Photo by Ed Robinson
Looking at the personalities behind London's small businessesBrett Jefferson Stott is the founder of Shoot Experience, an experiential photography organisation that uses photography and audience participation to fuse art, culture, and fun in local environments. Shoot Experience's other services include photo treasure hunts and maps, photo storytelling events, photography workshops, photo competitions and corporate team building events. They also represent commercial photographers and sell royalty free photos through the Shoot Bank photo library.
How did Shoot Experience come about?
In 2005, Brett had just recently stopped being a professional musician and was looking for a new creative outlet while he ran a web design company. "I saw a flyer online for a team event in America - a 24 hour thing in a secret location. I contacted the organisers and said 'let me know how it goes, I'm interested in doing one here.' They got back to me and said it didn't go very well and that they didn't get many teams. I spoke to a few people here and eventually molded this idea into something shorter and more about the creative side of things."
How did the business develop?
"Our first event took place in October 2005 - Shoot Shoreditch. It was a bit of a race, rather than a creative endeavour. People's feedback was that they wanted more time to take photos. Then, Tate Modern contacted us and we developed Shoot London [both Shoot Shoreditch and Shoot London are regularly occurring events]. The collaboration with Tate Modern gave us so much credibility." From there, Brett developed the business in directions he did not expect, with many of the services now offered having come from customer enquiries. Brett was fortunate to have his other business to help fund the budding new enterprise, and finally shut his web design company in 2008 to focus solely on Shoot Experience.
How many people work for Shoot Experience?
"Surrounding yourself with good people is so important. I have two full time staff, who are great, and a network of 20 people we work with regularly, ranging from photographers to photography students."
What is the best part of being part of Shoot Experience?
"Judging and analysing photos is one of the best parts of my work. You have an expectation of what you're going to get back and your expectations are actually surpassed, which opens up other avenues of creative thought," and "the social impact of people interacting with the city in a meaningful way - there is a frivolous element, but having a critical mass of people focused on one area is a powerful thing."
Brett is also very proud of Shoot Nations, a global photography competition co-sponsored by Plan UK and Shoot Experience "to encourage young people to express their thoughts on global issues through photography and drawings. Shoot Nations aims to use these art forms as tools of cross-cultural, language-free communication and is produced each year to coincide with a presentation to the United Nations on International Youth Day, annually commemorated on 12th August." This year's competition launches on 21 May and closes on 28 July.
What is the most difficult part?
"The stress. Ultimately, the buck stops with you."
Advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?
"Don't be afraid to make mistakes; they'll help you more than the successes. They make you endeavour so hard not to repeat them that you end up going farther than you might have ordinarily."
Find out more about Shoot Experience's services and events on its website, http://www.shootexperience.com/.