Karin An­dreas­son

Re­search, plan­ning and new ideas shouldn’t be some­thing you just think about in Jan­uary, but the whole year round

Professional Photography - - Contributors - karin An­dreas­son

Re­search and new ideas shouldn’t be some­thing you just think about in Jan­uary but the whole year round, says The­Guardian’s Karin An­dreas­son.

At the start of the year, there is a small win­dow of time, just a few days, that’s truly glo­ri­ous. Yes, Jan­uary seems a dis­tant mem­ory now, but it’s still a won­der­ful one. I’m back at work in my job as a pic­ture ed­i­tor, but it’s quiet and the news feels far away. Some peo­ple are still on hol­i­day and oth­ers in the of­fice are do­ing the same as me: catch­ing up on unan­swered emails, go­ing through lists of events for the year ahead, and plan­ning. I pic­ture pho­tog­ra­phers look­ing at the year ahead, find­ing com­pe­ti­tions to en­ter, and seek­ing out sub­mis­sions to make for ex­hi­bi­tions. Plus there’s that list of peo­ple to reach out to, con­nec­tions to make and projects to start plan­ning. I like meet­ing pho­tog­ra­phers, see­ing their work and dis­cussing projects. It’s prob­a­bly what I en­joy most in my work. Meet­ing in per­son can be in­cred­i­bly use­ful, although hard to ar­range. I of­ten only have 10 min­utes to spare and it can feel a bit like a speed date. Hav­ing said that, if you’re meet­ing the right per­son that doesn’t mat­ter, be­cause more will al­ways come out of it. In the past I’ve left meet­ings won­der­ing, why did I agree to see them, and why on earth did they want to see me? It’s not just about what kind of work an ed­i­tor might pub­lish: it should also be about what they might want to pub­lish, what they are in­ter­ested in. That doesn’t have to be guess­work when most peo­ple have an on­line pres­ence. Even a light user will leave a trail of in­ter­ests in likes and retweets. When I meet a pho­tog­ra­pher, I want to see some com­pleted projects, large or small, and pub­lished work if they have it, but I don’t want to see work that is ages old. What I’m most in­ter­ested in is what they’re work­ing on right now, what is driv­ing them for­ward, and what they want to do next. Some pho­tog­ra­phers ad­mit at this point that they find it very dif­fi­cult to come up with ideas. My ad­vice is to not think too much. Let your eye lead you to an idea. If I was to try to come up with a great idea I would never get any­where; there would be a note­book full of crossed out dreams. You need to be in­spired to have an idea, and in­spi­ra­tion is un­likely to come from a blank sheet of pa­per. In­stead, just go out­side and take pic­tures. If you can, then go some­where new, but it doesn’t have to be some far-flung place. Be play­ful and don’t think too hard. Let ideas hap­pen nat­u­rally by be­ing out in the world and putting your­self into new sit­u­a­tions. Go for walks early in the morn­ing or late at night. Be in places at odd times, so you can al­low your­self to see things dif­fer­ently. Get bored and don’t go out look­ing for in­spi­ra­tion. It doesn’t work that way: in­spi­ra­tion comes to you, not the other way around. I think it’s healthy and help­ful to have sev­eral projects on the go at once. It’s not good to get com­pletely ob­sessed with one thing. Other projects will help you to see each one with a bit of dis­tance and when things get dif­fi­cult in one area you can move on to the next. It’s also use­ful when you meet with ed­i­tors to be able to say, ‘If you don’t like this, then there’s also this’. A sub­ject can be com­pletely ob­scure as long as there’s some­thing there that reaches out and speaks to peo­ple. You should be pas­sion­ate about it: there’s no point try­ing to pur­sue some­thing that you don’t care about. As things progress, you might see po­ten­tial for fund­ing in one or other of the projects, but don’t think ex­clu­sively about pub­li­ca­tions, think lat­er­ally. There might be an op­por­tu­nity for fund­ing from an or­gan­i­sa­tion that doesn’t seem im­me­di­ately ob­vi­ous. Try to think of the project hav­ing a longer life than just a news or mag­a­zine pub­li­ca­tion: that might be where it ends up af­ter it’s been pre­sented else­where. Also, don’t just think about pre­sent­ing the work in the coun­try you live in. Do some se­ri­ous re­search into op­por­tu­ni­ties abroad. In short, don’t be like me, be­cause re­ally, you can make that first week of Jan­uary hap­pen any time of the year.

I’ve left meet­ings with pho­tog­ra­phers won­der­ing, why did I agree to see them?

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