Dean O'Brien's Blog

David Gray talks to #Phonar at Coventry University

with 2 comments

After listening to David Gray talk at Host gallery earlier on in the year this was one talk that I was not going to miss.  Not only is David a photographer who presents his images through books, he also produces them himself.  Right down to sourcing the paper from suppliers and having them sewn together with a Singer sewing machine.  This is proper grass roots self sufficiency here.  He tries to source everything himself.  This gives him total control over quality and presentation.

As well as discussing his projects and where he draws his inspiration from David managed to give the group a real insight into the making of these books.  There was a lot more to this than meets the eye.  The marketing and networking strategy also play a vital part in book producing.  Yes, we were indeed being given some real insider tips.

What I most admire about David is that he spoke with a passion about what he does.  He took time out afterwards to talk to a small group and discuss his work further and take questions.  Everyone also received a free copy of his book ‘Cunawabi’. A nice touch which meant a lot to those in attendance.

I was however also here on official business so to speak.  As part of my professional experience module I will be taking images at these talks.  Not as easy as it sounds I might add.  Either shoot with flash that gives too much over/under exposure or bump the iso up and shoot flash free.  Its trial and error and I don’t like doing the trial and error bit in a room full of people.  I also like to try and stay as discreet as possible.  I left the talk five minutes before the end so that I could find a location to shoot a portrait of David.  This also gave me some breathing space and time to get the camera settings right before he emerged from the lecture room.  I did manage to get some decent shots a few of which are in the slideshow below.

The learning outcomes are ongoing. After each talk which I shoot I learn a little more. I try and let the guest speaker know that I will be taking images during the talk just to put them at ease. As well taking shots whilst the talk is going on I am trying to get a few in the classroom area. The lighting is better and it gives a different feel. It also allows me to compose and frame the shots better. I know these will improve as the weeks go on.

A full audio recording of David’s talk to the Phonar group will be available online shortly.

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Written by Dean O'Brien

December 1, 2010 at 5:17 pm

Posted in Professional Experience

Tagged with ,

2 Responses

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  1. Thanks Dean, I’m buzzing about what to do now too – it’s got to be a ltd ed book…….

    Jonathan Worth

    December 1, 2010 at 8:10 pm

  2. Thanks to you first of all for spotting his talent at foto8 and realising that he would make a great contribution to the course. I thought the advice about getting a strong following of buyers was very constructive. Definitely something to think about. A Ltd Edition well worth you doing I think.

    I just produced my first book this week. Its for my CW1 assignment. Not a major publication but a start all the same and a great learning curve.

    Dean O'Brien

    December 1, 2010 at 8:27 pm


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