Recently, I have began a journey of research to use the art and literature of the Pre-Raphaelite era as an inspiration to create pieces of fine art via the medium of photography, in that distinctive painters style. My first reference was to look at certain stanzas in the Keats ballad, written in 1819, “La Belle Dame sans Merci” that in itself is a reworking of the 15th century piece by that name by Alain Chartier. The stanza chosen was:
“I met a lady in the meads,
Full beautiful, a fairy’s child;
Her hair was long, her foot was light,
And her eyes were wild.”
John Keats 1819
So, my Lady and I revisited a location we love, fully laden with a costume (although not in the colours I would have chosen) and props including beautifully crafted armour, and a head garland of white roses, that I had sat and made up the previous evening. The day itself was the third anniversary of us being together and what better way to mark the occasion than by doing something together we both love. Art & Poetry. Waiting for the ’sweet light’ of the day I took sufficient images to create the first test piece for my new collection.
Later that evening having completed the art piece, my Lady, unbeknown to me wrote a beautiful piece of what she has dubbed, ‘Micropoetry’ and Tweeted it to the world. It’s actually a perfect fit for the image and together I believe we have achieved what every artist and his muse desires, a harmony of vision and execution….
“I lavish in desire
for decay around me
in face or flower
cliff rock or body
or the sun setting on
another dying day”
© Katypoetess 2016
With great thanks to the lady and poetess in my life – Katypoetess. Please follow her on Twitter to enjoy more of her ‘Micropoetry’ @Katypoetess. Her first published poetry collection, “Of Lilith and Anthony” is available on Amazon.
© Martin Grahame-Dunn 2016
Some food for thought. What is a Professional Photographer in 2016? What should they look like? How should they behave? Three very important questions then, that need an answer, and probably answers that some will not want to hear. So, perhaps its better to face questions with questions that only one’s conscience can answer.
Isn’t professionalism in photography more about a demeanour than a ‘God Given Right’ to call oneself professional, as it is a sole source of income? Nowadays how many people do we know that have multiple income sources? Many of my ex-commercial photographer friends have had to diversify to survive and some have taken second jobs to make a living. It’s clearly a time for thought and how the professional organisations should be assisting and supporting those who have dedicated most of their working lives to the profession. Ivory towers are havens of fantasy, can fall and are often indefensible.
Surely a professional photographer should dress appropriate to the assignments they are undertaking? Is it therefore right for the photographer at a wedding where the guests are dressed smartly and elegantly in suits and dresses to turn up in jeans, T Shirts? How should one dress to shoot the MD of a blue chip company? As an equal or a tradesman?
Finally, on the subject of behaviour. Of all the ‘disagreements’ between a photographer and a client, the vast majority are caused by behaviour. Sometimes it’s contractual. ‘He said, she said’ scenarios, or at worst its ego’s that get in the way. Fear of criticism of their images to the point of being aggressively defensive when sometimes, those criticisms may be justified.
We are all judged continuously, not by a discerning market but on the whole, a market driven, cost conscious litigious one. Time for inward reflection and to remember, you are your brand.
© Martin Grahame-Dunn 2016
As I am constantly travelling and delivering education, training and mentoring of a global basis, I thought I’d give some thought in this post to the differences of delivery to the dff, the world’s second oldest organisation for professional photographers. So here goes….
A synopsis of the two different level workshops.
- Qualified Master
The Workshop for aspiring ’Masters’ (BIPP and MPA Licentiate equivalent) covers the minimum basic requirements to qualify as a dff “Master’ photographer. The key elements of camera craft, lighting, composition and posing (where appropriate in people photography) are examined and developed in a mixed theory/practical workshop. Demonstrations are given in posing and handling groups in particular. Simplistic but effective lighting techniques are demonstrated and discussed illustrating the better known and used lighting patterns. Individual appraisals are undertaken of each applicants work and in group format, planning, presentation and layout for a digital submission is introduced as another essential element for success.
The Workshop for aspiring ‘Qualified Masters’ (BIPP and MPA Associate equivalent) examines not only the more substantial requirements to achieve a higher level of qualification but also instils the need to understand and practice self appraisal in a constructively critical manner. This is not simply a ‘top up’ of the M workshop as it requires a fresh start by all candidates where there can be little or no reliance on a current and past portfolio. Attaining a higher degree of qualification requires a serious commitment and investment in your future. Increased standards of imaging and ethics undoubtedly result in a better client experience. There are obviously a few areas of common ground between all levels of qualification but these escalate exponentially as the levels and requirements rise. This is a dynamic workshop integrating discussions and planning sessions focussing on personal continuous professional development. Lateral thought will be encouraged and a better understanding of the importance and implications of one to one Mentoring discussed. Your trainer will also explain in detail the systematic approach to conceptualising, planning and executing a person project as the base of your qualification.
If you’re interested in progressing your professional qualifications or simply improving the standard of your imaging, contact me.
The next in my series of constructive critiques of the work of young Egyptian photographers. When I asked Mohamed Mahdy to arrange this I could not have hoed for a more enthusiastic group of young people.
This image entitled “Break Time” shows great insight and a natural flair for composition in its simplistic, documentary approach. It just goes to show that his opening statement is humble as he clearly demonstrates a budding talent with a good eye for an image.
Even thought there are differing points of subject engagement and interest, Ahmed has worked hard on subject placement within the frame and constraints of his DSLR. All to often we hear the terms “fill the frame”, but to do so effectively one should ensure that the content is properly constrained. He has grasped the premise that space around subjects is golden. To enable them to live and breathe giving life and credibility to the animation. ‘Street’ images of this kind are not all about exercising absolute control of your subjects. Rather to affect the composition by placing yourself in the right place and controlling the content of you capture. Well done Ahmed, I can some great images will emerge from this young image maker.
Martin Grahame-Dunn – April 2016
When a testimonial says it all…..
“I may be biased, but I would argue that Martin is the best mentor/photography trainer out there! I first met Martin on a natural lighting course he ran 2 years ago and his passion and knowledge blew me away. Martin is extremely talented and has a rare ability to not only take great images himself but dramatically improve those of others. The development of my images over a short period of time has been nothing other than remarkable. If your looking at developing your photography skills or need ongoing support I would highly recommend any courses or workshops ran by Martin”
Darren Powell – 2016
This intimate, hands on two day workshop is limited to just 8 participants. It will take you on an exciting journey of creating beautiful themed costume portraits, inspired by classic romantic literature, on location in the stunning Peak District of Derbyshire.
- The workshop will be held on Sunday 24th and Monday 25th July 2016 with a literary classics theme inspired by the authors Jane Eyre and Charlotte Brontë. The imagery will be created with the expert supervision and guidance of internationally acclaimed Photographic Artist and Trainer, Martin Grahame-Dunn. In essence, costumed environmental portraiture where the mastery of light, posing and composition will be developed.
- Martin will instruct you how to see and use natural light, control it and create visually powerful images that will be transformed from your camera, into photographic art. He will teach you how to pose your subjects, in various locations, to not only complement your subject but to tell your story.
- This workshop will have a significant impact not only on those who simply love photography and want to explore their creative side, but for all levels of photographers from enthusiasts, amateurs as well as practicing Wedding & Portrait photographers wishing to push their boundaries. For beginners, support will be provided so don’t worry, he will not let anyone feel out of their depth.
What you will learn
What you will need
- How to use natural light and shade to create stunning images.
- How to select backgrounds and environments to bring interest, emotion and drama into your photographic artworks.
- How to find flattering and interesting perspectives through the art and science of physiognomy.
- Which lens(es) to choose and why.
- Effective techniques to create a rapport with your subjects.
- How to create a unique portrait experience in your day to day work and look to compliment each subject’s personality and style.
- How to use wardrobe and posing to bring out the drama and personality of your subjects.
- How to create ‘Photographic Art’ through creative processing techniques.
- A DSLR with a full battery and empty memory card and a basic understanding of how to use your camera and its settings.
- A laptop to download and edit your images
- Any lenses or accessories you want to use.
- A handheld reflector if you have one.
- An umbrella if it looks like rain.
- Sensible clothes and shoes you can easily move around in.
Both days will encompass briefings, literary themes to inspire the images, shooting sessions, creative retouching and presentation as well as a wind up group session to discuss the day. It will also 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. It will also include picnic lunches and refreshments.
- WHEN – Sunday 24th & Monday 25th July 2016 from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM each day
- WHERE – Hope, The Peak District National Park, Derbyshire.
- WORKSHOP PLACE – £495.00
I have focussed on Portraiture for many of my posts but it occurs to me that as a pretty successful and accomplished past wedding photographer, that I should spare some thoughts on what made my business a little different.
Think before you shoot – The Art of Visual Choreography
This is and was one of my real specialist areas. Over the years on assignment and during workshops I have explained and demonstrated my philosophy of ‘Visual Choreography’. In short this involves the direct interaction between the Photographer and their subjects to ‘Stage Manage’ the event in the quest for the best images possible. The concept that everybody wants their wedding to be the most unique and special day in their lives must be amplified through ‘Visual Choreography’. Perhaps nowadays those couples who simply state that their day should be recorded as a ‘Fly on the wall’ assignment are embarking upon a potential recipe for disaster. Indeed any recipe without key ingredients or precise preparation times is likely to be a nasty tasting concoction, ready for the bin!
Perhaps ask yourself the question “Who is the REAL best man (or woman) at the Wedding” and extol the virtues of your organisational skills to your clients. Traditionally the timing of a wedding event is based around the core principle that there will be a photographer there who will make the constituent parts of that day hang together as a coherent event that will be professionally recorded forever.
Martin Grahame-Dunn 2016
This is the first of a new series of Image Critiques for young and aspiring image makers, most of whom are from the Gulf and Arab States. At the HIPA 5th season awards in Dubai in mid March 2016 I was privileged to meet Mohamed Mahdy during the Photo Forum at the new D3 design district, the venue for the Photographic Exhibition that featured the work of so many Photographic Artists. For me the works of the young Egyptians, curated by my friend and colleague Ayman Lofty, were outstanding. Mohamed is just 19 years old and already making a significant contribution, so here goes…
For me the strength of this image is its content. Stories within stories. The viewer is invited to travel into the image led by the vanishing points and dynamic lines that take the eye directly to a centre of interest. I do wonder if a more decisive crop outside the 3:2 ratio offered by the DSLR may be more appropriate.
The additional subject matter above the level of the plank could be viewed as more distracting than complimentary. In short, I encourage you to ‘think outside the box’ and utilise powerful and decisive cropping that will make your images stand out from the rest.
MGD April 2016