Paul Herrmann, director of the photography network Redeye, is busy putting the finishing touches to the National Photography Symposium which takes place in two weeks time in Liverpool. But before that he’ll be heading the next instalment of our professional development course for photographers. Ahead of the event, I caught up with Paul in between two meetings to get his top tips for photographers.
“Ideas don’t emerge in a vacuum”
As Chris Boot once said, nothing matters more than the power, originality, coherence, quality and vision of your work. You need great ideas, and you need to express them well. Ideas don’t generally emerge in a vacuum; it can be helpful to have people you trust to give you feedback. Many photographers work as couples, or in small groups and collectives that they use to test their ideas. It’s always good if you get the opportunity to talk about your work in public – it forces you to concentrate your work and ideas.
“Build your very best shop window”
There are so many ways to get your work seen and be visible now. The web and social media are increasingly important. The artist Andy Keane recently joked “any artist who is not using Twitter should have their hands chopped off.”
Whatever is your main “shop window”, whether it’s your portfolio, your website, or books or postcards, it needs to be as good as you can possibly make them – and very importantly, easy for potential clients to look at.
But beyond the work itself there are some other important things to know about building relationships with potential clients, galleries, curators, and supporters, communicating about and marketing your work, and getting some basic business matters right. I could speak about it for hours, in fact that’s why our next session last a full day!”
Talking about shop window, sometimes it’s simple things that makes the difference in promoting yourselves. I chatted to the wonderful photographer Karen McBride on her last visit to Cornerhouse and I loved her Search Engine Optimisation technique (my words, not hers:): after using “Karen McBride photographer”, “Karen McBride music photography” and other apt titles for her website, it’s her latest choice that brought her the most visits, interest and clients….type her name into Google to get the full effect. You can’t do that if you don’t have the talent to back it up though!
The next session of the professional development course for photographers will take place on 19 May and will concentrate on the specific needs for photographers who want to make a living from exhibiting or publishing self-generated projects, including documentary or art photography; or obtain public art commissions. Paul will be accompanied by guest speakers artist Dinu Li and Lucy Johnston (Gallery Manager, Cery Hand Gallery) and will cover all the areas mentioned above as well as the crucial area of fundraising in detail.You can book tickets online on our website.
And don’t forget to check the programme for the National Photography Symposium: with talks ranging from “Photography, Espionage and The State” to “Imagining the Photography Centre of The Future” and lots of opportunity to network, it’s the perfect occasion to discover new fields of photography and meet colleagues from completely different areas of work
Isabelle Croissant, Programme Manager (Creative Industries)