Introducing The South West Collective of Photography

In this blog post we introduce you to The South West Collective of Photography, a company dedicated to promoting photography and art as a medium in the South West of England. Run by Plymouth University’s recent BA Photography Graduate Samuel Fradley.


Who are you, what's your motto? My name is Samuel Fradley and my motto is to make a positive change within this world.

What’s your background? Have you studied photography? For the last 6 years my life has pretty much revolved around some sort of education whether that be from A levels all the way to university; it always involved photography. I studied a BA in Photography at the University of Plymouth and graduated with a first-class honours degree last year.

Image from the series  A Handshake with a Martian  by  Samuel Fradley

Image from the series A Handshake with a Martian by Samuel Fradley

What's your favourite style of photography? I am a big fan of documentary photography, particularly works which are approached as a photographic study. The idea that the photograph freezeframes that moment in time and keeps a record of that story fascinates me. 

Who or what motivates you? I have always been motivated to be my own boss. I suppose I have always had this feeling of rebellion or resentment to those who control or have power to control what I do in my days; I have always wanted to follow my own goals and dreams and through photography I can explore that. I suppose that’s natural as an artist, as you create work within your own perspective. In the last few years I have been really motivated to make a positive change in the photography world. Too many young artists go through education thinking there are little opportunities and it is my absolute goal to change this. 

Image from the series  A Handshake with a Martian  by  Samuel Fradley

Image from the series A Handshake with a Martian by Samuel Fradley

Can you tell us what The South West Collective of Photography is? The South West Collective of Photography is a company dedicated to the promotion of photography and art in the South West. Founded by myself in July 2018 the Collective aims to one day have a permanent gallery or space for artists to work, exhibit and explore their artistic interests. The Collective is a business, but heavily interacts within our local community and voices its opinion on a wide variety of topics that relate to our interests. 

Primarily an online platform, we feature the work of emerging photographer’s and graduates over a variety of social platforms as well as on our own website. This will develop into so much more in the future. 

Image from the series  A Handshake with a Martian  by  Samuel Fradley

Image from the series A Handshake with a Martian by Samuel Fradley

Tell us about the team behind The South West Collective of Photography. Currently, The South West Collective is just myself; Samuel Fradley. In business terms it is just me, but in artist terms that will soon change.

The Collective was always meant to be more than just me; therefore, I am pleased to announce that starting from May, the Collective will begin to announce new members to the Collective family, with our first artist being Ella Cousins. Ella is a recent graduate from Southampton Solent University and will be a fantastic part of the team. Her inspiration, motivation and kind heart is something that is desperately needed in this industry and I am certain she will play her part in inspiring female artists all across the country.

More artists will be announced in time, but I am delighted to say that there will be a strong female presence on the collective, representing and inspiring female artists across the country and further afield with Ella taking a lead on this. 

Image from the series  River  by  Ella Cousins

Image from the series River by Ella Cousins

What were your initial aims and inspirations when putting ideas together for the collective? Honestly when I started the Collective I didn’t have a plan. I’m not really one for long term planning, I have kind of got through life doing everything last minute and it has ironically worked. I knew that I wanted to start an organisation in the South West that represented photography. The primary reasons for this was that the South West has little to no infrastructure for photography. The majority of exhibitions, galleries and institutions are in Bristol or London, but for the thousands of fantastic artists here in the West Country, we have quite literally have nothing. The goals are to change that. I don’t actually pay myself at all from the Collective because I want it to grow. Although in the future I want this to be my living, for now I have to nurture it. 

What is The South West Collective of Photography's biggest achievement to date? Appearing out of nowhere and growing it into a photography platform for artists across the United Kingdom. I have been so privileged and honoured to feature a wide variety of photographers, both students and graduates on the Collective who are so immensely talented, it has just been a fantastic experience hearing people’s stories and watching their work develop. Meeting new people has to be a highlight too, I have encountered so many genuinely lovely people it makes this all worth it.

Image from the series  River  by  Ella Cousins

Image from the series River by Ella Cousins

How can photographers get involved in what you do? At this moment in time, all you have to do is reach out to me via email, Instagram or Facebook. I am more than happy to chat to artists and give advice or discuss featuring them on the Collective. As this Collective grows more opportunities will come about, but for the time being that is the only way to get involved. I am ALWAYS open to new ideas, improvements etc. 

Give one tip to new photography graduates. Ignore what everybody else is doing. Make the work you want to make in the style you want to make it. At the end of the day if somebody doesn’t like your work it’s only an opinion. Don’t fret, figure out what’s right for you and don’t fall into trends or patterns just because something is popular.

Tell us about your goals for The South West Collective of Photography for the future. My goals are to keep on going, to make this my own living and to get out of my part time job. Obviously like mentioned before, the long-term goals are to have our own space, but until that day comes, it’s just a case of going day by day and taking every opportunity that I can to grow The South West Collective. We will be seeking to hold exhibitions, run workshops and artist talks too, to get the public to interact with photography and to inspire the next generation.

Image from the series  River  by  Ella Cousins

Image from the series River by Ella Cousins

What does 2019 have in store for The South West Collective of Photography? 2019 is a huge year for us as it will be our first full year since it was founded. In May we will be hosting our inaugural exhibition. The South West Collective of Photography have been offered the fantastic opportunity to turn a disused, empty shop space on Torquay High street at Fleet walk, into a fully operational public photography exhibition for a duration of 6 weeks beginning in early May 2019. This will be a first in Torbay with regards to photography and will hopefully be the start of something fantastic within the local community and aims to engage with a wide variety of demographics. 

The exhibitions theme is “Visual Story Telling” and will be focusing on local artists and artists from further afield, who have created gripping and engaging photographic bodies of work presenting to the public issues and stories that they may not have ever heard of. We want the exhibition to have as much community engagement as possible and will seek to be holding workshops, talks and visits from local schools, as well as working with local businesses and organisations to try and get the public engaged with photography as a medium and our exhibition. We are hoping to run a series of events and talks from historians and lecturers which will educate students and the public on the selected works themes, in order to educate them on the bigger picture that they otherwise might not be aware of. 

Not only this; we will soon be releasing our brand new website which will have a ton of new content so stay tuned for that!