CPD for Creatives in Isolation

Posted on March 28, 2020

Many of us are now in self isolation, working from home or under shelter in place orders. I wish you the best and hope that you’re OK knowing this will eventually end.

It could be a good time to catch up on Continuing Professional Development. I have a backlog of training earmarked for later and that time may be now.

There are numerous topics to choose from: business, history, skills, communication and more. Check with your professional body that the course will be credited towards your CPD.

Many online training companies are offering free or extended free trial for their services. I’ll list a few programs and please add any more you know in the comments on Linkedin.

Video conferencing gives us an opportunity to work with others on CPD regardless whether our profession dictates it or not. The Australian Institute of Professional Photography is using Zoom for its members to learn from one another.

online training

Linkedin Learning
Formerly Lynda.com, perhaps the original online learning platform, Linkedin Learning offers a huge range of courses in many disciplines. It’s included with Premium Membership or take the 30 day trial. Also check with your company, school, library or professional association as many have a subscription.

At the moment Linkedin offer a free course on Working Remotely.

PPA
Specifically for photographers the Professional Photographers of America have opened their library of training resources for free.

Open University
A collection of USA Universities have a large selection of online courses available as OpenLearn.

Coursera
More training is available from Coursera. They range from free courses to paid university qualifications and  lot in-between.

online learning

edX and Mooc
edX and MOOC have free courses, some of which can be used as recognised prior learning.

Open Culture
For an extensive list of free courses look at Open Culture.

Masterclass
Those already subscribed to Masterclass have been sent an offer to share a free pass with a friend.

Creative Applications
Diversify your skill set and learn a new creative application. Serif have extended the trial for their creative apps to 90 days and are offering 50% off. Serif Photo, Designer and Publisher are the closest competitor to Adobe.

However nothing beats the Adobe Creative Cloud for industry standard programs. If you work in teams and need skills employers look for learning an Adobe app is a solid investment. Adobe offer their standard free trial if you have never signed up Creative Cloud. Teachers and students can apply for free access until May here.

Please join the conversation on Linkedin and share courses you know.

Get Off My Lawn

Posted on February 28, 2020

Many professions have been disrupted by technology over the last 20 years. Professional photography is one of them. For most of last century the journey to becoming a professional photographer was predictable. There were a few avenues for entry and several barriers. Now there are many ways to photograph “professionally”.

Olden Days
Measures for defining a professional previously included income amount, percentage earned from practicing photography or graduation from an accredited educational institution.

Most creative professions like photography have some sort of apprenticeship and/or formal training. I posted before about my business experience of now and then. Suffice to say technology has changed the craft of photography but the essence of business remains the same.

corporate video behind the scenes

Professional First, Photographer Second.
There is a reason that the first word in Professional Photographer is professional. Web stats suggest half of small businesses fail within the first 5 years and two-thirds won’t make it to 10 years. Depending on who you ask the business side of photography is 80% of being a professional.

DTP Analogy
The 1980s brought big hair, shoulder pads and Desktop Publishing disrupted the design and printing industry. Small, powerful Macintosh computers competed with large, expensive systems. Professional designers could work from home, part-time if they wanted. Many of my design clients work from home managing their business and family.

Over the last decade I’ve seen many colleagues close their studio to work from home and emerging photographers choosing to start off the same. As with the DTP revolution over 30 years ago photography is seeing more females entering the profession. It’s a long way from being an old boys club.

Define “Professional”
When I joined the board of the Australian Institute of Professional Photography (AIPP) one of the first jobs we undertook was to define what a professional photographer meant. In was 2007 and the definition was in a flux. Digital imaging was the norm, the internet had become essential for marketing and the profession was now mostly part-time, female and working from home. Data was gained from research within the AIPP through surveys, benchmarking as well as partners in industry and training supported by reports including that of IBISWorld.

Wikipedia defines:

“A professional is a member of a profession or any person who earns their living from a specified professional activity. The term also describes the standards of education and training that prepare members of the profession with the particular knowledge and skills necessary to perform their specific role within that profession. In addition, most professionals are subject to strict codes of conduct, enshrining rigorous ethical and moral obligations. Professional standards of practice and ethics for a particular field are typically agreed upon and maintained through widely recognized professional associations, such as the IEEE…”

PhD
Technology has made photography easier to get a good result at the push of a button (Push here Dummy). Cameras, or more often phones, mean you can capture a photo without necessarily knowing how it’s created.

To predictably and repeatedly make images that fulfil a client brief requires deeper knowledge of the craft. Knowing how to make an image is essential if you want to charge for it. This comes with time, experience and can be fast-tracked with training. Learning the fundamentals of photography is better experienced face-to-face with a cohort. Learning online in isolation is easy but I think best left for continuing professional development.

Creating images of a high standard that fit the client’s purpose is but one part of being a professional photographer. More important is operating as a business professional. That includes permits, insurance, accounts, tax, workers compensation, superannuation and all regulatory requirements for your state/country.

Caveat Emptor
In the digital age there are costs and benefits for commissioning a professional photographer. Technology makes searching for a photographer easier and reduces delivery times. It also allows anyone to promote themselves as a professional photographer regardless of their experience. There have always been “cowboys” in the industry looking to make a fast buck, it’s just easier today.

As with any form of online shopping you should be careful and do your research. Portfolios can be stolen or worse use stock images that don’t represent the photographer’s abilities. Skills and sometimes qualifications can be embellished. Look at some of the jobs the photographer has recently done and testimonials for client experiences.

AIPP Accredited Professional Photographer

The Grass Is Greener
Accreditation from a recognised professional body goes a long way to protecting you. In order to trademark Accredited Professional Photographer® the AIPP has to effectuate specific Australian federal government requirements and took several years to achieve. These requirements are there to protect you when you commission photography.

Learning the art and business of photography is crucial, regardless of what stage you’re at. Rather than protecting their turf, associations welcome new members and that elevates the profession for photographers and clients alike. Let me know your thoughts on LinkedIn.

Why I quit Facebook and Twitter

Posted on January 28, 2020

The photo above is the first and only one I posted on Facebook. After 14+ years on the two major social media platforms last year I closed my accounts. I only ever used them for business so what follows may not apply for personal use. I did however decide to keep LinkedIn.

What
As a commercial photographer my clients are other business people, what we once referred to as B2B.

B2B

My preferred publishing platform is here on my blog on my own website. That content is also posted on LinkedIn and until recently was duplicated on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

I’m one of those people who prefer to both own and control my content. I’ve seen what happens when your work is at the whim of a platform’s terms and conditions. I don’t understand why any business would risk hosting all their content on a platform like Facebook or worse, redirect their website to it.

As with other social networks posting on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn grants them some rights to your content:

…non-exclusive …license worldwide, transferable and sublicensable right to use, copy, modify, distribute, publish and process, information and content”.

Perhaps ignorantly I trust LinkedIn more than Facebook.

OK, so I’m not a social media strategist but have engaged and worked with them professionally. If you are a pro please chime in and correct any of my points and share your experience on LinkedIn.

 

Why
Over the past four years my interaction with Facebook and Twitter has been a decidedly more negative experience. News of their affect on individuals and society doesn’t leave me any hope for it to get better. Early on engagement was positive. Non linear timelines and algorithms that encourage bad behaviour, confrontation, misinformation for the sake of profits in an unregulated industry left me hopeless.

In my opinion these platforms are publishers and should be bound by the same rules as traditional media. Media platforms that I’ve worked in for over 25 years: newspapers, magazines, television, radio, etc.

Traditional media has to play by rules

 

How
Deleting your Facebook account isn’t easy and to a lesser extent neither is Twitter. I found https://deletefacebook.com very helpful with lots of useful tips!

 

Why stay on LinkedIn?
Most of my clients and colleagues are there. LinkedIn was the first social media platform I joined. Paul Gibbs, the owner of a pro photolab sent me an invitation. It was described as Facebook for grownups.

The conversations on LinkedIn do seem more mature, business related, where comments are celebratory rather than derogatory. New-ish owners (since 2016) Microsoft also gave me hope; a company I’ve dealt with as a provider and, like all of us, as a customer. I do like what Microsoft CEO Brad Smith writes and says about his tech industry: https://news.microsoft.com/on-the-issues/tools-and-weapons/

Speaking at Microsoft’s Redmond Campus

I mentioned Google+ before. Well Google made the decision to leave social network before I did and have a track record for doing that.

 

Do I miss Facebook or Twitter?
No.

 

In summary I don’t like where Facebook and Twitter are taking us. I’m in a fortunate position to be able to choose not to participate. Let me know your thoughts on LinkedIn.

Nice People Finish First

Posted on December 28, 2019

Your attitude and personality plays a key role in getting work as a professional photographer. At least here in Australia. Overseas clients and colleagues tell me that’s not always the case. I’d love to hear your experience on Linkedin.

There is the stereotype of the brilliant artist as a prima donna. That may work for those few at the peak of their profession and here I’m thinking of the performing arts. Their name attracts an audience as much as their work and colleagues tolerate the bad attitude. However that isn’t true for the vast majority of creatives and prima donnas are poor roles models.

One fashion photographer from Texas I worked with in Sydney decades ago was rude to everyone. At that stage I was a mature assistant photographer with nothing to lose so I pulled him aside. Turns out he is the sweetest bloke and the bad attitude was all part of his fashion photographer persona. Thankfully he was grateful for the chat and not defensive. Indeed he ended up getting more work in Australia when he dropped the attitude and was himself. He sent me some colourful cowboy boots as a thank you!


Australians tend to prefer forming working relationships with people who are easy going. Even if you’re the most talented creative, if you’re hard to work with clients will prefer someone else. And vice versa.


There are two types of people: good and bad. This became even clearer for me over the past two weeks as I lost my mum to cancer. Those who cared for my mother clearly demonstrated good. I truly believe most people are innately good. Personally the most rewarding work for me is witnessing and photographing caring professions.

hospital photography
My wish for the new decade is for people to choose good. Wishing you a Happy New Year!

Why DNG?

Posted on November 28, 2019

First off, What is DNG?
Well it’s not Dolce & Gabbana as a photography student once asked me. DNG (Digital NeGative) is a digital photography file format created by Adobe Systems. It contains all the data captured by cameras that offer raw format output.

OK, What Is A Camera Raw File?
Most of the time when you take digital photos you create JPEG photos. JPEG images have been processed and cameras discard the raw data. Many cameras have the option to save images in a proprietary raw file format. For example, Canon have CR3, Nikon NEF and Olympus ORF. These formats are unique to each manufacturer and even each camera model.

These files are information rich allowing superior results in post-production. As software improves we can extract more detail from raw files captured decades earlier.

The trouble is every camera raw format is undocumented and needs to be reverse engineered by software developers so photographers can process them. This requires heavy investment in resources, time and potentially legal issues as they are proprietary file formats.

In 2006 a group of photographers lobbied for an open raw format without success. Two years earlier I asked if it was feasible for Adobe to create a documented camera raw format that proprietary raw formats could be converted to.

adobe raw format feasible

DNG
Adobe is one of the software companies that has to deal with the overheads associated with camera raw formats. Thomas Knoll, the co-creator of Photoshop, is an avid photographer and developed his own software to process digital images, now known as Adobe Camera Raw. Knoll knew there had to be a better way to manage raw camera data so in 2004 proposed DNG.

Fully Documented
DNG is owned and patented by Adobe who offer documentation and a license. Camera companies including Leica and Pentax use it for raw capture as do Apple and Google for their smartphones.

DNG specs

Software companies have been slow to take up DNG as an output format but all major vendors can process DNG files. Some competitors to Adobe’s cite their ownership of DNG as barrier to full adoption and simply a business decision. For the record, Adobe also own the TIF format that all camera raw formats are based on.

Data Validation
The DNG spec includes the option to embed a checksum for the raw data to test its integrity. Photographers can use software like Adobe Lightroom to validate their image archive. Processing images through the free Adobe DNG converter is another way to check the health of raw files.

Embed Metadata
Due to the undocumented nature of camera raw files it’s neither recommended nor safe to write metadata to them. JPEG and TIFF are documented so adding descriptions, copyright, attribution and contact information is simple using the IPTC standard.

camera raw

To add such information to any proprietary camera raw file software typically creates a sidecar file. Often these are .xmp files with the same name as the image file. Sidecar files are easily lost along with your metadata.

sidecar file

DNG allows the safe embedding of metadata with clear instructions for third parties on how to do it.

Embed/Extract Full Resolution JPEG
Another form of metadata is the embedded preview image. I also use the option to embed full resolution JPEG images inside my DNG files. These reflect the processing I have done on the images and can be viewed in cataloguing software and easily extracted for fast proof images.

ISO Raw File Format
The International Organisation for Standardization is in process of making a camera raw standard based on Adobe DNG. Adobe have a track record here with their PDF format, now a ISO standard.

Archival
My motivation to lobby for a standard raw camera format is so future generations can view them. DNG offers many benefits however this will be its greatest legacy.

Let me know your thoughts or comments over at Linkedin.

Photo Myths

Posted on October 28, 2019

Maybe that title should be “photography misunderstandings“. Digital photography gave us more opportunities, freedom and power. As with any superpower it comes with great responsibility. Assumptions can lead to the spread of misinformation. In that vein, if what follows has any errors please let me know on LinkedIn.

 

Opening A JPEG In Photoshop Recompresses It

No it doesn’t.

If you edit a JPEG image in some way and re-save it then you will lose data. Re-saving a JPEG can reduce it’s “quality” but that’s likely imperceptible. JPEG compression is visually lossless. Edit and re-save a JPEG dozens of times then you’ll see it in smooth areas like the sky below.

JPEG artefacts

JPEG artefacts (right) after re-saving dozens of times

In some applications editing includes changes to metadata or rotating an image. For example, when you change IPTC metadata in Adobe Photoshop (File >File Info) it will ask you to save changes and recompress the JPEG. Do the same in Adobe Bridge and it writes the metadata without recompressing. Photoshop is a pixel editor, Bridge is a multimedia manager.

IPTC

Edit JPEG metadata in Bridge.

 

I Need a TIFF Not JPEG

Ask for JPEG with minimal compression (levels 10-12 in Photoshop) and make a TIFF master file when you edit.

For the reasons in the last point, people sometimes ask for TIFF files. A standard TIFF (there are TIFF standards but no generic, “standard” TIFF) can be edited in Photoshop with information added and re-saved without loss.

Adding information means layers, text, etc. Photoshop doesn’t add pixels when you change colour, tone, etc, – it removes them. To make a photo more yellow a pixel editor removes it’s opposite colour, in this case blue pixels.

Ideally when editing in Photoshop use a TIFF or PSD file format. Apart from allowing non-destructive layer based editing, you have the option to re-save in a lossless format.

The downside to TIFFs is the file size is dramatically larger than JPEG, for example 2MB versus 60MB per image. File management is more costly in terms of time, delivery, space, resources and dollars.

TIFF can offer better quality if it is 16 bit where JPEG is 8 bit. High bit depth offers millions of times more data for aggressive editing. High bit depth increases file size dramatically, for example 2MB versus 145MB per image.

 

Deliver Images 300 DPI

Pixel dimension defines image resolution.

Pixels Per Inch

DPI is the scale not the resolution an image is reproduced using dots (Dots Per Inch). Digital devices use Pixels Per Inch, PPI.

The iPhone 3G screen had a 165 PPI pixel density. The iPhone 4 introduced the Retina screen with nearly double that at 326 PPI. Compare the same photo on both phones and it will not appear sharper on the iPhone 4. It will appear smaller.

PPI information is metadata and may be redundant as some applications ignore it and apply their own default setting.

 

Digital Is Free

There are costs to create, process and deliver high quality digital images.

With film we have the cost of the raw material and processing plus the time that takes. Take a photo with with your phone and it’s there ready to use. Aren’t digital cameras the same? They can be but will need some some adjustments, especially if required for commercial use.

Last century most photographers outsourced film processing to labs using automated, industrial machinery. Some high volume photographers would do it in-house.

With digital most photographers do processing on a PC in-house. Some may outsource to others but as yet there is no industrial machinery equivalent for digital.

For maximum quality photographers will capture in a raw, unprocessed format. Processing and non-destructive editing is done on a computer in a raw conversion application. Photographers will capture and edit in a camera raw format that has high bit depth, mentioned in the point above in TIFF not JPEG.

Then there is the ongoing capital investment in digital equipment and knowledge that has a cost.

 

Fix It In Post

Get it right in-camera.

Post-production costs money. If it can be done at time of capture it will save money, all things being equal!

Video is the same and I’ve even seen producers wince hearing this phrase. Sometimes fixes can be more efficient in post to name time when talent and crew are involved. These will have been decided in beforehand to improve efficiency and minimise production costs.

 

Phones Are As Good As “Real” Cameras

“Ye Cannae Change The Laws Of Physics Jim!”
– – Scotty

Small camera sensors in phones cannot collect as much information as larger sensors in professional cameras. Their sensors are not capable of capturing subtle tones and colours. Phones do use computational photography that is well beyond any professional camera to create amazing images. In “good” light.

Tech companies want you to believe their cameras will make you a better photographer. Sometimes they engage well known photographers to use their latest devices and create stunning images. Those rare creative, individuals could make images with anything including a shoe box, seriously.

Annie Leibovitz. Photo: Robert Scoble.

Phone cameras definitely have a place in recording memories of family, friends, events and adventures replacing the compact camera. For professional use creating images that will be repurposed a so-called “real” camera is most definitely still required.

Just as important, someone with the vision and skills needs to be behind that camera.

What a Professional Photographer Delivers

Posted on September 28, 2019

For 150 years professional photography has been delivered in a common format. Images were processed using standard formulas for predictable, repeatable results. Commercial photographers would supply their clients with prints, film and before that glass plates.

This would be repurposed for printing or other type of reproduction. While digital offers infinite ways to process images industry standards have been established to ensure a common experience for image receivers.

Before supplying the images a professional delivers non-tangibles in the course of doing business.

 

Professional Quality
It’s given that the images you receive will be of a high technical and creative standard. That means the images are suitable for your use and fill the brief. The goal is to exceed those expectations.

This assumes the photographer knows how to measure these and that can only come from training, experience and associating with other professionals. Traditionally that was through higher education, apprenticeship and membership of a professional association.

 

File Specification Standards
OK I’m a stickler for standards.


With film there are specifications for densitometry, specific gravity, etc,. In digital there is color management, compression, etc,. As a receiver of images you need not know the jargon but your photographer should. To assist you the Universal Photographic Digital Imaging Guidelines published a guide for image receivers.

Depending on how you will use the images your photographer will prepare and deliver them in the proper formats.

 

Insurance
It both surprises and frightens me when a photographer or client don’t see the need to be adequately insured. My parents were both in the industry so it was drummed into me. Public liability will protect you and the photographer, while professional indemnity and equipment insurance help make your job go smoothly, if anything should go wrong.

 

Quote
Ask for a quote, a written quote. As with most creative professions there is no cookie cutter template for every job.

Your photography deserves to be custom created to fit your needs and this brings variables. Where the images will be created, for what purpose and how much time needs to be invested are some of the factors determining costs. I’ve posted how this becomes easy once you and the photographer have an ongoing relationship.

 

Experience
Naturally the more experienced the photographer the easier your job will be. Professionals will know what to do, foresee any issues and how to handle problems if they arise. Experience means the photographer will know what and who else is required to make your photography.

Do you need permits, make up artists, clearance to work with children, etc,. You benefit from their knowledge and network.

experienced professional

Having photographed similar situations before a photographer can advise when to capture your job in camera or if it’s better to do it in post-production. This is different from being able to actually do it at time of photography rather than use Photoshop as a crutch. Sometimes you can save time and money by taking advantage of digital photography.

Experience very much includes your client experience with the photographer, the user experience if you will. How the photographer treats and respects you, your staff, possibly your client, and other crew members. There is no room for prima-donnas. This has nothing to do with photography and everything to do with professionalism: empathy, maturity, human relations, time management and being business savvy.

There is a reason that first word in ‘professional photographer’ is professional.

Let me know your thoughts on LinkedIn.

Spring Cleaning

Posted on August 28, 2019

Spring is almost here, at least for those of us in the southern hemisphere. It can be a good reminder for those in photography to do some regular cleaning.

 

Sensor
Cameras with interchangeable lenses are prone to getting dust of the sensor. The more that you change lenses increases the chance of dust. You don’t even need to change lenses to get dust. Zoom lenses can act like a vacuum, sucking dust into the camera.

Sensor cleaning is best left to professional technicians. That’s not always possible because of cost, time or proximity to repairers. If photographing in remote locations sensor cleaning is sometimes needed in the field.

There several methods to clean sensors and the technicians I’ve seen do it use swabs and pure isopropyl alcohol not available to the general public. There are many DIY kits for consumers but use caution on what you buy and where from. When in dusty environments like the Australian Outback I use LensPen SensorKlear Loupe a dry cleaning system. This is not a recommendation for LensPen; it’s just a product I’ve used.

 

Lenses
If you’re taking your camera for a sensor clean bring your lenses too. Dust inside lenses doesn’t really affect image quality. The build up of dust over time can cause lower contrast and possibly flare. Compressed air that is filtered is often used to clean lenses.

The outside optical areas of lenses must be treated with care. They are treated with an expensive multi-coating that improves light transmission, colour accuracy and reduces flare. Use an optical microfibre cloth and lens cleaning fluid if needed. Gently rub the cloth in a circular motion.

Many photographer attach a high quality, clear UV filter to the front of their lenses to minimise dust and avoid damage. Clean the filter as you would a lens.

 

Cameras
Camera bodies should be cleaned so the dust doesn’t make its way into lenses and onto the sensor. Compressed air, a microfibre cloth and some TLC will suffice. With the lens removed clean inside the camera body. I regularly have cameras cleaned by the manufacturer.

Dust inside a digital SLR viewfinder is annoying and near impossible to clean without disassembling the camera.

 

Camera bags
Photographing outside bags and cases get dusty, inside and out. Some bags are machine washable, most will need a vacuum. Otherwise that dust will find its way into your camera equipment.

professional nikon photography equipment

 

Image library
Digital photography means we can make and save many more images. Over time this can get out of hand and result in lost images.

If you can manage it maybe you won’t need to delete anything, ever. Just make sure you have a good image collection management system in place to find the good images amid all the others. A good start is using an image rating system, one that uses industry standards so you’re not locked into one vendor.

digital photography catalog

Most likely you will need to prune your collection, archive historical images to external locations along with adequate back ups. I manage over half a million photos and videos in my image collection and need to do a regular Spring Clean.

 

Just do it!
Spring cleaning may not the most exciting task. It’s definitely easier when done regularly in small amounts. Afterwards you’ll be inspired to go out and make more images!

Let me know on Linkedin what you have on your Spring Cleaning list.

Truth in Photography

Posted on July 28, 2019

Photography has always been subjective. We believe what we want to believe.

Our history is edited, whether it’s words or photographs. There is no way to give a completely objective viewpoint. Every image we create or manipulate has the baggage of our life experiences, prejudices, culture and the time we live in. As a creative art form this isn’t a negative; it allows us to express an individual view of the world.

There are many tools available to photographers to tell a story. I’ve mentioned the language of photography before. Some tools are used at the time of capture, others in post-production. For example, when an image is created we decide the camera position and viewpoint, what’s included and excluded. We can also crop images afterwards to show a different point of view.

As a source of news or facts photography is subjective. Images can still be used as evidence, whether that’s reporting news or in a court of law. However what we trust is the photographer’s “word” that the image is true.

Photos as Evidence
When studying film some 30 years ago our class reviewed Emile de Antonio’s ‘Point of Order‘, a documentary on the 1954 Army-McCarthy Hearings. The hearings investigated whether the army was hindering investigations to uncover communists in its ranks.


Part of the evidence was a photo, revealed later to have been cropped to change its context: https://youtu.be/wJHsur3HqcI?t=1871. Senator McCarthy asks if it matters that a third person was cropped off a photo. US Army Secretary Stevens says: “tremendously, because it means someone is going to edit the information that is going to come before this committee“. This was the beginning of the end of McCarthyism.

Photos as News
This is not a question of truth but of belief. Science for example is credible because we have a common belief in it. Science is being questioned at the moment because our belief in it is being challenged, not because it isn’t true. Peer review scrutinises the facts. News is also being challenged; not its veracity but rather our belief in it.

Photojournalist Eugene Smith is acknowledged as the master of the photo essay. Smith’s photography changed the world for the better. He was obsessive with his photography, sometimes spending years to produce a body of work. Smith’s images are carefully crafted to tell the story. He used multiple lights to accentuate the mood he was trying to portray. In the darkroom Smith would spend an equal amount of time manipulating images, making areas of the image lighter and others darker. His post-production was so complex the final print would be re-photographed so that multiple copies could be made.

In his 1951 ‘Spanish Village‘ story for LIFE Magazine he created a image of a wake. It shows a family grieving over the body of a patriarch. The scene was artificially lit to emphasise the sombre mood. In the darkroom Smith enhanced the contrast and changed the gaze of the women’s eyes to better narrate the story. By today’s standards Smith’s images would be disqualified as journalism. Long term, history remembers Smith for his skills, passion and contribution to humanity, honouring his legacy with the ‘W. Eugene Smith Grant in Humanistic Photography‘.

Cameras Don’t Lie, Photographers Do
Indeed anyone who handles images can lie. How they are captured, manipulated, presented can change its context. Sometimes for worse, mostly for the better.

Kids Learn Teachers, Not Subjects

Posted on June 28, 2019

In the middle of drafting this I attended a talk by Dr Michael Carr-Gregg where he said, “Kids learn teachers, not subjects“. Many subjects from school have proven useful in my photography career. The lessons that really stick with me were by passionate teachers who demonstrated them in unique ways.

Art
I’ve written before how my high school art teacher really inspired me to follow a creative career. She showed us the world has no restrictions, it is we who apply them.

Learning to think laterally is a skill that has benefited all aspects of my life, not just creativity. It helps me to solve problems and think outside the box finding solutions for clients.

Geography
My geography teacher, like many of his generation, was a bit of a hippie from the 1970s. He taught to the text book however would take us on field trips to really understand the science. Sitting on sand dunes sketching the effects of erosion made us look closer.

Learning about weather patterns, my geography teacher had us study evening weather reports, challenged us to do our own predictions and understand synoptic charts.

Synoptic chart

Photographers are obsessed with weather and like to dabble in a bit of meteorology. Just look at how many weather apps we have on our phones! For location jobs, such as promotional photography for schools and universities, it’s the photographer who calls the shots regarding weather delays.

Science
Analytical thinking is also important and in high school science we looked for predictable, repeatable results.

school marketing

I distinctly remember studying the psychology of advertising in depth (and later at university). Today I use some of that when crafting campaigns for clients.

Maths
OK maths isn’t my strong point. Often at parent teacher nights my parents would politely hear that, “he shows strength in the humanities“.

In photography there is only one rule you need to know, the inverse square law:

Inverse square law

Inverse Square Law (image: Wikipedia)

Now that I’m involved in international standards for photography at ISO I really should have paid more attention to maths. My colleagues on the committee are very clever PhD scientists debating high level formulae.

English
A genuine love of reading is one the greatest gifts english teachers have given me and my children.

primary school communications

My best English teachers celebrated my writing and gave me the tools to confidently speak to an audience.

high school communications

Passion for learning
Something I can credit to all all my teachers is a continued passion for learning.

After formal study my mentors strengthened that with on the job, practical training. Subjects at school that I wasn’t drawn to suddenly became important. Physics, chemistry, computer science and maths when applied to photography fascinate me and maintain my desire to learn.

Continuing Professional Development
In a fast changing arena like digital photography and an ever changing world it’s essential to maintain your education. We’re always learning, whether that’s self guided or through a formally structured course. To be an Accredited Professional Photographer the Australian Institute of Professional Photography requires members to participate in Continuing Professional Development.

Australian Institute of Professional Photography

Having great teachers early in my schooling instilled me with a passion for continuing to both learn and share those learnings with others. I’d love to hear your experiences over on Linkedin.