Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Reflecting on 2014 | Part One

2014 has been a year of building on what's gone before.  It's a  nice place to get to in the scheme of things -- a place of finding stride and pace without having to learn everything from scratch.

Building on play: I talked last year about the importance of incorporating play into both my life and my work. This has continued to be important and has been expressed in a number of ways. One of which has been the addition on Monkey to my world. She arrived on Christmas morning 2013 looking for a playmate. She has a very childlike joyful demeanour and tells me when she needs to go and swing from trees or do something cheeky. Earlier in the year she asked to go to Damflask reservoir (my happy place) and play in the trees. I captured it all on my phone. Then at Christmas she wanted to play at being Godzilla and and build a snow monkey. So we did. She is a very good influence on me.

 Monkey -- my mascot of play throughout the year

Building on non-paid work. I also talked last year about taking photography out of just the work environment. So this year I took part in a photography project during the summer - a photo a day relating to a specific word. Alas my stamina didn't manage the whole 100 days, but I enjoyed taking photos for reasons other than work and it turned up a few new projects that I'd like to continue.

One such projects is Slugs vs Snails. This started off in a bantering session one evening when I was trying to work out how to fulfil the next days word of "Sport" given that I sport and I are relative strangers. I joked about slugs and snails fighting with pugil sticks on podiums like in Gladiators and woke up the next morning with a determination to see my vision realised. Well. From there it took off as days such as "There Will Be Blood", "Black and White", and "Let's Pretend" inspired me to take more. These turned out to be quite popular and I would get messages from friends saying how much these made their kids giggle. When the summer comes I shall be doing more of these. I'd like to make them into a book if I can work out a cost effective way to do it and come up with enough ideas.

Slugs vs Snails: The Gastropod Wars

During the photo-a-day project I also discovered the technique of double exposure. This is where you merge two photos together in the camera and the second photo shows through the dark areas of the first. I had a play with this for myself with some selfies (due to a lack of other subjects available at the time!). It then worked itself into a couple of portrait shoots. I'd like to play with this more in 2015 both in and out of work ... but this proved a good lesson for me in how mucking about with the camera for play can enhance paid work too.

 Double exposures.

Building on creating montages of spaces. Another way I played last year was in making montages of the places I visited. This was a purely personal project - a way to record my travels and to be present in the world with new eyes. Early in the year I started collecting colours from around Sheffield in order to build a 10x10 grid of graduating colours. This became 100 fragments of Sheffield and unwittingly launched a whole range in the Fragments series that ended up being very popular at markets. 

I had done a fair few markets in 2012 and 2013 but my enthusiasm was beginning to wane as I wasn't really selling enough to cover costs. This range has turned that around and I was instead able to make the wedding-lull of winter into a full season of markets that turned a profit and kept me going with a routine -- and also warranted the creation of an etsy shop to sell online. I really like that this is all with products made from playing and interpreting my world for my own sake, rather than trying to develop something to make money. It keeps my relationship to work healthy but also contributes towards paying the bills. Hurrah.

These Fragment pieces have now become a feature of my plans for 2015. I have lots of ideas for more that I'd like to create, and I'm also feeling bold about applying for more markets and trying to get stocked in shops and galleries. Watch this space.

16 Fragments of le Tour de Yorkshire | 100 Fragments of Sheffield in Colour
16 Fragments of Sheffield Street Art | 100 Renants of Surprise View | 16 Fragments of Hope Valley

And so to reflecting on the year in photographs. Below are some of my highlights from portraits shoots with bumps, babies, kids, clans and couples. I shall do a separate post for weddings sometime in the next week.

(If you'd like to book a portrait shoot just let me know. More details here)

All images ©KateCooperPhotography2014

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