Monthly Archives: January 2016

Your Comfort Zone In Photography

One thing that you have learnt over the years and especially so with the photography business is to step out of comfort zone once in a while. It is all too easy for anyone to amble along through life keeping the reigns tightly held back on your hobby>

Life is too hapiness

What holds most people back is the fear of failure or messing up a paying clients’ images coupled with the notion and fear of not “making it” in the world of professional photography. I also read regularly about people “not being quite ready” just yet.

These fears are hard to overcome and there is not much I or anyone else can say to make you feel like the time is right…it is never right! After all it took Thomas Edison 10,000 failures to finally perfect the light bulb (although some credit has to go to Joseph Swan, a British inventor who actually invented the light bulb first).

Regardless, Edison did not stop at failure number one, two three or even 9,000…he kept going and that is the point. You may well “slightly” mess up your first wedding or portrait sitting.

You might get home after shooting the interior of a hotel only to realise that your rear LCD screen when checking images for exposure was on “bright” mode and all your images are underexposed by a few stops.

As long as you have yourself covered by either shooting the wedding for free or promising a re-shoot of a portrait or property shoot should anything go wrong (as well as explaining to the client beforehand that you are a novice), you can only improve and learn by your mistakes. This all starts with getting out of your comfort zone.

This can be quite scary and nerve racking as I myself found out once.

I have a ton of high definition video gear after buying it to shoot various promotional videos and stock videography (as well as family events) so I decided to try and put it to better use.

There has always been a bit of an ongoing feud between wedding photographers and videographers as each generally battles for prime position during a wedding so I decided to try and see it from the latter’s perspective, I would video an entire wedding…something I have never done “for real” before.

After putting up an ad offering to shoot a wedding for free on my website for just a week or so, I had a taker. A young army couple from Plymouth who would be getting married in the wonderful Citadel…a 350 year old British stronghold that is still in use today. It has a quaint little chapel within its grounds and this would be followed by a reception in the 150 year old Duke of Cornwall Hotel.

All I asked was that they pay my fuel prices, my time was theirs in exchange for the opportunity to practice on them….wow, what an experience and I now have a better understanding of what videographers have to go through!

All three venues (Citadel, hotel room on second floor for dinner/speeches and basement for party, dance and “casino”) were just a short drive from each other so not too bad but from the second I set off in the morning, the wedding gremlins starting playing up!

Plymouth is about 100 miles from Weymouth and soon as I set off, the heavens opened and didn’t close for the entire journey. The rain was lashing down and was forecast to stay for the day and even to get worse. Not only that, about 10 miles into the journey, the temperature gauge on my car shot through the roof and my heart sank.

This was an ongoing historic problem with the car’s electrics which I thought were fixed. What happened before was that the instruments would all fail and the car would eventually stall and not start again for hours.

I kept my head down and carried on for 90 miles.

I limped into the hotel car park 2 hours later, turned the engine off, tried to start it again and nothing…zip..nada! It was an hour before I was meant to be at the church and I was stuck with a boot load of gear (3 cameras, three tripods, video lights, sound equipment, 2 camera bags etc) in a dead car…walking was impossible.

Luckily, the photographer called me at that point to introduce himself and after I explained my predicament, he offered to collect me and take me to the church. An hour later(!) I was still waiting…he had been caught in the Easter traffic and had moved 3.5 miles in that one hour…

When he finally arrived, we made it to the church and I had a short while to place two static cameras at key points and lock them down, do a quick sound check and make sure all media cards were running with enough space for the ceremony.

I had the Sony PMW EX1set up near the door to capture the bride arriving as well as much of the ceremony from one angle, I had another Sony HD camera behind the Padre to film the couple during the ceremony with the congregation in the background and the Canon EOS 5D Mark II on a shoulder mount to capture anything else as I moved around.

The bride arrived on time, the ceremony went well and without a hitch and the photographer and myself worked very amicably together (being a wedding photographer myself, I knew the score and kept out of his way).

Then came the fun part.

We had to go through to the back of the church, out through a door into another section to witness the signing of the register. Then we had to make the most of the break in the weather and get up onto the battlements for some nice, portraits etc and then make our way back to the hotel before the bride and groom.

Now, for a photographer, this is simple (or at least it seems that way now). You usually have one camera on the go and everything else neatly stashed in a single bag. Me, I had 3 video cameras, 2 tripods, sound equipment all over the place, a case and a rucksack to contend with.

However, with a bit of cunning planning and forethought during my reccie visit, I managed not only to cope pretty well with the stress and logistics, I was actually ready to leave for the reception before the photographer.

Lugging all that gear from his car to the front of the hotel to grab the couple arriving and then head up two flights of stairs ready for the reception was another story though…I had to get everything set up with another sound check before they made it there…

Still, I got it done and had the cameras rolling ready for the line up and start of the reception. Then came the dance…

Whilst they finished their sweet/dessert, I had to once again pack everything away and make the trip back down two flights of stairs, out onto the main road, along a bit and down into the basement for the first dance and casino/bar.

How To Great and Professional in Photography

images (3)Do you want successful in photography ? whether personally or professionally, can seem like an uphill slog sometimes so how can you make it easier?

The main thing to remember and concentrate on is your mindset! Think like a photographer for long enough and you will become one.

Sounds strange? Well, your mind is the most powerful asset you have and can also be the most destructive. If you continuously think you cannot do something, you won’t…period! If you truly believe in yourself and stay persistent in your efforts, you can achieve anything.

Don’t be put off by naysayers or beautiful portfolios that you come across, be inspired and motivated by them.

Don’t be put off by the sheer number of photographers out there doing business all around you if you are in a built up, busy area. Just understand that it is a huge market and you can easily grab your own share if that is what you want. The more working photographers in your area, the more work that is probably available, see it as a positive thing!

Don’t be put off by all the technical jargon, buttons, features, accessories, upgrade, updates and software out there. Photography is fundamentally simple in its basic form.

Don’t always be put off by the quality of your poorer shots, it MAY be the equipment you are using and NOT you!

Don’t think that you need to invest a fortune in all the latest equipment, you don’t! All you need to start is a camera and a lens. When I got back into (digital) photography in 2003 after a long break from film photography, I was as confused as anyone as to what kit I would now need. I was used to medium and large format film cameras as well as the good old 35mm film SLR’s.

started with just one, simple camera body (Canon EOS 10D), one lens (28-135mm) and one speedlight (Sigma 500ST Super).

I decided that before I bought any more kit, I would have to earn the money for it by just using what I had. That worked well and I soon built up a huge arsenal of cameras, lenses, computers, printers, studio kit etc and still use that principle today.

Learn to control the camera and start to really enjoy photography for what it essentially  is art

When you first get hold of a DSLR (digital single lens reflex) camera, it can be mighty confusing:

  • What do all those buttons do?
  • Do you need to use them all?
  • Which ones do you need to use?
  • How do you control the shutter speed?
  • What does the aperture do?
  • How can you learn to combine shutter, aperture and ISO to make the best image possible?
  • How do you process the images to really make them pop?

There are so many avenues you can take with photography these days and whilst on a certain “journey” you may discover a new love and talent for a different area such as weddings, portraits, commercial, fashion, nightclub, schools, events, travel or stock. This certainly happened to me years ago in the early 1990’s when I first got started in business with photography.

I was happily travelling around the UK taking photos of villages for a postcard company when a young lady called us (using the contact details on the back of a postcard in her local village) and asked us if we shot weddings. We didn’t but still said yes.

After a few training courses and a ton of practice, we shot that wedding which led to more weddings and even a private shoot with the Princess Royal, HRH Princess Anne, what a buzz and all from the back of a postcard.

We will help you to shoot the best photography you can in whatever area(s) you choose to pursue and we will also to help you to get your work and business seen to ensure that you get the best possible start…we are here to help!

Stay focussed and start to create your own style. Don’t think that just because (not a real site at the time of writing) gets a ton of work, EVERYONE likes their style and that you should imitate them. The great thing about photography is that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and the beholder is your customer, find your OWN market and style.

Start out by simply practicing as much as possible and don’t worry if you make mistakes, even the pros make mistakes believe me! Take your camera everywhere with you and shoot as much as you can, after all, digital is free!

Don’t just take hundreds of shots and delete the poor ones. Analyse WHY they are poor and learn from them. Look at the settings used, look at the light, what went wrong and ask yourself how can you correct it?

The more you practice, the better you will become, guaranteed, and the day will come when you know finally your kit inside out and you will also know how to deal with any situation that arises by making the right adjustments to your camera, lens, composition and lighting. That day is a great day believe me!

I have seen beginners come to our site at All Things Photography with very little knowledge indeed and in just a matter of months, I have seen their work improve dramatically. I have also seen students from our courses (DSLR, Weddings and Stock Photography) go from complete novices, to full, working professional wedding and portrait photographers in just a year!

We are hoping to make ATP Members a friendly community where you will receive as much information and guidance as you need to get you going. Once you have that confidence and ability, we want to help you get established in whatever area of photography you decide to pursue which is why we will also build full access plus members a full page, keyword focussed promotional page at All Things Photography.

The buzz for me is to see people succeed. I have been told far too often that people cannot find a photographer in their area who will help them get started, that is why the ATP and ATP Members websites exist!

I can see a fundamental shift in the way people want to work and live their lives. People are starting to wake up and realise it doesn’t have to be “this way”. Photography is now, more than ever, accessible to everyone and there is no reason why you cannot make a living from it if you so desire.

Whether you want to get out of the rat race and do something you love for a living, or you simply want to enhance what you already know by learning to capture your world in the best way possible, just get out and practice.