The Creative Life is a unique coaching platform for freelance creatives founded by Sheryl Garratt, previous editor of The Face and The Observer magazines.
Do you have a tip, tool, talk, book or other resource to share with us? Something you go back to again and again, or wouldn’t be without in your creative life.
BOOKS – I love a pocketbook crammed with info that you can just pick up and read a random page to get a quick inspo fix. My current three are :
- Think Like an Artist by Will Gompertz – genius tips gleaned from genius creatives.
- Read This if you want to take Great Photographs of People by Henry Carroll – Photographs by 50 master photographers with Carroll dissecting each of their approaches to portraiture.
- What Does Photography Mean to You by Grant Scott – A spin-off from his United Nations of Photography podcast, Scott invites contemporary photographers to answer his question, with some unexpected and enlightening answers
- For a longer read I will go to Annie Leibovitz‘s excellent At Work.
TALK – This inspiring interview with photographer Stephen Shore X David Campany, recorded in 2019 at PhotoLondon, describes Shore’s photographic practice taking us on a journey of his photographic life through choice of cameras and film.
TOOL – Pen & paper. For creating mind maps – paper has to be at least A3 for my large handwriting. I also complete the morning pages exercise from Julia Cameron‘s The Artist’s Way. Both processes help me brainstorm ideas and problem solve.
TIP – Wear a jacket with four front pockets and keep the same four essential items, keys, phone, money etc. in each pocket. This is a good check list for leaving home, especially at short notice!
We all need a support network. What’s the most valuable group, forum or organisation you belong to.
I am proud to be a founding member of f22 – women photographers at the Association of Photographers. The group was formed in 2019 as a reaction to the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements that swept through the film industry, when we realised that the photographic industry also has historic gender imbalance and discrimination. Our aim is to increase the visibility of women photographers and encourage best practice at all levels from student to accreditation. We hold talks, workshops, group exhibitions, and next year we will be launching an international Photography competition for female identifying photographers.
Who or what inspires you?
People never cease to inspire. Their personal style and own unique story, and the unexpected way they can react to a situation. I love the element of surprise that a new face, or space, presents and how this can be explored to greater depths by the most important and inspiring element of all, light.
What’s the biggest challenge in your creative life, right now?
Over the past eighteen months maintaining visibility has been a challenge. With difficulties of meeting in real life there has been more demand for posting to online platforms so we don’t just ‘disappear’. I personally love Instagram, and I think it is a genius tool especially for visuals, but it is easy to become a slave to the swipe. As a photographer I really want people to appreciate my work in real life. I want them to hold my portfolio in their hands, to feel the quality of the paper that my work is printed on, and to appreciate the beauty of handcrafted prints on a gallery wall. To that end I have started creating and sending out postcards of my photography in the hope that viewers may linger longer. It feels there is definitely a place aside from screens for this type of tactile marketing.
What advice would you give to someone just starting out as a freelance photographer – or indeed as a creative of any kind?
Practice your practice. Whatever it is you do, do it as often as you can. For photographers make sure you are shooting something everyday, even if it’s on your phone. Look at your work over a period of time and you will start to make connections and create stories and see your style, your unique way of storytelling come to the fore. I have an ongoing project that I started in lockdown. I was desperate to create yet didn’t feel comfortable about taking my SLR onto the streets and so I started shooting on an old iPhone. I rediscovered a more simplistic way of creating and I like the naive quality of the images. The disciplines I learnt from this process have already begun feeding into my professional practice.
So learn your trade, be really good at what you do, but push creative boundaries and always challenge yourself. Tick the required box then go that one step further to get a different result. You may be surprised at what you can achieve. There is always more!
This Q&A interview with Sheryl Garratt was featured on The Creative Life last November 2021.
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