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 ..
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.
This is just to remind everyone that I am with Wex Photographic over the next 3 months and have 15 photowalks and a couple of talks around the UK branches.
These are very reasonably priced and a great way to get out in your local city with like-minded people for a few hours of Photography.
Here is the link to sign up hope to see a few of you guys there.
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.
As quite a few people know I am changing the format of my workshops in 2018 so if anyone wants to take part in the present format, please choose one of my Street Photography Workshops from the list below.
This is the format for 2017.
The workshops will encourage debate about Street Photography and help the participants to be more critical about their work.
The workshops are suitable for professional and amateur photographers of all levels. We ask you to familiarise yourself with using your camera and learn how to change settings quickly before attending the day, this will enable you to enjoy the experience fully.
The day will start at 10.30am and conclude at 16.30pm with a break for lunch and plenty of comfort breaks throughout the day, most of the day will be out on the streets. There is a lot of walking during the day and the event may take place in inclement weather so come prepared.
You will spend the day with myself exploring the streets picking up tricks and tips on my style of Street Photography throughout the day. My Street photography workshops and courses are fun, informative and relaxed. They are both challenging and highly enjoyable and designed to stretch your imagination.
I uses the Fuji X100F and XPro2 with a 35mm or 16mm Prime lens.
You can bring any DSLR or mirrorless camera on this course; fixed lens compacts are also welcome. If you are wondering what lenses to bring 50mm is ideal for full frame and 35mm film uses. APSC size sensors 35mm is ideal or lenses around the normal focal length.
The day normally starts at 10.30am with a coffee introductions and a discussion about the day. We will touch on the ethics and law and how to deal with challenges in this area.
Next we will discuss camera set up for the day and the best set up for street photography with a practical demonstration of street camera technique.
Matt will cover what Street Photography is, and show you some of his favourite Street Photographers images. He will also show you the best way to approach his style of Street photography.
We normally spend around two hours covering these subjects then around 12.30am we head straight out on to the streets where you can watch the way Matt works and try out some of the tips and tricks that he shares with you.
We break for lunch around 1.30pm where we can find a quiet place for a snack to discuss the mornings work and share our experiences.
We then go back out on the streets to practice your new street techniques and try and find your street rhythm and look for some interesting characters or great light!
We stay out shooting until about 4pm, we then find a quiet place to sit as a group to discuss the day and this will include lessons learnt. Matt will share his processing techniques and preferred software. Matt will give you his views on Critique and show you how to review your own work.
I know the majority of you guys that read my blogs and attend my workshops are Fujifilm users but for all you that have other brands of camera please feel free to book on any of these workshops as all camera brands are more than welcome.
Here are the available dates left this year, please click on the dates for availability:
These will be the last Street Photography Workshops in this format at this price.
I have some interesting ideas for Locations and Styles of Workshops for next year, these workshops will be a little more complex so require a lot more planning.
I will advertise the 2018 Workshops around about October time.
I will be leading the Fujiholics Photowalks in London, Edinburgh and Bristol this year so make sure you sign up before all the places are gone. We have over 350 people signed up for London already.
Hope to see some of you on a Free Walk or Workshop and if you are a Fujifilm shooter then our new Facebook group might be for you here.
I have had quite a few emails from people asking how they can find out where I am and what I am up to.
I have to confess I thought I had that covered this with my website and the Fujiholics site and social media. But I realise this is not as I thought, so from now on I will do my best to keep up my blog so people can find out where I am from here.
I was at the HIP Festival in Hull a couple of weeks back and they have invited me back next year to show my work in their gallery at the City of Culture HIP Event as well as talk on the opening evening etc So I will come back to you all on the date for that one.
I am in Bristol this weekend hosting the Fujihoilcs Bristol Photowalk #FujiholicsBRIS16 this is one of the many free events held by the Fujiholics in the UK to bring like minded people together in the fresh air to share their passion for Photography. To network and share ideas.
I will then be in Glencoe with Paul Sanders and Fujifilm UK on the 21st to the 25th November for the Fujiholics Landscape Workshop There only 4 places left for this workshop and it will be the last Autumn or Winter Glancoe workshop we do as the next few years are just too busy.
I wont bog you all down with to much all in one go but I will just mention the Venice workshop next year again with Paul Sanders there a still a couple of places left for this amazing workshop exploring Landscape and Street.
I will update you all on future events from now on on Social media and by this blog.
I am a candid Street photographer, there I said it and have been saying it for two years, but how did that happen? I am not even sure myself to be honest. It’s just how people started referring to my work, it’s not a name I gave to myself its just happened over night I can’t even remember how it started.
I have been shooting Street photography in one way or another for all of my life and started about 8 years old with a camera given to me by my parents. I was born Dyslexic and photography was my welcome release from life, school and my own head as I tried to grow up with learning difficulties.
I was not great at photography so had to teach myself and made lots of mistakes along the way. I did all the normal things you do as a kid, shoot long exposures and light trails from cars on roads as well as smoke and water drops, all the photography related things we shoot as we try to learn then people became more interesting.
I started shooting weddings and events at an early age and then glamour. In my spare time my hobby as such was always shooting people, due to the fact I shot people at weddings and people at events and spent my time posing them or talking to them I preferred to shoot my street in a candid way.
I did not read many books as reading was such a slow process for me in my early years so I just found out the more time I spent with a camera and the more time I spent in the dark room, the more I found out about photography. I did get a few photography books but they were all about the images and not the text.
I learnt very early on how to critique my own work, I am my worst critic. I shot the odd landscape and had wonky horizons for years until I started to look at my work in a more critical way. The funny thing is finding out for yourself, can’t even get an horizon straight, now that makes you look more deeply at your work. If you can’t notice something as simple as that what else was I missing.
I had a house fire many years ago and lost everything in my house from my vinyl collection to all my photos and negatives! Quite a few survived but mostly family images, it stopped me in my tracks for years and I also lost my cameras and the insurance was out of date by a few weeks. Shame we did not have email reminders in those days.
So I have only recently started to show my Street work again but to this day I still shoot film but keep that to myself and don’t post my film images on social media that often.
I have to admit to not knowing anything about Street photography and not looking at any of the masters of Street or even reading up on Street until about eighteen months ago when I met Steve Coleman. Street Frame Steve and I became friends through our love of Photography and Street. I also had not read a book on Street until this year as I just don’t have time to read and very rarely buy books. A friend of mine Elaine was given some books for Christmas 2014 and two were the same. As a coincidence I was given two copies of Martin Parr’s book so we did a swap. Elaine said I would love the book by David Gibson (The Street Photographer Manual) as it’s exactly the way I teach and shoot street. As soon as she said that I was interested and decided to read it and managed to read it in a week, the speed I read that was fast!
I was so shocked to read that after all these years I was shooting Street almost exactly the way the manual says it should be done. Not that I am one for too many rules in photography but Street to me is my passion.
I have seen so many YouTube videos of people arguing with people in the street about their rights to shoot on public property after upsetting someone with their camera it was quite refreshing to read a book that was telling it how it is!
My philosophy on Street is so simple. I want to be able to go out and shoot Street in a candid way so as not interrupt any ones day. I want to keep it real and not ask for a portrait or change the dynamic of the scene. I want to capture life as it happens and not pose one single element. I have been shooting this way for over 40 years and no one has ever stopped me let alone had an argument with me. The people I have spoken to on the street have all been very nice and it’s amazing what a smile can do.
I always said I would not teach Photography and never Street but now find myself doing it. Part of that was an age thing, I reached 50 and decided to just go for it and teach, do talks and workshops. In all honesty I did not think I was that interesting.
Some of the main reasons for teaching were that people were asking me to teach them and show them not just Street but black and white editing and all other types of photography.
I was getting asked so many questions that were so hard to answer online; I can’t type that fast and being Dyslexic all my work has to be checked by my girlfriend Jane so writing is a nightmare for me. Workshops were the only answer and I quickly found that I loved the workshops and learnt so much from them myself. So many of the people that have been on my workshops have been Teachers and that has opened my eyes to some of my early failures. I used to say to everyone what is the point in a workshop, you won’t learn much and some of the teachers are not great. I was wrong and I admit it. I wish I had taken a few workshops in my younger years that way I would have not had wonky horizons for 8 years! I now say workshops are good, go find a workshop with a photographer at the top of his or her game or even someone whose work you admire that way your photography will progress so much more quickly.
Some of the guys that have been on my Street workshops have come more than once and come to different city’s all over the UK. There work is getting better and better. They ask me more and more questions gaining confidence all the time. Not only that but they can shoot around some of these cities in the safety of a group. Some single people who are into photography and whose friends are not, just love to be able to shoot Street with like minded people and its great fun.
One of the questions I have been asked most this year is, when is it Street and when is it a Portrait ? The answer is simple but there is a grey area. If you just shoot someone in the street without them knowing its Candid Street. If you ask for a portrait it’s a Street Portrait. If you look at them and point to your camera and gesture and they nod then because permission has been asked for and granted it is a portrait! So if you are shooting and waiting for eye contact it’s still Street as long as they don’t smile!! If they smile that is the grey area because the smile can be taken as an agreement to have a portrait taken! I try to capture all my Street subjects’ candid but if I push for eye contact I aim to press the shutter before they smile. I would never post a portrait or smile shot in a Street group, unless they allow Street portraits! So if you wonder why your images get removed from Street groups that could be a reason.
There is also a lot of debate about shooting the homeless or disadvantaged people. This is a taboo subject in most Street groups and I don’t encourage it on my workshops. A good street image is telling a story and should say something to you as well as the viewer if you view it in a group. ‘Homeless person in a doorway’ or ‘on a bench’ is an easy target for people starting out into Street and they always try to justify their images with a verbal reason. If the images can’t talk for themselves they fail, so give it a lot of thought before you fall into that trap. I also understand that if we don’t shoot homeless and disadvantaged people there will be a big gap in future images so a good story needs to be told.
I was on a photo walk when a friend of mine Dave K Piper said to me “ I get it now “ I said “get what” he said “ I create my work in a studio and you go out and find yours.” He was spot on and one of the lessons I try and teach is that you don’t always find it !
Too many people are going out and shooting Street like I did with Landscapes as a kid and not looking at their work. There are still wonky horizons in Street but so much Street now has no thought put in to it. I am in some great Street groups and even some of the groups are not helping. People have short attention spans on social media and click ‘like’ far too easily and that gives a Street photographer the wrong idea.
Some of my images have quite a lot of thought put into them and there is a story there or emotion, but its missed by so many. Someone said the other week that window shots have been done to death and they are easy ! Far from it but so many window shots are just window shots !
Martin Parr and Bruce Guilden ( Thanks Steve ) have some great YouTube videos on Critique and they are well worth watching. I have only just started to look into the masters of Street and to be honest I don’t get some Street but fully get the style I find myself shooting.
One very important thing for me is that everyone needs to treat people on the street as they would like to be treated themselves so that we can carry on shooting Street in the future and not have the general public turn on photographers for being rude and pushy!
I am a member of the f50 collective an international collective of Street photographers and we have some amazing debates on Street over a coffee in Liverpool but the one thing that is always apparent is our passion for Street.
I teach Street workshops and I spend all day out on the street with my groups and only have groups of 6 people as that is just about the right amount to take around any city. Shooting candid is an art in its self so group size is very important to me. I also have FREE photowalks in the UK that are planned with Fujifilm UK or Fujiholics to get Photographers together for a great social event not just for Street but for networking or any other style of photography.
My workshops are designed for any level of photography, and I carry out one to one courses anywhere in the UK. I was not sure about starting the workshops as trying to teach people how to shoot Candid street in a group I thought was going to be an issue but its turning out to be a lot of fun.
People come on my courses and have that light bulb moment and realize it’s not as hard as they thought. Once they have that light bulb moment and start shooting the way I teach, they go from strength to strength. One guy came on one of my very first workshops and said Street is not for him and he was not going to do it again. I was shooting in Liverpool a few weeks back and he was out on his own shooting Street and his work is getting better and better as he gets closer and closer. Not only that but he had confidence issues as well. He now finds a great release and calmness in shooting Street the same as I did when I was a young lad.
I have taken my workshops on the road now and with the help of Fujifilm UK can also offer loan cameras and lenses for my workshops if notice is given. I have some exciting places for 2015 and they all give a different aspect to Street photography: Brighton for example has its relaxing vibrant culture, London for the fast paced action and chaotic city life, Edinburgh for the most relaxed people in the UK and just up the road Glasgow for some of the best characters, Liverpool and Manchester for the amazing styles of the men and women, Hull for the amazing people, Cardiff for the Christmas markets. and Chester for historic backgrounds and so many more that I have not had time to plan yet.
So, why not join me in a city near you or have a weekend break in a city far away ? With my new early bird prices and advanced train fairs at an all time low it’s a great way to spend a weekend in an interesting city exploring it by day with like minded people and some candid Street.
Don’t confuse my Workshops with the Free photowalks I have this year as they are completely different. I can’t teach 200 people on a walk I can only talk to people on the route and hand out hints and tips. If you don’t make it to my workshops follow my facebook page or twitter feed to find the Free walks and competitions. Who knows, you might win a Fuji X100T or a trip to Paris to shoot Street with me !
My street photography workshops have been going down very well in 2014, its quite sad that I have only got one left this year ! The last one is in Liverpool on the 14th of December at Wilkinson Cameras and will be concentrating on the Liverpool Markets. Its been a great year for me teaching the groups. I said for years I would not want to teach but have found the last year very enjoyable. I am very passionate about Street Photography, also about getting people to explore our great city’s in the UK. I love shooting people and with the modern street techniques and the amazing mirrorless Fuji X Cameras its now just a breeze.
I prefer the XPro1 with a 35mm lens for most of my street work. Looking back at when I shot film I was always wide and long ! So am quite excited about the new Fuji 90mm lens due out in 2016. I do like to get up close in my own work but there are occasions getting close is just not an option. The X-T1 is so much more simple to use but I love the rangefinder feel and style of the XPro1 so hope when the 90mm comes out the XPro2 will be coming out around the same time to give me a pair of Street cameras.
The courses have been so much fun, I have decided to carry on with them in to 2015. I have some very exciting plans for instance the Edinburgh Workshop weekend is with Ami Strachan who is one of my favorite UK street photographers and lives in Edinburgh so will be our guide for the day. People booking on the course can also contact me in advance if they want to try out some of the latest Fuji Cameras and lenses. I only have 6 places on each course and they get booked very quickly so if you want a place on one of the published courses book now, you can try and get one for a Christmas present !
I will be adding more courses in to the year but at the moment I am trying to fit in my other talks and workshop for some of the retailers in the UK like Cambrian Photography who have a Christmas show on the 6th of December and a very special event in 2015.
I will be adding events in the south once we get in to the new year, so keep checking my Eventbrite page. I am now an official Fujifilm X photographer and as you know a Formatt Hitech Featured Artist so have a very interesting project planned for next year using the X Series cameras and Hithech filters in my Street Photography. Its all very exciting and I cant wait for 2015…