Time to rethink

by simonrleach

The element of time seems to have appeared in a number of my blog posts, I am aware that it is very important in my own practise and, through a number of articles I have read and conversations I have had I feel I am not alone in valuing it.  

Many years ago, when I was studying photography as a mature student with industry experience, I felt that the deadlines and extended length of time given to students to complete projects was not representative of what would be expected in the profession. With the wisdom of hindsight, I realise the idea was to allow us time to explore, make mistakes and develop creatively.

Commercially, it has always been understood that you would never get 3 months to present results to a client. But have we allowed things to go to far? With the rise of digital photography, there is no requirement to pause while film is processed, no need for physical delivery when electronic will be fine, thank you very much. With a significant over supply in the industry and the immediacy of social media and digital marketing, have we allowed the desperation for delivery of images NOW to undermine all hope of pushing for a creative solution? In a world that is insecure and where every pound spent has to be justified by the number of units sold, it is difficult to promote the idea of buying more time on the grounds of exceeding creative expectation. In the end though, there are so many brands out there trying to occupy the same emotional space, trying to steal the engagement of the same customer base. Can we really afford not to give ourselves room to develop and produce something that as a result captures a little more attention.  

Talking to a portrait photographer friend of mine recently, she was describing the experience of photographing a mother and new born and how it had become a surprisingly pleasant experience because of the pace of the shoot. This was primarily because when the child needed feeding everything had to stop, she had time to breathe, to review, to think and to develop the ideas. 

That came on the back of reading a piece by Iain Tait, ECD at Wieden + Kennedy, London, in which he was speaking about a new regime, in essence giving the creative brains of one of London’s top creative agencies time off so that they had time to relax, to take in and then, when required, to be MORE creative.  

I know exactly what these people are talking about. I do not use remote control technology, or computer software, to control the light in my photographs. I cherish the time to walk from camera to light to make adjustments. I want to slow down and have time to consider. How do I increase this? As an experienced photographer, I am using tried-and-tested techniques and ideas, I know my kit, I know what I am looking for in the shot, but that doesn’t mean it is extracted from a shelf in 30 seconds. Allow me a little time and I will create a better shot. Don’t worry we are shooting enough frames, concentrate more on getting the shot right. Options are just more edit time. It will still be only the best frame that gets used. 

This sentiment is underlined in Tony Cullingham’s speech to his graduating students in which he encourages them to argue for time and produce work that other creatives would be heard to utter that sought-after recognition : ‘I wish I had done that’


Christine Bory, Artis Formae Studio

Creative brains need time off, Iain Tait

Advertising on it’s knees – what an opportunity, Tony Cunningham