Mentoring for success – The importance of investment

Working towards a ‘Professional’ qualification from either the BIPP or the MPA is no easy task. Its certainly not a journey one should take alone or without guidance and support. This is widely described as ‘Mentoring’, the working relationship between the aspiring photographer and their guide, tutor, supporter and teacher, commissioned to guide them to success. Each of the two representative bodies has their own systems in place where members can access a ‘Mentor’ for a limited period. This is an invaluable resource but nothing beats a proper financial investment in an experienced and successful Mentor. The basic service, in practice the means feedback on images that may form part of a submission, but a more formal arrangement can achieve so much more.

The advice given may not always be what the photographer wants to hear, particularly as ‘critique’ is all too often taken personally due to the huge emotional attachment to their images that so many display. This factor alone is a major contributor to the failure of an application. I know how hard it is to stand back from one’s work and look at it as a qualifies assessor may do. But to learn the art of self assessment from your mentor is central to one’s own continuous professional development. An experienced Mentor will be that crucial support mechanism who will offer the support needed and guidance through the process.

This week, one of my Mentees had a double achievement. Joint winner in the BIPP Provisional Photographer of the Year category and his Licentiate professional qualification of the same Institute. This didn’t come easily and alone, it can be a daunting task.

Supporting evidence book prepared for a BIPP submission - printed by One Vision Imaging (courtesy of Allen Thomasson LBIPP)

Supporting evidence book prepared for a BIPP submission – printed by One Vision Imaging (courtesy of Allen Thomasson LBIPP)

So, access the complimentary services but also invest in a great mentor. Commit to that investment. Always remember that its their investment in you that ensures your success. Want more of this? Then feed back to me on Social Media channels and it will be forthcoming.

If you’re looking to invest in a mentor then contact me at


I’ve got a new Nikon D750!

It’s been quite a while since I changed my DSLR as I am a creature of habit. My faithful D700 has been an amazing workhorse that has accompanied me all over the world on shooting and training assignments, indeed it has been my camera of choice together with my much loved 105mm f2 DC lens and will still be used to complete the current series of images I am working on, purely for consistency of result.

But I now have a shiny new D750 armed with the deliciously bright 85mm f1.4 lens to commence the next phase of my photography in and as Art journey. There are so many features that make this a perfect successor to my current kit. Not the least the tilting screen that opens up a whole range of possibilities to me that in certain locations I use had previously been almost insurmountable. My huge thanks go to the support team @nikonMEA for steering me into the best decision I have made for a long time.

Nikon D750

Nikon D750

In due course I will be posting images shot on the D750 with a short run down on each personally driven assignment.

Creative Workshop in the Derbyshire Peaks July 2016 – Places still available!

This “Pride and Prejudice” meets “Wuthering Heights” creative workshop is being held on Sunday 24th and Monday 25th July 2016 and is suitable for just about any photographer wishing to explore their creativity and indulging in it as an art form.

The Old Cottage Hope Valley. Our base for the Two Day Creative Workshop

The Old Cottage Hope Valley. Our base for the Two Day Creative Workshop

There are just 8 places available and the extremely affordable fee of only £495.00 per person will cover all tuition, models in period costumes and a post event produced Album Epoca Event book designed by Martin incorporating some of the best images from the workshop. Picnic lunches and an evening meal on the first day are also included. This will be two days indulging in art through photography and literature. For more information or to secure your unique place either email Martin at or call 01926 335247 or 07854 249710 very soon. A deposit secures your valuable place!

To look for Hotels and Guest Houses go to

10 things a Photographer should know – Part 10 – Real artists create!

Do you just sit around and think of stuff you could create, photograph, build, ship, or design, but never output anything? Then you’re a poser. Take a new approach and make stuff. Maybe what comes out of your studio isn’t perfect, but there should always stuff leaving the door and hitting the web, the page, the billboard, the gallery, or the street. If you are for real, you’ll be pumping out work on the regular.

Chase Jarvis

This is a subject to which I have given a great deal of thought. Indeed it is shaping my future not only as a trainer and educator but also as a serious creator of Art. I have long wished to return to my roots and now believe I know the journey I must take. I realise that for me, the creation of Art simply utilises the tool that is the camera as no more than a sketching device. Indeed it creates the ‘underpainting’ or skeleton of my finished canvasses. As a Trainer I am making the conscious decision to develop workshop to bring out that creativity in every photographer who truly wishes to use Photography as an art form. To give them room to express and the tools to create. To encourage pre-conceptualisation of their Art. To learn to see, master and control directional light used by our forefathers. In short to be artists of a new Renaissance that this time, uses the camera as no more than a brush dipping into the colours of the palette of life to create the extraordinary.

I do hope that many of you can join me on this ‘journey’ and on my “Workshops for Creatives” that will be taking place this year and for many years to come. Let me help you open up a new world of imaging and expand your creativity. There are still places available on my Pride & Prejudice meets Wuthering Heights two day workshop in the Derbyshire Peaks on 24th and 25th July 2016 but contact me soon.

Martin Grahame-Dunn

Beyond ‘Mentoring’ – engaging a Business Consultant

Very recently, I have given a great deal of thought about my previous provisions of a ‘Mentoring Programme’ that simply by the term ‘Programme’, intimated a structure almost equivalent to a curriculum. I also realise that due to the individual needs of every photographer, that such a structure is far from ‘one size fits all’. I have to acknowledge that recipe cannot be the most effective route to meeting the needs of today’s photographers. Some ‘mentees’ or  clients have greater needs than others and require more time and engagement.
Outside of the UK I fully embrace my role as a photographic business consultant which I operate on a fee driven basis commensurate with specifically delivered and measured activities. The closest analogy is engaging the services of a ‘professional’ who charges on a time basis for services rendered. This will be my future business plan governing my engagement with those who I have formally termed as ‘mentees’. The role of a consultant in this industry is in my qualified opinion, to be reactive and responsive as a kind of ‘knowledge bank’ from which a client may choose to access certain information or skills.
In the past there has been a case for working with a select few on an engagement basis where a reduced monthly fee has taken into account a reasonable level of access to my services and advice. Such time being advantageous to those few where a normal consultancy rate per interaction would far exceed the monthly remuneration paid. As an example, any interaction, no matter how brief would be charged at a ‘minimum rate’. From now on I shall offer my services on ‘professional’ rate that is realistic and appropriate.
I shall of course continue to organise a limited number of workshops in a year, for only 8 delegates on each, where the engagement between trainer and attendee will be advantageous and productive. One such intensive two day workshop for those who wish to expand and explore their creativity will be held in the Peak District of Derbyshire on the 24th and 25th of July 2016. At this point there are still a few places available, but I do not anticipate this being the case in the near future. Occasionally there will be other workshops in cooperation with colleagues or organisations.
So, if you need a one off consultation, a ‘how to’ in a specific genre of photography or process, or you’re trying to push your boundaries then contact me, and I will help you.
2016 Rates:
Day – £750.00
Half Day – £350.00
Session of up to One Hour – £75.00
2016 Preferential rates for past Mentees:-
Day – £475.00
Half Day – £250.00
Session of up to One Hour – £50.00

Art in Photography Workshop – Derbyshire Peaks 2016

In a previous post I gave notice of an exciting workshop to be held in the summer of 2016 to bring to life the imagery of the literature of Jane Austen and Emily Brontë with stunning costume portraiture in dramatic locations, come rain or shine. I have given much thought to this project and instead of making two, one day workshops I have come to the conclusion that a two day offering would be more beneficial for all.

To give a little background and context it is generally believed that Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” was partly written in the town of Bakewell, which she calls ‘Lambton’ in her novel. Occasional visitor to the Peaks, Charlotte Brontë, author of “Jane Eyre” may have written much of the book in Hathersage. 

Period portrait by Martin Grahame-Dunn

Period portrait by Martin Grahame-Dunn

The Workshop will be held on Sunday 24th July and Monday 25th July 2016 at locations in the Hope Valley area of the Peak District of Derbyshire and suitable for Amateurs and Professionals alike of a creative and artistic disposition wishing to expand their technique or simply indulge a love of photography as an art form.

There are just 8 places available and the fee of only £495.00 per person will cover all tuition, models in period costumes and a post event produced Album Epoca Event book designed by Martin incorporating some of the best images from the workshop. Picnic lunches and an evening meal on the first day are also included. This will be two days indulging in art through photography and literature. For more information or to secure your unique place either email Martin at or call 07854 249710 very soon.

10 things a Photographer should know – Part 6 – Simple is good!

6. Simple is good.
Almost every photo that is bad has too much information. Outside of technical basics, the number one reason that most photos fail is because there is no clear subject. Often this is the case with design, film, fashion, you name it. Remove clutter, remove distraction. Tell one story, and tell it well.
Chase Jarvis
* KISS! Keep it Simple Stupid! Never a truer word spoken for simplicity is everything. Images with clutter or no definitive focal point simply fail. For the ‘Social’ photographer engaged in the Wedding industry this is particularly relevant. I have been asked so many times “Why are there almost no Fellows (if any?) in the discipline of Wedding PJ, Wedding Documentary or whatever other name you wish to apply?” My answer to this is simple. It’s probably a lack of attention to detail and an obsession with being observational without any form of intervention to tidy a shot. Personally I find the high brow approach that ‘PJ’ means don’t change, interact or affect an image in any way, highly inappropriate in the Wedding industry. Sure, in the world of ‘real’ photojournalism in media, news and war zones, it’s all about ‘the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth’. But my question is, does a Bride really want the ‘truth’ of half drunk beers, bottles on the neatly manicured lawn or cigarette packets strewn in their scene featuring many thousands of pounds worth of haute couture?  More questions than answers and I certainly don’t expect some people to agree with me. Are we losing a grip on reality and our true  purpose as professionals that have an eye for detail? I wonder. I think I’ll keep this for another article in the future!

Judging Professional Photography – Critic or Critique?

There are clear definitions of both in the world outside of photography. A Critic is a professional who communicates his or her opinions and assessments of various forms of creative work such as art, literature, music, cinema, theatre, fashion, architecture, food and indeed most importantly here – photography. Critical judgments, whether derived from critical thinking or not, may be positive, negative, or balanced, weighing a combination of factors both for and against.

In our industry, the perception of one who is critical when making an image assessment is more often than not perceived as destructive. Looking for every facet to express a negative opinion without the means or guidance towards a resolution that may result in a successful submission at a later date. These ‘critics’ also use projection to negatively influence the opinions of others on a jury. The worst example of course is the judge that instead of talking to a print, stands, faces the audience and loudly exclaims how he or she would have made the image and perhaps finishes with the comments, “I’d have done it this way…”. Not satisfied with that ‘showboating’ they proceed to offer their training wares for a price.

On the other hand, ‘Critique’ is a method of disciplined, systematic analysis of a written or oral discourse. Although critique is commonly understood as fault finding and negative judgment, it can also involve merit recognition, and in the philosophical tradition it also means a methodical practice of doubt.

In practice, the very best jurors will offer a deeply constructive analysis of the image before them, always addressing it directly and finally offering possible solutions to problems detected. Suggestion rather than unjustified command to execute an image in the way they would have done it. We must always be respectful to image makers and forever bear in mind, like it or not, we can influence careers.  This clearly illustrates exactly why Judge and Audience (participant) training is vital to the worldwide photographic industry.

In 2016 it is my intention to hold a series of workshops in the UK as well as overseas, to train photographers in the various judging procedures that they may better self analyse images in preparation for both competitions and qualifications. If you are interested I strongly suggest that you contact me at to register your interest. My Leamington Spa training studio is perfectly and centrally placed, fully kitted out for the exercise including the equipment and software to perform ‘mock judging’. It is so often said that photographers learn more from constructive image critique than any other type of workshop.

Judging in action at WPPI 2015

Judging in action at WPPI 2015

10 things a Photographer should know – Part 3

3. Don’t aim for ‘better’, aim for ‘different’.
“It’s funny how related “better” and “different” are. If you aim for ‘better’ that usually means you’re walking in the footsteps of someone else. There will often be someone better than you, someone making those footsteps you’re following… But if you target being different–thinking in new ways, creating new things–then you are blazing your own trail. And in blazing your own trail, making your own footprints, you are far more likely to find yourself being ‘better’ without even trying. Better becomes easy because it’s really just different. You can’t stand out from the crowd by just being better. You have to be different.”
Chase Jarvis
* There has been recent activity on one of the private ‘Facebook’ groups I manage that questions the integrity of those that make poor copies or plagiarise the work of others. While it is virtually impossible to be original, you can aim to be different. After all its all done before in the world of art let alone photography. An alternative approach shows that you have thought about the problem before you and used your skills to create something that is at the very least perceived as ‘different’. From time immemorial it has been normal practice with artists to learn by copying. The greatest artists that ever lived taught their craft and techniques in their own ‘schools’ by the use of the direct copy method. But, perhaps it is doubtful they ever trained many as innovative artists! That process truly began when the apprentice finally left his master’s school and ventured into the wide world to establish his own ‘visual personality’. In essence the mastery of skill, technique, application and medium that created his ‘Style’. Photography has developed a fairly unique arrogance within its ranks where it seems almost par for the course to defame one’s competition or those who are perceived to work in an inferior genre. Like every great athlete a photographer needs to train and train effectively. It requires dedication and determination even when it begins to hurt. This week I have a photographer from the UAE who is training intensively to become a wedding and portrait practitioner in a very competitive market. This includes not only photographic skills but retouching, presentation and branding. So,  I thought I’d share just a few of his images… 
Interested in a 1:1 Training experience? Contact me at
Retouched images shot by Dubai based photographer  Agnelo Wayne Rodrigues

Retouched images shot by Dubai based photographer Agnelo Wayne Rodrigues

Guidance for Photographers and Photographic Judges – Referencing outside of Photography

by Anthony Van Dyck. An analysis of dynamics

by Anthony Van Dyck. An analysis of dynamics

The art galleries of this world either actual or virtual are a primary source of reference outside the world of Photography and to an extent there is a wealth of visual content on the internet courtesy of those temples of aesthetics. But what should we be looking for to derive both education and inspiration? What is to be learned by making a careful study of figurative art?

For a start, LIGHTING! Then closely followed by POSING and perhaps most influentially, COMPOSITION. Paintings were often created to fit a given space. The client, in many cases the Catholic Church, would say “I need a piece for just over my altar. Perhaps a Triptych?”. And that constituted the compositional brief. In the same discussion, the Bishop, Cardinal or even the Pope himself would ‘suggest’ the subject matter. Perhaps relating to the patron of the particular church or cathedral. Take a good look at the majestic piece, the crucifixion of St.Paul by the Renaissance master, Caravaggio. You’ll learn so much about the application of light, a limited palette and his Tenebrism style so often attributed to Chiaroscuro.

My own photographic journey is on a new but at the same time, old course. A determination to use photography in its digital form as my paint brushes and palette as I strive to create ‘Photographic Art’. More soon…

My experimentation creating images for "Shadows of Magdalene" a poetry collection in the making from Katypoetess

My experimentation creating images for “Shadows of Magdalene” a poetry collection in the making from Katypoetess