Sunday, October 30, 2005

The difference between professional and amateur

Traditionally the difference between an amateur and a professional photographer is defined as one earns a living from their photography while the other does not. I think this definition is fine in as far as it goes but to me the word professional means more than just working in a trade.

The other connotations of the word professional include, learned, expert and skilled. I suppose what I'm really seeking to differentiate between is someone who works as a photographer and someone that has a wholly professional attitude to their photography.

A truly professional photographer cares about every detail and strives for perfection in everything they do, from dealing with customers, to models, to the quality of their work, to presentation, to doing business with suppliers and leading their team. Every aspect is handled professionally, with skill, expertise and the utmost care. Because the final image is the product of a long chain of decisions and actions. For example, the photographer who doesn't get a shoot organised on schedule and ends up being late and rushing will probably produce poorer quality images than the professional who takes care to ensure every detail is looked after.

There are amateurs who put more effort in, are more rigorous in their photography, more passionate and driven than many photographers who make a living out of their photography. But generally amateurs are quickly satisfied with their results. There's no economic incentive to perform to the highest level and that's fine.

But I do think that photographers who earn their living as professionals should always have a professional attitude and that they should carry it through into every aspect of their work. Being a professional photographer is a way of life, not just a way of earning a living.

As always your comments are welcome.

Email Paul Indigo

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

On-screen frames

I just wanted to say how much I hate on-screen frames that are totally over-the-top. So many people upload their photographs and then put elaborate frames around them as if this will improve a thoroughly mediocre image.

If the picture is poor, or even if it is good, here's plea from the heart. Please don't put elaborate frames and effects around it. They invariably detract from rather than enhance an image.

You don't believe me. Well take a look at just about any top professional photographer's website. What do you see? Maybe a discreet border, perhaps an edge that looks photographic like the negative of a film but not three deep layers of drop shadowed, semi transparent, selectively coloured, embossed mounts!

As always my message is... concetrate on producing good images and then enhancing what's there through Photoshop.

All the best,

Paul Indigo

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Photographers worth a visit

I'm working on a portfolio for an exhibition at the moment, so that and the rest of my work seems to be swallowing all of my time. But I've found a few other photographers you may want to take a look at.

Nick Brandt is making quite a name for himself in the fine art photography world. He'll be exhibiting in the UK shortly, details on his site. I love his stuff.

Tom Stoddart is a really gifted photogjournalist. Well worth a visit.

Mika produces stunning colour photography and has started a whole trend in Japan and internationally.

Take care,

Paul Indigo

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Do new cameras make a difference?

Recently I've read about more and more photographers turning from digital to film cameras. Many of them never took photographs seriously before the digital age and now that they've discovered the joys of capturing an image, well it's natural that they want to find ways of improving their photography.

I've written before about the fascination photographers have with the technology involved in making an image. Judging by the latest trend of photographers turning to film, and praising it, I think that the ever present marketing spin has lodged firmly in their minds.

What's the spin you may ask? Well the heart of it is that using a different camera or medium like film or digital is going to improve your photography. Of course that's nonsense. I see many photographers not quite getting the results they want with their digital SLRs. So what do they do? Switch to film. If you are such a photographer my advice is stick to the minimum equipment you can. Travel light. Pick the right lens for the job and stick with it.

Switching cameras or from film to digital or the other way round is purely a question of workflow. Yes the fine aesthetics of the results are different. Each medium has it's own quality but you have to be a really exceptionally talented and visionary photographer to extract the benefits and play to the strenghts of the different media.

Concentrate on improving your images. Not on equipment. Time and again it's been shown that if you put a disposable camera with a crap lens in the hands of a talented photographer she'll get an interesting result, the product of a creative vision. So equipment really doesn't make one a better photographer.

There is a rider on what I've said above. Using new equipment can stimulate a photographer's creative vision. Any new technology can inspire. I remember when I first used a super wide lens. Mind you it took awhile of trying things before I got my first really good photograph. But yes, it can stimulate creativity.

To sumarise: the main thing is to concentrate on improving your images. All the best photographers know their equipment inside out. That's the answer. Not switching from digital to film. You'll probably switch back again in two months and upgrade to a more expensive digital camera, still chasing that elusive improvement in your photography.

As always, your comments are welcome.

Paul Indigo

Sunday, October 09, 2005