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the people person
hether you like it or not, social media is at the heart of business today. Let’s just break down that phrase for a minute. ‘Media’ is simply a medium, a platform. Then there’s the word ‘social’ – with synonyms including community, common and public. Despite being dubbed a lonely business, when it comes to lifestyle and wedding photography, people are inevitably a part of it, and being ‘social’, an important aspect. But even for product or landscape photographers, could we all benefit from being a bit more social? And what does that even mean? Jason Saltzman is the founder of AlleyNYC, which brings creative businesses together and provides working space for start-ups. His work is so ‘social’, it has blurred the boundaries altogether. “I do not even know what work-life balance means,” Jason confesses. “My work is my life, and I love it.” Jason’s business is founded on the principle of ‘better together’, but when it comes to being social, his definition may vary from the pretence and niceties you may have in mind. “People’s tolerance for bullshit has decreased over the years,” he says. “We live in such a fast-paced culture that we have no time for it.” His straighttalking business model has led him from origins in estate agency, to a successful start-up, writing for Entrepreneur magazine and to hosting his own technology incubator. Clearly to be social in today’s market doesn’t necessarily mean putting on airs and graces. “Although some old school ways of networking will never die,” Jason continues, “I think that our current culture embraces authentic, meaningful
JASON SALTZMAN, founder of AlleyNYC has made a living out of bringing people together. Victoria Dovey finds out what photographers and small businesses can learn from him
“Being in a collaborative, supportive environment not only helps your business, but it helps you personally to overcome everyday obstacles.”
Jason’s top five tips for success 1. Trust your instincts. 2. Validate your assumptions. 3. Be humble. 4. Do not sweat the small stuff – it’s all the small stuff. 5. Wear sunscreen.
Jason’s business recommendation Read the book The Power of Habit – It changed my life.
Looking for co-op space in the UK? Co Work: co-work.co Regus: Regus.co.uk Spacious: Spaciousapp.com Tech Space: www.techspace.london
opportunities to connect. I hate name tags and awkward conversations, so you will not see me be part of any of that.” For Jason, entrepreneurship goes hand in hand with authenticity, with AlleyNYC boasting to be “the most bad-ass community on the planet” and telling visitors to “leave the douchebag at the door.” He elaborates on his colloquial style: “I am a big believer in staying authentic and true to yourself. My voice is who I am, and although it may not be appropriate in all circumstances, it has proven to work in most. And the circumstances it does not work in, I want nothing to do with in the first place.” This may work for America, land of the free, home of the brave, but can you apply this elsewhere, like in the UK? “I have been all over the world, from Moscow to Kuwait and back,” Jason explains. “Based on what I have seen, I feel that entrepreneurship is on the rise globally. Although it is heavily ingrained in American culture, it is being adopted all over the world. My suggestion for British businesses is to focus on building a community of likeminded people, and just get together to share your thoughts and experiences. We did this at AlleyNYC and it works. Being in a collaborative, supportive environment not only helps your business, but it helps you personally to overcome everyday obstacles.” Despite being self-employed since 17 and working with start-ups “before the word was cool,” it wasn’t until founding AlleyNYC that Jason felt a “true sense of fulfilment” and purpose. “To me, meaningful relationships are the essence of life,” Jason says. “Social involvement is the best way to grow your business. When you have a community to help support you, it is so much easier on many different levels. The most important factors of this for me are support and meaningful relationships. “ So is this a call for photographers to get together more? “Collaboration leads to innovation,” Jason begins. “There is no doubt about it. We learn from what we do not know, and when you are put in a room together with awesome people working on different things, amazing things happen. Working in a vacuum sucks. Being able to delegate to others gives you more opportunity to scale, so I highly recommend learning how to collaborate if you wish to scale your business.” But for all his positivity, there’s no getting away from the fact over 50 per cent of start-ups fail within the first few years – alarming, but a statistic we all need to be aware of. Business is always going to be risky, and surrounding himself with start-ups, Jason has seen his fair share of failure. “In my world we say, ‘if you’re going to fail, fail fast’,” he tells us. “Failure shouldn’t be avoided. It’s a lesson. If you accept failure, then you can learn from it and it will bring you closer to success. You should embrace the risk (for the most part). The more risk, the more likely other people are not going to face it.” It all sounds rather frightening… “Fear is awesome, if you do not let it control you. Every entrepreneur has to be a bit nuts because we are doing something completely unconventional by starting our own businesses. The fact that you are afraid means that you are sane. Now it’s time to suck it up and get over that to make your dreams happen.” One thing Jason has always been particularly good at is staying at the cutting edge. Perhaps another lesson we can learn from him, is to always look forward, and embrace new technology, especially our old friend social media: “Arguably, Instagram turned everyone into photographers. What we cannot argue about is that the technology of Instagram has given us a global outlet for creativity in the form of taking photographs. Aside from social platforms, I have witnessed the technology of photography equipment increase exponentially over the past few years. As a business, you must keep up with current technology to stay relevant. That being said, I love the romance of using older technology too. Art is art.” Looking back, is there anything he’d change given a time machine? “I would go back with the winning lottery numbers of the highest lottery payout so I never have to raise money ever again,” Jason rather honestly confesses, in his true ‘authentic’ voice. “Raising money sucks,” he says, and we are left to laugh to ourselves and ultimately, to agree. www.alleynyc.com
Maori, New Zealand.
REAL With so many people equipped with cameras today, we sometimes forget the responsibilities and privilege we have as photographers. Victoria Dovey explores the fine line between artistic licence and misrepresentation
f you’ve glanced over your news feed lately, chances are, you’ve come across Jimmy Nelson’s striking portraits of Indigenous people. He’s travelled from the rainforests of Papua New Guinea to the driest corners of Mongolia with a 50-year-old plate camera – so far, 35 tribes in an expansive 44 countries have been documented. The images feature in his fine art photographic book, Before They Pass Away with editions retailing from £100 to £5500. The intention is to be “a visual document that reminds us and generations to come of how beautiful the human world once was,” with subjects often framed by Nelson shooting knelt down at their feet – placing them on a metaphorical pedestal.
© JIMMY NELSON PICTURES BV, WWW.BEFORETHEY.COM, WWW.FACEBOOK.COM/JIMMY.NELSON
While no-one is in doubt that these images are indeed visually remarkable, it’s raised public conflict and debate, including discussion of the respectful and ethical way to record tribal communities. Human rights organisation Survival International noted that to use a word as passive as ‘passing’ portrays it as inevitable, and not a product of the oppression, relocation and genocide some tribes face. Jimmy acknowledged the criticism of the chosen title in an interview with European Magazine, stating: “The title is very dramatic and it’s misleading in a way. I did some trials with my original title, Painted Lives, but it didn’t catch people’s attention. Once I tried it with the current, more controversial title, it worked!” Before They has been compared by critics, and Nelson himself, to the work of Edward S. Curtis, the early 20th Century photographer famous for recording the lives of the Native Americans. Both Nelson and Curtis spent a large amount of time integrating themselves with the tribe’s cultures, and correspondingly, both have been subject to similar criticisms. Curtis was criticised for posing the Natives, removing Western items such as an alarm clock from within his frame, as well as photographing the people in only their ceremonial garments. In Curtis’ time, photography was a rarity – an event. It was common to dress up in your finest regalia to have your picture taken, whether it was a three-piece suit or a headdress. Nelson talks openly about his “unashamedly glamorous” approach – “I’m trying to put these people in the same context as somebody like Kate Moss… Often I found that the tribes and communities had been photographed before, but in a patronising way, whereas I’m trying to be celebratory, to put them on a pedestal. That’s why I’ve photographed them in idealistic contexts,” he said in a New Review magazine interview. It can be agreed that this book isn’t a social or historical documentation – as Jimmy Nelson says, it’s an “unashamedly glamorous” representation. Everything down to the title of the book has been considered, and measured for its influence by the photographer in his search for maximum impact. Similarly, the images were laboriously orchestrated by Nelson and this is the defence from him and the book’s admirers – authenticity was never the intention, beauty was. But can the quest for art cross a line? Do photographers have wider responsibilities? Using people as art, regardless of medium, also has long standing history, with nude females of particular interest for many of our most highly regarded artists, be they painters, sculptors or photographers, and posing is just a part of this. Women, after all, can be both glorified on a pedestal and objectified in very same portrait – a point many of Nelson’s critics are quick to point out. Nelson is certainly not the first to be accused of misrepresentation. However, having a camera arguably gives you privilege – the ability to record and portray your subjects not just today, but in the history books of tomorrow. Is what you include or exclude not just a question of artistic licence, but also accurate representation? º
Maori, New Zealand.
Some Maori people have taken issue with being labelled as an endangered tribe, as they make up 15 per cent of New Zealand’s population.
PPOTY Location Flash winner Alex Abbott was socially conscious whilst taking pictures on his travels through Bhutan and offers some insight: “Nelson has the right to tell any ‘story’ he wishes. The people in the photographs obviously participated. Whether they got paid or not, this indicates to me that they were in Hulleah J. Tsinhnahjinnie, a Seminole-Muscogee-Navajo photographer, agreement to what was being captured gives the perspective of both a photographer and an Indigenous person: at the time. It’s very apparent that these “Nelson’s photographic techniques seem solid enough. However, in this case, images are staged and directed and not technique is but a mechanical application. Unbeknown to Nelson’s lens are the caught photo-journalistically, so in that issues of photographic sovereignty, visual sovereignty, cultural sovereignty, cultural capital, respect they could never offer an Indigenous methodologies unveiling the vulgar motives of the colonial gaze. His intentions echo authentic interpretation of the people the time of when millet seeds were utilised to measure Indigenous craniums. His words of and the social dynamics at play. “authenticity, purity, beauty,” are hollow adoration while his romanticised images are nothing Photography has and always will be a but his own reflection. As for the Indigenous communities whom he has engaged, does he not subjective experience in terms of recognise politeness laced with an ironic smile?” interpretation. If Jimmy Nelson is getting paid a handsome fee for his work, then he has some karmic responsibility to reinvest within the communities that he has photographed, but he also has Nenets, Russia. a right to cover his expenses and make a profit. Should he have dug a little deeper and portrayed an accurate depiction of these people’s lives and struggles? Only if that was part of his agenda.”
Travel photographer Ben Duffy says: “For news makers and
Before They Pass Away by Jimmy Nelson, is published by teNeues, www. teneues.com. Also available as Collector’s Edition XXL.
documentary photographers who live and work by their ethical boundaries, who are lucky enough to be able to document ‘real’ people in ‘real’ situations, it’s their responsibility to have the subject matter as they are – how that image is then taken is the creative licence that we all toy with. Authenticity in its purest form is gone once the photographer asks a group of people to sit somewhere, but we know by looking at his images that these are real people in real Photojournalist Tay Kay Chin offers his opinion: “Truth is really places – we’ve just subjective in photography, even in photojournalism and documentary manipulated the photography. Individual photographers are coloured by their own situation very slightly preconceptions, biases, and that inevitably will influence their works. As to fit our vision. Who long as the intentions of the photographer are made clear, then he can’t really be are the pictures for? accused of cheating or misrepresenting. There are pretentious photographers who Are they for you as a photograph in slums and try to pass them off as works of deep compassion. Their photographer to take works may impress people on a superficial level, but they won’t stand the test of time. away and admire as a What a photographer wants to say is important too, and we shouldn’t assume everyone stunning portrait that shares the same ideology. The very act of making a picture requires decision making. there are incredible It is not as simple as just clicking the shutter. By framing, by deciding whether a picture stories behind? Or should be high or low contrast, by the angle we choose, we are already deciding what are they for history – the truth is.” the images that you hope people will remember and refer to for hundreds of years to come, used as reference material by academics and For guidance on how to record tribal people in a respectful historians? As long as I have answered the and ethical manner, visit assets.survivalinternational.org/ brief, the creative team are happy and the documents/844/ftpguidelines-print-pages.pdf subject is happy, then anything goes.”
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Super Six At just six years old, Oliver is by far Ricoh Imaging’s youngest ambassador. He, and his dad, tell Victoria Dovey where this story began Many photographers happened upon their hobby when a parent introduced them to the craft. But in today’s digital age, those young photographers have no boundaries to their success. And six-yearold Oliver Jones is paving the way for a generation of young photographers, snapping at their elders’ heels. What are you favourite things to photograph? Oliver: I really like to photograph sunrises and sunsets. I like it because I get to get up early or get home late with my dad. I like the colours in the sky as well. The pictures look really nice when me and my dad look at them on the computer. I have just taken some photos of sunflowers and I really liked going there. My dad knows the farmer and he lets us go into his sunflower field. We are very lucky. Why do you like taking pictures? How does it make you feel? Oliver: I get to go to some really nice places with my dad. Sometimes we get up very early and I think that is very exciting. Sometimes we drive very far and have a sleep in the car. Then we have to walk far, but my dad helps me carry my tripod. He says when he’s old I’ll have to do it for him, but I think he’s old already! It’s really nice to wait for the sun to come up. I like to see how the colours in the sky change and then to see them on the computer when we get home. I like to show my friends my photos. My friend Christopher has been coming out with me and my dad over the holidays. What would you like to be when you grow up? Oliver: I would like to be a photographer when I grow up or a
policeman. My dad says I can be a photographer in the police so maybe that would be a good job. When did you realise Oliver had caught the photography bug? Oliver’s dad, Mark: Oliver first asked for a camera when he was three. I bought him a drop-proof camera and he used to copy me – it was one of his favourite toys. When Oliver was five he asked if he could come on a landscape shoot with me. It was a lavender field shoot in June, and we had to get up at 2am. I can remember how excited Oliver was the night before. He went to bed very early, saying: “The sooner I go to sleep, the sooner we’ll be getting up.” When I woke him, I was half expecting him to roll over and say he was too tired, but he jumped out of bed. He was excited all the way there and didn’t stop talking and asking questions. Oliver used his mum’s point and shoot and I just let him do what he wanted. It was only when we got home that I had a look at his photos and thought ‘wow!’ His composition was really good. He then asked for a “proper” camera, so I bought him a second-hand entry level DSLR and some graduated ND filters. He carried on coming to shoots with me with his infectious enthusiasm and his work was noticed quite quickly. He appeared in the national press, on the news being interviewed by Fred Dinenage and also globally on the internet. What made you choose the K-50 for Oliver? Oliver was very excited to be approached by Ricoh Imaging UK, and he chose the red K-50. He’s been all over the UK with it and even had a trip to Lapland. [PM]
Oliver Jones |
What Ricoh Imaging thinks The Pentax K-50 is a compact, lightweight digital SLR camera combining easy to use operation, with some great photo features that you would usually only find on high end models, so it’s perfect for young users and Oliver’s needs. And better still, it’s weather-resistant and dust proof. Its specifications include high-speed shooting at six images per second, highsensitivity shooting at ISO 51,200 and high-precision AF for accurate tracking of moving subjects. This means that novice SLR users and casual photographers can enjoy high-quality digital photography with minimal effort. “We spotted Oliver’s work when he was featured in a national newspaper and knew he would be a great addition to our team of Ricoh Imaging UK ambassadors – the rest, as they say, is history,” says Ricoh Imaging. “We enjoying seeing Oliver’s monthly portfolio, and how his shooting style has developed, even in the short time we’ve been working with him. We’re excited to be part of his photography journey!” www.ricoh-imaging.co.uk/en/oliver-jones.html
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Remember My Baby In August of this year, CHERYL JOHNSON set up Remember My Baby – an organisation which gives free photographic sessions to parents of stillborn babies. Victoria Dovey speaks with her on the challenges she’s faced Could you a tell us a bit about the business’s, and your, background?
Was this common practice?
There was a similar American charity I had been a member of since 2007, of which there were about 20 photographers in the UK who were left to their own devices. We got together and decided we wanted to change things; to make it far more
take pictures, others won’t. With some, you get the medical photographers in the morgue snap some awful flash pictures of the babies that make them look worse than they already do.
widespread and known in the UK. We decided to do our own thing. That way, we could be registered with the charity commission which means you can get Gift Aid and apply for grants. I’ve been a photographer for forever, but in business for about 10 years. I do mainly family portraiture, so it was a natural progression to help families like this. Only, instead of meeting families in happy circumstances, I now meet them on the worst day of their life.
My friend went on to have twins later. On her mantel piece is this Polaroid blown up to a 10 x 8 frame with pictures of her other children either side. That’s all she ever had and the quality was shocking. It bugged me for all these years. Our mission is now to have a photographer attached to every maternity unit and birthing centre in the country.
What inspired you to set up Remember My Baby? In 1989, a good friend of mine had a stillborn baby on Christmas Day. We’re lucky now that we have bereavement midwives and so on, but back then there was just one of the midwives using a Polaroid camera, who took one blurry picture of her son.
Yes, it was. Even now, in some hospitals the midwives will
What are the services you offer? Are they free? Yes, everything is for free. Each individual photographer completely funds themselves. We take pictures of the baby and hopefully the parents, though sometimes they are reluctant. We try to encourage them because in the healing and grieving process, the medical professionals say it’s beneficial. Generally we’re looking at 15-20 minutes maximum, as we try to be as unobtrusive as possible. Four weeks later, they’ll receive a disk of images. Having that gap helps them move on and it’s not
too raw. All of the pictures are in black and white because it’s much more flattering. We do minor tweaks and edit, mostly because the lips are dark, but we don’t want them to not look like how they were remembered. Some photographers also offer a DVD slideshow, which can be quite emotive. I normally ask if people would like a special song. One couple even wanted an Eminem song, but it meant something to them. It’s all anonymous. We don’t promote our own businesses; we have separate business cards, email addresses – that’s not what we do this for. This is my way of giving back instead of putting in that charity box or monthly direct debiting to an organisation.
What would you say to photographers considering giving their time to something like this? Contact us. Ask questions – it’s not as scary as it seems. People worry about the emotion. What everyone says though, is that when you put that camera up to your face, it’s like a shield. You go into professional photographer mode. We have a fantastic support group on Facebook and will always call you after your first session, to see if you want to talk about it or vent. We always try to get someone to shadow, so you’re not alone. When you come home or you’re looking at pictures, it might put a lump in your throat or a tear in your eye, but an hour or so of discomfort or emotion is nothing. I can give that to somebody, if it helps them. They go to hospital thinking they’re going to leave with a baby and they leave with nothing. We give them something. Maybe they put it on the wall, maybe they look at it once and put it in a drawer. Everybody’s different, but it gives them something to hold on to. These people are proud of their babies. Eighty per cent are the same as newborn shoots. You gauge the atmosphere when you walk in. If they’re speaking then I’ll talk, if they’re silent then I’ll be quiet, but I’ll use the baby’s name and say, ‘Oh lovely curls, is that from you mum?’ and they appreciate it.
What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced? Being accepted into the hospitals – the suspicion. They’re quite cynical. We get CRB checked, even though we technically don’t have to, but it’s jumping through hoops for the hospital, to give peace of mind. There’s a lot of red tape which is understandable. When I first started, I actually had a midwife come up to me and say: “Why are you doing this? What’s in it for you?” I was taken aback and she couldn’t believe I would do this for a complete stranger. The next time I went in I showed her what we do on an iPad, and she became my biggest advocate. They’re caring for their patients, at the end of the day. Doing a presentation, they say things like, ‘Wow, this is amazing. Why didn’t we know about this before?’ But sending an email or phoning, they don’t get it. Seventeen babies are reportedly lost each day this way. That’s a lot of families and we have had ones we haven’t been able to reach.
Where do you see the organisation in a year’s time? Right now we have 32 photographers and we’re angling to be around the 100 mark within 12 months. I’ve been going to a lot of shows and recruiting, and once our registration with the charity’s commission goes through, we’ll be looking for volunteers to fund raise, so the photographers don’t have to pay for their own stuff, like business cards. We earn a living as photographers, but we can also give back with a gift that is priceless. www.remembermybaby.org.uk
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Societies and Associations
THE ACCREDITATION TRAIL Victoria Dovey explores the collective world of photographic societies and associations to find out if there’s strength in numbers
hether you’re looking for a group of likeminded peers, need to do a spot of networking, or feel it’s time to be assessed to see if you’re worth your salt; societies and
associations can provide the path. We lift the lid on four of the biggest, and offer insight from some of their members.
British Institute of Professional Photography (BIPP) The BIPP have been around for well over a century, after a meeting on Fleet Street with the aim to better represent photographers in photography’s emerging professional format. Essentially it’s a means of networking whilst offering support and education. Like most societies, it has various membership levels: Licentiateship, Associateship and Fellowship. All levels will grant you various beneﬁts such as subsidised training, a 24/7 legal helpline, use of the BIPP logo and access to regional meetings, not to mention those all important letters after your name to give your clients a bit more conﬁdence in your brand. BIPP membership also allows you to fast track a degree with the OCA so it might be the perfect route for pursuing your studies. If you’re interested but not quite ready to commit, a Friend
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of the BIPP level offers a lot of the beneﬁts to help you weigh up the decision. Student and International memberships are also available. www.bipp.com
The Master Photographers Association (MPA) The MPA is solely for professional photographers and requires references in order to be a member along with evidence of trading, liability and indemnity insurance. On the one hand, this may sound like a hassle, whilst on the other, your clients will have complete peace of mind when searching for a photographer with an MPA membership. And for your business, help will be at hand for everything from lowest credit card merchant rates and discounted breakdown cover to free mediation services and contractual advice. Your portfolio will be reviewed to gain Licentiate, Associate or Fellow membership grade. www.thempa.com
The RPS offers a lot more than achieving distinctions (although these don’t hurt from such a prestigious society) with regional and chapter meetings enabling you to meet and network at events closer to home. You’ll receive expert advice on your portfolio as well as the chance to promote it on their sleek, modern website. Perhaps one of the most appealing features is the chance to join one or more special interest group such as medical, travel or even 3D imaging and holography, enabling you to focus more on a particular subset of photography. You can apply for a Licentiate, Associate and Fellowship distinction, though may be exempt from portfolio review if you have recently received a photography qualiﬁcation. Creative Industries and Imaging Scientist qualiﬁcations are also on offer to give you a bit more edge. A wide variety of memberships are on offer and can be seen online.
Case Study 1 Award-winning lifestyle, portrait and wedding photographer PAUL WILKINSON FMPA FBIPP FSWPP is the chair of the Master Photographers Association (MPA). For me there were numerous reasons to join one of the associations, but primarily it was to say to the world ‘I am a qualiﬁed professional photographer’. You can create a website overnight and ﬁll it with images you’ve taken of friends – I
The SWPP is the largest of The Societies with around 6000 members beneﬁtting from services such as discounted insurance, seminars and workshops. There’s also a mentoring programme which gives you the chance to have 20 of your images assessed with a written report of areas for approval. While your friends and family might not give you constructive criticism when you really need it, your mentor will! The annual conventions and shows are a great way to network and the free listing on the site certainly won’t hurt business. The qualiﬁcations are structured as follows: Licentiate, Associateship, Fellowship and Craftsman. Your portfolio will be reviewed and details online will tell you
wanted some small sense of distinction from the part-time market, even if it was only for me. The associations are valuable at all levels – they are one of the vehicles for providing education, seminars and viewpoints for development, whether they are seasoned pros or students just beginning their journey. Each of the organisations clearly has a slightly different emphasis, but they all provide broadly the same thing in this industry: structure. This includes portfolio reviews, mentoring, peer-reviewing i.e. the mechanism for attaining your Licentiate, Associateship and Fellowship, print competitions, advice, legal support, seminars and even reduced-price insurance and credit card machines! The accreditations have also provided me with a driver to push myself creatively. It’s not just that the letters have helped us win business, (although recently my commercial client referenced my accreditations and awards as a form of assurance to her CEO), but that each of the levels represents a group of my peers agreeing that my work can be regarded to be of a certain standard. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea – not everyone wants or needs to measure
exactly what is required, depending on which level you are going for as well as the chance to look at successful entries.
their progression – but for me it has been a huge motivation. The biggest advantage for me has been that I have found a
sense of belonging. Being a photographer can be a very lonely
Society of Wedding and Portrait Photographers (SWPP)
The Royal Photographic Society (RPS)
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Societies and Associations
Case Study 2
JOHN BAIKIE ABIPP ASWPP is a multi-award winning photographer from Caithness, specialising in a number of areas including equestrian, fashion and portraiture with subjects including the Royal Family.
member of others and don’t feel there is the same networking and socialising amongst them. It is more inclusive of all abilities as well. They do more in the way of development and training, and the convention alone is worth the membership fee. Biggest advantage... the networking side. I have made so many friends all over the world, and there’s always someone to talk to
I felt it was important to have a professional qualiﬁcation to show people I was serious from the start. None of the local competition
about whatever aspect of the business you want. Being a speaker at so many events has also been a big deal to me and has helped
had any and I saw it as a way of measuring where I was with my work. It gives clients a bit more conﬁdence when they see the
me in many ways, both on a business and personal level. Every photographer should join one of the societies, and enter
qualiﬁcation after your name. However, I’m not sure if they know one from the other. It was of more beneﬁt to me immediately after I achieved it and could blog it and send out press releases than just now, where it just appears on a website or business card. I would like to gain my Fellowship qualiﬁcation, purely for my own satisfaction, but business comes ﬁrst at the moment. The SWPP is a friendlier, more open association. I have been a
their awards, as well as try for qualiﬁcations. It challenges us and helps to raise the standard within the industry, at a time where that is at risk. Attending seminars, workshops and the convention are a great way to improve your work, meet new people and keep up with what is going on in a fast changing world.”
career in spite of the widely held view that it’s incredibly sociable and occasionally glamorous – which it undoubtedly can be – but, in the end, it is you and your camera. For me, the MPA provide a network of like-minded people who, once in a while, I can sit down with, compare notes and stories with, and generally put the world to rights. www.paulwilkinsonphotography.co.uk
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Societies and Associations
Case Study 3
Portrait and advertising photographer RICHARD BRADBURY FMPA FBIPP, counts Tesco, Sony Playstation and The Guinness Book Of World Records as clients. He teaches seminars for both the MPA and BIPP on business and photography, and is currently working on charitable book project, The Children of London. It’s been proven time and time again that a large group of people will always have a better solution compared to the individual. It’s important for photographers to speak to each other as the nature of our business is very solitary. Photography is hard enough; it’s a difﬁcult business to be in, particularly when you’re working on
The BIPP were ﬁrst on my radar, then the MPA and I think of them on an even par. Accreditation is extremely important in the same way that I think awards are. It’s not only that you have those letters after your name, but it’s because it forces you to take what you’ve done more seriously, to inspect your work. It motivates you to look around you, take more pictures and think about what you’re doing. If you know that a panel of your contemporaries are going to be looking at your pictures then you’re going to take a lot of care to make those pictures the very best they can be. Everybody beneﬁts from that – the client, you, the association, and the industry as a whole beneﬁts because we all end up being better photographers.
your own. The more we can get together to discuss issues and share experiences, the better. Anyone can go onto YouTube and ﬁnd tutorials, but when you go to societies you know you’re meeting trained professionals – you don’t get a Fellowship by sitting on your hands. After 30 years of being a professional photographer, I still attend at least half a dozen seminars a year
Winning an award or accreditation is a really good justiﬁable reason to contact clients and remind them you’re still there and they genuinely will want to hear about it and be impressed by it. People won’t come to you just because your work’s great – it’s about marketing.
because I still learn things.
Looking for something more speciﬁc? There are professional bodies out there such as the Institute of Medical Illustrators (IMI) who specialise in speciﬁc ﬁelds of photography that may be less represented in the larger groups. Simon E. Brown MSc FBIPP FIMI FBCA RMIP (www. sharpenyourimage.co.uk) is a clinical and medico-legal
courses and training and point people in the right direction. The BIPP represents a whole range of photographers which gives you contact with those in architecture, forensics or portraiture. IMI is the opposite; it’s such a specialist area. If you’re looking for a photographer for legal reasons then you would want to look
photographer who has found the IMI to be of great use in his practice. “There are very few medical Fellows and I’m very proud of my BIPP qualiﬁcation, but for medical photography it gets much more complicated,” he tells us. “Your best route for that is the IMI. They represent most professional medical photographers, accredit
for someone who is extremely qualiﬁed and experienced in their ﬁeld. Get as qualiﬁed as you can in your area of speciality and promote that.” Keep an eye out on social media for our full list of specialised photographic societies soon! www.imi.org.uk
Younger Construction Victoria Dovey catches up with CONNIE ZHOU â€“ a landmark of architecture photography in the making, aged just 27
Florida Polytechnic University, USA.
oogle is one of the most colossal corporations anyone could name, but for Connie Zhou size is not something to find intimidating. “I like photographing things that are larger than life,” she says. “Things that I can, strangely, fit into the sight of my camera.” Connie made a name for herself shooting tall skyscrapers and huge structures like the Bullring Mall in Birmingham and NYC’s World Trade Centre, but her biggest break came from a giant of another form. Google would be giving one lucky candidate the chance to see inside its data centres, and Connie clutched the key. The resulting images set the internet alight. Connie’s clean and polished work, combined with the childish whimsy of the zany buildings, felt like someone had set Stanley Kubrick loose in Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. Her eye for leading lines became literally highlighted by rainbows of pipelines and wires running throughout the warehouses and congregations of servers glowing in uniform rows. With the surface of the Earth available to view at the click of a button, we’re accustomed to Google photographing us, but it’s a rarity for anyone to turn the camera on them. The enormous data centres in locations around the globe are the price we pay for cloud technology; huge prison-like structures housing countless cells of information. Being the first person from the general public to be allowed inside, it was Connie’s job to show the world Where the Internet Lives – the title of her unprecedented project. “I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. I’m so grateful to have worked with them,” she shares, with a sense of modesty that never falters throughout the interview. “I was 24 at the time – it was a big moment in my career.” You read that right: 24. So how does one receive such a big break at such a young age? “I was in New York for most of my life. I went to an arts high school in the city, LaGuardia, and attended Parsons The New School for Design, majoring in photography.” It makes sense that Connie grew up in a city, especially one like New York – home to some of the most iconic 20th century architecture in the world. “New York is a great place to
Left clockwise: Google Data Center, Hamina, Finland; China’s National Swim Center, Olympics, Beijing, China; Harpa, Iceland.
live and grow up. I was always interested in shooting urbanscapes, exploring abandoned buildings and locations while I was in high school. It wasn’t until much later that I realised I was mainly interested in capturing the structures of buildings and architecture.” After worrying over failing one of her classes, Connie now considers professor and worldrenowned photographer Arlene Collins, at Parsons, a mentor. Her parents are cited as huge influences on her budding creativity too, as her father – a Fashion Institute of Technology graduate and graphic designer – would fill the childhood home with art. “He can literally create something beautiful out of anything,” she tells me. “It’s insane!” When I ask if they continue to be an inspiration now she is an adult, Connie replies without hesitation: “Of course – everyday.” In terms of professional idols, Connie has a couple: “Gursky has always been an inspiration; I am constantly astonished by his work. I think he is one of the reasons why I’m so obsessed with large-scale structures and symmetry. Robert Polidori’s work is also definitely something I aspire to emulate.” Perhaps the most impactful influence on her career, however, would come after graduation, with an apprenticeship under architecture photographer Michael Weber, whose work helped define and establish some of the world’s most recognisable hotels. “Getting the real-world experience through work with Michael was definitely valuable in starting my career,” Connie comments. “It exposed me to the industry first-hand, and taught me a lot about lighting interiors, as well as the ins and outs of the business.” A valuable resource indeed, with Connie just a few short years away from landing Google as a client: “Going into it without knowing what the data centres looked like was both exciting and intriguing,” she explains. “I did a bit of research while writing my proposal and had a good idea of what a server floor would look like; I knew I could do a good job photographing it.” Connie’s confidence was not without merit. Before Google, her clients ranged from architects and corporations to editorial and creative agencies. When it came to pitch for the keys to the castle, she already had the skills to impress. “I like to create a proposal explaining in detail my vision for the project,” she tells us. “It’s important to me that my clients know that I’m 100 per cent dedicated to their project, so offering ideas that are specific to their needs can also help.
“The most important aspect of having a successful business is maintaining good communication with your clients,” Connie continues. “I think the most overwhelming thing about my career is the business side of things. I’m a photographer and, thankfully, shooting and seeing things in a different light comes naturally to me. But starting out I learned very quickly that photographers also have to be good business people. In photography, as with any business, having a great network of contacts is key. Naturally, the most difficult part of the industry is getting your foot in the door. The importance of networking can’t be stressed enough.” Connie’s passion for architecture is evident in her work alone, but her organisational skills seem to be one of the most important building blocks in establishing herself. “Jump-starting your career can wholly depend on knowing the right people,” she shares. “I always keep my clients and all my contacts updated with new work, every time I travel somewhere. In this day and age, the internet and a social media presence are important to anyone’s career. Maintaining a strong presence can expose you to an infinite number of clients.” The old-fashioned ways of networking seem to be giving way to social media a little more each day – a well-timed tweet can now count for more than a schmooze over lunch. It’s not just in aspects of business that Connie is forwardthinking. “I don’t change my gear drastically, however I do update it every couple of years. The biggest investment for me has been my Profoto lighting system.” Gear isn’t a pressing element for Connie, but when it comes to the buildings in front of her lens, to styles of architecture, she certainly has a preference. “I definitely appreciate conservative and classic architecture, but there is something about futuristic buildings that I love; just the oddity of them is interesting to me.” Her favourite city reflects this. The dense neo-landscape of Hong Kong, picked by Connie because “it’s just such a modern city; everything is so easy there.” “There will always be a conflict between the old and the new,” she tells us, “I enjoy the clash. But to be honest, my dream is to photograph a structure in complete isolation with nothing around it. I guess something that is larger than life; probably something that looks like it’s made for space.” Her portfolio as a whole reveals this attitude. Connie’s favourite building, the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing, looks like it has just arrived from Mars, and the famous Jin Mao Tower in Connie’s birthplace of Shanghai appears to be sending a message to the stars. Her favourite architects? “Frank Gehry for inspiring me to photograph architecture; every time I look at his work it makes me feel like I’m photographing architecture for the first time. Also Santiago Calatrava, for his beautiful structures that constantly put me in awe – always making me feel like I’m photographing something from the future.” That word crops up again – ‘future’. It seems Connie is consumed by it, by the need to look forward, and to err on the side of modernity. “I can only hope that, through my work, I am
Above clockwise: World Trade Center, New York, USA; Florida Polytechnic University, USA; Atocha Train Station, Madrid, Spain; Caixaforum Museum Madrid, Spain; Florida Polytechnic University, USA; Blue Lagoon, Iceland.
constantly pushing myself and the boundaries of industry convention,” she says, and pushing herself is something she practices. “Shooting exteriors is more challenging because the weather is unpredictable. But I love looking at a structure or a building and waiting for the right light to catch to get the perfect shot.” Lately she’s been branching out, with a view to exploring multimedia and video, recognising the importance of it in today’s industry. A recent trip to Iceland saw her try her hand at landscape too. “Iceland is an amazing place!” Connie exclaims. “It’s so beautiful and otherworldly there – shooting came easily, even though I wasn’t shooting architecture. At the end of the day I’m still a photographer, regardless of what I’m shooting: architecture, people, or landscapes.” Of the three, the most challenging for Connie initially was people. “Shooting the portraits for Google was very rewarding because I loved working with the staff there… but in almost all of my images, I work very hard avoiding people. In fact, I spend hours taking them out of my shots!” The crisp, clean images with grand structures in sparse settings, characteristic of her work, don’t work well with bustling bodies. From a visual standpoint, a figure would be a blot – an unsightly speck to remove. “Famous
I always keep my clients and all my contacts updated with new work, every time I travel somewhere... the internet and a social media presence are important to anyone’s career.
working pro / connie zhou
Favourite bit of kit? 16-35mm lens – it’s so wide! It captures everything I need. 118
buildings or structures are always crowded with people and, in some cases, are under-going construction,” Connie continues. “A lot it has to do with playing the waiting game but, in some cases, there are just too many people. That’s when I work my magic in post. When I’m shooting, I always know what I need to capture for post in the back of my mind. I do my own retouching, so I know what I need.” It seems that now, however, even people are on the table. “There is a lot more I want to accomplish as a photographer. I have been working on including people in my architectural shots; it’s definitely a different style. I started shooting a bit of lifestyle, and having people in them is essential.” Perhaps gaining representation has given Connie more freedom to manoeuvre? “After Google, I felt it was time to look for representation, which led me to Michael Ash,” she replies. “Agents are vital to the industry because they create great exposure for photographers. More importantly, they allow the photographers to do what they do best while the agency deals with the business end.” After such a big success, especially so early on in a career, it seems a photographer can travel down one of two paths. The achievement can become unsurpassable, and loom over work for the rest of your life. But for someone like Connie, who’s more than used to dealing with all things big and monumental, it can carve out the way to new opportunities, perhaps even larger than before. Recently, Connie has been shooting the new Polytechnic University of Calatrava in Florida. “I’m planning a trip to the coastline of the Northwest next,” Connie shares. “Of course I’ve also put together a list of architectural gems along the way. I’m also working on a personal project on airplane graveyards. I’m not worried about my Google work overshadowing the rest of my work,” she assures. “I’m very proud of the amount of exposure it got. Ultimately, it gave exposure to all my work. I think I have Google to thank for that.” It’s hard to disagree, but it may also have something to do with Connie’s tremendous determination, and her ability to look to the future. Gursky and Polidori, her photography heroes, didn’t become well-established until they were into their thirties. At 27, Connie Zhou is off to a running start. www.conniezhou.com instagram.com/connyay
Above: Aqua, Chicago, USA. Right: TWA Terminal, New York, USA.
Kit Bag Canon 5D Mark II I Lenses: 16-35mm, 24-70mm and 50mm I I like to use my Acute Profoto 1200 pack with a regular head or a ring flash when I’m shooting interiors.
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SPECIAL ISSUE 2014 £4.20 professional since 1982
SPECIAL ISSUE 2014
a model story
Was Mona Lisa’s smile really that captivating or was her painter, da Vinci, just that good? Victoria Dovey uncovers the importance of choosing the right model
odels and muses have been inspiring photography since its very conception, but their influence and form has varied throughout history. From the androgynous stylings of Lee Miller with Man Ray to the blonde bombshells that haunted Hitchcock’s dreams, the face of a model can transform a decade. Fred Astaire’s character, a Richard Avedon-inspired figure, discovered Audrey Hepburn’s ‘Funny Face’ in a bookstore but, apparently, this romantic vision of found beauties is not the most likely of routes. While the photographers I speak to prefer to play it safe and stick with experienced girls, Lydia at First Model Management tells me the agency has discovered models everywhere from a ski festival to a Harvester. But is it just a face, or is there much more to a good model? She says: “It has to be both personality and looks – just one won’t cut it.” It’s a sentiment which resonates throughout the industry and one that may help to explain the popular phenomena of marrying one’s muse, like Irving Penn, Rankin and David Bailey, to name a few. Likewise, in the case of Kate Moss, a freshly discovered model can help launch the career of a photographer, with their input equalling, or sometimes rivalling, those on the other side of the lens. With issues of representation plaguing the modelling industry, who decides what passes for the right look? The 1973 FrancoAmerican catwalk ‘Battle of Versailles’ saw 11 black models steal the show – a pioneering first for Europe. A lot has changed since, with London particularly forward-thinking in its use of ethnic models compared to Paris or Milan. Choosing models carefully has never been more critical to your shoot, and while the client may have the final say, well-picked models like Twiggy or Naomi Campbell should serve as a reminder of the impact a face can have. º
Hair and beauty photographer JACK EAMES sheds light on the importance of picking the right model, and why he looks beyond a pretty face “A model can change everything – it’s not just about what they look like, it’s also what they do. You can light beautifully, have beautiful makeup, but if the model isn’t right, you’ve really got your work cut out. Because I shoot a lot of hair and beauty, I try to go to castings as much as possible. Sometimes a client will really like a girl without seeing her in the flesh or just look at the hair and think ‘it’s amazing, let’s book her!’ You have to be honest and say ‘she’s got great hair, but she’s not right for this job.’ I try to pick girls that I’ve worked with before and know will pull the brief off, but that has a shelf life. If I know a girl’s been overexposed, I don’t book them. If they’re in everyone else’s story, it doesn’t reflect too well. “With models, it’s a face, but it’s about what’s going on in the eyes. Also there’s another level of performance from a model when she’s in tune with her body, shape, and frankly her sexuality; that’s when you get the great pictures because they know how their body and mind function and marry those things together. The tiniest movements make such a difference; it’s like watching a ballet. Sometimes we get new faces and I have to say, ‘you look amazing, but you need to become an actress.’ I’ll play and perform with them and that breaks the ice; maybe teach them basics in terms of form but, most importantly, provide an arena where they’re confident to perform, to disengage with decorum for everyday life and go for it. Sometimes I have a matter of a few minutes with a model and it’s about getting them on board with what you’re doing, involving them so that they’re as important as anyone else in the shoot. There’s never any hierarchy – from the third assistant to the client, you’re all getting the best picture possible and that’s what’s important. Once you have the right music, team and energy, that’s where the magic can really happen. What makes a great model is when they bring their own passion and personality to a shoot. You’re doing a portrait of yourself of anything you do creatively and if they’re creating with you, it’s a collaborative portrait.”
JACK EAMES ANNE DE PAULA / NEVS MODELS
Photographer KATIE DRISCOLL set up Changing the Face of Beauty – an organisation which seeks to represent people of all abilities in advertising campaigns “Our world is guided by the images we see: bloggers, advertisers, social media and television. I use my photography to show what is possible and most of the clients I have worked with are pleasantly surprised. The responses from the models who participate are a resounding thank you. They can then view themselves as a beautiful young person and not a person who remains in the background of imagery. The media’s goal is to find a way to represent diversity as best they can. If the talent is available, more casting agents will consider the use of models of all abilities. People are seeing models they can relate to in imagery and on the big screen. The more this happens, the more people who aspire to be professional models and have a disability will step up and take the chance. “We look at the creative and casting directors, as well as the advertising firms, to put the option of change on the table. They discuss casting and the inclusion of minorities but people living with a disability are not even considered, which is unfortunate, because they make up the largest minority in the world. Photographers that freelance their own work can consider their casting decisions in the future. They can show inclusion in their own imagery, which communicates a lot louder than words. The more we see differences, the less we see a person who is different, instead we see a person who as capable, beautiful and just like anyone else. “There are many companies who just ignore my enquiries. Then there are others who are interested and open a conversation with me to understand exactly where I am coming from. When I talk about showing them what their product would look like on a model with a disability, they are either all for it or I feel a sense of fear. One advertising rep told me my intentions sound great, but I have to communicate what the bottom dollar would be – how would inclusion sell products. There is also lot of scepticism about including models with disabilities because of the concern of being accused of exploitation. Companies do not want to be accused of that, and so they do something even worse – they ignore.” º www.changingthefaceofbeauty.org
“When you photograph a face . . . you photograph the soul behind it.”
– Jean-Luc Godard
International advertising photographer CLAIRE HARRISON tells us what makes a good hair and beauty model, and how to find them
“Always bear in mind the brief, and don’t get distracted by who you think is right, based on your own preferences. It’s essential to do a casting for a beauty and hair campaign, to meet the model in the flesh. With retouching and hair extensions in models’ portfolios, it is impossible to judge by a portfolio alone. Have a hair stylist present to check the quality of the hair. It’s also good to check their hands and fingernails and a must to check the skin without makeup. Be very specific with the agency about who you want to see, or they can waste everyone’s time by sending models that will never get the job. If there is a budget it is sometimes good to hire a casting agent who take the stress out of the first part of this process. “There is so much more to a good model than symmetry. Some models are perfect for some jobs and wrong for others, so to be a model you have to have very thick skin. No casting is a waste of time though – I often remember a good model and call them up for a different shoot. Chemistry is essential between the model and photographer. If they are inspiring you then you’ll get the best out of them and they’ll get the best out of you. I love working with a male and female on set together; the chemistry and images are a lot more moving to shoot and look at. I enjoy the challenge of getting two people to look great at once and to fill the image with a story. “I prefer models that move and change their expression naturally without being directed to make every tiny move. It frees you up as a photographer to then work on your framing and shot a lot more. Essentially, your job is to enhance what they have started and to direct and encourage the elements that are working.”
We featured REBECCA MILLER in last month’s PP for her Wedgwood shoot. This issue, she comments on why Cecile Sinclair is her perfect model
“If I have a shoot, I’ll put together an email which has all the details and add a couple of pictures of my dream girls, or we’ll leave it quite open and see who’s around. I’ll hand pick the girls from the agencies for the castings – I try to keep it around 20. Anymore than that and you don’t see anymore – there could be the most drop-dead gorgeous girl and I wouldn’t see them. “I’ve worked with beautiful girls that are like dead fish, so I’m very specific when looking for someone. I’m always looking for personality and people who can move – after a couple of years of modelling they become more comfortable behind the camera and it makes the shoot flow a lot more. You can tell a well-experienced model by what they do with their hands. They think about what they do with their whole body. Sometimes, if a model’s really good, I feel like I’m not doing my job properly because they know what you want before you do! But it should feel like more of a collaboration. I don’t like being in a situation where you have to tell the model exactly what to do. “I met Cecile years ago at a casting. She came in and was so lovely and personable – you felt like old friends when you talked to her – beautiful with no makeup, jeans and a t-shirt. Cecile has many different looks, from edgy editorial to advertising, which is very different. For advertising you want a safer more traditionally beautiful girl, whereas with editorial you can push the boat out. Traditional beauty bores me quite a bit. You want to tell a story through the girls and if they’re just pretty, it’s not interesting. I want the model to get the story; it’s an acting job really, and they translate the plot their own way. I love shooting dancers or people who are crazy into yoga and can transform their bodies in different ways, instead of people who are simply just being beautiful.”
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NOVEMBER 2014 £4.20 professional since 1982
LaChapelle talks L’Art
INTERVIEWS: Madonna to Mandela with Richard Corman + Daniel Krieger’s Food Glorious Food BUSINESS: Dress to Win I Time is Money I SEO Insights GEAR: Elinchrom ELC Pro HDs
business globe trotter Victoria Dovey steals a word or two from ANDREW MAIN WILSON, in his spare moments between running a global organisation, and travelling the world
Andrew Main Wilson is power walking over to the Cuban embassy between meetings. Monday to Friday, the business mogul can be located in some of the most high flying board rooms in London, and the world, as Chief Executive of the Association of MBAs (AMBA); a global membership and impartial authority on postgraduate business education. But his free time is another story. “World of Wonders takes up all my personal time,” he explains in transit. “I went to Stockholm to do a shoot at the weekend. I had a full week in the office, was up at 2.30am Saturday and didn’t get back till gone midnight last night.” It’s Monday morning, and we’re on our third cup of tea in the office. Andrew Main Wilson returned from his last adventure a mere hours ago, and is already hot footing his way to get a visa for another. World of Wonders is Andrew’s ambitious project to photograph every country on Earth and, yes, he does mean every country. “I got to Liberia just in time before Ebola hit,” he tells me, “but I wasn’t lucky enough to get to Iraq before ISIS.” Out of the 193 countries available to visit on the planet, Stockholm was number 157. Eight more are pencilled in before the year is up. This is a busy man, but his voice is filled with enthusiasm and, as we speak on the phone, there’s no hint of fatigue. He wholeheartedly apologises as he reaches the diplomatic doors of the embassy for having to continue the interview some other time. The next time we speak, Andrew has returned from Cuba, full to the brim with tales and advice and with number 158 checked off his list. “They’ve got all these 1950s American cars there,” he explains. “They’d be worth a fortune in America but out there they can’t afford new cars, so they’re making 50-year-old cars work.” It’s unsurprising Andrew has picked up on the resourcefulness of the Cuban people. He worked his way up from a graduate trainee position with Thompson holidays to Marketing and Commercial Director, before performing as the Chief
Operating Officer of the Institute of Directors. This is not the CV of a man who doesn’t appreciate hard work. “If you think you’re standing still,” he begins, “you’re actually, most certainly, going backwards without realising it. You should constantly be setting yourself, each year, specific growth and business targets.” Constantly looking forward is part of what makes Andrew such a success; in his professional life, as well as his work on World of Wonders. “What is so exciting about the world of photography is how innovation in the industry keeps getting better and better,” he says. “I went back to one place with my Nikon D800 and shot exactly the same scene, same lighting conditions, as I had done five years earlier on my Nikon D2X and the improvement in image quality and colour saturation was just incredible. They were already good, but now they’re outstanding. If you’re a real perfectionist, you do need to keep abreast of the camera technology. Wherever possible, buy yourself the best equipment you can.” It’s also not just the regular business world Andrew keeps his hand in, but that alluring world of show business, too. An experienced presenter, I ask him of his most inspiring interviews. The name that springs to his mind first is the late Lady Thatcher, for her “enormously refreshing personal self belief in doing what she believed was right,” as well, unsurprisingly, for her ability to look forward. More incredible names such as David Attenborough, Archbishop Tutu, George Best and Jack Welch pop up. There is clear admiration resonating in his voice as he reflects, even for someone who grew up on first-name basis with many movie stars: “As a child, I spent time with the likes of Marty Feldman, Peter Sellers… and that was very stimulating. My father was in show business and was a BBC comedy producer. I guess I got my creativity from him. Being around these TV sets and having big Above, left to right: The glacier lagoon of Jökulsárlón, Iceland; Racing canoes at sunset, Guam; A ring tailed lemur, mother and baby, in Madagascar.
ANDREW MAIN WILSON
andrew main wilson
British and American film stars. It was inspiring and made me want to do something creative myself... but on a global scale!” It’s not often you find someone who places creativity on the same pedestal as business accruement. The scales tend to find one more substantial than the other in the opinions of most but, for Andrew, it’s evident that both weigh heavily on his mind. “One of the great things about a photographer’s strength in business is being a naturally creative person,” he elaborates. “That ability to think differently is very valuable. In a lot of large corporations, business people start to get indoctrinated into the organisation and, after a while, many have difficulty thinking in a fresh way. To have a creative mind in business is a real asset. Someone who’s truly creative and an original thinker is much, much rarer than most people imagine. Pure business people are good at processes and good at managing people, but it’s rare to find someone who’s got good, strong commercial accruement, and is also a genuine creative thinker and can come up with original ideas. For me, the most successful photographers are well organised commercially, but also their photography or field is differentiated enough from others to make them high up the demand chain. How do you differentiate yourself in the wedding market when everyone has a similar portfolio? The ability to come up with a different idea and position your brand as the number one in the area is key. It’s a winning combination to have both organisation and creativity, or sufficient discipline and organisation skills, so that you don’t become a liability in that area. At the Harvard Business School they say you just have to get the areas in life that you’re weaker at to an acceptable level of performance.
Once you’ve done that, go back and focus on making yourself even better at the things you’re strongest at because, ultimately, that’s what people are choosing you for; the things that you are best at. You’ve got to be really skilled at your profession, of course, but then go out and find enough training and expertise to be commercially competent so you can maximise the business and financial success of what you do. And that does involve training and joining some association.” As Chief Executive of AMBA, responsible for accrediting business schools the world over, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Andrew is a big advocate for the collective power that comes from association. “If you can get to accreditation, it’s very reassuring for people,” he elaborates. “Practical business training and a qualification reassures the buyers and lenders and impresses customers and, most importantly, makes you a better business person. It gives you confidence in what you’re doing, particularly if you’re a creative person and regard the business sides of things as secondary. I also think it’s good that bodies represent individuals, particularly smaller businesses. Major multinationals have their own lobbying groups, their own powers governing relationships, whereas smaller businesses don’t. You need effective bodies that will represent you and champion your causes, so choose carefully and speak to others.” Being head of a large organisation nine till five, and a photographer in every spare moment, it’s evident how much Andrew not only values societies, bodies and collectives, but has personally experienced the benefits. “It can often be quite lonely, even being the head of a large º
One of the great things about a photographer’s strength in business is being a naturally creative person.
business inspiration / andrew main wilson
Above: The greengrocers of Yap, Micronesia. Right: Varanasi from the River Ganges at dawn, India.
organisation, and it’s good to get together with others, even from outside your industry, to get a better perspective on what you’re doing.” And it’s indeed people that Andrew, perhaps, is most knowledgeable of, with a detailed history of management. Is there a secret to successfully managing a team? “Involve your staff and share the final vision with them. Then they can see where they fit in within your strategy. Get the right skilled people within the right roles. Lastly, decide on your management style. Just treat people the way you would like to be treated yourself, and show an interest in their career and give them the tools to grow with you and your business.” This ability to look forward so much and constantly stay fresh isn’t the only factor involved in Andrew’s strategy. At the root of all these thoughts and ideas stems a universal sentiment; the giant that is globalisation. “Everyone, from accountants to photographers and marketing managers, is competing in a global market,” he elaborates. “Photography is a prime example of where you can buy images or stock from anywhere.” He continues: “If you’re a local wedding photographer, your market is still local, but if you’re looking to distribute and sell your images, it’s a global market and a great opportunity for you, but also, naturally, equally a threat. Your equivalent business man or photographer can compete with you from all corners of the Earth.” And, of course, Andrew not only thinks global, he is global. “There is an enormous benefit to travel. I’ve worked hard to educate my kids as well as have them travel, but if someone said, ‘would you rather have them travel all over the world or pay for a top notch education’, I’d say travel is a better educator.”
Determined to complete all of close to 200 countries, as well as double AMBA’s membership in the next five years, with this global attitude, inevitably from such an ambitious man, comes an underlying constant threat of world domination. I ask what his strategy would be as a full-time photographer and the answer follows suit: “If the centre of my bull’s-eye was wedding photography, the next concentric circle would be other social, people, lifestyle photography, and I’d gradually draw broader rings around my target dartboard of areas, that are tangential, that I could move my work into, such as local tour companies. I’d ask myself of every single market place that I could conceivably use, then build a three-year business and marketing plan.” While talking with Andrew, I can’t help but notice his overwhelming optimism. “While photography is one of the most solitary jobs,” he tells me, “it’s also one of the most exciting and fulfilling in the world. In life, you constantly come across people saying ‘that’s impossible and can’t be done’. My message is this: Never ever give up if you have a dream or vision. If you have a level determination, even if you don’t get all the way to fulfilling your perfect dream, you’ll get much further down the line and closer to that achievement than if you start to believe people who say things can’t be done. Build your confidence, too. Much of life is about that, but if you’re not uncomfortable, you’re not feeling big enough. In essence, we are all capable of considerably more than what we think we’re achieving.”
If you think you’re standing still... you’re actually, most certainly, going backwards without realising it. You should constantly be setting yourself, each year, specific growth and business targets.
Biting the Big Apple
A cocktail captured at NYCâ€™s Maison Premiere.
Brooklyn-based DANIEL KRIEGER is an awardwinning food, restaurant and portrait photographer who spends his days dining in some of New York Cityâ€™s finest restaurants. He takes a time out to speak with Victoria Dovey from across the pond
A selection of culinary shots, captured for the newly-opened restaurant, Gato.
ypically, Americans dine out a lot more than they eat in. For a food photographer, I imagine it’s no exception. “I’m not hugely into cooking,” Daniel confesses, “I’m more of a savoury guy myself, and between me and my girlfriend, who is a food writer here in New York City, we find ourselves dining out often.” As the photographer of some of the most reputable restaurant openings in the city, it’s excusable: given the opportunity, not many would do otherwise. “But I can make pretty excellent houmous and guacamole!” he adds, optimistically. A psychology and criminal justice major, Daniel started taking pictures nine years ago. “I was really searching for some type of creative field and during my lunch breaks would go out and take street photographs. I discovered that I was good at it and, eventually, people started paying me to take pictures here and there. I quickly began building a business. I began working for a small local Brooklyn paper and started to get some food assignments. Over the years my work improved and, as it did, I began photographing for larger papers and magazines. I’ve always done a good job of negotiating and promoting myself, so never searched for an agent. I’ve thought about it for years and would potentially try it at some point, but right now it’s just me.” Daniel makes it sound easy but, in reality, it took time, graft and the odd stolen break to get where he is; contributing regularly to the New York Times and shooting exclusively at high-profile restaurant openings. “I work at my career seven days a week. Beyond raw talent is the hustle aspect. I remember years ago, one day I took an extended lunch break (unbeknown to my employer), and rode my bicycle from a quick photoshoot for Eater.com to B&H because something on my tripod broke and needed replacing. I waited by the cash register, probably looking sweaty and dishevelled, knowing I had to get back to my day job. The guy standing there said, ‘hey man, what do you do?’ and I said, ‘I’m a hustler’.”
You only have to look at Daniel’s photographs to see what a keen eye he has; one which would enjoy success in many avenues of photography, leading to the crucial question: why food? “It’s because people have an amazing response to it! Food is a universally loved thing and people buy cookbooks just to stare at the beautiful images. I like getting feedback about my work, even something as simple as ‘staring at your photostream the other day was making me so hungry.’ “I do also really love portraits. Shooting a good portrait is one of the hardest things to do, there are so many variables. If you can capture someone’s real emotion or the perfect moment when they smile in a certain way and everything lines up – the light, the background – and make them look just how you want... that’s a great thing.” I’m curious to find out Daniel’s motivations and inspirations. His passion is clear, but what’s igniting that spark? “I’m trying to develop a collection of important photographers through the age of my medium, so I’m buying books by people like Helmut Newton, William Eggleston, and I recently purchased a Vivian Maier book – she has one of the most interesting stories in any artistic field. Flipping through their images definitely gives you ideas and captures the imagination. I’m also inspired by many photographers on Instagram right now.” But one of the best inspirations a food photographer can have is a big city. “There’s no better place to be for work in the food photography world than New York City. We have so many outstanding chefs and restaurants that exist and are being built every day. The restaurant scene here is constantly changing. It’s a thriving world, so I’m glad that I’m smack in the middle of it.”
Gato proprietor Bobby Flay.
Is it New York or bust? “I really do love NYC but can see myself leaving some day. I’m a big fan of San Francisco, so that’s sometimes in the back of my head. But I’ve built up a successful business here, and I don’t know how it would translate to moving somewhere else. My contacts would be lost and I’d have to start afresh.” Perhaps as an amuse-bouche of things to come, Daniel was recently commissioned by the Turkish tourism board, to photograph the food and the culture of the country. How does such a thing occur? “Almost entirely organically,” he answers, explaining how his images were discovered by the client via his Instagram account. “I’ve been lucky enough the past few years to stay pretty busy, so it’s rare I pitch things. I was told that I was on the radar of a few people organising the project and my name popped up, so they contacted me. It was my first time travelling directly through Instagram. Now I’m in the works of another cool sounding trip, so it’s really taking off.” For now, at least, Daniel is entrenched in a city he loves, with contacts and peers who love him. The streets are riddled with glowing testimonials of his work, and his character. So what’s the secret? “Every image I make I’m trying to create something beautiful to look at. I want my photography to be viewed as having more of a fine art feel than, ‘okay, so that’s what a cheeseburger
looks like.’ I’m not trying to just document what I photograph; I’m trying to create something people love looking at. I could be shooting one assignment for the New York Times in an evening and have to come home and retouch the images and send it off by the morning to my editor – so that could mean shooting and editing until 1am or later. Or I could be photographing a restaurant for them to use images internally on their website, so I’m hanging out a bit with the chef and photographing out of hours. I want every image I take to be better than my last, so that’s what’s in my mind going in. If I think a photo is going to look better on the ground I’ll use the ground to shoot a plate. Sometimes you run into issues with this thinking, because your vision isn’t always the same as your client, but for the most part people who hire me have seen my photography, trust what I do, and pretty much say: ‘Do your thing; that’s why we hired you’.” Recently, it was TV personality and American celebrity chef Bobby Flay who hired Daniel for a shoot at the opening of his new restaurant, Gato. “I’ve met Bobby a few times but it wasn’t until he opened up the restaurant that we had the chance to work together. He and his partner saw my work and liked it and hired me to photograph some dishes and interiors for their new restaurant. We worked closely together to discuss which dishes to choose and how to plate certain things, but as with most chefs, they understand plating and how to make things look appetising to their customer, which translates into looking good for me to frame and capture. I think most talented chefs have a lot of inherent artistic talent, which shows in their flavour combinations, but it also comes through in plating and presentation – it makes my job easier in those circumstances.”
So what was Bobby Flay like to work with? “Bobby’s an intense, passionate person – as many chefs are – and my favourite thing was listening to him speak to his staff before dinner service. I wouldn’t say it was quite as extreme as a general prepping his men for battle, but it had that kind of leadership role feel to it. It’s moments like that you’re privy to in the restaurant world that make it an exciting place to be right now.” Exciting indeed, but Daniel has a well earned spot at the table. It’s through savvy marketing and brand awareness that he has managed to enter this world at all. “Marketing is very important for a working professional,” he tells me. “Do your research and understand what people are paying for work, or what other photographers are charging. Understand the business side, the social media side; those things are important. There are so many people who will always compete in a creative profession like photography, if you take a year off I feel like you’ll come back and no one will remember who you are. It’s a scary feeling, but one that keeps you motivated to continue pursuing success.” One way Daniel makes sure he’s remembered is through social media. “Instagram is a great way to connect with people you know in the photography field and also a way to easily meet new potential fans or clients. I think of it like an extension of my brand or portfolio. At this point I’m really trying to create and publish quality work on my feed.” Food photography, of course, is becoming increasingly synonymous with Instagram to Joe public, but it’s truly an art to create an image that appears as appetising as the dish tastes. “It’s important to have a knowledge of the food you’re photographing, even if it’s something as simple as providing proper perspective of what they’re looking at, focusing in on the part of the dish that will best explain it. I usually know the outcome of the images before I leave my shoot, so if something isn’t right I sense it immediately and try to change what’s happening before I leave the restaurant or studio. I want to feel confident when walking out of a shoot that I have what I came for.” Daniel’s taken a side step of late, to focus on another love of the same mother. “The approach to photographing cocktails is different from food... from the angles, to the colours, to the fact you can allow light to pass through a glass, changes how you shoot.” Daniel’s first cocktail book, photographed for Ten Speed Press with
author Robert Simonson, took a look at the complete history of iconic drinks. “We shot it at several NYC bars including Maison Premiere, Ft. Defiance, and Prime Meats in Brooklyn. We also headed down to New Orleans during a cocktail festival (called Tales of the Cocktail) and shot a few frames at the French 75 bar in the French Quarter of New Orleans. It was a great experience: I love the colours of drinks and the varied looks of glasses. You can have a sexy feminine looking glass like a coop but then you can move to a sturdy, handsome masculine glass for another cocktail.” And while cocktail photography isn’t a million miles away from his first love of food, Daniel is quick to warn of the dangers of branching out too much: “Try to hone in on one thing and really perfect that. Don’t try to brand yourself as a general photographer capable of taking bird photos, weddings, food, lifestyle, headshots... no one is that good to really excel at all of those genres. Pick one and get really good at it.” So is that the secret ingredient to success? “There’s something a successful photographer has that can’t really be taught or learned. A great photographer is able to see and arrange things in ways that other people can’t. It’s achieved through a variety of efforts while also factoring in many variables. You need resources, whether it’s time or money, to build a portfolio and to build relationships with the right people.” And perhaps a business dinner party or two… with some “pretty excellent” homemade houmous and guacamole.
www.nycfoodphotographer.com Instagram @danielkrieger
A cocktail captured for Fort Defiance, Brooklyn.
A selection of culinary shots, captured for the newly-opened restaurant, Gato.
KIT BAG Nikon D4S I Nikkor 60mm macro f/2.8 (a good macro lens is essential for food photography) I Sigma 50mm f/1.4 I Nikkor 35mm f/1.4 I Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8 (good for interiors, not so much food) I Those are my go to lenses I also have the 105mm f/2.8 VR macro Nikkor I I use a Money Maker leather camera strap which I love and people always comment on it I I have a beautiful handmade customdesigned leather camera bag by ABK
gone but not forgotten
COURTESY GEORGE AND BETTY WOODMAN, AND VICTORIA MIRO, LONDON © THE ESTATE OF FRANCESCA WOODMAN
time Top: From Angel Series Rome Italy, 1977-1978. Above and right: Untitled, New York, 1979-80.
hotographers are creatives: they see darkness in another light, a still in motion and leading lines in a world of chaos, living every waking moment as an artist. While there are many celebrated photographers who have lived to a ripe old age, producing expansive bodies of work over their lifetime, there are also those who weren’t as fortunate, leaving tantalising,
In 1981, aged 22, Francesca Woodman killed herself, leaving behind a collection of evocative photographs that have influenced a generation of artists. As a collection of her work is exhibited, Victoria Dovey takes a look at a century of photographers who have died before their time often unfinished, collections. For these photographers, their legacy is frozen; suspended in time. Our view is tainted by the finality of it – that this work is unchanging and absolute. Here, we take a look at the photographers who died too soon, leaving behind the ‘what-ifs’ and ‘if-onlys’. Neil Young once sang ‘it’s better to burn out than to fade away’, but is that really the case?
gone but not forgotten
Francesca’s work has become inescapably synonymous with her death: aged just 22, she leapt from a window. But that doesn’t mean to say she hasn’t gained recognition for the merit of her work – in its incredible expanse, with over 10,000 negatives and 800 prints. Many were gelatine silver and 8 x 10 or smaller, with the intention of creating a feeling of immense intimacy. Francesca related to the gothic heroines of Victorian literature, producing abstract monochrome images, using motion or long exposure to capture ghostly, disappearing or camouflaged female characters. Her subjects were often nude, commonly self-portraits and frequently positioned in derelict or run-down spaces. It seems eerie to refer to the work she conducted in her early twenties as her ‘later work’, but born into a family of artists, Francesca began photographing seriously in her early teens. Towards the end of her life, not long out of the student category, she began to close the scope of her work, focusing heavily on the use of lines in her portraits and images, with the intention of creating large, conceptual collages. The recent exhibition at the Victoria Miro, Zigzag, displays Francesca’s work from this time, as well as correspondence from the late artist. Included is a letter to a friend: “It will be a long string of images held together by a long compositional zigzag,” she commented on her vision for the gallery exhibition. “Thus the corner of a building in one frame fits into the elbow of a girl in the next frame into a book in the third frame, the images are both very personal mysterious ones and harsh images of outdoor city life.” Since her death, her parents George and Betty, who featured in the multiple award-winning 2010 documentary, The Woodmans, have, understandably, been fiercely protective of her work and the manner in which it’s displayed. They’ve also sought to separate it from the common trap the art world falls into when reviewing female artists, of trying to understand a work on its biographical merits, as opposed to its artistic qualities. On Zigzag, George Woodman, an artist himself, comments: “Modernist abstract art devotes itself to the form of the square, the rectangle, the box, the intersection of streets, the whole right angle world of horizontal and vertical. Domination by a zigzag motif is very rare. It creates a world of flux without horizon, a rhythmic oscillation. Francesca made studies of zigzags: from representations of houses, noses, hands and babies legs.” With a streak of imagination and creativity as broad as this, one can only wonder what Francesca would have gone on to create should she have survived the fragility that ended her life so young. www.victoria-miro.com/artists/7-Francesca-Woodman
COURTESY GEORGE AND BETTY WOODMAN, AND VICTORIA MIRO, LONDON © THE ESTATE OF FRANCESCA WOODMAN
Francesca Woodman: Age 22 1958-1981
Above: Untitled, MacDowell Colony, Peterborough, New Hampshire, 1980.
Robert Capa: Age 40 1913-1954 Armed with a camera, among the first wave of gun-yielding soldiers, Robert Capa charged what would become one of the deadliest scenes of the Second World War: Omaha beach on D-Day. His blurry images, captured in stolen moments when sheltered from gunfire, speak of his bravery whilst recording war zones – one isolated instance among many. He photographed Soviet Russia and the newly-formed state of Israel, and cofounded the photo agency Magnum. In the time preceding his death, he was persuaded out of retirement to cover the Indochina war. He died on assignment, fatally injured by a landmine. www.magnumphotos.com
Tim Hetherington: Age 40 1970-2011
101 COURTESY OF PHOTOFUSION © TIM HETHERINGTON
Film maker and photographer Tim Hetherington was killed by shrapnel in 2011 amidst the violence of the Libyan civil war. After returning from his travels in India, China and Tibet – following his studies at Oxford – the young Tim had returned to England with a clear idea of what he wanted to do in life: make images. Sure enough, his first job would carve out the rest of his career, shedding light on the most vulnerable members of society as he found employment with the Big Issue as a staff photographer. Over the years Tim found himself drawn to areas where the story ached to be told, documenting a school for the blind in Sierra Leone, filming and photographing exhausted soldiers in Afghanistan and collaborating with others in group projects which sought to tell the individual stories and uncover the human faces behind the expanding world of globalisation. Those who knew him commented on his ability to look ahead, always appreciating moving image and indeed winning awards for both his stills (including the prestigious World Press Photo of the Year 2007) and his films, most notably in the form of Restrepo, which won several Emmys as well as an Oscar nomination. Today his posthumous exhibition, Infidel, at the Foam gallery in Amsterdam, combines his photography, writing and film to create a unique perspective on the experience of war from the standpoint of the individuals involved. Not one to leave any stone unturned in his journalistic work, Tim examined the views of both the soldiers and the civilians. His vision, empathy and skill as a storyteller continue to inspire the photography community. www.timhetherington.org
Dash Snow: Age 27 1981-2009 Dash Snow was heir to an America family fortune, and a multimillion-dollar collection of art. But despite his privileged background and family name, Dash shunned conventional lifestyles. On 24 July, aged 27, Snow was found dead – amid beer cans, a rum bottle, 13 glassine bags on which traces of heroin were found, and three used syringes – in a room of the Lafayette House hotel in New York. It was 10 days from his 28th birthday. He had opted for a party lifestyle, making downtown Manhattan his playground. His edgy self-reportage collection of work provides snapshots of this life of what some would call hedonism, and others the pursuit of freedom.
His work was often destructive and, with friend Dan Colen, he created “hamsters’ nests” – shredding phone books and taking drugs in hotel rooms with friends till he felt like a hamster. He would wander the streets with a Polaroid, if only to remember the next day where he had been. His lifestyle attracted vitriol and worship; a hipster deity who inspired and contributed to the worlds of graffiti, art and photography. Industry leaders cited him as both muse and horseman of apocalypse in the art world, and his death only served to fuel the fire of differing opinion. His work is hedonistic at first glance but, on second look, a careful construction can be seen – Polaroids, newspaper cuttings and ironic titles are assembled to reveal the way in which Dash saw the world. Raw genius, or privileged junkie, Dash turned the New York art scene on its head before his death in the downtown luxury of a New York hotel.
gone but not forgotten / retrospective
A faint line in the depths of the internet exists between an obscure article in a local pennysaver paper, circa 1988, and an exposé of an unknown artist in The New Yorker, some 24 years later: the only mentions of Bruce Wrighton, who died a virtual unknown. Little is known about Bruce’s life, but his work has attracted intrigue and awe. He documented his small home town, Binghamton, New York, in the clutches of an economic depression. His kitsch street portraits, taken on an 8 x 10 camera, captured a mutual understanding in his subjects’ eyes, rarely seen in today’s technological age of distrust, as his interview in the Weekly Pennysaver reveals: “I saw a parking attendant who had just the right look in his eyes. I didn’t even introduce myself, I said, ‘Can I take your picture?’ And either because I was so forceful, or he was so open, or there was something in my sincerity, he just said, ‘Sure’. He was a fairly young kid. He had weeping eyes, eyes that really spoke of the pain of having to struggle versus really wanting to find a home. I chatted with him as I was making the picture – setting up the 8 x 10 is not like the snap-snap of an SLR. It takes 16 minutes to get the whole thing together. It’s a commitment and it’s a building relationship. I find that important because I need to develop some kind of rapport with these people. So during that rapport building session, he mentioned he was going in the army. I said to myself, ‘Gee that’s just so fitting’. To me, when a young kid tells me they’re going in the army and they’re working in some parking lot or something like that; I don’t know for certain, but I say ‘This kid’s looking for direction.’ But in his eyes I got the sense that the direction had to come from within him.” Aged 38, Bruce lost his battle to cancer. His extraordinary collection of portraits, haunting interiors and cars can be viewed on the Laurence Miller Gallery’s website. www.laurencemillergallery.com/artist_wrighton.html
n to h
COURTESY OF LAURENCE MILLER GALLERY © BRUCE WRIGHTON ESTATE
rB e c u 1950-1988
Robert Mapplethorpe: Age 42 1946-1989 Often controversial and always highly stylish, Mapplethorpe’s black and white portraits and sexual imagery continues to be at the centre of debate, as well as attracting admiration. The Mapplethorpe Foundation Inc. works to protect his work as well as raise money in the fight against AIDs – the disease that took his life. www.mapplethorpe.org
James Foley: Age 40 1973-2014 The much publicised death of James Foley at the brutal hands of ISIS earlier this year has sent shockwaves through the industry. He commendably placed himself in many dangerous situations, in order to expose the suffering of innocent people in places such as Iraq and Syria. James has shaped the way we think about and view conflicts in the Middle East. www.freejamesfoley.org
Issue 166 November 2014
Take, make, share and be social...
Black & White
Play Nicely, Please!
How To Shoot Red
Aston Martin Vanquish
NEGATIVELESS: Daguerreotype & Camera Obscura
Lush Landscapes by Paul Wakefield
*Britain’s Best Buildings *Daylight 10-stop NDs *The Art of Structures *Perspective Control *Fine Art Forms *Top Tips
BUYER’S GUIDES: *Tripod Heads *Tilt & Shift Lenses om
Nikon - from birth to D810
Architecture â€“ Connie Zhou |
If success is measured by the floor you live on, architecture photographer CONNIE ZHOU, has arrived at the penthouse aged just 27. Victoria Dovey speaks with her on buildings and big breaks
Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, WI Canon 5D Mark II | 16-35mm f/2.8 | 16mm | 1/30sec | f/11 | ISO 100 photographymonthly.com
lean, polished, modern, and grand. These are the words Connie Zhou uses to describe her work. They took an amount of whittling to get out of her. Hesitant, and modest, Connie strains to explain how it is she produces such stylised images, as if, much like the vast buildings and architecture she photographs, one can hardly communicate such a vast concept. “I’m not sure how [my look] is achieved,” she confesses. “I’m just very aware of what is in my frame. I like photographing things that are larger than life, that I can strangely fit into the sight of my camera. The graphics and lines of a building are what draw me in, but I’ve always had a hard time articulating why I am interested in photographing architecture.” Connie is perhaps most well known for her extraordinary work photographing Google’s data centres; those huge prisonlike structures which are the price of our wireless ‘cloud’ technology. Aged 24, with an impressive, but small-time client portfolio, Connie’s bid for the project paid off. “I’m so grateful to have Google as a client and to have worked with them. Personally for me, it was a big moment in my career.” The resulting images, the hybrid love child of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory and Stanley Kubrick’s Space Odyssey – inheriting whimsy, enormity and a hint of space-age terror – were immediately hailed a success in the photographic world, as well as the internet at large. It was the first time Google had opened its doors and Connie had the golden ticket. Photographing the electric glow from rows of servers and the constant presence of the rainbow assortment of lines in the form of pipes and wires, composed in large and stark buildings, must be akin to a child in a toy shop. What to play with first? “Going into it without knowing what the data centres looked like was both exciting and intriguing. I did a bit of research while writing my proposal and had a good idea of what a server floor would look like; I knew I could do a good job photographing it.” To capture the glow of the server rooms, Connie asked staff to turn the lighting down entirely. Another thing shines out from the images – what a fun company Google looks to work for. But did they give Connie the creative freedom to roam as she pleased? “We did have escorts on the premises, but they were extremely helpful,” she explains. “It was just me and my assistant. It’s always nice to have someone who knows the premises better than you.” The centres themselves are situated the world over – in Finland, Belgium, and several American states –
Anti-clockwise starting from below: Hong Kong Opera House Canon 40D | 16-35mm f/2.8 | 19mm | 5 secs | f/8 | ISO 100 Bull Ring Mall, Birmingham, London Canon 40D | 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 | 18mm | 1/1000sec | f/16 | ISO 100 Australia War Memorial, Museum of Canberra, Australia Nikon 35mm film camera Google Data Center, The Dalles, Oregon Canon 5D Mark II | 16-35mm f/2.8 | 19mm | 1.3 secs | f/16 | ISO 400 Google Data Center, Douglas County, Georgia Canon 5D Mark II | 16-35mm f/2.8 | 23mm | 30 secs | f/16 | ISO 100 Google Data Center, Hamina, Finland Canon 5D Mark II | 24-105mm f/4 | 2.5 sec | f/16 | ISO 400
Architecture – Connie Zhou |
but exploring new places is not something to daunt Connie, who, in addition to being born in Shanghai, has been lucky enough to visit countries the world over, including a recent visit to Iceland. “My favourite place to visit,” she tells me, “is Hong Kong. It’s just such a modern city; everything is so easy there. I can’t pick a favourite when it comes to shooting. There are too many great locations in the world.” Connie doesn’t remember much of her Shanghai days, moving at the age of five to a city on the other side of the world. A city, that with its iconic buildings and monuments, may well have constructed the foundation for her enduring love of architecture. “New York is a great place to live and grow up. I was always interested in shooting cityscapes, exploring abandoned buildings and locations while I was in high school. It wasn’t until much later that I realised what I was mainly interested in was capturing the structures of buildings and architecture.” It wasn’t just buildings which impressed upon budding photographer Connie. “Growing up, there was always art around the house. My father can literally create something beautiful out of anything, it’s insane!” Connie’s father, a Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) graduate and graphic designer, spurred her creativity from a young age. When I ask if he continues to be an influence today, her response is a heart-warming, “of course, everyday. So does my mom!” Naturally there were professional role models in the making of Connie too. Idols from the likes of Andreas Gursky
Google Data Center, Douglas County, Georgia Canon 5D Mark II | 24-105mm f/2.8 | 50mm | 2 secs | f/11 | ISO 100
to Robert Polidori continue to inspire her to this day. At the Parsons The New School for Design, Connie met her first mentor, Arlene Collins – world traveller, academic, educator, curator, and of course, professional photographer. “She was one of my first professors,” Connie explains. “I was actually concerned about failing her class. It’s funny how that worked out, because now I think of her as a good friend and mentor.” And after university, Connie gained a professional understanding of her love of architecture, as an apprentice for Michael Weber, who’s work has helped establish and define some the of the world’s most recognisable >>
hotels. “Getting the real world experience through working with Michael was definitely valuable to starting my career,” says Connie. “It exposed me to the industry first-hand, and taught me a lot about lighting interiors, as well as the ins and outs of the business.” But people are perhaps not where Connie’s strengths lay. “Shooting the [employee] portraits for Google was very rewarding because I loved working with the staff there. But in almost all of my images I work very hard to avoid people. In fact, I spend hours taking them out of my shots!” To achieve the clean, crisp look of some extremely famous buildings, Connie works her magic in post. “I always make sure I get what I need in order to retouch them out afterwards. I do my own retouching, so I know what I need.” Working on iconic buildings the world over, Connie manages to maintain her distinct look through a strict and consistent technique. “I always shoot with my style in mind,” she says. “I predetermine what my images will look like… very rarely do I end up with a surprise. With interiors I always light with strobes unless it has more of a lifestyle look. It is a lot more work in post-production but it’s totally worth it. With the right lighting, it can change the look or the vibe of a room or space. Shooting exteriors is more challenging, because the weather is unpredictable. But I love looking at a structure or a building and waiting for the right light to catch to get the perfect shot.” Connie’s use of light is particularly impressive. Does she have any advice for us? “The best time to shoot exteriors would be around sunrise or sunset. For every city I go to or every shoot that I do, I always make sure I know the times for both sunset and sunrise. As for interiors, it really depends on the layout of the space and how the light enters. Each space is unique and presents different changes and beauty.” And is there certain equipment she couldn’t live without, I wonder, with an expensive tilt-shift lens in mind. “I don’t change my gear drastically,” she answers, “however, I do update it every couple years. The biggest investment for me has been my Profoto lighting system, and I would recommend to anyone who is interested in shooting architecture to invest in a tripod. My favourite lens, though, is the 16-35mm!” It’s not a usual pick for an architecture lens, but Connie is not a usual architecture photographer. Her appreciation of beauty above the old traditional versus conservative battle is clear. “There will always be a conflict between the old and the new,” she tells me. “I enjoy the clash. But to be honest, my dream is to photograph a structure in complete isolation with nothing around it.” And when I ask what her dream construction would be, she replies: “Something unique. I guess something that is larger than life – probably something that looks like it’s made for space. “ It seems that her taste, if forced to pick a side, sways undeniably toward the modern. >>
Architecture – Connie Zhou |
Canon 5D Mk II, 16-35mm, 24-70mm and 50mm lenses. Light wise I like to use my Acute Profoto 1200 pack with a regular head or a ring flash when I’m shooting interiors.
FAVOURITE BIT OF KIT?
16-35mm lens – it’s so wide! It captures everything I need.
Anti-clockwise starting top left: Atomium, Brussel, Belgium. Canon 5D Mark II | 16-35mm f/2.8 | 35mm | 1/400sec | f/11 | ISO 400 City of Arts and Sciences, Valenica, Spain. Canon 5D Mark II | 16-35mm f/2.8 | 35mm | 15 secs | f/16 | ISO 400 City of Arts and Sciences, Valenica, Spain. Canon 5D Mark II | 16-35mm f/2.8 | 24mm | 1/80sec | f/16 | ISO 100 Atocha Train Station, Madrid, Spain Canon 5D Mark II | 16-35mm f/2.8 | 16mm | 1/40sec | f/11 | ISO 400 Marina City, Chicago, IL Canon 5D Mark II | 16-35mm f/2.8 | 35mm | 1/160sec | f/16 | ISO 400 City of Arts and Sciences, Valenica, Spain. Canon 5D Mark II | 16-35mm f/2.8 | 31mm | 1/160sec | f/16 | ISO 100 World Trade Centre Canon 5D Mark II | 16-35mm f/2.8 | 27mm | 1/30sec | f/11 | ISO 400 Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, WI Canon 5D Mark II | 16-35mm f/2.8 | 16mm | 1/40sec | f/11 | ISO 100
Los Angeles Department of water and power Canon 5D Mark II | 16-35mm f/2.8 | 16mm | 1/320sec | f/14 | ISO 400
Beijing Opera House, Beijing, China Canon 40D | 16-35mm f/2.8 | 16mm | 8 secs | f/5.6 | ISO 100
UK Pavilion, Shanghai, China Canon 5D Mark II | 16-35mm f/2.8 | 16mm | 1/125sec | f/11 | ISO 100
Aqua Skyscraper, Chicago, IL Canon 5D Mark II | 16-35mm f/2.8 | 35mm | 1/80sec | f/16 | ISO 400
CaixaForum, Madrid, Spain Canon 5D Mark II | 16-35mm f/2.8 | 21mm | 1/13sec | f/5 | ISO 400
Harpa, Iceland Canon 5D Mark II | 16-35mm f/2.8 | 18mm | 1/250sec | f/11 | ISO 400
DC Metro, USA Canon 40D | 16-35mm f/2.8 | 16mm | 1/15sec | f/4 | ISO 400
China Pavilion, Shanghai, China Canon 5D Mark II | 16-35mm f/2.8 | 35mm | 3.2 secs | f/8 | ISO 100
Misc Tower, Finland. Canon 5D Mark II | 16-35mm f/2.8 | 35mm | 1/60sec | f/16 | ISO 100
“I definitely appreciate conservative and classic architecture, but there is something about futuristic buildings that I love; just the oddity of them is interesting to me.” Her favourite of them all is the Beijing National Centre for the Performing Arts. “I love that building because it’s so surreal! Especially at night; the surrounding water creates another dimension for the existing building. It’s just incredible.” The awardwinning surrealist structures of Frank Gehry are also muses for Connie, making her, “feel like [she’s] photographing architecture for the first time,” and the structures of Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava leave her awe-struck, feeling like she has stepped into the future.
Architecture – Connie Zhou |
Perhaps it’s this feeling which gives Connie her forwardthinking attitude, not just for herself, but in typical bigthinking mindset, for the industry as a whole. “I can only hope that through my work, I am consistently pushing myself and the boundaries of industry convention,” she says, in a manner which makes me suspect she does not realise the effect she has already had. In a world full of skyscrapers competing for the tallest title, the next big thing may not be a building at all – it may well just be Connie herself. [PM]
London. Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II | EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS | 98mm | 1/500sec | f/7.1 | ISO 400
Building Blocks Joas Souza shares with Victoria Dovey his top tips for shooting architecture, and what to do when problems come your way
Challenges The biggest challenge I frequently come across whilst shooting architecture arises when I have to shoot a property facing north. I’ll never have the sun lighting the main facade of the property. During the winter this challenge gets even tougher, because the sun runs really low across the sky just for a few hours. In cases like this, you really have to rack your brains thinking about how to solve this problem and get something good. Depending on the position of the property, it might not be possible to get good lighting at certain times of the year, and you have to wait. Sometimes, with weeks of bad weather a job for an exterior can be delayed. With interior photography you’re not so much of a slave to the weather. But it needs a lot attention to detail – you might need a second pair of eyes to help you to make sure that everything is okay! When photographing a room with windows, be patient. Wait for the right light to get a good balance between inside and outside, to avoid bleached windows and to capture an even light.
The Lloyd’s Building and The Willis Building, London. Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II | EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS | 165mm | 1/800sec | f/8 | ISO 400
88 Wood Street, London. Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II | EF 100mm Macro f/2.8 | 1/8000sec | f/2.8 | ISO 400
Technique – Joas Souza | Using the light Do some homework; check which direction the property is facing and once you find out, you can work out the sun route during that period of the year and calculate when the ideal time of the day to get the best light is. For each job this can change drastically. Some places have a good light at sunrise while others get good light at sunset. A good app is for this is Sun Seeker: it tells you the route and angle of the sun on any day of the year. I use filters quite often, usually a polariser to get rid of reflections and intensify colours and contrasts. I have a set of Formatt-Hitech ND filters with 10, 6 and 3 stops, they help me to get really long exposures during the day, creating interesting effects for people, traffic, shadows and clouds. I also use a set of Cokin gradual ND filters to equalize the sky/ground exposure, and to give an overcast sky a bit of life.
The Shard, London. Canon 5D Mark III | EF 24-105mm f/4L IS | 24mm | 1/8sec | f/22 | ISO 50
401, King Street, London. Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II | EF 17-40mm f/4L | 17mm | 1/100sec | f/11 | ISO 400
Gear In architectural photography, your primary lenses are the super-wide, wide and tilt-shift lenses; to make the most of the space and keep the vertical lines straight. Tripods are vital; due to the use of low ISO and middle apertures almost 90 per cent of the time. I recently bought a Manfrotto 055 Carbon new series, which seems to be very good. For architectural photography, the Manfrotto 405 or 410 geared heads are indispensable for precise adjustments needed for perfect framing.
Dream Buildings The Gherkin, 30 St Mary Axe, is already a remarkable piece of modern architecture from outside (thank Foster for that) but inside, it’s even more breathtaking. The staircase, the materials used to do the finishing of the building, the way the building is designed internally all give an architectural photographer infinite possibilities to explore technique and talent at a high level. I would also shoot the Lloyd’s Building internally for free if I had the chance, I’d be delighted to capture inside, because from outside, I’ve already explored it a lot! >>
La Défense, Paris. Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II | EF 24-105mm f/4L | 32mm | 1/160sec | f/11 | ISO 200
Getting Permission Keep handy the Guidance for Photographers issued by the Association of Chief Police Officers of England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Anytime you are in a public space and a security guard comes to bother you, show them this document and they’ll leave you in peace. If you’re trying to get permission to photograph inside a private property, be very honest about your intentions, show them your website to make them understand you are not playing around, you are a serious photographer looking after your work.
The Lloyd’s Building and The Willis Building, London. Canon EOD-1Ds Mark II | EF 17mm TS-E f/4L | 17mm | 13 secs | f/22 | ISO 400
88 Wood Street, London. Canon 5D Mark III | EF 17mm TS-E f/4L | 17mm | 6 secs | f/22 | ISO 200
Post Production I craft my images as much as I can in camera. My post production consists of 80 per cent developing the Raw file and giving my images the right temperature, contrast and saturation. The other 20 per cent is spent changing some aspects of the image when necessary, like retouching elements which are out of my control, such as removing a crane in the background, an antenna, retouching the painting of a peeling wall or graffiti. I’ve discovered some Lightroom presets which give you amazing effects, reproducing the same results that I used to have when using different films or developing processes. Of course, when we talk about fine art images, then I can dive into a vast world of post-production and manipulation, to give my image a surreal, even more artistic look.
Right: The Gherkin, London. Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II | EF 16-35mm f/2.8L | 31mm | 1/40sec | f/8 | ISO 320
88 Wood Street, London. Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II | EF 24mm TS-E f/3.5L | 24mm | 1/13sec | f/13 | ISO 400
111 Buckingham Palace Road, London. Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II | EF 24mm TS-E f/3.5 | 24mm | 1/40
Technique – Joas Souza | Right: The Lighthouse, Salford. Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II | EF 17-40mm f/4L | 17mm | 1/30sec | f/4 | ISO 400
JOAS SOUZA’S TOP ARCHITECTURAL TIPS
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Learn how to use natural light and the variations in the different seasons of the year, as well as the temperatures and angles throughout the day. Educate your eyes, learn to observe symmetry. The human eye loves symmetrical things. Put this in your composition when possible. Invest in tilt-shift lenses – they are the most important tools for an architectural photographer. In the high level market, images with converging vertical lines are totally unacceptable, unless you creating a distortion on purpose. Balance – make sure that every single aspect of your composition is in proper balance. Use your common sense to get objects aligned and in harmony. Architectural photography requires a good measure of perfectionism, so, remove distracting elements. Don’t be afraid to drag away objects that are not supposed to be there, just remember to put them back when you finish! Try to get access to the roof. The taller it is, the greater the view, so go and get it! People will be puzzled about where you got that shot from and it will be your secret.
Below: The Lloyd’s Building, London. Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II | EF 70-200mm f/2.8L | 170mm | 1/2000sec | f/8 | ISO 400
c | f/6.3 | ISO 400
OCTOBER 2014 £4.20 for professionals, by professionals www.professionalphotographer.co.uk
KATE MOSS’ CREATOR: The late Corinne Day
Tim Smit’s philosophy
SUCCESS STORIES: Proof our PPOTY winners go further MH-17 & GAZA: A step too far?
THE 90s: The decade that changed our industry forever
Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer who play Sookie Stackhouse and Bill Compton in True Blood by Michael Muller.
GEAR: + Nikon D810 + Pentax 645Z
IN 4 Tu 8 SID rn -pa E Sp ing g : ec P e ia ro l
MICHAEL MULLER: Sharks and superheros
the 90s effect
the 90s effect
Tracing remnant legacies, Victoria Dovey looks back at the decade that gave the industry a new face
t was the decade that birthed the World Wide Web and launched the Hubble telescope to outer space. It released Nelson Mandela from prison, introduced six faithful Friends into our homes and Spiced up our lives. It saw the resignation of the Iron Lady and later waved in a fresh faced politician. And as Tony Blair smiled for the strategically placed cameras, all too aware of the dawn of a newly visually literate world, something revolutionary was happening on the other side of the lens too. For photography, the 1990s were arguably one of the largest turning points in the industry’s history, welcoming digital to the arena and providing photographers with new editing tools and ways to store, share and transfer their work. It bought film-giants like Kodak to its knees and gave others huge opportunities, and while we may revisit it with fond memories of hazy nostalgia, the reality is that this was a decade moving so fast, technology and photography would have been little more then a blur anyway.
LOOKING FORWARD “Unless you had a private income or worked for the newspaper where you were using other people’s equipment, the problem was, digital moved so quickly, by the time you walked out the shop, your camera was obsolete,” former Chief NME photographer, Kevin Cummins, shares. Kevin’s two main interests once led his father to say his ideal job would be a DJ before a Man City match. Kevin didn’t take this as the derogative comment it was intended and attended gigs as a photographer to get in for free, launching an impressive career and going on to shoot many a nineties music icon, such as PJ Harvey, Courtney Love, The Manic Street Preachers and The Happy Mondays. Working for “the newspaper” is exactly what another key player, EMPICS founder Phil O’Brien did, allowing him to be on the cutting edge and speedily deliver the famous front page picture from the 1994 Lillehammer Winter Olympics. “It was the first time there was a good quality digital camera. It was the Left: Shaun Ryder. Right: Noel and Liam Gallagher.
last year of Torvill and Dean, and there were obviously issues of quality in the early days, but the freedom of not having to process a film and having to dry everything out before you start again was just a delight. When digital came along it was a different game. I now have a wonderful camera for $800 (just under £500) with a lens I couldn’t have dreamed of having then. The first digital cameras we were shooting on were £12-13,000.” In the press world, old school Fleet Street photographers were beginning to get nervous. The freshly launched Independent upped the game for news photography, with an aesthetically pleasing layout made to engage your optic nerves as much as your thinking cogs. Towards the late eighties and into the early nineties, newspaper publications were also taking the plunge to go colour, but the biggest advancement came from the speed of which images could now travel. “You’d take a picture, still process film,” Phil elaborates, “and then you’d use very expensive equipment to digitise and transmit the pictures over phone lines such as Leafax and Hasselblads. They would cost somewhere between £20-30,000 and wouldn’t come close to what your iPhone does these days.” This is a reoccurring comment from Kevin and Phil. All this expensive early technology, which was once marvelled at, doesn’t hold a candle to today’s iPhone. But of course, the nineties were where it all started, the pocket camera which would unleash the demon of democracy to the photography industry was already on its way. That same year Blair walked into no.10 hyperaware of every camera on him, Steve Jobs returned to Apple all too aware of what this new age would both summon and require. “There was a perfect storm of being able to capture the images at the same time as being able to distribute,” Phil recollects, and reminds me that for all its problems, digital bought a new medium to photography, one most photographers are grateful for. “The web is now totally
visual and it’s wonderful people have the confidence to use the camera,” Phil continues, “I always compared photography to wine. It was seen as only men in clubs in London drank wine and now that’s been democratised and we drink it and want to know more about it. Photography is going through that at the moment and I think you can trace this democratisation to the nineties.” These changes in technology rippled throughout the industry. “It was a very difficult and messy time because photographers suddenly had to process their films and print, edit and run…” Phil continues. “A lot of photographers felt they were very good at playing the guitar and suddenly they had to play the accordion.” Starting as a press photographer, Phil went on to found the photo agency EMPICS in 1985 aged 22, with a £2000 overdraft and a business plan partly handwritten and Tipexed on mathematical square paper. If most photographers were playing a one man band, Phil found himself managing a festival. He opened himself up to the new technology, and was rewarded, eventually selling the business on to PA for a huge profit, but it was an uphill struggle from the start. “We were quite cutting edge, but we had a 20GB hard disk for £25,000. Now it’s what, £15? It was a real challenge when working with publishers too. They struggled with digital files and there were issues with poor colour and low resolution images being printed on big pages. It was ‘95 when the internet came along with massive changes. Towards the end of the nineties it was all about how can we deliver photograph to our clients digitally. There were a lot of hard lessons to be learned. It was also a time of de-unionisation, so the people who were experts along the line were being taken out. But it was an exciting time too.” For photographers on the ground floor, the excitement didn’t come without strings. “Clients expected the pictures immediately and didn’t give you much time to edit,” Kevin explains. “They thought, ‘well you’re shooting it straight away, so I want it straight away’. It made the job lonelier because the only time you spent with anybody was with the subject you were shooting. In the past, when you shot on film, there was always a certain amount of social side to it, you’d take it to the lab if you had time yourself and sit in the pub next door waiting for the clip tests to get back. Now you shoot it, you go home with a laptop in a room on your own, doing all the work yourself. It means you’re doing twice as much work for the same amount of money!” And, as Kevin continues to explain, with new technology, came new hurdles – issues of copyright which continue to plague the industry today. “Once NME discovered computers and the internet, they started to think they also wanted to
the 90s effect
control our copyright. Towards ‘96/97, it was getting difficult because they weren’t prepared to let us work under the same single use image conditions of freelancers. Subsequently, there was a big intellectual property fight.” And what of emerging agencies and stock photography companies? “It was a continuing battle and it was during that time that Getty and Corbis came into the arena,” Phil adds. “It’s been good and bad for the industry. I’ve reaped the benefits of the professionalism and the business accruement that they bought to it, but in terms of whether it has done the best for photographers?” Phil pauses and reflects. “Big question, that.”
LOOKING BACK With 1990 now an expansive 24 years in the past, it’s hard to be reminded that not everything was as saccharine coloured as we recall, and rerunning sitcoms today try to reinforce. Nostalgia was perhaps always going to be note-worthy, but Kevin unearths something that suddenly deepens this understanding. “What Oasis did, very cleverly, whether you like it or not, is borrow from everything that had gone before them,” he explains. “When you heard an Oasis track, it immediately felt familiar because you could hear elements of any band you’d ever listened to in there.” This was a decade, we conclude, steeped in nostalgia before it even drew to a close, and yet, something interesting has been happening in recent years. Perhaps we have fallen too far into the digital rabbit hole. People now are shirking the wonderland warren of the technological age and opting instead for the times of Wonderwall. The pre-digital, underprocessed, grunge look is making a comeback in a
wave of neo-nostalgia, but what is it people are really imitating? While Sinead O’Connor was busy singing ‘Nothing Compares’, what we really want to know is, why not? What was so fundamentally unique about the style of the decade? And why are we continuing to emulate it today with the likes of instagram and VSCO Cam? The thing to remember is that the nineties were one of most visual decades in history. With new affordable satellite dishes beaming flush American TV shows into our homes, we were more in tune with imagery than ever. Aesthetically groundbreaking cinema in the form of huge blockbusters such as Jurassic Park, The Matrix, Titanic, Twister, and the infamous White House explosion of Independence Day, flooded our sights and advanced our visual literacy at a rate unseen since the introduction of colour film. In terms of fashion, you only have to look at the newly discovered Kate Moss
Above: Kate Moss shot by Corinne Day – to read more about Corinne’s legacy head to P.140. Left: Musician Morrisey.
the 90s effect
as photographed by the legendary Corinne Day to see that the UK, much like the rest of the world, was largely influenced by the grunge scene; that assigned value to simplicity and being unlabelled. Even large fashion houses such as Calvin Klein took note, with logos and brand names more discreet compared with logo-heavy decades which sandwich the nineties on either side. The look was stripped back and unfussy, a revival in itself of classic form – if assembled rather more haphazardly – and it was a look that bled into other mediums, such as the arts. Even the methods used were sparing, like the careful clicks of a 36 roll. “Film was practical, it was comfortable,” Kevin confides in me, not making the switchover himself until a couple of years after the millennium. Although the heavyweight contender for the era’s affections was digital, film continued to hold the title for both amateurs and professionals well into the early 2000s. One last push for analogue purity would paint the decade how we best remember, the (smells-like-teen) spirit of which, infuses the analogue and nostalgic resurgences of today – with which even Kevin rejects the advances in technology intended to make our life easier. “Canon can put as much as they want on a camera,” he tells me. “But I will only use manual.” The aforementioned role of democracy also played a part in style. With photography now in reach for the everyman, attention turned to the streets and the everyday subjects, even friends and family members instead of elitist luxury landscapes and models, though in Kevin’s opinion, the “straight forward, paired down” chic itself still came from above. “There’s a style, certainly with the Italian luxury brands, where people just stood there as if they were clothes hangers rather than anything different. A lot of portrait photographers denigrate fashion photography but they draw from it, maybe even subconsciously, and I think that had a lot of influence in the nineties, in the way that people shot.” So for all its efforts, the grunge scene was nothing more than a poser, even if it wasn’t trying not to appear so. Indeed there is an argument that the decade was more staged than people might think, and the post-punk ironic labours to ‘not care’, tried really hard to do so. Case and point would be the famous Everything But the Girl Walking Wounded album cover, allegedly shot by Marcelo Krasilcic on
Above: Jayne Torvill & Christopher Dean dance the Bolero at the end of the games at Lillehammer. Left: Phil O’Brien’s business plan.
the way to an MTV awards show in the back of the town car. In reality, the whole scene was staged, a PR move that visually aware spin doctors and marketing gurus of the time would have been proud of, and ‘poser’ film emulation and filters strive to tap into today. The nineties effect: positive or negative? Let us know @ProPhotoMag email@example.com
king of eden Victoria Dovey chats with the Eden Project CEO and founder, SIR TIM SMIT, about the lessons we can learn from nature, and what to do when life gets you down…
o say Sir Tim Smit is an interesting guy might be a bit of an understatement. After a traditional education and studying Archaeology and Anthropology at Durham, he enjoyed a successful stint as a song writer and rock producer. It might be easy to question this sixpence turn of ambition but Sir Tim clarifies: “Having wide interests and passions teaches you something vital.” It shouldn’t then be surprising that not long after, he experienced, “a vision of a crater in a dormant volcano where a lost civilisation lived, nurturing all the plants useful to mankind as a metaphor for our dependence on the natural world.” This naturally led to the birth of the Eden Project, out of a disused clay pit in St. Austell, Cornwall. The construction was envisioned to be “so startling that even a hardened cynic would, for a moment, drop their guard,” and anyone who has visited the site will probably agree this to be the case. And yet, despite his somewhat sporadic and boundless personality, Sir Tim is no stranger to hardship. He admits to courting bankruptcy on several occasions, as well as labelling himself at times to be like a Dickensian Mr. Micawber character, believing something ‘will turn up’ despite evidence to the contrary. “It always has,” he tells me, not smugly, but in a matter of fact manner. “But in truth,” he continues, “the real secret is learning not to be a typical man dripping with self-pity when things go wrong. Fight and you will overcome – usually. I also always have two projects on the go. It is superstition, but if one fails, I can tell myself that it is a sign I should be working on the other one.” The Eden Project itself has a history of rolling with the punches. After constant rainfall hampered construction, a subterranean drainage system was built which now irrigates the plants. And yet, a lack of investment, and what Malcolm Bell of the Cornish tourism board called a “lack of evolution to a changing market”, threatens the success of the project to date. But Sir Tim, in typical style, is not taking things lying down. “The chilling thing is that companies are at their most vulnerable when they are at their strongest, which is when they find it inconceivable that the world will change,” he explains. “The impact of the internet on retail would be a case in point. Those who saw it coming and invested properly are reaping the benefits. Those who wanted to see which way the wind was blowing are exhausting themselves trying to catch up.” So what’s the plan of action for the Eden Project? “We are building aerial walkways in the rainforest and will take the evolution story, as started this year with our dinosaur exhibitions, to a new level. We have announced our apprenticeship and higher education programme which will see Eden realise its ambition to become a true learning institution. Education is about making yourself happy and understanding the potential you have. Lastly, we are currently in discussion with major Chinese partners about building an extraordinary new structure in China.” Adaptation and being proactive are lessons photographers particularly could The pretentious learn a lot from. “My experience of creative business,” Sir Tim says, “would suggest that the first stage is to open one’s self up to new approaches to the disrespect for subject – by reviewing what is happening all over the world. Then reflect on why being a photographer feels like it is in your DNA. If you doubt it is business that is mouthed there, leave. If you are still in love with ‘ways of seeing’, take some time by artists wanting to out to capture your love of it to recapture your enthusiasm.” And what of the stereotype that creative minds are typically not appear above money and entrepreneurial? “Kick people. The pretentious disrespect for business usually betrays business that is mouthed by artists wanting to appear above money and business usually betrays a loser too lazy to do the hard slog of a loser too lazy to do understanding it, yet wanting the benefits of it. From experience, many of the hard slog of the photographers I know are fantastically un-entrepreneurial and wait for work to come to them. Most of the people we employ gamble on their talents understanding it, and develop ideas for us and then ask to present. This is cool because you
sir tim smit / eden project
naturally respect someone who has initiative as well as talent!” A willingness to gamble, to risk, is something Sir Tim has been famously critical of towards Britain, for not doing, in the past, and he admits not much has changed. When I ask about his knowledge of funding – of the ever dwindling government kind – the message is clear. Bet on yourself. “A great friend of mine has just produced a wonderful photographic book. It was crowd funded in something like two weeks. This is brave, but actually is a very good way of assessing whether you have caught the public mood or zeitgeist.” A public, or community, is important to Sir Tim, founding The Big Lunch in 2008 to broaden people’s horizons. When I mention the age-old complaint of photography being a ‘lonely business’, Sir Tim has a lot to say. “We are social creatures. Loneliness and isolation stalk our society like wolves sucking the marrow of happiness from our bones. Even misanthropes quite like people if they are together in an unthreatening way. With knowledge comes fellowship, with fellowship you have an antidote to fear.” When I come across successful people, I can’t help but wonder if there is a common denominator between them, a big secret we could all reap, if only we knew the code. But to date, I’m yet to get the same answer, and Sir Tim’s is as interesting as ever: “Many people I know in business talk about ‘focus’ or ‘being focused’ as a vital ingredient of success. I tend to cross the road when I meet such people – for they do not understand one of the great fundamentals. Eagles do not focus. They glide over moor and mountain generally shooting the breeze, with only their peripheral vision alive to movement of any kind. When they pick up a movement, then they focus. The secret of laying yourself open is not to be like a kitten batting at feathers from a broken pillow, but to spin ideas of many kinds, all at once, and examine whether a hitherto unexpected pattern reveals itself which may lead to great added value or benefit.” I can’t help but notice how much Sir Tim garners from the way nature works. We broach the environment, briefly – “nature couldn’t give a monkey’s if you care or not” – before moving on to lessons we can learn. “When you drip blood onto a petri dish and look at your DNA and then look at that of a plant, only the tutored eye can tell the difference. We are all part of a fabulous ecological system that we are only now on the verge of discovering. This is a modern Renaissance and most people are unaware of it. It is generally inspired by nature because art and science are branches of the same thing – observation.” More than ever, this modern Renaissance-of-sorts seems to be looking not just forward, but backwards too, for possibilities, a trend for nostalgia the photographic world is also familiar with. “You can’t hammer a nail down the internet. I delight in the revisiting of technology to explore the personal or soul elements of creativity. Strangely, people that make things are the future because they start to understand materials and, with that, the possibility of beauty. I believe makers are revisiting ideas found in nature, but in a sophisticated way, will lead to a new making revolution.” Looking even further forward, what are Sir Tim’s future ambitions? “To be a good father, grandfather, son, brother, partner and friend,” he modestly confesses. “Professionally, my ambition is to develop in the way I have been – without strategy, five year plans or anything else. I desire nothing more,” he dramatically concludes, “than to aspire to have some of the qualities of an eagle!” A closing statement only too fitting for the king of Eden.
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love unplugged Wedding photographer or gushing guest, you’re sure to have noticed the recent wave of popularity for ‘unplugged weddings’, where no-one but the hired professional has consent to snap a picture. Victoria Dovey asks the pros whether this is such a bright idea
y grandmother recently confessed to me that my grandfather was a Teddy Boy. Immediately I asked for photographic proof. “Oh no,” she replied. “We didn’t have cameras back then. It was just the professionals at weddings and sometimes we went for portraits.” If there is one defining factor between the weddings of today and of the past, the popularisation of photography has to be it. Guests can now share in capturing those special (or sometimes delightfully cheesy) moments – but is this certain brand of accessibility a good thing? Increasingly, friends and family are being asked to put down the cameras, the smartphones and iPads so as to make way for the professionals in unplugged ceremonies. As with anything, there are arguments for both sides – we found out the thoughts of six pro wedding photographers concerning the pros and cons of this growing trend. º
“I’m not entirely against having cameras during the service or other important times. We live in a very different imageliterate era – being attached to a camera device is seemingly oxygen to some folk. I do wonder what people do with all these pictures they take. Often many of the images I see being taken don’t even have the line of sight required to truly be of general interest, let alone the artistic variety. And many a time I spot a bride or groom wince when a well-meaning guest taps them on the shoulder to show them a series of pictures they have captured and just posted on Facebook. I’m sure many guests hide behind their camera on a different emotional level. Not everyone feels comfortable making small talk with strangers and so a camera can be a useful, effective way of detaching oneself from that. One thing I’ve noticed of late is a trend for registrars and clergy to use the professional photographer as an excuse for their own feelings about this subject. I don’t like being cited as the reason for guests not to take pictures. It feels awkward, as if I have somehow requested by contract that guests can’t do what they would like to do. Registrars and vicars often do this, using me as their focus of reason. If I have an inkling this will happen, I’ll make sure I stand up front and say with a bright, beaming smile: “No, no, I’m quite happy for that.” While not completely against it, there are times when guests step in front of you just at the moment the recessional is happening. But I think that’s more a problem for videographers bolted to one position by their tripod. I can on move, and I’m big and ugly the enough these days to fence teasingly jostle if I need to.” www.nealejames.com
DAVID MICHAEL BRADFORD
David Michael Bradford
“I have been shooting weddings for more than 10 years now, and can’t tell you the amount of times I have missed a possible great shot due to an over-zealous guest jumping across me to get the same shot on their phone or compact camera. This kind of thing is a real shame as their shot is unlikely to be as good as it could have been, so you could argue that they are depriving the couple of a recorded moment. Secondly, at every wedding there is a budding photographer with a decent SLR shooting away with their pop-up flash and over-exposing a good few of my shots taken at the same time. As you may have gathered, I am a big fan of unplugged weddings and hope their popularity continues to grow.” www.davidmichaelphotography.co.uk
“It makes me laugh at weddings these days, as the invariably there are guests who view the entirety fence of the day as if it were some kind of TV programme – they (quite literally) watch it unfold through their iPad, iPhone, Android device, you name it, as they record it for posterity. On the one hand I am always slightly relieved when a vicar, registrar or indeed, the bride and groom, ask for there to be a ‘gadget ban’ for the ceremony (and sometimes for the whole day), as it means I can work without the usual digital clutter, along with the inevitable human-sized obstructions that go with it, getting in my way. That said, we’ve learned to turn it to our advantage. I quite enjoy capturing that wall of ‘photographers’ as the bride and groom sit at the register or shooting the LCD screen on the back of a camera with the bride and groom framed neatly within. We have tuned what we offer to wedding clients, so that we only ever sell a package with a full physical album designed by us and containing only images we’ve created. That way, it doesn’t really affect us when the guests capture the same images as me. In fact, I now spend a considerable amount of time helping guests with angles, lighting etc. and they very often act as an unwitting foil for me to do my job. It is easy to make a group laugh when ‘Uncle Joe’ is struggling to take his shot – and that very laughter can be the making of an image!” www.paulwilkinsonphotography.co.uk
Unplugged Wedding Noun: A wedding where the bride, groom or officiator request a ban on electronic equipment such as phones and cameras for either the ceremony or the reception in order to allow the professional to be the sole photographer.
“Jason and Rachel are having an unplugged wedding and request you do not take pictures as a guest at the ceremony.”
David Stanbury “We have shot more than 1000 weddings over 18 years and the difference with, for example, the walking-down-the-aisle shot – when we were the only people with a camera – to now where when a multitude of devices, iPads, phones etc. are thrust in front of the couple, is that it always ruins not only the shot, but the emotion. This is not my number one concern regarding the so-called ‘Uncle Bobs’ or cameraphones. My main concern is that these images are uploaded to Facebook and Twitter without a thought to whether the couple will like the photograph or not. I am a strong believer in capturing the light and emotion for maximum impact, but when the image has been plastered all over social media, then the impact is lost forever. I have to laugh at a comedian who said he forgot his phone at a recent gig and had to endure watching the band with his eyes rather than through his phone screen. But then again if any guest gets too close or in the way, I have them physically removed! Ha!” www.stanburyphotography.co.uk
Liam Crawley “Personally I don’t agree with the against idea of unplugged weddings. I think it is really important for us as professional photographers not to lose sight of the fact that each and every individual in attendance at the weddings we shoot are emotionally close to the bride and groom. Of course they are going to want to create their own photographic memories of their granddaughter, grandson, son, daughter, brother, sister or best friend. I don’t feel that we, as photographers, should have the authority to deny them that... it’s their celebration, not ours. As wedding photographers, it’s our job to document, not dictate.” www.cgweddings.co.uk
Noel Hibbert “I have been shooting against weddings for five years and smartphones and cameras have always been around, so I don’t really know any different. I’m all up for guests having the freedom to use their devices – I believe they have the right to freely capture the day. It adds extra dimension to the collection; capturing what actually happens on the day and not just picture perfect end results. Being a fan of street photography, these moments can create interesting images, but where do we draw the line? We don’t stop guests from doing other things we like to photograph, like a guest correcting the bride’s dress, straightening the groom’s button hole or tucking in the young page boy’s shirt back in, do we? No. So we have to adapt and move on. If you miss a shot, you miss a shot – enough shots are taken on the day to cover most bases. Most guests are sympathetic and move, I think it’s the wannabe photographers that are eager to get a great shot to prove themselves that tend to jump in the way. With a little foresight and planning you can anticipate the jumpers and stand in a strategic, defensive position… most of the time! www.cotswoldpictures.co.uk
20/20 vision Photographers from across the country have been brought together, with one man at the helm. Victoria Dovey gets an invitation to a tight-knit circle, the 20COLLECTIVE
Adam was the winner of the wedding category in the Professional Photographer of the Year awards in 2011.
hotography is a lonely business. Indeed, it’s a complaint I hear time and time again from photographers from all walks of life, and it is not something most people outside the industry would usually understand. But then again, the founder of the 20Collective is not ‘most people’. In April of this year, after months of online marketing, ‘SEO guru’ and ‘back-end guy’ Jason Noblett flicked the switch to send the 20Collective website live. It received more than 3000 hits in one day; treble the forecast. But what is a man with no background in photography doing setting up an exclusive collective for high-end creative wedding photographers? “Within the genre there are quite a few niches, and there are quite a few documentary groups out there, but I really wanted people who were taking a different direction,” Jason explains. “I approached groups of photographers initially, to see what they thought about the project. Some of them I had worked with before, such as Rik Pennington. I advised them as a consultant on how to improve and manage their online visibility and presence. They were all really excited about it; they thought it would be a great place for them to come together. The idea was to create an overall brand that was sensitive to the photographer’s selves and a place where they could promote their work. We now have a website as well as YouTube, Facebook, Google+ and Pinterest accounts.”
“He’s a business man and could see a gap in the market. We could see the benefits, so it’s a win-win,” asserts Liam Crawley, who is part of husband and wife team, The Crawleys, and one of the 20 wedding photographers to be selected for 20Collective. Adam Riley, winner of the 2011 Professional Photographer of the Year competition’s wedding category, was also approached. “I got an email from Jason. At that stage, four or five other photographers had signed up to be part of this collective. When I saw who they were, I knew their work and thought, ‘I definitely want to join in and be part of it’,” Adam explains. “We put some names forward of people who we really liked in the UK. Nearly all of those who we approached joined up.” Just as I wondered if the motivations ran deeper, Adam pipes up: “Jason also said there’d be a night out where we have food and drink and I’m looking forward to that!” Lyndsey Goddard, the only solo female photographer of the 20, admits that, for her, there was some deliberation: “As a photographer there are a hundred and one ways in which you can advertise yourself. I was already familiar, professionally and personally, with a number of photographers involved so I knew there would be some kudos for being on board. I also knew that Jason is well respected in the SEO world so I had to think about it, but I didn’t have to think too long!” Each of the photographers in the collective pays Jason a small annual fee for a group-optimised website that serves to act as a showcase for their work and creative style. “It is actually a labour of love and a real pleasure to be associated with them as a collective. Because my background is in search marketing and building websites, sitting at the top and controlling it has been very beneficial for them,” Jason explains. “They’ve all learnt a lot already.” The website has just tipped into the top million sites worldwide on the Alexa ranking, an incremental system that ranks every website. One thing that strikes me immediately about the collective is the ambition behind them. It’s not boasting, it’s realistic, but it is also unrelenting. Jason immediately shares with me an example: “The goal, of course, would be to appear in the top 500,000.” Of course. “He’s the SEO guru behind it, so we trust him,” Liam says. “He’s managed to get us on the third page of Google already for generic search terms but we’re all aware it’s a lengthy process and we’re all patient, and aware that in a year or so it’s going to be a powerful tool for us.” But what are the main aims of the 20Collective? For Jason, “the objectives really were to generate traffic, by the social media we have set up and the social machine that pushes their work up and in the search rankings.” And the photographers? “The main attraction for me was the chance to showcase my work,” Lyndsey tells me. “We’re all striving to make our voice heard in a sea of photographers. It can be quite daunting for a couple to start searching for a wedding photographer. Maybe a couple don’t even know what style they want and, if they do, Google will bring up hundreds upon hundreds listings. It was flattering to be asked, and exciting to get my work seen as part of such a prestigious group.” Being such an exclusive group, we began to wonder what made this group so distinct from the ‘sea of photographers’. Was this a reaction to weekend warriors making a
We’re all striving to make our voice heard in a sea of photographers. It can be quite daunting for a couple to start searching for a wedding photographer... It was flattering to be asked, and exciting to get my work seen as part of such a prestigious group.
The 20Collective has developed a strong sense of community and togetherness among the photographers, who share each other’s blog posts and are inspired by each other’s work.
wedding special – 20collective
mockery of the trade? “I think a lot of brides are quite switched-on to what they’re looking for and are quite demanding in the sort of style that they’re after,” Liam explains. “They can spot a weekend warrior from a full-time pro. Some of the traditional photographers blame not being busy on the fact that there are a lot of weekend warriors out there charging quite small fees but I think, for us, it’s not really an issue. As long as you’re producing fantastic art, the modern bride can see straight through the poor quality.” So what does it mean to be part of the collective? What does the group stand for? “The criterion is photographers looking to push the boundaries in wedding photography,” Liam continues. “I get inspiration from a lot of them and we were looking for photographers who throw out the traditional rule book of wedding photography and shoot from the heart.” A number of requirements also have to be met by the group, and failure to commit could result in an empty slot in the collective; part of the formal agreement drawn up in early development. Two weddings per year each must exclusively be posted to the site. Members also post an image and wedding of the week. “Managing
wedding special – 20collective
our profiles can take a lot of time, but without Jason to steer the ship, so to speak, we would have sunk long ago,” Adam tells me. “It’s hit main wedding season so sometimes Jason has to prompt us to get a blog post written. It’s so easy not to blog for quite a few weeks, so it’s hard to balance but a gentle reminder really does help. If it was just us 20 photographers trying to get it together, I don’t think the site would even be live,” he confesses, before wisely adding: “Photographers are very guilty of doing everything themselves (websites, logos, etc.) when maybe we should be outsourcing a little bit.” Sharing the load and connecting with others certainly seems to be one of the biggest advantages for the collective. “It’s brought the 20 of them closer together and given them the opportunity to explore each other’s work,” Jason comments. Although Adam was familiar with many of the photographers, after ‘liking’ each other’s Facebook pages, he was amazed by the quality of images popping up regularly in his newsfeed. “Connecting on Facebook has been the biggest benefit,” he tells me. “I see photos that make me think ‘wow, how did they do that?’ which pushes me to do more in my photography.” “I’m not one of a thousand people in a forum, I’m one of 20 and I’m enjoying being part of it,” Lyndsey explains. “We learn a lot from each other all the time. Working as a photographer is quite solitary; you’re either working at a wedding, potentially with people you may never see again, or you’re in your office with the blinds down, processing images. So our community is like an online water cooler to share your experiences.” The sentiment is shared by Liam: “We have a bond and a togetherness you won’t really find anywhere else. It’s more like an office. When blog posts go up through the 20Collective, we’re all there to share it on our own social media pages for each other. It’s more beneficial than going solo. In my early years, I didn’t tend to socialise with other photographers; it was quite a lonely trade and I only started getting busy when I made an effort to communicate with other photographers, swapping ideas and referrals, so my business started to snowball through this networking.” This communal idea is something that the collective is keen to give back. There are plans for a mentoring scheme in which an “outstanding and up and coming” wedding photographer under the age of 25 will be selected for two half-day mentoring sessions with two members of the collective of their choice. The idea stemmed from Jason, but was enthusiastically adopted by the group.
I see photos that make me think ‘wow, how did they do that?’ which pushes me to do more in my photography.
It’s always nice when someone puts your name forward, but it also means that if I’m not available, I know I’m pointing people in the direction of creative well-established photographers. You know they’re going to get looked after.
“When I started out in the industry it would have been great to sit down and pick the brains of two photographers I really respected,” Lyndsey comments. The group also support two children’s charities, NSPCC and Barnardos, with the revenue (after costs) of all their work on 500px available for purchase being passed to them. One of the nicest things about the group seems to be not just their desire to give back the community, but the way in which the photographic community has embraced them. “Jason created quite a buzz, so when we launched, a lot of the visits were from photographers. It would be nice if it’s a place where photographers went to see what people are doing as well.” Lyndsey says. “We stand for not trying to be closed to competition; we see other photographers as our colleagues,” Liam adds. “I’d hope a lot of people would look up to us for inspiration. We’re not trying to raise the standards, but we’re open to inspire people.” The group is expanding overseas, with a 20Collective currently being put together in New Zealand, and hopes for an over-arching international branch. “We get messages on our Facebook group asking if they can join, which is what prompted Jason to think about expanding it to other countries,” Adam tells me. “It will hopefully inspire other people to form their own collectives and I’m not averse to that.” Closer to home, I wonder if the geographical spread of the collective affects their ability to work together, with the collective staying away from the normal south-centric bases you may find with other wedding groups. “The UK is only a small place and we see it as our playground in terms of photography. We love our job and we love adventure,” Liam tells me. Referrals between the group, another requirement of the collective, enable each other to be more picky when it comes to their clients. “It becomes a bit like Groundhog Day if you’re losing your inspiration and drive and shooting the same venue over and over again,” Liam continues. “Travelling the UK can be tiring and stressful but creative people are always looking for new projects and new inspirations.” For Adam Riley, it gives him the chance to be fussier, choosing weddings closer to home with a new baby on the scene. For Lyndsey, it offers peace of mind. “It’s always nice when someone puts your name forward, but it also means that if I’m not available, I know I’m pointing people in the direction of creative well-established photographers. You know they’re going to get looked after.” But aren’t there traditional societies out there who already provide all that the collective is offering? “The associations are a little stuck in time to be honest,” Liam tells me. “They were great back when I got out of university but they’ve not really pushed in terms of recruitment so they’re left with an aged membership. With the collective, we’re all current so there are a lot of benefits in terms of the knowledge we can gain from each other and the referral swapping is much greater.” Adam agrees: “When I look at their photographs, they can be good but steeped in the old school thought. A few years ago I was looking to join one of the organisations and was told my images weren’t good
wedding special – 20collective
enough because someone’s arm was at a wrong angle. For me, that’s not what wedding photography is about. It’s about capturing the emotion of the day and not all the angles pointing the right way and interfering because then it’s not a wedding day, it’s a photo shoot.” Lyndsey concurs: “There are some excellent, well-respected and well-established photographers in traditional societies, but there are also people who have bought themselves into it. You couldn’t buy yourself into the 20Collective, you have to be invited, and I think Jason had quite lot of people to pick from.” And indeed, in the future, Jason has plans to open a new website directory and membership site, “where more photographers can take control of their online presence.” “I’ve never really thought about it in this much detail,” Adam confesses, towards the end of our chat. “It’s been really good to think about what we’re trying to achieve.” Which is what exactly? For Liam, the motive is clear in his mind: “Awesome weddings for awesome people,” he replies with genuine enthusiasm. “We’re obsessed with the job that we do,” he continues, “the 20Collective will enable us to keep things exciting, fresh and new.” For Lyndsey, the genius of the collective exists in the idea that they are just that; a collective, an array, an assortment of photographers. “Although we’re all very creative, some are driven more by portrait, some are documentary. Hopefully couples arriving on the site will feel an affinity with one of us and get in touch.” And for Adam, after some thought, there is one thing that seems to resurface. “My favourite part will probably be the night out,” he reminds me, with the kind of cheek it doesn’t hurt to have on the other side of the lens on your big day. This certainly is a unique bunch of people, and we will be watching them closely in the near future, as all the excitement on the horizon arrives in their laps like a bouquet to a bridesmaid. www.20collective.com
This image was taken with a DJI Phantom Vision FC200 drone camera.
Issue 164 September 2014
Take, make, share and be social...
Ditch the Gear
Taking Things Slowly:
Mono: + The Guardian’s Denis Thorpe + The Zone System
Buyer’s guides: Remote Releases, Apps, ND Filters & Photo Bags
SIGMA DP2 QUATTRO
Shoot while you hike
Billy Currie – Technique
Black & White
Trains in Frame
Street Photography Vivian
Zone System |
Bronica SQAi | 80mm lens | Film: Ilford fp4+ Leon Taylor – This shot was taken during a fleeting moment on a summer’s day when a dark and gloomy sky broke momentarily. I wanted to retain detail in the mountains, so I took a spot meter reading and placed this on zone 3. The highlights on the trees and shore fell way above the required threshold for detail in the final print, and as this was on roll film, I didn’t have the option to restrain development times to contract the contrast without ruining the other 11 shots on the roll. Instead, I opted to use a compensating developer and creative printing controls in the darkroom. Without an understanding of the zone system, I doubt I could have been able to plan and realise this print as effectively as I have done.
In the Zone You’ve heard photographers talk about it, perhaps you’ve even considered using it, but what exactly is the Zone System? Victoria Dovey investigates
If you’re familiar with monochrome photography, you will be familiar with the notion that black and white photographers don’t seem to see colour at all; it’s as if they have transcended to a mono realm where it doesn’t even exist. The only thing that remains in their eye line is tone. But there’s a secret to this second sight, and it doesn’t lay in the twilight zone. In the late 1940s, at the Art Center School in Los Angeles, Frederick Archer and Ansel Adams designed a system that would revolutionise black and white film photography, and continue to influence digital photography. The creation was the Zone System – a technique allowing photographers to coax details out of shadows, and to uncover them in highlights.
But what is the zone system? Imagine a full tonal gradation. If you were to split it into 11, true black would be labelled as zero, pure white as 10, and the grey midtone would be five. It has been said that Ansel Adams knew of another zone he forgot to tell people about, but what did people mean by this? Film cameras have the capability to capture detail from zones two through to eight, though in reality, most skilled photographers would struggle to do even this. If you are new to the Zone System, there are really only five zones you need to concern yourself with when looking to record detail.
THE THEORY OF THE ZONE SYSTEM textural range
ZONE 2 zone 3 zone 4 zone 5 zone 6 zone 7 zone 8
Highlight with washed out detail. Snow, no detail.
When shooting, identify and spot meter the darkest area you want to retain detail (texture) in as zone 3 and underexpose that by two stops less than the meter’s recommendation to achieve this. Raising a zone, or overexposing, can then be done at a later stage, altering the optimum development time, allowing photographers to wash out unwanted detail. This can be largely trial and error – particularly when using film – so it’s about finding out what works for you. The main advantage of the Zone System is to prevent flat pictures and give you textured black-and-white shots, creating moving scenes and portraits that come to life in print.
Black. Little to no detail. The darkest shadow you want to record detail in. Textured shadows. Still a shadow, but lighter than III. Will retain more detail. Dark foliage. Middle grey. Dark skin. Average blue sky. Highlight with rich detail. Light skin. Light stone. Highlight with moderate detail. Moving white water. Textured snow.
Keith Moss – I had to be very quick to catch the old lady as she passed me. I used the zone focusing system, pre-set my aperture as I had a 35mm f/2 wide-angle lens on my Leica M9 and I checked my exposure by pointing my camera at the tree’s leaves, to take a reading from the M9. It was quite a tricky exposure as it was predominately a dark scene. I needed to get an accurate exposure to show the knife in her belt.
© DON BISHOP
On Track The smell and sound of steam trains never fails to impress, but neither does the sight. Victoria Dovey explores the lure of the locomotive with photographer John Gardner
hether it’s the romantic imagery of the steam-filled station, or the nostalgic feeling of childhood wonder as a train chugga-chugs by, there’s something wondrous about photographing trains, as if the image itself can transport you as much as the passengers in the carriage. “I’ve always been inspired by good photographs of steam trains,” explains John Gardner, a professional nature and commercial photographer based in Wakefield. “Being a member of a camera club since the 80s,” he continues, “I’ve seen my fair share of them!” For John, it’s not about the mechanics or ‘number of rivets’. “I just see them as beautiful pieces of engineering cutting a dashing swathe of steam and smoke through the rolling landscapes of rural England,” he comments. “I suppose I photograph steam trains with purely a photographer’s eye, rather than an enthusiast’s. I’m not really interested in what the train is, but how it looks and whether I can create a dynamic image.” With an array of photographic opportunities, from the leading lines of the track, to the long exposures of the moving coaches, it’s easy to become inspired by the prospects of creating the images, but perhaps
harder to get over the stereotype of a typical train enthusiast. “I suppose photographing steam trains has always been a bit infra dig, a bit anorakish and the reserve of the steam enthusiast and, as a hard core nature photographer, it was never something I thought about until recently,” shares John. “I now photograph mainly with Nikon D3 and D4 and three lenses including a 24-70mm, 70-200mm and a specialist 24mm PC-E perspective control lens,” John tells us. “The latter is great for making sure buildings are vertical if I am photographing steam trains at close quarters in a station or marshalling yard. I try and shoot with a low ISO for clean files and often I bracket by up to +-3EV to ensure I have the correct dynamic range to create a powerful image. In the early days, I used to produce HDR images, but more recently I have changed to manual exposure blending in Photoshop using Layer Masks to paint in the sections of the image that require lightening or darkening. Often the images are toned in Photoshop using Nik Colour EFX filters and there’s nearly always a dodge and burn layer to create depth and contrast in the image, finishing off with a soft black vignette.” www.johngardnerphotography.com
Train Photography | © JOHN GARDNER
This process of blowing out steam through all the pipework simultaneously is known as ‘blowing down’ and is performed to blast out all the dirt and grit in the pipes. I had the camera on a tripod to take some bracketed shots of the engine being refuelled when the steam erupted unexpectedly and so I managed to grab a series of seven images from -3EV to +3EV. I liked the fact that only the form of the train was visible through the cloud of steam. I chose three images to ‘exposure blend’ in Photoshop, creating a key layer which had the exposure I needed for the engine, then two other exposures chosen to hold back the brighter areas. These were added to the base image with a Layer Mask and then using a black brush set to low opacity, I painted in the areas from the two darker layers to control exposure over the whole image.
1. Blowing down Camera Nikon D3 | Nikkor 24mm PC-E f/3.5D | 1/80sec | f/32 | ISO 200 | Tripod © JOHN GARDNER
Looking up the train as it waited in the early morning sun, gently steaming, and rim lit by the autumn sunrise, I saw the ‘glint’ shot. The glint shot is when the early morning light rakes along the train giving depth and contour to the engine, but I was the only one that saw it. I quickly put on a 70-200mm to try and crop out the people and did my best to get a shot.
2. Foxcote Manor at sunrise Nikon D3 | Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 | 70mm | 1/640sec | f/4.5 | ISO 200 © JOHN GARDNER
A train hauling up a gradient, belching out smoke and steam. I decided to get low in the vegetation and shoot with a wide-angle as the train passed by. This angle gives a sense of the size of the engine and also the movement and direction of the train. Although the image looks like an HDR image, it is in fact processed from a single shot. The Raw file was processed using Nikon Capture NX2 and then taken into Photoshop for post using Nik filters and a dodge and burn layer. I create the heavily edited images specifically for printing at A2 size on a fine art paper such as Hahnemuhle, so that they look almost like a painting. >>
3. Foxcote Manor passing Darnholme Bridge Nikon D3 | Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 | 34mm | 1/250sec | f/8 | ISO 400 | handheld
© DON BISHOP
Don Bishop’s Top 10 top tips Don, a full time pro since 2006, has been shooting trains for over 26 years. He runs regular photo workshops for other enthusiasts who want to share in is dual passion of trains and photography. We asked Don for his top tips for when shooting these beautiful machines: Safety first: Don’t walk on the tracks, get too close to the tracks or walk through tunnels. Members of North Yorkshire Moors Railway can attend a one day training course in order to obtain a line side pass which will help with your safety. Find a good location: Look for somewhere that is picturesque and has as few modern artefacts as possible that might look out of place in your scene. Try and avoid modern houses, cars and pylons. Shoot wide: If you’ve found a great location, use a wide-angle lens to capture the train in the landscape. Make the train a focal point in a much bigger picture rather than the main subject. Shoot tight: Use a medium focal length telephoto lens to compress the scene and foreshorten perspective. A 70200mm is ideal or even a 300mm for maximum compression and impact. Shoot low: Don’t just set the camera up at eye level – getting low and shooting with a wide-angle lens can really emphasise the size of the train Photograph incidentals: Trains don’t run by themselves, drivers, engineers, firemen and ground crew all make great subjects to photograph and help tell the story of steam. Photograph details: Make close-up images of wheels, gauges, lamps and other details that don’t always show up in the big train pictures. Detail shots can be great presented in monochrome. Shoot in all weathers: We all love working in good weather but steam trains look great on snowy and rainy days too, especially if there is a brooding storm, grey sky and some sun on the train. Extreme weather can often make a good picture great. Pick your shot: it’s easy to be tempted into letting go a machine gun burst as the train approaches but often this can lead to buffering out at the critical moment! Think about your composition and how you want the image to look and shoot fewer images, but at the right moment. Shoot into the light: Try shooting against the light to get rim lighting on the trains, especially when the sun is low in the sky. Golden light raking the side of an engine adds depth and dimension to an image.
© DON BISHOP
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© DON BISHOP
Train Photography |
This is one of my favourite engines, Sir Nigel Gresley, leaving Goathland station during one of the steam gala weekends on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway. I wanted a classic shot of the engine leaving the station. I had to remove a few people from the bridge using Photoshop but, other than that, there was nothing in the image to detract and or give an indication that it wasn’t taken in the early 60s. I completed the vintage feel by using Nik filters to bring out detail and texture in the train and then added a Curves Layer and shifted the blue and red channels to give me the soft yellow aged effect.
The A1 Steam Trust did an amazing job raising funds to build a brand new steam locomotive in the form of Tornado. I was lucky enough to be standing lineside in the engine yards at Grosmont when Tornado was pulled up at the coal hopper for fuelling and watering ahead of the day’s run during a steam weekend on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway. With the D3 mounted on my Gitzo carbon fibre tripod, I took a series of seven shots bracketed from -3EV to +3EV and used Photomatix to create this HDR image.
4. Sir Nigel Gresley leaving Goathland Nikon D3 | Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 | 45mm | 1/400sec | f/8 | ISO 200 | handheld © JOHN GARDNER © JOHN GARDNER
5. Tornado fuelling up Nikon D3 | Nikkor 24mm PC-E f/3.5D | 1/3sec | f/8 | ISO 320 | tripod
John Gardner’s top sites
• Settle-Carlisle Line: Home of the Ribblehead Viaduct; a spectacular viaduct with a stunning backdrop in the Yorkshire Dales. A great place to great some amazing steam train images • North Yorkshire Moors Railway: My favourite location for photographing steam trains. Beautiful landscapes combined with period stations that haven’t changed since the 60s and a great range of locomotives all combine to give boundless shooting opportunities • Keighley and Worth Valley Railway: Home of the railway children and a great line on which to photograph steam. • East Lancashire Railway: Another great line for steam trains and with an offering of photography courses for those wishing to have a go at photographing trains • Severn Valley Railway: A fabulous selection of trains running in the midlands and a very informative website for all the details of the trains.
In an abstract turn from traditional track side imagery, Aaron Durand, who lives near San Francisco, tells us about his love of trains, graffiti and film photography: Where did your train photography start? I started taking long exposures of trains a few years ago, as a byproduct of simply being on train tracks in the waning hours of the day photographing graffiti. I’ve been a big fan of graffiti for years. Because so much graffiti lives on trains and where trains run, I was naturally drawn to the yards and tracks. One day I just turned my camera around and shot the train instead of the wall next to it. Once I became relatively familiar with a digital camera and had the basics down, I picked up shooting on film and haven’t looked back. All of the images you see here were shot on one of two medium format cameras; a Pentacon Six TL or a Hasselblad 500C/M. Though I recently picked up a Mamiya 7ii and am looking forward to having a little more room for those train leading lines, since the >>
© AARON DURAND
| Train Photography
ALL IMAGES © AARON DURAND
Mamiya is 6x7 (landscape, not square). Commuter trains move fast, so you’re not guaranteed more than two-three images per train. I tend to only take one. I usually stick to higher apertures (f/8-f/16) and exposure times of between 20-45 seconds, ISO 200-400. So much depends on ambient light from the street or the moon. Is it hard to get access to these places? Yes, most of the places these images are taken require... creative access points. Let’s call it what it is: trespassing. Holes in fences, waterproof footwear, a sturdy tripod, and cold weather gear are important. But do as I say, not as I do. That is to say; I can’t condone trespassing, and trains are very dangerous, especially at 90mph. What is it about trains and tracks that you love? I think what got me into trains is graffiti. What kept me there was isolation. Granted I usually photograph with at least one friend (for safety). I also love being in freight train yards, just walking down the lines, smelling creosote. It’s not for everyone but it’s serene to me. I love that we’ve been using trains for so long and not much has changed over the years. What’s your favourite image? It’s from last winter, of a commuter train on a trestle over a river [pictured right]. I set up my tripod in the river and waited patiently in the freezing cold water, having forgotten my waterproof boots that night. This particular train is very colourful so every photograph of it is unique. The lines are never the same and the colours can change the whole feel of the image. It’s by far my favourite train to shoot. And I’ve been shooting it for three years. [PM] www.aarondurand.com
Being able to recognise good light is the key to mastering landscape photography, because good light is what can turn a record of a place into a stunning photograph. On cloudy days keep an eye out for pockets of light, particularly in the mountains as these can illuminate distant peaks. If the light is soft and diffused, choose a subject that benefits from this like woodland or waterfalls. If the light really doesn’t work in your favour, it’s still a good opportunity to practice. Having made the effort to go walking, it seems a waste to go home without even taking your camera out of its bag. After all, it could be argued that there is no such thing as bad light, it is just a case of finding the right subject to match the light you have at your disposal. >>
Canon EOS 5D Mark III | 24mm TS-E f/3.5L II | 1/8sec | f/16 | ISO 100
Torrin, Isle of Skye
Inspired to get outdoors but not sure where to start? Check out these tops strolls from features writer Victoria Dovey:
A lovely walk that was never too taxing on our aging Labrador was a stroll down the Sharpness Canal in Gloucestershire. You can start up at Gloucester docks, but we would set off in Hardwicke, by (or sometimes via..) The Pilot Inn and work our way down past the farmer’s fields, long boats and lilies, to rural, rustic, south Gloucestershire, often far enough to see the Severn Bore come in. Just watch out for the grouchy swans in spring time!
The Wyre Forest in Kidderminster is currently hosting the Atkins CIWEM Environmental Photographer of the Year 2014 gallery, using QR codes and iPads. Curious? It’s known as ‘augmented reality’, where you hold your smart device up to the code on the trees to view the images as if they are framed in the forest. You even get to hear audio from the photographer, as they talk about their photographs. It’s one of many lovely trails in the Wyre Forest, and for little feet, you can take children (or grandchildren) ‘Gruffalo spotting’ on the trail of the Gruffalo, further up the hill.
You wouldn’t normally associate the flat lands of Norfolk with a ‘hard’ walk, but Peddars Way and the Norfolk Coast Path can amount to a 93-mile walk. Within that, photographers have the opportunity to take in scenery as they follow the Roman road, built along an even older trackway, starting in the Breck. Enjoy low cliffs and extensive sandy beaches and dunes as it combines with coastal path. If you don’t fancy taking on the expanse of this trail, then do it in parts and stop off at the many B&Bs along the way.
The summit of Cader Idris, Snowdonia National Park.
The Great Outdoors – Hiking |
Canon EOS 5D Mark III | 24mm TS-E f/3.5L II | 2 seconds | f/16 | ISO 100
BREAK THE LANDSCAPE DOWN INTO SECTIONS
Whether you are walking by the coast in the mountains or in open countryside, avoid the initial temptation to try and include it all in to your photograph. Although the most obvious solution is to try and fit it all in, and the panorama does have its place, there will invariably be a section of the landscape that is more photogenic than the rest. By just photographing the wider view, the danger is the best bit becomes lost in the picture. A more considered, tighter composition that not only isolates the most photogenic area, but also has an interesting foreground, is a better choice. >>
WEEKEND AWAY WALK The Pennine Way, up North, covers 268 miles and is one of Britain’s most popular long-distance footpaths. It’s not hard to see why with great limestone cliffs, moors, rivers, waterfalls, picturesque towns and stunning views from summits you’ll be glad to have climbed. Wear a good pair of shoes, and take a lightweight compact system camera for a relaxing, rambling time away.
Looking for the perfect app for your outdoor adventure? Take a peek at the award-winning service from ViewRanger on page 70!
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a slice of
raspberry pi Victoria Dovey chats with EBEN UPTON, founder of the Raspberry Pi Foundation, about the importance of keeping up with technology and supporting your industry’s future
ou may have seen Eben Upton in the news recently, at Buckingham Palace, or read an interview with him in The Guardian. Maybe you’ve seen one of his TED talks, or his star product, Raspberry Pi, on the cover of Wired magazine. At just 35, Eben is a success, and he’s willing to share his secret to success… Having graduated in physics and engineering from Cambridge, Eben thrived in a mixture of academia and business; gaining a PhD and working with various computer start-ups as well as with big corporates such as Intel, IBM and Broadcom. But it was teaching that put him on the track to where he is today. Eben noted how many children his age and before him would grow up knowing at least one or two lines of code. Somewhere along the line, technology became less democratic and coding more exclusive. “I taught at the university for a few years when I did my PhD, which gave me some exposure to this drop-off in the level of skill and interest in computing among young people,” Eben explains. “I started the Raspberry Pi Foundation to try and do something about it.” So what is Raspberry Pi? Well, firstly, in 2008 the foundation developed a no-thrills, “low-cost, credit-card sized computer.” The product doesn’t come with a keyboard, a mouse, a screen or even a case. Its goal is simple and yet its implications are vast. Eben aims to get as many people as he can interested in coding, and with the affordable Raspberry Pi unit (approx. £18-£30) proficient in performing everything you’d expect from a desktop, as well as being capable of so much more when programmed; it’s a mission the world quickly jumped on board with. Despite his father, Clive Upton, being a consultant for the Oxford English Dictionary, ‘no’ doesn’t seem to be a word in Eben’s dictionary. Since his days in childhood, playing with his BBC Micro and programming since the age of eight, Eben has been interested in computers and developed what he calls, “enormous affection” for the BBC because of it. When it came to Raspberry Pi, he could think of no better branding, and yet, was met with what many of us in business will be familiar with – a resounding wall of ‘no’. Nonetheless, Eben persisted, and eventually managed to become an internet superstar when BBC Technology Correspondent, Rory Cellan-Jones, put a Raspberry Pi video on his blog. º
“We kept trying and the pay-off was not what we thought, but we attracted the attention of someone like Rory, who is an amazing advocate for this stuff,” Eben explains. “I don’t think anything in my entire business plan has worked out quite the way I planned,” he laughs. “Tim Smit (of the Eden Project) gives this wonderful talk where he says he randomly accepts things he doesn’t think are going to be of use to him, because so many of the things he’s had in life that are successful have come out of things any rational person who have said no to. It’s illustrative of the limits of planning. You have to make moves and see what happens.” Being more open to opportunities around him is perhaps what makes Eben such a good business man. Raspberry Pi recently sold its three millionth unit, and despite not expecting such a steep curve (“we ran round with our heads on fire”), it’s a milestone many would have struggled to achieve. “You need to be constantly prepared to kill your own product, cut your own margins, do new stuff in areas you know nothing about. We knew nothing about hardware before we did this. We learnt very fast! It’s a great motivator to work harder.” So has Eben always had that entrepreneurial spirit? “Ever since I was very young I was interested in the business side of stuff. On the television programme Bergerac, there was a bit-part character called Charlie Hungerford who was a wheeler-dealer type, a slightly crooked business man. He was my hero as a kid.” Was it the money? “The ability to earn money dealing with computers was a motivator for me,” Eben admits. “It wasn’t a big motivator, but it was one.” And yet today, Raspberry Pi set up as a foundation on a charitable basis devoted to education, with every penny of the profit going to support schools, train teachers and create resources. As I speak to Eben, he’s on his way from a teaching training camp office in Cambridge; a city he loves. “Places like Cambridge are important because you have that density of talent and experience. The problem with a decline in the number of people coming into an industry, if the community is aging out, is that our communities will shrink and they will become disproportionately rubbish and collapse. Then there’re no jobs for anyone, which is why it’s important for the economy as well as industry and for established roles to help fresh talent.” It’s a principle that can certainly be applied to the photographic industry, and certainly a good argument for nurturing young talent, an argument Eben himself has thought much about. “I think from time to time, ‘aren’t I just training people who are going to compete for my job?’ But the big risk factor, and the reason that’s not good strategy, is that there is a critical mass. Why is Silicon Valley more successful than anywhere else? It’s because there’s a critical mass of techy people bouncing around together. If the population was half the size, it wouldn’t be half as successful, it would be a tenth.” Talking to Eben, we stumble across an interesting parallel – isn’t the resurgence in analogue photography and manual technique similar to the culture of coding? “It’s tapping into the same thing of this ‘maker culture’,” Eben notes. “People doing woodwork, knitting, people doing photography, coding – there’s increasingly an interest in people wanting to doing something themselves, For your chance to win a instead of being passive consumers of something coming off of a Raspberry Pi, ‘like’ and conveyor belt. It’s also much easier to form affinity groups on the ‘follow’ our social media internet, it doesn’t matter if there’s one person in each town who’s pages and keep your eyes interested in analogue film development because there are 100,000 peeled for how to enter! towns and you can use the internet to meet all of these people.”
eben upton / raspberry pi
You need to be constantly prepared to kill your own product, cut your own margins, do new stuff in areas you know nothing about. We knew nothing about hardware before we did this. We learnt very fast! It’s a great motivator to work harder.
Tapping into the internet is an area the foundation has found enormous success in. “Raspberry Pi has been a social media success story. We’ve been very good at engaging the community and I think that’s probably the opportunity for all sorts of freelance creative professionals. My wife runs the social media for Pi – she was a journalist and photographer before and ran into the problem of so many people being prepared to work for free. She used social media to create a community of people around the work that she did and people ended up paying her to get reach.” No gold stars for guessing who has a big hand in the foundation’s blog today. Doing what you’re good at is a mantra that helped Raspberry Pi triumph, but to succeed in practice you also need to learn how to delegate as the business grows. Our feature on page 81 explores the ways in which you can outsource in areas of your business, to allow you more time to focus on your main goals. It’s something Eben and the team took to heart, using third party companies for production as well as getting investment partners to worry about finance; matters that were “not worth diverting” time to. “We were going to build this product and have an integrated software pack around it and teaching material and professional development, and eventually we discovered we could just make the product with other people,” he says. Getting professionals to tend to other parts of your business is a great plan, but it’s good to also bear in mind, you can always take these aspects back if you have the time and, more importantly, the skill, as Eben discovered. “In the past year, our standards have gone up, and we’ve ended up taking these things back. Because we’re a charity business, we can do a lot of things for free that are expensive – for instance, teacher training.” For a figure so prominent in education, I have to ask what the most important lesson for us is, and the answer is simple: keep up with the latest technology. “I think it’s completely essential. I spend a lot of time running the business but, originally, I was an engineer and I spend time deliberately doing engineering in order to remain current, because there’s nothing worse than having this horrible ‘Death of a Salesmen’ nightmare when you’re, say, 50. With the way pensions are going, with 20 years of your career still ahead of you, you’re going to be completely deskilled in your industry. I worry a lot about hollowing out, just knowing how to manage people doing work instead of doing work myself.” Today, Raspberry Pi produce a number of products, including a programmable camera board module and infrared board, as well as the foundation’s mascot, a stuffed toy Babbage Bear, and is enjoying its sixth year in business. Prince Andrew has been a big supporter of the tech world, and as our interview draws to a close, I can’t resist asking about Eben’s recent visit to Buckingham Palace – it’s a story he’s eager to tell. “The Duke of Edinburgh had a go at me for not wearing a tie, which was great! I’m a big fan of his.” Who isn’t? I reply, and am reminded, more than ever, why it’s so important to keep up with the times.
outsource your worries away
The 21st Century photographer can’t just show up, take some photos and go home. It takes a lot of time and effort to manage a business, so why not delegate? Victoria Dovey investigates…
e, as photographers, strive to provide customers with the latest technology in print, and with innovative designs, but can often be stretched thin with the demands of organising and executing a shoot as well as other myriads of day-to-day business tasks. Fortunately, a lot of the work and worry involved in providing quality service and a product to be proud of can be outsourced, allowing you to grow your business. Try a spot of subcontracting with our top pick of services, and refocus your attention on the passion that led you into the photography business – taking great photos.
Premium product With the ongoing consumer shift to digital, providing clients with high-quality, well thought-out photo books can be an expensive and time consuming enterprise. Companies like Photo Productions cater to photographers in the business, offering smart trade services with extra perks, a quick turn-around and of course, large discounts. For example, trade clients receive 15 per cent off, in addition to a subsequent 15 per cent for bulk orders. Further lifting from your worry list, it’s absolutely zero VAT and delivered free by a UK courier delivery. The recently renovated website and ‘drag and drop’ ordering process has never been simpler, while still maintaining customisable elements and the ability to monitor the process at every step, with all designs sent back for approval before printing. Photobooks are ideal for all kinds of photography avenues, from wedding and lifestyle to commercial ventures. Sample albums can also be provided – allowing you to build up a larger client base and º
convince customers of the benefits of a professionally printed album. The service is completely bespoke, never relying on design templates, and customers can choose from eight sizes of albums and three styles of design, all with lay-flat panoramic pages. Trade customers also have the gratis options of applying their own logo as well as colour and brightness correction. The whole process is managed by expert graphic designers or, alternatively, a further discount of 10 per cent can be offered if photographers wish to supply their own design. So they’re a good price, but what about quality? Before being hand-bound, photos are printed on professional halide paper, with pages reinforced with PVC – one of the many reasons the books come with a 100 per cent satisfaction rate. Front and back covers are even mounted under crystal acrylic with a bevelled edge, creating a handsome premium design in both look and feel. www.photoproductions.com
Money makes the world go round
Much like The Queen, not very many people carry change these days, or cash at all. With cheques becoming an endangered (and dangerous) practice, and card payments on the rise, it makes sense to be able to offer your customers the security that chip and PIN affords, even if you are out on location. WorldPay Zinc’s chip and PIN keypad syncs with your smartphone, allowing instant, easy and secure payments. Not only does this make you more accessible and credible to your clients (asking them to pop round the corner to the cash machine isn’t all that professional), but eliminates problems of cash flow, allowing you to keep a finger on the pulse of your business. The portability element enables you to take on-the-spot deposits at consultations, or even encourages up-selling and purchases at an event. More importantly, it stops you wasting time running round after defaulted BACS payments. That’s time which could be better spent and invested in your business. If you’re not one for number-crunching, your photography should come above your ability to manage your finances, so for problems extending beyond cashflow, or some advice on getting the most of your finances, it’s worth noting that a good accountant will, almost always, recoup the cost of work they do for you. www.worldpayzinc.com
Let the pros handle it Accountants aren’t the only specialised staff who can give you a leg up in the industry. It may be worth considering employing a sales agent, or two – depending on the size of your business. Most sales agents are adaptable and fast learners. They understand the need for extensive product knowledge to make good sales. The trick to hiring is to make sure you pick someone who is selfemployed and can work off commission. Paying a flat rate for an agency member might give you access to bigger consumers, but for a small to medium sized average business, will probably cost more than it’s worth. Commission is win-win – they have the incentive and drive to sell your work, but it doesn’t cost you a thing if they don’t. Another avenue to think about is hiring a professional retoucher. We’re not saying you can’t do it yourself – as a pro, your own retouching skills are probably very refined by now – but it’s the same principle as with the sales staff. Hiring someone who is an expert in their field frees you up to do what you do best, and gives you the time to learn to love your trade again, instead of spending hours in Photoshop and Lightroom. As a compromise, it could just be the cleaning up of your images that you out-source, for the purpose of saving time.
Spreading the load Assistants or second shooters can be a god-send for photographers. By lending you a second pair of eyes, they can increase your scope and range of images to a degree that will pay for itself. Having an assistant carry in your bags and set up a shoot isn’t just an extravagant luxury, it allows you to focus on the important areas. Sounds great, right? But while the advantages are numerous, there are a few things to look out for before you commit. Firstly, remember that if you’re paying them, they are your employee. Do consider the insurance
implications of having an employee and ensure that you’re sufficiently covered, for if they’re injured while in your employment. A contract is also advisable, to avoid any confusion over rights and roles, with both second shooters and assistants. Clarification and defined roles will help you avoid any problems down the line – guideline contracts can be found online. Secondly, make sure you pick the right person for you and the client, as the wrong choice could end up costing your more time, not less. Check whether there are any groups near you, with experienced and proven members who support each other when they’re in need of second shooters. Alternatively, get active on forums and search for the right person to give the big break they’re after – there are plenty of willing and keen candidates, waiting to get their foot in the door. It’s important for the industry that those new learn, and are supported by, the more experienced photographers, and that’s a role that you can play. The right person for you is out there, and many photographers find assistants an essential and invaluable resource. Think of all the hassle and worry you no longer have to be plagued with, and envision all those golden shots you’ll get as a result of their support!
Keeping track If you’ve ever been told you’d lose your head if it wasn’t screwed on, chances are, organisation is not your strong point. The bad news is, it’s an essential part of business, but here’s the good news: Art editor Noel Hibbert recently tried out and reviewed Light Blue Software for the latest edition of our sister magazine, Turning Pro, and described it as, “a virtual PA, accountant, calendar/diary and general tap-on-the-shoulder.” He’s a big fan, and even called it “as important as you camera”. But what does it do? And why is it better than a pocket book or tying string around your fingers? Well, I can’t list all of the amazing features, because we’ll be here a while, but the intelligent calendar reminds you of upcoming events and will give you a virtual slap on the wrist if you try to double book. With the numerous drop-down categories, you can even keep an eye out for which types of shoots or referrals make you the most money, allowing you to prioritise and keep track of your social media outreach. It’s like an online label maker for all those little balls you’ve thrown up in the air and have yet to juggle. Put all of your contacts, accounts and emails in one place and colour coordinate to your heart’s content. Be reminded of your client’s name, without having to write it on the back of your hand, and know exactly where you are, in terms of geography, time and finance. Personally, we think £250 is a more than fair price for what is essentially a pocket personal assistant (without the salary demands). But if you can’t take our word for it, we won’t be offended – just try out the 30 day free trial and thank us later. www.lightbluesoftware.com
No time for online? There’s no escaping it these days. Managing your online presence is more important than ever. For photographers, the stakes are higher than just your presence as a business – clients will be looking for you, and your personal touch; they want someone they can trust and like. Your website needs to immediately communicate your brand. No matter how good your images are, if your site is hard to use, slow loading, looks generic or doesn’t fully reflect your brand, it will deter potential clients; it doesn’t take much for clients to click back to Google. Playing the game to get to the top of that search is changing all of the time, but the golden rule will always be content. You need to post often on your blog and social media, and link these to your site. This can be time-consuming, so you need a simple set-up that makes it easy for you to make the necessary updates. This is where companies like Amazing Internet come in. Not only do they handle the design and initial SEO optimisation of your site, but they can also set up your blog and help you keep an eye on Google Analytics, so you know what is working and what needs to be tweaked. What’s more, they can also create the e-commerce section of your site, helping your site work harder for you. Alternatively, if you’re quite the website whizz and just need a way to better manage your social media (schedule posts for peak times and view your analytics), services such as Buffer or HootSuite are essential for the modern-day photographer. www.amazinginternet.com www.bufferapp.com
museum night at the
AMERICAN MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY LIBRARY
The American Museum of Natural History holds a special place in many people’s hearts. Victoria Dovey explores as it makes its way on to the internet for the very first time
s a Brit, I’m sure I’m not alone in finding my first exposure to the American Museum of Natural History nestled in the pages of Catcher in the Rye – with the haunting image of a boy struggling to keep hold of his innocence by finding solace in the frozen exhibits of the past. For tourists, it’s much more than a must-see attraction; a building as iconic and aspirational as lady liberty herself, but for New Yorkers. The walls contain something much more special, referred to by director of the museum’s library, Tom Baione, as the city’s “rainy-day playground” – a place where people bring their children to pass on their own personal connection to the history on display; history that connects us all. Lucky for us, the museum has recently digitised over 7000 archived images on this side of the pond – historical images of the museum itself as well as photographic collections stored in the museum’s library. While the 2006 Hollywood blockbuster, Night at the Museum, may have literally bought the history to life, the online collection needs no animation to be of interest to the history buff or student of photography. After a few bewitching weeks of searching through the charming and vast sea of images dating back to even the 1870s, we’ve painstakingly plucked some pictures for your viewing pleasure, and uncovered the story behind some of the collections. Above: South Rim, Grand Canyon, Arizona (SL203-19).
The Archive Looking through the collection, two striking thoughts occurred to me. The first, the fact that this collection is an extraordinary thing – a blend of science, history and art. The second, is that some of these images are over 140 years old, and yet are rich in skill and subject matter to a degree most photographers would struggle to produce today. The negatives are large format, which provides quality equal to today’s digital images, but the fact that they have been kept in such good condition is a wonder. In addition to keeping the negatives in environment-controlled settings (a steady 18C and 35 per cent humidity), several thousand natural nitrate negatives are specially packaged in explosion proof-freezers. But Tom tells me he can’t take all the credit: “Our predecessors valued them – they were well taken care of before they came to the library. The photographic collections were, in a sense, consolidated by the library in the 1970s.” The library houses over 100,000 8 x 10s, 200,000 4 x 5s , tens of thousands of 6 x 8s and 4 x 6s as well as a collection of 11 x 14 and 35mm film. In the past, Tom’s staff
Top left, clockwise: Tornado, Waynoka, Oklahoma, May 17, 1898 (LS274-04); Harrison canoe poling, Cape Sable, Florida, 1906 (48388); Mt. Fuji, person in boat in foreground, Japan (LS179-33); Alligator walking on beach, Cape Romano, Florida, 1907 (46784).
would “cherry pick” pictures on request for researchers to be scanned online, and they began to convert the paper metadata and images to be stored in a digital database. The decision was eventually made to begin the mammoth task of dedicating time and staff specifically for the digitisation of whole collections, a decision which was well received by all. “We’ve had a tremendous amount of press,” says Tom, “from journals, the New York Times and lots of blog sites too – lots of hip young people who are interested in archival images. A lot of folks find these old images interesting because we’ve taken such good care of them and because they’re so crisp and clean. I think people are just so impressed that people can look at images that are so old, but look like they were taken yesterday.” Tom, with the help of expert curators such as Nina Root, and a team of interns and volunteers, go to great lengths to properly handle the images when cataloguing and scanning – wearing cotton gloves at all times and meticulously cleaning equipment. “We use graduate student interns who are studying for advanced masters degrees in library science to do all the catalogue work. At one point we were working with art students but they started to take liberties when they were ‘cleaning’ up the images. They were removing what they thought was a piece of dust off the images when in fact it was more than dust!”
the american museum of natural history
Top left, clockwise: Dutch women, Ellis Island (LS173-33); Viewing Brontosaurus skeleton, 1937 (287895); Woman wearing headdress, Mongolia (LS5-36); Seminole maiden, The Everglades, Florida, 1907 (48246).
With the project ongoing, staff will still pick images on request for researchers, but Tom hopes in the future this will be a thing of the past. “The one benefit of having a viable and well publicised database is that rather than working with existing staff, we’re going to seek funding from private and public sources to hire additional staff to speed up the process. What we hope to do is whet folks’ appetites and make researchers aware of the existence of these images. If they want to see a higher-res image, and have good reason to, we can provide it.”
The Seminole images are particularly unique, and what Tom calls, “absolutely endangered images of, unfortunately, endangered cultures,” with many researchers in agreeing that there is nothing else quite like them. A photographer and anthropologist, Julian Dimock is dedicated to a social realist approach. His work and the collection escape the stigma of being classed as romanticised, like many photographers shooting native people at the time, such as Edward Curtis, can be accused of. In addition to Seminole people, Dimock also photographed African Americans in the south: “It shows them at work, school and play,” says Tom. “His images in south Carolina show folks who are born slaves or the children of slaves, so they’re very poignant portraits; very powerful images of people living in those places at that time.”
Jesup Expedition Julian Dimock Image use is something of a concern for the library, particularly with collections such as Julian Dimock, which contain pictures of Seminole people in Florida at the start of the 20th Century. “We don’t want images on Native Americans or sacred sites to be used for advertising or marketing purposes by organisations,” explains Tom. “If someone is making a request that we deem to be inappropriate, we’re in a position to limit that use.”
Another fascinating collection essential in forming our view of the world is the Jesup North Pacific Expedition collection. Full of striking portraits as well as camps and villages, the images document the trip made by Franz Boas at the turn of 19th Century, to better explore the Bering Strait migration theory, which postulates that north America and east Russia were populated by the migration of Asian people. The museum itself sponsored the expedition in 1897 to Siberia and the Pacific North West of º
archives Left: Girl holding a bull frog on a plate, Natural Science Centre, 1958 (125310).
America, to explore the similarities of the two cultures and genetics and is still used by researchers today. “There was some feeling of urgency to document these people before their culture was watered down,” explains Tom, “assimilated into the larger dominate culture, whether it be Alaska, Canada or Russia. We’re lucky they did what they did, when they did it. One of the things museum scientists are trying to document is all the wonderful unique qualities of different cultural traditions.”
When I ask the director of the museum’s library, Tom Baione, for his favourite pictures, he tells me it’s as if I’ve asked him which of his children he loves most. But after a bit of prying, he eventually confesses his affection for pictures of the museum itself in the library’s special photographic collection. “While the museum stays up on current science and promotes scientific literacy and tries to entertain its visitors, there are also some elements of the museum’s exhibitory that don’t change, although the information about them may change and get updated. Some dioramas are classic, just like the institution’s architecture. While the scientists helped create the exhibit that attracted folks, sociologists are interested in the funny clothes people wore. I love looking at images of the old neo-Romanesque entrance on the 72 side because it’s the same entrance I walk in every day and it’s neat to think predecessors came in that same doorway and that boxes of slides that were being shipped off to New York public schools, including my parents’ public schools in the 30s and 40s; that those same materials passed through the same doors that I’m going through. Scientists in the early 20th Century walked through the same doors on their way to central Asia. I really get a kick out of views of what, to me, are familiar parts of everyday. But I’m constantly reminded through these images that many previous generations have experienced them too.”
Lantern Slides One of my favourite collections has to be the Lantern Slides; large negatives, hand painted, accompanied with lecture notes for teachers – it played a huge role in 19th and 20th Century education. Before the glory days of the internet, cheap air travel and television, these slides gave people the opportunity to view things in the world that would otherwise be left unseen. The museum itself had to construct a larger theatre in 1900 to accommodate the growing crowd their lectures attracted. Over a century later, the images continue to draw attention, for both their historical significance and beauty. “Being hand painted takes them solely out of the realms of photography,” Tom comments, “it puts them in the category of original art.”
The American Museum of Natural History’s digitised special collection can bee seen online at: images.library.amnh.org/digital Search by identifying number, collection or keyword to explore this library of images.
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taste of the
Cod in a purse â€“ pea shoots, parsley mayo, parsley crust and seaweed.
Photographer PAUL JOHNSTON, fresh from his honeymoon on the Isle of Skye, speaks with Victoria Dovey about his recent shoot with TV chef Mark Greenaway
styled shoot / paul johnston
ood and photography are two of many people’s favourite subjects. But despite the desire, not many are lucky enough to combine the two in their profession. Paul Johnston, however, has succeeded and, perhaps not surprisingly, when I ask him what the downsides are, he struggles. “I automatically see something beautiful as an image in food,” he tells me in his sincere Scottish accent, as if there was no other logical answer. Paul is a “huge lover of food”, and has been a keen photographer since childhood – he would stage scenes with his Action Man on his mother’s camera. Paul keeps his hand in even on days off, Instagramming snaps of breakfast, lunch and dinner. “People do say to my wife, ‘do you ever get a warm meal?’” he laughs, “but even people like David Loftus Instagram and I think that if you’re doing that regularly, you’re honing your eye, in a sense, to what works and it’s just keeping your hand in regularly. You refine your understanding of what looks good, even if it’s something that’s not amazing. It’s happened with pizzas I’ve made, even bar food – I try to make it look as good as I can on the iPhone.” “One of the earliest shoots I did, in a kitchen bar restaurant, the guys were used to preparing food quickly for clients – at 100mph. I told them, ‘you need to give me at least 20 minutes per dish here!’ It took a while to get a rhythm.” Paul thrives in busy environments, however, preferring to capture real-life scenarios – storytelling with images of people enjoying food as opposed to the ghost town pictures of an empty restaurant. “Capturing the intimacy and ambience of premises is a key aspect. Otherwise it looks like a failed business,” he says. A recent shoot was with celebrity chef Mark Greenaway, of the Great British Menu. Seafood Scotland contacted Mark for a six-course menu. This wasn’t just an event to shoot the dishes, this was a live event. There were 50 guests invited to sample the food including journalists, seafood producers and food bloggers. The event was set up to showcase the food in The Malt Whisky Society environment and Mark was the chef they picked to highlight the various elements. Whisky, seafood, Mark Greenaway – it was a wholly Scottish affair: “The things involved were part of the fabric of where I live and grew up,” says Paul. “I didn’t get the sense that I was having to understand that Scottish element, or that I had to try to reproduce it, because it’s part of who I am.” So did it take a while to get a rhythm with this shoot? “Chefs fall into two categories: cooking food too quickly or they don’t spend enough time on refining the look of the dish. Sometimes you have to play with it yourself, but Mark makes it easy. He takes ages to construct the menu and the dishes and the whole look and buys accessories to dress the dishes. There was no need for a food stylist with Mark. He’s got a very clear vision about what the style and look of the dishes comes down to, including any crockery and any accessories. So to some extent, the food styling is part and parcel with what he’s delivering. “When he plates up at the pass, he sets it up so all the dishes are placed in front of people exactly how he wants them to view them. He’s into gone to that much detail so that each dish looks pretty much identical. He was very clear when I was down getting each of the dishes – I had a quick conversation about his ideas and where this dish should be viewed from. It was key that Mark got the images back the way he intended the food to be represented. He was very precise, but he trusted me after the first one that I showed him.” I’m curious to find out the ways in which Paul created the overall look of the dishes – that light, airy but crisp, modern feel. “It was more of a fine dining experience, hence why we went with the white tablecloths and the sharp napkins. There are many accessories in the background, such as the boxes which, as a member of the Malt Whisky Society, you would get as part of your membership. We dropped them in subtly to give people a feel of what the membership is about. They fill a space in the composition. “I also wasn’t going to take the risk of just relying on natural light because the timing was going to be over several hours, so that would have varied quite a bit. Most of that light is flash light º
West coast scallops two ways – miso broth, pork skin “crispies”, sea vegetables, soy caramel. Below: making the dish.
Salmon ballantine – treacle, crispy skin, dill milk, granola, tartare sauce.
styled shoot / paul johnston
and I’ve done it so it looks like it’s coming from a window.” And how do you go about achieving this, I ask? “Never light food from the front. It tends to flatten it out and make it look one dimensional, so almost always I’m using natural light from behind and using additional light, which I set up. When you start shooting in that kind of way, a lot of the time, you’re overexposing the background to get the food properly exposed. In the past, they tried to control that but there’s a more modern look now, of that slightly over-exposed background in soft focus, which is really quite popular at the moment.” You can see Paul’s kit list below but, for him, none of it is overly important to what he does. “The equipment is second to composition and the look and the feel. Although I have a techy background, I hate the whole overly-techy element – I get people asking me what f-stop a picture was and I want to say, ‘it doesn’t matter!’ People are obsessed with trying to copy people and they think if they get the same settings, they’ll get the same kind of thing, but there’s more to it than that.” Working in such a busy environment, I ask whether he had any reservations before the shoot. “One of the concerns I had was regarding the modern layouts of the dishes. You’re still trying to get an element of making it look appetising and getting people to recognise whether it’s fish or meat, so stimulate the senses. It ties in to trying to hope it’s not too ‘out there’. A kid’s art experiment as opposed to something you can actually eat. The images on the flat whisky bottle, they looked really cool but it was the most difficult. I think it can almost look a bit haphazard when you look at the overall effect. I think we got away with it because of the bottle. If it were on a plain white plate, it may have looked a bit too random.” Whilst the whisky wasn’t the focal point of the shoot, Paul shares with me the issues of shooting drinks. “The problem you’ve got with dark liquids is that light absorbs it. Red wine, for example, just looks like oil in a glass in certain light conditions. I’ve been to places where we’ll vary a cocktail till it looks like red wine on camera and we’ve had the same thing with whisky, where we’ve used tea. A white background is great because it allows the light to pass through, but if you’re shooting in a room where there’s a dark light setting, you’ll end up watering the whisky down quite a lot to give it a more natural colour – one you would see with your eye.” Most of the editing was done during the shoot, not in post production, says Paul: “There wasn’t much editing. I was getting what I was looking for as I was going along and they didn’t need much tweaking. Maybe sharpening the images and some saturation and dodging and burning, but nothing like re-cloning or anything substantial.” Looking at the images of the dishes, it’s easy to imagine how they tasted. There may not be any cons, but surely one of the pros is getting to tuck in at the end. “I caught a bit of dessert at the end! I always think though, if you start taking your eye off the ball and enjoying the food, you may be missing the opportunity for a shot you could have got. For instance, at a food festival recently, the organisers wanted me to enjoy it and sample stuff, but I don’t think it looks professional when you’re supposed to be capturing the event. And I’m a big fish fan so for this shoot, it was torture!” Lastly, I ask Paul if there was anything he would do differently. “If I’d been given more time, 40 minutes per dish… I could keep tweaking it, but I think I managed to KIT BAG pull the elements of each dish together and came I Camera: Canon 5D Mark II away feeling there’s a strong image in each of the I Lenses: Canon L-Series 24-70mm, dishes, which made me really happy at the end. Of 70-200mm, 17-40mm course, you could look at it for 10 minutes and go ‘ah, I Flash: Canon 580 EXII no I’ve seen that’ or ‘that’s slightly’, or ‘if that had been I Studio flashes: Elinchrom D-Lite 4it (500W) moved or tweaked a wee bit’ but, honestly? You’d drive I Reflectors: Lastolite yourself mad trying to perfect it forever.” I Tripod: Manfrotto 055X ProB www.coppermango.com I Computer: 27in iMac @coppermango I Software: Lightroom 5 & Photoshop CS6
Crab cannelloni – smoked cauliflower custard, lemon pearls and coriander.
Sorched mackerel fillet – golden beetroot, hot orange jelly, pickled beetroot puree with brioche tuile.
Clootie dumpling – burnt orange jelly, treacle meringues, clotted cream ice cream and sugar puff caramel.
big interview Graeme says Dior nail varnishes are great to shoot because of the quality of the nail varnish when you pour it.
luxury British-born, international luxury product photographer GRAEME MONTGOMERY, chats with Victoria Dovey about all that sparkles
A jewellery still life for Harperâ€™s Bazaar.
big interview / graeme montgomery
if you haven’t got a picture, you grab a sandwich and work on through. The teams in New York can also get very big. Everyone has an assistant. You can end up with twice as many people on a shoot as you would in London.” With so many people in the mix, you would think it would be difficult to maintain a signature style or vision, but Graeme shares how he combats this: “Your own input levels vary from shoot to shoot and you do get shoots where creative directors have mopped together what they want and your role is to, hopefully, improve on it. But you may also start off with a clear brief and often it’s coming from my style of work. I also love the jobs where people turn up and have no idea what they want to do. The perfume shoots tend to be complicated because you have the brand and the licenses and a fashion house, the owner of the perfume and the creative director, all of whom have slightly different agendas, so there’s a path to be navigated through and they have to trust that this is what looks the best, these images can be out for five years more. I try to bring into an image my sensibility – whether it’s a simple white background, a prop, a moving image – that’s what I’m aspiring to. I’m trying to implement my vision on all those things whilst not producing the same image every time. “Art directors and creative directors have a vision for the project or magazine they’re working on and want to see how you fit. If you’re a young photographer, someone has got to have a reason to work with you over an established photographer. It’s hard to gamble on what they’re going to get, so what they need is clarity of vision and some kind of guarantee that they’re going to get what they want. “In whatever I do, there’s definitely magic on the day. I’m sure you could turn up and do the same story three days in a row and if you started from scratch it would come out slightly differently each time. Whatever you do with the first picture tends to dictate the style of the rest of the day, and you want to kick the day off with something that I and everyone else feels good about.”
A jewellery still life for Vanity Fair.
In whatever I do, there’s definitely magic on the day
But I want more specific details. How does he achieve that incredible manipulation of light, for instance? “Lots of little bits of white card! If you can understand the way that a mirror works you can see the way that still life lighting works because much of it is about reflecting surfaces. It’s about incredibly small shifts of light which can make a big difference but at the same time, nothing of what I do is actually that complicated – well, I don’t think it is! I start off with something simple and then build. The less lights I can get away with, the better. That doesn’t mean that we don’t end up with a lot of light sources and different things at the end, you add lots of little subtleties. You start off with a basic overall feel, if you can’t get that right you aren’t going to make a difference. The tweaks are the icing on the cake. If you want to learn about how to be a still life photographer, you get a light, get a bottle and move the light, move a bit of cardboard round, it will do different things – see what happens.” Speaking of lighting, he politely surrenders what’s in his kit bag: “A Hasselblad, a Phase One back and Broncolor lights,” adding, “I really don’t think the equipment I use is particularly key to what I do. I could shoot in a rental studio with a completely different set of lights and it’s not going to change the look. Probably the most important piece in my kit is white foam core! I also have a Foba camera stand, which I love. Without it, life would be much trickier in terms of moving a camera, locking it down and not moving. It’s a beautifully designed thing.” If you’ve ever paid special attention to cosmetic photography today, you’ll notice the curious blend of surrealism and the modern, clinical look. I’m keen to find out from Graeme how much post production is used to achieve this, and the answer surprises. “As you work, you find things that work, things that look good and you follow that path because it looks stronger. With editorial shoots where we have more freedom, you can start rearranging it more. I tend to edit as we go along so if it’s a still life picture we’re basically just building it up. The variations that we’re shooting are very small and we’re walking towards a point and then it’s like, ‘yeah, we got it’ and maybe we’ll try some other things. There’s not a huge difference between the 150 frames
I can’t just turn up and do what I did five years ago, 10 years ago, you’ve got to come up with something more
A still life for German magazine, Amica.
68 This Pink Star diamond sold at auction for $83 million. Sotheby’s commissioned the images but Graeme only had 15 minutes because its plane was late.
that I shoot. I’m implementing the post production process as we go but at the end of a day’s shoot, pictures look 80 per cent what they’re going to look like, they just get reworked so that they’re done perfectly rather than done roughly. We might need to add in more reflectors for a metal top with a perfume bottle and you don’t want them there for the glass. The main plate that you start with has to be pretty good though. Maybe on a necklace there’s one stone you have to adjust the light on so you do the plate for that stone. Just remember you’re trying to improve on something that already looks good rather than make the picture that way. The more beautiful the object to start with, the easier my life is.” And what beautiful objects has Graeme been shooting lately? “I’ve been doing a lot of cosmetics for Dior recently and doing things like broken-up powders and nail varnishes. They’re great to shoot because of the quality of nail varnish when you pour it – I’m quite fascinated by it. I like that there’s an element you have absolutely no control of. If you spill two bottles of nail polish together, you can
try to make them do what you want, but at the same time they’re kind of going to do what they want. You have that excitement. It’s like trying to control nature. Doing pictures with water with splashes in, every time you go click the question is, ‘did we get it?’. I like setting fire to things for the same reason. Is it going to work, is it going to burn the bit I want? I love the element that isn’t static.” Perhaps it’s a combination of things being outside his control or the love of a challenge, but like many photographers, Graeme has also been branching out into moving image. “More and more, technology is allowing for animation and allows moving image. It allows more potential for layering. People are so used to YouTube and things moving. You go to the airport, it’s all animated billboards, same in London. For me as an image maker, you’re trying to bring the same things to it, but it has a whole new set of challenges to it such as a story line or music. While I can choose the composers I work with and give them feedback, I can’t compose music myself, so you have to trust or buy into someone else’s vision. Clients now want the static picture to go in the printed magazine, something to go on the iPad edition, something to go on the website – for multiples versions of the same thing. What’s difficult is how you produce those different campaigns and still have them completely coherent. There’s still something incredible about the still image. It has to be so strong because it gets examined much more carefully. The movement, edit and sound of a moving image carries it, whereas a static picture can be looked at 50 times, for 30 seconds, or for five minutes.”
“You do the same thing so often – it has less terror about it.”
A still life for Prada perfume.
69 A Burberry cosmetics shot for a French magazine.
Isn’t it stressful having to constantly work in different mediums? “I love a new challenge – not being allowed to turn up every day and do the same thing as the world changes, as technology and outlooks change, we have to change. It’s hard but it makes my days exciting. I can’t just turn up and do what I did five years ago, 10 years ago, you’ve got to come up with something more.” Notoriously badly behaved, shooting jewellery – another of Graeme’s skills – could certainly be considered a challenge, but he assures me it was an obstacle for him at first too. “Jewellery’s hard because the thing people like about it is that it sparkles and as a static image, it doesn’t. Trying to capture the facets, the depth of the stone, the colour… they’re small things to work with so small shifts of lighting make quite dramatic changes.” Earlier this year, the Pink Star diamond sold at auction for $83 million. You may have seen its photo in the news… “The thing that was tricky about it is that we had it for about 15 minutes, it was coming in from abroad, the plane was late, we were supposed to have it to two or three hours but I was still pleased with the outcome. I so clearly remember the time I first did an incredibly expensive piece of jewellery and you feel so nervous about doing it. Diamonds are slightly less scary than other jewels because they’re hard and you’re less likely to damage them. With things like emeralds, if you drop them, you can do some damage on quite an expensive piece.” My shudders down the phone are obviously audible on some level. Graeme reassures such an accident has never happened. “Besides, you do the same thing so often – it has less terror about it.” So what’s next? “Over the years I’ve done a number of personal projects. I find bodies fascinating, I’m doing a nudes project where I put an advert in Time Out saying I’d photograph the first 100 people who responded regardless of what they looked like. There are brands that I would love to work for like Cartier, but so far I haven’t managed to get them! I’d love to do Tiffany, too. There are also magazines I’d like to work for that I haven’t yet, it’s a constant, trying to pursue those people. Every day I learn something. Hopefully
the pictures get better, though some days it happens better than other days and I wish I knew why. Some days it’s easy, some days you struggle, but every day is a learning curve.” With so much on the horizon, I’m eager to find out more, where it all started, and find out the professional heroes of Graeme’s world. “Irving Penn is still unsurpassed in the quality of his images, the composition, the pure stylistic simplicity of them. The person who changed the boundaries of what was happening would have been Raymond Meyer in his early still life work. It was just so quirky, interesting and completely exploited the technology as it came through. I love all the photographers that have that pure, clear, vision. You see a picture and you absolutely know it’s theirs. That’s always the sign of a strong vision.” A category, we think, Graeme absolutely fits into.
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give the people what they want!
Photographers can often be reluctant to think of their work as retail. Victoria Dovey talks to BEN KNIGHT and finds out how a change in attitude might lead to more change in your pocket ith so many skill sets needed to be a photographer, it can be hard to find which sector of the industry photography sits in. Photographers need to have an eye for detail and flair for design, leading us to a temptation to say it’s in the creative sector. Likewise, with all the equipment and software, not to mention management of online presence that is involved in the business today, you would be forgiven for thinking that photography falls into the technology sector. The truth is, you wouldn’t be wrong if you said either of these options. Photography seems to straddle many industry lines, yet the one that can often be forgotten about is arguably the most important for propelling your business to success. “At the end of the day, you are selling a product. Photography is in the service-selling sector,” Ben explains. And if there’s one thing Ben knows well, it’s selling. “I first got into sales through my hobby at the time. I used to live and breathe push bikes and got my first job at JJB Sports selling their bikes. I was very good as I loved talking about my hobby and knew all the detail about the bikes, so without meaning to, I could sell all the benefits of each bike and explain to someone who may not have that same knowledge, which one would suit them best and why.” º
i s u b
s e n
Photographers are naturally artistic creatures. That excitement and, let’s be honest, sometimes obsession, with your work is not something you should necessarily try to hide from your clients for the sake of professionalism. It’s something that Ben learnt early on: “Because it was my hobby and something I was passionate about, my enthusiasm was genuine and people trusted it. My next job was at a different store, only they ran incentives; sell a bike with a helmet and you get £1 commission, type thing. It was small introduction to commission, but a vital one. It’s where I realised the advantages of learning to sell properly and that the harder you work in the right ways, the more benefits you get in return. Selling is just getting people to understand a better way of doing something. When training or managing someone, you are just selling to them why they should change their actions for the better. When you sell a product, be it a bike or photoshoot, you’re explaining the benefits of that person owning it, and why they should be choosing that service from you.” Today Ben has moved on from retail management to business-to-business sales and solution selling for Cheltenham based company Blue Sheep, who create marketing solutions to meet clients’ business to business (B2B) and business to customer (B2C) challenges, but his background ranges from people and team management to strategical sales management, enabling him to understand two vital skills for a photographer; connecting with people and selling. It would seem the secret to his success is attitude. When I ask him about exemplar figures that have influenced him over his career, he shies away from the regular choices of Alan Sugar or Del Boy, choosing a more universal answer: “I don’t so much have a singular role-model, I just admire those that are so confident in their abilities that even when they lose it all, they still build it back up, but better.” Having worked in sales before, it’s something I can relate to, as can most photographers who, from time to time, will fall into a slump. “Sure, it can be hard to keep going while you seem to be presented with wall after wall of ‘no’. After all, no one closes deals with a ration of one to one – there is always a conversion rate. When you start, you need to make the most out of each opportunity but the key is not to beat yourself up if you can’t close them – just try saying something different.” So what will work whilst on the phone to clients? “A good motto for sales is simple: always be positive, always be confident and clear. You can not win with another technique if you do not cover these as a base. Imagine using the best sales close of them all but no one could understand you, or didn’t have confidence in you because you didn’t project your voice – these are the all-important foundations to get right. Clarity is just as important as confidence, so keep Ben’s top tips for your pricing structure clear and simple. People success in sales want to know what they’re getting for their money.” • Repeat business is key. Take email addresses and Figuring out exactly what people want is another details so that you can stay in touch – focus on keeping one of Ben’s specialities. “Making the other person your current clients and they’ll start selling for you, comfortable enough to tell you what they really in recommendations. want or need is crucial in any business. Some • Don’t be afraid to ask clients what they want and why people call it rapport, but it’s more than that. they want it. It might get you a better understanding of Anyone can say, ‘oh, that’s my favourite football where their brief has come from. team too,’ but to actually get someone to open up, • Always carry business cards with your contact details you have to be genuine and ask them open and website to network everywhere you go: on the train, questions like ‘how’ or ‘why’. These aren’t just at a wedding, everywhere! questions which will help you when shooting and • The more hours you spend driving your sales forward, connecting with your clients, they will stand you in the more money you will make. That’s why you are good stead when it comes to selling products back doing it in the first place, right? to them too.” • Attitude – this is all you, your bad day doesn’t get Of course, it can be hard these days to persuade absorbed by anything, it just makes your work suffer. customers of the real value of buying print copies
how to sell your product
Sales needn’t be a dirty word – it isn’t door-to-door sales, it’s just giving people what they need.
over digital at all, but Ben has some tips: “Create the dream. Tell them the story behind the work, how they got to that point, so they have that all-important emotional bond with the work. Otherwise it’s just a photo that someone they don’t know took.” And if this fails, he’s given us the top five reasons behind purchases:
1. Keeping up with the Joneses “The first reason is trying to keep up with other people. If the neighbours have bought a new car or lawn mower, people are more motivated to fit in and make that purchase. Remember how it seemed everyone suddenly had a flatscreen TV or a smartphone? It quickly became a necessity, not a luxury. By explaining how most people buy prints or use specific services whilst you shoot, you’re tapping into the collective conscience. If everyone is doing it, it must be vital.”
2. Fear of loss “The second is out of fear; fear that if they don’t buy that product or service, somehow they will be worse off. This is certainly something you can tap in to in the photography world. Without slandering your fellow competitors, you can present examples of the ways in which your work is superior or unique to make clients feel they are better off in your hands.”
3. Investing in value “Third is the idea of investment as opposed to price. People want to know what’s at stake when they buy. If you work in fine art, explain the monetary value of your work. If you work in event photography, explain the hours spent not just shooting, but in post-production. If you work in product photography, explain how the quality or the picture will impact sales.” º
how to sell your product
57 Make sure your pricing is clear – it’s about removing barriers and making it easy for the buyer.
4. The art of convenience “Fourth, is the convenience and this is becoming to be more and more key. Make things easy for your clients. Display your prices, products and services clearly in brochures and on your website. If they would like to order prints, then make this process convenient and if it’s online, make it, frankly, fool proof. Remove the barriers between a decision to buy and the purchase – the fewer steps, the better. If you don’t accept card, now is a good time to start as only accepting cash can deter on-the-spot sales or decrease confidence in your brand.”
5. The Bentley factor “The final motivation for buying is prestige. People don’t buy a Bentley based on its value. It’s about the name and the idea of luxury. Whatever your business, build up your brand in terms of quality and try to present all of your products and services in this manner. If you’ve been featured in magazines, say so on your homepage. If you’ve won competitions, then advertise that fact.” It all seems quite simple when laid out this way, but the key is remembering to tap into each of these motivations as much as possible. Don’t forget though, everyone has their own sense of style and this is not something you should ever dismiss. “Most importantly, more than anything else, you need to understand what makes you special – your unique selling point. Is it your experience, your people skills or the number of cameras you can have at the event? Whatever it is, market it, and then match that to what they desire. That way you’ve taken the stigma out of selling. It’s not that dirty word ‘sales’ anymore, it’s just giving people what they want.” Since 1986 Blue Sheep have been creating marketing solutions to meet clients’ B2B and B2C challenges. bluesheep.bluegroupinc.com
THE PHOTOGRAPHER’S GUIDE TO TURNING PRO ISSUE 4
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MY FIRST YEAR BRIAN DORAN
My First Year Taking the plunge to go full-time or setting up shop solo can be a daunting task. We talk to ďŹ rst-time photographers who have been there and want to share their experiences
BRIAN DORAN: WEDDING AND PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHER Into his ﬁrst year of professional photography, BRIAN DORAN still ﬁnds his background in graphic design useful in perfecting his art, with timeless results. But that’s not all it takes. He tells Victoria Dovey how a bit of magic goes a long way in the business. VD: How did you ﬁrst get into photography? BD: When I was a child, my older cousin (whom I idolised) had his own little home darkroom and I was fascinated by how he could produce ‘magical’ photographic prints from a tiny negative ﬁlm strip. Since that time the ‘magic’ of photography has stayed with me and throughout my childhood a camera was never far from my side. The next big step in my photographic journey occurred whilst studying for my graphic design degree. Part of my course consisted
a SLR camera – how to go beyond automatic modes and explore the exciting realms of creative
more and more, offering to do the photography
shoot. Once the shoot is done, the ﬁrst thing I do
photography. The journey continued as a hobby
on the websites and in the brochures
is back up the ﬁles to as many devices as I can
but took a back seat as I pursued my graphic design career.
I was producing. It was around this time I was also becoming conﬁdent in doing portraiture
(I’m a little paranoid about backing-up ﬁles, but it’s better to be safe than sorry).
VD: How did you become interested in wedding
work and decided to take a more serious approach to selling my work. I started my
On a non-shoot day I would probably set aside time for Lightroom/Photoshop editing, or putting
and portrait photography? BD: I suppose taking photographs of my children
business in tandem with my graphic design career and, since I was working from home as
together a client’s album. I would also respond to client or potential client enquiries; this is
gave me my ﬁrst experience in proper portraiture practices. Like most things I do, I studied the
a freelancer, I was able to ‘marry’ both careers simultaneously, without too much hassle.
extremely important to do at the ﬁrst available opportunity, as many potential clients will have
mechanics of the subject and practiced, practiced
I still see myself as a graphic designer who
a list of photographers and will go with the ﬁrst
until parents of my children’s friend’s asked me to photograph their kids and the friends of their
uses his camera to create graphics that people will buy. I also still use most of my graphics
to get back to them. Social media also plays a major role in my promotional activities, so I would
friends asked me to do theirs, and so on. I thought: ‘Wait a minute, I should charge for
knowledge to run the other creative parts of my business, including designing albums for clients,
spend some time updating my various pages and having a look at the competition to see who’s
this.’ With regards to wedding photography, I was honestly never that keen to pursue it as a
promotional material and creating and developing my website.
doing what. Most days I would also set aside some time for the dreaded admin; I feel if I do
career. I believed it was the domain of stuffy old men who over-used Photoshop and tried to over
VD: Can you describe a typical day?
a little a day and keep on top of it then it won’t impact on my life too much. No matter what jobs
process every shot with the latest fad. It was only
BD: I usually have two typical days, one doing a
I’ve got on, I will always set a little time aside
when a friend asked me to do their wedding that I really developed a passion for this type
shoot and the other a non-shoot day, at home editing. If I’m doing a shoot I will always arrive
for what I call ‘camera practice’. It might only be 30 minutes or it might be half a day, but I ﬁrmly
of photography. I can honestly say that it is now by far my favourite subject to photograph.
at the location well before the agreed time and start doing some test shots of the area, checking
believe that in order to be an expert in my ﬁeld, I have to be constantly learning and practising
VD: How did you start your business?
out lighting and general conditions etc. Once the client has arrived, I would explain exactly what
new techniques. I’m always photographing crazy things (and I get strange looks) but in practice,
BD: During my time as a traditional graphic designer I found myself picking up the camera
I was planning for the shoot and possibly show them some posing ideas on my iPad, then do the
the subject doesn’t really matter, it’s the lighting and technique I’m trying to hone.
of a couple of photography modules, which introduced me to my ﬁrst experience of using
MY FIRST YEAR BRIAN’S GEAR
2 x Canon EOS 5D Mark II bodies Canon 50mm f/1.8 prime Canon 24mm-70mm f/2.8 Canon 70mm-200mm f/2.8 2x external ﬂashes 2 x reﬂectors 1 x tripod and 1 x monopod Loads of batteries and memory cards A decent bag
Top Tips s Always have business cards to hand and be professional, you never know who you will bump in to. s Make sure your website is high quality and brand it in line with all your social media pages – it gives you a professional feel. s Buy the best camera equipment you can afford and insure it! In relative terms, it’s not that expensive if you price jobs correctly. People will take you seriously and feel conﬁdent in booking you if they see you have invested your money in the business. s Don’t spend too much money on promotional stuff, just think outside the box. Do portraits of your friends, family and their children as gifts and they’ll surely promote you. s Network with wedding suppliers and offer shoots for bridal shops. s Offer a Photo Booth service if you do weddings and tag everyone on Facebook. s Keep current with courses, seminars and knowing other photographers in the area. s Don’t over process in Photoshop. It may look good just now but it will become very dated, very quickly. s Stay on top of things – use workﬂows for every job and follow every enquiry at the very ﬁrst opportunity.
Working from home can have its ups and
terms of photography. I always try to note down
downs but I try to stick to a rigid day of working hours to enable me to spend quality time with
at the end of every shoot what I can improve on and try and carry that through.
my family. It is very important to try and strike a
With regards to doing anything differently
balance in this working environment. Usually, on off days we will do a family thing together which
within the business, I would have liked to have spent a bit more time pricing my work properly
can be anything from spending the night in a camper van to visiting a park, castle or museum.
and striking the balance between getting the job and actually making some money from it. I have
These activities usually entail bringing along the camera and getting some family shots of the kids
now spent more time researching this area and it is now starting to bear fruit.
growing up and enjoying life. VD: What advice would you give to someone
PROS s Doing a job I love and getting paid to do it. s The moment when you hand over wedding photographs to a client – makes it all worthwhile. s Making nervous people feel relaxed and actually enjoy the process.
CONS s The mother of the bride at weddings. s The cost of equipment and the frequency of new products.
VD: What is the key to running a successful
thinking of setting up a photography business?
photography business? BD: I believe there are many aspects to running
BD: Firstly, make sure that photography is your absolute passion as some days (especially admin
a successful photography business. It’s different for different people, but I think the most
days), it’s what gets you through. Make sure you have a sound business plan and set up for tax
important thing to do is to work out what you want to get out of your business and study the
from day one – follow it to the letter of the law. Buy the best camera equipment you can afford,
am currently building my portfolio and training to move into capturing weddings exclusively –
best way to achieve it effectively, without cutting corners. I also believe that you must treat every
people will take you seriously and your images will be of a high standard, assuming you can take
becoming an expert in this ﬁeld. I know that this make take a while to achieve but I’m determined
job with a high degree of professionalism, even
good photographs. Don’t spend too much money
to move in this direction, as capturing weddings
if the job is small, boring or difﬁcult, you never know where it may lead. It’s very important to be
on promotional stuff; there are many ways to get your name out there; think outside the box and
is my favourite part of the job by some distance.
proud of every job you do as this will provide the motivation to stay at the top of your game and
effectively exploit social media in a professional manner as best you can.
carry you forward to the next. VD: What’s next? What are you doing to prepare VD: What would you do differently? BD: I don’t really regret anything I have done in
for the future? BD: My future aspirations are pretty simple. I
Stand out from the crowd Living in a generation of innovation and technology certainly has its upside. Victoria Dovey explores the world of crowd sourcing and the impact it can have for photographers today
to achieve things such as book publication, gallery exhibiting and mass print sales â€“ others celebrate the democratic nature of such opportunities which showcases talent in a much more cutting edge, Darwinian manner. We explore the world of crowd funding and what it can mean for budding photographers, whose ideas may be much deeper than their pockets.
n todayâ€™s shaky economy, bank loans are not exactly the norm, least of
HOW TO MAKE THE MOST OF CROWD SOURCING
all to creative individuals whose dreams may well be inventive, beautiful and worthwhile, but have far less tangible proďŹ ts than a fast-food
Most crowd sourcing websites work in the same sort of way. in a nutshell, you pitch your idea to the rafters of the internet, state a monetary target you
franchise. It would seem that in a society with ever increasing disparity,
wish to achieve, offer incentives for those who want to support you, work
if you want to achieve something meaningful, you may have to pay for it yourself. And yet this new and rather skint generation of bohemians, of
like hell to promote it and hope people will pledge their funds.
which I am unashamedly a part of, seem to have no problem funding new and exciting creative endeavours.
s 4HE )DEA Donâ€™t think you have to be a cutting-edge, creative genius to be successful on
Crowd sourcing is a means of gaining capital for projects, allowing photographers to reach out to their client base before their products are
these sites. A simple and well presented idea will do just as well as the latest craze in lenses. Photographer Richard Renaldi took portraits of strangers
even produced. It gives the artist a sense of scale of demand for their ideas and essentially cuts out the middleman by enabling them to ďŹ nance ventures
in transient moments of intimate interaction with breathtaking results and managed to raise $80,000 on Kickstarter to fund the publication of a special
via good will, support and pre-order. Sites like crowdfunder.co.uk,
edition book, Touching Strangers. A simple and elegant idea.
indiegogo.com, kickstarter.com and sponsume.com are fantastic tools for students with little to no means of exhibiting their work and a win-win
s 4HE 0ITCH
situation for contributors and producers alike. More entrepreneurial sites such as seedrs.com offer an accessible route into venture capitalism with
Your best bet to attract attention will be a video showcasing your project. 4HESE RANGE FROM ABSTRACT AND EYE CATCHING SCENES OF PHOTO SHOOTS WITH
business ideas being invested in by shareholders sat in the living room with the click of a button. While some moguls of industry question the
on-beat soundtracks, to simple and honest Q&As, explaining the good that a noble venture will achieve like Alessandra McAllisterâ€™s project on
repercussions of youth bypassing the perhaps necessary experience that comes with working up the ladder â€“ as one would have to do traditionally
CROWDFUNDERCOUK 4HE PROJECT EMPOWERS STREET CHILDREN IN -EXICO WITH PHOTOGRAPHY 4HEY WERE GIVEN LESSONS IN CAMERA USE AND COMPOSITION AND
a means to express themselves. Their pictures were then exhibited and auctioned in Mexico, London and Liverpool with the proﬁts invested into providing a safe environment for the children, as well as continuing their means of communication. A project like this will often speak for itself. Above all else though, be sure your video is projecting you, not just your idea. ~C74C0A64C Set a realistic target of what it is you want to achieve. This is important not only because it will give you a better time line and breakdown of your project in your mind, but as a means of protecting your investors. For most sites, if you do not achieve 100 per cent of your goals, you do not receive any of the
ﬁnance. Most sites take between four and eight per cent of your target as a
hosting cost, so remember to factor this in. Don’t think that crowd funding is not for you because you have either particularly lofty or particularly humble aspirations, either. Many of the sites range from student photographers requiring as little as a few hundred pounds to frame their pieces for an exhibit, or a thousand or so to self publish a collection of photos, to hundreds of thousands. James Jackson in Bradford, for example, is looking for £199,000 to fund his digital ﬁlm canister, Digipod on indiegogo.com, which ﬁts most SLR cameras. Most spectacularly, there have been millions of dollars pledged towards the launch of a photographic space telescope – the sky is apparently
not even the limit anymore. Wherever possible, provide a breakdown of the costs for your online audience. They are more likely to contribute if they can
crowdfunder.co.uk Launched in 2010, Crowdfunder is now the UK’s leading
see where the money is going!
reward-based funding platform, helping projects across the country and abroad into Europe.
~C748=24=C8E4B People are much more likely to contribute if they are getting something
We like: Their partnership with Plymouth University and efforts to help fund student projects.
back in return. These don’t have to be expensive canvas prints of your photos, or a 4* hotel stay and invitation to your gallery exhibit. Tier your
indiegogo.com Founded in 2007, citizen of the world Indiegogo is much
perks from small contributions of £10-£50, to the very large of hundreds, perhaps even thousands, depending on your project, and assign your perks
more of a universal platform. It may have a lower
accordingly. Giving credit on your website, unique postcard prints or pre-
presence in the UK, but it’s arguably the best known on a global scale.
orders of your book will do for the lower tiers, but the more creative and low-cost of ideas, the more successful your project will be. Joe Giacomet, who
We like: Their 25 per cent discount for non proﬁts. kickstarter.com
crowd funded his Cash For Gold Olympic Kickstarter project earlier this year offered behind-the-scene videos as an insight on the techniques he uses for
Passionate, American-based company Kickstarter boasts combined pledges of $778 million to date since its commencement in 2009. We like: How hands-on the company is. From their
budding photographers as a low-cost and highly effective incentive. In last month’s issue of Photography Monthly, we also featured the Muka Shuttr, a Bluetooth camera control for your smartphone; our PM innovation 2013 award winner. Muku really took advantage of Kickstarter’s ability to pre-sale
commitment to answering questions for creators and
their affordably-priced product as a perk and sold over 2500 units before
backers alike, to collaborating a list of 2012’s best projects. sponsume.com
commercial production had even started.
A smaller but nonetheless more intimate service from Sponsume, who have a glowing customer service record and
~C74?A><>C8=6 A big part of your success on these sites will be your promoting. You can
lots of happy, funded creators. We like: Their collaboration with ‘super sponsumees’, such
have the best idea on the internet but if people don’t know about it, they aren’t going to fund it. Use any existing networking you have such as your
as the Arts Hub and the British Film Institute to help get
website’s mailing list, or past clients, to build enthusiasm before the project even goes live. Social media sharing is obviously crucial in spreading the word
small projects on these big organisation’s radars. seedrs.com
and it always helps to have a product that people are excited about. The new
Seedrs works on more of an investment reward system, as opposed to donation, and are the leading equity crowd
Lomography Petzval portrait lens Kickstarter project exploded on Twitter earlier this year and raised close to £1.4 million in funding and pre-orders – a
sourcing platform, growing considerably since their release in 2013.
far cry from its $100,000 target. That’s not to say that old-school techniques like getting on the phone and ringing those who you know will be interested
We like: The accessibility of investing in companies and becoming shareholders in such exciting ventures.
won’t be just as effective, if you call the right people it can be even better. This is also where your promotion video and examples of your work will really come into their own and don’t forget to update along the way, to keep your target market engaged.
Joe Giacomet’s Cash For Gold shoot Site: kickstarter.com Target: £1500 Raised: £1517
Previously featured in PP, in an effort to showcase the effect of a post-Olympic depression, Joe Giacomet wanted to set up and shoot one of the mascots, ‘cashing in’ his one per cent gold medals. The price tag for such daring ideas, however, can easily run further than one would hope. Joe’s target would have been higher, were it not for his ELVIS HALILOVI
resourcefulness in sourcing his own props and the use of his own studio, but he breaks down the rest of the costs for contributors to clearly see. He discussed with us both the pros and the cons of using Kickstarter
Elvis Halilovic’s Ondu Wooden Pinhole Camera Site: kickstarter.com Target: $10,000 Raised: $109,391
as a platform. For instance, whilst its online community is six-times larger than its nearest competitor, Indiegogo, the site can be very “American centric”. He described the project as “an emotional rollercoaster”, and while things were looking good at ﬁrst, his conﬁdence began to wane in accordance to the backers. With a lot
Ondu CEO, carpenter and photography enthusiast Elvic Halilovic has spent the past seven years using self-made wooden pinhole cameras
of hard work, blogging, promotion and social media, Joe eventually reached his target. “I don’t believe it’s a game changer, but it’s an
with startling results. Certain he could achieve the same effect on a mass scale and wanting to dedicate all of his time, his project went
interesting development for photographers,” he says, emphasising the importance of a hard slog with plenty of research, “nailing” your
live and looking for funding in May. In just a month he had received nearly 11 times his target goal, to his surprise: “I expected maybe two
pitch and video and promoting using every outlet available. “It’s really hard to get featured on blogs,” he says. “But a good project
times as many orders but never this – I’m really thankful for all of the
and a pitch should get you in there.”
support.” Elvis and the team at Ondu made a variety of six pinhole cameras for distribution in a “durable and simple” design. Charming is
Stand Out Feature:
not something we usually look for in cameras, but it’s hard not to blush at the sight of this adorable and brilliant set.
The concept is certainly amusing but also poignant, striking a chord with the collective conscious of the British internet masses. But as Joe
Elvis and the team chose Kickstarter because of their “notable exposure” and said: “It’s easy to manage and simple to set up and
told us, perhaps not for our cousins on the other side of the pond. Nonetheless, Joe’s dedication to the project, with additional updates
run a campaign.”
for backers, both creates and spurs-on a vital following. “I think in this day and age, it’s more important to give people an insight into the
Stand out feature: “I follow the idea that if you do something you like with passion and
way you work and the processes you use to stand out from the crowd. This applies even more so to me, as I have a speciﬁc way of working
love, making a living from it should follow as a logical consequence,”
which people who have never worked in the advertising business
said Elvis. “But keep in mind, ‘passion’ means a lot of hard work for something you enjoy.” Elvis’s personality and passion for the project
may not understand. I gave behind-the-scenes updates, stills from the set build, a behind-the-scenes documentary and a time-lapse of the
shines in both his video and text. The message that we should be more invested in our prints, clearly comes across on the page.
whole project. People seemed to really like these and it gave added value to the project.”
Award-winning Yevgen Romanenko’s unique Art Book Site: indiegogo.com Target: $10,000 Raised: $1726 with 26 days to go
the most recognised platform and would advise the site
A perfectionist with passion for photography, Yevgen Romanenko is a selftaught photographer, a self-made character with a self-perpetuating love
cover costs. He also urges participants to not just display
of ﬁne art. It’s rather ﬁtting then that he is self-producing his ﬁrst art book after two years in the world of professional photography.
their best work but also to describe yourselves!
to any photographers acting as individuals, to help
Stand Out Feature: The fast-paced, lively video
“The more money I raise, the nicer the book can be.” He has uniquely opted for the site’s ﬂexible funding, where the campaign will receive all
and stunning examples of Yevgen’s work really let us see
the funds regardless of whether the target is met. The incentives range from an eBook for a mobile device to prints in
and become excited about the potential of this project.
varying sizes, but Yevgen really takes advantage of the pre-ordering nature of these sites, with the book itself dominating the perk boxes. Yevgen, from Ukraine, told us that worldwide Indiegogo is probably
Yevgen’s goal is to create a limited edition collection of his beauty, fashion and ﬁne-art nude photos from examples of his work – the outcome will surely be a startling splendour. He comments on the site:
Creative Review Commercial success is often cited as rare in the creative sphere. Are we letting our lack of creative conﬁdence get in the way of money making ideas? Victoria Dovey reviews Doug Richard’s book How to Start a Creative Business
any of you will be familiar with Doug Richards from his role in the infamous show, Dragon’s Den. But the mogul’s knowledge of business, especially in the creative ﬁeld, runs far astray of the conﬁnes of your television.
Richards has over three decades in the business and has helped some of the most successful creative careers in the ﬁeld ﬂourish in that time. His ‘jargon-free’ book lifts the curtain on his bullet-proof plan into ten digestible chunks which might make you feel queasy, but are nonetheless more than important to ask when setting up your business. Richard certainly gives great myth-busting advice for creative types who can typically be rather clueless when it comes to commerce; but while he claims the plan can apply to any creative business, his blanket, cover-all approach may not be entirely applicable for the most unique of ideas. If your scheme was hatched a long way outside ‘the box’, it may not be best to rely on this as your only source. Saying that, it contains essential business know-how, great motivation to get your dream career up and running and countless real life examples of how businesses succeed – and how they can fail, too. What’s great about Richard’s approach is that he manages to un-stigmatise the word ‘creative’ in the realm of thriving trade, which can typically conjure images of head-in-clouds creators and far-fetched plans bred out of an imagined utopia. But he does so without neutralising it entirely. Richard sees the potential of creativity in business and does not think the two words are antonymous in the slightest, but more harmonious concepts. He also takes overused business stories like ‘right-place, right-time’ and turns them on their head. For instance Rose Wolfenden,
Abstract is certainly something Richard steers clear of.
CEO of Tatty Devine, admits chance encounters had a role in her success, but it was taking full advantage of these
His language is so simple and the format is so well put together that he has opportunity to describe every stage in
which really gained her prominence. There are plenty of remarkably honest case studies who admit their mistakes
great detail without seeming to go on a tangent or lose the reader’s focus. And focus is something which is important
(for better or worse), as well sharing as their top tips. These are the kinds of things creative entrepreneurs need to
for creative types like photographers, who can often get distracted by something shiny in the periphery. I call this
hear about, not just bullet-pointed abstract mantras with
magpie syndrome, and Richard’s methodology is a great
pictures of kittens trying to climb trees.
structure to get you much more as the crow ﬂies.
BUSINESS AUTOTUNE IN AUDIO BOOKS
If time is of the essence and, with precious hours, you can’t bear to delve headﬁrst into a book yet still yearn for some learning, then why not multi-task. Audio books are a fantastic way of ﬁlling your noggin with some knowledge and can be listened to when you’re at the desktop editing or, like Stewart Randall from Folio Albums, when out on the road driving or on the train. “Anyone starting out in business needs to learn about marketing and branding. Audio books are the best source for me, Seth Godin’s Purple Cow and James Burgin’s Branding for Proﬁt are great ones to listen to,” says Stewart. Other top picks, Sun Tzu’s The Art of War based upon ancient military strategies interpreted and applied to the world of branding, and also The Chimp Paradox: The Acclaimed Mind Management Programme to Help You Achieve Success, Conﬁdence and Happiness by Dr Steve Peters, currently standing at number one in the UK top business audio books.
BUSINESS BOOKS We trawled through Amazon to bring you our top ﬁve photography business books: 1. Setting Up a Successful Photography Business:
How to be a Professional Photographer (Setting Up Guides) by Lisa Pritchard – An essential handbook which covers everything you need to know when ﬁrst starting out. Written by the owner of successful Lisa Pritchard Agency she explores how to publicise yourself, build a portfolio, contracts and dealing with agents amongst many other topics.
2. VisionMongers: Making a Life and a Living in Photography (Voices That Matter) by David DuChemin – Looking back on his experience in vocational photography, David shares why staying true to your craft and vision will lead you to success, whilst sharing the stories of those who have made it including Chase Jarvis and Gavin Gough.
3. Photos That Sell: The Art of Successful Freelance
Photography by Lee Frost – It’s one thing to have a nice image but it’s another to have an image that sells. Written for those who want to build a business, Lee offers advice on marketing along with photographic tips, techniques, set ups and compositions. A great read for freelance photographers looking for inspiration.
4. The Writer’s and Photographer’s Guide to Global
Markets by Michael Sedge – Looking to expand your horizons and delve into international markets? This beacon of business gold gives you a whole host of leads into potential markets that are always on the look-out for new photos. It will guide you on how to work with overseas editors, art directors and agencies, and you’ll also learn how to deal with foreign ﬁnances.
5. Crowdsourcing: How the Power of the Crowd is
Driving the Future of Business by Jeff Howe – The guy who uttered the word ‘crowdsourcing’ ﬁrst, in 2006, has now penned a whole book on the topic. An innovative way of funding your photography, Jeff deﬁnes the internet revolution that has become a new driving force behind business.
TRAINING REKHA GARTON
Training In need of some extra-curricular activity to fuel your passion? We present the best training bodies and seminars around to ďŹ ll your noggin with knowledge
TRAINING KATE HOPEWELL-SMITH
FROM TRAINING WHEELS TO TOP GEAR
Victoria Dovey investigates photography courses, degrees and accreditation for photographers in all shapes and sizes, from the hobbyist looking to go pro, the perpetual student or the old dog learning new tricks
Having letters after your name certainly has its upside. The prestige and conﬁdence you portray with a degree or an accreditation will certainly
help your business model, much like cycling without training wheels will earn you street cred in the infant school playground. But with a market
saturated in photography courses and dozens of avenues to get you to your next step, it can be hard to decide which route to pursue to get you to the top of the trail. One thing is certainly for sure though – while a surge in clientele or a salary bump isn’t exactly the most detrimental of
beneﬁts (far from it!), there is far more to gain from training than meets the eye. For most photographers, the qualiﬁcations they work to achieve take them much further up the mountain than they ever ﬁrst thought, with views along the way they never could have imagined.
Thinking of going back to university to get your Bachelors or MA? CREATIVE SKILL SET If you’re looking to gain more formal qualiﬁcations as a path into photography or think re-entering education will give your photography business more of an edge, the Creative Skill Set is a great place to gather information and advice, search for courses which suit you and potentially offer funding for training. They are the ‘licensed Sector Skills Council for entertainment media, fashion and textiles, publishing and advertising, marketing and communications’ with an aim to unite and encourage creative industries via research, funding, consulting and communicating. The site is a great platform for scouring the many courses available as gateways to creative industry, enabling you to seek out undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, short courses which work around you and apprenticeships to help you hit the ground running. All the courses offered through Creative Skill Set have the Creative Skill Set Tick – a kitemark for qualiﬁcations endorsed by the industry and a recommended route to get you into your desired profession. You don’t need to have a clear idea of the kind of course you want to do either. There are many tools available to help you assess your existing skills or ambitions to try and ﬁnd the right one for you. Not all of these are on a full time basis either – ideal for the already professional or those in transitional stages. The institute really recognises creativity as a tangible profession and offers REKHA GARTON
plenty of advice on how to exist in this perhaps more completive realm of industry across a number of ﬁelds and keeps up-to-date with all related news to give you some edge. There is subsidised funding available, to help reduce the cost of course fees and make the plunge into education a bit less scary. For more information, visit them online: www.skillset.org
Rekha Garton is a part time professional photographer based in Norwich composing freelance shoots and working for Getty. She attended the Norwich University of the Arts (NUA) to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Photography and Graphic Design. With the combination of a graphics course and the option to specialise in a degree in photography, Rekha
Having only seven peers instilled a slight competiveness to the project, enabling all to ‘excel naturally’ in the duration and Rekha stresses the
was given the opportunity to try many ﬁelds such as animation and illustration, which not only gave her
great support she received from the staff. “The support was one of the best parts of this course. My teacher who retired the year I left (who
insight into new practises but can often help solidify the ambitions of a wavering student. “It was deﬁnitely a practical, hands-on course. We
was hopefully joking when he said it was because of me) was a constant educator and friend. If our grades were lagging a little, he would make
were constantly given projects that pushed us into using the studio, lights, location and everything, so we didn’t stay in our safety spot.”
a point of speaking to us privately to see if NUA could do anything to help, whether we needed some time out or were just being lazy. He
Lighting was something Rekha was previously unacquainted with,
often encouraged me to do extra projects.”
“but being told I needed to for a project made me realise how difﬁcult it can be. The studio technicians were a godsend; so patient, kind and
In reference to completing a formal degree in photography, Rekha admits to the issue being a little controversial or ‘tricky’. “The creatives
the most valuable encyclopaedias on the subject of studio lighting you could hope for.” The ﬁnal year focuses on photography as a
of this day and age seem to have to tap into something much bigger than academia. It’s not that it doesn’t matter, but it is a feeling and
business which Rekha admits was very useful, but could have included much more detail.
opinion when it comes to creative works,” she comments and likens the situation to customers buying music from unqualiﬁed musicians.
TRAINING Interested in getting those all important letters behind your name of Licentiate, Associate and Fellowship level? BRITISH INSTITUTE OF PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHERS (BIPP) If you’re looking to get accredited, the British Institute for Professional Photographers is certainly one of the ways to go, and what’s more, the qualiﬁcations offered are
Tim Stubbings (42) is a commercial photographer and qualiﬁed member of the BIPP based in Whitstable, Kent. He specialises in creating location editorial and commercial images for private sector, public sector and agency clients, together with studio photography of people and products. “Although I was a graduate and had had a successful
Creative Skill Set recommended. The institute’s history stretches back over 100 years and it proudly boasts over 3200 members. Of course, we recommend once you’ve
alternative career, I was not going to go back to college to do another degree. When I ﬁrst decided to set up
joined as a provisional member to get your portfolio reviewed as soon as possible to become a Licentiateship, so that you can take advantage of the BIPP status. Working
the business, I felt it was really important to have some sort benchmark for quality and also on-going
towards an Associate or even Fellowship level can be hugely beneﬁcial for your career within the industry, but may not always be something individual clients look
professional development, so after a lot of research I went for the BIPP scheme, starting with licentiate in
for. Nonetheless, the experience may prove to be invaluable.
The BIPP like to encourage a personal style and you will ﬁnd the submission process may be a lot more laborious than other societies. They offer training and
For Tim, it wasn’t just a matter of being part of a society. He wanted to stand out from the crowd of
workshops, raise the bar across the industry with awards as well as hosting and promoting photography events across the country. Becoming a member will give
practising photographers and be tried and tested to make sure his photography was at a high standard and the
you permission to use the BIPP logo, to have those all important letters behind your name, offer you access and discount to a huge number of professional services and
three levels of qualiﬁed membership available at the BIPP appealed the most. “Although I was conﬁdent in
lets you be part of a huge online community. The great part about being a part of any society is the support and advice you receive from like-minded peers, as well as
what I could do, I knew that I wouldn’t hire me. I needed to gain as much credibility as quickly as possible, plus
coming across photographic techniques that differ largely to yours, forcing you to challenge your own work and be constantly aware of the ever-changing, morphing
have a path to follow to try and improve my work. I also needed somebody outside of my immediate circle to
world of photography styles.
critique my work.”
For more information on what it means to be accredited as a member at the
One of the other draws of the BIPP for Tim was the practical nature of the courses offered. “What you’ll ﬁnd
BIPP, visit their website: www.bipp.com
with the BIPP is that there is a generosity of time and you’re assigned a mentor. The ﬂexibility is there in the BIPP’s training programme for you to indulge any area of interest. You’re encouraged to seek the absolute best in composition and business advice is always consistent. Every course I’ve attended has always been routed in reality and a strong commercial sense.”
“They will buy it because they like it; it speaks to them in some way.” Nonetheless, the skills and experience Rekha learnt on the course may be
In terms of whether being a qualiﬁed member of photographic societies is something clients look for, Tim
less important than the qualiﬁcation itself. “I met some amazing people. I had all the facilities I could ever need at my ﬁngertips and got some
thanks the BIPP for a recent surge of consumers being encouraged to hire trusted or vetted photographers of
invaluable advice. Some wonderful things happened whilst I was at NUA, like getting my Getty contract, getting my ﬁrst book cover, collaborating
a certain quality level. This is something which applies to both his customers in the public and private sector.
with local and worldwide artists and shooting my ﬁrst celebrity.” Not only that, but NUA taught Rekha essentials such as routine and ﬁnding
At the heart of his motivation for being a BIPP member,
inspiration. “It’s shown me how to do the boring stock stuff successfully to
however, education is something which truly dominates, with Tim offering training tips for other photographers
pay the bills when the creative work just isn’t cutting it for a month or so, and that it’s okay to do that. NUA helped put my feet on the ground, level
via his website. “I think that any external input – whether from courses or other places – is key to keeping fresh
my head, keep me steady and showed me it can work if you try.” “I’m still on the learning road of these things but no doubt I will get
enough to pass on knowledge and skills to others. But it’s also about being open about deconstructing
there soon, it’s just a matter of time and, of course, self-motivation.”
how images are taken. Most of my blog posts include some information about how lighting techniques were
achieved or environmental challenges overcome.” This critique and input from the mentorship program, as well as focus on attention to detail and attending courses from the BIPP, has helped Tim push both his career and interest in photography. Striving to always reach the next level, he is currently working towards his associate level qualiﬁcation, which he will earn after a submission of work followed by a face-to-face assessment in front of a qualiﬁcation panel. His success has landed him clients such as the National Trust, Eurotunnel and the NHS. www.timstubbings.co.uk
SOCIETY OF WEDDING AND PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHERS (SWPP) Depending on your ﬁeld of photography, there are a huge number of societies out there including the Society of International Travel and Tourism Photographers, the Society of International Sport and Leisure Photographers and the Society of International Sport and Leisure Photographers. The most popular and most renowned is, of course, the SWPP. Like the BIPP, the SWPP offer Licentiate, Associateship and Fellowship level, but have also recently unveiled a Craftsman level, for the most experienced photographers in the
Accreditation is important because it raises the bar for the whole industry and makes the business a safer place for clients who may be stung by nightmarish wedding photographers, but it also provides invaluable skills for photographers. Once more, the society organises many courses and events for its members, with annual conventions boasting the most prestigious of speakers. Visit the SWPP’s website for more details: www.swpp.co.uk
WOODLAND HILL PHOTOGRAPHY
business. Members can beneﬁt from a fantastic ‘Mentor Me’ scheme, where an experienced photographer is assigned to those working towards accreditation.
Claire Hill ABIPP LMPA DipPP ASWPP is the owner of Woodland Hill Photography based in East Grinstead, West Sussex. She specialises in Wedding and Portrait photography and is the ofﬁcial photographer for Emma Tindley, one of the country’s leading bridal designers. “My target markets really do notice my qualiﬁcations.
me some time to get my head around what they wanted, but it was
Some photographers say that it is of no consequence to their clients so why bother; it is to mine though. I
worthwhile. I submitted for my Licentiate qualiﬁcation and I passed, unbeknown to me the work was then assessed for the Associate and I
gained my Licentiate with the SWPP in 2010 and then my Associateship was gained in March 2012. The BIPP Associateship
was upgraded. The work I showed the BIPP was proliﬁc and they really did know me as a photographer by the end of it.”
was achieved in August 2012. I have also gained a few awards along the way, which is nice.”
“If you want to progress further then nothing can beat a personal mentor,” Claire says, speaking of the Mentor Me service
Claire emphasises the importance of attending courses which will
which the SWPP can offer. “When I was working for my original
help you by examining your own skill level accordingly. Her training with various bodies, including the BIPP and SWPP, has been varied
Licentiate with the SWPP, I took advantage of it. It’s a brilliant way of getting used to being mentored and having one’s work critiqued
and rewarding each in their own way. “The BIPP has a completely different approach to qualiﬁcation; their ethos is to get to know the
without the terror of it being face to face! It takes time to get used to having image critiques and because it is anonymous, it makes the
photographer and in order to do this, so much more work has to be shown. My ﬁrst three qualiﬁcations were panel based and it did take
process more palatable.” Claire stressed to us the level of hard work which is a crucial
TRAINING EMILY HANCOCK
and essential part of success. “Passion is a word that is bandied about so much in this industry; passion alone is not enough, I am afraid. Hard work, exceptional skills, commitment and a good business brain is a must. The L,A and F are very intense and you have to be prepared to put a lot of work in, mainly on your own and only with contact hours if you have a one-toone mentor. The ultimate pinnacle is the Fellowship; it is hard, which is why only the top few per cent in the country have attained it. This process should not be easy; when gained, these qualiﬁcations should be something to be proud of.” “Every level is challenging and sometimes I wondered
Looking for shorter, more practical based courses or alternatives to degrees?
what on earth I was doing, but the whole process is one huge learning curve.” Claire plans to work towards her Fellowship
LONDON SCHOOL OF PHOTOGRAPHY (LSP)
but looks back on the nail-biting hours during and after
in the arts. It runs everything from evening seminars to full time professional
assessment. “Sitting in the waiting room seemed like forever; there is that moment after every exam where you have not
photography courses. The classes always aim to be a rather intimate number of eight and the courses pride themselves on their practical nature, forcing
passed or failed and when you are lead into the assessment room – you wish that moment could go on forever. When I
photographers beyond the realms of what they thought possible. Applicants can choose from evening, weekend, week long or six-month long courses on a full or
pass, the feeling is absolutely brilliant. Each progression up the qualiﬁcation ladder built on this knowledge, so anyone
part-time basis. The LSP lecturers and teachers are all professionals in their ﬁeld and are happy to provide aftercare long after the course has been completed.
thinking of gaining their qualiﬁcations should relish in the building of foundations with their Licentiate, then layering on
There is much more emphasis on ‘fulﬁlment’ than technical success, though this is also likely to follow with the access to highly skilled workshops and discussions.
more and more skills and knowledge as they progress further.
Antonio Leanza, founder and CEO, has over three decades of valuable expertise
The advice I would give is do not treat the distinctions as a box ticking exercise, the process to gaining the distinction is as
for students to reap and other members are highly appraised in the industry. If traditional learning methods have failed you in the past, LSP’s philosophy is more
important as the pass achieved.”
‘coaching than teaching’ and has some extremely impressive results.
For a wider range of course information, visit: www.londonschoolofphotography.co.uk
The London School of Photography is one of the most recommended schools
Already running a ﬂourishing business and with many high distinctions behind her, it would seem there was
looking around for seminars. It’s interesting to hear people speak. A close friend and I always go together and we say, if we can come back
not much Emily technically required to learn about photography. And yet, she decided to embark on an
with just one golden nugget then it’s been worth it.” One of the most common complaints of photographers is how
evening seminar at the London School of Photography earlier this
lonely the solitary business can be and getting involved in societies
year. The school was certainly on her radar but was recommended by a teacher and close friend. “My mentor (Zoe Whishaw) taught the
and taking courses and seminars at schools can be a great way to network and feel part of something much bigger. “You’re working
class and I’m on a journey on a slight tangent to explore ﬁne art and stock photography.” The course taught conceptual photography, how
on your own in front of a computer quite a bit so it’s nice to get out and meet other people.” Emily tells us how the practice of learning
to understand the way the stock libraries work and what it is they look for, and despite her success already, Emily found the experience
is not necessarily all about qualiﬁcation and skills earned, but the people you can meet along the way, as well as the process itself.
amazingly helpful for her business. “It was lovely. We had a nice small group of us (around eight) and
“It’s less about being taught and more about unleashing some deep creativity within me. The seminar I took at the LSP certainly helped
the actual venue was really gorgeous with a massive wooden table
with creative thinking.
we all sat round. The quality of the speaker was amazing – Zoe is so highly qualiﬁed. It was outstanding, everything about it.”
“Everyone should embrace training and invest in it because it is hugely important and responsible for where I am now. As for the
Emily, who has herself been training for around two and a half years, ﬁnds education to be an extremely valuable cornerstone of the
London School of Photography, I cannot fault it. It was awesome!”
industry and says it’s important to stay on the cutting edge both for business and her teaching. “I have a couple of mentors and I’m always
Emily Hancock is an equine, classic portrait and wedding photographer based in the New Forest. A perpetual learner, Emily has achieved the prestigious Fellowship level of membership at the BIPP, but talks to us about her experiences with the London School of Photography.
Just three years ago, Kate was panicked and reluctant to agree to do a wedding job. It took the advice of a fellow photographer and mentor over coffee to take the step to enrol in the 12-month bespoke program from Aspire. Today, not only is Kate running a successful photography business (that do indeed cater to weddings), but she is well renowned in the photography industry itself. “When I made the decision I wanted to set up a photography business, I wasn’t so much worried about actually running a business – I have quite a lot of business experience – but I didn’t know the photography market at all and I didn’t want to make mistakes and waste money.” Kate initially took a distance learning ‘Art of Photography’ course with the OCA and found it to be great if you are lacking in the basics, and she ﬁnds a lot of people who she trains today indeed are, but, “bespoke was more about launching a lifestyle photography business in the current economy”. “Aspire changed my life. I’m under no illusion of how signiﬁcant
it’s been and this even started before I ﬁnished bespoke. I started the course in September and had launched my brand and website the following April. Already by August I was taking bookings and beginning to run a business and I had even booked David Tennant’s wedding before I ﬁnished the course. It was all very quick and scary!” She described how her distinct personal style was nurtured by Jane Breakell, who paid attention to every detail, even her website content, as well as gaining great business sense from Catherine Connor. As well as still being in close contact with the photographers she
trained with, offering support to one another and swapping business ideas, Kate is also now part of the Aspire family, offering training on
Aspire are the largest and one of the most sought after photography training institutes around – especially if you are a lifestyle photographer. The team’s two
behalf of the company. “Perpetual training is massively important, even as a trainer. It’s important to pay it forward. The minute I learn
vital mechanisms consist of Catherine Connor, your business guru who will be sure to teach you every relevant component of a photography business in today’s
something new, I pass it on. It’s essential we all keep training and there’s not enough investment, I don’t think people understand the
economy with a smile on her face, and Jane Breakell who will work tirelessly on every detail of your photography, brand and portfolio.
importance of it – for both photography and business.” Kate may be biased, but honestly points out the importance of
The courses offered are more for those who have their mind set on starting
aligning yourself with a training institute who match your needs – a
up a business although there are many options available to clients. They offer a one day training course, an A-Z four day seminar and the legendary 12-month
crucial point since a recent explosion of organisations available to offer training. “Look at what kind of photographer you are and what you
Bespoke course for those looking to launch a career in their chosen ﬁeld. Big names such as Damian Lovegrove, Kate Hopewell-Smith and Brett Harkness
want to get out of it and then make sure it’s in line with what’s on offer. Don’t be afraid to look around or contact the trainers. Mentoring
have completed the longer course with startling success. The aftercare available in their transitions program allows those who have completed the bespoke to
is a big commitment and I try to make sure I can give people what they want before signing up.”
network and regularly meet to swap trade secrets and share their knowledge and the great thing about the trainers at Aspire is their democratic belief in the
So where does Kate think she would be without Aspire? “Would I have a successful client business without them? I hope so. Would
distribution of that knowledge.
I have had any kind of reputation in the industry. No, I don’t think I
Since 1998, Aspire has been creating unique training experiences for photographers of every level and continue to deliver a high standard of education
would for one second. It’s not something I expected. I’m very grateful to still have their support. It’s been bigger and better than I ever hoped
today. Their support and impact on the world of photography resonates throughout the industry.
it would be. Every day it amazes me, I’m still in shock.” www.katehopewellsmith.com
For more information, visit: www.aspirephotographytraining.co.uk
Kate Hopewell-Smith is a portrait, boudoir and wedding photographer working throughout the UK. She tells us how her life dramatically changed following a 12-month bespoke course from Aspire.
OPEN COLLEGE OF ARTS (OCA) The Open College of Arts is one of the most popular distance learning options for budding
Want to complete a distance learning course at your own pace?
photographers. They describe themselves as “an educational charity dedicated to widening participation in arts education” and have certainly achieved their mission in making arts education more accessible. Many participants in their course say they would otherwise not have been able to afford a degree or attend a formal institution and the OCA has made this possible. For over 15 years, the OCA has offered Bachelor and Master of Art qualiﬁcations in a wide range of creative industries including photography, with accredited degrees from the University of Creative Arts. The online format allows for a more ﬂexible format whilst the structure given in the modules is extremely clear. Students have access to a wide range of support such as an online learning community, a library of resources, a personal tutor and course material – the student work to come out of the program has been celebrated with many awards. For information on enrolling, entry requirements and course details, visit: www.oca-uk.com
TRAINING TANYA AHMED
Tanya Ahmed is a photographer from New York City exploring diverse urban environments with her work. She pursued her Bachelor of Arts with the OCA and was awarded a 1st class degree earlier this year. Tanya studied for a BA (hons) in Photography with
up to her. Giving her contemporary and critical skills which went
the Open College of the Arts and was assessed and awarded a ﬁrst in July 2013. She tell us: “Without
far beyond anything she had previously studied. “I had many of my perceptions challenged and learnt to better understand and position
the OCA I would not have a degree.” After studying photography full time, in the mid-eighties, at Berkshire College of Art and Design in Reading, Tanya left with a BTEC and BIPP qualiﬁcation
my work intellectually. Now have a much more determined path forward and feel that I can communicate on a different level.” Finding studying with the OCA surprising in many ways, she
and began an illustrious career in New York instead. “I chose to do further study not necessarily to further my professional career
also received what she describes as an “incidental and fantastically enlightening” crash course in business, education and artist
(although it certainly opens up options for a “must have a BA” job, but to explore and kick-start a more considered direction in my
collaboration when the OCA and Bank Street Arts invited her to inaugurate their collaboration with her work.
personal work.” Her work has so far included freelancing for New York museums as well as working full time as a Senior Photographer
“In the OCA there is everyone. From red hot emerging photographers to inspiring pensioners in the online community,
for the NYPD. However, living the dream abroad certainly provided some
college staff and tutors all have a genuine and infectious love of photography. I never could have imagined the constant stretching I
obstacles in gaining the qualiﬁcations which Tanya desired. “Fees
felt as each student or tutor questioned and shared their different
that would buy a small house prohibited me from undergraduate education in America, until I came across an ad for the OCA. The BA
ideas and thoughts on all aspects of photography. It was caring and supportive, connecting across business, education and personal
study regime ﬁtted around my anti-social work hours and the fees were affordable. I did my homework next to my kids doing theirs and
levels, I only regret not being in the UK in person to join work groups and study visits.
it didn’t matter that I lived in New York!” Tanya explained how doing the course was like a world opening
The photography institute is a purely online body that provides diplomas in professional photography. It is a great option for those on a budget as there are many options to ﬁnance the course while still providing a great deal of support for its students. There are 12 modules in the course, covering areas such as cameras and lenses, shutter, aperture, ISO and their relationship, exposure and metering, lighting, composition, equipment and software, post-production, portfolio building and putting a business plan together. Students download their modules one by one and read through the information. It’s not all book work. As well as theoretical learning, students are required to compete and submit a practical assignment before moving on and each module is assessed by a personal tutor. The great thing about such a ﬂexible course like this means that you can use the course as a springboard into a new career without surrendering your old income or just invest in some much needed self improvement alongside your business. The Photography Institute offers some of the most advanced material in the industry to its students, allowing them to stay on the cutting edge. For more information, visit: www.thephotographyinstitute.co.uk
Alison McKenny is a full-time professional photographer based in Suffolk, specialising in contemporary wedding, family and lifestyle portraits. Her desire to improve her basic camera skills led to a life changing passion for all things photography and the professional photography course with the Photography Institute helped her get there. Allison had already been to university where she plastered her walls with photographs she had taken
really about getting to know your camera and lenses and correct use of light. Regarding composition, I feel it’s something you may
of friends and family members. She wasn’t ready for this kind of commitment again to retrain, but opted
or may not have an eye for. I hope I do have an eye for it, but again it’s something that you develop over time. I think getting inspiration
for an online diploma professional photographer course from the Photography Institute, instead. “It started out as a hobby but just
from other photographers’ work and questioning yourself on why you like it, why you don’t and what you would do differently, helps
grew from there, and I haven’t stopped learning since.
to keep your work fresh and constantly improving.
“As this course was based online, you could decide how long you take to do it. They give you up to a year to complete it, but
“I was looking for something that would cover a lot of information on photography, but that would allow me to tackle it in my own
you can do it over 24 weeks if you want to. I found it challenging at times but I put everything into it and felt I got a lot out of it as
time. I was still working part time in recruitment at this point and was only using a point and shoot camera. I really just wanted to
a result. I allowed myself a year to complete it (a module a month) and that worked well for me.” Allison was able to transition from
learn how to use my camera properly and had thought I would do it as a hobby, not considering that I could actually do photography
semi pro to full-time during this time and the money she made from photography she invested straight back into the business. By the time
professionally. I fell in love with photography hook, line and sinker by the time I had completed the second module. I took the plunge
she went full-time, she had already built up a client business and
and bought a Canon EOS 5D Mark II and a 24-70mm lens and I
provided herself with top line equipment, enabling her to cut all ties with her old life.
haven’t looked back since. The course was ideal for me as it was ﬂexible (allowing me to work around my job and children), very
Although there was support available from online tutors and social network groups, Allison didn’t always take full advantage of this
good value for money and it started out slow, which is what I really needed. I set my business up by the end of the course and had a
offering. She also admits the course is more aimed at those staring out on photography, as she explains: “You do learn about focusing,
website and paying clients and I never dreamt that would be possible after only a year.”
sharpness and depth of ﬁeld etc. early on in the course, but that is something that I have worked at and improved on over time. It is
PHOTOGRAPHY INSTITUTE (ONLINE)