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Taking the 'next step' on your photography journey!


[Blog #3]

Today I’d like to talk with you about taking the ‘next step’ with your photography.


During the month of April, I was contacted by 5 organisations I’d not previously worked with: Women in Sport, University of Nottingham Research Department, Sokito Sportswear, British Wheelchair Basketball, and The Commonwealth Games Federation.


I’ve since started working with three of these organisations and will be working with the remaining two over the next couple of weeks.


All these entities, even though I’d been recommended to them, checked out my website before contacting me (I know this because I asked). After all it would be a little strange for them to hire a professional photographer without checking out his portfolio. Right? Imagine the embarrassment if I’d not had a website that showcased my images!


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But what about you? Should you have a website?


Have you ever asked yourself that question? If not, have a think about it for a minute now. Whilst you’re doing that, let me help you to arrive at a conclusion. There are several reasons why having a website can go beyond just having a place to display your images.


Here are 7 reasons why it might be time for you to have your own website. See if any of them resonate with you:


1. You want to be taken more seriously as a photographer.


2. You want to start the journey towards a photography business (full or part-time)


3. You want accreditation to get better access to events.


4. You want to start earning a little money from your photography.


5. You want to sell those beautiful images you take.


6. You want somewhere for people to see your images that’s not social media.


7. You want somewhere to direct people to share your creativity and inspire others.


Any of those strike a chord? Well, all those goals are eminently more achievable if you have a photography website. A photography website gives you and your work credibility.


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In recent months I’ve been working with several photographers who wanted to ‘take the next step’ with their photography.


I’ve shown them:


1. How to design and build their own photography website.

2. How to optimise it for search engines.

3. How to create their very own brand (including their business cards).

4. How to manage and update their website giving them complete control.

5. How to market their photography through their new website.


Is it time for you to create your own website? Is it time to take that ‘next step’ on your photography journey?


If you think now is the time, then click on the link below and let’s get started!


https://www.drewsmithphotography.co.uk/Building-a-photography-website


Staying connected


[Blog #2]


As a kid I’d go fishing with my dad and older brother. It was usually down at the local brook, and back then, this meant float fishing in the margins. The margins being the slack waters at the edges of the bank, out by the green, willowy reeds that swayed in the breeze.


We’d sit and watch the float with intense anticipation, expectation and hope. Waiting for it to dip or dive beneath the waters surface, indicating a bite and the potential of a fish to be caught, admired, and then released. Leaving a memory to be treasured.


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Those golden summer evenings fishing in the brook almost always included the appearance of local wildlife: water voles ‘plopping’ into the water off the far bank and swimming through the gin clear waters. Shrews skittering through the verdant green grass at our feet. And the ever present Robin waiting to snatch up the crumbs from our sandwiches or a dropped bit of fishing bait. All the time the Skylarks would whistle and sing in the warm air high above our heads.


All these things were a part of the fishing experience. This was the connection with nature made during such outings. Not as a goal in itself but as a by-product of just being there.


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Times are busier now, more hurried, with technology in constant need of our attention, demanding we take action immediately to satiate its unquenchable appetite. And especially now, as I write this, things are more chaotic and more uncertain than ever.


Fishing has changed too. When I walk along the river bank where I live (I actually live in a house not on the river bank, but you know what I mean) or around the lake situated down the lane, I almost exclusively see anglers fishing with 3 rods. Each with their bait cast out to the middle of the water. Bite indicator alarms all set and ready to scream.


The fishermen themselves do not watch the rods. Most do not even sit by them. Instead preferring to stay inside a small tent called a bivvy, or inside their car. Here they scroll through their phones, or watch movies. There is no longer a connection with the surrounding natural world. There isn’t even much connection with the fish they are trying to catch.


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By now you may be wondering what all this has to do with photography.


Well, I was talking with a student just the other day and, as I almost always do, I commented that having a camera was like having a passport; if you let it, it could take you anywhere. Best of all it could take you to unexpected places previously unexplored.


This made me think just how true this was and how it was possible to use that ‘passport’ to reconnect with the world. To reconnect with nature if you go out shooting wildlife. To reconnect with people if you go out shooting an event or street photography. But almost always it’s an opportunity to reconnect with yourself.


To get out there (wherever ‘there’ is for you) and destress. A chance to be calm, a chance to be quiet, to leave the emails, the text messages, and phone calls behind for just a little while and to take a moment for yourself. Maybe to meditate on what’s important to you in life right now.


To do all of this you don’t need a dog to walk, or permission from anybody, you just need your camera.


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Telling stories!


[Blog #1]


Every photo tells a story.

As photographers shouldn’t that be our job, our goal, our aim with every photograph we take? Because if we aren’t telling stories through our images then surely, we are merely documenting…or recording. Which is in some circumstances fine. It may be exactly what we are trying to do.


But I suspect many of us are collecting one more image we will delete at some later date, or worse, leave amongst the digital dust bunnies on our hard drives.


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Story telling is in our bones and we should strive to make it part of our photography. As the great man once said:


“The anthropologists got it wrong when they named our species Homo sapiens ('wise man'). In any case it's an arrogant and big-headed thing to say, wisdom being one of our least evident features. In reality, we are Pan narrans, the storytelling chimpanzee.” ― Terry Pratchett, The Globe.


Telling a story with one’s photographic images can be hard to do. There are, in my hit & miss experience, several ways of achieving this tricky feat:


1. Be lucky.

2. Manufacturer it.

3. Be in the right place at the right time and hope for the best.


My story telling mostly takes place at number #3 in that list. On the odd occasion at number #2, but seldom at #1.


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So, what exactly is story telling in photography?


For me it’s an image that captures the eye and holds it captive for as long as possible.


It may be the shear beauty of a tranquil scene, a wistful look in the eyes, the emotional reunion a loving couple, the exaltation of triumph or the crushing weight of defeat.


Now, I freely admit those examples above may be hard to create when you are photographing the family cat, but even with such a seemingly banal subject matter, being in the right place at the right time may be all that’s needed.


Turning your kitty into an apex predator on the prowl, or maybe an acrobatic gymnast, or just a paw licking cutesy.


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Context will often help our images in telling a story.


Giving our subject matter a little space to breath and showing the immediate surroundings add meaning to a scene and informs the observer what relationship the subject matter enjoys with its environment, adding interest and anchoring the scene.


In one of the modules in my ‘beginners’ photography course we approach story telling using 3 images. We choose a subject; let’s say a park bench, and we have a conversation with it:


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Firstly, we ask the park bench ‘where it lives?’


This is our context shot. The park bench must remain the subject of the image and we include enough of the surrounding area to set the bench in its place. We still follow compositional guidelines and work hard to create an interesting image.


Secondly, we ask the bench 'what it does for a job?'.


This is always an interesting one; it has a plethora; somewhere to rest, to take in the view, to meet up, to talk, to meditate, to wait for a friend, the list goes on. Therefore, our shot could be of any one or more persons engage in this activity. Nobody around to shoot? Then a shot from the back of the bench showing the view might be an interesting story.


The third and last question is to get personal, and ask an 'intimate question'.


This is our detail shot. Our close-up. We may choose a hand held in another, or something carved into the wood or metal of the bench. We’ve established context and purpose, so we can be free to shoot whatever detail we want. Often, you’ll see layout spreads in colour magazines demonstrating the 3-5 images story telling technique.


Give this a go and see what you can come up with.


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The next time you are out with your camera think about the story element of the images you capture. Our goal is to elicit an emotion in our viewer.


Good luck and I’d love to hear about your success and failures in the comments.


Drew


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