This second in the 2015 series of Studio Lighting Masterclass Workshops is on 30th April and is designed to examine and implement ‘best practice’ in professional portrait studio lighting. The course will cover ‘Low Key’, ‘Mid Key’, ‘High Key’ and a glance at ‘Beauty Lighting’ for good measure. How often have we been told to simply place your lights at position ‘X’ and at forty-five degrees and it will be OK? What does this mean and why? I will take the myth and legend out of studio portrait lighting and cut to the chase with a common sense, practical approach that will be understood and above all, a workable solution.
I am pleased to announce that the Studio here at Victoria House, Leamington Spa, England, UK will be available for hire at extremely competitive rates from next week. So if you’re looking for a place to develop your photography, look no further and contact me on 07854 249710. If you need help, my Mentoring services are also available.
- Natural Light Portraiture
- Studio Lighting for Portraits
- Hollywood Classic Boudoir Portraits
- American Style Seniors and Prom Portraiture
- Tweens – Portraiture for the 10-12 year old market
- An Introduction to Wedding Photography
Only a few short months ago in London, when the Sun was sort of shining, on and off, meeting my best friend from school and walking around the National Gallery was a wonderful way to recharge life’s batteries and put many things into perspective. Recently I have had many people ask me what photographers have influenced me creatively and my answer is always the same….none. It’s not that I don’t have respect for fellow professionals past and present or admire their work, it’s way more than that. Let me first ask who or what are photographers in the 21st century? Surely if there had been cameras around in the Renaissance or the Baroque, wouldn’t they simply be called artists? Isn’t a camera simply another tool of capture and expression as much as a paint brush, palette knife or canvas? Wouldn’t they have been driven, patronised and commissioned by exactly the same people back then? Those being the Church or the extraordinarily wealthy wishing to commemorate their status in society and buy their way to immortality via the Pearly Gates?
What made them artists in those halcyon days was their use of light and its importance in showing a three dimensionality to their subjects. So if I have to identify a great difference, then it would be that on the whole, photographers have extremely poor lighting skills and simply forget that our art and craft is all about flattery! I think if Lorenzo de Medici commissioned your average photographer back then, it would not have been long before their heads adorned spikes in St.Mark’s Square! So here’s a wake up call to all those who have poor or no skills and scream “It’s all about expression and the moment”. How wrong can you be and if only it were as simple as that!
I remember my first day on my Fine Art Foundation Course just like it was yesterday. A bunch of enthusiastic, idealistic Art students proudly turn up with mahogany boxes loaded with Windsor & Newton oil colours, palette knives, sable and hogs hair brushes only to have them gathered up and locked away in a cupboard. Our tutor, a crazy Yorkshireman called John Yeadon, whose idea of a holiday was throwing stones at the troops in Chile, travelling with his beloved Cello and wrinkled clothes crammed in its battered case, handed us each a toothbrush with the immortal words “You buggers will learn to see light in all it’s beauty AND learn to paint with this!!!! When you’ve learned that, you can have your posh boxes back!” Talk about a wake up call!
Next instalment coming very soon….
Debate rages all over the internet on Photography Awards with a plethora of choice out there, just what should you consider when choosing and entering?
The primary question seems to be one of motive. Why exactly are the organisers offering such amazing prizes or huge financial rewards? What do the organisers get out of it? Will they steal my copyright? Will they hijack my identity? And possible the real big one, are the results ‘fixed’?!!?!
So what makes a great award well worth entering? First of all, integritity. One where the honoured judges are not compromised by being given a whole list of do’s and don’ts that undermine and potentially embarrass them. After all, the final results are firmly pinned to the reputations of the judges rather than the organisers themselves! If a worldwide award purports to truly represent the very best of imaging then ‘censorship’ is highly inappropriate at any level including cultural or religious differences. One shining example of ‘Best Practice’ is the World Press Awards which are probably the most sought after and highly valued accolades. If its ‘Press’ then there are no holds barred which results in a massive diversity of imaging that illustrates or highlights issues, situations or conflicts that affect us all. Their judging process is clean and efficient and their judges are drawn from the upper echelons of the press. Practitioners who have truly seen it all and as they say, got the T Shirt.
Another renowned competition is HIPA, The Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashed Al Maktoum International Photography Award. With a 2014 prize fund exceeding $400,000 USD and a top Prize of $120,000 it is indeed the World’s richest award. This year it has four categories with it’s flagship being “Life in Colour”. This is not what it appears to be at first view. A more understandable interpretation my be more culturally termed, ‘life’s rich pattern’. I am sure the Judges will be looking for far mote than a kaleidoscope of actual colour within images! The other categories are ‘General’ (essentially an open category), Faces (especially for Black & White submissions) and ‘Night Photography’. For more information you can visit http://www.hipa.ae/en/life-in-colour-2014-2015/categories
Finally, and this is one close to my heart for many years as its Chairman of Judges, is the CBRE Urban Photographer of the Year awards with the acronym, ‘UPOTY’. With a single theme, “Cities at Work”, it poses an exciting challenge to its entrants which for the last two years has been worldwide. Historically there have been prizes for each of the 24 hours of the day with a top prize of a photo safari somewhere in the world. Once again, for more information please visit http://www.cbreupoty.com
Good luck, share your images and be successful!
“You rock!” “Your image is awesome!” “This shot is fantastic!”
All well and good but when those accolades come from people who are friends, relations or acquaintances, do they have any real value? Are they indeed truths or simple back slapping gratuitous behaviour to enhance possibly the worst possible barrier to real progress in becoming a better photographer? I mean EGO!
It is beyond doubt that those who have an incapacity to divorce their ego’s from their images, that often negative emotional attachment that makes appropriate constructive critique a serious issue, simply feel they cannot learn anything at all from their peers or those who have proved their mettle, achieved the highest ‘measured’ standards and now dedicate a part of their lives to the education and inspiration of others.
To those in the ‘Professional’ sector it is the singular cause of angst against what they dub as ‘Wannabe’s’, ‘Weekend Warriors’ or worse. People who one day pick up a camera, start snapping away with no experience or referring to ‘YouTube’ as their Photo Bible and call themselves ‘Pro’s’ because their families and mates tell them (in 95% of all cases) that their images are good, when in truth, the exact opposite applies!
It is an inescapable fact that all newcomers to the photographic profession must start somewhere. My firm belief is that everyone should invest in proper education. Learn the key skills that are essential to best practice. Cover all bases and master techniques. Get yourselves a real Mentor with a wide skills and knowledge base. And above all, take the well intentioned ‘peer praise’ of their friends and relations with a pinch of salt., smile, and learn the art, craft, ethics and profession you have chosen.
TO BRING LIGHT & LIFE IS TO INSPIRE…..
I am now in the third month of my own Continuous Professional Development Mentoring Programme and I am learning as much as my charges, particularly as I’m forced to focus on what makes a viable photographic business. My feelings that Photographers are just another kind of retailer are well know and further, that if they have the ability to divorce their ego’s from their imaging that ultimately they will sell more and become successful rather than being a ‘struggling artist’.
The key to this is to learn to shoot to sell and not for self. This demands a discipline and efficient uncommon in the photographic industry. In essence you’ll make more money marketing your business and shooting sessions rather than spending endless hours in front of a computer editing vast numbers of images for customers who are more than happy to banish 95% of what you shoot to the virtual dustbin.
As an example I am going to chat about Albums. Those collections of images that are kept as treasured heirlooms by families as they grow and move from generation to generation. In essence a visible recorded history in images that recall moments in time never t be recreated but preserved forever.
Recently, I was invited to visit Album Epoca in Riccione, close to Bologna in Italy. These wonderful people have been friends, colleagues and indeed, suppliers to myself and some of my esteemed worldwide colleagues. From the outset I was deeply impressed at the scale of the operation being Italy’s number one supplier that has been built upon a reputation of feeling a passion for the industry, the importance of ‘team & commitment’. Indeed they are so much more than an Album company.
I’ve had lots of questions about exactly what I cover on a Studio Consultancy so I thought I’d share the notes from a recent experience that proved to be a ten day task disassembling a business from the ground up! Prior to commencing this marathon ‘surgery’ I asked the Studio owner to make a comprehensive shopping list of areas they wished to cover. I was not quite prepared for what turned up, so here goes…
Section 1 – Technique:
It’s been just a under a year since I first came in contact with iLux lighting on the Photomart stand at at very last Focus on Imaging show at the NEC. Like a Magpie I was drawn to the clean lines of the slick design that would look good in any environment and mighty impressed with the build quality I would have associated with well known brands at a significantly higher price ticket. Unfortunately, there is an awful lot of snobbery attached to studio lighting and from a consumers point of view, just like selecting a trainer, its a nightmare. Begging the question, ‘how do you choose a set of lights?’