Why I love printed images!

Its really not that long ago that it was the norm to have professionally printed, just about every image we took. Indeed since the advent of the photographic process, a print of some kind has always been made. Prints were valued as art, as memories, as legacy and as records. Without prints we would not be able to enjoy the earliest portraiture of Julia Margaret Cameron, a pioneer who loved to ‘hang out’ with the artists of the Pre-Raphaelite movements and who was equally revered as an artist in a new and exciting medium. Books and publications abound illustrating the lives of people, their clothing choices, hairstyles and fashions, some of which are valuable historical documents and others provide sources of amusement and nostalgia. The importance of the printed image has affected every facet of our lives in living memory.

Then came the advent of universally accessible digital imaging and our world has changed, virtually overnight. So, are the warnings of the ‘father of the internet’, Vint Cerf being heeded? He warned of a “digital Dark Age” — a future in which there will be little record of the 21st century. “Old formats of documents that we’ve created or presentations may not be readable by the latest version of the software because backwards compatibility is not always guaranteed”

To me the message is clear as day. If I can’t hold it, stand back from it and admire it on a wall or in a book, I have nothing of any particular value. A ‘real’ artist of any kind, whatever they may say, wishes to leave a legacy. Legacies that are universally accessible and not confined to a PC, Mac, iPad, phone or other digital device. Don’t get me wrong, online services that aid sales in a universal market are an essential component of a modern photographic business but even their aim is to make a print!

"Under the Cross" an artwork illustrating a poem from 'Shadows of Magdalene' © Katypoetess 2016. Printed on Permajet's Mercury Canvas

“Under the Cross” an artwork illustrating a poem from ‘Shadows of Magdalene’ © Katypoetess 2016. Printed on Permajet’s Mercury Canvas

Call me old fashioned, out of date or an industry dinosaur. I don’t care! Having just achieved a pivotal Historical Research Fellowship with the BIPP I had to make my own prints. Not just prints but canvases. I could have gone to my favourite lab, One Vision Imaging (they did print my ‘evidence’ books!) but this control freak sourced superb inkjet products from Permajet (huge thanks to Robin Whetton, Alex Cullen and the team at the Imaging Warehouse) and output everything myself on a pair of printers. Finally, the shop window on the world. My all new Zenfolio website (Adam Edwards, thanks for making this happen) where I gave the design team the task of creating an art gallery site to actually sell prints! Vanity? Legacy? Practicality? Whatever your motive, it’s what we should all be doing – Make a Print!

© Martin Grahame-Dunn 2016

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When is an image truly Fine Art?

It’s still alarming that the term ‘Fine Art photography’ continues to be a repository of anything not understood or perceived to be outside the comfort zone of existing, established genres or categories in the photography world. I beg the question “When is an image truly Fine Art?” Surely it cannot simply be a consumable studio portrait with the application of texture on a bland background where we are asked to accept it as ‘art’ solely based on its technique in image manipulation software? When does a landscape cease to be a landscape and become a Constable or a Turner but captured with a camera? It truly has become a minefield often of misinformation.

Quo Vadis Domini - Wither goest thou Lord?

Quo Vadis Domini – Whither goest thou Lord?

Is it not a simple truth that the Renaissance artists only used natural light in the most exquisitely controlled ways. Doesn’t it make you wonder just how much knowledge has been lost in our modern day lives and perhaps why photographers have struggled to be accepted and acknowledged as artists? Have you ever wondered where the mystical and mythical forty five degree lighting angle theory and practice took its rise? Certainly not YouTube and the Internet!

I relish discussions of this nature with family, friends and fellow artists. In one such recent discussion with my partner and co-creative poetess, she put forward the proposition that from her perceptions and experiences a piece of art should contain ‘pharmaceutical elements’ that constitute a perfect combination, resulting in a definitive outcome whose effects are clearly understood. Perhaps in essence, it could be explained as the complexity of the union of elements that are brought together in a work of art. For surely the most powerful art forms illicit emotional and intellectual responses. Food for thought don’t you think?

Martin Grahame-Dunn FBIPP ©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

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

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

10 things a Photographer should know – Part 9

9. A-Gamers work with A-Gamers.
If you are good at what you do, then you work–or seek to work–with other people who kick ass too. If you suck, then you put yourself around sucky people to feel better about yourself. If you want to be the best, seek to be around awesome people–be it other artists, assistants, producers, clients, partners, whatever. Shoot high. Shoot for better than yourself.
Chase Jarvis
This is all about not setting your sights too low or underpricing, indeed undervaluing your work because you are more concerned about what your low price competitors are up to. People who know me well understand I value the quest of  attaining a ‘Professional’ qualification by a recognised Institute or Association. Why? Because its a personal benchmark. A form of self motivated quality control that drives us to excel in every walk of our photographic lives. Without a doubt in the UK, the BIPP and MPA lead the way with processes that examine our businesses in more depth than ever before. In conclusion, do aim as high as you can. Think of yourself as a purveyor of the finest quality as if you had received an enviable ‘Royal Warrant’. Don’t settle for less!
Martin Grahame-Dunn

10 things a Photographer should know – Part 8

8. “Value” is different from “price.”
Don’t compete on price alone. That is certain death in any creative field. Focus on delivering value and price yourself accordingly. If you deliver great value with your images — better than expected, and better than your competition– and you can illustrate that through any means, then you should be more expensive. And remember that value comes in many forms.
Chase Jarvis
 
* Businesses in Photography fail because they try to compete on price, fact! To simply base your pricing structure on what your competitors are offering without the same costs and overheads is nonsensical and best and financial suicide at worst. Yes, sure, people are motivated by price. We are often told that the customer cannot see the difference but I ask you…can you? Do you accept sub standard based on price and make do? Or do you feel bad about that and go for quality, longevity and by implication, better value?
Martin Grahame-Dunn

10 things a Photographer should know – Part 7 – Make mistakes, learn quickly!

7. Make mistakes, learn quickly.
Simply put, you need to be able to learn from your mistakes. Avoiding failure is not the goal. The goal is recovering from mistakes quickly. That goes for ever element of your photography–creative, business, vision…you name it. If you’re not willing to make mistakes, you’ll be paralyzed with inaction. That is the devil. Get out there and do stuff. If it works, do more of it. If it doesn’t work, change it. Quickly.
Chase Jarvis
 
* Making mistakes is an essential part of the socialisation and learning processes of every human being on this planet. Perhaps we can master mechanical techniques but rarely can we apply these techniques to the letter of the law on our flawed subjects. While symmetrical faces are perceived to be attractive, completely symmetric faces are disconcerting and are not perceived as normal and that is a fact! What we try to do as photographers is to come close to facial symmetry by using light and angles to correct irregularities. A great practitioner will learn to observe defects by studying physiognomy and lighting into the same. That is a practical example of making mistakes and learning how to correct them.
MGD

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 mgrahamedunn@mac.com or call 07854 249710 very soon.