Bristol Photo Festival is a new biennial photography festival which has its first edition this year. The Director of the festival is Tracy Marshall (now Tracy Grant since she married her partner photographer Ken Grant) who I know from interviewing her for Photo Meet.
I have volunteered to help with the festival, and the job that Tracy has assigned me is to run the print auction. The idea is to request signed prints from well-know photographers and auction them in aid of the festival. The auction will run online, and then finish with a live auction at the Arnolfini in Bristol.
This is in essence what I the project will involve: Logistics and admin: Contact photographers Obtain files Print photographs Get photographs signed Set up and run online auction Hang exhibition Run live auction Distribute prints Clean up Interface with third parties: Photo printers Arnolfini for exhibition, book stalls and auction Marketing : promotion of the auction and recruitment of potential bidders Accounts : setting up payment system and managing receipts
I will be handling the logistics and admin tasks and interfacing with the intern who will be handling marketing. Since she is Bristol-based, she will be available to do any hands-on work in Bristol.
The great thing about this for me is that I will have a dialogue with many well-known photographers. Even if it is a limited one, it gets my name into their orbit. I will also be dealing with printers, looking a file specs and the technicalities of printing. I will be involved over a long period with the vibrant photographic community ib n Bristol.
For the second interview in my series for Photo Meet, I interviewed the photo book publisher Dewi Lewis. Was fortunate enough to spend a few days with Dewi last year during a workshop. He was very complimentary about my book 100 Women, 100 Years, which I showed to him as part of a portfolio review.
This meant that I felt able to approach him to ask for an interview and I am pleased to say that he agreed. As with the procedure I established in my previous interview with Tracy Marshall, I interviewed Dewi via Zoom, recording the session and transcribing it later. I sent this text to him for approval and he returned a clarified and expanded version with the benefit of hindsight.
Not having the benefit of any training in journalism, I am approaching these interviews as essentially a conversation. I have a list of prepared questions as a starting point, but I let the conversation develop as we talk. I asked Dewi fro an hour of his time but in the end we talked for two and a half hours.
Although it may seem obvious, one thing I am conscious of is that not everything said in conversation can be included in a published interview. There are also differences in tone between the spoken word and the written word, so in transcribing the interview I try to steer a line between accuracy and adulting to the slight more formal language of a written text. For these reasons I prefer to get the final text approved and adjusted if necessary by the interviewee before publishing. These interviews are a collaboration, not investigative journalism.
I have worked on a few projects with Photo Meet now, and the work which stood out for me as most interesting was the interview I did with Ilias Georgiadis. It occurred to me that I could propose an interview series with industry insiders – not photographers but those with the power to get work seen.
This would be a win-win situation: Photomeet would get content for its website and I would get to talk to some movers and shakers in the business.
This was my pitch for the series:
‘Making a body of work can provide great satisfaction, but the process is not finished until the work is in front of an audience. In this series of interviews, Photo Meet talks to the influential insiders who make this happen, be it on a gallery wall, the pages of a book or magazine or a website.
What makes them tick? How did they get into the business? What advice do they have for photographers? Read on to find out.’
My idea was accepted, and for the first interview I proposed Tracy Marshall, the director of the new Bristol Photo Festival. I felt this would be a timely interview since BPF is in the launch phase and therefore presumably keen on publicity. There was also an existing link between Photo Meet and Northern Narratives, the photography organisation founded by Tracy and her partner, photographer Ken Grant. During the Covid pandemic, Photo Meet and Northern Narratives ran a joint open call for photographers whose work had been interrupted by the lockdown. Thus there was an ideal opportunity for mutual promotion of BPF and Photo Meet.
This assignment was a big step up for me as I was left to organise the whole feature myself – contacting Tracy, asking for an interview, writing the questions, conducting the interview and supplying the final text to Photo Meet.
I contacted Tracy and asked if she would be willing to do the interview, and she graciously accepted. I conducted the interview via Zoom, using a prepared list of questions as a starting point but letting the conversation take its natural course – for that reason I did not send the questions to Tracy in advance. The interview went well – I had suggested a one-hour session but in the end we spent nearly three hours talking.
Instead of taking notes during the interview I recorded it and then wrote up the interview afterwards. I sent the draft to Tracy and we agreed a final version after some small changes.
I have proposed to Photo Meet, and they agreed, that we publish this interview as the first of a series of interviews with curators, publishers and anyone responsible for getting photography seen. The series will be called Meet the Experts.
My latest work with Photo meet was on the latest feature from the Photo Meet / Northern Narratives open call, entitled ‘The Body’.
My job was to work with Mimi on the selection process and the page layout, request high-res images from the selected photographers, finalise the list of questions for the photographers and contact them for their answers.
This task was to trawl through all the submissions to the Photo Meet . Northern Narratives Open Call on the Printspace Creative Hub and collate all their email addresses, websites and social media links. Although some photographers had provided details many had not, so I had to obtain the information through a combination of messaging them on the Creative hub and tracking down their websites from their names and project details. I then compiled a spreadsheet with all the information.
One thing I learned from this exercise is never submit work without providing your contact details. Not all curators would be willing to take the time to track you down I’m sure.
The purpose of this exercise was to be able to contact all those who had entered the Open Call, not only to thank them for entering, but to ask them all to participate in one last feature, to be entitled ‘Postcards from Covid’. For this feature, all the entrants to the Open Call will be asked to select one of their own images for inclusion in the feature.
I have now taken over all communication with the Open Call entrants on behalf of Photo Meet.