When was the last time you finished a shoot, went through the edit and genuinely thought that you really couldn’t have done better?
My answer is that I cannot remember ever having that thought. I’ve come close and been really happy with what I have done man, many times but I can say with a reasonable degree of certainty that ‘complete satisfaction’ hasn’t featured in my work.
I have never taken a perfect picture and I have certainly never made one in post-production – but I’m OK with that.
This question was triggered by listening to an artist being interviewed on a radio programme who said that she had gone through something of a crisis of confidence having finished a piece and in that moment thinking that it was perfect. She talked about coming very quickly to hate the idea that she might never achieve that level of mastery of her craft again and that she may well have reached a professional peak at a relatively young age. That was something which her passion for what she did led her to develop a form of depression.
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.
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.
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.
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…)
Like a lot of my colleagues I have spent time during the COVID-19 lockdowns going through and doing those little jobs from our digital lives that we had been meaning to do. Inevitably, sorting one thing out raises a new problem and so on, and so on until you have come around in what feels like a full circle.
In between the jobs that I meant to do I received an email from a good client of mine suggesting that I should make my original dg28.com website secure. I will explain more about this very soon because there’s a lesson in this for a lot of us. It turns out that getting the right kind of digital certification to make an old-fashioned site written in HTML code is somewhere between really tricky and impossible and so I chose to move it over to WordPress and change my hosting package. The knock-on effect was that my original technique posts from May 2000 to July 2008 became invisible and had to be moved too. (more…)
A section of 180 of my portraits posted to Instagram during my project.
After six months and 180 portraits posted to Instagram and Facebook I find myself at a point where I’ve shown enough archive imperfect portraits for now. It’s nearly Christmas and it feels like the right time to hit the pause button on, what has been, a very enjoyable diversion from the woes of the COVID-19 pandemic, lockdowns, restrictions and the lack of new work on offer.
As I sit here and contemplate what has been good, bad and indifferent about posting so many of my favourites from 1988 to 2008 the temptation to perform some sort of statistical analysis has been quite strong and the parallel temptation to draw conclusions from the feedback has been stronger still. For now I am going to settle for some general impressions and some feelings that have struck me during the whole process so here’s a bullet-pointed list of some of them: (more…)
From time-to-time I repost one of the fifty technique examples that were posted on the original dg28.com website between 1999 and 2008. I have timed this one to go with uploading this particular frame to my Instagram feed as one of the series of archive portraits that I’ve been putting there for well over five months.
The idea here is to have two separate lighting set-ups for one interview portrait without having to constantly move around the room adjusting lights. This interview was with a senior businessman who chaired a body that decided how much teachers’ pay rises will be each year. The reporter wasn’t all that comfortable with me shooting through the interview but it was what the picture editor wanted, so that’s what I did. This job required a bit of quick thinking so that I could get two different set-ups in place. (more…)