Photographing 130 RMIT Interior Design first-year students during their orientation week and installing their collaborative exhibition got me thinking about how much I enjoy documentation as an arm of my photographic practice.
Documenting people at work/play is a terrific way as a photographer to hone my technical skills - by working in a fast and fearless manner whilst remaining curious and responsive to what unfolds before me. And I am well aware of the benefits that documentation can bring to my clients.
Having documented events over the past year for organisations such as Queen Victoria Market, City of Melbourne’s Signal Arts, The Kimberley Foundation, The Craft Sessions’ Soul Craft Festival and RMIT Interior Design I am a firm believer that thorough documentation plays an essential role in running a successful program.
One picture won’t usually do it, but a well curated collection can really tell the story of what has unfolded. It can also assist in marketing what may otherwise be intangible or abstract ideas to a future audience. In the words of Dr Olivia Hamilton at RMIT:
“Emma has photographed many RMIT interior design student events, exhibitions and projects. These can be complex events involving over a hundred students and running for several days. Her photos document the event beautifully and thoroughly, but more importantly she is also able to capture the fleeting and subtle moments that make the event unique. She has a particular ability to capture the human experience and the relationships and interactions between the students. Her images have been invaluable in the publications and marketing material that has come from these events.”
— Dr Olivia Hamilton - School of Architecture + Urban Design RMIT University Lecturer - Interior Design First Year Co-ordinator
For individual artists/makers good documentation is the best long-term investment they can make in their art practice. It will serve as the backbone of their art archive, and the primary factor in how their entire practice is viewed long-term. Even if someone has strong work it doesn’t mean that it will be perceived that way - if the documentation isn’t strong the work will most likely be perceived as weak :-(
How you document your work determines everything from how it is reproduced in print publications to how it is seen online. In our visually savvy world it is crucial to keep this aspect in mind. Strong visual documentation could mean the difference between securing a grant or an exhibition, or being rejected and passed over for opportunities.
Artist Jen Rae of Fair Share Fare has come to appreciate the value of strong documentation:
”Working with Emma on our projects has been a game changer in how the creative works of Fair Share Fare are documented. Her ability to place herself within the artist’s lens means that she captures the moments that matter - the big picture, nuances, subtleties and aesthetics of what can be very complex projects. She listens, comprehends the scope and is always present. Her stealth modus operandi means that she can get behind the scenes and within performances without ever detracting from what is at play between subjects, performers and public participants. I value Emma’s contributions and considered approach, so much so, that I see her as an integral part of the creative team in planning and sharing the story of Fair Share Fare’s work to various audiences.”
— Jen Rae: Creative lead and director of Fair Share Fare
Often documentation is the only evidence from non-permanent work, such as performances, art installations, popup events, etc. In fact it will be the only thing that survives and can actually become the work itself! This is why it is very important to budget and plan for this essential step in your marketing plan/art process.
Past (and ongoing) artist/maker clients of mine include Katie Stackhouse, Fair Share Fare, Sarah Tomasetti, Jing Wei Bu, Angus Hamra, Martin Lee, Lee Mullen and Spacecraft Studio.
Book me in for your next event.
NB - View all of my blog posts on documentation