ViewBug

As I started off learning photography I have learnt that the more I learn the more there is to learn.

It was suggested to me that joining a photo sharing website would help me discover what I like and what I don’t like. Basically looking at these sites would help me develop myself as a photographer.

It was also suggested that once in a while I should consider entering a few images into photo contests. I joined ViewBug & I have entered a few competitions. This was really just to gain a little exposure and to get some feedback on my images.

I’ve had a few people like a couple of my photographs but have not had a huge amount of traffic through my page until the other day.

Oddly I started getting email notifications saying that this person liked this image, this person is following you. Another person is following you……….this other person likes this image! As I say it was out of the ordinary so when I got home after a sixteen hour day I had a quick peek at my VewBug profile and it turns out that they had featured my profile on their members page.

I was pretty chuffed. I know for me to be featured on their members page was a totally random selection but non the less it would mean a handful more people might see some of my photographs. That can only be a good thing.

I looked a little deeper and they have done the same thing for over four thousand photographers!

I’m no longer feeling as flukey as I did a few minutes ago but I still feel extremely privileged that I have 81 new people following my posts.

So, this is just a quick and public thank you to the viewbug admin team for the extra exposure.

Kind regards,

Jim Jimmy James.

K.I.S.S. A book review! #2

As a newbie to the world of photography I was pointed in the direction of Zack Arias by Matt White.

Since then I have emailed him (Zack) and was surprised that I got a reply that very simply clarified something for me. Because of this, I looked a little more at his online presence and ended up buying the lighting course.

I thought it is reasonably priced, he has been helpful, why not? It would be the right thing to do.

I don’t know the bloke from Adam, he is a busy fella but took a few minutes out to answer my email, or maybe he had an assistant do it?! Either way I got a response. So the man went up in my estimation and I got the online lighting course.

Funny thing is that the online light course covered some of the things I had already covered in a short DSLR course but for some reason, although it covered more, it seemed clearer, easier and made me feel a tad more confident about using a flash. How can that be? How can a short set of video lessons give a better understanding of light than a course in a class with people? Maybe it was just revision of the topic. Maybe it was because there were non of the distractions we can have in a class. Maybe it was his KISS approach? (I will explain more about kiss in a minute).

As I have said before, I started off photography with one intention, to take better images of friends and family. Something to keep as an aide memoir to remember the good times. The times that will in the future be my past.

I’ve moved on a little from that point. I now want printed images. I’m actually in the process of signing up for a one year course. I was not sure about City & Guilds or a BTEC but I’ve committed to a one year long course of that I hope will make me a better photographer.

The reason I signed up for the course was because I didn’t get accepted onto a DEDPXL project that Zack and his wife are currently involved with, whereby they are giving a monthly subject and feedback. Ideas and feedback, perfect!

Just what I needed, however it didn’t happen. I can only guess I did not sell my self when I sent off my email expressing an interest in taking part in the project. I was honest, I told them I had no idea where I want my photography to take me & I’d love to just take better than average images.

I’d now like to take great images, I would really really love to take an iconic image. It would be awesome to take an image that someone would be happy to pay for. But the icing on the cake would be to take an image that someone falls in love with.

So, a one year course at college. Ideas and feedback!

I hope over the next year anyone following my progress will see some marked improvements. Committing to this part time, three hours a week, college course is going to be a pain in the jacksie [Our American cousins would say ‘ass’]. I have a full time job that is shift based, a family life and a social life that are all going to need to be juggled. But the desire to take better photos is enough to put up with having to make lots of shift changes and moving my days off around. Along with doing shift swaps with colleagues, meaning I will have to work extended hours some weeks. I keep telling myself it will be worth it.

Anyway, while I wait for the course to start I thought I’d buy ‘Photography: Questions & Answers’ because there might just be something useful in there.

The book looks good, the cover also feels kinda nice too but guess what?

You know when your hear something and you think ‘well duh! thats just common sense’ this book is full of the obvious, it is just common sense but its the kind of common sense that is obvious only once you think of it, ask it of yourself, digest it and formulate the answer.

The book is straight forward, honest and helpful. You may find most of it in his blog but I personally prefer to hold a book & as I said this book does feel kinda nice. Go find a copy a hold it. Tell me I’m wrong. I don’t think you will. 

I found the book really useful and it is one to keep.

Can I also offer you one piece of my own advice, if you want a good nights sleep, do not do what I did and settle down late in the evening on the sofa with a pint of tea to read the book.

Q&A

You’ll be up all night emptying your bladder and go to work feeling knackered.

Oh yeah, Zack didn’t use the term K.I.S.S. It is something a lecturer taught me a long long loooooonnnnggg time ago & it ties in nicely with Zack Arias’ teaching method and approach…… Keep It Simple Stupid.

Kind regards,

Jim Jimmy James

Just watching.

While I was out and about at work I grabbed a sandwich & a brew (Tea) at a cafe,  when a chap dumped a bag next to me. He was joined by another fella and a girl.

They opened the bag, the girl started getting some clothes out and the first man (very scruffy in ill fitting track suit bottoms) started setting up camera equipment. 

Being a nosy sod I tried to eyeball the kit. A decent looking tripod, the lens looked like it was a 15-80mm, but I couldn’t make out the manufacturer. He wasn’t using a lens hood but did look like he had a clear UV filter fitted.

The camera was a canon but I could not see exactly what it was.

A couple of minutes latter the woman re-appeared dressed in the clobber she’d pulled out of the bag, now showing off her midriff she changed into high heels. 

The second chap pulled out two pairs of sun glasses and the couple started posing for photos. You know the stereotypical “wearing sun glasses and looking at the sky” type pose.

I was there for forty minutes before I had to leave and they were still at it, same clothes and nothing else really happening. They moved about two feet away and looked into the camera. That was it. 

I don’t know what to think really. I wasn’t overly impressed and it didn’t look terribly professional but then he (The photographer) may have wanted something very specific. Who knows? Also, what does professional look like. He is probably the next Zack Arias and starting off in a coffee shop. It was all no nonsense and he’ll probably have some great images. 

It might have been a few friends putting a portfolio together? However, you may surprise me and say ‘those models are so and so, their the next big thing” or “OMG! you know who that photographer is………”

If they had spoken a word of English I may have engaged them in a little conversation rather than just watching. 

Good luck to them. 

The Shoot

Quick snap taken on my iPhone. Greek Street junction with Bateman Buildings. Soho. London.

The people we shoot.

Do you think about the subjects you shoot? Ever wonder what is going through their minds? Consider what sort of life they have?

I recently captured two images of two different women doing the same thing and both images have a very different feel to them.

Lady in red: Wavy, loose, untied hair. Bright clothing and nail varnish. Open space around her and a care free smile on her face. She is almost winsome.

Is she reading a joke, flirting, maybe getting gossip from a friend?

Phone 1

The denim lady: Darker clothing and more plainly dressed. She looks like she is reading something serious or something disheartening; appearing to me to be disappointed and dejected.

Phone 2

Two women, different lives, both distracted by their phones and conveying contrasting stories.

However, with regards to candid street photography and the people we shoot “there are no facts, only interpretations” Friedrich Nietzsche.

Kind regards,

Jim Jimmy James

Happy my name isn’t Smith!

I blogged about wanting feedback on my images and told you that I had a Flickr account. Its a great place to get ideas and inspiration.

For some reason I decided to search for people that have the same surname as me. Don’t ask!

I’m not able to comment on whether they are born with my surname, married into the name, are adopted or like Johnny Marr, changed their name from any one of the derivative spellings found for the surname.

Marr supposedly pre dates the Scottish clan feudal system. I type that like I am some authority on the matter, I’m not. It is just something I have heard over the years and I have no definitive answers regarding any substance in that statement.

Anyway, because we apparently pre date the clan system we are actually a tribe rather than a clan.

We were also supposed to be one of the original seven stewards of Scotland.

Potentially interesting stuff if one was into family tree building. I’m not and before I get distracted into the topic of genealogy I’m going to prevent myself from rambling off course.

Flickr…. Marr…. Is there anyone out there with the same surname as me that comes anywhere near my talent with a camera? [Just in case anyone is now thinking “Arrogant sod!” that was genuinely said tongue in cheek].

I’m looking for feedback and contacts and it makes sense that if we share the same name there is already some sort of connection. At least I can kind of argue some sort of logic and rational behind what could be total madness. Who knows I might even find a long lost relative that just happens to be an awesome photographer and is willing to teach me everything they know. So here goes…..

Hells Teeth!!

52 pages. Wow….Thats a surprising 1,342 photographers to check out. Lordy!

Where to start? Date joined or number of items?

OMG! You know when you start something and you think ‘WHY?’

…..I’m hopeful, so, onwards to the next page……Done!

So what did I find?

There were many profiles with no images, some with very few images and lots of photo-streams that had not been active for a long time. As expected some were/are just photo dumps and rather shockingly one was porn.

There were a handful of duplicates and most were just very very average.

Ultimately I’ve lost a couple of hours of my life.

What kind of a fool would think to look through photographers on flickr because they have the same surname?!

I’m just glad my name isn’t Smith!

A year!

Screen Shot 2014-08-19 at 19.25.49

Flickr is a funny old place to be. For those that do not know it, Flickr is a photo-sharing domain with many group pages such as those dedicated to street photography, macro photography or with images using a particular lens such as a canon fixed 50mm. Of those some will specify that the fixed 50 must be used on a full frame sensor and others don’t seem to mind.

Anyway its a funny place to be. Some photographers go there to show off how good they are. I don’t mean show off as in saying look at how wonderful I am, I am a sh!t hot photog. I mean they only put their absolute best images on there and they show off their images like an online portfolio and free webpage.

Others seem to use the site to upload everything and anything. I refuse to say rubbish photos because that would be a tad harsh. Just because it looks like 30 shots of a car moving from left to right does not mean its rubbish and I would rather think of it as that person experimenting and learning. In any case, if they put too many images like that on their page they do not get followed and they do not get feed back. So the images range from poor through to average and onto those that are just stunning and to a professional standard.

When I started out with poor to very average photographs I joined a 52 week project. My hope was that I would learn from others by looking at their images and getting feedback from the others in the group. Naturally this would mean giving feed back on their images. I felt a little uncomfortable at first but some of the members were really pro active and I started to feel like I could comment on composition and maybe suggesting a crop or even changing something to black and white.

It was all very polite and naturally I only really commented on the images that I liked. What I did also do, was make a point of commenting on images belonging to people who made comments on my pictures.

The second 52 week project didn’t have the same ‘community feel’ about it, so, I dropped out and concentrated on my 100 candid strangers project. I only have fourteen more candid portraits, street shots and its done, Finito!! As I read in another photographers blog Ian Gibson said “even lazy photographers should have a project”. Well I have a few planned and it is my intention to try and get some more feed back.

I’m just not sure how to go about it. I tried the small Flickr groups thinking if they have few members people might be more receptive to feed back and more inclined give to feed back.

I have commented on photo blogs and blogs with bugger all to do with photography, all in the hope of getting some useful and constructive critiques of my efforts.

On Flickr, where the world and its wife shares images of everything from insects to galaxies I make a point of visiting everyones page that favours or comments on one of my images.

I always try to find something to comment on. However, a change in tact is called for. I decided to look at some other images that these people have clicked like or clicked as a favourite…. What I noticed on one was that on the same day they had clicked about 30 images after mine and who knows how many prior. I looked a bit further and it looks like a few others have done that too. Not many, just a couple. Its like the few that click follow but you know they are not; its a way of increasing traffic to their pages to see what they have to say or in the hope that we will comment on their images.

I will still visit these pages but I will be more selective in the ones I give my time to comment on.

In terms of quantity I don’t really care about getting exposure of my images on Flickr to hundreds of viewers; what I would like is quality exposure of my pictures that allows for constructive feed back, the sort that will help me grow my skills and develop an understanding of photography on the whole.

One year on and I don’t think I’ve done too badly but a change in tact may be required.

Maybe just an invite? Other newbies to photography looking for feedback, comment on this blog with a link to your Flickr, Tumblr account and I will visit. I might even comment on your images or click like because I’ve enjoyed reading your thoughts.

As always, whoever you are, wherever you are, thanks for stopping by and reading.

Kind regards,

Jim Jimmy James

No Title Comes to Mind.

Anyone that has taken the time to read my previous blogs will know that there is always a danger of me going off track and being distracting from my main topic.

Ordinarily I catch myself and rein it in before the point of the post is lost.

This brief intro is being typed post blog. Why? Because I sat down to write about my 100 candid strangers project and I have gone way off course.

This happened because of some graffiti I spotted while out and about. Its only a short blog and because it relates to my London of the 80s and is very much related to what I see around me today in 2014, I am going to leave my post as it is.

The last couple of weeks have seen the news papers and some TV channels run a story about a graffiti artist called King Robbo. I know nothing of the man but am informed by a friend who had some contact with him that he was a decent fella.

News reports say he was a giant of a man at 6’7” tall. If this is true he’d certainly tower over me. I’m informed that King Robbo (Mr. John Robertson) had been around for a long time as a graffiti artist and ended up having some long standing dispute with an artist that perhaps more of the general public, not knowledgable in graffiti, may most likely have heard of; Banksy.

This was covered by the British TV channel 4 in a program called Graffiti Wars. I’ve not seen it. Yet!

This weekend however [Thank you Nikki for details of this program] I will set some time aside to watch it.

While out looking to get some images for my 100 candid strangers project I ended up walking through Leake Street.

Leake street strangerThis is a legal graffiti tunnel and is also known by some as The Banksy Tunnel.

Its therefore fitting that there was some memorial writing on the walls.

LS King Robbo LS Robbo

People will have varying views on graffiti, I think some of it can be very very well done. There are some very talented artists out there and they come from all walks of life.

Graffiti can be stupidly funny, it can evoke an emotion, prompt a political opinion, it can be satirical and extremely witty. Personally I wouldn’t want to see it everywhere. That said, under the right circumstances it has its place and I don’t mean confined to places such as Leake Street.

I wonder what now for Banksy & Team Robbo?

Please note, I do not know who the graffiti artists are, it is not my work, if it is yours and you want to take credit, please simply add a link taking the reader to your work.

I can not clarify any details in the links. They are in the public domain, if there are any errors please take this up with the host of the original post.

For images of graffiti from someone who knows what they are looking at please see Graffiti Junkie on flickr.

Kind regards,

Jim Jimmy James

This is an update: When I wrote this part of my blog I didn’t really know much about what had gone on. I really know very little about the ins and outs of graffiti. A very dear school friend of mine that died when we were seventeen (knife crime isn’t new!) might well have taken the path of a graffiti artist. After watching the documentary, I think if he were around today he would be on side with Team Robbo.

Do watch the documentary I’m sure it will open your eyes. Its a very tragic story.