More mythical waves, and not just mine…

Since my last post, I’ve been away on holiday in Dorset for a week and we’re just back from a long weekend in East Sussex to celebrate my husband’s birthday. On both trips, I was with family and unable to do serious photography. In fact I didn’t bother bringing a camera on the second trip. In some ways, that’s nice but it’s a strange thing when you turn your hobby into your job. You’d perhaps imagine that you’d have more time for your hobby as it’s now your work but, in fact, you have less, and those close to you tend to object more when you get the camera out on holiday!

I did have some fun with a camera last week, however. There was a storm at Newhaven and I was, for once, available so I popped down for a couple of hours of being repeatedly smacked in the face with sea spray. It was better than the forecast and I actually stopped making photos after a while and just enjoyed the spectacle. I lack the words to express how important these moments are to me; I was grinning all the way home. I can’t share any of the photographs I made as I prefer a slower work flow so here’s one I made earlier.

Which leads me on to a slightly sticky situation. Since I published my Sirens photographs, a lot of people have taken up photographing the waves at Newhaven and many of them choose to create photographs in my style. Of course, they are perfectly entitled to make photographs there and I teach workshops there so I can hardly object. Things perhaps go a little far when someone starts to name their photos after mythical beings and practically uses my very words when talking about pareidolia and gods in Newhaven’s waves. This happened this week with a picture captured by another photographer that was published in the national newspapers and BBC website. I was inundated with emails, texts and direct messages about it. All rather tedious. Every one of us stands on the shoulders of those who went before us but we should always acknowledge our influences. This is not just a matter of ethics (although that ought to be a concern for photographers, just like everyone else, surely) but it’s also a case of being true to yourself. If you don’t recognise when you are copying someone else’s voice, how will you ever find your own?

Loki – now, that’s a face!

In happier news, on Thursday I drove down to Taylor Jones and Son in Deal to deliver some prints and books. They’ve had an extension since I was there last and I was excited to see. It’s even bigger than I imagined! It truly has become a destination gallery. Richard and Sonia (Taylor-Jones) have worked hard and they deserve their success – it was really good to catch up with them. The prints I delivered included a 1.4m Niobe and she will be on the walls soon. The print is 12/12 so it’s the last chance to see her in exhibition in this country.

Niobe
Richard Taylor-Jones in the gallery

Printing, and more printing

Last weekend, I was having a frustrating time trying to get 50 A3 prints done for the gallery in the USA. One week later and I’m relieved to report that they are nearly finished. I enjoy printing (except when big orders with deadlines arrive during an already busy time!); there’s something really special about printing your work on beautiful fine art paper. The ephemeral becomes tangible, a tactile artefact rather than a collection of pixels on a screen.

Some of the 50 print order destined for Sohn Fine Art Gallery in USA

The joy of printing was very much in evidence on Monday and Tuesday, when we finally managed to run our two-day printing workshop. We’ve had to postpone this workshop 3 times, thanks to COVID, so it felt extra good to be able to meet face-to face (with the proper precautions, of course). Day one is classroom learning, all about colour management, calibration, profiling etc. The second day is my favourite of all the classroom workshops we run, as we work with the clients on editing and printing their work. By the end of the workshop, the classroom is strewn with beautiful prints and there’s an amazing buzz in the air. My colleague, Adrian Beasley, and I are blessed with lovely clients – they encourage each other so much. Eight clients, 60 prints, and a whole lot of fun and learning later, I’m exhausted, but in a really good way.

I am grateful to Fotospeed for their printing support

As the workshop finished and everyone else headed home, I logged in to Zoom to give a presentation to Wymondham Photographic Society. I enjoy presenting, although I admit that it’s more fun in person than online. When the pandemic hit, I found the transition to Zoom quite easy but I miss the face-to-face feedback you get when presenting in person. ‘Never present to your slides’ was always a mantra and now it’s exactly what I have to do! Wymondham is a small club and it was one of the smallest audiences I’ve ever had but they didn’t quibble at paying a proper fee. That’s so refreshing when a lot of clubs with four times as many members expect a professional to give up several hours of their time (when you factor in the endless emails beforehand and the preparation time), for considerably less than you’d pay a plumber. I value my time and I won’t present to those clubs. Wymondham’s audience may have been small but it was fully engaged and asked a lot of really good questions – a pleasure.

Some pictures from Ghost in the Shell

The rest of the week was devoted to online 1-2-1 sessions with clients, a lengthy meeting at the HQ of a potential sponsor and completing a written interview for The Phoblographer. This is the first interview I’ve had about my Ghost in the Shell series and it was good to have some different questions to answer. ‘Ghost in the Shell’ is probably the body of work I’ve enjoyed most since I created ‘Sirens’. The pictures are quiet and don’t demand the sort of instant attention garnered by my more well-known portfolio, so I’m happy to see them having some recognition.

So, a busy week and one in which I found no time at all to create new photos. I’ve diarised some photography time for next week and am excited to get back out onto the shore.

Time for a change

Hello! I see there has been a gap of nearly 30 months since my last post! Is that a record? I got busy and the blog was just one thing too many. Anyway, after the mother-of-all breaks, I am back, but with a difference.

I’ve been a professional photographer for more than 5 years now. A short time, really, but sometimes I can hardly believe I ever had a life that wasn’t dominated by photography. From now on, this blog will a diary of sorts, not about my private life, because that’s private, and despite the fashion of baring all on social media, my sanity and self-respect requires the maintenance a wall between public and private. Instead, it will be a diary about the day to day reality of being a professional photographer in this new age of Influencers, brand ambassadors and NFTs (ask me about those later).

I hope anyone with the time and inclination to read this won’t be bored by it. In the end, it’s really just for me, as a diary that I, or my children, might look back on in years to come, after I’ve hung up my spurs. Maybe I’ll just be talking into a void. I won’t share it on social media or make a big deal of it. If you enjoy it, please feel free to comment. If you don’t, that’s OK too – just move on 🙂

So, to kick things off, today was a Saturday and while most sensible humans were out enjoying some beautiful late Spring/early Summer weather, I spend the whole day in my studio trying to print 50 A3 photos for the gallery that represents me in the USA. However, my wifi and my printer had other ideas. If the print currently going through the machine isn’t spat out half way like so many of its predecessors, I actually managed to print 5. So no prizes for guessing how I will be spending my Sunday. Might as well set fire to £5 notes.

In between rebooting the router and talking to the Virgin Media bot (how annoying is it that we can no longer speak to humans?), I did a fair bit of writing, sending the latest assignments to some of my private mentees and editing my contribution to a forthcoming book about photographers and their process. More on that later.

I also quickly put together on my phone a video from yesterday’s foggy wander on the cliff top at Beachy Head. I cannot tell you just how happy yesterday evening made me feel. The rather wobbly, hand held video available at this instagram link will have to do, for now.