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When I first discovered the module of professional experience I thought about the possibilities of things I could do and achieve with the time given. I knew immediately that I wanted to use this module as an opportunity to have an exhibition and showcase my work. This idea came to mind as I had done one previously, and it was this challenge that made me want to improve on the next.
After completing my own exhibition I had a feeling of great accomplishment as I made the key decisions that resulted in portraying myself as a young, organised and professional photographer. It was through this experience that I realised that my organizational ability had improved significantly since my first exhibition in March 2009.
My first exhibition was slightly rushed and I felt that I had taken on too big of a project. Setting up on the day I faced several problems such as limited time to set up both my photographs and my floral arrangements. It was a learning curve, this time I was prepared. My photographs were framed, presented in sections and the exhibition ran smoothly. Food and drinks were available and I opted for a rose as a gift for the people that attended as a thank you for supporting my work.
I had my first taste of photographing sport in motion when there was a class trip organised by Paul Smith to see the Coventry Blaze Ice Hocky team. During this trip we were given the opportunity to capture the team movement whilst they took part in their morning training session. This was not an experience that I expected to enjoy but I was pleasantly surprised and I managed to capture some amazing images, which I then presented at my solo exhibition.
I was also approached in October 2010 by the chairman of the mens rugby union, Andrew Forster who was looking for a photographer for the team. I decided to take him up on this offer and began photographing later that week and continued until the end of the season in March. This could not have come at a better time, as it was a perfect opportunity to begin my professional experience. Previous to this I was looking into a career photographing studio based work. However a lot has been learnt from this, as I now know that I would like to build a career based on photographing sporting events.
Before starting this degree I found studio work more enjoyable as it was structured, however as my ability has grown I have found myself enjoying capturing more fluid real life moments. I discovered the images to be more natural and believable. It is because of this I am now willing to try my hand at new ways of documentary.
I had previously worked with a wedding photographer as his assistant. This enabled me to understand the level of commitment and work that was necessary to achieve the clients desired photographs whilst maintaining quality. This opportunity arose again in December to work as his assistant again, except this time it was his daughters wedding and the responsibility was on me. I was flattered that he believed in my ability to achieve quality images on such an important day.
Although I enjoy documenting weddings, I found that I prefer the challenge of capturing the movement and true emotion in sport when compared to the photographs produced at weddings, which consist of people constantly aware of the camera. When photographing sport it gives the feel of ‘a fly on the wall’ as the athletes are completely engrossed with passion, whereas photographs like this are rare within the wedding scenario.
I decided against a traditional placement, as I know that I want to become self-employed and therefore need to be self-motivated to get out there and get things done for myself. Also, photographing the Rugby Union provided a great chance for me to learn a completely different way of working, lighting is not controlled, who and what you are photographing is not controlled. Whereas studio work was very adaptable to the kind of pictures I wanted to take, it was as precise as I wanted.
I know this overall professional experience module will benefit me in the future as I have now gained experience in organising a large event such as a solo exhibition, been able to work as an assistant and take orders, work to a slightly open brief and produce the images wanted for the rugby union. I would say that the skill I have furthered most would be my organisation and confidence in communicating my ideas to people and on paper.
For a possible future career in sport photography I will need to try and gain more experience in the summer by photographing more sports and understanding the appropriate moments that need to be captured. I also know that I want to present my work in gallery spaces. It is my previous experiences that will help me communicate with confidence when discussing my photographic work and attempting to get my work shown in other peoples’ galleries. With the knowledge that the degree show will be held this time next year in 2012 gives me even more power to organise myself and aid my peers with my newly honed skill set. I will help them by passing on information I gained through holding my own successful exhibitions.
I am looking forward to the group exhibition, as this will give me the chance to build on my team skills. I know that with my patient attitude I can work well in a team, but there is always room for improvement.
When looking at the experience I have gained I would say that overall my biggest achievement was my solo exhibition. I planned everything to a ‘T’, ensuring the people I hired to help me on the day all knew their responsibilities, it was this commanding ability that allowed the entire day and evening to run smoothly. The only minor hiccup that I came across was not ordering enough sticky fixtures for the frames but that was easily resolved with a quick trip to buy some more.
I can honestly say that I would not have chosen to carry out my 20 days of work experience any other way. I feel I have researched and ultimately taken the best opportunities needed to achieve and learn the work skills that I will indefinitely need in future work.