What is it that I do?
Afternoon all! I had mentioned on my Instagram that I would share a post to give some insight into my wider practice. I often find it hard to describe what it is that I do, and with my hopes to start blogging a bit more I thought this would be a good place to start, giving you all some context on everything that I do as Sradag Creative.
As a multidisciplinary business, scheduling and time management is never easy, but I'm always refining this process keeping my clients and their deadlines in mind! As I've had a couple of questions about turnaround recently, I thought I'd do a wee blog post about my process to illustrate. Just before we get started though one wee tip is that I am often booked out at least a month in advance. I try to ensure that I have enough work to keep me going for at least 4-5 weeks, an unless something has been completed quicker than usual or something has fallen through, I will not be able to take your bookings for 2-days time, or "next week", unless I juggle my production schedule around and this then affects other clients turnarounds.
To those who don't know me already, Hi! I'm Fiona Rennie and in 2018 I launched my freelance creative business, Sradag Creative. I had just moved home to the Isle of Lewis having finished my undergrad in Photography at Edinburgh Napier University. At the point I moved home I had been working part-time as a commercial photographer for about 6 years, alongside various other creative jobs and work placements, the latter of those being a recurring placement with Acair punishing company in Stornoway as a junior designer. When I graduated, I wanted to set up a business where I could cary on taking on work in all the various creative fields that took my interest.
As I mentioned my primary training and predominant experience is as a Photographer. Its my main love, it's what I've been doing the longest, what I'm most comfortable doing, and it combines many of my favourite things; being amongst people, making people feel comfortable, good conversations, capturing those special moments and personalities, and lastly the editing. I really enjoy the editing! For those new to following my page, family photography is what I am most often found doing. I really enjoy working with children, their wee personalities are great fun to capture and I also love how much the parents enjoy seeing the photos I've captured of their wee-ones! I get to revert back to a child myself for the duration of each shoot, searching for fairies, looking for the best sticks, playing peek-a-boo amongst trees, racing up and down the sand dunes! Every shoot is so different, and it never gets boring! I also take huge pride in being able to capture photos of parents and their kids together in a way that looks and feels natural.
These are deceptive though because although a shoot may only be 15 or 20 minutes, the editing is often three times that, and I often have multiple shoots in a day, so on average, taking into consideration my other work and deadlines, I aim that my turnaround for family shoots is about 2 to 3 weeks.
I enjoy varying the type of work I have on from month to month as I enjoy so many different things. I also photograph properties, an occasional wedding, products, press & PR shots, headshots and events. These all have different timescales - from booking to delivery - and each of these deadlines depend heavily on how much planning is involved, the level of editing is involved, when the client needs the images. PR and press shots for example often need a same-day or next-day delivery, events usually need to be turned around pretty quickly too, often for press or marketing purposes. This all feeds into the same production schedule, which means that less pressing jobs such as family and property shoots occasionally have a slightly longer wait times.
I also have experience in design and publishing, in particular book layout and cover design. As a student I started working with Acair, a local publishing company here in Lewis. I got several summer placements as a junior designer, first designing marketing materials and creating visuals in photoshop, then graduating to designing bits for covers, then full covers, and then finally designing full books from cover to cover. I continue to work closely with Acair, now as a freelancer, and take on a handful of design work jobs in a year from them. These are longer term projects, often taking several months from initial meeting, to the publishing of the final book. There are various stages in this process which varies depending on the type of book and the turnaround for the work, and a lot of this is also depending on the authors and the publishing company. I therefore work closely with both parties to ensure all deadlines are met. My favourite parts of this process is the cover design and any illustrations or photography needed for the inside. Due to the longterm nature of these jobs, the deadlines which occur along the way, from samples to proofing and amendments, which also effect the turnaround of whatever other work I have on at the time. Other design work I take on includes marketing materials, brochures, posters and websites.
Yes, believe it or not, I take on a lot of work that allows me to get paid for talking to people, and/or about things that I am passionate about! Anyone who knows me will appreciate how much I enjoy this, and I am so thankful that in recent years this skillset has ventured beyond simply interviewing people as part of photographic work. This is where it started through, when I photograph people I talk to them to make them feel more at ease, to get to know them a little, and this then allows me to capture their personalities better in the photographs. I also enjoy photographing and interviewing as practiced based research, and for longer-term projects such as Buntanas, The UOG Project and the Ginealaich an Iolaire.
I have also started to do a small amount of video work, for example I have produced and filmed a few FilmG short films for Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn (see some of them by clicking this link here) and occasionally take on some one-off commissions such as this Crafting Futures piece I did for Applied arts Scotland, British Council. I deliver workshops, I speak at events, and do an occasional piece for Gaelic BBC radio. This last item inspired my most recent new skill/project.
Podcasting is a new skill that I am developing and thoroughly enjoying producing, hosting, and editing these various podcasts. The first I'll mention is my own - The Creative Ruralist - which started as part of my masters project. Started as part of my Masters degree in Art & Social Practice with UHI. In it I invite fellow socially engaged creative practitioners to join me in conversations about their practice, rurality, and their sense of place and practice within that (another blog post coming about that soon too!).
I have also been working on Le Cheile / Together, for Western Isles Libraries along with Science Ceilidh, which is still in production.
Additional to my own productions, I have been a guest on the Artists and Community Landowners Podcast, as part of the Radical Land podcast. Listen to that here.
If all of the above wasn't enough, I also have to factor in all the admin for my business - from finances to arranging and packaging orders, scheduling (and sometimes rescheduling) shoots. Oh, and I also work part time for @urrasog as a development officer 2 days a week so most of this is also done part time (if i don't work weekends which i try not to anymore)!
I hope this has given some insight into my practice, and I'd love to know if you have any questions, send them to me in the chat box on my website.
Tioraidh an-drasta! Fiona