10 things a Photographer should know – Part 2

2. Clients cannot tell you what they need.
“Clients hire you because they have a problem. They need a great visual representation of something, a solution. They think they know the best way to photograph something, but they don’t really. That’s why they hire you. Take their suggestions to heart, because they definitely know their brand, product, their vision–perhaps even shoot a few versions of the images they THINK they want to see first–but then go nuts with own vision. Add value. Show them something they didn’t expect. Don’t be a monkey with a finger. Remember why you got hired…that YOU are the badass image maker. If you are good enough to get selected for the job, you should be good enough to drive the photographic vision.”
Chase Jarvis
* Your role as an image maker and service provider is to offer solutions. Never forget that. You are being paid to come up with ideas or shape the dreams of your clients and manifest them into tangible images that tell their story. You need to learn to listen to your clients and not railroad them. Say ‘Yes’ and try never to say ‘No’. Clearly there are restrictions governed by either technique, practicality or even safety that make the manifestation of some of their ideas virtually impossible. You will be judged on your problem solving abilities and the way you communicate in a respectful and authoritative manner. Be reactive and responsive to your clients needs and you will not fail to run a successful business.
MGD
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Mind & Heart – Workshops to explore evaluative processes in photography

Lecturing at the HIPA Grand Awards 2015

Lecturing at the HIPA Grand Awards 2015

Its been quite some time since I discussed the concept of evaluative processes in photography for organisations who use print judging systems are designed to qualify their members as ‘professional’ photographers. Being privileged to lecture worldwide and have been involved in the design and inception of systems in a number of Countries, this has given me more than a domestic perspective. Its always been a thorny subject as, in a perceived art form it is said that ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’ and therefore a SUBJECTIVE process, defined as ‘Personal opinions, assumptions, interpretations and beliefs’ rather than OBJECTIVE, defined as ‘Observation of measurable facts’. At some point, for any system to function fairly a mixture of the two must be taken into consideration.

My role will be to offer suggestions, discuss quantifiable criteria and hopefully inspire a new generation of judges and re-kindle a passion in the experienced ones.

My sincere thanks go to Rocco Ancora, Ryan Schembri, Kylie Lyons and the Board of the Australian Institute of Professional Photography for giving me the opportunity to share and hopefully, inspire.

See you soon Australia!

Martin Grahame-Dunn

Martin Grahame-Dunn

Photographers – Artists or Tradesmen? – Part One

Only a few short months ago in London, when the Sun was sort of shining, on and off,  meeting my best friend from school and walking around the National Gallery was a wonderful way to recharge life’s batteries and put many things into perspective. Recently I have had many people ask me what photographers have influenced me creatively and my answer is always the same….none. It’s not that I don’t have respect for fellow professionals past and present or admire their work, it’s way more than that. Let me first ask who or what are photographers in the 21st century? Surely if there had been cameras around in the Renaissance or the Baroque, wouldn’t they simply be called artists? Isn’t a camera simply another tool of capture and expression as much as a paint brush, palette knife or canvas? Wouldn’t they have been driven, patronised and commissioned by exactly the same people back then? Those being the Church or the extraordinarily wealthy wishing to commemorate their status in society and buy their way to immortality via the Pearly Gates?

What made them artists in those halcyon days was their use of light and its importance in showing a three dimensionality to their subjects. So if I have to identify a great difference, then it would be that on the whole, photographers have extremely poor lighting skills and simply forget that our art and craft is all about flattery! I think if Lorenzo de Medici commissioned your average photographer back then, it would not have been long before their heads adorned spikes in St.Mark’s Square! So here’s a wake up call to all those who have poor or no skills and scream “It’s all about expression and the moment”. How wrong can you be and if only it were as simple as that!

I remember my first day on my Fine Art Foundation Course just like it was yesterday. A bunch of enthusiastic, idealistic Art students proudly turn up with mahogany boxes loaded with Windsor & Newton oil colours, palette knives, sable and hogs hair brushes only to have them gathered up and locked away in a cupboard. Our tutor, a crazy Yorkshireman called John Yeadon, whose idea of a holiday was throwing stones at the troops in Chile, travelling with his beloved Cello and wrinkled clothes crammed in its battered case, handed us each a toothbrush with the immortal words “You buggers will learn to see light in all it’s beauty AND learn to paint with this!!!! When you’ve learned that, you can have your posh boxes back!” Talk about a wake up call!

Next instalment coming very soon….

To enter, or not to enter…that is the question!

Debate rages all over the internet on Photography Awards with a plethora of choice out there, just what should you consider when choosing and entering?

The primary question seems to be one of motive. Why exactly are the organisers offering such amazing prizes or huge financial rewards? What do the organisers get out of it? Will they steal my copyright? Will they hijack my identity? And possible the real big one, are the results ‘fixed’?!!?!

So what makes a great award well worth entering? First of all, integritity. One where the honoured judges are not compromised by being given a whole list of do’s and don’ts that undermine and potentially embarrass them. After all, the final results are firmly pinned to the reputations of the judges rather than the organisers themselves! If a worldwide award purports to truly represent the very best of imaging then ‘censorship’ is highly inappropriate at any level including cultural or religious differences. One shining example of ‘Best Practice’ is the World Press Awards which are probably the most sought after and highly valued accolades. If its ‘Press’ then there are no holds barred which results in a massive diversity of imaging that illustrates or highlights issues, situations or conflicts that affect us all. Their judging process is clean and efficient and their judges are drawn from the upper echelons of the press. Practitioners who have truly seen it all and as they say, got the T Shirt.

Another renowned competition is HIPA, The Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashed Al Maktoum International Photography Award. With a 2014 prize fund exceeding $400,000 USD and a top Prize of $120,000 it is indeed the World’s richest award. This year it has four categories with it’s flagship being “Life in Colour”. This is not what it appears to be at first view. A more understandable interpretation my be more culturally termed, ‘life’s rich pattern’. I am sure the Judges will be looking for far mote than a kaleidoscope of actual colour within images! The other categories are ‘General’ (essentially an open category), Faces (especially for Black & White submissions) and ‘Night Photography’. For more information you can visit http://www.hipa.ae/en/life-in-colour-2014-2015/categories

Finally, and this is one close to my heart for many years as its Chairman of Judges, is the CBRE Urban Photographer of the Year awards with the acronym, ‘UPOTY’. With a single theme, “Cities at Work”, it poses an exciting challenge to its entrants which for the last two years has been worldwide. Historically there have been prizes for each of the 24 hours of the day with a top prize of a photo safari somewhere in the world. Once again, for more information please visit http://www.cbreupoty.com

Good luck, share your images and be successful!