Symposium — Life after University with James Allen

  • Graduated in 2012 from Falmouth after becoming bored with regular life and picking up his degree in Photography.
  • He became obsessed with documentary photography — Falmouth and South Wales were the only two places that offered the course.
  • Working as a freelancer for the past 5 years. Currently studying his Masters whilst working.
  • He discusses his lifestyle — he is 33, married, has a dog and a daughter and regularly struggles to pay rent with his freelancing work.
  • Once you leave university, its not as easy to make the mistakes in your practice as it is when you have fellow students and lecturers to pick you back up.
  • Discusses interests in politics and geography and how he engaged with these through photography.
  • Portraiture, you don’t want to be intimidating, but you need to develop a relationship with a subject in a sense that they are comfortable with you.
  • He discussed how he needed his projects after university as a graduate to be relevant and in trend for him to stand out amongst other graduate photographers.
  • No matter how good or bad you are, you should always be looking at other peoples work. “No ones work is unique — everyones influence is from somewhere, whether you have watched or read it”.
  • Third year body of work, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder — he spent time with veterans and ex-hells agents — men that were stereotypically violent men.
  • Its important to be humble and empathetic around the people who you photograph. Some people may not be comfortable with having their photo taken, so its important to build that relationship.
  • 70% of people diagnosed with PTSD in 2012 were women — from pregnancy to traumas such as sexual assault and sex traffiking.
  • “Photography is a series of failures, ultimately ending in success”.
  • Its okay to graduate and end up with a job that isn’t photography related — as long as you’re paying the bills whilst actively seeking work/agencies.
  • Being persistent is the key. If agencies are repeatedly seeing your work, they know that you’re working and actively trying to get yourself work.
  • Discusses safety, James was offered to go to The Ukraine but he declined the offer — it wasn’t worth the risk of being killed.
  • Constantly send off your work for competitions and grants. Grants are a great opportunity for funding to build up your work and competitions are great to get your name out there. If you win — you can label yourself as award winning but if not — your work is still being seen and this is important.
  • Website — cut out all the rubbish and only share your best work. Set your standards of work really high — this is what the agencies and potential clients will see.
  • Learn how to set up a business — you will need a great accountant and its important to know how to deal with everything yourself as a sole trader.
  • Speak to other photographers, its okay to ask for help and advice when setting yourself up.
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