Careers – a Wide Reach

MA in Photography, Falmouth University, Module 4, Sustainable Prospects; Week One

During week one of the sustainable prospects module we discussed the roles of photographically qualified people around us and the roles that we note people play in this ‘media industry’.  There are many facets to the creation, presentation, debate and application of lens based or indeed light based work. We learnt about assistants, agents, editors, researchers and set designers.

It is a useful insight to explore those around our own work arena to delve a lilt deeper into the world of variety.

We are fortunate in the city I work in to have an array of strong, highly experienced people practicing the art and science of photography, here are a few;

The Producer


Figure 1

Nicola Shipley (fig 1) describes herself as ‘Producer, Curator, Project Manager, Commissioner, Mentor and Consultant specialising in photography, commissioning, exhibitions and the public realm’.  I have been aware of Nicola’s work over the last two years.  She draws on a wide and well established network of people, organisations and institutions and delivers events such as seminars and portfolio review sessions both of which I am booked to attend, given pervious events such as  national symposia which have proved vitally important to my growing appreciation of image making that is debated with a national audience. Commissions with photographers such as the emerging Sam Irvin and the established Edgar Martins with communities and establishments draws in the creativity of the individual and an intersect with people and places to create new work.  Nicola has also produced work in the public realm which has been highly acclaimed and attracts a high level of public engagement by its very nature, she speak of linking many skills, such as fundraising through a commitment to an idea, managing the process of approval for public work, curating content and liaising with artists and gathering feedback which informs both her future practice and provides critical feedback to funders and stakeholders.

As the director of Grain Photography Hub which is the vehicle for much of the work described here.  Grain is described as ‘an arts organisation dedicated to commissioning, facilitating and delivering ambitious, engaging and high quality photography projects, commissions, events and exhibitions.  We commission and produce new work in collaboration with artists and photographers and collaborate with major partners here and internationally to reach and inspire new audiences and participants’. 

The Historian


Figure 2

Pete James (fig 2) is a photographic historian who for over 26 years was the Curator of Photography at Birmingham Library.  His work has been recognised by his fellow membership of the RPS.  Pete has an encyclopaedic knowledge of imagery archived in Birmingham from 1839.  As a fellow member of the collective Developed in Birmingham I witnessed first hand Pete’s knowledge and experience brought to bear on the programme of work across the summer 2017 which engaged the citizens of the city in history, image making, traditional techniques, photo-walks and presentations all along side Mat Collishaw’s Thresholds show.


figure 3

Pete oversaw the transfer of the enormous and precious collection of images from the existing library to the new Library of Birmingham and commissioned a body of work to capture this significant occasion which was known as ‘Reference Works’ (fig 3) and this became the inaugural exhibition at the new library, as a tribute of both the old and new libraries. The exhibition featured commissioned works by Michael Collins, Brian Griffin, Andrew Lacon and Stuart Whipps.

The Printer


Figure 4

Steve Palm of Palm Laboratories (fig 3);Steve was a practicing photographer and now runs a large photo-lab in Digbeth, Birmingham. I have found that the relationship with Steve has been critical to the print output for my practice.  I began my links with him in 2016 when the ‘over the counter’, front of house was about simple transactional orders; it has now matured into my being able to sit alongside him at his Mac and talk about the difference of images from the screen to the paper and work with a series of individual images to maximise their appearance on Kodak Endura C-type prints.  This collaborative working has improved my knowledge of printing but also cemented the ongoing relationship where my practice can draw true value from the skills of an image factory.


Nicola Shipley

Personal web site 

Grain web site

LinkedIn Profile

Sam Irvin

Edgar Martins

Pete James

Developed in Birmingham Programme page

LinkedIn Profile

Interview with Pete James

Steve Palm

Company web site

Photo Credits

Figure 1 Copyright Jas Sansi

Figure 2

Figure 4 Philip Singleton






Practice Progress – A Shoot – K4 Architects

MA in Photography, Falmouth University, Module 4, Sustainable Prospects; Week One

Having signed an ‘artist in residency’ with K4 Architects in the summer 2017, I was able to spend a half day in their studio. This represents a broadening of my medium of practice as I am exploring the means and methods of the Pause Project creating new life for existing buildings and structures.  I am intending to meet the people who are working on new designs, their clients, the historic records and drawings via this reseidncy.

This shoot marks the commencement of that process with a quiet perambulation around the studio in a Victorian building in the Digbeth area of Birmingham.

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Unseen 2017 : Some Observations

MA in Photography, Falmouth University, Module 4, Sustainable Prospects


figure 1

It was a pleasure to visit Unseen 2017 (fig 1) in Amsterdam in September 2017.

These are my concise observations.


Figure 2

I met with my tutors and fellow students at the Student Hotel, Amsterdam (fig 2).  We set ourselves a photographic project to stretch over 2 days entitled seen;unseen to relate to the place and the theme of the expo.

The first port of call was Foam  which is a major influence behind the photo festival. It showed a selection of emerging talent, fig 3 Alix Marie, 4 Sushant Chhabria, and 5


figure 3

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figures 4, 5

Huis Marseille devoted all 14 of its gallery spaces to Jamie Hawkesworth’s image making, figures 5, 6.  I was pleased to have been able to join the talk and tour led by Hawkesworth.  I questioned the editing as he described the Preston Bus Station shoot as wholly democratic – hence all people were included but this was defied by the fact that the -boy with the afro’ was repeated in a lobby space at a much larger scale.  I also found his nude wok with the model Mica with whom he had a relationship as peering into a personal collection which felt awkward and made me question that private should stay private in many collections and bodies of work.

It is interesting attempting to access Hawkesworth’s website – one of the most awkward.


figures 5, 6


figure 7

On to the main Unseen venue, figure 7.  The following images were recoded as they inspired me or provoked me in the context of my practice. All the artists in the main building were represented by galleries.  The majority were based in Europe and I spotted East Wing gallery from Dubai.

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figures 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14

Then onto the Co-op building that provided space for artsist who are collaborating with others and were representing themsleves. I was intruged by a book held within a cast concrete sleeve (figure 15) and the vitrine housing printers uncut copies of the Stephen Keppel book I had purchased, figure 16.

Figure 16 shows the context to this Co-op space.


Figure 15


Figure 16


Figure 17


A Practice Methodology

MA in Photography, Falmouth University, Module 4, Sustainable Prospects

Crafting a meaningful methodology for one’s practice consumes thinking time and absorbs metaphor research in an effort to reach the aspirational refinement.

I am now, at least for the present, satisfied that I have considered my approach, methods and output to be able to encompass it within a narrative that describes a conceptual proposition; a framework to think, research and image make.

I am particularly pleased to have uncovered a musical notation which offers both a terminology and an adopted symbology; fermata.

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How Many Books is Too Many Books?

MA in Photography, Falmouth University, Module 4, Sustainable Prospects

I experienced two very different photobook browsing moment at Unseen Amsterdam on 30th September.

The first was at a booth within the main space at a gallery in the main space- Matèria Rome  where I was engaged by the gallery owner who explained the work of Stefano Canto, who works with concrete and allied processes and imagery.  I purchased the book Concrete Archive (figure 1) as this will be useful as I expand my thinking about practice ( and reminding myself that I had made a request for concrete to be extracted from an imminently  demolished building in Birmingham).

figures 1, 2

The second experience was a walk around the book tent at Unseen.  The space was very busy and even though one of my favourite book sellers seemed not to be in attendance (Mack Books) there was a huge diversity of sellers and organisations in the tent.  The sheer scale of this event (acknowledging that it is far from being the largest) was overwhelming, despite my determination to purchase something as a momento of Unseen 2017.  Titles that seemed to belie the content, cover images that often tantalised with content to match and sometimes not.  Elbows and wallets to do battle with.  One full perambulation took me back to a stall where I bought a book about Stephen Keppel, called Flat Finish (figure2), which matched my wish to fish out a book that reflected my developing practice.


Canto, S. (2016) Concrete Archive (Rome; Drago)

Keppel, S. (2017) Flat Finish (New York; Fw:Books)

Research and Development

MA in Photography, Falmouth University, Module 4, Sustainable Prospects


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figures 1, 2

My proposal to install a digital screen in a square in Birmingham’s central business district took a healthy leap forward in September.  I prepared a paper figures 1 and 2 (extracts) to prepare to the ‘Relationship Manager Digital and Creative Economy’  at Arts Council England’s regional offices in Birmingham which explained the conceptual approach to the idea citing projects such as the outdoor display at Derby 2017. 

The company I contract to work with for already has a 5 figure sum set aside for a ‘public art’ installation and this was tabled as an investment for gearing up either a capital sum of a revenue sum which would embrace the cost of curating work for display for 5-10 years.  The meeting included suggestions on local, regional, national and international photographic agencies for display.  The meeting went exceedingly well and I am now preparing a research and development grant application to draw funds to undertake technical modelling, draw on planning advice, build up a business plan for construction, installation, marking and communication, develop a curatorial strategy, maintenance planning, operation review and dismantling.

This is not the core part of my MA project work but aligns closely to my progressive integration into the photographic networks in Birmingham including my photowalks and charity endeavours.

Opening Party – a first!

MA in Photography, Falmouth University, Module 4, Sustainable Prospects

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The press release from the interview I did with the Bar’s PR company was taken up by one on-line media channel.  The guest list of acted intimations ran to 80 people.  on the night some 70 arrived and once the drinks and canapés had fun their way around the space we embarked on three speeches; the bar owner, then Pete James FRPS ASICI, who introduced the work in the context of the built environment history of Birmingham then I talked about the project and its purpose to capture the pause between use and death or reconfiguration of buildings in the city that was familiar to the whole audience.  The postcard printed at A6 explained the project and cited the printing and framing process. 

I took advice from a number of quarters on edition sizing and recalled a talk given by Gerry Badger in Krakow earlier this year about keeping edition numbers small.  I decided on three, plus two artist’s proofs. This appeared to be a good decision as I was asked by the representative of the head of office of an international bank located in Birmingham what the edition was and they decided to make a purchase on the night of one of my Municipal Bank print.  I was utterly delighted with this news. 

I have taken some advice on certification and will issue a paper with the sale and keep records of edition sales on my secure server to ensure proper transaction administration.