Is there any point applying for a job in photography? This is often asked on the various photography forums and there are just as many (if not more) people who are hoping professional photographers will take them under their wing so that they can gain an insight into our world. The more experienced amongst you […]

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  • Nat - January 30, 2013 - 4:07 pm

    When I started covering the dog shows it was a nightmare trying to find someone to help out. I tried a couple of college leavers but had reliability issues and none of them had the practical skills I needed which were fairly similar to what you listed for your assistant. In the end Pete (my husband) helps me since I can trust him with the gear and more importantly he’s good with the dog owners and makes sure the paperwork is filled in properly. I have loads of school leavers saying they want work experience but who don’t see that the job isn’t about playing with the dogs! Totally understand where you’re coming from. Nat xx

  • Lindsay - January 30, 2013 - 4:16 pm

    Hi Nat, great to hear from you. I’m sure there are some responsible school leavers out there, the problem is they’re rarely equipped to carry out the practical tasks we need them to do. There is overwhelming evidence that social photography is an older persons profession, though I know some very good fashion photographers and contemporary portrait photographers in their early 30s. We get so many youngsters coming to us wanting advice on becoming professional photographers (almost always where pets and animals are concerned) when they leave college and it can be difficult to get the message across that taking pictures is a very small part of the job. And I can’t think of any pet photographers who just photograph pets and animals, virtually all of them need to supplement their business with people portraiture, weddings and corporate work. The mental resilience and business skill side of things is key and to be fair not many youngsters will be prepared to work 80 hours a week, every week. I think it’s a much healthier approach for them to carry on their photography at their own pace alongside a career which delivers a predictable and consistent income. Later in life there may be the opportunity to progress the photography if they want to. I’m saying this for the benefit of anyone reading these comments, since you and I finally went full time in our 40s (having been part time for a few years before that), with all of the advantages that normally brings.

I’ve just spent the last few days attending The Societies annual convention, held in London each January. This event attracts thousands of photographers from around the globe and provides an opportunity to meet and learn from the biggest names in the industry thanks to a packed schedule of seminars and master classes. Based at the […]

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  • Stephen Scharf - January 16, 2013 - 11:52 pm

    Another wonderful post, Lindsay. Hope you had a good time at the Societies conference.

    Loved the pics of your day out, and especially the animals! ;-)

    The shot of the pigeon sitting alone looking on to the two people sitting at the table is wonderful.


  • Lindsay - January 17, 2013 - 9:28 am

    Thank you Stephen, if there’s an animal within a mile of my lens it will get zapped!

  • Mag D - January 19, 2013 - 7:21 pm

    Very interesting write-up Lindsay. Photos are great, as usual, loved the pigeon sitting waiting for its tea !!! Beautiful photos of swans,ducks and birds, especially close-up of swan. Squirrel looked in fantastic condition, well fed of course. Thank you, really enjoyed looking through photos.

  • Lindsay - January 19, 2013 - 7:27 pm

    Mag, the squirrels in Hyde Park are the biggest squirrels I have ever seen! They certainly enjoy a regular and varied diet given the number of visitors who hand feed them.

You can see the field test images from both systems, taken at the same time, over on my pet and animal photography area by clicking on this link: Olympus OMD and Canon 5D MkIII Field Samples Before visiting the link do bear in mind that this is not really one of those weird Olympus OMD vs […]

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  • roy - January 4, 2013 - 11:14 am

    I got to your blog – and I’m not alone in this I imagine – via TOP. I’m an OMD user myself although I still own and occasionally use my Nikon FF system.
    But that’s not why I’m writing to you.
    There’s a well-established, cast-iron rule in typography (although maybe that should be a cast-lead rule…) whose provenance extends back as far as the original Gutenberg bible. That rule is that it’s extremely difficult to read text set in a “measure” (ie line-length)greater than about 65 characters, including spaces. Please don’t try claiming that this doesn’t apply to websites: I gave up on your blog before I’d completed reading the first line, and certainly before I counted the number of characters in it.
    You will be a lot more successful if people can easily read it.

  • Lindsay - January 4, 2013 - 11:24 am

    Dear Roy, this is not a complaint I have received before in the many years I have been running my sites, however I do appreciate your comment and I always look into any suggestions my readers make. WordPress is a ubiquitous and well used professional platform with exceptional functionality and I suspect the line length you refer to is a standard in the software/theme. I am sorry you felt unable to read the article.

  • markcotter - January 4, 2013 - 6:03 pm

    You make a very valid point: it’s one I’ve been ruminating over for a couple of months.

    I recently bought the XPro1 and have used it a fair bit. I have been thinking about whether I even need my Canon 7D (I’m semi-pro, by the way), and had reached the decision that when I do a wedding, a big DSLR says ‘I’m the pro, I know what I’m doing’. Later in the year, I get the chance to test that out – I’ll be shooting a wedding with the Fuji as the back-up photographer and wonder if guests will view me differently with a different camera.

  • Lindsay - January 4, 2013 - 6:54 pm

    Hi Mark, certainly the days where a big heavy DSLR was the only professional option are fading and without a doubt the recent mirrorless systems can replace a DSLR in many situations. Where weddings are concerned I would however be inclined to keep a DSLR in the bag, not just as a backup but also there may be occasions where the speed and autofocus of the X camera may be limiting. However I fully expect Fuji to address that.

  • Samuel - January 14, 2013 - 12:51 pm

    Interesting thoughts and quality images too. It’s very significant when a pro uses these smaller cameras and she’s happy with the results. It’s worth more than the average camera review that’s for sure. In a variety of contexts these cameras can deliver excellent results.

    These days I’m comparing my new X-E1, which is similar to the Olympus, to my old 5D. The Fujifilm’s certainly not as snappy as either, but it suits my general style anyway.

    Roy, I’ve been reading the posts here for quite some time and can recommend them. So don’t give up! In my opinion, (if Lindsay doesn’t mind), if the layout irritates try temporarily putting the text into your word processor where it’ll be the way you prefer it — type size, words per line, spaces between paragraphs, etc.

  • Lindsay - January 16, 2013 - 9:59 am

    Hi Samuel, great to hear from you and I hope you’re well. Certainly the change to the OMD has proved extremely fruitful and something of a lifesaver given my inability now to cart the big stuff around as often as I used to. I will say that there are very few similarities between the OMD and the XE1. The OMD behaves very much like a miniaturised DSLR, with almost all the functionality (with the exception of fast tracking focus which I believe may be included in the next version of this camera which is to be released later this year). The OMD also uses CDAF but the key difference is the power under the bonnet, the Fuji engine is weak by comparison and firmware upgrades can only do so much. The XE1 simply cannot compete against the OMD in performance terms and I would say the only area where they are similar would be image quality, which is much closer than many people realise. The Fuji is not in my opinion suited to professional use due to the autofocus and the current lack of mainstream RAW support. Having done one of my usual location portrait shoots as a test the camera proved untenable (very few images which were in focus, despite use of the various techniques which are said to help) and we are about to sell it. It is however ideal for general static, street and travel photography. Many professional photographers have attempted to adopt the Fujis into their pro kit but with very few exceptions have been forced to abandon them due to the shortcomings mentioned. However the good news is that Fuji are now improving the autofocus in the new models (I’ve had the X100s and X20 in my hands for a play) and when the various niggles are ironed out I will certainly reconsider purchasing another Fuji. But for now, it’s going to be OMD all the way. For those of you wanting news on RAW – having had some direct talks with senior management at Fuji I can confirm that Adobe RAW support will be “improved over the coming months”.

  • Samuel - January 17, 2013 - 8:33 am

    Thanks for taking time to explain this. Your insight is valuable. It’s a real plus that the lightweight OMD kit is more comfortable while delivering good results. Heaving all that bigger gear around must literally hurt you.

    To any keen amateur reading your conclusions who’s having doubts about getting the X-E1 I’d say — yes, definitely think it through carefully. I had mine only a matter of hours and realised it could never be a workable shoot-from-the-hip solution. Even a consumer DSLR in the right hands could take us further in that general context.

    But if our style is less active, and if having big-name RAW-editing software isn’t crucial, then we will get really good results from the Fujifilm camera. I’m still experimenting with getting the RAW data basically as I need it quite quickly then opening the TIFFs in a layered format, if necessary.

    But it’s a different world for amateurs, isn’t it, Lindsay!

  • Lindsay - January 17, 2013 - 9:45 am

    Hi Samuel, I’ve just got back from a very large international photographers Convention and it was interesting to see the number of professionals taking a keen interest in the OMD, and the numbers who have already adopted it. None that I met have been able to consider the Fujis, for the practical reasons already discussed. In fact my XE1 is now for sale because I do not have a use for it unfortunately. As you say, a less pressured and less active style is best where these cameras are concerned. And as you rightly point out there are many more options available to amateurs who can enjoy their photography free from the decisions we are forced to make as professionals! But my OMD covers absolutely everything from casual personal work to professional assignments and I continue to be highly impressed by both the image quality and performance. Hopefully Fuji will catch up with some of the current and very exciting developments in technology.

  • Frugal Travel Guy - March 10, 2013 - 8:16 pm

    Great read, but I wonder how you frame a subject in the woods with this EVF? I wrote up my complaints of the OMD on my website. I was first all giddy about the OMD and came more and more to realize its not a tool rather a toy that lacks built quality and true Pro usefulness. If you have to fumble through a maze of menus to get your settings right then its not for the pro. I instead gave up on those “system cameras’ at least for now. Image quality is good for stills indeed, but framing them can be painful vs with a DSLR body where your shortcuts are right there at your fingertips and menues are more organized. Thats my take.

  • Lindsay - March 10, 2013 - 8:37 pm

    This is why it’s so important to choose your kit based on your own needs and preferences, and of course your own personal opinion is vitally important too. I find the OMD’s EVF to be superb, I’m rarely even aware of the differences between it and my DSLR finders. It is also very customizable and I tend to assign shortcuts to various keys according to which settings I use most – it’s this ability which makes it so quick and intuitive to use. But if it’s not for you then you’re doing the right thing and sticking with your DSLR, which in terms of the button size, will not be as fiddly. Small cameras are not for everyone.

Every few days anybody engaged in the professional photography world will probably field a number of misconceptions and assumptions about our industry. The reality of professional photography is usually far removed from public perception and I frequently encounter beginners and hobbyists who see this as an easy, fun, and lucrative job. For most photographers the […]

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  • Samuel - December 30, 2012 - 11:50 am

    This is a very honest and open essay, Lindsay — informative in various ways. You’re eloquently putting a human face to your demanding profession. I certainly wouldn’t have the backbone for it! Being creative is one thing, but managing all the background organisation and trying to have a private life as well is obviously a ongoing challenge at the best of times.

    I’m just an amateur myself but to an extent at least I can identify with your comments about the physical side of things. And it’s not just the weight. I was recently in the woods crouching in the dirt on a steep slope at a weird angle that made me think my left kneecap was about to ping off! Oh the joys! Yes, there’s a direct link between serious photography and aches and pains.

    Your top quality results justify your full commitment. But let’s hope you get enough ‘you time’ as well?

  • Lindsay - December 30, 2012 - 10:51 pm

    Hi Samuel, indeed it is a matter of trying to juggle a number of different roles under the umbrella of ‘professional photographer’. Eeek – don’t mention knees, that’s another part of the body which doesn’t last as long as photographers would like! Just to be even more grim, the eyes suffer a bit as well, as do the teeth from all that grinding. The move to mirrorless systems (which will be good for more than half my work) will ease the burden somewhat. But I do miss my amateur days when I could just shoot what I wanted to, when I wanted to. Alas ‘me time’ has been non-existent for a few years (my own fault for being obsessed with growing the business) but that is slowly changing and new systems will hopefully make the office more efficient.

  • Paul Crouse - January 3, 2013 - 1:24 pm

    Hi Lindsay,

    This is a well written and honest piece.

    I agree that most people don’t understand the reality of the photography business.
    Business is business.

    Keep up the good work. You really do have nice images. I like your portraits.

    Paul Crouse
    Kyoto, Japan

  • Lindsay - January 3, 2013 - 2:07 pm

    Hi Paul, as you say running a business is quite a responsibility if that business is to generate not only profit but enough income on which to subside. Quite often I receive communications from parents who are looking for careers for their sons or daughters who may have just left college, the general view is that photography will be easy and fun. Anyone who has put in the many years of learning and the gruelling hours involved in running a business will say otherwise! But with the right attitude and the right work ethic it is possible to be successful in social photography. One photographer who I greatly admire is a US wedding photographer called Jasmine Star, she has an amazing outlook and the ability to communicate with the right clients in the right way, delivering consistently good results and impeccable customer service. She also freely shares her experiences on her blog. As you will see, very often social photographers will be a partnership with a spouse or life partner, since this is the best (or only) way of maintaining a relationship! The alternative is to run a part-time photography business alongside another career which many photographers are able to do very well indeed and it could be argued that this is the safest way forward. I’ve been running my business for quite a long time now so I’ve seen many changes which have shaped the industry we see today. With that in mind, going back a few years, the part-time route would certainly have been the least demanding.

  • Paul Crouse - January 7, 2013 - 4:01 pm

    Hey Lindsay,

    Thank you for your very thoughtful reply. I did look at Jasmine’s website. Very impressive. She really understands marketing.

    Personally, I am going to try and do my photography part-time. The last time, I got burnt-out in the news biz. I am still searching for my niche. I am focusing more on my other service, which you can check out my website if you like.

    I must say that I like your website, your photos and your attitude very much. It is refreshing. There are so many bizarre geeks in the photo subculture on the internet. I am glad a found someone cool.

    I really appreciate you spending the time to chat with me.

    Good luck,

    Paul Crouse,
    Kyoto, Japan

Most successful photographers will tell you that one of the biggest hurdles to overcome is the way in which most of us will struggle to “see” a shot, at least in the early years.  Creating simple compositions is a vital first step to making pleasing photographs, yet so often the basics of composition are overlooked. […]

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  • Samuel - December 17, 2012 - 3:54 pm

    Interesting and helpful comments from someone who knows what she’s talking about, and good shots to back it all up as well.

    Three are of particular interest. I love the simplicity of the landscape window shot. And I like everything about the image of the bed with the strong shafts of sunlight from the window. Very atmospheric to me, especially in the context of a frugal lifestyle from so long ago.

    Then there’s the unexpected framed picture on the wall of the futuristic gal in a red jacket. ;)

  • Lindsay - December 17, 2012 - 4:04 pm

    Hi Samuel, great to hear from you! I really enjoy reading your articles and the essay on composition I found to be excellent. It certainly gave me plenty to think about – I don’t consider myself to be a naturally creative person, I rely instead on a methodical sense of order, if that makes sense. I have a very tidy house …..

  • Stephen Scharf - December 17, 2012 - 9:14 pm

    What a wonderful and instructive article, Lindsay! Really a labor of love to foremerging photographers!

    As someone whose shot a LOT of motorsports, I also use some of the key principles you’ve described to add drama and “peak action” to a photograph. As you’ve mentioned many times in your blog, there is no “easy out” in developing your photography skills, it takes hard work and practice! For example, many newbie motorsports photographers shoot at too high a shutter speed as their panning skills are not well-developed. This results in the subject looking completely stopped, or as we say in the biz, “parked” in the shot, which results in a dull racing shot. For these photos, it’s better develop your pannings skills (with lots of practice, of couse!) to be able to shoot at a consdirably lower shutter speed (e.g., I never shoot panning shots faster than 1/250th second) to be able to freeze the rider or driver while the background is completely blurred out. Using this background motion blur as a key compositional element adds drama to the sense of the speed that is actually present. I also will often do unconventional things such as tilting the camera to make the car or motorcycle appear to be rushing up or downhill. This angle in the photo helps to create an additional sense of speed and drama for the viewer.

    The other compositional element that is well-used in motorsports, or in almost all sports, for that matter, is color and form. Sports photographs are often dominated by beautiful shapes and colors which can be very effectively utilized compositionally to add interest and involvement for the viewer.


  • Lindsay - December 17, 2012 - 9:50 pm

    Hi Stephen, great to hear from you and thank you for adding some interesting points about the more creative side of composition. Adding dynamic elements to a shot is also one of my favourite ways of making an image more stimulating to the viewer. Learning how to build each element into a scene (or when to use minimal compositional techniques) takes time but more importantly of all – practise. The very best photographers I know, no matter how famous, will constantly work to improve their skill and vision.

  • Mark Gardner - January 19, 2013 - 6:45 pm

    This is an interesting and instructive presentation. I am an aspiring amateur who has been “taking pictures” all my life and would now like to progress to compositions that I am pleased with. I’ll get out and shoot this weekend, I promise! Thanks–Mark Gardner, Colorado USA

  • Lindsay - January 19, 2013 - 7:07 pm

    Hi Mark, lovely to hear from you and I’m pleased you’re going to get out and shoot this weekend – I wish I could, but here in the UK we are under several inches of snow (though given you are in Colorado you will know how that feels)! As you will have seen from the article I encourage people to keep their compositions very simple initially, in fact often the simplest images are the most effective. I also suggest working on just one or two elements at a time so that they become second nature before introducing more complexity.

I originally wrote this in December 2012, but I’ve felt the urge to update this article after some recent experiences. There are plenty of articles on this blog discussing the road to becoming a professional photographer, and still further articles thrashing out all the things which need to be in place in order for your […]

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  • Stephen Scharf - December 16, 2012 - 8:58 am

    Great post once again, Lindsay. One that details the requirements, the mindset, and the temperament that it takes to become a successful professional photographer. As one who’s worked around many professional photographers for several years, one of the things that I’ve learned is that it’s an extremely competitive industry, and it takes a special understanding and ability to differentiate one’s business and one’s work in order to be able to become successful. The other key requirement, as you pointed out is to really think of it as running a business, and not a hobby. One of the best books that I found for professional photographers is “Focus on Profit” by Tim Zimberoff.


  • Lindsay - December 16, 2012 - 10:38 am

    Hi Stephen, lovely to hear from you and thank you for the book recommendation. Indeed mental determination is a huge part of running any business. In terms of photography, the vast majority of professional photographers are sole traders – there’s nobody else to do the accounts, sort out IT issues, do the marketing/filing/presenting/processing etc. This all adds up to dozens of tasks that are unrelated to actually taking pictures, and which leaves many of us at our desks into the small hours each night! Thus the ‘glamour’ aspect needs to be taken out of the equation. Building efficient workflows and processes is key.

  • Mag D - July 29, 2013 - 11:27 am

    Brilliant write-up Lindsay, so very true, as well as obvious things ‘for and against’ the proffession, you gave an insight into detail, hard work, endless time spent on each project, and to always think possitive. The ordinary person has absolutely no idea as to exactly what is involved in photography. Thank you, I certainly view things differently now.

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