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Category: Part 1

Val Murray (Tea collaborative) feedback

Val contacted me after seeing my Drifting by … project in the Redeye Photographic Network newsletter – mainly to point me in the direction of work by the Tea collaborative group on the canal 20 years ago (http://www.teaweb.org/the-cut.html). However, I also took the opportunity to request some feedback from her, as an experienced artist who has a collaborated on exhibitions of performance based art. A PDF of the email exchange is attached.

Val commented that it is tricky to work with the range of different inputs in the film and suggests that my idea of disconnecting the elements might work well. Interestingly, she talks about how Tea worked and reflects, with hindsight, that their projects tended to be overloaded and she feels that less may have been more. Also that in some cases they made a completely new piece of work to document/share the performance, which she feels worked better.

Val’s comments have further encouraged me to think in the direction of producing a simplified output that is not so multilayered, or the existing layers are separated and presented differently.

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Paul Hill Feedback

I wrote to renowned photographer Paul Hill, whose work White Peak Dark Peak, has influenced my way of thinking about landscapes. Our correspondence is attached.

In summary, Paul thought there were some wonderful images of the canal but found the ‘commentary’ distracting as he felt it tells what is about to be seen. When I produced the video, this was by design as I originally found chance alignment in some parts distracting, by creating a mental hunt for other patterns of alignment.

Paul’s comments have prompted me to rethink an idea of showing the video alongside prints in an exhibition. Perhaps, just the ambient sounds could be playing? The video could be watched via a QR code on an info sheet? The narrative verses could be printed and displayed, with a QR code to listen to the spoken narrative.

All food for thought.

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Industry feedback requests

I’ve written separately about my approach to the local press, media and other potential promotional outlets – this is to publicise the video and the hope of attracting stories from along the canal to feature in a book and exhibition of the work. Here, I note my industry specific feedback requests – all sent on Thursday 20 May.

  1. Vic Allen (executive director at Dean Clough Gallery, Halifax) – I’d previously met Vic through OCA North meetings (pre lockdown) when he presented to the group on the ins and outs of art exhibitions. PDF of email to Vic attached with details of request to him.
  2. Andy Williams @Flak Photo (photography blogger – hello@flakphoto.com). Andy Williams is a US blogger and photography obsessed. I’m interested in what he thinks of the film format for photographs and also hope that if he shares any comments, there could be some publicity through Twitter. PDF of email attached.
  3. Iain Sarjeant at Another Place Books – photographer and publisher of books that deal with relation between people and place (https://anotherplacepress.bigcartel.com)(info@iainsarjeant.com). PDF of email attached with details of request to him.
  4. Paul Hill (photographer and academic) – his work White Peak Dark Peak and focus on the formal above (though not to the exclusion of) the conceptual has been influential in my approach to photography. I met Paul at an OCA study visit a few years back in Birmingham. PDF of email attached with details of request to him.

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Feedback on Press Release

I was interviewed by Yorkshire Post journalist Ruby Kitchen for an upcoming article on Drifting by the Leeds and Liverpool. While I didn’t ask for feedback on the press release, it was kindly given, saying that ‘I must be very experienced in issuing press releases as it’s exactly in the format that journalists like it, and include files to download also’. I didn’t confess to it being my first press release but was happy that my research and time editing is was worthwhile!

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A1: rework of project information pdf (press)

There are different audiences to communicate with for feedback / publicising my work (part 4). I see the two aspects a part of an ongoing/connected process. Over the past few days, I’ve been concerned with communicating with the local press along the canal, hoping to get my work featured and encourage communities living along the canal to share their stories that will in turn shape my photo book and potential exhibition.

I’ve a) created an updated pdf as a press release that is written in the language of the press – clear and simple and in the third person (attached). b) updated my fitzgibbonphotography website to include a ‘press’ section, where the press release is duplicated along with example image files and a short clip from the film for download (https://fitzgibbonphotography.com/press/drifting-by-the-leeds-and-liverpool/); c) updated a stories from the canal’s blog post (https://fitzgibbonphotography.com/share-canal-stories/) to encourage viewers of the film to contribute their own stories from the canal; this is linked from the film’s microsite www.leedsandliverpool.co.uk.

I’ve now also sent emails to the local newspapers previously researched, and written about this in part 4 of the course. Effectively publicising the film to hopefully gain access to stories from the community that will shape the photo book and potential exhibition.

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Text overlays in Photoshop

I’ve been using text overlays in PS for the opening image in my film and for flyers promoting talks / discussions of my work. I’ve had a niggle that it doesn’t always seem to appear as sharp as I’d like once exported and resized. Today, I had time for a little research and resolved the issue. A couple of fixes: a) using anti-alias settings for the PS text – the ‘sharp’ setting looks best for poster-style formats where the text needs to stand out; and b) when resizing the image down to select a ‘sharper’ algorithm to ensure the text overlay remains crisp.

Here’s the flyer for an upcoming talk to East of England OCA group:

Text overlay with anti-aliasing applied and resized to 500px square using bicubic-sharpen

I’m also reworking the cover images for my film similarly – additional work but a much more professional finish!

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AoP student awards preparation

Introduction and requirements

Looking at the AoP award entry requirements (https://www.aopawards.com/details-and-terms/), it is possible to submit a moving image work of up to 10 minutes in duration. Including end-titles, my short film is 10.45 long. It is also a requirement that the name of the entrant should not be included (on photographs, so presumably video) – my name is included on the opening slides and the end titles. Therefore, to make entry in the awards, I’ll need to make a fresh edit of the video; removing my name from the opening title and cutting it from the end titles; I suspect I can easily loose 45 seconds by cutting out the end titles, and would then need to give appropriate credits in the entry form.

I found that the requirements for moving image submissions were different on the written instruction to those on the entry submission portal – the former mentioned a video upload, where the latter a hyperlink to an online video (tricky to anonymise that with account info on display). There is a 2000 character limit on text to be submitted along with the video; which will also need to include information on collaborators etc.

Submission

I’ve taken time to rethink my artist’s statement now that there is a little distance from the completion of the submitted BoW. The text of a shortened version and other requirements for the AoP submission is:

Drifting by the Leeds and Liverpool

I walked the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, observing the burden of deindustrialisation, areas of regeneration, and the water’s tranquil flow. Traces of humanity marked possession, use and abuse. A mill’s struggle for redevelopment, a make-shift garden house, detritus framed in shining water. Shrubby undergrowth filled the gaps of humankind’s neglect and trees grew through the ruins of early capitalism, where horse-drawn boats were once loaded. My short film celebrates the richness of meanings and experience found in the everyday condition, along the waterway’s journey through marginal and affluent places. It is portrait of humanity through its traces; a cultural landscape of past activity; and it shares the experience of a psychogeographic drift. These remains of the everyday condition are often rendered invisible in socially shared and publicity images that reduce the landscape to a pastural place of leisure; a spectacle of shimmering sunsets and coloured barges. I would like the film to convey a sense of poignant calm to viewers and encourage them to take a closer look at things that often go unnoticed.

Production was on a tight budget using Apple applications like GarageBand that are freely available outside my core applications of Photoshop and Lightroom. I bartered actor headshots for the voice-over by a professional actor. Like life on the canal itself, the project was more about creative making-do than innovation at a cost.

The photography, words, film and sound recording and production are my own work. Credit to actor Paul Butterworth for his voicing of the narrative and to Ellis Fitzgibbon for his piano composition and playing for the end titles. The narrative includes quotes from Stubbing Wharfe by Ted Hughes and Canal Life by Ian McMillan. Background sounds are from my own recordings and also sampled from the BBC open-source sound archives, including the oral histories. Thanks also go to writer, James Wall, for feedback during my writing of the narrative.

The edited video was shared via a private link (https://vimeo.com/546003571/17472de2d6 – it is not visible on my Vimeo front page) and was reduced to 9 minutes 50 by cutting material from and the duration of the end titles. The front image was also updated to reflect what I am now calling the work.

Notes on method (video edit)

  1. My images and slides are in Apple Keynote – on re-opening, I had a missing font alert. This was fixed by reinstalling the fonts though Adobe Creative Cloud app and restarting Keynote; must be done manually when a non-Adobe app is using the fonts.
  2. The cover slide, including my name was created in Photoshop, so an edit in PS was need to create an anonymised cover.
  3. I cut time from the end titles to avoid any changes to the sound track that has been carefully edit to fit the slide transitions. Cuts were to shorten during of info slide about canal, remove slides with my name/other contributor credits and cut the duration of credits for poets quoted and additional sound samples.
  4. During earlier editing, I found using an old iMac (that no longer updates and doesn’t support newer app versions) for sound files and my MBP for image work made for inefficiencies in transferring large files between the two computers. But I hadn’t found out how to transfer a GB project and its embedded sound files from one computer to the other while maintaining its integrity. Now, I discover that the GB project needs to be zipped (outside of GB) to allow it to open on a different computer. While this worked, I found that the ‘drone’ effect I’d used on the sound track was from Apple Logic Pro’s space designer (only on my iMac!). So, I’m stuck with transferring for this project but will reconsider for future work.
  5. I exported from Keynote as a film file and added the sound track back in GarageBand, fading the exit music to within the 10 minute time limit.

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The language of Dreaming Driftwood Country

My tutor suggested Wendy Ward’s article, Dreaming Driftwood Country (Octopus Journal, volume 5:2011) might inspire some ideas about descriptive language that could be used to promote/describe my own body of work. The article concerns Alec Soth’s Sleeping by the Mississippi, which some have remarked my work resembles.

  • The idea of ‘abandonment not as a spectacular … event but rather as an everyday condition’ resonates. In place of abandonment, I think more of the burden of deindustrialisation but the ‘everyday condition‘ is an important aspect and a counter to the normalisation of space through images of the canal as pastural.
  • There is a useful quote from WJT Mitchell, What Do Pictures Want? (2005); ‘photography is a record of what we see, or a revelation of what we cannot see, a glimpse of what was previously invisible.’ The idea of revealing what could not be seen through the cultural soup or veil of familiarity that surrounds us was important to my dissertation and mindful photographic walking (or psychogeography if preferred). Ward returns to this idea, discussing ‘invisible traces mostly people do not see or would easily overlook’, and how Soth’s attention to these draws out socio-political implications. In the context of my work, perhaps a glimpse of what is easily unnoticed and not shown in socially shared and propaganda images.
  • Ward mentions the ‘socio-economic disparity of a once prosperous thoroughfare’. The canal shares this trait but the timescale of deindustrialisation is much longer – the disparity exists along the route where some places have been more successfully regenerated than others.
  • Ward concludes by examining the book’s title Sleeping by the Mississippi and how the images themselves question the possibilities of sleeping or settling down. It prompts me to revisit my title of simply Leeds and Liverpool – earlier on I struggled to settle on a title and defaulted to the simple. However, it is now an opportunity to consider something more provocative. Watery terms include adrift, wash and wake and all have echoes of what has past or something slightly disorderly. Adrift by the Leeds and Liverpool appeals to me because of the significance of the word adrift and because it creates an image of movement. I’ll work with this as a new title.
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Source Photographic Review (preparation)

David Fletcher (fellow OCA student) has kindly agreed to coordinate a group submission to the annual Source Photographic Review of graduate work. This is an excellent opportunity to receive feedback on work as well as showcase it in a public space alongside graduate work from B&M universities.

The guidelines for submission are provided online (https://www.source.ie/graduate/submission/organise.html) and these include brief Q&As with the selectors for the review. Included in the Q&A are comments on what they each look for in a project and an artist statement. I read through these and jotted a few notes down in preparation for my submission, and also scanned some of the selected submissions from 2020’s review.

I’d already decided I needed to make my artist statement more personal (less analytical) on the back of assignment 1 and observed a number of artists talking about their work (including two highly influential ones) for ideas. The need for this is echoed in the comments of some of the Source selectors, wanting to understand position of an artist and an idea that is owned for example.

A recurring aspect is the need for a ‘strong portfolio’, while at the same time I notice it is optional to include a link to a portfolio site in individual submissions. In practice, it seems that a portfolio site may influence the selectors. I’ll submit mine and refine it prior to the selection process (a benefit of a website being a moveable feast!); an important guide is quality over quantity – I’ve not visited my site for a while, but suspect there is too much on it, particularly given the feedback I received from Adobe on my Leeds and Liverpool project site.

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Craven Arts – virtual meeting

I attended a zoom meeting of Craven Arts (22 April) – the first such virtual meeting of a group that has recently enjoyed the boost of their first full-time employee to help with marketing and communications!

The format was an update on what is happening in the group – their ‘Hub’ in an old bank building in Skipton has reopened following lockdown and there is an artist in residence (Jon Britten, who also presented his work in the call) and Mill Bridge Gallery (which hosts the work of Craven artists) is also reopen to the public. Two artist then spoke for 10 minutes about their work: Mark Butler, coincidentally an OCA sculpture student, who works in bronze and Jon Britten, an artist rediscovering painting after many years away from it.

As well as being a good opportunity to ‘meet’ some people from the organisation I’ve recently joined, it struck me how quickly things have opened up following the success of the Covid vaccination programme. Hopefully, the good fortune will continue. It also means that I should rethink my strategy of preparing for virtual only showings on my work, now physical opportunities may be available.

At the close of the meeting, there was a call for artists to present at the next meet (27 May), which I plan to volunteer for – a chance to work on an image-lead presentation, rather than showing my 10 minute film.

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Lessons from artists’ presentations

Introduction

This post was interrupted by my enforced period away from study, which I’ve noted in my journal. It is therefore not as fresh and fluent as it might had been had I completed it when the presentations to which I refer were fresh in my mind!

As part of the feedback process on A1, I’d decided that my materials for explaining/promoting my work needed a more personal and less analytical feel to them. To reflect more of my personal attachment (and voice) and less of a dispassionate critical perspective derived from my dissertation. Before starting the rewrite, I took some time out to watch a number of others talking about their work and have distilled what I enjoyed and did not enjoy so much – obviously subjective but important to the communication of my own work.

Presentations I attended over a period of weeks were:

  • Rob Townsend (OCA finalist) – 11 February (through OCA)
  • Professor Tom Hunter – 15th February (through RedEye and hosted by Dr Keith Roberts)
  • Alys Tomlinson – 26 February in conversation (through Wex Photography)
  • Roger Ballen – 1 March (through RedEye and hosted by Dr Keith Roberts)
  • Format Festival Conference – 12 March (free ticket through OCASA student society).

The purpose of this post is not to document each talk but to highlight strategies that I found more successful and others that did not work for me. I’ve retained rough notes separately for each of the talks.

Successful strategies

I firstly must acknowledge that ‘successful’ is perhaps the wrong descriptor. It should perhaps be ‘suitable’ (for my own voice). As my studies have progressed, I increasingly felts that many other students and practitioners are more enthusiastic about the conceptual and theoretical aspects of image making than me. This was particularly evident during the Format Conference, when some academic-photographers literally read from scripted essays, with sparse engagement with the visual. I found it a challenge to stay engaged and suspect anyone outside of photographic academia would have found it bewildering for a supposedly universal language of image.

So, here’s what I enjoyed from the presentations and what I will take a steer from as I develop the way I talk about my own work.

  1. Personal stories – talking about work in the context of life-stories brings a directness and honesty to the work that I feel is absent in the more theoretical / abstract dialogues. Tom Hunter’s presentation was a masterpiece in this respect; I learned about his life and the interaction of that story with the work he made – the work was him and he was the work, singing a song from honest experience and emotional attachment. While, Rob’s presentation was often conceptual, the stories of his own and other’s experiences memory shaped the narrative and avoided the presentation becoming too abstract. There needs to be a story line with a personal connection for the artist for a presentation to be compelling.
  2. Share intent – Roger Ballen was hugely articulate in explaining his intention behind the images and how he read the image-symbols. This gave insight into the mind of the artist – whether or not one shared his point of view. When an artist proclaims that they don’t want to explain what the image means to them because it will interrupt the viewer’s reading, I feel a sense of frustration verging on condescension. Why not just acknowledge that everyone will have their own personal take, but share their own and what’s on their mind? The presentation then becomes more interactive and interesting. Of course, one must also be fluent in the reading of one’s own images. Having watched YouTube videos of William Eggleston refusing to engage with any idea of intention, I’m left wondering if it makes sense for him to agree to present at all.
  3. Image lead – photography is of course about images, so I was surprised by a number of presentations that featured very few images – images sometimes seemed to loose out to lengthy dialogues on concepts and an artist’s process. Both Tom Hunter and Roger Ballen shared many images as a backdrop to their talking, not talking directly about many of them but allowing the visual music to echo behind their stories. The slide shows that supported these presentations undoubtedly required extensive preparation and that is something for which time needs to be allowed.
  4. Process – I find it interest to hear something of an artist process or way of working but the level of detail needs to be carefully balanced. I stopped watching one presentation early because there was a painful level of detail around the process information, to the extent of logistical information and recall of banal discussions with subjects. Tom Hunter provided interesting insights to his process when he talked about his constructed images and how painters he mimicked were relevant to the social context of his photographs; the political environment of the painters’ work connected to Tom Hunter’s photographs – it was more than visual mimicry.

Conclusion

I am at an early stage of getting my work into the world and talking about it. There is much to consider in what I have observed in those more practiced and experienced. One important realisation is that my 10 minute film precludes full presentation and discussion in many forums. I intend to move to a photography lead presentation that includes elements of the film. The audience would then be free to watch the full film on my microsite if they wished to do so. This approach would also mitigate the difficulties of streaming lengthy high quality media over the ubiquitous zoom calls!

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Assignment 1: Tutor feedback

I had a useful Zoom meeting with my tutor on 29th January, with general feedback that things are progressing well, following a number of strategies to get my work seen. Assignment submission is here. There are some specific actions that I plan to take forward following the discussion:

  • Edit the introduction to my work to make it more compelling and move away from the critical/analytical language of the dissertation. My tutor suggested thinking about what drew me to making the work on a personal level.
  • In the context of uncertainty around the pandemic and an ambivalence to the now ubiquitous Kunstmatrix virtual exhibitions, research the possibility of constructing a site-specific virtual space to show my work. I’ve seen 3D spaces created from photographs using Photoshop and After Effects; as I no longer use the full Adobe subscription, I’ll look at other technical options. Rob Townend mentioned he knows someone working in this area, so I’ll also follow up with him. It seems that there is potential in this approach beyond my immediate project.
  • My tutor recommended a couple of essays/journal articles to read: Wendy Ward – Dreaming Driftwood Country and Michael Petzet – Genius Loci: The Spirit of Monuments and Sites. I’ve read them and will write up separately.
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Feedback from Adobe on Portfolio site

Feedback received

When using Adobe Portfolio, Adobe offer the opportunity for site to be submitted for review by an ‘industry professional’ by completing an online form with information about the project and a short artists statement. It is made clear that only a few sites will be selected for review as part of the ‘Adobe Creative Residency’ initiative. I submitted my site sometime ago and unfortunately didn’t capture a copy of the online submission, so am not sure of the exact date. However, I was pleasantly surprised to receive some feedback from Adobe by email on my project website (https://www.leedsandliverpool.co.uk) that has given me much to think about in terms of online presentation of work. The email also provided links to resources.

Response to feedback

Here I note the points that I intend to address through further experimentation with the website:

  • There are a few comments that refer to ease of viewing / simplifying the website on the basis of visitors being busy/lazy. Having lived with the work for a while and experienced the presentation of other photographers, I realise it is easy to become over-immersed in one’s own work at the risk of making it inaccessible to the busy (semi-interested) viewer. Specifics to consider are:
    • Simplifying the structure to fewer sections to show as much work as possible straight away. The web viewer comes with a different expectation than someone thumbing through a book or visiting a physical exhibition. It is a question of being more mindful of the output medium and viewer expectations of it.
    • Make the still images bigger / more plentiful; avoid the need for the viewer to have to click on images to appreciate the detail
    • The reviewer mentions they’d like to understand more of the personal connection to the project – this may currently be lost in the separated text. There’s a suggestion of placing some quotes next to the images for a stronger impact. There is of course the risk of text determining the meaning of images to consider.
    • Suggests that the front page is unnecessary and it may be better to go right to the images/video right away.
    • Suggests that a white background to the website throughout would look more professional. I chose alternative black and white to echo the colours of the canal, but this would probably be lost on most viewers in any case.

The resource links provided into the email cover a range of subjects connected to portfolios. I intend to read those and summarise salient points in a separate post.

So, the outcome of this will be to revisit the design of my project’s website. This will go straight to the top of my list as the website underpins other communications.

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Craven Arts Membership application

Update: 05/01/21

A late update to this post after the Christmas break – I was pleased to be accepted as a member of Craven Arts and dropped into their winter exhibition at Mill Bridge Gallery, Skipton (http://www.millbridgegallery.co.uk). I found out a little more about the group’s work space just off Skipton high street; areas are available to exhibit work and there were recently artists in residence (I hadn’t seen this publicised, and think the group struggle with the aspect unfortunately). There also seems to be some uncertainty over the long-term availability of the space, which is occupied on a rent-free basis while the landlord is benefitting from business rates relief.

I write this just after the announcement of the nationwide lockdown – however, I’ll keep in mind the potential for an exhibition later in the year.

Original post: 20/11/20

I mentioned in my baseline check on networking that I’d let a member of a local arts organisation lapse after not being that active (or active at all, if I’m honest). https://www.cravenarts.co.uk is part funded by the arts council and supports local artists working in and around the Yorkshire Dales. It actively promotes local arts events, has a studio space and is connected to a small art gallery in Skipton. It is £20 per year for membership, plus 2 hours of community arts volunteering.

Today, I wrote to them humbly apologising for not having been in touch for the past couple of years and asking to rejoin, with the promise of making a useful contribution. I suggested a virtual showing of my short film, followed by a Q&A as an example.

Let’s see what comes back – it doesn’t look like they are overloaded with artists, so hopefully I’ll be in luck!

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Social Practice Bursary Application

Update 22/12/20

I received a rejection letter from my application on 14 December; as expected there were many more applications than places and I appreciate that, even if my application was viewed favourably, I wouldn’t have been treated as a priority applicant in any case as I’m not from a ‘disadvantaged background’. However, it is good news that Heart of Glass have shared some social practice resources (which I’ll examine separately) and have undertaken to give feedback after the Christmas break.

Copy of email as evidence of application:

Original Post 27/11/20

I today (27/11/20) applied for a bursary to join a collective working with social practice (https://www.heartofglass.org.uk/project-and-events/events/faculty-of-social-practice). It’s a long shot as only 20 places are available for the 3 month online faculty, including 8 one to two hour sessions. I’ve been thinking about the idea of online community showings of the my video followed by a sharing of stories from the waterways – if successful the collective would be valuable in helping my understanding of this space, as well as providing some funding for attendance at the online course and the potential for additional funding to realise the social practice aspect. It would also be a great help in building a network.

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Application to present at Hothouse Online

Update 22.12.20

I was not selected to present my work. There was no feedback but I’m becoming conscious that a video work doesn’t always fit well in spaces designed primarily for photographs, and perhaps a video of photographs doesn’t always fit that well in a space designed primarily for video. This emphasises to me the importance of developing a multi-disseminatal approach to the work.

Original post 26.11.20

At the close of a Redeye network event yesterday evening was a call for applications to present work on 30 January to the Hothouse Online event (https://www.redeye.org.uk/programme/events/hothouse-january-2021). I’ve applied for this, given there is plenty of time to work out what I would present before 30 January – I understand there is a 5 minute time slot, so my 10 minute video would need a creative approach to presentation.

PDF of email application is attached:

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Assignment 1 | Tutor submission

Introduction

This assignment requires a PDF document that can be shown to an industry professional, as part of request for a short piece of feedback.

The current form of my work is a video, which could be disseminated in various ways; I’m already looking at short-film festivals but also exploring the idea of using the work as a point of engagement for social art and have applied for social practice course bursary , which would be a great help, but only a slim chance of acceptance given the limited number of places and large numbers of applicants . I’ve already made significant progress with a website to promote the work at www.leedsandliverpool.co.uk. In addition, I would like to explore the idea of making a book of the work (including additional images) and obtaining some professional feedback on that possibility. With the ongoing pandemic and resulting backlog for smaller exhibition spaces, I am not actively pursuing the idea of a print exhibition. However, I’ve recently joined a local arts collective, Craven Arts, and plan to prepare prints for when there is an opportunity to take part in a group showing in their own studio space, or the small commercial gallery they are connected with. I’ve also set up the OCA Fotograd Collective, with the objective of finalist and graduate OCA photographers helping to promote one another’s work beyond the walls of the college.

With the range of possibilities in mind, I am going to request feedback from a number of different professionals: a gallery curator; a photographer and educator, who’s produced a number of books; and a small photo book publisher. I’ll also look for opportunities to present the work online and take feedback from that, for example I’ve applied to Redeye photography network’s ‘hothouse event’ in January 2021, and will be presenting to Artlab (Halifax) early 2021. I have already entered a number of short film festivals, as submission deadlines often seem to fall at this time of year.

PDF and email template

I have created a pdf to attach to an email tailored to each recipient, as I have different relationships with each. In the body of the email, I’m planning to say specifically what feedback I’m looking for and include a link to the video so the recipient doesn’t necessarily have to look at the pdf attachment (there’s a risk that attachments aren’t opened). Attached are the PDF and the email template:

Self-assessment

Creativity 20% – Make creative decisions in the resolving of a body of work that employs appropriate media and techniques articulating a personal creative voice

Significant progress has already been made in resolving the work in the form of a short film and a website to promote the film. As well as photography, this includes my work as a narrative writer and sound track creator. I am also intending to explore the potential for the work to be realised through a complementary photo book.

Presentation and Outcomes 40% – Articulate and synthesise ideas and research in the presentation of a body of work to an audience.

At this early stage, without formal promotion, the video work has been viewed over 300 times. I’m now working on several streams to find an audience for the work – I envisage this as a series of events rather than the single exhibition that this course module seems to assume. These are: socially engagement with local communities along the canal; presentations to photography/art groups; submissions to short film festivals; and the possibility of a photo book.

Professional context 20% – Independent dissemination of a personal creative voice. Articulate independent judgements and identify opportunities for professional and or personal development.

I’ve identified and have begun to pursue a number of opportunities for the dissemination of the work that will also give me the opportunity to personally present the work to professional audiences. It is obviously not a given that these initiatives will be successfully realised but I look forward to the challenges over the coming months.

Knowledge 20% – Demonstrate comprehensive critical knowledge, understanding and reflection of relevant techniques and theoretical context(s) emerging from your outcomes.

At this early stage, I have focused on improving the quality of the online viewing experience for the video, which required exploring technical aspects of Codecs and video compression. This has significantly improved the audio and visual of the Vimeo upload. It also means I now have a desktop copy of the video that is suitable for conversion into a DCP (digital cinema print) should it be selected for any of the short film festivals.

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Email automation

A recommendation in the course material, in the context of building a contacts database, was to ensure that one has a way of sending out bulk emails. Thinking forward, this is important for efficient admin of practice. However, not straightforward as a Apple mail user, with no in built way of running mail merges.

My initial reaction was to think that I’d need to revert to MS Outlook to manage this – however, under the current Microsoft 365 model, I’d need to take a business plan at around £10 per month, plus VAT for a whole host of other applications that I have no use for. I searched for alternative mail clients that might help and drew a black. However, a number of sites discussed simple ways to use Apple Script to exchange data between different applications, including creating a mail merge. So that will be my plan when it becomes necessary. The site https://macosxautomation.com seems a good starting point, set up by a former Apple employee with responsibility for Apple automation projects.

What this also does is push me in the direction of Apple apps, away from the MS Office apps I’ve been using for free under the OCA’s student banner.

Another skillset to develop but I’m familiar with Excel macros, so I hope some similarities.

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Artist’s statement, CV and Bio

The course materials for p1 reminded me about the importance of being organised and professional – this takes a higher dimension as work begins to face the outside world, rather than the student world.

With this in mind I’ve prepared Word documents of an artist’s statement (specifically for Leeds & Liverpool), a photography CV (rather thin on the ground but is there to be expanded as things progress), and a bio. These will become the source documents for promoting my work elsewhere and will be refreshed and improved with experience.

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Researching the press release | the local stream

Strategy

One of the wishes for my work is to have it seen by the people who live in the places along the canal. Having a video-work creates a useful virtual focal point for an audience. That it is online also means that it can be watched at any time; something that during the pandemic many people will have more of, with many pubs and social outlets being closed. Today’s government announcement on tiers suggests that many places along the canal will fall under the strict tier 3 rules.

As, I’m not working towards a single exhibition and my art already exists in a virtual form it can be shown through different streams with little in the way of material costs – just organisation time. Local newspapers would form the backbone of what I’m calling the ‘local stream’. The level of engagement with the film would be measured through Google Analytics and Vimeo analytics. Any direct resulting direct correspondence through email or social media would be a bonus.

Guidelines

The course materials include some tips on press releases, and online research also pulled up the following:

  • Creative Boom website on how to avoid mistakes for artists; it all seems sensible to me and a useful checklist (https://www.creativeboom.com/tips/common-mistakes-with-press-releases-and-how-to-avoid-them/)
  • The Arts Council provide a press release template as a useful guide (https://www.artscouncil.org.uk/sites/default/files/download-file/Press_release_template_2019_0.pdf)
  • Finally, the Procopywriters provide and analytical approach to how to make a good press release, including the angles that are likely to appeal to the press (https://www.procopywriters.co.uk/2015/09/how-to-write-an-effective-press-release/)

These guides offer more than enough of a steer for me in writing a press release, which I’ll include as part of A1.

Target newspapers

The main towns/cities along the canal and their newspapers are:

Liverpool – Liverpool echo

Wigan – Wigan Observer / Post (Wigan today)

Chorley – Chorley Guardian

Blackburn – Lancashire Telegraph

Burnley – Burnley Express

Skipton – Craven Herald

Bingley – Telegraph & Argus (Bradford)

Shipley – ditto

Leeds – Yorkshire Evening Post / Yorkshire Post

I’ll look online for specific contact details.

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Mailchimp and WordPress

After setting up a mailing list form on my Leeds and Liverpool project site, I looked at doing the same for my WordPress.org portfolio site www.fitzgibbonphotography.com. This is a note of what I found and the cost implications.

There are many WordPress plugins advertised that help create custom forms and pop-ups and integrate with services like Mailchimp. However, what I found is that the free versions of these do not provide easy integration and have very limited capability to customise the forms. This is understandable, but what I found surprising was the cost of the paid versions seemed to be $80-$90 per year; a lot for an artist on a shoe-string budget but perhaps worthwhile for established businesses that find it useful to have pop-ups on their websites; rather than see them as distracting from the work.

My solution in the end was to use the embed codes generated in Mailchimp and the standard WordPress html blocks, within a column block to have the sign-up form centred on the page. The resulting sign up form is here. This successfully registers users within the Mailchimp platform.

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Mailchimp and Adobe Portfolio

This afternoon, I explored my dormant (free) mailchimp account as a way to create a signup form to a mailing list to be used on the www.leedsandliverpool.com microsite.

Adobe Portfolio does not accept embeds from mailchimp, so a hyperlink to a signup form needs to be created that takes the viewer to mailchimp to sign up. This I did by creating a menu item ’email updates’ and linking that to the mailchimp form. It seems to work well enough but I’ll have a family member test it and sign up. The only slight disappointment is that the mailchimp favicon can only be removed on a paid account, so it is obvious that a user is being taken away from the website.

As I’ve recently also activated Google Analytics on the site, I’ve switched on Portfolio’s cookie banner and linked it to the privacy policy on my main site. It is now fully GDPR compliant – the cost of bureaucracy increases every year!

Progress on the mailing list – just need people to sign up.

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OCA Fotograd Collective (@ocafotograd) – set up

I had the idea of setting up a collective for finalists and graduate OCA photographers – the main purpose would be to exploit publicity opportunities as a group with the outside world and for mutual support and encouragement between group members. The collective will hopefully end up supporting all members in their networking effort; strength in numbers and perhaps of a story for unknown photographers looking for publicity.

I put out an email through the L3 course mailing list and there was a positive response from a number of people, so I pushed ahead with a website and social media accounts. In brief: I purchased the domain name ocafotograd.org and routed that to my own hosting service, so I could set up an info@ocafotograd.org email account and edit the DNS (domain name server) settings to point to an Adobe Portfolio site – then allowing it to use the domain name www.ocafotograd.org, rather than an amateur Adobe based url. I’m asking members of the collective to contribute £5 each per annum towards the hosting and the admin of the site – if enough join, I might also enjoy a few cups of coffee for my trouble, otherwise it will be another art related activity for the love of it.

It was great to get the support of Dan Robinson (OCA Photography lead) and Emily Hughes (OCA marketing manager), who’s help will be valuable in getting the collective up and running and promoted.

Website: www.ocafotograd.org

Twitter: @ocafotograd

Instagram: @ocafotograd

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Networking – baseline

Despite being sociable, I’ve always been hopeless at keeping up a network – perhaps because I’ve never been based in a single location and always on the move in my other working life. I’ve also not embraced social media to any great extent; preferred a beer and a quiet chat with those nearby to the virtual world.

As the world has locked down and gone increasingly virtual, there’s no getting away from changing my ways.

I started by checking my inactive or mostly silent social media accounts. I did make the considered effort a couple of years back to consolidate the handles, so I use @thephotofitz for twitter, instagram and facebook. Anything variation involving ‘andrewfitzgibbon’ is too many characters. It went something like this in terms of follower numbers (from about a month or so back when I decided to start making more effort): twitter: 36, facebook 45, instagram 86. I note this here as a stick to make some progress.

Secondly, my mailing list. I don’t have one at all, so that will be any easy one to make huge percentage gains against. I have set up a mailchimp account but never used it. So that could be a good starting point on my website.

And finally, networking groups. Redeye Photography Network is an arts council funded group for photographers in the North of England. While I’ve enjoyed some of their online seminars, I’ve not yet done anything on my own profile. I have the free student membership of the AOP but this doesn’t allow for a profile space. I’m a member of CuratorSpace, which gives useful alerts of opportunities and does has a space for a profile and networking; but as yet unused. Finally, I have a lapsed membership of ‘CravenArts’ a local artist network for my corner of North Yorkshire, located in Skipton. I need to revisit it.

There’s probably a risk of spreading oneself too thinly with this stuff, so I won’t look for anything more at this point.

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Erik Knudsen – ‘portfolio’ discussion

RedEye network emailed members advanced notice of 30 minute portfolio discussions with renowned practitioners. Free for members. Erik Knudsen is one of those practitioners (https://www.onedayfilms.com/photography/) – a film maker and photographer and professor of digital culture at UClan (https://www.uclan.ac.uk/staff_profiles/professor-erik-knudsen.php).

From the Doubt Project ©Erik Knudsen, source: www.onedayfilms.com

I’ve been lucky to book one of the few available 30 minutes spots with Erik on 5th October and record the process and outcome in this post.

  1. Erik’s own work. I spent time browsing his website this afternoon. What attracted me to having the discussion the focus of his photography and film on the ordinary, along with a feeling of psychological tension – perhaps the anticipation of change or the downtrodden acceptance of slow change. His work ‘Doubt Project’ is described in the context of doubt being part of his creative and spiritual development – something he has learned to recognise an embrace. There is always doubt in art, perhaps an equivalent to doubt or anxiety when putting one’s own children out into the world. I feel doubt, but I tend to brush it aside rather than embrace it.
  2. Questions for Erik. In between my tutorial for A4 BoW and the session with Erik, I managed to update my film for to reflect the suggestions from my tutor – mainly to reconsider a few of the images and to re-sequence the images so that they connected with the narrative in the film’s timeline. This resulted in edit 3 of my film and the one shared with Erik. There were two aspects I hoped to get Erik’s feedback on: a) critique of the work as a short stills film and, if time allowed, ideas for publicising the work.
Edit 3 of film
  1. Outcome of session.
    • Process – the technology/communication hosted by RedEye didn’t go as smoothly as it might have done. There was miscommunication of start times (luckily too early rather than late) and the link I shared with them to pass onto Erik had not been passed onto him. It was also not possible to share my own screen from RedEye’s Zoom break out room, so I ended up sending a link in the comments. However, I’d walked through potential problems before the session so didn’t find this as distracting as it could have been.
    • Comments – Erik watched the 7 or 8 minutes of the film up to the end titles and I waited in silence. He said that he enjoyed the film and asked a little about why I’d chosen that medium. He felt that the images were strong and very evocative of the place. Our discussion then focused on the sound. Commented that while I’d started to bring in some ambient and background sounds, there was potential to develop that area much further. He encouraged me to think about conveying the narrative through the sound – to imagine doing that without the narrative. Observing that a simple narrative would have a beginning, middle and end. Perhaps even ending in silence. Erik said that people remember emotions more than words and the images and sounds are the most powerful way of carrying emotions. Could the sounds be used to evoke the past – what was once the artery of the industrial north is now a marginal space? Put my own feelings about the place at the centre of the narrative – a melancholic, abandoned empty place. Perhaps consider the idea of the journey, from inland Leeds, opening out into the world through Liverpool.

      We didn’t have time to properly resolve our session as RedEye technology undid us once more. However, I thanked Erik through Instagram and he asked me to let him know when the work was finished.
  2. Next steps – the sound track will be worked on further for BoW A5. I’ve begun searching sound archives for suitable raw materials. Once, finally done I’ll send a link to Erik.
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