Making Lemonade - August 2018.
We can all feel at times that life doesn't offer up the opportunities we need or want but sometimes we have to make the best of what we've got and run with it.. Read more here.
Finding Unique - July 2018.
When searching for success it's tempting to copy other successful ideas, but we look at why ideas should start as unique. Read it here.
Realistic Dreams? - June 2018.
We become creatives because we have dreams but does the reality always live up to the hype? Read about it here.
4K or Not 4K? - May 2018.
4K is only going to become more popular but do we really need it? Read about it here.
Famous Creatives - April 2018.
Why do some creatives become famous and some never achieve recognition?. Read about it here.
Imperfect Perfection - March 2018.
How polished commercial photography for brands is giving way to less perfect imagery. Read about it here.
Blockchain for Photographers - February 2018.
We take a look at how photographers can benefit from the new technology everyone is talking about; blockchain. To read more click here.
Shoot Stock for Profit - January 2018.
How photographers can make a profit with stock photography. Read about it here.
It's Not What You Know - December 2017.
Letís cut to the chase here, Iíve seen some incredibly average work from well-known photographers which always makes me question the criteria for a successful photography career. This has frustrated the hell out of me at times as I wonder how average work is celebrated in exhibitions, online and in the media and yet other great work is overlooked.
I can only put this down to something that is summed up very well by an old saying Ďitís not what you know, itís who you knowí. Which means having the right people on your side gives photographerís career a huge leg up.
So what are these photographers doing that gains them this advantage? They are networking and making contacts. They are getting to know the influencers, the curators, the art directors, the editors, all the people who make the decisions and have the final say about selecting photographers to shoot commissions, to exhibit and use work in articles and advertising.
Itís a sad fact of life that for the commercial and editorial photographer, the work mostly doesnít stand up for itself. It also takes the networking skills of the creative to get themselves noticed as much as their work. Of course having great work is also a requirement but getting the ear of the right people seems to be the biggest factor to success. For any new photographer getting themselves in front of the right people and making the best possible impression should be a high priority.
It's that time of year again as Christmas and new year are hiding just around the corner so we'd like to wish you all the best for Christmas and a happy and prosperous new year.
When Starting Out, Give it Everything - November 2017.
After editing over 40 of CreativeGoís interviews with people who work in the media Iíve noticed quite a common thread when weíve discussed the path to starting a successful career in the industry. That is, to get on, it helps immensely to have a good work ethic and give every task youíre given the best you can regardless of what that task is.
Most people will join the industry at the bottom, learning everything from the lowest rung of the ladder. The tasks given out at this level will be many and varied and lets face it, probably not what we signed up for when deciding upon a media career. Still, every little bit of responsibility given here is a chance to prove that weíre capable people who can do that and more. Do those tasks well and without moaning or objection. Obviously there are limits to what one might be expected to do and sometimes objecting might be necessary. Doing those smaller, less responsible tasks well is likely to lead to more of the same and then responsibility comes for more interesting work. Success opens the doors to more success. As TV Producer Andy Stevenson said in our recent interview ĎGo your own way, set out your own ambitions and aim for them with all youíve gotí. Do everything youíre asked to do with maximum effort.
Don't Waste That Free Time - October 2017.
As creatives, there will always be free slots in our calendars when weíre not working on client projects and these are our opportunity to catch up on all of those dreaded back-office tasks. However once weíre caught up with backing up files, updating our accounts, invoicing and all of that other boring stuff, thereís probably plenty of time left over. So why not use that time to create some new work? How about trying something different to expand our creative skillset?
Just look at the advantages of doing this, adding to your portfolio of work, choosing your own projects that really interest you, being the lead creative to make it look just like you want it to, no time constraints, no one telling you how to make your project. These free slots are really an opportunity to satisfy our own creative desires to make something entirely driven by our own passion.
Very often clients will see creativesí passion projects and as these can be very different to the normal work they produce, theyíll open doors, taking the creative in to a new world of opportunities.
Free time is so very precious and obviously we shouldnít burn ourselves out, indeed itís beneficial to do absolutely nothing at times but also, if youíre anything like me, have free time to make my own passion projects is very important. Donít waste that time, go make something great.
Demonstrating Experience Wins Clients - September 2017.
Being a creative business means providing a service to clients who commission us because they donít have the in-house skills to do the things we do. Whilst thatís quite obvious, with a little more delving in to what that means we begin to consider what the client actually wants from us. Without doubt we bring technical skills to the table but really theyĎre a given. Itís what else we offer that makes the biggest difference.
Our most important assets as creative businesses are our creativity and experience and itís for these that our clients hire us. To be successful in business though, even these skills arenít enough. We have to have extra skills that allow us to interpret what the client wants and come up with our version of that remit. Itís at this point we need our specialised skills the most. Our unique abilities to turn that remit in to a finished product that the customer is super-pleased with.
But what gives us the ability to do that? Experience. We start our careers with portfolios of work weíve put together since the beginning and show clients this work to demonstrate our creative talents. After clients see this they expect us to be able to recreate that style, look and feel and thatís why they ask us to work with them.
This is one of the reasons why news businesses have a hard time getting off the ground, they have to compete with other established companies who can say that theyíve been there and done that, they have experience. If a potential client has to choose between a new and an established business, one of the biggest assets of the established business is their previous on-the-job experience. Itís a catch-22 situation for the new creative, how do they get the experience without commissions and they canít get commissions without the experience.
There are no hard and fast rules to answer this but perhaps finding interesting projects that new creatives can put together themselves which may appeal to potential clients is a good way to catch their eye. Make their own experience in the areas they want to work. Create work clients might find interesting and want to use. This really boils down to making sure the creative has the right work in their portfolio and demonstrating ability with completed work is always going to win out over theoretical promises of skill everytime.
Get Yourself an Accountant Ė August 2017.
When starting a business itís easy to concentrate on the easy, interesting stuff that we enjoy and brought us to a point where we wanted to make a business out of the things we enjoy. As youíre reading this on CreativesGo Iím guessing you have an interest in photography, filmmaking or a career around cameras. These are all great skills and lead many to seek self-employment.
Starting a business is very exciting as we look to make a living and get paid for doing something we love. From the start though itís very important to be on top of all things financial and yet this can be overlooked because itís not as interesting as the exciting stuff and really a bit boring. Not looking after the financial side of a business can cause all sorts of headaches further down the line because every year tax returns have to be submitted. These detail the income and expenses of running the business and ultimately decide the tax contribution the company must make. I keep on top of my financial transactions throughout the year, recording everything as I go along. Then at the end of the year I don't have to scratch around gathering all of my information because I've already done it.
If you thought keeping on top of your finances was difficult enough, try submitting a tax return. It can be a complex process and to do it properly requires expert knowledge. For this reason I would always recommend working with an accountant who can put together your return. They know the tax system inside out and ensure you are submitting a correct return.
Incorrectly completed tax returns can be a red flag to the tax authorities and lead to fines or investigations in to a companyís financial affairs to search for evidence of tax avoidance so it pays to dilligently record all financial transactions throughout the year and to get that tax return completed correctly.
Successful Photographers are also Great Salespeople - July 2017.
Photography as a business is very hard. Photographers decide to start a business because they enjoy the process of creating an image, so much so that they want someone to pay them to do it. The reality of starting a business is very different to being a hobbyist because instead of taking pictures to please ourselves, the new business owner has to take pictures to please other people. These other people are clients and without them the business isnít going to last very long.
Assuming the photographer has all the photography skills required to take a good image, the one thing they must also possess is a tenacity to find clients and the ability to convince them to pay for their services. This is perhaps the hardest part of starting a business and one which most people overlook when theyíre starting out. The reason itís so hard is because sales is such a difficult skill to master. Itís much like photography in that there is a lot to learn, itís very easy to get wrong and takes a lot of hard work to get really good at it. Persuading a client to part with their money to pay you is almost a black art. How does the photographer find businesses who need their services, make contact, establish a relationship with the right people and then convince them they'll do a good job such that they want to pay them to create their imagery? A great salesperson in any type of business has the skill to convince the client that his business alone can bring home the goods for the client. Good sales people are valuable and as this is a skill not everyone possesses, quite rare. The photographer has to be a great creative and a great sales person.
Running any business means a lot of time and effort has to go in to sales, more so than the nice creative photography has to be given over to this drive to find clients. It can be soul-destroying especially when things arenít going your way. There are a lot of tools to try to get customers, adverts, social media, cold-calling, printed promotional materials, gifts and some of these techniques will work better than others. Frustratingly however, theyíve probably all got to be tried to see which work and which donít. There is no magic bullet to sales, juggling jelly is probably more predictable than trying to identify a successful sales channel.
For a new business, sales and marketing is probably very daunting but it has to be faced head-on because a great photographer has no business without clients.
Open Doors by Shooting the Right Work - June 2017.
Starting in the photography or filmmaking world is not easy and indeed, it doesnít get any easier. From starting out and throughout a career, thereís always a need to attract new clients to the business. Perhaps though thereís even more of a need for new creatives to get some work down in to a portfolio or on a website to showcase to clients just what amazing skills they have and should be commissioned immediately. Without some form of body of great work to show prospective clients the new business has nothing to sell, no wares to show off. If we were the client weíd want to see great work but not only great work, work that means something to us. So hereís the important bit, create a portfolio and show it to the wrong people lowers the impact of the work considerably. An example will explain things better here. Youíre a surf photographer creating beautiful images of surfers, but showing your collection to furniture magazines. They may love your work but they can't use them in their magazine so there'll be no interest. Of course a ridiculous example but you get my point. To locate that interest, find the right target market to at least get in touch with people interested in what you create.
That though is not the end of the story, Perhaps you really want to work with a particular surf magazine who not only like surf pictures, but like pictures with a story. That can be a whole world apart from an image of a surfer on a wave. So what the new photographer has to do is create work that fits exactly with what their target market wants to see. If theyíre showing them work like that, then itís a far greater chance of clicking with the right people within that organisation than the generic work that probably lands on their desks day in and day out.
Of course itís great to have a variety of work in a folio but if the photographer or filmmaker wants to work with specific people then they have to make work that fits for the best chance of opening the doors. Even for people who are established, the work they show must mean something to their audience. Itís never easy but it helps to shoot the right things for the right clients.
Overnight Success is a Myth - April 2017.
How many times have you heard a band, sportsperson, artist, photographer or filmmaker described as an Ďovernight successí? Suddenly appearing out of nowhere to take their particular profession by storm? After doing the amazing thing that thrusts them in to the limelight, our overnight success will find themselves in demand and appearing in newspapers, television, on the radio and countless websites, paid thousands of monies (insert your own currency here), rewarded with the spoils of the successful.
The unwritten rule of being declared an overnight success is that we mustnít have heard about them until the very moment they appear like a new blazing bright giant star in the firmament of the night sky. Itís as though one day they were just an Ďaverage joí and the next theyíre a superstar. This misconception is what drives a lot of folks to chase the fame and fortune dream because it looks easy and the rewards great.
The reality though is somewhat different. Most overnight successes are years in the making. It takes years to hone skills in just about any discipline you can imagine. Professional Footballer? Probably starting playing when they were 5. Award-winning photographer? More than likely picked up their first camera at school. Breakthrough artist? I'd guess has hundreds of canvases that will never see the light of day because theyíre just not good enough. Those years in the Ďdark agesí before the Ďsuccessí are spent training, countless nights on a rainy training ground, shooting, analysing, reviewing, studying, hours in a studio, out in the countryside shooting landscapes, testing, making loads of films we'll never see, reflecting on our efforts and all manner of things nobody know sees or hears about, all in the name of shooting for the top to achieve that coveted status of Ďovernight successí. For anyone wanting Ďsuccessí in an instant, of course it does seem to be achieved instantly for some but for many, to achieve anything worthwhile takes lots of anonymous time, determination and commitment. Anyone who has achieved anything of note will have paid their dues on the way to the top. Nicholas Sparks said 'Nothing that's worthwhile is ever easy, remember that'.
Failure is an Option - March 2017.
ĎFailure is not an optioní is a very popular phrase we've all heard countless times in many a gung-ho movie. Of course nobody likes to fail. We want everything we do to be a success, to always achieve our goals en-route to whatever ultimate aim is the focus of our hard work. There are times though when it will happen. We will fail. We wonít make the win. Something will go wrong, someone will be better, faster, stronger, take a better picture, make a better film. At first, failure is crushing and depending upon the magnitude can take some time to get over. However once weíve moved on from the pain, there is a golden opportunity to reflect on our experience, take a look at what happened and why we failed. If we honestly analyse why we failed (I say honestly because it can be hard to look our failures in the eye) those nuggets of information can be used when we embark on our future endeavours. We know a little bit more about what and what not to do to side-step the sneaky foot of failure looking to trip us up at every opportunity.
For creatives producing photographs, films, paintings, poetry, stories and any number of other things, generally our outputs are one-offs, quite unique and whilst they usually please us, because hey, we made it so it should we do, thereís no guarantee that anyone else is going to care two-hoots about it. When we make this stuff itís with the intent of sharing it to be appreciated and maybe to give us an income. When others donít like our work it can be soul-destroying and if anything kills our interest itís receiving little interest in our creative outputs. If we're genuinely keen on making it, our options are to do the same things again and fail again or work out what went wrong and go again creating our thing in a slightly different way. For some, failure is the end of the road. Only the persistent are prepared to keep on going, failing, analysing and if they're lucky eventually succeeding. There is though no success at all without trying. Failure is the risk.
For those who are prepared to try, take a risk, not be put off by failure or the risk of failure and look at what goes wrong when things don't go our way, learning a lesson and reapplying that can make the next round of creativity maybe a little easier and help us on our way to success.
Filmmaking for Photographers - February 2017.
One of my favourite articles on CreativesGo is our look at filmmaking for photographers, where we introduce the basics of filmmaking for photographers looking to learn the craft of the moving image. I wrote this because when I wanted to learn about filmmaking I couldnít find anything that introduced the important details in one place. Sure thereís a stack of information on the Internet but the stacks I looked at werenít breaking it down to give me an overall introduction and pointing out what I needed to know straight away instead I found lots of bits of detail and very little telling me how they all joined together.
For photographers who want to make films, their existing knowledge is a great platform upon which to build as critical technical components are shared between the two mediums. However, the moving image also adds to the still in ways the photographer has to get to grips with very quickly. For example, sound. Itís a medium in itís own right and makes a powerful contribution to any successful film. Getting this wrong is a disaster.
At what point though does an introductory article become too detailed? It was tricky to decide when to draw the line with the depth of the technical aspects of the article. It was a challenge to identify the important bits, write enough about them to be useful and not include so much that the reader gets bored. A problem any writer of articles such as this will recognise. Being useful and avoiding boring. I think I got around this thorny question by supplying a number of links for further research by the reader, pointing to a number of places that will add to the information we have begun to dig into.
To take a look at the article, click here.
The BBC's New Idents - January 2017.
For the new year the BBC have rolled out a new ident series to replace the 10 year old circle theme we have all become so familiar with over those years. In its place comes ĎOnenessí, which is about bringing people together. Producing these new creations will be Magnum photographer Martin Parr, famous for his unusual documentary-style images of people. Perhaps most famous of all is his series The Last Resort taken at New Brighton near Liverpool in the north-west of the UK in the 1980s.
The BBC stated that they selected Martin Ďto capture an evolving portrait of modern Britain in all itís diversityí (Source BBC website). This is an interesting idea but the choice of creative has surprised me and I canít help feeling the BBC may have missed a great opportunity. Obviously I have no idea how they came to choose Martin for this commission but selecting him they have perhaps gone for the Ďsafeí option, using someone with a track record of creating this kind of work. What a shame they didnít open this up to everyone to create imagery or footage along the same theme to give other new or less-established creatives the opportunity to have their work featured day in, day out, for years to come. I would have liked to have seen the theme of oneness interpreted by many people and not just have Martin Parrís perspective. There are so many great photographers out there who could easily have stepped up to make work for a project like this.
The Director of BBC content Charlotte Moore stated itís the BBCís intention to update these indents to move with the times (Source BBC website) so I find it disappointing theyíve selected such an established photographer to create the work. They may have missed an opportunity to work with many creatives offering multiple interpretations of the theme.
The article about this on the BBC website is here.
Selling work as Prints - December 2016.
In our article about selling photography as prints (here), where we look at how the photographer can upload their work to online portals who will sell the imagery as prints, we've updated this with information about another site that we feel is noteworthy enough to write further about. I have recently submitted my work to Redbubble.com who also sell work as prints, canvases, cards, phone covers, t-shirts and more. Whilst these are all fairly standard offerings amongst the many sites who do this kind of thing, in my experience, what Redbubble do differently is offer the ability to resize and position the image on the merchandise to give a better fit and design. This makes such a difference to the products because it means the image can be placed in exactly the right place to suit the range of products. If there's a product that just doesn't work with the image then these can be turned off for that image and don't appear as a buying option.
Resizing and positioning the image on the products adds time to the upload process but as this is the creative's opportunity to put the imagery in just the right place to show it off at it's best then really this is time well spent. The final nice touch is the option to select which product the image should be displayed as when it appears in search results. So if it looks good as a t-shirt then this can be selected to appear first. If all else fails then a framed print always looks good.
Perhaps the only downside to these sites is just how many creatives upload their work meaning there's a huge selection available to anyone looking to buy. To give the work the best chance of being found, keywording must be high-quality and further time spent putting in decent words that describe the image. Just like stock photography, it's a numbers game, the more work available to buy, the better chance it has of being found and purchased.
Finally, as it's about to be the season of goodwill and the end of the year, thank you for visiting CreativesGo, reading and sharing our articles and following us on Twitter and Facebook. we hope to see you again in 2017 when we'll have more articles and interviews about working with cameras. May we wish you a happy Christmas and a prosperous new year!
The Photographer's Curse. - September 2016.
If photography becomes a passion, that is, more than just a way of capturing memories but a way of expressing what is seen as we pass along our life's journey, there develops quite a strange phenomenon, the photographer's eye. For those not afflicated with this wonderful curse, it can only be described as a way of seeing that goes way above the usual method of viewing a scene we all do, all of the time in the everyday. This eye is what provides the raw material for just about any wonderful piece of photography (or art I suppose) that you've ever seen. We all possess this to some degree. We all recognise a nice view when we see it, that's why we all spend so much time taking photographs. For the obsessed though there is another level which means our eyes see a deeper level of interesting things in those same scenes everyone sees. It's these scenes that our photographer's eye gets a hold of and makes us pick up our cameras and want and need to record it. At times this can be wonderful to develop this special eye as it provides us with so much material to make our art. However, it can't be switched off and there are times when it's just a pain. How many times do we see a scene we can't photograph? These non-images hang around in our heads as the greatest shots we never took. They can haunt our minds enough to make us try to reproduce that missed shot or go back to try and find it again, such is the power of that photographer's eye. Because it can't be switched off we have to learn to live with it. Get used to capturing as many of these images as we can so we don't have too many of these non-images floating around in our minds. I think the mobile phone helps with that 'camera in our pockets' thing, we always have a device with which to at least capture something. Always be prepared!
Ignore the Photographer. Judge a Photograph on Merit? - August 2016.
Photographers are known for their work and photographs are known because of who took them. When we look at an image, we consider the photographer too, whether we like it or not, viewing an image is a two-part process, look at photo, think who took it. As someone who's an 'outsider', indeed on the outside of the outsiders, it seems to me that the people who make or break creative careers, the curators, gallery owners and editors, will take the work of a photographer they like and give their work publicity and credibility, regardless of the quality of the work. I've seen great work from photographers which quite rightly deserves praise and then equally average, boring, mundane work from those same photographers and yet it's talked about a though it was brilliant. An impossible ask, but I'd love to see a photography world that ignored the photographer and judged an image on it's own merit. Instead of giving work a huge leg up because of who pressed the shutter, it lives or dies on the quality of the photograph itself. We'd then have a level playing field upon which everyone would have a chance of seeing their good work rise to the top without the support of celebrity to help it along the way. A mere pipe-dream I know.
Photographs With Titles. Right or Wrong? - July 2016
There was a time when I just didn't get titles for photographs. I remember the 'witty' titles that camera club photographer's exhibitions always seemed to apply to their work and I was always baffled by it. Somehow the use of a comedy title seemed to take something away from the work. I know it never seemed to add anything for me when I looked at it that's for sure. I much preferred an image to stand up on it's own without a title. Untitled always seemed to feel right for me. If the viewer can't take away something from the photograph without it being titled then I think the image was lacking something in the first place.
However, if we look at an image like Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico by Ansel Adams, the title, that's completely informative, does at least explain what's going on. How about William Eggleston's Big Wheels? Whilst the title describes the bike, is there more to that than 'meets the eye'? The title adds an element of curiosity to the photo, giving the viewer something to ponder as they look at it. So I quite like this added dimension of thought-provoking title. For my own work, I tend to fall in to the Adams camp and go for very literal titles which describe the work and leave the viewer to glean whatever they like from the image. I certainly don't think it's the only way, but for me that feels like the right thing to do.
Ad-blockers - Friend of Foe? - March 2016
Ad-blocking software is now making headlines as download numbers rocket because users of the web are tired of having to put up with adverts in the content they wish to browse. I totally understand why so many folks want to find a way of stopping some of these ads. There seem to be a new breed of pop-ups that take over the screen and download a movie to play, whether you like it or not. These ads are slow to load, hit computer performance and actually put me off the content I wanted to read. Most times I leave that site very quickly and think twice before I go back, which surely defeats the object?
However, I also see that advertising is something thatís vital to the world of commerce. Anyone who has a job within a money-making organisation or company that has to raise funds for something, which is a lot of people, has to advertise to raise company, product or servce profiles with potential customers and clients. So what we can see here is that whilst we donít like having to look at advertising, many of us rely on it to keep us in work.
We place ads on CreativesGo, because we want to keep the content free to read but also to give us the chance to create some income from our efforts. We have designed the pages to accommodate the ads, to be visible but not a distraction from our articles. I seriously doubt weíll ever place those huge screening-blocking ads on our site, we really dislike them, we hope to keep our ads subtly placed around the page. If though, ad-blockers are used and our ads vanish from the page, we are placing that page up without any opportunity to make something back.
Advertising is a fact of life and some need toning down because they really are an instrusion, but so many of us actually need advertising to keep the world turning.
Commercial Photography Careers are not 9 to 5. - January 2016
Commercial photography is not a 9-5 job. Itís not the type of work you turn up to every day at exactly the same time and place, do fairly similar tasks every day and go home at the end of the day. Itís a job where you will be an accounts clerk for an hour, a webmaster for an afternoon, a writer in the evening, social-media expert in the morning, a travel arranger, a hotel booker, a roadie, an IT technician, a driver, a salesman, a purchasing manager, advertising executive, a student, an expert, the boss, a trouble-shooter, a gofer and sometimes youíll be a photographer. Then mix these roles up to do on any day of the week, evening, weekend, and bank holiday. Generally you won't get to pick when you do these tasks, the tasks will. Some of the time this will take place in your chosen place of work, your home office, your studio, on location or at a customerís premises. No two days will be the same, start or finish at the same time and if youíre lucky youíll be driving home from many different places at the end of long days spent ensuring the client gets what they want. Sometimes that will be at the weekend. If the client wants weekend work, that's fine because when you're in business, you do what it takes to keep the client happy. At times a regular 9-5 will be most appealing but if you're doing this for the right reasons, the variety of the work will excite you more and make you get out of bed with a smile every morning.
To make it as a commercial photographer you have to be flexible to meet the demands of unique clients and their equally unique commissions throwing up new challenges that you have to meet head-on with gusto every day. Itís not a career for the faint of heart but if the desire to work in such a demanding role that will be different day to day sounds exciting, itís probably the job for you.
Those First 10,000 Images - January 2016
One of my favourite quotes from any photographer, ever, is by Henri Cartier-Bresson who said 'Your first 10000 photographs are your worst'. He was absolutely right when he said that. He was of course referring to the quality of a photographer's work as the art of image capture is learnt. Technical skills and the ability to 'see' a photograph develops but this takes time and practice. Many photographs have to be taken, some of which will be awful and it's from these that we perhaps learn the most. By seeing where errors were made they can be avoided in the future. A lesson learnt. Whilst the sentiment of Henri's quote is deadly accurate, he said that in a time when the photographer was shooting on film and even with 36 exposures on a roll, or less, each shot was probably carefully considered. To achieve 10,000 images shooting film was an achievement and perhaps only reached by the dedicated photographer. Today, if Henri was around, he might revise his quote to say that the first 100,000 images are your worst. It's so easy and cheap to take an image now, I wonder if we learn as much with this approach as we would have done when we used film. Perhaps Henri might have said that your first 5,000 images are your worst, because you see immediately if there's something wrong with the shot. Instant lesson? Still, however many images it takes, the skills of the photographer are honed over time, still needing dedication, taking good and bad photographs, learning what works, what doesn't and hopefully developing an 'eye' for the image along the way.
Rite of Passage Images. - December 2015
It's nearly Christmas and all throughout the blogging world, bloggers are writing about Christmas. Except us. Today we're writing about those images we all take, yes all of us, when we first pick up a camera and become enthralled by the world of photography. It's almost impossible not to take these images, there must be some kind in-built process that means we have to shoot them before we start to take anything interesting. Before anyone get's too uptight about this little bloggy article, it's written for fun but with a hint of reality because as I mentioned up there, we've all done these pictures. So what are they? Number 3, the flower close up. Yep, flowers are beautiful and even today after many years of shooting a bunch of stuff, I still enjoy taking macro shots of flowers. number 2, the selfie in to the mirror with camera. I don't know why we love this one, but we do. Photographing ourselves, taking a picture of ourselves. Number 1, is the sunset. Completely understandable this one as sunsets are generally beautiful and they're easy to do with little knowledge required to capture something colourful and pleasing to look at. Of course each photographer's experience will be different and will probably have a slightly different R of P top 3 but I bet many start out by taking these pictures to then move on to more interesting topics.
All that remains today is to wish you all a merry Christmas and happy new year!
Using the Rode SmartLav+ with the Zoom H4N. - August 2015
I've added this as I couldn't find any concrete information about using the Rode smartLav+ with the Zoom H4N recorder. Without making a config change to the Zoom AND using the SC3 adaptor, the smartLav+ didn't work for me. So after I couldn't get it to work, even with the SC3 adaptor, I consulted the Zoom manual. On page 31 of section 6-3 there are instructions for changing the INPUT setting.
Initially for me the PLUG-IN setting was set to OFF. I changed this to ON. Thereafter, the smartLav+ used with the SC3 connector worked perfectly with my Zoom and actually sounded great.
Pictured is the H4N recorder with the smartLav+ and the SC3 connector. The SC3 converts the TRRS plug on the mic to work with the TRS socket on the Zoom.
I've put a note inside the case for the Zoom to remind me to switch the input power off for when I use another mic like the Rode Video Mic Pro.
Disclaimer - These instructions are for guidence only and come with no guarantee or warranty whatsoever. Please check that any settings you change are valid for your equipment. The settings worked for me but you need to be sure they will work for you.
It's Not Hip to be Non-Square. - August 2015
So Instagram have given up on the square-only format for their pictures. What a shame. I always thought this made Instagram just different enough from all of the other photo sharing sites to make it stand out.
I really like the square format. Itís actually quite hard to compose an image to work in this shape but when itís done well, it looks great. I prefer square to either landscape or portrait-format images. Of course, the traditional shapes work well for certain subjects but to me, somehow a square image has more dignity. A strange word to use perhaps but square really appealed to me.
We have an Instagram account so Iím sure weíll eventually submit non-square pictures too, but I know Iíll miss the discipline of working to that rigid shape.
Passions and Achievements - August 2015
When you have a passion for something, something that you love doing, which could be photography, painting, cycling or any one of the thousands of possible pastimes, there comes a point where it becomes an obsession. In a good way but an obsession nonetheless. Many folks who persue an interest never reach this stage, but for those that do, I imagine youíll totally get this because weíre the lucky ones.
When you have a passion it becomes hard to switch off, it fills your mind during all those times when you donít have to think about something else. Sometimes, it fills your mind when you SHOULD be thinking about something else. There are times when it will be a great blessed escape from stuff you donít want in your mind.
Sometimes it will be there when you donít want it to be. Sometimes itís a curse. It fills your head and distracts you and actually, can be very tiring. Sometimes I can go to bed with an idea, thrashing it around, stopping me sleeping, then waking me up because my brain didnít switch off.
I Ďsufferí from a passion for photography. Only when you have a passion for something will you make yourself give something 100% and drive on to do the best, be the best at your chosen passion. I recognised some time ago that one of the reasons I can take images that are bought as stock, or get commissions for commercial work is because I was driven to put the time in to create work, to experiment, try things, fail, try again and sometimes do something really rather good. Itís ony that passion for photography that drives me on. If I didnít have that to keep me going, whether I liked it or not, I would not have put so much thought in to the images I was creating and still do produce. That desire to be the best and achieve something, made me learn, research, take the time to practice the craft, shoot and shoot some more.
Anyone who has a passion is lucky. It gives me so much purpose and drives me to create the best, most creative images I can. I almost feel sorry for people who donít know what it is to have that desire to drive them. Sadly it canít be forced on to anyone. The passion has to find them. Iím deeply thankful that a passion for photography found me.
Itís About The Image, Not The Tools. - August 2015
Thereís a couple of things to say about this iPhone image. Firstly, I have taken many an image with my iPhone, somehow the immediate nature of having that camera right there in my hand leads to the capture of images that are harder to come by when I have to purposefully go out to use a DSLR. Perhaps itís down to having it right there, ready to take that picture, in seconds rather than the extra few seconds or minutes it takes to get a more complicated camera up to view the scene.
Secondly, the ease with which I can edit an image in my phone. (Edit an image on my phone! If you had said that to me 6 or 7 years ago I think I would have laughed very loudly at the mere suggestion). My favourite app editor, Snapseed, is so quick to use and allows for the creation of some wonderful looking pictures.
I Still enjoy using my DSLR and editing on my PC because, well, I work on images for clients and they demand high-quality work. This continues to give me enormous satisfaction too.
Some photographers are very interested in gear and I get that as I find it interesting too but gear is only a means to an end. That end being to take great images that I enjoy and that I hope others do too. Iíve seen images taken with the simplest of cameras, the pinhole and thought they were brilliant images. For me, the true photographer is one who treats their equipment as the tools of the trade to get the job done. The day I find the gear more interesting than an image is the day I pack it in and hang up my cameras for good.
I love photography, whether Iím using a phone or a DSLR. It is, really, all about the image, not about the tools.
Know Your Equipment - July 2015
Being a commercial photographer or filmmaker means you spend your working day using technology. In fact you are paid by clients to do that because itís your field of expertise. You know how to use that technology to produce something they need that they cannot do themselves. If youíre thinking of becoming a photographer in whatever genre, it doesnít matter which as my point will still apply, you need to know your technology inside-out. You need to be able to turn to your equipment to change a setting without hesitation in order to achieve the shot. If you find you have to make a change, you must be able to do it without thinking. For instance, you need to reframe a scene because the model has moved. You might then want to move the focus point to allow the camera to continue to AF the subject. This action should be second-nature and completed in seconds, almost without taking your camera away from your eye. The use of any new piece of equipment should be understood well before you put it in to action. Thatís one of the many aspects of being an Ďexpertí.
GoPro to Licence Footage - July 2015
GoPro have announced that they are to start a new video stock library licencing footage shot by filmmakers using their own GoPro action cameras. As a filmmaker who has shot action footage I find this a most interesting opportunity to licence my work. The GoPro brand is respected and recognised throughout the World and their equipment used to create footage for countless films and TV shows so it's not going to be difficult to create a new offshoot of the GoPro franchise to offer video. It's like they have already past the crawling and walking stage and will probably start with the running!
I hope I get an opportunity to put some of my footage up for sale on their site. I look forward to hearing more about this very soon. I'll update the blog with any news as I come across it.
This article explains some of the detail behind this new offering: www.fstoppers.com
Before we go on, I would like to point out that I've never won a photography competition, I've come close, but no cigar. I admire the work of those that do and I have seen many stunning images that have blown my socks off with the imagination, quality and just downright brilliance of some of those award-winning pictures.
However, here's the crunch bit. I have stopped entering most competitions, or to be more precise, those that ask for money to enter. I have come to the quiet conclusion that to win a photography competition the image I submit has to be nothing short of stunning as even good just doesn't cut the mustard. If I decide to ever enter another competition I will have to make sure the picture I send in is pretty damned amazing or it's just not worth the money and the effort.
There are so many photographers out there who are shooting brilliant work it's very hard to come up with something that catches a judge's eye and makes it to the top of the pile. Many of the images I see winning are those shots where a photographer has caught an unusual occurance and captured it technically perfectly. I'm trying to come up with an example of such a picture as I'm sure that will explain what I mean in much better terms than I an describe. As I try and think of one, I will add that what you are competing against is the myriad of other photographers who are out there capturing perhaps the very same scenes as you but actually those winners came across something to elevate their picture above even the good and give it an edge.
Ok, so I've thought of an example. The winning entry from the Taylor Wessing 2014 portrait competition. If you take a look at this link to www.theguardian.com you should see David Titlow's portrait of a dog and baby. The light is stunning, painterly and not something you can really set up if you want to shoot something that looks instantaneous, natural and unposed. I imagine David was there, saw an amazing scene and took the picture. I can see why this might win a competition, I can see why an ordinary portait doesn't win when a photographer can enter something having that mystical 'something' like David's picture which separates good from great.
For those photographers that win some of the competitions the rewards can be high. Not just in terms of prizes they take home from the competition but the publicity this gives to their work is perhaps worth more than those prizes. It can be a huge leg up so I can't see the high-profile photography competitions running out of entries any time soon. I enjoy looking at the winning entries and have been inspired and amazed at what has been captured for all to see but it just makes me realise how hard it really is to capture an image that is worthy of winning a photography competition.
It's also worth being careful about the rules of any competition you enter, be that free or paid because some rules allow the organisation running the competition the free use of the entries without any payment or compensation to the copyright holders of those images. Of course not all competitions are like this but being aware means you can check the rules first. Here's a link to an article about a competition that caused an uproar amongst professional photographers who were working for an organisation that wanted to run such a competition. www.epuk.org/news
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