This, dear reader, is the last post of 2014 and as such it’s become something of a tradition for me to do an annual roundup of images, choosing one for each month of the year as it comes to a juddering halt.
The middle of this year was rather dominated with work for University of Bath as I stepped in while their staff photographer recovered from a cycling accident, and while I could have filled more months with student profiles and university events I’ve tried to keep it more varied than that.
I hope you enjoy this year’s selection. It just remains for me to thank all my clients for their custom and support over the year and to wish everyone a merry Christmas and a happy New Year.
January – Rotating milking parlour in Wiltshire for an article on the benefits of mechanised dairies
February – Portrait of Jolly’s of Bath staff member Josh Gottschling in his favourite bar for an in-house magazine article
March – Former Chancellor of the Exchequer Nigel Lawson addresses an audience at University of Bath on issues surrounding renewable energy – he’s not a fan of it
April – The Future Everything Festival in Manchester for client Digital Connected Economy Catapult
May – Mechanical Engineering student Robert Ford of University of Bath works on his design for a vertical climbing robot
June – Student Noel Kwan poses for the Humanities and Social Sciences prospectus for University of Bath
July – Hundreds of new University of Bath graduates spill from Bath Abbey to be greeted by friends and family members
August – Finally, a holiday in Austria and I get to take pretty pictures of picturesque streets
September – Andy Harris of Rookery Software Ltd is a man every bit as interesting as his hair
October – Eight-year-old Scout Adam Henderson concentrates on packing customer bags for charity at Tesco’s store in Salisbury
November – A fresh portrait for chef John Melican’s new Melican’s Events website
December – On the way back to the car from a job in Melksham I couldn’t resist a shot of this yarn-bombed tree in the December sunshine
Sometimes I hanker after the good old days when I was rushing about covering news events. Of course most of it was pretty mundane stuff (community group cheque presentations, councillors on self-promoting visits to local Scout clubs and so on), but covering Magistrates or Crown Court, while often time-consuming was an interesting challenge. Or a stakeout waiting for some local scallywag to emerge from their last known address, house fires, road traffic accidents… these were not enjoyable, but you felt you were doing a useful job bringing the news to your readers.
Yes, I miss the rush of covering hard news and sometimes I ponder how difficult it would be to start covering local news without the backup of a recognised publication. The problem is, I often spot newsworthy things around my home town of Frome, but there isn’t a local newspaper that would pay for the photos and I’m not prepared to give them away for free to a commercial entity. Instead I occasionally post pictures on my photography Facebook page, and it’s interesting to see how many hits these posts get. It often results in a little spike in visits to the page, which makes me wonder if I shouldn’t be doing more.
It’s not art, but local incidents get little coverage in the papers
Naturally it always comes back to questions of whether I can afford to peel off from whatever task I’m on to go and take pictures of an incident just to share them on my Facebook page, as well as the question of whether, as an individual without the remit of a picture editor, I can really justify approaching police and fire officers to get the necessary details for the caption and gain the access required to get pictures which fully tell the story.
At least when I was a card-carrying press man I had something which said “within the constraints of the law and my professional codes of conduct, I have a right to be here taking photos.” I find it harder to do now that I’m just another bloke with a camera.
With the local publications increasingly ignoring the difficult-to-get or the stories breaking out of hours, I suspect I’ll find myself taking more pictures of the things which happen around my town. I’ll rely on experience and training to know what I can cover and how far I can push my access, because lord knows I have no interest in getting arrested or punched, but if you want to see how I get on and keep up with what I do, you can always Like my Facebook page or keep an eye on this blog.
If you’re like-minded and local, why not get in touch? It might come to nothing, but you never know, we might be the start of a new publishing empire!
People get into photography for all kinds of reasons and I don’t need to list them here, but since the early days of my career my motivation has been that I wanted to take pictures which were of a high enough standard that I would get commissioned (paid) to take pictures which would be published.
This started with newspapers and magazines, but since my business focuses so much more on commercial and corporate photography now, I get the same thrill by being commissioned by business clients to take photos for their websites, brochures and press releases.
If I’m honest with myself, it’s always been the endorsement of being asked to take pictures in exchange for filthy lucre which has been my motivational drug, which leads me neatly to the argument about taking pictures for money as somehow demeaning photography.
Millions of people take pictures for fun, many thousands take pictures for artistic reasons, but amongst true artists there are vanishingly few who pursue their passion with a view to never making money from it. Money, whatever we think of it, is the ultimate endorsement of what we create.
Making pictures for publication is what motivates me
For me, though I don’t put my work under the heading of art, the opposite of my principle motivation would be to take photos just so people could tell me how great they are, without anyone telling me in cash terms whether or not my work is up to snuff. Likes and shares on Facebook and Instagram are all very well, but it’s too easy for someone to endorse a photo on the web with pretty much zero commitment or investment in that photo. A Like might not even mean they like the photo and you may never know what motivated someone togive it a click. It’s possible they made a slip of the finger which they couldn’t be bothered to reverse.
No, for me the joy of photography, my reason to strive and improve in it, is to see it used, published and put to work in return for the thing (the ONLY thing) which allows me to carry on doing it; money.
Charging money for photography doesn’t diminish it, doesn’t decrease its value. If you want to decrease the value of your photography, all you have to do is give it away, whereupon it becomes either worthless or impossible to value. If anything, giving photography away diminishes photography as a whole, a consequence which I believe has done much harm to the industry and resulted in a great deal of very poor work being used where it should never have seen light of day.
Taking pictures for money doesn’t weaken my wish to be the best I can be, it enhances my motivation. Nor does it stop me banging the drum for photography worth paying for. My raison d’être may be filthy lucre, but around that sits a joy in my work, a joy in giving my clients what they want and need and ultimately being able to say I’ve stayed true to my principles for 25 years.*
*I haven’t the slightest idea where this article came from. It just sort of wrote itself. Thank you for reading.