corporate

Work in progress – an iPad workflow

Whilst I’m not able to be out shooting I have decided to take a serious look at the workflow options using an iPad or even an iPhone and to see whether they really can replace a lightweight laptop in my working life. I have even bought a new iPad Mini 4 (already upgraded to iOS11) because I’m sure that I will be using the tablet for some form of mobile editing. Should you be seeking wisdom and a fully-formed solution I’m prepared to stick a plot-spoiler in here and tell you that it is still very much a ‘work in progress’ and that I don’t have an answer for you. Yet.

My starting point for this is having used my phone as an occasional method of getting pictures away quickly – mostly for clients to be able to use my pictures in their social media and on their websites instead of their own pictures taken with their phones and tablets. If you are prepared to work with JPEG files then this isn’t too tricky, but what if you want to base everything on a RAW workflow? Not so simple?

I know that a lot of photographers have worked out their own workflows for using iPads as their principal location editing devices. I have been trawling blogs and YouTube videos trying to get my head around how and why they have decided to go down this route and the fact that several photographers that I respect and even admire have gone this way means that it has to be a serious option for professional editorial and corporate photography. A lot of the same people, driven by a desire to reduce the weight of their kit, have also gone to mirrorless camera systems.

As part of my search I’ve used a LOT of different apps. Amongst others, and in no particular order: Lightroom, FSN Pro, Shuttersnitch, Marksta, PS Express, PicturePro, Transmit, Affinity and the sadly no-longer-supported Photogene4. These range from Lightroom being free with the right Adobe CC subscription to a chunky £49.99 for PicturePro.

So here is what I do know:

  • It is possible to replace a laptop with an iPad – especially if you are prepared to go all out and go for the iPad Pro.
  • RAW conversions are totally possible and even quite quick with the right app.
  • There isn’t one perfect solution for all photographers.
  • My background is in news and features and so most of my comments should be read with that in mind.
  • When choosing your workflow options you need to prioritise the most important elements.
  • What cameras you use and how you are going to get the photos onto the tablet is an important decision that you have to make.
  • Not all apps are as well supported as one another.
  • The learning curve for some apps is really steep.
  • The route that you take should be greatly influenced by whether it needs to mimic or at least be compatible with your desktop workflow.
  • The accuracy of colours on an iPad isn’t as good as it is on a calibrated computer monitor and I wish that more app developers would look at adopting the idea of calibrating their apps in line with X-Rite’s ColorTrue.
  • We are a lot closer than we were a year ago.
  • I would love an iOS version of Photo Mechanic!

In the time that I’ve been able to put aside for this project I haven’t been able to learn all of the nuances for all of the apps. I have probably also failed to even look at some apps that some of you will be using and championing – that’s why this is still a work in progress.

So here is where I am right now:

  • As a single app solution I still like FSN Pro but it isn’t the best at anything.
  • My favourite RAW converter is Lightroom.
  • My favourite IPTC app is PicturePro.
  • My favourite distribution app is Transmit.
  • I’m already missing Photogene4.
  • The iPad isn’t even close to replacing a lightweight laptop with Photo Mechanic, Photoshop and Transmit in my life.

It isn’t where I want to be and, as I’ve mentioned once or twice before, this is still a work in progress. For now the iPad and my iPhone will be limited in their use to being the pocketable devices that allow me to turn around a small number of JPEG files for my clients to use quickly. For that I need to be able to caption, rename and distribute the files rather than do heavy duty file preparation – did I mention already missing Photogene4?

NB PicturePro appears to have disappeared from the UK App Store. If that signals the end of development then that’s sad.

Do you do corporate head shots?

headshots_header

I had a phone call call this morning from a potential client who had found me via a web search. That doesn’t happen very often and when it does the calls are normally from people trying to sell me something rather than commission me to do some work for them. The very pleasant lady who had called asked me if I did ‘corporate head shots’ and when I replied that I do and that I have done lots of them over the years she asked why there were none on my website. Wow… she’s correct. There are no easy to find samples of one of the most basic and important parts of my professional work on any of my folio sites.

During the call I promised to stick fifty varied images into a gallery and send her the link. I also explained that head shots weren’t the sole preserve of the corporate world and that some other sectors used them well and that the gallery that I’d prepare would have teachers and actors and other professionals too.

The way that I like to approach head shots is simple: concentrate on the person, make sure that the light on them is as good as it can be and have a sympathetic background. Where sets of pictures need to work together I want to discuss that with the client, their designers and anyone else who needs to have input. I often supply white backgrounds and sometimes I add a coloured light to them.

I love a good out-of-focus office, bookshelf, tree or cityscape and I’m not averse to a jaunty angle where it works. Colour works well and black and white can be very effective too – head shots is a wide ranging topic. They can be as simple as nice passport pictures and they can be half length – potential clients need samples – I completely get it and I have done just that… Here’s the gallery

What kind of photographer are you?

© Neil Turner, August 2013. Evening light from London's Tower Bridge. From my EyeEm feed.

© Neil Turner, August 2013. Evening light from London’s Tower Bridge. From my EyeEm feed.

When you are introduced in a social situation as a ‘photographer’ there is almost always a follow up which will vary from “do you do weddings?” via “what kind of photographer are you?” to “I take a lot of pictures myself”. How you respond to these various questions and comments says a lot about you.

There was a time when I got quite annoyed that so many people automatically equated professional photography with wedding photography and it didn’t help that I wasn’t a huge fan of the work most wedding photographers were doing.

That has literally all changed. Fewer people automatically assume that I must shoot weddings at the same time as the quality of the best wedding photography has gone from quite good to extraordinarily good. It is inexcusable, not to mention counter-productive, to get worked up about people not understanding a job market as complex as photography when the only professionals that the majority have met are high street portrait photographers and wedding photographers.

My annoyance has gone away (that could of course be my age showing through) and been replaced with a desire to educate as many people as I can about what makes a professional photographer different from a person with a nice camera. I’ve had a go at defining professionalism on this blog before so I want to visit my notions of myself as a photographer:

What kind of photographer AM I?

This is an exercise that we should all do no matter what we do for a living and no matter how we have described ourselves in the past. Every website, social media platform and discussion forum that I appear in has some form of description of me but they vary subtly from one to another. For example, on the EyeEm photo sharing site I have been using this;

Middle-aged editorial photographer still obsessed with taking pictures for fun, for a living and for posterity

Whereas on my AboutMe page I use the following;

Middle-aged editorial & corporate photographer, still crazy about pictures after all of these years

And then on LinkedIn – which I regard as the most important and most serious of the social media platforms for work I use a much longer description;

Freelance photographer based in the south of England providing editorial and editorial style photography to the media industries. Features, portraits, case studies and documentary style work for newspaper, magazine, commercial, PR and NGO clients

On the one that matters, I don’t mention my age and I don’t try to be even remotely witty or self-depricating. Horses for courses. Encapsulating who you are and what you do in one line is a lot easier when you have time to think about and when it is written down. I have lost count of the number of people that I’ve met in situations not directly connected to finding work as a photographer who have gone on to provide me with work. Your social media presence, your website or your blog are important shop windows and it is very important to have good and concise biographies available for those who want to know more. It’s important to keep them up-to-date and professional and that is something we all need to work hard on. Responding in person in a social or business setting is a lot tougher unless you give it a great deal of thought and have a few reasonably well rehearsed (without sounding glib or insincere) answers up your sleeve. I say this because it does matter.

So what are the options?

  • You can come up with one or two simple descriptions of what you do that rolls off of the tongue and says exactly what kind of professional you are.
  • There is an option to have a slightly less perfect description that invites further questions to which you have good answers that will lead into a proper conversation rather than you just giving a straight answer to a straight question.
  • It’s very easy to have some rather more enigmatic answers that give hints to what you do for a living but that have the goal of really dragging the other person/people into a detailed analysis of you and your work.
  • Finally you might want to deflect the question altogether – sometimes you meet people who aren’t interested in you and just want to talk about themselves and it is often easier to give them permission to indulge in that. Similarly there are occasions where you meet people who have a camera around their neck and who want to bore you rigid with their questions about the minutiae of photography.

Once you have been in this business for enough years you tend to make snap judgements and use an answer from any one of the four bullet pointed categories above as the situation demands. That isn’t always easy and so my default position is the second option – the imperfect description that invites conversation. The question can be phrased in far too many ways to work out an exact response for each one but my stock response would be something like;

“I make 90% of my living as an editorial and corporate photographer”

That gives them a chance to ask for definitions of editorial and corporate, to ask who my clients are and to ask how I make the other 10% of my income. I guess that there is a hint of ‘enigmatic’ in that answer but it mainly gives me a chance to assess their response and to line up some good descriptions and the odd anecdote. This is basic conversation and we all have conversations all of the time but I’m a very strong believer in responding professionally to enquiries about my profession.

To me, editorial photography is anything used in a newspaper or magazine, on a website or in a video to help to tell or illustrate a story. The pictures should have been shot as a third party where the person paying you doesn’t have a direct relationship with who or what is in the photographs. I also shoot a lot of PR and commercial pictures in an ‘editorial style’ where I use the same styles and techniques of lighting and composition but where I am being paid by someone who have a personal or business relationship with my subject. My corporate work is very similar but isn’t intended for use in an editorial context. The corporate stuff might be for a brochure or an annual report – a blatantly non-editorial context.

You can see that I have spent quite a bit of time thinking about this stuff. It’s important. At a time when the amount of work out there hasn’t increased with the number of people chasing it and when prices are under constant pressure because of supply and demand you have to have some clear ideas and visions about where you want to be, where you are perceived to be and how to marry those two often conflicting views. As time moves on, your own attitudes and positions change as well and you need to be able to give articulate responses to questions because more than ever before everyone you meet is a potential client or knows someone who is.

Because I make 10% of my income without a camera in my hands – something that has come into being in the last five years – I also have to have simple descriptions of what that entails. That, weirdly, is a lot tougher than describing how I make the 90%. Simply put – I teach, write about and consult on editorial and corporate photography. I am at pains to stress that whilst I love having the variety my heart remains with taking pictures and that my value to clients as a teacher, writer and consultant is vastly increased because I’m still a practitioner.

Quite how many social situations allow you to get through the whole script is a whole other blog post. You have to obey the social conventions and be interested in other people too. How easy that is depends on who they are and how engaging they are – exactly what they were thinking about you.

 

Anniversaries

©TSL. July 2004. Nine years ago this week Canon delivered my first EOS1D MkII. I shot for the first time with it on a job where staff were using acupuncture in a Sussex school to help boys with their behaviour.

©TSL. July 2004. Nine years ago this week Canon delivered my first EOS1D MkII. I shot for the first time with it on a job where staff were using acupuncture in a Sussex school to help boys with their behaviour.

I woke up this morning to the headline news that it was Nelson Mandela’s 95th birthday. It is also my next-door-neighbour’s 50th birthday and my nephew’s partner is having her birthday celebration this evening as well. I started to think about things that had happened on (or near) this day over time in my life and I came up with a few:

  • 18th July 2012: I was working as a member of the Photo Operations team at the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games. I have written before about just how exciting, tiring, inspiring and memorable it was but with the first anniversary athletics event about to happen those memories are coming back as strongly as ever.
  • 18th July 2011: I was coming to the end of the very first cycle of the NCTJ Photojournalism course that I help to teach at Up To Speed in Bournemouth whilst shooting a wide range of both editorial and corporate commissions. That was also an exciting time but for very different reasons.
  • 18th July 2010: I was shooting mostly corporate photography and things were starting to go quiet for the summer months. Really quiet as it turned out.
  • 18th July 2008: I was still employed as a staff photographer at TSL and I spent the day shooting a lovely set of pictures at a school in Hertfordshire that had spent a small fortune making their new building and the grounds as environmentally friendly as possible. I was still unaware that two weeks later I’d be called into a meeting with the Editor and the HR Director to be told that they were making me redundant.
  • 18th July 2003: I had been using my Canon ESO1D cameras for over a year and I was in love. The CRW file format was something of a revaluation and I really enjoyed using it.
  • 18th July 1999: http://www.dg28.com had just been born – I started to publish samples of my work and a few bits of technique advice on my own website for the first time.
  • 18th July 1997: I was starting to experiment with borrowed and rented digital cameras before getting my own DCS520 in late October 1998.
  • 18th July 1995: A month previously I got my own scanner (Kodak RFS2035) and Mac laptop (Powerbook 160c) with Photoshop (v2.5) and began the long journey to digitisation
  • 18th July 1994: Having become a staff photographer at The Times Supplements in January 1994 I had just swapped from shooting with Nikon F4s to Canon EOS1n cameras.
  • 18th July 1993: Life was fun, fast and decidedly unpredictable. One day I would be shooting for a newspaper and the next it was a glossy magazine. On the third day it might be a PR job and you could lay money down that every week would be different from the last. I was shooting with a mixture of Nikon F4, F801 and FM2 cameras as well as having Leica M6s. Some days it would be black and white and some days it would be colour transparency. Some days I’d be using lights and others required nothing more than a fast lens.
  • 18th July 1983: I was working for Jessops when they only had five shops, offered great deals and great service and everyone knew the Jessop family. I was using Olympus OM1n cameras at the time and had acquired an awesome 35mm f2 Zuiko lens.

My career has (so far) failed to stand still for more than a couple of years. Technology changes, my employment status changes and I change. All of that adds up to excitement and that triggers a feeling of keeping it fresh. My style constantly evolves and the client base also evolves. A lot of my colleagues spend a lot of time bemoaning the disappearance of the ‘good old days’ and I am also prone to a bit of nostalgia but we are where we are and just under five years ago I wrote this line:

“It’s an exciting time to be a photographer with new challenges being presented every month and I am on record as saying that I am a very lucky man to be doing what I do.”

Today I’m shooting a nice mixture of editorial and corporate work as well as doing some teaching, writing and consultancy. I spend a lot more time on the beach and I’m constantly looking forward to the next exciting development… whatever that turns out to be!

Photographic policy

Just in case you haven’t noticed, I’m a photographer. I also teach a bit of photography and write about the subject too. The latest addition to my ‘portfolio career’ is what I can only describe as photographic consultancy. I have done a few corporate training sessions aimed at people who aren’t necessarily shooting pictures but who are handling them on behalf of their employer. It started off with some PR managers from a range of Universities a few years ago and has been a very small part of what I do ever since then.

This week, I did a bespoke session for an NGO talking about copyright, licensing, permissions, model release, photographing children and how to get PR pictures used in the media. All of that in less than one day meant that we didn’t get right down into the finer details. For some organisations the knowledge that they need to do more will be enough to get them going. A company wide photographic policy has to be a ‘must-have’ with the amount of images, websites, pamphlets, brochures, publications and social media in circulation (officially and otherwise).

We are in the Christmas party season and a good, well publicised policy telling staff what is and is not acceptable would be very useful. Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and the rest are public platforms and un-wisely placed images or video are bad news. It isn’t only about stopping bad stuff happening though; good pictures need to be licensed, captioned and stored properly. The quantity of pictures held on company systems seems to have expanded exponentially and it makes sense to have policies that make use of the good stuff whilst making that the bad, the off-message and the out of date images are never seen.

As a professional photographer it is really hard to see photographs sourced from keen amateurs, micro stock sites and crowd-sourcing as anything other than lost income but that is the way the world has gone and we need to learn to work with it. People like me, with a lot of experience in the industry, can help to form policies for small, medium and even large businesses based on our knowledge of the law, ethics and technical matters. It isn’t going to cost a fortune and any company who ignores the concept of a photography policy could end up regretting it.