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Thursday, 13 February 2014

Professional Photographer Magazine: November 2013

LEARNING IS BEAUTIFUL


For the past week newly gained knowledge has been slowly percolating through my grey matter. This is because I am fresh off a 2 day training course with Sal and Taylor Cincotta.  I am a strong believer that we should all keep training in life because a positive effect of education is confidence. 

I’m hungry for knowledge in all areas relating to my photography business and it is this attitude that keeps me moving forwards.  I was very interested to hear Sal’s opinion that photography businesses rarely flatline but are generally expanding or declining.  Hmmm – think about it.

I love to watch and hear how other businesses have achieved and maintained success.  This doesn’t necessarily mean that I change the way I do things – but it makes me consider whether I should!  Interestingly the first day with Sal was largely about shooting and I approached this with an open mind. 

When I train I don’t tell people to shoot like me but I explain why I have chosen to shoot manually and in spot metering mode.  Sal shoots and poses differently to me and that’s fine – we are both at peace with our style.  Probably the main gem I took away from day 1 was the reminder to take my reflector out with me on location.  And I have – on 2 weddings, 3 training 1 to 1s and a portrait shoot in just one week.  Thanks to Sal I love my reflector again and I hardly needed to touch the image (above) of my son in post as a result.

We also had some fun painting with light at about 10pm followed by large glasses of wine in the bar and muchos photography chat.  Day 2 was spent in lock down talking business and this was the part I had really signed up for.  Sal has a business background and understands the psychology of sales.  I took a lot of notes and I made decisions in that small room.  The truth of course is that we all need to take time out of our businesses and be asked leading questions. 

I have known for some time that my bottleneck is post production.  But it’s a dilemma for me because I don’t really consider you to be my competitor – rather anyone with a compact camera or iphone etc.  I believe that I need to make my images look different from something that Joe Bloggs can achieve – and I do this with glass, aperture, light, composition and post production.  I’m not talking retouching – rather toning – giving my images a softer palette than true life.

But this takes time...  However I am moving in the right direction because I am now using Pro Image Editors to do the middle stage edit of all my weddings (hallelujah – amazing) and I am working with a Lightroom lady to create ‘signature’ presets that are perfect for me.   I basically need to get the balance right between having a consistent/recognisable style and a life.  I’m not kidding.

The sharing attitude of people like Sal Cincotta, Adam Alex and Martin Middlebrook is good for the industry because I’m all about paying it forward. Every time I learn something new I pass it straight on to the people I train and mentor.  Generosity of knowledge is a good thing and I just love watching the light bulb moments when I’m training and the exhausted faces at the end of sessions.  Because you should feel saturated and have a headache but you should also feel energised and reinvigorated.  Right now I feel slightly frustrated because I really do want to make some changes to my pricing and communications but my to do list is shocking.  I’m actually really looking forward to the winter months because I should get the time and headspace that I need.

Over the next few days I shall have Creative Live on in the background because I’ve signed up for Susan Stripling’s course.  I love her work and I’m interested to hear her talk about it – there will be nuggets and I have no idea if it will be a gold rush or not.  Even if I only learn one thing – it is one thing more than I know today and it will keep my business growing and my brain active.  Natalie Portman once said “I don’t love studying.  I hate studying.  I like learning.  Learning is beautiful”.

 

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