Questionnaire - Studio Use

During VL1, there were some slides about studio use that posed questions about how we use that space, how it can be improved.

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This is followed up by another questionnaire, which is as follows. I’m not quite sure these answers are “correct” (if there is such a thing) as I don’t consider that I actually have a studio at all...

What do you do in your studio or the place where you usually make work?
Write down everything you do in your studio or the place where you usually work. Include drinking cups of tea, dreaming, reading the paper, phoning friends etc.

  • Photographic workflow control (Aperture/Lightroom type activities)
  • Post processing with Photoshop
  • Printing (sizes up to A3+)
  • Sequencing images, arranging juxtapositions, etc. normally with something like InDesign if a book is the end product
  • Answering open calls, trying to get some exposure
  • Looking at photobooks, reading theory books, etc.
  • Looking at photography/art related material on the Internet
  • Flickr/Tumblr/Twitter, etc.
  • Writing my blog, updating websites, etc.
  • Writing in my paper journal
  • Thinking, contemplating, procrastinating... call it what you will
  • Drinking coffee or whatever
  • Eating my breakfast (whilst reading the news online)
  • Company accounts, business correspondence, etc.
  • E-mail, or writing snail mail, etc.
  • MA hangouts, skype, telephone
  • Online shopping
  • Browsing the Internet for non-photographic things, reading the news, watching the odd game of football, etc.
  • Listening to music
  • Anything else to do with a computer...

This room that I’m calling my studio is the smaller bedroom (the office) in a small two bedroomed cottage, it’s shared with my wife although we do have our own ends to the room, our own desks and computers, etc.

Which of these things do you want to be doing and which do you not?
I could probably do with spending a little less time browsing the web for other stuff, but sometimes it’s that other stuff that keeps me sane. You could probably argue that I shouldn’t eat my breakfast here either, but time is a premium and if I can catch up with the news before heading off to work... Other than that, it’s a room with my computer in it, so everything has to be done there.

What else do you want to do that you don’t? Why aren’t you doing these things?
Yeah, it would be nice to have a space that people could come to if they wanted to discuss my work, but it’s not that sort of space. I could probably do with tidying it from time to time...

Is your studio set up for you to do what things you want to do?
I don’t photograph in this room, most of that is done elsewhere - out on location normally, but in the lounge for the current set of images I’m working on. So other than the odd photobook snap I take, then it’s fine. I do have a garage that I can hang a roll of white paper from if I wanted to do that sort of thing, but to be honest, I don’t do that sort of thing very often. So yeah, I think so.

What stimulates ideas and your imagination?
Some ideas come when I’m driving and my mind can do whatever it is that it does. 12 months ago, it was a 90 minute commute to work so there was plenty of time for thinking, with the problem being that sometimes I’d forgotten what I was thinking about by the time I got off the motorway. Now it’s only 30 minutes each way, not as much time for ideas to come, but more chance I will actually remember them. Other than that, my “studio” houses my bookshelves, so there is inspiration sitting there, waiting to be looked at.

How do you keep track of projects?
I blog about things, I have folders full of links and other stuff that relates to the project, organise photographs in Aperture/Lightroom (Aperture will no longer be supported by Apple, so making a painful transition to Lightroom at the moment). Things get dropped on to my computer desktop, notes get written on a whiteboard. Probably too much sits in my head (which might be why some things get forgotten - I need to upgrade my internal memory store, but I’m not too sure the technology is with us yet).

Is it too messy and chaotic or too neat and tidy?
Of course, it’s spotless...
Ok, ok. The latter is nearer the usual truth.

Do you feel at home and relaxed?
Yeah, normally - it is home, and I’m often relaxed.

Can you play there?
Depends what the game is...

Can you refine and finish work there?
To a point, yes - quite often the finished print will be produced externally, but the files they need are produced here.

Is there enough storage?
There’s never enough - it’s a small 2 bedroomed cottage in the countryside, but I make the most of it.

Do you have a comfortable chair to sit in to contemplate work?

Is the light adequate?
Unless I’m really inspecting a print closely, the light is fine. I often prefer things on the dingier side if I’m working anyway, it keeps the reflections down.

Are there enough electrical sockets?
Everything is plugged in (to a spaghetti network of extension sockets), so I guess so (although I can still only charge one camera battery at a time!)

Is there a good enough internet connection?
Define “good enough”... We have countryside broadband, which is significantly inferior to that available on the moon. It’s enough for the hangouts, and enough for most other things except streaming HD video, etc. Some things just take longer, such as uploading high res files. Now we’ve gone to Powerline networking, we have wifi throughout the house except the bathroom - it might be a small cottage, but it’s a small stone cottage and wifi doesn’t like that.

Where else do you make work or think about work or carry out research?
Much of my work is normally “en plein air”, although I am doing stuff in my lounge at the moment (photographing the telly). I mentioned the garage which gets used once in a while. I might do “research” in a gallery. We also have a house in the countryside of Brittany, so several times a year we get away from it all there. Not that I do much work there except maybe reading the odd book or magazine...

What do you do in these places?
Take photographs, read, look at the work of others... (and drink coffee, yada yada yada...)

Do you need to make any changes?
It would be wonderful to have more space, a dedicated space, a designed space. The truth is though that this is my home, and it needs to meet the demands put on it as a home in the first instance. I’ll sort out a better space when that lottery win comes in. That said, I believe it does what it needs to do.

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