Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Building your portfolio

This image shows a porter helping his colleague as they carry their heavy burdens up from the harbour into Istanbul.
It always symbolised something of the human condition to me and for a many years it resided in my photojournalism portfolio.

I'm fond of it. This was a real grab shot taken literally on the run as I saw the action unfolding in front of me. It was an icy day with low light and I was shooting with Ilford HP5 up rated to squeeze an extra stop out of it. Taken with my 70-210mm zoom at full extension.

But should it be in my portfolio? The feet of the one guy are are cut-off. Sometimes I like this because it looks as if he is anchored to the side of the frame making the task of moving even harder. Other times I wish I had it all in.

What do you think? Should it be in my portfolio or finally out? These are the questions I posed on a photographic site. The response was unanimous. The image is just too special to leave out. So it shows that sometimes the subject matter and other elements are strong enough to overcome the technical dogma.

Paul Indigo

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Season's greetings

Wishing everyone a season filled with joy, peace, replinishment and that next year brings you a step closer to realising your dreams.

Happy photographing!

Paul Indigo

Saturday, December 10, 2005

There's nothing here to photograph

I've often heard photographers complaining that they just cannot find a subject to photograph, sometimes after going to extraordinary lengths to get to a location. In all honesty I've said it myself. But I've been thinking...

It's not what you photograph but how you photograph it that reveals the difference between a good photographer and an ordinary one. The key to being a good photographer is being able to make anything look interesting as an image. As a photographer you have to evoke emotion, communicate ideas and produce a visually exciting image no matter what the subject is.

Unlike 'art' photographers or amateurs, professional photographers have to produce saleable pictures that communicate, whether they're in the mood, able to 'see' it', inspired in front of a subject they like or once again photographing a cardboard box or a bottle (most advertising photographers tend to do an awful lot of shots of these subjects).

The point I'm striving to make is: don't ask yourself, what can I photograph, but instead ask how can I photograph any single thing around me in a way that is visually interesting and exciting? Look around you and pick anything you see and then ask yourself the question; how can I make a stunning image of this? Take a look at the photography masters. I'm pretty sure just about every subject has been photographed, often brilliantly , whether it's a cup and saucer or a burning match. The joy though is that there are thousands of ways of photographing every subject so just because Edward Weston produced an iconic black and white image of peppers does not mean you can't also create a brilliant shot of peppers.

About 10 years ago I was sitting in our apartment desperate to get out and photograph a landscape but it was raining relentlessly. I was determined to create a good image so I opened my eyes and really looked. There it was in front of me. I photographed the rain drops hitting the window pane with the building across the street forming an interesting slightly out of focus background. The shot was very well received and ended up in my portfolio for several years.

Ok, so I've made the argument that the difficulty in finding a subject to photograph is just a matter of perception. Anything can become the subject of a great image, it's just how you photograph it that makes the difference. But there is a rider.

It has always fascinated me how when you photograph something that you are emotionally involved with, that has captured your interest, this is somehow conveyed in the image. This applies to professional photographers as well, which is why they will tend to specialise in an area that they find interesting. So the rider on the initial statement above is photograph anything that you find interesting and try to communicate your own visual interest and excitement in the best way possible through the image.

Remember though that the key is not finding the subject, the key is finding the best way to photograph any subject.

Please feel free to leave a comment or email me.

Paul Indigo

Saturday, December 03, 2005


If you are interested in photojournalism and documentary photography then here are some sites well worth a visit.

Check out how Pulitzer prise winning photojournalist John Kaplan's students tackled the art of telling important stories with images. There's lots of terrific stuff to read and impactful images on the site.

Here are some more
photographers highly worthwhile checking out. They are all quite recent alumni from the University of Florida photojournalism department. UF churns out award winning photographers, proof that top quality teachers like Kaplan and Freeman make a huge difference.

Meggan Booker:
Dave Cone:
Bob Croslin:
Melissa Lyttle:
May May:
Stephanie Sincliar:
Brian Tietz:
Eric Larson :


Paul Indigo

Happy to help

I've been incredibly busy over the last few weeks. Thank you to everyone that emailed and contacted me.

As you know I will always do my best to answer your questions. Sometimes it's a bit of a challenge, especially when a comment is left without the slightest clue as to who made it or how to get in touch. So please do leave your email address (you can encode it as follows if you're afraidit may be picked up by an automated system trawling the web for email addresses to send spam to; here's how I do mine pauldotindigoatgmaildotcom).

Chris if you're out there reading this, thanks for you comment and please do send me an email so I can answer you.

Usually I sign-off with my name as a clickable email link.

Paul Indigo

Model having fun during a shoot in our studio.