This week we have been encouraged to to think about websites and the purposes they serve. In my case, I have run a website for the last couple of years which has been aimed at the wedding market. As a result I am well versed in understanding this market and all of the challenges faced be wedding photographers in terms of SEO, or ranking highly of popular search terms on Google. In my case ‘Wedding Photography Manchester’ and ‘Wedding Photography Cheshire’. This is a complex business and the determining factors constantly shift according to google algorithms. I have attended workshops and conducted endless research in the pursuit of knowledge.
I am in a unique position as I currently work as a teacher of media in a sixth form college in addition to working as a wedding photographer. My venture into wedding photography was the result of my desire to create work, already second shooting for a videography company on a casual basis I was able to watch and observe lots of wedding photographers, some good, some not so good but I probable learned something from all of them.
In terms of wedding photography as a sustainable prospect of work beyond the MA. I am currently in the position of having a limit to what I can shoot. This scenario suits for the moment (Present COVID restrictions exempt). I book around twenty weddings a year as well as teaching. This means that I am able to pick and choose the type of weddings I want to shoot. I do this by using the content of my website to appeal to the type of clients I would like to work with. I use my website to do this in a number of ways:
- Use photographs of specific venues that I like/want to work at.
- Present work that is beyond the obvious and reflects my own personality.
- Ensure that the work I present demonstrates a plethora of different stages of a wedding such as the morning, ceremony, speeches, portraits and evening celebration.
In recent weeks I have begun to collect the weekend magazines from a range of newspapers such as The Observer, FT and The Times. Having begun to research the work of others I have been looking through the content of such publications, noting who the photographers are then researching researching their personal projects. This approach has been useful and insightful and I am beginning to understand the type of direction I would like pursue.
As an outgoing person I have really enjoyed working on my non league football project, going to places I haven’t been for many years, speaking to people and making portraits of them. In doing this I have been creating new experiences for myself whilst continuing to develop my skills as a portrait photographer. I feel this environment has provided an arena to grow my practice, being in an environment that I understand. It is a type of safe space to experiment.
Continuing to work on the Oxfam brief has been difficult in terms of logistics but at the same time enriching as I have been able to contribute to the team in addition to learn and make connections with fellow students. Attending weekly zoom meetings to discuss our progress and share further ideas has been fun whilst providing the opportunity to meet new like minded people. Although being an outgoing person, I do lack confidence when entering into new situations and I have found this process really helpful as a confidence building exercise. I have also created work outside my project which is a big step and I have really enjoyed myself in engaging with the process of making work within the fashion genre. Reflecting on my experience of making new work within a different context. I currently feel my approach has been quite safe however at the time of writing, I am planning a more ambitious shoot in the coming days.
In terms of my role within the live brief, I feel that I have worked hard and made significant contributions without taking a leading role. At present, the group is led by Victoria who is very much the driving force behind the group while Thomas uses his experiences of the advertising industry to offer critical insight into the presentation of our work, with regards to my role, I have contributed insight into the structure of the finished pitch. Using my teaching experience to provide structure and encouraging the other members to consider what the pitch will be required to achieve. Thinking about the aims, objectives and how we will justify and deliver our message.
Process of Making Work
One of the biggest learning curves of the MA has been the exploration into the process of making work in a technical sense. Having been shooting totally digital, I recently purchased a 35mm film camera which I have used sparingly. I understand that I could have gone out shooting film however I felt that It was important to be able to justify such an approach. As my research continues I notice that many photographers who interest me, work with medium format cameras. I am currently not in a position to purchase such a camera due to the cancellation of weddings and Christmas looming. However, my next project, probably beyond the MA will be to make medium format portraits at the locations of the European Championships tournament due to take place in 2021.
The first and most important task for my future direction as a photographer will be to create a website of my personal work. I have previously considered this and now have a greater understanding of the importance of the personal project. Having some knowledge of website design, I will concentrate on presenting my very best work through the vehicle of emotional projects that are well considered and challenging themes that I am passionate about.
As my work has shifted significantly since enrolling on the MA, the prospect of creating a personal website is hugely exciting. Once I have a personal website I will seek to make producers and commissioning editors aware of my work and I am looking forward to the task of competing for work within an editorial setting. I understand that this may be difficult but having already created a relatively successful wedding photography business I have the self confidence in being able to achieve this.