2017 Review - A Year of Photography
I wanted to put together a photography review of my work from 2017. It's been a busy and an exciting year and I've been involved with well over a hundred photoshoots - from portrait sessions and with my work as a wedding photographer to creative work and personal projects. It's been hard o remember everything to be honest and this post is to reflect on some highlights and share some images that I've taken. Earlier in the year I'd put together a review of my time at Acklam Hall. That was a popular post so I wanted to end 2017 with a similar retrospective. I won't try to cover every single shoot but will touch on some different areas to sum up what's been happening over the past 12 months.
It's no surprise that a lot of my work is wedding photography - it's what a lot of associate with professional photographers which makes sense given it's main time someone actually hires a photographer. I've been asked to cover some stunning weddings this year at venues across the North East and North Yorkshire. I've enjoyed it and I know how important the role of the photographer on such a special day. If you add in some great weather, an amazing venue, food, drink and not forgetting friends and family you have everything you need for a memorable and fun day.I count myself as North East Wedding Photographer but in reality I work across the UK. I have mostly covered weddings across Teesside and County Durham and I have around 20 already confirmed for 2018. I wouldn't pick a favourite but I definitely have some highlights from amazing venues such as Trish & Tim's Crab & Lobster Wedding at Asenby, Sam & Amelia's Grinkle Park Hotel Wedding near Easington and Caroline and Alan's South Causey Inn Wedding near Stanley in County Durham. I was also involved in supporting a number of wedding fashion photoshoots including Kate Fearnley Wedding Fashion Show at Acklam Hall in November as well as a wedding showcase with various local suppliers. Bridal fashions are constantly changing (the dresses aren't always white or ivory) and this was a really insight into some of the wedding trends for 2018.
I think of myself as a portrait photographer essentially. It was the genre I started getting involved with when I first started taking photography seriously a number of years ago. Unlike a lot of photographers, I never got into landscape or wildlife photographer and started shooting people very early on. I think this is because of my love of painting and my interested in classical art and sculpture. I've always liked the idea of connecting with a subject and showing some of their personality or lifestyle. There are many genres in portrait photography and I haven't tried to pursue them all. I am particularly keen on pet photography and horse photography. The old saying about not working with animals or children does hold true. These can be some of the hardest photoshoots to get right because you just can't control them and you are often working on location. If you have ever been in a muddy field in the cold trying to take photos of a horse who'd rather be back at their stable you will know what I am talking about. However, when you get the right shot and capture that special moment with a dog and their owner or a horse and their rider the results can be so compelling.
I've done a number of creative photoshoots this year. I really enjoy the chance to work with other creatives as part of the process - including makeup artists, hair stylists and clothing designers. These shoots haven't stuck to one particular theme and I have covered quite a variety. Some of these included street fashion style work but also some more historical type shoots. I have worked with quite a few different people but most often with Gemma Rimmington MUA who is always interested in new ideas and projects. I'd really like to do more of this work in the New Year and will certainly start planning some of these in once the weather started to warm up! In all honesty, I think I'd like to go back to shooting some more Pre-Raphaelite and other artistically inspired creative photoshoots on location. These are the ones I have found most rewarding and challenging - which makes a great basis for creating images that are special, unique and above all creative.
I've been invited to cover a number of events over the year. This has included corporate events - some of which have been a lot livelier than you might imagine. One event I recall from earlier in the year - and I won't mention the company - featured a fantastic party with free drinks, food and an amazing band in the form of the well known Last Anthem from Middlesbrough. After quite a lot of free drinks the audience was well warmed up and the band started to play 'The Full Monty'... with inevitable results. As a photographer, I don't judge and just concentrate on capturing the moments! I've also covered many networking events during the year. Often these have been working with St. James Place Wealth Management who hold regular events across the North East. They have run a series of very successful ladies networking events at venues across the region including Motel One Hotel, the All About You Salon at the Grey St Hotel (both in Newcastle) and the Pure Bliss Spa in Sunderland. It's been a great way to network myself and I've met a lot of new people through these events over the course of the year. There is a lot of crossover between photography and some of the beauty salons that have hosted these events for instance. I'll certainly be covering more events in the New Year.
British Hair Awards 2017 - the Crux Project
I was fortunate to have been able to assist with an exciting project this year. The British Hair Awards is an annual event that brings together the leading hair stylists from around the UK to recognise innovation and high professional standards. To support one of the submissions I worked as an assistant to international fashion photographer William Barrington Binns as part of a large team of creatives - including other photographers, make up artists, hair stylists and fashion designers. This consisted of a number of photoshoots for Wakefield based hair salon En Route Hair & Beauty. William is a well established medium format photographer and Phase One ambassador (a high end camera manufacturer). The series of images we produced had a very 'sci-fi' or 'alien' like feel due to the colouring and the 3D printed costumes that the models wore. The work progressed through to the final of the British Hair Awards which was very exciting. Whilst we weren't successful in winning an award it was a great project to be involved with. Thanks to William and the team for enabling me to be involved in this.
This is something I've started this year - offering one to one training to enthusiasts on photography. As most people know there's a lot to learn in photography and I feel it's a constantly evolving process. I'm happy to share what I've learned on my journey in photography. The move from an iPhone or a compact camera to a DSLR or Mirrorless can be daunting. Switching over to manual settings from full auto is something most people don't do - or rather don't do easily. It certainly takes a lot of time to build up experience on which sort of settings are going to work in each situation. I've hosted a number of training sessions at Acklam Hall which have been focused on portrait and fashion photography. These have been split into 2 or 4 hour sessions with half of the time in the form of a tutorial looking at lenses, settings etc and the other half being a practical shoot using a model. I'm happy to tailor each session to the individual's needs and I've found this kind of informal approach has worked well as an alternative to some of the online courses or YouTube videos that are on offer (which are useful too of course).
Like a lot of photographers I like gadgets and have amassed some photography gear over the years. The pace of development in camera technology is impressive and it's something that is changing the industry. The latest iPhones and Android phones have very powerful cameras built in. It is this development that has made photography to much more accessible to people. People are used to seeing the very best images online but also photography has become quite momentary and fleeting. I am still a big fan of printing out special photographs to look at over a period of time - in a frame or a canvas. It's too easy to see an amazing photograph on a mobile phone screen and to swipe left a second or two later. Like paintings, some photographs are meant to be reflected upon and savoured. As a result, I print some of my own photographs and hang them on the wall just to allow me to do this myself. As well as the growth of mobile phones, a new technology called mirrorless looks to be about to take over from the traditional DSLR style cameras most professional photographers use these days (unless you are still shooting film which has seen a bit of a renaissance recently). I've always shot Canon which is the main brand leader alongside Nikon. Both well known brands in their own right. Manufacturers such as Sony and Fuji are really pushing technology with mirrorless which creates a camera with less moving parts, a small body and the ability to preview the picture 'live' in the viewfinder. This is an interesting step forwards and whilst mirrorless cameras haven't quite covered the bases in other areas it seems like it is only a matter of time before they do so. I'm not ready to ditch my DSLR just yet but I will certainly be keeping a close eye on what Canon decides to do in this space over the coming year.
Plans for Photography in 2018
I'm really looking forwards to doing a lot more work in 2018. I've got a good number of weddings already booked at some new venues I've not worked at before - including Lumley Castle and Healey Barn which I am really looking forwards to. I am also going to be doing more portrait photography. I'd like to do a lot more horse photography and specifically horse and rider portraits. Finally, I am going to plan in some creative work and fashion photography. It's so hard to fit everything in but I just will need to make the time to ensure I can continue to push my work and photography on. Like just about every photographer I know, we tend to be perfectionists who can love the output from a photoshoot one day and then feel that it could have been so much better the next day. I think that's one of the things that pushes a photographer on to create better and better work. I certainly try to do this myself and constantly improve in the 'craft' of photography. I could probably put this into a list of New Years Resolutions - but I won't - because it will invariably mean I won't do them then!
Have a Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year
In summary, that's my review of 2017. It's been an exciting and productive year. I just wanted to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year - whether I see you in front of or behind the camera lens! Thanks again to clients, friends and family for supporting me and I look forwards to seeing you again soon.