This is my top tip for doing mass HDR Merge processing in Lightroom.
I am going to give you 21 Photography Tips That Will Actually make A Difference in this post. I am talking about things that really work and will genuinley help you. These are things that I have learned over many years as a photographer. These are not quick tips, some of these are ways of thinking about things differently.Read More
I have been thinking about my photography for some time now. I feel like I have been doing the same things for a long time now. This is both image capture and image processing.
I am looking to change things in 2019, starting with my image processing. My needs have changed recently, so now I am asking myself the question - Aurora HDR vs Lightroom – which is best? Can Aurora HDR replace Lightroom in my workflow?
And can I use Aurora HDR 2019 to batch produce images for an entire website?Read More
Whilst I am excited to try out this cool looking software I have to wait for the software to get acquainted with all the images in my Lightroom Catalogue.
As there are over 60,00 images this may take some time. Which is fair enough.
When you get Excire please remember that after the slick installation there is a process called initialisation that you have to go through, as I am now.
Rick McEvoy Photography - Photographer, blogger, writer, website creator
I am sat here editing my photos of Santorini. Nearly done which is good. I have been going into Photoshop to remove primarily sensor dust spots, but also stuff creeping into the edge of a shot, and also stuff I want removing.
Take this photo of Fira for example - there are all sorts of bits that need consigning to the shadows as they don’t add to the image - they just distract.
This is the final image.
I do this work in Photoshop and then save the image back into Lightroom.
I then have to go back to the Spot Removal Tool in Lightroom to check to see if there are any bits left that I have not done - there is an excellent feature called Visualise Spos bottom left after you select the (much improved) Spot Removal Tool.
This is the spots that required removal after the work I have done in Photoshop - quite surprising!
The small circle are spots that I have removed.
The question is this - why is the excellent Visualise Spots feature not available in Photoshop?
And while I am on the subject why cannot I not use the Page Down key to navigate through an image like I can in Lightroom?
There are some execllent features in Lightroom thaht would make Photoshop so much easier to use.
Rick McEvoy Photography - Photos of Santorini
Can you tell the difference? (I hope so!)
Rick McEvoy - Dorset Photographer
Yesterday my latest article was published on Improve Photography, 9 ways to work faster in Lightroom.
I enjoyed writing this article, and am looking forward to lots of feedback on what is quite a big subject for us photographers.
Rick McEvoy Photography - How to use Lightroom
Today on Improve Photography my latest article is published, which will be titled "9 ways to work faster in Lightroom". Publication time is 6pm local time over there, which translates to 7 hours before here, which I make to be 1pm this afternoon!
Rick McEvoy - Photography blogger
I am now down to 99 photos of Santorini. I quite like this number. I like 99 photos of Santorini - could this be a thing?
I was about to start the final edit and had a rethink - are these the best images, and does each and every image say Santorini? I was not so sure.
In this post I am going to explain how to use Lightroom to sort out images quickly and efficiently.
To start with, I put the images from the two folders together in a new collection in Lightroom. I called this Collection Santorini 23072018. That was the day I did this - yesterday.
And then I looked at them again, and removed everything that did not shout Santorini. I also removed any images that were too similar.
How do I do this in Lightroom?
If you remember I had a selection of images from last year, and when I revisited them last month I added some images that I had not chosen before.
I put both sets of images into a new collection in Lightroom, selected all the images (using the keyboard shortcut Control A, and assigned a pick flag to all the images (using the keyboard shortcut P).
I went rhough the images one by one, rejecting images by using the keyboard shortcut U for Unpick.
Once I had gone through the images I selected the filter bar using the keyboard shortcut \,
I selected the Attribute tab (circled), and the unflagged pick (circled). All the images that I had chosen not to edit appeared. I moved these to the Picks not edited folder, and also removed them from the collection.
I also deleted the folder called New picks which I no longer needed.
And this is what I am left with.
This bit of housekeeping is important, and to be fair very quick to do in Lightroom.
And what ahs this given me? A better selection of images, and less work to do - what's not to love.
OK - time to get on with the final edit of my photos of Santorini. I have been waiting far too long for this.
Rick McEvoy ABIPP - How to use Lightroom Classic
I have to remind myself that I need to revisit the metadata that I have added to my Santorini photos.
I added some metadata this last year, in a not very scientific way.
And since then I have added to the selection of images that I am going to edit, and I have also added additional metadata to images that I have published along the way.
So time to start again methinks. The metadata I add to images is very important.
This is boring but important.
I have an amount of keyword research as well, and the content of my website photos of Santorini to think about.
A job for later on I think - I will schedule this in now.
Rick McEvoy Photography - How to use Lightroom
The next job is to merge all the bracketed sets of images in Lightroom.
Remember these three photos that I posted on Friday?
Well here is the fourth image - the HDR Merged image.
This is the new file, which is the HDR merged image.
How I do this? Well its quite straightforward.
First - how do I take the images?
Firstly, I take three photos using the auto-bracketing function in my Canon 6D.
- The first images is the correct exposure - 1/40th second, F22, ISO 400
- The second image is two stops under exposed - 1/160th second, F22, ISO 400
- The third image is two stops over exposed - 1/10th second, F22, ISO 400
As this is all about processing images in Lightroom I will this here for now - the point is that I want to capture more of the lights and darks than are in the original image capture.
How do I do an HDR Merge in Lightroom?
According to Scott Kelby, and he should know, the way Lightroom has been desigend you only need to merge the under and over exposed images. There is no point in using the correctly exposed image. Try it and see.
The new images are exactly the same.
So I select these two images, and use the Lightroom keyboard shortcut Control H (H for HDR - nice one Adobe).
And this dialogue box appears.
There are a couple of options here.
Auto Align - I leave this checked. It does exactly what it says it does. Even though I take most of my photos on a tripod I still leave it checked.
Auto Settings - If you check this box Lightroom will give you a preview of the processing it thinks the image needs.
You can see the difference with Auto Settings checked.
With the first image I try both ways, and go with what works for. More about doing this to more than one image in a minute.
Deghost Amount - I leave on high. Any areas where there is movement from one image to another will have a red mask over it. This is things like trees that have moved in the wind - we all want them sharp after all.
I always leave the Show Deghost Overlay selected - as there is no red on this image there is no deghosting, so I should turn this to None.
But I don't - this doesnt do any harm to an image (as far as I am aware), it just takes longer as Lightroom has more work to do.
The last check box is Create Stack - this is a new feature in Lightroom that I have not used - I stack the bracketed sets of images when sorting them out after import, and add each new image to the stack. As I am only using two of the three bracketed images if I select this option it puts the new merged photo in a new stack, leaving the original image on its own, so I do this manually - it doesn't take long.
And then I had a thought - this new feature could work for me.
I said before that you only need to use two of the three images - if I use all three images I get exactly the same results, and if I use Create Stack this will put all four images in a stack. And this is one less thing to do.
And yes I have just tried this and it worked nicely. And Lightroom even collapsed the stack after - that is two things less for me to do.
Sorry for the digression - back to the creation of the first HDR Merged file
The message "Photo Merge added to tasks" appears, and Lightroom creates the new image in the background. I wait for this message so I know that this is happening.
Once I am happy with the first image, this is what I do to the rest of the images.
How to HDR Merge lots of images quickly in Lightroom
This is the good stuff. There is a not so well known keybaord shortcut
Shift, Control H
I select the next two images, use this keyboard shortcut and guess what - Lightroom starts the HDR Merge process in the background using the last settings. There is no dialogue box. It just gets on with it.
And once you have done that - as I said above - I wait for the message "Photo Merge added to tasks" - select the next two images, hit the shortcut again and Lightroom starts working on the next HDR Merge.
And then I just keep on going.
I can do more than 30 merges at a time.
I tend to select as many bracketed sets as I can and then go for a cuppa or a beer and leave Lightroom to it.
When I get back I add the new image to the original stack - this is quite quick - select the four images, click on the newly created new file, which has the extension -HDR.dng, then use the shortcut Control G and the four images are in the stack with the new image at the top! I do this for all the images, it doesn not take long, and that is HDR Merge done!
That is what I wrote before I realised that if I use the three images, and the new Create Stack feature, I don't need to do these two last things - Lightroom does them for me!
I hope that this helps, and that you now know how to use HDR Merge in Lightroom - please ask any questions in the comments box or email - check out my home page for details.
Rick McEvoy Photography - How to use Lightroom
2442 images taken. 762 separate image captures - these are bracketed sets of three images (with the odd exception). The 491 picks equate to 108 individual images.
I have decided to revisit my initial image selection now that I have my new website, photos of Santorini under construction
The initial selection was done 12 months ago, and needs reviewing as what I am going to do with the images has changed. It might be fairer to say that now I know what I am going to do with the images!
How do I revisit the images I chose to edit?
As you can see from the screenshot above, I organise my images into Picks and Rest. The Picks not edited folder is just that - images that I changed my mind about, which is fine.
Now I have potentially new images to select how do I keep track of them?
I start by creating a new sub-folder in Lightroom. Here it is.
And by calling it "New picks July 2018" I know exactly what the folder is for. Once I have completed the editing process I will get rid of this folder - it is just a working folder for now.
Lightroom Tip Number 1 - use Lightroom just as you would other folders in Windows - it works in exactly the same way and performs exactly the same functions. (For Mac users that would be Finder I believe).
Don't worry about the extra images - I will explain later.
How did I physically select these additional images in Lightroom?
In the Library Module in Lightroom, using the Loupe view (Lightroom keyboard shortcut E), I went to the Rest folder, and went though the images one by one. If I liked an image I hit P (the Lightroom keyboard shortcut for Pick) on my keyboard, and the image is assigned a little white flag.
Not surrender - a flag that shows that image that someone (me) likes them!
Once I have gone through the images I needed to reconcile the new picks with the old picks.
To do this I went to the Picks folder, used the Lightroom keyboard shortcut Ctrl A to select all the images, then hit P again.
Next I go to the Santorini 2017 parent folder, which has all the images from all of the folders. I want to view the images from these two folders only, and remove any duplicates or images that are too similar to the ones already selected.
This is where the filters in Lightroom come in, which are very useful.
In the Library Module, I now have the images in Grid view (Lightroom keyboard shortcut G). The keyboard shortcut for the filter bar is \. Next click on the white flag (remember - the symbol for a picked images?), and boom all the picks are there. And only the picks.
Lightroom is not just a powerful editing tool - it has a very powerful Library Module with excellent search capabilities.
The problem now is that there are some very similar images that I do not want.
All I do is zoom in a bit (moving the thumbnail slider bottom right over to the right), and use the Lightroom keyboard shourtcut U to "Unpick" the images that I do not want to spend time editing.
This is my benchmark for picking an image or not - am I prepared to spend the time editing the image, and do I want to publish this image on my website?
And here are the new images to edit.
If you are wondering why the thumbnails have a number 4 next to them this is because I forgot to do a screen shot of the images before I did the HDR Merge.
And finally a bit of housekeeping in Lightroom.
The important but boring bit. Keeping the files where they should be. I need to move the images that I do not want back to the "Rest" folder - to do this I click on the white flag in the filter bar, and then click on the flag in the middle.
The white flag is Picks, the black flag on the right is rejects, and the flag in the middle is neither pick nor reject. Click on that flag and the 4 images that I do not want are there - I just use Control A and drag and drop them in the "Rest" folder.
It is very important to keep on top of where images are - imagine not doing any of this and having to sort things out years down the line.
This is the big mistake that I amde back in the days of Lightroom 1.0. It is so quick to move things around in Lightroom these days, so best do it at the time.
Thats all for now - tomorrow less technical talk and more about the images that I have chosen.
Any questions please get in touch using the comment box - I always reply.
Rick McEvoy Photography - How to use Lightroom
This is the screen that welcomed me after installing Lightroom Classic 7.4.
Now I could go on about this, but am going to refer you to websites where people have already done this!
Here we go.
Adobe - well they did the update so there is no better place to start!
Matt Kloskowski - one of my favourite Photoshop and Lightroom instructors.
That should do it to be honest!
Rick McEvoy ABIPP - Photographer, Photography Blogger
A night shot pocessed when Lightroom was at its worst. I remember that now. Thankfully all that is now behind me/ all of us Lightroom users.
How I got the shot
Taking the image was fine - I just had to get the lights left on and wait for cars to stop pulling into the car park! It was my third visit, so I knew which shots I wanted to get. And I knew that cars pulled in on the right, headlights shining straight on the facade of the building.
Be prepared - which I was. I took these images during a break in the traffic!
A word on composition
This was the only location from which I could fit in the whole of the sign and the extension - the critical parts of this photo for the architects, Etchingham Morris Architecture Limited.
And what you can tell from this photo is that there are loads of trees that I was stood amoongst to take this shot. If I moved back the trees appear in the shot.
Somtimes compostion is nothing more than moving around to get the right image, like in this case.
I compose my images carefully, and rarely crop an architectural image. This was pointed out to me in my BIPP portfolio review, which I had not noticed or thought about before.
My application for Associateship of the BIPP was successful, hence me posting my entire portfolio in my photography blog. Well it is my blog after all so why not??
Three exposures, 1/4 second, 1/15th second, 1 second, all at F8, ISO400.
Back-button focus, 10 second self timer.
And that is that - portfolio done. Well not quite. I am going to post a couple of videos on my photography blog whilst I reflect on how I have evolved a photographer over the period of the images in my portfolio being taken.
In the meantime, you can view the 40 images on my architectural photography portfolio page.
Rick McEvoy ABIPP - Photographer, photography blogger.
Yesterday on the Improve Photography website my latest article was publised
I got quite a bit of reaction which I am dealing with and will report back on!
Please get back to me via the comments box at the end of the article on the Improve Photography website - it'd good that everyone can read all the comments and replies which is a very enjoyable part of the process.
Rick McEvoy Photography - Freelance photography blogger and writer
Controversial I know but this is a follow on from my last article titled 10 photography things I wish I’d known 10 years ago.
Now there was a bit of a reaction to my statement about not getting layers, but I did not see this as a reason to not go ahead with my thoughts.
I have spent a lot of time trying to learn things in Photoshop that I have never needed.
Layers is the thing that I have never understood - for me Lightroom is so good I don't need layers in Photoshop, and I want to get that message out there.
The article goes live at 5pm UK time - check it out on the Improve Photography website. Tomorrow I will provide a link to the actual published article, as well as any initial feedback I receive.
It took me a while to come up with this title. I wanted to encapsulate this entire subject in one line.
Alternative titles were
20 things I wish I had known when I started my journey in photography
20 pieces of advice for new photographers
20 tips for photographers – things I wish I knew
20 things I have learned which will help you grow as a photographer
I went with the title at the top, which I hope explains what I am going to write about in this post.
I wanted to write about 20 things that I wish I had known when I started taking my photography seriously, with a view to be it being my primary source of income at some point in the future. For me this was in the year 2007.
These are 20 things that I have learned along the way, which I hope will help you in your journey in photography.
These are all my own opinions, based on my experiences in the last 11 years.
I hope you find them helpful.
A lot of these points are interrelated, and things will get a mention more than once, but at the end I will summarise with 10 key points what I have written about in this blog post.
They are in no particular order, just the way things came out of my head.
These are the 20 things
Don’t worry about the gear
Second hand gear is fine
Learn about composition
Get off the computer and get out there
Take less photos
Take more photos in interesting places.
Forget layers in Photoshop
Start with Lightroom
Learn Lightroom properly (before trying anything else)
Get honest critiques of your work
Join a professional body
Don’t research a location too much before going there
Practice, practice, practice. And fail. Fail lots.
Choose the people whose advice you trust and stick with them
Listen to podcasts
Start a blog
Buy a tripod
Don’t worry about social media
Follow your own mind, dreams and ambitions
1 – Don’t worry about the gear
Get the best gear you can, but don’t break the bank. That is the first general point I want to get across to everyone getting started in photography.
And to be honest this applies to all of us at all stages of our journeys. In my humble opinion there is too much talk about photography gear. Much too much.
I have been using my Canon 6D for well over 4 years now, and it still produces great images. I have images in my portfolio that were taken with my 12 mega pixel Canon 5D. And do you know what – you cannot tell that they were taken with a 10-year-old camera.
My clients are not interested in my gear – all they care about is the images that I produce for them. I have never been asked (other than in passing interest) about the cameras and lenses I use. The only time has been when I was with a client who had an interest in photography.
Don’t worry about the gear – get the best you can and use it.
And another point – don’t take all your gear with you wherever you go.
I have my base gear in my Peak Design Everyday Backpack. This is a small 20 litre bag.
It looks like this.
In it I carry the following
A few other bits – memory cards, spare batteries, a Platypod and ball head, a couple of key filters, grey card, colour card, cloths and wipes.
Not forgetting my Neewer Loupe Viewer.
And that is the base gear I use 95% of the time.
I have just written an article about this which you can read on the Improve Photography website titled Full frame DSLR photography without breaking the bank – this is how I do it
2 – Second hand gear is fine
The first full frame DSLR I bought was a Canon 5D. I bought it from a photographer who had not had it long but had a change of heart and decided to stay with medium format.
That camera worked faultlessly for my formative years as a photographer, and I used this great camera on many commercial jobs.
I have lenses that I bought new, and lenses that I bought second hand. And can I tell them apart? Not really no. Of course, I know which are which, but in practical terms they all produce great results.
And a slight aside here but an important point all the same – lenses hold their value incredibly well.
Again, the last article I wrote on the Improve Photography website talks about this as well, and the gear that I use. I have linked to it above.
3 – Learn about composition
This is the number 1 mistake I made for years and years. I was too busy looking at what gear to buy next and taking photos without really thinking about composition.
I got bored with producing average photos. I bored myself to be honest. And this was when I started to think about my images, what I didn’t like about them, and how I might make them better.
I stopped obsessing about my gear, and instead concentrated on the pictures themselves.
I looked at the work of the best photographers, read books and took the time to critique my work. It was at this time that I submitted my first portfolio submission to the BIPP – that is the British Institute of Professional Photography.
My first submission was a complete revelation – a Hasselblad master called Bryn Griffiths very kindly and patiently critiqued the images I sent him. I had to rethink my submission, and quite a few of the images were removed from my portfolio and replaced with images that worked better.
This was the beginning really of my realisation of what really matters in photography.
Composition is king.
Get the composition right and you have a great photo., be it on the best DLSR, a lovely Hasselblad, an iPhone, a point and shoot – any camera.
But a rubbish composition is a rubbish composition, and probably a rubbish photo, whatever the camera.
If you take two things from this I will be happy.
Forget the gear.
Work on composition.
If you are happy to read on, then thank you.
To continue with the portfolio thing and the BIPP, last month I had my second portfolio assessment at the BIPP – this time for my Associateship.
And Associateship is defined by the BIPP as
“A high standard of craftsmanship and creative ability”
And all those years on from the initial critique, all I was asked to change by Bryn was the white balance to some of my interior images – that was it.
I have worked very hard on improving the quality of my images, and this is the result.
And I got my Associateship – I am now an ABIPP. And one of the points of feedback was the observation that I did not appear to crop many, if any, of the 40 images submitted. I had not thought about this, but it turns out this is the case.
I rarely crop an image. Like I say this is not a deliberate ploy, some attempt at a certain style, trying to be different.
No – this was pointed out to me and is the logical conclusion of the work I have done to date on my composition, and also taking the time and care when capturing images.
I will talk about my professional qualifications later on in this post.
4 – Get off the computer and get out there
Another mistake I made. Rather than getting out there taking photos I spent too much time working on photos in Lightroom and then every worse doing nothing with them.
Now I know we all need to practice to learn Lightroom but please give this some thought – apply some structure to your learning and you will progress in leaps and bounds. Do not do what I did, which basically was keep on doing the same things to more and more images, or you will stagnate.
And whilst learning Lightroom don’t but any plug-ins.
Being out with a camera is a joy that we should all embrace more than we do. I spend more time writing these days than I do taking photos – an occupational hazard – but when I get the opportunity there is nothing I enjoy more than sitting waiting for the sun to rise, or setting up my tripod to take a considered photo of a stunning building.
Even more of a joy when you have a lightweight backpack and are not burdened with 50kgs of back-breaking stuff!
5 – Take less photos
Get out more, take the shots you want, work the scene by all means. And then move on.
It took me a while to realise that I was taking the same scene more than once. On architectural shoots I would work in a logical order around a building, and then at the end if I had time photograph as many things again from the beginning.
I think it was a lack of confidence at the time. And I never used any of the images I took again – the ones I took on the first place were without exception better.
These days when I am working on an architectural shoot I aim to capture as few images as possible. I photographed a very famous persons house the other week, and on the internals I took one or two shots per room.
I took the time to get my composition bang on for the views needed and that was that.
This of course relates back to the point about composition – take the time to get the composition right and you don’t need to move three feet to the left to take the same scene from a very marginally different viewpoint.
And you will thank me when you are going through your photos in Lightroom, or whatever software you might be using.
I love going through an architectural shoot and picking consecutive images as picks to edit. This tells me that I was working at my optimum.
6 – Take more photos in interesting places. I will qualify this at the end somewhat.
I am not saying get out and photograph the most often photographed locations. For me that would be Durdle Door, which I have photographed twice.
No - get out to interesting places, not necessarily those that would feature in a “Top 10 locations to photograph in Dorset” kind of thing.
Take this shot, which was taken one New Year’s Eve afternoon at my local woods, which to my shame I had never been to before. In that one afternoon I get some really great stuff, and no-one knows or indeed cares where I took the photos. All people care about is the photos themselves.
But do not restrict yourself to the headline locations. I hear tales of lines of photographers at the headline locations standing shoulder to shoulder all taking the same image!
Go to places others don’t go, find things to photograph. Be original.
7 – Forget layers in Photoshop
Seriously. I don’t use layers. I have a couple of times for sky replacements, which I try to avoid doing, but apart from that I don’t get layers.
I process all my images in Lightroom. I only go into Photoshop to remove things that I can’t remove in Lightroom. I have spent hours and hours trying to learn Photoshop – the problem was that I did not have a need for Photoshop, so I was trying to learn something I did not actually need.
All I use in Photoshop is the following
Clone stamp tool
And I resize images if I need them printing at specific sizes
Here is why I can get away with only doing these things in Photoshop, and why I don’t need layers.
I do as much work as possible in Lightroom – when I need to go into Photoshop I select Edit in Photoshop, and Lightroom sends the image to Photoshop. Once I am done I hit save and the image appears next to the original image sent to Lightroom.
The new file is a brand new Tif file, the original Lightroom file is exactly as it was before being sent to Photoshop.
I therefore do not need to worry about undoing the work I have done in Photoshop, as it is so minimal I can just do it again and produce another new Tif file.
This is why I don’t need layers, and why it doesn’t bother me either.
8 – Start with Lightroom – just Lightroom
Start with Lightroom. Don’t try anything else. Use Lightroom to organise your photos – the Library Module is incredibly powerful, and as far as I am concerned is the best software to use to catalogue your photos. I have been using Lightroom for over 10 years now and can honestly say that the latest version of Lightroom Classic is the best.
And once you have done this why edit your photos anywhere else?
I do as much of my editing as I possibly can in Lightroom – if I can edit an image in Lightroom and not go anywhere else to do more work I am a happy person.
A point of digression here – I have just upgraded the RAM in my Dell PC to 16GB from 8GB and it has made a massive difference to Lightroom. In the Lightroom Classic 7.3 upgrade performance improvements were added, but you needed 12GB or more to benefit from these improvements.
9 – Learn Lightroom properly before trying anything else
I started using Lightroom, and at the same time discovered the wonderful world of plug-ins. I bought the following
On One Perfect Suite
There are probably some others I bought which I can’t even remember.
And I played around with them, without ever mastering any of them.
And this was at the same time as trying to learn how to use Lightroom.
And when I got an iPad Pro I got even more stuff
Now I am working as a professional photographer what software do I use?
And when needed Photoshop
And Lightroom Mobile
Lightroom Mobile is an essential tool, which syncs with Lightroom Classic on my desktop.
10 – Get honest critiques of your work
I mean people who know what they are looking at. I don’t think that family members are the best people to critique your work – they love you after all (well I hope that do) and will not give you an honest critique.
Social media is a minefield, and not to be relied on for feedback on images. You have to remember that people scrolling through endless photos are probably liking your photo in the hope that you will see this and like one of theirs. And they have liked many other photos, giving each one equal time, care and attention – a second if you are lucky.
Find someone who you can trust to critique your work. I use the BIPP for this, and I write about this elsewhere in this post.
And when you have had a critique from someone who knows what they are talking about it is very very important to act on that critique.
This is another important point – learn something, then make sure you act on it. If you don’t act on something you learn you might as well have not bothered learning it in the first place!
11 – Join a professional body
I am a firm believer in professional bodies and professional qualifications. I have been a Chartered Member of the CIOB, the Chartered Institute of Building - MCIOB. This is the benchmark professional qualification for construction management professionals.
I was a member of the SWPP for some time – this is the Society of Wedding and Portrait Photographers. Not an obvious choice for me, but this was in the early days of my journey into professional photography.
Now I am sure there is nothing wrong with the SWPP, but I left having not got a lot out of my membership.
I came across the BIPP – the British Institute of Professional Photography. I applied to join the BIPP, and to do this I had to submit a portfolio which was critiqued, rejected and worked on quite a lot before it was of a standard for entry level membership, LBIPP – Licentiate of the British Institute of Professional Photography.
This qualification is described by the BIPP on the qualifications page as
“Entry level qualification, showing an established professional level of skill and competence”
It took me a while to get a set of images to this standard and was the first professional critique I had experienced.
Last month I managed to gain my Associateship, ABIPP. This is defined by the BIPP as
“A high standard of craftsmanship and creative ability”
It was much easier to select the images for this submission. I tried to do this a couple of years ago, but I was not happy with the standard of my work.
Not only do I get qualifications and recognition of the level of my work, the BIPP provide great information and the magazine they produce I read cover to cover every month. And I don’t read much else thinking about it.
Join a professional body – one that is relevant to you and the photography work that you want to do or are doing. Embrace that professional body and gain the qualifications available – it pushed me to a higher level of work and can do the same for anyone.
12 – Don’t research a location too much before going there
Another controversial point of view. There are many Apps you can get that will show you all the great images from a location, so you know exactly what you are going to get when you arrive at that very spot.
And if you pick a really famous spot when you get there you might be shoulder to shoulder with lots of other photographers.
This sounds like an absolute nightmare to me. So bad I have mentioned this twice in this blog post.
What is the point of going to a location and taking the same photos everyone else already has? And more to the point are doing at the same time as you?
And even worse, do you want to go to a location with photos others have already taken in the back of your mind?
I do not research a location other than the headline research that tells me that there is interesting stuff there to photograph.
I will give you an example here.
I was treated (by the wonderful Mrs. M) to a 5-day photographic trip to the wonderful Greek Island of Santorini. I had wanted to go there for years. I did no research at all.
The only thing I did work out was where the sun rose and set each day, and where that fitted in with the geography of the island. And what time of course.
Apart from that my research was all done out on location. I basically walked around potential locations on arrival and chose my spot for the first sunrise.I didn’t come across another photographer anywhere. Apart from one coach party that arrived too late for the pre-sunrise wonders that I witnessed.
The first sunset was basically us sitting on the terrace at our hotel – it was that easy. But sunrises were about getting out and about early.
OK it was not by luck that this was the view from our room!
13 – Practice, practice, practice. And fail.
This is an easy one. The more you practice the better you get. This is just a fact. There is the 10,000-hour thing – that is the amount of time it takes to become proficient at something.
I have probably spent 10,000 hours in Lightroom – I don’t suggest you do that by the way.
I am taking about getting out and taking photos.
And don’t be afraid of failing. Failing is one of the best ways of learning.
Practice any type of photography that you find interesting. Don’t restrict yourself to landscapes. Try other things. If you don’t like them fine.
Here are 14 quotes about failure from the inspirational James Dyson, which I have extracted from the website Logo Maker
“I could buy companies, tart up their products and put my name on them, but I don’t want to do that. That’s what our competitors do.”
“I made 5,127 prototypes of my vacuum before I got it right. There were 5,126 failures. But I learned from each one. That’s how I came up with a solution. So I don’t mind failure.”
“The key to success is failure… Success is made of 99 percent failure.”
“We’re taught to do things the right way. But if you want to discover something that other people haven’t, you need to do things the wrong way. Initiate a failure by doing something that’s very silly, unthinkable, naughty, dangerous. Watching why that fails can take you on a completely different path. It’s exciting, actually. To me, solving problems is a bit like a drug. You’re on it, and you can’t get off.”
“Enjoy failure and learn from it. You can never learn from success.”
“Anyone can become an expert at anything in six months, whether it is hydrodynamics for boats or cyclonic systems for vacuum cleaners.”
“You are just as likely to solve a problem by being unconventional and determined as by being brilliant.”
“I learned that the moment you want to slow down is the moment you should accelerate.”
“Everyone gets knocked back, no one rises smoothly to the top without hindrance. The ones who succeed are those who say, right, let’s give it another go.”
“It is said that to be an overnight success takes years of effort. So it has proved with me.”
“We always want to create something new out of nothing, and without research, and without long hard hours of effort. But there is no such things as a quantum leap. There is only dogged persistence—and in the end you make it look like a quantum leap.”
“In business you will be wrong, by and large, 50 percent of the time. The trick is to recognise when you have gone wrong and correct the damage—not to worry, at the moment of making the decision, whether it is the right one.”
“In order to fix [something], you need a passionate anger about something that doesn’t work well.”
“Risk aversion is a hapless approach for a company that’s hoping to develop new technology. It’s tempting in a downturn. But long-term research and development, expensive and often filled with failure as it is, is the only route to discovering it. By taking the cautious path, companies risk a drought of ideas.”
And look what happened to him…..
14 – Choose the people whose advice you trust and stick with them
There are lots of people with lots of opinions and lots of advice. And they are all valid in their own ways.
Problem is that they all say slightly different things. As I said none of them are wrong necessarily, just different.
This piece of advice will hopefully help.
Listen to everyone and anyone you want to, and then choose the people who resonate with you.
I found myself jumping all over the place, picking up bits of advice here and there and trying to apply them.
And achieving nothing.
I have now narrowed down to a small number of people whose opinions have proved sound and relevant to me over the years.
And as I said somewhere else, if you pick up a piece of advice that is useful to you please use it. That was another mistake I made over and over.
These days I act on things I learn whenever I can.
To digress slightly, I have Post It pads in my car, and always have a notebook with me. Anything that I want to remember I write down, and later add to my iPhone in an App called Wunderlist.
Later I sort all these notes and add them to Evernote.
Check out the book How to be a Productivity Ninja by Graham Allcott
15 – Listen to podcasts
I recommend these. My favourites shift over time, but these are my favourites at the moment
This Week in Photo
The No Name Photo Show
Six Figure Photography
Creative Marketing Show
He Shoots He Draws
The Sprouting Photographer
None photography podcasts that I enjoy
The Solopreneur Hour
Smart Passive Income
BBC Friday Night Comedy
The Danny Baker Show
Flintoff, Savage and the Ping Pong Guy
Test Match Special
Tailenders (I am a massive cricket fan)
I do a lot of driving, and rather than this being dead time I use the time to learn lots and lots and lots.
Some of these I listen to all of, some I listen to part of, some the subject is of no interest. It just depends. But if a podcast is not of interest to me I just delete it straight away and move on.
And my favourites have shifted over time – I now am listening more to podcasts on entrepreneurship, business development – that kind of thing.
Don’t necessarily restrict yourself to podcasts about what you are interested in – you can learn things from any good photography podcast. The example here is the Sprouting Photographer. This is mainly about wedding and portrait photography, not my bag at all. Some episodes I don’t listen to at all, but I give them a try first as there are often little gems within them that I have found incredibly useful.
If you are new to podcasts try the ones listed above, and anything else that you find, and give them a go. You will soon find the ones that are relevant to you.
And I watch blind photo critiques on The Grid when I make it onto the cross trainer
Talk about efficiency!
16 – Start a blog
Write about your experiences. Writing is a great way of capturing your journey, recording the good and bad, and allowing you to share your experiences not on social media but on your own part of the internet.
Be it a blog on your own website, or on a WordPress blog – just start publishing stuff on a weekly basis and you will be amazed where this takes you. I have been producing a daily blog now for nearly 2 ½ years, and many doors have opened up as a result.
I get asked regularly to add links from old blog posts to other articles written by other people which are relevant to what my core business is – photography of the built environment in all its shapes and sizes.
If you are going to start a blog, choose a niche and stick with that – it will pay dividends in future years.
If you have any aspirations to make money from photography start a blog right now. Go on – stop reading this and do it.
17 – Buy a tripod
When I started off taking my photography seriously I bought a tripod, a big heavy thing with a big heavy head.
And it was heavy.
And guess what?
I left it in my car. I had so much gear in a large backpack. So much gear that the tripod was just too much.
And as a result, I only used my tripod at night.
I have mentioned elsewhere in this post about my gear – I travel light and with my hands free.
I use my tripod for every architectural image I take. The only exception to this is when I need to use a painter’s pole to get high, or my Platypod to take a photo from the floor, or where there is just no room for my tripod, normally squeezed into a corner of a room.
The geared head is essential for composing architectural images.
And I use exactly the same set up for landscape and travel photography. I use exactly the same gear, set up and camera settings. The only exception is when I am walking around a location grabbing shots, which is not that often.
I have found that my composition has improved significantly when I started using my tripod more. It slowed me down and made me think about each and every shot much more.
The result of this was less images, and the ones that I took were much better than before I used the tripod.
This ties back to what I said earlier about composition and taking less photos.
18 – Don’t worry about social media
I don’t really get social media. It has not brought me any photography work that I am aware of. And I find it quite boring.
But everyone says we all have to be on it, we all have to be seen on all the social media platforms.
Someone please tell me why?
This is what I have done to satisfy the perceived need with minimal effort.
I have automated as much of my social media output as I can. I have a daily photography blog, and I share this content automatically from Squarespace to some social media channels and do manual shares to other channels.
Instagram output is shared to other channels using the great iPhone App IFTT – If This Then That.
And I don’t respond to every comment, thumbs up, like. I just post some stuff and that is pretty much it.
I do worry about my website, the content on it, and how people find my website when putting search terms into Google. This is where I put 95% of my effort – social media platforms come and go, and we do not control them.
Don’t worry about social media too much, instead focus on your own part of the internet.
19 – Follow your own mind, dreams and ambitions
Listen to the advice of the people whose opinions you value but choose your own path. And stick with your chosen path. I have too many times deviated from a chosen course of action.
I have started doing something, and then heard or read something and found something new to do.
Now I am following a planned course of actions, based on everything I have learned to date. And I am sticking to that plan, just tweaking it when I find better ways of doing things.
I set some targets for my photography business for 2018, which you can read here. And since I set them things have changed, and one of the targets I am not doing at all – I have a different way of achieving what I want to but my own way.
Of course, things change over time – I was going to go all in with stock photography in January but am now going in a completely different direction with that particular thing.
But the general principle of what I am trying to do, which to be fair has taken 10 years to produce, is the plan that I am working to.
And on that point, you have to give yourself time to figure out where you want to go with your photography.
20 – Enjoy it
Enjoy your photography. Work hard at it but enjoy it.
Even if you want to be your full time paid gig it is still something to be enjoyed. I don’t take photographs anywhere near as often as I used to. I seem to spend more time writing and responding to emails than I do taking photos.
But guess what?
When I manage to get out somewhere new at sunrise it is an absolute joy. I work on my photography business all the time, but there is nothing like being out on location at sunrise.
Last month I witnessed this sunrise from the beach in Altea in Spain. And also saw this stunning church at sunrise on another morning.
For both of these occasions there was no one else there – it was just me and the most natural thing of all, the breaking of a new day.
An event that will never happen again, and it was just me there at that time in that location.
No matter how much work I spend on my photography business that feeling never goes away – the sheer joy of watching and photographing something that will never happen again.
Enjoy your photography – it is a wonderful gift and a privilege to be a part of.
And these are those 10 bullet points I promised right at the beginning.
Get the best gear you can afford.
Only get the gear you need.
Don’t get any more gear.
Have one bag you can carry comfortably.
Get and use a tripod.
Get out and shoot.
I hope you have enjoyed this post – if you have any comments or questions you can either comment on this blog post or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I am a photographer based in Dorset specialising in
That’s it. No weddings. No people. No animals.
And also on being a photography blogger and all-round internet marketeer.