I teach digital media at an FE college, so my current practice is focused on this as my full time profession. I have also spent the last number of years working towards teaching qualifications and HEA Fellowship, which has meant the commercial aspects of my practice have taken more of a back seat. Prior to teaching, I was a full time freelance photographer, working on the travel and lifestyle sector mainly for airline publications (Fig: 1). Although this is far removed from the practice that I am aiming to develop on the MA, I do still license images from my archive on a fairly regular basis through a range of different platforms.
Throughout this process, I have sought commercial opportunities with the work that I have produced for each of the module in order to raise my profile as an art practitioner over an editorial photographer. I enjoy teaching, so see myself producing longer term projects whilst moving more into higher education teaching in the medium to long term.
During Positions and Practice for example, I created a project around Somerset Carnivals that I grew up with (Fig: 2). As this was the first project that I produced for the MA, I feel that it was more in line with the work that I used to produce. I aimed to share this work through a number of platforms and gained initial interest from the BBC and C41 magazine but unfortunately, owing to the pandemic, priorities changed, and the work no longer fit into what they were publishing. I did get one of the portraits from the series into the KLPA this year and although that has no reward as commerce, it does help to raise profile (Fig: 3).
During the last module, I also produced a series of images for a local school, which they used for marketing (Fig: 4) and in return I was able to access and create a number of portraits that contributed towards my project (Fig: 5).
Jumping to this module, my aim is to try and create some projects that would run alongside the development of my WIPP, which also have more commercial possibilities and could translate into funding and/or building of profile. To develop my approach from the first module, I also want to see the possibilities of creating work utilising the research, style and intent developed over the past year. I have been continuing to send work and have gained some interest, which has yet to translate into something tangible but has been quite positive. One of my aims since the beginning of the MA was to also explore the potential for funding, which might be more in line with my intent, so will be creating a community focused grant application to gauge possibilities in Art and Commerce.
Alys Tomlinson – Tomlinson comfortably blends both her commercial practice as well as her long term art projects on her website as there is a clear difference between these two areas. Her client list is very much based on working with institutions and focussed on people, which aligns quite well with her personal work, such as ‘Ex-Voto.’ She has said that she doesn’t see a significant need to separate these two on her site as they all represent her practice and her ability to work in both realms (2020). Tomlinson has also stated however, that even though she is represented by a gallery and she would like to see her work move towards this area, she acknowledges the need for her commercial practice to co-exist with her art practice (2019)
Clementine Schneiderman – What is most interesting about Schneiderman’s approach is how she embeds herself into the communities that she focusses her work on. And by doing so she creates opportunities for both her own practice and also commercial outlets for her images without compromising her intent. ‘It’s Called ffasiwin’ (2019) for example, is an ongoing collaborative project with a community of the Welsh Valley and merges seamlessly with commissioned work that she has completed for Vogue.
Simon Roberts – Roberts has established a practice that also blends his personal projects with his commercial work and seems to have reached a point where he is commissioned to create work related to this personal practice.
I stated in my project proposal for positions and practice that I was keen to go through the process of applying for grants and bursaries, especially during this module where it feels the most relevant. I have applied for others prior to this module, for example a Grain Bursary and the RPS Postgraduate bursary, which have been useful to work through the process of these kinds of application. I am interested to apply for an Arts Council Grant as I feel this too would be useful to explore possibilities and work through the process. My aim is to propose a project that is thematically related to my research project and can be worked on alongside it, if not form part of my wider project. As my research is centered around the idea of community, I feel that it would be a good organisation to work with and I also aim to include the college where I work as it performs an essential service for the community.
I have been developing my academic writing and during the breaks between modules, I have been aiming to consolidate my research by writing essays in response to ‘calls for papers.’ So far I have not had success at publishing any of these however, one of my essays was well received by the editor who replied with interest in the ideas that I presented but unfortunately it did not fit with what they were currently publishing. I take this as a really positive response to my writing yet my approach still needs to be refined. In that case, I submitted what I had instead of considering what they would be interested in, which is clearly not the right way to approach submitting work. I have now focused attention onto themed calls to create a piece of writing that is still speculative but also thematically expected. For example, I was forwarded an opportunity that called for papers on the theme of ‘Community,’ which aligns with my research project and I will work towards submitting for this. Additionally, this has the added benefit of supporting the research that I am creating for my photography.
Feedback from rejected essays has been a challenge as most organisations are not in a position to provide it. However, I recently entered the Source magazine writing prize and although I did not get my essay selected, the editor was willing to respond to my request for feedback, which I was greatly appreciative and intend to reflect and refine my approach to writing.
Schneiderman, C., 2019. Ffasiwn Magazine. Bristol: Bleak & Fabulous / Martin Parr Foundation.
Tomlinson, A., 2019. The Messy Truth – Alys Tomlinson on Awards [Interview] (11 November 2019).
Tomlinson, A., 2020. A Small Voice: Conversations with Photographers – Episode 123: Alys Tomlinson [Interview] (5 February 2020).