Put Emotion Into What You Do



When you capture an image, it’s not just a matter of pressing a button.

Every image you take will contain your knowledge and experience, your emotions and your ideas. A photo taken by you will, and should contain the essence of you, and be unique to your vision as an artist.

As a photographer, when you can define a style to your images,  your on the right track to becoming a better photographer.

After all, if you can’t get an emotional response from your own work, than how can anybody else?

Unfortunately, by putting your ideas and passion into your photographs, you are making your work dangerously personal. The more connected to your subject, and to your images, the more likely you are to be emotionally affected by what happens to them.



You will be devastated when you find someone using your photo without permission and passing it off as their own. I mean, it will really, really hurt, and far more than you would expect.

And when somebody says something derogatory or negative about your photo, initially it will feel like you’re being stabbed in the heart, even if your head is telling you that criticism is the best way to improve.

The emotional connection between an artist and their work is a double edged sword.



Sure, it’s great to be able to have an emotional connection with the images you’re so proud of, but you also have to be ready, at any moment, to defend those images, and accept the sometime painful criticism that may come with it.

Just take it on board, and carry on shooting.

What do you think? Do you agree with me?  Leave a comment below. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Photography: Why It Is Oh So Awesome



I may be pointing out the obvious, but to me photography is a completely unique kind of activity. I think taking photographs, even for fun when you have no particular aspirations, is hugely rewarding process. Here’s a few reasons why I think photography is awesome:

Most of us aren’t lucky enough to have jobs where we can be creative, have ideas and share them. I certainly don’t. Desk jobs aren’t known for engaging the creative part of your mind. By spending some of your free time behind a camera, you actively use and develop a part of your brain that gets neglected at work. Every photo you take is going to teach you something, whether it be something technical about composition, or something as simple as learning how to get people to smile and pose for you.

Whether you shoot Landscapes or portraiture, photography has a great ability get you out of your comfort zone. It’s so easy to crash in front of the TV or computer after a long week at work. But when you have that shiny, expensive camera sat there, begging to be used, it has great effect on your motivation to get off your bum and go outside and take photos. That camera can get you to visit places you’d never usually visit, or to meet people you usually wouldn’t meet. It’s going to give you great stories to tell, fresh air in your lungs and some awesome photos for your wall at home too. It’s a great way of getting to see the world.

And of course, unlike other hobbies, such as video games or err…fishing(?), if you are good enough at taking photos, really passionate, and not afraid of putting the hard work in, you could even begin to make money from your hobby.  Imagine that. I can think of no better motivation to take photos!

Lastly, it’s just a bit of fun. You have to take it for what it is, have a laugh and enjoy it. The great thing about taking photos is that there is no right or wrong way to do it! Just like art, a photo is interpreted differently by every viewer, just because someone else doesn’t like it doesn’t mean its bad photo. If you enjoy what you see, and you like it than that’s all that matters.  The best thing is that you have created it from scratch using your own eyes, your own brain and your own ideas. That’s something to be incredibly proud of.

These are just a few of things that make photography such an awesome thing to do.

So what are you waiting for, go grab that camera and go out and shoot!

Why NOW is the perfect Time to be a Photographer

I spend a lot of my time engrossed in the online world of photography, design and social media. It comes with the territory of being an aspiring professional photographer. Sometimes it feels like I eat, drink and breathe inspiration, ideas and advice.

But for every inspiring, informative and genuinely useful article I read, there is another article full of negativity and dissolution at the state of the creative industry.

From the smallest independent blogs, to the most established magazines and journals, you can’t go a day without reading something about the demise of professional photography, the curse of the Internet or the increasing accessibility of technology making the professional artist an endangered species.

YouTube is killing musicians. Instagram is killing photographers. Facebook and Pinterest are destroying the very idea of copyright and ownership. Cheap equipment now means anyone can do it, and they will do it, all for free.

If you believe all of this, then you might as well stop taking photos, stop making music. There is no point. Give up. The industry is dead and you are with it.

Pshhh. Please.

Technology is a gift. We are able to spread our work across the world, to thousands, perhaps millions of people in seconds. Free services like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter are bringing photography to everyone like never before. Photography and music have never been more important to the average person, more integral to everyday life, because it has never been so accessible.

More people are capturing memories. More people are capturing the awesome photography bug. And that’s fantastic. I view that as being only a positive thing. The potential market for people selling and buying photography has never been broader.

Just because everyone is doing it, doesn’t mean that everyone has the talent, the vision, the knowledge and sheer determination to actually be great at it. Not everyone with a smart phone wants to be a professional photographer. Stop seeing them as a threat, and start seeing them as a customer. Technology will only go so far. The people who are snapping away aren’t a threat to the creative industry. In the same way that Instagram and cheap DSLR’s arn’t a threat to professional photography.

The audience for truly great work has never been bigger. Artists, musicians, photographers need to stand up, and sell to that frankly ginormous audience. Make every person you meet see the value in your work, and in you.

Shout louder, shoot better. Create the best possible work you can, and stand by it. Do everything you can to shine, and stand out from the crowd.

All it takes is hard work, determination and an open and positive attitude to sharing your work with as many people as you can. Help others, inspire others. Share tips and tricks, give feedback. It has never been easier to create and collaborate. There is no excuse not to be out there making a name for yourself.

There are more people out there looking for you than ever before, and you have the most effective tools available to create awesome work and get it out there where so many people can see it.

There has never been a better time to be a photographer.

What To Look For In Your Wedding Photographer



Choosing your wedding photographer can be an extremely personal and tricky choice to make.

Notice how I said your photographer, not a photographer. It’s as much a personal choice as the colour of the flowers, the flavour of cake or the size of the venue.

A wedding photographer isn’t just there to turn up, act bossy, take a couple of snaps and chuck them on a CD for you. (unless that’s what you really, really want…)

If you really think about it, the photographer is the only person, apart from the Bride & Groom themselves, who will be there for every single minute through the day. No one else who you hire or attends your wedding will be there as long and be as involved as much as your photographer. You are allowing a complete stranger, to be closely and regularly interacting with your closest friends and family, on possibly the biggest but most personal day of your life.

It’s a huge deal, so you really need to make sure that you have a photographer you can truly trust, feel comfortable around and would want to interact with your friends and family. Oh, it it helps if you really love their photography too.

In order to gain that trust, and to feel confident about the photographer, there are few key areas to look out for. The points below are all valid, regardless of the budget or where a photographer places themselves in the market.

This my opinion, but these are the core areas; the bare minimum any photographer who calls themselves professional should be able to clearly and confidently explain to the client. Wedding photography isn’t a black art, and your chosen photographer should be clear, concise and open about every aspect of what they do and what they offer.

Experience



Experience is everything in wedding photography. There is no substitute for shooting a diverse, emotional event like a wedding, time and time again with consistently excellent results. Don’t underestimate it, wedding photography is difficult. Not everyone can do it, and it involves a lot of specialist experience, knowledge and equipment that is often built up over years, not weeks. On the other hand, certainly don’t discount new photographers if you love their work, you get on with them and most of all trust them. Confidence and passion for photography can be a more than capable substitute for years of experience. Again, it all comes down to trust, just make sure it feels right.

Photojournalism vs Traditional



No two photographers are the same, that’s the fantastic thing about photography. Personalities, passions and ideas go into every photographers methods and approach. The important thing is to choose a photographer that matches the style that you like and want for your wedding photographs. Hate posing for the camera for those cheesy groups shots? Then chose a photographer with a more photojournalistic approach.  Love to dress up, show off and be the centre of attention? Then a more traditional approach to photography may be right up your street. A lot of photographers will offer a style that fits in-between the two distinct styles. Just make sure you know what you want before you try to choose from a million different wedding photographers.

Insurance, Emergencies & Backup Equipment



All photographers, regardless of budget should have public liability and public indemnity insurance. Both to cover themselves for damages to the expensive equipment they use, but also in case anything happens during the day that would cause damage to the venue or personal injury to the guests, no matter how unlikely that may be. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Also, one camera is not enough. Not even two. In fact a well prepared photographer will have at least three separate cameras and a multitude of lenses. Accidents happen, lenses get dropped, memory cards and batteries fail. You wouldnt take risks on your wedding day, and neither should the photographer, so check they have this covered.

Finally, what will the photographer do in the case they are ill? Or their car breaks down on the day? Always make sure to ask the photographer these kind of questions. It probably wont ever happen. But if the answers put you at ease and give you confidence in the photographer, that’s a great sign.

Contracts & Paperwork



Always sign a contract with a photographer. A formal contract means everyone is reading off the same page..literally. It’s there the protect both the photographer and the clients, especially in the case there are different expectations on the finished product. Make sure to take the time to read through the contact in full, and ask the photographer to explain any aspects you’re not sure about. A well written and fair contract will be a positive thing for everyone involved. If it reads like it offers the photographer everything, and the client nothing, then my advice would be to walk away. If either party feels pressured to sign up to something they don’t want to, then things will be stressful from the start.

Timescales



This should be mentioned in the contract, but if you still aren’t sure, just ask. Knowing what will happen, and most importantly when it will happen, will make everyone happier. The client doesn’t need to chase the photographer every other day, and the photographer isn’t waiting on the client to return emails or phone calls. Everyone’s happy.

Does It Feel Right?



Easily the most important aspect of choosing your wedding photographer. Follow you heart. Or your gut. Whatever it is, make sure it feels right. All the backup and posh paperwork and quality albums wont mean anything if you don’t get on with your photographer. You are going to be calling, e-mailing and meeting up with this person for maybe up to 18 months before the wedding day itself, then you are going to put your trust in this person for the most important, emotional days in your life. Do you want this person part of it?

Let me finish by saying this post certainly isn’t a sales pitch for my own wedding photography services. I take the time, effort and commitment to this blog, because I enjoy sharing knowledge and am passionate about helping others.

It just so happens that by researching and engrossing myself in the wedding industry I want to be a part of, by necessity and association, I have learnt a lot about it.

This blog post is advice and guidance that I hope newly engaged couples and other photographers will find useful. For other takes on this subject why not check out some of the links below. Thanks for reading.

Why You Should Ditch The Kit Lens



My very first DSLR was a Canon 550D. It was one of the cheapest camera you could buy at the time. It wasn’t until nearly a year after buying the camera that I started to see an improvement in my images.

It took me all of that time to realise the problem wasn’t the camera…it was the lens. Almost ready to pack in photography for good, I put the last of my hope into a cheap, 50mm f1.8. Luckily, it saved the day and reignited my passion for taking pictures.

It was a revelation. It’s at this point that I actually began to learn and grow, to be a photographer and capture images I was truley proud of.

If I could go back in time, and tell myself one thing before getting disappointed with myself and my abilities it would be this:

Ditch the kit lens. Buy a cheap, fast prime and buy nothing else until you learn what photography is about. 

That’s it. I’ve spoken before about the downside of kit lenses and the great things about cheap prime lenses. But here’s an overview.

Kit Lenses are named so because they come included with the camera when you buy it. You can spend up to $1000  or (NGN100,000 for my fellow Nigerians) on a camera, and it will probably come with a kit lens. Depending on the make or model, the kit lens may differ slightly, but they all have a few things in common.

  • CHEAP: These lenses are mass produced on a huge scale. All the way from design, to manufacturing, they are made to be as cheap as possible, even if this means compromising on build quality and optics. A kit lens will be almost entirely constructed of plastic, and will be more prone to failure and breakdown. Other cutbacks such as no lens hood, no focus scale and slow autofocus, just make them not a lot of fun to use.


  • POOR IMAGE QUALITY: It makes me so sad to hear from people who have made the jump to buy a DSLR, but become disappointed when the see the crappy, blurry, dull images taken with their shiny new cameras. The problem is nothing to do with the camera. It’s all to-do with the lens. I mean you are putting $500 – $1000 worth of high tech, high resolution camera, and making it shoot through $60 worth of plastic and glass. It’s such a waste.


  • SLOW: Finally, the one last nail in the coffin is the slow aperture of the kit lens. Most kit lenses are a f3.5 – 5.6, which in terms of light gathering ability, is nothing. Anyone trying to use the standard kit lens for anything other than half decent daylight is going to find blurry and/or noisy images a fact of life, and not much better than a compact camera.

Hopefully, by now you realize that kit lenses aren’t very good.

At this point I could suggest some alternative lenses, that offer a similar zoom range but with better optics and build quality. But, I’m not going to, because these would cost upwards of $400 – $1200.

I really want reiterate the point that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to get a fantastic lens, and one that will be the perfect companion to your first few months/years with your camera.

Anyone buying their very first DSLR needs buy a Nikon 35mm f1.8 or a Canon 50mm f1.8. These lenses are just fantastic for the money, and offer so much more than a standard kit lens.

For just a little extra outlay, you are getting a lens that is small, light but well built, with a metal mount, and an included lens hood. Both also offer, quick and virtually silent autofocus, and whole load of other benefits.

They are almost the polar opposite to kit lenses. They remain cheap. but they gain the ability to take sharper, more colourful images in low light, and help you to learn about the rules of composition and framing. They are also superb lenses for making the often sought after “3D effect”, due to the lens ability to blur out backgrounds.

In short, these little primes lenses will teach you more about photography, and produce some fantastic, beautiful images straight away, without much effort.

I hope I’m not coming across as pushy about this, but I am just passionate about photography, and I hate the idea of new photographers being disillusioned and disappointed when they buy their first camera.

Trust me, the camera is fine. Any camera is fine. Trust me. I know a photographer who still shoots with a Canon 40D (Yes a 40D in 2013). But it’s the kit lens that’s crappy.

If you know someone who is thinking of buying their first DSLR, please, please help them out and beg them to spend a lil extra cash and pick up a decent lens to go with their new camera. They will not regret it.

Restart on my Life + New Gear.

Today the June 12th marks the end of 5 years 1 month of working in a corporate audit firm. I finally got the courage to take my future in my hands and quit my job. Quitting my job brought a whole bunch of feelings: fear, excitement, uncertainty. But I know it was one of the best decisions I could have made. Working in a corporate organisation taught me a lot of things but alas it was not for me.

One of the greatest things I've learned from the last 5 years is that if you are not doing what you love, then you will never be happy. I remember being in office during the week; counting the days till the weekend when I could be reunited with my wonderful camera and lenses. My dad always says that nobody enjoys going to work seven days a week. On the average you should enjoy going to work 4 days a week. When you don't enjoy going to work not even one day a week (which was my situation), then you need to make a change.

So I made a change. I quit my job. I made the decision to be a full time photographer. What kind of photographer? Right now, I'm stuck between weddings and portraits. Who knows I might end up doing both. But at least I'm on the right path now. So first order of business on my new photography journey. GEAR. Which photographer doesn't love new gear. I ordered a bunch of gear and as if by some divine sign, my gear arrived today my last official day of employment.

I ordered my gear from B&H and shipped it through Circuit Atlantic Limited. All my gear arrived in tip top shape

All my gear all laid out. I'm so excited



First off, my Pocketwizards. I wanted to go for the Plus IIIs but because of my budget I had to spring for the Plus Xs. I ordered four to get me started



I'm gonna be needing a lot of batteries so I ordered me 20 Watson NiMH rechargeable batteries



I'm a big fan of prime lenses. I already own the 50 1.4 so I ordered myself the 85 1.8. Now all I need is the 28 1.8 and I'll be solid



I also got myself two 45 inch impact Black and White umbrellas for my lighting needs. Umbrellas are the most versatile lighting modifies you can get. Next is a ram upgrade from my Macbook pro 13-inch. I had already upgraded the HDD to an SSD so the next thing was to upgrade the ram from 4gb to 16gb. I also ordered myself a blue yeti USB microphone. I considered getting the blue snowball but at the last minute the price of the price of the Yeti dropped. Talk about lucky



I have been using a backpack to carry my gear and let me tell you, It's a pain have to drop the bag and unzip to change lenses during an event. So I decided to splurge for a new bag. I got the idea for the Tenba from Ryan Greenleaf's blog. He's one of the photographers that featured on Jasmine Star's ReSTARt on CreativeLive. Next on my list was a Wacom Intuos 5 touch small. Everyone say's that if you're gonna be retouching then you're going to need a tablet so I ordered myself one



The Rogue Flashbender XL for those times when I want to make use of my speedlights but get tired of using the umbrellas. Also got the Rogue gel kit for situations where I need to balance my flash with the ambient light



The next two items I got were for my photobooth. I intend to write a blog post in the future explaining how I go about setting it up. I got the inspiration for the photobooth from Fstoppers' How to be a Commercial Wedding Photographer DVD





I can't wait to put all this new gear to good use. It's going to be a blast