During the Surfaces and Strategies module I started reading Show your Work by Austin Kleon. I was very interested in what he had to say and vowed to come back to it when I had completed my coursework and moved into the assessment period.

I am of a generation that did not grow up with computers and although I feel the MA Photography has helped me to improve my website, develop this blog, share my thoughts and work and dip my toe in the water of producing short videos I have a long way to go. The first thing I need to understand, according to Kleon is that I should share my work, thoughts, journey and process with others – I need to search for a “scenius” (a group of individuals making up an ecology of talent).

I believe I have started this process through my blog but I need to embrace this aspect of my work, grow my audience and followers and engage them more routinely, however this comes with a health warning that it is important to grow an interested audience rather than numbers. As always, I was drawn to a few quotations:

“Creativity is not a talent. It is a way of operating.” (John Cleese)

“Give what you have. To someone, it may be better than you dare to think.” (Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)

“Find your voice, shout it from the rooftops, and keep doing it until the people that are looking for you find you.” (Dan Harmon)

“Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked.” (Steve Jobs)

and finally:

“Put yourself, and your work, out there every day, and you’ll start meeting some amazing people.” (Bobby Sololmon)

Of course, this approach comes with some warnings – don’t share anything you don’t want to be public and be cautious in this respect. It is suggested that we try to say something each day. Although, I feel I am a consistent blogger and regularly post four times a week it is a commitment of time and I am not sure whether I wish to say publicly at this stage that I will do more than that. However, the point is well made that it is important to talk about current work, what has been completed today and what other things are in the pipeline.

We are also cautioned to take any publishing through the “So what test?” and use the “save draft” button when not sure. I have always taken a cautious approach here and do save something for another day if I am not sure. We are also encouraged to create stock which might be described as a piece of work that has some longevity and will be as relevant in a month as it is now. When I get some spare time I do create a few extra blogs for the time when interesting stuff is in short supply!

Another aspect of having a public profile is to ensure proper attribution for those whose work you have used as inspiration or shared. Always be clear why you are sharing and ensure you put appropriate web links and information about those who have given you ideas, help or assistance.

From reading this book I have decided I need to become a better storyteller. Kleon recommends studying some good stories so I plan to do that. He also has some words about valuing and respecting your audience:

“Whether you’re telling a finished or unfinished story, always keep your audience in mind. Speak to them directly in plain language. Value their time. Be brief. Learn to speak. Learn to write.”

 Of course, being successful in forming a “scenuis” and having an on-line presence comes with it a need to develop a thick skin. In this regard, Kleon gives some good advice I will need to bear in mind as I share more of my work:

  1. put out lots of work and take the criticism
  2. you can control how you react to criticism
  3. try not to avoid embarrassment or putting work out there
  4. work is what you do not who you are

As part of my MA Photography we have engaged in critique sessions, and tutors and fellow students regularly review our work. I think the more I do this the more helpful it will become. I think it is important not to get too attached to a particular image and gaining feedback about my work at an early stage will avoid this type of pitfall where perhaps I have an emotional attachment to the scene, the great day I’d had or other reason that might mar my critical judgement.

As I move into my third module Sustainable Prospects I will keep in mind Kleons’ book and some of the key messages I have recorded here.


 Kleon, A (2014), Show your Work, Workman Publishing, New York

Alison Price

Alison Price

My name is Alison Price and for the past ten years I have travelled the world photographing wildlife, including Alaska, Antarctica, Borneo, Botswana, the Canadian Arctic, Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Skip to content