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So you think you are a Photographer ! Part 2

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When I wrote part one I was interested to have a good look around Social media to see what the response was, and to be honest it was as expected.

Some thought it was great and very true and most of these were people whose work I found on Social Media are Professional or very good photographers in general with some interesting bodies of work.

There were some that thought it was a shouty ranty post that was a load of crap ! Looking at most these peoples work available on Social media it’s technically fine and some of the people even work in Photography for a living but their work has no personality or soul and it’s more for the viewer than the photographer. Some thought I was arrogant and an arse !

Everyone is entitled to think what they like and the fact I am now writing this blog to help people learn to see and move forward I know what I have to say won’t be to everyone’s taste but hopefully the few that do take a few hints and tips on board will be able to lift their work to the next level. I have helped a few people to really achieve great things in their work and sometimes you have to be honest and help them find their way.

Even though I say I have only helped a handful achieve Exhibitions and Books I have probably inspired 1000’s to more forward with their work.

The most interesting thing I noticed was the amount of times people said “who is he to tell us we can’t call ourselves Photographers” Interesting how my blog post was interpreted because that’s not what I said.

Even more interesting was the the fact people were saying ” who is he to tell us we can’t call ourselves Photographers, we are entitled to call ourselves whatever we want”  I did laugh at this and then did some more research.

A teacher friend of mine told me that in modern teaching kids are being told they can be anything they want to be and are Entitled to call themselves anything they like.

I think that’s great and as a young boy my Parents encouraged me to play sport and learn to play instruments etc in the hope that I would find something that would interest me  they also wanted me to join a choir ! But I was cluless with Music and apart from getting off my face during the Rave Scene and being mad about Psytrance and House Music I was never going to learn an instrument.

I did however Swim for Kent win the British Bench Press in 82.5 Kilo class and competed in the World Powerlifting Championships at 82.5 Kilo class and trust me I trained day 7 days a week to Swim and to lift weights. I don’t think I would have dared to walk in a Gym and said I am a Powerlifter if I was not. I also played in the British Roller Hockey Team in Goal against Spain. I spent hundreds of hours training in all these sports so that I could overachieve.

So if this is the modern world and people are entitled to call themselves anything they want then I am a Chef a Singer and Film Star ! But my advice is don’t buy and of my food buy some ear defenders and dont watch any of my films.

I do think this is sad because what is wrong with learning a craft and waiting a few years before you start calling yourself anything ?

Its quite funny how the Photography industry has been devalued buy all the people that call themselves Photographers ! Imagine people calling themselves Plumbers and Mechanics being let loose in your home or on your car !

My original blog was about just that, you don’t need to call yourself a Photographer, you can of course and you are Entitled to ! But personally I would get a body of work together and get some years under my belt before I called myself anything.

Some people need to take a long good look at their own work and dig deep and consider their own path and development.

I will continue my blog and try and help the people that want to read it to improve their work it’s amazing how most of the Haters do not have a body of work or many images to show for themselves and have the loudest voices ! Do you think this is because they don’t like the idea that anyone is better than them ?

All my blog posts are open to debate and discussion and one thing I do like about WordPress is its relatively  Troll Free because most of them cant be arsed to read more than a couple of paragraphs on Twitter or watch a youtube channel.

Photography has always been a hotbed of jealousy and Trolling so I will only answer and debate with people that are genuine.

Have a great week.

 

What do you really need to take a photograph ?

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What do you really need to take a photograph ?

Let’s get the gear bit out of the way first before I move on to the future of my Blog and YouTube.

A few years back I would have recommended a film camera but with the spiralling costs of film and paper it’s probably not the answer unless you can afford it.

So I will base this on Digital.

I guess first off it depends what type of photography you are in to, as will define the gear or amount of gear you need. The word NEED is the issue. What you need at what you buy and collect are hardly connected and most people quickly fall into the GAS ( Gear Acquisition Syndrome ) section.

I fully understand there is a huge difference between what you need for Sports Photography or Landscape or even Studio work.    

Because of the years I have shot just about everything I have been through the (GAS) just as everyone has. I wish someone had told me at the start that chasing the TEC and buying tons of Kit is a mugs game ! No wait they did ! I ignored them.

There is nothing wrong with buying tons of kit and people with Expendable incomes can buy what the hell they like.

I had a friend who asked me what he needed for his new camper van a few weeks back and I told him ” you will keep buying more and more gear you think you need and filling your van up with stuff, then in two years time you will leave most of it at home and just take what you need and start to enjoy your van”

But everyone must understand the gear  won’t make you a better photographer, I really do believe struggling with cheap hard to use kit and slow lenses is part of the learning process.

Let’s face it if you are going to shoot something slow moving or standing still only a few feet from you or even a Landscape and you are only going to view it on Instagram you might at well just use your Smartphone.

At the other end of the scale if you are a full time Pro shooting billboard size images for an advertising company you might need a 100mp Medium Format Camera. Likewise if you are going to do large prints all the time the Medium Format might be the way to go.

But remember the more megapixels you have the more detail you will see in the images the more dust and imperfections you with have to deal with in the final edit. Also your computer system will need to cope with the huge file size. You will also have to deal with Dust on that Sensor.

The biggest problem is once people get bogged down in cameras and lenses they hardly use what they have and they struggle to decide what to take when they leave the house ! Some take 30-40 kilos of kit every time they go out ! It’s madness no one cares what you have on your back or what you have in your hands only you ! The people who walk round camera shows with all there kit ! Who are those people ?

I guess we all have to learn the hard way. The secret to buying cameras is to only buy what you really need and to invest in glass as body’s will be updated with the new best thing in 12-24 Months  ! That’s what I was told years ago and it’s somewhat true but buying that new body is great if you are a Pro and need to have a reliable camera under warranty in your hand at all times but for the average person it really is a mugs game.

You really only need what you are going to use. If you are a Pro that’s shoots everything from Sport to Studio work then of course you are going to need a large amount of kit. That way you can pick up the right bag for the Job and run out of the house to shoot the job and get paid. Most Pros these days have lots of kit but also Hire in for specific jobs. Most of the Pro’s I know off load kit all the time. I do it as well, I look in Lightroom to see what lenses I have been using and what cameras and focal lengths them make changes accordingly. Sell bodies I don’t use and get lenses that make more sense.

I can’t tell you what you all need because I don’t know the way you Shoot or what you Shoot so it would be impossible for me to be able to advise lots of people all in one blog post.

I do know if you are a Pro then you need kit that can handle daily use, with a big bright viewfinder because you are going to spend a lot of your day looking through that viewfinder !

If you are not a Pro don’t waste your money on Pro gear just because you can afford it.

Not many people take their driving test in a Formula 1 Car ! Sounds like a mad analogy but it’s not far off.

I learnt photography with a film camera my Dad gave me and the first camera I saved up for was a Zenit E.  I made all my own Studio lights and reflectors and only had two lenses ! I learnt so much using that camera and a light meter. I also learnt all about light and composition because I had to.

These days it’s easy to buy any modern point and shoot and it will take infocus images with correct exposure on auto without you having to think too much.

You can also get round most technical issues in post processing depending on the sensor.

So if you are starting out and really want to learn Photography buy the most basic Manual camera around and teach yourself the basics of photography. You probably won’t use it on Manual once you understand it you will probably shoot in Aperture Priority or Shutter Priority or in some cases like weddings and Sport full Auto. But getting the basics right first gives you the grounding you need to move on and understand why your camera reacts to light and speed the way it does.

You don’t need a GFX or a Nikon D7 to start your journey even if you can afford it.

I was watching a film last night looking at the lighting and composition as well as all the noise in the dark areas ! I also noticed it was not always sharp or in focus. These things really don’t matter as much as you think ! People are obsessed with Sharpness.

You really don’t need to have all the latest gear and lenses to take great photos trust me.

I know I know if you are going to shoot wildlife sport or birds you need slightly better kit but let’s face it Wildlife Sport and Birds have been photographed before all the latest kit came out ! So sometimes it worth looking back instead of forwards for inspiration.

Remember that Camera that was the newest best thing a year ago ? Well it not much different a year later ! I know Press Photographers still using the Nikon D3s over newer models because the camera is better in many areas and the file sizes are much more manageable.

So what do you need to take a photo if you are just starting out ? It all depends on what you are going to shoot and your budget so I can’t answer that for everyone but what I can say is. Don’t buy a Bentley before you have learnt to drive. Because once you have learnt you will realise a Bentley is a great big fat lump of a car that costs fortune to insure does not fit in to a parking space can’t be left anywhere because it might get keyed and is great for showing off in but the wife’s Audi A6 is better all round so you end up leaving the Bentley at home and just taking the point and shoot !

Don’t do all the the research online go in to real shops and pick up there cameras and feel them try out the lenses and get a feel for them once you have decided keep going back to the same camera store over and over again and build up a relationship with the staff that way you can get better discounts and find out about second hand gear when it comes in. Ever time there is a new model out all last years models end up back in the shops so keep your eyes out for a bargain.

You don’t need a Full Frame DSLR you really don’t …

Think about what you shoot now what you will shoot in the future and research that, pick a shop like Wex or Park Camera or Wilkinson Cameras or some of the Old Favorites like Ffords of Greys of Westminster find a camera shop with Camera Enthusiasts not retail sales assistants on commission.

MPB.com is also a great way to buy Second hand I use MPB and Wex used all the time the mint cameras and OB cameras are good as new at a fraction of the new cost.

Steer clear of the internet you might think it’s cheap until you find out its fake or has no warranty in the UK !

 

One you have your kit the journey really starts…

 

 

 

So you think you are a Photographer !

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Bollox are you ! Most people that carry cameras these days are just camera owners.

If you buy lots of ingredients from a Supermarket and carry them around with you it won’t make you a Chef, not even if you do have a £10,000 Cooker and all the pots and pans. You need to learn all the classics and possibly even start off in the pot wash or on veg prep.

Well it’s the same with a Camera with all the gear, it takes years of practice and a lifetime of learning.

One very well known Photographer once said to me ” you have to do a long time in the trenches before you can call yourself a photographer”

It’s no good watching Youtube and having a good look around Social media. YouTube does help but youtube is not a great way to learn and retain information. Social media is either one way or the other it’s either lots of people blowing smoke up your arse, or a lot of hate. Most of the time its gives you a 50/50 view of your work by uneducated people who might be lying for their own benefit !

The other issue these days is so called Ambassadors or Influencers ! Most just work to a template of formula to produce images you want to see that you think are great. Technically most of their images are fine but are they any good ? They are famous today but will you remember them in 10-20 years time ? Who made them famous ? Their work or their association with a brand ? Don’t get me wrong there are some great Ambassadors out there with some amazing work but do you know the good from the bad ?

Don’t even get me started on the Fake Instagram and Social media stars with paid followings and brown filters !

People these days who are making crap images have even started to slag off some of the greats or try to debunk there work in a vain attempt to make themselves feel better.

It’s all becoming a real mess how do new people know who to follow and how to learn ! Well it’s not easy its a complete minefield out there and coupled with that the fact that most people with a camera think they are a Pro the moment they get the camera out of the box it’s a big mess.

I have seen many an argument about Bruce Guildon or Martin Parr the funny thing is most people don’t have a clue what a good or bad image is or why ! So there is no way they can work out who are the modern day greats !

I won’t go in to the guy I watched tell Nick UT he used the wrong film when he shot the Napalm Girl !

A great photographer will be out there every day honing their craft and probably won’t even have time to teach or talk until they are a lot older and have more time on their hands. I have seen people leave University without a body of work and set up teaching workshops and people actually going on their courses ! Most of the Course content has been stolen form the internet or they have been on other photographers workshops to make notes and just replicate there course ! They are passing on No Passion and No Skill. There are so many workshops and courses out there now the market is flooded.

I remember reading about 10 years ago, how that one day the world would be saturated with cameras and then the new cream of photography would rise to the top. I think we are at that point now but the water has become so muddy most people don’t have a clue what makes a great image or a great photographer and social media and political correctness is holding the future greats back like a great big dam. Combined with people with really average images trying to convince the world there work is great and some brands even falling for it !

I am now retiring in October this year so don’t read this thinking he is just trying to sell his own workshops because I am not.

You might be thinking he thinks he is the dogs bollocks that Matt Hart but far from it I don’t like any of my work and if you have been on any of my workshops you will know I like about 9 of my own images, and they all mean something to me personally.

I did find it funny on facebook when I read about a guy that culls his images down by first removing all the out of focus shots  ! I think omg just stick the bloody thing on Auto you won’t miss !

Don’t get me wrong, I am not talking about learning to use a camera, this for most people takes a while but also the whole process is a lifetime of learning. Some people get stuck in the cocky pixel peeping stage where they know the camera inside out then then spend their lives on social media telling everyone how great they are ! They forget we have Google so we can just google their work and see a bunch of random shit with no meaning or context. These are the people that go to all the gear shows and try and piss off all the staff at the Trade counters with their vast knowledge. What they don’t know is everyone just thinks they are a dick ! I love to google people having an argument about images and see how really bad there work is !!

No one gives a flying fuck what camera you have and if you are loyal to a brand any more just learn how to use what you have or find the right camera for you. It’s just a box that takes a photo learn to use it then move the fuck on.

The only way to learn how to make and take pictures is immerse yourself in Knowledge, read up on the real greats from the past the same way great painters copied the brush strokes of the masters before them. You will go through the stage of copying the peoples work you admire but then it’s time to start to find out who you are and what you have to say with your camera. Most people with cameras these days are like those kids in school with the tracing paper just copying what other people have done and never really moving forward.

I have taught thousands of people over the years and only a handful have listened and studied the greats and then gone on to produce great bodys of work or find their own style.

It’s not easy and involves a lot of work and that is why most people don’t ever learn and don’t ever get anywhere and the camera manufactures love you because it’s you that they can convince that there new lens or new camera can make you a better Photographer but sadly there are no shortcuts. Hard work dedication and a lifetime of learning is the only way.

If I wrote a blog post about the Fujifilm X100F it would reach 20,000 people if I made a video about it it would reach 80,000 people, If I talk about how to move forward in your photography and become a great photographer I get about 100 hits ! What does that tell you.

I used to teach a learning to see workshop where I gave people the formula to be a great and successful Photographer but because its involves hard work people don’t follow the route. I think out of all the courses I did only 3 people really listened and one is now producing great work and has been talking and exhibiting their work.

Instead of going to all the gear shows support all the great Exhibitions around the world that are not about the gear but about great projects and great work.

In the UK we have Hull International Photography Festival and Photo North in Harrogate the Birmingham Photography Festival etc

Go to an Art Gallery and see how the masters paint light in to a scene or frame and image.

Have a look at the great books by Bluecoat Press.

I hear people moaning about the cost of Exhibitions at £5 or £20 and it makes me laugh, they spend £1000 on a new lens and some shitty bags and more lens cloths and that new KickStarter thing that they think will make them great at The Photography Show but £5 -£20 spent on looking at real work by real people will inspire you more than any bit of kit but it might not make you feel happy inside like a new camera ! People were moaning about paying £20 to go and see Don Mccullin’s work in London a while back. I was shocked, I wonder if people realise how much these things cost to put on. I have a friend who put on a small exhibition a couple of years back and it cost him 35k  ! It’s not like TPS where all the brands pay for all the artists.

Photowalks also help, get out in the fresh air with like minded people, be careful you don’t get stuck with the know it all gear freak ffs they will drive you insane, but listen to the conversations that way you will hear some new names you can research and find out about the next Exhibition or Festival you might hear some names you have never heard off and find out that there work inspires you.

So how is this blog post going to help ! I think most people could not give a shit to be honest they just want to be YouTube famous or have 20,0000 likes on Insta.

I am not going to give it all away in one blog post I am going to write a series of posts and now I am out and about again try and make some YouTube videos that really do help the few people that really want to learn to make it. It’s all up to you though as I say there really are no shortcuts.

The truth is it’s all about Projects and Finding your own style but its like weight loss you can tell everyone losing weight is all about diet and exercise and because that sounds like hard work they switch off ! You can’t lose 3 kilos in 5 minutes and keep off you have to work at it.

It’s the same with Photography you have to start by researching who the greats really are in the area of Photography you want to learn then immerse yourself in there work. Once you have learnt as much as you can you need to get out there and shoot and shoot. The more time you spend with a camera in your hand the better you will get, and that is where Personal Projects come in.

Don’t shoot for your friends and social media shoot for you shoot something that really means something to you, shoot something that you are passionate about it’s not about likes or fluffy comments it’s about learning ! Start a project today and make it last a year and produce a book at the end of it.  Do you know how many times I have said that and how many people have done it ? How about if I told you the greats work on projects all the time !

Good luck

 

 

XT-3 Swap Over Complete

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Well it’s done after a few months of just not having time to swap over my Office Vlog set up, I decided today to make the Change !  I have been using the Canon 200D with the Rode Video Micro after my Rode Videomic Pro broke( The jack plug broke inside its case and I threw it away before I realised it had a 10 year warranty ! silly me)  So was using the Video Micro for quite a while, but I now have the amazing Video Mic Pro + and its ability to turn on when you turn the camera on is a real bonus over the Video Mic Pro, I can’t even tell you how many times I forgot to turn that mic on !

 

 

So this is my new set up its the amazing Fujifilm XT-3 with battery grip in a Smallrig Cage with added smallrig accessories to hold the Video Mic Pro + and the Atomos Ninja Blade.

I am using the Ninja Blade for forward facing monitor and also it doubles up for when I want to record the Camera Screen.

I am using the 16-55mm f/2.8 Fujifilm lens as its perfect for the.  The Rig does look a bit like frankenstein’s monster but it does a great job. I now have a Pair of Fujifilm XT-3’s and the are growing on me more and more every day.

The face and eye detect is really good and one of the only reasons I stuck to the Canon system for Video was the amazing Autofocus but I really did miss the lovely Fujifilm colours. Now I have the best of both Worlds the XT-3 really does deliver on Autofocus all they have to do now is sort the screen out and make one that flips round. For now I will use my Ninja Blade lets home in the Future the XT-4 will have a decent screen.

I can strip this rig down and use this camera in the field when needed but for now it’s going to live in the office to save me time on my YouTube videos.

So looking forward to making some amazing content in 2019.

I won’t write a complete list of parts but if you want to know more please ask.

 

 

My top 3 Cameras from 2018

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I have been a bit slow on my blog this year because I have been focusing on YouTube but I thought I would answer my most asked question.

What are your top three Cameras  ?

I always get asked what cameras I use and prefer or recommend  and its always difficult to answer that question without knowing what someone will use a camera for, after all they are just tools to do a job and all tools have a different purpose.

But my top two for Street Photography are the Fujifilm X100F and the Fujifilm XPRo2 and that will depend on weather you want a fixed 23mm lens like on the X100F of want to be able to change lenses like on the XPro2. These are my hands down best best two Street Cameras.

My other camera choice is the amazing little Canon G7X Mark II as this is an all round amazing little camera for carrying everywhere I go and is not just a great back up stills camera but an amazing vlogging camera. It’s become my pocket camera next to my iphone7plus for 2018 and I hear a rumor there is a G7X Mark III I really hope there is and can’t wait to try one out when Canon release it.

I aim to shoot my 2019 project on the amazing Fujifilm X100F and cant wait to get stuck in to in in January and will be sure to blog about it and Vlogg about it as soon as I get started.

Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year to you all.

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iPhone 7+

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It’s been a strange year ! Apple selling smartphones that are over the £1000 mark and people just falling for it !

I walked away from Nikon for this reason quite a few years back, suck you in to a product then hike the prices up.

I nearly bought one but then I came to my senses !

I have used the iPhone 7 for over two years and loved it to be honest and could not see the value in a £1200 upgrade !

I just wanted a bigger screen as my eyesight is not great in the winter and a slightly better camera. So I went for the iPhone 7+ and so far I have been blown away by this phone.

It’s my go to pocket camera now before my G7X Mark II, it really is a great smartphone.

I have seen some great work from this phone from Mark Littlejohn and Matt Walkley, so took the plunge and saved myself a fortune over the new really expensive models. I always get my new phones in John Lewis now, they give you such a long warranty it’s a no brainer.

I did read Apple are disappointed in the iPhone sales this year ! No shit Sherlock !

I really am very happy with this bigger phone and camera is very nice.

The images below were all shot on a recent trip to Yorkshire for the Fujiholics Workshop in the Yorkshire Dales.

Love the iphone7+ combined with SnapSeed.

Work Rest and Play

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I guess we all struggle to get the work life balance right and being a full time self employed Photographer the work life balance can go right out of the window ! I have always had a big problem saying no to work and this year has been no exception. I expected after finishing working with Fujifilm UK in February things would go quiet and I could look forward to just planning my own workshops and time away for Jane and I.    I soon worked out its not quite that simple. The downside to our lifestyle at the moment is Jane works for the NHS and has mostly weekends off and I work most weekends so we don’t see much of each other at times, so we get used to quite a lot of time apart.

The long term plan is now starting to fall in to place even though there is hardly any free time on this years year planner at the moment. I have now finished my Wex Photographic 2018 commitment and at last I am free to start planning 2019. I will still take on the odd days from some of the big companies like Wex and some of the other great shops like Wilkinsons, just not as many days as before.

It was mentioned a few times on Social media this week that I had moved over to work with Canon now I had left Fujifilm.  I will put the record straight right here and now, I am not with Canon. This October I plan to be semi-retired so I will not be signing any contracts with anyone. I am still involved with Gnarbox as the only UK member of the Gnarbox Pro Team but my commitment to the team is minimal and also fits in very nicely with my future travel plans so will not hold me back from my work life balance goals.

If you read my blog you will know that I bought the Canon G7x because my Fujifilm Cameras got locked in the Wex Glasgow store by accident a few weeks back and I needed to get a camera from Argos early on a Sunday morning so it was an impulse purchase but has turned out to be one of the best little pocket cameras I have ever owned.  The sensor is only one inch so its not as good as my Fujifilm X Series cameras but with its 24-100mm Equivalent  fast Zoom its so much better than my iphone as an every day pocket camera.

I work most weeks teaching with the Fujifilm X100F and the X70 and these are just the best tools for me teaching Street Photography. When I go off on Landscape Trips or teach Landscape I take the GFX System as that is the right tool for me for Landscapes and I also have the XPro2 for Street and Landscape with a selection of lenses.

I do have a few Canon Cameras and these are all for Shooting Video and they are the C100mk2 the 200D and the 5DMK4 and and a selection of lenses. I have some future Film plans and needed a camera system that was tried and tested.

The beauty of not having a contract with any brand is that I don’t have to stick to one set of tools and can use the best tools for the job ! Fujifilm make the cameras I need for all my Stills work and Canon for my Video the little G7x is just an exception to the rule, its great for video but also just so much fun to take stills with.

This weekend I got a very rare chance to get away in my Camper with Jane for a couple of days and decided not to take any camera gear. I did however take the G7x with me as a back up to my iphone ! Its light, fits in my pocket and the battery lasts all day and even if I do need to charge it I can just plug it in my powerbank !

This weekend was a time to reflect and its great to find a campsite that has no phone reception to get away from it all for a couple of days. We love Cae Du Campsite its just one of the most quiet and peaceful sites in Wales and perfect to get away from it all. I have a long term and short term plan and at times in this job you just cant see the wood for the trees. I have now had time to reflect and put the next four years in to some order.

My new workshops are online here and I will be putting a few more online over the next few months, these will be workshops I have designed to help people who already know how to use a camera, to discover more about the art of taking pictures.

I also have a new business plan that will come in to action next March at my end of year, so all going well I should have lots more time to do what I want to do and that is travel and explore with Jane. This will at last redress my work life balance ! I hope.

I will leave you with a few images taken over the weekend with the little Canon G7X in and around Beddgellert.

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