Some of you may agree with the following article, some of you may debate it. Some of you may even find it rather self involved. Overall, this is a point of view of one man. A man who over the past 22 years enjoyed the highs and lows of an international career in photography and picture editing. One that has netted wealth, reputation and an understanding of what makes a winning and marketable image. What do you do? Do you read on or do you think you have all the answers for your life as a “Professional Photographer”. If so – Describe to me your creative process and its result.
The end product is creative, thoughtful images. The process begins by determining the story that needs to be told, or what it is that needs to be illustrated. Then, it becomes a process of assembling the parts and pieces that go into that story. The who/what/where/when/why all figure into it from my perspective. Whether those images appear on the web, printed material or even an advertising billboard is up to the people that hired me. Sometimes it’s a big agency complete with creatives, account people and clients that’s a team effort and takes weeks to manifest itself. Or, it could be as simple as getting a call from a picture editor looking for an image or series of images of someone or something they’re profiling.
Since opening Slaughterhouse Studios Ltd in 2010, I have been installing all the methods learned over the years I have worked in this industry, the more personal touch is finally starting to work with home grown photographers and media agencies. For many months now, over 60% of the trade has come from London clients. Striking close and lucrative relationships with BBC, ITV and Bauer Media, the studio is being seen as an important resource in the North West.
With three excellent studios, each one offering a blank canvas for each client. Appointed with the finest lighting and grip the industry expects. Slaughterhouse Studios consistently delivers excellence in service and care for all who attend a studio day.
You want it, you get it at Slaughterhouse.
I could say I learned the business through assisting other photographers, however, working in some of London’s busiest studios with darkrooms allowed me to meet recognised photographers, learn from developing their film and managing their studio or location shoots saw a faster and more defined learning curve than humping lights and knowing how many sugars people have in their tea or coffee. A couple years working for Lord Litchfield, William Claxton and Brian Duffy showed me that images, especially in the commercial sense, need to be created not just captured. My work has always been a balance of the two. What I always try to do is put things together and then try and capture the moment.
Growing up, I didn’t understand that photography, and creating images could be a viable career option. Where creativity was encouraged daily, my Mother and Father aren’t photographers; they are successful and happy business people. Photography was something one did in one’s spare time, ie on holiday. I went to a liberal arts school because that’s what you did in the 1980’s but there was something lacking. I was studying Fine Art but I wasn’t really finding satisfaction. My fellow students wished to follow careers in graphic design, fashion and architecture…me I wanted to be a photo editor in NY, Paris or London. So a technician gave me a camera. She told me I should look into it and that’s what opened my eyes to photography as a career.
In memory, my first creative and marginally commercial shoot was, typically very personal and exposed my desire to impress and shock than answer a brief. I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of the Christmas tree; this living thing we bring in from outdoors and for a few weeks becomes the central focal point of our homes, then tossed out. I grew up on the edges of the Peak District and it would freeze every winter. We’d get a Christmas tree and have it up for a couple of weeks. When it was time to take it down, my Dad would dig a hole in the icy ground and the tree would stand up in the ground until the snow melted and it would lean over and sink to the ground, insects would make a home out of it. It’s as if the tree had an extended life. When I moved out to London, I’d be walking around the first or 2nd week of January and the trees would all come out to the roadside to be hauled away by the council collectors and recyclers. It was just this presence that occurred after the New Year and they were everywhere. I started playing around with the camera and responding to the elements. I still want to get more photographs, though. I want to go back home where there is snow each winter and capture that element there. I want to go back where it’s barren and include the unique light too. The environment is all part of the narrative, not just the subject.
There are so many great image makers out there. Directors, cinematographers, painters, too many to list who inspire me. In the historical sense, I admire Eugene Atget who is known for his turn-of-the-century Paris landscapes and street scenes. Robert Frank used his photography to seek truth with an air of political view. There was obviously an opinion and a motive, but he just created imagery that told a story. It was the late 50s, the medium was evolving and he made these statements with his images that were a lot of times difficult to look at but so truthful and evocative.
Working with some of the greats and the good, the bad and the down right ugly has made me who I am today. I’m still a young (some would disagree) guy, emerging and learning each day. One of the things I’ve been glad about is that I’ve been able to live in Manchester for 10 years and work in a field that makes me happy and have been able make a living. But I hope my greatest achievement is still ahead of me.
I have the ability to problem solve and work in my industry, enviably, with a tool that really works. I’m an observer of interactions and using that as my tableau. That’s what I love. To be able to tell other peoples’ stories.
What is a constant challenge is staying fresh and creating an environment that remains personal while still making a living. Not only do I need to meet new customers that are consistent with the brand and equally evocative, but also to be remembered as regular, cherished and dare I say, loved…
Everyone has a story.
You can find me here:
Ian F Simpson
Slaughterhouse Studios Ltd™
54 – 56 Oldfield Road
+44 (0)161 745 4232
+44 (0)783 777 8791