How long and Why?

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I have recently been asked a number of times how long I have been offering my event photography services and why I offer the service that I do to local clubs in the Rushden and surrounding area.

The answer to the first question is easy, it has been a little over two years since I purchased my professional camera gear and published www.m4photo.co.uk.   In that time I have supported our local gymnastics club (Eclipse Gymnastics), a couple of archery clubs including Archers of Raunds, and a handful of other organisations, such as Revelation Software in the UK and the USA.  I was fortunate to have shot Time To Breathe in the early part of the two year period and a Red Bull event in Nottingham.  Quite a mix.

As for why, that is a little more complicated but it largely comes down to because I can.  I was fortunate to come into some cash which enabled me to buy some decent gear to get me started and selling my images has enabled me to invest in more gear to extend the services offered.  It also appears that customers like my images and many people come back time and again for prints and digital images files and it is nice to support my local community.

However, the real reason is not for the money (I run M4Photo as a not for profit at the moment) nor is it for the challenge.  That is a good job really, because with so many cameras around and everyone now being a photographer, there is not a lot of cash in event photography at my level.  It is to create memories for people and my reward is the look on people’s faces when the are handed their print and the comments from people who appreciate a nice image of themselves or a family member.

I seems to have hit on a business model that works for me and my customers.  I shy away from printing at the event and prefer to concentrate on getting the best images possible at the event and then to undertake some very subtle post processing before uploading the images to my website.  I prefer people to buy the images that they ‘want to buy’, rather than people making a rush (or rash) decision at the event and I want to support clubs in making memories and to raise some extra funds along the way.

For me, this is more of a hobby business than a money making machine.  Whilst it is fun and I am putting smiles on people’s faces and getting some great feedback, as I have over the last few days, I’ll keep going.

If you run a club that is local to the Rushden area (within the Northampton, Bedford, Kettering and Milton Keynes circle) or you attend a club and would like to create some memories, please drop me a line to martyn@m4photo.co.uk and I’ll be glad to talk through your requirements and to see if there is an opportunity to create a mutually beneficial working partnership.

 

Gurushots

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I have been pretty busy of late and I’ve not managed to get out to do any reasonable photography, let alone even begin to plan a few shoots.  What with the day job, a few M4Photo shoots and working in the garden, time has been somewhat limited.

Even a recent trip to Lanzarote was hugely disappointing.  Despite doing the hand luggage weight juggle because my camera bag was bang on 10kg with a 5kg limit on the plane, the island presented zero photo opportunities.  The sky was either overcast and white, or sky blue without a cloud in the sky.  Great for the sun bathers, but featureless for the camera.  Despite a great location beneath on of the extinct volcanos, not once during the week were we presented with a typical sunset or sunrise that would lead to a reasonable shot.  Even a trip up into the National Park did not present itself with any opportunities and the guide was moving us along too quickly anyway.  Next time, it’ll need to be a car and a solo trip into the mountainous volcanic region of the island but this is another example of why you have to be patient with landscape photography and be ready to return again and again to get the right conditions.

So with a distinct lack of new work to show off and a prolonged absence from Gurushots, I thought that I’d push up a few old images into one or two of the challenges.  Nothing much to write about that but I had a few images entered which had been taken before my photography workshops with Paul Reiffer recently.

It was interesting to see that the images taken before the workshops were doing OK but not really setting the world alight.  I therefore decided to use the photograph swap feature of the website and swap out a couple of the older shots with some taken on the Paul Reiffer workshops – I have done two workshops now.

WOW – what a change in fortunes.  With the knowledge that Paul shares with us put to good use on the workshops and afterwards those swapped in images blitzed the older images in the voting stakes and I began to climb in the rankings.

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At the time of writing I have one of my images sitting in 5th place out of around 12,000 images.  This will no doubt drop as better photographers join the challenge towards the end of the voting phase.  However, I’m really pleased to see “Fractured Highway” sitting so high in the rankings.  Especially as this was one of the images that I did not think of taking until Paul pulled over at the side of the road and told us to get out of the car and to look back down the road from where we had come.  This was an image that I could so easily have missed, except for Paul’s experience and knowledge of the photo opportunities at the locations where he holds his workshops around the world.

Another of the challenges featured a number of my older images and I was doing OK, but sitting around the middle rankings.  I therefore swapped out most of the images for three taken on location with Paul and one taken in Paris shortly after one of his workshops.

Almost immediately I began to climb the rankings and at the time of writing I am sitting in a lofty 29th place out of around 4,300 photographers.  The Durdle Door image is sitting in 109th position out of around 17,000 images, which is not too bad and I hope to maybe break into the top 100 sometime over the next few days as the challenge draws to an end – fingers crossed.

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These Gurushots challenges are free to enter and I don’t enter to win anything because there are some really good photographers on the site.  However, it is really nice to have real world photographers voting for my images and to gauge my progress in this hobby.

It has also been enlightening to realise how important it is to get out there and shoot with other photographers who have great photography skills and who are prepared to share those with you.  I used Karl Taylor’s videos in the early days of getting off of auto and onto manual, but it is Paul’s workshops that I believe have really helped me to get the most from my photography and I cannot recommend such workshops highly enough.

Now I just need to find some time to get out there and shoot more.  How often have I said that over the last year or so??

Disclaimer:  I am not employed by Paul Reiffer nor am I a relative.  I’m just impressed at his down to earth and hands on teaching style that has helped me to get some great results.