Later this month I shall be holding my second photo exhibition of the year. I will admit to being still very nervous of the whole idea of exhibitions, but in this case it’s a nice marker of my movement into full-time photography.
In 2003 I joined Lancaster Litfest as humble Admin assistant. I’d spent about 15 years after completing my Photography Degree working in Bookshops and doing occasional photo work when I could get it. But it was at Litfest that I found my photo mojo again. I worked there part-time for the next 9 years.
Working in a small and incredibly busy arts organisation meant there was always things going on and often they needed photographing, either as documentary evidence or as an integral part of the project in hand. I recorded projects like The Midland Hotel Book, did a cover photo for Malkin Child, shot pictures of Jennifer Pritchard‘s incredible Word Dress which later became an e-book, and did several of the festival brochure covers, but it was when Litfest began publishing new work by local writers through it’s Flax Publishing arm that I began to get a real buzz again. With Litfest Artistic Director Andy Darby, Sarah Hymas, Flax’s original editor and Martin Chester, the then Litfest designer, we worked out a plan for Flax that involved not only publishing new writing but creating marketing materials for the writers that would give them tools to advance their careers. The materials would include writer profiles on the Litfest website, launch events, a platform to appear on the Litfest stage, audio podcasts and professional portrait photos. As the profiles would require Sarah extracting information from the writers we decided an informal discussion would be best. We used the lovely clean white, well-lit rooms of The Storey (the Litfest home), and informed everyone that I would be snapping whilst Sarah chatted to them, no flash, no lighting set ups, no posing.
Since it’s inception in 2006 Flax has put out some thirty or so publications (you can still see and download see many of them here) and published a huge number of writers. Here’s a small selection…
It’s a style of portraiture I’ve carried on since leaving Litfest, and I find sitters are less nervous this way and I really enjoy it too. Nowadays, working alone, I do the chatting and snapping at the same time!
Most recently I’ve taken portraits of Daragh Carville and Jo Baker whose latest novel “Longbourn” is receiving rave reviews worldwide! And I’m available for portrait shoots on request.
The exhibition “Writer Portraits” runs for one week only from Oct 16th – Oct 21st at The Dukes, Lancaster. An all-welcome launch event (part of Litfest 2013) will feature readings by Flax authors, and takes place at 5.30pm on Weds 16th October. Hope you can make it!