Alex Beldea, artist talk, documentary photography, final year, photography, university

Working in Photography by Alex Beldea

University of Huddersfield careers and employability service offer a range of guest speakers and workshops to attend. I recently joined “Working in Photography” by Alex Beldea.

Alex Beldea studying PhD in our university and we’ve had a few tutorials with him last year. However, this time he talked about his career in photography, his experience as professional photographer, his clients and job opportunities. I will mention a few of those:

Back in his country, Romania, he worked as a sport photographer. He came to the UK over 7 years ago to study photography. While studying, he volunteered for 3 years where he photographed musicians for HCMF. He claimed that both jobs improved his technical skills.

He volunteered as events photographer for University International Office. His volunteer job lead to many paid job opportunities.

He then took a placement year and worked at photo studio Hylton Photography in Leeds. It taught him how to deal with clients, see real photography work and improved his technical skills. This job opportunity lead to many collaborations, as Beldea is still working with Hylton and until now both photographers help each other.

Through university he gets many opportunities to cover events, in one of those he had a pleasure to photograph a royal family visit. He stated that it was stressful and challenging, as he only had 5 minutes for the shoot however, he claimed that it was a very good experience.

He worked for the University gym Team Hud.

He photographed York chocolate story museum Treat or Trick walking tour.

He photographed DJs, celebrities, food photography – still and moving image for Epicure.

Photographed Wander-clothing collection.

Discover Magazine-researchers within university.

Every summer for about two weeks he shoots Graduation ceremonies at the university, he works from 8am to 5pm, then edits at night.

Photographed costumes for final project costume departments.

Commissioned for Manchester Gallery as international photographer to exhibit his work about Manchester- Second Home

He worked on many personal projects. The Last Shift is about coal mining in Romania which is planned to be closed. He photographed coal mining workers who will soon become redundant.

In Tunisia, Beldea is making a project about a refugee camp. He is photographing and raising money for 35 refugees who are struggle financially.

Alex Beldea’s tips are: to be patience; work hard and find a way to show your work; work in many photography fields, as you will gain new skills and it could lead to more job opportunities; look for places to get feedback; join portfolio reviews, for example Red Eye in Manchester, Photo Meet in London; attend conferences as you may end up having exhibitions and this is the best way to show your work; alongside professional photographer’s jobs do internships or assisting jobs, as again you will improve your technical skills…

What a brilliant talk, one of best I ever attended. In my opinion Beldea is a very talented photographer and I love his commercial work, so as documentary; especially Valid for Travel. I always look at his photographs when looking for inspiration. Thank you, Alex, for sharing your story and giving us very useful advice.

If you would like to see some more work by Beldea, I will recommend you visit his website

alexbeldea.com

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Talk and portfolio review by our Guest speaker Theo Simpson

Yesterday, Theo Simpson visited our university and gave us a fantastic talk about his practise.

Firstly, Simpson talked about another photographers’ work who influenced his practise. William Christenberry’s Green Warehouse, 1978 was one of the first image which made Simpson realise that he wants to become a photographer. To be able to use his visual language in communication. According to Simpson this image isn’t just a depiction of a green house, but the photographer’s dedication to the subject matter, as he became friend with the owner and for 25 years, he returned to the place every year to photograph it again and again and again. John Smith’s photographs inspired Simpson in a way that he realised that the photographer doesn’t have to travel the world to create amazing work. As Smith made his work in his door step, no further that 3 miles away for his house. Paul Graham’s Beyond Caring, 1986 gave Simpson the idea of how powerful the photography could be within communication in the world. Graham couldn’t photograph in job centre, but somehow, he manages to use his large format to make a very powerful photograph which carries historical context of high unemployment in the UK.

When Simpson finished university, he became one of those unemployed, it made him think why did he studied? Why does he want to make photographs? Are his photographs enough to talk about his thoughts? He started to make photobooks. He was always interested in consumerism, technologies, news feed but also what’s under his feet-as landscapes. He thinks that the life we are living in are completely manipulated by all the above.

Photography for Simpson is the experience of exploration of the world and the communication to people. He thinks that good work come from original thoughts and expressions. Very useful advice, as he told us to think what makes us different than the others. Book making process taught him the understanding of materials, the discipline and the level of sacrifice. He used multiple visual languages in his work; different materials, variation of printing technics, scans of the objects, photographs of surrounding, objects etc. He believes that photographers toolset become limited, as there is a lot to consider when making photographs; like the lighting, location, time of the day, what camera do you use, what lens, what point of view, angle…

Fallowing the talk, I had a chance to show Simpson my work. He told me that the dept to the story is visible through my dummy book and that I engage with a lot of people. That my portraitures are strong, intimate and quiet. That I should ask myself question if the additional images doing their job. If I really need them. I told him that I am planning to add a text to my book. His advice was to be very careful and to consider what text will I add, as text could be literal, and I could gain something but also lost something. He told me to consider text as French folded, pull outs or hidden. About the introduction for my book, his advice was not to add the text at the beginning but at the end. So, each viewer will go through the book, then read the text which could mean totally differ things that what they thought of photographs. He advised me to look at other practitioners who added text in their work, like for example Sophie Cale-Blind, and to read Working from Memory.

It was a pleasure to meet you Theo and thanks for your advice.

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Portfolio review by Karina Lax and Sian Bonnell

As part of our Friday mornings group portfolio reviews this time we were joined by Karina Lax. Firstly, Lax said that I have a interesting name for a photographer. It may sound exciting, but she doesn’t know the real meaning of my surname and I didn’t tell her (exactly it means an “orphan”, but it also used to call somebody “walking disaster” and I truly hate it). Coming back to my portfolio, Lax was impressed with my work and picked up a few of my best portraiture. However, she pointed out a few which aren’t best. She added that I should always think about the context, subjects face expressions, their hand gestures and keep an eye on the composition, so there won’t be any distractions (she said it as one of my subject is dressed in dirty clothing and has his hand in his pocked, what means that he is insecure or somehow distress and that I should edit it to look clean; however, I replied that he is a farmer and that’s the message I want to communicate). Lax suggested that I have a lot of portraiture and should add more conceptual images to create the narrative about the subjects and their story. She recommended to experiment with the edit and mixed up subject’s stuff and pair them up with the person they don’t belong to (this is the second person who suggested this, and I must say I like the idea). She recommended to look at some photographer’s work: Liz Hingley for lighting and narratives and Tom Hunter for his staged narratives

If you would like to see Karina Lax’s work check out her website: http://www.karinalax.com

On Friday afternoon Sian Bonnell was our guest speaker. She talked about her photographic journey right from the university, until now, 40 years as a practitioner. She shared her story about going back to photography when she became mother; she paid a child minder to look after her children and went out to create her artistic images. Mainly juxtaposed household item in the landscape (biscuits cutters, jellies etc), or used food and domestic items to recreate landscapes for example: ham on the wall. She plays with boundaries and mixing reality with fantasy. This kind of photography has not much to do with mine however, I am glad to be part of this talk; as Bonnell has a great personality, made us laugh all the way and gave us an important lesson. She suggested that we should not take it personally when people criticize our work (she said that the older she gets, the less care she became about what other people say). That we should love our work as if we don’t, it won’t be any good, but if we do, that’s when best work will arise. She believes that the camera is her partner in crime and makes her behave badly. Photography for Bonnell isn’t a subject but a tool for translation, it has philosophy. Bonnell also tried self-portraiture, where she reperformed painting’s gesture or her state of mind. The funniest story she told us was where she got commissioned for children surrealism and when she created a scene of crime, she got rejected. I am glad to have a pleasure to meet her for her creativity and lovely personality.  

After the guest speaker, some students and I met Sian in our base room. We’ve had a chance to talk to her and to show our works. According to Sian my work is good and interesting. Bonnell suggested that I need to add a lot of text for my photo book, as pictures can’t express everything what I am trying to communicate to the audience. Bonnell recommended to add newspapers articles, headings about Brexit or other fictional headlines. She also gave me a few photographers to consider researching Rosie Martin, Tom Duffield, Jo Spence, Sian Davey, Mathew Finn and Guy Martin-Syria.

If you interested to see Sian Bonnell’s work have a look at her website: http://www.sianbonnel.com/