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Emily Ryalls : Guest Speaker

Updated: May 4, 2022

.Emily Ryalls’ art is non-exploitive photography, and she loves to push at its boundaries. The three pillars of her practice are coproduction, working collaboratively with other people and removing the barrier that divides photographers from their subject.

Besides being a photographer Ryalls also works as a programmer, producer and educator, this shows the vital need to be versatile. She was faced with the choice of should she move away if there was nothing here for her or does she build it herself, make it happen by being flexible.

She researched, campaigned and pestered the people who might be able to help her. She identified what Wakefield needed and was fortunate enough that the art house had an organisation focused on removing barriers for people in visual arts. She developed a new community darkroom facility as part of the Art House’s programme team. The people who used it had not necessarily worked on the camera before people who had just enjoyed the love of photography, the accessibility of photography, even through a phone.

She was constantly working and evaluating the work that she was doing and seeking support and advice from mentors. The implication was that we should seek out our own mentors and learn from their experience.

She emphasised that when you are fresh out of graduation you have the most momentum. Don’t sit back and relax as if the hardest part is done, this is when the hard part starts.

The pandemic made her realise that she did not need to live in London to be connected to these people and could work remotely.

Perhaps the biggest thing that she learnt was that although contributing to visual culture is the biggest privilege you could ever have, it should not be considered a lesser job than someone who works in an office or a less creative role.

She urged us to be kind to ourselves and think about that entrepreneurial element of our practice and seek advice on that. Most of all the message was that there was no obvious pre-set career path in creative and to be successful you needed to make your own opportunities.

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