J: Oxford, UK
S: Wiltshire / Cape Town
All: We are the co Founders of Faces in Focus
Faces in Focus
Was it a clear-cut path after you left in terms of what you wanted to do?
T: No, it was terrifying! You leave university (the first time out of education after 18 years), you’re in debt and you wonder how the heck everyone before you did it?! I knew I wanted to work in the photography world but had no idea how to break into its surface. Its all about getting that first door open, and if need be, breaking an entry!
What pressures do you think many twenty-something’s are faced with?
S: I think the main pressure is to leave university with a graduate job that pays well and enables you to live in London, which is a massive shame as I think people should be driven to be as creative and adventurous as possible, something the corporate London life does not necessarily enable.
T: Money- boringly. The pressure of doing things for money that you don’t feel so passionate about while dreaming of things you want to do which won’t earn you any money! It’s hard to keep your head above water while you’re finding your feet.
Exactly what is Faces in Focus?
J: Faces In Focus launched on the 29th October this year. It is an online platform that uses the amazing work of photographers to draw attention to the people and charities that are most at need around the world. Each photo is accompanied by the story of its subject, and with each story comes the option to donate money, volunteer, or buy prints. In this way, we provide a conduit to invest in the futures of the lives on both sides of the lens.
How did the idea for your company come about?
J: I practice street photography in my spare time. I became a bit sick of taking photos of people and not being able to develop a meaningful relationship with my subject. To me there is something ethically wrong with taking a photo of someone and not giving anything back. It should be more of an exchange between photographer and subject. Faces In Focus was borne out of that frustration. It gives photographers a chance to do great things for the people around the world who need it the most.
Why the name?
T: Faces in Focus aims to bring problems to the foreground, raise awareness and put them in focus of the public eye.
What have been the biggest challenges you have faced in setting Faces in Focus?
S: The biggest challenge for us has been communication. All three of us live in different parts of the UK, with Joe studying up North in Durham, Tara working in London, and myself based in Wiltshire. Life is far easier face-to-face, and not being able to get together very frequently has definitely slowed down our work rate.
Who did you seek advice from and who really helped you in the early stages?
T: In the early stages I spoke to my friend, old boss and Marrakech Biennale founder Vanessa Branson who had many a pearl of wisdom on the artistic side but also on the business side. She gave me fire in my belly and a hunger to make this something special!
S: I relied quite heavily on my brother for advise at first as he has far more experience than me at shooting photography in general, and at travel/humanitarian photography. In particular he advised me on the ethics of humanitarian photography, and advise on certain ethical pitfalls to avoid.
J: My family gave me some great advice in the early stages. My mum is a photographer, so speaking to her about it helped a lot.
What do you have to remain consistent about in running your company?
J: The main consistency lies in the fact that each photo and story must have a charity or organisation connected to it that can help the subject or his community in a direct way.
Do you ever doubt yourselves?
T: Of course! For me it’s fear of the unknown and plunging into a new venture when there are no models to follow and no boss to answer to. We as a team must support and push each other to keep the momentum up.
S: Yea I think its natural to doubt yourself and your business. In a way its good to have a bit of doubt as it forces you to improve and think creatively to solve problems. Being occasionally doubtful also ensures you don’t charge ahead to fact and do something rash.
J: Yeah! At times it has been really difficult running it alongside my studies.
How will you be marketing yourselves?
T: Facebook, Instagram and via our website. Keeping a physical presence is also really important so the more exhibitions/shows/art fairs we are involved in the better.
How big is your team?
S: 4 people – us three and Georgina Brisby, press/marketing liaison.
What do you wish you had known then that you know now?
T: I wish I had known that it would all be all right on the night, sometimes fear and adrenaline are useful but occasionally it gets the better of me. Keep calm and carry on!
Any mishaps along the way?
T: Only a close mishap as exhibition curator when it came to ordering the prints for the show. The deadline was pushed so much, I was cutting it pretty fine and silently sweating but luckily The Printspace worked their magic and the prints were ready for install the morning of the show. Eek!
What advice would you give other twenty-something’s who are thinking of pursuing a career in this field?
T: There’s no time like the present: do it today, think tomorrow, regret never!
J: Go for it! Don’t let the pressures of finding a stable job hold you back!
Since the launch-what do you think the next steps are for you?
T: Since the launch we’ve continued to make online print sales, exhibited a selection of the prints in Pearl and Groove Café (W10), set up a print stall at the Indoor Arts Market in Herne Hill and have retained an online presence. Next we will continue to nurture relationships with our already existing photographers, while seeking out new photographers who represent different charities around the world. Looking forward, we are planning the next exhibition for the beginning of the summer: it will be centralised around one theme and in aid of one charity, *spoiler alert*: “MIND” is our theme and mental health is our concern. Watch this space!
What has been your best moment so far?
S: Seeing the gallery full at the launch exhibition has been my best moment so far. Months of work went into it, so to see so many people enjoying the exhibition was amazing. The amount of images that were purchased was also an added bonus as I had my doubts about how many people would buy.
What’s the dream?
J: To turn Faces In Focus into the largest worldwide community for photojournalists. In doing so, we will be able to help millions of people around the world who are most in need.
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