The Post PC Photographer's World.

Now just to clarify when I say "Post PC"  I am not talking about windows, I am talking about the Personal Computer. So if a computer isn't the topic of this post then... what am I talking about? 

Well... We are now in an age where we need to and should be able to access WHAT we want, WHEN we want. I am ofcourse talking about cloud computing! Now what does this have to do with photography you ask? Good question. As a photographer I take a lot of pictures and the downside of that is that I end up having to use a computer with many, many hard drives to store and access all this data.

This is fine when I am at home and need to see or check something, however this is not so easy when I am away from the house. Also if my computer is off (I know some of you never do this but hey i'm old fashioned) then turning it on and connecting hard drives just to quickly find an image and attach it to an email is a bit of a chore (#firstworldproblems). I also find myself regularly getting a panic text or an email from a client whom I had previously photographed for, asking if they can some how get a copy of the images I had previously sent them (likely over a year or more ago) urgently as they had lost their copy. 

Some of you may have never experienced this while others get this all too frequently, well I learned a long time ago that when it comes to digital photography that organisation is super essential. Without focus and a solid workflow then everything quickly becomes a mess and is hard to scale shall you need to. I learned to organise my images in a tried and tested method of creating folders that start with the year, followed by month, then date and finally the project or event. This meant that I could search or identify very quickly the set of images that I or my client is looking for. Because I have this organisation in place I am able to find the images my client is desperately requesting within minutes. Now this is great when you are working at home or you are on your main work station, but it is difficult to do so when you are on a bus or away from your hard drives that contain all the images. 

So I've now started to embrace what I like to think of as the "Post Pc Photographer's World" that's just my way of saying ALL HAIL THE DROP BOX. For me dropbox has been such an invaluable tool, as it allows me to share with my clients the images they need super quickly, but more importantly at their own convenience. 

As an example this is what my workflow looks like.... Once I get home from a shoot

1) Import all cards that indicate they have images on them.

2) Create a back up set of images that follow the Year, Month,Date & Project format.

3) Go through quickly through images and favourite the top selects, automatically placing them in a smart collection of some sort (depending on app)

4) Refine selection by going through the favourites again and narrowing them down to just the really great images. 

5) Edit through images that require any changes, mostly brightness and contrast (GET IT RIGHT IN CAMERA) and a few tweaks here and there.

6) Export final versions of images with project name and a sequence so clients can identify what images require further editing or any changes.

7) Upload final exports to dropbox folder especially created for client.

Now I tell my client that folder will be available for 30 days, but in reality I actually keep it for a year or so, just incase. What I do however is all the images that I take, I put in to dropbox. They all follow the year, month, date and project format, however if the images are over a year old, I then convert them from RAW to JPEG and scale them down by 50%. So if a client just needs a copy of their images within a year, I have access to the full high res version of the JPEGs that I can re send them as I have the folder on DROP BOX. If the client wants some changes to be made but still wants one of the images from my top selections, I still have the raw files from just the top pics so I can make the changes needed and then send them new sets of JPEGS. If lets say 2+ years down the line I recognise someone whom I've photographed or a client requests for an image that is not part of the top selection (which will always remain raw files) then I can at least send them a JPEG that is good enough for web or small print use (like an A4 print).

This way I have found that I can keep my clients happy even after my work for them is done and not only that If I recognise someone I have photographed I can easily and quickly access almost every picture that I have taken. Because all of my images are on my dropbox account as JPEGs I can simply send a link within minutes, in an email or a message when ever I get a request from a client about at photo they urgently need. 

So when I talk about the Post Pc Photographer, I'm. talking about having access to all your images (or at least the JPEG versions of them) all the time and being able to not only showcase your work but within minutes be able to locate the exact set of images you need when ever or where ever you are. This is possible purely due to. the power of the internet and the small devices in our pockets and bags, we now take for granted. I still remember a time when I would burn a CD for a client, and would burn a back up CD that I would archive just incase that same Client needed a copy of that CD again in the future, Oh how times have changed :)

 These are a small selection of images from my trip to Venice, I was able to shoot edit and share all of these images purely on mobile devices, I was also able to edit my images from my mirrorless camera on my tablet and phone.

Technology these days...

I always find it amazing how quickly technology advances and makes things that seem very intimidating become simple and accessible to a wide variety of people. I use to hear the phrase "the best camera is the one you have with you" from many photographers when I first started taking photography more seriously, and i've always thought “what a cheesy phrase”, only now am I really learning how wrong I was. I realize the majority of photos I take are on my phone, and because its there with me all the time it makes it easy to quickly snap something, edit it and share with friends and family.

I love my DSLR, but I never take it out with me when I go for a relaxing walk or if I am out with friends for food and drinks, because its heavy, clunky and immediately intimidates people when I take it out, change lenses, set exposure and snap. Because people have this perception that pictures taken on a phone are "crap" they tend to not care as much. Some of the best pictures i've taken for my personal work have been on my phone because they have always happened when I was in the middle of doing something and suddenly had to react or took a moment to look at something which I encountered. 

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What amazes me is really when you put these little devices in incredible light, they can really perform and deliver incredible images but like the last son of Krypton they have a devastating weakness and that is really in the size of the sensor. When this sensor is in not so amazing light, you start to see the image break down and the digital noise takes over, now you can say even the best sensor will struggle in bad lighting (and you would also be right) but I’ve found the larger the sensor the more graceful it is at handling those though lighting situations.

Steven Spielberg, Joss Whedon & Woody Allen

What do all of these guys have in common?

Well 90% of you will recognise the first name on that trio, and if you don't shame on you (tutt tutt tutt)

The reason I mention them is because they are all great directors. They communicate to their team effectively what their vision is. I have always liked the role a director plays in both theatre and film, because to me a director has to be inspirational, engaging, intelegent, creative, open minded, descriptive and above all a director has to collaborate. I love photographing creative people because they always have werid and wonderful ideas. I love how their brain works because some of my favourite pictures were inspired or generated as a result of my experiences and the suggestions of those whom I am photographing.

Quite recently, I got the chance to photograph a collegue of mine who i've recently discovered is a very talented singer. After seeing the images I posted on facebook and instagram from my previous shoot with Kiara, Angela (pictured below) thought it would be a great chance to collaborate, as she had a song coming out very soon which she needed some images for. I love working with new people so I was very excited to see what images we would be able to colaboratively create. I mentioned to Angela to send me examples of images she would like to create so I could get a good idea of what she is looking for, I find this really helps identify the mood and overall vision the client has early on in the relationship. The better I understand what the people I photograph want the easier it will be for the both of us to come up with ideas because we are booth thinking along the same lines and can collaborate smoothly. 

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All the images shown above were taken at Angela's house and were taken a few feet apart but because we walked around and could plan what we could use it meant that we got everything done within 3-4 hours from my arrival to me leaving. When I was starting out in doing portraiture, I would find one location or a solid white wall and stick to it as much as I could because I didn't know how to utilise the resources around me. I really love shooting outdoors (except when it is raining, which unfortunately in england is 80% of the time) because I can simply walk around and be able to find at least 5 places to shoot with a client each location being 1-2 minutes walking distance from the last, and still be able to create really great images.

Uzo Oleh who is a good friend of mine (and an amazing photographer) talked about "TAKING a picture and MAKING a picture" and I am now realising just how great his advice was in clarifying what the difference is. I realised that I was making a picture with Angela when I was walking around with her and we were discussing what type of cloths, props and look we wanted to create at which location. I am now at a point where I can start to imagine what the final image will look like before I even pick up my camera, because when you start to compose the image in your mind then I find you have a lot of control, because when you bring the viewfinder up to your eye, you become very aware of everything in the frame. The more aware of your composition you are the more you have to direct, and so this is where your communication and descriptive skills come in to effect. 

I hope you liked the images, and please feel free to ask any questions about how each image was created and if you want to check out Angela's work then click here 

Thank you :D

 

"You think you know, but... you don't"

I had the fantastic pleasure of shooting a very good friend of mine, who is a very talented Actor/Singer/ Dancer/ Yogi and all round great person, known by the name of Mat Millns. The last performance i saw Mat was in was at the Pentamiters Theatre in Hampstead in "You Never Can Tell". I know Mat from our days at the Gielgud (where I met many good friends whom I dearly miss, as I don't get to see them as much as I use to) so when he asked me to do some quick head shots for him in the park before his show, it was a no brainer.

To say that Mat is full of life is an understatement, as he has the ability to walk in to a room full of people he has never met and within minutes turn them in to an army of friends. Mat is someone whom I would ask advice from because he is very honest and wont tell me what I want to hear, and to me that is a valuable friend.

Normally when I shoot actor's head shots I usually use a huge window to my back or I have a speedlight in to a softbox or a shoot through umbrella which has given me some fantastic results, but this time when I was shooting with mat we decided to use natural light in the park. Normally I jump strait to my speedlight as it is what I am use to and I know what results I can get from it, so in a way it is my safety net, but this time all I had to work with was the sunlight being diffused by the trees which to my surprise gave me MUCH BETTER results than any of my strobes did as there was this amazing quality to the light that I could never get with speedlights or strobes.

Some of the shots that I used a speedlight behind mat for were inspired by Zack Arias (who is an amazing photographer based in Atlanta Georgia). I know mat is truly a hippy at heart so I figured since we were in the park, lets try and get him to do some yoga and give the impression that he is drawing energy from the forest which is lighting up from the centre. I used a simple canon 430ex ii at full power (with a Stofen diffuser to spread the light) behind Mat with pocket wizards to trigger them. I exposed for mat and just lit the background with the speedlight, that way I get this cool effect where mat is a tad bit underexposed and the background is sort of glowing with light.

Ow and as for the title, its one of mat's lines from "You Never Can Tell" he had most of the best lines in the whole production, its only a pity it took 2 hours for his character to grace the stage, but WELL WORTH THE WAIT!!!

Best Camera?

Like many other artists out there I still have a lot to learn about the tools/ techniques and approaches to do with my craft, but when ever a friend of mine or someone I am introduced to is thinking of taking their first significant step towards photography, more often than not I will hear them say the words "what is the best camera to get?" Now they may as well ask what is the best trouser to wear or what is the best food to eat... The more I grow as a photographer the more I realise that each camera and lens has its own quirks, its own personality!

The natural instinct in this megapixel obsessed world we live in is to look at what camera has the most megapixels or the latest features, and there never seems to be an emphasis on weather or not the picture is interesting! I sometimes wish there would be a camera where it wouldn't allow you to use the other features unless you understand them fully, almost in the way a video game would not allow you content unless you were good enough and deserved it!

I now use my phone as my No1 camera because it is always with me, and all the images on this post were all taken and edited completely on the phone! I find myself caring less and less about sensor size and lenses because I have really great DSLR gear that 85% of the time is in a back pack waiting for a shoot,  while my phone on the other hand is being used 85% of the time! I've mentioned in another post the X100s which is probably the only other camera in my price range that I would be happy to relieve my phone from the responsibility of being the main camera.

All the images are edited using Snapseed which if you have never heard of it, is absolutely a fantastic editing tool, and I love how easy and friendly it is to use. It is a great example of what can happen when you combine simplicity with power! When I am on the tube or a bus I find myself popping open Snapseed and trying out a new approach to an image or to try and transform a mundane picture in to a potential work of art! 

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My London

I love london, this city has soo much to offer from rich history to absolutely gorgeous architecture. I have spent a large portion of my life in this city and have only learned to discover the hidden gems it has in the last few years. Coming from a country where 98% of the people i came in to contact with spoke the same language and shared the same culture it was such an eye opener for me to be then in an environment where every single day I would meet someone new who had a completely different culture or background from me. To me london has all these small samples of what the planet has to offer kind of a pick and mix of cultures if you will.

When I took these images, I decided to start in central london, pick a direction and start walking. I love getting lost in this city for a couple of hours and then find my way back as its very difficult to actually get lost once you learn the tube and bus system it then becomes almost second nature, and if all else fails a few iconic buildings can be a homing beacon to help you find your way. 

I was using my trusty canon 5D Mk 1 and my 135mm telephoto lens which I love for photographing people and certain places as it allows me to get closer shots of my subjects without scaring them. I have got my eye on the new Fuji X100s but currently I can't quite afford or justify it, as most of the street photography I do now is done on my iPhone as its always there and accessible, not to mention the phenomenal selection of photography apps (I will probably post about this at a later date). 

Anywho... here are the pictures I took, would love your thoughts on places in london you love and any other comments or suggestions you may have. (You can click on the picture and it will reveal the other ones)

Till next time..