Why I keep on training and why you should work with a photographer who does it

Ok so, I know I am a champion of how important training is and how we should all always be learning to be better. All. The. Time. And this probably seems like a strange thing to be writing about, but the sad fact is, so many ‘professional’ photographers, do not train to get better, which i found astounding.

Photographers

Recently though, I discovered there was a flip side to this, people who do not want to train, or get better, and then another group of photographers who hide that they do actually train. You can see it all the time, terrible photographers, where photographs are badly exposed and either too dark or the highlights are totally blown. Then I recently was asked why I talk openly about having training. 

Which got me to thinking, why would anyone not want to get better? Or master their craft. Or why would they want to hide learning new things or that they were learning and getting better?

I know we are all different, which is a good thing and that in the photography profession, as with many others I’m sure, particularly those of us who are self employed. It can sometimes be quite lonely, and indeed therefore introverted.

My approach to photography

“Hiding though is certainly not me, and not what I stand for. In all areas of life, I am all about people being the best versions of themselves, and that just can’t be achieved without help and guidance from others”

As an extreme example, think about children, if we just left them, and didn’t teach them. They would grow into adults who couldn’t read, write or communicate. If you want to learn how to ride a bike, you watch other people and their technique and listen to the guidance of people who can ride a bike.

In just about every area of life, to get through everyday activities, we have at some point been taught by others, who have already mastered that particular area of life.

Why is photography any different?

Anyone can buy a DSLR camera, and point it at a subject, and press the button (on auto). It will take a photo – does that mean you are a photographer. No. It means you can take a photograph. If you can get on a bike and peddle, and it moves from A to B, does that make you a World Champion cyclist. No. It means you can ride a bike.

So what makes a professional photographer?

Yes it generally does mean having a DSLR, which I have, it also means knowing how to have full control of it… and use it in manual mode. Controlling the ISO, Shutter Speed and Aperture. Knowing how much light to let in for the desired effect. Using with studio lights, light meters, getting the correct white balance so that your colours are correct and true. That’s just the camera. Then there is lighting the subject in the correct way, and standing at the right angle… A beautiful photograph is so much more than just taking a photograph. It takes time to learn, and skill to execute.

Then there is the editing, which is another skill in it’s own right.

Professional photographers are artists

Which is why I consider us professional photographers to be technical artists. We have to understand all of the technicalities that come with the use of the equipment, and then we are artists, in that we have a vision and then we create it.

I don’t think as an artist you should ever stop growing and getting better at your craft, which is why I am such a huge believer in always learning new things, and getting better at what I do.

The beautiful Lola – I photographed during my training with Gary Hill

Clients

So for clients … Why do you want a photographer who gets training, and talks about it?

  • Safety – Especially if you are looking for a newborn photographer, or children’s photographer. You want to know they work safely… and that your little people are safe in their hands, literally. By knowing your chosen photographer is committed to training, you know they take their job seriously and they take a great deal of care in being the best creatively and working safely.
  • Why settle? These photographs are your memories, why would you settle for ok, or it will do. They are your most important people in these photographs, they should be the best. Your photographs should be taken by an artist, who creates exactly what you want. Not just someone with a camera.
  • If your photographer openly talks about training, you know they are always getting better and improving. Your photographs are going to be fresh and beautiful, and great quality.

I want my customers to get the best, most beautiful photographs they possibly can do – that are absolutely perfect for them, and to fulfil that I always want to get better – every single photoshoot, I want it to be better than the last.

And so I train… with the best. I go to train with the best photographers in the industry within the field that I work in. I have trained with some of my absolute heros, Gary Hill – Children’s Portrait Photographer of the Year. Beata Baran, a fantastic Newborn and children’s photographer. Maggie Robinson, Newborn Photographer of the Year, Lisa McCormick, one of the best Children’s outdoor photographers in the country… and most recently Kelly Brown, arguably the best newborn photographer in the whole world all the way from Australia. These guys are absolutely incredible, and by learning directly from them I become better and better.

I love newborn, children’s and family photography, and so I love to learn from the very best in the industry, as I want to be the best that I can be. I am a champion of photographing real families, and catching them in real and beautiful ways. Outdoor, studio or lifestyle photography. I cover it all as all of my families are different. I’m still me though, I have my own style and work my own way. I just get to learn new things that I can integrate within that. And I am proud to learn, and get better. It is what my customers deserve.

newborn baby asleep in a bednewborn baby girl asleep in a bonnetHere are a few photographs from my most recent training with the incredible Kelly Brown

I can’t wait for more training in the summer with the amazing Emma Jane… How exciting!

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