to share the work with the community. In this way the work becomes more inclusive of the people who helped inspire it.
Additionally, for Schneidermann there is also a secondary market for this work, creating opportunity for wider dissemination. Schneidermann also completes commissions for publications such as Vogue Italia (Fig. 4), and continues to utilise the aesthetic of her documentary and collaborative work by staging many of these shoots within the Welsh Valleys where she is based. This supports the discussion that I had regarding publishers such as Hoxton Mini Press who also work in this way in order to create a larger audience for the work and by extension making then work more attractive to these publishers to put out into the market place.
If there was to be a critique to this approach however, it would be in the potential gaze of this kind of imagery; taking advantage of the people depicted in the images (Fig. 5). However, I don’t believe that this is Schneidermann intention, who does not operate in the way that traditional documentary photographers have done in the past; As Sontag points out “The photographer is supertourist an extension of the anthropologist, visiting natives and bringing back news of their exotic doings” (Sontag, 1979, p. 42). Schneidermann is not a tourist in the Welsh Valley, she also lives with the community and works with them to create this photography, and continues to do so.
Considering the secondary market for my work
Now that my project has evolved to include reaction to the current Coronavirus pandemic, it does present an opportunity to disseminate the work in an editorial setting. For example, BBC has already started to create reflections on how the UK has changed as a result of the virus, and illustrating this with stock imagery edited to present a before and after view of how life has changed (Fig. 6). In the weeks during the pandemic there will be inevitably be a range of content produced to help illustrate and understand what is happening and my work would fit very well in this. Especially as my intent is to look at the connections within community and society at large.
Another example could be through a publication, such a Huck magazine, creates themed issues (Fig. 7) for content that could feasibly produce an issue on the impact and outcomes of the pandemic. Huck’s editor Andrea Kurland suggests that in this context it is the story that they are able to put together is just as important as the visuals when considering commissioning a piece of work “start thinking about what that editor would need to turn that into a feature” (Kurland & Creativehub, 2020). It would be good start thinking how my work can exist in these kinds of contexts as they have established audiences and built on the basis that if it is published there must be an inherent quality to the work and worth seeing. However, there is the issue of compromise to consider when pursuing publication in this kind of media. Both of the examples that I have given will have their own editorial guidelines with regard to the kind of work that they publish, and this could also exist in a particular political standpoint (although less so for the BBC), which could have a fundamental impact in the way that my work is read, potentially compromising the intent and dominant reading of my work. An important consideration that could have implications on how I am able to create work in the future.
Huck Magazine, 2018. Teen Activism. Huck Magazine, 15 May.
Kelly, J., Getty & Alamy, 2020. Coronavirus: The month everything changed. [Online] Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/stories-52066956 [Accessed 31 March 2020].
Kurland, A. & Creativehub, 2020. How to Show Your Work. London: Printspace Studios.
Rosenberg, D., 2016. Elvis Presley’s Biggest Fans. [Online] Available at: https://slate.com/culture/2016/01/elvis-presley-fans-around-the-world-photographed-by-clementine-schneidermann.html [Accessed 31 March 2020].
Schneidermann, C., 2018. I Called Her Lisa Marie. [Online] Available at: https://www.clementineschneider.com/i-called-her-lisa-marie/cz93s22tomb7f4jbr8radnwqtgxpal [Accessed 31 March 2020].
Schneidermann, C., 2019. For Vogue Italia. [Art] (Vogue Italia).
Schneidermann, C., 2019. Gucci x Vogue Italia. [Art] (Vogue Italia).
Schneidermann, C., 2019. It’s Called Ffasiwn is a collaboration with Charlotte James & youth clubs. [Online] Available at: https://www.clementineschneider.com/ffasiwn-1/lwqc0f3qqhdc4s3fznz34vv6tavez7 [Accessed 31 March 2020].
Schneidermann, C., 2019. It’s Called Ffasywn’. Bristol: s.n.
Sontag, S., 1979. On Photography. London: Penguin.
Wright, S., 2019. It’s Called Ffasiwn. [Online] Available at: https://www.lensculture.com/articles/clementine-schneidermann-it-s-called-ffasiwn [Accessed 31 March 2020].