22nd May 2020
We spoke to Daniel Lyttleton, Stafford College's A Level Course Leader in Photography, to chat about his experiences before joining the college, his inspirations and the various personal projects he's worked on.
Q: Tell us about your experiences before joining the college.
A: Before joining the college, I worked as a self-employed freelance photographer for approximately 2 years, before travelling and working for a year in Australia and Asia. In earlier years, I assisted a local commercial photographer, assisting on commercial projects that involved a range of digital output and design work. In addition, prior to travelling, I’ve worked in an high street photography studio supplying contemporary family portraiture.
Q: Which photographer has influenced you the most and why?
A: Many, but most of all Mark Power. I judge photographers on their ability to create a ‘product’ or a piece of work, and not just individual photographers. For me, the skill in photography is creating a narrative, a body of work that’s speaks, and his books are often the best in my opinion. His work is an important comment on the socio-political landscape, not just here in this country, but in various different countries. His current work in America, entitled ‘ Good Morning , America ‘ is an example of the power of the photobook, and how this can be an important document in terms of visual communication.
Q: What advice would you give to your 15 year old self?
A: Travel, travel, and then travel. I should of done more.
Q: Why did you decide to become a teacher?
A: I never thought I would be a teacher, and never would of thought I was capable of teaching. I kind of fell into it from my days as a technician here at Stafford. I think if you’re passionate enough about something then I think teaching it is a little easier than you first imagine. So yeah, I didn’t really decide, but once I got a feel for it, I knew I enjoyed it and could hopefully inspire learners.
Q: What challenges have you faced in your career and how did you overcome them?
A: Many. Life comes with many challenges doesn’t it? But you do learn from them. I think the main challenge as a photographer, or any kind of artist in today’s world, is how you adapt and try to pave a way for yourself. I think the work I am making now, and the work I’m helping others to make in my community work, is somewhere where I always wanted to be. It has taken a long time, hard work and persistence. This, together with passion are the most important things to overcome these challenges.
Q: What advice would you give to anyone wanting to get into the photography industry?
A: Building on what I’ve said above. The industry has changed a lot over the years, it’s not an easier industry to break into, but having said that I think there are many opportunities to find your own thing, and be successful at that, but that will take time, passion and persistence. I think young people have to be willing to get out of their comfort zone, be willing to volunteer, travel, but most of all to keep making work. I really believe that work makes work.
Q: What sorts of careers have your past students gone on to have?
A: All sorts of things, and not just photography or arts related. The ones that stand out are a successful studio photographer, a lecturer, and lots are still making work and freelancing at this point in time.
Q: Tell us a bit about your own photography and any projects you’ve worked on?
A: I’ve worked on lots of projects over the last 10 years or so. I make photobooks about specific places, and I was co-founder of outofplacebook; https://www.outofplacebooks.com/books/. I’m interested in how photography can describe a place through a visual narrative in the form of a photobook. I also work within communities across the city of Stoke-on-Trent, where I often use the act of photography as a form of recreational activity to help engage people in a specific place, where the medium can help to form relationships, and eventually, community groups. I am a big believer in photography’s ability to open up conversations and promote that basic human need, we need it now more than ever.
My personal projects have been recognised, and they have led to many commissions. This is what I mean by ‘ works makes work’.
Q: What key skills does someone wanting to pursue a career in photography need to have?
A: I think communication skills are key. You will always need to be able to explain intentions before a job, commission or project. You will also need to be able to sell your work. Verbal and written communicative skills do help a lot.
Q: Where do you find inspiration for your work?
A: Photographers work, mainly photobooks. My immediate environment. The social landscape I am part of. I use photography to question things, and point things out. I also use it as an escape, escapes are important too in these times.
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