EP145 Yvonne's Law | Shooting For Dough vs. Shooting For Show

Mastering Portrait Photography Podcast: Land Rover Edition

This is one of our “Land Rover Editions” which is to say, slightly noisy.  I’m on my way to and from the Hearing Dogs for a shoot, which is always lovely.  Various topics, but mostly “Yvonne’s Law: Shoot For Dough Before Shooting For Show”.  In other words, it’s all about your client before it’s about us and our lust for awards! haha.  Sadly, it does mean you can’t always create award-winning or qualification-worthy images on every client job, no matter how much you want to!

00:00 Introduction and Land Rover Editions
01:06 The Journey and the Mastering Portrait Photography Podcast
03:04 The Importance of Being Part of the Photography Industry
04:35 The Challenges of Recording Podcasts and Listener Engagement
06:00 The Timelessness of Radio Programs
07:05 The Arrival at Hearing Dogs and the Importance of Initials
07:45 The Challenges of Building a Website and Judging Image Competitions
16:08 The Arrival at the Wedding and Yvonne’s Law
20:14 The Wedding Shoot and the Difference Between Shooting for Show and Dough
27:17 Conclusion and Farewell



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Episode Transcript

EP145 Yvonne’s Law

Introduction and Land Rover Editions

[00:00:00] As I’m absolutely certain you can hear, I’m back in the Land Rover. I think maybe, maybe I should call these the Land Rover Editions and actually separate them out from our normal podcasts. Mostly because when I was at the photography show at the beginning of the year, quite a few people came up to me and said how much they enjoyed them.

[00:00:24] Though looking in the mirror right now, I do look like I think a pilot, with my microphone, it’s either that or Madonna, and I don’t know which is better. I’m gonna go with pilot with the microphone on. However, quite a few people came up to me and said how much they enjoyed the podcast, when it’s from the Land Rover, the podcast episodes.

[00:00:43] Except for Fiona. Fiona told me in no uncertain terms that not so keen, doesn’t like them, wish I’d stopped doing them. Sadly however, look at the weather out here, it’s just ridiculous. There’s a huge flood. Water everywhere. Good job I’m driving this thing, I think. It’s going to be an exciting trip.

[00:01:03] Note to self drive careful.

The Journey and the Mastering Portrait Photography Podcast

[00:01:06] Anyway, this is one of the Land Rover editions of the Mastering Portrait, no, hang on, yes, no, that’s right. I’m Paul. This is a Land Rover edition of the Mastering Portrait Photography Podcast.

[00:01:33] The challenge with doing these particular versions of the podcast is, of course, the priority is to arrive safely at wherever it is I’m heading.

[00:01:44] Today it’s the Hearing Dogs: I’ve got to photograph of some newborn puppies. Well, eight weeks old, so cute, yeah, cute. And also some Christmas stock imagery. The date today is the something of February. What is it? 7th, 8th, 9th something of February. Haven’t looked the date up. And we’re doing the Christmas, or some of the Christmas stock imagery ready for the end of the year.

[00:02:06] Now in some ways it feels absolutely ridiculous that we’re doing that, but on the other hand, it’s perfectly planned. So I’m actually quite happy about it because normally, every year I’ve photographed Christmas stock imagery in sort of August, which makes life very tricky when you’re trying to hide flowers, make it, the light look slightly bluer.

[00:02:25] And ignoring the fact that the dog is panting in the heat. Today, that’s not going to be a problem. It’s 4 degrees according to the thermometer on the car. It is absolutely tipping it down with rain and has been by the look of it for the past 12 hours because there are floods everywhere. It’s going to be a slightly lively journey through the lanes of Buckinghamshire to the Hearing Dogs site.

[00:02:49] So anyway, Fiona, I’m sorry I’ve, I set out at the beginning of the year that I was going to run at least once a week, the podcast would come out once a week, but finding the time for that has been nigh on impossible. On Tuesday.

The Importance of Being Part of the Photography Industry

[00:03:04] We spent the entire morning judging the images for the British Institute of Professional Photographers, the BIPP image competition, which is such a joyous, I mean, you know, some of the greatest pleasures of getting involved in the industry are that I’m involved in the industry.

[00:03:21] I know that may be alien to some people. I get asked quite a bit, what do you get out of it? And I’m going to guess that everybody who sticks their head over the parapet and does judging, mentoring, gets involved with various associations. You get a fairly, a fairly repeated question of what on earth is in it, for me, for other, you know, people asking why they would join, for instance.

[00:03:44] What do I get for my 15 quid a month or whatever it is, I don’t even know how much it is. And the answer I’d always say is I get to be part of something. I get to be part of something bigger than just myself, Sarah, Michelle, and we’re actually a pretty big business when it comes to the photography industry in terms of brand, but also in terms of turnover.

[00:04:02] We have a You know, a reasonably big business, the three of us run but it’s still, in terms of the industry itself, if it wasn’t for the associations, we’d be running it on our own, and yeah, alright, I’m with clients all the time, which is amazing, but it’s the, things like the society’s convention. Being part of the BIPP.

[00:04:19] com, being a judge for the FEP, that’s just started this week, so I’m judging for the Federation of European Photographers as well, and it looks like I’m about to do some judging across the pond. with our American friends.

The Challenges of Recording Podcasts and Listener Engagement

[00:04:35] So, all in all, a lot’s going on and, and , finding time to record the podcast just isn’t that easy.

[00:04:42] On top of that, the thing I’ve suddenly had to become increasingly cognizant of is I’ve started to get emails of people who are discovering the podcast for the first time and are now listening to back episodes, and this particular message, I suppose, was triggered, or this thought was triggered, by an email that came from another Paul, I mean, great name, of course, another Paul, who had started listening to the podcast, and when he emailed in the other day, he was on episode 31.

[00:05:09] Now, I didn’t look up the date of episode 31, but given we’ve been doing this for about Eight years now. Seven or eight years. Episode 31 is quite a long way back. Goodness only knows what’s changed since then. And it may be another six years at that run rate before he gets to this episode of 145. So, who knows?

[00:05:33] So now I’ve got to be very careful. I don’t get too specific on dates because by the time some people listen to these episodes it could be well out of date. Equally, there are people who’ve probably started episodes What, 144, and are now working their way backwards, but still won’t get to 100, this episode, 145, for quite a long time.

[00:05:53] So forgive me if some of the stuff I talk about is very particular to the moment. Can’t do a lot about that.

The Timelessness of Radio Programs and the Future of the Podcast

[00:06:00] One of my favourite radio programmes to listen to is Letter from America. Have I talked about this before? I’ve no idea. Letter from America, by a guy called Alastair Cook. He’s, he’s dead now.

[00:06:12] This was on Radio 4, BBC Radio 4, and I think you can still Listen to it. Oh, I listened to it on the BBC Sounds app and many of the back episodes are there. And I really like the fact that it’s of its time. I was listening to an episode the other day that was actually about the Middle East, and it’s incredible.

[00:06:31] I mean, These episodes must be, I think, 40 years old? You’re looking at the mid 80s. And the politic of the region and things that were going on sounded like they could have been today, right here, right now. And I find stuff like that really interesting. So I suppose in a sense you can have a recording that is of its moment and yet still be pertinent later on.

The Arrival at the Hearing Dogs Site and the Struggles of PodcastingThe Arrival at the Hearing Dogs Site and the Struggles of Podcasting

[00:06:57] If I’m still doing this in 40 years, I don’t know if I’m going to be driving around the country photographing hearing dogs, but that’s what we’re doing today. So thank you to Paul for emailing in. It’s lovely to get these emails. We get them from people dotted all over the world.

[00:07:12] Describing what they’re up to. I try to get back to everybody within a certain time frame not always possible, but I do try to, to do it. And those that sort of make me smile, I, I talk about on the podcast itself. Uh, An awful lot going on just at the moment, which is also a reason why I haven’t managed To do a sit down at my desk recording really, the only time I’ve got.

[00:07:34] Sorry, I’m so sorry Fiona, I know, alright, I know. But I’ll try and make the broadcast as clear as I can.

[00:07:41] Even in this clattering vehicle.

The Development of the Mastering Portrait Photography Website

[00:07:45] Still building the masteringportraitphotography. com website, causing me no end of head scratch. The hardest bit is a combination of technology and trying to figure out where Articles should sit. It’s not, it turns out, as straightforward as I would like. Mostly because the platform we’re using, or trying to use, or switching to, is more basic than the one I have at the moment.

[00:08:12] So the one I have at the moment, I can do anything I like. WordPress, with all of its plugins and all of its technology, of course you can do anything you like. But the problem is, with that kind of power comes an immense amount of work. Keeping on top of it, making sure it’s patched correctly, making sure that all my licenses are up to date.

[00:08:32] And on top of that, a huge amount of expenditure. Because of its sophistication, well, you pay for it. So, what we’re trying to do is simplify everything, because I don’t really need that power to do the things I need to do. It’s overkill, really, although I enjoy having that sort of level of control.

[00:08:54] But the kicker, of course, is now we’re simplifying things down, is I’m discovering that certain core things that I relied on, for instance, the structure of how one article can be the child of another article, so you can have a parent which is a really simple idea.

The Challenges of Creating a User-Friendly Website

[00:09:12] But very powerful. I can’t do that on the new platform, so I’m having to figure out ways of still making the content visible, make it logical make it easy to upload and easy to access.

[00:09:24] And have a structure that really makes sense, but haven’t necessarily been able to find the way of doing that.

The Experience of Judging for the BIPP Image Competition

[00:09:32] Of course, things like judging the other day they take up time too, but it warranted pleasure. It was just It’s the new BIPP monthly competition. So this was month one. So if you’re listening to this podcast five years later, you will know whether the BIPP.

[00:09:47] com monthly competition has been a success because this was the very first round. A couple of hundred entries, which is really nice. Hopefully that will climb but the, the fun of it is sitting we’ve recorded the call, so I have it as an audit trial, but sitting on this video conference with two judges looking at images and enjoying the process of assessing images.

[00:10:10] Now, the only thing is, it didn’t really occur to me, I thought we’ll film this, we’ll do it properly, so we’re using a bit of software called Squadcast which is brilliant, it’s one of the, it’s, there are various things, a bit, Riverside FM is another one. Where you do it as if it was Zoom, but the video and audio for each participant is recorded locally on their machine, which means it’s really high quality.

[00:10:29] I can run that then into our podcast software and do an automated transcription, transcribe it, because the new AI tools are Word Perfect. It’s brilliant. However, what I hadn’t allowed for in the four hour recording is, of course, we judge in silence. Why? Well, it’s not because we’re really dull.

[00:10:53] Well, maybe it is. It’s because, actually, we want each judge to determine the score for the image independently. And if there’s chatter, if people are sighing, if people are going, Oh, if only they’d done this better, it influences the, the, the judges. They influence each other. And of course, we want there to be an independent scoring because that helps to take out any sort of personal or subjective, I mean the whole thing is subjective, but sort of variability and, and outside influence. So it’s great, they judge in silence, they punch in their scores, I announce the score and record it. It doesn’t make for a very interesting video. So I’m now not certain that we’ll ever release these things because the idea was, and still is, to find ways of providing insight into why an image does well, why an image maybe hasn’t done so well, what the judge’s thoughts are, but we never really do that during judging.

[00:11:50] So, having to have a think about how we might do it. We certainly can’t critique a couple of hundred images in the time we have available. And we’re going to do this every month. And the thing about the judges is that they are not retired. They are not Part time photographers. These are the best of the best.

[00:12:10] They have to be. They have to be current. They have to have their eye in. They have to be working pros for the judging to have validity. If I just used people who are no longer in the industry, they’re no longer up to date. They’re no longer current. So it’s not that I can use judges that have, or we can use judges that have a ton of time at their fingertips.

[00:12:33] The most important thing about the judges is they are current and as such they need to be working and if they’re working I cannot get a hole in their diary for more than a few hours at a time so we can’t critique every image. It’s not physically possible but somehow I’ve got to find a way of getting some of this information out to everyone who entered, entered the monthly competition.

[00:13:00] Anyway, it’s a lot of fun doing it and those results, the first set of results, will come out. Next week. So if you’re a BIPP. com member, look out for those results if you’re listening to the podcast. And of course, I would encourage all of you to enter. You get one free image every month. You don’t need to pay any money.

[00:13:18] But just make sure, just because it’s free, doesn’t mean that it can be any old image. It’s a real competition. We’re judging it to the international print competition standard. So it’s tough. I make no apology for that. It’s really tough, and as such, it’s not your everyday work that is going to do really well.

[00:13:41] And I’m gonna come back to that as a topic of conversation on the return leg of this journey. However, before I do that, as I’m getting fairly close to the hearing dogs now, the weather’s improving. It’s still pretty horrible, but at least it’s not literally lashing it down as it was when I got into the car.

[00:13:58] Quick tip!

The Importance of Presets in Photography

[00:13:59] This is a quick tip for nothing. It’s not the subject of the podcast, but I thought about it while I was a moment ago prepping some files for a upload, and I was in Lightroom, and then in one of the Nik ColorFX, uh, plugins. Is, there are so many presets, lots, presets for plugins, presets for Lightroom.

[00:14:23] Presets for Photoshop. There’s so much stuff around actions that it gets really hard to track the ones that you created for yourself. And I have this very simple rule of thumb. is for any, any preset, any action, any workflow item, any LUT, any, sorry, a LUT, L U T, lookup table, any color LUT anything at all really, I put my initials at the front of it.

[00:14:51] I always put P W because it identifies the things that I created for myself. As opposed to the things that I may have bought the things that I may have downloaded, the things that somebody else was helping me with, the things that I’ve done for myself, they have the initials PW at the front. And it’s not an ego thing.

[00:15:11] A couple of times people have cocked an eye because everything I’ve got has got PW, PW, PW, PW. It’s got nothing to do with that. It’s got everything to do with the fact that I get really easily confused with the different things that are in the business, the different presets, folders, you name it. So I stick PW at the front to make it clear I did that one and then in two years time Because some of the things I’ve written they are like five six years old There’s some scripts I wrote for Photoshop that we’re still using and I think I wrote them ten years ago I know they’re mine because they have PW at the front as opposed to some of the scripts I found and downloaded Which are by third parties, and of course, you know, I can use them.

[00:15:51] But I certainly couldn’t distribute them. And I want to know that if I’m modifying them, I’m modifying somebody else’s work. Which is only fair. So, stick your initials. At the beginning of any presets and things that you create for yourself. There you go, that’s a top tip for nothing.

The Arrival at the Hearing Dogs Site and the Weather Conditions

[00:16:08] I’m just about to pull in to the hearing dogs.

[00:16:11] Wow, it’s a grey day. Look how blue the light is, it’s horrible. Ha, ha, ha. Usually, usually at this side of the hill, we come over a slight hill. Um, so it’s only, how long I’ve been driving? What, 10, 15 minutes? It’s not that there’s a huge difference in location between us and the hearing dogs. The geography does change slightly.

[00:16:33] We come over a slight rise onto the other side of a hill, and then onto a plateau, a little bit of a plateau at the foot of the Chilterns. And the weather here is quite often different, very different. Sometimes, particularly, it’s most pronounced when it’s snowing. We will have snow and they won’t, and vice versa, and it really is only 10 minutes separate.

[00:16:51] Today, sadly, the weather is exactly the same, which is to say, shitty. There’s no, I’m sorry if you’re offended by the word, but it’s the right word. It is shitty. Dead flat light, cloudy, wet. It’s gone down by 0. 2 of a degree since I’ve been driving. Over this side of the hill, it’s 3. 8 degrees. Usually the temperature rises.

[00:17:17] Today, it’s slightly colder. And I normally would say that I am looking forward to photographing the Hearing Dogs, particularly the puppies. Today, I’m looking forward to the photography. I am not looking forward to lying in a wet field. God, that car park needs a little bit of TLC you can hear the car rattling around on all of the divots and holes and puddles.

[00:17:42] And then my, my car cam pinging as it thinks I’ve hit something. I do think at the moment we live in a country where the roads are in such bad condition. My dash cam. Constantly thinks I’ve had an accident and records that little bit of footage automatically because it thinks I’ve hit something, and I haven’t hit anything, I’m just driving along the A40.

[00:18:05] Right, I’m here. I shall return with the actual subject of this podcast. Maybe that’s what Fiona doesn’t like, is the randomness of it. Sarah says I repeat myself a lot when I’m recording from the car, so apologies if I am about to do that. However I will see you at the end of this particular shoot.

[00:18:23] Right, I’m back. So at the end of that, I’ve just spent, what is it now quarter past two, uh, four and a bit hours photographing puppies which is beautiful, photographing dogs which are equally beautiful, running dogs, jumping dogs, wet dogs, god the weather’s been horrible, and some Christmas images. Of course it’s this time of year when we shoot Christmas stuff, but actually created some really, well I mean I think they’re beautiful, my client seems to think they’re beautiful at this stage, I’ve only seen them on the back of the camera, but a lot of fun.

[00:18:59] We’re using more and more and more LED lighting. Which is great when you’re balancing up against Christmas lights and fairy lights and daylight. It’s so much easier using LED than strobes for that. For the studio stuff, we are still using strobes because we can freeze movement really well, which is really, really important.

[00:19:20] So for the white background stuff, those standard shots we create for the charity, very much still strobe, and I don’t see that changing. In the near future, uh, because that ability to have, you know, F 16 and that instantaneous pulse of light that freezes motion is a very particular look and just the moment, I don’t see that becoming that being replaced.

[00:19:44] However, the LED side of it we had four different LED lights two with modifiers, two focusable spots with modifiers and two LED bars. Which just added beautiful touches of light where I wanted them. Made life really easy. I’ll share a few of those hopefully on Insta over the next couple of days.

[00:20:04] Actually, I won’t show them on Insta because they’re our Christmas pictures. So no, no, I won’t be showing them on Instagram. They’re the Christmas pictures, but maybe I’ll get to show them. In December next year, or this year.

The Concept of Yvonne’s Law in Wedding Photography

[00:20:14] Over the weekend, and this is, I guess, we’re heading towards the point of this particular podcast.

[00:20:19] I was photographing a wedding, beautiful wedding, only 13 people, pretty hectic, lots going on, Friday night, Saturday all day, Sunday morning and some of the afternoon. A really beautiful venue, and on the Friday night I got sitting chatting to the mothers of the groom, or the mother, sorry, mother and father of the groom, mother and father of the bride.

[00:20:38] And one of them said to me, she said Yvonne told me this. Now at that stage I didn’t even know who Yvonne was, so Yvonne, Yvonne, said that she was complaining that all of the shots of her son were the back of his head. And it turns out Yvonne, at a different wedding, was the mother of the groom. And every shot of the groom, it was just the back of his head.

[00:21:00] And I said, I don’t understand. She said, well, there’s lots of shots of them as a couple. You can see the bride’s face, very moody, just the back of the groom’s head. And do you know what? Instantly, instantly, I knew the kind of shot she was talking about. It’s the kind of shot that we see quite a lot when we’re judging competitions, or maybe doing Quals.

[00:21:21] There’s some, it’s very moody, but essentially it’s a bridal portrait using the groom as context. It’s fine, there’s definitely a place for it. But if you’re shooting a wedding, you might just find yourself getting the reaction that, clearly, Yvonne gave. So, Yvonne is not happy that the photographer has not done what she would regard as the photograph that she would like.

[00:21:43] Which, I’m gonna guess, is a photograph of the bride, the groom, three quarter length, front on, snuggled up. Smiling at camera. That’s the, that’s the, still one of the best selling shots you can create. Certainly if you’re pitching to sell to the parents of the couple. Yvonne’s Law, I’m going to call it from now on, and I think we’re going to talk about this, and I’m going to add it to my list of things that people should think about.

[00:22:09] Yvonne’s Law is this. When you’re photographing a wedding, make sure you cover everything that the people who are attending and the people who might be buying the pictures would wish for. Going for awards is fine. We all do it. We all need to do it. We need to push ourselves and be creative. That is For most of us, why we came into these industries in the first place, we want to do something exciting and different.

[00:22:32] We want to do something engaging and moody, and on the whole, those are not the shots that you can sell to the couple. Not always, it’s not an entire, there is a Venn diagram with an overlap. You can, of course, sell really dark, moody pictures of the bride to the couple, and that may well happen. But there’s a law of averages here and you’re being paid by the client to satisfy numerous different angles.

[00:22:57] Now, the other thing I don’t know about the wedding that was being described is whether the bride and groom had asked specifically for a certain type of image. I have shot a wedding, this is going back a little bit in my career. Where the bride and groom wanted me to, and I kid you not, ignore the mother of the bride.

[00:23:16] That was my brief. Do not pay any attention to her. She’s gonna ask you to do all of these different shots with different people, but she is not paying. The bride and groom were really very clear about that. The problem is, from a diplomatic point of view, I’ve got a nightmare because, of course, the mother of the bride is asking me to do things.

[00:23:36] And I’ve been briefed not to, because it’ll draw time and they’re not shots that the bride and groom, who are my client, are going to buy. So yes, you can end up in that situation. But here’s the rub for that particular wedding, is I ended up going back and doing a portrait shoot with the whole family, because the mother of the bride felt she hadn’t got the pictures of them as a family that she would wish for.

[00:23:56] We ended up dancing through, or jumping through a few hoops, jumping through a few, I can’t even say the word, hoop, jumping through a few hoops, hoops to get to the end goal. So Yvonne’s Law simply states, remember that you’re shooting for a client, you’re not just shooting for you. Eventually I’ll word it slightly differently as I probably think of 25 iterations of it.

[00:24:17] Let’s just let these people out here. There you go. You go through there. That’s good. Perfectly good. And so it was a really beautiful wedding and throughout the day though I laughed with the two mums about Yvonne’s law and made it perfectly clear that I was getting everything they had asked for.

The Differences Between Shooting for Awards and Clients

[00:24:35] Now there’s a slight addendum to this thought process which is well how come what you shoot for a client doesn’t necessarily do so well in awards or so well in qualifications.

[00:24:49] And the truth of that is that we have to, to a degree, separate out context from the picture. So when we’re judging we don’t have the context which makes it sometimes a little bit tricky. As wedding photographers we know that shooting on a commissioned wedding is that little bit more complicated which is why in the categories for wedding photography most of them state really clearly Must be linked to the wedding day, must be commissioned.

[00:25:16] You can’t use models, it can’t be you just shooting for fun, because once you eliminate that sense of pressure, the time pressure mostly, but the performance pressure and having to work for a client, everything’s much easier. Which is why fashion magazines have these beautiful pictures of models in bridal gowns and actually on a real wedding day.

[00:25:37] It’s a lot trickier, it’s not impossible but it’s a lot trickier to get those images. So there’s this thing, and I, we all know it the best I’ve ever heard it was shoot for show, shoot for dough. The difference between shooting for your portfolio, shooting for awards, shooting for qualifications, and shooting for the money, shooting for your client.

[00:25:58] They are slightly different things, and one photographer, a really nice photographer called Hoss Madavi, photographer, Put it like this. He said, think about designing for a catwalk. Think about what you would design out there for a catwalk and then think about what you actually end up selling through a high street chain like John Lewis or Marks and Spencer or whatever in the UK or maybe Macy’s or someone like that in the States.

[00:26:27] Think about the difference between those two. Your haute couture arranges that you’re going to produce on the catwalk. By the time they end up being sold to the mass public, not quite the same thing. Nor should they be. They’re for different purposes. One is to show the world what you’re capable of. One is to show, or it’s actually sell to the world.

[00:26:46] Not quite the same thing because most people are not going to buy a really funky haute couture dress or outfit off the catwalk in the same way that a lot of our clients won’t wish. to buy a moody dark shot that’s of the back of the groom’s head. There you go. Yvonne’s Law is now what we’re calling it.

[00:27:05] I might have to change it. I feel, I don’t, I’ve never met Yvonne. I’m going to credit her with it because that was the story that was told to me. On that happy note, I am just pulling into a garage because I am absolutely starving.

Conclusion and Farewell

[00:27:17] I need to get some food and I need to get some food quick before I start getting grumpy.

[00:27:22] So I’m going to park up and I’m going to wish you all well for the week. So for this week’s podcast, thank you for listening. Of course you can email me. At paul@paulwilkinsonphotography.co.uk. You can head over to masteringportraitphotography.com. Please do subscribe to the podcast wherever it is that you consume your podcast.

[00:27:43] And if you feel like it, please leave us a review. If you feel sorry, if you feel like leaving us a nice review, please leave us a review. If you feel like leaving us some nastiness, then please email me so I know what we could improve on. But on that happy note, I hope you’re having a good week. I hope the weather is better where you are than where we are.

[00:27:58] And of course, in the spirit of this morning, a very happy Christmas to you all on this February day. And whatever else, be festive, but be kind to yourself. Take care.

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