354MC

Degree Show

Degree Show for Matt and Signatures

Degree Show for Matt and Signatures

My role in relation to the production of the degree show was as a participant of the marketing team to ensure the event gathered momentum, gained a lot of attention and achieved a sense of excitement for the works being displayed at the exhibition. It was important to market the event professionally and with the larger public to ensure the degree got a good response and turn out. This would help boost our reputability, be beneficial in promoting our work and also potentially gage future opportunities.

Social networking, self-promotion and behind the scenes footage shared online was and continues to be an efficient and easy way of promoting the exhibition whilst also having the potential to reach a large number of people. Working alone I have continued to share behind the scene photographs of my project and research on various networks including Facebook, Twitter and my blog. However, I could have done a lot more in promoting the degree show. I feel I should have begun sharing my work and creative processes sooner and more frequently. This would have assured a steady flow of interest within my project and the event. Upon reflection I feel I could have marketed myself and the exhibition a lot better if I had managed my time more effectively. I should have also promoted others works and shared them online to help gage a wider more varied audience.

The marketing team have continued to produce teasers to promote the event as well as posters, flyers and so on. Again due to my job and management of time I have been unable to fully participate in the production of these marketing materials. However, I have attended various meetings where decisions were made about the visual aspects of posters, flyers and leaflets and I submitted work to feature within them online. The degree show has made me realise the difficulty of working within a team and meeting at times where everyone is available. As a result, I ensured my works were available online and sustained contact with people via email and Facebook, proving that I could participate in the team, even if it was digitally.

Overall, I feel if I had managed my time more effectively and made more time for the marketing of the event more could have been achieved as a team member. However, using my own social network and self-promotion skills I have promoted my own works and gained online attention. I will continue to promote the event online and will also be working shifts at the gallery this week.

Word count: 426

 

354MC Task 4 and Other Parts

354MC Task 4 

Dissemination- A concise distribution/dissemination plan explaining who you see as potential recipients of this portfolio, demonstrating an awareness of your audience and the context in which you are or will be working.

“…fashion is obsessed with gender, defines and redefines the gender boundary” (Wilson 1985:117).

Fashion is always changing. The seasons change; hemlines, collars and cuffs change. This relentless metamorphosis is exciting, overwhelming and increasingly demanding. Fashion and visual media constantly re-presents the world to us, providing versions of ourselves that are healthier, happier and more successful. Magazines tempt us with the promise of quick bikini diets to meet the svelte ideals of fashion campaigns. They flaunt ineffectual products for younger pore-less skin, whilst endorsing their impressive Photoshop skills. We are bombarded with an unrealistic “ideal” of masculinity and femininity with its sights set exclusively on the skinny, young and cisgender. Visual media and fashion sell us much more than products and representations, they tell us who we are and who we should be. Influential in constructing gender roles, omnipresent visual media instils and reinforces the collective expectations of gender, beauty but what’s more “normalcy”. The result – body image, homophobia, transphobia and sexism issues still permeate our culture.

Trans* identities and other individuals who contest the rigid gender binary are still considered “outside” the “norm” and are under-represented compared to their lesbian, gay and bisexual counterparts. Fashion, however, is in a state of immense transformation, embracing uniqueness where gender bending has fast become all the rage. Undoubtedly fashion does more than just change – fashion causes change. Through fashion as well as visual media we are able to break the “norms”, address the taboo, challenge society, push boundaries and make our voices heard. Fashion is, at this current moment in 2014, challenging the rigid gender binary and what is beautiful like never seen before!

Transgender model Lea T is the face of Givenchy and was seen kissing Kate Moss for the cover of Love Magazine’s Androgyny Issue. Andrej Pejic who leaves his gender “open to artistic interpretation” walks in both men’s and women’s fashion shows for Jean Paul Gaultier and poses in both genders for numerous other mainstream fashion campaigns. Lady Gaga has a male alter ego Jo Calderone. Fashion designer Marco Marco uses drag queens from “RuPaul’s Drag Race” to model his flamboyant garments which are worn by a number of mainstream cisgender celebrities including Katy Perry and Fergie. Barney’s Spring 2014 advertisements featured seventeen transgender models in black and white photographs by Bruce Weber. Fashion photographer Steven Klein shot an androgynous Stoya for A5 magazine and Chanel featured models with moustaches for their 2014 cruise campaign. Gender blurring and individuality are bang on trend.

Over the last couple of years mainstream culture has started in earnest to breakdown the male/female gender binary and, with that, embrace the 50 shades of difference that lie in between. Thus, my photographs of gender bending, ambiguous individuals who embrace their individuality and move away from the gender binary can definitely find a place in the current fashion world’s agenda. Whilst trans* identities, drag queens and socially defying identities are becoming more and more mainstream, I like to feel that my images are slightly different to others out there representing trans*identities as they highlight them for their diversity and beauty as opposed to their alternative genders and physical genitalia.

Despite the celebration and even acceptance of transsexuals, gays and drag performers in mainstream culture, the representation of trans*individuals are still falling short compared to the L.G.B community. Trans*individuals and other identities that move away from the gender binary are still very much a marginalised section of society, often stigmatized and misrepresented. A lack of knowledge and common misconceptions can leave trans* individuals, their families and friends feeling isolated, socially excluded and vulnerable. This must change. It is crucial that people within the trans* community and those who have other socially defying gender identities are given the support and exposure they warrant like any other social minority within the U.K. We must raise awareness and show these individuals in a light that is accurate of the Trans community thereby reducing discrimination, prejudice and hostility. I hope my images will help advance Trans equality within society and prove that beauty may reside in diversity.

I hope that the recipients of my portfolio will be other photographers and professionals who are interested in gender, sexuality, identity and fashion and want to change the representation of such alternative identities.

Gender Matters is a charity based in Wolverhampton which provides a comprehensive programme of practical support, counselling, advice and information for anyone with any questions or problems concerning their gender identity, or whose loves ones are struggling with gender identity issues. The programme aims are to relieve the mental, emotional and social stress of anyone affected by Tran’s issues, providing a confidential and professional service to all beneficiaries at all times.

Gender Matters was recently funded by the Heritage Lottery for an exhibition entitled “Mapping My Journey” at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery mapped the identities of Birmingham and West Midland transgender individuals to raise awareness to gender identity issues featuring photography, poems and artworks showing the trans* community in a light which truly shone. Gender Matters is constantly in search and advertising opportunities for artists to get involved in creative projects and I’d love to share my portfolio with them.

I also hope to assist and find jobs within the fashion industry, particularly with those who have informed my own practice and who I find extremely inspirational. I would love to share my portfolio with photographers like Sarah Davidmann, Claudia Moroni and Bettina Rheims whose works feature alternative gender identities in a beautiful and dignified way. This could potentially lead to an apprenticeship, assistant opportunity or for some general feedback from professionals I really admire.

I would like my portfolio to be shared with fashion magazines as gender and androgyny are very much hot topics right now. I would like to consider contacting Vice, Pigeons and Peacocks and Love Magazine, as these brands often explore the taboo and offer opportunities for fresh new ideas and talent.

I will feature my digital portfolio online: on my blog and other social networks to ensure it is easily accessible for anyone to view. I will email my portfolio and websites to potential recipients as this is fast and efficient.

Looking back should address the following points:

  • your key role/s around producing the degree show and appropriate show cases for your works.
  • what existing skills you drew upon and which new skills you learned
  • what you felt went well and what could have been improved
  • collaborative work vs work you did alone.

My role in relation to the production of the degree show was as a participant of the marketing team to ensure the event gathered momentum, gained a lot of attention and achieved a sense of excitement for the works being displayed at the exhibition. The works featured explore a range of topics and subjects by fresh new and upcoming talent and it was important that this was shared with the larger public to ensure the degree got a good response and turn out.

Social networking, self-promotion and little behind the scenes shared online was and continues to be an efficient and easy way of promoting the exhibition whilst also having the potential to reach a large number of people. It’s of utmost importance that our work is easily accessible for everyone and so I ensured my work was available to view on all the networks available. Working alone I have continued to share behind the scene photographs of my project and research on various networks including Facebook, Twitter, my blog and the Img19.org website, which we as a class created to sustain and gain awareness of the degree show.

I drew upon my existing social networking and communication skills, which I have developed throughout university. Social media is free and has the potential to be shared and circulate between a large numbers of individuals. I feel that I should have begun sharing my works and creative processes sooner and more frequently. This would have assured a steady flow of interest within my project and me as a professional. Upon reflection I feel I could have marketed myself and the exhibition a lot better if I had managed my time more effectively. As mentioned earlier I should have aimed to post something daily or weekly for sustainability and in gaining momentum for the show.

The marketing team have continued to produce videos and teasers to promote the event. Again due to my job and management of time I have been able to fully participate in the production of these videos. However, I have attended various meetings and submitted work to feature within them. As well as this, I have created my own videos and published my own behind the scene footage to create a sense of hype for the project. The degree show has made me realise the difficulty of working within a team and meeting at times where everyone is available. I have and will continue in promoting and creating posters for the event alone due to clashing schedules but share everything with the team via email and social networks before anything is finalised.

I feel we as a team should have arranged and created a schedule which meant all members could attend. However, the marketing team have made everything available online as have I, proving that we can work together even if it’s digitally! I feel if I had managed my time more effectively and made more time for the marketing of the event more could have been achieved as a team member. However, using my own organisation, communication, social network and self-promotion skills I have promoted my own works and gained online attention for the exhibitions through behind the scene images, tweets and posts.

Looking forward- The remaining 500 words are for you to outline your 6-month plan for the future. It might be helpful for you to consider this from the following angles:

  • WHAT: which projects; which jobs. Include mention of anything you have definitely lined up as well as things you intend to initiate or continue by yourself
  • WHY: why this project/job is important. To you and/or in a wider context; professionally and artistically
  • WHO: who will you be working with, who would you like to work with, who or which institutions/companies/organisations would you like to target and at what stages in the project.
  • HOW: brief description of your methodology. Which existing skills you will use; which additional skills you may need to pick up or develop further.

Over the next six months I will carry on working as an assistant photographer for working professionals Edward Taylor of Digital Flow based in Coventry and Darren Key of Dark Lens based in Wolverhampton. Here I will continue to cover live music events, burlesque shows, weddings and studio fashion and portrait shoots as I have done for the past two years. I want to continue in building my portfolio and develop my Photoshop, lighting and studio skills in an environment I’m used to. This will not only be helpful when producing my own work but will make me more sufficient when wanting to pursue other job opportunities and assistant jobs. I want to improve my technical skills and build a portfolio I’m proud of to ensure I’m confident and ready when pursuing bigger companies and professionals. However, I do want to broaden my horizons beyond the midlands.

I hope to eventually find a sustainable job in London due to increased opportunities. Philip Banks, a friend and assistant photographer based in London, has worked with numerous magazines, fashion campaigns and world renowned photographers. Over the summer I’ve been offered the chance to work alongside Banks in the studio he works in regularly based in London. Here I will assist on various shoots for fashion magazines and campaigns, both mainstream and non-mainstream. This will be a great opportunity in gaining new contacts and building professional relationships which could lead to permanent work. Throughout university networking, communication skills and the capacity to use initiative when working alone as well as being able to work within a team have been the main skills I have acquired and will continue to use and develop during this opportunity. I will use and develop my current knowledge of studio equipment; lighting and set up as well as improve on my Photoshop skills.

As well as gaining new experiences as an assistant photographer I would like to continue with my personal project entitled “Gender Benders” a series of studio portraits of individuals that defy social and gender “norms”. I hope to revolutionize the representation of alternative identities in mainstream visual media by showing them in a more quiet and ambiguous light. Individuals have already begun to contact me after seeing my images on various social media sites and through word of mouth, which is hugely encouraging.

I may even create a book of my portraits which I may try and get published after some encouragement from my lecturer Jonathon Worth. I hope to share my images from the series with various fashion magazines and photographers whose works explore issues surrounding gender, identity and sexuality such as Rheims, Moroni or Davidmann as mentioned earlier. This could create assistant or apprentice opportunities or even simply feedback from those who I admire. Worth has also suggested that I enter some of my images into photography competitions including Taylor Wessing. This would be a great chance for me to present myself as a professional, give the series momentum and gain more public attention but what’s more it will make these alternative identities all the more mainstream and give them the positive exposure they deserve, thus encouraging Tran’s equality within society and encouraging diversity.

Reflective Summary of CU Exit Plan

Upon finishing my degree at Coventry University I will continue to work as an assistant photographer for Darren Key of Dark Lens based in Wolverhampton and Edward Taylor of Digital Flow based in Coventry. By sustaining these assistant jobs I am able to attain regular work ensuring a steady income, a strong working relationship with professional individuals and the opportunity to continue in building my own portfolio. Whilst continuing to assist for these well-established photography companies I will also be able to build upon and improve my communication, technical, lighting and Photoshop skills in an environment I feel comfortable to grow within before branching off to larger companies. As well as continuing to work with Dark Lens and Digital Flow I hope to assist photographers and other professionals I find truly inspiring and who I feel will improve my photographic skills and inform where I might situate myself and my work in the future.

I am deeply interested in issues surrounding gender, sexuality and identity and the notion that gender is free-floating. The often stigmatized and marginalized individuals whose identities move away from the rigid gender binary should be celebrated for their diversity, creativity and beauty, something which fashion is currently embracing. Fashion doesn’t just change. Fashion causes change. The increasing number of transgender models like Lea T in mainstream fashion campaigns or Drag Queens engulfing our TV screens; proves that gender “normalities” and “ideals” are in a state of a much welcomed transformation. These representations are helping to re-define gender beauty but what’s more gender “norms”.

As a result of this I would love to work with photographers, magazines and companies that work within the fashion industry that push gender boundaries and revel in exploring the “taboo”. I would love to assist photographers like Sarah Davidmann, Claudia Moroni or Bettina Rheims. All their work encompasses the personal and social, questioning the relationship between the individual and society. Davidmann, Moroni and Rheims have been transforming the stereotypical notions of Tran’s individuals in the United Kingdom through beautiful images which hold a strong political agenda. To work alongside such individuals will help inform my own project, broaden my skills and build relationships with higher status professionals who could perhaps lead me to bigger things. I would also like to approach magazines and companies like Vice, Pigeons and Peacocks and Love, all of which explore gender and sexuality continually.

I hope to continue my body of work entitled, “Gender Benders” which features a range of individuals which attest to the gender binary. Individuals have already contacted me wanting to participate in the project which is really encouraging and I will continue to search for more. I want the project to highlight the fluidity of gender and give those with alternative identities the representation they deserve. It’s important that trans individuals continue to be seen to help change society’s rigid perceptions of beauty and gender “norms” making for a more diverse and brighter future.

Task 3 Interview Reflection

Gender, sexuality and identity have been my focus over the last year and so when it came to choosing individuals to interview my motives were clear.

I wanted to interview professional photographers exploring these topics who have produced work I have found to be inspirational. It was important that their work evoked my passion and genuine interest for the benefit of my own work but also so I might grasp the interviewees’ attention and illicit their prompt response.

I interviewed Italian-born, London-based Claudia Moroni, whose series entitled “Animus/Anima” encompasses gender boundary breaking individuals and has been a source of inspiration to me. Due to the distance and clashing schedules it was easier to conduct the interview via email. I contacted Claudia via Facebook, her website and her personal email. This was efficient, straightforward and she responded the same day! In return for the interview I featured the interview online and included her websites and links, thus broadening her audience. This interview displayed the importance of online accessibility. Claudia is reachable via several easily available networks. Awareness of this as a professional will ensure I develop and capitalise on opportunities, such this one with Claudia.

As well as speaking to photographers producing inspirational works, I wanted to speak with others employed in my current role, as assistant photographers. Presently, I work in and around the Midlands but I aspire to assisting for bigger companies, brands and photographers in larger cities like London. I contacted a friend, photographer’s assistant Philip Banks, hoping to find what difficulties I may face and how I too could pursue and find assistant jobs in London. Again it was easier to conduct the interview via email. I created the questions first and forwarded them as a document. I felt this more satisfactory as it meant Philip could think and read through the questions before having to answer them off the cuff. With consideration I feel there are many more questions I could have asked which have been beneficial to me for when I begin hunting for assistant jobs. Nonetheless, the interview was elating and has definitely encouraged me to pursue this career path.

Finally, I wanted to interview an individual whose identity defies social norms. A male to female transsexual agreed to share her story. Gender is an increasingly sensitive topic and must be about the individual. This is their story, their identity, and I must at all times be aware that this project is not about me, but these inspirational individuals. I met the interviewee in her home and recorded our conversation. Keeping it informal, I prepared a few questions, which I emailed to her beforehand, allowing her to veto as she wished. Upon reflection I feel a more constructed outline for the interview would have benefitted but feel just recording and talking with the interviewee more casually made her feel more relaxed in sharing her life changing experiences.

354MC Interview 3

Kate*

Throughout my research on gender identity I’ve come across countless documentaries and stories about young trans individuals. And I wondered: what about those individuals who transition come later in life? What is it really like for them? For me the older generation of transsexuals quickly became my main area of interest and subject I was most intrigued by. I find it astounding how in some cases the individuals don’t do anything about their conflict for centuries! Those who have successfully established their gender role within society who have good jobs, friends, have become parents and formed life long partners through marriage, all very convincingly. Suddenly, for whatever reason, they can no longer deny or repress whom they really are for any longer and decide to take action.

In some respects I think this delay in sex realignment or ‘coming out’ could be due to the period of time these older individuals were born and raised in. They may have come from a time where there was not much information on being transgender. As a result, they were forced to believe it was only a phase and maybe something every person has felt at some stage. In modern society being transgender and SRS has become more understood and accepted so maybe this has impacted on the older generations decision to change. Either way, deciding to transition at a later stage in life is inevitably more challenging and difficult as opposed to those who are younger. The identity, physicality and gender role of these individuals have already been cemented within every aspect of their life, thus the individual risks losing and impacting on everything in their life. They must be ready and willing to rebuild their entire life, learn how to be the gender they have always felt they were, begin to tell others, all in order to become the person they really are. I find it completely admirable and inspiring but envy them I do not! Transsexuals feel their assigned sex at birth is wrong and their correct sex is one that matches their internal feelings. The media and society have a strange stereotyped image of what a transsexual person is which doesn’t reflect their reality. They are people like everybody else, all trying to find their place in the world.

I wanted to speak to these individuals first hand to help broaden my knowledge on gender identity issues and the difficulties, triumphs but what’s more the realities of being a transsexual living in the U.K, particularly an older transsexual as I feel they are less represented. Over the last few weeks I have spoken with *Kate a 52 year old male to female transsexual. Through this process I have come to learn a lot more about the process an individual has to go through when re-aligning their sex and life thereafter. Kate made it quite clear from the get go that she does not want to be seen as transsexual. Kate has mentally always been female and now her physical body aligns with that. As a male, Kate tried to become as masculine as possible, played rugby, got married and became a father. As young as 5 years old, Kate knew that she did not quite fit into her gender or any other box society set out for her. She was “playing a role” a role she thought was expected of her within society. Eventually, living a lie became too much, “It was either suicide, or the other option…I just go for it”. At 49, Kate embarked on the journey to find happiness and become who she really is.

I decided to conduct an interview with Kate, which she was happy for me to do as we had been speaking with one another for quite some time about her journey and life as a transsexual. I prepared some interview type questions, which I emailed through to Kate first to allow her to process and think of what she would like to say before actually conducting the interview. I went to visit her in her home alongside her son and partner. I wanted to ensure she felt as comfortable as possible as this is a deeply sensitive issue to speak only about. Whilst I had prepared questions and formulated a structure, the interview became increasingly informal and more like a conversation. Below is a recording of our full conversation, where Kate shares her entire story from being a male, to transitioning to her today. Its deeply moving and I’m incredible grateful and thankful she was willing to share her story.

Reflection

The interview became exceedingly casual and relaxed, more like a conversation as opposed to a formal question and answer type interview. However, given the topic and how personal this sharing of information was I feel that if it had been more formal it would have taken away that sense of humility and honesty. I feel I could have interacted more and asked more questions during the conversation. However, I wanted to giver Kate plenty of time to communicate her story, take breathers, allow her to breakdown, rebuild herself and than return to the conversation when she was ready as opposed to firing questions at her over and over again. This interview made me realise the turmoil and difficulties trans* individuals have to encounter on a nearly daily basis.

These individuals have to conquer so much, it’s really admirable and has encouraged me to continue to interview trans* individuals and continue to show them in a positive but what’s more accurate light. I feel recording our conversation as opposed to conducting an interview via email, made Kate’s story all the more personal and candid. These are her words; this is her story uninterrupted and unedited. Some technical errors were made during the recording process however as I had to change memory cards, which meant I had to stop and restart recording. Nonetheless, it was a really inspiring and elating experience and has spurred me to interview more non-conforming individuals to ensure that their voices and stories continue to be heard. Speaking with Kate has taught me more about gender identity issues and reminded me that my focus should always be on my subjects, as them as individuals and not myself.

354MC Interview 2

Philip Banks

Philip Banks

Philip Banks

Philip Banks is a London based photographer, assistant and lighting technician and friend with nearly 10 years experience within the photography industry. Upon completing university I too would like to work as a photographers assistant for bigger names, brands and world-renowned photographers, to improve my repertoire and further my technical skills. I wanted to interview Banks to learn how he managed and pursued a career as a photographer’s assistant, to learn what I would need to do and to be aware of any difficulties I may face. I conducted the interview over Facebook and here’s what he had to say:

What exactly do you do?

I’m a lighting assistant and Digi tech for photographers. I also shoot myself and hopefully get more and more clients.

What first inspired you to pursue a career in photography?

I played with my dad’s camera and I would always look forward to seeing my images printed. I liked photographing friends and family messing about

How did you get to where you are today? (Did you study photography? How did you find jobs/projects-word of mouth, interviews? Did having degree help or is it not necessary?)

I took a night class in photography, 3×3 hrs a week. It was a small class and we had the dark rooms to ourself. I then did na art foundation, so that I could go onto do a national diploma in photography, which would then lead me to doing a ba in photography at Portsmouth University. Studying opened up a lot of Ideas and listening to others which help with concepts. But I am working on a lot of technical jobs, which collage and Uni didn’t really help me in this department. As the lighting equipment was lacking. But I learnt a lot working in a studio and with photographers.

What (if any) difficulties did you encounter when trying to pursue this career?

The only difficulties I had were trying to self promote. But there are photographers willing to give you a chance and see what you can do. Which then gets the ball rolling for other jobs.

Describe your average working day working as a photographer’s assistant?

My average day, would be … Getting to the studio or location in good time, checking equipment has arrived. Setting up from the light references your photographer has discussed with you. Making sure equipment is working. We then do test shots and adjust lighting if needed. We change lighting sets if requested. Make sure the images are coming through and are sharp for printing large scale.

What’s the best part of your job?

Best part of my job is getting to travel and meeting new people in the industry, and helping create an image that will be seen everywhere.

What’s the worst part of your job?

The worst part is, working with nasty ppl that don’t think twice about others. It’s their problem.

What projects are you currently working on?

I have a few of my own projects I want to crack on with, but haven’t had the chance. Or making excuses for not shooting.

Who have you worked for? Any highlights?

I’ve worked with a lot of good photographers and we have shot a lot interesting people. My first job would have to be my highlight.

My first job. Was working with a rain machine and pro foto packs. Not a good mix. It was shooting razor light. My first job was Gavin bond. Great guy. Really nice. He Gives new assistants a chance and his 1st assistant Paul. Is the number one. Best assistant I’ve met so far. He was herb ritts 1st.

What advice would you give someone who also wanted to pursue a similar career path to your own?

Be persistent and work hard. Working as an assistant photographer is the best advice I could give for anyone who wants to pursue a career in photography. Work with people you really admire and learn from the best.

Reflections

Upon reflection I feel this interview could have been a lot more informative. However, due to a hectic schedule Banks had limited time to give detailed responses to my questions. The following images below show all the questions I originally sent through to Banks to allow him to read through respond to in his own time.

 

I thought this would have meant more lengthy responses but I understand that Banks was busy with work. However, I do feel if he had answered all of the questions I may have a clearer idea as to what I would need to do to pursue a career or find jobs as an assistant photographer. Nonetheless, Banks has made it clear that working, as an assistant photographer is an extremely useful way of expanding your photography skills and learning about how the industry really works as well as getting to work with some great people. Again I chose to conduct the interview via email but this time used Facebook. I feel this made the interview less formal which wasn’t necessarily a good thing as Banks responses were also quite informal and casual as a result. Upon reflection there are many more questions I felt I could have asked which would have been more beneficial to me for when I begin searching and applying for assistant jobs. I feel I maybe should have Skyped with Philip and had a one on one conversation about his work and how he’s got to be where he is today. Some food for thought and something I can revisit in the future.

David Adams

David Adams

David Adams

I wanted to talk to another professional who works as a photographer’s assistant after speaking to Philip Banks just to see if they had anything more to say. Again I conducted the interview on Facebook and used the same questions I had done with Banks. This interview is with a friend David Adams who has also been working as an assistant photographer for many years down in London. Again it was quite informal and I just wanted to learn a little bit more about the industry and the life of a photographers assistant. I feel I could have had created better questions which would have informed me a little better but there you have it:

What exactly do you do?

Photographer/Assistant and Digital Operator

What first inspired you to pursue a career in photography?

Women. Well actually Films, Film Noir. Then women.

How did you get to where you are today? (Did you study photography? How did you find jobs/projects-word of mouth, interviews? Did having degree help or is it not necessary?)

Without my degree I would be still taking pictures of my friends surfing, take that as you will, good or bad? I don’t know?

What (if any) difficulties did you encounter when trying to pursue this career?

Endless, without challenges it would become boring.

Describe your average working day.

Emails, breakfast, Studio for 8-16hrs (depends on the day?) or drive to location and shoot/assist, after work drinks, meeting, editing, emails, instagram, facebook. That was just today.

What’s the best part of your job? Being Freelance, exhibitions on Mondays when the gallery’s are quiet.

What’s the worst part of your job?

Never not working. Working Sundays.

What projects are you currently working on?

Folio, always folio. An exhibition with old Kodak carousels. Editing a travel story I shot in Morocco.

Who have you worked for? Any highlights?

David Sims? Travelling to L.A./NYC for work.

Who would you love to work with/for? Why?

French Vogue, idolise the aesthetic

 

354MC Interview 1

Claudia Moroni

Claudia Moroni Self Portrait

Claudia Moroni Self Portrait

Claudia Moroni is an Italian award winning London based portrait photographer whose works explore issues surrounding gender, representation and identity. Moroni has a keen interest in analogue photography, shooting on a wide array of 35mm, medium and format cameras and prints most of her work using traditional darkroom processes. Moroni is a photographer with an edge: relentless, fearless and unique. Her photographs have been published in The Sunday Times magazine, Wallpaper* magazine, L’Officiel Art (Thai edition), The Guardian, 1883 magazine and Vogue Italia and exhibited nationally and internationally. Moroni is single handily re-defining what is beautiful through socially defying images that encourage and celebrate diversity and individuality.

Moroni’s images break the “norms”; they address the “taboo”, challenge society, push boundaries and make social minorities voices heard but what’s more-seen. In her on going project entitled, ‘Anima and Animus’ where I first discovered this amazing talent, Moroni has been exploring the complex and multifaceted subject of gender identity. The series features portraits of trans* and genderqueer people living in the U.K, each portrait seemingly capturing some essential aspect of the subject’s identity. Each model has undertaken a journey, transitioning from the sex they were assigned at birth to the gender they identify with. The images are beautiful and hold a strong political agenda.

The portraits are dignified and powerful but what’s more subversive. They are unlike any other representations of the trans* community within other mainstream visual media, which is what makes Moroni and this series so special. Moroni does not focus on the genitals or genders of these individuals, rather their eyes, their smile, a look or gesture. They are seen as individuals as opposed to transsexual or gender fluid. In this sense the images are quite gentle to the topic, the images say, “This is who I am and this is the way it is” regardless of the sex or gender of the person being photographed. The subjects are elevated to ambiguous and beautiful creatures, an effect I’d love to achieve through my own images.

And so with her fine art background, passion for shooting analogue and keen artistic eye, Moroni has been helping to transform the stereotypical notions and representations of trans* people in the U.K which is something I find utterly inspiring. The media continues to put out a negative stereotyped image of trans* people and they remain to be a marginalized section of society. However, with beautiful images like Moroni’s which capture the very essence of these remarkable human beings, highlighting their uniqueness as much as their dignity in a photographic series that truly sparkles, we can encourage the breakdown of the male/female gender binary and, with that, embrace all the shades of difference that lie in between.

Moroni’s photographs from ‘Anima Animus’, her motifs and successes have been really inspirational to my own work and me and I was lucky enough to conduct an interview with her via email. I wanted to learn more about her project and creative processes, which would be beneficial in informing my own practice as I too have and will continue to photograph individuals with non-conforming identities. Here’s what she had to say:

How did you get into photography? Did you study it?

I went to art school back in Italy and, while I was there studying multimedia art, I realised that photography was my favourite subject, so I applied to spend a year in the UK as an exchange student, attending a photography course. After the exchange period finished, I ditched the academy of fine arts in Milan to enrol for my second year as a normal student and eventually I got a (BA) Hons degree in photography.

What does photography mean for you?

Everything.

What photographers inspire you? Who is your favourite? 

It’s quite hard to make a list as I feel inspired by so many different artists and I don’t really have a favourite one.

The first names that jump to mind are Mary Ellen Mark, Diane Arbus and Richard Avedon, but there are many more.

While I was at university I used to spend days on end in the library, perusing photography books and magazines, while now I’m a regular in the photography section at Foyles on Charing Cross and I love finding new talents on Flickr. I tend to favour portrait and documentary photographers because I’m fascinated by people.

Are there any images you wish you had taken?

As in images taken by other photographers who I admire or as images that I saw but I didn’t take?

In the first case, no, I’m often in awe of other people’s work, but I believe in keeping true to my own.

In the second case, yes, I constantly see people I’d love to photograph, but I often don’t for various reasons.

Why do you mainly shoot analogue?

It kind of started all by accident because for the first term at uni we were restricted to black and white film photography and I happened to try a Mamiya twin lens camera that I instantly fell in love with.

I prefer shooting square frames and I love the quality of film, especially medium and large format film.

At the time I didn’t really speak much English and this “funky looking” camera helped me to approach strangers I wanted to photograph.

Any advice for someone who may be interested in using analogue?

I’d recommend to try black and white film and to develop it at home.

It’s much easier than most people would think and the internet is a great resource for tutorials on how to get started.

Once you’ve seen your first home developed negative, it’s hard to get back to shooting digital and I bet you’ll soon be printing your work in the darkroom as well 🙂

Your works seem to frequently defy social norms (transsexuals, gender benders). Where did your interest in this begin?

I was commissioned by a gallery to produce a body of work on the theme of borderline gender for my first solo exhibition. After collaborating with many trans* people, I decided to keep working on gender beyond the exhibition as I think it’s a fascinating subject.

Feminist author Judith Butler believes that gender is “performative” in the sense we all walk, talk and act in ways, which consolidate an impression of being masculine or feminine so much so that we are all like drag artists. She believes that gender is free-floating. Do you agree with these views?

I believe that gender expression and gender identity aren’t necessarily fixed, so they can change over time and be fluid, but I don’t agree that gender is exclusively performative.

I adore your images from the series, Anima Animas. Do you have a favourite image?

Thanks, I’m glad you like them. That’s such a difficult question, I find it hard to choose a favourite image as I really enjoyed working with all the models and it feels a bit strange to pick one picture over the others.

If I really have to go with one, I’d say probably the image of Sabah because it was a success against all odds; it was published in the Sunday Times and it got many praises and awards and it’s funny because I almost didn’t take it!

Sabah came to the studio in London from Brighton especially for the photo shoot and only after the interview with him I realised that I had left the film holders at home, over an hour away from the studio. Luckily Sabah was extremely patient and understanding and I have a friend who lives closer to the studio who shoots 5×4 too, so I went at his place to borrow two film holders. This meant that Sabah had to wait for a while and we only had four shots out of the shoot, but it was worth it.

Any funny stories you can share from the series?

I hadn’t been shooting much large format film before this series so I had quite a few funny accidents with my first attempts. Thinking about it they’re not really that funny, I just repeatedly double exposed sheets of film because I’d forget to flip the dark slides on the film holders. I posted some of this mistakes on Facebook and strangely enough many people commented on them saying that they liked them better than the correct pictures!

Once I had to lock myself in the broom cupboard of the studio to load the film holders because I forgot my changing bag at home, so embarrassing!

I love your images of Jay! How did you find her?!

Jay

Jay

First of all, it’s really important to always check people preferred pronouns instead of just assuming them. For example Jay goes by neutral pronouns, so please use they/their/them when referring to them as opposed to she.

Jay is a friend of one of the first people I’ve photographed for this series, so I “found” them through a recommendation.

To start with I put an ad online, but once I photographed a few people I started being approached by their friends through word of mouth.

What is your creative process like? Do you collaborate with your subjects?

I do try as much as possible to collaborate with my subjects since I feel that a portrait is an exchange between the model and the photographer, so collaboration is key.

For this series I’ve been shooting on large format film with a view camera that allows me to selectively focus on the models eyes. I always show people examples of my work and I discuss with them how the pictures are going to be.

Your subjects often appear nude, how do you make them feel comfortable or how do you approach that situation?

Well, as I said before, the kind of camera I use allows me to focus selectively on the eyes and to throw the body significantly out of focus. I believe that knowing that their body won’t be clinically sharp in the photos helps making people feel more comfortable about being nude in front of a camera.

I didn’t initially considered asking the models to be totally naked, I intended to only shoot from the waist up, but I was surprised when someone spontaneously proposed to be photographed full length without any clothes.

Once I did my first nude photo shoot, I became more comfortable discussing this possibility with the models.

I have come to the conclusion there’s no harm in asking as long as it’s done with tact and you could be surprised by how many people don’t mind to shed their clothes.

Normally I specify that they can be as bare as they dare, there’s no pressure whatsoever to show any skin from the shoulders down if they don’t feel like it.

I also make a point to have a good chat about what’s going to happen before the actual photo shoot and I always start taking photos with the model fully clothed.

Recently I have been taking some non-blurry nude photos in collaboration with a friend and it’s something that I’m really interested in pursuing more.

You state on your website that you look for subjects that are beautiful and peculiar. What do you think makes someone or something beautiful?

That’s a really good question, but I’m afraid I don’t have an answer. I believe that that what makes someone or something beautiful for me is a series of characteristics shaped by my personal taste and the cultural environment that surrounds me. I also think that my sense of what is beautiful isn’t fixed, so it can change over time and it’s hard to pin down.

How do you find your subjects? How do you convince them to pose for you?

There are many different ways I find my subjects: I sometimes put ads online if I’m looking for a specific kind of person to photograph, but I also approach people on the street or online through Facebook. Sometimes I ask my friends to pose for me or to put the word out between their acquaintances that I’m looking for models.

I don’t really convince people, I just ask them if they’d be interested in posing for whatever project I’m working on, explaining why and how I’d like to photograph them.

If I’m approaching them online, I include a link to my website so they can see what kind of work I do.

If I’m stopping someone on the street, I simply state that I’m a photographer, I’ve noticed them because I like something about them (it could be what they’re wearing or their hairdo for example) and I’d like to photograph them if that’s cool with them.

I’m not a big fan of photographing people without their permission, so I always ask first and if they’re not keen, I just thank them and wish them a good day.

How did you become a photographer in your own right? Did you assist anyone first? Do you still assist?

I started out as a freelance studio assistant in three of the main photography studios here in London. I also did full time studio assisting for 9 months while I was shooting a lot the for Anima Animus exhibition, so that I could have unlimited free access to the studios during the weekends for this project.

I now work as a freelance assistant for different photographers and I shoot commissions every now and then.

I think assisting other photographers is a great learning experience and it allows me to juggle personal and commissioned work on the side.

What are your goals as an artist?

I’m not sure if I consider myself an artist, it sounds like a rather pompous way of describing what I do and I don’t feel 100% comfortable with it. I don’t have a series of grand final goals as an “artist”, I just have a set of projects and ideas that I’d like to explore more with my work. Overall I am interested in people, so I suppose you could say that my main goal is to share with others an impression of the people I meet.

What projects are you currently working on?

I am still working on the Anima Animus project, expanding it to include people all along the gender spectrum, both trans* and cisgender.

Some first steps have been made towards a collective multimedia project on body positivity, but it’s still in the research stage, so I can’t say too much about it now.

What’s next?

Well, hopefully the collective body positive project will come together soon, so I hope to focus on it more and more.

I’m extremely interested in working with other people and I want to learn more about video, so I’m really excited about this project.

I would also like to eventually make a book out of Anima Animus.

What advice would you give someone who wants to pursue a career in photography? What should they do?

Well, it depends by what kind of photographer they want to be. The career path varies drastically if you want to be a celebrity photographer as opposed to a fashion photographer or a food photographer.

This is assuming that we’re talking about people who want to be photographers because you do have other options for pursuing a career in photography, not everyone has to be a photographer, for example you could find yourself working in production and casting, or with an agency, or as a picture editor, amongst other possibilities.

In general I think that assisting is a good way to get a foot in the door, so I’d recommend it to anyone who’s considering a career in photography.

Any tips for other artists who want to explore similar issues as you such as gender and identity?

Just to keep an open mind.

Claudia Moroni

07506776369

http://www.ClaudiaMoroni.co.uk

Reflection

I really wanted to interview a professional photographer whose works investigate topics I’m deeply inspired and interested in. Throughout my final year at Coventry University I have been researching and creating works that explore issues surrounding gender, identity, sexuality and representation. Such topics are highly sensitive, complex and even political. As a part of my research into the topic of gender identity I have spoken to many individuals who contest to the binary nature of gender from transsexuals to gender fluid individuals. From this I found that there is definitely a lack of knowledge in regards to gender identity issues with modern culture, as there were many things I did not know before speaking with these non-conforming individuals.

Many misconceptions have left trans* individuals, like the ones I have spoke with, as well as their families and friends very isolated and socially excluded. The trans* community is still a marginalized and often stigmatized section of society and transphobia still permeates our culture. With all of this in mind I was initially quite reluctant to pursue the topic of gender identity within my photographic works. Gender identity is a highly complex and individuals with non-conforming identities are still very much living on the cusp of regular society. I felt it might be too dangerous and even insensitive to explore the issue as a photography topic.

However, my thoughts quickly changed when I discovered the works of Claudia Moroni and her series, ‘Anima and Animus’ which is a long term project exploring the borderline of gender. The series features individuals with non-conforming gender identities in a beautiful and dignified light. The images have been published in various magazines and papers and even exhibited nationally and internationally. This was hugely encouraging and made me realise the importance of giving the trans* community the exposure and truthful representations they deserve. These are beautiful and courageous individuals. We must raise awareness and show these individuals in a light that is accurate of the trans* community thereby reducing discrimination, prejudice and hostility. I hope my images will help advance Trans equality within society and prove that beauty lies in diversity just as Moroni has.

Before contacting Moroni I did some research into her work so she wouldn’t be repeating answers she had given countless times before. I looked at other interviews she had participated in online and her website, to ensure I would be asking less generic questions so the interview would be enjoyable. I wanted to learn of her creative process and learn more about ‘Anima and Animus’ as I too have been creating portraits of individuals with non-conforming gender identities. I wanted to learn more on how she finds her subjects, how she makes them feel comfortable, why she shoots film and most importantly what advice she would give to someone who is tackling the subject of gender identity. All of these answers would help me in the decisions I make when creating my portraits, to ensure I remain respectful and aware at all times of my audience and subjects.

Once I had completed my interview questions, I contacted Moroni via Facebook, her website and email. She was easily accessible which reminded me of the importance of being active and accessible online to ensure you never miss an opportunity. Contacting Moroni via email was efficient, easy and quick and she responded to me the very same day! I feel as I showed some knowledge and passion for the subject she too has been exploring for a number of years perhaps influenced her to get back to me. This is why I felt it important to interview a photographer who I admired and shared interests with. It would be clear that I am passionate and genuinely interested in the individual and their work, which I hope she took as a compliment. In return to participating in the interview (and as an incentive) I informed Moroni that I would share her works, website and contact details on my blog thus broadening her audience which is beneficial to her as a brand.

Upon reflection I feel I could have made the questions more personal to me. Like find out exactly how she got her work published, how she promoted her works and how she’s managed to get her work exhibited internationally. All of these things I’d love to achieve with my own images and still feel a bit lost how I would go about doing that. Nonetheless, I am now in contact with Moroni so I’m sure I’ll be able to pick her brain in the near future.

Exhibition Involvement

My role in relation to the production of the degree show is as a participant of the marketing team to ensure the event gathers momentum, gains a lot of attention and achieves a sense of excitement for the works being displayed at the exhibition. The works featured explore a range of topics and subjects by fresh new and upcoming talent and it was important that this was shared with the larger public to ensure the degree got a good response and turn out. Social networking and social media have proved to be really helpful platforms to share our work and get the word out there about the exhibition.

Independently I have continued to share behind the scene shots from my photo sessions for my project. My end of year photographic project entitled, “Gender Benders” features individuals who have non-conforming gender identities. These include an array of trans* identities, drag artists and gender fluid individuals. By sharing my images on Facebook I have managed to broaden my audience, got people excited for my final images and have grasped the attention of other individuals who would like to get involved in the project or at least can relate to the identities I have already captured. This is great in engaging new audiences and potentially lengthening the life span of this project. I hope to continue to photograph trans* individuals so its wonderful that more and more people are beginning to approach me simple for seeing them on my social networks!

I have used my existing social networking and communication skills but feel I need to develop them much further. Social media is free and posting your work takes literally seconds so I should be sharing my work a lot more frequently. This will help build my brand, gage a wider audience and ensure my project will be an on going one encouraging more participants to get involved. Upon reflection I feel I should have begun to share my works and creative processes a lot sooner but due to a busy schedule and holding down a part time job, I’ve been restricted for time. Another platform I feel I should take more advantage of is twitter as this too has the potential to reach a wider and much richer audience. Photographers that I follow may take interest in my works, offer feedback and may even offer some work experience perhaps. Maybe this is too optimistic. Nonetheless, with this fleeting thought in mind I will begin to post or rather tweet a few behind the scene shots of me editing my final photographs and tag the IMG19 page on my twitter account. I will continue to post behind the scenes footage, images and teasers in the lead up to the exhibition, hopefully daily, to gather momentum and get people excited!

As well as working independantly on sharing my own works and develpoing my own slef-promotive, communication and social networking skills I have also had to ensure I help out with other people in the marketing team. We were given the responsibility of creating flyers and posters which will be displayed in and around the city and handed out closer to the time of the exhibition. We have to make sure that people know about this exciting event and our marketing materials have to be of highly professional standard.

The marketing team came together a few weeks ago to discuss what needed to be done and update one another on the development of  tasks undertaken so far.  First on the agenda was to make the final decision regarding the design of our logo. Many people put forward different designs and ideas for the logo which made it quite difficult in deciding on a final one, especially as we had to decide as a team with conflicting schedules and opinions. We opted for the latter designs displayed below, as we thought these were the most eye catching and decided that we could print multiple versions, using different images from everyones work for the background of the poster, enabling individual work to be promoted at the same time. It is a simple and dynamic design and clear to understand. We didn’t want the posters and flyers to be over crowded and I’m very pleased with the designs the marketing team have produced so far.

Due to my lagging time management skills I have been unable to attend all of the marketing team meetings due to my part time job. Nonetheless, I have done my best in communicating with all of the marketing team members online via email, Google Drive and Facebook to ensure my ideas and opinions are heard when making final decisions. I have also created mock up versions of posters which feature my own work which could be used in helping to promote and market the event. Upon reflection I feel I could have been more involved but in the coming weeks I will push harder as my prints and final images are now completed I now have more time in promoting others works in the class. I will share their work on all my social networks, encouraging others to go check are rocking talent and works out!

Mock Up Exhibition Poster

Mock Up Exhibition Poster

Creative CV

Upon completing my degree at Coventry University I will carry on working as an assistant photographer for Dark Lens and Digital Flow, where I will continue to cover a wide array of events and build on my technical lighting and studio skills. However, I do hope to broaden my horizons and seek new job opportunities. I would love to begin assisting other photographers that are based in London that have a lager audience and clientele with useful and big named contacts with others within the industry. I want to learn from the best thus improving my own skills as a photographer. Thus, my creative CV is vital in ensuring I grasp the attention of those who I really would love to work with. I found it extremely difficult in selling my self through this CV as I feel I haven’t had much experience in the industry.

Nonetheless, I wanted to make it clear that I am a driven, passionate and hard working individual who is willing to learn. I wanted to include an image from my series entitled, “Gender Benders” which will feature at my end of year degree show. I felt this would evidence my interest in portraiture photography, gender identity and my ability to push new creative boundaries. I want my images to challenge society, force people to questions what is a “normal” gender identity and re-definine what is beauty in a person: diversity. However, upon sharing this initial idea with my peers they suggested that I shouldn’t include such an image. Instead I should include a self-portrait in my CV so people can put a face to my name. I feel my CV could be a lot stronger but was unsure on how to formulate it.

Sophie Creative CV