Monday 22 March 2010

Interview with Glasshouse Images

Jacqueline Bovaird recently wrote to me explaining how she is examining new approaches to the traditional magazine model. One of the things she says she has seen as a big difference in the last few years is an audience’s capacity to wait for new content. We want everything now, and then we want more. "While I fully embrace a constant stream of information, great content is worth the wait," she says. She asked me to contribute some ideas on the subject, to which I naturally obliged. Below is the resulting interview. It was originally published here.

JACQUELINE BOVAIRD: Tell me a little about your background and how it led up to 1000 Words.

TIM CLARK: I have a background in Photography and Visual Culture from Falmouth College of Arts and the University of Brighton, England. I have a background in Visual Culture and Photography from Falmouth College of Arts and The University of Brighton, England and previously held positions at various galleries in both the public and private sector including Arnolfini, Fabrica and Michael Hoppen Gallery, London. My writing has appeared in The Daily Telegraph, The Sunday Times, FOAM, The British Journal of Photography, Next Level and Foto8 as well as in exhibition catalogues. I've been a juror on a number of awards and competitions including freshfacedandwildeyed and recently the Academy of Nominators for the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize. Over the years, I've also been invited to review portfolios at FORMAT International Photography Festival, The Saatchi Gallery, Fotofest Houston and ICP's Career Day.

© Jeffrey Silverthorne

JB: Tell me a little about 1000 Words. What’s the goal? What do you see as different from other sources?

TC: 1000 Words is an online magazine dedicated to highlighting the best of contemporary art photography in the UK and beyond. We are committed to showing the work of lesser-known but significant artists alongside that of established photographers in the aim of bringing their work to a wider audience. Often incredibly diverse in terms of subjects, concepts, styles and techniques, yet by covering a wide spectrum of genres 1000 Words intends to make us reconsider the contemporary photograph. The goal, I suppose, is to carve out our own niche and stand at the forefront of developments in online photography. My aim has really been to explore or exploit the creative possibilities of the internet and in the process provide an exciting space to see photography outside the conventional outlet of galleries, books and magazines.

In terms of what I see as different from other sources, well without wanting to sound too immodest, I don´t think that any other online title has this level of ambition, or quality for that matter. Both innovative and informative, 1000 Words is actively promoting important photography in an intellectual but accessible way. The response of the audience indicates that it is greatly appreciated and much needed by the contemporary photography world. (The site attracts approximately 140,000 unique visitors from over 75 countries every month.) Its design and presentation is very modern, very now and conveys a sense of confidence and knowledge. In general, I think it hits all the right chords… from its name, its design, writing and varied mix of photography, all of which is brought together in a package that is free but contained. I guess what I´m saying is that there is so much photography out there, too much, and we want to do our bit to prevent it from becoming an endless sprawling suburb of mediocrity. As Thomas Doubliez, editorial director at Agence Vu, once said, “1000 Words is not a magazine, it´s a manifesto!”

© Bruno Quinquet

JB: How do you choose which photography goes on the site?

TC: We receive around 50 portfolio submissions and press releases every day which is one level of images. I also spend a great deal of my time trawling through photographers´ blogs and websites to see what recent projects that have been working on so that´s another. Similarly, I check all the agencies from around the globe to see their latest offerings as well. Then there are the catalogs we get sent from all the major publishing houses that specialize in photography books, the best of which I earmark and keep a close eye on for any developments as to future releases. The rest consists of simply getting out there and seeing as many exhibitions as physically possible, going to their private views, chatting with the photographers and curators involved, collecting their business cards so on so forth. The international photography festival circuit provides an invaluable opportunity to see work of real pedigree so I make point of developing close relationships with the likes of PhotoEspaña, Photo New York, Paris Photo and Les Rencontres d´Arles for example, and attend whenever I can. These festivals should form an essential stop on any professional photographer´s itinerary.

From that, the type of photography I´m looking to showcase on the site has to be able transport you to a world you wouldn’t have experienced otherwise. The best pictures, for me, show you something that everybody recognizes in a way that you haven´t seen before. Now that may seem like two opposing ideas but in fact it is not. It is all to do with saying something new about your subject. It´s about contributing new ideas that shed light on some unseen aspect which opens up a space for questioning the world around us. There also has to be some magic involved, a certain romance even. I like photography that is eccentric, eloquent and apolitical. The work you´ll find on 1000 Words reflects this and our selection of imagery often attempts to stump the viewer´s expectations and suspend their disbelief. I would like to think that it´s as though the pictures take on a life of their own. Of course, speaking on a more practical level, I need to see a series of images that is methodically built up, and underpinned by a strong aesthetic and concept, preferably forming part of a project.

© Rimaldas Viksraitis

JB: What’s next?

TC: Aside from developing our brand direction and increasing both the quality and quantity of of the magazine, there are already plans afoot to roll out a long-term program of 1000 Words exhibitions and events such as workshops, slide shows, talks, panel discussions, portfolio reviews and prizes and awards.