I’m starting to feel quite excited about our brief for Oxfam’s Secondhand September campaign. Partly, because I feel we have a good pitch. But mainly because it is a potential commercial sphere I’ve never considered before – that of working with large organisational clients on a story/conceptual approach. I think I’d dismissed the idea of working with larger corporate clients in the belief that it would only be advertising (and likely a departure from those values I hold dear).
The challenge now is to explore where those large organisations might be which want a story told visually which are both true to my own values and interests and in which I might be able to add value. And, most importantly, where there is a story to be told that I want to help tell.
Another surprise this week was that I was approached by another artist who wanted to buy prints of two of my images. This is another area of the commercial photographic space that I had not given much consideration to (after all, who would want to buy my prints for their walls!?). In response, I’ve had to explore the market to see how much I might reasonably sell prints for. In doing this, I have been mindful to cover my costs and not devalue my work, whilst also ensuring my customer gets a good price.
Equally important, I have been thinking about how to get my prints to the customer both safely and to provide some aspect of delight in receiving them. This has led me to contemplate the packaging to ensure it is in keeping with my approach both as a photographer and my personal brand. I want it to be friendly, attentive and a pleasure to work with. I also want the customer to think twice before throwing the packaging away – can it be re-used? Could it be reused as art materials for children?
The response to my first three images for my module project was really positive. The lighting was praised and I was told it had a “sense of humour” about it, which delighted me, because I was so keen that would come across (and it is not an easy thing to do – it is too easy to fall into the trap of work being perceived as ridiculous).
Cemre raised the very sensible question of whether the project might broaden to include my daughter and wife, into a greater family setting. At present, because the piece was born of observations and revelations concerning my son’s and my own differing senses of self-identity, I feel it most natural to keep it as both him and me for the current time. However, I am beginning to wonder whether there is scope to include the other relationships in our household in front of the camera. After all, three people co-exist with my general nuttiness!
Susan Bright wrote something in Home Truther: Photography and Motherhood which resonated with me this week.
I think part of what I am exploring is the transitions of identity that I experienced both as a child and then as a father. And those same transitions in my son. Tom, my son, has had a steady evolution of his sense of identity. He has grown, if you like, rather like a tree. My sense of identity, oscillated wildly, more like a meadow, with different plants shooting up all over the place, lasting a season and then dying, only to be replaced by some other plant the season favours more.
Bright, S., Antoni, J. and The Photographers’ Gallery (2013). Home truths : photography and motherhood. London: Art Books.