A journal on photography by Thomas Riggs

Rolling up your sleeves

“Clients will always ask you to make their logo bigger, prescribe solutions, and ask you to do things that will make you smack your forehead. You can roll your eyes at how much they don’t understand about design or you can roll up your sleeves and begin practicing your craft by helping them clarify what they need.”

Straight out of college I have been lucky enough to find myself in the deep end of client services for the first time, inside of a huge company where most people have never worked with a photographer before, or even any kind of creative professional. It can all get a bit weird, particularly when big money is involved.

But that’s why I’m glad that I came across “Design Is a Job”, by Mike Monteiro, when I did. Mike is such a smart-ass, and an equally smart talker. He sets it straight: if you disrespect your clients for not knowing how to work with you (see above), you aren’t doing your job. You’re just being a jackass.

Above all, Mike’s book has helped me see something which I was beginning to lose sight of, as we took on more and more work, and we all began sitting around laughing at clients’ briefs and feedback; that is, seeing the work I do as providing a service on one hand, but also as educating and making the case for good photography on the other. And that’s a whole lot cooler of a job than I could ever wish for.

And for $9? Totally worth it.

The privilege of fiction

Earthrise

Colum McCann, in his introduction to Norman Mailer’s “MoonFire” (Taschen, 2010):

The aim of good writing is to briefly put the handcuffs on history. To arrest time. Stop movement. Clamp down memory. Put a headlock on life, if even just for a moment or two. And then—when life is still, caught, held—the handcuffs are swallowed, and the words are put together in an attempt to recreate life out of stillness, to make the silence breathe, to give an edge to the violence, or the beauty, so that years later, when a stranger comes along, he or she can step back into another time and have it come fiercely alive. This is the privilege of fiction. We become alive in a body, a time, a feeling, a culture that is not our own. We step into a new space. We adventure in the skin trade. We make new words: We become Mailers.

Photoworks interview about my graduate project, CROSS BONES

It’s old news now, but a couple months back my short film “CROSS BONES” received the 2013 graduate award from Brighton-based Photoworks. As far as I know, it’s the first time they have given what is essentially a photography-based award to a moving-image work; I was equally surprised and honoured.

Celia Davies conducted a really great interview with me about the film, and asked some poignant questions as to why a photographer might choose to work with video, among other things. It's now available online for reading.

CD: Does the subject in the project reflect a particular interest for you in your practice?

TR: Graveyards are a new one for me, but more than anything this project has helped me develop the processes that are involved in making my work. More and more I’ve begun to understand photography as something useful not only in documenting my curiosity in something, but useful in the sense that the camera itself facilitates that curiosity, by making me look at my subject in a very particular way.

You can read the full interview on the Photoworks website.

In praise of the internet k-hole

The internet k-hole is a dazzling collection of anonymous snapshot photographs from the recent past, found at flea markets and photo-sharing websites.

Browsing through each of the (overwhelmingly large) posts is a journey of curiosity and surprise. There’s something very charming about being a latent witness to these scenes of everyday life from around the world, and it reminds me in particular of something very “human” about photography, something you tend to get further and further away from in academia.

If you want to learn more, there’s a good interview with Bianca Peach, who runs the internet k-hole, on inconnu magazine’s website.