Wayne Bristow on how his hobby of photography has been turning in to something more.
Last June I wrote about some photographic opportunities that were about to come my way and how I was looking forward to them. The truth is that since then photography has been taking up a lot of my time.
I participated in the art show I mentioned but no sales or inquiries came from it. I did get a paying assignment though. A company hired me to submit photos for their new website, some that would rotate at the top of the webpage. From that job I found out about a workshop called "'Good Stories Need Great Photography" facilitated by a husband and wife, an editor and photographer from National Geographic. (The editor was responsible for the Titanic issue last April.) The purpose of the workshop was to link photographers with non-profits to show how a collection of photos can be put together in a video format that can speak better than a page of written words. I especially liked the message I got from it about doing unpaid work: "the photographer is not the person who doesn't get paid."
Another project I was involved in last June was at my local ASO (AIDS Committee of Guelph and Wellington County). We were trying to find graffiti that contained homophobic messages. I had a two year head start on others as I had been taking photos of graffiti around town for about two and a half years. It was enlightening and encouraging that we failed to find as much homophobic graffiti as we thought we might. We ended up photographing the positive messages as well which produced a broader range of material. On November 22nd we had the wrap-up meeting where the slideshow and the resulting book were unveiled. My work was on the covers. Most of the shots from the book can be found on flickr.com here.
I have made it known to my ASO that I will take pictures at all events and activities as my donation to the agency.
World AIDS Day activities constituted a busy time for me. An eatery/bakery here in Guelph made Red Ribbon Cookies that we handed out around the city to promote HIV awareness. I was able to take pictures on three of those occasions. Some of them may find their way into our local newspaper as its is doing a story about World AIDS Day and were interested in using our photos.
The other ASO I am associated with, ACCKWA (AIDS Committee of Cambridge, Kitchener, Waterloo and Area) had an Art Show and Auction as part of their World AIDS Day Gala, where some of my photos were shown. I also donated some photos to their WAD wrap-up dance and silent auction to be held on the 8th of December.
I was finally able to show my friend who has shown his work years ago some of what I was doing. He hated much of my nature shots and graffiti, but I have some that are a bit more abstract which he liked. He told me I need to put together a collection, have them professionally framed and that I need to join a gallery to show them. The problem I'm having with doing it is the cost. It isn't a cheap venture, so it will take time because it has to be done right.
I don't think I'm going to get filthy rich any time soon but I am having fun – and it keeps me busy. I know what I need to do to find work, how to approach non-profits and work with them to create something that illustrates what they do to help people. I must remember that they do sometimes have budgets for this kind of thing. I would never want to drain them but I'm sure I could work with them to make it affordable for them.
I have started to put together a portfolio and a resume. It surprised me how much work is recorded there, most volunteer but that can work to my advantage. I have two knowledgeable people willing to help me along too - my friend Richard and my PositiveLite.com editor, Bob Leahy. Both have many years between them in the art world. Bob, I discovered, judges several photography contests each year, I have been asking him for feedback and he has been brutally honest and I appreciate it. He has suggested that I enter some photography contests and pit my work against others, to get better feedback. So if anyone hears of any, let me know!
Accompanying this post are some of the pictures I contributed to the book, “Challenging Homophobia & Building Resilience Through Graffiti Photography”. The one that says “Screw Gender, Go Love” became the cover for the book.