This week our five questions are with the founder of the Miniclick team, Jim Stephenson. The Miniclick team curates a series of free experimental events, talks, workshops and publications; focusing on ways of looking at photography. They are also known for hosting free monthly photography talks in Brighton; often collaborating with local & international artists exploring the creative process and stories behind their projects. We caught up with Jim, to find out what’s in store for Miniclick this year!
How was the Miniclick team formed and what were your initial goals when you founded the team?
Miniclick was formed in September 2010 and for a while I put on the talks on my own, relying heavily on the Brighton photography community both for speakers and suggestions for future events. I think Brighton has just about the right population to start something like this – enough people to form a community, but not so many that it feels disparate.
Over time the talks started to grow and Lou Miller joined me to work on curating and on putting together our publications. After that, it all got bigger and bigger. We were doing more and more events and now publishing and commissioning work, so Jack Latham and Kristina Salgvik joined us followed by Bryony Good, Nicoletta Barbata and Joe Conway. Now all seven of us curate the talks. It’s important to have a team of that size, not just to help with the logistics, but also so we have a group that can bounce ideas around a bit and come up with new things we can try out.
I don’t think we really have any goals, other than to keep putting on free events. The fact that we’re not funded in anyway, and are independent of any institutions and other organisations, means we can experiment a lot and we want to keep doing that.
Are there plans for Miniclick to show regularly outside of Brighton? If so which city and why?
Yes! Absolutely. Brighton is our home and we have a great community here, so we’ll always keep doing the bulk of our work here, but in the last year or so we’ve worked in Liverpool, Cardiff, Leeds, London and Sierra Leone. This year we’ll be in Derby doing an event at FORMAT and Liverpool for LOOK/15 and we’re in talks with a couple of venues in London to do more events there. We’re also trying to make sure the events we do are documented in such a way that people who can’t make it along can still get something from them, be it as a Podcast, video or a blog post.
What would your advice be, for anybody interested in starting up a photography collective?
Don’t think about it too much, just get it started! There’s so many positive reasons for working in a collective these days, and it doesn’t make that much sense for photographers to stick to their own little bubbles.
Try not to be too rigid about the makeup of the collective – if there’s a few of you in there, some people will be better suited to certain projects or tasks, and some for others. You don’t all need to be involved in every single thing the collective does. Also, if you’re setting up as a traditional photographers collective, to create and pool work, consider adding non-photographers into it. We work a lot with graphic designers, illustrators and writers and their expertise can be invaluable. It’s also incredibly useful to have a fresh, non-photographer’s pair of eyes on work at times.
Do you have any tips on what makes a good photography talk?
For a straight up artist’s talk, it varies from person to person, but the most successful of the ones we’ve put on have always had good stories at their heart. Great photos are helpful of course, but an interesting story will really engage with an audience.
Don’t be afraid to show the passion you have for the work that got you started on it in the first place – it’s incredibly infectious! If you’re talking for 45mins to an hour, you’ll need to show that you care about what you’re talking about, or the audience will just switch off. We always find that talking about the background to your work gets a good reception. Things like your inspiration, planning and sketchbooks. Talking about your influences shows that you know the subject well and gives people some ideas for further reading.
From a technical point of view, please rehearse! If you know what you’re going to say, and what is coming next, you’ll appear more confident and you’ll not be talking into your notes, but addressing your audience. I know a lot of people hate speaking in public, but it really is so useful to learn how to communicate your ideas and stories in a succinct manner that also gets across your passion for the subject. Doing things like Pecha Kucka talks (short, 6:40secs presentations) really hones this skill.
What’s next for the Miniclick team?
A lot! As I mentioned before, we’re going to be at FORMAT this year with our participatory project, The Heart Grows Fonder, so we’re putting a lot of time into getting that sorted right now. We’ll keep doing our monthly events of course, but we’re also going to release a couple of new books, a new podcast, and a big project where we hope to work with lots of self-publishers and independent publishers. Keep an eye out!
Miniclick interactive talk: Jason Evan’s Anarcho Cyclist Disko, 2013
Miniclick event: The Heart Grows Fonder, 2014
Miniclick exhibition: Tom Pullen-Because I Cannot See, 2014
Miniclick talk: Matt Stuart, 2013
Interviewer: Kayung Lai
Find out more about Miniclick