An Interview With: Bree Lamb from Fraction
Could you first introduce the team that make up Fraction? what are your backgrounds and how did you bring Fraction into fruition?
Sure - David Bram is the Editor-in-Chief. He co-founded Fraction in 2008 with Joshua Spees. David is still involved with the magazine and representing Fraction at national and international events. He has also been focusing on our imprint, Fraction Editions, and working hard to publish high quality, fine art photography books.
I became involved with Fraction in early 2014. I’m the Assistant Editor, and in this role I review submissions, seek out work, and put together the portfolios. Leo Hsu and Lauren Greenwald have both been writing reviews and essays for Fraction for several years. They each have a unique perspective and writing style, and the reviews add to the depth of the publication. Their insights and observations are really keen, and every month I’m excited to read their thoughts.
Shawn Bush is the designer for Fraction Editions. He has a great instinct when it comes to layout – how to manage the spacing and pacing to make the experience of viewing a book really dynamic. He always comes up with outstanding designs for book projects.
Each of us is a photographer and photo-lover and we’re so happy to be involved in our various roles with Fraction.
Fraction successfully brings the work of a range of photographers to a wider community. Why do you think Photography is such an important medium and what motivates you to represent the great work and efforts of these artists?
Photography is everywhere, and our interactions with images in our daily lives are constant. Whether the context is social, cultural, commercial, political – a large part of how we understand the world around us and how we communicate is rooted in our understanding of images. Being able to show the work of dedicated photographers with great concepts, vision, and execution is a real privilege, and I think that providing our audience with diverse bodies of work can add to the depth of our collective knowledge of different places, people, and cultures around the world.
Fraction represents practicioners from all around the world from a variety of urban and suburban communities. Are there any areas that stand out to you, or perhaps even suprise you in regards to producing quality work?
One thing that I’ve noticed in reviewing so many submissions is that people are always finding compelling ways to capture their environments. I’m not sure that specific locations bring that out or suppress it more than others. The ability to make interesting work in any environment lies in the vision and motivation of the photographer. Fraction has featured photographers from all over the world with different backgrounds, cultures, and interests. I’m always blown away by the incredible projects that are being developed and I haven’t personally found that the photographers of one area are more prolific than those of any other.
There is a diverse range of really strong work emerging at the moment, especially as a new cohort students approach the end of their studies. Has there been any graduate work that stands out in particular to the team at Fraction ?
It’s funny because Fraction doesn’t make any calls specific for students. It’s something that we’ve actually talked about doing, but we haven’t found the right fit for it yet. Maybe we could collaborate on a project! We’ve featured work from undergrads, grads, recent grads, professors, self-taught photographers etc. It’s rare that I actually know a photographer’s educational status unless I’m digging deep on a website after a submission, and I prefer it that way. I have an MFA and a BFA, and my time in formal education settings was really informative in so many ways and helped significantly to strengthen my practice. With that said, not everyone has the opportunity to study in a formal setting, and I enjoy looking at work and finding value in it without knowing much about the photographer’s educational background.
I understand that Pupil Sphere began as way to provide opportunities and generate energy for students. That’s a great platform, and I love that you are crossing boundaries are far as country and program of study. You’re inclusive, and you’re helping students and recent grads bridge the gap from making work within the comfort of a program and its community, to showing work to a larger audience and beginning to understand how one’s practice fits into the world of contemporary art. That’s a really special place to be operating from and what you provide is crucial for artists, especially in the early stages of a career.
Could you tell us more about 'Fraction Editions' and your future ambitions for this endeavour?
Fraction Magazine was founded on the principle of showcasing the best in emerging photography and Fraction Editions is a natural extension of that. We want to provide an additional venue for hard-working, creative artists to showcase their work. The focus is to make beautiful, small-run photo books that highlight dynamic photography projects.
We have a really great catalog for 2017, including monographs from Cody Bratt (https://codybratt.com/) , Ken Krugh (http://www.kentkrugh.com/), Dana Mueller (http://www.danamueller.net/) and Jason and Jesse Pearson (http://dickandwayne.com/home.html). We are in the process of getting these books to press this summer and working on our 2018 catalog. We have free, open submissions for book projects, so send us your proposals! (http://www.fractioneditions.com/submit/)
What would be your advise to any students graduating this year? How would you recommend they promote their work, and stay motivated outside of the familiar university environment?
After graduating you might need time to breathe and refresh, so relax because giving yourself the space to reflect and recharge is important. Once you’ve got the energy, it’s important to stay committed to your practice and research. Since you’ll have left the classroom environment, you won’t have professors assigning projects or giving deadlines, and you’ll be outside of a regular critique schedule. It’s important to continue to look critically at your projects – what’s working and what’s not – and to find a community where you can give and receive feedback on each other’s work. Keep an open mind, and try to make the connections between concept, technique, and final execution of a project.
As far as promoting your work, unless it’s a single image call or 1-3 images call, make sure that your project is ready to be shown before you start dedicating a lot of energy to promoting it. If you need a bit more time to develop ideas, take that time. Specifically in regards to Fraction and with the exception of our Anniversary Issue, we show cohesive bodies of work as opposed to single images or a “best of” gallery. This doesn’t mean that the project has to be completely resolved, but it should be well developed. It’s totally fine to put work-in-progress images or projects out there to get feedback, that’s part of the process, but be aware of where you are with the work as you try to promote it.
Start to make a budget for applying to calls. Do something simple like cut back on fancy coffee or dining out or whatever you might splurge on and start to put aside money every month for submission fees. When you are applying to calls, whether it is for exhibitions, online or print publications, public art, etc. pay attention to what the call is looking for as well as who the juror or curator is. What are they interested in? Would your work be a good fit for the venue? It’s important to be practical and thoughtful when applying, so rather than submitting to anything and everything, do your research and see if it’s a good use of time, money, and energy to apply. Put together a professional website to refer people or organizations to and learn how to edit yourself. You don’t need to show every project you’ve ever worked on, it’s more effective to show only the strongest, most cohesive work. Look for ways to collaborate with other artists or artist communities. Have patience and don’t be discouraged if you aren’t accepted to something! Keep your head up, make the work, and build your audience slowly and thoughtfully.