The Creatives Lives talk this week was by the ‘issue-based’ photographer, Paul Wenham-Clarke. His work is beautiful, emotionally moving and seeks to address environmental and social concerns. Some of the work involves forays into macabre still lifes. I preferred the portraits.
Paul’s talk was an amusing and interesting walk through his constantly-evolving career. He continues to build on skills he acquired early on. He also seemed (at first) to get quite a lot of lucky breaks — his work has won many photography awards, and he was on the BBC Culture Show, he’s had exhibitions in major venues such as the Crypt in St Martin’s in the Fields in London. But as he spoke, it became obvious that he diligently entered competitions, searched out venues and contacted people to keep his career moving. So, yes, there were some lucky breaks, but they didn’t strike like lightning out of an empty sky.
Paul’s amazing and sympathetic portraits are the result of patience, good natural lighting, empathy and a willingness to get to know people. The powerful image of Precious and Favour is an example of how his methods come together.
Two big ideas resonated strongly with me: “reinvent yourself or go extinct” and while it’s all very well to dabble, you need to concentrate and focus for “at least two years to get really good at something”. I was aware of the so-called rule that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert. Two years seems much less daunting and more doable.
For more about Paul’s work, see: