How to evolve and grow as a photographer - from nothing to ABIPP

How to evolve and grow as a photographer - that was the starting title.

And then I thought – can I put this in a better way?

  • My evolution as a photographer
  • How to develop as a photographer
  • How can we grow and evolve as photographers?
  • My journey from amateur to professsional photographer

Same question – so many ways of putting it.

But hopefully you get the point? I will stick with the original title.

Why am I writing this post now?

Rick McEvoy ABIPP.jpg

I am in the post portfolio reflective period having published those 40 images, 20 interiors, and 20 exteriors, on my photography blog.

Having published those 40 images, and having written about them, I found myself reflecting on where I am as a photographer now compared to where I was when I took the first image in my architectural photography portfolio.

The first image in my architectural photography portfolio was taken in 2011. 7 years ago.

How have I evolved as a photographer?

In this post I want to explore the development of my photographic work and business. Hopefully this will help you if you are seeking to progress from amateur to professional photographer.

It’s never too late to do what you want to do

One thing that this does prove is that it is ever too late to pursue your dream, whatever that may be. Of course it would have been good if I had stuck to my chosen path all those years ago, but my experiences up to now have all made me what I am now.

For those of you who don’t know me I am 50 years old…..

How have I developed as a photographer in the last 7 years?

Before I start, I need to go back a bit in time. Well quite a long way to be fair. I am after all quite old now!

Me and my photography pre 2011.

I want to quickly take you right back to the beginning of my interest in photography, which started at the age of 13 - 1980 would you believe.

Yes, I am that old. And that sounds like a long long time ago…

My Mum and Dad bought me a Fuji ST SLR camera with kit lens. I seem to think it might have been the STX-1. I had that for a while, before convincing them to treat me to a Canon AL1. This SLR camera was special as it beeped when I got the focus correct! That was the state of technology back then.

Canon AL-1 29062018.PNG

I had my own darkroom at 15, with my enlarger in the chest freezer in the utility room in our family home.

I went to Art College at 18, with the intention of studying photography. I got to April of the following year, when I left needing money to live (and spend on beer).

Bolton Institute of Technology 28062018.PNG

That was the end of my photography aspirations until 2007. I never lost my interest in photography, enjoying taking photos on holidays, but had no serious aspirations until 2007.

What happened in 2007?

I had spinal surgery and left my job.

Spine 28062018.PNG

For the first time in my life I didn’t have a job. Well that lasted until mid February when I was approached and interviewed for a job. And I got the job.

Plans scuppered.

I had two months without a job, in which time I bought and sold lots of gear and lost loads of time in Photoshop. This started the process, which I have been following ever since.

2007 – 2011

The early days/ years.

This was the beginning. I bought a Canon 5D and Canon 24-105mm lens. This opened my eyes to full frame photography with a professional L series lens. I still have that lens. And I still use that lens.

Tip number 1

Camera bodies depreciate with time – lenses hold their value really well. I have actually sold a lens three years after buying it for more than I bought it for – that is like free rental!

In these years I was out and about photographing everything, end loving it. I was completely all over the place, but slowly my photography was developing.

Learning curves

When I say learning curves I am not referring to Photoshop curves - as you will find out later I have no real idea what curves are in Photoshop!

One thing to say here – to find out what you want to do and how you are going to do it you need to go through a learning curve – we all do.

And don’t forget 10,000 hours – it has been said that it takes 10,000 hours to be come truly proficient at something. Now that is obviously a broad-brush statement, but the principle is spot on.

Finding my way

SWPP 28062018.PNG

I joined the Society of Wedding and Portrait Photographers. I was chasing all sorts of work. I was quite frankly all over the place, looking into everything and everything. I went to the SWPP convention in London, which was excellent I have to say. I bought lots of stuff when I was there, and collected lots and lots of information that I never read. I joined the industrial branch of the SWPP.

I went to the convention the next year, and attended an endless number of classes.

I never wanted to be a wedding photographer – well I did at the time but that was something that I learned much later.

The odd one out

I remember sitting in a class on Photoshop at the SWPP convention, and thinking that I didn’t belong – I didn’t have a clue what they were talking about. It all felt beyond me. Worst of all I thought I might never belong.

Photoshop logo.jpg

Me and Photoshop

I spent a lot of time trying to learn Photoshop, not getting anywhere. It took me 10 years to work out why I was not getting anywhere – more on that later.

Me and Lightroom - much better

Lightroom logo 15062018.PNG

Thankfully this coincided with the introduction by Adobe of Lightroom – designed by photographers for photographers – that was the tag line with version 1 if my memory services me correctly.

I bought Lightroom 1.0, which was ordered online, with a disk being sent in the post in a nice box with a license key on the box.

That was how it was done.

Getting my first version of Lightroom was a big moment for me – I had second hand versions of Photoshop up until that point, and no structure to my image processing. Let’s be honest – my processing before Lightroom was virtually non-existent.

Lightroom gave me some structure – somewhere to put my photos so I could organise them.

My first commercial job

Fairy_290708_1339.jpg

I did my first commercial photography job. It was a celebrity chef would you believe. A bona-fide celebrity chef from off the telly.

Lesley Waters.

That was a terrifying experience.

I had more gear with me then than I ever have now. And I did not really know what I was doing.

Tip number 2

Everyone starts somewhere. So if you get a commercial job go for it. What is the worst than can happen?

You don’t get paid, and someone thinks you are rubbish.

That’s what I was afraid of, but I got paid for the job by the agency.

And my confidence grew during the shoot. Lesley and her husband even made a comment, which told me that I had convinced them that this was not my first job, and that I did this all the time!

I used Lightroom for that first job.

I got paid by cheque – I took a photo of the cheque. My first professional photography job done and paid for – most excellent!

Without Lightroom I would have been nowhere.

JESB Poole 010310 200-Edit-2-Edit.jpg

2007 to 2011 were a slow progression without much in the way of structure. Lets just call them the early days! My formative years as a photographer.

I did do quite a few commercial architectural jobs in this period.

Like the new Police Station in Poole.

So lets get to 2011

2011 – things are starting to happen

Private library in Dorset by Rick McEvoy Architectural Photographer

Private library in Dorset by Rick McEvoy Architectural Photographer

2011 was a bit of a landmark year for me, when I saw a big improvement in my photography. Well the architectural side of things. I had spent a lot of time practicing, doing the odd job here and there. And this photo was created in 2011 for the architect Andrew Stone. The commission was the photographing of an extension to a stunning country residence.

The extension was a private library, and I got lots of interesting photos from this shoot.

And this was where my interest in photographing classic English architecture grew from. I absolutely loved doing that job, even though it was really hard work.

I took too many images, but am glad that I did as this unique space has provided me with lots of different images that I still look back on 7 years on from the shoot.

And to think this was all done using a canon 5D Mk 1!

In 2011 I am still buying gear and not learning how to use it by the way.

Image capture count for 2011 - 3053

2012 - not an outstanding year

Photograph of a refurbished room in a lovely Dorset farmhouse

Photograph of a refurbished room in a lovely Dorset farmhouse

And I was still not knowing what I wanted to do so, so the focus on my architectural photography, whilst still slowly evolving, was not there.

In development terms 2012 was a year when I seemed to do a lot but not achieve much. Not the most progressive year but formative for that reason.

Lots of things that I picked up went into my head and some of them stuck there, waiting to be applied in future years.

I have not got a lot to say about 2012 – that says a lot!!

Image count for 2012 - 2291 images

2013 - the year things started to happen

Duomo in Florence by Rick McEvoy Photography

Duomo in Florence by Rick McEvoy Photography

This was the year I decided that I wanted to join a professional body that worked for me. I researched all the professional bodies in the UK, and further afield, and settled on the BIPP.

The BIPP is the British Institute of Professional Photography. Sounds good to me.

This was the year that I found my focus, and stopped trying to be all things to all people.

Breaking my Canon 5D.

Tip number three

Get your sensor cleaned for free at trade shows/ conventions.

What I have learned from this and the SWPP convention before is that you can get your camera sensor cleaned for free – you drop you camera off and some poor person sat in a small cupboard cleans sensors all day – what an unforgiveable job.

I left my Canon 5D to have the sensor cleaned, then wandered off for the day. I spent a nice day browsing around all the things that are there to be seen.

I spent an age on the Manfrotto stand, buying a new tripod and head. This is the beauty of these shows having the time to speak to an expert about their gear, get the best advice and get the gear that is right for you. I am still using that tripod and head now, since buying them they have served me so well.

Canon 6D 21052018.PNG

And I also got advice on some bits of kit that helped with other things.

And then I went back to pick up my beloved Canon 5D to be given the news that there was something on the sensor that could not be removed!

The next day I was awaiting delivery of a shiny new Canon 6D.

Tip number 4

If you are operating professionally you really need a back-up camera.

Image count for 2013 - 1658 images

2014 – my first professional portfolio

Chideock Catholic Church by Rick McEvoy

Chideock Catholic Church by Rick McEvoy

I had finally got a portfolio of a standard together, which Bryn was happy with.

I went to the Photography Show at the NEC this year for the second time. I met Bryn Griffiths for the first time, my BIPP mentor, and a lovely chap as well. We had a good chat about my portfolio.

The meeting appointment made a huge difference – I was going to a show to meet someone prominent in the industry – that made a big difference to how I felt.

I met Bryn, we talked through my portfolio, and then I went off and ate lots, drank lots of coffee, spoke to lots of people and bought some gear.

It was a good, if long day out.

Back to my portfolio.

I submitted my portfolio, along with insurances and supporting evidence, then went to BIPP HQ in Aylesbury.

That was nerve wracking I have to say, but happily I was successful. Rick McEvoy LBIPP.

The press release said this. And yes, this was the first press release ever all about me!

“Local Photographer Awarded International Qualification

Poole based photographer, Rick McEvoy LBIPP, has received recognition for his Commercial photography after being awarded a Licentiateship by the British Institute of Professional Photography (BIPP).

Rick prides himself on producing elegant and uncontrived photographs.  He is completely self taught and has developed his own highly effective and efficient work flows enabling him to provide a high quality service alongside the highest standards of imagery.  Rick still uses techniques from his days in the darkroom when processing images on his computer, combining these traditional techniques (dodging and burning inter alia) with cutting edge digital processing.

When asked how he felt about achieving his LBIPP, Rick said “I was delighted to be awarded my Licentiateship by the BIPP. This for me was the culmination of many years of hard work spent in the evenings, weekends and very early mornings, working around day jobs and family life. Being completely self-taught I am delighted to achieve this recognition, and consider this a huge stepping stone in my work to become a full time photographer.”

BIPP President, Roy Meiklejon FBIPP, stated “BIPP qualifications are among the most rigorous in the world. Qualification with the BIPP requires hard work, determination, commitment and lots of creativity”.

 As the qualifying body of professional photography in the UK, BIPP requires any photographer going for qualification to follow strict criteria and provide a substantial portfolio of commissioned work, together with supporting information about themselves as a professional.

 To see more of Rick’s work please visit www.rickmcevoyphotography.co.uk

  ##Ends##

Notes to Editors:

 • Contact: Jack Goward, 01296 642020, jack@bipp.com

 • The British Institute of Professional Photography (BIPP) is an internationally recognised qualifying organisation with over 100 years of experience in qualifying and supporting photographers. The core aims of BIPP are to qualify and support professional photographers, through a network of meetings, awards, training and benefits.

 • The BIPP is a not for profit body, run by photographers for photographers.

 • The BIPP has been fighting for and protecting photographers’ rights since 1901. 

 • The BIPP has over 3,000 members worldwide covering all disciplines of photography.

 • Rick McEvoy LBIPP, 07772 252186, sales@rickmcevoyphotography.co.uk, www.rickmcevoyphotography.co.uk”

Blimey. Impressive or what???

Durdle Door by Rick McEvoy Dorset Photographer

Durdle Door by Rick McEvoy Dorset Photographer

2014 image count - 3600 images

2015 – learning while driving - legally that is!

The year of the podcast. And photographing Travelodge Hotels.

Travelodge Southampton West Quay 017 152108-Edit.jpg

As well as developing my architectural photography my learning exploded when I discovered podcasts. All of a sudden all the time I spent driving, and that was a lot of time, suddenly was learning time.

I went through every podcast I could find, choosing favourites which I stuck with, some being discarded along the way. And quite a few of my favourites fell by the wayside.

And the progression of my evolution towards a niche. Or two.

2015 was the year I feel like I spent working on my website. I employed an SEO company who did good things and bad things.

I was focusing on my website so much I cannot recall any other significant developments.

Which says a lot……

Image count in 2015 - 6281 images

2016 – the year I became a blogger

Winchester School of Art by Rick McEvoy Architectural Photographer.jpg

Winchester School of Art by Rick McEvoy Architectural Photographer.jpg

The year I decided to write a daily photography blog. This was a key year, as it was the start of the process of raising the bar in terms of the standard of my writing.

Like a lot of things the more you practice the better you get. The daily discipline was good for me, forcing me to produce daily output. And when you put that kind of pressure on yourself it focuses the mind.

I found that I enjoyed writing quite a lot.

And I had another surprise when I started writing regularly – writing helped me put things in order, make sense of things, plan and record my thoughts

Writing was becoming a useful tool, and that is a great thing for a photographer to have – a very valuable second string that could be used to expand out the photographs that I have created.

I had a feeling that the writing was taking me to other places, down different avenues, opening up new opportunities.

On the down side I was trying to progress my professional photography qualifications, but was struggling with my portfolio. I could not come up with a set of images that I was happy with. After making my initial enquiries to the BIPP I failed to progress my application.

Whilst my writing, as well as my commercial photography work were developing well I still had too much other stuff going on distracting me.

I had not found that focus that I needed.

iPad joys

Another new thing for me this year was my iPad Pro – a present from the wonderful Mrs M. This opened up lots of new things for me, principally

  • Lightroom Mobile (not on my phone). This was the big significant change.
  • Cloud syncing stuff to work on anywhere/ anytime
  • Processing images whilst sat on my sofa
  • And an extension of the new worked that my iPhone had opened up for me.
  • Changing how I work – there are things that are easier to do on my iPad, and things that are easier to do on my PC.

Last thing for 2016 was the introduction of my new backup strategy. A comprehensive, secure three-point back up using

  • An external hard drive containing all my images
  • Cloud back up
  • Offsite hard drive back up.

Image count in 2017 - 6342 images

2017 – Santorini opened my eyes

The wonderful island of Santorini at sunrise

The wonderful island of Santorini at sunrise

Last year. So much happened last year.

I started off the year having maintained my daily blog output. A full year of daily posts, with only the odd glitch.

I had the Associateship hangover though, sat there in the background irritating me, niggling away.

And then Santorini happened

2017 was the year I was treated by Mrs M to 5 days photographing on the stunning island of Santorini.

This has provided me with a fantastic range of over 100 images that I am proud to have captured and produced.

I spent the early mornings capturing the sunrises, the daytime exploring the towns and the evenings capturing the sunsets.

All with a pair of red shoes.

This was another new beginning for me – this gave me a taste of something else I really want to do – take photos of nice places. Why? Well we love our travel and our holidays, and going to nice places to take photos is such a joy for me.

I have written a lot of posts about my photos of Santorini, on my blog and elsewhere. It was the first time that I had a dedicated set of images from one location to work on. Processing these image took from April 2017 to June 2018 – there is a good reason for this.

I wanted to do something different with these images, something useful, of value, and something that I could use as a template for other trips.

When you get to 2018 you will find out what I have done with those photos of Santorini.

Another thing that happened ot me in 2018 was that I secured my biggest commercial commission. I was commissioned to photograph 10 sites by the architects Etchingham Morris Architecture Limited. I met with the two partners, Adrian and Mike, showed them some of the work I have done, and won the commission. My portfolio was in collections in Lightroom Mobile on my iPad Pro.

A wonderul interior photographed for the architect

A wonderul interior photographed for the architect

Interior photography by Rick McEvoy ABIPP

Interior photography by Rick McEvoy ABIPP

The 10 sites were photographed over a period of 4 months, and form a big part of my portfolio – again check 2018 for more about this.

Improve Photography writing.

I have written the following articles in Improve Photography

Want to be an architectural photographer? Read my guide here
10 Tips on getting work as an architectural photographer
5 Photography Mistakes I Keep On Making
10 ways to Improve your Photography in 2018
An Introduction to Lightroom for New Photographers
My Top 20 Photography Tips for Taking Better Photographs
10 tips for planning an architectural photography shoot
My Review of the Rode VideoMic Me
What gear do I use for my architectural photography? Find out here
10 baffling photography acronyms explained in actual English
How I take my architectural photography images – a detailed explanation
How to manage your data in Lightroom securely and efficiently
Santorini sunrise – how I captured and processed the shot
SEO for photographers websites – 10 things to think about
19 things for a client to do before you photograph their house
How I process my architectural photography images
Full frame DSLR photography without breaking the bank – this is how I do it
10 photography things I wish I’d known 10 years ago
These are 5 things I use Photoshop for – no layers required!

Most have been well received, but my article on Photoshop received a bit of criticism. Read that post and then go back to the pre 2011 and you will see what I was struggling with pre 2011, with the realization in 2018/ 2018 of why.

Writing for Improve Photography gave mean online platform of more than 1 million people, which is quite scary when you write that down.

That kind of readership gave me the credibility to ask companies to send me things to review – the first item being the

Rode Video Mic Me

Which Rode kindly sent me all the way from Australia.

This prompted me to contact other manufacturers and suppliers, and hopefully more product reviews will be forthcoming.

Last thing for 2017 was my intention to significantly improve my video production. I have to be honest and say that I have not managed to do that, although I have invested in the wonderful DJI Osmo Mobile, which I have dabbled with. This is something I need to get stuck into in 2018, although at the time of writing this has still not happened.

Image count in 2017 - 6342 images

2018 – where am I now?

I am writing this in June/ July 2018. Yes it took me a while to capture this little lot and make sense of what I am trying to say.

Things are looking very different for me in 2018. Evolution has taken me to where I am now, and to the plans I am working on now.

And it feels good doing rather than floundering.

My professional photography qualifications

Rick McEvoy ABIPP - Qualified Associate

Rick McEvoy ABIPP - Qualified Associate

I am now an ABIPP – Associate of the British Institute of Professional Photography. And I am very very happy with that. And this is why I have posted all 40 images from my portfolio – just because I can and I want to share my portfolio with the whole world.

And here is the press release for this momentous occasion.

“Issued: June 2018

For Immediate Release

Local Photographer Gains International Qualification with BIPP

Rick McEvoy ABIPP is a specialist architectural, construction and industrial photographer based in Dorset, who has recently achieved his Associateship (ABIPP) in Commercial Photography.

Rick joined the BIPP in 2013, gaining his Licentiateship in Commercial Photography in 2014.  As well as commercial work, Rick is an independent writer on the Improve Photography website, has a daily photography blog, and has been published in a variety of publications in the UK and further afield. He also produces fine art prints that are for sale on his website.

Rick is a keen travel photographer, with examples of his work featuring on his website, with lots of new plans being worked on for 2018.

His portfolio submission consisted of 40 architectural photography images, 20 interior images and 20 exterior images.  All bar one of the images were from commercial commissions carried out for architects and property owners.

You can view Rick’s complete portfolio at www.rickmcevoyphotography.co.uk/portfolio

When we asked Rick how he felt about achieving his Associateship, he said: “I feel honored, proud and I don't mind saying relieved that I was successful in achieving my Associateship. It has taken me a couple of years to get together a portfolio that I was happy with. I am pretty much self-taught.”

To see more of Rick’s work please visit – rickmcevoyphotography.com

##Ends##

Notes to Editors:

  • Contact: Jack Goward, 01296 642020, jack@bipp.com
  • The British Institute of Professional Photography (BIPP) is an internationally recognised qualifying organisation with over 100 years of experience in qualifying and supporting photographers. The core aims of BIPP are to qualify and support professional photographers, through a network of meetings, awards, training and benefits.
  • The BIPP is a not for profit body, run by photographers for photographers.
  • The BIPP has been fighting for and protecting photographers’ rights since 1901. 
  • The BIPP has over 2,800 members worldwide covering all disciplines of photography.

  • Rick McEvoy ABIPP, sales@rickmcevoyphotography.co.uk , rickmcevoyphotography.com

And what next? Fellowship. Hmmmmm – will come back to that one in a couple of years. I do have some ideas of course….

Back to 2018 and my website(s)

This year I have gone from a website with the URL

Http://www.rickmcevoyphotography.co.uk/

To this

Https://rickmcevoyphotography.com

Why have I done this?

As a writer on Improve Photography I have the luxury of having direct access to the creator of that very successful website, Jim Harmer.

During an exchange of emails Jim suggested that a .com URL was more meaningful than a .co.uk URL. More meaningful to the worldwide photography community that is, which makes perfect sense.

I made the change and watched the web traffic plummet.

So I reverted back to .co.uk. And received further advice, which was this.

Tell Google Search Console about the change and wait and see – the traffic should come back after such a major change.

That is what I did – I am currently waiting for the 6-week recovery period to arrive, which I will write about in two weeks.

Web traffic plummeted. This is after a steady period of growth - a very steady period of growth.

Even worse.

But time will tell....

And now my website - photos of Santorini

Photos of Santorini by Rick McEvoy - travel photographer

Photos of Santorini by Rick McEvoy - travel photographer

And now I have my first standalone website which is being gradually populated with images. The website is called

Photos of Santorini - the URL is (imaginatively) www.photosofsantorini.com

I was not expecting to get that URL but there it was for just over £20 for two years!

Time to teach myself Wordpress I guess. This is the next job, getting the website and images onto this brand new website.

Once I have done this, and finished editing the photos of Santorini I am going to leave this and see what happens.

This is my next big evolution, and one that no doubt I will be writing about a lot in the future.

Now that this post is written it is back to my photos of Santorini until they are finished and my Photos of Santorini website is done and put to bed.

I want to continue on the paths I have embarked on in 2019, for now I am going to carry on making 2018 the best I can.

Thinking time - nearly forgot this - very important

I have heard this referred to as CEO time on some podcasts. The point is this. I have found myself bogged down with all sorts of things all over the place.

I gave myself a break and got things clear in my head and everything structured.

And documented all.

My thinking time has given me a structure where I can organise thoughts and new information without trying to keep it all in my head.

This has freed my thinking to allow me to be much much more productive and effective.

Take time out, take a step back and give yourself time to think about what you are doing.

This really helped me tremendously.

Podcast update

What am I listening to now?

  • Peta Pixel
  • No Name Photo Show
  • Solopreneur Hour
  • Ask Pat 2.0
  • Tailenders
  • BBC 4 Comedy of the week
  • Test match Special
  • The Grid
  • The Togcast
  • This Week in Photo
  • Flintoff, Savage and the Ping Pong Guy
  • Creative Marketing Show
  • Entrepreneurs on Fire
  • Smart Passive Income

I am now listening to a mix of photography news, cricket and business podcasts. Nowhere near as much photography as I used to listen to – I think I overdid it 2 year ago and am now saturated but informed!

Image count for 2018 - 1526 - well down on 2017!

And what of 2019?

Keep going with my chosen niche paths.

Summary of how I have evolved as a photographer

I would like to summarise this post by saying that we all need to try things to work out what we want to do. It is fine to try things and fail.

And you have to go through the things that are not relevant to find the things that are – that is just the learning curve we all have to go through.

Once you have a plan that is sound and takes account of what you have learnt and where you want to get follow that path consistently Of course things change over time but the main point of this is that I have made the most progress when I have spent time doing the things I have thought long and hard about doing.

What am I focusing on now?

  • Architectural photography
  • Travel photography

That is it.

I have niched down.

Lets see where this takes me in 2019!

Thank you for reading this post, which I hope you will helpful when thinking how you can evolve as a photographer in the future.

Please ask any questions either in the comments field, or by email

Rick McEvoy Photography – Photographer, writer, blogger.