opinion

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…)

That was the year that wasn’t…

The Elf on The Shelf or the Naughty Elf had a big year…

As we reach the end of the year that very few will remember with even the smallest degree of fondness I wanted to just compose a note to thank everyone who has read any of my posts, got in touch with me or even been one of the tiny few who have put work my way. So many of the events where I should have been working as a manager, an editor or a photographer were cancelled or postponed and the work that I’d normally be doing in schools and with corporate clients was pretty much wiped out.

New work was replaced by old and I have really got on top of my archiving – which has been fun but memory lane isn’t a place where you’d want to spend too much time in this industry and so I hope, along with pretty much everyone else that I know, that the new year brings some sort of resolution to the pandemic and frees us all up to get out there and pick up where we left off in March. I know that a lot of my news photographer colleagues have been as busy as ever but very few of them have been doing things that have brought them much joy.

2020 is almost done and 2021 will be upon us in a few short days. Stay safe, stay well and stay positive.

Failed hard drives

It is generally accepted in the world of information technology that there are only two types of hard drive; those that have failed and those that haven’t failed yet.

Evidently that is true but as part of my COVID-19 tidying-up, sorting-out and archiving I have dragged out my plastic box full of “failed” hard drives (some of which date back over twelve years) to see if there’s anything that I can drag off of any of them that I don’t have elsewhere. I didn’t think that there would be because I have been almost anal in my backing-up and backing-up the back-ups for many years now.

I’ve powered them up and connected them to a couple of different Macs and a PC to see what there is – if anything there. Of the old 3.5” drives only one out of nine actually mounted and was accessible but that was a bare drive that I had put into a housing as part of an experiment to see if that was actually a good way to go. It turns out that it is – or at least it would be if USB2 wasn’t so slow. I can stick that bare drive into a faster housing but there’s no useful data on it that I don’t have in at least three other places. (more…)

Adobe Camera RAW 13 – not so bad!

A few months ago I wrote a blog post criticising Adobe for making wholesale changes to the Camera RAW interface with Photoshop and Bridge. It appeared that they wanted to make it more like Lightroom and I questioned why they would do that given that there are relatively few crossover users of the two very different (but identical under the hood) RAW conversion options. If you want to go back and read the whole post then you can on the link above but in summary I said the following;

… my other main gripe with Adobe is to ask why call this an update move from .2 to .3 and not actually call it what it is with some decent warnings – as a user this feels like a whole new version and I would like to have had some warning before having to spend time (which I luckily have right now but that’s immaterial) getting to know the new interface. At the end of the day my workflow isn’t going to change much, if at all. Equally, this is still a more suitable application than any of the others I have tried and tried again – including Lightroom. I have challenged myself to work with the default version of the new workspace to see if it is better because a couple of others have assured me that they prefer it and those are also people whose opinion I would always respect but I have to be honest and say that I’m not looking forward to the next big edit

I have been working away with various updates and then, along with the 2021 version of Photoshop CC which appeared a few days ago, version 13 of the Camera RAW module landed and I am able to pronounce myself reasonably happy. That’s for two reasons really, the first is that I have been plugging away learning how to work with the new interface and the second is that I have gone over to using more and more keyboard shortcuts – which makes so much sense given that I have always been a fan of them in other applications such as Photo Mechanic. (more…)

Imperfect Portraiture

Pascale Allotey, Professor in Race and Diversity at Brunel university in west London.© Neil Turner/TSL November 2005

I have had the title for this piece rattling around in my head for several weeks now but before I dive in I want to explain that it is about a certain style of editorial portraiture that appeals to me. It is equally important that nobody reading this thinks that I believe other forms of portrait photography are somehow inferior or are “less portraity”.

I suspect that every sentiment that you will read in this mini-essay will have been expressed somewhere on my blog at some point in time. After all, if you did a search for the word “portrait” on this site you would get hundreds of hits. From explaining the anguish of editing your own work to my definition of what is and is not a portrait. I have written about why this kind of photography speaks to me so loudly and so consistently but I have wanted for some time to bring all of those thoughts and impulses together. As always, there are two reasons for doing this; the first is to stimulate thought and debate amongst those who care to read it and secondly to help me further clarify my own opinions and, by doing so, make my own work better.

Of course there isn’t a strict set of rules about what constitutes a portrait. Back in 2011 I wrote this; (more…)