FMP - Portfolio Reviews, OffSpring Photomeet, London.

Today, I am at Offspring Photomeet, London. This is great timing as I have just completed the first half of my FMP for my MA Photography and have had such little time to absorb my work. No time to really think about how the selection of images from each shoot are going to materialise in a story on the science behind M.E/CFS. How this might be communicated universally.

I am hoping from today to be more focused and clear on my story line,  gather ideas for a single signature book and get a focus on which images seem to appeal to others and why?  

I had four portfolio reviews with the following people:

1. Peta Bell. Is a Londoner who graduated from Central Saint Martins in 2006 and has been working as a commissioning picture editor, Art Director and creative producer ever since. After joining the Times  Newspaper, she pictre editted for LUXX for five years. Since then she has produced content for the British Fashion Council, AnOther Magazine, Elle and NET-A-POrter, Porter Magazine, Harvey Nicholls. I am really interested in her work as Art Director of, a long form digital platform by Wellcome Trust where she commissions for a broad selection of visuals based around health, medicine, and science using her experience of working on fashion content to create new and interesting ways of visualising scientific themes. She has worked with Photographer Adrienne Suprenant on exploring the causes, effects and scientific solutions for Dengue Fever. (Close to my heart since this was the trigger for the development of my M.E/CFS.)The exhibition is at the Lethaby Gallery, Kings Cross in July 2019 as part of the Wellcome Photography Prize.  Peta also commissions and produces shoots for the Wellcome Trust based on their long term priorities, as well as being part of the Wellcome Photography Prize team. This year working on ‘Outbreaks’. 

Luckily, I find she really loves problem solving and enjoyed that I was at the beginning of making sense of my images. Her advice comprised of the following: 

  • She loved the mixed discipline work as a way of expressing an illness. 
  • Worked on my book sketches with me to develop ideas for…..
  • Using the black and white documentary images of Katharine as a back bone for the story.
  • Creating different format for different pages, 
  • Using full bleeds and then small images with text. 
  • Loved the fact I have a lot of images to work from
  • Using Acetate for brain scans. 
  • We looked at Yvonne Etinosa’s work on mental health.
  • She advised me to develop my work for the mental health funding coming up next year and the year after.

2. Louisa Frost. Louisa Frost is a Senior Art Producer and Buyer, based in London. She has completed a Masters in Illustration at Central Saint Martins. She has working the world of advertising commissioning photography and illustration for a number of ad agencies, such as BA, O2, John Lewis, You Tube and Guinness. 

Although the commercial photography world is new to me. I was interested in her idea of what fine art is, which images she felt fell into that bracket. She was really interested in the story behind the images and recommended and selected images from the documentary set for a Photobook. She agreed a hand made single signature would work best for my MA, but also as a potential selection of books. She focused on the following images for fine art sales and the black and white images/documentary for the book.

3. Francesca Seravelle. Francesca is Venetian, an award-winning independent curator, majoring in Contemporary Art, she has studied in Paris and Venice winning a University fellowship at Magnum Photos Paris’ archives. Over the past 10 years she has worked as a producer for both exhibitions and books, supporting over 60 photographers including Koudelka and D’Agata to name but just a few. Her work as a curator, writer researcher include the books ‘Shining in Absence’ (AMC_Kessels); ‘Mother Nature’ (RVB-Kessels); ’Dalston Anatomy’ by Lorenzo Vitturi (SPBH) and many shows in Europe. She is a tutor for Fashion, Art & Cultural Context BA at Manchester Metropolitan and Fashion in London. I am interested in her work tutoring Photobooks and self-publishing, which she does at London South Bank University. She encourages creativity in your own style and in developing concepts in layout of books and exhibitions. So I am hoping Francesca can help with the development of my work generally as well as the planning of my photobook. 

This was another excellent review. Francesca clearly has a wealth of knowledge and challenged me on the detail of a few of my images and then suggested the following as well as sketching out a few ideas:-

  • Unravel the layering of the images
  • The reposition them one over the other
  • Follow this with the abstraction and add text to explain, whats archival and what images are mine, an explanation of the science
  • Possibly lay out text as if it was the abstract of a clinical paper
  • Apply methodology as if it were a scientific research
  • Review Lewis Bush’s work for text ideas. 
  • Consider types of paper in balance with the subject. 
  • Use a ring binder of work before attempting to think about placing images.
  • Francesca asked me to contact when when I had put my ideas together. 

4. Tim Clark. Tim is a curator, writer since 2008, has been Editor in Chief and Director at 1000 Words, which was nominated for Photography Magazine of the Year at the Lucie Awards 2014 and 2016. He has previously held positions of Associate Curator at Media Space, The Science Museum in London, Artistic Director of Photo Oxford 2017, Curator of Photo50 for London Art Fair and Guest Curator of FORMAT International Photography Festival 2019. Plus numerous solo exhibitions of artists such as Martin Parr, Peter Watkins, Julie Margaret Cameron, Alec Soth, etc., He writes widely for the likes of FOAM, TIME Lightbox, Photoworks, Objectiv and The British Journal of Photography as well as exhibitions in catalogues and publications for the Barbican, Archive of Modern conflict. Plus most Newspapers and the list goes on….. I am hoping Tim can help with the development of my book and focus of my work, generally. 

Tim was a great encouragement and brought me back to the subtlety and gentleness with which the subject of my work needs to be approached. He felt that using the documentary images would work well with the brain scans. We talked a lot about David Fathi’s work and the way in which he set out his work and book ‘Wolfgang’ which I have bought and have been working my way through. I mentioned his insert as a way in which I could write about my thoughts. He reviewed some of the text I have written already and he felt it could be more lyrical and less scientific to complement the work and to help make it more universal. He also suggested looking at Laia Abril’s website for her use of text and in particular her book on abortion (by Dewi Lewis). Also Skinnerbox’s books for the type of book they publish. Tim left me his email and asked me to keep in touch. 

Overall an amazing day of feedback, constructive advice and although some varying opinions it has helped me to focus down on my work and I am looking forward to getting home and really pulling these images apart and putting them back together again, with some appropriate text and maybe even a book layout in the near future. Some great contacts made and I met some other wonderful creative photographers and got a glimpse of their work too. 

Oh and not to forget and enjoyable lunchtime talk by A Thousand Word Photos  given by Alexai Singh and Ben Lambert and their very creative way of communicating stories to those who are hospitalised following a stroke. This was interesting for me to see how creative work can be used in different ways to support healthcare and well being. The acting out or story reading to help bring back speech, or just for company seems well ahead of its time. A very scaleable charity that could access many other fields of healthcare support as well as for stroke sufferers. It sort of reminded me of Ricard Martinez’ guest lecture, written up in my CRJ here,  and his inclusion of the public through installation and acting out of photographic images rephotographed. 

A great day all around and I would highly recommend it for those at any stage of their photographic career. 

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