Tag Archives: photography

Morning Prayer

St John the Baptist Church, Inglesham – February 2019

I decided it’s time to get better acquainted with the area around where I now live, so I took my camera out for a walk on this crisp sunny winter’s afternoon and stumbled upon a hidden treasure.

St John’s the Baptist is an 11th century church in Inglesham, which is no longer used for religious services but is still consecrated and open to the general public.  Although a little tatty in places, it had oodles of charm and I felt like I was stepping back in time when I walked through the door.

The boxed-in pews, each with a small door to enter each compartment, reminded me of a similar design in an old stave church I visited in Norway last year. Even down to the ‘back row’ which was not enclosed with it’s own doors… I wonder if, like it’s twin sister in Norway, this row was reserved for the ‘unclean’ (women who were pregnant or had recently given birth).

I bet this organ has provided auditory accompaniment to many a hymn in its time.

Following a period of heavy snow, a recent bout of mild weather has allowed the snowdrops to lay their carpet around the church.

The Next Chapter

The next chapter in my photography journey begins on Saturday.  I’ll be making the jump from amateur to professional photographer, as I start my new job as a photographer on a cruise ship! With no prior professional photography experience or training, I got the job on the strength of the photos I’ve published on this photoblog 🙂 So, aside from being an outlet for me to showcase my favourite photos, this site has also been valuable in helping me move my photography career on to the next level.  What a great idea it was late one Sunday night to start it!

Equipment, accommodation and food will be provided on board, all I need to do is take pictures of the passengers and then convince them to buy as many as possible. Getting paid to travel and take photos… sounds pretty awesome to me 🙂

I’ll be primarily taking portrait photos of the passengers, either posed in a studio, at the dinner table or on the shore excursions. I’m looking forward to getting ‘on-the-job’ training and experience in professional portrait photography, but may also get the opportunity to shoot a few weddings too! Apparently they’re becoming quite popular on cruises. Whatever happens, I’ll pick up new skills and get to visit some new places too.

I’m intending to keep this photoblog updated as often as free WiFi allows, so watch this space and follow me as the next chapter of my photographic journey unfolds…

Look for the small picture in the big picture

Given the opportunity to spend some leisure time taking photos, I’m not sure many people would list their back garden as their number one destination, but I can always find something to shoot in a garden. Two weeks ago it was bees, today it was spiders and brightly coloured leaves!

As I was looking around for something emotive to shoot in Mark & Audrey’s garden in Wimbledon, I combined Halid’s words of wisdom with those of James Christie*, another pro photographer whom I met in Edinburgh, which were:

Look for the small picture in the big picture

There are photographic opportunities all around us if we look for them.

He taught us not only to look, but to see.  When walking around don’t just look ahead at where you’re going, look up, look down, look around.  Look for the small details.  Even if you walk the same route every day, keep your eyes open and you will see new things every day.

And he’s right.  Here’s the garden that I spent the best part of an hour and a half wandering around in this morning:

Mark & Audrey's urban jungle
Mark & Audrey’s urban jungle

When I took the time to stop and look closely in the garden I saw raspberries ripening, I saw sunlight shining through the leaves of an acer tree, I saw a bush budding with new growth, I saw a dog rose pointing up to the sky, I saw a lone rose that had climbed up in the middle of the acer tree, I saw the tendrils of a vine reaching out across the void, and I saw spiders – lots and lots of spiders. So much in such a small space!

IMG_4628 Spider at rest scaled
I wonder what’s on the menu today?

But the best bit was seeing a spider eating her lunch – having caught a small fly in her web, she wrapped it in silk and spun it into a ball, carried it back to the centre of the web, ate the silk off it and then proceeded to dine at her leisure.

Mmm, yummy fly
Mmm, yummy fly

Fascinating to watch, I felt quite privileged. It’s something I’m sure that goes on every day, in every back garden.  But how many people have actually seen it unfold?

So my advice to you today is: Take the time to look at what’s around you – you don’t need to go somewhere spectacular to see something spectacular.

See the rest of the photos from today’s garden shoot in the Photo Gallery here.

* James Christie: Edinburgh Walking Photography Tours

What is the one thing that makes a good photo?

As I pottered around Mark & Audrey’s garden with my camera looking for inspiration today, I remembered something that pro photographer Halid Izzet* said to Adam & I last weekend, when we visited his photo gallery for a free taster lesson. Halid asked us “What is the one thing that makes a good photo?”

While there are many elements that go into making a photo – such as aperture, shutter speed, the subject, the composition, depth of field, the mounting & framing of the picture and so on (and they are all important contributing factors) – the one thing that makes a photo ‘good’, according to Halid, “is when it prompts a feeling, a reaction, or triggers an emotion in the person looking at it.”

Emotion is key.

“It doesn’t matter what the emotion is” he said, “or whether it’s a positive one or a negative one. A good photo makes you feel something.”

So that is what I set out to search for today.

* Halid Izzet is the founder of Rhubarb & Custard, a Photography Studio & Gallery in Eton, Berkshire

Why photography is like IT

Up until recently, if someone asked me “What do you do for a living?” the answer would be “I work in IT.”

If that wasn’t a conversation stopper in itself (greeted with “Uhuh…” followed by a blank stare and a swift change of subject), then often the responses to this general job description would be along the lines of “Ah, computers… I don’t get computers, blasted things, I don’t know how to use them” or “I have a problem with my PC/internet at home, can you fix it?” or “My husband/brother/son works in IT too, he does something with websites/he’s a software engineer/I think he builds networks… is that anything like what you do?” Umm… no, not exactly.

Those of you who also work ‘in IT’ know that this generic term covers a multitude of sins… from programming the chips in mobile phones, to configuring WiFi services in marinas, pubs & hotels, to writing iPhone apps, to managing all the PCs, printers, webcams, iPads, electronic whiteboards and other technology in a secondary school while making sure the kids can’t look at websites they shouldn’t… Yes, I know people who have done all of these jobs and they would broadly describe themselves as working ‘in IT’. What do they all have in common? That their job revolves around operating or managing computers.

It then occurred to me, as I am delving deeper and deeper into the world of photography (and even considering switching careers to it) that photography and IT have quite a lot in common. How so?

Well, aside from the fact that digital photography is in fact it’s own IT discipline (someone has to write the software in cameras that controls the sensor and helps choose the ‘optimum’ combination of aperture, shutter speed, ISO, white balance and point of focus, not to mention the programming that goes into writing software like Photoshop), it is also a generic term which encompasses a broad range of skill sets. And what do those skill sets have in common – they are all based around operating a camera.

As Grumpy George explained to me (Grumpy George is a landscape photographer based on the Isle of Skye in Scotland who I had the pleasure of meeting earlier this year):

“Think of photography as like having a trade. You may call yourself a tradesman, but that could mean you’re a plumber, electrician, plasterer etc., each of which is it’s own discipline with it’s own unique skill set. Photography is the same: for landscape photography you need different skills to those you need for other types of photography, such as portraits, weddings, sports, events, fashion, wildlife… And therefore your  training depends on the type of photography you want to do.”

Well, that’s the same as IT – skills for designing, building & configuring hardware such as telephones, printers or shop tills are different to designing, coding & testing the software that operates on those devices.

Which is perhaps why I feel rather lost right now. I want to develop my photography skills to the extent that I can make a living out of my photographs, but I am quickly becoming overwhelmed by the different advice and rules regarding ‘correct’ exposure, ‘good’ composition, what should be captured ‘in camera’ and how digital images should be processed.  Do I perhaps need to first decide which discipline I want to specialise in, and then focus on learning the skills needed for that particular style of photography?