Kids, Pets, Photos and Publishing

There is a rule which some photographers have, “don’t work with animals or children”. I have personally met several of them, “photographers with no interest in working with kids and pets”, I mean.

For several years now I have organised regular photo shoots. My attitude has always been to make them available to all who wanted to come along to them, regardless of age, gender or any other attribute including whether or not they were coming along to the shoot as models or as photographers.

Regardless of your area of endeavour, it is always easier to work with people with experience in whatever you are doing, than it is to work with beginners. In the past at some of my photo shoots which I had made “open”, there would be some photographers who would quickly assess who they wanted to work with, latch on to them and monopolise them for the remainder of the photography session. There were occasions in which, even though I had organised the shoot, I felt that I was left with the models that other photographers didn’t want to work with.

My “open” shoots are now open to models, but not to photographers. Other photographers who wish to be involved in one of these shoots can still apply to do so, but I limit the numbers to a maximum of two other photographers apart from me. And, those photographers have to agree to a protocol I have established for the open shoots. One of the clauses of that protocol is that all models in attendance who want to be photographed must be photographed by all of the photographers in attendance. There can be no monopolising of a particular model.

Now, I can certainly understand the attraction of working with experienced models. A year or so ago I had a shoot with a former Miss Australia and her family in a well known Brisbane park. The shoot ran incredibly smoothly and we obtained some great shots. Striking appropriate poses and expressions were of course a natural for the former Miss Australia, but she also organised her partner and their two children as well. My job was not much more than framing and clicking. I have never seen anyone else change into three different outfits in the middle of a public park without anyone else apart from us knowing what she was doing.

The above scenario compared with a young three or five year old who had never been professionally photographed before and perhaps didn’t want to be photographed is maybe like comparing chalk and cheese. I really enjoy working with experienced, professional models. They make the photographer’s job incredibly easy and great fun. Working with beginners, regardless of age, can be a challenge for the photographer, but that challenge can also be very rewarding.

“Kids, Pets, Photos and Publishing” is the title I gave to this article. Up until now, no mention has been made of pets. I reckon kids and pets have a few things in common. Most times we love them all dearly. The kids, and many animals, will generally usually try to please us. They can also have short attention spans and on occasion be unpredictable. Each one, whether a child or a pet, is also a unique individual.

The majority of my working career was in the education sector. In addition to working in the tertiary sector for the last twenty-five years of my career, the first twenty-five years involved working in Primary, Secondary and Special education, both at the coal face as a teacher and in administration. I hold a Post-Graduate Diploma of Special Education and my Master of Education degree was obtained in the area of special needs. So, from both a practical and theoretical viewpoint I have had a fair bit of experience with kids. Besides, I had two of my own. They are no longer kids but two mature aged beautiful ladies. And, the adjective “beautiful” is used in every aspect of the term.

What about animals? Currently I enjoy other people’s animals. But, until recent years I have always had and enjoyed pets, even although some of the animals I kept, others may not describe as pets. I remember as a young kid our half-Persian cat Tinkerbell. She was pure white with one green eye and a blue eye, and she was a cat that didn’t like milk, but a couple of years latter when we had a pup that did, suddenly Tinkerbell started enjoying it also. A few years later as a ten year old I spent a year in Pakistan with my family and we had two rabbits we called Peter and Paul. One day Peter had some baby rabbits, so we had to start spelling the name Peta. My Golden Cocker Spaniel dog Buddy, who truly was my best buddy. Later there was my Blue Healer dog, Bluey, he was always disappointed when I started up my motor cycle and he was not allowed to come with me. Bluey used to love going for rides sitting on the petrol tank between my legs.

Other dogs and cats, birds, chooks, cows, goats and even ostriches were among my many and varied pets. My last two dogs were Italia and Dante. They were Maremma Sheep Dogs. The pick of one of Italia’s litters was a gift to my daughter Melissa. His name was Baci and he was much loved and lived to the old age of fourteen.

Since my retirement from education, I have spent considerably more time than I used to on photography. The main genre of interest is people and portraiture. And, since I have been keeping records of what I have shot, I recently passed the 46,000 published photos mark. Kids have of course been included in that list, but not many pets. In the future I would like to photograph more of both kids and pets. Even having them together.

I think that some of the skills needed for getting good shots of kids will also apply to getting good shots of pets. One of these is patience, I probably have less than I used to when I worked in Special Education, but I probably still have more than most people. Another that is related and applies to both kids and animals is to take your time for them to get to know you. I have often found with some kids that once you get into the shoot they are far more at ease and easier to work with. It usually helps if there are others involved and the kids can see that everything is OK.

Those who know me will know that I have published several books since 2012. Most of the recent ones are photography albums. I want to continue publishing books. One that I have in mind for down the track a bit is one about people and their pets. It will primarily be an album with heaps of colour photographs, but also with short stories. What I envisage is a few pages of each person and their pet(s), with a short story about the person and their pet. Now, the person can be a kid, or a grand-parent and all ages between. The pet can be a traditional pet such as a dog or a cat, but birds, guinea pigs, horses or even farm animals can be included.

I reckon it will probably take me a couple of years to get the material together, but I would like to make a start.

Here is how you can help. If you have a pet or pets, I would like to spend some time with you, and/or members of your family and your pet(s). Hopefully we can get some great photos together. There will not be any money changing hands between you and me, but you will get file copies of all edited photos from the session. If at some time in the future you would like enlargements of some of the shots taken, then these will be supplied for a reasonable cost.

These days I am available most days whether it be during the week or on weekends. I look forward to you being involved. If you are interested, you could message here or text me on 0403 543 827.

Professional Photography and Free Photo Shoots

A question I am often asked is, “how long have you been a photographer for”? An answer often given is, “around fifty years”. But, that is not really accurate. I was given my first camera by my parents before a trip to India and Pakistan back in the mid 1950’s. I still remember its brand name, it was a “Bunny”. It took rolls of 120 film, and after taking twelve shots, the film had to be rewound onto its original spool to be processed. Many different cameras I have owned and used since then. And as well as the quality of the equipment having improved markedly, I like to think that my photographic skills have also.

Photography has never been my job, but it has been a passion of mine for a very long time. As a teenager and young adult I still recall spending many evenings in my makeshift darkroom with an enlarger and trays of chemicals.

Back in those days, many people did not have cameras. Times have changed, now nearly everyone has at least one camera, and for snapshots, your smart phone is great. But, professional photographers don’t spend thousands of dollars on cameras, lenses and associated gear if smart phones can do the same job. They can not!

What is a professional? To me a professional photographer is one who has quality equipment and the expertise to use it well, and produce quality results. Others may tell you that a professional is someone who charges. But, there are photographers out there who call themselves “professional” who have very little experience and some with only entry level equipment. Some even have the audacity to try charging like wounded buffaloes for their inferior product.

Well, according to my definition, I am a professional. But, with only a few exceptions that you could count on the finger of one hand, I have not and will not charge for any of my photography sessions. I made that conscious decision years ago. Never have I wanted photography to be my job. I enjoy photography, and as I have already said, it is a passion of mine. In the past, I have sold some framed prints that were hanging on the walls of a café where I used to display some of my work. Currently, I submit some of my photography in response to briefs that have been given to an agency called Image Brief that I am associated with.

These activities have given me some return, but that is a small fraction of what I have spent, and continue to spend on equipment. I do like to have quality.

My favourite genre is portraiture. But this goes beyond photographing people posing. My preference is for photographing people involved in activities. I do ask all models I work with to complete and sign Model Release forms. These are required by Image Brief clients. If for example they want a photograph of a young child holding a puppy for a book cover for a book publisher, they need to be assured that consent had been given for the photograph. This was a brief I recently submitted to, unfortunately although I obtained some great photographs, the submission was not successful.

If you live in south-east Queensland and you would like to be involved in my photography sessions, you would be made very welcome. The only cost to you will be your time and the cost of getting to the venue involved. Information on my shoots is available on my Passionate About Photography Facebook page and my Passionate About Photography web site.

In the past I have done some pet photography, but I would like to do much more now that I have additional time available. If you have a special pet and you would like some photographs of it, or better still you with it, let me know. I include horses and other farm animals in the category of pets also. Recently I set up a web site specifically for Pet photography and also a Facebook page for pet photography. You are welcome to take a look.

The agency I submit briefs to I have already mentioned. It is Image Brief. Click on the link if you would like to see my portfolio there.

Book Marketing and Reviews

Retail book stores these days are almost as scarce as hen’s teeth! Almost all books are currently purchased through online book sellers. This change of marketing does have its pros and cons. You can now do your searching online and have the books delivered to your door. I don’t know about you, but I miss being able to go into the large book stores like firms such as Booktopia and Queensland Book Depot used to have and actually browse through the books on the shelves, pick them up, hold them in my hands and look inside. It seems that most bookstores that do still exist are just there to flog off discounted cheap remainders.

Most of the books I have purchased in recent years, whether they had been paperbacks or e-books, I purchased through Amazon. Unless the title was of a book which I had known well, I would generally read the reviews associated with that book. And, I think most people do this and use the reviews as a guide for their purchases. Some publications purchased lived up to the reviews they were given, others were complete rubbish. I assume the positive reviews had were written by close friends.

Waiting to read reviews before making a purchase poses a bit of a “chicken and egg” problem. If a review has to come first, who is going to make a purchase? With the exception of my paperbacks which are workbooks or journals, and a few of my early photography albums, all have also been published as Kindle e-books.

Recently, I went into my Amazon Kindle account and made all of my Kindle e-books as cheap as I possible could. They had low prices before. The most expensive was US$5.00. But now they are all priced under US$3.00 with some as cheap as US$1.00. The higher priced e-books are the photography albums which have quite large file sizes, and Amazon has higher minimum prices for these.

Why the extra low prices?

Well, my hope was and still is that people will make purchases, realise that they have great value for the money spent, and give the book a positive review. The e-books are electronic versions of the paperbacks and are almost identical. So, a review of an inexpensive e-book also applies to the paperback version.

I am hopeful that some of my friends will go to my Amazon author’s page, make a purchase of one or more of my e-books and leave an honest review. Amazon does indicate whether or not the review was made by a verified purchaser.

If you have been to any of my photo shoots over the last year or so as a model, some of your photographs will be in some of the albums. If you don’t already have a Kindle Reader, the program can be downloaded at no cost, whether your device is an Apple or an Android.

You probably won’t ask, but if you do ask yourself the question, “what’s in it for me?” Here is what I am offering.

The paperbacks I can provide to you at a lower price than you can buy them online. I purchase multiple copies at the one time and save on shipping. If you would like a paperback version of one of the books you have purchased the e-book version of, I shall knock off an additional $5.00 off my already discounted prices. Alternatively, if you purchase two copies at my discounted price, you will get a third copy at no cost. (This can be for the same album, or a different one at the same or lower price).

Let’s be mutually helpful to each other!

Recent Publications

I have published several books so far this year. In addition to photography albums, there are four workbooks/journals. Information on the photography albums can be found by clicking on the link. Likewise click on workbooks/journals for more information regarding them.

Kindle e-books editions have been published for most of the paperbacks that I have published. These are all listed on my Amazon Authors site. A week or so ago I adjusted the prices of all of these e-books to as low a price as Amazon would allow me. They are now priced from about US$1.00 to US$3.00. The colour albums have a larger file size and Amazon’s minimum prices for them are understandable higher than straight text publications. The workbooks are not available as Kindle editions.

I have copies of the majority of the paper-backs, and those I don’t currently have I can easily obtain. Most of the paperbacks have been officially published with ISBN numbers. This means that they are potentially available through any book retailer worldwide, including Amazon. However, if you live locally, in the Brisbane/Gold Coast region, I can provide these books to you at a lower price than you would have to pay on Amazon. Keep in mind that if you purchase from Amazon USA, the price listed is in US dollars and you would need to pay shipping costs in addition to the selling price. If however you want copies of any of the publications for relatives or friends in the UK or the USA, Amazon prints from those countries and delivers to your door free of any postage costs. This information is accurate at the time of writing, April 2017, and I don’t foresee any changes being made.

If you, or members of your family, have modeled at any of my photo shoots, your photographs will be in at least one of my albums. Generally I carry around at least one copy of each album with me at shoots, and I have e-book versions on my ipad.So if you would like to take a look, just ask.