So - I am at the beginning of a journey which is going to make me into a successful photographer – or at least my promise to you my reader is that I am going to do everything I can think of to try.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Thanks bro

Note of things that stood out for me on brilliant new book bought for me by brother called Fast TRack Photographer:
It is by ignoring what everyone else is doing and building a business that the business will stand out and succeed. More posts to follow.

Thursday, 19 May 2011


Number of times I've picked up a camera: 4
Clients: 0

Have possibility of linking myself with someone setting up a dance and drama school - to take photos of shows etc. Will take pics for her website. Meeting up next week. I'll tell you how it goes. Could this be a breakthrough?

Sunday, 15 May 2011


Today I set up my new light on a boom, which means I can place it just above my model's head to light up their hair. I have put a honeycomb fitting on the light. I have two different honeycombs so I'll experiment with both and let you know (honeycombs make light go in straight lines). Now I just need someone to experiment on. Boys back from camping trip today. Sure they'd like to do it!

Drilling holes has turned out to be harder than I thought as wall dodgy, and fittings very heavy. Now waiting for help completing hanging of background system etc. Should get this next weekend.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Back After the Holidays

Clients: 1
Times I picked up a camera: 5

Well, I haven't been concentrating on my business for all this time. However, I have looked after the children during their Easter holidays, and booked our holiday, so not a complete wash-out either. Back to the matter in hand.

Things I need to do:

Hang the background system

How high should I hang this? Will the drill bit be big enough for the screws I've bought?

Hang the light boom

Where should I hang this?

Hang the shelves

Will I electrocute myself drilling into this wall?

I'll let you know how it went.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Theatre Photography is Cool!

In last week:
Number of clients: 0
Number of bookings: 1
Number of times I've picked up the camera: 3

Hi there,

I took my first set of theatre photographs over the weekend. The light levels were lower than I had expected so I had to set an ISO of 1600 (the max on my Canon 5D). Still didn't have enough time on exposure so set to underexpose by 2 stops. Light was very irregular. Most of them came out. Here are a couple

I'm going to try and do more of it. I'll ask at the theatre on Friday.

I'm still not picking up the camera anywhere near enough. I'll take it with me to the park later.

My main job at the moment is to do the drilling in the studio (my Dad unscrewed the plug sockets and you can see that the wires were going down. Hurrah. I'm also preparing CD's and prints for actors I photographed. you never know. Would be great to get some referrals, and maybe they would like head-shots done sometime...

Thursday, 31 March 2011


Well, it's the end of a whole day of tearing my hair out, but I finally calibrated my printer (an Epson R2400). Yipee. The problem was that ColorSync on my Mac was interfering with the setting of the profile. I finally found a way of getting around it through a video on YouTube at this address:
I have to say that the service from X-rite was atrocious. They didn't answer any of my calls, and sent totally unhelpful emails in response to my queries. I wouldn't recommend the color munki for that reason.

The next question is, what should I do tomorrow? Should I hire a cable detector for £20+VAT which may not work and try and locate cables, or should I wait and see if my Dad who's coming on Monday can work it out. I reckon I'll do that. It's worth a go. Looks like tomorrow may be a day for having a cup of tea with my friend!

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Printer Calibration Nightmare!

I did everything it said, but Color Munki has made my prints come out really dark. Will have to start again, but not sure where I'm going wrong. There's trouble shooting advice on the website but it doesn't help, and no apparent number to call them on. I've sent an email. Let's see whether they respond..!

Cable Detector Nightmare!

The cable detector has arrived and is telling me I can't drill anywhere on the wall where I need to hang my background support, or anywhere in the alcoves where I need to hang my shelving. I've rung Black and Decker and they say they're going to call back. Fingers crossed.

On a lighter note, the Color Munki has calibrated both my screens really quickly and easily. I think I'll calibrate my printer now. I'll let you know how it goes...

Monday, 28 March 2011

What Type of Photographer to Be, and Plan for May

Number of times I've picked up a camera in the last week: 2
Number of clients in last week: 0

This is one of the window boxes I've installed to make the studio
(and the front of the house) look nice for clients. Hope I haven't
blocked too much light.
This is the wall boom I ordered at its full extension.
It's only about 170cm long and I don't think it
will be long enough to hold the hairlight (!)
I'm thinking of using it at the back of the room to
support the fill as it will swing horizontally from side
to side. I guess it will be better not to have a tripod
where I'm standing to take the pictures,

Everything's being delayed as I wait for the cable detector so I've decided to work out what type of photographer I want to be, and then start my business plan.

Basically I am considering the following:


Specialise in black and white
* possibly offering prints on textured art paper
* possibly using more natural light
* possibly taking more arty shots in context
* plenty of light and shade

Use interesting backgrounds, possibly digital ones having photographed models against a green screen

Just photograph individuals, but ramp up the artistic nature of the portraits

Specialise in baby and maternity photography

Fashion/glamour type portraits for women/actors

Grunge type portraits

Low-key studio portraits

Mosaic portraits incorporating something of the sitter

I need to be able to offer family portraits as this is what most people want

Head-shots of actors


Theatre work


Find an innovative way of photographing my city that I could then use to get occasional commissions abroad


Become someone's assistant

Get into fashion photography

Photo-journalism or editorial

Stock photography


The question is, can I do all of these things, or will that create a confusing brand, or style. I could have two or more websites, say to divide child portraits from adult portraits.

I am most attracted to the idea of the artistic black and whites, the artistic grunge low key portraits, possibly with digital backgrounds if I can find an easy way of doing this, beauty photography, head-shots. I'm probably happier in the studio.
If only I could get some inspiration, I'd love to do the city landscapes as it is a great ambition of mine to do a small amount of foreign travel with work. I'm not sure I'm a natural at landscape/location work, but I'll keep an open mind for a bit longer.

In many ways I would love to be employed, but the hours are a problem as photography needs to be a way of having a family life. For this reason I should try and target babies and pre-school children.

I think there is some scope in wide mounts, multiple aperture mounts, textured paper, and square or wide landscape crops


I won't pursue employment possibilities for now.

I'll concentrate on studio work 4 days per week
Location/landscapes 1 day per week
I need to update my website/portfolio
Concentrate on
* Well-lit black and white, mid and low key bias
* Maternity and baby
* Pre-school
* Theatre headshots/beauty
* Cityscapes/flowers
* Digital background for old masters colour look
* Grunge look
* Strongly consider more square and vertical shots, possibly on canvas, and mosaics
* Strongly consider a second website

Friday, 25 March 2011

Is this All Going to Work?


I've had a couple of setbacks. The plywood floor is not staying quite flat with the heavy load of the sofabed on it. Also, I think it's going to be prone to splitting along the two edges if they get pushed together. If you're thinking of doing something similar, I would consider 9mm or thicker (mine's 6mm). Also, MDF may be sturdier than plywood?
My board may be ok, but I won't know until I start using it. I'll keep you posted.

My background kit arrived yesterday. It's a Karlite one. When I came to hang it, I realised there's a plug socket right below where it will need to go, so I've had to buy an electric cable detector.  Just hope there won't prove to be cables running upwards, otherwise I'm sunk.

The Manfrotto wall boom I've ordered has also arrived together with the Bowens Gemini 400 light I got to mount on it to use with a hair light. The light's very heavy. I'm unsure where to hang the boom so that I don't need to pull it out to it's full extension. Actually, the window is in the way! I sure hope all this is going to work...

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

The "Before" Pictures of the Studio

Hi, I've taken a few pictures of the studio as it is now. I'm expecting the first delivery of equipment I have ordered in the next week so hopefully there will be some "after" pictures that are a bit more inspiring!

This is the back of the studio. You can see the problem with
the sofa-bed. It also looks very messy!
There are two windows that face North West, so I'm hoping
the light will be good for portraits. Houses on the other
side of the road are rather close.

This is the wall where I will pose my clients. I've put down the
plywood flooring over the carpet.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Paper Backgrounds on Carpet - Solution, and Other Studio Equipment

I have bought two pieces of plywood measuring 2400 x 2400mm in total. They are 6mm thick. I think they may work. They even fit under the door. Hurrah!

I have also ordered some studio equipment. I have managed fine for three years with two Bowens Esprit 500 lights, one with an umbrella, one with a softbox. But I'd like to experiment with a background light and a hairlight so I've ordered two Bowen Gemini 400 lights, with a light stand, and a honeycomb grid fitting. I've also ordered a background support system that you hang on the wall. I decided to go with the Karlite make as it is meant to be strong enough to hold vinyl and muslin backdrops. I'll let you know what it's like. Can't wait to try the honeycomb grid. I'm hopeful that I can get better Rembrandt lighting with it.

I've also ordered a Manfrotto boom stand for my keylight as the sofabed in the studio makes the actual shooting space rather narrow. I'll take some pictures to show you tomorrow.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Setting up the Studio - Which Photographic Background?


My bedroom is 3m x 3.9m and has a carpet, which won’t work with a paper background.


Paper Backgrounds

I love these because they don’t crease and they are SO much easier than cloth to use if you want an even background. I’ve wasted hours in the past photo-shopping out folds and creases in cloth.

Vinyl Backgrounds

I went to a vinyl shop. Cheap vinyl is only about £5 per meter. Apparently you can paint the back of it and it works as well as the expensive stuff. It’s very heavy, though. Would work out cheaper than paper because it doesn’t tear and you can wipe it clean and even repaint it in different colours apparently. It isn’t thick enough to work on the carpet unless I got some industrial quality stuff which might be stiff enough. However, this costs £20 per meter and is even heavier still. I couldn’t possibly lift it myself onto a background support.

Cloth backgrounds

You can get some interesting effects on these. I saw something on YouTube about using gels on them, which looks really good. They would work fine on the carpet, and would be more comfortable to kneel and sit on than a hard floor. MAJOR disadvantage is creasing and folds, especially on the floor. These often obscure parts of feet. With small children I’ve never managed to keep them smooth then you end up having to crop to head and upper body. Lots of the most relaxed family poses involve sitting on the floor. I could try taping the background the floor?


I need to be able to photograph whole families.
My most successful family poses involve people sitting on the floor
Therefore I need to have a paper or vinyl backdrop
The vinyl is too heavy, and I want to be able to swap backgrounds mid shoot
Therefore I need to create a hard floor which will work with paper.

I’m going to buy some plywood to put over the carpet and see if that would work with paper.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

The Starting Point

“A rock can be an obstacle or a stepping stone – it just depends how you treat it”

Number of times I've picked up a camera in last week - 1
Number of clients in last week - 0


I have a business that has been running for 3 years. I have about 10 - 15 clients/year and earn about £2-4,000 which is always eaten up in costs. Can I make it successful?

My achievements:
Training: City and Guilds and HNC in photography
Two Gold Awards for Baby and Child Photography SWPP.

My downfalls:
Organisation (spend too long achieving too little)
Not practising enough
Not inspiring myself to develop and try new things
Not having vision
Not all of my shoots are high enough quality

On the left I have a list of things I think I need to do, which I'll add to as I have new ideas. I'm going to write down all my ideas and try them all so that in the end, I'll know I've tried everything.

Current Priorities

1. Sort out studio (I currently have an empty bedroom)
2. Decide what type of photographer I want to be
3. Pick up a camera!