Keeping up appearances – being a great photographer is a complete package!

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

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Professional Qualifications in Denmark with the dff

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.

  1. Master
  2. 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.

Ahmed Gaber – Aged 19 – A young Egyptian Photographer with something to say

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.

Ahmed Gaber text

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.

"Break Time" by Ahmed Gaber, aged 19 from Egypt

“Break Time” by Ahmed Gaber, aged 19 from Egypt

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

From my Mentee – Allen Thomasson LBIPP

Thanks to my Mentee, Allen Thomasson of Timeless Portraiture for this testimonial…
I discovered Martin completely by accident whilst reviewing some business webinars on the Imagefile website. His no nonsense approach to business and photography was refreshing and I thought that is what I need, clear concise advice and critique. So I joined Martins’ Mentoring Programme in April 2015 and can say it is the best thing I have done for my photography and confidence as a photographer. 
With Martin’s support and guidance, I submitted a panel of 5 portraits for the BIPP National Photography Competition in October 2015. In February I attend the awards evening at the BIPP HQ and was chuffed to be awarded joint winner of the Provisional Photographer of the Year 2016. I was also successful in gaining my L’ plates on 3rd March 2016 when my panel of 25 portraits was assessed and awarded my Licentiateship (LBIPP). I really believe that I would not have achieved this without Martin.
Martin is a great teacher; putting you at ease, generous with his knowledge and skills of the craft and encouraging  you to constantly improve and learn. When creating portraits I now hear a voice saying ”Step back. Don’t zoom”, “lighting; Flag it! Vary it!”. 
Do your photography a favour and ask Martin to mentor you and realise your potential. Thank you Martin.
Allen Thomasson – 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

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

 

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!

Dubai PhotoWeek – New venture, new website!

This week has seen the launch of the Dubai Photo Exhibition website that features the host of activities following the HIPA Grand Awards event on Monday 14th March.

Dubai Photo Exhibition Website - The Photo Forum

Dubai Photo Exhibition Website – The Photo Forum

The Dubai Photo Exhibition presents artwork from 23 countries spanning numerous regions across the world. The 18 curators, guided by Head Curator Zelda Cheatle, have carefully selected each of their region’s most important photography based on their precise expertise. Running alongside the exhibition is a series of thought-provoking talks and forums, not forgetting various photography related activities that are fun for adults and kids, across the four days.

Running alongside the exhibition will be a community street style open-air carnival that includes a range of colourful and vibrant activities; musical entertainment and catering bringing further energy and life to the event along with fun for all the family.

For further information please visit http://dubaiphotoexhibition.ae/en