Another excerpt from my recent Australian Judges Workshop Tour. The title of the presentation that underpins the ‘training’ and I believe, clearly illustrates exactly what the knowledgable, skilful and ‘trained’ judge should apply in the common sense of the process. Of course this requires that the judges have studied and researched beyond their practical skill base to ensure they can fairly address whatever may come in front of them. Many years ago it was easy for one to describe themselves as a photographer in a given discipline. But this is 2015 and needs must if one is to survive as a professional photographer. The ability to shoot pretty much whatever is before the lens perhaps makes us ‘jacks of all trades’ but it does not follow that we may be masters of none.
The essence of great judging is “Mind & Heart”. I was asked recently by a very knowledgeable and talented photographer who is now involved in judging, “When should I disregard the ‘rules’ and let my instincts take over when I feel I am looking at a great image that breaks rules?”. My answer to him was simple…
Use your mind to assess the Technical elements that are essential in the creation of a photograph.
Use your heart to ‘feel’ the image, see the stories, bathe in the light and if it stirs your soul, regardless of any so called ‘rules’ into which you have been indoctrinated over the course of your photographic career…
Score high, award originality, outstanding creativity and celebrate a fantastic image. As judges, in an instant you can make a photographer or break their heart. Such are the responsibilities we face and endure.
Sometimes colleagues send me interesting pieces from other practitioners and I found the one by US Photographer, Chase Jarvis, extremely interesting and suitable for adaption for the UK & Europe. Originally inspired by his friend and colleague Guy Kawasaki’s article entitled “What I learned from Steve Jobs.” This piece is really not only food for thought but perhaps, a bit of a ‘How To’ for success in our industry. I have added my own notes in italics too, so here goes…
“Here is a list of 10 things I’ve learned the hard way that every photographer, designer, creative–hell, every creative person–should know”.
1. Experts are NOT the answer.
The blogs, the teachers, the mentors, the seminars are not the answer. They’re not there to tell you exactly what you need to know. If they’re good, then they are there to give you some ideas, some guidelines, or some *rules to learn and subsequently break. This isn’t about the expert, it’s about you. In creative pursuits especially…what’s going on inside you is where the answers can be found. Hear what experts say, but don’t always listen to them.
Never more true words here in part. The worldwide industry is plagued with those who have been in it for five minutes and resort to teaching, often diluted, second-hand or at worst, incorrect material to make easy money from information hungry aspiring photographers. There is most certainly not an in depth understanding of the various learning styles so well researched and documented by leading sociologists. All learning resources, be they face to face or internet must take the learning styles into account. One cannot possibly learn all they need to know online no matter how evangelistic or convincing the sales pitch. I’ll repeat this Ad Nauseum. “Get a Mentor” who will interact with you face to face. There’s nothing better.
* Rules? What rules? I contend strongly that there are definitive laws of Physics in Photography governing the behaviour of light. After that there’s just a whole lot of jumbled notions of multifarious interpretations, the list of those notions or ideas are mostly ‘borrowed’ from the art world and other historical sources to help explain composition, colour theory or aesthetics.
Having left the UK on August 7th for Australia, I now find myself over half way through this workshop tour, thus far visiting the State Capitals – Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra, Brisbane and Perth. The theme, ‘Mind & Heart’ has focussed on the psychological and ethical facets of the evaluation of images and the language used by jurors in expressing their evaluative thoughts to a ‘live’ audience. All too often, what we may say as judges, can be harshly misinterpreted by our fellow jurors, let alone by the eager audience awaiting much needed guidance in the possible remedies to faults within images that if actioned, may result in more successful, and we hope, award winning entries.
Indeed Australia operates an ‘Award’ system whereby images are indeed rewarded for being outstandingly innovative and creative by awarding Gold and Gold Distinctions. At the same time it acknowledges excellence in professional practice with flashes of inspiration and creativity, reinforcing and substantiating the very highest consistent standards seen in the world, by granting Silver and Silver Distinctions to images of particular merit. The system is fair and offers sincere encouragement to those aspiring to higher degrees of achievement.
The issue faced universally is how to recognise images that are simply good professional practice and explain to an entire industry that what you may produce day in and day out, may not be ‘AWARD WINNING PHOTOGRAPHY’. I hope that by continuing to work in cooperation with so many professional bodies that the education of those who fit into this bracket continues and evolves to promote far higher standards. It is a laudable and daunting goal, as trainers and educators walk the thinnest of tightropes with so many who are inextricably emotionally attached to their images.
Themed environmental portraiture workshops July 24th & 25th 2016
On Sunday 24th and Monday 25th July 2016 I will be holding one day workshops with a literary classics theme inspired by Pride & Prejudice and Jane Eyre in the Hope Valley area of Derbyshire’s Peak District. In essence, costumed environmental portraiture where the mastery of light, posing and composition in a story telling manner will be explored with just six delegates.
The days will encompass a briefing, literary themes to inspire the images, shooting sessions, lunch, creative retouching and presentation as well as a wind up group session to discuss the day. Early bird places are only £299 (Booked and paid before 31st December 2015) and include an Album Epoca ‘Event Book’ designed and compiled by Martin Grahame-Dunn containing a selection of images from the day, lighting diagrams and other information. Late bookings will be at the rate of £349.
Bookings being taken now with a £100 deposit per person. Contact Martin at firstname.lastname@example.org to secure your places.
Themed environmental portraiture workshops July 24th & 25th 2016
Following my visit to the Derbyshire Peak District at the weekend, I am resolved to organise two creative photography workshops for those who want to explore the relationship between art, photography and the inspiration of literature. They will be held on Sunday 24th and Monday 25th July 2016 so plenty of time to book in. But, each workshop will be for only 6 participants so it will be first come first served. More soon……
Natalie & Steve 4th July Live Wedding Workshop by Tim Henniker-Parker
If you were even contemplating a place on my REAL Wedding Workshop on 12th September 2015 at Stanbrook Abbey, listen to the words of Tim Henniker-Parker, one of the four photographers who benefitted from participating in my 4th July REAL Wedding Workshop with Natalie and Steve in London…
” I was privileged, following a submission of images, to be invited to join Martin Grahame-Dunn and three other aspiring photographers to photograph, under his guidance and tuition, a Live Wedding in Central London. On the day my initial thoughts were a mixture of fear and excitement. Within minutes of arriving and meeting up with the team the fear evaporated. Martin skilfully directed and guided us thorough the day. Any concerns about getting in the way or crowding the couple were null and void. We were four photographers from very different backgrounds but we all gelled and in my view made a great team. I believe we have captured some great moments and memories of the day. Thank you Martin , it was inspirational, educational and last but not least fun!”
This is an unrepeatable opportunity to enhance your skills as a wedding photographer. NOT a mocked up workshop with professional models in wedding dresses, no grooms, best man, bridesmaids, parents and guests, but a REAL LIVE WEDDING. So if you want to learn more than being in a large group photographing the same single subjects and shoot a real wedding, apply now to email@example.com. Closing date for applications 31st July!
12th September 2015 – Stanbrook Abbey. Almost unique opportunity to enhance your skills as a wedding photographer. Not a mocked up workshop with professional models in wedding dresses, no grooms, best man, bridesmaids, parents and guests, but a REAL LIVE WEDDING. So if you want to learn more than being in a large group photographing the same single subjects and shoot a real wedding, apply now to firstname.lastname@example.org. Closing date for applications 31st July!
Following the success of my recent LIVE Wedding Day Training event, I am once again offering the opportunity for three professional photographers to develop their style and approach to contemporary wedding photography. This is an unexpected second training opportunity to participate in the photography of a wedding of one of my mentees, with my support and art direction on the spot and not likely to ever be repeated. The fee is only £395 per person. The wedding is on Saturday 12th September at the stunning venue of Stanbrook Abbey, Worcester. It’s a photographers dream with a wealth of opportunity to create some inspirational images.
The brief is to train three photographers with my observation and art direction. Images are to be compiled and shared.
The following terms must be agreed and contracted as key to participation:
1. All participants to attend a pre-meet/briefing prior to the wedding.
1. All participants to agree to give all images, copyright free to the couple
2. All participants to agree to share all images shot
3. All participants to agree to attend an image evaluation and album design session to be held at Victoria House, Leamington Spa after the wedding on a date to be arranged.
Please register your interest at email@example.com and you will be sent an application form. Closing date for applications is Friday 31st July 2015.