On Monday 10th June, we hosted the sixth in our series of You Can Now talks at Shoreditch House.
Focussing on photography, You Can Now Take Pictures welcomed four inspiring speakers working within the industry to provide an audience of YCN and Shoreditch House members with a look at life behind the lens.
To kick things off Luke Stephenson, a graduate of Blackpool College and winner of the prestigious Jerwood Photography Award, talked us through four of his past projects. These included snaps of models wearing charity shop-bought glasses and a number of portraits taken at 2007’s World Beard & Moustache Championships in Brighton.
Expressing a fondness for photographing in a series, Luke went on to discuss cataloguing of the Clown Egg Register (a collection of eggs decorated with notable clown’s face paint designs that act as a sort of “clown copyright”) and his studies of British show birds. The latter project was inspired by a trip to Blackpool’s annual Pigeon Weekend, where Luke noticed formulaic photographs of the birds were taken and offered to their owners.
Luke sought to replicate this aesthetic, instead concentrating on budgerigars and lovebirds. The next few years were spent traveling around the country with a portable studio, taking pictures that would later be collated in the self-published book An Incomplete Dictionary of Showbirds, and lead directly on to other commercial projects for Luke.
Next up was Anna Lomax, a self-proclaimed maker and collector who has worked as a stylist and art director on editorial projects, music videos and installations. Anna introduced her work and influences, which range from her own collections of pound shop paraphernalia to early examples of mass consumerism from the 1950s.
Anna proceeded to show some of the previous projects she has produced in partnership with photographers, including a recent shoot for Wonderland Magazine with Jess Bonham and a transatlantic collaboration with Annie Collinge. When discussing a forthcoming project, we heard how clients are starting to now approach stylists first and asking them which photographers they would like to work with – something of a role reversal to how shoots have been commissioned in the past.
Following Anna was Laura Braun, a photographer specialising in documentary and portraiture. Laura began her presentation by introducing a series of images taken on location at three of the City of London’s biggest markets – New Billingsgate Fish Market, Smithsfield Meat Market and New Spitalfields Fruit & Veg Market. Her shots of porters, traders and fresh produce were all taken in the small hours of the morning over a couple of days.
In contrast to this, the next project she spoke about has been ongoing since 2007. This series features portraits of specialist small business owners in London including automatic transmission experts, dollhouse makers and cobblers. After six years, the project is approaching the end and Laura will be looking to publish a book of the photographs very soon.
Our final speaker of the evening was Rebecca Swift from iStockphoto. Over the course of a 20 year-long career in the industry, Rebecca has worked at photography agency Tony Stone, run global research projects at Getty Images looking at the future of visual communication, published trend reports and had the pleasure of curating Flickr.com.
We learned about some of the most popular current trends in stock photography at the moment; including lens flare-laden holiday snaps, portraits of bearded men and multicultural office environments.
We were also given an insight into four kinds of photograph that stock sites are always on the lookout for. Rebecca categorised these as The Expensive – images which give the impression of costing a lot such as crowd scenes or concert photographs; The Difficult – images of locations that are hard to access such as interiors of warehouses; The Boring – images of dull subject matter such as skies, clouds and landscapes; and The Personal – more artistic self-directed shots.
We were then shown some of the best selling stock iStockphoto images of all time. Despite appearing somewhat generic, Rebecca attributed their popularity to the fact that they tick many of a long list of desirable concepts and themes, including “power”, “imagination”, “flexibility” and “cleanliness”.
Rebecca concluded her presentation by introducing iStockalypse, a regular festival hosted by the site which encourages aspiring shutterbugs by teaching them the finer points of commercial photography.
We would like to say thank you to all our speakers for their enlightening presentations, and everyone who came along to the event.
Location:Shoreditch House Library,
London, E1 6AW,
Start:10th June, 2013 at 7:00pm
End:10th June, 2013 at 9:00pm