LIVING AFRICA – UK Live Theatre Tour
In our fast changing technological world, photographers, authors and publishers face on-going challenges when it comes to marketing their work. As we consume greater volumes of imagery, attention spans diminish. The constant flood of information and the addictive nature of social media make it harder than ever to get noticed.
The music industry’s response to internet piracy and the erosion of the concept of the multi-track album has been to increase both the quality and the number of live appearances. Increased ticket sales and effective marketing of merchandise is a way of making up lost revenue.
In the book world, the author’s talk remains a highly effective way of stimulating sales. As an author of photography books, I have presented many of these in bookshops and at literary festivals, for both my adults and children’s titles. These talks engender greater interest in the subject matter, and the personal satisfaction gained from interacting with an interested audience is immense. The associated book signing sessions are a great opportunity to meet readers, and they serve as a reminder that the physicality of the printed book often overshadows the fickle nature of the e-book.
But lately I have become frustrated by the limitations of the simple Powerpoint slide show. In an attempt to meet the challenge of today’s short attention spans, I have doubled the number of slides in each presentation, so that no single image is allowed to dwell on the screen for very long. The rationale is not quantity over quality, but rather to enrich the audience’s visual experience with a fast-paced show more in line with contemporary viewing habits.
I have introduced movement into the images in a number of ways. A picture of a gold miner operating a pneumatic drill at the rock face suddenly vibrates and comes alive with sound, creating the illusion that it is a moving image.
The ‘Ken Burns’ effect, by which the camera pans and zooms around still images, is an effective way to add impact to a presentation, but it has to be done with sensitivity. This method is commonly used, evident in a zillion Youtube videos where the viewer is subjected to endless panning and zooming in and out. It is best used subtly to draw the viewer into the pictures.
I have also added videos, so in some instances I can show moving footage of me taking a photograph while I talk to the audience about the creative process. Powerpoint 2010 and above allows videos and stills to be combined seamlessly.
The technology at our fingertips allows us to experiment in a number of ways. The important thing is to draw the viewers in and hold their attention. The viewer can be teased with animation and morphing techniques. The downside is that such post- production techniques are very time consuming, but essential in a world of insatiable visual appetites.
I am now travelling around the UK, presenting in theatres and arts centres in a show called Living Africa. It covers the work on both my Thames & Hudson books about Africa: Living Africa and Trading Places, The Merchants of Nairobi. The tour has been organised by The Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) and it commemorates the two hundredth anniversary of the birth of the explorer David Livingstone.
In addition to the RGS talks, I will be speaking at Glasgow’s Strathclyde University and will be presenting the Photovoice charity lecture at London’s Kings Place. I will also be returning to The Edinburgh Book Festival in the summer with a special presentation for children. Here is a list of the venues this spring:
Wednesday February 27 at 7.30pmLiving Africa - THEATRE BY THE LAKE, KESWICK
Thursday February 28 – Living Africa – Glasgow STRATHCLYDE UNIVERSITY
Wednesday March 6 at 8pm Living Africa – CIVIC AT CENTRAL HALL, DARLINGTON
Friday March 8 at 7.30pm Living Africa - KINGS LYNN FESTIVAL AT THE ARTS CENTRE
Thursday March 21 at 8pm Living Africa - TURNER SIMS, UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHAMPTON
Monday April 29 – Africa – KINGS PLACE LONDON - PHOTOVOICE LECTURE
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