Research · Workshops

Professional Practice Week

This week we had a series of guest lectures on a wide range of subjects, including advice on getting funding for a project, experiences from past students, and practising photographers sharing their latest work with us.

The first of these lectures was from Anna Taylor of LOOK Photo Festival & Jo Slack from Redeye. Anna spoke to us first about different types of funding for art projects/exhibitions and how to go about applying for this funding. It was an interesting insight into the wider world of art projects an how they begin. It got me thinking about whether this is something I would like to look into after finishing uni, but at the moment I’m not sure. We also did a little group exercise where we had to come up with a project and decide what sort of funding we would need and how we’d go about setting it up.

Next up was Jo from Redeye who chatted to us about project management and explained why good management is the key to success. She spoke about the ‘triple constraint’ idea where time, cost, and scope all need to be balanced to maintain the quality of your project. This was then developed further to incorporate audience expectations. My diagram helps to explain this:

project diagram

Jo also gave us a useful phrase to remember when planning projects:

‘WHY’ before the ‘HOW’ and the ‘WHAT’

This basically means that before you get into too many details on how you will achieve your goals, you need to have a good reason why you are doing your project and know what others will get from it, otherwise people will be less willing to give you support!

These two lectures were then followed in the afternoon by 3 past students coming in to speak to us about their own experiences both during and after university. It was great to hear first hand accounts from real students and get tips and advice on what to do after university!


 

The second day of lectures was solely focused on Seba Kurtis who came in to speak to us all morning about his own work. I found this a really interesting lecture and his work was fascinating. Seba mainly spoke to us about his project called ‘Immigration Files’ – an intriguing insight into the lives of immigrants and the struggles they encounter on a daily basis. He incorporates feelings from his own past into his work and explained how he wants to create a sense of ‘chaos’ and ‘frustration’ in his images. One of his ideas that I thought was brilliant was putting some of his undeveloped film underwater to represent all the immigrants that had drowned in that very same sea. He then developed the images and the water damage on them was like a reminder of the sadness and the struggles of those who had been lost.

Seba Kurtis Talk

Seba also talked about a few other interesting techniques: one was where he took overexposed photos of immigrants to represent their attempts at being ‘invisible’ to the authorities, and then brought back some details using Levels in Photoshop to reveal the figures. He also scanned in some images with plastic bags over them – again, a representation of one of the many attempts by immigrants not to get caught. Many would hide in lorries and put plastic bags over their heads to avoid their breath being picked up by carbon dioxide detectors.

The final part of Seba’s talk was about a book he made called KIF. It is essentially a tribute to his friend who was a drug smuggler who sadly died and the book retraces the places he visited on his last trip – a very beautiful idea and a book I would love to see one day!

Overall a very interesting day and Seba is definitely someone whose work I will be following from now on to see what else he comes up with!


 

The final day of lectures was given to us by fashion & fine art photographer Layla Sailor. Her talk was great and gave a really good insight into how she began her photography career and how she got to where she is now. She began with a degree at Manchester Metropolitan University where her work took inspiration from film stills and often focused on themes such as feminism. In her own words, her work was “nightmare-ish but beautiful”. After graduating from MMU in 2005 Layla has gone from working in makeover studios, to helping out at Calumet, and is now creating images for various fashion companies. Alongside all this Layla has done a number of personal projects – the most popular being ‘Kokoshnik’ whose images have won competitions and been featured in campaigns all over the world.

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Layla spoke about the importance of doing other work that you may not necessarily consider to be your ‘style’ and you might not enjoy but if it pays the bills then sometimes it just has to be done! She also encourages everyone to get stuck in and just try things out – you never know that you won’t like something if you don’t try it!

 

Now that we’re at the end of our guest lecture week I can happily say that I’ve found it really enjoyable and interesting. It’s always great to hear from practising photographers and get inside tips on how to deal with the ‘real world’ of photography!

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