Sustainable Prospects Week 5 / by Chris Chucas

The importance of networks

 Traces of my exhibition from the last module remain at Cathays Community Center Cardif

Traces of my exhibition from the last module remain at Cathays Community Center Cardif

This week we had some discussions about networking and benefits that go with it. We had a very interesting talk with Steve McLeod and Keith O'Neill from Metro imaging and Old Girls Club. It’s really interesting to see how networking is so important and works in them in the editorial commercial side of things. I have some experience with networking with the consumer businesses that I run to fund my art documentary practice. It’s still very daunting to jump straight in to the deep end with commercial editorial networking because of the calibre of work and the importance of making connections I have been reluctant to be is forthcoming with it as I have with the consumer businesses. Another point that really stuck in my mind from the Maximus Barnett discussion we had last week was that it’s very important to be ready before pushing everything out onto the digital world because of how difficult it is to get things back and also how important first impressions are. So although I’ve been working constantly for the last five years plus on projects and practically never stopped since my BA about 10 years ago kind of glad that I haven’t network that much and have the experience and advice from people on the course before doing so.

I found the discussion with Steve and Kate really illuminating. Some of the key things that jumped out at me from the talk were

  • How they mentioned education generally makes everybody think of their peers and classmates as direct competition but due to the fluid nature of our industry it really isn't like that. They talked about how someone might be working as an assistant but then later in their career within two working in a gallery and the keep in contact with a network of people is really really helpful. 
  • There was lots of other very useful information in the talk and when the most useful pieces of advice that I hear it was that it very important to be active and join lots of communities. Last week I joined shutter have on the recommendation of just in Cary a fellow student and I’ve been looking at potential social meet ups as well as exhibitions to submit to and have started to make a list of things to do. Still catching up with a lot of editing and other work and I’ve not been able to actually attend any social meet ups most of which don't seem to be near me and is proving a little challenging to’s gradual trips to London in between shoots that are blocked and added time to deliver live projects. But it’s something I'm very determined to do especially in the New Year.
  • A few other places I might look at connecting with our photo scratch and photo forum by the natural imaging talk. 

I’ve also been invited to a Facebook group called Photographers United and I was invited by a fellow professional photographer probably because I was fresh in their mind from a previous conversation asking from feedback with website bits. I'm finding the Facebook group really interesting and informative. There is a short social metre advertised and I will try my best to attend but I don’t think that I will be able to this time.

Another interesting aspect that popped up and to think about is being part of a collective. It came up a few times in our weekly notes and discussions and I think the Metro imaging talk touched upon it as well. I have tried unsuccessfully to group together artists previously to promote each other and potentially put an exhibition on. I think I was unsuccessful for because I was doing 100% of the work myself and hand connected with the right people who were equally as interested and or prepared to do a similar amount of work. Talking about it amongst some of my peers on this MA course has made me revisit this and I am slowly putting things together to try and trial putting some workout as a collective. It really days and I needs to balance out being a perfectionist and having everything perfectly ready but also being realistic and having a micro project with less specific criteria that will be easy to organise and trial. In my head I think a limited run of zines showcasing a few artists work including myself. There are a few other factors to consider like name and branding but I think the years of experience in my consumer businesses have equipped me to be competent enough to get that done or at least oversee it getting produced.

Exhibitions

We were also asked to network in other ways like attending an exhibition but unfortunately I have been too busy with work to make it to any. I’ll keep a lookout for local exhibitions that are on and trying make it to some as soon as I have enough time available. 

Social media

We’ve been prompted again to focus on social media and potentially connect with a network with photographers or artists that we respect or admire. Using Facebook Instagram and Twitter I made a conscious effort to do that. Twitter is my weakest social media tool. As I’ve never really been enthusiastically engaged with it I don’t really understand the nuances and how it works. I have had mildly positive results using Instagram. Using a tool called HootSuite for the various brands that I run including my photography art practice. HootSuite is quite helpful in organising streams in a way that you can utilise your time efficiently to engage with and build new audiences and connect with people as well as schedule and publish posts.

 

Hootsuite Streams

I added a new stream and added artists and photographers that I respect and admire onto it so that I can quickly and easily see what everyone is doing and engage with them realistically. I don’t really see myself gaining any massive surge in social media presence and doing things like this but it is useful and helps you keep abreast of the arts landscape to see what people are doing. Some of my favourite Instagram users include

Spencer Murphy

Spencer Murphy Instagram

 

and fellow Falmouth photography BA graduate Robert Chilton

@robbie_chilton

I always looked up to and admired Robert Chilton’s work ever since I met him and it’s great to see his progress over time. In Rob’s case he has a definite and consistent style and has done since I've know him. Seeing this gives me confidence to just stick with my instinct with my own work and not worry about what is trending but what is truthful to me as the artist.

Facebook like Twitter has had limited results for m although I feel that I have made some progress. As I mentioned in a previous blog post I researched and looked at some of the websites of some fellow Falmouth graduates, friends, and colleagues of mine I knew, most of them moved to London and are working professionally though there are some others dotted around the UK elsewhere. Initially I reached out to them to look at their websites and the former they use while upgrading my own figure not the best possible layout if I noticed any broken links or things that didn't work going kindly drop the message politely pointed out, this is been a really good way to get feedback on my own website because although I did ask they naturally took a look at my website pointed out a few things that they thought could be improved upon and I was very grateful. It seems that from doing this being in the mix or at the forefront of their thoughts they be prompted to add fellow professional photographers to Facebook groups and I’ve been added to them more entertaining yet probably because I’ve been in the mix recently and that has proved very helpful so far. One Facebook group in particular is called photographers United and has some world leading commercial editorial photographers. The group constantly asked questions about ethical questions regarding commercial photography rates queries and even a place to fat out clients that people have not worked with before. They’ve had some of the administrators again touch with various companies and services and its become a kind of union that members can get discounts of services by being a member of United. One useful service that popped up recently was United members get 10% discount with Williamson and Carson insurance services which I recently moved over to from talks with Anna Marie in a tutorial. Although it’s just the one Facebook group I would say that my efforts on Facebook paid off because that is so useful helpful and supportive and glad that I made the effort to reach other people and network with as a mentor for Twitter the most alien social media channels I haven’t had much success connecting with other artists or photographers parentheses visual arts, but I have noticed a lot of bands using Twitter to hide them there is albums and announce tours and shows the and trying to hold onto work until the project more solidified than I know what going to do with it and I have tried to hold back on sending vast amounts of images out into the social media world because they get shared downloaded and used which I feel dilutes the impact of them in the way that I want them received. I have sparingly posted images that would help band promoting these albums because it shows with relevant images of them for the venue and that seems to work very well.

The other one hosting daily thinking about my audience right now I’d say join me as there are no photographers, something trying to graduate from build wider audience is very difficult use various hashtag research tools and testing keyword lists to see what your after cycling through several very similar cyclists lists got the most positive response then I started experimenting with former posts for example posting an image with sites description and then measured it against posting the comments separately below the description. I feel like a good position good gains with Instagram as I use the my other work which funds my documentary projects. Weddings are very niche and I’ve got a lot of experience with them as well as having a niche audience interested in the content and trying to go all the skills into growing my documentary and commercial work with my Chris Chucas. Right now I think the main problem is that most of the people following me on Instagram are either in punk bands or they are stands of music which is great for the habits of monsters project that is not me in front of other photographers galleries curators, or agencies. I’m doing more hash tagged research with hashtag lists focusing on documentary projects commercial work and art in a more vague sense. By making slow and steady progress and I’m also trying to target geographical locations as well in the hopes to gain a few more clients. One example of this is how I used my commercial event job with Cardiff similar uni’s commercial photography as well as a few hashtags like hashtag club hashtag event hashtag party and then posted targeting keywords.

I feel all of the efforts I’ve made with Facebook Instagram and swear have definitely made an improvement and gotten me seen by more people that I wouldn’t have without the need to refine my hashtag lists and continue to experiment with the frequency and time of day posting for each 1 to maximise engagement and reach.

Network Groups

Another one of the tasks that we were asked to do was to join in photography Association. Through my wedding and portrait work under different brand I’ve had fairly negative experiences of guilds or associations or clubs. They basically seem to be a moneymaking machine people stardom with a little incentive of back links and SEO power in exchange for money. But not thought about joining any deals associations or groups like this for my documentary and commercial work because of the negative impression I had with my other brand. That the talking fellow student Justin Carey he told me about shutter hub. He told me that shutterhub was a great place the supported them and pushed him to go on win some awards get great exposure and has gone his work seen by people that would not have seen otherwise, still slightly sceptical I decided to join anyway and so far I have uploaded work into the portfolio section written a very basic bio and that’s about it. They do have information on awards competitions to enter but have not had time to look properly or answer any but it looks very promising.

Collective

One of the last things that was also talked about in the notes this week was the idea of joining a collective. This is something I very thought about previously and I’ve been speaking to sue other people in a similar situation to myself hopes of making our own collective. That might take a little time and organisation to get started but I do have an idea trial of very small scale version of it for that perhaps anonymously.

Newsletter

I’ve also been talking with my peers and lecturers and I think sending a newsletter is a great idea but to take my time and having ready I need to be clear concise and relevant and a note of me to do that I need to take a little time to stop have a think about my practice and where I might fit in. That was something I picked up from Maximus Barnet in his talk with us, the need to be ready before you start sending things out to people because it is not ready it might harm you and it’s quite hard to take things down or hide them once they been sent out over the Internet.

Research Links

https://www.thehalftone.org/podcast/2016/7/5/episode-05-alec-soth

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/17540763.2013.788843

http://time.com/4131705/photo-collectives-boreal-prime/

https://www.itsnicethat.com/features/creative-collaboration-advice-facebook-yawn-glimpse-bread-miscellaneous-010817