New year is always a time of partying and celebration with friends and family. But on a personal and professional level it is also a time of reflection and evaluation; of planning and regrouping; of refreshment and renewed inspiration. And it is in this reflective spirit that we have decided to ask each one of the four Plate to Page workshop presenters to look back at 2010 to tell us what they feel they have achieved; as well as forward at 2011 to share with us some of their goals for the coming year. The week-long series kicks off today with Ilva, the talented photographer behind Lucullian Delights and Ilva Beretta Photography.
As we get closer to the end of a year, I think it can be useful to sit down and take a look at what you have learnt and achieved in the past year, and what you would like to learn and achieve in the coming new year. So that is what I am going to do now.
During this past year and a half, I have been concentrating a lot on promoting my work because I had reached a point where I felt that I had to dare more if I wanted to earn a decent salary from photography. And because nobody knows that you are good at what you are doing if you never show it to them, I decided to invest money in promoting my work more widely. I can tell you that every month my investment has yielded results. Not only have I got smaller jobs but I have also been working with one of the major food chains here in Italy and I have a contract with them for next year. I am part of their new campaign to change their image and because they chose my style of photography, I get to shoot in my way and almost exclusively mood photos, i.e. photos that invite the viewer to buy whatever it is I am shooting. I am not required only to photograph food but other products as well, something that scared me a bit in the beginning. But now I am quite grateful because not only do I learn from doing it, I have also widened my repertoire which is always useful in times like this. But food remains my favourite subject: after all, that is what I am best at. Another positive aspect of this is that I am working with one of the best, if not the best, ad agencies in Italy and that is one hell of a learning experience I can tell you that!
I am also negotiating with two Italian food magazines to team up with them in the future. It pays less but is more satisfying style-wise, if you get what I mean. When you do commercial photography, you obviously still have to think about it in a more commercial way, whereas editorial photography leaves you more space for creative interpretation.
So to sum up 2010 I can say that I have achieved more than I expected, and that I have learnt even more. It’s good to dare because life is lived only once and I’d hate to feel that I didn’t even try to get where I wanted; I have learnt a lot about photography and that I like team work; I have learnt a lot about the practical/financial side of being a photographer; and I have also seen that it is important not to have too much of an ego if you want to get on in this world - some ego yes, but within limits!
But what about 2011 then? I know that I need to keep on promoting myself like I have been doing and my goal is to pick up more jobs and clients so that I have work in 2012 as well. But above all I want to keep on getting better at what I am doing and learn a lot more about photography. And I want to keep on enjoying what I do.
When I look at a photograph I need to be able to feel the aura of the photographer taking the shot. I want to be able to be transported into their frame of mind when they pressed the button. I want to feel, touch and inhale what they were experiencing. These are some of the things I take into account when I am standing behind the camera. A picture is not just a picture, it has to something to say and yes it has to say more than just the thousand words. For me it has to have a texture, a feel, an atmosphere – the image has to live. It’s pretty hard to transport all that via an image. Yet there are photographers who manage to do that. Photographers who have a magical eye and are able to carry the viewer into their world and for a moment allow us to share their experience with them. They dare to be different and their images depict a bold confidence that is a cut above the rest. William Brinson is one such photographer. I met him on Twitter and it was love at first sight – with his work. We hit it off well and realized that we share not only an appreciation for each others work, but have the same views when it comes to photography. When I asked William if he would be interested to share a few things about himself and his photography for our Plate to Page blog he was in from the word go. So please help us welcome William Brinson, our first star guest on photography.
How did you get started?My interest for photography began in high school. I was a typical misdirected suburban teenager and my high school art teacher introduced me to photography. It was college or the army, I chose college. After a year of community college, I attended Savannah College of Art and Design. I wasn't sure if I wanted to shoot fashion or still life, so I came to NYC and assisted. Why did you choose this field?Food found me. I had already been shooting still life and I started shooting food because I loved it. My dad is also a big foodie, so he got me interested on a certain level. Everyone told me to stay away from shooting food, it was extremely difficult, but to me it seemed very natural. What has changed over the years, in your opinion?I have changed as the industry changed, film went to digital and I adapted with the times. Your art should always be evolving and this is through subject and technique. As long as you have a good core understanding of your craft, then the changes will come naturally. I am always excited to try new things. How has your style changed or developed or evolved? I believe my style has always been my style, I just had to have the confidence to know it was connecting with others. I had tried many other styles and interests, because my taste is so diverse and eventually found my voice. I like to describe my style as a natural luxury. It is attainable yet still aspirational. One or two things you learned along the way:Be true to your style, but don't be afraid to get outside of your comfort zone. The more you shoot outside of your comfort zone, you will see markers of your style reoccur, making it more obvious to you. Pushing yourself helps to reveal your true style. It doesn't mean you have to shoot the entire gamut but the more you shoot the more you realize what you are good at. William Brinson Photography