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

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

Professional fees – what are we really worth?

There have been so many changes in our industry since the halcyon days of the 80’s and 90’s. I well remember a day rate as a commercial & advertising photographer commanding £5000. How things have changed and clearly, from our perspective, not for the better! But as consulate professionals we do have a worth. Indeed we should be commanding respectable fees for our work. All to often I hear and see discussions with tales of woe describing just how much our fees have dwindled to across the board.

Weddings are a prime example. Fees in the thousands used to be commonplace but we are told that due to the advent of the smartphone that we simply cannot command such figures. But there are some that still do. Perhaps its a case of understanding your true value and holding your nerve. Much easier if you have a unique presence and style of course.

In portraiture I well remember fees in excess of £1,000.00 for a portrait sale. Wall portraiture was at a premium. Photographers simply wouldn’t sell loose prints, and as for giving away one’s captures (negatives now digital files) it was unheard of. Almost a capital offence linked to either giving away part of one’s soul or copyright. In either case a bad move that today has become commonplace.

To put things in some perspective and show that not every profession has  similarly suffered, a solicitor, and not a principal I might add, commands a fee of around £2,640.00 per day or an hourly rate of £330 Inc VAT. So perhaps it’s time to up our game and recognise our worth as an industry. I for one will be reviewing my fee structure for Mentoring, training and legal representation & conciliation services. Not everything in life, or our industry, should be for free.

 

Sorry, I’ve been away too long!

Its been over four months since my last post and my mind has been diverted with completing several pivotal projects but from next week…it’s back to business as it should be. More posts, more information and more news as I progress on the next leg of my journey. Watch this space…

New Testimonial – Darren Powell

Fun and games at the reception - Darren Powell taking centre stage!

Fun and games at the reception – Darren Powell taking centre stage!

When a testimonial says it all…..

“I may be biased, but I would argue that Martin is the best mentor/photography trainer out there! I first met Martin on a natural lighting course he ran 2 years ago and his passion and knowledge blew me away. Martin is extremely talented and has a rare ability to not only take great images himself but dramatically improve those of others. The development of my images over a short period of time has been nothing other than remarkable. If your looking at developing your photography skills or need ongoing support I would highly recommend any courses or workshops ran by Martin”

Darren Powell – 2016

The Images of Lubna Abdel Aziz – Egypt

Before I met Lubna, I was drawn to her beautiful and expressive imagery at the recent Dubai Photo Exhibition. I will be discussing a number of her works that make this young lady stand out as a real ‘one to watch’ in her progress as a Photographic Artist. To simply call her a ‘photographer’ would be an understatement. The immediate impression is that she has learned to express herself in this medium, not with the most sophisticated and expensive camera equipment, but with her mind and vision.

The Artist Photographer Lubna Abdel Aziz

The Artist Photographer Lubna Abdel Aziz

The artwork entitled “She” is to me, reminiscent of a blend of painterly approaches from the surreal of René Magritte to the delightful works of 19th century French portrait painter Gustave Jean Jaquet. The absolute simplicity of its pose, choice of costume and a mood emphasised by a subdued, almost desaturated pallete with a splash of colour with nothing more than a blank wall as the background to the canvas adds drama and narrative to the content.

"She" by Lubna Abdel Aziz

“She” by Lubna Abdel Aziz

I wanted to know more about this young artist and was pleasantly surprised when she introduced herself to me when I was making observations on her collection to my learned colleagues. It is all so easy for photographic critics to find negative factors within an image but far more difficult to hold one’s tongue, subdue ‘learned’ negativity due to observance of so called rules that are mostly unsubstantiated in fact and poorly applied, and simply accept a piece of honest, beautiful art for what it is. My only useful input is to aid referencing outside of photography into the glorious world of art.

Martin Grahame-Dunn

 

Martin’s thoughts on Wedding Photography – Back to Basics and Taking Control

I have focussed on Portraiture for many of my posts but it occurs to me that as a pretty successful and accomplished past wedding photographer, that I should spare some thoughts on what made my business a little different.

Think before you shoot – The Art of Visual Choreography

This is and was one of my real specialist areas. Over the years on assignment and during workshops I have explained and demonstrated my philosophy of  ‘Visual Choreography’. In short this involves the direct interaction between the Photographer and their subjects to ‘Stage Manage’ the event in the quest for the best images possible. The concept that everybody wants their wedding to be the most unique and special day in their lives must be amplified through ‘Visual Choreography’. Perhaps nowadays those couples who simply state that their day should be recorded as a ‘Fly on the wall’ assignment are embarking upon a potential recipe for disaster. Indeed any recipe without key ingredients or precise preparation times is likely to be a nasty tasting concoction, ready for the bin!

Visually Choreographed Images

Visually Choreographed Images

Perhaps ask yourself the question “Who is the REAL best man (or woman) at the Wedding” and extol the virtues of your organisational skills to your clients. Traditionally the timing of a wedding event is based around the core principle that there will be a photographer there who will make the constituent parts of that day hang together as a coherent event that will be professionally recorded forever.

Martin Grahame-Dunn 2016

 

The photographic art of Manar Gad – Egypt

Manar Gad 1

Inspiring words indeed from this young lady with the potential to become a leading light in Egyptian photography. I have selected the following image from her impressive portfolio to comment upon.

It is indeed ‘painterly’ in its approach with the delight of a limited palette and a patina reminiscent of a 19th century piece of Art. Had it not been for the young boy seated on the mule at camera right and a few other modern day hints, the image could have been portraying a scene anytime in the last 3,000 years. Compositionally strong and with a great narrative, it tells a story of a daily journey; in its location nothing unusual, yet its beauty, tranquility and simplicity touches us all.

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“TIME” by Mohamed Mahdy – Egypt

"TIME" by Mohamed Mahdy - a 19 year old photographic artist

“TIME” by Mohamed Mahdy – a 19 year old photographic artist

This is the second of my image reviews of a group of young Arab photographers. I asked each one to send me biography information or even a personal statement. These words by 19 year old Mohamed Mahdy really sum up the purpose…

“We are group of Egyptian documentary photographers. We document what is not seen through photographs taken on mobile phones or cameras, as Egypt is full of good opposites and bad ones. Our aim is to capture the decisive moment with story telling in order to show and search for Egypt’s spirit, and to show our vision.”
Mohamed Mahdy 2016

So, on to my image review…..In the world of Professional Photographic judging many jurors are drawn to the highlights within an image that may be described as ‘distracting’. That is, those areas that draw the eye away from the centre of interest or critical viewpoint. To illustrate my point I have reduced those highlights significantly to draw our attention to the most important aspect of any image…the story. Finally, be mindful that less is more when it comes to post processing.

Martin Grahame-Dunn – April 2016

Edited version of "TIME" with the highlights subdued drawing our eyes to the storytelling content more decisively

Edited version of “TIME” with the highlights subdued drawing our eyes to the storytelling content more decisively

HIPA Grand Awards and the Dubai Photo Forum 2016

Moderating the Dubai Photo Forum

Moderating the Dubai Photo Forum

It’s only a week or so since the event of the HIPA Grand Awards and the new format, Dubai Photo Forum 2016. The Grand Award ceremony was a glittering affair attend by nearly 1000 people to celebrate the culmination of their 5th season, “Happiness”. But that wasn’t all. Under the guidance of 18 international curators and the patronage of HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashi Al Maktoum the first Dubai Photo exhibition proved to be a resounding success.

A passionate discussion featuring Henk Van Kooten from the Netherlands, Adeeb Alani President of the Arab Union of Photographers and Ayman Lofty from Egypt

A passionate discussion featuring Henk Van Kooten from the Netherlands, Adeeb Alani President of the Arab Union of Photographers and Ayman Lofty from Egypt

Instead of the customary workshops attached the the week, HIPA decided to host a vibrant series of forums with topics to discuss and highlight issues in the world of photography. I was honoured to moderate a particularly lively discussion on standards and judging practices. With issues aired and possibilities abundant, I can’t wait to see what the future will bring!