What are you up to these days?


If someone takes the time to ask me a question I will do my best to answer it fully and honestly. Sometimes I take those questions and answer them as a posting here on this blog. Today I am trying to answer a question asked directly to me when I met up with some old colleagues. That age old ice-breaker “so what are you up to these days?”

When it took me about five minutes to give a full answer I realised that my working life has gone from quite easy to explain “I’m an editorial photographer” to being way more complicated “I have a portfolio of roles within photography”. If I were on the receiving end of an answer like that I’d be tempted to glaze over and start to contemplate a quick change of subject or even a semi-quick exit. Everyone was kind enough to find what I had to say mildly interesting and so I’m going to try to repeat it here. (more…)

Mission Creep

I have lost count of the number of times I have agreed the details of an assignment with a client only to find out that they want to add a few “little extras” on the day of the shoot. Sometimes it is a job where we agreed to do a dozen headshots only to find out that they’ve added another six or seven. It can be a school prospectus shoot which was meant to end with the school day where, over a cup of coffee, they casually add an after-school club that doesn’t start until after you were supposed to be off-site. In the most extreme case I can remember it was to do half of the job in central London and the rest of it a two-hour drive away on the outskirts of Coventry.

The military term “mission creep” sort of covers this except that most definitions use the word “unintentionally” whereas this kind of “job expansion” is pretty often entirely intentional. How you handle this regular occurrence says a lot about you as a photographer and can define your relationship with that client for years to come. What might seem as a harmless addition to the brief can leave you with extra work, less time to shoot parts of the original brief and can get you into a row with the client.

For me the worst part of mission creep is the almost inevitable additional time that will have to be spent in post production. It stands to reason that even if you can shoot extra pictures in the time given for the job there will be a greater number of images to be sorted, captioned, cropped and toned. The client almost always ends up getting what they perceive as more pictures for the same fee. (more…)

Older than old school…

Equipment and my equipment choices tend to evolve pretty slowly. Way back in the 1980s I was using a lot of off-camera flash on location and that meant either owning and running a lot of extension cables with my Elinchrom mains powered units, buying (or renting) a Norman system or using some basic flashguns (the term speed light hadn’t really entered common usage by then, other than as part of a Nikon model name) to do the job. I came across the Lumedyne range (old school) in the mid 1990s, although they had been around for a while by then. Before that I spent many happy years with my cobbled-together battery powered flash kit which was based around the already long-in-the-tooth Vivitar 285 system. I call it a system because there was a ton of accessories that you could get for it and it had some common connections that meant you could pair it up with almost anything you wanted to.

I mention all of this because I stumbled across a pretty much complete Vivitar 285 kit when I was looking for something else in my many boxes of disused and “may-come-in-handy-one-day” kit. In the box were: (more…)

Tinkering with my folio

I spent a long time working as a photographer specialising in education and I spent as long as the rest of you in full-time education as a pupil and a student too. I think that those two facts combine to make me feel that “new year feeling” in September as the kids go back to school and the not-so-young ones go away to university. January is the new year of course and April sees the beginning of the financial year but September feels like to ‘work new year’ to me.

And it is at this time of year I start to think about getting out there with my folio looking for new and interesting work and, at the same time, I like to have at least a minor refresh with my on-line folio too. (more…)

Batteries – can you ever have too many?

Canon batteries August 2019. © Neil Turner

A few weeks ago I was on a simple PR job alongside a small video crew and another photographer. Like most jobs we talked about what we needed, let the video team go first and then shot our pictures. As the day progressed the pattern was repeated until just after lunch the other photographer ran out of power for his camera. He was using a single Canon EOS5D MkIII and I was shooting with two EOS5D MkIVs so we had the same type of battery and I offered to lend him one of my spares. When asked how many spares I had I said that I had four in my camera bag and another four in the car along with a battery charger that would run in the car or on mains should I get desperate. He was amazed that one photographer could own so many and I was equally amazed that anyone doing this for a living wouldn’t. Since then I have been asking around and it turns out that I am quite unusual. (more…)

Photography as a discussion

Pensioners at a bus stop in Bournemouth town centre on a wet afternoon. ©Neil Turner

About thirty seconds after starting to read yet another essay about photography that doesn’t include any pictures I normally categorise it as one of the following:

  • useful
  • derivative
  • nonsense
  • worse than nonsense

This week there was an exception – in fact quite a big exception. (more…)