“In my opinion, educating people about intellectual property and how much how work is involved behind a single image might help, especially if we’re talking about emerging artists who are making none or very little money from their work.”
We had a very honest and insightful talk with Edinburgh based photographer, founder and editor of Girls on Film zine and Co-founder & Creative Director of Future Positive Igor Termenon, about what artists can contribute to have their work more valued again, about keeping one´s mind balanced in between all the workload and about if we can change the world or if we are just a small fish in a big ocean.
“Yesterday I found out that a fashion brand on Instagram with over 50K followers had posted one image from one of my fashion editorials without permission and without crediting anyone involved in the creation of that image. This makes me angry but what makes me angrier is the current trend of fashion brands on Instagram using hashtags like #inspiration when posting other people’s images as an excuse to not create their own original content. Because it’s really easy to screengrab someone else’s work and put the hashtag and keep on growing your followers (and your sales) with almost no effort, but it costs money to pay for content and it also takes time to send a message to that person and ask for permission.” You left this message on your fb the other day. I totally get what you are angry about. Do you think there is any way for the artists to get back the value for their work despite the unstoppable development with the internet? And if so, how can also artists themselves contribute to have their work more valued again?
I think it’s really hard at the moment to show that our work as photographers is valuable, to be honest. Some people seem to think that anything that it’s online is free and that they can use other people’s work for their own purposes. It’s frustrating that there doesn’t seem to be much we can do about this. In my opinion, educating people about intellectual property and how much how work is involved behind a single image might help, especially if we’re talking about emerging artists who are making none or very little money from their work. Another solution might need to come from social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram or Tumblr – they should be doing more about this problem. It’s quite complicated to report copyright infringement at the moment, for example. As photographers or artists, we should know when to say no to working for free. I understand that some independent magazines might not have a budget for photography, but I’ve been approached many times by established publications asking me to do things for free. It may sound really appealing to have work published there, but I just think about the latest designer clothes the editor in chief might have bought with the money they’ve saved from not paying contributors and prefer to send an email saying I don’t work for free.
“I think it’s really hard at the moment to show that our work as photographers is valuable, to be honest. Some people seem to think that anything that it’s online is free and that they can use other people’s work for their own purposes.”
You are also the founder and editor of the Girls on Film zine and Creative Director and Co-Founder of Future Positive. Both of them are so great projects. Both come with visual beauty as well as something more profound – especially the Future Positive one with its content and aim of showing innovative businesses and ideas that contribute to a positive change in the world. Definitely very inspiring. Tell me one of the recent projects shown on there that massively inspired you?
Every story we feature in Future Positive inspires me in one way or another but there was this one about textile designer Hermine Van Dijck, which I found especially inspiring. The answers of her interview are so passionate – it’s great to see someone so in love with what she does for a living and willing to learn and improve constantly.
Do you think that each one can change the world or are we all just small fish in a big ocean?
I think we can. As I mentioned above, I think educating people about the value of a photographer, designer, etc. is a key factor in this change. I always say this as an example, no one considers walking into a hairdresser’s and asking if they can get a haircut for free in exchange of exposure (well maybe some Instagrammer does haha!). These things take time but hopefully we can start seeing some change in a few years.
You must work incredible hard. How do you keep your mind balanced in between working off lots of mails, requests and always something else that needs to be finished?
It’s quite hard to be organized sometimes but at the end you always find what works best for you in terms of managing your time. I studied Engineering and I think a technical education really helped me in being more structured and organized. I’ve just gone completely freelance a few months ago so before that I was used to getting home after work and dealing with photography emails and messages about Girls on Film and Future Positive. Now I find it easier to organize my time. I still work a lot of hours every day but I’m doing what I love so can’t really complain about it.
As exciting it can be but the reality of the creative business can be a really hard one as well. Not easy to live from it, maybe doubts about being good enough, just being one of many and so on. Do you have those doubts as well sometimes? And if so, what still makes you want to do what you are doing?
Of course, I think it’s good to have doubts about your work and feel that what you do is shit haha! This is what makes you push yourself harder every day. I have days when I hate what I do, especially my photography work, but I’m sure this happens to most photographers. That’s when taking a day off or doing something different helps.
Could you imagine doing something completely different as well? So no creative work but something totally different as a job, like opening a smoothie bar or something like that…
Not at the moment. As I said before, I studied Engineering and decided to do something completely different after I finished my Bachelor and Master’s degrees. I couldn’t see myself working as an engineer right now for example, it wouldn’t be me. Maybe in a few years time I get completely tired of photography and editing zines and online publications but don’t think that moment will come right now.
What´s the essence of nowadays youth?
I guess like in every generation, there are lots of young people doing great things and others not doing much at all haha! For creative young people, I think it’s a great moment. We have access to so many things that other people didn’t have in the past. Internet has revolutionized creative work and I look forward to seeing what else is yet to come.
“For creative young people, I think it’s a great moment. We have access to so many things that other people didn’t have in the past. Internet has revolutionized creative work and I look forward to seeing what else is yet to come.”
How does Edinburgh influence your work?
My photography work is quite influenced by British suburbia and brutalist architecture so I guess Edinburgh inspires me in some kind of way when I’m looking for locations for shoots for example. There’s also quite a big community of creative people in Edinburgh so it’s great to see what other people are doing and, most importantly, how they’re facing the same challenges as you. This is really helpful and makes you feel that you’re not the only one stressing about not receiving money from a client or not feeling inspired for one whole week.
Last moment of total happiness?
Last weekend. I took a mini holiday to attend a friend’s wedding and decided to put an Out of Office email for the first time. Such a little thing but not having to worry about emails for 4 days really helped me to relax and disconnect.
Early bird or night owl?
Definitely early bird. I wake up at 7 almost every day and try to do as much as work as I can in the morning. I always get very sleepy after lunch…