I don’t exactly know what I want to pursue when I leave university and so making a decision of who I can speak to with regards to getting advice in starting a career hasn’t been easy. What I do know is that I don’t want to be a photographer, from speaking to my peers, they have been advised by photographers to assist for a couple of years to make contacts, build a strong portfolio and confidence. This makes sense, but I don’t feel that even asking for this advice would be necessary for me. I spoke with Charo Ruiz Davila, Ash Taylor and Emma Taylor- I have also spoken with Aaron Guy, Moshe Caine and Robert Kantor around the subject of archives.
Charo Ruiz Davila,
I wanted to speak to Charo because I know that she has helped organise photographic events around her job. I wanted to know a bit more about this and how she managed her time.
KG: could you tell me what you do as a profession?
- CD: computer developer
- KGCould you briefly describe what you do as a computer developer? How long have you done this for?
- CD:I develop software for different companies, mainly internet applications. I also design the program, supervise the development, kind of team leader, and management
- KG: On the side of working though you have done open online photography courses such as picbod and phonar. How did you manage your time?
- CD: I can understand very well the question. When I work (though I have no job at the moment) I try to have spare time for my hobbies
- KGWhy did you decide to get involved with Santander photo?
- CD: I decided to get involved with Santander photo because of Picbod. Ana and myself thought it would be funny to have the exhibition of the course in our hometown, you said yes so we built the little festival. The success of Santander PHOTO’13 have push us to go on and try to make it bigger. Work with other people, look for different ways to work on photography, and get involved with creative people and give them the chance to show their works is our objective.
- KG: How have you found doing this with a low budget because of the financial situation in Spain
- CD: Tough!! You were extremely generous not only for coming but for bring the exhibition with you. We look for friends who want to be involve and share their video-photo-works with the public. Lots of imagination and lots of generous people. People who really care for photography have understand our philosophy and are helping us, understanding that we try to do lots of things with our budget
- KG: Would you consider approaching other big festivals with your experience and change your career?
- CD: I enjoy the work of the festival, but I enjoy as well SW development. I consider festival and events an activity that I make with friends to enjoy.
- KG: For a young adult interesting in doing these projects, what advice would you give?
- CD: Be organized. Be flexible, things suddenly change and you have to know how to readapt schedules, people. Make things respectfully, trust is basic for others to respect your work and want to cooperate with you. Be aware of the budget, but be imaginative to solve things when you lack of money. Don’t be afrais of ask for things but accept a “NO” as answer.
The points I would take from speaking with Charo is that if you want something to get done, work hard and enjoy it. I think it is important to recognise that bills do have to be paid and that you may not always love the job you’re in as much as your hobbies. Charo lives in Spain, which currently doesn’t have a good economy and therefore, she has to be sensible about career decisions she makes. I think Charo’s point about making friends and having a good time is such good advice; I think it is very easy to get sucked into work and forget to have a laugh. Although she hasn’t offered me advice in terms of getting a career in the creative field, it is good to hear from a person with a difficult economic background to share how she works her photography projects around work.
I spoke to Ash quite casually about his career and so took notes after we spoke. Ash works at the BBC in production operations. This means that he takes care of the technicalities of prerecorded and live shows. I wanted to know a bit more about making such a big decision to move to London and what he has gained from it.
I asked Ash how he got his job and he said that he was fortunate to have been offered a job through an application and interview process. He said that it is really important to read what the job entails and what the skills it requires so that your CV can be tailored for the application- it’s about ticking boxes and supporting what you claim in your cover letter. He had acquired a skill-set from being a radio presenter for a local station in North Lincolnshire and said that this was the main reason he got the job because he could evidence his skills which were required of him in the role at the BBC.
Ash told me that moving to London wasn’t an easy decision; from Cleethorpes, his whole family was North and he didn’t know many people in the capital. At the same time he was considering enrolling at university. However, on reflection he thinks it was the best decision he’s ever made. Not because it is his dream job, but he has been given so many opportunities being there and he enjoys having a London lifestyle. He has said that since he’s lived in London, many of his friends too have moved there because of its appeal.
Ash has a job which gives him a generous amount of holiday which means that he has had the opportunity to travel to places before he would never have been able to afford on a regular basis. Since moving to London three years ago he has been to America, Australia, Belgium, Switzerland and so on, and plans to go to Thailand next month. This obviously isn’t a rule that applies to all jobs in London; however, having the incentive to know that it is possible, is encouraging.
Ash is only 23 so I asked what he thinks his future will be and he isn’t sure. However, his love for travel has inspired his newest hobby learning to fly. He has a goal to become a pilot and fly around the world, a far cry from working in studios. He believes that anything is possible if you believe in it and work at it; money is important but there are ways to get around difficult hardships.
I would like to move to London at some point, but I don’t want to move knowing that I am going to really struggle, living to the next payday. I like to try and save and prepare for any contingencies, such as any issues with my car. On the other hand, turning down an opportunity to work/live in London could ultimately turning down several other opportunities. What I have gained from Ash is being reminded of how important a strong CV is for applying for jobs, which may not necessarily be as a photographer. I feel that from this talk, I need to make a solid portfolio to evidence work that I have done- making books, curating exhibitions; organising exhibitions/symposium; writing lessons; photographic projects including George Rodger Archive. I’ve learnt that it’s ok not to know exactly what you want to do and that your career path will change. On reflection, before I came to university I thought that I would be a photojournalist and now I think I would rather work with photography either in research archives or teaching than be explicitly a photographer.
Emma is the acting manager at Pizza Express, Coventry. I asked her about her job roles, working hours and the benefits of working there.
I asked Emma about working a job which is shift work:
Emma said that in management, you are obliged to work ‘key shifts’ (Wednesday, Friday and Saturdays) which can often lead to late nights. They are the busiest nights and so if there are any complications then she should be able to handle the situation. It isn’t easy when you have to work a night shift until midnight and be expected to come back to work for 9 or 10am the next morning.
Managers are contracted to 45 hours a week- this is more than the average 9-5 office job- and her shifts change just as much as the other staffs’. However, after accepting a managers position, you have to work for at least a year in this position, so there is no point looking for other jobs. At the same time, with having 45 hours a week at work, there will not be great amounts of time to balance looking for another job, resting and having a social life.
Taking a managerial position comes with a great responsibility of looking after the restaurant. This means that any problems will have to be dealt with by you. Looking after the staff, restaurant, orders and quality standards means that this job is likely to affect your personal life. Emma is often called on her days off about a staffing problems and maintenance issues which means that it is difficult to switch off from work.
If I wanted to take the advice from Charo to do hobbies outside of work, I would feel that in this position I would neither have the time or availability to commit myself to projects that would help my creative practice. I feel that I don’t want to become a slave to a job I don’t enjoy and will never see a future in. I understand that it pays well, but I would rather stay in the position I am in, with less responsibility and more freedom.
When asking about the job, she said that there is a lot of expectations. She iterated that it’s important to have a particular mindset to want to do this job; to be prepared, organised, energetic and motivational. You need to be prepared and organised by making sure food orders from distributors are done on time and that the correct quantities are ordered; making sure the restaurant is ready for a busy shift so having enough ice, lemons, chemicals and paper towels and that there are enough desserts in the fridges. These small things can save precious seconds when working a busy shift so stress levels are maintained to a low level. She says you have to be energetic so that your customers benefit from friendly and fast service. You also need to be motivational so that the team is in good spirits and works well together. I think that this is quite a big ask for 45 hours a week of a mixture of late nights and morning starts.
There is a lot of paperwork which has to be kept on top of and organised properly; the company changes its risk assessments and new training programmes regularly, which adds to the usual weekly paperwork of safelogs, invoices, time sheets and so on.
I have learnt that this job comes with a huge amount of responsibility and energy. Although I feel that I do meet the requirements to do this job, I don’t feel that I would want to be so involved in my job (which I know I won’t be passionate about) that it affects my whole lifestyle.