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Article: Will Creswick on SHIFTS

© Will Creswick
Posted on: 11 January 2023

Will Creswick reflects on developing his professional practice through the NEPN SHIFTS Professional Development Bursary Programme.

At the beginning of the SHIFTS bursary my main aims were to build on my analogue photography process to broaden the ways in which I present my work and refine my photographic output.

The programme allowed me to access new ways of working within the North East. Becoming apart of the photographic community around NEPN, as well as getting to know my SHIFTS peers was an invaluable experience. Having photographers with different backgrounds and approaches was very helpful and Simone, Paul and Lorna all influenced my progress throughout the bursary in unique ways. Collaborative learning is something I strongly believe in and was one of the most important elements of the bursary for me. SHIFTS facilitated both informal and formal environments which upon reflection, were crucial for my development and allowed different areas of learning to take place.

Back © Will Creswick

Back © Will Creswick

I chose Kuba Ryniewicz as my mentor because of his inspiring ability to transcend between personal and commercial work. I was also interested in his analogue process and felt he was the right photographer to develop my practice with.
Alongside learning practical skills like printing in the colour darkroom, my mentoring sessions facilitated conversations around sequencing images and ways of creating story and narrative within mine and other photographers work. Our discussions broadened my understanding of how photographers work, allowing a deeper understanding of other photographers work.
They were also very insightful into how other photographers developed their own careers and the importance of having your own voice and being selective in your work. As an emerging artist, I reflected on these conversations often and continue to question why I do what I do and who I am as a photographer.

Many of the challenges I face as a photographer are around my output and how I present my work so this was a large area of learning during these sessions. The relationship with my mentor and NEPN was extremely positive and allowed me to build a professional development plan specific to my needs with both mine and my mentor’s input. Having support to not only build this plan but take steps towards these goals was an incredible opportunity.  A really useful part of the bursary has been using this plan to see where I was at the beginning of the bursary compared with the end.

Darkroom Developing at Northern Centre of Photography © Will Creswick

Darkroom Developing at Northern Centre of Photography © Will Creswick

The programme also gave me opportunities I wouldn’t have been available to access otherwise such as Zine-making workshops with Folium Publishing and assisting on set for Fantastic Man. These experiences all informed my practice in different ways, equipping me with the skills to develop further in my commercial work and artistic practice.

At the beginning of the bursary, I knew I wanted a clearer direction for my work and to stimulate a vision for future projects. Steps in this direction led to my biggest achievement during the bursary, my solo show Zemblanity, at Cobalt Studios. Not only did this allow me to establish myself as a photographic artist within the region but it had a knock on effect within the wider industry giving me the confidence to speak at Redeye’s HotHouse event at the Star & Shadow Cinema in Newcastle. It was here I really felt my career developing, having been directly influenced by the SHIFTS bursary which gave me the opportunity to develop work and ideas to present and the connection and encouragement to take my place in the photographic community of the North East.

Zemblanity © Will Creswick

Zemblanity publication © Will Creswick

In future exhibitions I know I can translate my way of working more transparently into a space by putting more thought into the physical presence of my work wether that be the prints themselves or a zine. As I move forward I am beginning to think about future projects and how I can develop my style and approach while continuing to build on my developed skills ands this will form the way I take my work and practice forward.

The access to facilities at the Northern Centre of Photography has allowed me to transform my relationship with analogue photography and ways of working with imagery. I have seen a direct influence and change within my personal and professional photographic output from hands-printing new and old work, as well as practicing in the studio and taking part in zine making workshops. I think this was a very important part of my development in terms of direct photographic output and style.


Colour Printing at the Northern Centre of Photography © Will Creswick

Colour Printing at the Northern Centre of Photography © Will Creswick

I will continue to use this learning to work on the way I sequence images and consider this a larger part of my practice in terms of narrative and storytelling. It is important that I make work that builds a wider narrative around the Zemblanity project but isn’t simply a repeat of this theme. I want future projects to demonstrate my development in the areas I have reflected on during the bursary and allow me to apply new skills. Another additional step is to demonstrate my new skills and commitment to my practice on my website/social media with the intention of expanding my client base and having future work published in wider contexts.

While I recognise that I could have been more resourceful with the training budget and arranging portfolio reviews, as well as attending more national events during the bursary, I believe I got the most out of it when considering wider commitments and other areas of development. Reflecting over this time is something I will continue to do as I continue to make work and apply my learning from the SHIFTS bursary into my professional photographic practice.

Will Creswick was one of four NE-based photographers selected following an open call for the SHIFTS Professional Development Bursary Programme, undertaken in 2022.
The programme offered a bursary, access to paid time of mentors (identified by photographers and NEPN), training budget, peer support discussions and access to the SHIFTS workshops programmed for all regional photographers throughout 2022.  Photographers were supported to develop their own Professional Development Plans, mentored by Amanda Ritson of NEPN and Independent Consultant Dr Susanne Burns.

Will is a British photographer from Newcastle who’s work connects to places through alternate interpretations, often blurring the line between dark and witty. Will’s work is reactive to the people and places around him, driven by his own interests and curiosities.

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