It’s not a very nice photo but it shows where I was on February the 14th 2019, that’s right my Valentines present was a Carotid Endarterectomy !
I will just say before I start this Blog I owe the NHS my life and even though there were a few errors I have had a complicated couple of years medically here is the short version on YouTube if you don’t want to read this. YouTube Version.
First I need to go back a couple of years to the start.
In my late 30s I had a bad motorcycle accident and broke my back. I was told at the time I would never walk again but after a while I got the feeling back in my legs and started a long painful recovery. I have suffered with back problems from that day. At the time of the accident they found out I had a very narrow spinal canal and this would cause me issues with pain as the nerves had nowhere to go when compressed by my discs.
Jump forward to approx two years ago and I started getting very bad back pains and I was losing feeling in my legs and having severe pain in my hips knees and ankles. I went to the doctors and he sent me for an MRI. The results were I had 5 disc bulges in to a narrow spinal canal !! At the time he said he could only operate on the worst one L3 but this might not help. I was put on heavy pain meds but I am not one for lots of meds as that’s just a slippery slope. So decided to lose some weight and start Physio.
I worked hard with the Physio and I went from 106.9 Kilos down to 80 Kilos in about 6 Months. I thought I had done very well I was pain free and had no back problems whatsoever. But then after a meal in Edinburgh I had excruciating pain under my right rib cage and up my back, pain like I have never had before I was sick and my urine went bright orange. Turns out losing weight can cause Gallstones !!! You can’t make it up can you all that hard work and now a new type of pain.
Gallstone pain is excruciating so it was back on the pain meds but this time they did not help much as the only thing that helped with Gallstone pain was walking until it subsided ! I walked miles and miles in agony around the house and around the streets, even when we were away or at friends it would start and I would have to walk until it stopped or I was exhausted.
They wanted to list me for Surgery but first they wanted to stick a camera down to make sure there were no other issues and it was safe to take the gallbladder out. I went for the camera and have had this procedure before but this time the sedative was not as good and it was a very painful and uncomfortable experience. When I came out that sat Jane and I down and told me I had esophagus cancer or the precursor to it and had sent the biopsies off for testing ! (All you here is cancer ) I was crapping myself for two weeks and even lost some more weight. Lucky for me the biopsies came back negative.
Following the Camera however, I was not in a good way I was having small electric shocks all down my left side and in my mouth and on my face and head these were accompanied by massive headaches and shooting white lights in my eyes a bit like you get when you stand up to quick or get a knock on the head. My doctor was convinced it was nothing to do with the camera procedure but I was not. He told me it was migraines and would probably go.
During all this I was in Birmingham with my friend Matt Walkley and Lee Glasgow and we were drinking a lot of Single Malt but I will come back to this night.
In the end I was not happy with my Doctor and went to see a diferent doctor who was concerned and booked me and MRI this MRI was not even in 2018 it was August 2019 ! The day after I went to see the Doctor I went blind in my right eye, it was like and opaque curtain across the bottom of my eye. So I went back in to the Doctors and she sent me to St Pauls Eye Hospital in Liverpool !
Trust me the whole world is in that waiting area with itchy eyes !! I waited about 6 hours and by the time I was seen I could see again. They did a quick eye exam and told me it was probably a little TIA behind the eye but was clear now but if it happens again to come back asap. The checked with A&E and let me go. The following day I went blind again twice the first time for a few seconds the next time longer so I jumped in a Cab and went back to the Hospital as instructed. I wanted 4 hours and then in triage they asked me why I was back and I told them ! They were not happy but told me the lady would see me so I then waited another 4 hours ! I think she wanted to show me I was wasting her time ! When I got to see her she was rude and condescending and basically told me there was nothing wrong go away and don’t come back.
At this point I was not happy and was now having about 5+ TIAs a day ( not that I knew what they were at that point ) I decided to go private and get an MRI as I was all over the place by now and really struggling. The results of the MRI were not good and my Doctor rang me at home late at night to give me the news. I had Brain Damage after a Stroke and was now having TIA’s and could have another stroke at any time. I went to the Vascular clinic at the Royal the next day and the team were first class the were however very annoyed with the eye hospital for sending me home. The also scanned my Neck in the MRI and they found quite a lot of damage in my neck that could be causing me issues now and in later life (something else to look forward to)
At this point I was glad I was drinking whisky with my friends Matt and Lee because it turns out that was the night I had my Stroke in my Hotel Room alone !!!
I had my neck doppler scanned and it was found my right carotid artery was 90% blocked, and would need surgery asap. They explained how the Camera Procedure had probably pushed my blood pressure up and had dislodged some particles in the artery.
So my Gallstone camera procedure had probably saved my life in a roundabout way !! Better it happen now than to be on holiday in 5 years time have a massive Stroke and Die.
My Gallstone operation was put on the back burner until after I had a Carotid Endarterectomy a procedure to clear out the plaque in my Carotid Artery. The risks to the operation were Stroke or Death. Trust me it’s a scary time, you make sure you have a Will and all the things that need to be in place are in place. I even thought well I have had a happy life so if this is it then its been good.
It was February now and I had been having TIA’s basically from November 2018 to about 4 weeks before the operation the reason they has stopped is because the medication they had put me on stopped blood clots forming in the narrowing in my neck. I was scanned again before the operation and the narrowing was 80% so what probably explained the amount of TIA’s I was having a day.
I was prepped for Surgery on the 13th of Feb 2019 and already to go to theatre after crapping myself all night. The operation was called off because the MRI report had been written up back to front and they needed clarification on what side the brain damage was on. I was back in on the 14th Feb 2019 and the procedure was carried out. I had a funny turn after the operation due to suddenly becoming allergic to codeine but was home soon after to recover.
I was seen by a neurology professor who explained I had been very lucky but even though I look fine on the outside I had sustained some quite serious brain damage that would never heal but in time I would work round it. This was backed up by further tests and I was told it would be about two years before I started to work this all out.
Just as I was recovering from the Surgery my Gallbladder decided to start playing up again and this time I could not take codeine so was prescribed this mad drug that did take the pain away but kept me awake all night !! Gallbladder pain is off the scale and the only way to relive it is to walk and walk until it subsides, the drugs help but only for a while and the pain lasts for up to 13 hours. During this time I had the pleasure of Gallstones coming out of the gallbladder and getting stuck in the bile ducts and this is a whole new level of OUCH.
The NHS would not remove my Gallbladder for some strange reason and I kept getting put on the end of the list. In the end I found out that I needed a letter from my Consultant to allow me to come off my blood thinner and go on to Aspirin for 7 days but they would still not move me up the list. I ended up in A&E a couple of times on Morphine to relieve the pain and they told me people were jumping the waiting list by keep presenting at A&E with pain. However I could not do that due to the medication I was on.
So again I went private and had my Gallbladder out a couple of months back.
Its bliss to now been pain free even if I can’t eat like I used to, I am happy not to have to be in agony at random times any more.
So as you can see it’s been a journey so far and it’s not over yet as far as Stroke recovery. I am really looking forward to 2020 as I see 2020 as a fresh start and want to start to get out again with my camera. I hope to take you on the rest of my recovery journey in 2020 through youtube and this blog. A stroke is quite a shock to the system and is life changing I will explain more on YouTube in 2020.
I would like to thank Jane and Jake for the support this year and all my close friends who have always been at the end of the phone and my Medical Friends who have given me so much great advice without you guys I would have gone nuts.
I would also like to thank the NHS who are over run with people abusing the system so it makes it hard for people who really need it. I have had a few issues with mistakes over the last two years but they are under so much pressure its unreal. The Vascular team at the royal are amazing and a credit to the NHS. The private hospitals are also under strain as they are picking up where the NHS cannot cope.
Also to all you guys that follow my blog and youtube have a great new year and see you in 2020.
I don’t know where to start with this but after leaving a Facebook Group yesterday because the admin were demanding that every post had the camera settings I was left shocked !
They also wanted to know what Lee filter was used !
I did make a comment before I left but I think it was lost in Translation ! The guy was insisting it was not about the light !
I fully understand they most people that are learning to use there camera think they need to know other people’s camera settings and for some reason some Pro’s and some trainers encourage this, and so do lots of groups !
I remember when I was younger I even fell for this myself until I realised it’s all irrelevant!
We are convinced by other people the way to learn is to read up on camera settings so much so we get obsessed with Exiff data !
We then think if we had that camera and that lens that guy uses so we could take photos like him or her !
The brands have taken this to the next level and love all their Ambassadors to share this info.
The Photographer might as well share what they had for breakfast and how they were dressed for all the good it will do us.
If you were to take three photos with the exact same setup at three different times of day using a Photographers setting you would get three different sets of results.
We don’t know what the light was like at the time, what software was used, how it was processed or what effect the Photographer was going for.
When I used to teach Street Photography the most common question I ever got asked was “can you set my camera up for me ?” or “what are your camera settings for Street ?”
When I try and explain that’s not how it works I get the look ! I can hear the cogs ticking ! “He does not want to tell us his secrets !” “He does not want us to be better than him !”
When the truth is I Format my memory card before I go out and shoot in RAW and have my Cameras set on Manual if I am in a Studio and Aperture Priority or Shutter Priority out on the Street and probably Auto ISO ! If I am shooting Landscape it will be Manual with the lowest ISO probably.
Wherever we stand on this planet whatever country we are in, at any given time of day the light and conditions are different and also the effect we want in our camera also comes in to play.
We have to learn to Master the Exposure Triangle there and then and it’s only by going out day after day for years and years can we work out what works for us.
Yes of course you can use the Sunny 16 rule on a Sunny day but that just gets you a shot !
What if you want people with motion blur or want narrow depth of field or you even want to make people disappear from the scene ! What if you want movement in the clouds or silky water !
What if in a Studio you want High Key or Low key ?
Stop obsessing over bloody camera settings and get out and practice ! The more time you spend with a camera in your hand the more you learn.
Photography is about so much more than Exiff Data it’s about Light,Composition, Moment, Amazing Subject and Emotional impact. It’s about you the Photographer and what your vision is. Not what settings Linda Wisdom uses !
You won’t learn this stuff in a week or a month it’s a lifetime of learning !
If you are in a Facebook group that insists on Exiff Data leave the group, go outside and take some photos it will be the best thing you have done for your photography all week.
There is no shortcut trust me, get out with your camera every day or as much as you can and practice practise practise, learn by your mistakes and trial and error. That way you learn a lot faster.
You can read as many books as you want, do as many courses as you want they just give you inspiration. It’s down to you and you alone to teach yourself the Exposure Triangle and learn to speed up that process by daily practise.
Jane always says to me she does not want to learn photography because there is too much to remember ! So very true but with practice it becomes second nature. You can just dial it in and shoot. You don’t become an expert at anything if you sit on your arse and wait for it to come to you, hard work and commitment is the name of the game.
Searching YouTube for those bits of info on camera setting for hours and hours won’t make you a better photographer it just makes you a couch potato !
So get up go out and get practicing ..
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.
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 !
I wrote about my computer system and backup solutions ages ago now here and I still have the same backup solution and it works very well. I have been doing more and more Video Editing and now I need more hard drives for backing up and for working drives in the Field.
However I see so many of my friends using the WD drives its unreal and they mostly rave about how good they are. Most video editors appear to use lots of WD drives and and I see piles of them on peoples desks all with labels on so I thought I would just share a quick blog post to let you guys know what people are using at the moment.
I understand budget is important and this blog post was inspired by a friend of mine who was looking for a short term backup solution for his lap top. I then had a quick look at Amazon and realised how cheep these drives are now !
The WD My Passport Drives are perfect and you don’t have to go for 4tb drives you could get a few smaller drives as back and use one as back up and one as a mirror back up and leave it at a relatives house just in case of break in or fire etc.
I think we all know Hard Drives can and will fail, bit as long as you have a few back ups you will be fine, so these little drives are perfect for that.
It’s been a difficult year so far, apart from a couple of days work at Peoples Ford Liverpool I have hardly been out with a camera and this bank holiday weekend was the first real chance to be out with my camera this year. I thank my good friends Rich and Elaine for the opportunity to get out and get some fresh air.
Not going in to many details but waiting for my Gallbladder to be removed and daily pain has taken its toll. Not only am I now in daily pain but every now and again when a stone decides to move in to a bile duct I have around 15 hours of intense pain and this can be at any time of day or night at at the most random and annoying times. Lucky for me I had a weekend with minimal issues and was able to get out with my camera, even thought I probably drove my friends mad moaning about my Health !
I have driven past the Marble Church for about 10 years and about 5 years ago I decided I would like to try and photography it. However it’s one of those places on a journey so you very rarely can be bothered to stop. I had a vision in my head of what I would like but as soon as we got there it started to rain. Great for cloud formation but a pain in the arse for rain on the lens !! I also had a vision of what I wanted to shoot and to be honest the first walk around the Church I realized I was to close and needed to be further away I also had to deal with too much distortion up close and did not have a tilt shift lens.
After taking a few reference shots I decided to move back towards the road where I had seen this Church from and the closer I got to the road the vision I have had for so long started to fall in to place. The rain stopped and a little light hit the church and lit up the graveyard. So I quickly framed the church between the bushes and grabbed a couple of frames. I was using one of my Fujifilm XT3 bodies and the amazing 10-24mm lens, I normally use this camera just for commercial work and only ever take out my X100F on most trips but decided I wanted something a little wider today and this used to be my default Landscape Lens.
I am quite happy with the shot and I guess it just goes to show all good things come to those that wait ! I think if I had stopped and tried to shoot this Church 5 years ago it would not have been the same !
After the Church we went to the woods, the weather forecast was supposed to be over cast all day but over the last few years I think these little showers have been quite hard to predict so the cover of the tree canopy in the woods was a good choice.
I think you can tell my mood from my images and I have always noticed this. It’s been a crazy year this year and at times as now, my mood has been quite dark. The irony of going to the woods to shoot bluebells was not lost on me being a black and white shooter ! I just loved this path and the darkness of the woods so wanted to capture the way the woods made me feel at the time and I think this image did just that.
The next image says a lot to me, I fell out of love with Landscape images because for me there was always something missing ! Without a human element or something living I found it quite hard to connect with some scenes. When I was composing this shot I loved the way the light was hitting the ferns in the foreground and lighting up the bluebells but really did struggle with the empty space on the left ! It was at that point Jake walked in to the scene a couple of frames later I had an image I was happy with.
I had almost fallen out with Photography this year, but it’s surprising how a day out with great company and some fresh air can bring back the urge to make and create images again… I need to go OUT OUT more often !!!
You can find these images on my Instagram account @matt6t6
As most of you know I am a 99% black and white Photographer it’s always been my preference. I have never really liked Colour as I have always found it distracting and a very hard medium to grasp and as for trying to tell a story out on the street !
I also struggled with Colour in the early days of digital as the slightest noise really did mess with the colours on most DSLRs.
These days nearly the only time I shoot colour is for Client work and I really do forget just how amazing the modern Fujifilm Cameras are with such great Colours.
I have been shooting Vans and Trucks a while now and just love working with Peoples Ford Van Centre Liverpool. The team there are amazing and they have some amazing return customers who just love their Vans. I also have a Camper Van based on the Ford Transit Custom and built by Wellhouse so I am in love with the backbone of the UK.
Ford have been producing some amazing colours over the last few years as well as some stunning Vans. It’s through my involvement with Peoples Ford that I have started to love shooting Vans in Colour ! I am not sure how long my love of Colour will last !!!
I guess it all depends on what Ford have up their sleeves !
One thing’s for sure I love the creative freedom I get working with these guys and I can’t wait to share with you all some of the images I have planned for the Future !
Until then here are a couple from this week’s shoot.
How do you get noticed in a Crowd ?
I have lost count of the amount of times I have been asked “how do you become a Brand Ambassador for a Photography Company ” It can be any brand and as I was probably with Fujifilm the longest, then people will assume I am talking about Fujifilm but this could apply to any Photography Company.
So how do you become a Brand Ambassador ? To be honest it’s hard work and dedication and most importantly a great body of work because without great images to back you up you can fall at the first hurdle. These days there are a few people that have slipped through the net because they know somebody that knows somebody or have a fake Instagram following but when it’s time to knuckle down and produce the goods its these people that fail.
So many people want to become a Brand Ambassador but they really don’t know what is involved they only see the tip of the iceberg and the perceived glory !
They don’t see the hundreds of hours that go into the job and the thought of standing on a stage talking to 60-1000+ people scares the crap out of quite a few. There are also the trolls and negative people that are too lazy to work hard for themselves and think you are going to help them when they can be arsed themselves !
I have given help and advice to lots of people over the years and also watched people knocking at the doors of lots of Brands and never making it ! Why is that you might ask and do you know most of the time they just give up too soon. Most the the time if they are good the brands will be watching them they might even have people in their social media accounts before they even know they are in there. I have watched people focus on a brand and daily swamp the brands hashtags and pump images all over their feeds in the hope of getting noticed and trust me this works. I have even had brands say to me what is he or she like and I say yea great good work to only to find out the person they were watching gave up and then got overlooked.
I was told once you can’t be a Brand Ambassador on your work alone but that is not strictly true as I believe to this day its still your work that gets you noticed first. Then yes of course they need to see where you fit in their Brand Ambassador Scheme ! If a company has a full set in each country from Street to Landscape Sport etc then you should be looking for one of these people to leave and seize your chance.
Times have changed and most brands now require you to be a Full Time Professional Photographer earning at least 90% of your income from Photography. There are a few exceptions and that’s were your hard work and image making skills come in.
With most brands it’s got to be a win win situation and there has got to be something in it for them and you.
I do laugh at times when I see people chasing after brands and think in three months or a year they might be working for Fujifilm or Sony etc I think it was nearly three years before Fujifilm even noticed I was there and running next to me was Jeff Carter and I think at the time he was posting and blogging like a man possessed ! I was at the time shooting like a mad man and hoping my work would get me noticed and it did.
I think around about 2013 I was in the middle of my Black and White project and I was approached by about 5 brands all in the same year and still to this day I get the odd email asking me if I would like to work with X or Y brand.
It’s a lot easier once you have worked with a few big brands as you then have more value to another Brand. I am only representing 1 brand at the moment and that’s the amazing Gnarbox Team this is a brand I believe in and have a strong connection with. I have turned down lots of brands and the main reason is I don’t like of believe in their product or I don’t like the way they do business. I won’t just represent someone because they pay me to represent them I have to keep my integrity intact.
When I left Fujifilm in 2017 quite a few people were wondering where I would go next and I thought it was amusing because as far as I am concerned Fujifilm are the best Camera Manufacturer out there at the moment with the best team, best integrity and the right vision for the future and they listen to the end user. I think Canon come second and after being a Nikon user for 40 years before I changed to Fujifilm I think Nikon are the most out of touch ! As a Nikon fan for 40 years I find the way they do business short sighted and rude. On this point if you want to be a Brand Ambassador you need to be loyal !
I have lost count of the people that have asked me how to be a Fujifilm ambassador then in 18 months jumped ship to Sony and that’s why the brands don’t rush into taking you on.
I know some people that think if they play up and are rude and nasty they will get noticed and it somehow has worked for a few people by slagging off one brand, they have managed to get involved with a rival ! I personally think that’s pathetic and there are a few out there with quite dubious backgrounds in the industry and I know some of these people personally and they have not done half the things they have on their CVs.
Some of them even admit fake it until you you make it mentality but it all goes wrong when you rock up for a job and can’t cope !!
The truth is it’s a long journey to be a Brand Ambassador first you need a body of work this takes time and if you have no images then you are looking at at least 5 years and at least 5 projects under your belt. I would say you do need to specialize I used to be known as a safe pair of hands that could shoot anything but that would not help me become a Brand Ambassador. In the end I had to go back to my passion and shoot Street and focus on that before I would get noticed.
You have to have a head for business and be able to take rejection as well. I learnt quite a lot from Stock Photography as rejection was high in the early years.
You also have to be able to do the job. It’s no good blagging your way in then not being able to stand on a stage and perform. Trust me it’s not easy to get up there and some of the best I have seen crapping themselves before they go on stage. You also have to be able to work very hard and very long hours and mostly weekends. I think David Noton once said “you have to do your time in the trenches before you can become a Professional Photographer” and he was spot on if you don’t learn the job inside out you will look stupid at some point.
In 2016 I hardly had a day off and was all over the UK at the drop of a hat and the lifestyle looks great but it can get bloody lonely living out of a hotel room and sitting on a train on your own for hours at a time.
Yes the rewards are great but trust me going to bed at 4am and starting at 6am for 14 days straight can take its toll.
People always see the SUCCESS but they don’t see the hard work, risk, late nights, struggles, failures, persistence, action, discipline, courage, changes, criticism, disappointments, adversity, rejections, sacrifice, marketing, and accounting that goes in to that SUCCESS !!
The biggest thing holding most people back in trying to work for a brand is they just don’t have what it takes to go the distance and these days they are just too lazy and want it all done for them and handed to them on a plate. The end goal for most people trying to be a Brand Ambassador is they want free stuff but trust me, it does not work like that and even though some brands do give stuff away most of the people who think wow that’s great, fail to deliver the goods and fail to impress the Brand and are just left with a camera body that they end up selling.
Some of the brands these days are to blame. They see someone with a fake Insta following and start throwing stuff at them only to find out the person can’t deliver !!
I have fallen foul of this myself and booked people with a huge following but they fail to get bums on seats at workshops or events because the following is fake ! Thanks to the Social Chain and quite a few other people now these accounts can be checked.
So my advice on trying to be a Brand Ambassador if that’s what you want to do, is to consider this, I decided to leave Fujifilm to get my own identity back as I felt I needed to have my own creative freedom to do my own projects again so be aware you will be signing a contract that in some cases can be quite restrictive. Make sure you are using that brand’s products and have been for quite a while and I mean really love that gear and then build yourself a body of work using their products and get some really good projects under your belt before hounding them to death on Social Media. Specialise in one area be it Street, Landscape or Portrait and even if you are a Full Time Wedding Photographer do a project that means something to you that could make people look at your work in a new way.
Work hard and be positive and buckle in for a long journey.
Someone once said to me how long will it take me to get in the Police I have been trying for 8 years, I said if you give up now you wont get in, she sighed and got in the following year and is now doing her dream job. It’s the same with the brands stick at it be loyal and produce great projects and they will find you.