A question I am often asked at photo shoots is, “how long have you been a photographer for?”. Generally I answer along the lines of, “around fifty years”. But, that is not accurate. My first camera was given to me when I was a ten year old before my parents, siblings and I, were about to board the P & O Liner Stratheden to spend a year in Pakistan and India. I still remember it well. Its brand was, Bunny. And, my Bunny was a 120 format film camera. My seventy-second birthday is just over a week from now, so that actually makes it over sixty years that I have been a photographer.
You of course are much younger than I am, most people are, and you may or may not be aware that before everyone was a photographer and able to take photographs with their phone that they could carry around with them in their pockets or purse, photographers had to have cameras that used film. Cameras using 120 format film were common in the fifties and sixties, before cameras using 35mm format became popular. 120 format rolls of film allowed you to take twelve shots before you had to rewind the film and send it off to be developed. About a week later you would receive the developed film and a set of proof prints. These films and prints were in black and white. Most coloured prints back in those days were black and white prints which were hand coloured after being printed.
My second camera was also a 120 format camera. My twin reflex Rolleicord camera was a much better camera than my first, but was quite big and awkward to use. It was given to me from my father who had purchased one of the new 35mm film cameras which had come onto the market. They took rolls of film which enabled you to take 24 or even 36 shots from the one roll before rewinding and having it developed. My first 35mm film camera was a Nikon purchased in 1976 before heading off to the USA and Canada for a trip.
With the cost of film, developing and printing, and the limited number of shots that could be taken with each roll, not to mention the waiting time to get all of this done, you will probably understand that a far greater knowledge of photography was required, if quality results were to be obtained and this hobby was not going to cost you a fortune. All photographers using film knew the relationship between exposure times, apertures and ISO ratings of film. Knowledge of lighting conditions and composition were also essential if quality results were to be obtained without breaking the bank. We could take shots in darker conditions using a flash, but each flash bulb could be used for one shot only before being thrown away.
Some savings could be made by purchasing the equipment and chemicals and developing and printing your own film. Many nights were spent in my teenage years and as a young adult in my bathroom which had been temporarily converted into a dark room.
Now, of course with digital cameras and software programs, much more can be done with photography faster and at less expense than in the past.
However, I am firmly of the opinion that no knowledge is wasted. My sixty plus years photography apprenticeship helps me produce better results with the modern equipment and software programs I now have available.
Photography has never been my fulltime work, although I have managed to involve it in most jobs that I have had. Most of my career has been in the education sector. However, now I am no longer teaching or lecturing, I am spending much more time on photography and related areas.
My preferred genre is portraiture. And, in that genre I include both people and animals. I do have many satisfied clients and have reprinted some unsolicited testimonials from them here. Photograph albums have been produced with photos of many of the models I have worked with in recent years. These are available for purchase as paperbacks from all major international book-sellers, and are also available as inexpensive E-books or Flip Page books which can be instantly downloaded. Details of these publications are on my Ian’s Books site.
In 2017 I published a new magazine Petography Magazine. Four issues have now been published. The above photo is the cover of issue 2. I am after additional photos and stories for future issues. If you live fairly locally to me, I live at Jimboomba, I would be happy to arrange a photography session with you and your pet. You will of course have to provide me with a story of your pet, and/or pets, as editorial content for the magazine. There is no financial cost involved for you to participate in this photo shoot. A group shoot for people and their dogs has been planned for Calamvale dog park for Saturday 10 March, 2018. details are on the Events page of Pets Pics Facebook page. Please indicate there if you are able to make it along to the shoot.
Inclusion in a future Petography Magazine is not dependant upon me taking the photos. I am happy to receive submissions from people living outside of my driving range.
Two other magazines are on the drawing boards. The first of these is Models Actors Performers. The first issue of this magazine is due to be published in March. This magazine will be able to be downloaded for free. Hopefully the cost of production will be covered by paid advertisements in the magazine. The magazine should be of interest to anyone involved with: modelling, acting, drama, theatre, dance and any other performances. Each issue will contain around three in-depth interviews and photos of people involved in the industry, plus additional photographs of models and actors and any associated short stories and/or comments. If you are interested in being published, come along to any of my group shoots. If you also have a story to tell, I would be happy to receive it from you for possible inclusion in a future magazine. The third magazine South East Queensland Living is on hold until about half way through 2018.
In previous years I have had group shoots. I plan to still have these in 2018 but probably not as frequently as in the past. The first group shoot of 2018 is planned for Saturday 17 February. The time for the shoot is 10:00am and the venue is Orleigh Park which is situated at 68 Hill End Terrace, West End. The shoot is listed on the Passionate About Photography Facebook Events page. Everyone is welcome to attend. Please indicate on the page if you plan on coming along to the shoot.
Details regarding my photoshoots are listed on my Ahead Foto web site. But, I shall reiterate a few of them here. Firstly, all organised group shoots are free to attend for models participating in the shoots, however I do expect an indication of who intends coming along on the relevant Facebook page promoting the event. In the past I have allowed other photographers to attend most of these shoots as well, but as from the beginning of 2017, I have limited the numbers to a maximum of two other photographers apart from me. Photographers wishing to attend will need to PM me to ascertain if there are any positions left for any particular shoot. Model Release forms are required to be completed and signed prior to the shoot. These can be downloaded by participants, however I shall have copies with me at shoots. Children under eighteen years of age are welcome but will need to have a parent present to sign their Model Release. File copies of all edited photos from the shoot will be made available to participants in the week following the shoot free of charge. These file copies are of low resolution and will have a small non-obtrusive watermark on them. They are suitable for posting on web sites or in emails, but not for printing. High resolution files without watermarks are also available, but there will be a charge for these.
In 2017 I purchased Flip Page software, and also paid for hosting of multiple sites. The first Flip Portfolio will be published by the end of February or early in March 2018. It will consist of a simple URL that can be given to agents, clients or whoever. It is in effect a modern, but far better, version of the old Z cards or Comp cards which had to be printed and sent. We are now in 2018 and everyone has a, PC, a notebook computer, or an Ipad, or a smart phone, or several of these. These files can be viewed very quickly and easily. Check out more information by clicking on the link. I shall post a notice here as soon as the first becomes available.
It is planned that the Flip Portfolio will be a similar size, around twenty-five pages, and format to the Flip calendar which I have produced.
Finally for this news article, I would like to make just a couple of comments about openness and honesty and mention a few things which I find really annoying. And, I shall be making special reference to photography.
I don’t know about you, but if I am going to purchase some goods or services, I would like to know exactly what the cost is going to be, and what I shall get when I spend that money. When the price of something is not shown, I tend to avoid it. My reasoning is that if people will not show the price, then the goods or services are probably overpriced. Maybe I am being unfair, but I tend to associate with this lack of information about pricing a lower than desirable level of openness and honesty by the person(s) trying to flog off the goods or services. It’s a similar reaction to what I have when I start reading an online article when I get a notice part way through it that an advertisement is about to start. To me that is being sneaky. I don’t like these surprises and my reaction is to turn it off straight away. I know that advertising helps to cover the cost of things, but I like to decide for myself when to view or listen to advertisements.
But, lets look more specifically at photography.
Who or what is a photographer? What determines amateur of professional status? What about costs?
Everyone has at least one camera and thinks they are a photographer. And, they are. A photographer is someone who has a camera and takes photos. So all of us are photographers. We can all take shots and publish these on Instagram of Facebook and receive heaps of “likes” and positive comments from our “friends”. And, the quality of the digital cameras in smart phones and cheap digital cameras have improved and will no doubt keep on improving. So, reasonable shots can be obtained by someone without any photographic knowledge at all.
Before discussing what determines a professional from an amateur, we probably should firstly discuss what determines a “good” photographer from any old photographer.
To be skilful and have expertise in almost any pursuit generally requires a combination of both knowledge and practise. The same applies to photography. A knowledge of, and ability to apply, some of the basic rules of composition such as the rule of thirds, leading lines, balancing elements, symmetry and patterns, background, depth, framing, cropping have all got to help. We get better at applying these rules through doing it. That is practise. Then a knowledge of the relationships between exposure times, apertures and ISO and what to use with any particular genre has got to be helpful. Next, a good knowledge of the particular lenses to use and when is vital if you are going to be classified as a “good” photographer. Finally, but certainly not the least important is equipment. Why would a photographer spend five thousand dollars for their camera body and an average of over a thousand dollars for each of their lenses when a cheap smart phone could do the same job? The answer is it can’t do the same job. What the girl said to the sailor, “you only get what you pay for”, does not always apply, but it certainly does in this instance.
Okay then, what is a professional?
I read a post a week or so ago from a young lady who had just enrolled in an online photography course. Her post was telling all of her friends that in three months she will be a professional photographer. Wrong! In three months time she may have successfully completed an online photography course. Some people believe that being a professional is somehow related to payment. If someone charges for a service, then they must be a professional. There may be an element of truth in that, but that is all there is. Associating payment with professionalism is tenuous to say the least.
Professionalism is about knowledge, expertise, experience, values, attitude, ethics, honesty and fairness all wrapped up in a bundle. And sure, a professional may well charge for their services, but it is not the charging which make them professional.
Finally, this question of costs. How much should a photographer charge for their services? How much should the client pay?
It must be confusing for anyone wanting the services of a photographer. How do you determine what you want and how much you should pay for it?
Well, I don’t think there is an easy answer to that question.
Probably a bit of research such as looking at what they have produced, what others have said about them, and comparing the prices they charge with what others charge could be a good start. But, whatever you decide upon, please make sure you know exactly what it is in your agreement with the photographer, what you are getting, when you are getting it and at what cost. I have heard way too many stories about people paying for a wedding photographer for example and never receiving their shots.