Are you taking pictures for your client or for yourself?

During a recent shoot, a client was explaining to me how they wanted the final images to look, including what they wanted from both in camera and post production. Whilst the requests were coming through, a part of me was thinking “You have seen my work, that is not really my style”.

Of course, I delivered what was requested and they were happy, however I couldn’t help but feel I was “imitating” being a photographer rather than being the photographer.

I would like to think we are all working towards our own unique artistic style. With the number of photographers out there it is near on impossible to be completely unique, but during our careers we are a constant work in progress, aiming towards having a photographic identity that communicates who we are artistically.

Whilst the above is very “arty farty”. It still stands true. However, it got me thinking…

Do you take photos for your client or yourself?

When working on a personal project you tend to have full creative control on the work you are creating and the outcome. When a client/clients are involved you have to be prepared to work with a different mindset to yours with the objective of working towards a body of work that does not line up with your usual creative way of thinking.

Let me take you on trip down memory lane….

Club DJ.

I used to DJ in my younger days. Whenever I would send a demo to a promoter, it would be full of peak time tunes that were perfect for a club full of ravers who would be generating a loud and wild atmosphere. The promoter would like the demo and you would get the gig. But guess what…You’re on first.

For those of you who not quite familiar with club land, let me teach you the basics. If you are the DJ who is starting the night (aka warm up) the club is not busy, those who are in are not at their peak of wildness and those tracks with long break downs and big drops don’t quite match the time of night.

Now as a performer you have a choice. You either play the same tracks on the demo and argue “the promoter knew my style” or you stay true to the code (The DJ code is not that cool) and show your professionalism and versatility to ensure the progress of the night is a good one and the consumer is happy with their overall experience.

“Whilst I am sure you are loving your dose of nostalgia Dan, what the bloody hell has this got to do with photography?”.

The point is, sometimes we must go against our artistic grain. When photography stops being personal, but rather something that is being consumed, there is no point sticking to yourself as in the long run clients will fall away.

The Headshot

I recently did a shoot with a Paediatric Oncologist (that is a doctor who treats children who have been diagnosed with cancer to you and I). He approached me as he needed some images for the hospital website, and of course I was happy to get involved.

So there I was, with suggestions at the many of how we could make him look as professional and warm as possible (with him working in such a sensitive and emotionally challenging setting, I thought it was important to make him look as trusting and emphatic as possible).

His response? “I would just like a standard headshot please”.

Okay, so it’s not much of a challenge and creatively we are limited. But this is his shot, it is how he wants to be represented and it is my role to ensure that it is delivered. 

As you can see the image is pretty standard. From a quality point of view I am happy with it (although like with anything, it could be better), however it would never be part of a body of work that I would be quick to boast about. The reaction of the client however was fantastic, he loved it, his friends and family loved it, as did his employer.

What I learnt from this is that, just like DJing, my work cannot just be about me, it must go further. Sometimes you have to put what you feel to oneside to ensure your client is fully satisfied. This is extremely important as for many photographers, those straight forward shoots are the bread and butter, and rarely does one make as big an impact through their personal projects, however hard they might try.

Of course this does not mean you should give up on your personal projects and just concentrate on churning out the run of the mill client assignments. You always need to be developing your creative side, if not for credibility and success, at least for the mind.

Control the ego.

We can sometimes let our ego get the better of us -  “that is not my style” or “that is not challenging enough for me”. All we are doing in those circumstances is putting limitations on ourselves. I am a firm believer that almost any photography related task makes us better photographers in the long run.

I learnt from that shoot how to be disciplined and not allow my mind to overflow with ideas which I would in turn force on the client. With this in mind, it would be wrong for me to say I didn’t take anything from it

I would encourage you to do the same. If you are turning down jobs because they are not in line with your photographic vision, stop doing so. Take the job, even if it’s one, and see that as a challenge in itself. Push yourself to go against what you believe yourself to be, but rather what someone else wants you to be.

I appreciate we are told to always be ourselves, and there is truth to the importance of that. But I assure you it can be rewarding to be someone who someone wants you to be (in this case through our work) even if you are just putting on act.

Maybe you think I am talking rubbish? Maybe you can relate to what I say? Or maybe you are not even reading this sentence as you got bored after the first paragraph. I would love to know.

Please comment below or message me through social media with your thoughts.

Thanks for readin.

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The Hard Question. Are you a better photographer?

Reflection can be a wonderful thing. It can also be a nightmare.

Sometimes as people, or in our case photographers, we can get lost in time and gently go through the motions. Things can happen to us that stop us from taking the time to ask the most important question. Am I a better photographer?

What stops us from self-reflection?

There are many reasons that prevent us from reflecting on our process. Maybe it’s too hard for us to dig deep and critique our work, so we take the easier option and just keeping doing what we do and assume that that is good enough. Maybe we drown ourselves in gear and tell ourselves “I must be a better photographer, look at all this kit I have which I didn’t have when I started”.

Sometimes success can be our biggest hindrance of all. You get a piece of work exhibited or published, jobs start coming in thick and fast. In result, it gives you a huge confidence boost (quite rightly) and you start to believe you have reached the pinnacle of your talents and you never stop to think “Have I improved since my last gig?”.

Am I a better photographer?

I am not here to speak for any of you. It is certainly not my place to tell you if you have improved or not. I can however, look at my own body of work and reflect on whether I have improved. I am also happy to open the question to you, as long as you go easy me!

Let me give you a bit of perspective before we delve into the good, the bad, and the “why you even showing us this?”.

I bought my first camera in February 2014. I had messed around with camera’s before, had a basic understanding of the exposure triangle, but this was the first time I had seriously considered learning the craft of photography.

So, there I was with my brand new Nikon D3200 and kit lens. With a smile on my first and some lovely ignorance in my mind, I told myself “I can now take pictures like a professional”.

First forward to later that evening – “Why don’t these images look like the pro’s? There must be something wrong with the camera!”.

I quickly learnt there was something wrong with me, and with that I set out to go learn all I could and give myself a more realistic target for getting to a pro level standard.

For those that care. The time scale I have set myself is 5 years. To be clear, that is not 5 years to be a master, that’s 5 years to have a small set of images that say “this guy definitely knows his stuff”.

Maybe the time scale is unrealistic, maybe it is too negative. But I have set it and I am doing my best to work towards it.

My photography portfolio.

This is not my official portfolio, some of these images would otherwise not been seen outside of this article. For easy reading, I am going to break it down into 3 categories; Portraits, Street and Travel.

Portrait Photography.

“Hi mate. I have just got this banging new camera. Come and meet me and I will make you look like a superstar”. We all known only a best friend would agree to waste a few hours of their time with that guy who thinks he is Annie Leibovitz because he has a fancy new camera.

Below are 3 images. One from 2014, 2015 and 2016. 

 2014.

2014.

 2015.

2015.

 2016.

2016.

I remember when I took that first portrait in 2014. We loved it. I mean ignore the weird cropping, distortion and squint from the sun, this image was mega!

I would like to think by 2015, I had come on a little bit, especially in terms of framing and posing. Don’t get me wrong I wasn’t a world beater, but the second portrait is certainly an improvement on the first, right?

And finally, by 2016 I had learnt all about off camera flash. I had also bought myself a nice 50mm which does a nice job with portraiture. I still need to work on my shadows and highlights balance, but I would not hesitate to show this to someone as a measure of my skill set.

Have I got better? Yes. Could I be better? Yes, a lot better.

Street Photography.

 2014.

2014.

 2015.

2015.

 2016.

2016.

Street photography is such a difficult sub-genre. Having to make the ordinary become interesting is no easy mission.

Personally, I think there is improvement. Certainly my knowledge of what makes an interesting street photo has increased, however I do struggle to replicate in the images.

The jury is out on this one. What do you think?

Travel Photography.

 2014.

2014.

 2015.

2015.

 2016.

2016.

I guess the main objective of a travel photo is to get the viewer to say “I would like to visit there”.

I think technically I have improved. Composition, quality and post is certainly better. I still think I have some way to go in terms of demonstrating what makes a good travel photo.

Conclusion.

I must admit, I feel slightly deflated after writing this, which may not be a bad thing. My mind is bouncing around “I think I am better at this, I think I have gone backwards in that”.

To sum up how I feel in words, I would say this….

I am not as good as I think I am, but I certainly have enough skills to keep going in the right direction.

That may seem cynical, it’s not. I honestly believe if I keep working hard and follow a plan, I can reach that target I first set myself when I got my Nikon D3200 (FYI I have since upgraded and now have two cameras, I must good *wink *wink*).

The challenge.

My challenge to you, is to go do the same as me and go back, review your work, and ask yourself “Am I a better photographer?”. For those of you with years of experience, there is no need to go back to the time you first picked up a camera, just go back a couple of years.

The truth is we can all get better. The field of photography is always advancing and we must always ensure we keep up.

For now, it is back to the drawing board and back to getting out shooting, so in another couple of years I can look back and say…I am a better photographer.

Thanks for reading.

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The Photobook: What I learnt from Martin Parr

Yesterday I got a lovely treat in the post. I say treat, rather than surprise, because it was a self-purchased treat and I knew full well it was arriving.

“Just tell us what it was”, I hear you say whilst you roll your eyes.

It was a photobook. More importantly it was a photobook I made myself, filled with my images. There is something quite special about seeing your work in print. Wonderful colours, framed within silky white edges. It feels like velvet; your fingertips make contact and your senses start to tingle. It has a smell that if anything smelt the same it wouldn’t be nice, but in this context, it just makes you take a deep breath and say “ahhh”.

For this, my first photobook, I have told a story only I and a couple of friends will recognise. This wasn’t made for public consumption, but rather for me, giving me an opportunity to bring my content back to life.

Magum Photos Now: The Photobook.

The arrival of the photobook was fitting, as last night I attended another talk by Magnum Photos. It was presented by long time Magnum photographer, and now president, Martin Parr.

Now here is a funny man. On more than one occasion he had a sold-out crowd in fits of laughter. His love for the publication of the photobook however, was certainly no joke. Here is a photographer, who in all is prestige, still sounds like a young fanboy when talking about the euphoria he gets when stumbling across a wonderfully crafted photobook.

The photobook really can kick start careers” Martin Parr.

I don’t know about you, but when I hear something like that my mind starts going into overload. Project ideas start coming thick and fast. “Would this work? Would that work?”.

Not to forgot the old classic “I am going to make the best photobook ever made. It will change photography as we know it and I will be forever remembered as an icon, a catalyst for the new age of photographic content”.

Ahem. Excuse me, sorry. I told you my mind went into overload.

What was clear from Parr’s comments on the photobook, was that is was not just about going on a fancy holiday and then sending your images to a printing company and asking them to make a sparkly book for you.

It was about going on a journey, about finding your voice a photographer.  Through your content you are expressing a thought process, a set of emotions that accompany your body of work. For the serious photographer, appreciation goes so much further than a like on Instagram. It goes deeper than a pat on the back and a gentle “oh that’s a good one”. Appreciation is recognised through a connection. A recognition of the emotions you wanted the viewer to generate, and their understanding of your thought process and the storytelling of your content. It was clear that Parr had no doubts what so ever that the photobook played a huge part in generating a connection between the photographer and their consumer.

Magnum Photobook: The Catalogue Raisonne.

There is no better time than when you have a room full of people invested in what you have to say, to have a well-timed book plug (those of you of who misread that for something else, put your head down in shame).

The Catalogue Raisonne is a collection of photobooks in one big photobook. It is the crème de la crème of Magnum photographer’s photobooks, all rolled into one. The work was overseen by Martin Parr himself, as he was part of the selection of which books would be included. He was quick to point out, that it was no easy job when telling photographers which pieces of their work had been chosen for the book. There was often the question of “why did you choose this book of mine, why not this one instead?”. He promptly reminded us; Magnum Photos is a very select group of photographers. You are working alongside a group of artists who have had to go through a vigorous selection process to become a member, and whilst there are no pre-Madonna’s, it does create a healthy ego which in turn can cause debate and argument.

Parr went on to say as the cooperative continues, they are looking for more diversity within its membership. It was following this statement; he was to generate the biggest laugh of the night…

So if you are a black lesbian from Uganda, you have a great chance of getting in”. Martin Parr.

For those of you are interested in The Catalogue Raisonne, you can purchase the book by clicking here. (I had a quick flick through, it is certainly worth the investment).

Q&A

As always at these kind of events, questions were offered to the room. There was one burning questions I wanted to ask Martin, thankfully I was able to do so.

Q - As we have a generation growing up the digital age, and many more to come, how do photographers ensure that in decades that follow, the photobook remains an attractive option to consumers?

A – I think it’s like anything, quality will always prevail and if we keep making quality content people will still be interested in it. Take vinyl for example. Sure, it took a dip when CDs came out, but even now, in world filled with mp3s, there is still a demand for vinyl. The photobook, just like vinyl, generates a reaction within you. People will never get tired of that feeling.

He is right. Class is class and nothing, no matter how convenient, can replace the quality of a physical thing.

What next?

Tonight, when I got home, the first thing I did was show my friend my new photobook. He had a little more investment in it, as he knew the story behind it and could relate it to the images within the book. I watched how careful he was when handling the book. Like a new born baby, he wanted to take care of it. I noticed the reactions on his face as he turned each page. I even knew which image he was looking at without seeing it myself when I heard him say “oh yes this one”.

That is just a micro example of the impact a photobook can have on someone when they can connect to it.

Now more than ever I realise the importance of taking these project ideas out of my mind and making them a reality. It may take years, possibly decades, but I need to start telling a story and displaying my photographic identity.

Maybe one day I can cause the reaction I saw in my housemate, inside a wider audience. Maybe one day I can be a Magnum photographer and have a successful photobook. Hey, maybe one day I can really make a photobook that is a catalyst for a new age of photographic content. Who knows.

One thing is for sure. Magnum Photos and Martin Parr did tonight what they always do best…They inspired me to do more.

Thanks for reading.

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5 tips to balance your day job and your dreams.

It is that time of the week again. A time where mood is low, brains are foggy and even the timid of characters behave like a dog on the illegal breed list. That’s right, it’s Monday.

Monday can be a terrible day for most, it can even be even more terrible for those who are working towards a different goal in their spare time. The reason being, is that it is a strong reminder that the spare time will rapidly decrease and all the time and energy you were putting into your goals is about to get well and truly lost in your day job.

You can still find time.

“I just don’t have the time to do anything else”. You have said that before, I know you have. Well guess what, you a lying to me, you are lying to them and you are lying to yourself. Shame on you.

There are 168 hours in a week. Most people work 35-40 hours of them. They sleep 49 hours (give and take an hour either side). That leaves you with 79 hours a week, which is 11 hours a day to do as you please.

I think I smashed the maths. Even if I didn’t, the point is you have more time than you think.

Don’t get me wrong here, I know it isn’t easy. You can easily get locked into a toxic pattern of getting up, going to work, going home, having dinner, going to bed, repeat. But if you work hard and open the energy within your mind, it is possible to juggle the day job and the dreams.

Remember I can only speak from experience. I have come up with a system that work for me. The good news is we are not all as unique as our narcissism would have us believe, and these 5 steps should work for you also.  If not, at least take then as inspiration to make your own system, as the end goal is still the same.

Did someone say list? Okay here comes a list.

1.     Get out of bed an hour earlier.

“Oh I knew it. I knew he was going to say this. Coming over here, taking my sleep. How dare he!”. Yes, I am the sleep snatcher, sue me.

It is a bit depressing though, don’t you think? Getting up out of bed with enough time for a quick bite to eat and a shower before you roll into 8 hours of working for the man?

Just one morning, get up an hour earlier and see for yourself. Do as you always would, roll out of bed shower and eat, then look at your watch. “Oh wow, I have ages before I need to be at work. I am up now and ready. What should I do with this spare time?”.

You’re welcome. Whatever your personal goals are, use that new found free time to focus on them. Even if you have enough time to respond to a few emails, it is time you would have otherwise spent replicating a dead body in your bed.

2.     Work on your goals on your commute to work.

We have all see that guy, sat on the train with his laptop on his knees, clicking away. We have all probably sniggered at him, but maybe he is working on his personal projects whilst he has the chance.

Need to edit those photos? Maybe you have a deadline? Get the laptop out, put the head phones on and on that 30-40 minute commute fire up LightRoom and get editing.

By the time you get to work, your personal workload will have decreased and you won’t be spending most of the day thinking “I can do without being here right now, I have got so much to do far more important this”.

3.     Take a lunch break as much as possible.

There is nothing cool about saying “a lunch break? What is one of them?”. Even if you do not have personal projects going on, it is never healthy not to take time out from whatever is consuming most of your day. Take that one hour for yourself, and if you do have different focuses elsewhere, use it wisely.

Don’t just sit at your desk eating a sandwich, mindlessly scrolling through social media. Do as many tasks as you can. Remember, on a micro scale, each task you complete is a step closer to you to you fulfilling your dreams.

4.     Make your meals in bulk.

By the time you have cooked dinner and washed up, it is time for bed, right? Well for this point, we can just conveniently continue to miss out the part where you mindless watched YouTube for an hour before falling asleep.

To eliminate that time spent cooking and cleaning, each Sunday cook in bulk. Ideally you want to prepare enough meals for the working week, but even if you make enough for 2-3 days, it’s a start.

This way all you need to do is reheat it in the microwave, eat and wash up one dish. You can be done in 30 minutes and then ready to crack on with some work, and by work I don’t mean watching Top 10 funniest cat clips on the internet.

5.     Use your annual leave productively.

Many of us go on one or two trips a year (I actually went on 5 this year, but hey, I don’t like to talk about it), and find ourselves with an awkward number of annual leave days remaining. For those of you who don’t end up using them, you’re not boxing clever.

You have a deadline; you need to get those images over to a client. If you have not used any of the previous tips above, then at least use this one. Use those awkward 2-3 days of annual leave either side of the weekend, that gives you 5 free days. 5 days to make your dreams your day job, and when you spend a working week focusing on what you are truly passionate about, it is gives you reinforcement about what you want to achieve in your life.

 An unrelated picture I took of a carousel. This is a photography site after all.

An unrelated picture I took of a carousel. This is a photography site after all.

Bonus tip.

If you struggle with any of the above, and let’s face it from time to time energy and brain fry gets the better of all of us, here is a little tip to keep you going.

Each week set yourself a set of tasks relating to your personal projects. If your week is busy, instead of getting flustered and not completing any of them, set yourself the goal of finishing at least one task. Contact that person on Twitter to work in collaboration for example. Next week set the goal of completing two tasks and so and so on.

The pain of reality is worth the end goal.

As I said, none of this is easy. Having to work a full-time job whilst also building a career on the side can destroy you at times. Keep focused on what you want to achieve and remember all this pain will seem minute in comparison to the fulfilment you will have when you reach your goals.

It is important to point out, this isn’t about not respecting your day job. It provides you with a source of income and is a good ground for working hard and you should always value that and your employer. That said, there is nothing wrong with a healthy balance, something that can often get lost in the world of the working system.

Tell me what works for you by commenting below. I would love to hear it.

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5 ways to combat loneliness by being creative.

I will be the first to admit I get lonely, extremely lonely.

This isn’t about not having people in your life, you can have the best of friends and family and still feel like the loneliest person in the world. My loneliness is often a feeling of disconnect from those around me, a lack of energy to be social, yet a feeling of frustration due to the isolation that it brings.

How to combat loneliness.

I am sure there are many techniques and theories on how to combat loneliness, but in terms of what works for me, I am going to look at this from a creative’s point of view.

First, I would like to highlight that I am aware of some of the negative symptoms loneliness can cause. It can leave us feeling lethargic, asking ourselves “what is the point”. It can lead to us acting in an indulgent manner, often in ways that leave us feeling regretful. In extreme cases it can lead to depression and really put pressure on our mental wellbeing.

Sometimes, the things above can’t be avoided and we will respond in a negative way, no matter how much will power we perceive ourselves to have.

However, on the days where the loneliness feels more manageable, here are 5 ways you can use your creative strengths to help combat that crippling feeling of loneliness.

1) Look beyond human interaction as a way of feeling connected.

“I have nobody who understands me, nobody to talk to, nobody to connect with”. We have all uttered those words when we are lonely. And whilst they are very legitimate thoughts and feelings, sometimes going deeper can help subdue them. Next time you are feeling lonely, try looking beyond what you lack in human connection, and tell yourself what you connect to creatively.

Try this – “I have my art, I have my dreams, I have my camera, my paintbrush, my microphone, my projects”. Whatever you have creatively, say it out loud as they are just as much a part of you as the people around you.

2) Look towards your creative future as a source of comfort.

Anyone who has read about mindfulness (that includes me) may say the best way to combat stress, anxiety and loneliness is to bring yourself into the present moment. Well, sometimes, the present moment absolutely sucks.

When we feel down, I am a big believer in taking time to look forwards and put things in place for a better future. So, next time you feel isolated, pick up a pen and some paper and come up with your next creative project. Establish a theme, highlight how you are going to execute it and create and end goal. Doing this will give you’re a feeling of excitement and a much needed injection of enthusiasm.

3) Take some self-portraits.

Photographers have been taking selfies years before the front facing camera on a smartphone was ever invented (as you may smugly think anytime you see Debbie pout in front of some salt beef and a form of seeded bread with her smartphone in her hand).

Whilst time consuming, it is the most intimate form of portraiture as we are documenting and creatively connecting with ourselves. This is important, as sometimes loneliness can also be about not being able to identify with oneself.

“Who am I? Why am I here? What is my purpose?”. Whilst they are extremely narcissistic questions, they very much are present within the human mind.

Taking your portrait may not give you the answer, but it gives you a chance to be creative and record a time when you were feeling down and to show you what you did about it.

4) Go sit where other creatives sit and be creative.

Remember that article you wanted to write? Or that picture book you wanted to put together? Well why not take yourself to a coffee shop, make it somewhere hip, and you can bet your number 1 possession there will be other creatives there, being creative and feeling deeply misunderstood and disconnected.

You may not talk to anyone; you may not want to. But being around other likeminded people can give us comfort in the fact that people are on the same journey, having the same struggles and working towards something better. Seeing all those MacBooks and artbooks can give us a kick up the rear and help inspire us to work on our own projects and get our creative workflow going.

5) Get out and do what you do best.

It is no longer about accepting what you have, or planning what to do. When you are feeling lonely, get whatever creative instrument you use, and use it. Connect to your passion and the thing that drives you as a person and don’t stop driving until you absolutely run out of gas.

The reason we are so passionate about our creative side, is because it gives us a great reason to be alive. It makes us feel euphoric and answers those little questions about who we are and what we are here to do.

What better way to combat loneliness than to connect to the craft that makes us feel most connected?

What works for you when your lonely? I would love for you to connect with me and share your suggestions.

Also, if you do feel alone and want another creative person to talk to, you are more than welcome to get in touch as I am always happy to talk.

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The Monday grind: Why you should never be a slave until your grave.

Happy Monday morning to all. Sorry I have not posted this past week, I have just got back from a wonderful trip visiting Italy and Norway (sorry not sorry, as they say on social media).

This recent time out from my normal routine reinforced why it is important to make both space and time for yourself, your thoughts and your feelings.

As you drink your morning cup of coffee, bite into your toast and prepare to embark on your 8 hour day, can you honestly say to yourself “I make time for me”.

Now, be assured this isn’t one of those Disney like utopian “quit your job today and do what makes you happy” kind of posts, I am fully aware for the majority this is completely unrealistic and only happens in those YouTube videos where the small print to quitting your job is “if you have a nice little trust fund stashed away”.

But ask yourself, are you the sort who spends 70 hours a week at work when they do not need to? Do you find yourself approaching the end of the year still having two weeks of annual leave remaining? When you do take annual leave is it only to fix things around the house or do some life admin? If you had a see-saw to measure your work/life balance, would your work by sky high in the air and your life be dropped deep in the sand?

I know some of you are answering yes, even I have. What I am learning with age is why it is vital for our personal, spiritual and most importantly, creative development to understand what is important in life.

Like seeing this wonderful lake for example…

 Lake Sognsvann, Oslo.

Lake Sognsvann, Oslo.

“You can’t pay the mortgage with lakes” I hear you cry. Imagine that, being tied down to some bricks and mortar shoved in the ground which will one day get destroyed by some sort of natural event. Ever think we were lied to when we hear “life is about getting a job, a mortgage and a few ungrateful kids”?

This year I have been to 5 different countries and didn’t break the bank once (well apart from Oslo, but more about that another time). I have seen places I have never seen before, met people I have never met before and have plenty of wonderful photographic memories which make me happy to be alive. I should have done this years ago, but I was too busy making excuses like “I don’t have time”. We all have plenty of time, we often just use it in the wrong way.

Time out: Here is a picture from Milan.

 Milan.

Milan.

I am not asking you to make radical life changes, just do one thing different. Go somewhere you have never been before, even if it’s the town next to yours. See something that is different to your daily/weekly/monthly routine. Take that annual leave and work on that photography project you have been telling yourself will be great. If you have kids, drop them off at the grandparents, get in your car and play your favourite childhood songs and remember a time where you were free and thought you would be king/queen of the land.

We are constantly told what is important, but it doesn’t mean it’s important to us. Don’t be a slave until your grave, just so you can go to work, go home, eat dinner, go to sleep repeat.

The world outside of what we know, is always more beautiful. Think about that.

Live life, love life.

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Why unlocking mental barriers is making me a better photographer.

Wow, the weather is quickly changing. Today I noticed I turned the temperature of the water in the shower a little higher and spent a little longer in there. What does this mean? It’s about to get cold!

Okay, so this isn’t a blog about the weather, nor did the opening couple of sentences bare any relevance to the topic of discussion in this article, but it’s nice to share isn’t it?

So let’s get down to the nitty gritty…

I am used to taking pictures of people without their permission and I am equally as accustomed to doing portrait shoots with people where the agenda, location and time have previously been agreed. What I am not comfortable doing, is asking a random stranger in the street to stop what they are doing to let me take their photo.

There have been plenty of occasions where I have seen someone of interest, maybe they are dressed well or underneath some nice lighting, and thought - I would love to take their photo. Each and every time I have wrestled with myself, “Just go up and ask”, and each time my anxiety has won the battle and the shot has been lost.

This weekend I said enough was enough and it was time to set myself a challenge. I had to go out into the streets and come home with one street portrait of a random person. Challenge accepted.

The Challenge.

So, I am in East London and the clouds are making a lovely soft light. I spot this young woman stood underneath a bridge. There is lovely contrast on her face and she has a wonderful natural look about her. I must have walked past her 3 times, and then I just went for it.

Me – “Please may I take your photo?”.

Her – “Sure”.

And that was that. I gave her my card so she could find her image online, then off I went. Simple. Easy. A huge confidence boost.

It is not the best image in the world. It is natural and subtle. What it represents however, is much more worthy…

The importance of unlocking doors in your mind.

As creatives, I believe it is important that we unlock any doors that are holding our physiological development back. Technical skill only gets you so far, it is your creative mind that allows you to become the best version of yourself and your talent.  Unlocking the doors allows more things to stream through, some of it good some of it bad – but it enables your creativity to go further.

That weekend I came back with 6 street portraits, 5 more than my initial target. Each time I took one the easier it got. The worst thing that happened was that some people said no, hardly a big deal is it?

Getting over that anxiety barriers and the confidence that came from it, will now allow me to become more expressive in regards to my work. Who knows where it might lead, but I do know the more open I am the better my work will become.

What hurdles do you have? Is there something you want to do but seem to not have the confidence to do it? I would love to hear your stories, feel free to share them below or on the social media pages listed.

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Thanks for reading.

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