Hi Guys and welcome to 2019 Happy New Year to you all, this year I am going to spend more time blogging and more time on YouTube it’s going to be a great big learning curve and my video editing skills leave a lot to be desired but I will do my best and lear as I go.
My first new venture is Project Sunday and this is on YouTube and Flickr please feel free to subscribe to my youtube and request to join the Flickr Group some people have struggled with the Flickr group request but you request to join then send a message to admin to let you in its invite only but we can invite you if you have not messaged us.
It’s basically a series of weekly challenges and you post you images in Flickr and your links under my youtube videos it came about from my Learning to see workshops where people wanted a little more to motivate them throughout the year. Its for fun and sharing but who knows where it will end up.
Hopefully with a meet up at some point.
We are up to week 3 and if you join this week you might be in time for week 3 if not start week 4 on Saturday coming.
I was shocked at the 70 people that have signed up so far and the amount of people who take part every week, its a great little group on Flickr and I can’t wait to see what they all come up with over the next 12 months. Really impressed by the effort some of the people have put in.
Working as a full time Professional Photographer is not easy at times and the hardest part it taking a break and going on Holiday. When photography was a hobby you used to get really excited about you next trip to try out that new bit of kit.
When you are full time you try and think of a way to take photos on holiday but not to weigh your self down with lots of camera gear.
This time I managed to fit all my kit in to one bag and that’s a first. I needed to bring video kit for my YouTube channel and keep the stills kit to a minimum.
Now I am putting more time in to YouTube the video kit comes first and that has forced me to look for smaller stills kit. On this trip I just brought the Fujifilm X100F and the Canon G7X Mark II ( the G7X also double as a video camera for hand held stuff) I brought the Canon M50 and the Canon 200D for vlogging, these will soon be replaced by two Fujifilm X-T3s.
This trip so far it’s been a struggle to shoot video as I have been having gallbladder issues for a few months now and trust me gallstone pain is not nice and has been wiping me out for up to 8 hours so I have not had time to shoot and edit much video and the stills have fallen by the wayside so far !
I have managed a few iphone shots and a couple with my G7X but that is about it.
People don’t like to admit it but smartphones are so easy to use and we have them with us all the time so in reality they really are great unless you need a large image. I have blown my iphone7 images up to 10 x 8 and they are great.
So on this break to Ireland I think my iphone will come in to its own.
All iphone 7 images edited in SnapSeed.
I won’t have time to do a YouTube update this week but will get something uploaded as soon as I get back.
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.
Its been a very busy few years and I have not had a decent relaxing break for quite a while. I have just taken a week off and was only 60 miles from my front door in the Peak District and Yorkshire Dales. Jane said to me half way through the week “you have hardly been on your phone this week” I guess I am learning! It’s no good going away to Scotland and driving 600miles and not unloading the clutter in my mind by being on Social Media all the time or answering all the emails. So staying close to home saved me a lot of driving and allowed me to really relax.
Working in the Photography industry is a bit full on at times, if you are not marketing you are planning or on Social Media and this can take over your life.
Whilst away I decided on my 5 year plan and am now going to stick to it for a change. I have about 14 more workshops to do for Wex Photographic and then a few other jobs to complete before October 2018. I will then semi retire. I plan to fully retire in 2022 not that Photographers ever retire we just have more time to be creative.
I will cut my workload in half from October 2018 and start to take photos for me and begin to explore the five elements that make a great image( Light, Composition, Moment, Amazing Subject & Emotional Impact). I want to focus on image making as this is so important to me.
I have put together a new series of workshops just to keep me going until 2022. I don’t think I can sit around for the next four years, so I might as well get out there and teach what I love. These workshops will explore the five elements but have nothing to do with gear and technology. I also plan to put more time in to my YouTube channel to let you know about the creative process, this will also focus on my image making thought process.
Its amazing how taking a really good break from reality can focus the mind. I walked over 58 miles last week and only took my Fujifilm X100F with me. This transported me back to the day I bought my very first X100 ! Its the reason I moved over to Fujifilm from Nikon and the reason I fell in love with the X Series ! The X70 and the X100F are two of the best in the Fujifilm range by far. The GFX50 is the King but it’ not exactly portable but is the best tool in the toolbox !
Spending a week with the X100F made me relax and enjoy my photography again so much so that I was thinking about selling most of my Fujifilm gear and just keeping that one camera. I still have some work to do with my GFX and three projects to finish and its far too amazing a camera to sell, so the GFX will be staying and so will my X70 and my Xpro2 as that’s one of my Personalised Camera Bodies that Fujifilm gave to me in recognition of my hard work. I think the rest of the lenses and bodies might have to go, not that I have much left as I had a good clear out to buy the GFX last year.
I think I will end up with the GFX50s,X100F,X70,Xpro2 but will probably only use the X100F / X70 most of the time.
One thing I did think about a lot when I was away on holiday was the obsession with gear amongst photographers and this is why I wrote This . It drives me mad watching people buying tons and tons of gear thinking it will make them a better Photographer ! If I make a YouTube video on ‘Gear’ I get 60,000+ hits, if I make one about the creative process I get a few hundred. It’s the same with Workshops, if I do a workshop for one of the brands everyone wants to book on it, but if its about creativity no one is interested and think they can learn it all from YouTube ! I wish it was that simple. You can learn from YouTube but it’s only when you go on a real physical workshop and sit and talk to other people does the real learning start. The more time you spend with a camera in your hand around like minded people the better your work will become. I have seen hundreds of people tell me how they learn from youtube. Most of these people have tons of gear and their image making process is just a bad template of the person they have been watching and they are stuck in the YouTube cycle of looking but not learning.
I was tempted to go down the YouTube route to teach as well for myself and Fujiholics but have decided it would not be the fair or right thing to do.
There are hundreds of people jumping on workshops as teachers but most are doing it for the wrong reasons. If they don’t have passion and it’s all about the money it really does show, so choose wisely !
Photography is a life long learning curve and we all go through diferent stages as we progress, there are no short cuts. I am lucky as I started at 8 years old and have had a lifetimes experience so can now look forward to really exploring whats out there for me and passing on my knowledge !
So it’s time for me to de clutter my mind and my camera cupboard and start to explore the next stages of my Photography journey ! I am starting a series of workshops that will be available on my Eventbrite page very soon. These workshops are designed to give Photographers that have mastered their cameras the information they need to take the the next step up the ladder ! I am sure most people new to photography or even Photographers that have been at it for years get stuck in the gear cycle and keep buying more and more gear to hopefully inspire them to take better photos but always end up disappointed and chopping and changing brands etc to get that amazing image. Its almost like being in a constant loop of disappointment. YouTube does not always help as you end up watching a YouTube video and then have a list of new clutter to buy ! This just puts you back in the sales funnel but does not help you !
There are some great YouTube channels and the one I like at the moment is Sean Tucker
I hope to use my Photography experience gained over the last 40+ years, to pass on some great advice. This will be through a series of workshops that will take place over the next four years exploring what to look for and how to create some great images. This should then give you all the tools you need to get out and create your own work without the need for more and more gear. I will then bring the regular workshops to a close.
I will then retire in 2022 but will update my YouTube channel about once a month and do a couple of talks or workshops a year just to hopefully inspire people to take the next steps in the journey and get of the gear loop !
So if you want to de clutter and want to get off the gear loop I will see you on a future workshop.
What a year ! Its now December and my Year of Colour project is nearly over and I am glad. Its been a very busy year for me and the project has been dragging along behind me instead of inspiring me to get out and shoot ! I always thought it would be hard but it was a lot harder than I expected. I have never been a fan of colour so I already set myself up for failure before I started.
Colour for me growing up in a black and white world with black and white TVs in the house and all my film cameras loaded with black and white film 99% of the time was never going to be easy. I think after learning to see in black and white colour just does not do it for me. I very nearly gave up on several occasions but I am glad I stuck with it. I think black and white is my escape from the real world, the fantasy land of TV as a child.
The project does not really finish until the 31st of December but I have had some back problems and whilst trying to get that under control I really am not inspired or motivated to get out and create anything remotely interesting.
I wanted to force myself to shoot Colour for a year to see if I could fall in love with it and get some form of continuity in my work and develop a colour style. I soon found out Colour does not work like that, to have continuity you need continuity in lighting every day and that is the hardest part. Its easy to set up in a studio and have the same lights and white balance but out in the real world the light is diferent every day so the only way to get a consistency would be to light the subject the same no matter what the weather conditions or time of day. In bright light the colours pop and we are cooking on gas. When there is no light or poor light we have dull washed out colours and these images require a lot more work. In a very short space of time at the start of the year I got fed up with the issue of continuity.
I did however start to look at and play around with film simulation modes on the Fujifilm cameras and even though you could not quite get the continuity you could get a consistent body of work that looked the same. I also looked in to colour grading as they do when they make films but this started to get very complicated. I am in the process of learning to edit film and thought it would all come in handy and it did. I shoot my video in colour so I guess my year has not been wasted as I am putting some of the things I have learnt about colour to good use in camera for my blogs.
I started out hating colour and to be honest for still images I am still a Black and White lover, in all honesty I prefer black and white films as well. I guess colour is so very distracting that it confuses me. My black and white has a consistency and style that works for me. Black and White is a story telling media and colour sometimes can distract you from the story if you get it wrong or are super critical of the way colour works in a scene. I dont hate colour as much as I did and I have a newfound respect for anyone who can keep their outdoor work consistent in every lighting condition without elaborate lighting set ups. I want to do more exhibitions in the future and this is where I need continuity.
Iso also has a big to play in this situation the higher the ISO the darker the image and the more noise is introduced, this looks fine in black and white and even better when printed but really does darken your colour images down. The other issue with colour is my mood ! In black and white you can see my mood changes in my work and this is shown as you would expect in dark moody images with lots of black. In colour they just look more dull and boring ! Primary colours can also be so very distracting in colour images form the story or from the main subject so this to can be very frustrating.
I used quite a few Fujifilm cameras during my project and have to say that helped me to decide on what cameras to keep and what to sell. With black and white there is always a small difference in how you process between sensor upgrades but with colour this is huge. I soon discovered that as long as you keep to the same sensor across the board when editing then the files are the same across the editing range, but as soon as you work on say and X-T1 file and an X-T2 file they are worlds apart. As you all know I am not a bit fan of editing so I need a simple workflow that does not take up much of my time.
When I did my year of black and white I did change cameras because of the project and the same has happend this time. I sold all my older X Series cameras and updated to the newer versions to keep sensor continuity across the range. So now I have X100F, XPro2, X-T20 as my main X series work horses. I did however buy a second had X70 to stick in my pocket and take everywhere. I also splashed out on the GFX but that’s more for some projects I have in 2018/2019. I also sold quite a few lenses to lighten my load but that was more due to lack of use. I always do regular lightroom searches to see how much use a lens is getting and if its not getting used it’s not earning its keep so needs to go.
Projects help me to make these camera and lens decisions as well as other work I do, because I might use a diferent lens for a project than I do for my street or client work.
The year of colour was not a complete waste of time I did learn a lot and I did have a good play around with film simulation because I did quite a few edits on my ipad and not on my macbook so I found taking a Jpeg in to SnapSeed or Lightroom Mobile was a lot more simple if I had already applied a preset and got it to as close as I would like in camera first. Most of the time it just needed a slight crop or straighten before posting the image. I am not a fan of editing on Tablets and that I think is just down to my eyesight. I prefer 27″ monitors so that I know there is no dust on the sensor or other issues.
I set my X70 on Jpeg and RAW on classic chrome and in 2018 I will change this to Acros and green filter. I use my X70 as an extension of my iphone for blogging etc I know the XE3 is now out and far better but I prefer the screen on the X70 as it’s so much more versatile. Hopefully one day Fujifilm will make an X80.
I think we all see colour in a slightly diferent way and I know I have a few friends who are colourblind. I also think we all like to view other peoples work not just for the subject matter but for the colour style they have. I think in time I could find a colour style that would suit me but I really do just prefer black and white. It’s been an interesting experiment. Its not been as interesting for me as my year of black and white way back in 2013 but I have decided to go back to 90% black and white for 2018 and have a play around with colour when the mood takes me.
I have some new projects in place for 2018 / 2019 and these are all secret projects. One I am doing with a few friends and two by myself but they all work quite well together. Hopefully all the projects will come together as a book and also at least two exhibitions. I normally do a book at the end of every project but this year I don’t feel the images from my year of colour are strong enough for a book so will skip 2017.
I am going to take some time off over December and January to give my back a chance to sort itself out. I have had two quite serious accidents in the past one that broke my back and it appears this is all coming back to haunt me. Taking time off to heal and to put some thought into my projects.
I hope you all have a great Christmas see you all in 2018.
I have been wanting to write this for ages but as a workshop provider people would just think it’s me looking for work but that is far from the truth. Workshops are not the bulk of my income they only provide a fraction of the income my other Photography work provides. I have been teaching less and less workshops and have now finished my own Street workshops so guess this is now the time to write this post.
There are now more workshops than ever in the UK in just about every style of photography you can think of. There is also a downside as well, some of the people teaching don’t have a clue what they are doing and just treat it as a money making exercise ! So much so that now we have big corporate companies getting in on the act to do the same this then makes people feel ripped off.
I dont mind the guys doing it at the weekend to supplement their income as long as they are good at what they do and are doing it for the right reasons.
There is however another growing trend, people go on workshops to get a Photo ! They dont go to learn how to create or make the photo but just to stand next to the workshop leader get them to do everything for them except press the shutter. They do this mostly to win a local camera club competition and also some of the bigger competitions like LPOTY etc I had heard about this, but until recently I had never experienced it probably because my Street Photography workshops do not work like that. You cant get a great Street shot on a workshop or even in a Month or a Year it’s all got to come together Light, Composition, Moment, Great Subject and Emotional impact, to get a great Street shot, you cant just make that happen. On a recent workshop though my heart sank, four out of the five attendees when asked what they hoped to get out of the workshop all said an image for their Street Photography Theme at their Photographic Society ! I nearly fell off my chair. I told them that probably won’t happen today and from that moment on they were not interested in anything I had to say and just made the whole day very difficult. One thing I did notice over the course of the day was they could not even use their cameras not even on basic settings. My workshops state that you must be able to use your camera, as they are geared towards Street.
Over the next few months I started asking questions of workshop providers and it appears there is a growing trend in this area where people don’t want to learn the craft of photography they just want a short cut to taking an image even if that means paying someone to set it all up for them. I personally think that is very sad.
One of the other big issues in the UK and I say the UK because in other countries there is not the same issue, people buy their cameras and they think they are a Professional photographer as soon as they get it out of the box ! This is worrying and scary ! They do not want to pay to learn how to use it and will not go on basic camera workshops because they do not think they need to learn. I also hear people say the workshops are too expensive. In other countries they buy their cameras then have a thirst to learn and book on workshops and hoover up information.
I have to say some workshops are too expensive but most good ones are not and here lies the rub. How do people know good from bad and what is expensive ! We all have diferent budgets and needs so what price is learning ! I have set up workshops with amazing Landscape photographers like Paul Sanders at really cheap prices in the Lakes and Glencoe and this year we struggle to fill places at £299 people have said this is too expensive. We were in Glencoe a few years back and there was a group that had paid £5500 for the same workshop with a guy that was nowhere near as good as Paul and remarked how cheap we were !
I was one of the people who has never done a workshop, I have heard lots of people say people that teach workshops have never done one themselves. That always makes me laugh as for me its true. I have never taken a workshop but there is a reason for that. I am dyslexic and I have a capacity to learn very quickly, I only have to read it once or try it out and I have got it. I am also over 50 so when I was learning my craft there were very few workshops about so I could not find anywhere to learn. I was lucky enough to have friends and family to point me in the right direction.
I am also very stubborn and did not think there was need for workshops so much so that I refused to teach workshops up until I was 49 because I thought there was no need. How wrong was I. The first workshop I taught had lots of Teachers and University Lecturers at it and that then changed my whole outlook on teaching. Their feedback on my teaching style was very welcome and so has the feedback from all my workshops over the years.
I learnt from teaching workshops that yes quite a lot of people can figure it out for themselves after all I did and these days we have Youtube and social media for help. But if you really want to learn and get to your final goal quicker real practical help in a workshop group can’t be beaten.
There is a small downside to workshops that I deal with right at the start of mine, it’s the know it all people that come on workshops to try and undermine the workshop provider and make himself look good. I dont think they realise how much people in the groups hate this. I recently had a request from a lady to have women only workshops because of the men that do this and try to make women feel stupid ! I pointed out to her that it’s not always the men unfortunately.
In the years I have been teaching and organising workshops I have been shocked to see the amount of people that can’t use a camera out of program and will also not admit they can’t use it. When we set up workshops we have beginner days and advanced days and the advanced days sell out first every time and the beginner days are a struggle. The annoying thing is on the advanced days you have three or for people that can’t use a camera taking up places of people that can. I find this as frustrating as the workshop leaders as they just don’t have the time teach basic camera technique on an advanced workshop.
I own a little company called Fujiholics and we have been running photowalks and workshops over the last few years and the questions we get asked the most is ” When are you going to do basic camera workshops” “will you do Fujifilm Camera workshops as I have moved from Canon to Fujifilm” ” I have moved from Nikon to Fujifilm will you have workshops” We listened and set up a set of workshops in London and we are setting the workshops up in the Northwest and Scotland and a few more places once I find the right people for the job and guess what ? So far no one has booked on the any of the workshops.
On photowalks I get so many people wanting to learn how to use their cameras its unreal. I am guessing people just dont want to pay in the UK and I don’t understand this as in other countries they pay a fortune to educate themselves.
I understand people go on workshops for many diferent reasons, some to learn, some to be with the people who are top of their game, some for the community element, some for a holiday and plenty of other reasons so it hard to address all these needs in one blog. One of the best reasons is to be inspired so that you go out and shoot with renewed vigour, if you just learn a couple of new things every time but get inspired to go out and shoot it might just save you a fortune in buying that new camera or lens that you hope will do the same but never does. Lets face it a workshop is a lot cheaper option in most cases. There is also another reason people do workshops and courses and that is because they are single and its a great way to explore the world and far of places with a group of liked minded people and learn at the same time.
I know that sometimes great teachers are not always the best photographers they are just very good at teaching and vice versa so this also muddies the waters.
So it is very difficult to tell people who are the best people to go on a workshop with, but we do have Google. I recommend you google the person whose workshop you are attending and find out all about them, check out their work and check them out. Use Tripadvisor and Google ratings and even Facebook ratings and see what other people think before you spend your hard earned cash.
Street photography is a good example in in the UK there are not very many good Street photographers in the UK but if you google Street Photography workshops in London you would be shocked at how many there are and I know for a fact at least half of these workshops have been ripped off from some of the top guys in the field. I have even seen my whole workshop copied and pasted on Eventbrite to sell tickets. You really do need to do your research and look in to your chosen subject and google the hell out of it even read lots of top Street photographers lists and look at what a great Street images is before you decide to go on a workshop that has nothing to do with real Street whatsoever ! There is a great book by David Gibson called the Street Photographers Manual. I would recommend you buy it and read it before you start to think about a workshop. If you want to know some of the best Street workshops in the UK then email me firstname.lastname@example.org and I will tell you the ones that I think will be a great learning experience. This is the Same for Landscape, Macro, City Scape, Long Exposure etc Google the workshop leaders and look in to them are these people that you want to learn from ?
So why did I write this ?
I want all those people out there that want a shortcut to creating a great image to wake up and admit to themselves they need to slow down and start to learn how to use their cameras. There are no short cuts it’s a life long long journey this photography lark. You can shorten the learning curve by taking workshops the right ones will help you move up the ladder, if you can pick up one or two things from each workshop then you will get to your end goal a lot quicker but trying to get the workshop leader to do it all for you is like cheating at your exams ! Yes I know some people go on workshop after workshop to pay for an image but that is not the way. Some people are just not creative enough to succeed in photography with out cheating just as I am not a great writer I just know my limits.
So if you can’t use a camera out of Auto and struggle to create an images get your self on a basic camera workshop and start the creative process right there.
Workshops are not cheap you might think, a good basic workshop will be between £60 and £120 a day for a group or £350 upwards for a 1:1 depending on what you want to learn and who the person in teaching you. Trust me that is not expensive my commercial rate alone is over £100 an hour. I teach workshops because I enjoy it, not to make money it’s a loss for me every time I teach.
I cant tell you all the best price to pay for a workshop it all depends on your income or disposable income but I can say people do not like spending money on learning in the UK.
I am quite proud of the people that have come on my Workshops over the years and the ones that have come on the Fujiholics workshops, I have seen the progression in their work and some have come on leaps and bounds. I will not mention any names and embarrass my attendees but after only a few workshops they are turning out some amazing work whereas before they were just muddling along. I have had some people come on one workshop that changed their journey and some who have been on 10+ they all have improved. Quite a few have become good friends over the years as well.
We even get Pro shooters on the workshops and the main reason is to further their knowledge and alter their learning curve. I know quite a few at the top of their game that attend at least three workshops a year just to further their knowledge and make them think out of the box.
You would be surprised at the difference a good workshop or course can make to your workflow and enthusiasm , so go for it and give it a go. If you have has a bad experience in the past and this does happen then drop me an email and I will try and point you in the right direction. There is a hell a lot of difference between a snap and a great images and the only way to learn the difference is to start that learning process now.