“Nubian Man” by Yasser Alaa Mobarak – Egypt

“My name is Yasser. I’m 23-year-old, award-winning amateur photographer based in Alexandria, Egypt. I’m Sony World Photography Awards commended photographer. I won photography prizes from The International Federation of Photographic Art, National Geographic Egypt, Photographic Society of America and Prix De La Photographie Paris.

I’m a holder of AFIAP distinctions from the International Federation of Photographic Art and holder of Associateship from Image Colleague Society International. I were judge in the photoessay category at Adobe Youth Voices Awards 2014 and in the visual composition category at Adobe Youth Voices Awards 2015. Also I were judge twice in Romania National Creativity Contest.

I saw your constructive powerful artistic critique on the photographs of my Egyptian colleagues. I will be pleased if you can give me the honor by critiquing one of my photographs.
Thank you. Greetings from Egypt.”

Yasser Alaa Mobarak,
International Youth Representative,
International Education and Resource Network
This delightful request appeared in my email just a few days ago. It’s particularly pleasing to know that constructive image critiques are appreciated so much, so I have much pleasure in complying with this young man’s request…..
"Nubian Man" by Yasser Alaa Mobarek - Egypt

“Nubian Man” by Yasser Alaa Mobarek – Egypt

Entitled “Nubian Man” this observational portrait is generally well composed but a little too tight in the frame. To add space around one’s images is to give them ‘room to breathe’ and add further context. Just perhaps, a moment captured with direct eye contact may have been more powerful. If one looks to the subjects eyes, there is a clear catchlight. The benefit of such a catchlight is to draw the viewers eyes to a definitive point of engagement. In this case it lies in the white of the eyes and results in a disengagement. Yasser, please try to tone down the processing which can often be a problem to the eyes of a photographic judge. Perhaps experiment with Nik Software by Google but learn to use it in a delicate way. The subtle tones do the image justice and are to be applauded. Well done young man and continue to follow your passion.

Martin Grahame-Dunn – April 2016

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Belal Yousry – “Life of Music”

A wonderful statement by 16 year old Egyptian photographer, Belal Yousry. This young man has far to go!

A wonderful statement by 16 year old Egyptian photographer, Belal Yousry. This young man has far to go!

At only 16 years of age, this creative thinking Egyptian photographer has been producing surreal images with his new-found skills of digital manipulation and a love of photography that is clearly a medium with which he can express himself. I am sure that as his experience and knowledge of technique grows, we will see greater things emerge.

"Life of Music" by Belal Yousry

“Life of Music” by Belal Yousry

The constituent elements are well composited and conceived, but Belal would do well to look at specific lighting directions and the resulting shadows to make this image more plausible. Perhaps if the music in the background was in more of a wave form it could add motion to an otherwise static image. Even though the subjects are statues, implied movement, more depth and density, would increase the drama and narrative. Even to consider ‘flipping’ the statues to constrain the interest may change the nature of this image. In conclusion, research surrealism in art. Study experts in the field of digital manipulation and continue to set your mind free!

Martin Grahame-Dunn – April 2016

New Testimonial – Darren Powell

Fun and games at the reception - Darren Powell taking centre stage!

Fun and games at the reception – Darren Powell taking centre stage!

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

The Images of Lubna Abdel Aziz – Egypt

Before I met Lubna, I was drawn to her beautiful and expressive imagery at the recent Dubai Photo Exhibition. I will be discussing a number of her works that make this young lady stand out as a real ‘one to watch’ in her progress as a Photographic Artist. To simply call her a ‘photographer’ would be an understatement. The immediate impression is that she has learned to express herself in this medium, not with the most sophisticated and expensive camera equipment, but with her mind and vision.

The Artist Photographer Lubna Abdel Aziz

The Artist Photographer Lubna Abdel Aziz

The artwork entitled “She” is to me, reminiscent of a blend of painterly approaches from the surreal of René Magritte to the delightful works of 19th century French portrait painter Gustave Jean Jaquet. The absolute simplicity of its pose, choice of costume and a mood emphasised by a subdued, almost desaturated pallete with a splash of colour with nothing more than a blank wall as the background to the canvas adds drama and narrative to the content.

"She" by Lubna Abdel Aziz

“She” by Lubna Abdel Aziz

I wanted to know more about this young artist and was pleasantly surprised when she introduced herself to me when I was making observations on her collection to my learned colleagues. It is all so easy for photographic critics to find negative factors within an image but far more difficult to hold one’s tongue, subdue ‘learned’ negativity due to observance of so called rules that are mostly unsubstantiated in fact and poorly applied, and simply accept a piece of honest, beautiful art for what it is. My only useful input is to aid referencing outside of photography into the glorious world of art.

Martin Grahame-Dunn

 

Two Day Literary Themed Photography Workshop – 24th & 25th July 2016

My lady in a Jane Austen themed portrait, shot in a strong, cold wind!

My lady in a Jane Austen themed portrait, shot in a strong, cold wind!

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
  • 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.
What you will need
  • 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.

Bookings are being taken now with a £100 deposit per person. Contact Martin at mgrahamedunn@mac.com or katehughes.mgd@gmail.com to secure your place.

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

Martin’s thoughts on Wedding Photography – Back to Basics and Taking Control

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!

Visually Choreographed Images

Visually Choreographed Images

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

 

The photographic art of Manar Gad – Egypt

Manar Gad 1

Inspiring words indeed from this young lady with the potential to become a leading light in Egyptian photography. I have selected the following image from her impressive portfolio to comment upon.

It is indeed ‘painterly’ in its approach with the delight of a limited palette and a patina reminiscent of a 19th century piece of Art. Had it not been for the young boy seated on the mule at camera right and a few other modern day hints, the image could have been portraying a scene anytime in the last 3,000 years. Compositionally strong and with a great narrative, it tells a story of a daily journey; in its location nothing unusual, yet its beauty, tranquility and simplicity touches us all.

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“TIME” by Mohamed Mahdy – Egypt

"TIME" by Mohamed Mahdy - a 19 year old photographic artist

“TIME” by Mohamed Mahdy – a 19 year old photographic artist

This is the second of my image reviews of a group of young Arab photographers. I asked each one to send me biography information or even a personal statement. These words by 19 year old Mohamed Mahdy really sum up the purpose…

“We are group of Egyptian documentary photographers. We document what is not seen through photographs taken on mobile phones or cameras, as Egypt is full of good opposites and bad ones. Our aim is to capture the decisive moment with story telling in order to show and search for Egypt’s spirit, and to show our vision.”
Mohamed Mahdy 2016

So, on to my image review…..In the world of Professional Photographic judging many jurors are drawn to the highlights within an image that may be described as ‘distracting’. That is, those areas that draw the eye away from the centre of interest or critical viewpoint. To illustrate my point I have reduced those highlights significantly to draw our attention to the most important aspect of any image…the story. Finally, be mindful that less is more when it comes to post processing.

Martin Grahame-Dunn – April 2016

Edited version of "TIME" with the highlights subdued drawing our eyes to the storytelling content more decisively

Edited version of “TIME” with the highlights subdued drawing our eyes to the storytelling content more decisively

Critique: Mohamed Mahdy – Egypt – Through the Childhood

Through the Childhood - an image by Mohamed Mahdy of Egypt

Through the Childhood – an image by Mohamed Mahdy of Egypt

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.

Cropped image - illustrating the lines of dynmaic, vanishing points and decisive crop

Cropped image – illustrating the lines of dynmaic, vanishing points and decisive crop

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

HIPA Grand Awards and the Dubai Photo Forum 2016

Moderating the Dubai Photo Forum

Moderating the Dubai Photo Forum

It’s only a week or so since the event of the HIPA Grand Awards and the new format, Dubai Photo Forum 2016. The Grand Award ceremony was a glittering affair attend by nearly 1000 people to celebrate the culmination of their 5th season, “Happiness”. But that wasn’t all. Under the guidance of 18 international curators and the patronage of HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashi Al Maktoum the first Dubai Photo exhibition proved to be a resounding success.

A passionate discussion featuring Henk Van Kooten from the Netherlands, Adeeb Alani President of the Arab Union of Photographers and Ayman Lofty from Egypt

A passionate discussion featuring Henk Van Kooten from the Netherlands, Adeeb Alani President of the Arab Union of Photographers and Ayman Lofty from Egypt

Instead of the customary workshops attached the the week, HIPA decided to host a vibrant series of forums with topics to discuss and highlight issues in the world of photography. I was honoured to moderate a particularly lively discussion on standards and judging practices. With issues aired and possibilities abundant, I can’t wait to see what the future will bring!