Author: dg28

I've been a full-time editorial & corporate photographer since 1986 and I'm still as passionate about the work now as I was then. These days I also write about photography, teach photography and act as a consultant on all things photographic - so, basically, photography is my professional life.

More about archiving

Interview portrait of Lady Helen Brook, founder of the Brook Advisory Centres which gave advice to young women about contraception starting in the in the 1960s, aged 85 at her home in north-west London. 05 May 1993 Photo: Neil Turner

Here we are in day sixty-something of the UK Coronavirus lockdown and I’m still ploughing through my very old work and trying to knock it into a usable archive. There are a number of stages to the process and stage one has been to make a detailed catalogue of somewhere approaching three thousand rolls of negatives from dates on the negative sleeves married up with my old (Filofax) diaries and a few memories kicking around in my head. Stage one is now pretty much finished. There are a few gaps where I cannot work out the exact details of when and where pictures were taken and there are a lot of sheets of negatives missing where the films were processed in newspaper darkrooms and I never got them back.

What I have done as a first step is to create a spreadsheet with columns for the film number, date shot, client who commissioned the job or if it was a self-funded project, a generic caption for the whole sheet of negatives, specific frames where applicable and the digital filename range of files created. From there I can import any or all of that data into the IPTC metadata once I get to the captioning of those images. There will be some rolls of film that will never be touched and there are others which will be given a lot of attention. (more…)

Archive surfing

The photo that became the first technique example on my first website in April 2000. ©Neil Turner/TSL

Like so many of my colleagues the Covid 19 Pandemic has robbed me of almost all of my work. 2020 was looking to be a great year with lots of interesting projects but from the moment that the first lockdowns started to swing into action across the world my assignments and projects started to get postponed and cancelled at a very rapid rate. As I sit here I have nothing booked for the rest of the year.

The other thing that I have in common with a huge percentage of those colleagues is that I have been giving some more attention to my archives. I had several months off in 2017 and so my images are already well protected and catalogued so I have been looking at transparencies, negatives and back ups of my old digital life. (more…)

I need people in photographs

Children play football with an improvised ball in the Copperbelt of Zambia. ©Neil Turner/TSL.

Like most members of the photographic profession, the bottom has dropped out of my business and any and all photography bookings between the first week of March and the end of July have been postponed or cancelled. Not my fault, not my client’s faults either so I’m being pretty calm about it and getting used to being in lockdown. Lots of my news photographer friends are out there day after day coming up with fabulous picture to illustrate the only story that anyone is interested in – the Coronavirus Pandemic – and I applaud them warmly. That applause goes for the health workers, retailers who are at work, the emergency services, delivery drivers, refuse workers and every other key worker who is there doing their jobs to keep society ticking over and, more importantly, safe.

Again, like most members of the photographic profession, I am looking back through old images of mine to remind myself what it is about the job and making the pictures that I love so much. I’ve also been looking through some of the hundreds of photographic books that line the shelves in my home and it has taken almost no time at all to re-affirm what I already knew: (more…)

Fascinated by Instagram but useless at it

Rain drops on the lens near Fisherman’s Walk. October 2019 ©Neil Turner

I just might be the worst user of Instagram amongst the photographic community. I don’t post new pictures often enough, I don’t go back through my archive and post interesting images from it often enough and I don’t interact with other people’s posts often enough either. Sometimes I have a real go at putting an effort in but I don’t seem to have the pictures, the patience or the attitude to keep it up.

That doesn’t stop me finding the whole thing quite fascinating. There are hundreds of quite brilliant images sitting in my feed as I type. I follow just over 600 people and businesses and between them they produce amazing content on a daily basis. I also have a couple of searches running permanently which give me an insight into just how bad and boring pictures that get posted can be. (more…)

Terry Jones and memories

Terry Jones lecturing in March 2008 about the death of Geoffrey Chaucer. ©Neil Turner/ TSL

When you hear of the death of someone who has been in the public eye it is rarely anything other than sad. When it was someone that you spent some time photographing then it’s that little bit sadder. Neil Innes, Nicholas Parsons and Terry Jones are all recent examples that come directly to mind.

I know that many of my friends and colleagues also photographed Terry Jones (one of the members of the Monty Python team for those trying to work out who he was) and for me he was funny, charming and very keen to be part of the process of being photographed. As a massive Python fan it was a privilege to meet him. (more…)

What are you up to these days?

This chart shows the percentage of my income earned in the tax year 2018-2019 from different activities.

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…)