Hi I’m Grahame. I’m a photographer and am an Associate member of both the Royal Photographic Society (ARPS) and The British Institute of Professional Photography (ABIPP), and I’m currently planning a project for my Fellowship of BIPP. The letters probably won’t mean much to you or your customers, but they do to me; they mean my work has been assessed (and passed the assessment) by panels of expert photographers at each association.
I taught photography, privately, when I was living in Germany but I now live in Swedish Lapland; very photogenic but too few people to make teaching viable, so I’m offering this online blog as a way to share the experience in photography that I have accumulated over the last 50 or so years.
It’s free. There’s no registration involved as I’m not interested in harvesting your details, but I’m happy to answer email queries, or discuss photography with anyone. I’ll also let you know when the next post is online if you give me your contact details, but I will not sell your details to any third-party, nor will I bombard you with spam.
I’m hoping to put up a post every fortnight or so and these will take you from the very basic steps in photography, through to printing your work and mounting it ready for exhibition.
I know a lot about photography, but there is certainly much more that I don’t know so please don’t expect scientific explanations, lessons in physics, graphs, Photoshop wizardry, etc; I simply don’t have that type of knowledge because I simply don’t need it. I’m also happy to receive constructive criticism; if you don’t agree with me on a particular topic then feel free to tell me.
Before you take the “First Steps”
Look at yourself in a mirror and say “I want to be a photographer”. Repeat several times a day, basically for ever.
There are lots of “accidental photographers”. They start off, perhaps, taking snaps with a mobile phone then progress to a decent point & shoot, then jump in with an entry level dslr and kit lens. Then they upgrade. Then they upgrade again, and again until they have a cupboard full of obsolete camera bodies, and lenses that were crap when bought. To justify the expenditure they start to call themselves photographers, and try to get lots of “likes” from their FB friends.
Don’t go that route. You want to be a photographer not an accidental photographer. Save up for a half-decent body and the best lenses you can only just possibly maybe afford. It’s cheaper in the long run.
While you are saving up, look at as many photographs as you can; look at the work of the photographic greats – Ansel Adams, Cartier Bresson, Man Ray, McCullum, Capa, Newton, Brandt, Chris Steele-Perkins and Annie Leibovitz; look at paintings and see how the artist has used light, texture & composition; look in the top-end fashion, car, food, travel, and sport magazines. Every image in every publication has been taken by someone who looked in the mirror and said “I want to be a photographer”. Use the time whilst you are saving to read blogs like this, and articles & tips about techniques. Once you have decided which camera you’re aiming for, download the camera’s manual and read it! If you’re new to digital photography then it’s a steep learning curve and the more groundwork you do before you open the box the better.
It is absolutely certain that any entry-level dslr or decent p&s will give you photographic options that, only a generation ago, were not available to any professional photographer. It is also true that the equipment is secondary to your ability. What better (ie more expensive) equipment can do is extend your range of possible photographic subjects, and ensure that you have the best quality result. Good equipment is expensive (probably cheaper than golf, though) but will give you many years of quality service, and bear in mind that although you might want to upgrade your camera body every five years, a quality lens will last for decades.
I have Canon gear which is great (look at how many “white” lenses you see at press conferences, sports events etc – they’re Canon) but Nikon or whatever will be just as good, probably. However, you also have to decide what type of photography you will specialise in before buying too much gear. Macro, sports, weddings, architecture, and travel – all will need different techniques, knowledge, and probably different equipment too.
In the blog posts to come, I will talk about what a camera is and suggest a few basic ideas about settings to help get you started. We’ll then move on to think about the various types of photography that might appeal to you and the best way to become, say, a sports or macro photographer.
With your enthusiasm well & truly fired up, we’ll answer questions such as why your snow looks a bit grey, (part of the answer lies in “My 3 Most Important Photos”) and what sort of light are we talking about? I’ll ramble on about camera RAW, (the easiest single way to improve your photography), getting the best from your images for social media/internet use, or for printing.
You’ll learn about the hyperfocal distance and the sunny 16 guide – these will teach you to think about light and make constant mental adjustments regarding camera settings. My partner once asked me what I was looking at through the window and my reply was “f4 at 1/125th”.
As I’m “old school” I don’t think a file becomes a photograph unless it is printed, or at the very least is capable of being printed. I do all my own printing, for exhibitions, assessments etc, and I’ll show you how to do it. This will involve information on calibration and icc profiles. When I first started digital printing some 10 years ago, there was very little basic information out there on how to print properly at home. All the info was aimed at those who already had a good idea of what they were doing, or who were preparing file for a commercial printing house. I spent three years and hundreds of pounds in getting the basics of home printing right. You’ll learn this in a few hours and for free!
Currently I specialise in photographing The Northern Lights so I’ll include some info on how to photograph them – it’s surprisingly easy if you’re far enough north. Another subject that fascinates me is astrophotography. I do have a telescope but I have very little practical experience with it (too cold in the winter – too light at night in the summer!) but I will try to get a guest blogger to cover this subject.
By the time we’ve finished (or I’ve run out of ideas) you’ll be able to go out with camera in hand, confident that whatever, wherever, you’re going to shoot you will get a result, and a result that is pretty good and well capable of being printed!
Finally, we’ll look towards that first exhibition – 20 or 30 excellent shots, printed to professional standards by you, mounted & framed and ready to hang. Don’t forget to send me an invite!!
There are a few optional services that are available, for which I do have to charge.
That’s it – no “special offers” every month, no spam, just a free intro into photography …
Next post should be up in a couple of weeks.