As some of my readers may know I have been involved with a project called Tenth Floor Photography, primarily setting up the website. It has almost been a year since the project started and I thought this would be a good time to find out more about the founder and how the project is going. Tenth Floor Photography is also promoting a Black Friday sale on their prints from 24th - 27th November, pop over to the site.
Tell us a little about yourself, your background and how you became interested in photography.
Well, my name is David Gulliver, and I am the Director of Tenth Floor Photography. Growing up, photography was always around me. My Great Aunt and my Uncle were avid photographers, but I never really paid attention. In those days, SLR cameras were only fully manual, so the only thing that intrigued me was the amount of strange numbers on the dials.
Come 2005 I was accepted into Edinburgh College of Art. There was a foundation year where you studied multiple disciplines; one of which was photography. Although digital photography existed, they were adament that we learn from the start; manual. Hours swearing in the dark room when you find you have chosen the wrong ISO film, or that your photos are blurry. Ultimately, I specialised in sculpture and painting, however photography was still a key part of this. I used photos to not only document my work, but to draw from, and so the perfect composition and rules needed to apply: the only difference being that now I had a cheap compact digital camera. Over the next few years, I would continue to take 1000's of photos, but took my ability to create good photos for granted. As I became dissatisfied with my day job, I began to dream of creating my own photography project early 2016. I began to study the market, modern equipment, and joined Instagram to secretly source talent for my project that I hadn't even told my wife about. I secretly created a 3 year business plan with the help of a business advisor at Edinburgh University. With the help of the 'Architect', Adam, Tenth Floor Photography was created, and it's dynamics and unique sellings points grew. We began making money earlier than expected, and this took me by surprise; but now photography is my life.
And your particular style, how would you describe it?
Very much reflecting my drawings and paintings, my work focuses on looking closer, and looking up on urban decay, and carries themes such as disease, poverty, and decay. Initially I used black and white to portray this, but have grown into using a complex editing method using Lightroom, into Photoshop, and then back to Lightroom to create a particular style, which involves some colour.
Has there been a particular influence place or person in your photographic style?
Although he is a painter, from a young age I have been obsessed with the work of Ken Currie; one of the New Glasgow Boys. His work of the 1980s portrayed the poverty and decay of Glasgow at that time. I feel I take my best work in run down areas, factories and industrial zones.
Tell us about The Tenth Floor Photography, it’s concept and aims.
Tenth Floor Photography is still very young, and as I said, has grown faster than expected. It was always going to be a collaboration of excellent artists, and obviously that hasn't gone unnoticed, with interest from Edinburgh College of Art, members of the public, and even companies for advertising events. So, in terms of aims, it's already succeeding in money terms, but other goals are to raise money for charity and help up and coming talent showcase their work.
Every business needs to have something catchy, something people will remember. The Tenth Floor came from Joy Division lyrics from the song 'Disorder'. I always imagined it as a space for artists: an online space, or floor, for talent. That's why each photographer has a code, it's like their room number on the Tenth Floor.
What is your goal for TFP?
Come 2018, I would like more events, more marketing and really just to get our name out there, and work more closely with the photographers.
After it’s first year how do you feel about the progress that has been made inTFP?
Delighted. I had no idea it would take off like it has. I now work part time in a bar to top up the income, and when you tell a stranger about the Tenth Floor and they say they have heard of it, there's a sense of pride, and this is just the start.
TFP have featured photographers, what do you look for in a photographer that you would be happy featuring?
Having studied art for so many years, you see the work of so many successful photographers and you gain an ability to see talent or potential in people. Just like music, it's about the feeling that goes into any work. I could sit for a year and learn a Mozart on the piano, but if I didn't like the piece, then the listeners would notice it was flat. Passion for your subject is everything, and those with an artistic eye can see that. If I feature a photo, then I can usually spot the feeling the photographer had at that moment in time and why they chose that shot. That's what makes a beautiful and unique shot.
As a photographer are you ever in the position of turning down a project because it doesn’t fit your particular philosophy?
Yes, but we are a team. For example, just this coming Wednesday we have been invited to an interview to be the photographers at a corporate event. That event, however, involves pets. I don't do pets. I hate pet photography, but it is one of the specialities of our Assistant Directors, so I'll be able to step back from that one! I am yet to have the opportunity to take a step back from child photography, as that is something I refuse to do also, but maybe one of the team would take that on if we ever get an offer!!
Increasingly in these particular times almost everyone with a phone is crafting content in various social media sites, in particular Instagram. Do you think this is diluting ‘real fine art photography’ or do you think it is an opportunity for photographers to get there work out to a global audience?
Instagram is great! It allows people with no training or expensive equipment to get their work out there. But that and the art world itself should never be confused. Instagram is an app and a game. Personally, I gained the followers I have through a combination of decent photos and liking other peoples work regardless of its quality. That gives room for false likes and a mis-representation of your work. We use Instagram to promote the business, but no longer play the 'like for like' game to gain followers; we need that to happen naturally. Instagram is just a handy tool for us, and our Social Media Manager does a good job of taking care of that and Facebook. Saying that, I use Instagram to look at others' work for inspiration. Ultimately though, I look to famous, modern photographers to see what they are up to. They are always striving for an originality that can't be found in Instagram communities. I find that Instagram discourages people from going outside the box. Much like if I look at a watercolour painting of a river. Might be technically well done, but I could find the exact same thing in a charity shop. People are taking photos for likes and not for themselves. It's good fun all the same!!