Category Archives: Creative Arts

Part one: Are you really Creative?

 

You call yourself a Creative, but are you really?

artwork 2

The internet, especially the social media sites such as facebook, and ‘photography’ pages like flickr, and 500pix are today awash with photographs, which while claiming to be ‘professional’ and ‘creative’ are really nothing more than snapshots: banal, cliché ridden, dated, bereft of any compositional aspects, aesthetically bankrupt, technically incompetent, corny, dull, hackneyed, derivative, antiquated, repetitious to the point of mere clones inspired no doubt from ‘inspo’ or ‘mood boards’, insipid, mawkish, trite, and particularly unoriginal and platitudinous.

Many otherwise adult photographers don’t seem to have developed their concept of creativity beyond Kindergarten level, when Miss Prissy set out finger-paints and gasped: “Today we are all going to be creative, kiddies!” And this naive immaturity, without any of the innate charm implicit in the ‘creations’ of the infant, shows:- oh so painfully! Obvious to everyone, except of course their legions of Facebook followers, who never hesitate to ‘Like’!

And it would seem that, in true Orwellian irony, that those who try the hardest to convince all and sundry, especially themselves, how creative they are – a social media pastime which has reached the participation level of an international sport – the more devoid of any kind of creativity is their output.

There is even what seems to be a highly vocal movement (certainly locally, but apparently internationally) who only refer to themselves, and their recognised fellow elite, as “Creatives” – their ‘work’ however, suggests quite the opposite!

So what is this “Creativity” actually all about, what does it mean to be ‘creative’, and what kind of practices does it entail.

In other words: Are you, and indeed I creative, doing any kind of creative work, or are we just kidding ourselves?

A consensus of respected dictionaries, both real world and online, would have it that:

Creativity is perhaps best described as a combination of inventiveness, imagination, inspiration, and perception.

Therefore let us have a look at the generally accepted meanings of each of those parts, as well as the word ‘Creative’ itself:

Definitions:

CREATIVE

  • relating to or involving the use of the imagination or original ideas to create something.

  • having the quality of something created rather than imitated

  • resulting from originality of thought, expression, etc.

  • to cause to come into being, as something unique that would not naturally evolve or that is not made by ordinary processes.

  • to evolve from one’s own thought or imagination, as a work of art or an invention.

And the accepted definitions of each part of the whole:

INVENTIVE

  • having the ability to create or design new things or to think originally.

  • showing creativity or original thought.

  • apt at inventing, devising, or contriving.

  • apt at creating with the imagination.

  • pertaining to, involving, or showing invention.

  • a new, useful process, machine, improvement, etc., that did not exist previously and that is recognised as the product of some unique intuition or genius, as distinguished from ordinary mechanical skill or craftsmanship.

  • devising, or originating.

  • an act or instance of creating or producing by exercise of the imagination, especially in art, music, etc.

IMAGINATION

  • the faculty or action of forming new ideas, or images or concepts of external objects not present to the senses.

  • the act or power of forming a mental image of something not present to the senses or never before wholly perceived in reality

  • ability to confront and deal with a problem

  • the thinking or active mind

  • a creation of the mind;

  • the faculty of imagining, or of forming mental images or concepts of what is not actually present to the senses.

  • the action or process of forming such images or concepts.

  • the faculty of producing ideal creations consistent with reality, as in literature, as distinct from the power of creating illustrative or decorative imagery.

  • the product of imagining; a conception or mental creation, often a baseless or fanciful one.

  • ability to face and resolve difficulties; resourcefulness:

  • a job that requires imagination.

  • the power of reproducing images stored in the memory under the suggestion of associated images (reproductive imagination) or of recombining former experiences in the creation of new images directed at a specific goal or aiding in the solution of problems (creative imagination)

INSPIRATION

  • the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.

  • the action or power of moving the intellect or emotions

  • the act of influencing or suggesting opinions

  • an inspiring or animating action or influence:

  • something inspired, as an idea.

  • a result of inspired activity.

  • a thing or person that inspires.

  • divine influence directly and immediately exerted upon the mind or soul.

  • the divine quality of the writings or words of a person so influenced.

PERCEPTION:

  • the ability to see, hear, or become aware of something through the senses.

  • awareness of something through the senses

  • the neuro-physiological processes, including memory, by which an organism becomes aware of and interprets external stimuli

  • the way in which something is regarded, understood, or interpreted.

  • awareness of the elements of environment through physical sensation

  • physical sensation interpreted in the light of experience

  • quick, acute, and intuitive cognition

  • a capacity for comprehension

  • the act or faculty of perceiving, or apprehending by means of the senses or of the mind; cognition; understanding.

  • immediate or intuitive recognition or appreciation, as of moral, psychological, or aesthetic qualities; insight; intuition; discernment:

  • an artist of rare perception.

  • the result or product of perceiving, as distinguished from the act of perceiving

So if you accept the definitions above, and there is really no reason to dismiss them, several criteria would need to be taken into consideration, before a work can be legitimately called ‘creative’:

  1. Imagination

  2. Originality, evolving from one’s own thought

  3. Created not imitated

  4. Newness, the result of unique intuition or genius, based on knowledge, experience, resourcefulness, skills, and craftsmanship

Apply these definitions to your own work, and decide how it measures up in the ‘creativity’ stakes.

Part Two of this BlogState of the Art, coming next, will show by example the myriad of simple, rookie mistakes and common problems witnessed in so many photographs posted on the internet on a daily basis, and claiming to be ‘awesome captures’, ‘superb shots’, and even ‘art’, which have so many seasoned and experienced photographers tearing their hair in frustration, and lamenting the current level of corruption and possible demise of ‘creativity’.

Part Three of this BlogThe Artist: Diamond amid the Sewage, coming soon”, will explore the photographer as ‘Artist’, and whether ‘Creativity’ is enough to proclaim a specific photograph, or body of photographic images as ‘Art’

 

©Copyright: Stephen Bennett, MMXVII

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Lip Service? Or it just sux!

 

Jean Harlow by George Hurrell

The word ‘photography’, as just about every book or article written on the subject will tell you, translates as: writing, painting, or making graphic forms with light.

It is obvious that without light, photography would not exist, but it much more than that.

Many great photographers, sadly most of them from the past, maintain that the “art” of photography, a word bandied around far too much nowadays, is the study, and application of all the subtleties of light in its many forms and qualities to create an aesthetically pleasing composition.

The photo illustrating this blog post: Jean Harlow by George Hurrell, was recently posted on facebook by a genuine ‘student of the art’, as an example of ‘beautiful lighting’ worth at least commenting on, if not emulating.

The excellence of photographic lighting skills reached their pinnacle in the 1930’s/ 40’s with the emergence of the Film Noir movement in Germany and France, and in Hollywood with their sensual and almost erotic lighting of glamour starlets of the era, both on the soundstage and in the photographer’s studios.

Since then photographic and film lighting has of course developed, but basically the principles remain the same.

It is only since the digital ‘everyone can be a photographer’ era of the last say, twenty years that lighting expertise seems to have significantly declined, and in many cases ignored completely.

It seems that nowadays getting an image, any image, captured is an “awesome accomplishment”, if it obeys the rule of thirds more or less, it is a “great composition”, and if you can see some details, and the colours are more or less ‘correct’, it is “well lit”.

The qualities of light which photographers should be aware of as the most influential aspects of creating a composition which has modelling of form, definition, mood, control of focus points, information and variation of visibility (the very things artistic photographs are made of) are:

  • quantity…how much, and how little, and where it falls

  • intensity…the strength of the light overall

  • colour…range from black to white, and degrees of saturation of all colours included

  • distribution…where the light falls, what it reveals, and more importantly where it hides or masks details

  • texture….the softness/ hardness of light definition, beams and pools of light, and the quality and depth of shadows

However the majority of photographs which are seen today, seemingly exploit none of these aspects: the majority of ‘professional’ photographs appearing on facebook, flickr etc, where the largest potential audiences for photography gather, and garner the most of the trite, meaningless comments of ‘awesome capture’ and ‘wonderful, unique lighting’, seem all uniformly and flatly lit from edge to edge, with totally detailed shadows, and far too often not only blown out highlights, but starkly white faces, and either a complete lack of modelling, or grossly inappropriate shadows.

What used to be known in the business as ‘porn lighting’: full field and full frontal detail everywhere, so that everything is visible no matter what, and without any form or finesse.

This can be the result of one, or all of three different styles of photography:

  1. totally disregarding the light altogether, or having no understanding of lighting

  2. harsh and unsoftened, on camera, or close to on camera flash

  3. ‘studios” which are set up this way either intentionally or unknowingly.

With the daily bombardment of ‘awesome captures’ on the internet, and the current career trajectories of photographers being as they are: (day one- buy a dslr, day two, turn professional, day three; open my very own studio) is there any hope of returning to photography which is about capturing the subtleties of light on a subject, rather than just aiming, pressing the button and hoping for the best?

The proliferation of hire ‘studios’ is also to blame to a certain degree. I have ventured into several of these studios – read: glorified barns for amateurs not good enough to join a photography club to have a “bit of fun” – recently and found that the most prevalent lighting set up is indeed ‘porn lighting’: two far two big, overpriced and powerful softboxes set two metres apart, about three to four metres from the subject, both set to the same output, and hope for the best.

One studio owner became visibly heated under the collar, when I actually had the audacity to move the lights into the traditional key/fill positions, and adjust the outputs, and another made it impossible to adjust or reposition anything because the lights were affixed immovably to the ceiling and accessing the adjustment panel meant the need for a ladder, with of course none in evidence.

Mention the words ‘lighting ratio’ to one of the new breed of photographers, and you are almost universally met with a puzzled expression.

Unfortunately it seems from the majority of evidence that quality of light, has given way dramatically to mere quantity…in parallel with that other necessity of modern digital photography: quantity of images, and fix the best of a bad lot in photoshop has completely eclipsed actually striving for fewer quality photographs.

Which strikes me as rather odd: over 80 years ago, when photographers had to battle with inefficient and notoriously cantankerous lighting apparatus, slow lenses, and even slower emulsions (films for the uninitiated) they could come up with excellently lit and beautifully processed work as the above illustration demonstrates.

And yet today, when lighting is efficient, varied, good quality and very cheap, and cameras almost all perform so well that they need little more than a candle to produce good quality images, there is so little regard for good, aesthetic, and dare I say artistically creative lighting.

©Copyright: Stephen Bennett, MMXVI

Except as permitted by the copyright law applicable to you, you may not reproduce or communicate any of the content on this website, including any photographs and files down-loadable from this website, without the permission of the copyright owner.

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It’s Never Too Late…

…to take the Hypocritic Oath

arty pegs

With photography, as with television, and indeed the entire nation, entering a 21st century state of “Innovation”, “Great Imaginativization”(sic) and an unprecedented “Age of Creativity”,(well 16 years into the century isn’t too late) I have decided that if you can’t beat them, you join ’em, and “progress forward” to  what I should have done 40 years ago…the first day after buying my first camera in fact:

call myself not a working photographer,

not even a professional

…but an “Artist”.

This example of my work “images the beauty and everlasting memories of life, and the creativity of being, with a subtle existentialism which manifests itself not with me consuming the coffee, but frees the mind and elevates the soul as the coffee consumes me”.
My artistic statement of course will be refined further as arrogance slowly obliterates all my accumulated skills, and I nauseatingly embrace and strive for the highest of artistic planes…complete ignorance.
At least keen eyed aficionados will notice my subjects are totally unadorned by clothing, nor even a swathe of flowing material of any sort, wet,  windswept or otherwise, so without doubt this pic and the other 7,392 “captures” from the 10 hour (I’ll get them right in Photoshop) “shoot” will be “great for their folios”.

And now that my first attempt, and undoubted pinnacle of artistic integrity has been put before the most discerning of audiences on facebook, I eagerly await the sycophantic admiration and almost erudite ravings of my loyal “likers”, and harried and visually fatigued “followers”…
… “Awesome capture”
…”Amazing imaging”
…”you should turn professional”
… you must have a really good camera

Credit and permission to use this image for folio and self promotion purposes only, is begrudgingly given to the makeup girl, stylist, client, camera assistant, various other assistants, and assistants to the assistants, mothers, boyfriends, minders, wardrobe and other mistresses, sandwich truck driver, the boy who made the coffee (collectively known in the professional photography world as catering ) honorary holder of the reflector, the bloke who forever regales anyone who will listen with claims he is not a lawyer,nor does he play one on TV, but knows so much about model releases he wrote his own because no one ever considers the model’s rights, the guests,  all other assorted and misguided hangers on, and the rest of my fellow creatives” who attended the “shoot”, whether invited or not.

Everyone else, if indeed there is anyone else, is free to share, make money from, and claim this work as their own, under some Creative Common Copyright Agreement which states that anything on the internet is free to be stolen and exploited, and International Laws which require that artists must not only work for free, but must relinquish all their rights to people who have real  jobs, (such as politicians, venture capitalists and slush fund managers) and live penniless in a garret while “suffering for their art”.

And it’s not like I need the money, because I’ll have my social security allowances to pay the “submission fees” to all the online vanity magazines which guarantee to “publish” my “art”, which also guarantee a worldwide audience consisting mainly of myself, my model, and my model’s mother. I have already picked out my park bench, and put aside some old newspapers for when I may crave further “exposure”.

So now that I am “only an amateur” I can not only indulge my passion, I can advertise on my lavish website  that I charge less than the exorbitant fees that those extortionist professionals do.

I can also undercut all of my “creative colleagues” in my area, photographing only the subject matter I love such as :
-infinite numbers of clones of the Demi Moore pregnancy photo from the 1990’s.
-morbidly obese girls deluding themselves to be plus+size models, almost squeezing into fetish costumes
-equally deluded tattooed and expressionless girls playing model dress ups, standing gawkily in front of graffiti-ed walls, dressed as zombies or vampires with their choice of either troweled on slime and shine makeup, or sugar skull “art”
-obviously unhappy and mismatched “couples” standing and glaring under the regionally recognised posing tree
-and el cheapo weddings for “friends” who refuse to spring for a “real photographer”

But my real passion, which i shall specialise in, is “glamour makeovers”, and I can spatula on the pyramid sales company makeup, and false mail order nails myself, while making a wonderfully lucrative “business” for myself  hosting pyramid parties on the side.

Which reminds me, I no longer have to pay for that silly liability insurance, or business registration, taxes and those other useless overheads.

I can also convert my lounge room into “my studio” when it isn’t being used by the family, and sell off all my lighting equipment, because I find my cameras inbuilt flash is really great for “expressing my unique vision”. I realise I look “mega cool”  with all my “professional”  cameras and a case full of expensive “glass”; but i find now that I am doing most of my “serious work” with my smartphone.

I am really looking forward also to joining several of many of the secret facebook hate groups, for now instead of being the target of slander and innuendo, I will be welcomed solely on my ability to vilify anyone who is better than I am, or those for whom technique and integrity are a natural part of their work ethics.

It goes without saying that I will also develop a secret group of my own, grooming a harem of models for their own protection of course, warning them that any photographer who isn’t in my clique at the present moment is actually a dirty old pervert hiding behind a camera with intent to desecrate and exploit any naive girls’ virtue.

But I suppose what I relish most is my new found freedom to anonymously email abuse and insinuations to the “vile” writers of “twisted, out of touch and unprofessional” blogs such as this one.

Right now though I must go and do some “awesomely amazing”light painting “captures”, before burning down historical landmarks becomes a cliche in itself.

Ahhhh! Such is the life and 15 seconds of fame of the modern “artiste de camer…ah”.
… and funny how psychiatrists and other worthy souls always seem to put a “BS” in front of the word “artist”.

Picture Credits
Model: Winnie Pegg
Model: Dolly Dowell
MUA: Maxine “greasy girl” Amlon
Stylist: Jonnie C. Wan-Kerr

Specs
taken with a yphone,
927mm L series “creative distortion” lens, (an old kit 2nd hand kit lens off eBay I “innovatively repurposed” (painted white with a fancy red stripe),
1/teensy sec @ fstop,
at the “sweetspot” during “the golden hour”, using an autographed designer combination camera strap/posing pouch,  and wearing an internationally award winning photo vest.

 

©Copyright: Stephen Bennett, MMXV
Except as permitted by the copyright law applicable to you, you may not reproduce or communicate any of the content on this website, including any  photographs  and files downloadable from this website, without the permission of the copyright owner.
The Australian Copyright Act allows certain uses of content on the internet without the copyright owner’s permission. This includes uses by educational institutions for educational purposes, and by Commonwealth and State government departments for government purposes, provided fair payment is made. For more information, see www.copyright.com.au and www.copyright.org.au.
We may change these terms of use from time to time. Check before re-using any content from this website.
Interesting Links:
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How Do I Start Making Money as a Photographer?

following passion
Some guys and gals jus’ sittin’ around, following their passion

It happens at least once a week.

“I have been a photographer for a whole year now, and I think it’s time I turned pro. I have over 5000 photos on my hard drive: how do I start to make money from them?”

And then, wait for it…the ego driven amateur forever declaration: “I think most of them are really awesome!”

And no sooner is it posted somewhere on the internet, than the mug advice starts to flow, the majority of which falls into one camp or another:

From the utterly useless –

“Don’t take any notice of what anybody tells you, just follow your passion!”

To the completely ridiculous –

“Just keep taking as many photos as you can, of everything you see, and then before you know it, they will start selling!”

Well what kind of advice can you actually give apart from the bleedin’ obvious? Forget ideas of becoming a professional until you learn how to take a decent photograph, and then move on to learning how to take a saleable photograph, and keep practicing until you can do it time and time again, until at least six out of every ten photographs you take are potentially saleable?

OK, although it is completely arse about, and so amateur, rather than how a professional thinks, you could meticulously go through your five thousand photos, and pick the best to lodge with micro stock agencies. Experience says that after only one year as “a photographer”, out of 5000 pics, you will be lucky to find 50 which are in anyway good enough to be saleable, let alone “awesome”.

But fess up! Did you discard all of the over saturated sunsets, the pretty flowers, the snaps of little sis with her face smeared with chocolate at her birthday party, the long exposure water enveloped rocks, and the majority of featureless landscapes?

But go ahead and submit a couple of hundred of your best pics to not one, but a whole slew of micro stock agencies, or picture libraries as the more up market versions prefer to call themselves.

And you can bet London to a brick, that the 50 or so the agencies don’t reject, will be an entirely different 50 to the ones you favour.

You may sell a few in the first few months, but don’t put a deposit on the Ferrari just yet, or even on that luxury skateboard.

Statistics which are not so difficult to find if you know how to search for them, consistently show that photographers who have at least 10,000 , preferably more pictures lodged with libraries, can safely assume that for each of those, you may possibly earn $1 per year on average.

So 10,000 pics = $10,000 per annum earnings?…eee-z-eee murneeee!!!

Reality check! Any fewer, especially only a couple of hundred pictures on file as stock and you will may be just fortunate enough to sell one or a couple, maybe even a few, per year.

Well either way, hardly enough to pay the rent? But remember your cut (your royalty or commission) will only be roughly 0.22c in the dollar at today’s rates if you are in someway charmed….feeling like a professional yet?

So now that you have had at least a little dose of reality: did you actually have a look around those sites when you lodged your photos, to get a feel for the type of photo, the subject matter, the setting, the lighting, the colour schemes that they not only prefer, but the ones which are actually selling?
If not go back not only now, but several times a week and study what is actually in front of your eyes, and which so many look at, but few ever see.

In other words stop relying on luck, your “passion”, and your own perceived artistic genius, and start studying the market!

This is one of the main differences between a raw amateur, and a successful professional. While a mug will take photographs willy-nilly, to suit themselves,or on a whim, of subjects which interest them, in styles of setting, lighting, colour and composition which they consider being an artist with a camera, and then trying to find someone who will think highly enough of your artistic vision to shell out some money for them, this is a really sure fire way of wasting time and energy, and becoming penniless very quickly.

A professional on the other hand survives and thrives on the knowledge that he consistently supplies exactly what his chosen market wants and needs….no more and no less.

He studies each of his target markets, be they picture libraries, magazines, or individual clients for what the want, what they have accepted in the past, what they are looking for in the present.

He knows for instance that magazines of all persuasions do not want art, they do not want “I can do better than that”, they do not want cutting edge, or “out there”: but what they do want is more of exactly the same as they have been publishing for at least the last 12 months, and usually longer.

He also knows that his bride and groom for next weekend’s wedding, do not want anything different to the bride’s BFF’s wedding pictures from last June, tempered of course with what the bride’s parents want: nice pictures of their daughter, and all the guests in their best frocks and suits, and make sure Aunty Dorrie’s wart doesn’t dominate the picture too much.

This is possibly why wedding pictures are still plagued with lopsided horizons which came into accepted fashion in the 1980’s and are still far too evident, een amongst those who should know better, and why after five long years, wedding parties are still required to do the Toyota Leap in unison for that “special unique (?) image”.

So at least begin to think like the professional you aspire to be: study your market till it is second nature and then emulate it in every sense, especially technical aspects such as lighting, depth of field, lens choice, subject, colour use and composition. Once you have done that, and can do it, as stated earlier , at least 6 in every 10 “captures”, you can then start anticipating the trends, and changes as they happen, and more importantly establish your own style.

Then and only then: when, editors, picture curators or selectors, and clients say confidently: “that image is exactly what I was looking for, and I can tell you exactly who took that picture as well”, can you begin to consider yourself an established professional.

 

©Copyright: Stephen Bennett, MMXV
Except as permitted by the copyright law applicable to you, you may not reproduce or communicate any of the content on this website, including any photographs and files downloadable from this website, without the permission of the copyright owner.
The Australian Copyright Act allows certain uses of content on the internet without the copyright owner’s permission. This includes uses by educational institutions for educational purposes, and by Commonwealth and State government departments for government purposes, provided fair payment is made. For more information, see www.copyright.com.au and www.copyright.org.au.
We may change these terms of use from time to time. Check before re-using any content from this website.

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LONG TERM NEED SOON TO BE FILLED

What would you rather hear from your local photographic studio owner/photography instructor?
“I got my first camera at Christmas, and I’ve been a professional photographer ever since”…
or…
“I’ve been a photographer for thirty + years and I still look forward to doing something new each day” 11745747_1442006566125141_8697778603834467661_n

A new photographic studio for hire is about to open in the Newcastle region, in the Lake Macquarie suburb of Cardiff, owned by the very experienced photographer and long time photography instructor, Les Farnham, and ably assisted by the equally experienced Barry Madden.

10629551_10206039973453530_7384880364373003770_n

Entering the studio complex via the double glass doors takes you into the roomy, and well appointed seminar/classroom, where Farnham’s brainchild the Newcastle Photography School holds its very comprehensive classes. For full details of the classes currently available, and those coming up go to: http://www.newcastlephotographyschool.com.au/

or on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NewcastlePhotographySchool?fref=ts

Adjacent to the classroom is Studio One, a very large shooting area with a selection of backdrops, (black, white, deep red, and a green screen). This area is also accessible by a large roller door, allowing cars, boats, and large props to be photographed under studio conditions.

The side walls of this studio also show a gallery of studio prints, and will be available as a gallery showroom for graduate student work on completion of the various courses.

This studio also has very high ceilings, with four individually dim-able work-lights to accommodate different photographers studio comfort levels without interfering with exposures from the photo-flash lighting.

Diagonally from studio one and behind the classroom is Studio Two, a smaller area devoted more to portrait work, passport type photography and more one to one style work.

Tucked into the corner between the two studios is a surprisingly large area for changing, preparation and make-up. Unlike many contemporary studios the comfort of the model is not merely an afterthought here, and features good clean toilet facilities, a private change room, and space for sitting and regrouping between shots. There is also a large area which is set aside for storage and changing of clothing…(clothes racks are being installed probably as I write his) and the addition of a make-up table with a large illuminated make-up mirror will delight models, make-up artists, and stylists alike.

Immediately behind the seminar room is a staircase leading to the mezzanine Studio Three, which is dedicated to macro and product photography, and is complete with a quality product table ready to shoot. This area has all the necessary studio lighting as well as a large window for natural light, allowing for more intimate, natural light portraiture as well, but Les informed me quite rightly that this only really works well during the daytime.

The mezzanine level also features a wall which can be opened up its full length to allow overhead shooting into Studio One, so no doubt many a model will be shot, reclining sensuously not only on the carpeted floor, but on thick shag rugs.

Eventually however, Studio One will be equipped with a heavy duty, moveable and granny proof overhead platform for such shots, which will add further to the versatility of the complex.

This studio complex when it opens in a few weeks time…the photography classes have been running for several weeks already, and the studios should be fully operational as soon as extra lighting equipment and backdrops on order arrive from overseas…will fill a large need by the region’s photographers for a large, well equipped, professional studio owned and run by very experienced, knowledgeable and helpful photographers who are dedicated to the improvement and development of good photography in the area.

I myself plan on using this studio as often as I can as there are no similar studios offering quite the same experience at the moment, and although it is an hour or so drive for me, the friendliness and the open sharing of knowledge gained through extensive experience by both Les and Barry alone are well worth the trip.

No doubt this studio complex will see its fair share of the candy skull and zombie brigade, but it also has the facilities and knowledge base for much more serious and professional work.

Hire of the studio is envisaged as $60 for three hour shoot.

http://www.newcastlephotographyschool.com.au/

https://www.facebook.com/NewcastlePhotographySchool?fref=ts

©Copyright: Stephen Bennett, MMXIV
Except as permitted by the copyright law applicable to you, you may not reproduce or communicate any of the content on this website, including any  photographs  and files downloadable from this website, without the permission of the copyright owner.
The Australian Copyright Act allows certain uses of content on the internet without the copyright owner’s permission. This includes uses by educational institutions for educational purposes, and by Commonwealth and State government departments for government purposes, provided fair payment is made. For more information, see www.copyright.com.au and www.copyright.org.au.
We may change these terms of use from time to time. Check before re-using any content from this website.

Interesting Links:
My Photography Webpage
Facebook page for Professional Photographers and Models
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My Pond 5 Page
The Definite Article at Publicise Me

So You ant To Be A Professional ?

splash screen jpeg10 Ways to Stay in Business

Stephen Bennett has survived the rigours of being a freelance writer/photographer, both full and part time, for almost 40 years.

In that time I haves seen literally hundreds of wannabes, cowboys, faux-pros, scammers,

and Uncle Harry’s make a flurry, and then disappear into the murky depths.

I have found that rather than compete with them, it is far better to ignore them:-

while they may have an immediate effect on the industry, usually on prices, and a general lowering of accepted standards, they will soon disappear after discovering that their “business model”, if indeed they have one, is unsustainable, and what they thought would be a great way to fuel their “passion”, is actually damn hard work.

However they will undoubtedly be replaced by eager souls intent on providing the industry with their particular brand of untutored and cheap, tortured crap…however survival as a freelance creative business person is not to be won by joining them, but more by beating them.

By maintaining professional standards of technique, quality and pricing, and providing what you have found through experience and research, what the market wants, backed up by strong, well tested business acumen and procedure…beating them is a lot easier than first imagined.

What follows are all tried and true methods of doing business…they are all common procedures in the business world, and expected by fellow business people.

Deviate from them or indeed ignore them, preferring to lurch your freelance career along by laxity of business principles and adapting to what ever you feel fits at the time, is a sure way to telegraph that you are an amateur…you are not serious about your career or your business, but are merely playing at being a creative artist, and inviting the rest of the business community and your customers in general to regard you as ripe for being taken advantage of: and also perpetuating the myth in which all creative artists have long been regarded, that artistic endeavours are merely a hobby, and artists are too lost in mysticism, to notice that they are being ripped off.

So here are ten basic business principles, I think essential to

  • credibility and professionalism,
  • to put you on an equal footing with your fellow business people,
  • to procure and keep customers and clients,
  • and to put you way ahead of the faux-pros, and their petty foolish games.
  1. Know Our AbilitiesKnow your strengths, and weaknesses, and exploit them. Don’t accept jobs that are beyond you, your equipment or your time restraints… if you don’t know how to do something, or you have never done a similar assignment before, by all means learn how to do it and improve your skills base, but muddling through it for a paying customer is not the way to learn.

And of course, asking an online forum is no way to learn how to        do something new, but surely you already knew that.

As well as avoiding projects which are too big, or beyond your present knowledge, don’t reduce your normal quality and your reputation to chasing the “nickel and dime” jobs either, simply because money is short, or work is in a lean period…is it worth a couple of ready dollars to do work for someone who would probably value and appreciate a phone pic more….let the faux pros do the “work” which suits their abilities.

2 Know Your Value

 

and charge accordingly…work out your pricing based on your time, your equipment and its replacement value, your overheads, and your real costs of doing business. Factor in an amount for your knowledge, your reputation, your real talent, your experience and your quality: and then stick to it. Why do shoots like the guy down the road, or offer faddish techniques or products because your mate does it, or someone recommended it.

Do discounts, childishly designed coupons on your Facebook page, highly expensive, and creatively fiddly packages, actually entice the clients that you want …in other words are you wasting your time, talents and efforts playing at being in business, and trying to outdo those who will never have the wherewithal to be your competition?

  1. Beware the Bullshit Artists

There seems to be more absolutely useless guff published on internet forums, Facebook, in magazines and in blogs, and discussed amongst mates centred around the creative arts, especially in my field of photography and modelling, than any other area of expertise.

There also seem to be more scam artists, and more internet experts in these fields than any where else, and it is so pervasive that even professionals and usually more astute and knowledgeable practitioners often get caught up in the jargon, or fall for at least some of the nonsense.

It pays then to at least recognise some of the these buzzwords which seem to reoccur so often that they are easily overlooked:

  • good exposure,
  • great for your folio,
  • sure to lead to future work,
  • a really prestige opportunity

Experience soon shows that any offer that contains even one of these key buzzwords is basically a waste of time and effort.

  1. Get a Deposit

At the very least, a deposit will secure the job enough for you to begin preliminary work with a little assurance that you not wasting your time.

A non refundable deposit means that preliminary work may be eventually wasted but at least you have been paid for the time expended on it

And a deposit gives a customer a feeling that he has invested already, so he may as well go through with the rest.

However if a model or a portrait customer is only going through with the shoot because they don’t want to lose their deposit, you don’t achieve great work, simply because one member of the team does not want to be there, and final payment may become like extracting teeth.

  1. Get the Cash

A fundamental to good freelancing: you can’t survive on promises so make sure you get the money in your hot little hand, and although cheques are basically a thing of the past, there are so many more modern variations of “the cheque is in the mail”

  1. Don’t Work for Future Profits

Taking various forms such as a percentage of earnings, lots of future work and the all time favourite: “you will be looked on favourably”…empty promises don’t pay the bills.

There probably wont be any anyway, and how would you know about them anyway, because people who make empty promises don’t telegraph the fact that their windfalls actually paid off.

  1. Get an Advance in Full

for out of pocket expenses…at least you will be paid for your expenses, if payment for the work never eventuates. Paying for out of pocket expenses from profits from the previous work, simply means that if this job doesn’t pay, you have not only lost the money due for it, but you have lost some of your profits from the previous job as well.

  1. Document Everything

including:

  • the definition and scope of the job,
  • payment terms and conditions,
  • usage licenses,
  • releases,
  • expectations,
  • changes,
  • requested changes,
  • proposals,
  • emails,
  • phone calls,
  • discussions…

that is what email is so handy: it is so easy to “forget” or “remember something differently” later on, especially if one party needs an advantage over the others involved

  1. Don’t Deliver Work Until Final Payment is Made

and the cash is in the bank: again a fundamental of good freelance business practice, and yet too often not followed…always ending in tears.

  1. Use a Contract

get everything in writing and keep changes up to date.

A gentlemen’s agreement: requires two things:

  • gentlemen
  • and an agreement10 Plus: Monitor Usage of Your Work

and take action if and when breaches occur.

The only way you can make sure that your work has been used for the purposes for which it has been licensed: and you might be amazed at the uses it may be put to, or where it may turn up by either forgetfulness, assumption or creative reading of licenses.

And that is not even taking into account theft, “fair use” and internet sharing, and the like.

 

 

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