Pride and Prejudice in Environmental Portraiture

Themed environmental portraiture workshops July 24th & 25th 2016

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……





Online Portfolio Appraisals – Limited Offer!

Film Strip of 4
Have you been frustrated by the lack of success when entering photo competitions? You keep entering awards & competitions and not getting the results you wished for. Ever wondered why some photographers have a monopoly on winning competitions. Or is the world of awards nothing more than a murky secret?
Here is your chance to discover the ‘mysteries’ of how an image is marked by the leading judges in the world of professional photography via the medium of 1:1 ONLINE portfolio reviews by Martin Grahame-Dunn.
The format is very informal and questions are invited and expected throughout. If you would like to see how your image will fare in a competition, you will need to book a session, download the ‘’ app and send a folder of images at 1000 pixels at 300dpi to Martin. A one hour session is only £40 until August 1st 2015. Contact Martin now on 07854 249710 or email at

Natural Light Portraiture Programmes – September 2015

Katy Muse 1
Following the success of my 2014 ‘Natural Light Portraiture’ events, I have decided to put on two more in the Autumn of 2015. Both programmes will once again be held at a Warwickshire venue for four action-packed hours of fun, education, shooting and advice from someone who is regarded as a respected worldwide trainer of photographers. This is just one of the endorsements I have received from an American Photographer who has tried to sum it all up…
“I’m a little giddy & star-struck to have one of my favorite mentor/photographers joining our group! Welcome, Martin Grahame-Dunn! Aaron and I met Martin at AFTERDARK Training in Portland, Oregon. Aaron and I tried to attend several classes, but there were so many “ROCK STAR” photographers, it seemed a little strange. Until we found Martin. Completely knowledgable, completely artistic – Aaron and I knew we found a gem in him and ended up stalking him EVERYWHERE that weekend. We dumped the other classes and just went to anything Martin was teaching. Our beautiful lighting is from his influence. We are PROUD to know Martin (and excited on a new project next year). Welcome, WELCOME to you!
So, dates will be announced soon and if you want to secure a valuable place, please email me as soon as possible at with ‘Book me in!’ as the subject. I’m looking forward to your company and inspiring you in the very near future.

International Judging and Scoring Systems in Photography – Part 9 – “Creativity & Style”

I am publishing this post at the end of the 2014 PWS Annual Convention in Thessaloniki, Greece where I served as the Jury Chairman for the 4th year. The standard of imaging and the rise of competency and creativity in Greece and the Balkans has been meteoric. So, it only seems logical to feature the next criteria right here and now.

2. Creativity & Style

This is indeed the Million Dollar question. Is an image creative and if so, how do we attempt to define creativity? It is without question a thought process that demonstrates some degree of individuality or at the very least the desire for the artist to be ‘different’ from the masses. This is one of the ‘combination elements’ that can both positively and negatively affect an overall score. It can neither be ignored or denied that since the dawn of art let alone photography, an exponent learns their craft and techniques and therefore by implication, ‘creativity’ by emulating the work (copying) of their ‘Master’. In the case of Photography it is easy to see the direct influences of those who instruct. However, that should be the first step to improving technique and once those techniques are indeed mastered, the next step is to develop one’s own style. This may manifest itself in the use of light, composition or processing technique that may be identified as more ‘unique’. On the premise that nothing is truly new in Photography, one can only aspire to being different. Once this difference is noticed by one’s peer then it can be said that an image maker has developed their own creativity and style.

My 'Style' of Steampunk Photography. Natural light in Studio, processed with Nik Software

My ‘Style’ of Steampunk Photography. Natural light in Studio, processed with Nik Software


International Judging and Scoring Systems in Photography – Part 6


Now follows a more in depth look at the ‘Ten’ criteria, but first I want to take a brief look at what I  have described as ‘combination elements’, ‘power elements’ and finally, ‘technical elements’ that all contribute to the decision making process.

The “POWER” Elements

• Impact

• Composition

• Lighting

The ‘Power’ elements combine strongly to become the greatest influencers on any given score. Judges are historically more likely to be more forgiving of certain technical deficiencies when presented with what they determine to be a powerful image. As an example, an image which has what may be described as a Wow! factor will inevitably contain subject matter that invokes a strong emotional response. When combined with great lighting skill, powerful composition and pleasing aesthetics, images of this type result in very high scores and prompt extremely emotive discussion. The question then often begs, ‘Is it creative?”. In such cases where the judges overwhelmingly decide it is then they are immediately inclined to disregard minor technical deficiencies.

On the other hand, the ‘Power’ factor can be extremely negative. This is often manifested where the subject matter itself is deemed to be either shocking and distasteful, evoking powerful negative emotions and sometimes, repulsion. In this scenario, the judges must be very careful to strongly assess the other essential factors. As an example, a powerful documentary or press image of an atrocity that contains vital and important social narrative must not be underscored due to personal revulsion or taste. The maxim, ‘If it tells an important story and must be seen” must be applied and an appropriate score given. Jurors must remember that it is down to the hosting organisation to set the criteria for entry and not for any judge to criticise where the submitted image has been deemed suitable for entry. In such cases a good Jury Chairman will simply instruct his jurors to simply “Judge what you see!”

Judges will have been selected on their ability to assess what is and is not a great use of lighting technique and should be sufficiently versed with the technical as well as innovative aspects of lighting. In digital assessments, poor lighting technique will become even more obvious due to the increased contrast ratios incurred in digital projection.

Composition is a subject that is endlessly debated and an area where Jurors must be extremely careful not to impose their own values and notional ‘Rules’ when making their assessments. Many of the so called ‘rules’ in photography are simply notions that have been translated, moderated, shaped and moulded to fit photography, which in the course of time and art, is still in its infancy. Essentially, great judges ‘feel’ a composition is right without the need to quantify what is almost a genetic imprint of what we as human beings find pleasing or disturbing. Images that demonstrate a great deal of symmetry and balance induce feelings of peace, calm and equilibrium. While poorly composed images invoke feelings of disorder or chaos that we found both displeasing and disturbing.

A Taste of Things to Come

During 2014 and beyond I will be constantly re-evaluating and refining my training programmes which are delivered  on a Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced basis, covering such subjects as:-

  • Essential Camera Craft (Lighting, Posing, Composition, Camera Control)
  • Natural Light Photography
  • Studio Lighting Techniques with iLux Lighting
  • Off Camera Flash on location
  • Simple Image Enhancement with Adobe Photoshop using plug-ins (Nik Software, onOne Software, Snapheal Pro & Intensify Pro)
  • Chromakey Lighting and production techniques with iLux, Westcott & FX Home’s ‘Photokey 6’ Software
  • Command & Control – The Art of Creative Direction
  • Enhancing your Creativity – A Programme for Masters of Photography
  • Art & Photography, Beyond the Lens  – Another Programme for Masters of Photography

For more information or to use the list as a ‘framework’ for either a One2One or small group day with me, call me on 07854 249710 for an informal chat and together we can take your photography to new heights.