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Showing posts from 2011

Celebrating real photography

Therese in front of her souvenier shop in Bruges. She has been there for almost 50 years. Nothing much changed in her shop in all that time. This year she is retiring. I've been thinking about writing this blog for quite some time now. It's not easy. I could take a critical line like I did in my blog post about the photographs I hate looking at (and why) but instead I decided on a more positive approach, so this post is in praise of all those photographers who respect and celebrate the relationship photography has with reality, truth and photographic 'seeing'. Arguably the real value and power of photography is in showing the world as we actually see it. Photojournalism has a strict code of ethics forbidding altering an image substantially. This has to be adhered to because if it were not then a photojournalist's images would be worthless. Likewise individuals taking family snapshots, or local photographers recording daily life as we see it make images that b

My social media strategy

I find myself spread very thinly across all the different social media sites. There are simply not enough hours in the day to keep up. So for now I've decided on the following strategy: Google + is my new social media hub (home) where I publish photo stories, images and news. My photographic portfolio, about me and the centre of my online universe is My blog, which you're reading now is where I write my more indepth views on life and photography. Twitter is good place to catch up with what I am posting and sharing at that moment My Facebook page is the place where I'll post links that interest me and I want to share. I am aware this strategy is tricky because the golden rule of social media is to go where your audience is, so I may have to review this. What is your social media strategy? See you, Paul *******************************************************Web-site Twitter: paul_indigo Facebook: Paul Indigo Facebo

Saturation slider test

The saturation slider test (click to open large version) I've devised a fun self help test for photographers. Where do you put your saturation slider. By the way defines kitsch as "something of tawdry design, appearance, or content created to appeal to popular or undiscriminating taste." This post is intended to be a playful jibe, humorous and I know that I've definitely pushed my saturation slider too far to the right (and left) in the past LOL. Till soon, Paul Web-site ******************************************************* Twitter:  paul_indigo Facebook:  Paul Indigo Facebook Page: Google+:  Paul Indigo Flickr:  paulindigo

Suzanne 1919-2011

Suzanne 1919-2011 , originally uploaded by paul indigo . Known to family and friends as Marraine, Suzanne was always happy to pose for a portrait. Over the years I made a number of images, both posed and candid of her. She always had a kind word, a smile and a laugh to share. In 2010 I gave her a print of this portrait and when she saw it she thanked me with a tear in her eye. It moved her. A wonderful moment and one I will never forget. Sadly she passed away on 8 November 2011 at the age of 92. She will be missed.

Content is king

Artist Willem Vermandere delicately uses a small file to express himself through his marble sculpture In my previous two posts I covered the topic ' the real value of social media to photographers '. These articles explored why and how you should use social media to engage with a specific audience. The thing that I did not cover in great detail was content, which, as the title of this blog implies, is the most important element to attract people to your work. Once people have found your website or blog you have to give them a reason to return. The simple logic is they have to find something of value in what you write about. There are many blogs that attract readers by simply being curators of content. In other words they find great content and then link to it and by doing this become a good resource, a one-stop-shop for people wanting to find valuable content. I prefer to create original content. This does not mean that I never link to anyone else. It just means that

Real value of social media to photographers #2

Build a social community that lasts In my previous post I asked what the real value of social media is to photographers, highlighting the challenges we face to make money from our work. If you've not read the blog post yet then I recommend nipping over and catching up before reading on. The focus of this article is getting a business benefit out of social media. If you just use social media because you like sharing your work for fun then that's a whole different ball game. Nowadays it's not a question of whether you should use social media . The question is HOW should you use it to help promote your photography. I'll keep this brief. All of the points below are based on experience and backed up by personal research. Steps to getting real value from social media: Set clear goals - what do you want to achieve. The clearer your focus is the higher the rewards for your effort. For example if you're trying to sell work to advertising agencies but then spend

Real value of social media to photographers #1

Street musician, France Photographers can get their work seen by thousands of people across the world and receive instant feedback on their images. A socially popular photographer can reach a larger audience on the internet than a major printed magazine. But what is the real value in that to the individual artist? I watched a French street musician performing (see pic), putting his heart and soul into every song. He was doing classic Edith Piaf. He stood in the street between two restaurants, moving from one terrace to the other, focusing his attention on individual tables for 15-30 seconds at a time during the song, working the largest audience possible. Some people looked up appreciatively, nodding, while others did their best to ignore him, perhaps afraid that if they did look at him they would be morally obliged to give him money for his efforts. It struck me that this man had to earn his living by performing so well that people were prepared to pay for his art there and

Three ways to make more interesting photographs

It's not the camera, it's the photographer. I completely agree. However these days cameras are so good at ensuring images are sharp and well exposed that most of the 'technical' edge that serious photographers used to differentiate themselves from the masses is gone. Anyone can get a sharp, well exposed, professional quality image, with no more effort than pointing and pushing the button. Add to that a little knowledge and effort in Photoshop and just about anyone can produce interesting 'creative' work. No wonder so many cameras are sold and photography has become such a world-wide phenomenon. I think it is  fabulous that so many people are enjoying making and sharing images. With the difference between photo enthusiasts and professional photographers constantly narrowing, I asked myself what separates professional photographers from the masses, if anything. Here are three things that spring to mind... Access The men's locker room at  the AELTC  wh

Book published, Google + and stuff

Portrait of Christian D, senior Belgian civil servant. Just finished a privately commissioned book of portraits of one of the most senior civil servants in the Belgian government. It's always a great feeling when you complete a project. So if you wondered what happened to me recently, I've been working on the above and a number of other projects. And then of course there's the big distraction of Google + which just sucks up time. It's certainly very lively in the photographic circles, if you'll pardon the pun. Twitter, FB and all the rest are being left to one side as photographers get stuck in sharing their work and discoveries. If you're on Google + you can find me here . Contact me if you'd like an invite. I don't know how anyone has the time to create anything any more with all the social networking that's going on. What do you think? Till soon, Paul

Framer, Ostend, Belgium

Framer, Ostend, Belgium , originally uploaded by paul indigo . I saw his wonderful full white beard through the shop window and stopped in the street. The light and the warm coloured walls also caught my attention. I said to Magda, "I really want to make a portrait of him." We headed into the shop and after a chat he agreed. A lovely man. These days we see many portraits that are tightly cropped in but I wanted to let this one breathe with plenty of space. I don't follow trends. Every element here is carefully considered. Look at how lines intersect, where they touch and where the subject breaks through them. The whole composition is used to incorporate all of the visual elements and compliment the subject.

Selection of most popular articles

Colourful beach huts Here's a selection of some the articles on my blog that are the most read and a few of the new ones that I think are worth bringing to your attention again. My blog has been going since 2005 (unbelievable) and I've written 361 posts. I only write when I think I've got something worthwhile to say. Hopefully the quality speaks for itself.  It's thanks to your encouragement that I keep going. So please feel free to leave a comment and your emails are always welcome too. Read on... Why use a professional photographer instead of stock photography. Beware of wide-angle distortion in portrait photography Overcoming creative block and self doubt What makes a real photographer? Making remarkable photographs Don't use your camera on manual settings Is professional photography still a viable career?... How much should you charge for a photo-shoot? 14 professional flash tips How much photographic equipment do you need? There are two types

The Belgian Street Party

I've finally got round to making a slide show of a photo story I shot in August 2010 in Belgium. Every year a group of Belgian people from a closely knit neighbourhood, and their friends, get together to have a street party. The street is closed off and a marquee erected. The neighbourhood raise funds and celebrate together eating Belgium's favourite meal, mussels with fries, and of course the best beer in the world. As you will see above everyone lets their hair down. I was invited to the feast and had the opportunity to document it. The event's ceremony master welcomed my wife and I to the event, "all the way from England". If you'd like to see the still images they're on my website in the photo story section . There are a few of my other photo stories there too. Till soon, Paul

The Mad Brewers

The happy brewer As promised in my previous post, Appreciating Photographs , I am going to try to offer an insight into why I think an image 'works'. The photograph above is from my latest photo story on the Mad Brewers of Belgium (De Dolle Brouwers). You can read the actual story on my website and see a large slide show with the rest of the images. The brewer, Kris Herteleer, looks happily on at the latest batch of beer cooling in the large copper basin. Steam rises from the hot beer creating atmosphere. The brewery machinery is visible in the background. For me the way he is holding the edge of the basin, leaning forward and especially that happy smile says it all. The image stands on its own but when seen in the context of the full photo-story it gets an added dimension. It is also a very important image to the story as it show's Kris' sense of accomplishment.  De Dolle Brouwers have to work hard to make a success of their small traditional brewery in a very c

Appreciating photographs

When you see a picture you generally either like it or it does nothing for you. Images evoke an instant emotional reaction in the viewer before we start analysing the content. When I look at many of the images uploaded on social image sharing websites and see that they have pages of comments and heaps of praise I often wonder what it is in the image people are responding too. Many of the shots are technically poor, the content is of little interest (to me) – so I wonder… Then there are other images that, if you really look and ‘read’ the image, have many wonderful elements, but they appear to be passed up by the mass audience. Highly manipulated arty photos, pictures of pretty girls and the usual visual clich├ęs seem to do much better than photojournalistic images that show the human condition. It’s interesting that audiences are attracted to arty pictures with added textures, HDR and hyped colours. On the other hand, when it comes to wanting to see a news image, the same audien

Importance of relationships in photography

Natural woman - the real Kim. Most photography courses concentrate on technique and equipment. Few emphasise the most important ingredient for making a good portrait; the relationship you build with the people you photograph. Once that connection is made and you've collaborated artistically it can create a link for life. By chance we recently bumped into Kim. Many years ago we worked with her as a model and we did a number of shoots together including a high fashion look advert - glossy lipstick, hats, gloves - the works.  Photographers are always moving on, meeting new people, flitting from one job to another like busy bees buzzing from flower to flower, as my wife, professional photographer, Magda Indigo often says. After so many years it was great to see Kim  again and for old times sake I shot a few quick portraits in the street. Wonderful to re-establish contact. Thanks, Paul

Street photography body language

Man with cap This gentleman stopped to pose for me with his colourful cap at a jaunty angle. There are two approaches to street photography. You can stop people and ask them or you can document life as it happens in front of you - sometimes shooting from the hip. I do both. When you ask people it's important to quickly building rapport with your subject. Most of that is done through body language, expression and gestures - not words. It's a subtle art and absolutely essential to getting the most out of the few shared moments on the street. When people stop to pose they are giving you a tremendous gift - their time, their humanity and the opportunity to make art. Check out my Street Fashions blog . Till soon, Paul

New blog launched

Music, smoke, bag and boots I have launched a new blog called Street Fashions . I hope you will pop over, take a look and follow me there using the Google widget, which is a great little tool. You can find out more about what I aim to do in the first article, Getting Started .  Street Fashions is my street photography blog celebrating people who express their individuality through their own sense of fashion. Hope you enjoy the photography. Please feel free to comment. Till soon, Paul

Making remarkable photographs

Vincent shows a scale model of Leonardo Da Vinci's flying machine which he is working on. The model is as Da Vinci described with intricate joints, pulleys and wires designed to help the 'pilot' move the wings and tail to mimic  a bird's movements in flight. Click on the image for a larger view. Every photographer that has made remarkable work has used exactly the same three basic tools: light, a camera and their brain. Remarkable photography has been produced by people using everything from shoebox pinhole cameras to toy cameras, to technical view cameras, through to the latest sophisticated digital cameras. Not having the latest lens or camera is no barrier to producing remarkable work. Remarkable photography has been produced by photographers with very little time to spend on their photography, on weekends, evenings, during holidays or while engaged in other work. Being busy with lots of things is no barrier. Remarkable photography has been produced by amateur

What makes a real photographer?

Colourful beach houses in Whitby. Click on the image to view large. Before getting into what makes a real photographer - yes it's been a while since my last blog, and I'd like to thank you for the emails and comments chasing me up for fresh content. Nice to know my articles are appreciated. Speaking of appreciation, I received a lovely email from the Acadamy of Art University in San Franscisco saying nice things including, "Your site is a great resource and source of inspiration for many of our students here at the Academy of Art University." One of their students,  Elena Zhukova , has attracted media attention. She was featured in CMYK Magazine in January. Check her out. So what makes a 'real photographer' Trying to define the difference between a photographer, as in someone who takes pictures and, for lack of a better term, a 'real photographer' is tricky. We recognise real photographers when we get to know a bit more about them and have b

New ways to fund photojournalism and documentary photography

Portrait of best selling author Harlan Coben. I am working on a project photographing the creative people I admire. The question is: how to fund it? New ways to fund photojournalists, documentary photographers and writers are emerging. The Internet has changed the way we can communicate. It's given us a direct link – a platform and a way of interacting with audiences. It also means we can look at new ways to make money from our creative endevours. The mainstream market and fees continues to shrink. The days of self-funding a documentary or photojournalism project, and knowing that if it was good you stood a reasonable chance of selling your work, are gone. The way people consume information has also changed. People don't passively just read and view stories. They want to comment, to get involved with the story and to find out more if they are interested. There's a huge appetite for information and the growth of new channels (mobile and pad), make it ever easier to c

Behind the scenes shooting a photo story

Colourful fishing nets in Fuengirola harbour . What goes on in the mind of a photographer shooting a photo story? I thought some readers may be interested in a 'behind the scenes' insight into my latest story, "Catch of the day". You can see my full photo story here and a shorter version here on the International Guild of Visual Peacemakers website. Travelling with fellow professional photographer, Magda Indigo, to Andalusia in Spain, we had a number of ideas and shooting opportunities lined up. Photographing the fishermen in Fuengirola was not fixed but as we're always drawn to harbours and fishing we knew we would head down there. The fishing quay is not open to the public but we managed to gain access. The fishermen were mostly friendly and open. A few were suspicious of us and one was fairly threatening. People are people and you just have to adapt and deal with each situation. Communication consisted mainly of hand signals, facial expressions and I had learnt