Week 7 | Presentation – Commercial Commissions with Amy Simmons

I found this lecture insightful and interesting as it provided a roadmap on how to get commercial commissions. Within my current practice as a wedding photographer, I had familiarised myself with the methodologies of getting work however the commercial works outside weddings always appeared a bit of a mystery.

I was particularly interested in the section where Simmons highlights what she looks for when selecting a photographer to work with. And I was surprised when she stated that an important factor was the ‘primary subject matter’ of the photographer. I understand that when a wedding couple choose to book me for their wedding they do so on the basis that they have seen my work, I have probably photographed the venue they are getting married before and they like the work. All of which represent a total opposite from my personal project which revolves around patriarchal culture.

In previous weeks I have been looking more and more at photographers who shoot editorial features as I feel that this is where I would like to take my work. Looking at the likes of Jooney Woodward who shoots regularly for the Guardian, I am drawn to the prospect of using my skills to produce work on a variety of subject matters. Making portraits and listening people stories from different echelons of life. And throughout the MA I am now feeling that I have developed the contextual understanding which is informing my work and resulting in much stronger photographs.

I have begun to research editorial photographers en mass from news outlets such as the Guardian with the intention of providing inspiration on how I might align my own personal projects to create a diverse portfolio capable of attracting the attention of commissioning editors. My research quickly led to the discovery of Christopher Andreou who contributed to an article in the Guardian by Goodinson, E (2020) on the subject of black heritage in Ridley Road markets in Hackney. Upon further research of Andreou’s website I observed that his website was rather small but encompassing lots of high quality work. What was further interesting was the clear sense of style with his approach.

This led the reflection of my own work and the raising of major questions that I am still grappling, the most important being the style of work that I would like to pursue? The answer to this is still emerging although what I do understand is that I like to take environmental photographs of people. I am further drawn to the buzz of going somewhere without a clear idea of what it is, or who I am going to meet and photograph.

Listening to Simmons talk about the importance of having a portfolio was also useful as in my ignorance, I felt that a digital portfolio would be more useful. However, especially in the instance of having a portfolio review and understanding that editors and producers spend large proportions of their working lives at computer screens. I see how having a portfolio is important to offer an alternative experience to the reviewer. This is something I will address immediately.

Finally, the subject of usage was useful as this was an area that I have very little knowledge in this area. Understanding the different contexts of which photographs are used was important and will will become relevant when I encounter such issues. At present though, breaking through and into this world remains the number one priority.

Christopher Andreou Photography. [Online] Available at: https://www.christopherandreou.com (Accessed 8th Nov 2020)

Arnold, R (2014) The Courtauld, ‘I Spotted You There’: An Interview With Jooney Woodward. [Online] Available at: http://blog.courtauld.ac.uk/documentingfashion/2014/03/24/jooney-woodward/  (Accessed 30 Oct 2020)

Goodinson, E (2020) Do go back to Dalston: Ridley Road market’s black heritage – in pictures. The Guardian. [Online] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/gallery/2020/nov/05/do-go-back-to-dalston-ridley-road-markets-black-heritage-in-pictures (Accessed Nov 2020)

Week 10 | Marketing Strategy

When thinking about my social media presence I use a number of platforms for different purposes. As highlighted in the discussion with Anna-Maria, the idea of ‘creating villages’ is a line of thought that I particularly agree with. I currently have two instagram accounts, the first is directed at the wedding market. Here I post wedding images, usually something dramatic ensuring that I tag as many people as possible who I worked with on that particular wedding such as make up artists, specific venues, caterers and entertainment providers. This is a useful strategy as a rapport building mechanism, I also ensure that I personally thank suppliers, using names in addition to the names of the couple whose wedding I photographed. As a result, I am now quite well known within the local wedding community of the North West. I also use instagram to appeal to potential brides and grooms who book venues that I like to work at. To date, I probably get booked for the same ten venues as potential clients understand that I have already shot the venue in a fashion that appeals to them. 

My second instagram account is one that I created to run concurrent with the MA. At present, this account has a much smaller following however it has had an equally important impact as I have made a number of contacts and embedded myself into a community which is currently based around my primary subject matter which is based around football culture.

Manovich (2019) argues that such platforms are a crucial part of a global ecosystem and represent an ‘aesthetic society’ and ‘Urban Tribes’. Sentiments that I completely agree and I have found that my subject matter has led to similar communities. The problem I currently have with this approach is that the content on my feed points in a direction that doesn’t necessarily represent the future of my work. Therefore I need to take my work in alternative directions in order to build rapport with broader communities. This will happen as I continue to create work and happen organically, from my experience, saturating my account with content may lead to higher volumes of followers, however I’d rather have higher quality connections. I could make work for influencers in return for exposure to larger audiences and I don’t rule out doing this in the future however this isn’t a short term priority at the moment. 


As a wedding photographer facebook is an extremely useful platform. This is because the people who book me are not usually people with a great deal of photographic literacy. Most people have a facebook account, therefore I am able to target paid advertising at specific audiences such as ‘engaged females between the ages of twenty five and forty five’. This is successful tactic to get booked for weddings e.g. Spending £100 on a month long campaign may yield over 200 enquiries about my wedding photography services although the conversion rate is quite low between 1 in 7 and 1 in 10. The reason for this is due to client budget and knowing the market. I understand that I will be outside the price range for many seeking a photographer. This isn’t to say I am arrogant about my work but as soon as one drops the price, clients often ask for more and more and want to pay less and less. The overriding consideration with marketing is why do you want to get booked? Because one is competitively priced or because one has strong photographs? Therefore, price is very important as it protects against difficult clients who base judgements on a financial basis where people who book because of the quality of work are usually less concerned. 


This is an excellent outlet for targeting content at specific venues. However I see this platform as more of a search engine as opposed to social media. When one makes a pin they are able to include a URL or website with the post. This points back to the photographers website and is useful for SEO purposes in addition to appealing to a female, engaged audience. 

While I am portfolio and project building I will pursue with a personal Instagram account however I see the most pressing task is to create a personal website. I currently have a wedding website in addition to my MA blog whilst employed full time as a media and photography lecturer. While I am studying the MA I need to be careful about the tasks I take on board especially at present as I have a backlog of over twenty weddings to shoot in 2021, this whilst working full time and completing an FMP for the MA is slightly daunting however circumstances cannot be helped. 

At the time of writing I am booked to shoot a wedding (12th Dec) and in doing this I am going to shoot a roll of 35mm film with the intention of embedding into this community on instagram in addition to adding an extra layer of capital to my work. This I anticipate will lead to a number of networking opportunities in addition to making my presence slightly different to my competitors.

Manovich, L. (2019) AI Aesthetics. Moscow: Strelka Press.

Contextual Research | Alpha Exhibition

Due to the recent death of one of my former teammates, I begun to think about my project in a different light. Considering the DNA of my work I feel like the real story of my work lies in the people, the personalities and the overarching theme of mental health. Having struggled throughout my life with mental health and until recently, never speaking of my anxieties. I have embarked on the task of reconnecting with my football past by interviewing people I have known for many years as a result  playing football. Although discussing their experience of playing football, my overarching concern with this process has been to get participants to speak of their own struggles and anxieties. 

To date I have conducted three interviews with accompanying images, my thinking behind this is to accompany an image with a short story or quote. Although relatively short encounters, I have tried to ensure that I get at least two images in order to create a mini sequence for each person. 

In order to further my research I sat down to identify other work which challenges similar themes of patriarchy and mental health. As a result I found the Alpha exhibition which has the intention as stated on the BJP website (2015) responds to masculinity and mental health’. Reading further I learned of some interesting methodologies which underpin the work Jennifer Pattison focused on her experience of growing up in the shadow of her father’s acute depression, photographing objects he made during his time in occupational therapy.’ In making the connection between photography and objects made in occupational therapy I feel that Pattison is able to make a deep connection with her work which taking it towards the poetic with the veracity achieved by the family connection and collaboration of father and daughter. 

Pattison speaks of ‘shared authorship’ with her work due to the collaborative nature of the project. I feel this is relevant to my project as by conducting interviews I am engaging in a collaborative process with participants. The final act until recently being a photograph. With regards to the latest interview, I took the decision to make a photograph before I sat down with the participant with the intention of trying to reflect their mood in some way. On reflection I need to reflect further on whether I will do this again as Sontag (1972:14) argues that to photograph someone is to violate them. This argument may be furthered by Pattison (2015) who states…

‘I had to be extremely sensitive in my approach. I agreed with my father before we started the project that he would have power of veto over how his story was written. It proved to be helpful to have clear boundaries and I believe this protected our relationship.’ 

This leads to pontification of my philosophy when making work of this nature. I did take a photograph at an earlier stage of the encounter. And without being sure, I fear that this may have impacted on the quality of the interview as I knew the participant had been through some difficult times over the last few years. As a result I stopped the interview early and decided to not record the conclusion of the conversation as a means of restoring some sort of trust with a friend that I haven’t seen for some time until recently.

Pattison, J (2015) Exploring masculinity and mental health through the image. British Journal of Photography [Online] Available at: https://www.bjp-online.com/2015/11/alpha-jennifer-pattison/?fbclid=IwAR19oiLn4ehGZZ4h1yBzIFhgju33mfOdcn2Y0bwYeLQtftWTDWzvntSgx5s (Accessed 2nd Nov 2020)

Sontag, Susan. (1973) On Photography. New York, Dell Publishing.

Contextual Research | Jooney Woodward

In moving towards an editorial style of work, I decided to conduct some online research, looking for editorial portrait photographs. It was then that I found an interesting image on the guardian website, I saw that the the image was taken by Jooney Woodward. Curious to find out more, a quick google search and there I was. Amazed looking at the fluid and sophisticated work of Woodward. Initially I felt that her work was quite stunning and invigorating. I felt that this was a photographer who was at the top of their game. In researching the projects ‘The Riders’ and ‘Best in Show’ I felt that Woodward was able to reflect the environment, creating a union with her subjects in a quiet, powerful manner achieving a type of peace to look at. Viewing her work I felt was surmised by Laurent (2017) ‘to some by they are the ones who sort all the chaos of the world into images that bring clarity to the free-for-all of life. They are the witnesses and artists who can distill the mayhem and beauty that surrounds us.’  The way in which Woodward is able to isolate subjects against the background appears effortless in addition to utilizing natural light with a discerning ease. When speaking of her approach to making work Arnold, R (2014) cites Woodward who comments It’s all about the opening few minutes of a relationship. I want to capture how they were feeling before I came up to them’ –when something about their appearance, ‘their look’ made her choose them as subjects.When considering this approach against my own methodology of making work. I was interested to learn that Woodward takes a photograph at the early stage of an encounter with a subject in order to capture their feelings. This is something I haven’t done when conducting interviews for my latest work. My approach has been to conduct the interview before taking a photograph. My thoughts on this approach were to build a rapport before making an image. On reflection of this I am going to make an image at the early stage of an encounter before, I will still make my images after an interview, I will then compare the images and seek feedback, maybe in the week’s narrative task to seek some general feedback. 

I was interested to learn that Woodward shoots using a medium format camera, I felt this was relevant due to the richness of her work. On initial inspection I felt that her work could have come from a digital photograph, maybe using an 85mm lens. Upon learning that she uses a Mamiya RZ 67 my initial reaction was to go straight to ebay to price up the same equipment. More research is needed in this area, when the wedding money begins to come in once again I think this type of camera will be purchased for personal work.

As I continue to research Woodward I get a real feeling for her work and think I could recognise a Woodward portrait in the future. I highlight this because I feel that I am the stage where I need to be developing my own style of portraits. At present I feel that this is emerging and my knowledge is broadening however I understand that I am still at the experimentation stage. By the time I engage with the FMP module I would like to have developed an approach which is based on my own thoughts and feelings as opposed to shooting something because it look like someone else’s work, and merely aiming for something that is clean and tidy. At this stage of the MA I am really valuing the course for equipping me with the skills to understand and be so affected by such work in addition to thinking about the process of making the work in both a philosophical and technical sense. 

Arnold, R (2014) The Courtauld, ‘I Spotted You There’: An Interview With Jooney Woodward. [Online] Available at: http://blog.courtauld.ac.uk/documentingfashion/2014/03/24/jooney-woodward/  (Accessed 30 Oct 2020)

Laurent (2017) Why We Do It: Photographers and Photo Editors on the Passion That Drives Their Work [Online] Available at: https://time.com/4839246/photographers-passion/ 

Week 6 | Reflection

Week Six Reflection 

It has been a tough couple of weeks with regards to the module, as the COVID once again takes hold I decided to move quickly to make as much work as I could. Therefore I covered two football matches with the intent of reconnecting with my football past, taking photographs in a way I had done previously with the development of making more work with a fucus on the match itself. This was never my intent at the early stages of the course and I am still unsure if it is the correct route to in the future. Making work at these matches I realise has been my default choice for making work but as the course progressed the relevance of this work I feel hask has declined. Admittedly, COVID restrictions has been a constant threat to my project and at this stage I have evelved my idea several times. As a result, I have been at odds with my project, unable to make a decision but at the same time scared of moving too far away from my initial intent. Read (2017) cites Clarke who makes some useful comments about developing projects,‘Looking back at the concerns that form the backbone of the work and the interests which fuel it, with or without input from others, will serve to provide evidence of where they have been and point the direction for the future.’ In my current state, I agree with Reads ideas and as my project develops and shifts I have learned a number of things about myself. This first being that when it comes to change and development I often lose confidence in myself due to the fear of failure. This made me reflect further into other realms of my life such as my employment. 

Having been employed as a teacher of media and photography in the same institution for over eight years in addition to owning a wedding photography business. I have been at a crossroads between teaching, and going full time shooting weddings. COVID aside, I have built the wedding business to a stage where the product is good enough to book enough weddings and a price point I am happy with. So why am I still teaching? The honest answer is that I fear the change in circumstances, leaving the relative security of the teaching salary and the pension. Not leaving my job may be considered smart in the current climate however I also understand that I have aspirations beyond teaching and I am never going to realise my ambition whilst in my current role. 

Going back to my project I can’t help but have an eye on the final major project which is the next module and probably the make or break task for the whole MA. At the same time thinking short term and the direction I will take for this module. I am guilty of overthinking which is hindering my progress by making me resist too much change. However as a I continue to understand the philosophy of personal and emotional projects the idea of Scott who states  (2015, P86) ‘The emotional genre of personal projects includes all of the stories that are close to your life experiences.’ With this in mind I began to think away from the football environment, understanding that football as a sport is not my primary concern. When I reflect on my experiences of the game the most pertinent memories are not the matches, rather the people I met and the bonds that I created that have remained in tact over twenty years. 

In response to a developing understanding of personal projects, in addition to feedback from tutor I decided to contact former teammates who I shared a pitch with, with the intention of finding out about the anxieties that surrounded playing football at a high level then making an environmental portrait. In preparation for doing this I needed to consider how i was going to record these interviews as I didn’t want to take notes as i felt that this would be too impersonal. Therefore I decided to record the interviews using my iphone so that I could concentrate on the conversations I was having. This approach was useful and allowed me to engage in conversations with full attention to what was being said. 

At the conclusion of the interviews I felt that I was able to gain an excellent insight into the people I talked to. This was in no doubt due to my existing relationships with these people. Because I had their trust, the interviewees provided a unique insight into their own thoughts and feelings which ultimately served to shift my broader project forward while encompassing broader themes such as mental health, community and identity. What was unexpected was the appreciation I received for taking the time to contact these individuals. When i was initially trying to organise the interviews, I felt that I may have been asking too much of them or at least disrupting peoples lifestyles. Which I did but both interviewees found time for me and both clearly had other responsibilities at the time. Furthermore, they were both happy having their photograph taken which I felt was a big ask as I know both individuals are self conscious for different reasons. In conclusion, Scott, G (2015, P94) The emotional project is often multilayered and although it may begin on a micro personal level it can both grow and embrace a multitude of elements, people and environments.  Such comments serve to describe the current state of my work in so far as my short term goals are a significant shift away from my previous concerts which centred around the football environment. Current motivations surround themes such as patriarchy, community and mental health. 

In considering these themes my thoughts are led towards the lockdown period where I learned of three suicides of people I knew within the first two weeks of lockdown. All male, and all in their forties. A sobering thought as I find myself in my late thirties. The Guardian (2020) reports that male suicide rates are at their highest levels for two decades. Currently without understanding exactly why, I do understand that within this period of my life I am saying goodbye to youthhood and embarking on another stage of my life. A stage which is about pressure and responsibility to provide a life for a family possibly. This is also the stage where one may reflect on their past mistakes and be reflective about them. This was the feelings i had when conducting the interviews, and the people I interviewed appeared to value the opportunity to talk about these past mistakes. 

As a result of the weekly webinar, I am going to continue to create these micro narrative editorials, as we are well into the module. Making such a big shift in focus is a risk, however it is the correct direction to pursue at this time. 

Butler, P (2020) Male suicide rate hits two-decade high in England and Wales. The Guardian. [Online] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2020/sep/01/male-suicide-rate-england-wales-covid-19 (Accessed 30th Oct 2020)

Read and Simmons (2017)  Photographers and Research, The Role of Research in Contemporary Photographic Practice. Taylor and Francis, New York.

Scott, G (2015) Professional Photography, The New Global Landscape Explained. London, Focal Press.

Week 5 | Reflection

This week was somewhat of a reaction to the previous two weeks being in self isolation. Struggling at home when it seems like the outside world is carrying on as normal. Therefore this week was a very busy schedule with two football themed shoots planned, in addition to a fashion shoot for the Oxfam brief.

The Oxfam Shoot was an interesting distraction from my football project and having convinced some of my friends to model, the challenge was to deliver some work that was well outside my comfort zone. As an experienced wedding photographer I was aware of some basic poses that I could utilise if I was struggling in a creative sense. I wasn’t working with an experienced model although he was a confident individual. The circumstances were made all the more difficult as the I had around 20 minutes of my dinner break to get something together.

I wasn’t unhappy with the results however I did have that nagging feeling that I could have achieved a little more but at the same time content that I had made a contribution to the group.

Whilst in self isolation I was able to organise two shoots for my football project which was quite difficult due to a local club being penalised as spectators were seen to be breaking social distancing rules. However, having contacted around a dozen clubs I eventually had some success. These shoots eventually concluded with my usual documentary approach.

Moving on to my one to one with Colin, I felt prepared however technical difficulties made sharing work difficult. The work I did manage to share was met with mixed feedback with the outcome being that I was trying to achieve too much, including documentary and portrait work, it was felt that there was no clear message or story with my work. This had been stated in previous modules and despite my efforts I feel that I haven’t developed within this area. As stated in earlier posts, my intention was to reconnect with my own time as a player, choosing to photograph the environments that I found interesting but it appeared that this wasn’t enough. The conversation concluded with my establishing of my own emotions to playing at this level of the game. Having played at a higher level, finding self within this world. My emotions eventually became that of fear due to the increased physicality and lack of technical proficiency.

My tutor advised engaging with written text to accompany my images, an idea that I had previously had but advise not to in past modules. As a response, I begun to reflect on what I might say then it occurred to me that I could approach some of my previous teammates and interview them about their experiences. Week six will now consist of at least two interviews which I have organised and intend to record.

With regard to the weekly theme of understanding who buys photography, I found a number of comments by Ryan (2014) of interest. Asserting that an approach to commissioning work can be a process of matching photographers from different genres and putting them in unusual situations in the hope that they bring something new to the concept. This assisted in my decision to take my work in the direction of portraits as I felt that my approach is quite unique within the football environment, allowing my photographic style to emerge and possibly transcend into other areas.

Ryan further states that the emergence and importance of websites leads commissioners to think differently about how the might proliferate their work online using images for web in formats such as slideshows. As a wedding professional I agree strongly in this sense as I often use such techniques to create marketing materials that appeal to an online audience. Within the context of a wedding photography there are ample opportunities to make high quality work however that isn’t enough. I favour making high quality work that revolves around the alternative moments of wedding. I ensure that I meet the generic expectations as quickly as possible before engaging with an approach which in my case encompasses humour. Take a traditional wedding group shot for example. There is lots of potential to produce high quality work here however encompassing an unusual element I find adds personality to my approach.

This approach is beneficial as a couple considering my services from an online search may learn something about my own personality to shooting weddings. I understand that the image below isn’t going to change the world or reinvent wedding photography. But placed within a sequence of high quality traditional wedding photographs. Images such as this serve to make my work stand out whilst making a statement about myself as a photographer.

Drew Findlay | Wedding Group Shot

Interview with Kathy Ryan [IN] HotShoe international Issue 187, Spring 2014 (HotShoe International) Creative Magazines Ltd