Just beneath this post I talked about an inspirational morning I spent with Chris Harper FBIPP in the beautiful surroundings of The Bell inn at Ticehurst on the East Sussex/Kent border. Most professional photographers live in a bubble and we should never underestimate the value of getting out and joining our peers whenever the opportunity arises. Aside from being motivational, we all need the right kind of company at times. Generally speaking we spend much of our working lives in an office behind a computer, dealing with admin, processing and retouching, and the many other desk-based tasks which can make up at least 80% of our working life. Isolation is a common side effect and a consequence of this can be self-criticism and the belief that you alone are suffering for your profession. The fact is, this isn’t true, and every professional photographer I’ve met has expressed the same feelings – it goes with the territory and there are ways of dealing with it. This is why I will always make time for the kind of seminars or shoots which I know will be enjoyable as well as an opportunity for personal growth and development.
After exploring male figure studies with Chris in the morning, it was time to observe Dorset based Bella West FBIPP, renowned for her exclusive and beautiful fine art child portraiture (not just of children in fact, but of people). I have always loved Bella’s work and it was a real treat to have time with her, and of course to be given the chance to photograph our wonderful model India, who was a delight. The brief was to create naturally lit environmental portraits using found interior locations. Environmental portraiture is of course as much about places as it is people, bringing the two together will tell a story.
I’d like to say a huge thank you to Bella for so generously sharing her time and expertise and for answering the many questions put to her throughout the day. Sessions like this are one of the many benefits of belonging to a leading photographic institution, in this case the BIPP. One very important mantra is this – it doesn’t matter how long we’ve been doing the job, or how many distinctions we’ve gained, we will never stop learning.
I am constantly asked about my equipment and therefore will add the usual brief commentary on kit – an Olympus Micro 4/3 body and a couple of my favourite portrait lenses, the Pana 35-100 f2.8 and the Leica 25 f1.4 Summilux. In my day-to-day work I have to be able to create large prints, often around 30 inches wide, so excellent optics are a prerequisite. The IQ of today’s modern Micro 4/3 cameras is not in question and I benefit greatly from their small size and low weight. I spend much of my working life on my feet carrying stuff for hours at a time and like many photographers I’m disinclined to bear the heavy burden of large pieces of equipment.