Join Photo Scratch on Monday 18th February 2019 for their next edition

Click here to book your FREE ticket.

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A night for new ideas, Photo Scratch is an opportunity for documentary photographers to understand how their work is perceived and gain valuable insight into how to take their work further with the benefit of other people’s outside eye. For spectators this is an opportunity to preview projects, offer feedback, and engage in conversations about photography.

The format of the night involves a group of six to eight photographers previewing a project in an incomplete state. These photographers are selected in advance based on informal applications. Each photographer is given a wall space to display their work in any way they see fit (rough prints, contact sheets, annotations, captions, text, projection etc.). The audience, comprised of other photographers, friends, people within the industry and anyone with an interest in documentary photography, are then welcome to discuss the work and leave written feedback for each project. This valuable written feedback is then kept by each photographer for future reference. The night is free for all to attend, but booking is required. There is a bar in the gallery.

Our first edition of 2019 will feature work-in-progress from:
Rita Alvarez www.tudelaphotography.com

Tee Byford www.tearlach.co.uk

Julie Meresse www.juliemeresse.com

Hassan Nezamian www.hassannezamian.com

Marie Smith www.marieesmith.com

Alexandra Waespi www.alexandrawaespi.com

Hanna-Katrina Jedrosz - The Royal Photographic Society Environmental Bursary grant winner

We recently interviewed London College of Communication graduate and Photo Scratch co-founder Hanna-Katrina Jędrosz about the Environmental Bursary grant she received from The Royal Photographic Society. She also introduces us to the first chapter of her resulting body of work.

We hope you enjoy reading through Hanna-Katrina's thoughts on applying for opportunities like those from The Royal Photographic Society.


Tell us about the bursary you received from The Royal Photographic Society. In 2016 I received the Environmental Bursary awarded by The Royal Photographic Society and The Photographic Angle. I won in the Under 30 category, and I was awarded jointly with Carl Bigmore who I collaborated with on the first chapter of the project.

A fjord leading out to the Barents Sea, Norway, at the very northern end of the European Green Belt.

A fjord leading out to the Barents Sea, Norway, at the very northern end of the European Green Belt.

Tell us about the work it allowed you to make. What's the work about? Is it complete? The bursary enabled us to make a major body of work about the Fennoscandian section of the European Green Belt. The European Green Belt is an area of land that spans the breadth of Europe from the Barents Sea to the Black and Adriatic Seas. It traces the boundary of the former Iron Curtain from north to south. For nearly five decades, this space was an out-of-bounds no-man’s land dividing east from west. This corridor enabled wildlife to flourish. Today much of the route is connected through national parks, biospheres and nature reserves. The project aims to explore and document the interplay between human activity and wildlife on a specific but vast stretch of land that comprise the European Green Belt, and in turn, how nature has reclaimed the land during and since the Cold War era.

The first chapter of the project is complete and I have just returned from making the next phase in Poland, Germany and the Czech Republic. There will be another trip later this year across the Balkans and Turkey which will comprise the final chapter.

In the gift shop at the Norwegian/Russian border.

In the gift shop at the Norwegian/Russian border.

What did winning the grant mean to you and your work? Winning the grant from The RPS was such an honour. It’s an organisation with a long and established history and they have supported thousands of photographers over many years. It felt like a vote of confidence in my work and in the idea.

Though it wasn’t publicly announced until the award ceremony in September 2016, it was shortly after the EU Referendum that we received news that we had won the backing to make this project. It felt very timely. On a personal level I felt disturbed by the results of the referendum. Receiving news of the bursary at that particular juncture provided a genuine sense of hope. It felt like an opportunity to channel some of the feeling of chaos I was experiencing into making work that would involve traversing the European continent, crossing many borders, encountering different people and places, and being given an opportunity to create something hopeful.

Lichen is an indicator of air quality. This leafy lichen, photographed in Finland near the borderzone with Russia, is leafy and indicates that the air was very clean.

Lichen is an indicator of air quality. This leafy lichen, photographed in Finland near the borderzone with Russia, is leafy and indicates that the air was very clean.

What encouraged you to apply for the Environmental Bursary in particular? It was the idea more than anything that lead to this application. It was Carl who suggested applying for this particular bursary when I told him about the idea. The Environmental Bursary seemed like a good fit for the project. I had never particularly considered myself to be a landscape or environmental photographer. I’m interested in connections between people and places, histories of the land and environment, the presence of history and the impact of a place on human experience.

A river melts near Möhkö, eastern Finland.

A river melts near Möhkö, eastern Finland.

What support did you receive? I received the financial backing to bring the project into being. We pitched the first chapter of the work which would see us travelling from Norway, through Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania - the Fennoscandian and Baltic sections of the Green Belt. The support meant we could buy the film stock, book the flights, make the trip and get back in once piece. It simply would not have been possible without this kind of grant.

On top of this practical financial support, I have felt very supported by The RPS and, in particular by the Education Manager Liz Williams. She has provided letters of endorsement, helped me to connect with people in the industry and has been a really positive influence throughout the process of making the work.

A viewing platform to observe birds and wildlife on the Baltic Coast, in Narva-Jõesuu, Estonia.

A viewing platform to observe birds and wildlife on the Baltic Coast, in Narva-Jõesuu, Estonia.

Give one positive and one negative in regards to applying for opportunities like these. There is no negative to applying for opportunities like these! What’s the worst that could happen? If you aren’t successful, you will have gone through a process which hopefully has helped to clarify your intentions and thoughts, and will make your next application even stronger. It can help to identify gaps in your knowledge too. If you are lucky enough to receive funding then that is of course wonderful and a huge opportunity to get on and make your work. The RPS application form itself, at the time that I applied, was reassuringly straightforward.

Every grant comes with a sense of responsibility to do the work justice and seize the opportunity. It’s a good idea to have an awareness of the organisation or funder’s motivation for offering the funding. Be prepared to fulfil obligations to your backers, like supplying images when the project is completed within a specific time frame.

In the abandoned ex-Soviet military town of Skrunda-1, Latvia.

In the abandoned ex-Soviet military town of Skrunda-1, Latvia.

Writing a budget can be challenging because sometimes you might not know exactly how much you would need, or there are variables. My advice would be to keep it simple and include a contingency of 10-15%. Be prepared to save up some of your own money to cover unexpected costs. I have never made a project without working really hard to save up for it first, even with external funding. Before going away to make the first part of this project last year, I worked six day weeks for six months (a combination of freelance photography jobs and picture editing shifts at two different organisations) just so that I wouldn’t come back and be completely overdrawn. More established photographers may not require this, but with relatively few years (five) working professionally, as well as the costs associated with living in London, and photographing on film, this is how I have managed.

With any endeavour, ultimately it’s your decision to be committed to a project and then do whatever you need to do to make it happen. Having external funding is a huge initial enabler that paves the way for you to then fulfil the opportunity to its full potential.

A Baltic Beach on the Curonian Spit, Lithuania.

A Baltic Beach on the Curonian Spit, Lithuania.

Can you give any advice to those considering a submission to any of The Royal Photographic Society opportunities?

When applying for funding, and in no particular order…

Ask for help if you need it.

Be professional.

Be reliable.

Look at what has been funded in recent years and don’t repeat an idea.

Be bold.

Be clear. Don’t be ambiguous or try to sound academic or mysterious for the sake of it.

Trust your own voice.

Be honest about your idea - what are the challenges? What are your strengths?

And most of all: apply! Someone once told me they allocated a day a month to apply for funding, residencies and other opportunities. I don’t manage to be as organised as this but I do allow myself time to do applications, time to discover and articulate ideas, and cast the net.

Photograd Experience: Joanne Coates at Photo Scratch

LCC graduate Joanne Coates is a firm supporter of Photograd and we've caught up with her again to find out about her experience of speaking at Photo Scratch. We hope you find some inspiration from Joanne's write up!


From the series  We Live By Tha’ Water

From the series We Live By Tha’ Water

Introduction: I am Joanne Coates, a photographer born and raised in rural Yorkshire and working internationally. I am based in the North of England after completing a BA (Hons) Photography degree at LCC London in 2015. My interest lies more with a visual prose, an appreciation of rurality. I identify with the marginalised, the edges. I have a democratic and poetic approach to what can be termed as the medium of "photography". Inspired by everyday stories, landscape experiences and Northern Realism. 

From the series  We Live By Tha’ Water

From the series We Live By Tha’ Water

Experience: On Monday 24th April I took part in my first Photo Scratch. I had seen the event shared on social media. The night saw works-in-progress from several photographers, myself included exhibited across Hotel Elephant. Each project had a feedback box, attendees left feedback on the projects. Photo Scratch is a supportive evening for working photographers and bring with us our experience and understanding of the documentary photography and associated industries. Founded and ran by LCC Masters graduates Phil le Gal and Hanna-Katrina Jedrosz.

 
From the series  We Live By Tha’ Water

From the series We Live By Tha’ Water

 

As I live in a rural area, and spent much of time working in different areas around the UK, it can be difficult to actually talk to anyone about my work. I’ve been working on this series since March 2016 now and felt as though it was a good time to talk about it, discuss ideas, and get feedback. It’s important to see how people interact with your work. I found the experience was especially helpful. 

Work: We Live By Tha’ Water is a story. A story that toys with what we accept as real and what we accept as imagined. It is an exploration of a new life after a diagnosis of Bipolar disorder. A dark narrative that explores life on the edge lands of society. A complex visual culmination of personal anxieties and mental erosion. A drawn out fascination with power relations. It is a poetic and emotional response to the eerie elements that make up modern societies. Slowly as the story continues the boundaries begin to warp and fade. What is real and what is imagined start to blur. The island is used as a new place for the in-between. To question what is actually visible and what is known. A place between madness and sanity. Travelling to the edge of the world to explore my own subconscious.  As the Orcadian writer George McKay Brown wrote “The imagination is not an escape, but a return to the richness of our true selves, a return to reality."

From the series  We Live By Tha’ Water

From the series We Live By Tha’ Water

The work itself is taken in moments of mania or moments of depression. Photo scratch offered me the chance to start bringing in other elements of the work such as search warrants, diary entries that depict the story, and pieces that tell the story of a decline in mental health. I’ve always been interested in documentary photography, but wanted my personal work to be a documentary of the self. To challenge the ways in which work. There is more to come in the series that will explain the journey more, where the viewer begins to lose sight of what is true and what isn’t. Beginning to realise if that truth matters or not in such a personal depiction. 

Future: I will be working on the series for the next year. The work best suits a book format but again I am taking my time with this project. 

From the series  We Live By Tha’ Water

From the series We Live By Tha’ Water

Outcome: I would recommend Photo Scratch for working graduates. I think times are hard, and options are limited for those who can’t afford to do masters and that isn’t spoken about. The photography world seems to take it for granted that opportunities are equal and level, which they aren’t. Groups like Photo Scratch level that field supporting those who are taking risks and working in photography despite circumstances. There was a broad range of projects, no matter what level you are, you can always benefit from the advice of other minds. The night was really inclusive, and open. I love the idea of pop-up shows and happenings. My advice would be to apply to speak to Phil and Hanna.

If you would like to take part in a future Photo Scratch you can apply by emailing Phil or Hanna-Katrina