* Site Redesign

My photography work up until now has been spread across 3 websites, each specialised in the work that I used to do before my current status of being retired (or maybe semi-retired).  I had a website for weddings, a model photography website for my lifestyle portfolio and models/agency work, and a combined commercial/travel/street photography website.

Now going forward, I won’t be shooting weddings or commercial work, I might shoot the occasional model photography and street photography, and will certainly continue to shoot travel photos on my holidays (when we come out of “corona crisis”).  However, my main focus in photography in future I’ve already alluded to in my previous journal post and that’s why I’ve come to the decision of just having the one website.

I’ve noted that the websites of many documentary portrait photographers work that I’m admiring is very much based on a very simple styled website and I like that look.  I also saw that many of them are using squarespace as their website platform as well.  So I set up a trial squarespace account and mapped out quite a few dummy websites that appealed to me.  It was easy to manage, add to and I thought it had potential.  But when it came to “checkout”, I thought it was rather expensive and now with photography being just a hobby to me, I questioned whether I should invest in such a website.

I’ve had many years of designing WordPress websites for myself and for clients.  There’s no doubt it’s a great platform for producing flexible, accomplished (read that as professional-looking) websites.  Yes, it’s a bit harder to set up and manage than squarespace, but the basic free and paid-for wordpress themes didn’t really suit the look I was after with my new website.  However, with some perseverance I came across one theme, Touchfolio, that I thought matched what I was after.  Sure, it’s not wizzy, flashy, and glossy, but I’m a minimalist and so was perfect for me with some layout tweaks to match the documentary portrait photography style being used by others.

I’m sure some would say “Why copy what the others are doing?”.  Yes I get it, but I say “Why not?”.  I’m happy with it, I like the look and feel of the website, it costs very little on my existing hosting platform, and I’m already very familiar with WordPress.  I might move to squarespace at some stage if I think it’s worth it, but for now I want to minimise costs and importantly concentrate on my photography and my writing, and having a simple layout will not detract from those areas.

* Time to move forward

I’ve been unsettled for quite some time with my model photography. Trying to find a style that I like shooting has been difficult since it became sort of pointless a few years ago. “Pointless?” you might ask. Well up until the demise of using glamour photographs in the lads mags, tabloid newspapers and calendars, I was happy shooting model photography for the agencies, the magazines and for my own portfolio. The underlying purpose was to get paid for my photos and it did pay well. Combine that with the model agency trips abroad or across the UK, it was a great time to do photography. And there was a purpose to it.

Additionally, some avenues that I’ve been able to sell my photos to were now becoming almost what felt like a closed shop as a number of photographers flooded the market with cheap work and in so doing, devalued the work of others and brought down significantly what the magazines were prepared to pay.

Now I’m not averse to shooting nice, creative non-glamour photographs at all, but there is not so much of a marketplace for this type of work. And to find suitable models to do this was getting increasingly difficult. So over the last couple of years I’ve been specialising on shooting commercial lifestyle photos with the models. But with little to no pay from this side of my work and with models not realising the value of this style for their own progression in the industry, it all sort of became a bit pointless. Hence me being unsettled, I wanted to shoot photography that had a purpose, a meaning and a “value”.

So I’ve been looking elsewhere for my way forward in photography and have researching different genres over the last couple of months. However, this unplanned lockdown for this Corona virus has given me more time and motivation to seek out what I’d like to do in the future.

I’ve been drawn to the work of photographers like Dean Davies, Sian Davey, Alice Dempsey and Joseph Szabo with their contemporary, documentary style of people photography. Now this resonates with me because there is no doubt that I do enjoy photographing people. Combining this with my enjoyment of street and travel photography could give rise to photographs that document social photography and so have a future value. A value that isn’t monetary at all to me, that isn’t important now. But having a value to history and a purpose would be a significant win in my view.

* Minimalism (Part 2) – Photo gear

Sorry, it’s a bit late in coming.  This post is my follow-up on the computer minimalism post I wrote last year.  This time I’ll be updating you on what camera gear I’m currently using and some of the changes and decisions I’ve made over the last 6 months or so.

Over the last 18 months I’ve been moving away from model photography and trying my hand at landscapes and wildlife/nature photography.  I bought some Lee filters and decided to move away from Fujifilm back to Nikon, who I’ve used for many years previously.  Two main reasons really:

  1.  The choice, availability and cost of secondhand lenses on Nikon equipment was a distinct advantage over some of the Fuji lenses I needed to move into landscapes and nature photography
  2.  I was used to Nikon, it was an upgrade to full-frame, the user experience was great and to my mind would be easy and seamless to get back into.  Also the cameras all had a great form factor with deep grip for using 400mm or 500mm long lenses.

Having used mirrorless cameras for many years (since 2011 with the X100, then the GH3/4, then X-T1 and X-T2), I know the benefits of using this type of camera over a DSLR.  So I went in full on with a Nikon Z6 full-frame camera with FTZ adapter and a 50mm f1.8 Z lens.   Oh, just one thing …. I had a VERY brief time with a Sony A7iii before getting the Nikon.  I just couldn’t get on with it, that’s probably why I wanted to forget about it.  To me, it was soul-less.  I know cameras are just tools, but you have to enjoy using a tool to get the most of it.   And when you have to set up 5 personal menu pages to just get to the control options for photo/video that I use in a camera, with a menu system that was obviously designed with multiple rolls of a dice, then I knew it wasn’t the camera for me.  So hence the move to Nikon.

So I used the Nikon Z6 and started to love it more as it progressively got firmware improvements to enhance the autofocus capabilities.  But …. I started to get hooked on getting more lenses like the 14-30mm, the 85mm and the 200-500mm.  And whilst they were awesome lenses, the camera bag and size of everything was just getting bigger and heavier.   Then with the announcement of the 70-200mm f2.8 Z lens and it would be the same size as the old one rather than the hoped-for smaller size, I thought this was just not going to suit my needs.

I was also starting to find that I just wasn’t “into” landscapes and wildlife photography.  Sure, I enjoyed it and the getting out into the outdoors.  However, it just wasn’t my thing, my heart was still with photographing people.  But not models, I was starting to see an attraction and a “purpose” in shooting contemporary, documentary photography and this also tied in with my enjoyment of street photography.    So I needed to move on … or more accurately …. move back to a smaller, more focussed set of camera gear like the Fuji gear that would suit the photography I so wanted to do.

Hence the move to my current Fuji setup:

  • Fujifilm X-T3 with 35mm f1.4 and 56mm f1.2 lenses
  • Fujifilm X100V with WCL and TCL converters
  • Fujifilm SQ instax camera

So once again I’ve got gear that is light, minimalist and purposeful and will suit my new interests in documentary photography.  But importantly … as many of us know … a Fujifilm camera just makes you want to pick it up and take photos.