Almost Weekly Photo

The Problem With Puffins!

Puffin, Fugle Fjord, SvalbardFujifilm X-H1, XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR,…

Credit Where Credit Is Due For Photographers

House, Arnarstapi, Iceland. Inspired by a National Geographic photo from…

Wanted: Travellers to Georgia & Armenia

Ushguli towers, Georgia. Love the vehicles below.Phase One A-Series, 100MP,…

Station track, Middlehurst, 2019
Phase One XF, IQ4 150MP, 80mm Schneider lens, f6.3 @ 1/2000 second, ISO 100

With every photographer shooting aerials these days, is the genre at risk of becoming cliche and boring? I don't think so. While photography judges might struggle to give 'yet another aerial' a really high score, the simple fact is aerials can look great! Like sunsets and photos of green tree frogs with bulbous eyes, they will always be popular.

But in any event, why are you taking photographs? Hopefully it is to please yourself, so it DOESN'T MATTER what others think! If you buy a drone or have the opportunity to get airborne, make the most of it! I still love getting into the air and can't see that thrill lessening any time soon.

When airborne, I'll shoot the scenic shots like everyone else, but what I like most are the abstracts that can be best created by tilting the aircraft over and shooting directly down. The plan view. Then the trick is to find an interesting composition and perhaps one of the easiest devices is a diagonal line.

In this case, the diagonal line is formed by a station road covered in snow. The snow has mostly melted away from the surrounding paddocks, revealing the yellow grasses below and an interesting pattern of lingering snow. It's a simple composition and there aren't lots of extra bits and pieces to distract the viewer.

When judging photo competitions, I think the biggest mistake most aerial entries have is trying to fit it all in. From up in the air you can see lots of different things that are all interesting in their own way, but when left together in a wide-ranging composition, tend to be complicated and confusing. A simple composition is best and often it can be easily achieved by cropping. This image has been both cropped and rotated to get a composition I was happy with.

And if you're interested in listening to a little piece Tony and I recorded about the Middlehurst experience, check out YouTube here: https://youtu.be/AEzhEKcKMsk

Today you will find Gary Grealy’s portraits collected in the National Gallery of Australia and the National Portrait Gallery of Australia, among many others. In fact, for nine of the eleven-year history of the National Photographic Portrait Prize at the National Portrait Gallery, Gary’s work has been exhibited as a finalist.

So, what are Gary's secrets to creating his incredible portraits? In Better Photography this issue, we interview Gary and there are three important take-aways.

1. The portrait happens at the time of capture, so setting up the portrait shoot is essential for success. However, Gary isn't just talking about equipment, but the connection he creates with his subject. 

Explained Gary, “For me, it’s the relationship I have with the subject and the process I go through that leads to the actual portrait sitting. I take every opportunity I can to learn about my subject, including an interview before the photography session itself, when I try to get a sense of the person." Gary then explains in detail some of the ways he builds that relationship - it makes impressive reading.

2. His post-production process in Photoshop is quite different - yet to me it makes a lot of sense. 

“I guess everyone has his or her own strange way of starting the grading process. Mine is that I will initially process three frames, one light, one dark and a middle ‘correct’ exposure."

Then with all three images in a stack in Photoshop, rather than using curves to lighten or darken areas, he uses masks to brush in lighter or darker areas. In this way, he says he’s not fiddling too much with the initial file - but of course, this is just the beginning of his process - it just sets up the file which is further refined.

3. Gary enters photography awards. When asked why, he asks in reply, what else is there for a portrait photographer?

“If you are a creative person, not only do you want to produce work, you need an outlet as well." And that outlet has led to exhibitions around Australia in a number of regional galleries.

What I love about the interviews in Better Photography magazine are the little gems of wisdom I get to take away that have a big impact on how I think and work as a photographer. It's inspirational. And you can read them too - just subscribe to Better Photography magazine online. You'll find details on the www.betterphotographyeducation.com website here.

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Do you dream of giving up your day job and being a full time landscape photographer? Tom Putt has done exactly that and in the current issue of Better Photography (Issue 98), we ask him what it was like to make the move? Is he a millionaire already? Is every day filled with photographing incredible landscapes? And is there a secret or two to success? 

The answers may surprise you, but there's more to running a gallery and perhaps the most important part is sales!

Said Tom, “I sat down with a business coach the other day and he asked me who is my ideal client? It’s a difficult question to answer, but let’s say it was a semi-retiree with an appreciation of art and squillions of dollars to spend! So, how do you find these people so you can market to them?

“Answering this question is one of the reasons I procrastinated so long before opening the gallery; the uncertainty of whether it would work, would I find the right location for the gallery, would I be showing the right prints when a customer walks in, was the price right? All these variables are difficult to define and, like all aspects of marketing, some choices work and some do not.

“Professional portrait and pet photographers have a huge advantage when selling their prints: an emotional connection with the subject. A client may have had a dog for 20 years and so there’s an immediate connection and money is no object when it comes to buying a print. 

“However, as a landscape photographer, I’m often selling to people where there’s no immediate emotional connection, yet I’m wanting them to look at my images and fall in love with them! 

“I remember seeing a photo of a snow gum in Scott Leggo’s gallery and I couldn’t walk out without buying it. I tell all my clients that they have to fall in love with my photos. Some people buy there and then, others are more considered, but I’m not a big fan of the hard sell. It’s really just not me. I approach every sale with the premise that we don’t need it."

Tom provides a very honest insight into what it's like to make a living as a landscape photographer and you can read all about it - just subscribe to Better Photography magazine online. You'll find details on the www.betterphotographyeducation.com website here.

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