Jeremy Watson – professional photographer – 7-Jun-2012

Workshops have been a touch tricky this year – our guest speakers or events haven’t always worked out or been available, and this evening looked like being the same! The night was supposed to be about Antarctica, but we had to find a guest speaker at very short notice.

Fortunately, Jeremy Watson (of that great natural light portrait evening) agreed to step in at the last minute. Jeremy told us a bit about himself:

  • His work takes him away from home for 3-4 months – usually to the bush
  • Jeremy runs education sessions for ArtsSA at Carclew, and for SA Health. The workshops are very much participatory events and often involve mental health, disadvantaged groups or juvenile detention kids – the main point being to engage people. This can be used to advantage in school setting too with team building exercises.
    In all cases, strong outcomes are sought, bombarding the participant with creative, high energy material – homework is optional!
  • If you’ve been to the Royal Show you may have an Ikea catalogue – with your picture on the cover. That was Jeremy’s job (very hard work!!!), but he also runs a lot of pop up photo sessions for people like SANTOS or the Motor Accident Commission
  • There isn’t a lot of marketing in his other work, which these days is mainly digital and straddles both commercial contracts and visual arts.
  • He has some exhibitions too – cafes, pubs, restaurants if your interested.

So as you can see, he has a lot to occupy him and tries to have a range of jobs that keep him occupied for a good part of the year. Have a look at what Jeremy is working on at present and you get the idea:

  • A youth workshop at Streaky Bay for 12-25 year olds with a fashion stylist
  • a 20 year retrospective of his work
  • Pop up photo booths for Schoolies
  • a new portrait folio
  • a book for a church
  • feet for a beautician
  • Red Cross Drug and Alcohol programme
  • the migration team to help refugees
  • a project with children in Sri Lanka

We got onto some general discussions like Why do we take photos? The answers that popped up from the audience ranged through capturing beauty, autobiographical, needing an audience (don’t we all?), sharing (yep!), getting new ideas and discussing photos. Now aren’t they the reasons that a lot of us are members of Blackwood Photographic Club?

Jeremy suggested if we want to extend ourselves try setting an assignment – find “faces”, shoot colour, take candid shots. We had a bit of general discussion about candid photos. Jeremy found that people in Australia aren’t as shy about having their photos taken as we think. He showed some images he’d taken in New York  (he’s been there and used a point and shoot rather than dSLR to really get involved) and said Adelaide wasn’t really that much different.

If we are to take photos be aware of some of the rules. There is no actual right to privacy although we have a reasonable expectation of it. The important distinction is that if peoples images are used commercially (ie for profit/sale) that’s a possible risk of litigation if they have not consented. On the other hand, places like the beach are public places, as are city streets and there is no law restricting photography per se. Be overt about taking your photos, don’t be timid, and even share the photos with the subjects. However, there are restrictions regarding children, private property, Defense department land, Sydney Harbour Bridge foreshore and others. There is a discussion going on around the world about this, and situations where people try to forbid you to take pictures (eg security guards) may not be a problem after all – but check the situation. Have a look at the 4020 and Arts Law web sites for more information – there is quite a bit about it.

Jeremy then asked if we’d do a questionnaire to help him frame workshops for groups such as ours – and talked about getting the most out of your images as we answered his questions. Things like:

  • understanding your camera
  • photograph what you love
  • change your white balance
  • use different view of your subject (low/high/left/right/above/below etc)
  • shoot to a brief to test yourself
  • Shoot wide angle
  • use Photoshop to try tilt & shift for correcting architecture

The discussion moved on to some images that Jeremy brought in of his work – ranging from product shots, to portraits, multiple prints on one sheet (that reduces cost), adding grain to images (gives it that film feel) and some tasteful human form studies in various environments. He noted that digital photography has affected professional business (as everyone’s a photographer now!) and this is now reduced, and so value has dropped. Interestingly, darkroom prints have become more valuable.

So after a wide ranging discussion, Jeremy went away with his questionnaire, and we went away with some ideas about what professional do and how they survive in a cut throat world.

Oh – and before I forget, welcome to new member Peter (who’s also in Edwardstown – but we won’t hold that against him :lol:)

For those that missed it, Jeremy has organised a portrait workshop (at a cost of course) – which filled quickly – and 8 of us will be taking part. Others will occur if there is sufficient demand.

Cheers

Chris 😉

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