Interview: Brighton Festival Photography with Summer Dean
Summer Dean is a freelance photographer/film maker and artist based in Brighton.
We caught up with her to find out what she’s doing to keep creative during lockdown and take a look back at some of her favourite Festival images from the last few years.
What is your role at Brighton Festival?
I’ve worked for the Festival since about 2013, just before I graduated from university and their marketing team commission me as a freelance photographer and film maker. Last year I brought together a small team of people to work with me to create content throughout the Festival. We were due to work on this year’s Festival but since it had to be cancelled I’m now working with the team on some other projects.
What inspires you about working with Brighton Festival?
For me, it starts with the fact that every performance and the Festival as a whole is the result of so many creative people coming together and making things happen. I get to see so many performances and meet artists from all over the world which is really inspiring to me.
I interview everyone from the artists to producers working behind the scenes. Having those candid chats with people before the show and getting insight into why they’re doing it, why it’s important to them. I also interview audiences after shows to film their reactions, seeing them so excited and knowing they’ve got something out of it, creatively or emotionally.
That whole process is such a beautiful thing because I get to meet different people and it’s so rewarding for the artists and Festival team to see what the public think of their performances.
What are the challenges you come up against as a creative freelancer?
It’s a whole process - finding work, building relationships with people and then producing the work. When you’re a creative freelancer, and it goes for these current challenging times, it’s about being able to build those relationships, have the motivation to do a good job and be creative with the results so that your client will also be happy, that’s a challenge.
What advice would you give young people looking to become a freelance creative?
During university and even before, anyone who needed anything photographing, I would offer to do it! I can trace back every job I’ve done to a time where I offered something to someone that no one else was offering. Whether it was just taking a job for experience or doing it for little or no money.
Then there’s making sure that you’re not getting exploited. That’s a really big issue at the moment. Don’t have a blanket rule of “I don’t work for free” because benefits aren’t always money. Benefits might be just making that relationship. It’s about simultaneously doing the job, doing it well but also building the relationship with the person you’re working for.
How are you dealing with being a creative freelancer since the Covid-19 pandemic?
I’m really grateful and lucky that I’m surrounded by a lot of creative people. One thing that’s quite interesting is a lot of the freelancers who are usually back to back busy from 6am to midnight, suddenly have all a lot of extra time. There’s an opportunity now to connect with them and come up with new ideas together.
I’ve just launched a TV channel called Rather Proper TV. I wanted to create a platform so people can still make content and share it if they want to. I’ve got a comedy show that I’m building up based on performers filming things around their house and reimagining their practice. How do you do a theatre show from your house? What does that look like? How is that for the audience?
If you would like to get involved with Rather Proper TV please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
What tips do you have for anyone struggling to stay creative at the moment?
Something I’ve been trying to do is not put too much pressure on myself. It’s taken me a good two weeks to say do you know what, it’s OK to not be creative, I don’t have to be on all the time.
You don’t have to be creative all the time. You don’t have to have the next ground-breaking idea. You don’t have to have all the tech knowledge. Now is a time to learn new things, make connections and be yourself
Interview by Liberty-Rose Gatcombe, University of Brighton, Multi-media Broadcast Journalism student placement: @liberty3rose