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.

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.

Out with the old, in with the new. Happy New Year 2016

Looking back on 2015 it has been a year of mixed fortunes for many and glimpses of an upturn in our industry for others. The key to success both as image makers and business people is the determination to amass further knowledge of photographic technique, product, presentation, marketing and sales methods, in short, education. Not one of us can say with any sincerity that we ‘know it all’ and indeed if we did our profession would be recognised and valued beyond measure by our clients. Perhaps your New Year’s resolution should be to increase your knowledge by training? One of mine will be to communicate better and more often, offer better and more varied ‘education’, so watch this space.

Presenting at HIPA HQ in Dubai

Presenting at HIPA HQ in Dubai

My year has come to a close with a packed presentation in Dubai for HIPA on the theme of attempting to create award winning images and a roadmap for success in much sought after accolades. As I write this las post of the year the deadline for HIPA entry is fast approaching as it closes at midnight UAE time with what I believe will be a record breaking number of entries for a worldwide competition of this magnitude. My personal thanks to my dear friend and colleague, Mohammed Al Daou and the team at HIPA led by HE Ali Bin Thalith (congratulations on publishing your book Truly, Madly Deeply) for their hospitality and ongoing trust.

Mohammed Al Daou of HIPA and Martin Grahame-Dunn

Mohammed Al Daou of HIPA and Martin Grahame-Dunn

So for now, all that remains is to wish all those entrants, the very best of luck. To my wonderful mentees all over the world, may 2016 bring you prosperity and success. And to all of you, wherever so dispersed across the globe, whatever be your race, colour or creed, may I wish you all a very happy and prosperous New Year.

10 things a Photographer should know – Part 6 – Simple is good!

6. Simple is good.
Almost every photo that is bad has too much information. Outside of technical basics, the number one reason that most photos fail is because there is no clear subject. Often this is the case with design, film, fashion, you name it. Remove clutter, remove distraction. Tell one story, and tell it well.
Chase Jarvis
* KISS! Keep it Simple Stupid! Never a truer word spoken for simplicity is everything. Images with clutter or no definitive focal point simply fail. For the ‘Social’ photographer engaged in the Wedding industry this is particularly relevant. I have been asked so many times “Why are there almost no Fellows (if any?) in the discipline of Wedding PJ, Wedding Documentary or whatever other name you wish to apply?” My answer to this is simple. It’s probably a lack of attention to detail and an obsession with being observational without any form of intervention to tidy a shot. Personally I find the high brow approach that ‘PJ’ means don’t change, interact or affect an image in any way, highly inappropriate in the Wedding industry. Sure, in the world of ‘real’ photojournalism in media, news and war zones, it’s all about ‘the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth’. But my question is, does a Bride really want the ‘truth’ of half drunk beers, bottles on the neatly manicured lawn or cigarette packets strewn in their scene featuring many thousands of pounds worth of haute couture?  More questions than answers and I certainly don’t expect some people to agree with me. Are we losing a grip on reality and our true  purpose as professionals that have an eye for detail? I wonder. I think I’ll keep this for another article in the future!

10 things a Photographer should know – Part 2

2. Clients cannot tell you what they need.
“Clients hire you because they have a problem. They need a great visual representation of something, a solution. They think they know the best way to photograph something, but they don’t really. That’s why they hire you. Take their suggestions to heart, because they definitely know their brand, product, their vision–perhaps even shoot a few versions of the images they THINK they want to see first–but then go nuts with own vision. Add value. Show them something they didn’t expect. Don’t be a monkey with a finger. Remember why you got hired…that YOU are the badass image maker. If you are good enough to get selected for the job, you should be good enough to drive the photographic vision.”
Chase Jarvis
* Your role as an image maker and service provider is to offer solutions. Never forget that. You are being paid to come up with ideas or shape the dreams of your clients and manifest them into tangible images that tell their story. You need to learn to listen to your clients and not railroad them. Say ‘Yes’ and try never to say ‘No’. Clearly there are restrictions governed by either technique, practicality or even safety that make the manifestation of some of their ideas virtually impossible. You will be judged on your problem solving abilities and the way you communicate in a respectful and authoritative manner. Be reactive and responsive to your clients needs and you will not fail to run a successful business.

CBRE UPOTY Awards – Chairman’s views

imagesI’d like to share some questions and answers in relation to my participation as Chairman of Judges of the Worldwide CBRE Urban Photographer of the Year Awards or UPOTY for short….




  1. Do you have a favourite photographer?

Not really although who wouldn’t be impressed with artists like Seb Salgado et al. Looking backwards I’ve always admired the simplicity and honesty of Irving Penn.

  1. Why do you like their work?

Salgado as a documentary photographer applies his distinctive processing style adding continuity of presentation while Penn was a commensurate lighting technician who emphasised the mastery of natural, directional light.

  1. What is it you enjoy about the UPOTY competition?

It’s uniquely defined brief that focuses the mind with singularity. Cities at work can be interpreted in so many ways and asks the question – what is work and requires a fundamental difference from observation ‘travel’ photography.

  1. Do you have a favourite camera?

My favourite camera? The one between my ears that enables me to conceptualise, analyse, assess and create. As for the mechanics, give me any camera as it’s just a tool.

  1. Do you have a favourite city? What is it?

I have always loved the ancient cities of this world but M’dina on Malta would be right up there.

  1. Why do you like that city so much.

The history and culture within its high, fortified walls. To me it’s a bastion of culture and not simply an exquisite walled city with centuries of stories to tell.

  1. What have you noticed that has changed in cities in your lifetime?

Overcrowding! As our world continues to overpopulate, as an image maker I feel forced to watch people more than the environments we inhabit.

  1. What do you think has stayed the same in cities during your life?

This is a difficult one. I see so little that has stayed the same in a modern city. Take Dubai for instance. It’s a constant metamorphosis that even in its tender years continues to sweep away the old in favour of the new. That’s why I love our ancient cities where modern architecture has been forced to harmonise wherever possible with the new.


For further information and to enter UPOTY 2015 http://www.cbreupoty.com