Wednesday, 30 December 2015

2015: The Review

2015 has been a mixed year. A year where I've found myself frustrated and in a bit of a rut photographically, a year that I've explored new locations and found my distance from hills difficult to live with and a year that I feel I've finally begun to find my style - whilst, on the other hand, diversifying at the same time. From the endless train journeys and the odd sense of pride I felt in the whole of my portfolio coming about through public transport and lots of walking, I now have a car. The Dales have become my playground once again, since living in York, and more recently, the North York Moors too. I've lost the ease of the grit stone edges of the Peak but gained much more in learning just what I want from a photo. I may not have been as prolific this year, but I feel the quality has gradually increased.

My aims at the start of the year were to double my Facebook following, sell more calendars than last year, begin to get my greetings cards out there and finally push on with the tuition and workshops - all of which have been achieved alongside the relief of completing my PhD... so I really can't complain too much. Now to repeat this for 2016 and hopefully I can make this my proper job with a decent income for 2017... I'm sure you'll all help me along the way, and I could never do it without you lovely people!

For any new viewers - you can find me at the following places:


So... on with the photos! Just a selection of my favourite landscape photos from this year, with a few words explaining why, saving the best until last.

Higger Tor - the smallest of gaps turns a hopeless trip into a perfect evening. 

Monday, 7 December 2015

Photographing people... how?

I have to admit, I have a knack for finding beautiful, unphotographed people to model for me for free - from browsing Instagram and getting past that first, awkward message to stumbling across them in town and asking for their photograph... so I can't complain too much. But with such openness and generosity on their part, comes a sense of responsibility on my part to give them something for their time and therefore, often, a lack of opportunity for experimentation.

I love the photos I have of random, beautiful people and the subsequent shoots we've done - and I'm more than confident in shooting in a number of situations. Give me a setting sun, a pretty face and a reflector and I'm a happy man. Equally, a white wall, a window and a bit of space... all is fine. But neither of these are ever guaranteed. I have no idea where to find white walls and space in York, and the weather is never predictable enough to organise a shoot on it. 

So how can I change this? There are a number of things that I'd love to either own, get to grips with or have the chance to use... but all are limited by expense or practicality. I already own a couple of flashes and softboxes - all very useful, but all somewhat unreliable and certainly unusable outdoors in the slightest of breeze. So what are the other options that intrigue me and problems I currently have?..

  • Continuous lighting 
    • Would be great for learning and knowing exactly what you're about to shoot. Flashes are useful and portable, but when you're a relative newcomer it's always nice to have that extra certainty that comes with a continuous light source. These are more expensive and heavier though... so is it really worth the investment? Where do I even start?
  • Backdrops and stands
    • I already have some cheap stands for my lights - but is it worth investing in a backdrop, and how much should that cost? You can get them for £30-50 on Amazon but reviews are not great, with creases in the backing fabric being a major problem. 
    • So my questions are... what do you look for in a backdrop? Which materials are good? How much do they cost? Is it worth getting the cheap stand and buying a better fabric?
  • Where do I find the space to use this stuff?
    •  I've spent the last week trying to find empty flats, cheap studios or village halls in and around York and they just don't exist. York is a crap place to live as a photographer. So if I were to invest in the studio setups, where could I use them in a cost effective way? I used to have room to shoot in my flat in Sheffield, but that would be very tight here. Even ignoring the space, it's difficult to have control over the light in a regularly sized room - as the light reflects around and ends up ruining any ideas you had - you really need a large room to have full control over this.
  • Even the empty buildings in York seem to be well protected. 
    • Terry's is now being rebuilt as flats, the empty carparks are all very well fenced off (I've checked) and the other abandoned buildings are either well guarded or somewhat dangerous to be exploring. 
    • Where do I find large, empty spaces in a posh city?

So where do I begin? How did any of you learn? Is it worth buying some cheap stuff? I don't need a workshop, I just need some space and/or equipment... but how do you do this without wasting a load of money?