Photo Scratch was a wonderful event. For me personally it gave me a chance to talk about my work outside of a university educational situation. My work is extremely personal to me and to be able to share it in this forum to people who had never met me before and be able to hear response with fresh eyes was of real benefit. ‘This Must be The Place’ is still a work in progress being now continued without the assistance of my university tutors and peers. It was a daunting task showing my work as I haven’t really spoken about it since graduating just over a year prior to showing it at Photo Scratch. But it gave me a invaluable refresher into how to talk about my work again. I would recommend Photo Scratch to anyone looking to get a fresh pair of eyes to help progress there work forward.
I think Photo Scratch is a great idea and addresses one of my shortcomings – not spending enough time in the company of like-minded individuals. I work full time in London to make ends meet and (at least in theory!) to give me some financial means to carry out my own self-inspired photography projects – when time allows me! But I definitely have not found enough time to get my work out there and to get feedback on my ideas, so this is a wonderful platform to address both these issues.
It was wonderful being in the company of other photographers and to share ideas, and I think this is the way forward for me, and I’m sure for other documentary photographers to realise their own end goals.
Thank you to everyone involved in creating this gathering of like-minded creative souls! Long may it continue, evolve and even create other offshoots.
The image above was taken as I travelled along the back roads of America, my route entirely dictated by the locations of towns with either a British name or, in this case, a part of London. Initially an editorial idea (published in a Sunday newspaper) and now a more extensive social documentary project, staying long enough to meet people & find out a little bit more. A sort of parallel universe. Meanwhile, closer to home and featured in the link below (& not yet shown at Photo Scratch) is what could be described as an inverse reaction to this and photographing what’s in my own back yard and my local landscape between home and work;
I exhibited two projects at Photo Scratch, Recollection and Show and Tell. The former is a series of portraits featuring elderly people in the early stages of dementia, surrounded by objects that retell their life story in a single image and Show and Tell is an ongoing portrait project depicting people with possessions that have an interesting story behind them. The two are connected by their use of symbolic objects to highlight personal stories. I have been playing around with ways to present the work including books and various materials to make the project tactile.
Photo Scratch was an amazing platform to gain feedback on how well these different methods were working and for simply laying them alongside one another and asking which people prefer and why. I always loved having constructive criticism at art school and this gives you a deadline and a space to foster the same type of experience, while gaining inspiration from everyone around you. I discovered Photo Scratch for the first time at the event before this one and I will definitely be back to view work and hopefully to show new projects in the future.
Having just completed an MA Documentary Photography course it was really a great experience to be able to show the project I had been working on, about the Port Talbot Bypass (www.ptbypassed.com), and get feedback outside of a purely academic context. Photoscratch provided all the intimacy of a private gallery opening, but in a laid back, pressure free environment. It was great to meet the other exhibiting photographers, help each other put up our work and discuss about our different practices and goals. At the end of the evening I was able to walk away with a stack of valuable feedback I can use to continue developing my project. I look forward to attending the next session and would love to exhibit again in the future!
There’s this strange myth that continually persists, seemingly perpetuated by (or perhaps despite) art/photography education, that professional photographers work in isolation. To me this is at best self-fulfilling, and at worst complete rubbish. As a photographer, shooting with a good assistant or partner- having someone to bounce ideas off and riff with- is so much more effective and makes the final images so much better. As an assistant, it’s great to see how other people work, perhaps pick up some ideas for your own shoots, or tips which just make this strange job we do a little easier, or a little quicker. As a photographer, I’ve never been on a shoot where I’ve thought- ‘an extra pair of hands would be useless right now’. Of course this is personal preference and there will be some exceptions to this, but I’m yet to meet a photographer who gets nothing out of chatting to other photographers and comparing work.
Photo Scratch was a great opportunity for this. I showed a project I’ve been working on for a few years, and didn’t quite manage to finish over the course of my MA. It was an ideal event to test the project so-to-speak, try a new way of exhibiting the work and explore peoples reactions. For me the key question was ‘does the work say what I think it does?’ It’s too easy to produce work in a bubble, assuming you know what it’s about, only to put it in front of someone else who reads it in a completely unexpected way. Photo Scratch helped to show the strengths and shortfalls of the work, and in doing so, is pushing me to fill in the gaps and finish the project. It was also a brilliant opportunity to meet some interesting photographers, compare notes and get some feedback from other photographers, artists and enthusiasts. The atmosphere is always really relaxed and conducive to engaging discussion. I’d recommend coming along, even if you’re not exhibiting work just for the opportunity to have a couple of drinks, meet some fascinating practitioners and chat about pictures.