Like all other wedding photographers I tend to spend much of the summer working at full tilt: shooting at the weekends, then editing all hours during the week to meet deadlines. Add to that meeting with prospective new clients (usually evenings), portrait shoots and commercial jobs, the admin, social media stuff and chasing up new work, and you get the idea. Not much ‘me time’. This year I’m doing things a little differently (or at least I’m trying to).
Recently, I moved home, and that move has brought with it a few unexpected changes to my working life. I now have a dedicated work space where I can go to anytime of day (or night!) and which may also become a small teaching room/studio in the near future. I may even go a bit old school and create a darkroom (hands up who remembers darkrooms?!!). I’m a short walk from Morecambe sea front, some extraordinary sunsets and views, I walk more, I cycle occasionally, I rarely need to use the car during the week, and in short, life has slowed in pace a little. I’m spending time with family a little more, and as a result I find I’m stressing less, and being more productive when I do sit down to edit. I hadn’t anticipated this, it’s good, I like it.
One other thing I find about photography summer madness is that I start to think a lot about how I shoot, the importance of trying new things, keeping creative and maintaining my passion. Everyone will do this differently, but for me, a big change came this year when I introduced a new bit of kit into my bag. I’m a fan of travelling light when I’m working, so a couple of camera bodies, a few lenses and a flash gun (rarely used) are pretty much it. I’ve been a Pentax boy since my earliest days as a photographer, my first proper SLR was a Pentax ME Super (now in the hands of my youngest, a budding filmmaker), and yes I can hear the snickering among the Canon and Nikon crowd, but you know what, I don’t care. Photography for me is not about the gear, it’s about the eye, and for me Pentax has always just felt right for the way I work. I love my K5! It’s that phrase “the way I work” that led me to add that new bit of kit – a Fuji X-Pro 1 into the mix. I won’t go into sensors, megapixels and the like, because that’s not what interests me, but the Fuji is a stunning piece of kit, compact, light, discreet, packed full of features, amazing in low light, has gorgeous retro styling, and produces great results. My bag has also got smaller, which is a good thing! and I find I need to think less about what’s going on in the camera and more about what’s going on in front of the camera. It’s perfect for the semi- documentary style that I like to shoot in, and a street photographer’s dream. Interestingly, where I had thought it would be a second camera, it’s pushing to the front and becoming first choice more and more. It’s also firing me up again to pursue some personal projects, some old, some new, away from the weddings and commercial work. Sidestepping if you like. It keeps me fresh, let’s me try new things, generally reinvigorates me and brings new approaches to my weddings.
So when the summer madness has died back down I’m planning on reviving a couple of recent projects that had fallen down the back of the sofa. And I’d like your help.
- My “Offstage” project began in late 2012 when The Dukes in Lancaster invited me exhibit alongside another local photographer Pauline Clark. Pauline was showing live shots of local band 3D Tanx and they asked if I had anything that would work alongside them. It was liberating to shoot people as I wanted to, not how they asked me to and longs story short, it was great, I loved the whole process, and ultimately it was very good to me – lots of publicity and my shot of Boogie Bill crossing China Street, got me into the finals of the PPOTY (Professional Photographer Of The Year) contest. I see Offstage as an ongoing project, so I’m planning to shoot more musicians from the Lancaster-Morecambe area to add to the project portfolio. I have a hit list of people to shoot, but I’m also open to suggestions. There are no rules about age, gender or musical style, subjects can be solo or group, but participants should at least be performing professionally on the local circuit. If you fancy taking part, please get in touch.
- My second project is 50Faces. I turned 50 in 2012, I felt relaxed about it, but was aware at the same time of how I recognised it as a ‘big thing’ and became very interested in what 50 actually looked like and felt like for others. Ultimately I’d like to get 50 portraits of 50 year olds. I have no idea at this point what I will do with them, an exhibition perhaps? a book? a blog? We’ll have to wait and see on that one, but again, for now, if you’d like to get involved, or you know someone who might, do please get in touch. I’m after anyone who has passed their 49th birthday but not yet reached their 51st. The deal is I get to ask a few questions about who you are, your interests etc, I will then photograph you (probably in your own home) and you get a free print.
- Other projects are in the pipeline, and I’m also up for working collaboratively if any other photographers would like to join me and fire up their creative juices!
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