A Spotlight on Lightbox
Hannah Brattesani interviews Lightbox member Alex Longson
There is an accepted formula to St Andrews events, and though the drinks, music and venue may vary, one crucial element remains the same: Lightbox. Contrary to popular belief, they are more than the ubiquitous attendee, hidden by a camera flash and your five vodka blur; they are an enviably talented community of creatives.
I met Alex Longson, Lightbox veteran, outside Taste one blustery Wednesday, with the intention of learning more about their ongoing recruitment process. It's an odd sensation to finally put a face to, what has become for me, a staple of my social life here at St Andrews, and I discovered there is a certain kind of anxiety reserved for meeting people in the stark light of day who've exclusively seen you at, what I like to refer to as, my May Ball best.
Settling over a pair of teas we began to talk about the side of Lightbox that often goes unnoticed in St Andrews. Inspired by a recent image I had seen of a friend, taken by Alex, in a bath of milk (more on that later) I knew Lightbox often ventured beyond the confines of watermarked cover photos and backstage DJ shots and I was keen to learn more. For Alex, and the “tonne of crazy, creative, different people” that join him, these individual projects are born from “the internal environment in Lightbox that really helps us all learn from each other and share skills”. This individual creativity is nurtured by a community culture that feels unique to Lightbox. Through trips, weekly walks, meetings, potlucks (read: sushi. Lots of sushi.) and dinners “it very quickly becomes a large part of your social life in St Andrews…it’s friends, it’s social life, it’s more”.
For Alex the decision to join Lightbox was an easy one; having previous experience in event videography, he searched for an opportunity at University that would allow him to hone his skills and contribute his own work. He credits Lightbox as having the unique position of being a business and a creative outlet: “it’s a great way that artists and creative people can be recognised for their work. Lightbox can act as an agency and a method to make sure that happens”.
Lightbox has gone through somewhat of an evolution in the years since its conception and the value of each individual’s creativity is expanding with each new project that the business takes on. Alex was keen to map out the progress of this; “most of our work is event photography and that is really how Lightbox started out, as a creative organisation. Since then our opportunities have expanded so much more; we are now official partners of the University – we help make their admissions videos - we do lots of video projects with businesses in town and we are now working with events and societies to help them create their visual identities…That’s what we are more involved with now, rather than the coverage of events”.
Throughout our conversation it seemed that no matter how many idiomatic pies Lightbox liked to dip their fingers into there remained a clear focus to all their endeavours: the cultivation of creativity. No other student organisation can claim to have controlled a drone over the Other Guys, herd dirndl-clad revellers and submerged a human in three kilograms of dehydrated milk and handled it all with equally sleek professionalism. The rich tapestry of experiences that Lightbox can paint for you at your time in St Andrews is unique and their strong alumni network is testament to this fact. It was at this point in our conversation that me and Alex, both momentarily donning the halcyon glaze of fourth year schmaltz, made a swerve towards sentimentality: “Lightbox will always be a part of me especially the experiences and opportunities it has given me. It really matters that it continues so that they can still provide those to other people in the future. One of the good things about Lightbox is now it is becoming a very tight and strong creative network outside of St Andrews. Our Alumni network is very strong, we have creative people in London, New York and Thailand. Having that network might be invaluable in the future. In fact, we are having a reunion in November at a house in Elie and past Lightboxers are coming as well. That culture and that family and that network are still there even after you leave St Andrews”.
It was impossible not to leave my conversation with Alex feeling like Lightbox had become so much more than an extra-curricular activity for him and everyone else involved. My assumption before meeting was that we would exchange stories of events - him as the photographer and I as the flailing figure in the background of shots – but it quickly evolved into a discussion of the artist’s place in St Andrews and the importance of a community in the development of creativity. Outside of the service Lightbox provides to St Andrews, its real importance is found in what it has done for its members: “it makes you realise how valuable your creativity really is”.
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Lightbox is looking for new members to join their creative team. For more information see: www.lightboxstandrews.com/apply Applications are open until midnight October 4th.