Look off centre for some inspiration

A little while ago I wrote in this blog that I loved being based somewhere that felt like it had a cultural revolution going on (it was here).

This morning that point was brought home to me again when I took part in a series of workshops organised as part of Nottingham’s first Off Centre Independent Photography Festival.

The two-week long festival (well 16 days actually) runs for just over another week and comprises exhibitions, talks, workshops and taster sessions for a burgeoning photographic community in the city.

It’s a collaboration between The Photo Parlour, the New Art Exchange and Real Creative Futures together with the Creative Quarter and The Big House.


This morning I headed off to this tardis-like igloo thing at Sneinton Market, having signed up for a series of workshops I thought might be interesting.

What I found was a large community of like-minded people, friendly people, people who wanted to be creative. And what I heard has inspired me to take more pictures and be more creative (and I don’t think I’ve seen so many cameras in one place since the last time I was at a paparazzi frenzy).

I attended workshops led by Daniel Wheeler from The Photo Parlour on starting a photographic project, Jagdish Patel and Simon Bernacki on developing your photo project and Jake Howe about not stopping taking photographs.

In addition there were street photography and skateboarding photography taster sessions in the city centre and around Sneinton market and a series of talks at the New Art Exchange.

I met a guy called Trevor (he was sporting the most superb moustache) who was one of the panelists at the New Art Exchange talk this afternoon and also one of the 111 exhibitors in the Off Centre exhibition which is running in various venues across the city.


(That’s Dan from The Photo Parlour in action during his workshop.)

I also met a lovely lady who enjoys taking architecture photographs and another who likes landscape photography.

But importantly I was encouraged, re-inspired – it was a little, gentle kick up the backside not only to take some more pictures but also to write some more, paint some more and create some more stuff. I like making stuff.


(And this is Jake, a street and portrait photographer who led the third workshop)

All three workshops this morning were fascinating and I’m looking forward to seeing the exhibition at the New Art Exchange this week.

There was a lot of content in the workshops I attended and it’ll take a little while to absorb it all but if there are three things I am going to take away from this morning it’s these.

Play – try different things, play around with them, if they work that’s great, if they don’t then it’s an experience.

Research – knowing a subject gives you a greater understanding of what and how you want to photograph it.

Find your inner child – you know those models you used to make as a kid or the pictures you used to draw or the really bad music you used to make with a comb and some tissue paper? Well rediscover that creativity and use it.


(I’ve always liked taking pictures of people taking pictures)

The other thing I will take away is that if I want to continue to do all my photography on my iPhone then that’s also fine. Almost everyone today had a DSLR (although two of the workshop leaders work exclusively with film). I ditched my DSLR when I was suffering from a frozen shoulder and could no longer carry my camera bag. Now I take all my photos on my iPhone and edit them on my phone also.

These weren’t photography workshops that made me feel inferior for not having the right kit. Whatever kit you want to use is the right kit for you. It was inclusive and non-pretentious and very, very refreshing in a world that can sometimes be quite the reverse.

I’ve also registered with The Big House. It’s a completely free mentoring and networking organisation for anyone wanting to run a creative business. It can’t hurt can it? The very worst thing that could happen is I might learn something!

If the aim of the Off Centre Festival is to inspire people to be more creative then, in my eyes at least, it’s achieved its goal. So thank you to all involved in organising it and I really hope it becomes a regular event.



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I want to tell stories in words and pictures. Traveller, writer, photographer, artist, seeker of knowledge. Making my own efforts to change the world.

2 thoughts on “Look off centre for some inspiration

  1. Sounds like the workshops are fun and informative. I rarely participate in photo workshops around here because I don’t like a lot of the people’s attitudes. I have all the right gear, but for me it’s not so much about the gear as what you produce, and people can produce fantastic images with what is considered really crappy gear. It’s all about how you see the world, not what you use to see the world. So that warmed my heart when you said you didn’t feel inferior for not having the right equipment (kit). I also like the name of the festival because my photo business is named “Off Center & Not Even”.

    Phones have really good cameras these days, and can work well as one’s main or only camera. Even though I can shoot full-frame, high resolution video with some of my DSLRs, I generally use my iPhone for video because it gives me great quality 4k footage. My iPhone’s camera is not close to my pro gear for stills, however, I use the phone a lot to do photos, and it’s perfect for images that stay in cyberspace.

  2. It’s a shame that some workshops can be so exclusive isn’t it. The ones today were honestly so refreshing in their ‘anything goes’ attitude. It made for a very interesting and enjoyable day

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