Sunday, January 15, 2017

Question?



I've gotten a lot of questions over the years, lots of questions about photography, about what camera I use, about how I edit photos, what lighting etc, mostly though people ask me for tips, tips on how to become a photographer.

I just want to mention that I don't really think I'm all that worthy of advice, I'm not at the top, I'm barely scraping the middle, I don't know if I'm the best person to ask for advice and there probably are better people to ask, still, as some do choose to ask me, I will try and respond.

It's hard to respond though, I maybe get several questions like this a week and I know many of my peers, better photographers out there, they might get tens of questions a week, hundreds maybe, still, I wonder if they sometimes find it hard not only to find the time, but also to know how to respond.


I remember how it felt, when I was first starting out and I didn't know how the hell to go about it, I think I was tempted to message photographers too. I was happy taking photos, but yeah, I wanted to be good at it and I wanted people to want to be photographed by me, I wanted people to love my photos and I wanted to earn money from it and live off it! Thrive even! The thing is, it's hard from here, 6 or so years down the line, to pinpoint the steps I took to get where I am! I mean, I'm still wondering on the steps to get further still! So yeah, tips, tips on how, it's hard...


So I get asked a fair amount of questions...I can say that when people ask my what gear I use, I don't think this is the most useful information to get to know how to get further in the photography world...all the advice you need is in google, and the camera doesn't make a photographer AT ALL, their mind does, their knowledge, their imagination. For those that did ask, I use a Canon 5D mkiii, I also tend to shoot with my Sigma 35mm 1.4 and Canon 85mm 1.8...you see, pretty uninspiring answer aye! 

People also ask my how I edit certain photos. The thing is, that is not a quick answer question...in fact, unless you're in the room with me and I can run you through it step by step, it's an almost impossible question to answer. Same as 'how do you achieve those colours', truth, I dunno, about 70 different little things, little adjustments that change with every image, I couldn't possibly say! Not cause I'm a dick, but because I literally can't remember or can't pin point it to a few easy explainable things. Most of the time it's not complicated, it's just usually a lot of easy things that I can't list out for you, you know?


The number 1 question I get more than any other 'can you give me some tips/advice on how to become a photographer?' 

Well...no tbh. I can't give you a step by step guide, there just isn't one, and looking back I'm not entirely sure how I started to get work, it just kind of...happened! Still, I will give you a list of some things to expect, some small bits of advice, not from the queen or anything, no no, just from me, seeing as some people asked...

1. Be prepared (and maybe warn your mum and dad too) to live at home longer than you might want or expected. 

Earning from photography is slow and hard, you will not just suddenly be earning 30k a year when you decide you want to be a photographer, most photographers I know luck out because they can live rent free (or on family rates) at home, which luckily leaves more time and less stress to shoot, shoot, shoot. Shoot for free, shoot for small amounts, slowly you'll earn more and this will most likely happen because you had the freedom to do it. If you're lucky and your parents will have you then stay there, at least until you can definitely support yourself off photography.


2. Get a part time job. 

If, again, you're lucky enough then don't get a full time job. If photography is really what you want to do and you want to commit to it when make sure you have time for it, that means not working full time. BUT you have to survive, and most likely you won't be able to for a long while off photography alone, so get a part time job for 3 or 4 days a week, or half days, whatever you can survive on. This means you're not crapping yourself over money, you have enough to pay your car insurance and save up to buy a lens, buy shoot dresses and, you know, eat and everything, it also means you have the rest of the time to shoot, whether that's free or paid, you need that time. Again, slowly you'll be able to reduce your hours so that one day it's earning it all from photography...but for a while, expect to have a part time job.


3. Think in and outside the box. 

So when I started I followed a butt load of photographers, every single one I would look at their images and wish I could shoot like that, so, you know, I tried! It helped me hugely, and I think it's ok. I don't think it's a case of seeing a photographers photo and trying to do the exact same thing, but looking at it and trying something similar, to grow and get better, to see if you can! Doing this usually ends up molding your own style which is important for getting work. At the same time as trying things you've seen, try your very own thing as well! Think outside the box! Practice makes perfect, so once you've practiced a little you'll feel more confident to try your own thing! It's just as important for your style.


4. Threehundredandsixtyfive.

Best advice I can give to a budding photographer is to start the 365 project. It's hard, really hard. It takes dedication and time and imagination and passion...however, if you stick with it at the end of those 365 days you will have learnt SO much, you will also have a huge amount of photos for your portfolio plus you also might have some friends who followed your journey along the way!


5. First shoot for free, then charge.

The whole 'getting work' thing is hard to give advice on, I think it's usually an organic thing, but if I look back, I think what I mostly did was shoot a few things for free first, then when I was confident, I would charge! This could be weddings for example, I remember shooting two friends (of friends of friends) weddings for free to see if I could do it, to be confident in it, to learn, then after that I advertised that I could do it and slowly I started getting clients! So start with free, then cheap and then, as you get more confident and better, charge more.


6. Reach out, make friends, join the community!

Because it is a community! There are blogs and forums and photography sites...hell, even Instagram! Find people near to you that are shooting too and go and take photos with them! Knowing other photographers is one of the best things you can do as a budding photographer. You can learn from them, they can learn from you, you can ask questions, you can find stuff out together, you can push each other and, mostly, you'll always be inspired! Comment on other peoples photos, get chatting and see if they want to shoot!


So there you have it, some advice, some 'tips'. I don't know if they'll help, like I said, answering these questions can be harder than you'd think, but looking back on when I first started I didn't know these things, maybe it would have helped to. I want to also say that It's lovely to get messages, I didn't mean to deter anyone from sending them, being inquisitive is so important to learn and grow, and if you do send a question I will try and answer and I really will try and help.

Know above all though that the journey with photography is your own. There are no magic tricks to make it all happen in a instant, and you wouldn't want that anyway, because it's all about the journey! If you stick with it, you'll get there, and when you do you might look back and not even know exactly how :)


Friday, December 09, 2016

Ladies, I'm worried about us...

It's been talked about a million times, more than that probably, and yet I feel like we're not getting anywhere! I'm worried, I'm worried for women, because we still find beauty something to aspire to.

I don't know how we fix this or get out of this rut, what I do know is that new generations of women are born every second, and they too, especially in the age of social media, will grow up bombarded with images upon images of beautiful women...and they too, like my generation and the generation before, will aspire to look like them.

I wonder if you're thinking I'm writing this cause I'm ugly (if 'ugly actually exists), or some men might stumble on this and think 'she's just another feminist chatting about "inner beauty"', well I don't think I am ugly, I don't think I'm beautiful either...by any standard, all I want is to actually not give a shit! 

I write this because I am a victim of growing up in this world, the world were I need to have a bikini ready body, where wrinkles are cringed at, where wobbles are feared and where spots are thought of as abhorrent! I want to be more than these things! I know, I know, same old right, it's been spoken about so many times, and yet I am still a symptom of it! Because every day when I look in the mirror before showering, I almost cry at the sight. Every day I put on clothes in the hopes I will feel confident and yet an hour into wearing it when I'm out I feel like a stumpy hobbit. Every day I do my make up and hope that this will be the day when I can see my reflection and feel pride in my appearance only to almost sob that I don't! A day when I eat and don't feel immediate guilt that I'm a gross fat bitch. I just...I want to go through a day when this doesn't happen, and I'm worried for us women, because I don't know if this day will ever come.

I have low self esteem, rock bottom confidence, this is very true, and maybe the average woman doesn't have thoughts quite as dark as mine, but I do know that women do have many daily thoughts about their appearance, and that time is wasted, because in the end, it shouldn't matter.

With the help of my friend Laura Jane Williams I started shooting confidence shoots a couple of years ago, something I have gained so much from as much as I hope they have. Initially I get these heartbreaking emails, emails saying how terrified they are but that it's the last straw, they know they have to do something because they are so lacking in confidence it's hard to live a normal life, and then they come for the shoot and I show them just what beauty is. It's not about the adverts that are shoved in our face, or the perfect to the T make up, it's about women being women, about being themselves! The biggest lesson I have learned shooting confidence shoots is that when a women is confident she is beautiful. It doesn't matter what she has going on on the outside, if she owns it, then she's hot. I am not joking, it may sound typical, but fuck me it's true. However, for so many women, including myself, it's not a switch that you can flip. I can't just fake it till I make it, or pretend to be confident, it's been too long, I'm too deep in the pit of my average-ness. 

I don't want my aim (or my possible future daughters' aim) to have an arse like Beyonce, or a thigh gap, or the perfect hair, nails, eyes, teeth, lips, blah blah blah, I don't want that to be my purpose in life! I want to love and be passionate and make art and laugh and be in the moment...instead when I do these things, in the back of my mind is 'I hate the way I look'.

I don't want to sound defeated but it is hard to see this ever changing. I'm not saying that the Kardashian's aren't people to look up to (exactly), but these are some of the women that are plastered everywhere, and I hope I'm wrong, but it seems to me that their appearance is their biggest priority, so what are a young generation of women supposed to think!?

I want to share some things that have made me feel like times could maybe be a changin'. 

1. A plus size lingerie catwalk show video popped up on my feed the other week...I sat and watched the entire thing and after it was finished, me in all my size 12 glory, genuinely felt sexy. 
2. Amy Schumer hit back after negative buzz about her being cast to play Barbie in a film, her instagram post was actually seriously badass and again, I came away feeling powerful and confident! 3. When I watch a Zoella vlog where she's completely sans make up and letting her skin free, regardless of spots, she is still being completely herself like always, this is exactly how we should all be, and I watch it and hope that the 11million people watching will also not give a shit about showing their bare face sometimes, most of the time, all of the time! 

The above does show me that when this content is out there it has a hugely positive affect on people! So please say we will come out of this women, because bloggers are so much more important than how they look, read their content, don't follow cause their make up is always perfect. Musicians and singers are more amazing than what dress they're wearing! Listen to their music, their lyrics! Your school friend or work mate is more than the bag they're carrying! Listen to their thoughts, their laugh! 

When I grow up, well, I'm 30, so I mean grow out of this low confidence rut, I want to be inspirational, not aspiration, because I don't want anyone to ever want to 'be' me, I'm sick enough of trying to be like everyone else.