Part three – Interviews with professional practioners

I plan to do a series of short interviews with industry professionals in preparation for assignment three. These could be take place via video call, telephone or some other method.

I managed to interview photographic artist Althea Wilson after I completed a days work experience in her studio. The full interview can be found here.


List of questions I might ask a practicing photographic- artist –

Why did you become a photographer?

Describe your typical working day as a photographer.

How much time do you spend doing research?

How would you describe your style?

Who influences you as an artist?

What motivates you?

How do approach potential subjects?

How important is it to connect with your subjects?

How much control do you assert on a subject, for example do you ask them not to smile, and do you ask them to sit or stand in a particular way?

Do you prefer digital or analogue capture and how important do you think camera type is to your work?

I love to shoot old analogue cameras but have struggled with hybrid analogue/digital printing. Can you briefly describe your scanning and post production work flow?

How do you promote yourself and your work?

Do you consider print competitions as an important part of your self promotion and/or income?

How has social media effected your work and how you promote yourself?

What is your ultimate goal when producing a series of images. A book, exhibition or other type of presentation?

Where does the largest percentage of your income come from?

How do you see photography changing in the next twenty years?

Curator or Gallerist

List of questions I might ask a curator or gallerist –

How would you describe the job you do in the gallery?

What do you enjoy most about your job?

What is the most challenging thing about your role in the gallery?

How has your role changed in the last ten years?

Describe the type of work that you show in the gallery.

Do you have a submission policy for artists?

Any advice on the type of work that artists should make to have a chance of being successful in the context of an art gallery.

What’s your view of new emerging artists and the work they make?

Do you think contemporary photography has moved too far away from the traditional notion of beauty, therefore making it harder to be consumed by a mass audience?

How involved are artists when putting on an exhibtion?

Do you help artists with marketing and promotion?

What is the most common mistake you see artists making when approaching a gallery?

How do you put a price on works of art that you show?

How do you think photography as an art form might change in the next ten years?

Part three – The photography industry

Potential career routes

For this part of the course I will consider all potential career routes that I could pursue in the photography/arts industry. The course notes state ‘the aim is to expand your awareness of the various roles that complement the work of professional photographers and artists, all of which are possible career options for photography graduates’. I plan to do some form of work experience to gain greater knowledge of a particular role in the industry and possibly conduct some interviews with industry professionals.

I will consider a number of roles and give a brief description of each before reading the introductions to various roles and full transcripts of interviews with practitioners in the Level 3 Students Handbook. After reading the interviews and completing my work for part three I will then return and consider all of these roles with my newly gained knowledge.

Curator – Susan Bright, Val Williams

A curator will consider applications from artists who want to show work in their gallery. The curator will also help with choice of best images, size of images on display and will be the first point of contact with artists.

Studio manager – Mark Righo, MK11

A studio manager looks after technical aspects of the studio, equipment maintance and repair. Also invoicing and everything to do with maintaining the business financially. Staff hire and

Photography writer – Sean O’Hagan, (Guardian & Observer)

A writer will do lots of research, visiting the latest exhibtions, reading books, articles and even Internet browsing. They will comment on artists work that they have seen stating any likes or dislikes.

Magazine editor – John Duncan, (Source Magazine)

This is a bit like a managers job but with the focus on the content in a magazine. Supervise writers, maintain deadlines, make sure content is high quality and interesting.

Online publisher – Christian Monarch (Photo monitor), Alison Zavos (Feature Shoot)

Picture editor – Emma Campbell

A picture editor will search for material and scrutinise pictures sent to them for possible usage.  They have a good eye for detail and very high standards. Only accept the best quality images, sharp and clear with good colour and no distortion.

Freelance photographer – Pedro Guimaraes

Is basically a self employed photographer. Somebody who pays all their own expenses for a photo shoot or for travelling to locations to make photographic images. They spend money hoping to get back and make a profit once their images are sold. Freelance photojournalists would  not only have financial risks but personal risk if travelling to places of conflict or natural disaster.

Commercial photographer – Alistair Hood

A commercial photographer will create images to be used specially for advertising or marketing purposes. They will work to a template or guidelines of the company employing them. Some photographers with a very good reputation will have increased artistic input. Need to be technically proficient with lighting etc.

Employed  photographer – Tanya Ahmed, Brian Carter

This is almost like a nine to give job. It could be a wedding photographer working for a events imaging company, a medical photographer in a hospital photographing injuries, or a police photographer photographing crime scenes. They have a full time contract with an employer and have to photograph what ever they are told to photograph. They will get a wage which stays the same.

Commissioner – Anna Brayben (National Portrait Gallery)

Working on behalf of an individual, company, or organisation. They will approach artists with a request to make a specific piece of artwork. It is common for governments or royal families to commission work. A good example would be a royal portrait to commenarate an anniversary. They will have knowledge of contemporary artists and their work.

Gallery director – Christiane Monarch (James Human Gallery), Laura Noble (Laura Noble Gallery), David Drake (ffotogallery).

A gallery director is responsible for the reputation of a gallery. They will create gallery policy and maintain day to day running. They need to have very good arts knowledge so that they can make the best descisions about artists and the work being shown in the gallery.

Exhibtions officer – Helen Warburton

An exhibitions officer will possibly work alongside a curator and help with organising, planning and installation of exhibtions. A bit more hands on than a curator they make sure everything runs smoothly when putting on temporary or permanent shows.