opinion

A downside of technology

© Photo Neil Turner.

Anyone who knows me and anyone who has read this blog would probably say that I am keen on technology. I would agree – I’m a geek. Despite my love of the whole digital process there’s one thing about the way that we work these days that I am not so keen on.

What’s that then? I hear one or two people asking. Put very simply, I don’t get to meet or even chat with editorial clients any more. I know that the whole COVID-19 pandemic has put a mighty spanner in the works but even accounting for that I was disappointed and a little bit shocked to realise that I have never actually met any of the folks who have commissioned me to shoot editorial work since well before we went into the first lockdown. Some of that can be explained away by my being based a hundred miles from London where a sizeable proportion of them live and work but even accounting for that I find it really sad that I haven’t got to have a coffee with any of them or even shake the odd hand here and there.

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The trials of being a ‘one-man-band’

Lots of things have come together in the last month or so to make me think a lot about my life as a ‘one-man-band’ in the worlds of editorial and corporate photography. The trigger for writing this blog was a survey being conducted by the company that supplies my accounting software. Like most surveys it didn’t ask the questions that I wanted to answer. The attraction of a free-prize-draw for those who took part made me complete it anyway. However, it did make me think about how (very) small businesses and the self-employed are treated by those with whom we do business.

The corporate side of my work is definitely better paid than the editorial but it comes with lots more preparation, admin and general hassle.

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Some advice on composition

Shaftesbury Avenue long after dark.© Neil Turner November 2014

I often refer to my photographs as “telling a story”. That’s how I look at what I do. Portraits help to tell that person’s story and the rest of my work is all about creating images that either tell the whole story of work with other elements to achieve that goal. Stories don’t necessarily have to have an ending. Many of the best stories ask a question of the reader/viewer and leave them thinking about what they have seen, read or experienced. That, in my opinion, is what photography is about; telling the right stories and asking the right questions and how you choose to compose your pictures is one of the vital elements of visual storytelling.

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How not to choose a new camera

©Neil Turner

Please accept my apologies. This post starts with a short rant.

Every time I read an opinion about which of the many utterly superb cameras that are on the market produces the best colours, my heart sinks. When the writer gives their opinion on the colours or the contrast that this or that model produces I know that I can safely ignore them but I also know that others listen. They often sound convincing because what they say has some small foothold in reality. I find it unbelievable but some people actually base their selection of equipment on how they perceive a camera model to render colours using the factory settings and often under conditions over which they have little control. Even worse; others actually allow the opinions of these short-sighted and wildly ill-informed folks to influence their purchasing decisions.

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Muscle memory, match fitness and second nature

Whatever you do for a living, for fun or out of necessity the general rule is that the more you do it, the better you get at it. Like a very large number of people I have been doing what I normally do a lot less through the COVID-19 pandemic and I have found that has caused me to stop and think a lot more.

I haven’t been into a single school for almost a year and a half and I haven’t shot a large set of corporate headshots for almost as long. I haven’t been asked to photograph retail spaces, conferences or the work that takes place inside hospitals. That’s a massive chunk of my core photography work missing from my life and the relatively few editorial and news jobs that I’ve done certainly haven’t made up for any of the regular commissions.

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HR Director Contact Sheet

Inderjit Seehra, Cambridge University Human Resources Director, December 2008. ©Neil Turner

My favourite kind of blog posts are those which have forced me to write them following a conversation with someone that has really made me think. There’s often something else going on in my head or in my life that brings those thoughts into a sharper focus and this one is no exception.

It concerns a set of portraits that I shot of a gentleman called Inderjit Seehra that I shot way back in December 2008 for a business magazine. I like to post contact sheets on here and go into the back story of the pictures and frames from this set have been in and out of my portfolio since I shot them. I hadn’t selected this job as one to blog about until earlier this week when I got an email from a young man studying for a degree in photography who had been directed to my website by one of his lecturers. At his request I’m not going to name him but I do have his permission mention him here. The ethnicity of the student photographer is important to the story – he is British Asian and all four of his grandparents moved to the UK in the 1950s and 1960s. All four of them were born in India. What makes this more relevant is that a sub-committee of The British Press Photographers’ Association‘s Board are looking at what our industry can do anything to improve the career chances of BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) photographers. (more…)

Three websites?

the three websites of Neil Turner Editorial and Corporate Photographer

My project to get my websites secure has finally come to an end. None of them now show the “not secure” warning as they all have the correct certificates and https addresses. You’ll notice that I used the plural websites. That’s because I have ended up with quite a few domains and three sites in particular that represent me and my business. It’s a long and complicated story but I have found myself in this position and I had to make a decision about consolidating them into one and have the two “redundant” domains point to the active one or I could just tweak them all, give them enough design similarities to make them work as seamlessly as possible and end up with sites that are good at the job assigned to them. (more…)

Here we go again – version 9.0 of my folio

When I went freelance again in the summer of 2008 I knew that having a strong web-based portfolio was going to be important. I had already been publishing websites for over nine years by then so, on day one, I published something that I thought looked good and which was entirely built by me using Dreamweaver. A few days later I made some substantial changes following feedback from friends, colleagues and a couple of clients. For the next six years I made major design updates at least once a year until I switched to Pixelrights in 2014. Between that point and today I had only done one major overhaul because their system offered exactly what I needed and so it feels rather sad to have had to migrate neilturnerphotographer.com to the Adobe Portfolio platform. Welcome to version 9.0 of my folio.

The move has happened because I wanted speed and features that Pixelrights don’t currently offer. I have kept the old site sitting there in the background just in case they leapfrog Adobe again allowing me to swap back. I looked at so many others before opting for the Adobe option and I feel happy that I have the best one for me at this time. It won’t suit others – especially those who have a need for online sales or storage. For me, this is just a shop window and, in that limited way, it really looks like it is going to work. (more…)