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

What is my number 1 tip for new photographers?

If I were to give you one photography tip it would be this.

Get out and take photos.

That's it.

Simple really!

Get out and take more photos. Such simple but brilliant advice well worth repeating.

Practise taking photos. This of course encompasses all aspects of image capture, but if we don’t do this one thing then what are we all doing?

I have to remind myself of this, indeed just writing this has reminded me that it has been a couple of weeks since I just went out and took some photos for myself.

If it is in your lunch break, or having a quick stop between appointments, or stopping somewhere nice on your way home just do it. I got this lovely sunset photo at Picket Post in the New Forest on the way home from work one day.

Landscape photography in Hampshire by Rick McEvoy.jpg

Will this one thing improve your photography?

Yes!

Get out and take more photos and your photogrphy will improve. I can’t guarantee this of course but in my opinion this is the single best way that you and I can improve our photography.

Get off your iPad

I can guarantee that I will not get better reading gear reviews on my iPad. That or reading endless debates on forums about nit-picking details. Or spending endless hours tinkering with photos in Lightroom and Photoshop.

And neither will you.

What about 365 projects?

There are people who embark on 365 projects - take one photo a day for a year. I have never done this, and am not planning on doing anytime soon (getting a daily blog post out is enough) but there is a reason people embark on 365 projects. They are a real thing.

And guess what - if you complete a 365 project your photography will improve. And yes some days it will be taking anything just to keep things going, but not evey day will be like this.

Not for me but if this encourages you to go out and take more photos go for it.

That is pretty much the point - to get out and take more photos.

Photowalks

The same cnan be said for the worldwide photowalks - another thing I have never done but I am seriously thinking about doing this year. Check out the worldwide photo walk by Scott Kelby - well worth a look and raises money for a great cause.

What about me? Do I get out and take lots of photos?

As I write this I realise I spend more time writing that I do taking photos. Now I have to earn money of course, but I definitely need to gt out more.

But there is my travel photography

Sunrise in Paxos by Rick McEvoy

Sunrise in Paxos by Rick McEvoy

I managed to get out a lot on my recent trip to Paxos, which was work sort of. I forced myslf to get out and explore the very small Greek Island of Paxos, and managed to get a few sunrises in. And I learnt things just from doing that.

There was a purpose though - taking photos and videos for my new website Paxostravelguide.com.

But getting out and about with my camera was great - I really enjoyed it even after all these years being immersed in photography.

I will shut up now.

Get out and take photos. And enjoy it!

Rick McEvoy ABIPP - Photographer, photoblogger, writer

What does DSLR mean in photography?

I thought I would start my series of photography questions with a fundamental one – what does DSLR mean in photography?

DSLR translated into actual English is digital single lens reflex camera.

So, what does this mean?

I will explain this in this blog post, as well as digressing all over the place with related photography stuff!

Back in the day

Basically, in the days before digital photography cameras used film. Yes film. You used to buy a roll of film from a shop, with either 24 or 36 exposures, open the back of the camera, put the film in, pull a bit out and attach it to the spool then close the back and wind on. And getting the prints was even more long winded.

But we survived. Well we didn’t know any better!

A bit more about camera film – trust me this will all make sense

There were a number of different sizes of film, but the most common camera film was called 35mm film was 35mm.

SLR cameras, single lens reflex cameras, used 35mm film. A 35mm film negative (i.e. the actual bit of film on which the image was recorded) is 36mm x 24mm.

And this is the strangest of evolutions from film to digital SLRs

Why is a full frame camera sensor the size it is?

The size of a 35mm film negative is the same size as a sensor on a full frame camera.

If you ever wondered why a full frame sensor on a digital camera is the size it is now you know.

And the question I have always asked myself is this – why? Why would the sensor on a DSLR be the same as the film on an SLR?

Why not is the answer. Evolution of familiar sizes.

Anyway, back to the camera – why the mirror in an SLR?

A single lens reflex camera basically has a mirror which allows you to see through the lens. Press the shutter and the mirror flips up and the image is exposed on the film behind.

This is a picture of my Canon AL-1. This was a film SLR that was the first of its kind to have assisted focussing - when you got the manual focus correct a green light came on!!

Canon AL1 06092018.PNG

And with a DSLR exactly the same happens, except that rather than film there is a digital sensor.

That is SLR cameras in a nutshell.

Why does a camera need a mirror?

I believe that the fore-runner to SLR cameras were twin lens reflex cameras. Why two lenses? Simple. You looked through one, and the other took the picture.

The only problem with this was you were not looking at exactly what you were capturing. So, the SLR was a technical and optical improvement, with the clever use of mirrors and prisms allowing the user to see exactly what was going to be taken.

With one minor exception

Canon 6D 21052018.PNG

Taking my Canon 6D as an example, the actual view in the viewfinder is only 97%. I am not actually seeing all of the scene I am trying to photograph.

 

My Canon 5D gave me a 96% view, as did my Canon 60D.

The Canon 1DS gives 100%.

All is not quite as it seems, as is so often the case.

What other types of cameras are there apart from SLRs?

Back in the film day there were lots of other camera formats.

110 – lower standard cameras with a cartridge film. I used to have one of these. And compared to an iPhone they were quite rubbish.

APS cameras, where you could manually change the format of the image. These cameras came with a special film and the processed negatives and prints were provided in boxes – all rather interesting. I still have some from a long old time ago!

Twin lens reflex cameras

I never owned one of these, I am not that old.

There are also medium format, large format 10 x 8 format – lots of formats. Basically, 35mm was for SLRs until DSLRs.

And now what other formats are there?

Mirrorless cameras – more about these in a separate post

Medium format – very expensive

Micro four thirds – a format I know nothing about. Yes, I know - I will have to find out all about it and write about it here.

Were SLRs the best cameras in film days?

  • SLR cameras were viewed as being higher quality, professional/ semi-professional cameras.
  • SLR cameras typically had interchangeable lenses, which was not normally the case with other types of cameras.
  • SLR cameras had more control of image capture, with manual exposure possible setting the aperture, shutter speed and film speed.
  • SLR cameras bridged the gap from consumers to pros. There were more manufacturers of SLR cameras in film days, including
  • Canon
  • Nikon
  • Pentax
  • Olympus
  • Minolta
  • Fuji (my first ever SLR was a Fuji)

About manual mode

Now I have a thing about all those people who preach that to be a photographer you should shoot in manual mode. Nonsense. That is going to be the next question I ask.

What about mirrorless cameras then?

Mirrorless cameras don’t have a mirror. It really is that simple.

You don’t look through the viewfinder and the actual lens via a mirror – no - instead you look through an electronic viewfinder. And at some pint in the future DLSRs will be come obsolete, and I expect that we will all be calling our mirrorless cameras something different – cameras!

And there are other mirrorless format – micro four thirds?

I guess that after manual mode I need to jump straight into micro four thirds – to be completely honest all I know about this format is that the sensor is smaller than a crop sensor,

No let’s do this the other way – camera formats explained or something like that.

Hangovers from the film days in photography

Writing this brought back some thoughts I have had for some time that I will digress briefly not now.

I find it interesting that there are quite a few things which are hangovers from the days of film that we still have.

Sensor size

The same as 35mm film – why?

ISO

The new name for film speed (it was also called ASA back in the day) – why do we still have this now we are in the world of digital photography. Surely it is time to get rid of ISO? If we were to start again with ISO, Aperture and shutter speed surely there would be some other way of getting the exposure.

Mirrors.

Yes, it seems bizarre with the things that we do with our phones that high end cameras still have actual mirrors that flip up. Think of the iPhone the capabilities built into what is a phone.

What about the future of DSLRs?

Basically, the future of DSLRs in my opinion is short. Canon yesterday announced its new mirrorless cameras, Nikon did the same last month. And apart from Canon and Nikon everyone else is producing “mirrorless” or “micro-four-thirds” cameras. Well virtually everyone.

Let’s think about phones for a minute

Do you know the aperture your phone uses when you take a photo? Off the top of my head I don’t know the aperture my iPhone 7 Plus uses.

Shouldn’t I know this?

I don’t really care to be honest – it does a pretty amazing job.

And ISO on my iPhone? No idea.

Sutter speed – nope – don’t know.

And the iPhone 7 Plus takes great photos.

Sure, this can be replicated on a DSLR using one of the Programme Modes.

But isn’t it about time we updated the way we take photos?

I think once DSLRs have died a death and mirrorless cameras rule the world there may be a reduction in the elements of the exposure triangle

The technology is so advanced these days that surely there is going to be more involvement of computing power in photography.

Summary

Well I started off explaining what SLR and DSLR stand for in photography. And I ended up writing about the death of SLRs and mirrorless cameras ruling the world. I see this happening. I see a future where the cameras we use are a different shape and form factor.

There are constraints of course – physics and optics – but technology is advancing so rapidly I see great changes.

The final word on SLRs/ DSLRs.

I will always have a soft spot for SLR and DSLR cameras. I started with a Fuji SLR - if only I could remember the exact model but to be fair it was about 37 years ago! I then moved into Canon SLRs, and Canon DSLRs.

What cameras do I use?

Whilst I love my Canon 6D I find myself using my iPhone more and more, especially for my travel photography work. Sure, when I am photographing a sunrise I will use my Canon 6D and tripod, and also for a commercial architectural shoot. But that is work. I rarely get my Canon DLSR out if I am not working, unless there is something that I think I can sell or use in a commercial way.

And that is where I am heading – I want to replace my DSLR with something smaller with the connectivity of my iPhone.

My iPhone has pretty much retired my Canon G11 and G13 – not that they were bad cameras – technology has overtaken what they can do and how they do it.

Summary 2

I started my photography life with SLRs and use DSLRs for my commercial work. But I expect within 2 years my Canon 6D will be sat in a cupboard somewhere.

Rick McEvoy ABIPP – Photographer, photoblogger, writer

11 reasons to get me to photograph your construction project

In this blog post I will describe why I am the ideal person to photograph your construction project.

I have over 30 years of experience working in the construction industry, a lifetime interest in photography and over 10 years working professionally as a photographer.

I add to this unique combination of skills a high quality, personal and professional service to give architects, contractors, developers and property owners and managers great imagery with my own style.

So, if you are looking for someone to photograph your recently completed construction project please read on and get in touch to see how I may help you.

1 – This is what I do. I photograph buildings and the surrounding environment.

I don’t do weddings, portraits, babies, families or fluffy pets. 99% of the things that I photograph are not moving,

I also photograph places, the buildings within them and their surrounding environments.

I don’t photograph anything else.

2 – To see my work check out my website – there is plenty on there.

Just click here.

And here are three of my favourite images of recently completed construction projects.

Construction photography in Hampshire by Rick McEvoy

Construction photography in Hampshire by Rick McEvoy

Photograph of a stunning private house in Poole, Dorset

Photograph of a stunning private house in Poole, Dorset

Winchester School of Art by architectural photographer Rick McEvoy

Winchester School of Art by architectural photographer Rick McEvoy

3 – I get construction, sites and the people on them – I am one of them after all!

I have worked on construction sites all my life, starting as a labourer and working up to being a senior project manager.

I have worked on new build and refurbishment construction projects in most sectors, including

  • Residential
  • Commercial
  • Industrial
  • Nuclear
  • Education
  • Higher education
  • Public sector
  • Private sector

As you can see I have extensive experience of the construction industry, so will be comfortable photographing any construction project

4 - I am a Chartered Builder – MCIOB

CIOB Logo 09082018.PNG

I have been Chartered for well over 20 years now, and am a current member of the CIOB.

I passed my HNC in building studies a long time ago, and studied for my CIOB part 1 an 2 whilst working on site, initially as a labourer for a small contractor.

When I say I know construction people I mean at all levels, as I have been in most of them.

5 - I am an Associate in the British Institute of Professional Photography – ABIPP

This qualification is defined by the BIPP as

BIPP qualified logo ABIPP Black.jpg

“A high standard of craftsmanship and creative ability”

I achieved this qualification this year, having gained my Licentiateship 3 years ago.

My portfolio consisted entirely of architectural and construction images, which you can view on my portfolio page rickmcevoyphotography.com/portfolio.

The BIPP “is an internationally recognised qualifying organisation with over 100 years of experience in supporting and networking photographers.”

That’s not bad for someone who has been working in construction for over 30 years!

And to be fair my photography is the only artistic thing about me.

This is not just about the technical side of things – this is more about the creative side of photography – image capture and composition – craftsmanship and creative ability remember!

And with my lifetime of construction experience I really do know what I am looking for, those intricate details and important features.

And lets not forget the technical side of this – technically correct and accurate images, with everything level and vertical whilst still looking natural, and all the colours as they have been added.

I pride myself on producing creative, excellently composed and technically accurate images.

I actually went to art college when I left school, as I have always wanted to be a photographer. I lasted till the April of that year before I quit and started work on site- I was 18 and wanted beer money and a car!

That was back in 18985 – that shows just how long I have been interested in photography and how long I have been working in construction.

6 – I am a current CSCS card-holder.

CSCS 09082018.PNG

I have a Professionally Qualified Person CSCS card, which is valid until June 2022 – another time saver in getting me on your site and also further reassurance that I will be perfectly safe working on your site.

I can photograph any part of the site – just give me safe access and a safe place of work. I am fine with heights, confined spaces, excavations, anywhere really.

7 – I have my own PPE

IMG_1183.jpg

I have my own PPE which is enough to get me onto 99% of construction sites. Of course there will be specific site requirements somewhere that I do not have all the gear for, like live railways, and off-shore installations, but for conventional constructions sites I turn up kitted up and ready to be induced.

Talking of which

8 – I have had more site inductions than I care to remember

And do you know what – every one is slightly different. They are never the same. But they are all familiar to me.

My familiarity with construction means that I can satisfy your site induction requirements as quickly as one of your preferred sub-contractors, saving you time and money and also giving you the reassurance that the photographer on your side is familiar with construction sites.

9 – I have done this before – I won't get in the way!

I know how things are on site, the time pressures that people are under, especially as you approach practical completion. I have been there many many times before, and I do get it.

The last thing people want is someone holding them up taking photos – this is where I m uniquely positioned with my experience. Yes I take all my photos on a tripod (where practicable) but I set up my gear before I go on site, find the location that I want to shoot, place my tripod, compose, take the shot and move on.

The composing is the bit that takes the time – that is the important bit after all.

The technical side of the image capture is dialled in before I get on site, so all I have to worry about is the composition and where I focus for the composition in question.

10 – My gear is lightweight, mobile and durbale

Me working in a live industrial environment!

Me working in a live industrial environment!

I currently use a full frame Canon DSLR and Canon L series lenses. When I am taking photos on site everything is in my backpack so I have hands free in case I need to climb up a scaffold or down into an excavation. I can get gear in and out of my bag without having to put my bag on the floor – this has evolved over endless shoots to the set up I have now which has all my essential safely stored in my back pack.

My bad is waterproof and all my gear is weather sealed. And if my tripod gets muddy shooting outside I can quickly clean it down before going into the shiny new interior without getting mud all over the brand new flooring!

11 – this is what I love doing – photographing buildings.

Yes I genuinely enjoy photographing buildings – so much so that I do this when I am on holiday.

That is the 11 reasons why I am the ideal person to photograph your construction project.

Not convinced? Or just enjoying reading my words you want to read more?

Buildings I have photographed

I have a large collection of photos of buildings from abroad – here are three photos taken on my travels which show the other side of my work.

Interior photo of Bordeaux Cathdral by Architectural Photographe
 Wine rack on wall in restaurant, Lucca, Italy
Modern Greek Architecture, Rhodes by Rick McEvoy Travel Photogra

I don’t only photograph construction projects – I have photographed buildings in all stages of their lifecycles, from

  • Locational photography for visualisations for concept design, consultations and planning applications.
  • Buildings undergoing refurbishment.
  • Existing properties being marketed – both public and private properties, commercial and residential.

I also photograph buildings of interest that I am just passing, like this interesting church which I drove past on the way back from a recent industrial building shoot.

Church, Portland, Dorset by Rick McEvoy Architectural Photographer

Church, Portland, Dorset by Rick McEvoy Architectural Photographer

OK - that was 11 reasons why you should choose me to photograph your completed construction site. And now a bit more info which I hope you find helpful.

How many images will I get?

That will of course be subject to agreement and confirmed in my final quotation, but I will not bombard you with lots of images. I select the image set and edit the images myself.

It is my job to make sure that I not only take but also select the images that satisfy your brief.

And as I edit the images myself I am in complete control of the editing process.

How much will it cost me?

I price each commercial photography job individually, as every client is unique and has unique requirements.

My price is based on the three elements of commercial photography work

The shoot itself

This is the time taken to get to and from the site, and the time spent on site taking photos. This can vary enormously, depending on the size of the building and the number and range of photos required.

Editing the images

I edit the images myself. If you want images that are to the standard you can see on my website then you have to appreciate that this takes time. Every image is individually edited.

The images on my portfolio page are commercial images that I have produced for architects – there has been no additional editing done for inclusion in my portfolio.

Licensing and commercial matters

Variables here are type, time period, location and area of use – this is of course very job specific.

I am not the cheapest photographer, and if all you are after is the cheapest photographer then I am not for you. The images you can see on my website are all taken and processed by me.

Do you want to know more about me?

If you do then there are hundreds of blog posts all about me and my world of photography. The more recent content is better than the older stuff, but the thing that I hope comes across in all of my blog posts is my personality. I was once told that I write the way I talk – my blog is me, my thoughts and personality in writing out there on the internet for all to see.

 

What else do I do?

Apart from photographing buildings I am a travel photographer, and am working on some new websites which will be unleashed on the internet shortly.

I am also a writer on one of the biggest photography websites on the internet, Improve Photography – check out this article which will be useful to help you prepare your building to be photographed.

19 things for a client to do before you photograph their house

I have also written a range of architectural photography articles which I will list and link so you can get straight to them if this of interest to you.

Want to be an architectural photographer? Read my guide here

10 Tips on getting work as an architectural photographer

10 tips for planning an architectural photography shoot

What gear do I use for my architectural photography? Find out here

How I take my architectural photography images – a detailed explanation

How I process my architectural photography images

What do I do next?

Please get in touch with me – I respond to everyone who gets in touch with me. You can do this by phone, email or by using my contact page. I would rather you phoned – it is much better talking and getting to know properly people I will be working with.

And with that I will thank you for reading this post, and I look forward very much to hearing from you and helping you to get some great photos of your building.

Rick McEvoy MCIOB, ABIPP – Photographer, photoblogger, writer

Are these the best wireless headphones ever? (I think so)

In my opinion yes. A big yes. I absolutely love these headphones from Apple. I am talking about Apple Airpods.

Why?  Well this post could have been "10 reasons why I love my Apple Air Pods".

  1. They just work
  2. Put them in your ears and they turn on
  3. Double tap to start playing whatever you were listening to
  4. Take them out of your ears and they turn off
  5. You can use one or both
  6. The sound quality is great
  7. The case has a battery in it
  8. The case charges the Air Pods
  9. They are cool
  10. They work in such a delightful way
Apple Airpods 2 27072018.PNG

Sure they are not cheap, but unlike the Apple Watch which I did not get at all these work faultlessly and stylishly, and I absolutely love them. 

Since my lovely wife bought them for my birthday I have used them every day, and every time I use them they just make me smile. 

And I am not saying that these headphones have the best sound quality, I am sure there are technically better wireless headphones. Not that the sound of these is not great.

I am talking about the user experience - it is just immense.  This is me speaking as someone who works all over the place, with an iPad Pro and iPhone as my mobile office

Thank you Apple, for Apple AirPods. You can get them from Amazon here

Rick McEvoy ABIPP - Photographer, writer, blogger

Architectural Photography Portfolio Image Number 19 - the bar at Sopley Mill, a great Dorset wedding venue

Sopley Mill - a great Dorset Wedding Venue

Sopley Mill - a great Dorset Wedding Venue

Finally a place used by the public that I can write about! Sopley Mill is a wonderful wedding venue in Dorset, where you can hire out the entire building and grounds.

The refurbishment was managed by Etchingham Morris Architecture Limited, and I was commissioned by them to photograph the interior, exterior and grounds for their new website.

This particular shoot took place over a number of visits, culminating with the interior shoot as the building was being prepared for a wedding!

I met the photographer who was booked to photograph the wedding the next day, which convinced that I was right to make the decision a long time ago to not photograph weddings!

This is the lovely bar on the ground floor, with a great mix of natural and artificial light.

Rick McEvoy ABIPP - Wedding Venue Photographer in Dorset

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

E3266C17-138F-4F50-9F1D-C86A1E827EA4.JPG

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

How good is the Snapseed photo editing app for the iPhone and iPad?

 Snapseed. Well I need something to replace Nik Silver Efex Pro.

And I believe that some of the people at Snapseed were some of the people at Nik.

And Google owns both. 

The story goes that Google bought Nik for the brains behind the software, so they could produce Snapseed. 

And then Google let the Nik Collection go. 

Which is where I am now. 

Nik is to be no more at some point in the future, so I will lose Nik Silver Efex Pro. 

What to do next? 

Well I have Snapseed on my iPad Pro and on my iPhone.  And it is free.

So lets give it a go and find out.

If you want to know more about Snapseed then check out the Wikipedia page.  I just want to edit some photos.

Rick McEvoy MCIOB, LBIPP

Photographer - Bournemouth, Poole, Sandbanks, London. Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Hampshire, Somerset, West Sussex, Wiltshire

What is the definition of photography? Here's one that I like!

"The art or practice of taking and processing photographs"

This is what the online English Oxford Living Dictionaries says.

Enough said? 

Rick McEvoy MCIOB, LBIPP

Photographer

Bournemouth, Poole, Sandbanks, London. Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Hampshire, Somerset, West Sussex, Wiltshire