Simon Larbalestier Guest Speaker

On December 3rd, Simon Larbalestier joined us in Uni to tell us about his photography practice.  He talked about his early work designing album covers for the record label 4AD,  in particular for The Pixies, he worked on a freelance basis and realises how lucky he was to be given an almost free reign with the designs.  He got a lot of jobs on the back of the Pixies’s work, a lot of which seemed to be a crossover of illustration and photography.


“Pixies Familia” a repository of orgainl Polaorids Type 55 & 665’s, contact sheets and small handmade silver gealtin lith prints from my own private Pixie’s photographic archive dating from 1986-1989. © Simon Larbalestier

Simon showed us examples of some of the commissions for big companies which he had done which included wine bottle labels for Asda,  before moving on to his personal work.

He feels it’s important to have this and worked as a volunteer for The Cambodia Trust for 2 years, where he documented disabled children,  going to Cambodia as an employee of the Trust allowed him access to places where he would never have been able to go by himself.  He kept detailed notebooks about the people and their families that he photographed there as he felt that the titles are as important as the image and accuracy is vital in these conditions.

He has been published in numerous magazines, but there were occasions where something he said in conversation was made into a headline, or used as a quote, which he felt could sound conceited with taken out of context. He feels it is important that people are sensitive to his work and felt that Black and White Magazine did the best job of representing him by showing a good mix of early and recent work.

I found Simon’s talk really interesting, he was very honest about the way he worked, how got used to pre-visualisation, how he initially struggled with colour film and the compromises that he was having to make.

Some of the pointers which I felt were important to bear in mind for my own future professional practice

  • Be aware that commissions are where you have to compromise
  • Briefs often get changed, as the client does not know exactly what they want
  • An agent could negotiate a re-shoot fee
  • Client can use your image in a way that you may not be happy with
  • You are able to re-licence images
  • Useful to get your work reviewed or published
  • People can conceive your work as what you know
  • Sometimes it’s a good idea to hold back your best work!



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