Falmouth Symposium – Industry crits

Victoria forest –

I showed Victoria ‘Heuristic Spaces’ of the 18 families in Cornwall

It is a photobook / An educative photobook (not a gallerized photobook)

The photos are very meaningful, change the emphasis have less research and and more images. Keep the law in but change the emphasis.

Better way of presenting the legal system?

What is the aim for the book , photobook or educative book, I need to decide as those are tow different edits and approaches.

Publishers to look at – Prestle . Thames and hudson. Check out bookshops and what publishers do educative photobooks .

Typography – No caps. Line Length. (70 characters max) dont have on bottom, only keep at top

Portrait images – have full or half page images

Liked Lisa’s image as a starting image

“It’s a complicated book, so we’re not going to solve it straight away.”

I asked Victoria what she thought of the idea to have two versions of the same book instead, one educative (for researchers/academics/home educators) and one photobook (that is more for the art world and is more visual heavy) . Recommended I create a small Blad 32/64 pages, (or newspaper) and have that as the photographic approach with some text and quotes, to introduction to the project, then send that to publishers/galleries as an ‘overview’ and describe you have lots of research and want to expand the book with them.

Tom Seymour –

I showed Tom both the 18 families and a section of ‘A Heuristic Interlude’

I went to go and see Tom as I wanted his opinion on how best to get my published in the mainstream media and where.

“one thing about pitching to editors is you have to have a really thick skin and you can’t be put off by it. Carry on sending emails out even if you’re ignored”

“First thing to say is I am really impressed by the work, and I’d like to pitch it myself probably”

“The hook is the families that are deciding to home school as a result of the pandemic, I don’t think I’ve read an article about that in the mainstream media at all, I think that would be a really interesting feature to pitch”

“The feature would be the idea as a whole with your photography supporting it.”

“you wouldn’t be taking it to the art desk, youd be taking it to guardian society or the education pages.”

“It’s worth trying to identify national journalists or broadcasters or activists who have been writing about this subject already and trying to make contact with them directly.”

“It’s a really big project you’ve taken on” ….. “Your family, the 18 families is a separate body of work, and heuristic interlude, it’s a big amount of information, and you’ve got all he research you’ve done, it’s a journalist endeavour in addition to photography”

“It’s incredibly impressive what you’ve done”

“Do you want to rely on media institutions to tell this story well?”

*build current audience and media comes to me

*Podcasts (microphone, insulate room, spotify) – interrelating body of work

“You’ve put a lot of work into it obviously, you’re an expert on it, and you obviously care about it.”

“You’re portraiture in this series was really really beautifully composed”

Harry Borden – portrait / paragraph of spoken word as text alongside. (contact 18 families to write about home ed in their own words) .

Films – audio doesn’t need to be perfect. Just create work.

Align with charities/organisations that have links with home-educators.

“I can try and pitch this myself, it’s definitely worth identifying journalists that you think are good at exploring this subject, or that have written about it before.”

Colin Pantal –

I showed Colin my work in progress of my images from sustainable prospects where I made a book of my four children and how covid effected them during the exam closures of 2020.

“It’s talking about you narrating, and it becomes extremely informational , you’re talking about the darkness of it, the one of your two sons on the sofa, really bought that hardness home”

“You’re quite evangelical about homeschooling, and I think it’s a very difficult thing to photograph. “

“This might be too much, and it may need a frame work to simplify it.”

“You’re looking at it from a curricula point of view”

“Visually it’s not terribly diverse, and it’s relatively wealthy, it’s not home-schooling in it’s totality”

“I think the most interesting thing is coming back to the curriculum, where you’re talking about the history of education.” “The culture of education”

Gave a link to a talk about race and colonialism and how blackness has been excluded from the British academy.

“Everything you’ are talking about, the curriculum, central exams, this idea of passing your alevels and getting grade a’s ….. all of these things I think are really interesting.”

“Because it’s not about homeschooling , it’s about one particular type of home schooling”

“It’s not about home-schooling as a whole, it’s about the system of education that values ‘this’ above this’ and where did this come from, and that what you’re talking about all the time.”

*Thought I should join all three projects together and make it about the curriculum .”

“In terms of sharing it, you’ve got beautiful images ….. you’re using the colour , don’t mess with them too much, print them big, frame them as nicely as possible.”

“That picture of your sons on the sofa, that would be the star image “

“Go back and really think, what’s it all about.” Simplify.

“They’re great, it’s good, I like it.”

“What you’re almost about is , it’s that idea of decolonising the curriculum, not necessarily the parts of the curriculum that are colonial but that reinforce particular ways of thinking. Which I think, it’s super interesting”

Sharon Young –

I showed Sharon ‘Heuristic spaces’ and a snippet of ‘A Heuristic Interlude’

“I’m not going to speak too much about your photography because it seems to have it’s own style, it’s own aesthetic, and you’ve worked really well with your participants and you’ve got a real intimacy.”

“You are taking a documentary approach, but also it’s rigorous in it’s research”

“It’s being reflective on the fact you’re trying to represent a method & strategy of home education that isn’t really reflected in the wider national media, or understood in the wider national media, and as part of that demographic , you’re adding to the representation. I wondered if you could work with your network to pitch a film to the BBC “

*look at small production companies

*work as a producer and pitch an idea they may take on

“It could turn into a film”

*Discussed arts council. Consider ‘developing your creative practice grant so you can do a course in film making, they are like to fund that as it’s a specific action point.

John Duncan –

I showed Duncan Heuristic Spaces

“you could see some of these pictures in the guardian weekend magazine”

” Some of them like the empty desk I would be more attracted too, because there are no people in it.”

Discussed what he would edit out for source, their rule of thumb is if something can appear in the guardian it should appear in the guardian and it’s not for them. So they are looking for slightly less editorial images. The breakfast image below is too much of a lifestyle picture

Fig 1, Graham, Bekkie. 2019

“The picture I would like to come back to is the boy in the forest holding the long stick. The ones that are slightly less ambiguous appeal more to me”

[The one of the breakfast on the table] “It’s kind of guardian lifestyle, I am wanting the ones that are using the messiness of Clare’s [Gallagher / second shift]

John shortlisted some ones that he liked that fit ‘Source’ more aesthetically/ethos wise – these were –

“If we were here with a pile of prints I would be wanting got try and maybe sort out the ones that are maybe just not quite so polished and clean as images, and the ones that are slightly more ambiguous , the one of the boy with the stick, the keyboard that looks maybe like it has blood or paint on it.”

Fig 2, Graham Bekkie. 2019. Athene and Arlo – “It’s a more complicated image, and because of that I like it more. The way the rope ladder is dividing the picture there. There’s a bit more going on. For me it’s less …. it maybe a bit more slightly chaotic in terms of the framing , partly the framing, and partly the room itself has got more ‘stuff’ in it. “

*Finds the hand written title offputting and would suggest I don’t use the font.

Fig 3, Graham, Bekkie. 2019 “To me it’s a much more guardian picture, I would say, it’s a very accomplished portrait, it’s definately of a level of portrait.

*We discussed economic status in the images.

Fig 4, Graham, Bekkie. 2019. “, Comes very close to an advertising image. It’s got the very middle class aspiration life style, it’s got the woodburner. I dont want to knock this picture , I recognise, it’s a very accomplished picture, the conversation and different people doing different things.”

*Discussed Margaret Mitchells work which has just been published in source , and that she is working in working class , “This isn’t margare mitchelles world”

“It’s just so polished”

*Likened the work to Tina Barney’s “upper middle class/rich people. This was really interesting. I explained the broad range of financial circumstances of the families, that the project crossed between single parents on benefits in council houses, to the family of the CEO of one of Cornwalls most well known tourist spots . I explained this was a conscious aesthetic decision as I was trying to show that when it comes to the education of these children , a ‘richer’ person may be able to buy more books, but that doesn’t mean the education is any more or less.

Fig 4, Graham, Rebecca. 2020. “It’s a very different type of picture, are there more like this, are you going to start working with these scraps again?”

*Mentioned David Billingham’s work with scraps of paper

*Discussed ‘A Heuristic Interlude’

Graham, Bekkie . 2019. “Again I like this picture because of the two rooms, it’s not overly graphic, it seems in a good way a bit looser as a picture I enjoy it because of that.”
Graham, Bekkie. 2019. “It’s ones like this that are probably a really strong editorial picture, but for me it’s …. it could be an ad. Again it’s a great picture”
Graham, Bekkie. 2019. I quite like that but again it feelsa very different sort of picture, again if the stuff had sort of been spilling over the sides.
Graham, Bekkie. 2019 . Liked this one because of the ambiguity of it.

*Recommended in source previous issue lady who took images of her autistic sons

Tree – too editorial, really didn’t like this one.

Amelia and Oska in the RA – said it was fine to use it, he wouldn’t be bothered.

Oska and I on the sofa – liked it but again to polished.

“Some of them are just so polished, it sort of undermines it. It would be myc prefernce in how I would edit them, but there is some very strong pictures here”

*I asked if I could put together a more specific edit based on johns feedback and he said I could email him that that would be great.

Karen Brett –

I showed Karen both ‘Heuristic spaces’ and ‘A Heuristic Interlude’ as we had plenty of time in this meeting as less people attended.

Karen and I had a really interesting conversation about diversity, class and curriculum . Discussed ways to include more diversity, possibly moving to Exeter and/or Bristol to reach a more diverse audience, so it is still the South West. Explained it was a project she could see the project going all over the uk for 10+ years. Karen again said the image of Amelia and Oska in the RA is fine as it isn’t an image of the piece of art, it’s a photograph of my children. We discussed funding from the Arts council , Karen advised

“I could applying for much more than that , just because of the complexities of the project, and where it needs to go. This is a major body of work, it might be ongoing for the rest of your life because it does flow off into different areas” “So I would apply for the big money , so it’s getting someone to support you with your application.”

*We then discussed details of arts council applications and the complexities and intricacies of them “With yours, you shouldn’t have a problem, it’s educational, your reaching diverse groups, you’re reaching out to everyone, and you wont have a problem because your project ticks all the boxes completely to get that funding, and what you can push it towards, and inform people about”

  • Asked about having someone write the application, Karen said I was vocal enough ( 🙂 ) I could do it fine myself. She advised going for the larger £20,000+ , writing it myself but then getting someone to go through it. Possibly discuss with Falmouth Art Gallery after my exhibition.
  • Discussed networking / portfolio reviews and sending new work and then asking about the arts council funding advice of these people.
  • Funderfinder
  • Wellcome group grant – advised I went for this as well
  • South west films
  • Entering my films into competitions to bring awareness
  • Crowdfunding
  • Had a really great conversation with Karen and Ines about alternative lifestyles and how our work slots together, as well as the inadequacies of the current school structures around the world and how they haven’t moved with the times.

Laura Hynd –

I showed laura the video of Athene and her family from ‘Heuristic Spaces’

“They’re great videos”

We discussed the issue of asking non-white friends to be apart of the project. Laura wondered whether I had asked my white friends without thinking about it, I actually hadn’t, I posted on the local home-ed groups and asked people and they contacted me, however I totally see her point. It is about a wider issue of ethics than just racial ethics to me though. All my friends KNEW I was doing this project , if they didn’t approach me about being in it, then they didn’t want to be in it, black skin or white skin that doesn’t affect that. I won’t put myself into a position where I could be pressurising someone into letting me photograph them when they may not be comfortable.

Recommended the archive slide luck pot show editorial where Laura shared some of her multimedia projects.

*Suggested having video’s no longer than 4 mins (It was 5.30 when I showed laura I believe)

“For example , from the ones you showed me, there is the beautiful bit of the the child playing the violin , but you’re sat on the same photograph for the entire duration. That soundtrack would be beautiful for just going through every image, 4 or 5 seconds.”

“I’m sorry to say it, but people will turn it off.”

“It’s very important to not make stuff so slow.”

“It’s giving yourself really strict rules about how long the films have got to be, no longer than, and making sure that there is pace.”

The crescendo is divine, you know, it’s beautiful, it’s a lovely lovely moment, but it feels like it needs to get to that point a bit sooner.”

*Look at more multimedia pieces.

*Christina d’midell (SP?) multimedia pieces & the link above and maria theres salvalti (sp?)

*Idea of putting the project into one video. (kind of like a trailer of the project)

“I’m not saying people won’t do that (look at the 18 films) but they’re going to need to be invested to do that.” “So I need to get them invested first”

(treat it as a work of art still and not a ‘trailer’ but essentially a trailer)

Karen McQuaid –

I decided to show Karen my video from ‘A Heuristic Interlude’ (the covid families)

*discussed interview content and who was talking . I explained why it was sometimes my voice, Karen agreed with me it would be better to always be the parents.

*discussed using an actor to read the parents responses. (and add a disclaimer)

*discussed interviews can the text find a way into the project, maybe the parents handwriting

“I suppose what I am trying to say is that I responded better when it was the individuals voice, so maybe if that individual doesn’t want to use their voice, maybe get an actor.”

*personalise and distinguish the tone of the families

*Wendy Ewald

*Advocacy , contrast to current conversation. Asked how I was going to bring this into the project

*showed the 18 families and the research that sits alongside them

“thats absolutely what I was talking about, it’s about bringing in the contemporary references and the factual aspect. I think doing it in this peppered way through the stills is a really nice way to doing it. Especially as a book.”

*Karen recommended taking photos of newspapers, or recording the tv rather than using the direct copy of something I want to include. “so record it withing a context that is creatively yours”

“I really like that idea of moving between what we call more ephemeral information , leaflets, screengrabs, that sort of thing, and the personal stories.”

*recommended working on the video more before sharing it .

*Don’t think of it is a standalone thing right now. Work on it a bit more than work out a way to house it on the website alongside the other work first.

Clare Bottomly –

I showed Clare ‘Heuristic spaces’ briefly so she understood how I would use research, but then shared the video of Athene from the 18 families.

Clare’s crit was brilliant, the discussing and throwing around of ideas back and forth was really helpful for working through some ideas.

“It’s a very tricky subject isn’t it, because it’s very big, it’s almost like a PhD research project”

“I’m not really qualified to talk about home teaching, what I get from that video is that it’s really nice to see inside , because noone really knows what home schooling is, to visualise, to be inside that atmosphere is important, to take away, this demystifying. English people are just so distrusting of anything outside of the educational system.”

*would like to hear more direct questioning from me (podcast again)

“Needed that element of a more driven questioning/conversation

*could use these videos as trailers for the podcasts

*Really likes the image of amelia and oska at the RA as it talks about how we look and the different ways we look , made her think of how kids interact in galleries because it’s liberating.

“I think the videos are going to be a very strong component because it will combine your visuals with the ability to have this voice, and I think the voices of these home-educators are going to be super important to include. “

*giving the people a voice rather than them being spoken about it really important

*think about the limits of our medium

*Then had a really interesting conversation

*not convinced with the edits ad fading , experiment with editing , take out the transitions to change the pace , because it’s quite active . Editing styles change very fast

*Reaching out to someone who does video editing for advice

*make a visualisation in a video of the research so they are less heavy going.

*check out the human library as it could be an interesting way of using this for telling peoples stories.

*thinks I should include the video but I should reach out to someone I can collaborate with

Wendy McMurdo –

“Your project for me Bekkie, is very simply, making visible, is showing the reality of home-education. Often hidden, as a counter balance to the reactionary views towards home-education”

*discussed the problems with using the word invisible.

*trying to promote understanding

*informing / educating

“This is issue about invisibility is a political issue and it’s really really important”

“There’s two things here, theres your reproduction of the education act, screen grabs, and research going on and that is juxtaposed against these often very beautiful images of people relaxed reading, or being creative. So this idea of opposition is two different things that really come together, and that is very powerful.”

“It’s a slow build so don’t beat yourself up about it.”

*confidence to push some work to the side

*small discreet projects

“You’re very much at the beginning of a process that could take ten or twenty years.”

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This blog is written as part of my studies on the Falmouth University photography ma, an accredited educational programme.