Market traders all have one goal in mind. Whether it be handmade scarves, artwork, produce or clothes; they spend their days creating and selling a product for others to enjoy. From the cockney traders at Columbia Road Flower Market, to the arts and crafts sellers during the summer, each trader has a story to be documented. Miles Halley decided to do this at the most recent market to grace York with it’s presence, the St. Nicholas Christmas Fair. We had the chance to catch up with him to talk about this photography series, what he learnt and his previous work!
Miles, a 17 year old student based in York, is an upcoming amateur photographer you’ll often see snapping away on the streets of York. This latest series was brought to life when the market opened in December, he decided to approach the stall holders in the hope to learn something about them. “I gave each one a hard copy of their photo and a questionnaire for them to fill in for them to tell me something about them and their business. My favourite image must be the mead seller as he is the only trader whose face cannot be seen. He is covered by his hood which adds a sense of fear into the photo.”
With a series like this, it tests the photographer in many ways, especially one who is at the start of their career. “I have had to increase my confidence as I was speaking to a wide range of people to see if they wish to be part of my series. Not only this, there were fast turnaround times for printing out the images and returning them to the traders, as some were not going to be there for long. So, this was a challenge in its self.” Although there were challenges, approaching the traders proved to him that you should never be afraid to ask for something. In his words, “What is the worst that can happen? They will say no.”
From looking at Miles’s strong body of work, it came as no surprise that portraits are his favourite to shoot. “You can create any message or meaning you want and the person being photographed adds in a whole depth of detail which can look very interesting or bizarre. Portraits also propose a challenge to me as I must work with another person and direct them and make sure they’re in the right environment and wearing the correct clothes. I do enjoy a challenge as the photos will be far better than if there was no challenge at all.”
Finding a personal style for your work is an important part of developing as a photographer. What makes your work stand out? With the vast advancements in technology and social media, it has allowed the photography market to become very saturated. After asking Miles to relay some of his advice for you, he responded with this. “Most of the UK population will have a camera in their pocket (their phone), not to mention that these cameras are progressing all the time. This means that you need your own unique selling point. What do you offer that no one else does? While it is okay to have many styles of photography to begin with, to find your feet, you ultimately need to work out what you enjoy the most. You need to find your own niche.”
Part of his growth so far has been from getting out there and showcasing his imagery to anyone who would pay attention. His persistence both through social media and in person is to be admired. “Find an easy way to show off your work, such as an online website or gallery and social media platforms such as Instagram, 500 pixels and Flickr. If you see photographer in a coffee shop or a gallery talk to a member of staff. See if it is possible to get your own work put up. It will only take a minute and the rewards could be astonishing!”
In true TBI fashion I asked Miles to recommend another creator, he chose Dan Phillips, a beginner photographer who can be found at @intakephotos.