Do you need your own studio to be a pro?

A couple was walking up the drive of our house to meet us. They were choosing a photographer and this was the first time we’d meet in person. In fact, it was the last time. I was inside and they didn’t know I could hear them, or that I would pick up on the disappointment in the woman’s voice. “Oh,” she said, “it’s just a converted garage.” We didn’t win the job this time. That’s when my wife Sarah and …

Thieves, Drumsticks And My Very First Nikon

We’re taking our daughter to see The Lion King, and we’re passing time before the show starts. The tickets are tucked inside my camera bag, along with my trusty Pentax, loaded with film. This is 2002, after all. The camera bag is on the floor under our table. I reach for it and it’s no longer there. Our house keys, my wife’s purse, the tickets and the camera inside it have been stolen. A great day out quickly turns into …

Dealing With Disappointment | How To Make Sense Of That Sinking Feeling

How are you feeling?” The groom asked me, as he showed me around the wedding venue on the morning of the big day. “I’m so excited about today,” I started to respond. I should’ve stopped there. Instead, as a perpetual oversharer, I continued. “But I also know I’m going to be so disappointed tomorrow when I think about all the photographs I didn’t capture.” We were at Wells Cathedral, arguably the most beautiful of all the UK’s cathedrals, and a …

The F-Words For Photographers | Dealing With The Stresses Of Your Photography Business

Hey honey,’ I typed, ‘I thought I’d dump some thoughts on the photo business… I really want to get this thing rolling.’ I was on the 8:49pm train back from London. All the regular commuters had returned home hours ago. The ones still out in town for drinks and dinner would be staggering into seats on later trains. This carriage was full of IT consultants like me, the ones working crazy hours for demanding clients in return for six-figure salaries. …

Lessons from Las Vegas | Why Customer Experience Is As Important As The Photography

We were in the Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas as part of a weeklong trip to celebrate my 50th birthday. My wife Sarah and I had been here before for our honeymoon, and I’d always wanted to return with the kids. On this evening we were looking forward to Love, the Cirque du Soleil show based on the Beatles’ music. First though, we were fuelling up with a hot meal, and were midway through the main course when the hotel …

Hard critique | Be Brutal And Think Like A Photography Judge

A photography competition judge’s job is to whittle down huge numbers of entries into a shortlist of possible winners. To do this effectively, they look for common mistakes they can deduct points for. I’ve been on the judging panel for local camera club competitions as well as national and international competitions. Every time, there are recurring themes that cause otherwise great images to lose marks and miss out. Even if you don’t plan to enter competitions, knowing the common mistakes …

Pro Qualifications And Your Business

“I don’t see the point of pro photography qualifications. I don’t need them and clients don’t expect them, so why should I?” This is a common sentiment I encounter when I chat with other photographers. I believe they are only partly right. Do most of my clients scan through my website to find my qualifications before getting in contact? I doubt it. Still, the qualifications I’ve achieved have been instrumental in shaping the photographer I am that I cannot conceive …

Keep calm

At the end of every Mastering Portrait Photography podcast, I remind listeners “to be kind to yourself”. If I’m honest, the reminder is aimed at myself as much as anybody else. I constantly analyse the things I’ve said, the things I do and my photography. When you create photos as a hobby there’s no pressure at all. If you think the pictures you take are great, you’re right. After all, you’re taking them for your own pleasure. But once you …

Deal with disaster

From tripping on-stage in front of hundreds to noticing a print error too late, here’s what I did next. Two thoughts passed through my mind as I sailed towards the stage floor at the Royal Institution’s Christmas Lectures. Firstly, there were three steps, not two, in the set I’d just scampered down in a rush to capture the next shot. And secondly, I must protect my camera at all costs. I twisted my body to spare the camera from impact. …

Create the right client experience

One of my clients told me about an experience they had with another photographer. They commissioned a shoot of their family and were due to meet at a local woodland spot. It was the first time they’d done anything like this, and they were a bit nervous. Their two children – six-year-old Harry and three-year-old Jade – provided the usual challenges on the morning of the shoot: “I don’t want to wear that!” and “I don’t want to go!” Still, …