Art for Art’s Sake – But not money for God’s sake!

It’s been a while since my last workshops but everything is changing. In the not too distant future I will be conducting a series for those who love the ‘Fine Art’ aspect and desiring to embark on their own journeys of discovery. “Art for Art’s Sake” will explore the inspiration and developing a brief from a literary subject, designing a shoot, costumes, props, locations. lighting methodology using canonical methods including “Chiaroscuro”, advanced subject posing, composition for output, retouching methods and much more.

Creative Fine Art workshops with a Pre-Raphaelite theme

With only 4 places available on each Workshop, this is a truly unique and interactive experience not to be missed and will only be repeated on demand with no more than 4 to 6 workshops per year. It’s not rocket science to work out that with just 24 places available in a year this really is an exclusive opportunity. So, don’t dither and contact me now for to enquire about dates and places. So there’s no guessing, each place will be incredible value at £300 including lunch, refreshments, two fantastic models in full theatrical costumes and the option (at additional cost) of reminiscing over dinner in the evening. There really is nothing like this on offer anywhere!

The first practical workshop will take place in the Spring of 2018 with a small number of ‘Taster Evenings’ on offer in the Winter of 2017 through to the end of March 2018. Watch this space for early notification.

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Back online and back on track!

It’s been a while since I last posted. In fact far too long as I have been working on establishing a new, working photographic studio in the heart of Royal Leamington Spa. But I’ve also realised that there is still very much a demand for the kinds of photographic education I offer. However, instead of a focus on the business of photography I am turning my sights towards my passion – Fine Art using photography as an expressive medium. There are so many ‘trainers’ and ‘guru’s’ out there offering all sorts of solutions to the problems of marketing and business development so I am not going to play in that arena. Instead my aim is to inspire and stimulate creativity as ‘soul food’.

My new workshops will examine how to create images based on literary theme similar to this study based on the ballad “La Belle Dame sans Merci” – A popular Pre-Raphaelite theme

Very soon I’ll be announcing Workshops and other new style educational happenings for 2018 – so watch this space. In the meantime I’m going to get back to driving the new studio!

Portfolio Reviews at Photography Live Dubai 2017

At the year’s Photography Live Dubai 4th-6th May Martin will be holding a series of Portfolio Reviews during the show. So, if you’re wanting an appraisal of your images from one of the very best in the world, here’s your chance. Whether it’s an opinion on your chances in competitions, awards or even qualifications, Martin Grahame-Dunn has helped literally thousands of photographers all over the world realise their potential. Martin first brought portfolio reviews to the UAE with HIPA and many photographers have enjoyed great success following his advice. Now you can book your one to one session with him at Photography Live Dubai. But remember, there are only 24 slots available over the three show days!

There is nothing better than a one to one portfolio review to discuss your work and your passion!

A 20 minute session costs only 200Dhs and is incredible value. To book your one to one session with Martin email him at: mgrahamedunn@mac.com

New Workshops for 2017

Throughout 2017 I am offering a number of workshops in the UK based at my Leamington Spa Studio. Easily accessible from the M40 and Train links. Plenty of reasonable accommodation and parking nearby. Each workshop is for a maximum of 8 delegates ensuring quality of delivery and enough time for everyone to absorb themselves into the content.
1. Posing Workshops – 8 places – £250 per place
2. Environmental Portraiture – 8 places – £295 per place
3. Studio Portraiture – 8 places – £295 per place
4. Fine Art & Photography – 6 places – £395 per place
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Each workshop will include refreshments, lunch, 2 models (1 model in costumes for the Fine Art Workshop), materials where appropriate (printed output on the Fine Art Workshop) and notes. I anticipate that the Fine Art Workshops will be very popular as they are very intensive so early registration of interest is essential. In the early Summer and Autumn the Fine Art Workshops will also be available in a slightly different format in Pembrokeshire.
For further information and to register your interest please contact me via direct message on Facebook through my various pages or by email at mgrahamedunn@me.com

Keeping up appearances – being a great photographer is a complete package!

Some food for thought. What is a Professional Photographer in 2016? What should they look like? How should they behave? Three very important questions then, that need an answer, and probably answers that some will not want to hear. So, perhaps its better to face questions with questions that only one’s conscience can answer.

Isn’t professionalism in photography more about a demeanour than a ‘God Given Right’ to call oneself professional, as it is a sole source of income? Nowadays how many people do we know that have multiple income sources? Many of my ex-commercial photographer friends have had to diversify to survive and some have taken second jobs to make a living. It’s clearly a time for thought and how the professional organisations should be assisting and supporting those who have dedicated most of their working lives to the profession. Ivory towers are havens of fantasy, can fall and are often indefensible.

Surely a professional photographer should dress appropriate to the assignments they are undertaking? Is it therefore right for the photographer at a wedding where the guests are dressed smartly and elegantly in suits and dresses to turn up in jeans, T Shirts? How should one dress to shoot the MD of a blue chip company? As an equal or a tradesman?

Finally, on the subject of behaviour. Of all the ‘disagreements’ between a photographer and a client, the vast majority are caused by behaviour. Sometimes it’s contractual. ‘He said, she said’ scenarios, or at worst its ego’s that get in the way. Fear of criticism of their images to the point of being aggressively defensive when sometimes, those criticisms may be justified.

We are all judged continuously, not by a discerning market but on the whole, a market driven, cost conscious litigious one. Time for inward reflection and to remember, you are your brand.

© Martin Grahame-Dunn 2016

To qualify or not to qualify? That is the question!

This is a question I have had to answer on numerous occasions over my many years in the photographic industry and my answer has more or less been the same. Do it for you. Do it for your own professional development. Do it to make yourself a better photographer. I know I cannot put my hand on my heart and say it will make a blind bit of difference to one’s clients as its a hard fact that there is simply not the advertising budget in any single organisations or even collectively to penetrate the market in significant and traditional ways.

Recently, many of my friends and colleagues found out that I was intending to apply for yet another Fellowship. But this one was to be significantly different. The jewel in my crown of personal achievement by being true to myself as an artist. Achieving the first Fellowship of the BIPP in Historical Research for over 20 years has been a true ‘labour of love’ as the single subject has been my partner who is an extremely talented poetess. Before I even considered it as a Fellowship submission, its main aim was to illustrate her second poetry collection entitled “Shadows of Magdalene”.

The Heptagrammaton of Illumination - Inspired by the set of seven paintings by 17th Century Renaissance painter, Jean Nicot

The Heptagrammaton of Illumination – Inspired by the set of seven paintings by 17th Century Renaissance painter, Jean Nicot

Did I need to do this? Yes, absolutely. Because for an image maker who travels the world lecturing, teaching other professional photographers how to create better images I could hardly ethically sit back on my past achievements. I’ve done it for me! No regrets. Where it goes from here is part of my own personal development plan. So, in conclusion, set yourselves personal projects to develop your skills and have them measured by qualification. But, do understand that nothing comes cheap. The training and mentoring you may receive along the way has a cost. As does the production of your submission. It is an investment in ‘YOU’. In future posts I will discuss some of the images and poetry behind my Fine Art collection.

For information on qualifications visit The BIPP and The MPA

Professional Qualifications in Denmark with the dff

As I am constantly travelling and delivering education, training and mentoring of a global basis, I thought I’d give some thought in this post to the differences of delivery to the dff, the world’s second oldest organisation for professional photographers. So here goes….

A synopsis of the two different level workshops.

  1. Master
  2. Qualified Master

The Workshop for aspiring ’Masters’ (BIPP and MPA Licentiate equivalent) covers the minimum basic requirements to qualify as a dff “Master’ photographer. The key elements of camera craft, lighting, composition and posing (where appropriate in people photography) are examined and developed in a mixed theory/practical workshop. Demonstrations are given in posing and handling groups in particular. Simplistic but effective lighting techniques are demonstrated and discussed illustrating the better known and used lighting patterns. Individual appraisals are undertaken of each applicants work and in group format, planning, presentation and layout for a digital submission is introduced as another essential element for success.

The Workshop for aspiring ‘Qualified Masters’ (BIPP and MPA Associate equivalent) examines not only the more substantial requirements to achieve a higher level of qualification but also instils the need to understand and practice self appraisal in a constructively critical manner. This is not simply a ‘top up’ of the M workshop as it requires a fresh start by all candidates where there can be little or no reliance on a current and past portfolio. Attaining a higher degree of qualification requires a serious commitment and investment in your future. Increased standards of imaging and ethics undoubtedly result in a better client experience. There are obviously a few areas of common ground between all levels of qualification but these escalate exponentially as the levels and requirements rise. This is a dynamic workshop integrating discussions and planning sessions focussing on personal continuous professional development. Lateral thought will be encouraged and a better understanding of the importance and implications of one to one Mentoring discussed. Your trainer will also explain in detail the systematic approach to conceptualising, planning and executing a person project as the base of your qualification.

If you’re interested in progressing your professional qualifications or simply improving the standard of your imaging, contact me.

Painting with Light at The Tate Britain – Art and Photography from the Pre-Raphaelites to the modern age

This exhibition that goes back to the dawn of Photography and its relationship with artists, most particularly those of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, is well worth a visit. What struck me most was the inception of the age-old debate, “Is photography art?” that still rages today. Certainly in the professional world, the category of Fine Art Photography has often found itself to be a dumping ground for all those images produced that simply do not seem to fit in the other more traditional categories.

Curator Hope Kingsley, makes a most pertinent statement that I wholly concur with. “Photographs share a simple consonance with other works of visual art in the formal components of a picture – composition and framing, attention to areas of light and shadow, and image resolution in distinctness or diffusion.”

In my own work I have striven to produce images that to me are more art with a camera, where it is just another choice between a brush and a palette knife where my pigments, tones and textures are moved around my canvasses with the same dexterity had I chosen more traditional or accepted means of producing fine art. My gallery of finished pieces and studies to accompany my partner Kate’s second poetry collection and constitute a submission to the BIPP is all but complete. I have had a working title for some time but driven by a hunger for more research and thought into the justification of photography as just another manifestation of art has led me to finding another in a volume portraying “The tragedy of a Pre-Raphaelite Supermodel – Lizzie Siddall”*…

Ars Longa Vita Brevis – art endures, life is brief

*Lucinda Hawkesley – André Deutsch, Carlton Publishing Group 2004

The Photography of Fatma Fahmy – Egypt

First a quote from this young lady rationalising her photography and the motivation behind it.

“Photography is another world to me. It allows me to live different lives of different people. It allows me to stop moments in time by capturing them to show the world the beauty that possessed my heart and soul and make it last forever. I wish I could affect people’s lives with this magnificent art.”

Fatma Fahmy – Cairo, Egypt

For this post I have decided to review a number of images submitted to me last month. The collection are well crafted and composed showing a variety of content that adds credence to her statement. They are a combination of what in the west we would call ‘Street Photography’ and more controlled, observational portraiture.

"Eye Contact" by Fatma Fahmy

“Eye Contact” by Fatma Fahmy

This image entitled “Eye Contact” does exactly what it says. It directly engages with the viewer with a delightfully captured expression that shows the happiness of a child no mater what his domestic environment, social background, living conditions or wealth. Simplicity is golden here and one cannot fail to empathise with this little boy. If one of the tools of a photographer is to create images that contain a story, then the story of this child’s life is is to be written by the viewer based upon its content. In truth, the off centre composition is not particularly necessary and does not add power or dynamics. The subject could have been centrally placed for that matter as the viewer finds it virtually impossible to stray their gaze from those eyes that express a simple, joy of life.

"Fisherman's Net" by Fatma Fahmy

“Fisherman’s Net” by Fatma Fahmy

As a contrast, quite a lot of work has gone into this image, photographically with good control of depth of field, compositionally by careful subject placement and in post processing where the problems lie. My best advice to Fatma is ‘less is more’ and although this is a good composition, a clear storyline, convincingly engaged subject, the processing has left a few artefacts and issues that could easily be resolved. When such processing issues are visible they can detract from the all important content contained in the image, the subject themselves and the narrative.

Martin Grahame-Dunn 2016

Themed Portrait Workshop – The Peak District, Derbyshire – 2 PLACES REMAINING

This intimate, hands on workshop will take you on an exciting journey of creating beautiful themed costume portraits inspired by classic romantic literature, on locations in the stunning Peak District of Derbyshire. With only two places left its a perfect opportunity to expand your knowledge and skills under expert supervision.

An example of a themed costume portrait entitled "Immortal Love". Shot on location in Pembrokeshire as a poetic illustration.

An example of a themed costume portrait entitled “Immortal Love”. Shot on location in Pembrokeshire as a poetic illustration.

“I will instruct you how to see and use beautiful natural light, control it and create visually powerful images that will be transformed from your camera, into photographic art. Using the themes of period romantic literature I will teach you how to pose your subjects, placed within rugged and dramatic locations, to not only complement your subject but to tell your story.”

What you will learn
  • How to plan your shoot and tell your story
  • How to use natural light and shade to create stunning images.
  • How to select backgrounds and environments to bring interest, emotion and drama into your photographic artworks.
  • How to find flattering and interesting perspectives through the art and science of physiognomy.
  • Getting it right in camera.
  • Which lens(es) to choose and why.
  • Effective techniques to create a rapport with your subjects with true storytelling images.
  • How to create a unique portrait experience in your day to day work and look to compliment each subject’s personality and style.
  • How to use wardrobe and posing to bring out the drama and personality of your subjects.
  • How to create ‘Photographic Art’ through creative processing techniques.
What you will need
  • A DSLR with a full battery and empty memory card and a reasonable understanding of how to use your camera and its settings.
  • A laptop to download and edit your images
  • Any lenses or accessories you want to use.
  • A handheld reflector if you have one.
  • An umbrella if it looks like rain.
  • Practical clothes and shoes you can easily move around in.
WHEN – Sunday 24th & Monday 25th July 2016 from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM each day
WHO FOR – Any Photographer or Aspiring Photographic Artist, Painter, Poet or Author wishing to expand their skills
WHERE – Locations in The Peak District National Park, Derbyshire.
WORKSHOP PLACES – are available at only £495.00. Secure yours with a £100 deposit today. Only TWO LEFT!
email at: mgrahamedunn@mac.com