Minimalist Travel Photography Gear – This Is What I Use

Regular readers will know that I have been moving towards smaller camera gear.

Well having got back from Canada how was my minimalist travel photography gear? It was pretty good to be honest. In this post I will tell you all about my much-reduced amount of gear for travel photography, the good, the bad, the annoying and the not needed!

I hope that this post inspires you to take less gear out with you and concentrate on taking photos – this has certainly worked for me!!

First, here is the stuff I took for a weeklong trip to Canada.

FullSizeRender.jpg

Yep, this is all I took for a week long break to British Columbia in Canada, visiting Vancouver, Whistler, Pemberton and all places in-between!

It might look a lot when laid out like this, but this is the least amount of gear that I have taken. And there is some more work to do to get to the minimalist set up I am after. But I am getting there.

Why am I writing about this?

Well this all started last year when I went on a two-week trip to Rhodes, and apart from photographing sunrises I did not get my Canon 6D out of the boot of the car at all. I was basically fed up with the bulk of my gear. Now this is not solely down to the size of my Canon gear, although that is part of it. It is also because I take too much stuff that I do not need.

Is mirrorless micro four thirds gear the travel photography answer?

In part yes. Sure the gear is smaller, but it is not that small that on its own this is the answer. When I stick my 12-40mm F2.8 Pro lens on the front of an Olympus micro four thirds body it is quite a chunk of glass.

Sure if I used the 12-42mm pancake lens I good could get my Olympus EM10 Mk 2 in my pocket, but that is not my lens of choice.

Basically less gear is the other part

I always pack too much gear. For this trip I packed much less gear, and some of it I did not use. I will get onto that later but let’s start with the good stuff.

What did I like about my minimalist travel photography gear?

Well I liked the Olympus OM-D EM10 Mk 2. And the 12-40mm F2.8 Pro lens.

I didn’t use the 40-150mm lens – to be fair other than to make sure that it works I have not needed this lens yet.

What did I like about the Olympus OM-D EM10 Mk 2?

Well it is quite new to me, so there is still the novelty factor, shiny new syndrome. A quick word about the camera and the main things I liked, and I will get on with the rest of the gear.

The size of the camera

As I said before the lens is quite a lumpy thing but that is my choice to use a Pro lens, but the camera is still smaller than my Canon 6D – smaller to make a difference.

The amount of space in my camera bag for other stuff.

I managed to get my camera and lenses in the bottom section of my Peak Design Everyday Backpack, leaving loads of space for other stuff.

I actually had a half empty bag for the flights to and from Canada which was different. And my bag was much lighter and did not have bulging sides.

The Electronic Viewfinder (EVF)

I love the EVF on my Olympus camera. This is the first time I have owned a camera with an EVF, having spent a lifetime taking photos with SLRs and then DSLRs, all of which have an optical viewfinder. Not that there is anything wrong with that.

Changing the focus point on the touch screen

I did not know how much I would take to the touchscreen, but it has been brilliant. And I mean brilliant in helping me to take photos. One of the main uses I have found for the touch screen is to change the focus point just by touching the screen where I want the camera to focus.

I do not want technology just for the sake of it – I want technology that helps me take photos.

The tilting touchscreen

Another thing that I really like and will be even better when I get the EM5 with the rotating/ tilting screen.

I like to take photos from unusual angles, high and low, and the tilting screen helped me with that.

The clarity of the screen

Yes the screen is brighter and easier to see. I have not tested it in Greek sunshine yet, but things are looking promising. And next month I will be trialling this little gem of a camera in Greece which I cannot wait to do.

One handed operation

I was able to walk around the Granville Island market in Vancouver and quickly raise my camera, focus and shoot with one hand, which was actually easier than doing this with my iPhone which was brilliant.

This is as close as I get to street photography!

The levels on the camera

Yes the Olympus EM10 has horizontal and vertical indicators in the viewfinder which I absolutely love.

Another word on packing gear.

I took a rear lens and body cap meaning that I could separate the camera and lens meaning they took up even less room in my camera bag.

And what about the other gear?

I also liked the Peak Design cuff – this was a big improvement on the strap that I was using, and this clever wrist strap tightens nicely around my wrist but is easy to remove – another great product from Peak Design!

And my favourite travel tripod

Yes, my good old Manfrotto Pixi is even more at home with my Olympus EM10 on it – I set it up on the top of the Whistler Gondola and recorded the skiers flying by down below – I did this whilst drinking a lovely hot coffee at the summit.

This is the scene, and here is one of the videos. I forgot to photograph my iPhone on the tripod but here it is rested on the window cill before I rememberd that I had my mini tripod to hand!!

Taking videos with my iPhone

Here is the video

What did I not like?

It is not all sweetness and light - there were things that I was not happy with that need sorting.

There always are……

The way the camera sits in my camera bag.

This is something I need to look into. The camera is so small there is no logical place for it to be secured on the top section of my Peak Design Everyday Backpack, which is where I like to have my cameras. My Canon 6D sat nicely in the top section of my bag – well it filled it to be fair!

No GPS

This is something that I really miss – the GPS on my Canon 6D was an invaluable tool, and my Olympus EM10 does not have this. I am going to have to look at how I can sort this when I get the EM5.

There is a work round for now – take photos on my iPhone and I can copy and paste the GPS data into the metadata of the photos taken with the Olympus camera, but this is a faff I can do without to be honest.

This is the main sticking point at the moment that needs to be sorted.

The fact that the widest I could go was in full frame equivalent 24mm – I want wider than that.

I use a 17-40mm lens in addition to my 24-105mm lens. And when I use the 17-40mm lens most of the photos I take are taken at the 17mm end.

So the question is this – do I get the 7-14mm lens? This will give me a super wide 14mm focal length. One for the future methinks.

The grip on the camera

The grip on the OM10 is too small for me – I am used to the big chunky grip on the Canon 6D to be fair. When I get the EM5 I will buy the grip that will sort this issue out.

The way that the tripod sits in my camera bag.

An unexpected annoyance was the way that my new travel tripod, the Peak Design Corey, sat in my camera bag. This needs looking at – I ended up with the tripod head either pointing up above the top of the bag or face down getting damaged.

Has this camera changed the way I take travel photographs?

Yes, In a number of ways,

I use it more and noticed that I have less photos on my iPhone. Not good for immediate use but as this is not really a priority to me definitely a good thing.

HDR

I have done more single image captures. This is in part down to having the wonderful EVF. Talking of which.

EVF and live in viewfinder exposure compensation

I used AV mode and exposure compensation pretty much the same way I did with the Canon 6D, but enjoyed it more, especially the instant feedback in the EVF of the image capture.

And what about things that have not changed?

Yep there are things that have not changed which is a good thing - this is not an exercise in binning everything I have been doing in the past after all!

Go to focal length

I still start wide and zoom in when required. So 12mm is my default focal length, as was 17mm with my Canon 6D.

I am going to analyse the focal lengths that I use – after all if I only ever use 12mm I might as well get the 7-14mm Pro lens and give myself room to play in the ultra wide arena.

What gear did I use?

  • Olympus OM-D EM10 and 12-40mm Pro lens

  • Pec Pads and Eclipse lens cleaning solution

  • Spare batteries and charger

  • Spare memory cards

  • Manfrotto Pixi for videoing skiers on the mountain

  • And what gear did I not use?

  • My brand new shiny three-legged thing tripod

  • My Platypod

  • My 40-150mm lens

Did I miss my Canon 6D?

No, not really. I was quite happy as I was.

And I have noticed since I got back from Canada that I am missing some of the features of my Olympus camera which my Canon 6 does not have, especially the EVF and touchscreen.

I know that newer Canon cameras have these features – it is just new to me with the gear that I have.

And some of things have very quickly become instinctive to me. I have started touching the LCD screen on my Canon 6D to change the focus points, but this is not a touchscreen, so nothing happens!

What about my ageing mince pies – sorry eyes?

I have adjusted to the smaller camera just fine, as the screen is much bigger than the one on my Canon 6D, and the EVF is much clearer and easier for me to read.

I should write an article titled “Cameras for the over 50s!” – actually that is not a bad idea.

I was concerned that I would struggle to read the dials and screens on a smaller camera, but this has not been a problem at all, which is a pleasant surprise.

A word about my Canon gear

My Canon gear still works wonderfully well and is still what I use for my commercial architectural photography work. This post is not a mirrorless is amazing/ DLSRs are so last year post. Nor is it an Olympus is better than Canon post.

No – my Olympus micro four thirds camera gives me options which are always good. And having some shiny new (albeit second hand) photography gear does help.

I am not knocking DLSRs or Canon – there is still a big place for both.

Lessons learned for the future

I think that the EM5 Mk 2 with grip will work even better.

Do I need to get a wider lens? I am going to stick as I am for now, and for my next trip I will take the other body with these two lenses.

I did not miss the longer focal lengths, meaning that my choice to buy the 12-40mm lens instead of the 12-100mm lens was the right thing for me.

I will hold the thought that the 7-14mm lens might be my go-to lens,

The one thing that I need to work out is a camera bag. I have contacted Peak Design and asked for their advice – lets see what they come up with.

Update – the good folks at Peak Design have got back to me and advise that I use the lower sections of the camera bag, which is not great as I want the camera to be sat on top of my camera bag so I can access it – one for me to work on.

I do have an idea.

My camera and my iPhone

The other thing which I mentioned earlier - I used my camera more than my iPhone to take photos. This is a good thing – the reason that I started looking for other gear was because I found myself not using my Canon 6D on a trip last year – it sat in the boot most of the time.

Now this is not good for the immediate access to images that my iPhone gives me – this is of course one of the brilliant things that an iPhone does.

But this is not the biggest thing for me, so I can live with it. I am more concerned about capturing the images I want whilst I am away which I can work on when I am back in my office.

Summary

This post is all about the minimalist travel photography gear that I used on a trip to Canada – there is a bit of refinement, but I am on the right road to having just the gear I need with me.

Rick McEvoy

I will write an update in June after my next trip and see how I got on using my new gear photographing a Greek Island with lots of sunrises!

Please check out my post next week which is all about Pinterest, the social media platform which is actually useful.

Rick McEvoy – travel photographer, writer, blogger

21 Photography Tips That Will Actually Make A Difference

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.

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21 tips for photographers that will actually make a difference

This post was republished on Friday 8th March 2019 with a new title and introduction - 21 Photography Tips That WIll Actually Make A Difference.

Rick McEvoy Photography

20 tips for photographers - things I wish I had known when I started my journey in photography

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

  1. Don’t worry about the gear

  2. Second hand gear is fine

  3. Learn about composition

  4. Get off the computer and get out there

  5. Take less photos

  6. Take more photos in interesting places.

  7. Forget layers in Photoshop

  8. Start with Lightroom

  9. Learn Lightroom properly (before trying anything else)

  10. Get honest critiques of your work

  11. Join a professional body

  12. Don’t research a location too much before going there

  13. Practice, practice, practice. And fail. Fail lots.

  14. Choose the people whose advice you trust and stick with them

  15. Listen to podcasts

  16. Start a blog

  17. Buy a tripod

  18. Don’t worry about social media

  19. Follow your own mind, dreams and ambitions

  20. Enjoy it

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.

Peak Design Evryday Backpack 22052018.PNG

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

Canon 6D

Canon 6D 21052018.PNG
Canon 17-40 21052018.PNG
Canon 70-200 21052018.PNG

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.

Manfrotto 190 Go tripod (which fits in a side pocket and is strapped in place) with geared head

Not forgetting my Neewer Loupe Viewer.

And that is the base gear I use 95% of the time.

Peak Design Everyday Backpack on location in Santorini

Peak Design Everyday Backpack on location in Santorini

Canon 6D, Canon 17-40mm lens, Platypod Pro

Canon 6D, Canon 17-40mm lens, Platypod Pro

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

Read this article on Improve Photography

Read this article on Improve Photography

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

Classic lines in this compostion for an architect

Classic lines in this compostion for an architect

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.

What happened?

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.

Composition on a architectural photgraphy shoot

Composition on a architectural photgraphy shoot

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.

Me on location in Santorini

Me on location in Santorini

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.

I did.

And whilst learning Lightroom don’t but any plug-ins.

Sunrise on Santorini by Rick McEvoy travel photography

Sunrise on Santorini by Rick McEvoy travel photography

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.

Delph Woods, Poole - landscape photography in Dorset

Delph Woods, Poole - landscape photography in Dorset

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

  • Patch tool

  • Healing brush

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

Adobe Lightroom Classic 7.3 on my PC

Adobe Lightroom Classic 7.3 on my PC

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

  • Photomatix Pro

  • Topaz Labs

  • On One Perfect Suite

  • Nik Collection

  • PT Gui

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?

Lightroom

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

BIPP qualified logo ABIPP Black.jpg

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 don’t.

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.

Santorini

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.

Santorini by Rick McEvoy ABIPP travel photographer

Santorini by Rick McEvoy ABIPP travel photographer

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.

Santorini sunset by Rick McEvoy ABIPP - Travel Photographer

Santorini sunset by Rick McEvoy ABIPP - Travel Photographer

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

  • Improve Photography

  • Peta Pixel

  • The Togcast

  • The Grid

  • This Week in Photo

  • The No Name Photo Show

  • RAW Talk

  • Six Figure Photography

  • Creative Marketing Show

  • He Shoots He Draws

  • The Sprouting Photographer

None photography podcasts that I enjoy

  • Beyond Busy

  • The Solopreneur Hour

  • Voom Podcast

  • 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.

I also listen to podcasts when I am cutting the grass. Peta Pixel podcast has the best audio quality, so I save them for the lawn mowing. Sure you are delighted to hear that Sharkey!

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.

Canon 6D on Platypod Ultra, Dorset

Canon 6D on Platypod Ultra, Dorset

I use a Manfrotto 190 Go tripod with X-Pro geared head. The tripod is lightweight, sturdy and easy to use. I have bigger tripods, but they are difficult to use when I am taking interior photographs, as I have to normally get back right into the corner of a room.

Manfrotto tripod on location on an architectectural photography shoot, Dorset

Manfrotto tripod on location on an architectectural photography shoot, Dorset

Manfrotto 190 Go tripod on location in Santorini

Manfrotto 190 Go tripod on location in Santorini

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.

Sunrise in Altea, Spain by Rick McEvoy Travel Photographer

Sunrise in Altea, Spain by Rick McEvoy Travel Photographer

The church on the hill at sunrise, Altea, Spain

The church on the hill at sunrise, Altea, Spain

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.

  1. Get the best gear you can afford.

  2. Only get the gear you need.

  3. Don’t get any more gear.

  4. Have one bag you can carry comfortably.

  5. Get and use a tripod.

  6. Get out and shoot.

  7. Learn Lightroom.

  8. Practice. Fail.

  9. Learn.

  10. Enjoy.

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 sales@rickmcevoyphotography.co.uk

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I am a photographer based in Dorset specialising in

Architectural photography

Commercial photography

Industrial photography

Landscape Photography

Travel Photography

That’s it. No weddings. No people. No animals.

And also on being a photography blogger and all-round internet marketeer.

Rick McEvoy ABIPP, MCIOB – Rick McEvoy Photography – Photography Blogger