Ahead of this month’s workshop with Magnum Photos, some of the tutors tell us about the most successful strategies photographers can use to fund and market their work
Our two day April workshop explores successful methods of funding and marketing photographic projects, where participants will learn about the creation and dissemination of photographic projects, looking at crowd funding and pre-selling, digital strategies, commercial collaborations, and multimedia.
Speakers include: Olivia Arthur (Magnum photographer), Sabine Unamun (Arts Council England), Simon Bainbridge (editorial director, British Journal of Photography), Marc Prüst (photography consultant, curator, and teacher) and Monica Allende (independent photo editor and cultural producer).
Photographers looking to finance ambitious projects and get them seen might be intimidated by the task ahead of them. Competition is fierce, traditional avenues of funding work are narrowing and ensuring your work resonates with an audience can be a tough task. But as speakers at our workshop will illustrate, it’s not all doom and gloom – photographers are collaborating with one another to create exciting new projects, technology is opening up new opportunities for funding and the global photography market is more accessible than ever.
Marc Prust has developed educational courses for the likes of World Press Photo, the International Center of Photography and the Noorderlicht Foundation, and he says that while access to this wide viewership is exciting, photographers shouldn’t cast their net too wide. “One of the biggest mistakes photographers make is when they don’t really make a choice. They try to have this catch-all approach – the story might be there but it’s not really well-defined enough,” he says.
“It’s important for photographers that the stories that they tell are actually aimed at an audience, that you’re able to identify them and speak their visual language. It’s about the story you tell and the way you communicate it – photography just happens to be the medium.”
“It’s important for photographers that the stories they tell are actually aimed at an audience, that they’re able to identify them and speak their visual language.
“IT’S IMPORTANT FOR PHOTOGRAPHERS THAT THE STORIES THEY TELL ARE ACTUALLY AIMED AT AN AUDIENCE, THAT THEY’RE ABLE TO IDENTIFY THEM AND SPEAK THEIR VISUAL LANGUAGE.”
Magnum photographer Olivia Arthur went down the crowdfunding route for her group project Danube Revisited, raising almost $60,000 on Kickstarter for a photographic road trip with eight image-makers retracing the steps of Inge Morath. She’ll be speaking about her positive experience at the workshop, but she warns against taking crowdfunding success stories at face value. “We had a good experience but we had a lot of people involved and a lot of support. People need to be really aware of what’s involved when they go into a Kickstarter campaign because it sounds really easy but it’s not, you really have to work for it.”
Their mixed model of funding, allied with sponsorship from a Madrid artistic institute, was done all by the photographers themselves. “I’ll be talking about the funding but also about putting the project together, these things go very much hand in hand. Running a project means being the photographers but also being the organisers and the fundraisers. Taking matters into your own hands is the main thing.”
As Monica Allende, former Picture Editor at The Sunday Times Magazine and co-founder of Offspring Photo Meet says, finding new allies to develop and distribute your work are imperative. “You can get a journalistic perspective from an editor, but you can also think deeply about how work is presented when you work with a designer or if you’re working with a coder, you can start to think how an interactive web documentary could happen.”
Taking advantage of new multimedia opportunities is the best way for photographers to fund, create and share work in a modern, up-to-date way, Allende says.
“YOU MIGHT LOOK AT DIFFERENT PLATFORMS – IN TERMS OF FUNDING, IN TERMS OF REVENUE, IN TERMS OF ENGAGEMENT – TO GIVE YOU A BIGGER SCOPE.”
“At the workshop I will discuss examples of cross-platform work to give a window into how you can distribute your visual storytelling. Editorial is still powerful, but you have to open your mind to other possibilities. You might look at different platforms – in terms of funding, in terms of revenue, in terms of engagement – to give you a bigger scope. The only way to make things move cross-platform is through strong collaborative processes.”
Workshop attendees will also have the opportunity to have their portfolio reviewed by our tutors on the second day. Having your work scrutinised by industry professionals is a nerve-wracking but ultimately worthwhile experience for photographers, and when presenting a project it’s best to make sure ideas are clear and focused.
“The reviewer has to see it, understand it and digest it in a short amount of time and so the better they can put their work together, the easier it is for the reviewer,” Arthur says. “The less time the reviewer has to spend dissecting something that’s confused or too much work to process, the more time they have to provide useful feedback.”
Tutors conducting portfolio reviews will also be selecting their favourite photographic project, to be featured on BJP Online.
To learn more about financing and distributing your projects, and have your work examined by leading industry figures from Magnum Photos, BJP and Arts Council England, book your place at our workshop with Magnum Photos. Fund and Pitch Your Project, Sat 30 April & Sun 1 May 2016.