10 things a Photographer should know – Part 4

4. Big challenges create the best work.
“If you get assignments that are pushing your vision, your skills, then awesome. Kudos to you, keep getting those assignments. If you’re not getting those assignments, then you need to be self-assigning that challenging work. Give yourself tough deadlines and tougher creative challenges. You do your best work where there is a challenge that is clearly present and 10 feet taller than you think you can handle.”
Chase Jarvis
* All I have to say on this one is ‘Command and Control’. Command the respect of your clients as a real expert in high demand even if you’re not at this time in your career and its all smoke and mirrors. Control situations and make sure you are seen to be in control! There is a huge benefit in self motivated ‘projects’ to boost your business. Consider it essential research and development. Don’t be afraid to ‘cold call’ potential clients if you have a product you truly believe in and is a benefit to them and their businesses. Price you products realistically and make offers that are difficult to refuse. Over 80% of the contents of your essential business toolbox should be sales and presentations skills. Get out there and shoot new images that are commissioned by yourself as a practical presentation pack. And above all, make that presentation consistent!
MGD
Giving clients high quality presentation and variety is essential to your business image.

Giving clients high quality presentation and variety is essential to your business image.

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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 mgrahamedunn@mac.com 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… 
MGD
Interested in a 1:1 Training experience? Contact me at mgrahamedunn@mac.com
Retouched images shot by Dubai based photographer  Agnelo Wayne Rodrigues

Retouched images shot by Dubai based photographer Agnelo Wayne Rodrigues