I joined IdeasTap in 2011. My brother was applying for the Sky Academy Arts Scholarships and I remember looking over his shoulder as he scrolled through profiles and briefs. At the time I was pretty confused career-wise – I wanted to be an actor and a musician, a writer and a politician – so to suddenly stumble across a platform of collaborative, multi-talented artists felt like walking into a gold mine!
A few years after joining IdeasTap I began exploring journalism and multimedia storytelling more seriously. Being selected for the Photographic Award gave me a framework within which I could construct my first serious project: to explore the human costs of pollution in China. The opportunity and funding made my idea a reality and the whole experience was hugely rewarding and educational: I got advice from industry experts, worked abroad on my first assignment, almost got arrested, and most importantly took the first steps in a long-term investigation that I’ve continued since.
I’ve been lucky enough to be involved in lots of different briefs and events, from portfolio reviews to professional practice seminars, exhibition opportunities, writing for IdeasMag, and even getting an assignment in Guatemala with Save the Children. It’s been a truly diverse set of experiences – instructive and inspiring! Many of the contacts I made, from artists to editors, writers to agents, have become friends – forming a wide support network that will definitely live on now IdeasTap has closed.
I genuinely don’t think I’d be where I am now if it weren’t for IdeasTap. I studied Law and Politics at university, so when I stepped into the tightly-knit world of photojournalism, I was green and totally lost. IdeasTap gave me the chance to meet people who guided me, supported my work and, eventually, even began giving me assignments. This added up over time: it gave me the confidence to believe in my own voice and follow my passions.
IdeasTap played a huge role in bridging my transition from university to professional life: I got to know about competitions, found contacts for international publications and met colleagues in my field. In the past year I’ve been published in The Guardian, TIME, BBC and Vice; I’ve been recognised in awards by PDN, the Alexia Foundation, Magnum Photos and The Royal Photographic Society.
Most importantly, though, I’ve started doing the types of in-depth news features that I’ve believed in for so long. Earlier this year, I received a private message offering sponsorship to a young woman I’d photographed in Kabul who runs an orphanage for young girls. This individual, having read about the young woman in my work, had been prompted to make a substantial contribution that tangibly changed her life for the better. It’s those kinds of episodes, though few and far between, that make me feel grateful and justified in the work that I’m doing.
I was really saddened to hear that IdeasTap was closing. The funding environment, especially for arts organisations in the UK, has been under severe pressure for years now and IdeasTap stood apart as a beacon during that time. You think of all the talented people out there who might miss out on the support they need to realise their capabilities and dreams. That’s such a huge loss for our community – photographic, artistic and otherwise. I hope other organisations dare to champion the arts as IdeasTap did.