Thursday, November 30, 2006

The life of a photo-journalist

Self portrait taken in Scarborough harbour. I had to stand still for what seemed ages while listening for the shutter to close. Hence the static pose, which worked out quite well in the end.

Friend, writer and fellow photographer, David Toyne, has posted a superb interview he did with renowned photo-journalist Jonathan Taylor.

Jonathan shares many interesting insights into his work, ethics and experience. This is good stuff. Well worth a read. And I am delighted that I was able to help David a little with preparation for the interview.

While on the subject of David's writing you should also take a look at his recent interview with top wildlife photographer, Andy Rouse.

More soon.

Paul Posted by Picasa

Is photojournalism art?

Johann van Tonder an award-winning news and conflict photographer, previously photo editor at Die Burger newspaper in South Africa and part-time lecturer in photojournalism at the University of Stellenbosch and Rhodes University shares his views in a highly entertaining article.

Although it was published in 2004 the article is to me as valid today as the day it was written. My photography mentor and teacher, Obie Oberholzer shares a few colourful gems from his particular brand of wisdom in the article too. I could tell you some stories from back in the days when I studied at Rhodes. Maybe another time...

Do have a read and let me know what you think.


Sunday, November 26, 2006

Buying art photography: love or money

Art print from my graphic kitchen series

Why do people buy photographic art prints? I think there are several different reasons and different types of buyers. The premise is that people buy pictures because they like them and if they fall in love with the image they are prepared to pay a lot more for a print than some artists may imagine their work is worth.

I realised that the concept of perceived value underpins the whole issue of what people are prepared to pay for a fine art print. In the first instance we have the photographer's perception of the value of his/her work. And then we have the buyer's perception.

Lets deal with the buyers perception of value for money. Here we need to look at the different types of buyers.

  1. Serious collectors (a rare breed): usually collectors will specialise in images defined by a certain time period in history, the work of a photographer or group of photographers, a genre or perhaps related to a specific geographical area
  2. The emotive buyer: a person that sees an image and falls in love with it because they instantly have an emotional connection. The image may relate to a specific memory they have, someone they know or idealise
  3. The investor (also a type of collector): usually a buyer who will specialise in work that they like and have a connection too but with an eye on the value of the artist in the long term. They acquire a photographer's work because of its 'brand value' ie the name of the photographer may play a greater role in choice than actually loving the image
  4. The decorator: these people buy a picture because it matches their living room decor. The image may be cherished but choice is determined by compatability with decor (colour and style), the frame and size of the picture
  5. The impulse buyer: a tourist or someone casually afforded the opportunity to buy a print who makes the purchase on the spur of the moment because they like the image and happen to have the money to spend at that moment
I've probably missed a category or two. It is 1.30 in the morning. But hopefully the above captures the main types of buyer. I've tried to rank them from those likely to spend the most (1) to those who will spend the least on a picture (5). The investor (3) may pay a lot for an image but will always have an eye on long term value.

In each case the buyer has to like the image and want it. Beyond that, percieved value for money plays a key role in their buying decision.

If you sell art prints you may want to think exactly which type of buyer you're trying to sell to and then consider how to reach them effectively with your marketing.

It goes without saying that building a name for yourself will increase the value of your prints. If you specialise in a certain subject you may be able to get more for your work by identifying and selling to collectors. I suppose the rarest buyers of all are the people that see an image of yours and fall in love with it. They must have it and are prepared to pay (almost) whatever it takes.

Please feel free to comment or email your thoughts to me. I'd love to hear about your experiences.

Posted by Picasa

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Photographic terminology - glossary

Peter gives me the thumbs up during a recent portrait session.

I regularly get asked to explain photographic terms and concepts. And I often see terminology being used incorrectly. Rather than rewriting stuff that has already been explained with great clarity it makes sense to point you in the direction of a few useful resources.

There's tons of stuff on the internet. Two good resources for photographic terms are the wonderful Wikipedia section on photographic terms and this Canadian professional photography website with its comprehensive glossary.

I don't mind being asked to explain things. However, these days camera manufacturers produce excellent manuals (often with a section to diagnose problems) and the help files with most software programmes like Photoshop are are very easy to understand. You could do worse than look at these sources as a first port of call.

Paul Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Digital print creates new opportunities

Suspense, fun and excitement mount in equal measure during a game of Tension Tower between father and son.

New digital print technology has opened up tremendous opportunities for photographers to produce limited edition and even one-off books. Choosing the right supplier guarantees excellent quality.

I am now doing half and full day portrait sessions and turning them into books for clients. Bespoke layouts and artistic design enhance the book making it a unique creation.

More and more formats are becoming easily accesible to photographers ranging from the internet to CD ROM and DVD shows, through to traditional printed media - everything from a print on canvas to a t-shirt. There's a huge range of choice open to the photographer as to how he/she delivers pictures to the client.

Framing methods have also come a long way. If clients have modern interiors then transparent acrylic frames may be more appropriate than gilded wood. I've never fancied the pseudo classical portrait style frame but there is a market for it.

Creative presentation with more than one image in a frame can also work very well. The way images are framed and presented can have a significant influence on the client's buying decision.

As with all marketing you need to identify and know your audience and then present your work in a format that will appeal to them. Producing great images is not enough. Professional social photographers have to differentiate themselves in other ways as well to attract clients. Fortunately there's never been more choice than today.

Paul Posted by Picasa

Monday, November 06, 2006

When a picture is really good

Magda Indigo in search of the perfect image, walking along the seawall in Scarborough.

Today we were once again working in the studio. The weather was not too good. Anyway we were talking about images, as usual and about appreciating other photographers' work.

For me images can be seperated into different categories. Here's my very personal and emotive response scale:

Awful - I want to run out of the room screaming
Mildly interesting
Something that I admire
An image that I think is brilliant, emotive, technically wonderful and compelling
And then there are the images that I dearly wish that I had made because they represent everything that I aspire to with my photography

Like I said it's a very personal scale. I wonder if other photographers have a similar emotive response to the images they see.


Posted by Picasa