The Mastering Portrait Photography Podcast

Paul Wilkinson

Tales, techniques, tricks and tantrums from one of the UK’s top portrait photographers. Never just about photography but always about things that excite - or annoy - me as a full-time professional photographer, from histograms to history, from apertures to apathy, or motivation to megapixels. Essentially, anything and everything about the art, creativity and business of portrait photography. With some off-the-wall interviews thrown in for good measure! read less
ArtsArts

Episodes

EP150 Sign Your Work | Your Signature Is Your Certificate Of Quality
03-04-2024
EP150 Sign Your Work | Your Signature Is Your Certificate Of Quality
Ever wondered why you should sign your work?  Well, in this, our 150th episode, we have chat about it. But before that, a quick catchup with Charlie Kaufman of Click Group at The Photography Show - head to https://www.clickliveexpo.co.uk/ to see details of one of the most exciting events in years! There is also news of the PMI Smoke Genie / Smoke Ninja competition - a fantastic opportunity to get creative and win some hefty prizes.  I'll share the link for this as soon as I have it. If you're interested in any of our workshops or masterclasses, you can find them at https://www.paulwilkinsonphotography.co.uk/photography-workshops-and-training/    Enjoy (and sign your work!)   Cheers P. If you enjoy this podcast, please head over to Mastering Portrait Photography, for more articles and videos about this beautiful industry. You can also read a full transcript of this episode. PLEASE also subscribe and leave us a review - we'd love to hear what you think! If there are any topics, you would like to hear, have questions we could answer or would like to come and be interviewed on the podcast, please contact me at paul@paulwilkinsonphotography.co.uk.    Transcript [00:00:00] OK there are one or two fruity words in this episode. If you're offended by swearing then I do apologise! [00:00:05] So I'm here at the photography show up in the NEC in Birmingham, have just bumped in to one of the big characters in the industry. So tell me a little bit about who you are. So, Charlie Kaufman, Honorary Fellow of the Societies, uh, been in the business for 35 years, professional, and I've run the Click Group for 30 years. [00:00:27] Started in 1994. And you've got several other letters after your name. I thought it was KFA, but you said it was No, it wasn't KFA. FKA, as my mum always says, fucking know all, uh, excuse my language, but no, a fellow of the societies, I was the youngest, uh, BIPP licensorship and MPA, uh, licentiate when I was just 17 years old, so two years into the industry, I'm also the CEO of Click Backdrops and Click Live, a new expo launching at Stoney Park, Coventry, this June. Tell me why you've come to the photography show. So it's all about brand awareness. Clip Backdrops, uh, exhibits at all of the major trade shows in the, in the world. [00:01:04] We do about 100, 000 miles with my partner in crime, Gary Hill. He's got more letters after his name than the alphabet, and Gary and I love doing the trade shows because it gets our British made, award winning product in the hands of creative photographers, so they can see the difference of why they're investing in a quality product. [00:01:23] Why do you love this photography industry of ours so much? I love it because it's changing. I love being in an industry where we make money from giving people creative memories for people, creating art. I love the fact that being the owner of a company, I'm in control and I can pivot in a heartbeat in which direction I want to take my company. [00:01:44] And that's one of the problems that a lot of British photographers don't do is pivot enough and change quickly enough. But being a small company, we're very quick at changing. We can actually have an idea to marketplace sometimes within a week. [00:01:57] And if there's one thing you could change about the photography industry that we know so well, what would it be? [00:02:03] Well, I'm going to hone in on the British photography industry, and what we need to change is we need to get British photographers getting more educated. Uh, as Big Dog Damien once said, the better, the easiest way to make more money as a photographer is to be a better photographer. I completely agree with that. Visiting ten U. S. expos a year, these expos sometimes start at 7am and these photographers are in classes and learning till midnight every single day. And that's one of the reasons that my team and I have launched Click Live, a brand new, uh, educational expo launching Stony Park, Coventry this June, where we've brought in the biggest educators from around the world. I mean, we've got Lindsay Adler, we've got Chris Knight, but we've also got other educators that have never even taught before in Europe, like Kimberly Smith, one of the world's best digital artists. So we want to give British photographers and European photographers, the opportunity to learn, hone in their craft and get better. Because the better you are, the more money you should make out of photography. It's as simple as that. [00:03:04] Brilliant. And I have to say, it's an honour and a privilege to be a very small part of that operation. I'm very... [00:03:09] ...an important part of that. Not a small part, an important Don't sell yourself short, Paul. You're an important part as we launch Clickmasters, a digital and print competition. And the nice thing about our print competition? Our educators at the show are not allowed to enter. So they're there to mentor and help and, and train, but they can't enter this year's competition. [00:03:33] Excellent. Well, I'll tell you what, I'm beyond excited about it. [00:03:36] Thanks for talking to me, Charlie. See you I'm Paul. And this is the mastering portrait photography podcast. [00:03:43] Can you believe it? 150. Episodes honestly. I never really thought about it when I set this thing going about six years ago and here we are. 150 episodes later. I thought, I think I thought it would just be somewhere where I could get things off my chest -a sort of passive therapist, I suppose, and let's face it, we all need one of those mine, well, mine, just happens to be a microphone. [00:04:29] Since then I've muttered about, oh, so many things, have interviewed all sorts of people and received well, many and varied emails. I've also been told I do have a face for radio, and that even happened again, today. [00:04:46] But I'll take those little wins when people tell me they find the podcast either interesting or at the very least, something that passes time on a journey. Anyway, that interview was with the wonderful Charlie Koufman, who not only is the owner of Click Backdrops, which are brilliant and British. I will put the link in the show notes, but it's also the inspiration behind the upcoming Click Live convention, Which you will all be hearing about. In the coming months and I cannot wait to see you there. [00:05:16] So here we are, it's April. And how are you? Did you have a good weekend? I hope you did. Sarah and I went down to Plymouth in Devon, Southern England. As well more almost as far south as you can get. In the UK with Harriet, our daughter and had a wonderful weekend with my in-laws. [00:05:36] We drank a little beer. We ate a little chocolate, actually, we ate a lot of chocolates. We bought some Devon fudge and we painted some pottery. Yep. You heard that right. We went pottery painting. It was Sarah's idea. She wanted to do something that was a little different, maybe a little creative pass a couple of hours. [00:05:55] The weather wasn't predictable. It wasn't bad. It wasn't good. It was just well crazy. And so we headed inside to do a little pottery painting. And apart from a very slight mismatch in how things were explained to us,- it turns out, I guess I've got a face that looks like a primary school child, as the explanations were to put it mildly a little basic, but I guess in the end, the heart and soul were very much where they should be. [00:06:26] And we had a blast. [00:06:29] Well, at least we did, as long as we dab-dab-dabbed, and we didn't wipe-wipe-wipe because if we were caught wipe-wipe-wiping There would be ter-ouble. We would be shown the error of our ways and instructed to get back to that dab-dab-dabbing. Anyway, it turns out I'm pretty good at dab-dab-dabbidy-dab-dabbing. [00:06:48] And I spent nearly two hours, literally dubbing black glaze onto a pot, on which I could then paint a wintery woods, kinda scene. [00:06:58] Harriet and Sarah. Well, they're a little more subtle with their craft with gentle blues and teals, little tiny flowers and spots of detail. Subtle understated, gloriously sophisticated. While mine was anything but that, but Hey, I need a new pen pot. As I have knocked my tin mug off the desk, yet again, today. And I really do need something that is seriously heavy, preferably black and well, it'd be nice if it was something that was a little unique. I'll get no points for subtlety, but I'll get plenty for the drama. [00:07:32] And since it's been a long, long bank holiday weekend, there isn't too much to report on the diary of a working pro front, at least not in terms of shoots because we took the weekend away, took the time off. And so we haven't been shooting that much. [00:07:48] We have had a couple of portrait sessions Hearing Dogs, just Hearing Dogs, brilliant, fun as always. And a one-to-one workshop here at our studio. And I love. Workshops. And I love this one in particular. A guy called Dave came down. And we spent the day creating, I think, well, I think. I think some magic, two of my clients now for models, we always use our clients. We don't usually use professional models because at the end of the day training photographers with models sets the sets an expectation that it's always going to be that easy. [00:08:24] And of course it's never that easy. So Charlene and Katie came in as our models for the day. And while they may not be professional models , they are both just splendidly, photogenic, and more importantly, incredible people to spend time, laughing with working with and playing with light around. [00:08:42] And I love, I do genuinely love these one to ones. Because they are entirely bespoke, they're entirely creative. We have the time to sit and answer any questions. We can explore ideas and let, well, let the client just guide us, which is exactly what we did. And the images that we finished up with well, everything I ever set out to do. Had such a blast. Dave was brilliant and I hope he went away with the same amount of energy that I've come away with. Just that idea that tomorrow, well tomorrow, we're going to create some magic. And as low, we haven't shot that much in the studio this week, well, next week is a whole different story. And there is going to be well busy, but while we haven't shot much this week, there is still a ton going on. [00:09:32] Today in particular had my kitlist through from Elinchrom, which is really exciting. I'm still sort of working out what we really need, but it looks like we have it almost nailed down. The big decision is around the Elinchrom Threes. Now I've sorted out the Fives, we're going to get four of those and they will be almost permanently in studio I think. But the Threes are really quite exciting though. There, there are about 250 Watt seconds, so about half that just a little over half that of the fives. But I think they'll be massively useful when I'm out on location. They are big enough to do some serious work and small enough that I can pop them in a bag and have them with me. [00:10:15] So. [00:10:15] I'll let you know, as soon as that kicks in, I'm sure there will be videos, a little bits and pieces going on and I can't wait to do it. [00:10:21] Another email that came in this morning. And it's one. I reacted to really quickly. Practical Magic and Innovations emailed in. Now you'll probably know them is P M I. And they're the guys who make the incredible Smoke Ninja and Smoke Genie smoke machines. The fog machines they've been in touch. And wanted us to help them get the word out about a competition they're running and I'll put the links to the competition in the show notes again. But basically it's an international competition, a photographic competition, but it must feature the use of either the Smoke Ninja. Oh, the Smoke Genie. [00:10:59] Now I'm already a fan, of course of the Smoke Ninja is the one that I bought as part of the Kickstarter agreement, so I'm already a big fan and I've spoken about this on the podcast before. I love the thing, I think it's genius. It should be called the Smoke Genius, but it's great. And I know one or two of you have already bought one of these based on my recommendation. It's great fun to play with. [00:11:21] It's not that expensive. The fog that it gives out is hugely controllable and incredibly photogenic. So given there's a few of you with these things, of course, I have agreed, to put the word out about the competition. Once again, show notes will be the place to go, but I'm going to even, I'm going to enter it this time. [00:11:38] You have to create some images and also show some behind the scenes. I'm guessing it's a great opportunity, for them to get both the finished pictures and pictures of their Smoke Genie or Smoked Ninja in use price is pretty big. There's about $10,000 of them and some big names involved. So why not head to them? [00:11:57] I'll put the link up why not head to them and have a look? [00:12:00] Not only that, but I got an email this morning. From data color, who've shipped some kit for me to review. That'll come up in some future episodes, our to use the Datacolor photo Checkr, which is brilliant. [00:12:12] It's part of our workflow anyway, but they're going to send me the updated version as well as the cube, which looks like to me, I haven't used this thing yet. I'll let you know once I actually use it properly, but it looks to me like it allows for backlight to be measured to white balance of backlight to be measured as well. Which looks like good, fun. Because we use a lot of mixed lighting. But not only that they are going to send me the video checker as well. Which allows us to color calibrate as part of our video workflow. [00:12:39] Now I'm not big in video yet, but we are having to learn how to do it, and one of the things that constantly frustrates me is I can't seem to get the colors, as I want them a lot of homework to do. I need to understand video color spaces air slog, and the like, but I'll have the video color checker from Datacolor in the toolkit, and that hopefully will be a small part of the puzzle. I've not only understanding but controlling it. The color. These, I think these products will appear properly in a future podcast once I've had a chance to play with them and understand, I understand quite what I'm talking about. Cause I'm not a video guy. I need to go and ask some video guys about the best way of using it. A quick update on ACDSee, just again, a reminder. I am not paid by any of these people ACDSee sent me a license to have a play with and I've kept my word. [00:13:32] I've used it. I still use it. I love it. I absolutely love it. I guess I'm not paid, but they have given me a license for. I think the license for the Apple. For the Mac, that is about 60, 70, quid. The speed of ACDSee is absolutely blistering and I love working with it. Haven't quite worked out how to get the very best out of it. [00:13:50] As it turns out 300,000 images with the facial recognition turned on, maybe pushing the upper limits of our network and my machine. But I still love having it there alongside everything else I do in Lightroom. It's so quick. It's so handy. I love the way it just works or interacts in with the file system, which means I can always have, I've always got access to files, to drag and drop, throw them up onto Facebook, throw them up onto Instagram, put them into designs. [00:14:18] It's just really useful. It's the kind of software you feel almost. Should be built into the operating system, but isn't, it's just so natural to use. Absolutely love it again. As I get my head around that I'll give you more, more updates. [00:14:31] Right. So where are we? Let's have a think about my thought for today. Now this one. Is about signing your work or singeing your work. As it was the first three times I wrote it down, signing, not singeing. [00:14:47] Don't singe your work. That is no good to anybody signing your work. I heard someone say a while ago this couple of years ago. That signing your work is pretentious. [00:15:00] And all I can say is what utter, utter, bullshit. [00:15:06] Sorry. I'm sorry. I know, I know. I shouldn't be emphatic in such a way. Everyone's got their own way of doing things and each to their own. But just occasionally something pops up that is purely, and simply, bullshit. This is one of them. [00:15:24] Sign your work. [00:15:26] If I could write a song called cite your work. It sounded a bit like Sunscreen. Maybe I should figure that out. Sign your work. [00:15:34] My dad taught me many years ago. That you should sign everything. Now my Dad was a wise guy is so many ways an idiot. It's so many others, but a wonderful human being. And this was one where I think he was absolutely right. He said, sign it. And when I said, why well he said, firstly, well, why not? But he also said you do it because you never quite know who might see it, in the future. Isn't that the truth. [00:16:03] So I was working at British Steel, in my early twenties as a work placement, my dad was working there. As well, he ran all of the competing and I got a work placement in their design office. And as part of that, they asked me to create some huge 3d visuals of the galvanizing plants that shot and steelworks British steel. [00:16:24] And there's this, they have these coatings lines where they take a coil of steel and they'd run it through the line and coat it with either a plastic coat or some paint coat, but the line I was really interested in coated it. With zinc. It was the hot dip galvanizing line. And this line was around about three quarters of a mile long. [00:16:43] It was huge. [00:16:45] And they wanted me to create some 3d drawings of it. Now this is going back before we would simply have done all of it in 3d CAD and rendered it. They wanted 3d drawings. But they were then going to go off to an airbrusher to go into British Steel's brochures. So my job was to create the line work, the art, the sort of the technical drawing work. [00:17:08] But the best way of doing that was is it happened to create a 3d model of it. But back then, we're talking about really early versions of AutoCAD and the output of AutoCAD. Wasn't very controllable and it certainly didn't create appealing visuals. What it did do though, is give me these huge, A0 printouts that I could then place a piece of tracing paper over the top and much the same way as a comic artist inks in over the pencil. From the original illustrator I then inked it. And that created these really beautiful. [00:17:40] I thought they were beautiful anyway - these really beautiful. Inked drawings of these vast lines that could be annotated and airbrushed by a graphic design team. And I signed them. And I signed him just in case somebody else saw them. Somebody did, and I got more work from it. I've got a lot of plaudits for my work as well, all because they saw my signature and asked who Paul was. [00:18:07] Now it doesn't work for everybody, I guess. But here at the studio we sign every frame and every album that goes out, it's got our brand on it. That signature. Is our brand just like Apple or Jaguar or Pepsi, Tiffany, Nikon or even the guys I worked with a little bit more regularly, like Elinchrom, or even PMI who've emailed today. It's their logo and that represents their brand. [00:18:38] Now, if you're putting work out there without your logo or your signature on it, not only are you missing an important opportunity, an important opportunity that might just lead to more work might just lead to a brand recognition, like we've built . But I also think you're quietly saying you're not really proud of what you do. The signature we put on our work says I am proud of it. Really proud of it. Every time. Every time we create something here. We ask ourselves the question. Are we happy to put the Paul Wilkinson photography signature -my signature. On it. And if the answer to that is not clear. [00:19:21] Cut. Yes, of course. Then that piece of work never goes near a client. Ever. The brand custodian side of our business is all about that signature and being proud. To put it on our work, being proud to say, yep, I've seen that. But at work. I think that warrants a signature and I'm very happy for other people to see it too. [00:19:42] Now is that pretentious? Well, I suppose you could argue it is, but I don't think it is. I think what it's saying is I'm really proud of what we've done. I'm really proud of the effort we've put into it. And I don't think that's pretentious. Pretentions come from almost the opposite from trying to be something you're not, that's not what your signature is, your signature or your logo represent you and they represent your values and they represent your brand. They're everything you stand by and you stand for. Now, if you think your logo screams pretentions, then, well, maybe you need to adjust quite what you believe in and what your brand stands for, but from where I'm sat. I think you should sign every single bit of your work. [00:20:32] Anyway, I'll get down off my soap box. Sorry about that just sometimes, you know, just sometimes there are things I think we have to just get off our chest. And when it comes to your signature sign, your work, people sign your work. [00:20:45] Don't listen to what anybody else says. Get that signature on there. You never know who might be watching. Anyway. 150 episodes. One or two of you have listened to all of them. One or two of you have listened to all of them in the past 60 days. I did have an email from someone this week. And it said they've been working their way through them at a rate of a little over two episodes a day. And they are 50 something days in and heading towards catching up. [00:21:15] I think that's absolutely, hilarious. Flattering and lovely, but well, slightly hilarious. Thank you for listening. Thank you for listening to the end of this particular episode. I hope as always there's something of use or if nothing else. It's got you to work in your car and you can now switch the radio off and go face the day knowing there are other people out there feeling and thinking the same things as you. Uh, if you'd like to hear more of these episodes, please do subscribe wherever it is that you get your podcasts. [00:21:49] Please hit that subscribe button. And then every time I hit publish, you get to hear it, which I think is a marvelous thing. Please do also. If you would like to leave us a review. And a five-star rating somewhere, wherever it is. You consume your podcasts, please. Do we love it when you do? And of course it helps get the word out there. [00:22:07] It helps get the podcast out there. It helps make some of this stuff possible. Also if you have any questions, please do email paul@paulwilkinsonphotography.co.uk, that's paul@paulwilkinsonphotography.co.uk If you're interested in our workshops or indeed one of our, one to one masterclasses, then please do head over to Paul Wilkinson Photography and look for the coaching section of the website. [00:22:33] Alternatively, just stick paulwilkinsonphotography.co.uk workshops into your Google-y Browsery thing and you will find us. [00:22:41] And if you fancy more content, that's all about the joy, the brands, the business, the creativity, of portrait photography, then why not head over to masteringportraitphotography.com, which is not only a vast resource of portrait photography stuff, but is also the spiritual home of this 'ere podcast. [00:23:01] But whatever else. whatever else. Until next time. Be kind to yourself. and stick yer signature on things. Take care. [00:23:14]
EP149 Your First Strobe | Use What You Love, Love What You Use
24-03-2024
EP149 Your First Strobe | Use What You Love, Love What You Use
In this episode, I get to very briefly chat with Louis Wahl, CEO of WEX Photo Video. Turns out he is a really nice guy (and with luck, I'll get to chat to him in a full-length interview at some point in the future.) It's the great thing about the photography show - I get to meet loads of people! As well as the short chat, the episode is primarily a response to an email I received from 'Steve' asking what first strobe he should choose.  Having sat and pieced together an answer, I thought it would be useful to make a podcast out of the answer.  I guess you can be the judge of that! Cheers P. If you enjoy this podcast, please head over to Mastering Portrait Photography, for more articles and videos about this beautiful industry. You can also read a full transcript of this episode. PLEASE also subscribe and leave us a review - we'd love to hear what you think! If there are any topics, you would like to hear, have questions we could answer or would like to come and be interviewed on the podcast, please contact me at paul@paulwilkinsonphotography.co.uk.    Transcript [00:00:00] My name is Lewis Wall, and I'm the CEO of Wexphoto Video. Okay. So maybe this needs just a little explanation at the photography show last week, which was a blast. I took my little handheld recorder and just grabbed a few people as I wanted ran the show. And I had a vision of creating one big podcast episode where multiple photographers could answer the same question. [00:00:25] Just questions about the industry, how they felt and why they were, where they're at the show. But when I played them back for a couple of reasons, I didn't think that that was going to work mostly. And you'll hear this in this little snippet. I get quite excited and an hour of that. Well, nobody needs that in their life. [00:00:42] So instead I'm going to sprinkle these little clips. Through some upcoming podcasts just for interest. And so you can hear the views. I have some really interesting people in our industry. [00:00:53] And I started with this guy. Now I bumped into him. And by accident. I was buying a memory card for the recorder. Actually. I needed additional memory card. And so I went and queued at warehouse express, WEX photo and video. Standing there quietly in the queue and the next chapter at the till waved his arm at me, I went over and while I was there, I noticed that it was Louis. It said on his badge CEO. Of WEX photo video. And do you know what I thought I chance, my arm and see if he would be willing to do a short interview. Well, you couldn't have met a nicer guy. And he was very willing to give me a few, a little bit of a viewpoint. And so we grabbed just five minutes and this is that interview. [00:01:33] And I start the conversation with why. Do you come to the photography show? This is where our customers are, uh, and they expect to get the service that we provide to them all the time in the stores, and we provide to them online, as well as our institutional customers, a lot of our professional customers, so, yeah, I mean, this has got to be the place to be. [00:01:52] Where else wouldn't you be at a time like this? This is a brilliant place for us to meet our customers. And, of course, I have to ask you, well, I guess it's an obvious question, but you're a supplier to this incredible industry. Why do you love the photography industry so much? Well, the one thing is that I don't come from a photographic background myself. [00:02:10] I actually come from a kind of a radio television production background. But it's all about the intrinsic desire that our customers have to accomplish something. There's an artistic need, so We've got a mission, which is to help our customers get the perfect shot every time and anytime. People come to us not to buy a black box with a camera in it. [00:02:31] They come to us because they've got a problem, and that's brilliant. So they've got a project, they've got a creative spark, they want to achieve something. And all of the people who work with us, they're all photographers as well. So they've all started with some kind of imaging or background, a creative background. [00:02:46] My last question, this is just a very short set of snippets, but my last question is if you could change just one thing about this beautiful industry of ours, what would it be? That's a tough one. I wouldn't necessarily say it was a perfect industry. I wouldn't say it was problematic. [00:03:02] It's, what would I change? I'd probably make it a bit easier for us to understand how people work. Product is flowing through from the developers, the people who are originally designing it all the way through the end user. 'cause that's often a very translucent, it's almost opaque, so you don't quite understand what's happening there. [00:03:21] Sometimes the big brands will tell you a little bit more about where their thinking is, how they want to develop their technology. But I think what happens is you get a lot of customers who they want to see that they actually wanna see that where, where the technology's going. Because again, they've got these objectives and often it. [00:03:37] You know, it's kind of cased in a little bit of secrecy. I kind of understand that. If you're developing technology, you want to protect it. You want to protect your intellectual property. But that's probably the only thing I would say that's a little bit problematic, yeah? I mean, we went through such a long period of difficulty in terms of production supply. [00:03:56] People were very difficult to find stuff. Um, we're kind of through that now. We can get pretty much what we need. Um, but, uh, you kind of feel this, probably me as not a terribly, um, technologically, uh, kind of genius sort of person. You kind of, well, where does it go next? And I think a lot of people kind of think in that way too. [00:04:15] They want to compete, they want to, they want to grow, they want to develop. So, yeah, I'd say that's probably one area. It's like, what does it look like? You know, what does the future look like? That's probably one question everybody's got. What does the future look like? It's funny, in the last episode I did, one of my laments was, I wish more of the kit was designed with the photographers that are going to use it in mind, as opposed to the guys developing it with their, you know, various bits of interfaces and the way the software, it's all software driven now, everything is software. [00:04:44] Um, and I wish there were more people who are photographers involved in the design phase. But listen, what an absolute pleasure, thank you both for your good service, I've just bought, A very small memory card from you, but over the years, I've spent many thousands with you, but thank you for it. It's my pleasure. [00:04:59] Thank you so much. So, like I said, you can hear me getting very excited, but what a thoroughly decent guy and of course, warehouse express WEX photo video. Is one of those bastions of the industry. It's huge. And it's ultra reliable. I've bought a ton of kit. From them over the years and I'm sure I will continue to do so. [00:05:19] And it was a real pleasure to meet Louis a genuinely nice guy. At least he was in the few minutes I got to chat to him. And hopefully I did leave with a seed that I'll go over and maybe get a chance to record a full length interview with him. Cause I think the insights. From some of our trade suppliers. Would be fascinating for all of us because they've seen the trends and they've got the data on it. [00:05:41] Whereas each of us. Our, in our little silos. So one after the other, I will introduce these little interviews into each of the upcoming podcasts. I'm Paul. And this is the mastering portrait photography podcast. [00:05:56] So hello. One and all, I hope you well on this, I see quite bright and sunny Sunday evening. It's not particularly warm, but at least for a moment, it isn't. raining yesterday, dance the showers quite a bit. It was a good day yesterday. I've had a good week, lots and lots going on. As you can imagine, we had a training workshop here on Monday, which was an absolute blast. [00:06:33] It was so much fun. We called it a mastering extraordinary to sorry, mastery can't even get my own titles right. Mastering Ordinary To Extraordinary Studio Photography, which is basically about shooting in reasonably confined spaces. [00:06:47] And the guys that came in the workshop with just brilliant. We laughed all day the models big shout out to Kinga and to Libby who were brilliant. The two guys who modeled for us and the whole thing about having a good time, enjoying being creative learning as we go Was just the whole, the whole workshop the whole day. It was fantastic. [00:07:09] So thank you to everyone who came. Also this week. I had two shoots yesterday. You forgive me for telling this story. It was that. It was a good day. Lovely clients, but I did that thing that I do so often, which is to get people's names muddled. And this is yet another one of those extreme examples. Sophie and Matt were the couple and Bertie was their dog. So as we're heading out into the garden to take some pictures in daylight, I'm just double checking their names. [00:07:38] I've got, my phone it's got the appointment on it. I'm just very quickly scanning it to make sure I've got everything I need. It's Sophie and Matt, Sophie and Matt, Sophie and Matt. I've literally, as I put my phone in my pocket. I turned to them and say, right, so Alice and Sam, what are we going to do? And the two of them just look at me. Are you absolutely out of your mind? And the minute they looked at me, I knew I'd got it wrong. [00:08:05] How, how, how can your brain ditch what you've just been reading. I mean, literally, as I said, it. It was seconds after I'd read it. The only name I remembered it was Bertie the dog. It was just, oh, come on. Anyway. Saturday was interesting in as much as, although we've had the alien crumb kit in now for a week or so, saturday was the first day when I've had two full shoots going at my normal pace. [00:08:34] But with all of this new equipment on the upside, let's talk about the upside. The light that they give off is beautiful. And I remember now why I originally chose Elinchrom and why, even when I was using Profoto kit, I would still put Elinchrom modifiers back in to the mix. The light we're getting is just beautiful. [00:08:55] And it, it seems to play really well in our studio. Now, every studio is different. Every photographer's tastes and color profiles, are different. For me, for what I do in the space. I do it, there was a proper magic in the studio and it was, it's hard to describe, but I actually felt quite emotional. That said none of the kids did what I expected to when I expected it. One light turned itself off, eventually found the off timer. [00:09:27] There's a little timer in the settings. So I turned the two backlights off cause I needed to turn the two back lights off, which is fine. But when I powdered them back up again, they wouldn't register on the controller. The controller would trigger them. But it wouldn't read them. [00:09:40] So I had no idea. I. I've got literally thousands of pounds worth of kit in the studio and I'm doing what I used to do, which is to walk up to them and turn the dials on the back. Talk about old school. Maybe just, maybe I need to spend the day with the manual because I'm sure none of this is to do with the kit. [00:10:00] It's all to do with the operator. Again, thank you for putting up with the sound quality on that interview. I've got a load of those coming. It was a lot of fun. To do it and a huge amount of fun, lots of questions, or the same questions to lots of people. And there are some really quite interesting insights in there, but today's podcast. [00:10:19] I was going to talk about something different, but I had this email. That came in during the week and it just simply says the following. [00:10:26] Hi, Paul. I have just listened to the latest podcast. Congratulations on becoming an Elinchrom ambassador. I enjoyed hearing the story of you buying your first strobe and how it has led to you becoming a brand ambassador all these years later. I am probably in a very similar situation to where you were in 2003 i.e. Just thinking of buying my first strobe and I wondered which light you would recommend now. I've been looking at the Godox AD200 as I'm on a limited budget, but we'd love to hear your thoughts. [00:10:57] So there you go. Nice email from Steve and in the process of sitting and tapping a pencil on my teeth as I do. I have actually emailed him back and so this is in some senses a transcript of that email, but I thought it'd be an interesting podcast too. Chew on why you choose the kit. You do. So obviously when I'm going back to someone who asks a question like that, and we get these kinds of questions all the time, what camera, what lighting, what software. In the end. You have to make these decisions and they're all arbitrary, but you live with them for quite a long time. [00:11:33] So how would I go about today, choosing my first strobe? So I have to caveat all of this conversation, as you now know. With the fact that as a brand ambassador for it puts me in an interesting position. Of course, I want to recommend nothing but 'Chroms. Why would I do anything else? But of course, That doesn't suit everybody. [00:11:57] The budgets don't suit everybody. And even in my bag, my camera bag right now. I have a Nikon SB800. I have two Godox V1's. And coincidentally, two Godox AD200's. Because they're small, they do their job. The SB800 is then there because occasionally I want to have on-camera flash. Nikon, well, it plays better with Nikon the than it does with Godox. [00:12:21] So I've got that in there. Um, permanently with it's AA batteries, for those moments when I want to do an on-camera flash very often a direct flash, old school photo journalist style. Whether I'm doing a wedding or without doing something a little bit more commercial either way, but it's a very versatile rig. [00:12:38] And I, at the moment, I don't have an answer to how I'm going to change that. To step a little bit more into line with the Elinchroms. Now don't get me wrong at all. It was a proper emotional moment when I fired up the 'Chroms. Uh, for the first time in an, in anger, I suppose, as the expression, for two paying clients, as opposed to doing junior workshop. We're in a workshop, you have time to think. [00:13:01] So I have time to reset. I have time, to adapt when I'm working with a client, of course, it's quick fire. I had a two year old and a four year old in in the afternoon. And I had a dog in the morning, the knee, none of these are patient. You don't have time. So actually working them was app was brilliant, even if I'll be honest, I haven't quite got my arms around it. [00:13:24] So to answer the question, the AD200 is a really good light. So instead of saying, here's what, here's the right answer. Here's the kit you want? I posed some questions and here's the question list I went back to Steve with for him to answer. [00:13:41] Firstly, and most importantly, what is your budget? And then add 25%, possibly 50%. cause no matter what you think you needed, you're going to need more, whether it's spare batteries, whether it's modifiers to put on the front, whether it's a bracket, that'll put it onto a normal light stand, whatever it may be. You're going to need to add that on the AD200's very good, they're a little bit fiddly. But they are exceptionally. Good for what they do. [00:14:04] And even if, and even, sorry, not with, when I'm out there using my Elinchroms, I am sure that the AD200's will never be far away for little bits of fill light or effects lighting, when I need it. [00:14:16] Do the triggers. This is an important one about studio lighting in particular off-camera flashlight ING. Do the triggers for that system feel right to you? All too often, the bit that is missing from any money fractures lineup is the trigger. They're, they're made, they do their job, but they're not user-friendly. [00:14:34] And I have to say, even after however many years I was using the Profoto. synchro Air TTL. It was never my favorite trigger. I get frustrated with Godox as well is nine times out of 10 when I'm using a strobe, I'm using it in the dark. So what's the one thing I want to be lit up. [00:14:51] It's the buttons on the triggers. I. I know what I'm doing is really, I don't get how for a device that by definition, I'm going to use when the light levels are low. It really is difficult to use in low light levels. I just, yeah, just one of those things and it comes back a little bit. To what Lewis was saying about having the designers of these systems a little bit more transparent. [00:15:14] I'd love to have more designers, more designer input. Sorry, more photographers input into the design processes of some of this kit. Because actually we use it. We know where its weaknesses are. We know what is frustrating when we're down there in the dirt. Trying to get things sorted. [00:15:30] Next question. [00:15:31] What adapters will you need to get a modifier onto the light or will you always use a bare head flash? I asked this because if you're using an AD200 nothing fits it until he put a modifier, a bracket on it that will take. Whether it's Elinchrom, whether it's Profoto, whether it's Godox themselves. Any S- type for instance, an S- type modifier on to the front, but you are going to have to buy some additional brackets. To make that possible. [00:15:59] Are you going to expand the system? [00:16:01] So Steve's email asked. W I'm buying or stated I'm buying my first strobe. What would you recommend? And part of the puzzle is what are you going to do in the future? Is this just one strobe, in which case an AD200 is perfectly fine. Is it going to be part of a set and will it all be the same style? They're big for speed lights, but they're little for strobes AD200's of, I don't know if you've seen them. They sort of look. Sort of rectangular, like, I dunno. Couple of bars of chocolate. taped together. They're not very big. They're very rectangular and they're very good. [00:16:37] But will you always stay with this manufacturer? Are you going to buy into their system? Will you have a Godox controller? And then you'll add Godox studio lights Godox led lights Godox, more Speedlights what are you going to do? Because if you're going to stick with a system. Start with the system that ultimately you want to use. [00:16:57] What modifiers ultimately do you want to use? [00:17:00] Will it be umbrellas or boxes? Are they readily available and affordable. Of course, anything that clips onto an S type adapter, that's the old Bowens adapter, is really relatively speaking available and it's going to be not too expensive, because the manufacturers like good docs and picks was it picks a pro and a few of the others. [00:17:20] They're all adult. Adapting and adopting the S type. And it means you get access to really good quality budget kit. To bolt onto the front. Or, you know, like me, are you fascinated with really beautiful light? And it's not that those modifies don't create beautiful light, but for me, just using a kit, I want to feel good about it. So I've stayed. I've had, I've stayed pretty much with Elinchrom, um, throughout, even though. I was using pro photo strobes. [00:17:47] I was still using my old Elinchrom modifiers because they just lovely. Um, Is it. An additional question who inspires you? Maybe that's an obtuse question. But it's not a bad shout to have a look around. Photographers whose work you really like. And then it doesn't take long to go through their social feeds and figure out what they use. [00:18:10] Because if there's a look you're trying to create, there's a lighting quality it's going to try and create. I mean, in the end, you'll form your own lighting, your own designs, your own style. And that's absolutely right. But more often than not, when you're starting out you're using ideas from other people, you're looking at social feeds, you're looking at websites, you're looking in magazines as much as magazines. It's still a thing. [00:18:35] And you, you, the curiosity is peaked when you see a picture, you really like, and you're thinking, okay, how did they do that? It's never a bad idea to have a look at the kit they've used. And for us here in the studio, for instance, I will constantly look at images and try and figure out what lighting they've used. [00:18:52] But of course then actually our studio isn't that big, so I have to figure out a way round that. The good news is if you can figure out a way around it, you can use pretty much any kit. The bad news is there are some things I can't do. There's some lighting patterns. I simply don't have the space typically overhead to be able to do. But either way go and have a look at the people you really, really admire and are inspired by and have a look at their kit and see if that's something that might feed in to the conversation. [00:19:21] This is one of those techie dweeby things, but what is the battery life? And are you going to exceed it? And by battery life, I don't mean it, the total lifespan of the battery, I mean, is it going to go flat at the moment you really want to take a photograph and as such. How much are the spare batteries. [00:19:38] Some of these manufacturers that, you know, in additional batteries, 500, 600, 700 quid. And it's fine if you've got the money. But. You know, maybe that's just too much. Or would you, for instance, if you're only going to work in a studio, will mains power do you? Now here at the studio, I've taken a view to move away from mains, but for no, not because I want to take the strobes out on location necessarily, but because we have children running around, we have dogs running around and having mains cables is not ideal. [00:20:10] My Profoto B1's We're brilliant for that could keep them out of the way the kids, the tripods are all weighted down. There's no cables. The only downside is if I use the modeling lights, batteries are going to go flat pretty quickly. So have a look at the batteries and what strategy you're going to have for keeping things charged up during a day of shooting. [00:20:29] And then the final one I think was do you need modeling lights? If you're like me a photographer that uses modeling lights as your guide, how are you going to do that with something like the AD200 and although the manufacturer Godox do claim that it has a modeling light on it, it's really small. [00:20:45] It's not going to do you an all flood a good it's. Okay. If you're in a really dark space. And you just need to see what you're doing. It does. Okay. But it's not great. In my opinion from that, but if you don't need it, then that's absolutely, brilliant. So it's instead of answering really for Steve. [00:21:03] I don't know what he was expecting: buy that one. that'll be fine. What could go wrong? [00:21:07] I've opposed yet more questions. But I think this is how you choose your kit. And this goes across all types of kit. These are the types of questions. You need to ask yourself. And for me, I think the really important ones, the fundamental one. Is what is your budget? [00:21:23] Because in the end, particularly if like me, you, when you're living from it, You have to show a return on that investment for every bit of kit you buy over its lifespan. What is your budget? [00:21:36] The next thing you have to ask yourself is going to, is it going to do the job? I need it to do. Because as always, there's a thousand ways of doing everything. And every manufacturer will tell you their way is the right way. [00:21:50] And every manufacturer is absolutely right. But what do you do? You got to pick one in the end. [00:21:56] And that's the final question. [00:22:00] Do you want to pick it up and do you want to use it? And that's the most important question of all when it comes to being creative. Because if you don't utterly love using the kit, it land. In a box and that is a proper waste of money. You have to buy the kit that you love and that makes you want to create images. That, that there's no getting around that because if you don't buy something that makes you smile and makes you want to pick up your camera and create a picture, then you'll never use it. [00:22:31] And that really is, a waste of money. [00:22:35] So on that happy note, this is a shorter episode. I'm hoping to go back to my weekly recordings, but we'll see how we go. So far so good. I hope the little interview snippet with Louis at the beginning, was interesting is only short, but I thought he had a really nice way about him and a really intriguing Viewpoint on the industry and it's always interesting to talk to these guys. [00:22:55] As a thank you for him being recorded. I'm giving warehouse express a free plug. There's no arrangement here at all. I buy stuff from them. Much as I buy it from other suppliers too, but I really, I really rate warehouse expresses customer service. I have had. I'm sure if you troll around, you'll find people with different stories. But the story I have is they've always been exceptional. They've always delivered on time. They've always been good value. They are one of those companies where their customer service is rock solid and their stock levels also a pretty high. So if you want it, you can get it and you're going to get it when they say it will arrive. [00:23:33] So you can't say much better than that. So on that happy note, thank you for listening. Thank you for getting into the end of this particular episode and as always, please do subscribe to the podcast, wherever it is that you get your podcasts. Please also leave us a review. Oh, I'm one of the main platforms. [00:23:50] We love it when we see ratings and reviews on iTunes, because of course it is the biggest platform for podcasts of them all but wherever it is that you listen to your podcasts, please do leave us a review. Of course, if you ever have any questions, just like Steve did, please drop me a line. [00:24:06] It's paul@paulwilkinsonphotography.co.uk. That's paul@paulwilkinsonphotography.co.uk. Um, I did mention the workshops we're running. We're ramping those up just at the moment, having a blast. It's so much fun. We've had the nicest models and more importantly, the nicest attendees on our workshops, they're very friendly. [00:24:28] They're very funny. We have a really, just a good time laughing and taking or laughing and creating beautiful images. If you fancy one of our workshops, please head over to Paul Wilkinson photography and look for the coaching section or just Google paul Wilkinson photography workshops and you will land on them. Without a shadow of a doubt and head over to masteringportraitphotography.com, the spiritual home of this podcast. Which has a ton of resources for portrait photographers, whether it's about the creativity. The artistry, the enjoyment or the business of this wonderful art. [00:25:02] And until next time when I should be presenting yet another snippet from the photography show. , thank you for listening and be kind to yourself. Take care.
EP148 Clarity Is King | Don't Confuse Your Clients With Woolly Wording!
19-03-2024
EP148 Clarity Is King | Don't Confuse Your Clients With Woolly Wording!
Well, I'm back on the road with a microphone - but this time in my wife's nippy little Peugeot!     There are a so many aspects of customer service but one of them is how you explain what you're going to deliver and how you're going to do it and, given the stories in this episode, that is something that is very easy to get wrong!  Utlimately, clarity is king!   Cheers P. If you enjoy this podcast, please head over to Mastering Portrait Photography, for more articles and videos about this beautiful industry. You can also read a full transcript of this episode. PLEASE also subscribe and leave us a review - we'd love to hear what you think! If there are any topics, you would like to hear, have questions we could answer or would like to come and be interviewed on the podcast, please contact me at paul@paulwilkinsonphotography.co.uk.  Full Transcript: EP148 - Clarity Is King [00:00:00] So for those of you with sharp ears, you may have noticed that that does not sound like my regular Land Rover biscuit tin on wheels, and you'd be absolutely right about that. I shall tell you the slightly sorry tale of what's happened to my Land Rover, uh, later in the podcast. In the meantime, I'm heading up to the photography show in Sarah's car, which is, frankly, as nippy as hell. [00:00:26] It's like driving a go kart. It's tiny, it's quick, it's a lot of fun to drive. It's not my Land Rover, but hey, I'm Paul, and this is the Mastering Portrait Photography Podcast. [00:00:40] So hello one and all, it is a very, very wet Sunday here in the UK. It's one of those, it's one of those days when I look around me And everything looks monochrome. You. You wouldn't be certain if this was an entry in a photographic , competition, I'd be accusing the author of putting a, a plugin on it that has sucked the color, sucked the life outta the scene. The sky is well gray, the road gray, the walls. The trees and hedges as I drive past them, sort of a grey green. Even, even the bright yellow markers on the roundabout signs that I've just driven past are not iridescent yellow. They're sort of a dull ochre. [00:01:44] Everything about today, except for my mood, is grey. And actually, it's been a little bit of a mixed month. Now, I know I said at the beginning of the year, and this, I said also at the beginning of the year, You never set yourself. New Year's Resolutions, because they're impossible to live up to, and if you want to do something, just set out about doing it, whatever time of the year it is, just set about doing it. [00:02:05] I set about doing a podcast a week, and then crunched into some of the busiest couple of weeks, I think, I can remember, which I'm now, well, sort of surfacing from. It hasn't, it's not exactly clear As in, the diary isn't clear, there's a lot going on but there are also chunks like today when I'm gonna spend the best part of three hours sitting in a car. [00:02:26] Now I know three hours, to my American and Australian friends, is like driving down to Starbucks for a coffee. For us in the UK, that is not an insignificant amount of time. So I'm going to record a podcast or two and then maybe over the coming weeks I'll get back into the rhythm of it and get these things rolling. [00:02:44] But there is so much going on story of the Land Rover so let's deal with some of the slightly sadder news over the last couple of weeks or last month or so. It started with an accident. Excellent couple of days up with the BIPP, that's the British Institute of Professional Photographers, or Professional Photography up in Preston, and then had a great meeting and spent a lovely evening with the guys for, with Martin and the guys there. [00:03:12] Discussing things like the monthly competition, how we're gonna, promote it. It's been very successful so far but of course, there's plenty more we could be doing. And then on The following day, went across to record a podcast, went across with a friend and a photographer, Sean Conboy, to meet a photographer who I had never met personally, but knew about, a guy called Stuart Clark. [00:03:35] Now, Stuart is 97, nearly 98 years old, and one of the sharpest, most interesting photographers I think I've had the privilege of meeting. We sat in his lounge and recorded, probably about an hour and a half, I have a conversation about photography, his life in it, his history in it, the things he has seen change, and when I say the things he's seen change, I mean fundamentally, you know, he started on glass plate cameras, and is now in the digital age, I mean that's in one lifetime how far it's come. [00:04:11] Almost in one set of stories we've gone from the origins of photography, maybe not quite, there's a little bit before that of course, I mean it started in the 1850s. But you know, almost the origins of photography as we know it through to today, and it's a fascinating interview, and as much as anything else, just listening to his voice on the microphone, I sat at the beginning of this interview and we popped a microphone in front of him and I put some headphones on, and as he spoke, it was the most breathtaking sound, he's quite quietly spoken, But the mic, and the room, and the ambience, and the stories he was telling, I mean, it was electric in my headphones. [00:04:51] I actually gave the headphones over to Sean so he could have a listen, simply because it was so beautiful. I'll cut that down, it's just a long interview, and I need to just figure out how I'm going to share that. But it was a wonderful thing. Wonderful thing. And at the end of it, took a few portraits of the man with He said, oh, I've got all my cameras. [00:05:09] We said, oh, get them out, get them out. And of course, he went looking for them and couldn't find them in the attic. I mean, Sean and myself, slightly terrified that we've sent this 97 year old into his roof space to see if he can find a camera. Anyway, he eventually returned with a Raleigh, a TLR. [00:05:25] Twinlens, Reflex, Rolleiflex. Beautiful camera, and so I've got some pictures of him with that, so a little bit of his history. Anyway, roll o'clock forwards to that evening, I leave Leeds head down the M1, which is the in the UK, for, again, my listeners around the world. It's the motorway that runs straight down the middle. [00:05:44] of the UK connecting the north to the south. It connects all the way up to pretty well, it goes up to Scotland pretty much and then drops straight into London. And I was heading down the M1 when suddenly, 70 miles an hour, I'm in the fast lane, they, there is, there wasn't really a bang, but you felt this kind of thunk, and then the engine's vibrating, I can smell oil, oh man, the smell, it's, if you've owned cars for a while, And you've had them go wrong, you just know, when you can smell oil like that, there is nothing but trouble. [00:06:19] Coming I planted my foot on the brake pedal and manoeuvred my way across a couple of lanes of reasonably fast moving traffic. Sort of slan slapped it into the hard shoulder as quickly as I could, because if you're running an engine, You can smell oil, it's vibrating, the last thing you wanna do is keep going because you are at that point destroying what is left of your engine. [00:06:45] So I lifted the bonnet to have a quick look, just to make sure there wasn't anything obvious. Sure enough, there is oil everywhere. Engine's not good. That's not going. So, luckily, I say luckily, this is, it's my life. I spend my life in a car. And we have recovery, RAC recovery. So I rang the RAC. [00:07:04] They said they'd be there within an hour because I'm on, I'm in live, I'm on the edge of live traffic. This is the, probably the busiest motorway in the UK and I'm sitting on a hard shoulder in the pouring rain by now. And I keep getting the updates and, you know, it's like, it says it's going to be an hour, then it's an hour and a half, then it's two hours. [00:07:21] It's, it's four degrees, which is pretty chilly. It's raining and sleeting. So I've, thinking, well, I don't really, and this is a lesson, I don't have any rain gear in a car. Luckily, I had a couple of blankets in there that we use for, if I want to sit people, if I'm doing a shoot somewhere out and about, I've got it in the back of the car, just in case I need to sit somebody down on the ground. [00:07:41] So I wrapped myself in a pair of picnic blankets, sat under one of our wedding umbrellas. Luckily I got some battery packs so I could keep my iPhone charged up and sat and watch Netflix. And of course I'm watching the arrival time of the RAC and it keeps creeping out and creeping out. And eventually this orange van arrives he takes one look at the car, sticks his head under the bonnet and says yeah, you've blown your engine, that's not going anywhere. [00:08:04] I can't tow you, he tells me, because the limit for towing a car as heavy as the Defender is one mile, and I'm six miles from the next available exit. So, he says the next, they'll send the recovery vehicle, proper recovery vehicle out, and I say, well, am I supposed just to sit here in the rain then? And he says, yep. [00:08:24] And so, for the next couple of hours, yet again, I'm out in the rain, I keep my phone charged up, keep watching Netflix. It turns out Netflix, I like watching Netflix anyway, it's always on in the background while I'm editing. It turns out it's quite a useful distraction, because by the time the recovery vehicle turned up to actually put it onto the flatbed, the guy looked at me and he just said, Simply, get in the cab, get warm. [00:08:47] I could barely move, my legs were shaking, I was beginning to get hypothermic. You stay out of the car for safety reasons, but I'm beginning to think it was more dangerous being not in the car than it was being in the car, which is an absolute nightmare. He had to open the door for me, my hands were so cold I could barely pull the handle. [00:09:04] I climbed into the cab, which turned out to be like a sauna, and sat and defrosted as he hitched up the car. and took me halfway home. Yeah, halfway. Because I was so far away, they couldn't drive me all the way back to home. So of course I'm in touch with Sarah, I've told her what's going on. They parked me at Northampton Services where they're going to send another recovery vehicle out for me. [00:09:27] And again, it says it's going to be an hour and a half. And I wait and I watch as the time increases, two hours, three hours, four hours. It's not clear, they never, they're never clear about how long it's going to take. And they, they deliberately obfuscate, I think, so that you can't say, well you said you'd turn up then. [00:09:44] They give you a range and then they keep telling you the range is creeping out. And, apart from the gas, I'm not the only person that needs recovering. And the driver did give me a. a heads up. He said to me as he left, he said, you might be a while because you're no longer in live traffic, so you're no longer in danger. [00:10:02] You're just sitting in a services. Now I would agree with him about the danger bit, but sitting in Northampton services at what were we now? Sort of midnight, 11 o'clock I think I arrived there. Maybe 10. 30 we arrived. And it's not a place you'd want to sit. There's nobody else around. Then luckily for me, I have a, you know, guilty pleasure in McDonald's and KFC and things. [00:10:23] Can't help myself, the smell of it. And I thought, I'll get myself a McDonald's. And so I got, I did, I got myself a burger. Some coffee and some chips, and sat chewing on those. And within two minutes of me buying it and getting it, I noticed that McDonald's had changed their sign. The big signs outside say that it's open 24 hours. [00:10:43] Big sign. McDonald's. 24 hours. Five minutes after I buy my burger, they put up signs that say, Sorry, only serving coffee. So that's not Open. That's not, that's a complete breach of contract as far as I'm concerned. They said they'd be, I'm thinking it's alright, I'll just get a burger and if I need one in a few hours I'll get another one. [00:11:02] Nope, none of that. I could get a coffee but couldn't get a burger in spite of the sign saying 24 hours. I'm gonna come back to this point because it's quite important for us as photography businesses. Anyway, I'm sitting there. The great and good of those that probably need a little bit of help from mental support and social services came and went, came and went, came and went. One or two drug deals were going on out in the car park. I don't know how, the police don't spot it. You can see it a mile away. So it's a fairly lonely thing. So I recorded a podcast. I recorded what was going to be this podcast. I got my recorder because it was in the car. [00:11:37] Obviously, I'd been recording with Stuart. And so I sat and I recorded a pretty, I think it was a pretty good, quite emotive podcast, I sat clutching my coffee because obviously that's now all that McDonald's was serving. It's fairly lonely except for the rantings of one chap who was telling me all about his relationship with the Queen. [00:11:57] I don't think he was very well, if I'm honest. I also don't think he was sober. So I recorded this, what I think was a rather excellent podcast, very Radio Four very radio documentary, you know, lots of background sounds and lots of life real life going on. And at the end of it, I sat back and thought to myself, that, that is going to be an excellent podcast, and I noticed that I hadn't hit the record button. [00:12:23] I was just so tired by now and a bit stressed. just forgot to do it. And so that was the end of that really, and I never, I didn't have the heart to do it again, even though I did have the time, because I was there for another couple of hours. I think in the end I waited there for four hours front to back. [00:12:39] Recovery vehicle, the phone rings, he says, I'm here, but where are you? And I look across six lanes of moving traffic, and he's on the other side of the motorway. Heading North. So, I'm heading South, so I have to direct him somewhere. Surely the guys have told you where I am, and they had, but not very well. [00:12:58] And he had to drive up to the next junction, turn around and come back and pick me up. And then, on it goes, and, and, we drop the car, I nominate to drop the car at our next stop. The guys that service it, my local, well it's not local, it's about 10 miles away, but the garage that services the Land Rover on a regular basis. [00:13:15] I dropped it in there lay by, switched on the immobiliser, locked it all up and Sarah picked me up and I got home at just about quarter past four in the morning. Now having left Leeds at about Two in the afternoon to get home at four in the morning was, well, a little bit heartbreaking. By now I was fairly fed up, fairly cold, incredibly tired, and I knew I had to wake up really early to let the guys know at the garage they've got a service to land over and also to get on with our day that was already in the diary. [00:13:49] So rang up the garage the next day, he didn't sound at all surprised. I'm glad to hear from me having spotted my Land Rover and he knows If the Land Rover's there, it needs something doing. And, obviously I got the engine, I went over, I got the engineer out to have a look at it, and even he rubbed his chin a bit. [00:14:05] And the only good news was there was still oil in the engine, which gives you hope. If there's oil in the engine, you haven't seized it. That's the good news. Anyway, 24 hours later, I get a ring from the engineer who says Found the problem, you've got a hole in Piston 2. Now, I don't, I'm not a mechanic, but I've been around engines all my life, and I know that if you hear the line, you've got a hole in Piston 2, you're in trouble. [00:14:33] And so it has proved to be, because to get a piston out to replace it, you have to take the entire engine apart. There's no getting away from it. The engine has to basically be dismantled, almost certainly taken out and put back in. Or in a Land Rover, they can actually lift the bodywork and service the engine on the chassis, but it depends what they're doing. [00:14:53] On this, I haven't asked the guys, I haven't been back to get it yet, and this is three weeks ago. So, So he explained to me that if an injector is maladjusted and is running a little bit rich, the additional heat from the fuel burns a hole through the aluminium. And I said, well, should I have done something? [00:15:08] And he said, no, there's no way of knowing. It's just not something that you could detect. And it's something that used to go wrong a lot. He hasn't seen it for a while with the later engines, but this one, he said, we used to see this quite a bit. For the past three weeks, they have been replacing the hole or replacing the pixel. [00:15:22] Piston with the hole in it in my Land Rover. I got a phone call yesterday, Saturday, but unfortunately I was in a shoot, and this is how the phone call went. He said, We've road tested your Land Rover. It's ready to drive. You can come and pick it up, but please bring your piggy bank with you. I kid you not, he used the phrase, bring Piggybank with you. [00:15:43] So I couldn't pick it up yesterday, can't pick it up today, can't pick it up tomorrow because I'm running a workshop, so I'll go over on Tuesday. I still don't know how much it is because the garage hasn't told me, in spite of me asking because it's a labour led cost. So the parts have been 1000 plus VAT, I know that much. [00:16:01] The labour is 75 an hour and I reckon, he reckoned it was 4 5 days work. So I know I'm in it for quite a large amount of outlay. Unplanned, bad time of year. I've got to find, who knows, anywhere between four and seven thousand pounds, who knows. So again, no clarity. Something I'm gonna come back to. [00:16:27] However, rest of the week, not so bad. And Another story. I think about podcasts, right? I could just tell you the facts, but it wouldn't be that much fun to listen to. Well, I don't think it would be fun to listen to. I wouldn't listen to it. 20 years ago, and I only know this because I picked up the light that I still have and looked at the Flash Center's service and and Quality Assurance sticker on it, and the light I bought second hand was serviced by the Flash Centre in 2003. [00:17:00] There's a sticker on it, and I remember going to the Flash Centre in London, scratching my chin, and I can't remember the guy's name, he's still in the industry, he doesn't work with the Flash Centre anymore and I, he said, can I help? And I said, yes, I want my first strobe, please. He said, I said, I'm happy to buy second hand, I don't know whether this is something I'm gonna do, but Would you recommend? [00:17:20] And we looked at the shelves, and, and, if you've ever been to the Flash Centre in London, it was brilliant. It wasn't a posh shop. It was, in some ways, it was like the drum shops I used to go to when I was a working musician, and it's just got racks and racks and racks of stuff. You know, there'd be a posh rack somewhere with all of the new bits and pieces from then, Bowens and Elinchrom, but then there'd be sort of, you know, Shelves and cupboards with interesting little bits of second hand kit and cabling and softboxes and umbrellas And it was brilliant and I was like toy a kid in a sweet shop And he said I think this would do you and he lifted off the shelf a second hand Elinchrom 500 so that's an Elinchrom 500 as this is a A strobe but it's got the old school analog sliders on it. [00:18:09] There were two sliders, one that controlled the strobe power, and one that controlled the power to the modeling light. And if you wanted them to stay the same, you move the sliders together. The slider's been designed to be close together, so you move them up and down, which, to me, having worked on audio mixing desks for concerts in the music industry, was absolutely brilliant. [00:18:32] Perfect. It was absolutely brilliant because I knew, it felt completely natural. Now, of course, one of the things was you never had the same Bower twice. It was already a second hand light when I bought it, and not a new one. So, whenever you set the lights in the studio, you had to reset your aperture to suit. [00:18:51] Because the things, it didn't matter. It didn't matter that you put a mark against the sliding scale. The sliders were so worn that lighting power would go up and down all the time. But it was metal cased. It's got a fan. It was quite loud. It's quite loud. And I bought that light. I. I bought a big tripod and I bought an Octabox, a six foot Octabox. [00:19:14] That was the three things I bought. A tripod, an Elecrom 500, an Elecrom tripod, Elecrom six foot Octa. Took it home and for the next year or two, practiced lighting. It wasn't part of our business for quite a long time because I never really had the space to do it. At that time I didn't have a studio. [00:19:34] I just knew that was the road we were going to go down, or I thought I might go down. But I didn't understand studio lighting, and so I needed time to get my shit together. So, I used to practice, I bought a polystyrene head, so there's a shop in London called the London Graphic Centre, which sell stuff. They sell art pens and graphics and it's two glorious floors of anything you can think of to be creative. It's absolutely fantastic. And in there, for some reason, they sold polystyrene heads. I don't know what they're for. You know, if they were in a hat shop, I'd understand it. If they were in a wig shop, I'd understand it. [00:20:14] In a graphics shop? I've no idea. What do you do? Sit with your pen in your hand looking at a fictitious head going, What do you think of this? Having a conversation with Polybeads, and I don't know. Anyway, I bought one. It was like three pounds or something. Carved out the eyes like something from a CSI episode. [00:20:31] I got a penknife, carved out the eyes, got a couple of big glass marbles, and shoved them in. I mean, it was quite macabre, but if ever, I'm found out to be a psychopathic, sociopathic, you know, mass murderer. Everyone will go back to this head and say, Well, we could see it then. Look what he did to the eyes. [00:20:49] But I popped those in because what I wanted to understand was how I move light around, what happened to the face, And what happened to the reflections in these glass marbles? It was just a very simple way of me being able to, without having models, because I didn't have a reputation back then, I didn't have a client base back then, I didn't have a steady stream of people that would come to the house to be photographed, but I needed to understand it. [00:21:15] So this polystyrene head, with its macabre eyeballs, was my go to. I stuck it, I skewered it, like Queen Elizabeth would have done. And off with the head, I said! I skewered it on a pole of some description and stuck it in the middle of the room. And, that's how I learned to light. It was all with this Elinchrom 500, the, the, this brilliant bit of light, and I still own it. [00:21:40] I still have it, it's still in the attic, unfortunately the tube was blown, you can actually see that there's black in there. The rest of it I'm sure still works so if I actually sent it back for a replacement tube, I could probably get it working again. I don't know that I will maybe I will, maybe I will, because the footnote to this story is that last week, Elinchrom asked me if I would be an ambassador. [00:22:03] for them. Now, this comes off the back of a conversation where I'd looked at the Elinchrom lighting at the London the Society's Convention of Photographers in London, and got chatting to the guys, Simon Burfoot and the, and the guys, uh, at Elinchrom, people I've known for quite a long time. He used to work at the Flash Sensor, he's now looking after Elinchrom, so I got to chatting to him about the lights had a look over the product, had a look at what they're producing, both in terms of the technology, in terms of the roadmap in terms of the light that these things produce, and the light has the same quality that I remember with my Elinchrom 500. [00:22:38] Now the thing is, if you look at the cover of the box, Book, Mastering Portrait Photography. That was shot in a study in somebody's house with my very first light. It was shot with my Elinchrom 500, my 6 foot Octa, which was wedged in because the ceiling was only just 6 foot, so we had to wedge this thing in on its tripod in their room with some black velvet behind. [00:23:01] Pinned to the curtain rail, and it's still, to this day, one of my favourite ever shots. And, when you go to Elinchrom, one of the things I've always loved about them is the colour accuracy of the tube. Now, every time you ignite um, Xenon in a tube, it gives off a very particular light. For all sorts of reasons with the, to do with the design of the circuitry and the light, getting that right is really important. [00:23:26] And Elinchrom have always had this really beautifully consistent quality of light out of the units. Now I moved away from Elinchrom about six, seven years ago, I think to Profoto for the simple reason that And maybe it's a bit longer, but for the simple reason that when I went looking for a battery powered, rather than a mains powered monoblock. [00:23:48] Now a monoblock strobe is simply when everything is in the head, as opposed to a battery pack and the small flying heads. I didn't want that. I wanted something that was self contained. I wanted something with a battery. I wanted something with no cabling. And so when I went to Elinchrom at that time, they didn't do anything. [00:24:04] I think even now I have eight Elinchrom lights up in the attic. And I had to retire them because I went over to ProPhoto who produced the B1. The B1 is an excellent light. It's brilliant. There's, you know, it did everything and has done everything that I would ask of a light over the years. Beautiful kit, beautiful lighting, beautiful modifiers. [00:24:26] They're having said that I've kept all of my Elinchrom soft boxes because the Rotalux system is the best in the world and I still prefer it to my Profoto stuff. But nonetheless, you know, there's no doubting the quality of the Profoto units, and there's no doubting that I've created some images that I really like with it, But I've never felt the same nostalgia as I have with Elinchrom. And so when Elinchrom showed me their kit at the convention, it's you know what, I would absolutely love, love to switch back. It's about time that I thought about it. And so I asked the guys if I could get a price on a full rig of kit, switch over to Elinchrom and it went a little bit quiet if I'm honest. [00:25:12] I'd sent the email, I'd listed out what I wanted and then I got a quick message saying was I around the other morning, could they pop into the studio and come and see us, and Simon and Mark from Elinchrom popped into the studio, had a look around, and during that conversation asked if I would be an ambassador for Elinchrom. So for the first time in quite a long time I got a little bit emotional about kit. I do get attached to kit. Even though the Profoto stuff is brilliant, I've never felt that way about that. But with Elinchrom, it was that first light. It was that first moment that I learned to read and and understand Studio Lighting. [00:25:54] And to be asked to be an ambassador is, it has a couple of angles on it. I mean, the first and most important is that what an honor, you know, this is a lighting company who I have so much of an emotional connection with, and here I am 20 years after buying my very first secondhand light, here I am as an ambassador for them. [00:26:17] So I'm quite emotional about that. But also the kit is so. Phenomenal. There's something about the way it works, the way it operates. It feels like photographers designed it for photographers. So, I'm very happy. They've lent me some kit at the moment. Now, I have a bit of a challenge tomorrow. Tomorrow, I'm running a workshop. [00:26:35] It's a workshop. All around, using studio lighting of various types in small spaces. Because if you go out into location, you very often end up in a boardroom or a kitchen. Well, the other day we ended up in a storeroom for computer equipment. It was quite bizarre where we were working. And you have to very quickly read the room, figure out what you're gonna do, and create something. [00:26:59] Magical from it. So, that's what we're doing tomorrow. And of course, it's premised on using my strobes. Now, understandably and I suppose predictably, Elinchrom are not that keen that I continue to use Profoto kit, my Profoto lighting for my workshops. So at 9. 30 tomorrow morning on the day of workshop, I am expecting a delivery of a whole load of Elinchrom kit that I'm going to actually then use for the training day. [00:27:33] Interesting, huh? It's a good job that not only did I learn to use light, but I'm really quick to get my head round the technology. Now they did leave me the other day with an Elinchrom 5 and an Elinchrom 3. And fortunately I have a trigger. I have a dedicated Elinchrom trigger anyway. Bye! From some Rotolight kit, which also uses, thankfully Elinchrom radio telemetry. [00:28:00] So, I've got the, I've got the Elinchrom trigger. Now, as an aside, here's a little bit of detail, right? This is just a bit of detail. It doesn't, it has no bearing on anything, really. My Profoto dedicated Nikon trigger. The something or else, something or else. Is it AirTTL, TTL, TTL? Unit. If I leave the batteries in it, it goes flat in about 10 days, even if it's switched off. [00:28:25] I pulled the Elinchrom trigger out of its box, having not used it as a trigger in probably three years, forgot that I'd left the batteries in there, which is a dreadful thing to do, never leave batteries in kit when you store it, but I had, so I hit the power button thinking, oh, that's not gonna work. Nope, fired up instantly. [00:28:43] There is a joy when you're When someone designs kit properly, there is a joy in it. This Elinchrom trigger has had those batteries in it for as long as I can remember. I can't remember the last time I used it as a trigger, and it fired up instantly. I know for a fact my Profoto unit would have been dead in 10 days. [00:29:02] And as designers of kit, this is a plea to everybody who designs for our beautiful industry. It's for good. Goodness sake, think this stuff through properly. You know, if you're going to turn something off, it shouldn't be draining enough current to flat a pair of AAA's in 10 days. It just shouldn't. [00:29:21] Because many of us don't pick up our triggers in those kinds of time frames. Many of us would just be out, you know, location photographers that use the strobes intermittently. So think about that. Think about how, um, The kit is going to be used in design. Even the circuitry has to be designed in a way that makes sense. [00:29:40] You know, Elinchrom, this unit, it's been in its box. It's still boxed. It's been in its box for a few years. Powered it up because I'd forgotten to take the batteries out. Nope, quite happy. Right, where do I go? Downloaded the new firmware because it's so old that It doesn't actually know about or didn't know about 3. [00:29:57] They weren't on its list of recognized Elenchrom lighting. Connected it up, and off it went. Just genius. That's I'm sorry though, that is an aside. Anyway, tomorrow morning, tomorrow morning, I've got a handful of delegates we've got a room full of people, a couple of models, and some lights that I have never ever seen. [00:30:13] ever used in anger. It's going to be an exciting day. Other good news this week so that's, I mean that is my good news this week, but other good news this week is that I finally managed to get our broadband account sorted out. We live in funny times my broadband contract had come up a little while ago with BT. [00:30:32] Um, I've got both the house and the studio are on the same contract because primarily we use it. all of the bandwidth for when I'm working, and I like to be able to work from home a lot. And we're paying, I don't know, I think nearly, I think we're paying 300 quid a month for the two. So I'd rung BT a couple of weeks ago and said, right, it's time to renew because I'm out of contract. [00:30:53] I will stay with BT although there are other providers in the village now, their reputation is awful, so I can't build my business on that. And while BT might be a little bit dull. They're also the most reliable. This is British Telecom. It used to be British Telecom. Isn't it interesting how a brand evolves to be known as BT? [00:31:12] But it has to have such a long history. You know, if you say BA, we know we're talking about British Airways. If you say BT, you know you're talking about British Telecom. You know, I've no idea in any more what ICI Stands for, we know what it does though. Interesting to see if the BIPP, the BIP, or the British Institute of Professional Photography can evolve the same way. [00:31:33] Time will tell. Anyway, BT, so I rang them up spent the best part of half a day on the phone because you have to. I'm sorry, we're experiencing a very high volume of calls at the moment. Your call is important, and we will get back to you as soon as we can. Yeah, right. There's only, there's one call handler, but I have no idea, but there's certainly not enough. [00:31:52] So anyway, I got through a long conversation, got both contracts more or less nailed, or the one contract with both lines more or less nailed, and our bill came down by two thirds. My speed went up, I'm on a digital line, my bill came down. You have to think, maybe I was being stitched before, or maybe I built a bad contract before, but anyway, that was half a day well spent. [00:32:15] So, and it's, I mean, it's like, you know, it's 300 quid a month, or was. It's now for the two lines, 100 quid a month and I've got gigabit down, 100 megabit up, and life is pretty good. But the delivery cycle of it, I've no idea. I mean, I get random boxes, I get random texts from DHL, or FedEx, or Royal Mail, as to what's going to arrive when, it's I couldn't make head nor tail of it. [00:32:39] Sarah said, when are they connecting us? Well, I've got this date, Monday the 11th. Okay, Monday the 11th, that's brilliant. Monday the 11th, that's when they're going to connect everything up. Monday the 11th. Right, are we sure about that? Yeah, Monday the 11th, I've got an email here. Monday the 11th. F Thursday, before that, what's that, 11th, 10th, 9th, 8th, so Thursday the 7th, I get I walk into the office 10 o'clock, and Michelle says, phone line's dead, and I'm like, can't be dead. [00:33:05] Why would it be dead? I look at the hub for the broadband, the broadband's working okay, but no telephone, and they say, oh, you are kidding me. They've switched it over four days early. Now, I'd had some text saying the engineer was working on our line, and the engineer had completed his work, but at no time, at no time, did it tell me which of the two lines were being affected and what they'd done. [00:33:30] So I rock up on Thursday to find no telephone. Now, again, fortunately, we'd had the digital phones arrive. They were in their boxes, but I hadn't set anything up yet because I had been told it was all going to happen on Monday the 11th of March. Have I got those dates right? Yeah, I'm sure it's Monday the 11th of March. [00:33:49] Monday whichever day it was, only the Monday of March. And, so I'm very frantic, because at this point, anybody that rings us up isn't going to get through. I didn't know even if we had voicemail because I got, none of it is done as far as I'm concerned. So we rattly, a bit of a rattly morning as I sort of ripped out the old phones, put in these new digital lines, logged in, set it all up, got admin rights, because of course it's basically VoIP is nothing more than Zoom without pictures. [00:34:18] So. And I got all of that set up and all of it is now working, but it got me thinking, and here we go. This is the point of this bit of this podcast. Now, I don't know whether the second half of the podcast is gonna be the second half of this podcast as I drive back from the photography show or whether I'm gonna release that as an entirely self-contained episode. [00:34:39] I guess it depends how much news I find at the photography show. But let's assume. This is a self-contained driving to the NEC Podcast, and it's done. This is the point of this podcast. I've told you three stories, okay? I've told you about the RAC, I've told you about the garage, and I've told you about British Telecom. [00:34:59] All of these have been suppliers that I would say on the whole, I rate pretty highly, the RAC. They've got me out of a pretty horrible situation. I pay money for that. By the way. It's not like they're, they're definitely not a charity. It's not the NHS, but. They rescued me when I needed it. Admittedly, they weren't clear about when and how, and it took quite a long time, but I'd have been in a lot of trouble if I couldn't have got off that motorway, and the car was undriveable. [00:35:26] Our garage. I know they fixed it because they always fixed it. But I do wish they'd be clear. I do wish they'd tell me how much, to the best of their knowledge, it's going to cost me. I don't like obfuscation. I don't like not knowing how long it's going to take. They've had the car for three weeks to do a week's worth of work. [00:35:44] Again, I know they've had to order parts. In a sense, I'm an experienced buyer. And then there's BT, who They told me certain things and then did them in a different order on different dates and put me into a flat spin when they disconnected the phone line to my business. All of these are quite important. [00:36:04] It's about clarity. It's about being clear with your client. It's about When you say you're going to do something, you do it. Now there is a theory about under promising and over delivering. So being, having things connected early, in theory, should be a good thing. But it's only a good thing if your client's ready for it and their new phone's ready. [00:36:25] If they're not, what you've basically done is disable part of their business for part of a day. Clarity is really important. For me, even now, I go back through the BT, various texts and emails, and even I After the event, couldn't tell you exactly what was supposed to happen, and the order. I still have some stuff to do, I still have to send some kit back, but, because I've got these two lines into two different buildings being contracted at the same time, none of the emails make sense, because they send both emails, or rather they send emails for both lines, on the same contract number. [00:37:02] It's never clear exactly what is going on. It's not clear. that some kit is going to work and some kit is not going to work. It's not clear quite what should have
EP147 Image Competitions: The Only Way To Fail Is To Fail To Enter
23-02-2024
EP147 Image Competitions: The Only Way To Fail Is To Fail To Enter
Yay! Other than a crappy cold, a very good week.  Won a Gold Bar with the Guild Of Photographers a couple of days ago which got me to thinking about competitions: why we do them, how to do them and the fear of failure (when in fact, the only failure is to not enter at all!) There are one or two other things to bear in mind and I step through them in the podcast. Enjoy! Cheers P. If you enjoy this podcast, please head over to Mastering Portrait Photography, for more articles and videos about this beautiful industry. You can also read a full transcript of this episode. PLEASE also subscribe and leave us a review - we'd love to hear what you think! If there are any topics, you would like to hear, have questions we could answer or would like to come and be interviewed on the podcast, please contact me at paul@paulwilkinsonphotography.co.uk.  Full Transcript: [00:00:00] I'm really sorry, it's just been one of those weeks. I have spent three days, three whole days at home feeling ill and mostly grumpy. Sorry, I don't take to being poorly particularly well. Whatever Michelle and Sarah had last week. Of course, I inherited it this week. It turns out that the word viral is not a joke. [00:00:25] It's just a cold, really, but it's been quite a horrible one. It hit my chest straight away, and I just felt awful, and if I'm honest, after three days off work this evening is the first time I've really felt sort of compos mentis. I've spent three days sitting in the lounge with the fire on. It's been cozy enough, but I've, I hate being unproductive. [00:00:46] I hate not getting through the lists that I've got to do. I hate the idea that I've wasted three days, but in the end, that had to be done. So as I sit here next to the fire watching back to back episodes of Law Order, I'm Paul, and this is the Mastering Portrait Photography Podcast. [00:01:07] [00:01:20] So I hope you're all feeling a little bit better than me, and in terms of the catch up of the week, well, I can't really say that I've done that much out of the seven days or so. Three of them have been spent laid up doing very little. Obviously, I'm still doing some coding, writing emails, and an awful lot of judging has been flowing through my world. Not this time, not just as a judge or as a chair of judges but also as a contestant. It's been an interesting time. [00:01:47] So, I judged for the FEP this week, the first of the final rounds of their annual image competition. I'm one of the judges on the portrait category. [00:01:58] 647 images, I think, were there to judge. And if you think about that as a volume of judging and all of our, all of the judges. Whether it's for the BIP that I chair for, whether it's for the SWPP, the Societies, whether it's for the Guild, whether it's for the FEP, the World Cup, it doesn't really matter what the judging is. [00:02:19] It takes time and we do it for nothing. Well, I say nothing. We don't do it for nothing, but we do it for free. And so, if you think about all of that, 647 images. If I went at it hell for leather and judged one image per minute with no breaks, that's still basically 11 hours of judging, which is an awful lot when you think about it. [00:02:45] And yet, we put ourselves through it. And I do it because I really enjoy it. I really love the process, I love seeing the images, though there is some disappointment when we're judging and the images haven't come up to standard. But, nonetheless, it's cathartic, it's inspiring, it's very therapeutic, it's quite a rhythmical sort of thing to do. [00:03:04] And I really love it. [00:03:06] On top of that, if that wasn't enough, the results to the BIPP monthlies came out the first BIPP monthly round. So this is a new competition for us. We've set it up to run parallel to the print competition, which opens up in sort of June time and it's judged in September. And they run side by side and they are different beasts. [00:03:27] So the print competition, exactly what it says on the tin. Submit your prints in the category. Best print wins each category. That's it. Very simple to do. The monthlies are not that. The monthlies have been designed. [00:03:41] to reward consistency as much as really high quality inspirational work. With a print competition, you only need to shoot one image, and depending on what everybody else shoots, you could end up with the title of the print image of the year, the portrait print of the year, the wedding print of the year, whatever it is. [00:04:00] With the monthlies, it's been designed not to be quite like that. The monthlies It's about consistency more than it is about that one high scoring image. That's not to say that a high scoring image isn't a thing to be treasured and will get its accolades, but what we've done is design a competition at the BIPP, which is Sorry, the BIPP is the B I P P, the British Institute of Professional Photographers. [00:04:27] So we've designed a competition that runs for 10 months of the year. And we take, for every photographer, the top scoring image of theirs in each category. So it doesn't matter how many images you, you enter, that's irrelevant. Each month, we're going to take, for that photographer and each category they've entered, their top scoring image. [00:04:47] And over seven of the ten months, we're going to accumulate those scores. So you have the opportunity, if you wish, to take three months off. So you have ten months, take three months off if you wish, seven months. So your top seven scores for each category will be accumulated. So your top seven scores in portraits per month. [00:05:09] So in January Portrait. You enter five, we take the top one. February. You enter five in Portraits again, we still take the top one. And that's, that's two of your scores sorted. And the reason we're doing it that way is that each photographer in the BIPP gets one free entry every month. [00:05:28] So you have for free the ability to enter and win the monthly's competition for the year without laying out a single cent. All you have to do is find the time at the end of every month to pop in a high quality competition level image, upload it, put your name in, Bob's your uncle, Fanny's your aunt, off you go, you're done. [00:05:47] And you could win it. [00:05:48] So what amazes me, and there's a point to this story, not only is this how it works, but the point is, why don't more people enter? We had lots of entries, but it's not everybody, and I can never quite get my head around why, if it's free, and you have the opportunity to create some great PR, I'm looking at the PR on Facebook this week, and on various websites and Instagram, and people are really celebrating their success in all of the monthlies, not just the BIPs, and it's brilliant, and that's what it's designed for. It's designed to give photographers the opportunity to have something to celebrate and to share with their clients. This is, in the end, about clients. I think too often in the industry we think about it as being about, it's about photographers, and it's not really. [00:06:31] It's about our clients. And the monthlies create every 30 days or so, the opportunity to share success with your clients and you can do it for free. So why, with the thousands of members do we have, do we not have every photographer entering? [00:06:48] Still can't get my head around that and if you think I don't put my money where my mouth is. [00:06:54] This month, I did enter as I have done for the past year, I entered the Guild Monthlies competition. Obviously, I can't enter the BIPP competition, because I'm chairing the judging. So I entered the Guild, and this month, for the first time since I've been entering it, I got a gold bar, which is nearly the top standard. [00:07:12] It's not the top standard. The top standard is Platinum. But nobody's won a Platinum yet, so I'm happy with that. I got a gold and won an image of the month. Now, that's not the point of this story. It's not really to brag. Though I am really pleased with myself because it's an image I took of I think it's the bass player from the band The Sweet. [00:07:31] He was very cool. He was in our studio. It was just a normal session shot I took for him. all for the band. And I decided to try it, enter it as a competition, and see how we go. I think the point is that I entered. I gave it a go. Now, people get really nervous about entering competitions, and I don't really understand why. [00:07:51] Now, you know my views on this. Competitions are not the best way to hone your skills, because you get no feedback, and even if you produce the best image of your life If your competitor has produced the best image of their life, they may just win. and give you nothing really, no, certainly no winning image to celebrate. [00:08:13] Also, you know, with the judging process, you don't know how you're going to do. Every photographer enters an image thinking they stand a chance. But judging is what it is. We've got to rank all of the images and who knows? Maybe it doesn't do as well as you'd expect. And people take that really personally. [00:08:30] I take it really personally. But the difference is I still do it. I just don't tell anybody I'm doing it. I do it quietly. And the images that succeed, well, I celebrate those and we publish them. And Sarah in particular loves it because it gives her an opportunity to talk to our clients and put out some PR. [00:08:47] And she's been doing that all day since the result came out yesterday, which is fantastic. So, I give it a go, I do it. I don't always do that well, if I'm honest, and judges typically, they, there is a correlation between the judges and success in competitions, but it's nowhere near as marked as you'd think it is. [00:09:08] And you can see this while we're judging. So if I'm chairing a panel of judges, you'll see marks from each judge fluctuate quite widely. So a challenge is triggered when one judge's mark is 10 away from the average decision. So whatever the judges came up with, we take the average, and if one or more of those judges is 10 marks different, we have a challenge. [00:09:29] And we have plenty of challenges, which tells you quite a lot about the fact that every judge has things that they are looking for, and if the image that is in front of them doesn't have it, they won't score it as highly. Equally, if it does have those things, they will score it highly. There is volatility in scoring. [00:09:46] You cannot use print or image competitions. as a measure of you as a person, or you as a business, you as a creative, but when you do win, celebrate it. When you don't win, well, you have to figure out what to do with that. The great thing about a monthly competition is that there is the opportunity for at least a little bit of learning. [00:10:10] because you don't have to wait for a year to try again, you can just wait four weeks. Re enter some more images, keep an eye on what comes back, what gets into the bronze, silver or gold. If you haven't quite made it across the line, what makes it into the the commended, which is what we have at the BIP. I don't know what the other societies do for those things, but everybody has a sort of way of doing it. [00:10:31] So the trick is, celebrate your wins, keep your losses to yourself, and then there's a whole load of pressure removed for you. So It is slightly different in in the monthlies. So, back on, I'm gonna bang on this drum. If you haven't entered into one of the monthlies, into any association you're part of, why not? [00:10:52] What's stopping you? Think about it. What is actually stopping you? It's almost certain, almost certainly rather, a fear of not doing well. Well, I enter them every month, I tell you when I've done well, and I keep it very quiet when I haven't. And I'm still amazed at how few people do it. And with the BIPP, every entry is £5, but you get one entry for free. [00:11:15] And with the BIP, every image is £5 a go. But you get one for free. So that's a value of £5. So if you had entered 10 months of the year, that's £50 worth of free entries. [00:11:27] Who's going to turn down 50 quid over the year? And the value of the opportunity to talk to your clients is priceless. Now you can argue you might not win, and that's true. I don't. But when I do do well, I will share it. When I don't do well, quiet. I just keep it nice and quiet. [00:11:45] So the results came out for the Guild yesterday, so they're on the 21st, and the closing date for the Guild is at the end of the month, so it's a leap year, so it's the 29th of Feb. So I've got about somewhere between 8, 9, 10 days every month between the results to the previous month coming out and the new round to choose what I'm going to put in. [00:12:06] I know I'll keep entering and I know I'll keep learning and I will keep being surprised at what does well and what doesn't even though as a judge and as a chair of judges very often I'm in the position of determining that and even having just judged the portrait group for the FEP, the Federation of European Photographers, I can tell you now when the second round comes back to me in a couple of weeks I lay a bet. The images that come back will not be in the same order as I pick them out. That's life. I'm working with judges from all over Europe, I'm working with people of different tastes, different influences, different things they value in an image. So you can never be certain, but what you can be certain of is if you don't enter it, you ain't gonna win anything. [00:12:48] That's a dead cert. So why would I choose absolute certain failure over anything else? Sorry, you never use the word failure. It's not a failure. Nobody fails. Except when you don't enter. Yes, you do. You fail. You've failed to enter, you've failed to compete, in which case, failure is the only word I have for it. [00:13:07] If you enter and your image isn't successful this time around, there's a million factors to that. You can learn from some, you might not learn as much as you'd like, you can take those images because you have them. And you can show your mentor, or show a friend, or show another photographer, or show someone get a critique. [00:13:21] [00:13:21] So there's just a few things I have spotted over the past week to ten days. with competition images. This is accumulated from what I've seen on the judging side with the BIPP, or the BIPP Monthlies, and what I've seen from the competitor side, so as a judge rather than as a chair, on the FEP. [00:13:41] One, don't over sharpen, particularly when it's an online entry. The screens tend to be quite sharp. They tend to make things look a little bit sharper than perhaps they could be, in my opinion, anyway, maybe it's the screens I've got. So don't over sharpen. No one on any competition I have ever been involved in the judging has ever said they've under sharpened this image. [00:14:06] But every round I will hear someone say, that image is over sharpened. Don't overdo it. Alongside that There's a huge temptation, particularly with the users of Lightroom to use clarity and or detail enhancement. These are still, so there's no such thing as sharpening, it's just localized contrast. [00:14:24] Equally, clarity and detail are variations of the same thing. If you're quite keen on the clarity slider You can see it in the image. It starts to look like it's been heavily processed. For some categories, that's great. For some categories, that will get hugely rewarded. For others, it won't. So have a look at what's done well previously and tune your effects and your clarity and detail to suit that. [00:14:51] Don't blow out your highlights or block up your shadows. What do I mean by that? I don't want ever to see pure white, and that's tricky if you've got, let's say, a grey flat sky, and you've lit someone against what light there is. So get it under control, make sure there's detail in the highlights, and there is detail in the blacks. [00:15:09] And don't think you can cheat by raising up the blacks to be grey. Thinking, well that's right, nothing in the image is now black. If there's no detail in it, we're still going to see that the blacks were blocked up, they've now just become very dark grey, and still blocked up. If there's no detail in there, I would suggest you find an alternative image. [00:15:32] Colour grading. A lot of colour grading knocking around, and there are a thousand colour panels out there at the moment. Be careful, that the colour you're using is part of the story you're trying to tell. Don't just make it desaturated because it's desaturated, or make the shadows a bluey green because you've seen it on a Netflix film. [00:15:50] Tell the story with your colour. If you're going to use colour, tell the story through it. Be careful that you don't just process for processing's sake. It must be part of the storytelling. [00:16:00] If this podcast makes you feel uncomfortable because I'm sounding ill, trust me it's worse for me. I'm sounding ill. Where are we? Next one, number five, look for emotion, and then number six, impact. These two are intertwined. When you look at an image as a judge, we have to react to it. [00:16:20] Judging as a process gets criticised a lot as to why don't we prioritise creativity, emotion, impact, these words. Sort of soft, the soft skills, I suppose, of photography. The truth is, we do. That is the top scoring band. Impact. Bam! Get it in front of us. Work out what it is about the image. [00:16:43] Whether it's the way you've cropped and formed the story, where you've laid out the parts of the puzzle, where you've used colour, the way an expression just connects with you as a viewer, whatever it is. Make it about impact, because as judges, we want to feel something. We want to know that you felt it, too. [00:17:02] Number seven, do not enter the same images everywhere. I kid you not, there's an image I've judged I won't say exactly where, but I've judged it this week that I've seen now four times. Four different competitions, I've seen the same image. I wasn't always the judge. I was a fellow contestant in one. [00:17:22] I was Chair of Judges for two, and Judge for the fourth. I've seen it four times. Well, imagine the lack of impact by seeing it that many times. Now I know, as a contestant, you may not think the same judge is gonna see it every time. But, the truth is, there aren't actually that many judges. Not really. [00:17:45] So there's a lot of cross talk. So you get to see the same images quite a bit, if you're entering them into different competitions. As an extension of that, and this is So the first one's not that easy to avoid if you enter lots of competitions. It would be great if you could, prep a different image from the shoot for each competition, but I know it takes time and it's expensive if you're doing print, but I would still recommend it. [00:18:11] This next one, though, is slightly different. If you shoot images in series, what do I mean by that? If you shoot dogs running and jumping, one dog running and jumping, or you shoot a certain style of child portraiture, or a certain style of I'm talking portraiture in particular, a certain style of female portraiture, I don't know. [00:18:31] Don't put more than one of that style into any round of a competition at one time. Don't put them all in January. The idea that we're going to pick out the highest scoring image, the image we think is best out of your series of five, simply not true, because we judge them in a randomised order, but sequentially. [00:18:51] We get an image, we judge it, we move on to the next image, we move on to the next image. So you have no control over what order we see them in. We have no control over what order we see them in. And the idea that we're going to go to the last image of a set of five, and could you know I've seen all of these? [00:19:05] I think image one was the strongest, I should have given that more, more higher score. That's not how this works. We evaluate each image based on its own merits at that point in time. But if we then see four more of the same image, trust me, the impact on the last image isn't going to be as great, even though they are technically different images. [00:19:26] So what you're doing is you're sacrificing four incredible images to get one through. You have to make a decision over which one to put in. And then, guess what? February? Put another one in. March? Another one. There's no way, it's not a, it's not a thing where we can pick images out, because we have to judge them one after the other, so that every single image stands the same chance of getting the same score. That's why we do it. [00:19:51] And number nine, so another point on the judging, is don't forget to finish your images, each and every one of them, fully. So there's an image during the recent judging I did, stunning. I looked at it on the screen, small, beautiful. Hit the 100 percent button, zoomed into the pixels, moved around the image, because when you're doing online judging, this is how it works, and you could see that the photographer, it looked like, I don't know, their nan had called round midway through them doing the retouch. [00:20:23] And they just never went back to that image. They submitted it with holes in the background and gaps where They'd dropped a background in over the top of the subject, and you could see the overlaps so clearly. They were just hard, like they'd hit it with the pencil tool, not the brush tool. And it clearly, all they'd done is not gone back over the image with a fine tooth comb. [00:20:43] It really, it felt like, they're sitting there doing this beautiful retouch. It's a beautiful lady, she's got flowing hair, the background's nailed. She's resting on a bench, or whatever it was. And then bing bong. Mom's here. Mom. It's your mom, Paul. It's your mom. Come down. Alright, I'll be down. I'll be down in a minute. [00:21:00] No, now. All right, I'll come down now. And that was the end of it. It's as if I went back to the image and just never picked it up again. I must have hit send or something. This is not my image, by the way. I really felt for the creator of it, because it was a stunning image. And I even put, it's one of the rare times I've put in the comments field when I'm judging. [00:21:18] If the judge is surprised at why I've classed this as not competition standard, when clearly it's stunning. Clearly the photographer knows their craft. Please get them to look at it like I did and see the holes they've left in the retouch. So finish them properly. [00:21:37] So don't do that. So those are the things I've noticed this time round. [00:21:42] And the great thing about entering a competition is it gives you an opportunity to experiment. Experiment in January. If it doesn't work, change the experiment. Or, no, you never change the experiment. [00:21:51] You experiment. That's not how it works. Experiment in January. Change what you try. in February. It's the same experiment. And then March. And then, who knows, by June, you might have got the swing of it. Who knows? What I will say, though, is that this ability every month to have a go, see how you do, celebrate your successes, learn from those that aren't quite so successful, is hugely, hugely powerful. [00:22:16] I still, still don't think competitions are mentoring. They are different beasts. You know my views on that. But there is still something to be learned from. Entering a competition monthly. [00:22:30] And the best way of entering monthlies, or any competition really, is if you are organized. [00:22:35] Then spend time with your images. Print them, hang them up, look at them over time, keep an eye on them. Because if you do that You'll get to see those little niggles, you'll get to appreciate where things could be fine tuned. [00:22:49] On the other hand, if you're like me, and it's all a little bit last second, then just make sure when you do the prep for your client, you're always producing images at sort of competition level. [00:23:01] There is a difference between competition imagery, what we would choose, how we'd finish them, and there is with what we produce for our clients. But for me, that gap isn't that great. I think if you're a fashion photographer, there's almost no gap. If you're, one of the Fearless Wedding Photographers, there's almost no gap. [00:23:19] I think there is for many sectors in the industry though. So just make sure you're prepping your images essentially to competition standard. If that image that I talked about earlier had gone out to a client, the client would have sent it back to me laughing. I'd have had to sort it out. And it did happen to me once. [00:23:33] It wasn't my retouch, but I did see it. It was my image someone on at the time, an assistant had retouched it, and I knew the minute I saw it go out, it's like, that's coming back to me. And I knew because she'd over whitened the floor, and it looked like the object was floating. I don't do that kind of photography very much, but when I do, it has to be right, and it wasn't right, and it's really frustrating. [00:23:57] Do it to the best that you can. Get it to competition standard, or as close as you can, with only just a little additional finishing where required, because that way, I don't need to worry about having tons of time to get it into a competition. The image I entered and got my gold bar was not the one I thought would do well. [00:24:13] I just didn't think necessarily of the set that I entered, it was the strongest image. Turned out the judges felt differently. But it was certainly finished to that level because the band could have been using it on a poster. [00:24:23] So, the same criteria is still applied. [00:24:26] There's no jeopardy in entering. The worst that can happen is that you don't do as well as you'd hope. And that happens to all of us. The gold bar this month? It's the first one I've attained with the guild, and it's just a regular image. It's now out, of course, on social media. [00:24:43] Sarah's celebrating it everywhere. I'm a little slower to get it onto social media. But it gives me an interesting topic to talk about on here. And so the question I suppose you're asking is, how many other images did I enter? I don't know how the other images did, I've only won one gold bar and got it one image of the month. But I can't argue that you can do this anonymously and then, for me, not be anonymous. So I'm not going to tell you how many other images I entered, but it's definitely more than one. And so why not make this, this year, the year you'll give it a shot. If you're part of the BIPP, you've only missed one month, you still have plenty of months ahead of you, there's nine more to go, deadline always at the end of the month, images, image results come out on the 15th, to give you time to reassess and figure out what you're going to enter for the next month. [00:25:31] And you never know what might happen. And if you can do it for free, and this is particularly to the BIPP, if you can do it for free, Then we really, and I mean this, this isn't a figurative thing, you have nothing to lose. It's free. The clue is in the title. And on that happy note, I'm going to dose up on some Lemsip, some Benelin, some Nurofen, and I'm going to call it a night. [00:25:56] Thank you for listening as I sit here in my cosy little lounge to this podcast. As always, head over to masteringportraitphotography.com for lots of articles and stuff, and also it's the spiritual home of this podcast. On top of that Please do leave us a review, tell another photographer or someone you might think would be interested in it about the podcast, leave us some comments wherever you can, and hit subscribe on whatever podcast player you use. [00:26:21] That way, as soon as I get round to releasing an episode, there it is right in your ears before you even know it. Whatever else, as I sip my Lemsip, keep warm and be kind to yourself. Take care.
EP146 The Art Of Contentment
13-02-2024
EP146 The Art Of Contentment
Suddenly it washed over me - that odd euphoric sensation of contentment.  No idea what triggers it, but it's well worth holding onto!  Also in this episode, a quick review of ACDSee 10 (the Mac version).  If you'd like to try it yourself, please use this link (there is no kickback or finance attached, but it does let the guys at ACDSee know that the referral has come from me and the Mastering Portrait Photography Podcast!) Enjoy! Cheers P. If you enjoy this podcast, please head over to Mastering Portrait Photography, for more articles and videos about this beautiful industry. You can also read a full transcript of this episode. PLEASE also subscribe and leave us a review - we'd love to hear what you think! If there are any topics, you would like to hear, have questions we could answer or would like to come and be interviewed on the podcast, please contact me at paul@paulwilkinsonphotography.co.uk.  Full Transcript: EP146 On Being Content [00:00:00] Introduction and Studio Update [00:00:00] So in an effort to keep up my weekly episodes , I am recording this mid afternoon on a Tuesday, which normally would be fairly busy here in the studio, but given I've got two people who are off sick, with both Michelle and Sarah coughing and spluttering and generally not feeling very well. [00:00:16] So with a degree of persuasion, managed to get both of them to go home. I'm assuming they are now wrapped up in duvets drinking brandy or whiskey or possibly just Lemsip. And so I suddenly found myself with some time in the studio during normal working hours. So this is episode 146 being recorded when, well, I could be doing a million other things. [00:00:41] I'm Paul and this is a very distracted Mastering Portrait Photography podcast. [00:01:03] Now if you look at the list of things I should be doing, it's long, it's complicated, there's a lot to do in the studio just now, but I quite like recording the podcast, and so I am somewhat using it as a distraction. Displacement, I think is what it's called, and I'm going to record this episode. [00:01:22] Mastering Dogs and Their Owners Portraiture Photography Workshop [00:01:22] It's not that long since the last episode, so it's not like I've done a million different things, but yesterday we ran a Mastering Dogs and Their Owners Portraiture Photography, I can't remember the title, ah, uh, workshop, which essentially is a Photographing dogs with their owners. [00:01:37] Had the most incredible bunch of people as delegates and also as models. One of the great things about running these workshops, of course, is that we can bring in models who are regular clients. Steve and Ambra and their dog Luna, and then Gemma who came in the afternoon with her dogs Luke, and, archie. [00:01:58] It was just brilliant. Spent the whole day laughing, the whole day answering questions and discussing things about photography, not just how to take these pictures, but why we take these pictures. And certainly from the point of view of running a business. The weather held, it was gorgeous and sunny, a little too sunny, with that low raking February sunshine that we don't get enough of, and when we do get it, of course, as a photographer, I moaned that it was too harsh, uh, for some of what we were doing, particularly when we were trying to photograph in an alley where I needed both walls to have the same light, more or less, and of course the sun sort of threw that out the window, but hey, you know, what can you do when you get those days? [00:02:39] It was a fantastic day, and loved every second of it, I've created some images that I really like, and more importantly, I think our delegates went away with ideas and enthusiasm and determination and confidence, possibly more than they did when they arrived, which is the right way around, and if you ever give when we're delivering workshops, the great thing is not It's not about technical stuff really, it's about having the confidence to go and do it, because without that, it doesn't matter how good you are with a camera, or how good you are with Photoshop, you're not going to run any kind of business. [00:03:14] You'll never produce anything. You need the confidence to do it in the first place. So a big shout out to all the guys that came on the workshop yesterday, and a huge thank you to my clients. [00:03:22] ACDSee Software Review [00:03:22] Uh, before I get into the nuts and bolts of the podcast I want to give a quick shout out to the guys at ACDSee. [00:03:30] That's letter A, letter C, letter D, and the word 'See' S E E. A brilliant bit of software. It's a bit of software that I first used, I was trying to remember when they asked me to get involved. I was trying to remember when I last used it. I think I used version 1. I think it came free on the front of a magazine. [00:03:49] It was I think, recalling it was shareware back then. Shareware is not really such a common model, but back then, I'm guessing 15 or 16, maybe even longer years ago. Um, and it was an amazing piece of software primarily because it was super fast and It has the ability to preview files and organize files for you in an incredibly quick way. [00:04:13] And anyway, the guys at ACDSee asked me if I'd review it and then talk about it. So, cards on the table here. I have been given a free copy of ACDSee to see what I think. I'm on version 10, it's the MacStudio version. And so I've been bunged a free license, which I've been using for the past couple of months. [00:04:34] So it's not really, this isn't a paid commercial. Genuinely, I'm using the software and I said I would talk about it if I liked it. But I'd hate anyone to think that I wasn't being straight up and honest when I'm talking about it. And clearly I've been given a free license. But of course, here's the but in all of this stuff is I will never talk about anything on this podcast that I haven't had first hand experience of. [00:04:58] Somebody did ask me, there is someone has asked me to review like an energy drink from the US to use it for a while and then talk about what I think. Sadly though you can't get it in the UK so I had to go back to them and say I can't do that until you've got a supply chain or an importer over here. [00:05:15] And then of course I will try it and let you know what I think. So I won't talk about anything that I don't have first hand experience of there are many reasons for doing this podcast but being able to be authentic in the middle of it is the bit that under pins it. So what are my thoughts on this version of ACDSee? [00:05:31] So this is version 10, the Mac version. Um, so okay, straight up, slightly mixed bag, but don't I don't take that as anything other than there's just one little bit that I'm not happy about. So when they approached me, so when ACDSee approached me, I was beyond excited to do it. Firstly, I got to play with a bit of software that I used an awful lot back in the day. [00:05:57] And it was wonderful to be using the same software again. There's a degree of nostalgia, I suppose, about that. And it's always good to see a great piece of software, as it was, not only survive, but expand and become even more useful. The second reason I was excited about it, so I went and did a quick hunt around before I committed to giving it a go, is everything I read talked about the new AI keywording tools, and they looked incredible. It would help me enormously if using a bit of AI inside the software that I have on my computer, as opposed to going online and doing round tripping and all of those things, if I had some AI software that would help me identify with some very simple keywords. I'm not after that. Detailed keywords, but very simple keywords that would let me find, for instance, like a low key studio portrait, or a high key dog image, you know those, I'm talking really quite basic stuff. [00:06:50] Now we manage our catalogue really well, but stuff slips through, and with keywording, you know what it's like, you get one folder, I've got to archive it, I've run out of disk space, I need to move some stuff today, do I keyword it now? No, I'll do it later, and of course by do it later, what I actually mean is, it doesn't get done. [00:07:07] So, that was What I was looking forward to the the speed and the simplicity of this piece of software as it used to be, but also with some of the new AI stuff in particular, the keywording. And so I suppose the question is how did it do? Brilliantly, I think, is the word I'd use. It is still blazingly quick. [00:07:27] It's an unbelievable piece of software from that point of view. It's faster than using the Finder on the Mac or Pathfinder I also use. It's incredibly fast. Now, let me just clarify how I've used it or how I'm using it right now. Lightroom is at the heart of our workflow. All of our live catalogues. All of our live RAW files, all of our live PSDs are in Adobe Lightroom . [00:07:52] And what do I mean by live? Live just means the job is not yet archived. I looked earlier and there's about 75, 000 assets in Lightroom at any one point. That includes all of our live jobs but also our portfolio, our portfolio of heroes. Now, I've configured Lightroom in a very particular way so when I run an export of JPEGs that are going to go to the client, they're going to go into album designs anything that's flagged with five stars, the little bit of code in the background that I've written spits those out into a series of Dropbox folders that are organized in line with the jobs. [00:08:27] So, let's say there's a Le Manoir wedding Tom and Amy get married at Le Manoir on a date. When I spit those files out, there'll be an equivalent Dropbox folder that contains anything that was ranked with five stars. So it allows me to have these heroes in Dropbox. And we've been doing that for about eight years. [00:08:45] So you can imagine just how many images and folders we have in Dropbox running that little bit of the catalogue. But when I archive the folder away, when it's done, the job's finished, Tom and Amy have got their wedding album, then we remove all of the files off our live drives, remove the catalog components from Lightroom, and obviously new stuff has come in. [00:09:07] Those heroes, though, still need to be active, and they stay active in Dropbox, a series of Dropbox folders that I have. And it's always a little bit of a pain trawling up and down them. Well, ACDSee solves that, because once I visited a folder with this software, All of the thumbnails stay in its catalogue. [00:09:24] So it's as if I can browse things that go across folders. There's this thing called the Image Well, which is brilliant. I can find things by flags. I can find things by colour labels. It's absolutely phenomenal. So at the moment, I've got about a quarter of a million. There's about 250, 000 JPEGs in ACDSee. [00:09:47] It's really, really fast. And one of the things I really have liked about it, which is useful for me, is, and this is the bit of the AI that is working, is the facial recognition. Now, no Lightroom has facial recognition, but of course, in the end I don't use Lightroom for longer than the job is live for any folder. [00:10:05] Whereas this is folders that go back historically. And I'm not really that worried about identifying every face. What I am interested in is having the faces all looking at me in a series of thumbnails that I can scroll through and go, Do you know what, I remember that shoot or I remember that image. [00:10:22] That's what I'm looking for. Then I can find the shoot and then I can expand that to all of the other images. And on top of that, slightly weirdly, Hehe. I found myself just smiling this morning as I was trawling through this big page of thumbnails of my clients. It's all my clients faces looking back at me and smiling. [00:10:39] And it was really nice. It was a bit of a trip down memory lane, I think, for many of these. And I know that's not its intended purpose, but if you ever want a pick me up It's simply look in this folder on ACDSee of faces looking back at you, of all these clients, and of course the memories that go with it. [00:10:57] And it is rapid, I mean it's unbelievably quick in the way it does it. And it's really useful to have that. Now on the indexing side, it's a little bit, you have to get your head around it a little bit. It indexes any folder you've visited. Browsed. However, there is also a behind the scenes index that you can get ticking over, which will run whenever you're not using your computer and ACDSee is open. [00:11:20] So gradually over time, it picks up the files and it pops them pops all the thumbnails together and categorizes them for you. So it's really really useful. On top of that, a nice little touch that I've only really discovered this morning is that your license includes the use of a thing called SendPix. [00:11:38] This won't be useful to everybody, but it's quite a nice little bit of software. So it's, if you can imagine I suppose a hybrid version of something like Zenfolio which is a catalogue system for images for your clients and WeTransfer which is a way of sending files to your clients. It's sort of in between the two. [00:11:58] What it allows you to do is select a load of images, send them to someone but instead of sending them directly it creates a short lived online gallery. It's there for a couple of weeks, I think, looking at the dates it gave me. And that allows your client, or whoever you're sending them to, to log in, see the images, and download what they need. [00:12:15] So in a sense, it's like WeTransfer, but with an interactive component. And it's equally, it's a little bit like Zenfolio, but with a gallery that only lasts for a couple of weeks. So you don't have to worry about taking them up and taking them down, and all that kind of thing. It's only there for the time you need it. [00:12:30] And, surprisingly It's actually really useful, which I hadn't seen coming. It wasn't a bit of the software. I certainly didn't pick that up when I said yes to reviewing ACDSee, but it's incredibly useful. Now, sadly, the software doesn't integrate with Dropbox properly. There is no integration with Dropbox, which is a shame. [00:12:47] It would have been really nice. It does have an integration with iCloud, but I don't use that, so I can't comment on that part of it. But it would have been quite nice. It's no big deal. Doesn't really change my usage of it. And all in all, there are just dozens of little functions that make finding and retrieving files that you have on your folders and drives really easy. [00:13:09] It makes it fast, it makes it visually interesting. I haven't used the editing tools because for us, everything we do is edited in Lightroom on the RAW files and the PSDs. I suppose it could be useful if I do pick up a file, I just think, you know what? I wish that was slightly brighter, I wish that was slightly darker, or something like that. [00:13:26] I know there are some quite sophisticated tools in there, but that's not the part of the puzzle I've been interested in. And I think the license for the Mac version is about 99, and it's absolutely worth it. [00:13:38] Sadly, the AI keywording is in the Windows version but not the Mac, but still [00:13:42] I think it's absolutely worth it. Anyway, now whether that fits into your workflow is entirely down to you. [00:13:49] Only you can answer that question. Now bear with me, I'll come back in a minute. [00:13:53] Reflections on Happiness and Contentment [00:13:53] I've got a phone call to answer. [00:13:55] So sorry about that, I had to answer the phone. It was the editor, it was Terry, the editor of Professional Photo Magazine, who we regularly write for calling about the next edition, which is very exciting, as always. I've no idea, I've no idea in the final edit where I'll leave that cut in, or whether I'll just gloss over it. [00:14:15] Either way, as I was trundling in this morning, I don't know whether this happens to you, but it happens to me occasionally, where It's just this, it's almost a feeling of euphoria, and it's happened to me a couple of times today, whether it's just chemistry, whether it's just, I don't know, I've no idea. But today, I felt like everything was good in the world. [00:14:37] And, it's a real sort of skill, I suppose, in being completely comfortable with where you are. We had a text this morning. Someone was asking, how are things out in the industry? And I can only answer from our experience. And right now, we're doing well . Everything is busy phone's ringing, even this morning. [00:14:56] We had an enquiry for a wedding just come through. We've got enquiries for headshots and commercial. Portraiture feels maybe a little bit squidgier than it has been on the economy. But all in all, our business is running really well and I'm really happy. [00:15:07] I'm very satisfied with my lot. Now, I don't mean to be self satisfied, that's not what I'm saying, but I think the art of being content with your lot is a tricky one. Now don't get me wrong, I'm incredibly ambitious and driven and impatient. I want everything to happen and I want it all to happen now, but the reality of course is things are slower. [00:15:27] So I get frustrated with it, of course I do. But trying to find the space in my head to be content is a skill that I am still learning, I guess. It's really easy not to be happy. Even this morning, Sarah had the radio on, and the news came on, and I could feel myself just getting wound up. The state of our economy, we have a particularly crappy government at the moment, and I'd like to say that's specific to the UK. [00:15:57] I've got friends all over the world, and I keep, as best I can, I keep abreast of world news, and I think it might just be a global phenomenon. The kinds of people who you'd really want to lead you are not the kinds of people who we have leading us, I don't think. So it's easy to feel down, the weather's pretty rubbish, it's that time of year, you know, it's grey. [00:16:18] Yesterday we had this phenomenal day of beautiful weather, but today, well, it's back to normal, it's chucking it down. But yet, even though it was cold and dark, I still found myself skipping into work this morning. Life is okay. And being happy with yourself is not that straightforward, I don't think. Jake, our son, was asking me if I liked myself and I thought that's an interesting question and I don't really have a satisfactory answer. [00:16:45] Some days I like bits of me, some days I feel dreadfully insecure, but I'm always confident that on balance I'm alright. I feel alright, I'm on the whole nice to people, I try really hard not to be nasty to anybody. There are people I like more than others, of course there are. You know, you marry the one you like the most, right? [00:17:09] And she's incredible. So being happy with your lot. I think is something you can do and it just washed over me this morning, maybe it's the fact that we ran the workshop yesterday and I was around people who I liked [00:17:23] And even writing up the notes on ACDSee, it still feels really strange saying ACDSee, when I grew up in the 70s and the 80s, when ACDC was a band for those about to rock and all of that stuff. So it sounds really weird when I say it, but writing my notes on ACDSee I had to look through thousands of images that had dropped into our Heroes folders, which reminded me of the things we do. [00:17:46] And on top of that, of course, I put the facial recognition on, and that reminded me of all of the incredible people we do it for. And if it wasn't enough that I came in skipping down the road as an image, right? What we do for a living, the things we create, and the people we create these things for, what an honour. [00:18:05] not only ACDSee, but Sarah spent the past couple of days designing the most incredible book. A Tramontino book is the range from Graphistudio. And it's full of the same pictures, these pictures that we took in the past 12 months. It's a collection of some of our Favourite moments, I guess, out of 2023. A mix of clients and some dogs, all sorts of bits and pieces. [00:18:31] One or two award winning images. But mostly, it's just a celebration of the people we work with. And I can't wait for that to come, for Sarah to get it made, uh, and Graphistudio to get it, to get it made. [00:18:47] The Joy of Photography [00:18:47] It'll be beautiful, I know that. But more importantly, it will sit on our coffee table, and every time I feel flat, or I feel like, Oh, do you know what? I'm not sure how I feel about all of this. I can go down and have a look at it, just as I do with one or two other bits down there. [00:19:00] And it reminds me, just What a lovely job this is, and I can't wait to have that actually on our coffee table, not just as an advert for the product, and of course it is a great advert for the product, a Graphistudio product I may have mentioned we're ambassadors for Graphistudio, so there's my cards on the table again, but in the end, I am really lucky, and we are really lucky, to have a skill that allows me to create the pictures that we do, for the people that we do, the moments that we get to enjoy, the places that we get to visit, and the joy, that we get. [00:19:36] It's easy to get distracted by life, but sometimes it's worth focusing on what it is I do. And for whatever reason that happened subconsciously this morning, but I probably should make it happen more of a deliberate thing as I go. [00:19:52] Still ambitious, still competitive, still driven, still want it all to happen today. But maybe it just takes a little bit of time. . [00:19:59] Conclusion and Workshop Information [00:19:59] And on that happy note, I'm going to wrap up. If you're curious about our workshops, please do head over to Paul Wilkinson Photography and look for the coaching and workshops section. Eventually we're going to move all of those across into Mastering Portrait Photography, but for now they're all still on my normal website. [00:20:19] I'll put a link if you're curious about ACDSee and want to download a copy to have a play. I recommend you do actually, I've really I've grown to love it. I have two screens on my Mac, two huge 27 inch monitors, and ACDSee sits permanently on my right hand monitor whenever I'm doing any design work or doing anything for the websites. [00:20:39] It's there because I have easy and straightforward access to all of our hero images, all of my favourite images. It's incredible as a tool like that. It slots in alongside Lightroom for me. At least it won't replace it, though I'm sure the guys at ACDSee would love it too. That's not, for me, the function that it serves, but does that make it still worthwhile? [00:21:00] I think it does, and I, for one, will renew my license when the time comes up. So I shall put a link down in the show notes for you to head across. It does have my name in it. I don't get a kickback from it. I think it just allows the guys at ACDSee to see that it came through me. And I'll also put it on our Facebook group for all of the people that have been on our workshop community. [00:21:19] But All in all, I highly recommend it. [00:21:23] In the meantime, I hope the weather is a little nicer where you are. I hope it's more like yesterday than today. But whatever else, keep skipping, keep smiling, remember that what we do is an incredible job. I'm Paul, and whatever else, be kind to yourself. [00:21:38] Take care.
EP145 Yvonne's Law | Shooting For Dough vs. Shooting For Show
09-02-2024
EP145 Yvonne's Law | Shooting For Dough vs. Shooting For Show
Mastering Portrait Photography Podcast: Land Rover Edition This is one of our "Land Rover Editions" which is to say, slightly noisy.  I'm on my way to and from the Hearing Dogs for a shoot, which is always lovely.  Various topics, but mostly "Yvonne's Law: Shoot For Dough Before Shooting For Show".  In other words, it's all about your client before it's about us and our lust for awards! haha.  Sadly, it does mean you can't always create award-winning or qualification-worthy images on every client job, no matter how much you want to! 00:00 Introduction and Land Rover Editions 01:06 The Journey and the Mastering Portrait Photography Podcast 03:04 The Importance of Being Part of the Photography Industry 04:35 The Challenges of Recording Podcasts and Listener Engagement 06:00 The Timelessness of Radio Programs 07:05 The Arrival at Hearing Dogs and the Importance of Initials 07:45 The Challenges of Building a Website and Judging Image Competitions 16:08 The Arrival at the Wedding and Yvonne's Law 20:14 The Wedding Shoot and the Difference Between Shooting for Show and Dough 27:17 Conclusion and Farewell   Enjoy! Cheers P. If you enjoy this podcast, please head over to Mastering Portrait Photography, for more articles and videos about this beautiful industry. You can also read a full transcript of this episode. PLEASE also subscribe and leave us a review - we'd love to hear what you think! If there are any topics, you would like to hear, have questions we could answer or would like to come and be interviewed on the podcast, please contact me at paul@paulwilkinsonphotography.co.uk.  Full Transcript: EP145 Yvonne's Law Introduction and Land Rover Editions [00:00:00] As I'm absolutely certain you can hear, I'm back in the Land Rover. I think maybe, maybe I should call these the Land Rover Editions and actually separate them out from our normal podcasts. Mostly because when I was at the photography show at the beginning of the year, quite a few people came up to me and said how much they enjoyed them. [00:00:24] Though looking in the mirror right now, I do look like I think a pilot, with my microphone, it's either that or Madonna, and I don't know which is better. I'm gonna go with pilot with the microphone on. However, quite a few people came up to me and said how much they enjoyed the podcast, when it's from the Land Rover, the podcast episodes. [00:00:43] Except for Fiona. Fiona told me in no uncertain terms that not so keen, doesn't like them, wish I'd stopped doing them. Sadly however, look at the weather out here, it's just ridiculous. There's a huge flood. Water everywhere. Good job I'm driving this thing, I think. It's going to be an exciting trip. [00:01:03] Note to self drive careful. The Journey and the Mastering Portrait Photography Podcast [00:01:06] Anyway, this is one of the Land Rover editions of the Mastering Portrait, no, hang on, yes, no, that's right. I'm Paul. This is a Land Rover edition of the Mastering Portrait Photography Podcast. [00:01:33] The challenge with doing these particular versions of the podcast is, of course, the priority is to arrive safely at wherever it is I'm heading. [00:01:44] Today it's the Hearing Dogs: I've got to photograph of some newborn puppies. Well, eight weeks old, so cute, yeah, cute. And also some Christmas stock imagery. The date today is the something of February. What is it? 7th, 8th, 9th something of February. Haven't looked the date up. And we're doing the Christmas, or some of the Christmas stock imagery ready for the end of the year. [00:02:06] Now in some ways it feels absolutely ridiculous that we're doing that, but on the other hand, it's perfectly planned. So I'm actually quite happy about it because normally, every year I've photographed Christmas stock imagery in sort of August, which makes life very tricky when you're trying to hide flowers, make it, the light look slightly bluer. [00:02:25] And ignoring the fact that the dog is panting in the heat. Today, that's not going to be a problem. It's 4 degrees according to the thermometer on the car. It is absolutely tipping it down with rain and has been by the look of it for the past 12 hours because there are floods everywhere. It's going to be a slightly lively journey through the lanes of Buckinghamshire to the Hearing Dogs site. [00:02:49] So anyway, Fiona, I'm sorry I've, I set out at the beginning of the year that I was going to run at least once a week, the podcast would come out once a week, but finding the time for that has been nigh on impossible. On Tuesday. The Importance of Being Part of the Photography Industry [00:03:04] We spent the entire morning judging the images for the British Institute of Professional Photographers, the BIPP image competition, which is such a joyous, I mean, you know, some of the greatest pleasures of getting involved in the industry are that I'm involved in the industry. [00:03:21] I know that may be alien to some people. I get asked quite a bit, what do you get out of it? And I'm going to guess that everybody who sticks their head over the parapet and does judging, mentoring, gets involved with various associations. You get a fairly, a fairly repeated question of what on earth is in it, for me, for other, you know, people asking why they would join, for instance. [00:03:44] What do I get for my 15 quid a month or whatever it is, I don't even know how much it is. And the answer I'd always say is I get to be part of something. I get to be part of something bigger than just myself, Sarah, Michelle, and we're actually a pretty big business when it comes to the photography industry in terms of brand, but also in terms of turnover. [00:04:02] We have a You know, a reasonably big business, the three of us run but it's still, in terms of the industry itself, if it wasn't for the associations, we'd be running it on our own, and yeah, alright, I'm with clients all the time, which is amazing, but it's the, things like the society's convention. Being part of the BIPP. [00:04:19] com, being a judge for the FEP, that's just started this week, so I'm judging for the Federation of European Photographers as well, and it looks like I'm about to do some judging across the pond. with our American friends. The Challenges of Recording Podcasts and Listener Engagement [00:04:35] So, all in all, a lot's going on and, and , finding time to record the podcast just isn't that easy. [00:04:42] On top of that, the thing I've suddenly had to become increasingly cognizant of is I've started to get emails of people who are discovering the podcast for the first time and are now listening to back episodes, and this particular message, I suppose, was triggered, or this thought was triggered, by an email that came from another Paul, I mean, great name, of course, another Paul, who had started listening to the podcast, and when he emailed in the other day, he was on episode 31. [00:05:09] Now, I didn't look up the date of episode 31, but given we've been doing this for about Eight years now. Seven or eight years. Episode 31 is quite a long way back. Goodness only knows what's changed since then. And it may be another six years at that run rate before he gets to this episode of 145. So, who knows? [00:05:33] So now I've got to be very careful. I don't get too specific on dates because by the time some people listen to these episodes it could be well out of date. Equally, there are people who've probably started episodes What, 144, and are now working their way backwards, but still won't get to 100, this episode, 145, for quite a long time. [00:05:53] So forgive me if some of the stuff I talk about is very particular to the moment. Can't do a lot about that. The Timelessness of Radio Programs and the Future of the Podcast [00:06:00] One of my favourite radio programmes to listen to is Letter from America. Have I talked about this before? I've no idea. Letter from America, by a guy called Alastair Cook. He's, he's dead now. [00:06:12] This was on Radio 4, BBC Radio 4, and I think you can still Listen to it. Oh, I listened to it on the BBC Sounds app and many of the back episodes are there. And I really like the fact that it's of its time. I was listening to an episode the other day that was actually about the Middle East, and it's incredible. [00:06:31] I mean, These episodes must be, I think, 40 years old? You're looking at the mid 80s. And the politic of the region and things that were going on sounded like they could have been today, right here, right now. And I find stuff like that really interesting. So I suppose in a sense you can have a recording that is of its moment and yet still be pertinent later on. The Arrival at the Hearing Dogs Site and the Struggles of PodcastingThe Arrival at the Hearing Dogs Site and the Struggles of Podcasting [00:06:57] If I'm still doing this in 40 years, I don't know if I'm going to be driving around the country photographing hearing dogs, but that's what we're doing today. So thank you to Paul for emailing in. It's lovely to get these emails. We get them from people dotted all over the world. [00:07:12] Describing what they're up to. I try to get back to everybody within a certain time frame not always possible, but I do try to, to do it. And those that sort of make me smile, I, I talk about on the podcast itself. Uh, An awful lot going on just at the moment, which is also a reason why I haven't managed To do a sit down at my desk recording really, the only time I've got. [00:07:34] Sorry, I'm so sorry Fiona, I know, alright, I know. But I'll try and make the broadcast as clear as I can. [00:07:41] Even in this clattering vehicle. The Development of the Mastering Portrait Photography Website [00:07:45] Still building the masteringportraitphotography. com website, causing me no end of head scratch. The hardest bit is a combination of technology and trying to figure out where Articles should sit. It's not, it turns out, as straightforward as I would like. Mostly because the platform we're using, or trying to use, or switching to, is more basic than the one I have at the moment. [00:08:12] So the one I have at the moment, I can do anything I like. WordPress, with all of its plugins and all of its technology, of course you can do anything you like. But the problem is, with that kind of power comes an immense amount of work. Keeping on top of it, making sure it's patched correctly, making sure that all my licenses are up to date. [00:08:32] And on top of that, a huge amount of expenditure. Because of its sophistication, well, you pay for it. So, what we're trying to do is simplify everything, because I don't really need that power to do the things I need to do. It's overkill, really, although I enjoy having that sort of level of control. [00:08:54] But the kicker, of course, is now we're simplifying things down, is I'm discovering that certain core things that I relied on, for instance, the structure of how one article can be the child of another article, so you can have a parent which is a really simple idea. The Challenges of Creating a User-Friendly Website [00:09:12] But very powerful. I can't do that on the new platform, so I'm having to figure out ways of still making the content visible, make it logical make it easy to upload and easy to access. [00:09:24] And have a structure that really makes sense, but haven't necessarily been able to find the way of doing that. The Experience of Judging for the BIPP Image Competition [00:09:32] Of course, things like judging the other day they take up time too, but it warranted pleasure. It was just It's the new BIPP monthly competition. So this was month one. So if you're listening to this podcast five years later, you will know whether the BIPP. [00:09:47] com monthly competition has been a success because this was the very first round. A couple of hundred entries, which is really nice. Hopefully that will climb but the, the fun of it is sitting we've recorded the call, so I have it as an audit trial, but sitting on this video conference with two judges looking at images and enjoying the process of assessing images. [00:10:10] Now, the only thing is, it didn't really occur to me, I thought we'll film this, we'll do it properly, so we're using a bit of software called Squadcast which is brilliant, it's one of the, it's, there are various things, a bit, Riverside FM is another one. Where you do it as if it was Zoom, but the video and audio for each participant is recorded locally on their machine, which means it's really high quality. [00:10:29] I can run that then into our podcast software and do an automated transcription, transcribe it, because the new AI tools are Word Perfect. It's brilliant. However, what I hadn't allowed for in the four hour recording is, of course, we judge in silence. Why? Well, it's not because we're really dull. [00:10:53] Well, maybe it is. It's because, actually, we want each judge to determine the score for the image independently. And if there's chatter, if people are sighing, if people are going, Oh, if only they'd done this better, it influences the, the, the judges. They influence each other. And of course, we want there to be an independent scoring because that helps to take out any sort of personal or subjective, I mean the whole thing is subjective, but sort of variability and, and outside influence. So it's great, they judge in silence, they punch in their scores, I announce the score and record it. It doesn't make for a very interesting video. So I'm now not certain that we'll ever release these things because the idea was, and still is, to find ways of providing insight into why an image does well, why an image maybe hasn't done so well, what the judge's thoughts are, but we never really do that during judging. [00:11:50] So, having to have a think about how we might do it. We certainly can't critique a couple of hundred images in the time we have available. And we're going to do this every month. And the thing about the judges is that they are not retired. They are not Part time photographers. These are the best of the best. [00:12:10] They have to be. They have to be current. They have to have their eye in. They have to be working pros for the judging to have validity. If I just used people who are no longer in the industry, they're no longer up to date. They're no longer current. So it's not that I can use judges that have, or we can use judges that have a ton of time at their fingertips. [00:12:33] The most important thing about the judges is they are current and as such they need to be working and if they're working I cannot get a hole in their diary for more than a few hours at a time so we can't critique every image. It's not physically possible but somehow I've got to find a way of getting some of this information out to everyone who entered, entered the monthly competition. [00:13:00] Anyway, it's a lot of fun doing it and those results, the first set of results, will come out. Next week. So if you're a BIPP. com member, look out for those results if you're listening to the podcast. And of course, I would encourage all of you to enter. You get one free image every month. You don't need to pay any money. [00:13:18] But just make sure, just because it's free, doesn't mean that it can be any old image. It's a real competition. We're judging it to the international print competition standard. So it's tough. I make no apology for that. It's really tough, and as such, it's not your everyday work that is going to do really well. [00:13:41] And I'm gonna come back to that as a topic of conversation on the return leg of this journey. However, before I do that, as I'm getting fairly close to the hearing dogs now, the weather's improving. It's still pretty horrible, but at least it's not literally lashing it down as it was when I got into the car. [00:13:58] Quick tip! The Importance of Presets in Photography [00:13:59] This is a quick tip for nothing. It's not the subject of the podcast, but I thought about it while I was a moment ago prepping some files for a upload, and I was in Lightroom, and then in one of the Nik ColorFX, uh, plugins. Is, there are so many presets, lots, presets for plugins, presets for Lightroom. [00:14:23] Presets for Photoshop. There's so much stuff around actions that it gets really hard to track the ones that you created for yourself. And I have this very simple rule of thumb. is for any, any preset, any action, any workflow item, any LUT, any, sorry, a LUT, L U T, lookup table, any color LUT anything at all really, I put my initials at the front of it. [00:14:51] I always put P W because it identifies the things that I created for myself. As opposed to the things that I may have bought the things that I may have downloaded, the things that somebody else was helping me with, the things that I've done for myself, they have the initials PW at the front. And it's not an ego thing. [00:15:11] A couple of times people have cocked an eye because everything I've got has got PW, PW, PW, PW. It's got nothing to do with that. It's got everything to do with the fact that I get really easily confused with the different things that are in the business, the different presets, folders, you name it. So I stick PW at the front to make it clear I did that one and then in two years time Because some of the things I've written they are like five six years old There's some scripts I wrote for Photoshop that we're still using and I think I wrote them ten years ago I know they're mine because they have PW at the front as opposed to some of the scripts I found and downloaded Which are by third parties, and of course, you know, I can use them. [00:15:51] But I certainly couldn't distribute them. And I want to know that if I'm modifying them, I'm modifying somebody else's work. Which is only fair. So, stick your initials. At the beginning of any presets and things that you create for yourself. There you go, that's a top tip for nothing. The Arrival at the Hearing Dogs Site and the Weather Conditions [00:16:08] I'm just about to pull in to the hearing dogs. [00:16:11] Wow, it's a grey day. Look how blue the light is, it's horrible. Ha, ha, ha. Usually, usually at this side of the hill, we come over a slight hill. Um, so it's only, how long I've been driving? What, 10, 15 minutes? It's not that there's a huge difference in location between us and the hearing dogs. The geography does change slightly. [00:16:33] We come over a slight rise onto the other side of a hill, and then onto a plateau, a little bit of a plateau at the foot of the Chilterns. And the weather here is quite often different, very different. Sometimes, particularly, it's most pronounced when it's snowing. We will have snow and they won't, and vice versa, and it really is only 10 minutes separate. [00:16:51] Today, sadly, the weather is exactly the same, which is to say, shitty. There's no, I'm sorry if you're offended by the word, but it's the right word. It is shitty. Dead flat light, cloudy, wet. It's gone down by 0. 2 of a degree since I've been driving. Over this side of the hill, it's 3. 8 degrees. Usually the temperature rises. [00:17:17] Today, it's slightly colder. And I normally would say that I am looking forward to photographing the Hearing Dogs, particularly the puppies. Today, I'm looking forward to the photography. I am not looking forward to lying in a wet field. God, that car park needs a little bit of TLC you can hear the car rattling around on all of the divots and holes and puddles. [00:17:42] And then my, my car cam pinging as it thinks I've hit something. I do think at the moment we live in a country where the roads are in such bad condition. My dash cam. Constantly thinks I've had an accident and records that little bit of footage automatically because it thinks I've hit something, and I haven't hit anything, I'm just driving along the A40. [00:18:05] Right, I'm here. I shall return with the actual subject of this podcast. Maybe that's what Fiona doesn't like, is the randomness of it. Sarah says I repeat myself a lot when I'm recording from the car, so apologies if I am about to do that. However I will see you at the end of this particular shoot. [00:18:23] Right, I'm back. So at the end of that, I've just spent, what is it now quarter past two, uh, four and a bit hours photographing puppies which is beautiful, photographing dogs which are equally beautiful, running dogs, jumping dogs, wet dogs, god the weather's been horrible, and some Christmas images. Of course it's this time of year when we shoot Christmas stuff, but actually created some really, well I mean I think they're beautiful, my client seems to think they're beautiful at this stage, I've only seen them on the back of the camera, but a lot of fun. [00:18:59] We're using more and more and more LED lighting. Which is great when you're balancing up against Christmas lights and fairy lights and daylight. It's so much easier using LED than strobes for that. For the studio stuff, we are still using strobes because we can freeze movement really well, which is really, really important. [00:19:20] So for the white background stuff, those standard shots we create for the charity, very much still strobe, and I don't see that changing. In the near future, uh, because that ability to have, you know, F 16 and that instantaneous pulse of light that freezes motion is a very particular look and just the moment, I don't see that becoming that being replaced. [00:19:44] However, the LED side of it we had four different LED lights two with modifiers, two focusable spots with modifiers and two LED bars. Which just added beautiful touches of light where I wanted them. Made life really easy. I'll share a few of those hopefully on Insta over the next couple of days. [00:20:04] Actually, I won't show them on Insta because they're our Christmas pictures. So no, no, I won't be showing them on Instagram. They're the Christmas pictures, but maybe I'll get to show them. In December next year, or this year. The Concept of Yvonne's Law in Wedding Photography [00:20:14] Over the weekend, and this is, I guess, we're heading towards the point of this particular podcast. [00:20:19] I was photographing a wedding, beautiful wedding, only 13 people, pretty hectic, lots going on, Friday night, Saturday all day, Sunday morning and some of the afternoon. A really beautiful venue, and on the Friday night I got sitting chatting to the mothers of the groom, or the mother, sorry, mother and father of the groom, mother and father of the bride. [00:20:38] And one of them said to me, she said Yvonne told me this. Now at that stage I didn't even know who Yvonne was, so Yvonne, Yvonne, said that she was complaining that all of the shots of her son were the back of his head. And it turns out Yvonne, at a different wedding, was the mother of the groom. And every shot of the groom, it was just the back of his head. [00:21:00] And I said, I don't understand. She said, well, there's lots of shots of them as a couple. You can see the bride's face, very moody, just the back of the groom's head. And do you know what? Instantly, instantly, I knew the kind of shot she was talking about. It's the kind of shot that we see quite a lot when we're judging competitions, or maybe doing Quals. [00:21:21] There's some, it's very moody, but essentially it's a bridal portrait using the groom as context. It's fine, there's definitely a place for it. But if you're shooting a wedding, you might just find yourself getting the reaction that, clearly, Yvonne gave. So, Yvonne is not happy that the photographer has not done what she would regard as the photograph that she would like. [00:21:43] Which, I'm gonna guess, is a photograph of the bride, the groom, three quarter length, front on, snuggled up. Smiling at camera. That's the, that's the, still one of the best selling shots you can create. Certainly if you're pitching to sell to the parents of the couple. Yvonne's Law, I'm going to call it from now on, and I think we're going to talk about this, and I'm going to add it to my list of things that people should think about. [00:22:09] Yvonne's Law is this. When you're photographing a wedding, make sure you cover everything that the people who are attending and the people who might be buying the pictures would wish for. Going for awards is fine. We all do it. We all need to do it. We need to push ourselves and be creative. That is For most of us, why we came into these industries in the first place, we want to do something exciting and different. [00:22:32] We want to do something engaging and moody, and on the whole, those are not the shots that you can sell to the couple. Not always, it's not an entire, there is a Venn diagram with an overlap. You can, of course, sell really dark, moody pictures of the bride to the couple, and that may well happen. But there's a law of averages here and you're being paid by the client to satisfy numerous different angles. [00:22:57] Now, the other thing I don't know about the wedding that was being described is whether the bride and groom had asked specifically for a certain type of image. I have shot a wedding, this is going back a little bit in my career. Where the bride and groom wanted me to, and I kid you not, ignore the mother of the bride. [00:23:16] That was my brief. Do not pay any attention to her. She's gonna ask you to do all of these different shots with different people, but she is not paying. The bride and groom were really very clear about that. The problem is, from a diplomatic point of view, I've got a nightmare because, of course, the mother of the bride is asking me to do things. [00:23:36] And I've been briefed not to, because it'll draw time and they're not shots that the bride and groom, who are my client, are going to buy. So yes, you can end up in that situation. But here's the rub for that particular wedding, is I ended up going back and doing a portrait shoot with the whole family, because the mother of the bride felt she hadn't got the pictures of them as a family that she would wish for. [00:23:56] We ended up dancing through, or jumping through a few hoops, jumping through a few, I can't even say the word, hoop, jumping through a few hoops, hoops to get to the end goal. So Yvonne's Law simply states, remember that you're shooting for a client, you're not just shooting for you. Eventually I'll word it slightly differently as I probably think of 25 iterations of it. [00:24:17] Let's just let these people out here. There you go. You go through there. That's good. Perfectly good. And so it was a really beautiful wedding and throughout the day though I laughed with the two mums about Yvonne's law and made it perfectly clear that I was getting everything they had asked for. The Differences Between Shooting for Awards and Clients [00:24:35] Now there's a slight addendum to this thought process which is well how come what you shoot for a client doesn't necessarily do so well in awards or so well in qualifications. [00:24:49] And the truth of that is that we have to, to a degree, separate out context from the picture. So when we're judging we don't have the context which makes it sometimes a little bit tricky. As wedding photographers we know that shooting on a commissioned wedding is that little bit more complicated which is why in the categories for wedding photography most of them state really clearly Must be linked to the wedding day, must be commissioned. [00:25:16] You can't use models, it can't be you just shooting for fun, because once you eliminate that sense of pressure, the time pressure mostly, but the performance pressure and having to work for a client, everything's much easier. Which is why fashion magazines have these beautiful pictures of models in bridal gowns and actually on a real wedding day. [00:25:37] It's a lot trickier, it's not impossible but it's a lot trickier to get those images. So there's this thing, and I, we all know it the best I've ever heard it was shoot for show, shoot for dough. The difference between shooting for your portfolio, shooting for awards, shooting for qualifications, and shooting for the money, shooting for your client. [00:25:58] They are slightly different things, and one photographer, a really nice photographer called Hoss Madavi, photographer, Put it like this. He said, think about designing for a catwalk. Think about what you would design out there for a catwalk and then think about what you actually end up selling through a high street chain like John Lewis or Marks and Spencer or whatever in the UK or maybe Macy's or someone like that in the States. [00:26:27] Think about the difference between those two. Your haute couture arranges that you're going to produce on the catwalk. By the time they end up being sold to the mass public, not quite the same thing. Nor should they be. They're for different purposes. One is to show the world what you're capable of. One is to show, or it's actually sell to the world. [00:26:46] Not quite the same thing because most people are not going to buy a really funky haute couture dress or outfit off the catwalk in the same way that a lot of our clients won't wish. to buy a moody dark shot that's of the back of the groom's head. There you go. Yvonne's Law is now what we're calling it. [00:27:05] I might have to change it. I feel, I don't, I've never met Yvonne. I'm going to credit her with it because that was the story that was told to me. On that happy note, I am just pulling into a garage because I am absolutely starving. Conclusion and Farewell [00:27:17] I need to get some food and I need to get some food quick before I start getting grumpy. [00:27:22] So I'm going to park up and I'm going to wish you all well for the week. So for this week's podcast, thank you for listening. Of course you can email me. At paul@paulwilkinsonphotography.co.uk. You can head over to masteringportraitphotography.com. Please do subscribe to the podcast wherever it is that you consume your podcast. [00:27:43] And if you feel like it, please leave us a review. If you feel sorry, if you feel like leaving us a nice review, please leave us a review. If you feel like leaving us some nastiness, then please email me so I know what we could improve on. But on that happy note, I hope you're having a good week. I hope the weather is better where you are than where we are. [00:27:58] And of course, in the spirit of this morning, a very happy Christmas to you all on this February day. And whatever else, be festive, but be kind to yourself. Take care.
EP144 Your Words May Trigger A Thousand Pictures
29-01-2024
EP144 Your Words May Trigger A Thousand Pictures
I am recording this having just spent the day running one of our workshops with some of the nicest people imaginable.  A top day (though I am now shattered!) at the end of a top month (January has been amazing) and who knows?  Maybe it's the start of a top year.  Don't want to tempt fate though... This episode was triggered by a shoot I did last week, when just a few words seemed to change the course of a shoot. Enjoy! Cheers P. If you enjoy this podcast, please head over to Mastering Portrait Photography, for more articles and videos about this beautiful industry. You can also read a full transcript of this episode. PLEASE also subscribe and leave us a review - we'd love to hear what you think! If there are any topics, you would like to hear, have questions we could answer or would like to come and be interviewed on the podcast, please contact me at paul@paulwilkinsonphotography.co.uk.  Full Transcript: [00:00:00] Can you believe it? January has nearly gone. We are almost into February, the second month of only 12 in a year, and this has already been one of the best starts we've ever had to any year. I'm Paul, and this is a very optimistic Mastering Portrait Photography Podcast. Well, I'll be honest, I did not see that coming. [00:00:39] I think when we got to the end of last year, exhaustion took over, I crashed into Christmas, came out of it the other side, went into the convention, we're having a ball, but I think I don't know why I wasn't expecting this year to be quite as lively as it has been, but it does seem to be that there is a ton of energy out there. [00:00:59] Maybe, maybe I was expecting the general election to be early in the year, and so things tend to get a little bit quieter around elections or around referenda. But the phone is ringing like crazy, emails are coming in. This week we've had a handful of reveals and they've all been brilliant. The clients have loved the images, everything's gone well. [00:01:23] My bit of the puzzle is to create images, create an experience, send them away with memories and make sure they know what to expect when they come back for the sales, for the reveals. And they've gone really smoothly, which means I've done my bit properly, which makes me very happy because as you all know, a little bit chaotic at the best of times, uh, but it looks like my debriefs are working. [00:01:43] I'm getting the point across to the client. We're creating pictures that people love and I am having a ball. I did think I might feel a little flat after the success of the Society's convention. It was such a good week. I know I spoke about it in the last podcast, but I'm still smiling at just how much fun we had, just how many people I met. [00:02:06] The workshops were full. I spend a lot of time chatting photography, having interesting conversations, meeting interesting and funny people, and I think, I suppose, last week, I thought I might feel a little flat about it all, but that could not be further from the truth. If anything, I'm more energetic now than I have been for a long time, ignoring the fact that I'm also pretty exhausted and my eyes. I don't know why, but my eyes have been tired today. You know, you get those days when I put my glasses on and within three minutes, I've got to take them off, even though everything is just slightly blurry because I don't know why, it just makes my, it's just been making my eyes tired today. [00:02:46] Maybe I just need to go and get them sorted, but this has been the most successful January we've ever had. And sometimes everything goes like that. It's just hectic, it's full of stuff, all unexpected, but being busy is a good thing. I think? Isn't it? Uh, I don't know. Anyway, today we've just finished the first of this year's workshops. [00:03:11] This particular workshop was our From Shutter to Print workshop, uh, which steps through everything from picking up your camera all the way through to prepping your images ready for print. It's a huge, if you think about it, that's a huge field to cover. And of course, we try really hard to To tune it, we ask all of the delegates coming, we ask questions on what they're looking for. [00:03:35] So we try to make sure that everything we're delivering is in line with what would be useful for them. And at this point of the day, it's quarter to eight in the evening. I don't know, a couple of hours ago when they left But they all look just slightly shattered, whether that's just because I've thrown so much information at them, whether it's just because it's a Monday, a dark Monday in January, or a combination of the two, I've no idea. [00:03:59] Of course, I'm always slightly nervous of whether I've done a good job of delivering the information that would be useful for them, but it certainly has been a blast. And it was Loretta today. I don't know if I've ever talked about Loretta. Loretta was one of my clients. I photographed her wedding. Oh, it must be 10 years ago now. [00:04:17] Um, and we've been friends ever since. She is a ball of energy and I absolutely love it when she's in the studio because there is not a dull moment. There's never a flat. Easy, calm couple of minutes. It's just 100 miles an hour from when she arrives to when she goes. So today has been one of those days. [00:04:39] So thank you to everybody who came on the workshop. And obviously, thank you to Loretta for modeling. And once again, best lunch. ever. The guys, there's a delicatessen in our local town of Thame called What's Cooking. I don't know if a shout out to a small company in Thame is any good to them on a podcast that has photographers all over the world, but I'm going to give them a big shout because every time they do the food for us, it is a highlight of the day. [00:05:06] I like to think the pictures I've created might be the highlight of the day. But no, no, I'm absolutely convinced that as everybody's driving away, they'll have been thinking that was a great lunch. We had beautiful food full of flavor, not your sandwich, not your average sandwiches that you get in packets or bowls of crisps. [00:05:26] No, no, no. These are. Big plates of really beautiful vegetables and salads and a quiche and chicken and scotch eggs. It was absolutely incredible. So thank you to What's Cooking in Tame for yet again. They're our regular, they cater to our workshops all the time. I, when I set out with this thing. I wanted to deliver something that's genuinely useful, but also something that people will enjoy coming to. [00:05:52] And lunch, for me at least, is a big part of that. I'm always disappointed when I go somewhere and it's a crappy lunch. You know, the edges of the sandwiches are curled. It's like tea in Tearns. Those annoyingly sweet biscuits that you get. None of that. Mid afternoon, so the first part of the day, the first half of the day is all photography. [00:06:13] And the second half of the day is all Uh, techniques and things in Photoshop and Lightroom. And midway through that, Sarah arrives with Millionaire's Shortbread and tea and coffee and just lovely. And it just picks everybody up long enough for them to survive, survive me rabbiting on about Photoshop and Lightroom and retouching and layers and masks and curves and color profiles and LUTs and all of the things that are part of this thing. [00:06:43] The mid afternoon snack is my highlight. I actually look forward to it. So I had this brilliant lunch. We've had beautiful people around, created amazing pictures, had a lot of fun. And mid afternoon, in comes a millionaire's shortbread. Oh my days. Yes, please. Thank you very much. Uh, anyway, what did I actually learn today? [00:07:00] One of the things that came up in the editing section , someone asked me, Um, why I choose the order that I do for making my edits. And I've never really thought about why in anything other than, well I, you know, the background I'll do, I'll do this, then I'll do that, then I'll get all the way up to the front layers, then I'll do the retouching on skin, etc, etc, and any, you know, liquefying things. [00:07:24] And actually when I thought about it, I stopped dead and I thought about it. I edit in the order of certainty that I won't need to go back to it. Now, I've never really thought about it logically like that till today. Maybe I should have. I've done it instinctively. [00:07:42] So there's a thing called a desire line, or desire lines, and these are those paths that when you look at like a park, uh, like a park, particularly in a town, like a big expanse of green, or maybe in our village here we have, um, walk into the station, you go along the path, and the path dips into each of the cul de sacs. [00:08:04] So the designers, the architects, or the town planners expect you to walk round the corner by about 20 feet, cross the road, Inside the cul de sac, and then come back out on the path, and on the corners of each of those cul de sacs, there's green, there's grass. But if you actually look, the grass is worn down because people have gone sod that and walking in a straight line. [00:08:22] Similarly in a park, you'll see where the planners and the architects and the designers wanted you to go, and then you'll see where people actually go, and it's never the same place. Well, there's a name for it, they're called desire lines. And the same is true in how you develop processes in your business. [00:08:39] I've talked about this before, and the trick really is to do the same thing over and over and over and find your own desire line. So much as you sit and plan things, much as you sit and analyse and decide to do this after that and that before this, in the end, you'll do what comes naturally. You'll go and basically The straightest line you can, the path of least resistance. [00:09:00] It's called a desire line, it has a proper name. So when I was thinking about it today, because one of the delegates asked, why do I do it in this order? And, what I actually do, is I start with the background. So I've got my background layer that's come in from the raw file. I'll duplicate that, because then I've always got an original, uh, layer to go back to. [00:09:19] Then I usually clean up, so if it's a studio shot, I'll clean up the background. I'll sort out anything to do with the background, because that isn't going to change. It, there's no real decisions to make there. I'm just going to do it, because Once it's done, it's done. I'll never need to go back to it. Then, I might work on, uh, all of the elements of the image that, although they might be quite intensive Photoshopping, they definitely need to be done. [00:09:45] So, for instance, if someone's wearing a black outfit, as they were today, And there's lots of little hairs and flecks of dust and things. They're gonna need to be cleaned off. There's no ifs, no buts, no wherefores, no decisions to be made. I'm just going to clean it. I'll never need to go back to it because once it's clean, it's clean. [00:10:03] And I can move on to the next stages. Then I've got a couple of decisions to make. Um, probably what I'm gonna do is do my skin work. So if it's a face, I'm a portrait photographer, there's nearly always a face. I'll do some skin work. I might Photoshop around the edges of the hair, any stray hairs. And I might do things like, um, frequency separation and some retouching with some dodging and burning. [00:10:27] Then once I've got clear of that, probably what I might think about doing is maybe putting in a texture on top of a background layer. But things like that I might change my mind about, so they're right at the top of the stack. Um, then when I've got there If I need to do any liquefying or any puppet warping, this is the moment. [00:10:44] It's really late in the stages of photography. Why? Because I'm not certain at this stage, or I'm not 100 percent ever at this stage, quite what would be the right amount of that kind of work. Of all the things we do, I think it's probably the most contentious. Changing someone's body shape because I've posed them badly. [00:11:07] It's still an area where it's a little bit vague as to how much is the right amount to do, particularly as someone who photographs all sorts of walks of life, all sorts of ages. I don't want to be in that realm of, you know, everybody has to look a certain way. But equally, if I've posed someone not as optimally as I should have, maybe I'll just fix that. [00:11:27] But it's going to happen really late in the edit. If later on, I'm really close to finishing an image at this point, so if I decide, well, I don't know, maybe I shouldn't have done that, I can go back and I don't have to undo any of the rest of it. And then the final tiny little bit, probably to put a vignette on top, uh, if I, if I want to, and then maybe finish off with a black and white conversion, or something like Nik Color FX. [00:11:52] So basically what I'm doing is I'm working all the way up from the bottom with all of the things that really, really, really, uh, are definitely going to be done no matter what, all the way to the things actually if I change my mind tomorrow, I won't have to start again at the bottom of the layer stack. [00:12:07] And I've never really thought about it like that. Um, so many of the processes in our studio are my own desire lines, but I've never thought about that one. So it's kind of cool that at the end of a workshop I've learned something really good as well. So thank you to everyone who came. Really excited about this year's workshops. [00:12:24] All of them. They're going to be brilliant. Particularly if they go like today. But the one, if I'm honest, that I am most looking forward to is the one we're running on the 18th. So, uh, I've got about six, what's that, six, eight weeks, uh, to think about it. Uh, it's called at the moment, Ordinary to Extraordinary Studio Photography, probably because we were hunting around for a title for it. [00:12:46] Sounds alarmingly like some of Gerry Guionis titles. Uh, but it could also have been called, I don't know, the Storeroom Studio or Lighting Up in the Lounge. No, no, not lighting up. That makes it sounds like you're smoking lighting in the lounge or maybe the basement backdrop. I don't know, but whatever it is titled, it's all about creating magic in small, awkward, tricky spaces, which is something I've had to do a lot of when I'm working in office buildings. [00:13:17] When I'm working in other people's homes, you never quite know what you're going to get. And this whole workshop is dedicated to things like basements. Boardrooms, cellars, lounges, hallways, corridors, even store cupboards. I kid you not, I did a shoot the other week in a store cupboard. A big store cupboard, but a store cupboard. [00:13:40] So at the moment I am coming up with ways to mimic what it's like to work in these little spaces that are awkward, but still create gorgeous images. Now I'm really excited about it because one of the things about smaller spaces is you tend to get, assuming you can get your kit. In there, you tend to get lower contrast because the light pings around a little bit and you can get some really beautiful, gentle, effortless setups. [00:14:06] Uh, so that is going to be an absolute blast. Cannot wait, uh, for that. Uh, how am I doing? What did I say I was doing last week? Oh yes, the MPP website. Still rebuilding it. It's a long process. We are getting there, slowly but surely, we are getting there and it is taking shape. The content is nearly over. But I've still got to reorganise it all. [00:14:29] And in the process of doing it, we're reading everything. I'm reading every article, double checking to see if it's still relevant. One or two of the things we've ported over that came from the book, and then went to the Mastering Portrait Photography website. Well, of course, the book was published in 2014. [00:14:43] It's 10 years old this year. And some of the information in there is now, frankly, outdated. Anything to do with cameras and lighting, things have moved on. Probably also the Photoshopping, although luckily, the small bits of Photoshopping I put in were basically about principles, not about specifics. So, you know, generative AI hadn't even been thought of at that stage, nor had things like the removal tool, nor had actually quite a lot of the tooling in Photoshop or Lightroom. [00:15:12] It just, the latest versions are worlds apart from what was going on in 2014, but equally, an awful lot of what's on there is Totally relevant, totally pertinent, uh, to, uh, what's going on. So, um, we are working on it. We will get there, trust me. When it's done, we will sing it from the rooftops. Uh, but I'll keep you up to date with how that is all going, uh, including my excitement, uh, for it. [00:15:39] Um, this week's Thought of the Week. And it's a simple one. Well, they're always simple ones. I mean, I'm not a complicated guy, not really. This week's Thought of the Week is that you genuinely You genuinely have the power to make people feel amazing with words, just as you do with pictures, if not more so. [00:15:59] Why do I say that? Well, two different clients this week, one in particular, he came, he was just a lovely guy. Uh, he made the claim right at the beginning of the session that he hadn't really ever had a picture that he really liked of himself. And I'm looking at him thinking, I'm not quite sure why. I can't see it visually, but maybe it's the way he reacted to being in front of the camera. [00:16:24] We've got shooting and all was going reasonably well, and then suddenly. Something about the way he looked and the way he moved reminded me of Vernon Kay. He's from a different area of the country, one's from the North, Vernon Kay's from Bolton, I think, and my client's from the South. Different heights, I think Vernon Kay's about 6 foot 8 or something, ridiculous, 6 foot 2, I've no idea. [00:16:46] But he's tall and he was a model, my client, anything but. But, there were definitely similarities in the mannerisms, in the haircut, and if I got the light in a certain position and the angle was right, In the way he, it lit his face. And I've said this, and I'm laughing. And he didn't know who Vernon Kaye was, which is a little bit sobering. [00:17:08] Obviously, people who are younger, uh, maybe Vernon Kaye's not on their radar just yet. But. As I talked it through, visibly, the guy grew in confidence. You could see his body language change, you could see him just come out of himself a little bit, and of course as he's doing that, I'm getting better pictures because his confidence has grown. [00:17:30] It's paying dividends just having someone in front of me who feels better about themselves. Now don't get me wrong, you cannot tell someone they look like Robert Redford if they don't. That's not what I'm saying. But in finding really good positives Things about someone, not only that you like, but things that you can verbalize, whether it's something to do with a glint in their eye, whether it's something to do with their clothing. [00:17:54] In this instance, it was someone he looks a little bit like. And with a shoot, particularly with headshots where it could be corporate, it could be an author, it could be a musician or an artist, I don't necessarily know who's coming in or how confident they are. or what we're going to do. Sometimes I do, but not that often. [00:18:16] And so I will nearly always in my head figure out an actor or a public figure who has a media presence. Obviously not, hopefully someone who's nice, not a Donald Trump or a Liz Truss. Uh, to, to, and what I'll do is it's with that personality is I'll figure out what would their agent have asked of them for photos. [00:18:40] What would be in their portfolio, their lookbook? What would be on the inside sleeve of an author's bio? If they were in a BBC or an ITV or a Netflix drama, what would the cover shot look like? Because the thing about actors, in particular, the thing about actors, is they reflect Every day Life.. So you get actors from all sorts of backgrounds and skill sets. [00:19:06] You get every ethnicity, you get every gender, you get every identity, you get attitudes, you get heights, you get everything. Because actors have to represent the world in which we're all familiar. So you get as many different types of actor. As you do people on the planet. And if you can find an actor that is close enough, close enough to the person you have in front of you, and then work out in your head quickly, what might the film they're in be? [00:19:37] What might a book they've published be? What would a cover look like? What would the poster image on Netflix or Amazon or Maybe in an agent book or maybe on a, on a music album cover. I don't know. I'm making this up as I go along, but if you can picture it, if you can find it, if you can drag it out of your imagination and your history, two things. [00:20:01] Firstly, you can say to the client, Oh man, you remind me of X. And that's a very helpful thing to do because the client will grow in confidence, but secondly , so do you. Because you're now shooting with something in mind that you might not have had when the shoot started. You might have, but you might not have. [00:20:21] For me, I love that moment when I open the door and suddenly I've got to figure out what shots are going to look good. How am I going to do this? What's I'm going to look at their clothing, get them to talk me through their clothing and step through all of the things we're going to do with that. I love that energy and that positivity as we drive the shoot forward. [00:20:39] And I'm not kidding, not only did my client feel better, but so did I because I was now producing better pictures because my client was reacting to the camera in a way that could really only result in beautiful images. [00:20:54] Please do, when you're working, think of ways of making your client feel a million bucks. And language is every bit as important as what you do with your lights and your camera with Photoshop. Now that's a proper time to know, a proper point to end. As always, if you're interested in our workshops, just Google Paul Wilkinson Photography Workshops, or head over to Paul Wilkinson Photography and look for the coaching section. [00:21:20] Please do give us a like, a wave, a review. Uh, some five stars maybe that'd be really nice, uh, on iTunes or wherever you get your podcast. If you wanna subscribe to the podcast, please do so on your, on your, uh, podcast Player of Choice so that every time I record one, it'll drop as if by magic, straight into the list of things to listen. [00:21:41] Like I said last week, I'm gonna try and keep this as a weekly podcast, this time round. Shorter episodes, but far more. Of them. As always, if you have, uh, any questions at all, you can reach me onPaul@paulwilkinsonphotography.co.uk. We've had some really lovely emails this week from people. Thank you to everyone who's emailed in, uh, to say they're enjoying the podcast. [00:22:03] Uh, so you can reach me atPaul@paulwilkinsonphotography.co.uk. And until next time, however your week is going, however, your January is ending, your February starting, or if you're just listening to the back catalog, whatever it is you're up to, whatever else. Be kind to yourself. Take care.
EP143 It's Up To You To Walk The Energy Into The Room
22-01-2024
EP143 It's Up To You To Walk The Energy Into The Room
Well we're back from The Societies Convention in London and it's been a blast (though I am a little weary!) However, no matter how tired I am, I am going to have to find the energy for my clients - just as we all need to.  And that is the topic of this episode. Enjoy! Cheers P. If you enjoy this podcast, please head over to Mastering Portrait Photography, for more articles and videos about this beautiful industry. You can also read a full transcript of this episode. PLEASE also subscribe and leave us a review - we'd love to hear what you think! If there are any topics, you would like to hear, have questions we could answer or would like to come and be interviewed on the podcast, please contact me at paul@paulwilkinsonphotography.co.uk.  Full Transcript:   [00:00:00] Just got back. From the Society's Convention in London. Four days of hugging, laughing, talking photography, talking crap as well, I think, drinking, eating, not sleeping, running workshops, meeting suppliers, having conversations with editors, more drinking. And generally feeling good about this industry of ours. [00:00:20] I've met so many people, I've hugged so many people. And for people like us who work in small businesses, many of us on our own, the convention is by far the best possible start to the year. I'm Paul and this is a slightly bleary eyed Mastering Portrait Photography Podcast.  [00:00:41]  [00:00:55] Well, hello one and all. Um, coming back down after the annual convention is a little bit of a task. [00:01:03] I needed to sleep quite a lot and to eat, well, something sensible if I'm honest, rather than a diet of beer and carbs. On the night of the awards themselves, I look over, it's about two o'clock in the morning, and I see Sarah sat in a corner, eating the world's largest packet of popcorn. And you do know what it's like when you get the munchies, there's nothing quite like sugary, salty goodness of popcorn. [00:01:28] The hardest part of huge conventions for me is always that I struggle to place people, so it's slightly stressful, and it's not really made any easier by the fact that a lot of people only know me because they've heard my voice on the podcast. So lots of conversations start with me saying, hello mate, and then rapidly trying to remember why or how or where I know someone from. [00:01:51] Sarah is in a different league, of course. She seems to have an encyclopedic ability to recall conversations and characters, whereas I'm oblivious trying to figure out the light on someone's face. The number of times I've met someone and all I can think is that the lighting is perfect and it would make a great portrait. [00:02:08] Not very helpful when you're trying to hold a normal conversation .  [00:02:11] So this year, I jumped back into the fray and entered the print competition. Haven't done that for a couple of years for one reason or another, mostly because I've been judging. But this year, as chair of judges for a different association, I've been relieved of my duties at the Societies convention, which frees me up to enter.  [00:02:29] And of course it's a good idea whenever you do get the chance to enter a print competition because it forces you, I mean literally forces you to practice what you preach. However, as always Uh, the images that I hadn't expected to do well did brilliantly, while some I had high fa hopef bleh bleh, I'm breaking these teeth in for a donkey, while some I had high hopes for didn't do quite so well. [00:02:54] Overall, though, a really good show for me. Out of the 12, I entered 9 achieved merits. Uh, 2 were finalists, so runners up, uh, which is one hell of a rate. The other thing I'm proud of is that they're all from commissioned shoots, bar one, just the one. There is in there an image of our dog Rufus, the studio dog Rufus, which I entered into the pets category because, well, he is a pet and he is really photogenic. [00:03:23] But you can only ever get one shot of him, just the one. You put him in front of a nice light, you take your picture. He's out of there. Doesn't matter how many treats, how much you persuade him, you get just one shot. So I've had to learn to be right on my toes. Anyway, all respect to the judges, as in my opinion at least, there was no doubt that when it got to the final three images in each and every category, and that includes the ones I did and didn't do well in, I don't think you could argue that they didn't warrant the placing that they gave them. [00:03:51] Though for me this year, uh, I was a little bit of the bridesmaid, not quite the bride next year. You know, next year. Because there's always that thing when you pick out your images that this time. This time, that's, that particular picture is going to do well. Think about it. You wouldn't enter if you didn't really believe that you were going to win. [00:04:11] You wouldn't pay the fees, you wouldn't spend the time prepping, you wouldn't spend the time printing, if you really and truly didn't believe that particular image stood a chance. But, as ever, it's a little bit of a lottery, if I'm honest. I think I did alright. Uh, on guessing, but there's a one image in particular that I thought would do much better than it did. [00:04:32] And it really didn't score very well. It didn't quite put me on the wooden spoon. Yep, there is a wooden spoon floating around, uh, which has been going for years. My name is on it from one year, but thankfully not this year. And that's for the entrant who scores the lowest out of all the people, um, who are involved, uh, with that particular competition. [00:04:52] But at least you get to take one prize home. I am quite lucky, as I do know pretty much every judge personally, many of them I've judged alongside for a lot of years, so a few of them were kind enough to tell me what had been discussed and what I might do to improve. Even after all these years, you do have to keep developing it, it would be, well apart from anything else, it would be very boring if you didn't. [00:05:16] And every other photographer at the convention will be doing exactly the same thing, except maybe the overall winners, who I'm guessing are enjoying a little champagne and admiring their own work, at least for the next day or three. Anyway, it turns out one errant shiny button and one pair of shoes that I could have placed more prominently and I might just have made it to be the bride not the bridesmaid. [00:05:40] This year's target, the one coming up, that is 2024, is to get my shit together on the post production side. All my life I've constructed images in camera and not really needed to focus too much on Photoshop, though I do love the power of it and I really love The whole process of putting an image together, but I really do think it's time for me to up my game with Adobe's finest. [00:06:05] Uh, there were also a ton of meetings, some formally arranged with others being far more impromptu and involving a pint. It was so good to see the people who make many of our bespoke products. So we saw Graphistudio, we saw Kaleidoscope, these guys supply the stuff that we supply our clients. It was wonderful to catch up with them, as well as the editors of various magazines that I write for. [00:06:27] Though that does now mean there's a load of work for me to do and the corresponding deadlines to contend with. And if that weren't enough, and there was certainly plenty going on, there is of course an entire program of workshops. And this year, Sarah and I were having a ball running two. A superclass on headshots and a masterclass on simple but effective lighting. [00:06:50] Both of the workshops, thankfully, were chock full. The second, the masterclass, was standing room only. So a huge, huge, huge thank you. Know who you are to everyone who came and laughed our way through many hours of creating images. One of the best things about the convention is it really is all about energy Which brings me, neatly, or maybe not so neatly, depending on your view, to the thing that occurred to me this week. [00:07:17] And it's a very simple thing. It's that you walk energy. into the room.  [00:07:24] Simple thing, huh?  [00:07:26] It doesn't matter whether you're running a workshop or you're with your client, the energy of the room is almost entirely down to what you bring in with you. And if you don't have it, you can bet your delegates, your audience, or your subjects won't have it either. [00:07:41] I am not saying, I'm not saying you need to be loud. I know I am quite loud or out there, uh, but you need to have an energy about you, a positivity. You need to be on 10. For me, it's reasonably easy. The fact that I have someone in front of me just seems to trigger something in me. It brings out the performer and it's important that it's a performance and not an act. [00:08:04] Authenticity is crucial. The lie of acting will very quickly be found out. A performance, on the other hand, is exactly what it is. You and you at the fullest of your ability being truly present, truly engaged in the moment and the people around you. Sometimes, if I'm honest, I really don't feel up to a shoot or I'm not massively full of energy and I have to take a breath and remember that it's me that drives the shoot. [00:08:32] It's me that provides the pulse. [00:08:35] It's me that defines it.  [00:08:37] I have to find whatever it is in me that will define how the shoot or the workshop is going to go. I have to be on a 10. Always. I don't know if you've ever heard of it, there's a thing called the Laughter Club. It was first popularised by an Indian physician called Madan Kataria. [00:08:57] I think I've pronounced his name correctly, apologies if I haven't. And this is where groups get together and deliberately laugh. But the effect on the brain, even though they're doing it deliberately, and not necessarily for any good reason, has exactly, is exactly the same as if you went to a comedy club. [00:09:16] The effect on the brain, it doesn't care that the laughter isn't because you're out being entertained. It doesn't care, it doesn't know that the laughter might not be real. It has the same effect on your brain. The trick to this, and this is to take a quote from Wikipedia, is that the brain does not know we're faking it. [00:09:38] It's as if you were genuinely laughing. It's as if you were genuinely happy. Well the same is true when you put yourself on a 10 The same is true if you talk yourself into being energetic, if you talk yourself to being present, you will feel energetic, you will feel present, just as laughter in a laughter club makes you feel like you're having a funny moment. [00:10:02] The same endorphins, the same processes. So it's not just that you will give out, but that you will end up feeling the same way. Not only will your clients feel it, you will feel it. And this is also the same way I prep to record this podcast. It can't work if I'm not feeling it, so I have to feel it every time. [00:10:22] As an aside today, I've been sitting here waiting for the moment to record it, uh, because there's been, uh, an Amazon delivery waiting and waiting. It's eight stops away, six stops away, and all the way up until it's nearly here, and then I realized I can hear the van. I can hear the driver. So I've just had to leg it down the road, uh, knock on his door and say, look, they're going to the wrong house. They should be at the studio and got my delivery. And of course that puts you in the wrong frame of mind to come back and do the podcast. But I still had to sit, get my head in it and figure out what I wanted to feel, what I wanted to convey. And why bother? I mean, why is it important? [00:11:02] Well, if your clients are having a good time, they will to put it absolutely simply, spend more. Partly because if they've loved it and you've formed positive associations and memories with the shoot and partly because if you're working at a hundred percent, you'll be more creative. But if you bring the two together Well, that can only increase the odds of getting your best sales. [00:11:25] Anyway, back to the here and now. As I'm busily rebuilding our Mastering Portrait Photography website, something that is slow going, but I am honestly really enjoying it. We will release it in the next few weeks. And I've always loved being a coder, though I was never, ever particularly talented at it. But it is quite nice to spend time absorbed in HTML, CSS, JavaScript, API documentation. [00:11:48] Uh, you know, if you know, you know what I'm talking about.  [00:11:51] Anywho, thank you for staying here until the end of this podcast. My target this year is to get back to doing them weekly, which is how I started out. This might not be entirely realistic given the diary that I have, but it is still my ambition. [00:12:07] Shorter episodes, But more of them. And, well, we'll see. As always, if you have questions or feedback, please do drop me a line. I can always be reached at paul@paulwilkinsonphotography.co.uk, that's paul@paulwilkinsonphotography.co.uk. Or leave us a 5 star rating on Apple's podcast app as it helps to drive SEO up massively and every little helps. [00:12:28] If you're interested in any of our upcoming workshops, please head to paulwilkinsonphotography.co.uk and then just search out the coaching section or more simply just Google Paul Wilkinson Photography Workshops. If you'd like to hear more episodes they can be found on all popular podcast players or head over to the spiritual home masteringportraitphotography.com where you can find the entire Back Catalog and a whole heap of other resources dedicated to the art, the craft and the business of portrait photography. And whatever else you do in the coming week, remember, be kind to yourself. Take care. [00:13:07] ​
EP142 Building Your Business One Client At A Time
15-01-2024
EP142 Building Your Business One Client At A Time
Hi all! I am sitting writing this late on a Sunday evening with a glass of whisky in one hand (a small glass I hasten to add) and typing with the other.  It's already a business year and we're only a week or two in! In this episode, I have been pondering how you build your business and how, in particular, you do it one client at a time. It's the Societies Convention in London next week and I spent much of today figuring out exactly what I'm going to be doing.  It's been a lot of fun, but it has highlighted my lack of liner thinking, that's for sure! The Superclass and Masterclass we will be running at the Societies Convention 2024 can be found at https://thesocieties.net/convention/speakers/paul-wilkinson/ and we would love to see you there - either at the workshops or just for a well-deserved pint! Finally, all of our workshops at our studio can be found at https://www.paulwilkinsonphotography.co.uk/photography-workshops-and-training/  Enjoy! Cheers P. If you enjoy this podcast, please head over to Mastering Portrait Photography, for more articles and videos about this beautiful industry. You can also read a full transcript of this episode. PLEASE also subscribe and leave us a review - we'd love to hear what you think! If there are any topics, you would like to hear, have questions we could answer or would like to come and be interviewed on the podcast, please contact me at paul@paulwilkinsonphotography.co.uk.  Full Transcript:   [00:00:00] SO it's late Sunday evening, and I'm sitting here on my own, the fire is ticking over, Sarah's fast asleep, and I have a glass in my hand of something, well, rather lovely. It's a glass of whiskey from my in laws who brought me a bottle of Dartmoor whiskey for my Christmas. Tonight, Sarah and I have sat and watched Vera. Of all things, how middle aged can you get we sat and watched Vera on ITV? Why? Well, on Friday night we watched Oppenheimer. On Saturday night, we watched Saltburn. Tonight, we needed something, frankly, a lot less stressful. Harriet, our daughter, did warn us that Saltburn was a little bit on the, how do I put this, fruity side? But, I'm not sure Sarah or I were necessarily predicting it to be quite As lively as it was. And so tonight, we really did need something very gentle. Something very uncomplicated. A whodunit actually is relatively obvious and with no [00:01:00] major stress. Very, very different to the other two films. Which may explain why I'm sitting here drinking a large whiskey that was bought by my in laws. It's been a busy week and I've just prepped a wedding which made me laugh. So, it's a wedding I shot a couple of weeks ago just before Christmas and at this wedding I met a pilot. Now, I've always had a theory that pilots get recruited on their debonair looks and their ability to say what they need to say over the microphone and sound reassuring. Sure enough, as I got talking to him, both things became markedly apparent. So, I'm Paul and this is the Mastering Portrait Photography Podcast. [00:02:00] Haha! So January appears to be running at full throttle and that is not an understatement. I don't know what's going on for a moment emails coming in, inquiries coming in, the phone is ringing we're booked up solid, and next week of course is the Society's Convention, which I'm very, very much looking forward to. It was a shame when it moved around the year a little bit. I couldn't be there last year but this year back very much in full effect. I'm running two workshops, one of which is sold out, the other I hope to see a large crowd. So on the 18th from 11. 30 to 1, headshots. And on that note today I spent the whole day. Piecing together exactly what we're going to cover because the way I've decided to do it is to just have two very basic strobes. Obviously, when you're doing a workshop at a convention, they give you a list of the kit you can cherry pick from and I could have had the very best of the very best. [00:03:00] But the lighting I've chosen isn't, it's not that it's not great lighting, but it's not sophisticated lighting. Very simple lighting that every photographer would start out with, and for both my workshops, both the superclass and the masterclass, I'm going to use this very, very simple kit. Because I get a little bit frustrated when people say to you, oh, you must have amazing lights, or you must have an amazing camera. In the end, it's what you do with these things. And not only that, but after we've finished doing a workshop, I want people to go away and say, Do you know what? I can do that. Otherwise, there's no point in doing a workshop if you're just gonna do a workshop. And in the end, everyone's gonna go can I do that with my lights? And the answer is, no. Or, can I do that with my camera? No. Can I do that with my models? No. There's no point coming to a workshop like that, you know, or rather, there's no point running a workshop like that. So I've backed everything off. We have two simple lights with two small softboxes. That is it. They're mains powered, so I'm going to be tripping over live cables, which I [00:04:00] hate. But today, to try and get my head around exactly what we're going to do, because in the second Masterclass, I committed to doing two lights, ten looks, one and a half hours, one personal.brand, so it's portraits but based around personal branding. I picked on that because it's a very topical thing at the moment. Lots of personal branding, lots of headshots going on. So it seemed like a good vehicle for it. But in the end, it's portraiture. Lit beautifully, lit quickly. You should be able to create pretty much anything you want to with just two lights. In fact, I've won more awards with one light than I have for any other combination of studio strobes. So. I'm running a workshop around just these two lights, but the problem is that I do not have a linear mind. I wish I did, but I don't. I'll give you the example today. Very kindly, one of my clients someone who's modeled for us a lot is both a [00:05:00] client, the daughter of a client and has been one of those handful of people who's been in front of our camera more than anybody else. Stepped in on her Sunday afternoon off to help me figure a path through what we're going to show. I had it all written out, I had it listed. I spent an hour this morning going through that so that I could work my way through a shoot and work out what we're going to do in the workshop. Within seconds of Libby arriving and standing in the middle of the studio, I changed my mind four times. I had to keep going back to the list to remind myself what I was supposed to be doing, what Is it that I intended to do? Because honestly, I don't think like that. I just, I see the person in front of me. I look at the lighting I have and ideas just spring to mind. Not always good ideas. I never said they were good ideas. Just ideas. Or I suppose if you're someone who works in a linear fashion, you might call them distractions. I would call it creativity. Everybody else [00:06:00] might just call it a lack of focus. Forgive the pun. But I did spend today figuring out. Different lighting patterns with the two lights that not only can I do, but they create beautiful imagery and they show just what can be achieved with the simplest of kit and some knowledge of how you're using it. Of course, one of the challenges is going to be in the hotel next week. is it's not a nice dark studio, I don't have all my equipment to hand, anything I'm going to use, the only things that the convention are giving me are a model and two lights and two softboxes, they've said this year, no background, so anything I want to shoot in front of, I've got to take in with me, as well as the stands for it. Which is fine, it's not a big deal, but I need to be able to travel light because I do not want to be traipsing on the train and on the tube across London with tons of equipment if I can avoid it. So I'm going to try and do this in very light touch, very simple equipment and that lends itself to being [00:07:00] something that if you are just starting out in photography, if you've just started to think, you know what? I'm going to do some studio lighting. Then this is going to be one heck of a masterclass for you because I'm literally using the equipment that I started out on. In fact, the equipment we're going to use is even more sophisticated than what I started out on, but that's because everything has evolved. When I started out, everything had analog sliders to set the power. They were great, but they were unreliable as hell. You had to do everything by eye or by light meter, I suppose. And some days, the little sliders would work really well, and it'd be, you know, linear, and as you moved it up a little bit, it would change a little bit, move it down a little bit, it would change a little bit. Heh heh. Uh, but then of course, gradually over time, the carbon tracks wore, and you'd move it up a little bit, and the light would go really bright! And then you'd move it down a little bit, and the light would go off. And I'm like, why am I in the dark now? And then, the modeling light would be a very different power. You could never get them, even though there was two sliders side by side, the modeling light never tracked against the actual [00:08:00] power. Oh, a million things. So, of course, in this day and age of digital control, where you set the numbers on the back of your light, no matter how basic your light is, you're going to set a number, either with a click wheel or with a digital input, and it's going to be pretty much spot on, certainly compared to how people like me, who started out You know, I started out with second hand Elinchrom, a pair of Elinchrom EL500s. I think they were, they were great, but they got very hot, the fans were noisy, they didn't always go off. You didn't have radios back then, we had wires. Um, you had a mains cable, you had a trigger cable. If you were lucky, you could get the little Magic Eye thing to work. I had these, I bought them second hand, but they were fantastic and I loved it. But if you compare that technology to what we're using today, of course, what we've got today, and even the most basic kit, is so sophisticated. Anyway, today I've spent the whole day, or I haven't, I've spent the afternoon, stepping through [00:09:00] the lighting patterns we're going to use, and I'm really excited about it because the images are absolutely stunning. Well, I think they are. You may disagree. They weren't what I expected to do, even though I had a list, but then, I guess, if there's one thing you would expect from me, it's that I'm not going to do what was expected of me, but that's, that's not by choice, I'm not a rebel, it's just I don't think in a linear fashion. That's not my superpower. Sarah and Michelle both do, and that's their superpower. They're very organized. They're very methodical. They're very step by step by step. And I am so not, except in one key area, and that's our workflow. So if ever I talk about workflow, it's actually, it's, it's, in some ways, it's the most. Exciting thing because it's super organized and it's super organized because over the years, I've spent a lot of time making sure I've got it absolutely how I want it. On the other hand, it's not that exciting because it's linear and I'd much rather be out there [00:10:00] being creative. But nonetheless, the one part of my life that is truly methodical is how we ingest images, how we bring them into Lightroom, how we rename them, the workflow from Sarah through to Imagine to do the coloring and back to me. Very linear. There's no messing around with it. If, if the files are brought in they don't go anywhere until there's another backup of them and that's on a different disk. The memory cards are never formatted until the backups are done. The jobs are logged on a big spreadsheet, so I know exactly where everything is. They go to Sarah. I know exactly the workflow of everything. Until yesterday, until yesterday, when Lightroom decided to corrupt the catalog. Now, in itself, not a big problem. It's not a big deal. It hasn't corrupted the images. It's only corrupted the catalogue, but the catalogue has a lot of areas in it, including collections, including certain colourings, and although I've set it to write [00:11:00] any changes in the develop area back down to either the XMP sidecars, or directly into the Photoshop files, that's not as reliable as you would like because of the way it does it. The catalogue is backed up, it's backed up a couple of times, so again, shouldn't be a problem. But it's a big catalogue. It's 11 gig. It's got 738, 000 images in it, as of when I looked a couple of hours ago. So it's a big catalogue. And it was yesterday failing to load. I could kill Lightroom and load a small catalogue. So we, the way Sarah and I move images between the two of us is I export a little catalogue with Smart Previews. She can do whatever she needs. It can go to ImagenAI. It comes back to me. I import it, take all those settings off the Smart Previews. And apply them to the master files. Very straightforward. So we have lots of little catalogues I can use to check that it's not Lightroom that's broken, it's the [00:12:00] catalogue. Try it on a small catalogue, works fine. Try it on our main catalogue, nothing. So, in the end, last night, I left it just running. It was doing nothing, the system was saying Lightroom had crashed, but it was still ticking over, so I just let it go. I went back in this morning, and the catalogue was up, but it wasn't happy. Something has glitched in the catalogue. We had a little bit of a, a sequence of events that led to power glitching, and it must have been writing into the database, and although it's not supposed to cause a problem, it did. So, this morning, I tried to load the catalogue up again. Although it was there, it wasn't happy, so I left Lightroom. Tried to open it again to see if it would flush a cache or two. Now it's not really opening. So, I downloaded a backup. So we have backups. I use Backblaze, which is really good. It just ticks over in the background. And I've got a backup from the last day or two, which is fine. I know exactly what things have changed since that [00:13:00] backup. Because that's the problem with backups, right? Backups are not something that are always today's data. By definition, they're going to be data that you had. Yesterday, or the day before. And that's true here too. But nonetheless, Backblazed downloaded the 11 gig file, told Lightroom to open it, same problems. So I'm not quite sure what's gone wrong, or when it's gone wrong, but it's certainly causing a problem. So, now what I've done is, this morning I set it rolling. And left it ticking over, and as of right now, which is what, midnight, it still hasn't entirely finished re importing and reconfiguring the database. Tomorrow I shall find out whether my efforts to fix it have worked. But the point is always back up your work and always have a solid, methodical, linear process for how you bring your images in, how you catalogue them, how you back them up, how you archive them, and what happens if you have failure, because you're going to [00:14:00] have it. I know that, you know that, everybody knows that. So have a plan as to what you're going to do. It's another reason why, for instance, one of, one part of our workflow is that I don't use Just Lightroom to manage which images are where. It's actually done in folders on the hard drives and then Lightroom reflects those. Why? Well, for precisely the reasons from today. Sometimes things go wrong and the only thing you're left with is a folder of, I don't know Portraits, a folder of weddings at this venue, weddings at that venue. And that way if you do that, at least you're not beholden to the Lightroom side. And I'm pretty chilled about it because I know in the end, if the worst came to the worst, I would simply recatalogue the main drive, which is also backed up twice. It's all fine, everything's still there, I can still get to every image, it's just that I can't get to things like the collections, virtual copies, different crop variations of different images, because of course [00:15:00] they are stored in the Lightroom catalogue. Anyway, I'll get it sorted, I will get it sorted. January's rolling on at a pace and I could have done with it rolling a lot slower today, it would have given me a chance to actually get in there and I know that I've got breathing space for planning and things, but that's not to be. What do we have last week? We did I was shooting a Paralympian, an amazing lady. Of course, these things are always, when I get to speak about them, still under embargo. But it's for the hearing dogs. She's an incredible human being. I might ask if she'd come on the podcast, actually, because she is someone who would be really interesting to talk about the psychology of winning, to some degree, against the odds, but the psychology of winning, absolutely incredible person to work with, just made us laugh. And then another day I spent working with Kent, Sussex and Surrey Air Ambulance, KSS Air Ambulance, photographing doctors, paramedics. Patients, pilots, and of [00:16:00] course, helicopters. And we had one of those really odd days where twice the helicopter was called out, and twice it came back really quickly. I don't know the reasons for that, but it meant I got pictures in this beautiful, crisp, sunny day, a rare one. We haven't had many days like that up until now this year. Of the helicopter lifting, and off it went into the, into the blue sky. It turned around at about half a mile, it came straight back and landed, and it did it twice during the day. And then obviously we were there all day some night time photography as well. And then really all I'm doing now is doing the prep for next week's convention. I can't wait to be there. It's been a while and I am super excited. I'm going to be there Tuesday night all the way through to Saturday doing a super class on Wednesday. Masterclass on Thursday. If you're around and about that, the superclasses sold out, sold out a couple of weeks ago. Apologies if you wanted to come to that. Of course, you could come across to our studio and go to one of our workshops [00:17:00] here. Just Google Paul Wilkinson Photography Workshops. There's a whole suite of those. in the next few weeks, which is, uh, literally this year, it was just going at 100 miles an hour. I don't know, I didn't anticipate it was going to be quite like that. But if you can't, if you fancy coming and talking, doing headshots, for instance, we are running a headshot workshop here at the studio in the next couple of months. So feel free to look at those, Paul Wilkinson Photography Workshops, if you fancy it. The Masterclass on Thursday, which is free with your convention ticket. Come along. We're gonna be doing, like I said, two lights, ten looks, one brand. Just having a look at how you can create a lot of variety out of the simplest of things. But not just variety, some beautiful imagery. And that's what I've been doing today, is putting a plan together, because like I said, and you can hear it in the podcast, you know, I just, I can't help myself. I head in one direction, and before I know it, I'm heading in another. Anyway, my thought for this particular episode, it's only a short one, [00:18:00] the episode and the thought, it's not a particularly deep thought, it's fine. It's clearly January, Christmas is only just past, New Year is Just behind us I'm sitting with a glass of whiskey. This is not in depth psychology, but have you ever wondered when you're sitting on the motorway, as I was coming back from the air ambulance, I had a couple of hours on the motorway looking at all of the cars, every one of those cars is a little ecosystem of people. It's a driver, probably some family members, friends, business, business relationships. The car is going from somewhere to somewhere. It's an individual at the wheel. Yeah, we see it as a traffic jam. We see it as traffic. We see it as a crowd, and yet actually when you're sitting there looking at each of these cars, there's a life, there's a family, there's parents, there might be kids, definitely parents, might be kids. There are Emotions. There are stories. [00:19:00] What are they listening to? Where are they going? What have they been doing? And when you think about it, a traffic jam and all of that chaos on the M25 around London is not a crowd. It's not, it is a car park, it feels like it, but it's lots of individuals. When you think of it like that, it starts to play in your mind about how we look to win customers in our business. It's easy to get drawn into this idea of social media influencing, having a presence, having tens of thousands of followers, I'm going to get a thousand likes on this post, I'm going to interact with this group, that group, every day I'm going to post five or six messages out there. And you can very easily lose sight of the fact that your business isn't a crowd. Your customers are not a crowd. [00:20:00] Your customers are individuals, with parents possibly, with kids, with lives, with jobs, with income. Hopefully enough income they can afford your services. And, when you think of it like that, everything becomes a little bit clearer as to how you should approach. winning your clients. In my opinion, it's not a smart move to just go for glory and have thousands of likes or thousands of conversations because you don't have time to service them. You're not going to service them particularly effectively. You get lost in the noise. Whereas today Libby, she is a client. She's also worked for us as a model. Her father is coming on a workshop In the coming weeks, they bought a voucher for him to come on one of our workshops at Christmas, because he can't stop talking about photography. Their friends came to us for a shoot the other day because they liked what they'd seen on Libby's [00:21:00] family walls. And so the thread continues. And if you ask me about any one of our clients, I can tell you a story that's very similar. One story in particular is of an incredible person called Nikki, who was a bride of mine. I won her wedding. I went round to see her. It was in the days when I would go and visit people to put the pitch in, before we had a really posh studio. I would drive out. I'd take the albums out and I'd arrive. And I arrived at her home in Henley. A little terraced house, beautiful, but a little terraced house. Took me ages to park because it's all little one way streets. Knocked on the door, and I don't think they'd forgotten I was coming as such, but they certainly weren't ready for me, and they were still eating their Chinese takeaway. So I sat, we chatted, got on really well. I won the wedding. Before I'd even shot the wedding, Nikki got back in touch and said, did I fancy pitching to become the photographer for the Hearing Dogs? Forgive me if you've heard this story. [00:22:00] And of course, I said to her, well I've never photographed dogs before, I'm very much a people photographer, it's very much about portraiture. What does it entail? And she said, well that's why I'm asking you, is because I don't want it to be about the dogs, I want to make the hearing dogs a brand that represents helping people with hearing loss. It's not about the dogs. The dogs are hearing aids for people who suffer with hearing loss. Would you consider it? So I said I'd consider it. I pitched for the work. I worked out a photograph of some dogs. I won it. And I'm still there. That's what, 11, 12 years ago? Still doing it. Still loving it. That's where I was with the Paralympian this week. And coincidentally, Nikki now works at Air Ambulance. And she's dragged me over there. Dragged me, that sounds terrible. She's pulled me into working with them as well. One client, one person, an individual who we've looked after throughout. Right from the minute I sat on her sofa, while her and her fiancé sat and ate their Chinese takeaway in front of me. And the one [00:23:00] thing about that, I was starving. I was sitting there thinking, oh God, give me some food. I had to wait until I had closed the pitch out. I'd thrown everything back into the Land Rover and was heading my way back and I could find something to eat. But you should always think of your business, not as a crowd, not, I mean, we do, sorry, I'm contradicting myself slightly here. We work on averages and Sarah and I constantly talk about it's an averages game. It's an averages game. And so it is when you're looking at your numbers and analyzing your sales per shoot, your margins, your revenue per year. Yes, that's an averages game. But your clients are not. Each of your clients is truly unique. And if you're a photographer, I mean that in the absolute strictest sense. They are unique. Banks, shopping centers, car [00:24:00] servicing, they use lines like that. You're unique. You're important to us. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. They don't have to mean it. They can get away with saying it. But not really meaning it, because we're all expecting exactly the same service from them. But, if you're a hair salon, or a beautician, or a personal trainer, or of course, a photographer, when we say to a client, you are unique, you better mean it, because it's true. You build a business, one client. By one client, by one client, and you treat each of them uniquely. If you drift into that whole kind of rinse and repeat, rinse and repeat, rinse and repeat, not only are you going to run an. inefficient business that doesn't do justice to your clients, my suspicion is you're going to get pretty bored because that type of photography, at least for me, isn't at all interesting. I love the idea that [00:25:00] in every one of those cars, I saw on the M25. was another client who would look differently, would be wearing something different, would look different, would have their hair different, I'd have to light them differently, they had a different business or occupation, so we'd probably have to tune if we're doing headshots, it'd be different, or if they're a family, doing it differently. Every client is unique. You build a business. One client, by one client, by one client, and that's my view on the matter. See, I told you it wasn't deep, but I do really believe it. You really do need to think of this kind of, certainly this kind of business, where your client is in front of your camera. You build a business, one client at a time. And on that happy note, on that happy note I'd love to see you next week, or this week, it is now At the convention, if you're around, I'd love to catch up and have a beer. Mine's a Guinness. That sounds really bad. Buy me a drink. That's not what I'm saying at all. I really am not saying that. I'm simply saying I would love to sit and have a drink. I'll buy [00:26:00] you a drink. Well, not everyone. There's a lot of you, but I'll, you know, we'll have a drink, have a chat. I'm so excited to be going. It's going to be clearly if January is anything to go by, this is going to be one heck of a year. So I hope it's the same for you. I hope you're firing on cylinders. I hope you're having a time of your life. If not, let's have a chat about motivation and excitement at the convention. If it is, well, maybe you could do the same to me to keep me buoyed up too. And in the meantime, whatever else, ladies and gentlemen, be kind to yourself. Take care.
EP141 New Year, New Adventures | Our Thoughts On The Year Ahead
08-01-2024
EP141 New Year, New Adventures | Our Thoughts On The Year Ahead
So we're kicking off 2024 with a slightly random podcast from the cab of my Land Rover (thank you Craig from New Zealand for telling me he quite likes the rawness - pretty much gave me permission to once again strap on my Madonna-esque headset mic and ad-lib my way through the first episode of the year!) This episode is a blend of a summary of 2023 and some ideas for 2024.  If anyone is curious, the lighting I mention is the Aputure LS60x and LS60d (tunable, focussable LED spotlights), the Aputure Accent B7c and the Phottix TR200R RGB Tube Lights.  All brilliant. The Superclass and Masterclass we will be running at the Societies Convention 2024 can be found at https://thesocieties.net/convention/speakers/paul-wilkinson/ and we would love to see you there - either at the workshops or just for a well-deserved pint! Finally, all of our workshops at our studio can be found at https://www.paulwilkinsonphotography.co.uk/photography-workshops-and-training/  Enjoy! Cheers P. If you enjoy this podcast, please head over to Mastering Portrait Photography, for more articles and videos about this beautiful industry. You can also read a full transcript of this episode. PLEASE also subscribe and leave us a review - we'd love to hear what you think! If there are any topics, you would like to hear, have questions we could answer or would like to come and be interviewed on the podcast, please contact me at paul@paulwilkinsonphotography.co.uk.  Full Transcript: [00:00:00] I wasn't intending to do too many more podcasts on the Land Rover. Um, however, However a nice guy called Craig from New Zealand emailed me over the Christmas period to say how much he enjoyed the podcast, how much he enjoyed Mastering Portrait Photography the website, and most importantly, at least from the perspective of this particular episode. How much he liked the ones from the Land Rover. To use his words, they feel a little bit more raw, and I don't know what that means. Whether it means unscripted, or whether the sounds of a rattling Land Rover as I travel from point A to point B is somehow an interesting soundbed. I've no idea, he doesn't elaborate. However, thanks Craig partly because it's always nice to know that what you're doing doesn't just disappear into the ether, and I think as photographers we would All appreciate that sensation but also that even when I'm recording things literally in the last few minutes I have between jobs, because that's all the [00:01:00] time I'm managing to find, then even those episodes have their value. So one way or another. A very happy new year. Please forgive the sound quality. I'm Paul, and this is the Mastering Portrait Photography Podcast.  Do you know one of the things you're meant to do as a sound engineer if you're recording for either, I guess, a podcast or radio or for video, is to record a sound bed, to record the ambient noise. So, forgive me while I record little bits like this. Yes, just, I suppose in theory it should be silence, but in a Land Rover nothing is silent. But I'm going to need lots of little bits of the audio if I have to do any corrections. I'm off to another shoot. I'm working with the Hearing Dogs [00:02:00] today, just a few miles down the road, in the UK, a typically average journey, I suppose, half an hour or so. Uh, half an hour out, half an hour back. If you live in the US, that's literally like tripping over your own doorstep because it's a journey under two hours. But here in the UK, we're used to slightly shorter journeys. The year has already got off to a ridiculous start. Uh, I actually thought, and every year I think this, that December will quieten down, I'll have a great break over Christmas, January will be quiet until it ramps up. And actually all that happens is I tear through the whole of the holiday period at a hundred miles an hour, hoping I can get a breather. December was really busy, which was good. 2023 however wasn't the year that I'd like to relive. It hasn't been a bad year, but we've had to fight every inch of the way. Nothing has ever landed in our lap. Both Sarah and I and Michelle. are grafters, [00:03:00] all of us work, and work hard for our living. But, last year really was a little bit of a brutal year. Um, just felt like the atmosphere out there in the marketplace wasn't everything it could have been. Um, we've got very, or have had, very high inflation in the UK, certainly for this country. Now, if you're listening to us in Venezuela or somewhere, possibly not quite the same thing. But with inflation rates kicking up, uh, touching out somewhere near 10 percent and then obviously hikes in interest rates by the Bank of England to bring that back down, essentially what you've got is the perfect storm for people like us who work in the service sector, because our costs of production have gone up in line with inflation. At the same time, the costs of living for our clients have gone up by the same amount, and so the battle for us to be one of their priority spends is that little bit more tricky. However, we've [00:04:00] done it, we had a really good year in the end, but like I said, we have fought tooth and nail, uh, to do it, and I think that's the making of a business. I've said over the years, and I think it's probably out there on a podcast, I'd be surprised if it wasn't, that being a successful business when things are going well is actually really easy. There's not an awful lot to it. You do your job, you create what you create, you sell it, you move on to the next one. Don't get me wrong, I know it's much more nuanced than that, I live this world. But broadly speaking, when things are going right, this job isn't that hard. It's when things are tough, that they show your real character. So, I've spoken about customer service, it's when it goes wrong, really, that you show the true Skillset, the true worth in everything that you do. When things are a little bit tougher, that's when you have to dig deep. It's when you have to show what you are made of. And we've done that over the past 12 months, and we ended December with some beautiful shoots, some lovely clients, [00:05:00] one or two unexpected sales that came in from jobs that I guess there was at least one that I had mothballed, to the point of it being in the archive when the orders eventually came in. Didn't expect to hear from them, hadn't heard from them in 18 months. So for a business like ours, where we are very much about a personal service, it's in person sales, it's an in-person experience, it's about memories, it's about laughter, it's about feeling valued. Wherever possible, we do not do remote sales. I don't do remote sales for precisely the reason that it's taken 18 months for one of our clients to come back and order their pictures. And that's in spite of us doing all the usual stuff, we've emailed them, we've called them. Not to be, not to hassle them. Just to see if there's anything we can do to help. But the problem with non in person sales, online sales is of course. You have very few levers you can pull, and there's not a lot you can do. You can [00:06:00] say you're going to take the album down, which we did. In fact, the album was dormant for probably two thirds of that time. We'd just changed the password so that no one could log in. But of course, when they emailed and said, Oh, I've just noticed I can't log in, we opened it back up. So it's not a real lever, it's just A way of us knowing that they're looking at the album again. And the order came through, and it was a beautiful order. So it's great. It's a proper Christmas bonus. Unexpected. Out of the blue. Beautiful album. Beautiful Graphistudio album. Beautiful frames. Big frames. And the whole thing, in the end, closed out at a really nice value sale.  So there's a lesson in there somewhere, which is, you know, don't ever write anything off. And we don't write anything off. I didn't know what the title of this podcast would be. Maybe that's what it should be. It's, you know, don't write any job off. But actually, this is one of those unscripted podcasts where I haven't really got a clue exactly what it was I was going to talk about. So I have this kind of list of things in my head, but who knows whether I'll get to the bottom of [00:07:00] it. Uh, on this year, on the title or on the topic of it being a New Year, of course everybody sits down and makes their list of New Year's resolutions, which actually I don't. I've never been a believer, and I think, I thought that's what the title of this podcast was going to be. I've never been a believer in New Year's resolutions. I don't know why, I just think if you want to do something, do it. Make, make every day the opportunity for a resolution. That's not to say that I'm really good at doing that. That's not to say that every time I've thought, you know what, I'm going to make that happen this year. I'm going to lose three stone and get fit, for instance. You know, doesn't happen. I'm going to stop drinking, doesn't happen. I'm going to become a vegetarian like my daughter, doesn't happen. There are plenty of things that I'd like to do that just Do you know what? They haven't happened. But Equally, I don't wait till New Year to change the big stuff. But, and there is a but, is that New Year does mark a [00:08:00] natural transition, certainly when it comes to reporting your successes as a photography business. We actually don't report our profits December to December. our accounting period is September to September. But we do Internally, track it in standard calendar years. Why? Well, actually because for social photographers there is a natural hiatus around about the end of December. People will have rollover jobs, we will very often have jobs in the diary. In the gap between Christmas and New Year simply because they book in for those. So it's not a perfectly clean break where , it stops, it starts. But there's definitely a feeling in the marketplace that, oh, let's wait till next year. If somebody rings us and says, I want to do a shoot for my family, and if it's any time around November, the chances are they're gonna say, oh, do you know what, let's push that into next year. Let's see what next year brings. There's a lot of that. And so it's [00:09:00] good for us to have a data point that I can compare year on year, decade, on decade these days, . And of course, covid sort of flung that up in the air, uh, three or two and a bit years of not really being able to rely on anything.  Our data is absolutely shot: the trajectories, the averages, our historical patterns have somewhat collapsed. We are getting back, I'll be honest about that, things are beginning to look a little bit more familiar, the end of last year, or the bulk of last year, it was definitely starting to feel that way. However, things that we are looking forward to doing, so some of this stuff kicked off last year, and some of it is things we're gonna do this year. So last year was a big sort of step up in us building our workshops and our workshop community. Lots to do on that front, we're not by any means in the position we are with our photography. Photography was a solid vision [00:10:00] for us. We can take a picture, we've worked out that the quality was good, we have fab suppliers, we have solid workflows, efficient practices, we knew our way around the marketing. Over a few years we built the business reasonably sure footedly. Obviously, we've tripped over some things like all businesses do. Not gonna say for a minute we got it all perfect. But it was something we could get our arms around and could understand. And the minute I knew we had a good product then I knew we could build a business around it. And I knew we had a good product because I've been taking pictures since I was a kid. I've been creating images and portraits since I was 10 years old, so I knew I could take a picture in the end, ignoring the whole kind of self confidence or insecurity bits and the imposter syndromes and all of the rest of the stuff we talk about all the time. I knew I could take a picture.  Training courses and workshops are slightly different. I still know I can take a picture, but whether or not we could run good workshops, whether or not we could supply great materials, [00:11:00] these were questions that we still had in our heads.   So, for instance, one of the things I was curious about was whether it would be a good idea to set the context of each workshop with a little presentation. I'm, I'm not a fan. When I go on a training course, I really, really, really want to see or want to understand how the person giving a workshop does what they do. Whatever it's in, whether it's marketing, sales, Photoshopping 3D, visuals. Customer relationships, I don't know, many, many different aspects to this business. But if I want to go and learn from someone, I want them to hit the road sorry, hit, yeah, no, hit the road quick and get into the nitty gritty. I'm not a big fan of spending hours in a preamble. However, one of the things I did pick up on is that you do need to be organized in your approach. And whether I like it or not, and whether I'm comfortable with it or not, I'm not that guy. I'm not the guy that thinks in a linear fashion. I can [00:12:00] when I have to. You know, I spent 10 years working as a manager in IT. Trust me, I can when I have to. But that's not my natural skill set. I'm not linear. And I can, if I could see Sarah's face when she listens to this podcast, she'd be like, yeah, no shit, Sherlock. You are not linear. Because Sarah's very organized, very drilled, very Put together, and I'm so not those things. I wish I was, sometimes, but out of the same chaos comes the imagery and the ideas that we have. So, I can't turn it off. I don't want to turn it off. If anything, being slightly chaotic is my superpower, because it brings ideas, and it brings energy, and it brings drive. But, equally, it brings inconsistency. It brings me being really easily distracted. Distracted by breathing, you know? It's just ridiculous. So, some of the things we did last year were to [00:13:00] try and see if there are ways in which I can help myself and help the delegates on our workshops not suffer at the hands of my own chaos. And one of them is we do a quick presentation, half an hour, forty minutes. If I get that right, of course that becomes a piece of collateral that we can send out to you if you come on one of our workshops. It becomes a series of ideas and diagrams that maybe I can use for training videos. It becomes some words that maybe I can re craft into maybe a podcast or for when I'm writing with NPhoto magazine or whether I'm writing for Professional Photographer. So these are just parts of the puzzle. And we got that together last year and the feedback we're getting from our workshops is just phenomenal. It's absolutely brilliant that people have come on it. They seem to enjoy it. They come back. So to all of those people who are multiple offenders, thank you. It's so lovely to see you all. It feels [00:14:00] like we're beginning to build a little community. So now I know I've got the product right or we're in the, we're going in the right direction with the product. Now we can really start to focus on it. Forgive the pun. We can really start to drive that home just like we did with the core photography business. And that's the target of this year. Mostly is to drive the training. Drive The platforms, the videos, all of the stuff that goes around that. The podcast is a big part of that. But finding the time when I'm on my own To sit and record is or has proven tricky over the past month or two. So, Christmas and New Year were lovely. I digress here a little bit, but there's a slight point to it. Christmas and New Year were lovely. So, we stopped, we shut the studio down. Day before or two days before Christmas Eve I went shopping with my boy to do some mop up. Spent a really, just had a really lovely day the day before Christmas Eve. Christmas Eve onwards up until, really up [00:15:00] until New Year's Day was spent with family and friends. And I really do mean pretty much every waking minute was with people I love. And now I'm an extrovert. In theory, as an extrovert, every one of those moments with family and friends is a moment to recharge. It's a moment for me to really feel energised. Yeah, that's, that's an extravert I love being around people. But I tell you what, when I got to New Year's Day, all I really wanted to do was just find myself in a dark room. And switch the social side of my brain off and do something much less much less social I suppose is the only word I can think of. I've had a couple of days of that and I'm beginning to get myself back together. And then, uh, last or two nights ago straight back out photographing the Christmas party for the Le Manoir chefs. And the staff, [00:16:00] which is riotous. Now those guys, Le Manoir is two Michelin starred hotel and restaurant, or restaurant with rooms, I think is how they like to call it. It's an amazing place, beautiful food, voted one of the top hotels in the world. It's in the top 50 every year, I think it was in the top 10 this year. Absolutely phenomenal place, and they work hours that make mine look kind of shabby, I think. They work long hours, it's hard graft, they love it, they're brilliant. But when you're thrown into their Christmas party, they don't half let off a little bit of steam, and it is great. So it was really nice to have a couple of quieter days, and then the Christmas party at La Manoire with my friends who are chefs, front of house gardeners, housekeeping you name it, the management team, marketing, sales, the HR team who asked me to do it. They're just brilliant, and I've come away from it buzzing and energized all over again. So I cannot wait for the year. [00:17:00] And on that, we are building the workshops up.  On that note, we have a couple actually, I'm going to be at the convention, the Societies of Photographers convention in January, I'm hoping there's some structure to this podcast by the way I'm gonna have to finish in about 5 to 10 minutes because I'll arrive at my client and I'll pick it up again, but I'll let you bet I'll repeat a bit because I won't remember where I got to, and I don't want to have to spend hours in edit, I don't have time to spend hours in the edit, so this is gonna be one of those podcasts That is pretty raw, it's gonna come out of the recording unit as it is, and it's gonna go straight out. As you're hearing it, I don't think there'll have been very much editing except to stick in some music underneath it, and just to check the sound quality's alright. So, forgive me for that. But it's gonna be well I'm at the convention, 17th, I'm at the whole of the convention, but I'm doing two workshops, I'm doing a super class on the 17th. And a Masterclass on the 18th. The Superclass you have to book in advance. I think there's one place left. That's all. If anybody fancies [00:18:00] it, head over to the Society's Convention and look for the Superclasses. We're gonna spend the whole of that three, three and a half hours. Creating headshots and personal branding images. I've never met the couple who are my models. I'm looking forward to meeting them. They sound really cool. But we're going to explore lighting, how you interact. We're going to talk about whatever people want to talk about. Whether it's the marketing side of it, whether it's the business side of it. Whether it's how you tell a story through the photos. It's whether, how you weave the story of the shoot. Because I think that's an underrepresented part of social photography is how you thread your way in a meaningful fashion through the shoots. That's the superclass. That's on the 17th.  On the 18th, I'm doing a masterclass, you don't need to book for that, but I'd love to see you. It's free if you have a ticket to the event. Come along and we're going to be talking about specifically ten lighting patterns. I'm going to put together ten easy lighting patterns that you can replicate. One of the things I'm acutely aware of is, [00:19:00] I find much of taking a portrait second nature to me. I do it Automatically, I can see light, I can feel it, I can almost smell it out. anD I, I don't know why or how that should be, but it is. So when I'm positioning lights, I know exactly what I'm doing, because I'm simply looking at what's in front of me. But, I've had to critique a few images some people have been on a workshop, some people have simply have asked me for some mentoring, and reading light, it turns out, is not the most natural thing in the world, and I, I assumed it was. So I've clearly misunderstood some aspects of what, how we can teach this, so part of the Masterclass really, or part of the idea behind the Masterclass really, is to see if we can nail down ten lighting patterns with two lights, so we use one light, we'll use two lights, we'll create some drama, we'll create some theatre, we'll create some very basic stuff, [00:20:00] But the idea is we're going to hand over some real examples done live in front of the audience as to how you can do this with basic equipment. We're going to do it in a normal room. It's just one of the meeting rooms in a hotel. We're going to do it with normal kit. I will have two lights I will, I think, have a pop up backdrop, which I'll bring in, just so I've got a plain backdrop, because I can't guarantee it. And we're going to go through some of the ideas. And that's kind of where we're taking all of our workshops now, is to give our delegates things they can take away with them. Proper, right, okay, if you do this, that will work. One of the things I've always fought against, the reason we haven't really gone down that road up until now, is I've Rebelled a lot against people telling me how I should do it. And I never ever, still don't, want to be the guy that says this is how you should do it. And I try really hard to remember at the beginning of every workshop, every presentation I [00:21:00] ever do. I did one the other day, we did a webinar, and I started by telling everybody on it. It's very personal to me. My eyes, my clients, my lights, my camera, my style. All of it is about me and what I like. It might not work for everybody. So I can give you insights into the thought process and this is what I thought we would do. We'll give insights, we'll give ideas, we'll give inspiration, we'll energize. And all of that works. But the problem is if you don't understand the fundamentals or can't read it like some photographers can, then it becomes slightly trickier. So the masterclass, the second of the two classes, the masterclass at the convention on the 18th of January, it's gonna be much to do with that. So if you're round the convention, you're a loose end. I think it's 11 till one 30 on the 18th. So it's a mid-morning slot. You'll finish your breakfast, you'll have had a couple of cups of coffee. You'll be thinking, what the hell am I gonna do today? Why not stick your head in and come and have a play?[00:22:00]  So that's what we're going to do. And at that stage, I'm going to break off here now, because as I turn this left hand bend on a very wet road. Here we go. I'm just going to arrive at my client, which is great. I'm photographing for the Hearing Dogs this afternoon. I'm photographing a re a recipient, so a partnership, a hearing dog and a a deaf person whose story is both heartbreaking and inspirational in equal measure. So I'm looking forward to that. It's going to be a lovely shoot. I will pick up again when I've broken off and let you know how that went. and finish off this podcast. Once again. Craig, thank you very much for telling me that I can, if I wish to record podcasts in the car,  So just to pick up where I left off, just come to the end of a lovely shoot. Sorry, also weaving, or trying to weave through traffic in a very small Buckinghamshire town. Wilmslow, it turns out, is full of tiny little [00:23:00] streets. Many of which I'm navigating a large Land Rover through. It's not easy and speaking at the same time. Apparently, it turns out, I can just about walk and chew gum at the same time, but cannot talk and drive a Land Rover at the same time. too: must be two different bits of my brain. Okay. And a nice person's let me out, and another person has refused to let me out. And there's a motorbike, and I've just landed into school traffic. In Bucks, which means that no one's paying attention at all to anyone except their own journey home and trying to get back for our, I'm assuming, a cup of tea and to get the kids a sandwich. Where are we? So yes, I just finished a really beautiful shoot with a really lovely person who she lost her hearing. Well, she had an illness, went into a coma, came out of the coma, and discovered that she had lost her hearing, one heck of a shock. And so she now has a Hearing Dog, but she's profoundly [00:24:00] deaf, has absolutely no hearing at all. And the hearing dog provides all of the support that she needs. So if the doorbell goes, the phone goes. Smoke alarms, obviously. Every minutiae of life that we take for granted, the hearing dog supports them. A hearing dog. A beautiful spaniel. I'm not going to give any names away, because that's not my place to. But an absolutely wonderful shoot. And I read in the notes that she wasn't particularly keen on being photographed. Not someone who's used to being photographed, not someone who enjoys being photographed. And you read these notes and I would say 80 percent of my clients sit in that bracket. Um, there are days, there are days when I wake up and wished everybody I photographed really, really, really wanted to be photographed. Models and the like. Because man, wouldn't that be just glorious? Really easy too. It'd be wonderful that every person in [00:25:00] front of the camera wanted to show off, and they just loved it, and they were confident, and knew how beautiful they were. But that's just not my world. So the lady, really super smart lawyer didn't really want to be, well my note said that she didn't really feel comfortable being photographed, but it turns out, uh, She could not have been lovelier. Did I just say that right? Lovelier, lovelier. She could not have I'm concentrating on driving. Lovelier. And the shoot has just been absolutely beautiful. The dog was stunning. The light has been really nice. We're under a rain warning at the moment. We're about to get some really heavy rain, but it held off long enough that we've done the whole shoot in the dry. Well, in the dry, but not on the dry. Everywhere. I don't know what it's like where you are around the world, but in Britain, just at the moment, we've had back to back rainstorms of one sort or another. Some of them big enough to be given names. And we've got another tranche of it coming in in about an hour. Oh, half an hour, about half an hour. [00:26:00] I don't know why that matters. I'm one of those people that have to suddenly get to detail. I don't know why. I apologize. Anyway, it's been a brilliant afternoon, and it's these kinds of shoots that remind me why I do what I do. Because just having people like the lady I've just photographed in front of the camera who full of energy, and smart, and laughter. She can hear nothing. Everything is being done through lip reading, which is, for me, is not I mean, I'm used to working around the deaf community, but I'm one of those people that spends a lot of time looking to the sides to see where the next shot's coming from. So, mid sentence, I'll suddenly find myself looking away. And, until working with the Hearing Dogs For Deaf People, I didn't even know I did it. And, of course, it becomes a profound challenge that I need to concentrate and I've spent the afternoon concentrating on making sure no matter who I'm talking to or what I'm thinking for the next shot I must always [00:27:00] have eye contact with the person, the hearing dog recipient because They're relying on seeing my lip movements to be able to understand what's going on. And it, you become acutely aware of it. but equally, she said, it's really bad when people try to talk slowly because that changes her understanding of the words. Because she's lip, because she's lip reading, if you speak slowly, actually that makes it harder to understand the wording. So all in all something I need to continue to work on and get better at. At least I'm aware of it, and I try, I try pretty hard, but the photos we've got are absolutely beautiful. So where were we, where were we? Oh, I think we'd come to a bit, some of that training, I've no idea, I told you I'd lose track. podcast part two, I'm Paul, and this is still the Mastering Portrait Photography Podcast. As I wind my way through the lanes. Other things that are happening in the studio. Obviously we're working on the setup of our training and our workshops. I'm about to re [00:28:00] platform all of our websites onto a new platform. Not quite sure which one it's going to be just yet.  But one of the challenges I guess all of us have is our web presence is really important, and so I built all my own websites built it all on WordPress. So all hosted it's all currently hosted on Siteground but over the years, a combination of price walking, which simply means every year it's got more and more expensive. You can get a good deal to start with, but gradually, I mean, we pay now. For two, the two main of our websites, I think the basic hosting is about 1200 quid a year for the two. And on top of that are all the little plug ins that we've had to buy and put in to run things like the shop, to run things like the automated side of it, the emails, to do certain things like display the images the way I want them. All of these bits of software are licensed. [00:29:00] Which is fine, but if you added all of that in to get in as well, rather, I think you get up into the region of sort of 1, 500 quid a year, 1, 600 pounds a year, somewhere around there for the two websites. Now that's fine, we're a big business. We work really hard at what we do, and we can justify paying properly, and paying, well pay our licenses anyway, but we can justify all of the expense of the website simply because it's a part of our turnover.  However, what irks me is firstly how difficult it is to keep on top of all of the updates of all of the component bits of software and also just how expensive it is when it doesn't need to be. It's not about the fact that I have to invest in it, it's about the fact that I don't think I need to do, I need to invest the time and the finances to the level we are. So I'm hunting around at the moment. I think I know what we're gonna do, and I think I know how I'm gonna do it. It'll take time, which is [00:30:00] something I don't have a lot of, but it's still got to be done. But if I can get all of the websites into one place, simplify them down, they don't need to be as comp, I'm really proud of our websites, but they do not need to be as complicated as they have evolved to be. And it's not that I set out to make them complicated, or I set out to do stuff that's particularly difficult. It's just that, year on year on year, as you add functionality, as you try to do new things, as you get on top of SEO, and structuring, and then keeping a track of 301s and 404s, and then you've got to have, like, an SEO tool to help you make sure your SEO's alright. And then you've got albums and portfolio bits of kit. You've got sliders. Oh man, there's so many bits of software. All of which is necessary to do what I have in my head. So what I've got to do first is figure out what's the bare minimum I can get away with. And then secondly, re platform all of that. So the websites will still be [00:31:00] beautiful. But if I can get it all under one roof, it'll be much easier to manage. And I don't have the time, to manage everything anymore, I simply don't. So that's, that's on the list for this year. And the other thing we're gonna do this year, or I've already started doing, is gradually pushing more into continuous lighting and away from strobes. Now, this is one which I don't yet know quite where the journey's gonna take me, but the foray that we've had into it so far has been incredibly rewarding. LED technology now with high CRI LEDs is at the standard where the quality is nearly as good as strobes. It's not, I still love the light you get off a Zenon strobe. There's something really beautiful about the quality of light, and of course, massively punchy. You get a huge amount of light, [00:32:00] a huge amount of kick. out of pretty much any strobe compared to an LED. If you had LEDs as bright as the strobe, as bright as the instantaneous flash of a strobe, people wouldn't be able to see. It's, you know, so bright, there's so much energy in that tiny fraction of a second, that, I don't know, thousandths of a second of light burst. But working with LED makes it easier to do video and you really can see What you're gonna get. And my logic is a very simple one. If it's good enough for the film industry, and the TV industry, Netflix and the like, then it's good enough for photography. Yes, alright, there are some things I'm gonna have to learn how to do differently. But I love doing that anyway. I'm a quick learner on most things. And so, I'm really excited about it. We've started I bought I've got a couple of Aputure Lightstorm Focusable, so these have got focusing lenses on the front focusable spots, and [00:33:00] they've got the old Bowens S type mounts on them, so we can mount pretty much anything. I use Profoto strobes in the studio but I've got these Aperture Lightstorm tunable lights, which are absolutely phenomenal. Really bright when you want them to be. If you turn them right down, they'll last for hours on a single charge. Also I've got a couple of, they were just cheap. I was working in the flash centre doing judging for the BIPP. And it was the flash centre in Birmingham were hosting us. And they had these light strips, just light rods. LED, Phottix. I think they were 40 quid each. I mean, they're really pennies. You know, a tank of fuel in this Land Rover is about 80 quid, so for the price of a tank of fuel, I can get two highly tunable, full spectrum lights that will do any color on the color wheel. As well as doing normal presets. They also do some clever things with, you can make, turn them into police lights and all the rest of it. They're quite cool. [00:34:00] So I got those working in the studio, but one of the challenges when you're working with Available light is the camera is going to capture everything it sees. With strobes, I don't worry about the lighting in the studio because the strobe overpowers it. Doesn't really matter. But with LED, you have to get the lighting, the whole lighting, exactly as you want it. And it caught us out a little bit when we were recording a video recently, and the video is simply too dark because I've lit my subject perfectly. But I haven't lit the rest of the studio because it never really occurred to me, and I need to do it, and it's fine. Everything's okay, and certainly the subject looks incredible, but when you look at the footage of me talking to camera, for instance, I'm in the gloom somewhere. And although we tried to sort it out a little bit, we haven't quite got there. So I've now retrofitted all of the lighting in the studio, so all of our normal overheads, office lighting if you like, in the studio, with, again, made by Aputure. They are, I can't, I think they're called [00:35:00] B7Cs or BL7Cs, which are, they look like a fat light bulb with an Edison screw thread, so they'll fit pretty much any light fitting from 100 volts up to about 250 volts. You screw them into a light fitting, and in normal mode, they just behave like normal light bulbs, except that you can hook them up to the same app I use for the Aputure Lightstorms, and you can control them completely from the phone. So I can control how strong they are. I can also control, again, like the Phottix, light sticks, I can control exactly what color they are. So these things, they're only about 50 quid each, but they are fully tunable. Any color I like and some special effects, if ever I did video that needed to feature, I don't know, police, car or fireworks or firelight, , it does all of those, that's of almost no interest to me. It's quite a cool thing to do, but. Not really for what I do. But I can control their light to be any colour [00:36:00] temperature and any power. On top of that, if you unscrew the light, it becomes a battery powered light. It simply can sit in someone's hand, or you can put it into any light fitting, even if it's not plugged in, and it will work exactly the same. It doesn't really make any difference. It'll last for about seven hours off the battery. These are really cool. So, we've started to experiment. A little way to go. I need some slightly, some LED panels. I've got a couple of bits. I do have some LED panels, but they're slightly older and the high CRI on the newer LEDs, you can really see the difference when you're illuminating skin. But it's a whole new adventure and it does change the way you shoot. So at the moment when I'm shooting, particularly when I'm doing headshots, I'll use, I'll do some with strobes because you get that glorious, clean light. With really deep depths of field. And obviously, ProPhoto units that modifies everything is absolutely stunning. So that's not something I'm gonna [00:37:00] completely get rid of anytime soon because I'm addicted to the quality of the light. But in the second half of the shoot, or maybe for certain shots, I'll bring out some LED lighting, maybe with a soft box or maybe LED, the strips and. You then get this beautiful thing where you can have much shallower depths of field. So, and total control, you can see exactly how the light's going to play. You can change the colours of the lights as if I was gelling the strobes, but it's so much easier. Literally, I can just dial it in to the app and change the colour of the lights. It's opening up new avenues to explore where we can play with colour because it's quicker. We can play with really shallow depths of field. I'm unlikely to ever be able to light, a family easily, because the power you'd need to get the depth of field you need, at least with the ISOs that we're still using at the moment, is possibly a bit too bright. But, [00:38:00] ISOs are becoming normal. The party I shot for the hotel I shot nearly all of it. Our ISO 10,000, ISO 10 K. That's just ridiculous in terms of sensitivity. But I wanted to capture the colors of the party. I wanted to capture the candlelight. I wanted to capture the sort of fairy lights and effects lights that the events company had put on. I wanted all of that, and I didn't wanna bounce, flash in and kill it. I did, obviously, when they're doing their awards. I used a flash gun. I used a, a speedlight on the camera because. Me being creative with the lighting is really not part of that puzzle. They need to be well lit, they need to be clear, they want to be able to celebrate the awards they've won. But, when it comes to the event side of it, the party side of it, I shot nearly all of it at ISO 10, 000 and then simply ran it through, for this particular run, I ran it through Adobe Lightroom, the AI noise reducer. I didn't turn the noise [00:39:00]
EP140 Perfection Is A Luxury You (And Your Clients) Can Ill Afford
21-11-2023
EP140 Perfection Is A Luxury You (And Your Clients) Can Ill Afford
At this time of year, more than any other, I find myself chasing my tail to complete everything I need to get done before the seasonal deadlines (otherwise our clients will be disappointed!) Of course, I want everything I do to be perfect but, as I have learned time and again, perfection is something that is unattainable and it is bad business too - finding the sweet spot balancing quality and time is the trick here.  In the end, if you spend limitless hours reaching for something that cannot be reached, it would be tough to find clients who could afford it! I mention an EP that a friend of ours recorded and created a vinyl record as well as uploaded to Spotfy.  The EP can be found here on Spotify. I only played on "I Think We're Alone Now" and "Teenage Dirtbag" but let me know what you think!   The Superclass and Masterclass we will be running at the Societies Convention 2024 can be found at https://thesocieties.net/convention/speakers/paul-wilkinson/ and we would love to see you there - either at the workshops or just for a well-deserved pint!   Finally, all of our workshops at our studio can be found at https://www.paulwilkinsonphotography.co.uk/photography-workshops-and-training/  Enjoy! Cheers P. If you enjoy this podcast, please head over to Mastering Portrait Photography, for more articles and videos about this beautiful industry. You can also read a full transcript of this episode. PLEASE also subscribe and leave us a review - we'd love to hear what you think! If there are any topics, you would like to hear, have questions we could answer or would like to come and be interviewed on the podcast, please contact me at paul@paulwilkinsonphotography.co.uk.
EP138 Interview With Toastmaster Simon Shirley | Simple Steps For A Successful Client Business
20-08-2023
EP138 Interview With Toastmaster Simon Shirley | Simple Steps For A Successful Client Business
In this interview with an old friend of ours, Simon Shirley, Toastmaster extraordinaire, we end up chatting about some of the simple things that make for a successful client-facing business for responding quickly, to getting a crowd onside (even when the odds are stacked against you!) I mention a few workshops we'll be running, so here are the links: Sunday 10th September 2023 The Guild Of Photographers Photohub Event Oxford Mastering Off-Camera Flash https://photohubs.photoguild.co.uk/the-oxford-belfry-photohub/ Thursday 28th September 2023 The Guild Of Photographers Photohub Event Peebles, Scotland Mastering Available Light https://photohubs.photoguild.co.uk/peebles-hydro-photohub-2/    Monday September 11, 2023 Full-Day Workshop At Our Studio near Oxford Mastering Dog Photography From Shutter To Print https://www.paulwilkinsonphotography.co.uk/store/workshops/mastering-dog-photography-from-shutter-to-print-11th-september-2023/    Monday October 9, 2023 Full-Day Workshop At Our Studio near Oxford Mastering Personal Branding Photography https://www.paulwilkinsonphotography.co.uk/store/workshops/mastering-personal-branding-photography-9th-october-2023/    Monday October 23, 2023 Full-Day Workshop At Our Studio near Oxford Mastering Available Light https://www.paulwilkinsonphotography.co.uk/store/workshops/mastering-available-light-23rd-october-2023/  Enjoy! Cheers P. If you enjoy this podcast, please head over to Mastering Portrait Photography, for more articles and videos about this beautiful industry. You can also read a full transcript of this episode. PLEASE also subscribe and leave us a review - we'd love to hear what you think! If there are any topics, you would like to hear, have questions we could answer or would like to come and be interviewed on the podcast, please contact me at paul@paulwilkinsonphotography.co.uk.