There’s this strange myth that continually persists, seemingly perpetuated by (or perhaps despite) art/photography education, that professional photographers work in isolation. To me this is at best self-fulfilling, and at worst complete rubbish. As a photographer, shooting with a good assistant or partner- having someone to bounce ideas off and riff with- is so much more effective and makes the final images so much better. As an assistant, it’s great to see how other people work, perhaps pick up some ideas for your own shoots, or tips which just make this strange job we do a little easier, or a little quicker. As a photographer, I’ve never been on a shoot where I’ve thought- ‘an extra pair of hands would be useless right now’. Of course this is personal preference and there will be some exceptions to this, but I’m yet to meet a photographer who gets nothing out of chatting to other photographers and comparing work.
Photo Scratch was a great opportunity for this. I showed a project I’ve been working on for a few years, and didn’t quite manage to finish over the course of my MA. It was an ideal event to test the project so-to-speak, try a new way of exhibiting the work and explore peoples reactions. For me the key question was ‘does the work say what I think it does?’ It’s too easy to produce work in a bubble, assuming you know what it’s about, only to put it in front of someone else who reads it in a completely unexpected way. Photo Scratch helped to show the strengths and shortfalls of the work, and in doing so, is pushing me to fill in the gaps and finish the project. It was also a brilliant opportunity to meet some interesting photographers, compare notes and get some feedback from other photographers, artists and enthusiasts. The atmosphere is always really relaxed and conducive to engaging discussion. I’d recommend coming along, even if you’re not exhibiting work just for the opportunity to have a couple of drinks, meet some fascinating practitioners and chat about pictures.