Sustainable Prospects Week 7 / by Chris Chucas

The Current Commercial Environment

This week we’ve been looking at the current commercial environment and thinking about who our audience and market are. Right now as a professional photographer I have a consumer market, primarily couples getting married, small businesses in need of photography and video production as well as a handful of portrait clients including head shots and families. I understand it is a huge difference between consumer markets and commercial/art markets. Understanding the nuances developing network skills as well as having a polished and tested professional appearance in these markets was primarily the main factor in pursuing the MA. I feel I’m in a very unique situation having the skills and experience from a consumer market and wanting to apply them to commercial art background, I have a nagging feeling all the time were I’m asking myself is this relevant should I mention X, maybe I should mention y? I’m very aware that an online presence is necessary but also very hard to alter after it’s been released into the world. I feel that perhaps this has held me back from approaching bigger clients and in the back of my mind I’m constantly awaiting a rebrand as well as checking a few things before making some meetings with larger commercial clients and picture editors.

So far through this module I found it really valuable having some industry insight into these issues that I’m trying to refine. In the previous weeks I completely deleted my entire Instagram feed change the bio on the advice of Max’s Barnett from the PLOT magazine. I’m still experimenting with curating hashtag lists to reach people and using suite with the curated streams of relevant people to follow to keep abreast of what’s going on. My main problem at the moment is time consuming businesses which pay my bills are at the busiest time of year for shooting and post production so a lot of these ideas and plans formulated right now will have to be delivered in the near future.

I deliberately kept the consumer business and my commercial work separate which is slightly more expensive and a lot more time-consuming plan. I have as it coincides with the advice given from lecturers on this module. After thinking a little bit more about the commercial side of things I’m not 100% sure where exactly I fit in or would like to fit in. One of the main things that I feel slightly confused about is the separation of personal projects under the potential guise of ’art’ along with commercial commissioned work for clients. To me it seems that both arenas are different and if you’re in one. you can’t be in the other but after networking with some industry contacts over the previous weeks they have reinforced what we are hearing from our lecturers in that it’s important to shoot personal work and sometimes I can be a main contributing factor to be hired for commercial work. Luckily or not for me I have no choice in producing personal work,  I feel like I need to keep producing personal work and have done since I was 15.  So for the next few weeks I’m going to be looking very closely at how I can repackage that into a concise way that is informative for potential commercial clients.  I discussed redesigning a website with Anna, Paul and Krishna who’ve all said similar but slightly different things. One of the main factors that jumped out at me regarding my design is that from a consumer business point of view it’s important have a lot of text and links to be efficient SEO. From a consumer industry point of view it’s important to have good SEO for customers to find you online.  I feel awkward removing all of that and having a very clean almost no information at all website with only work and potentially contact details. These differences between industries that I feel like I’m the most with, I would have my website full of text and information if I wasn't told otherwise.

One of the tasks that we were sent this week was to sell an image, a I mentioned this to a couple of friends in conversation and a few said they would really like to buy some of my exhibition prints they’d seen. I didn’t really want to advertise selling prints too much because I still want to work out how ongoing packages project and from the advice given to us before it’s very hard to undo things when sitting to rather than risk making any rash decisions and regretting how things might look I decided not to.  We were also asked to consider maybe selling images to an image library, this is something I’ve considered before but decided against because of the lack of control I have as an artist have in the context  and arenas that it’s shown in. This came up in the positions and practice module,

link - https://www.chrischucas.com/crj2/2017/4/8/power-and-responsability

https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2016/jun/22/jeff-mitchells-best-shot-the-column-of-marching-refugees-used-in-ukips-brexit-campaign

 Jeff MItchell Image used by UKIP

Jeff MItchell Image used by UKIP

To recap quickly Jeff Mitchell’s image was used by UK in anti immigration propaganda. It's a complex issue with no simple answer but ultimately as photographer after submitting images to an image library you have very little control on their use. This alone is enough for me to not want to do that.

We also discussed how the editorial world is rapidly changing with the rise of the Internet there has been a steady decline in traditional newspapers and magazines and with it a decline in budgets for photographers. I actually had an apprenticeship when I was 17 to work alongside a press photographer that would cover events and do work for local newspapers. I even shot a few events myself and this was back in the 35mm days. It is truly interesting to see how things have changed and although a lot of people criticise the direction things are going. I can see the exciting possibilities as well as the removal of barriers. Crowdsourcing projects and in the way the Internet can connect photographers to an audience directly has made a really exciting time to living. I think we as artists need to embrace this new world and make it work for us.

Another one of the weekly talks asked us to think about delivering images in a new way. Again I have been pressed for time and not really had enough time to produce anything but an interesting idea that I had was in making a T-shirt. I have a T-shirt from a band called ‘The Menzingers’  and it was based on a contact print of 35 mm negatives. I also thought the Juno Calypso’s poster sales is an interesting approach, I’m still a little unsure on whether I want to do that for my project right now but I might experiment with a T-shirt. The T-shirt would be very suiting like a zine as both ourselves at merch tables shows.

 

 The Meningers Band T-Shirt

The Meningers Band T-Shirt

The_Menzingers_-_Chamberlain_Waits album art.jpg
 Edel, the first portrait from a new micro project 

Edel, the first portrait from a new micro project 

I started shooting an idea  I had a while ago and hopefully I can wrap it fairly soon as a self-contained micro project.  onto take some portraits  looking at a variety of modern day women.  I had the idea after talking to a friend of mine who is quite an active feminist as well as a teacher.  we were both talking about how things are changed rapidly especially with people's perception of what women could/should do the work and also for fun.