There’s a curious thing that being a professional photographer did to my ability to blog candidly. I have literally frozen up, it’s become a real inability to say anything despite having plenty to say on some matters.
I think that’s because this website serves a dual purpose, there’s the purpose of attracting couples to book with me for their wedding, elopement, engagement, proposal or whatever photography; and the second which is an outlet for myself as a photographer. These two things can conflict and restrict candour so here goes at trying to get more candid on my blog.
Anybody who has booked their photographer wants to know that their photographer is not just going to match what they have come to expect through their portfolio, but also really be so altogether amazing and inspired on their day that the photographer needs not a drop more knowledge, creativity or confidence to really astound the couple for their moment in the ‘spotlight’.
So here’s how in 2016 I really think I’m going to match that goal of being amazing and inspired!
Workshops past and present
So I have always been a great believer in investing part of my income in new skills, training and workshops and I did three such workshops between 2014 and 2015 because I wanted to learn and get new experiences. This is really important, much more so than buying a new lens or a bit of kit. From a fashion course I did with fashion photographer Bruce Smith in 2014, to an amazing workshop experience with Dylan and Joanna (The Kitcheners) in Scotland and finally in June of 2015 taking a fine art photography course with the amazing Holly Rattray and Naomi Kenton; I really feel like my photography has both improved and expanded in creative vision since.
For 2016 there are some amazing workshops out there all over the globe. As it stands for 2016 I have decided not to do any workshops unless I either win the lottery or something so unmissable comes up that I have to do it. This relates to one of my points further down (travel) but also simply because I feel I have learned a huge amount from these three workshops and I don’t feel that I have applied everything I have learnt yet (see confidence in new approaches below), and because I now believe in my head I have the knowledge to be able to really nail what I want to do and be about; and no more workshops or lenses is going to get that out in the pictures, I have to do that myself and really work hard on that. I think come the end of 2016 I will have demonstrated that, and be ready for an amazing workshop in 2017!
The top four (a nice round four!) things I want from myself in 2016 are:
Confidence in new approaches
Sometimes it takes a while for the penny to drop with what you have learnt from a workshop, but once it has dropped, you also need to feel confident in your newfound approach. I mean it’s all well and good if you do an about turn that suits your new direction, but as wedding photographer I do also consider that many couples book me way in advance and if they get something so different to the portfolio that they made their booking based on, that feels hardly fair. There’s a great chance they will still love their photos, there is also a chance that they may not so I have been gradually shifting my approach to where my creative vision now is. Everything on my portfolio now reflects this. And in any instance it’s not an about-turn, various things have clicked into place.
I mention the word confidence as well. Most people can relate to the idea of changing jobs. You go from the known reliable security of the former job, and move to a new exciting challenging job but it’s not a case of fitting in straight away and be brimming with confidence (unless you have an ego the size of a small planet that is!) So it has taken me time to feel confident about my new direction (both metaphorically and literally in terms of portrait posing-direction) and easy to fall into former working practices that I know guarantee results.
This may seem an odd thing to be honest about as a professional photographer – the idea that confidence can be an issue, and the idea that not every photo or idea we have works. Firstly, nobody should be concerned I have nerves and sometimes before a shoot confidence can waver. All this means is that I care enough to expect great things from myself. Secondly as artists, photographers should always be seeking to tweak and improve but also outright experiment, try something new and see what happens. I have addressed this by explaining this to my couples and that has been a big developmental step for me to feel confident that I can say to couples OK I want to try something now or say when I think ‘the composition isn’t working here, it’s not you, you’re AMAZING, but let’s move over here.’ This has been a major step forwards for me, to not just accept what you thought would work but is a little off but being too shy to say so.
Of course, during the first kiss moment or something you will never again, about turns would be extremely risky so I prefer the incremental tweaking on these parts of a wedding day or say proposal moment.
So instead of workshops I plan on doing a bit of travelling this year. Whilst I travel a huge amount for weddings, I never get to stay anywhere for any extended period of time. So for 2016 I have actually taken on less weddings to give me time to travel. The last time I did any extended travelling was 2004 to the USA, and that’s now 12 years ago (I was 21 at the time.)
So this year I plan on travelling to Italy (second trip), Santorini (first trip), Scotland (for a proper vacation, not a wedding based trip, of which I have a couple this year), and New York.
I want to go exploring and photographing some travel and street photography again. And maybe even do some shoots in these places, not sure yet. But I just want to get out there and enjoy what the world has to offer.
I intend on blogging all of this as well!
What can you expect from me if you’ve booked me
I promise to be absolutely as positively lovely as I always try to be. I mean nobody has ever said I’ve been a grumpy so and so at their wedding (I mean how could I be?!) but this year you will see more amazing stories being told, and you may see some other surprises crop up. I really do believe that 2016 is the year where I really step it up a gear, and it’s exciting to share this with you in a candid way.