Celeste McKenzie of 25 Degrees south Studios in South Africa is working to promote the alt. proc. arts in her part of the world.
Your background… how did you start working in alternative processes?
I am actually very new to alternative photographic processes and started in 2008 during a fine art course I did. My background is a Honours degree in Communication and 22 years in the corporate marketing world. During these years I have done photography as a journalist, PR and as a lecturer in multimedia. I started my own company as a freelance project while I still had a day time job and left last year in May 2008 to follow this full-time. During this time
I was introduced to alternative photographic processes during a fine art photo course.
I kept in touch with the lecturers and ordered some extra chemicals and started from there.
How do you work in alt proc today?
I recently returned from trip to Cuba and Mexico and wanted to do more with my negatives. I find the perfect opportunity for this in Cyanotype and Vandyke Brown processes. I started to experiment with canvas and normal linen that I paint over first and then use to print onto. I am learning as I go along and exchange ideas with my friends on my facebook profile. I am trying to get the galleries interested in this type of art form and it is very slow as they do want canvas and still do not embrace this completely.
How did the social network start?
A group of social photographers did some courses together and after one fine art course we wanted to keep this interest alive. We decided to get together to exchange ideas, but soon we realized we had to juggle work and hobbies all in one. I am in the fortunate position to have started my own company after leaving the corporate world after 22 years. To try to keep the fine art alive and to get the public to appreciate and understand this form of alternative photography I started the Fine Art and Alternative Photography network.
Who are the founders of the group?
Currently I am the one doing the work trough my company 25 Degrees South Studios where I have a free fine art platform and fellow photographers can upload. The group is only online at the moment as they all have day time jobs. We correspond through email etc and once in a while we get together to chat and exchange Ideas. As we live in different parts of Gauteng it is difficult to get together and with our crime rate at the moment it is safer to communicate online. The group is enthusiastic, but I have more time and therefore I initiate everything through my company and get them to email all their friends and fellow photographers. I started the Social Network to get them to upload their work and get into forums etc. They share ideas and all want to get more involved and want to exhibit, but I do the marketing. Thus I am the founder and the other photographers are contributing on the social networks and by email. They need some encouraging and need to see that there are more photographers doing this.
What are you planning to do with the network?
We are sending out emails to all our friends and people that joined us on the courses and hope that will spread into a productive network. We are talking to companies in the industry and educational institutions to help with forums and articles.
25 Degrees South publishes articles on alternative printing and basic photographic techniques and everyone is welcome to send us articles and interviews. We provide a free network on the business website and will also publish articles from the website on the network.
My company 25 Degrees South Studios has a free fine art platform where fine art and alternative photographers can upload 8 photos free and get exposure that way. We want to expose the South African market to photographers worldwide and let the exchange of ideas, forums, competitions and books become the norm.
What is the aim of the group?
In South Africa we are slowly getting back to printing art photos and the alternative printing methods are a great way of exploring new avenues of photographic art. Sometimes, the greatest works of photography arise from experimental pictures or the ones that were "mistakes".
We want fellow photographers that understand photography as art and use artistic control and different techniques to create a piece of photographic art to exchange their views and photos on this network.
The aim of the Social Network is to
Engage fine art and alternative photographers in sharing ideas and techniques.
There is not a great deal of information or groups in South Africa that engage in this photography and I want to change the perception and educate more people in this kind of art form. Lots of photographers go into wildlife and landscape, commercial, wedding and magazine photography as the opportunity for fine art and alternative photography is not in abundance. I want to create a whole new vibe for this kind of photography with a social network, an online magazine and some fine art competitions. This will hopefully generate enough interest that there can be a printed magazine once a year with collections from that year. (The interest is there I am the driving force, because of my company). The aim is also to organize exhibitions.