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Showing posts from 2013

Photographer's choices for 2014

Talented cellist performing in the street What are your goals and aspirations for your photography in 2014? Or put another way, if you don't know where you want to go, how are you ever going to get there? Here are some thoughts on the choices facing today's photographers and my personal guidelines. At the start of 2014 most photographers are doing one of the following: Authentically capturing reality.  Manipulating reality using software to create digital 'art' works. Creating commercial images that use some aspects of reality but actually portray a world that upon closer inspection could never exist. What path will you follow? For me the only photographic path that has any long term value is to capture reality. What this means is following a strict code so that my audience knows that what they see is real, the way I saw it. My guidelines Image treatment I will not digitally enhance images beyond basic darkroom corrections such as burning, dodging,

Always carry your camera

If you always have your camera with you then you're going to be able to capture those interesting moments that happen around you. Here's an interview with Jay Maisel's perspective. When you have your camera with you, you're ready for any adventure. If you have to go out specifically to shoot something it's more like work.   I've had this interview in my favourites for a few years now. Hope you enjoyed it too. Till soon, Paul

Sebastião Salgado: The silent drama of photography

I wanted to share this inspirational TED Talk by one of the world's most renowned photographers, Sebastião Salgado. "Economics PhD Sebastião Salgado only took up photography in his 30s, but the discipline became an obsession. His years-long projects beautifully capture the human side of a global story that all too often involves death, destruction or decay. Here, he tells a deeply personal story of the craft that nearly killed him, and shows breathtaking images from his latest work, Genesis, which documents the world's forgotten people and places. Sebastião Salgado captures the dignity of the dispossessed through large-scale, long-term projects."  Source: TED . Hope you enjoyed this as much as I did. Till soon, Paul

National Geographic editor on choosing images

I found the conversation between National Geographic magazine senior photo editor Elizabeth Krist and Kathryn Keane, National Geographic’s vice president of exhibitions interesting and wanted to share it with you, especially about how the final images are selected for publication. The movie above shows some the images selected and we hear from the photographers themselves. "One of my questions for Elizabeth would be about the editing process. In any given assignment you can get thousands and thousands and thousands of photographs, and only a few appear or are selected to illustrate a story. I don’t think people understand how difficult that is. How does that work?" asks Kathryn Keane, during a conversation recorded on October 4, 2013. Elizabeth Krist answers, "By the time we actually start looking at pictures, we’re so immersed in the story that we have a deep understanding of the research and the themes that we have to convey to the readers. So that by the tim

Choosing the sharpest aperture for your lens

Amazing architectural detail in Antwerpen-Centraal Station. I think photographers tend to be slightly obsessive by nature, particularly when it comes to equipment. One regular debate revolves around the sharpness of lenses and photographers spend a fortune on a particular brand’s most expensive, best quality lenses. Is it worth it? The short answer is ‘yes – in a laboratory. But in real life there are a number of other factors to consider. What do you do if you can’t afford a full range of prime lenses; or if you travel a lot by air and need to travel light, or in environments where carrying a selection of heavy lenses is not practical? The answer is to get the best quality possible out of your lens. This applies of course whether you’re using kit lenses or prime lenses. A kit lens, when used at its sharpest aperture, can deliver excellent results that rival far more expensive lenses. The next logical question is what is the sharpest aperture for my lens? Most photograph

What photographers and brands need to focus on today

Authentic and real imagery. Chocolate in Brugge. We're all rather cynical these days about advertising promises and can spot an image that's fake a mile away. What does this mean for brands and companies that want to advertise to us and the images they choose? And on the flip side what does the demand for real emotions and real imagery mean for photographers? Studies have shown that people are far more positive toward  an advert with an emotionally powerful and authentic image than one that looks like a set-up studio piece or standard stock image. Getty commissioned independent research from the agency Brainjuicer in the UK and used a sample of 600 people to test a set of three adverts. One advert used an image that was authentic and emotionally powerful, the second advert was a standard stock type commercial image and the third advert only contained text. The results show a far more positive attitude by the public toward authentic, emotionally powerful images. In o

Lighting and controling colour advice with Joe McNally

When it comes to dealing with tricky lighting situations National Geographic photographer Joe McNally has seen it all. In this video he shares his advice on using flash and dealing with diverse light sources. I would take a similar approach to Joe, although I'm more inclined to go full manual from the start as he also does later on in this video. So here is how I would do it: Assess the scene and establish my camera viewpoint (as Joe does). Measure the ambient light (deciding what I can let blow out and what to keep). Using the settings for ambient light I would then manually set the flash to balance and blend the subject into the scene. Work with reflectors to fill and help shape the light Note: in a 'normal' shoot Joe would go straight to the solution but here he is shooting along the way to show the process. Hope you enjoy the video. Thanks, Paul PS. There's a wealth of material out there on the Internet covering just about everything but if

Direct from the artist

Don't get left in the steam age. The digital revolution is here and it affects the future of image buying. The digital revolution offers agencies, art buyers and designers unprecedented direct access to photographers. However the old fashioned business model of using stock libraries persists. Stock libraries have tried to adapt to the digital revolution and market themselves around technological tweaks such as facilitating different types of searches using keywords, emotions, colours... This type of tinkering can be compared to putting rubber wheels on a horse cart. Yes, it makes for a smoother ride but the reality is that there's a revolution happening. To continue the metaphor, the automobile has arrived consigning horse carts to history. That automobile is social media, refined website SEO and sophisticated image search engines. It has never been easier to find an image and identify the artist. Of course we're not quite there yet. But artists need to start acti

Master Series: Greg Heisler on Photography Techniques

Great feedback and lots of views on the Greg Heisler interview I posted last week so here's another one in the series. It's interesting that when photographers get to a certain age and have earned their stripes they say very similar things. Magda Indigo and I have always, from day one, fought to be as independent as possible from  being influenced by other photographers. You can admire other photographer's work but when it comes to your own work, the only way is to follow your own path. Greg Heisler eloquently  makes this point in the video. Learning from others is good. Slavishly copying or imitating the work of other's is not the path to take. Be original, be creative and Greg Heisler says, go in with your eyes wide open. Till soon, Paul

Inside advice for pro photographers

Renowned pro photographer Greg Heisler gives an insider's view on what it takes to make it and last in today's fast changing professional photography marketplace. This is a superb summary of the state of the business right now. Hope you enjoy it. Paul

On selling images

"You never know," says Magda Indigo on selling images. In this clip she tells a great story about how one of her images she least expected ended up on a book cover. Photographers often find themselves in a challenging position. In this case, low light and no tripod. At times like these good practical technique, experience and a 'just go for it' attitude are all required to make the image but what you'll really see shining through in this interview is  Magda Indigo's  passion for photography. After the work is done it's doubly rewarding when a publisher buys the image. Hope you enjoy it, Paul

Exclusive interview

Well known brands including Samsung, Microsoft, Google, MTV, Harper Collins and American Express use photographer Magda Indigo's images, and her work regularly features in magazines and online publications. She is also well known and popular on a number of photography websites. In a little over a year she racked up 1.49 million views on 500px ! Until now she has never given a video interview. Sit back and enjoy this exclusive interview with Magda in which talks about her photography, lighting, cameras, technique, inspiration and some of her favourite images. I recommend clicking through to YouTube and watching full screen in HD. Hope you enjoy! Paul To see more of Magda's work visit

Ethics in street photography

Stopped to chat to a lovely elderly lady enjoying the sun and watching people pass by her bench. She kept asking me whether my picture would appear in the local paper, the Zeewacht, although I had explained that I did not work for the paper. As I said goodbye and left, I heard her say to her bench friends in Flemish that maybe the picture would still appear in the Zeewacht. Next time I am Oostende I will look out for her and give her a copy of the picture. One thing my wife and fellow professional photographer, Magda, and I do is often go to extraordinary lengths to ensure that we keep our word, and when people have asked for a photograph, make sure they get it. It's the least one can do. We've met a number of people on our photo-travels who say they have been promised a picture by a photographer and never received it. That's sad and makes it just a bit harder for the next photographer to build a relationship. Basically, if you don't intend to do something th

Challenges of using film

Magazine cover shoot on film You could argue that professional photographers have it really easy these days. Let me explain why. I shot this absolutely ages ago on film for a magazine cover. Great fun. In those days we checked exposures with Polaroids, except for this shoot I didn't have them.   The shoot was a real challenge. I had to balance ambient light in the casino with flash and the lights built into the table. The client invested budget, we hired the model and the first time we saw the results was when we got the transparency film back from the lab. Sigh of relief. In retrospect I wish I’d added some back-light on her hair but the idea was to make it all a bit mysterious rather than kitsch and over-lit. So it worked out fine and most importantly the client was happy. Digital has added an enormous safety net for photographers where you can check everything during the shoot, and on a big screen, if you shoot tethered. What a luxury! See you soon, Paul www.ind

Tips for good travel photography

National Geographic photographer, Bob Holmes, offers advice on how to take better travel photographs, actually his advice applies to pretty much all photography. In this interview with Marc Silber he says something which I have often mentioned in this blog, it's not the equipment, its the your photographer's eye and the key to getting good images is 'access'. Bob specialises in using natural light. Hope you enjoy the video. Till soon, Paul

Photojournalism: World Press Awards 2013

Photojournalism is alive and well with photographers producing incredible work in 2012. The selection of work by the World Press Photo Awards show cases some of the best stories and images selected by the judging panel. I highly recommend you browse the website galleries, which are packed with interesting information as well as the images. It's not only about still images. The multimedia work is equally impressive. Here is the winning story , particularly interesting to me as I recently met several people who had migrated to South Africa. They were more fortunate than the people in the story " Into The Shadows " but also faced daily difficulties and challenges. Two ladies originally from Zimbabwe,  Sharon the hairdresser and her friend Blessing who works at a hotel in Cape Town, chat while braiding photographer Magda Indigo's hair. Sharon opened her stall on the Cape Town parade. Life is difficult. She has to pay for the stall as well as for storage of h

Combining photojournalism and commercial photography

The line between photojournalism, commercial photography and art has become less and less obvious. I am not surprised. Photography is a medium we use to express things and communicate, like a pencil and paper, and it should not be confused with the reason the image is created. Commercial photography is all about selling something and photojournalism is about bearing witness. One photographer with an eye for creating powerful images can bridge these different worlds. Steve McCurry is a great example as you will see in the two videos below. Before any photographer picks up a camera they do need to know why they are taking the picture. That mental focus is just as important as physically focusing the lens. Here Steve shares the stories behind some of his most famous photo journalistic images. 2013 Pirelli Calendar. A totally different mission. I notice he prefers continuous light to flash. Given how poorly photojournalism and humanitarian photography pays, I'm also wonder

How to fight procrastination

I guess we all have trouble with procrastination and, maybe I'm generalising, but I think artists are particularly   susceptible. Creative minds tend to fight discipline and jump from one thing to another. So when I read the post below by Oliver it struck a cord. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did. The other challenge we often face is overcoming creative block and one of my earlier blog posts is often quoted, so if you've not read it before do take a look. Read Quote of Oliver Emberton's answer to Life Advice: How do I get over my bad habit of procrastinating? on Quora Thank you Oliver. So now we can tackle creative block and procrastination...let's crack on. Till soon, Paul

Live Street Music from Cape Town

I combined raw street footage of musicians performing in Cape Town with stills shot at the same time and one or two other images to set the scene in this short video (view on YouTube full screen in HD). The video shows what the camera outputs natively and you'll see from the stills how I enhance the images using a touch of flash while shooting and Lightroom to process the final images. Hopefully the video captures the relaxed fun spirit of Cape Town. Plenty more images from the Cape being added daily to my South Africa portfolio . Thanks for looking. Till soon, Paul