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

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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

 

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

10 things a Photographer should know – Part 10 – Real artists create!

Do you just sit around and think of stuff you could create, photograph, build, ship, or design, but never output anything? Then you’re a poser. Take a new approach and make stuff. Maybe what comes out of your studio isn’t perfect, but there should always stuff leaving the door and hitting the web, the page, the billboard, the gallery, or the street. If you are for real, you’ll be pumping out work on the regular.

Chase Jarvis

This is a subject to which I have given a great deal of thought. Indeed it is shaping my future not only as a trainer and educator but also as a serious creator of Art. I have long wished to return to my roots and now believe I know the journey I must take. I realise that for me, the creation of Art simply utilises the tool that is the camera as no more than a sketching device. Indeed it creates the ‘underpainting’ or skeleton of my finished canvasses. As a Trainer I am making the conscious decision to develop workshop to bring out that creativity in every photographer who truly wishes to use Photography as an art form. To give them room to express and the tools to create. To encourage pre-conceptualisation of their Art. To learn to see, master and control directional light used by our forefathers. In short to be artists of a new Renaissance that this time, uses the camera as no more than a brush dipping into the colours of the palette of life to create the extraordinary.

I do hope that many of you can join me on this ‘journey’ and on my “Workshops for Creatives” that will be taking place this year and for many years to come. Let me help you open up a new world of imaging and expand your creativity. There are still places available on my Pride & Prejudice meets Wuthering Heights two day workshop in the Derbyshire Peaks on 24th and 25th July 2016 but contact me soon.

Martin Grahame-Dunn

Beyond ‘Mentoring’ – engaging a Business Consultant

Very recently, I have given a great deal of thought about my previous provisions of a ‘Mentoring Programme’ that simply by the term ‘Programme’, intimated a structure almost equivalent to a curriculum. I also realise that due to the individual needs of every photographer, that such a structure is far from ‘one size fits all’. I have to acknowledge that recipe cannot be the most effective route to meeting the needs of today’s photographers. Some ‘mentees’ or  clients have greater needs than others and require more time and engagement.
Outside of the UK I fully embrace my role as a photographic business consultant which I operate on a fee driven basis commensurate with specifically delivered and measured activities. The closest analogy is engaging the services of a ‘professional’ who charges on a time basis for services rendered. This will be my future business plan governing my engagement with those who I have formally termed as ‘mentees’. The role of a consultant in this industry is in my qualified opinion, to be reactive and responsive as a kind of ‘knowledge bank’ from which a client may choose to access certain information or skills.
In the past there has been a case for working with a select few on an engagement basis where a reduced monthly fee has taken into account a reasonable level of access to my services and advice. Such time being advantageous to those few where a normal consultancy rate per interaction would far exceed the monthly remuneration paid. As an example, any interaction, no matter how brief would be charged at a ‘minimum rate’. From now on I shall offer my services on ‘professional’ rate that is realistic and appropriate.
I shall of course continue to organise a limited number of workshops in a year, for only 8 delegates on each, where the engagement between trainer and attendee will be advantageous and productive. One such intensive two day workshop for those who wish to expand and explore their creativity will be held in the Peak District of Derbyshire on the 24th and 25th of July 2016. At this point there are still a few places available, but I do not anticipate this being the case in the near future. Occasionally there will be other workshops in cooperation with colleagues or organisations.
So, if you need a one off consultation, a ‘how to’ in a specific genre of photography or process, or you’re trying to push your boundaries then contact me, and I will help you.
2016 Rates:
Day – £750.00
Half Day – £350.00
Session of up to One Hour – £75.00
2016 Preferential rates for past Mentees:-
Day – £475.00
Half Day – £250.00
Session of up to One Hour – £50.00

10 things a Photographer should know – Part 9

9. A-Gamers work with A-Gamers.
If you are good at what you do, then you work–or seek to work–with other people who kick ass too. If you suck, then you put yourself around sucky people to feel better about yourself. If you want to be the best, seek to be around awesome people–be it other artists, assistants, producers, clients, partners, whatever. Shoot high. Shoot for better than yourself.
Chase Jarvis
This is all about not setting your sights too low or underpricing, indeed undervaluing your work because you are more concerned about what your low price competitors are up to. People who know me well understand I value the quest of  attaining a ‘Professional’ qualification by a recognised Institute or Association. Why? Because its a personal benchmark. A form of self motivated quality control that drives us to excel in every walk of our photographic lives. Without a doubt in the UK, the BIPP and MPA lead the way with processes that examine our businesses in more depth than ever before. In conclusion, do aim as high as you can. Think of yourself as a purveyor of the finest quality as if you had received an enviable ‘Royal Warrant’. Don’t settle for less!
Martin Grahame-Dunn

10 things a Photographer should know – Part 8

8. “Value” is different from “price.”
Don’t compete on price alone. That is certain death in any creative field. Focus on delivering value and price yourself accordingly. If you deliver great value with your images — better than expected, and better than your competition– and you can illustrate that through any means, then you should be more expensive. And remember that value comes in many forms.
Chase Jarvis
 
* Businesses in Photography fail because they try to compete on price, fact! To simply base your pricing structure on what your competitors are offering without the same costs and overheads is nonsensical and best and financial suicide at worst. Yes, sure, people are motivated by price. We are often told that the customer cannot see the difference but I ask you…can you? Do you accept sub standard based on price and make do? Or do you feel bad about that and go for quality, longevity and by implication, better value?
Martin Grahame-Dunn

10 things a Photographer should know – Part 7 – Make mistakes, learn quickly!

7. Make mistakes, learn quickly.
Simply put, you need to be able to learn from your mistakes. Avoiding failure is not the goal. The goal is recovering from mistakes quickly. That goes for ever element of your photography–creative, business, vision…you name it. If you’re not willing to make mistakes, you’ll be paralyzed with inaction. That is the devil. Get out there and do stuff. If it works, do more of it. If it doesn’t work, change it. Quickly.
Chase Jarvis
 
* Making mistakes is an essential part of the socialisation and learning processes of every human being on this planet. Perhaps we can master mechanical techniques but rarely can we apply these techniques to the letter of the law on our flawed subjects. While symmetrical faces are perceived to be attractive, completely symmetric faces are disconcerting and are not perceived as normal and that is a fact! What we try to do as photographers is to come close to facial symmetry by using light and angles to correct irregularities. A great practitioner will learn to observe defects by studying physiognomy and lighting into the same. That is a practical example of making mistakes and learning how to correct them.
MGD

Art in Photography Workshop – Derbyshire Peaks 2016

In a previous post I gave notice of an exciting workshop to be held in the summer of 2016 to bring to life the imagery of the literature of Jane Austen and Emily Brontë with stunning costume portraiture in dramatic locations, come rain or shine. I have given much thought to this project and instead of making two, one day workshops I have come to the conclusion that a two day offering would be more beneficial for all.

To give a little background and context it is generally believed that Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” was partly written in the town of Bakewell, which she calls ‘Lambton’ in her novel. Occasional visitor to the Peaks, Charlotte Brontë, author of “Jane Eyre” may have written much of the book in Hathersage. 

Period portrait by Martin Grahame-Dunn

Period portrait by Martin Grahame-Dunn

The Workshop will be held on Sunday 24th July and Monday 25th July 2016 at locations in the Hope Valley area of the Peak District of Derbyshire and suitable for Amateurs and Professionals alike of a creative and artistic disposition wishing to expand their technique or simply indulge a love of photography as an art form.

There are just 8 places available and the fee of only £495.00 per person will cover all tuition, models in period costumes and a post event produced Album Epoca Event book designed by Martin incorporating some of the best images from the workshop. Picnic lunches and an evening meal on the first day are also included. This will be two days indulging in art through photography and literature. For more information or to secure your unique place either email Martin at mgrahamedunn@mac.com or call 07854 249710 very soon.