Why I Love This Shot – Sunset on Zamami

It was only a matter of time until my other half made my “Why I Love This Shot” series. It seems fitting that it would be from our recent travels to Japan on our honeymoon. I spent ages in the waves experimenting with shutter speeds and playing with angles – all while trying to avoid the saltwater spray as the tide came in. We’d been snorkeling for the day on a different beach and had decided to walk around to catch the sunset at the other side of the island. A moment which is now a favourite memory. x

6 things you probably shouldn’t say to your photographer…

It’s finally happened. I’ve officially been in the photography business long enough now to hear many of the stereotypical comments and “chat” that I’d suggest are perhaps not the best placed choice of conversation topic… I’ve been amused, baffled and even slightly frustrated with some of these, so just for fun, I thought I’d share some with you…

1. Your camera takes really great photos!

I know, I know. I’m starting with the comment that seems so obvious that surely no-one actually says it? I mean, that’s what I thought. I’d heard of it, seen many a meme about it, but I had never experienced it.

Until last year.

Those wonderful words were uttered in a kind, genuine way where I fully believe the person wasn’t trying to be offensive but I was left stuck for a reply all the same. I mean, imagine someone said that about a baker and their oven, or an artist and their paintbrush?

A camera is merely an instrument. A vehicle which enables us to capture an image as we see it or imagine it. Having professional equipment makes a bit of a difference yes, but only if you know how to use it. You could put me in front of the best stove on the planet and I’d still burn something – Michelin Star I am not!

The camera doesn’t make the photograph anymore than a laptop makes a novel. It takes time, practice and a certain degree of skill to get to a professional level. Implying that it’s all in the gear is a little bit cheeky however unintentional. Best avoided if you want to keep your photographer on-side (and remember, we have access to Photoshop…ha!)

2. My camera is better than yours!

This happens at almost every event I shoot. Whether it’s a corporate get-together, a christening or a wedding, I inevitably find myself sought out by someone who wants to compare gear. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to have folk who are interested in photography and want to talk about it (provided I can still do my work for whoever has hired me!) – I could chat about certain types of photography all night but I keep finding myself in a situation with someone who takes that enthusiasm over the line in to competition.

Sometimes it’s the old Canon vs Nikon schtick and that’s fine for a bit of banter but let’s keep it in good humour. I’ve also had people feel the need to tell me that they own the more recent model of my camera and I’m never sure what to say other than a polite “that’s nice!” or “that’s a great piece of kit!”.

I rarely feel the need to compare gear with people. It’s just not in my nature to try to one-up someone over camera equipment and I find myself floundering for words when the subject comes up while I’m working.

3. Well, anyone can take a good photo on their smartphone these days.

Now this one I have to agree with – in a Disney’s Ratatouille style “Anyone can cook!” that is. Anyone can take a good photo on their smartphone but not everyone. As I mentioned above, a camera is merely an instrument and if you know how to use it properly you can take incredible images on smartphones. Many are doing it consistently and making a living and a name for themselves from it.

But not everyone.

And while professional photography went through a phase of struggling against the all accessible smartphone and even the entry-level DSLR, it seems to be picking back up again as people recognise the training and dedication it takes to acquire such a skill. Yes, there are natural born photographers who intuitively know how to compose and capture a jaw-dropping image with little practice but they are the exception, not the rule.

As Henri Cartier-Bresson says “Your first 10,000 photos are your worst.” Photography takes skill and practice regardless of the equipment.

4. I don’t get why people bother with photos… I never take any.

Yeah, this one left me stumbling.

It seems an odd way to endear yourself to someone, basically telling them you think their work is pointless. And it seems particularly strange when this is the first (and now the only!) conversation you’ll be having with them.

“Hey, nice to meet you. I think your work is a waste of time.” Not a great start, is it?

I know what you’re thinking – “Surely no-one has ever said that to you?”

Believe me they have. Right smack bang while I was in the middle of working an event. Someone came up to me to tell me all about how he doesn’t understand the point of taking photos. I didn’t know what to say other than reminding him that the people who had hired me obviously thought images to remember the event were important.

Photography isn’t for everyone and that’s absolutely fine. Of course it is. Art is subjective and photography is an art form.

I’ve long been a fan of documenting my life in photos and sharing them with people. It’s a way of life for me. I see the world in photographs and I find it difficult to switch off from that. But I understand that not everyone sees the world that way.

However, it’s an opinion probably best kept to yourself instead of using it as drunken small chat with the event ‘tog. I politely entertained the notion. Many wouldn’t!

5. Can you photoshop this so I’m slimmer/have different hair/look “better”?

Eeeek! I find this one of the most awkward things that is said to me. It’s usually done in jest but sometimes there’s a real request there.

I am a “less is more” kind of photoshopper. My photography style is about natural moments and doesn’t lend itself well to airbrushing and liquifying my subjects. In actual fact, I work hard to encourage people to see the real beauty in themselves and the moment instead of focusing purely on things that we’ve been taught to see as “flaws”.

I’d much rather empower people to see their beauty than to feel the need to be artificially slimmed or smoothed thanks to unrealistic beauty standards the media has ingrained in us.

However, I completely understand that people are rarely 100% happy with how they look and are concerned that the images might amplify parts of themselves that they wish were different. The majority of us look at an image and instantly search for the part we’re insecure about.

If you’re in that situation, please feel free to have a quiet word and let me know. It’s my job to make you feel comfortable during your shoot and not left wishing that the images were altered afterwards.

6. Don’t worry, I’ll just Photoshop it when you send me the image…

Whether it’s adding a person (as was the suggestion in the case I’m referring to), removing a person, adding filters or even cropping – you’re unlikely to have permission to do this and will have signed (and of course read…) a contract that informs you that this is the case. It seems pernickety but it’s for good reason. Photographers rely on people seeing our work, loving it, and wanting us to work for them. If our work no longer looks like our own then we lose the ability to make a living. Like anyone else, we’re just trying to pay our bills.

So please don’t edit our work and talk about it like it’s no big deal. It matters!

So there you have it! A list of some of the odd things people have said to me since I started out as a photographer. I’m super lucky to have only had the occasional guest at an event who has said something strange or a misplaced, but well meaning, comment from an interested party. I know photographers who have heard much worse.

I’d love to hear the sorts of things people say to you at your work…

BLOGtober is BACK!

As all of you of course know, I blogged pretty much everyday of the month in October 2016 and it was pretty good fun and also helped me get ready for some projects and new collaborations.

So you’ll be delighted to hear it’s BACK for 2017 and I’ll be blogging across my three sites Mei Photography, Jo Foo Wildlife Photography and WildlifebyJo.

Keep an eye on my social media feeds to read about what I’ve been up to and what I have planned for the next wee while. I’d love to hear from you too and if any of you are blogging in October then let me know and I’ll check out what you’ve got to say!

Happy reading! x

BLOGtober Round Up!

November 30th. I can’t believe it. This past month has flown by, faster than I can remember any month going ever!  I feel like I blinked and missed it!

You’ll remember that last month I was attempting to blog every day for the month of October, BLOGtober… I managed 28 out of 30 days. Not too bad!  You may also remember that I was blogging via my three different blogs:

www.wildlifebyjo.wordpress.com

www.jofoowildlifephotography.com/about/blog/

www.meiphotography.co.uk/blog/ 

It’s a little tricky to track them all so I thought I’d round them all up here for you to read.  Here goes…

October 1st:

Welcome to BLOGtober!

October 2nd:

Lost Along the Way…

October 3rd:

Baby Claudia

October 4th:

Birthday Girl

October 5th:

Beauty in the Details

October 6th:

A Grizzly Encounter

October 7th:

Wedding Nerves…

October 8th:

The Glancy Family

October 9th:

European Bee Eaters

October 10th:

Why I Love This Shot – A new blog series.

Lost Along the Way…

Back in December, I wrote a blog about the 12 Things I’ve Learned in 500 Days of Mei Photography.

Today, now at 818 Days of Mei Photography, I went back and read it again.

I’m really glad I did.

I wrote the blog as a way to help people in a similar stage of their businesses realise that they are not alone. All the worries, panics, fears and insecurities are normal and part of the journey.  Somewhere along the way, I forgot about it.

“It” being both my blog post and the information within it. I really need to learn to take my own advice.

In the last few months, this roller-coaster ride that is setting up and running your own business has felt a bit shaky. This is thanks to a variety of reasons but at lot of it is linked to the very first point -> lots of ideas + not enough time = lack of focus and a bit of a burnout.

Burnout is pretty severe sounding. It’s not as bad as all that but I am getting bogged down in worrying about all the things I’m trying to do and not really feeling good enough to do it all. And to be honest, I can’t do it all. At least not at the same time. Somewhere along the way I forgot that again and I’ve had to take a step back to refocus.

I’ve never been one to be short of ideas. And I’m the first to admit that not all my ideas are good ideas. So I have to learn to take time to think about what is useful and worthwhile before diving straight in.

Teal green writing on a white background which reads "A goal without a plan is just a wish" with the Mei Photography Logo

And that requires planning.

I love planning. The act of it that is. The charts, timelines, budgeting etc. I am one of those people who actually enjoy it. At least to a certain extent. But for some reason, when the excitement of a new idea or project takes hold, the planning stage goes out the window and I dive in at the details end. And then a few weeks/months/a.n.other amount of time later, I’m left with a lot of half finished projects which I didn’t have a clear end point and feeling like I’m treading water instead of achieving anything.

And no wonder. With no clear end point, how can I know if anything is finished? What am I trying to achieve with all these ideas? A greater good like #RealGirlsRealBeauty where the aim is to help people? To meet more people who might be future customers and make my business sustainable? To increase awareness of the work I’m doing? Or to improve my craft and upskill? Lots of ideas are great but if they quickly become useless without any point.

So here’s the thing, by the end of BLOGtober, the goal is to update and refresh my Business Plan and have clear outlines and priorities for these many ideas floating about in this creative but sometimes impulsive mind of mine!

Wish me luck… I’ll need it! x

 

 

 

 

Welcome to BLOGtober!

Blogging.

It’s hard.

It shouldn’t be. I have lots of ideas and stories to share with you. But I almost never do it. Mostly because of timing issues which really boils down to bad planning as far as blogs go. I tend to put them off and “plan” to come back to them.

So I’ve set myself a challenge and I’m going to post a-blog-a-day for the month of October.

BLOGtober, if you will.

(Stick with me, it gets better!)

I actually have three blogs, which only adds to the confusion. But I will post links to them all here at the very least as they are all relevant to my work and being a female entrepreneur who is trying to figure out what on Earth she is doing.

You can check them out here:

https://wildlifebyjo.wordpress.com/
http://www.jofoowildlifephotography.com/about/blog/
and of course, where you are now: https://www.meiphotography.co.uk/about/blog/

And, I do have a plan… or at least a start of one… and while this is a totally lame start, I’ve made it legit by adding a photo…

A black & white photo of my list of blog ideas for the month

Blog-tober plan

Honestly. it WILL get better…