EP150 Sign Your Work | Your Signature Is Your Certificate Of Quality

Ever wondered why you should sign your work?  Well, in this, our 150th episode, we have chat about it.

But before that, a quick catchup with Charlie Kaufman of Click Group at The Photography Show – head to https://www.clickliveexpo.co.uk/ to see details of one of the most exciting events in years!

There is also news of the PMI Smoke Genie / Smoke Ninja competition – a fantastic opportunity to get creative and win some hefty prizes.  The details for this brilliant competition can be found here:

Good luck!

If you’re interested in any of our workshops or masterclasses, you can find them at https://www.paulwilkinsonphotography.co.uk/photography-workshops-and-training/

Enjoy (and sign your work!)


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Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] OK there are one or two fruity words in this episode. If you’re offended by swearing then I do apologise!

[00:00:05] So I’m here at the photography show up in the NEC in Birmingham, have just bumped in to one of the big characters in the industry. So tell me a little bit about who you are. So, Charlie Kaufman, Honorary Fellow of the Societies, uh, been in the business for 35 years, professional, and I’ve run the Click Group for 30 years.

[00:00:27] Started in 1994. And you’ve got several other letters after your name. I thought it was KFA, but you said it was No, it wasn’t KFA. FKA, as my mum always says, fucking know all, uh, excuse my language, but no, a fellow of the societies, I was the youngest, uh, BIPP licensorship and MPA, uh, licentiate when I was just 17 years old, so two years into the industry, I’m also the CEO of Click Backdrops and Click Live, a new expo launching at Stoney Park, Coventry, this June. Tell me why you’ve come to the photography show. So it’s all about brand awareness. Clip Backdrops, uh, exhibits at all of the major trade shows in the, in the world.

[00:01:04] We do about 100, 000 miles with my partner in crime, Gary Hill. He’s got more letters after his name than the alphabet, and Gary and I love doing the trade shows because it gets our British made, award winning product in the hands of creative photographers, so they can see the difference of why they’re investing in a quality product.

[00:01:23] Why do you love this photography industry of ours so much? I love it because it’s changing. I love being in an industry where we make money from giving people creative memories for people, creating art. I love the fact that being the owner of a company, I’m in control and I can pivot in a heartbeat in which direction I want to take my company.

[00:01:44] And that’s one of the problems that a lot of British photographers don’t do is pivot enough and change quickly enough. But being a small company, we’re very quick at changing. We can actually have an idea to marketplace sometimes within a week.

[00:01:57] And if there’s one thing you could change about the photography industry that we know so well, what would it be?

[00:02:03] Well, I’m going to hone in on the British photography industry, and what we need to change is we need to get British photographers getting more educated. Uh, as Big Dog Damien once said, the better, the easiest way to make more money as a photographer is to be a better photographer. I completely agree with that. Visiting ten U. S. expos a year, these expos sometimes start at 7am and these photographers are in classes and learning till midnight every single day. And that’s one of the reasons that my team and I have launched Click Live, a brand new, uh, educational expo launching Stony Park, Coventry this June, where we’ve brought in the biggest educators from around the world. I mean, we’ve got Lindsay Adler, we’ve got Chris Knight, but we’ve also got other educators that have never even taught before in Europe, like Kimberly Smith, one of the world’s best digital artists. So we want to give British photographers and European photographers, the opportunity to learn, hone in their craft and get better. Because the better you are, the more money you should make out of photography. It’s as simple as that.

[00:03:04] Brilliant. And I have to say, it’s an honour and a privilege to be a very small part of that operation. I’m very…

[00:03:09] …an important part of that. Not a small part, an important Don’t sell yourself short, Paul. You’re an important part as we launch Clickmasters, a digital and print competition. And the nice thing about our print competition? Our educators at the show are not allowed to enter. So they’re there to mentor and help and, and train, but they can’t enter this year’s competition.

[00:03:33] Excellent. Well, I’ll tell you what, I’m beyond excited about it.

[00:03:36] Thanks for talking to me, Charlie. See you I’m Paul. And this is the mastering portrait photography podcast.

[00:03:43] Can you believe it? 150. Episodes honestly. I never really thought about it when I set this thing going about six years ago and here we are. 150 episodes later. I thought, I think I thought it would just be somewhere where I could get things off my chest -a sort of passive therapist, I suppose, and let’s face it, we all need one of those mine, well, mine, just happens to be a microphone.

[00:04:29] Since then I’ve muttered about, oh, so many things, have interviewed all sorts of people and received well, many and varied emails. I’ve also been told I do have a face for radio, and that even happened again, today.

[00:04:46] But I’ll take those little wins when people tell me they find the podcast either interesting or at the very least, something that passes time on a journey. Anyway, that interview was with the wonderful Charlie Koufman, who not only is the owner of Click Backdrops, which are brilliant and British. I will put the link in the show notes, but it’s also the inspiration behind the upcoming Click Live convention, Which you will all be hearing about. In the coming months and I cannot wait to see you there.

[00:05:16] So here we are, it’s April. And how are you? Did you have a good weekend? I hope you did. Sarah and I went down to Plymouth in Devon, Southern England. As well more almost as far south as you can get. In the UK with Harriet, our daughter and had a wonderful weekend with my in-laws.

[00:05:36] We drank a little beer. We ate a little chocolate, actually, we ate a lot of chocolates. We bought some Devon fudge and we painted some pottery. Yep. You heard that right. We went pottery painting. It was Sarah’s idea. She wanted to do something that was a little different, maybe a little creative pass a couple of hours.

[00:05:55] The weather wasn’t predictable. It wasn’t bad. It wasn’t good. It was just well crazy. And so we headed inside to do a little pottery painting. And apart from a very slight mismatch in how things were explained to us,- it turns out, I guess I’ve got a face that looks like a primary school child, as the explanations were to put it mildly a little basic, but I guess in the end, the heart and soul were very much where they should be.

[00:06:26] And we had a blast.

[00:06:29] Well, at least we did, as long as we dab-dab-dabbed, and we didn’t wipe-wipe-wipe because if we were caught wipe-wipe-wiping There would be ter-ouble. We would be shown the error of our ways and instructed to get back to that dab-dab-dabbing. Anyway, it turns out I’m pretty good at dab-dab-dabbidy-dab-dabbing.

[00:06:48] And I spent nearly two hours, literally dubbing black glaze onto a pot, on which I could then paint a wintery woods, kinda scene.

[00:06:58] Harriet and Sarah. Well, they’re a little more subtle with their craft with gentle blues and teals, little tiny flowers and spots of detail. Subtle understated, gloriously sophisticated. While mine was anything but that, but Hey, I need a new pen pot. As I have knocked my tin mug off the desk, yet again, today. And I really do need something that is seriously heavy, preferably black and well, it’d be nice if it was something that was a little unique. I’ll get no points for subtlety, but I’ll get plenty for the drama.

[00:07:32] And since it’s been a long, long bank holiday weekend, there isn’t too much to report on the diary of a working pro front, at least not in terms of shoots because we took the weekend away, took the time off. And so we haven’t been shooting that much.

[00:07:48] We have had a couple of portrait sessions Hearing Dogs, just Hearing Dogs, brilliant, fun as always. And a one-to-one workshop here at our studio. And I love. Workshops. And I love this one in particular. A guy called Dave came down. And we spent the day creating, I think, well, I think. I think some magic, two of my clients now for models, we always use our clients. We don’t usually use professional models because at the end of the day training photographers with models sets the sets an expectation that it’s always going to be that easy.

[00:08:24] And of course it’s never that easy. So Charlene and Katie came in as our models for the day. And while they may not be professional models , they are both just splendidly, photogenic, and more importantly, incredible people to spend time, laughing with working with and playing with light around.

[00:08:42] And I love, I do genuinely love these one to ones. Because they are entirely bespoke, they’re entirely creative. We have the time to sit and answer any questions. We can explore ideas and let, well, let the client just guide us, which is exactly what we did. And the images that we finished up with well, everything I ever set out to do. Had such a blast. Dave was brilliant and I hope he went away with the same amount of energy that I’ve come away with. Just that idea that tomorrow, well tomorrow, we’re going to create some magic. And as low, we haven’t shot that much in the studio this week, well, next week is a whole different story. And there is going to be well busy, but while we haven’t shot much this week, there is still a ton going on.

[00:09:32] Today in particular had my kitlist through from Elinchrom, which is really exciting. I’m still sort of working out what we really need, but it looks like we have it almost nailed down. The big decision is around the Elinchrom Threes. Now I’ve sorted out the Fives, we’re going to get four of those and they will be almost permanently in studio I think. But the Threes are really quite exciting though. There, there are about 250 Watt seconds, so about half that just a little over half that of the fives. But I think they’ll be massively useful when I’m out on location. They are big enough to do some serious work and small enough that I can pop them in a bag and have them with me.

[00:10:15] So.

[00:10:15] I’ll let you know, as soon as that kicks in, I’m sure there will be videos, a little bits and pieces going on and I can’t wait to do it.

[00:10:21] Another email that came in this morning. And it’s one. I reacted to really quickly. Practical Magic and Innovations emailed in. Now you’ll probably know them is P M I. And they’re the guys who make the incredible Smoke Ninja and Smoke Genie smoke machines. The fog machines they’ve been in touch. And wanted us to help them get the word out about a competition they’re running and I’ll put the links to the competition in the show notes again. But basically it’s an international competition, a photographic competition, but it must feature the use of either the Smoke Ninja. Oh, the Smoke Genie.

[00:10:59] Now I’m already a fan, of course of the Smoke Ninja is the one that I bought as part of the Kickstarter agreement, so I’m already a big fan and I’ve spoken about this on the podcast before. I love the thing, I think it’s genius. It should be called the Smoke Genius, but it’s great. And I know one or two of you have already bought one of these based on my recommendation. It’s great fun to play with.

[00:11:21] It’s not that expensive. The fog that it gives out is hugely controllable and incredibly photogenic. So given there’s a few of you with these things, of course, I have agreed, to put the word out about the competition. Once again, show notes will be the place to go, but I’m going to even, I’m going to enter it this time.

[00:11:38] You have to create some images and also show some behind the scenes. I’m guessing it’s a great opportunity, for them to get both the finished pictures and pictures of their Smoke Genie or Smoked Ninja in use price is pretty big. There’s about $10,000 of them and some big names involved. So why not head to them?

[00:11:57] I’ll put the link up why not head to them and have a look?

[00:12:00] Not only that, but I got an email this morning. From data color, who’ve shipped some kit for me to review. That’ll come up in some future episodes, our to use the Datacolor photo Checkr, which is brilliant.

[00:12:12] It’s part of our workflow anyway, but they’re going to send me the updated version as well as the cube, which looks like to me, I haven’t used this thing yet. I’ll let you know once I actually use it properly, but it looks to me like it allows for backlight to be measured to white balance of backlight to be measured as well. Which looks like good, fun. Because we use a lot of mixed lighting. But not only that they are going to send me the video checker as well. Which allows us to color calibrate as part of our video workflow.

[00:12:39] Now I’m not big in video yet, but we are having to learn how to do it, and one of the things that constantly frustrates me is I can’t seem to get the colors, as I want them a lot of homework to do. I need to understand video color spaces air slog, and the like, but I’ll have the video color checker from Datacolor in the toolkit, and that hopefully will be a small part of the puzzle. I’ve not only understanding but controlling it. The color. These, I think these products will appear properly in a future podcast once I’ve had a chance to play with them and understand, I understand quite what I’m talking about. Cause I’m not a video guy. I need to go and ask some video guys about the best way of using it. A quick update on ACDSee, just again, a reminder. I am not paid by any of these people ACDSee sent me a license to have a play with and I’ve kept my word.

[00:13:32] I’ve used it. I still use it. I love it. I absolutely love it. I guess I’m not paid, but they have given me a license for. I think the license for the Apple. For the Mac, that is about 60, 70, quid. The speed of ACDSee is absolutely blistering and I love working with it. Haven’t quite worked out how to get the very best out of it.

[00:13:50] As it turns out 300,000 images with the facial recognition turned on, maybe pushing the upper limits of our network and my machine. But I still love having it there alongside everything else I do in Lightroom. It’s so quick. It’s so handy. I love the way it just works or interacts in with the file system, which means I can always have, I’ve always got access to files, to drag and drop, throw them up onto Facebook, throw them up onto Instagram, put them into designs.

[00:14:18] It’s just really useful. It’s the kind of software you feel almost. Should be built into the operating system, but isn’t, it’s just so natural to use. Absolutely love it again. As I get my head around that I’ll give you more, more updates.

[00:14:31] Right. So where are we? Let’s have a think about my thought for today. Now this one. Is about signing your work or singeing your work. As it was the first three times I wrote it down, signing, not singeing.

[00:14:47] Don’t singe your work. That is no good to anybody signing your work. I heard someone say a while ago this couple of years ago. That signing your work is pretentious.

[00:15:00] And all I can say is what utter, utter, bullshit.

[00:15:06] Sorry. I’m sorry. I know, I know. I shouldn’t be emphatic in such a way. Everyone’s got their own way of doing things and each to their own. But just occasionally something pops up that is purely, and simply, bullshit. This is one of them.

[00:15:24] Sign your work.

[00:15:26] If I could write a song called cite your work. It sounded a bit like Sunscreen. Maybe I should figure that out. Sign your work.

[00:15:34] My dad taught me many years ago. That you should sign everything. Now my Dad was a wise guy is so many ways an idiot. It’s so many others, but a wonderful human being. And this was one where I think he was absolutely right. He said, sign it. And when I said, why well he said, firstly, well, why not? But he also said you do it because you never quite know who might see it, in the future. Isn’t that the truth.

[00:16:03] So I was working at British Steel, in my early twenties as a work placement, my dad was working there. As well, he ran all of the competing and I got a work placement in their design office. And as part of that, they asked me to create some huge 3d visuals of the galvanizing plants that shot and steelworks British steel.

[00:16:24] And there’s this, they have these coatings lines where they take a coil of steel and they’d run it through the line and coat it with either a plastic coat or some paint coat, but the line I was really interested in coated it. With zinc. It was the hot dip galvanizing line. And this line was around about three quarters of a mile long.

[00:16:43] It was huge.

[00:16:45] And they wanted me to create some 3d drawings of it. Now this is going back before we would simply have done all of it in 3d CAD and rendered it. They wanted 3d drawings. But they were then going to go off to an airbrusher to go into British Steel’s brochures. So my job was to create the line work, the art, the sort of the technical drawing work.

[00:17:08] But the best way of doing that was is it happened to create a 3d model of it. But back then, we’re talking about really early versions of AutoCAD and the output of AutoCAD. Wasn’t very controllable and it certainly didn’t create appealing visuals. What it did do though, is give me these huge, A0 printouts that I could then place a piece of tracing paper over the top and much the same way as a comic artist inks in over the pencil. From the original illustrator I then inked it. And that created these really beautiful.

[00:17:40] I thought they were beautiful anyway – these really beautiful. Inked drawings of these vast lines that could be annotated and airbrushed by a graphic design team. And I signed them. And I signed him just in case somebody else saw them. Somebody did, and I got more work from it. I’ve got a lot of plaudits for my work as well, all because they saw my signature and asked who Paul was.

[00:18:07] Now it doesn’t work for everybody, I guess. But here at the studio we sign every frame and every album that goes out, it’s got our brand on it. That signature. Is our brand just like Apple or Jaguar or Pepsi, Tiffany, Nikon or even the guys I worked with a little bit more regularly, like Elinchrom, or even PMI who’ve emailed today. It’s their logo and that represents their brand.

[00:18:38] Now, if you’re putting work out there without your logo or your signature on it, not only are you missing an important opportunity, an important opportunity that might just lead to more work might just lead to a brand recognition, like we’ve built . But I also think you’re quietly saying you’re not really proud of what you do. The signature we put on our work says I am proud of it. Really proud of it. Every time. Every time we create something here. We ask ourselves the question. Are we happy to put the Paul Wilkinson photography signature -my signature. On it. And if the answer to that is not clear.

[00:19:21] Cut. Yes, of course. Then that piece of work never goes near a client. Ever. The brand custodian side of our business is all about that signature and being proud. To put it on our work, being proud to say, yep, I’ve seen that. But at work. I think that warrants a signature and I’m very happy for other people to see it too.

[00:19:42] Now is that pretentious? Well, I suppose you could argue it is, but I don’t think it is. I think what it’s saying is I’m really proud of what we’ve done. I’m really proud of the effort we’ve put into it. And I don’t think that’s pretentious. Pretentions come from almost the opposite from trying to be something you’re not, that’s not what your signature is, your signature or your logo represent you and they represent your values and they represent your brand. They’re everything you stand by and you stand for. Now, if you think your logo screams pretentions, then, well, maybe you need to adjust quite what you believe in and what your brand stands for, but from where I’m sat. I think you should sign every single bit of your work.

[00:20:32] Anyway, I’ll get down off my soap box. Sorry about that just sometimes, you know, just sometimes there are things I think we have to just get off our chest. And when it comes to your signature sign, your work, people sign your work.

[00:20:45] Don’t listen to what anybody else says. Get that signature on there. You never know who might be watching. Anyway. 150 episodes. One or two of you have listened to all of them. One or two of you have listened to all of them in the past 60 days. I did have an email from someone this week. And it said they’ve been working their way through them at a rate of a little over two episodes a day. And they are 50 something days in and heading towards catching up.

[00:21:15] I think that’s absolutely, hilarious. Flattering and lovely, but well, slightly hilarious. Thank you for listening. Thank you for listening to the end of this particular episode. I hope as always there’s something of use or if nothing else. It’s got you to work in your car and you can now switch the radio off and go face the day knowing there are other people out there feeling and thinking the same things as you. Uh, if you’d like to hear more of these episodes, please do subscribe wherever it is that you get your podcasts.

[00:21:49] Please hit that subscribe button. And then every time I hit publish, you get to hear it, which I think is a marvelous thing. Please do also. If you would like to leave us a review. And a five-star rating somewhere, wherever it is. You consume your podcasts, please. Do we love it when you do? And of course it helps get the word out there.

[00:22:07] It helps get the podcast out there. It helps make some of this stuff possible. Also if you have any questions, please do email paul@paulwilkinsonphotography.co.uk, that’s paul@paulwilkinsonphotography.co.uk If you’re interested in our workshops or indeed one of our, one to one masterclasses, then please do head over to Paul Wilkinson Photography and look for the coaching section of the website.

[00:22:33] Alternatively, just stick paulwilkinsonphotography.co.uk workshops into your Google-y Browsery thing and you will find us.

[00:22:41] And if you fancy more content, that’s all about the joy, the brands, the business, the creativity, of portrait photography, then why not head over to masteringportraitphotography.com, which is not only a vast resource of portrait photography stuff, but is also the spiritual home of this ‘ere podcast.

[00:23:01] But whatever else. whatever else. Until next time. Be kind to yourself. and stick yer signature on things. Take care.

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