It’s been a very different kind of a year and I’ve ended it in a place I wouldn’t necessarily have predicted in January.
Many lessons have been learned, the gist of which is that no matter how much experience you have, no matter how much research and how much preparation, the experience of starting your own business is like stepping off the kerb with a copy of the Highway code having looked right, left and right again and finding yourself hit by an onrushing train! Like Buster Keaton, I’ve picked myself up, dusted myself down and gone again.
I’ve learned a lot about photographic technique this year, specifically about lighting and retouching. A lot of the work I’ve taken has involved product photography which has been fascinating. Tiny little objects with tiny little nuances – like landscape photography in miniature. The challenge is to create an image that sells the object. Nothing else will do. My approach has been to take the standard shots and take some for myself. The client gets to see all of them and I’ve been surprised and delighted occasionally when an ‘art’ image has been picked over a more conventional shot.
I thought I’d got to the end of the gear acquisition stage – and then I discovered lighting. A whole new ballgame and if a light is not as expensive as a lens, it isn’t far off. I’ve chosen Elinchrom and have been very pleased with the quality. A shout out for the boys at the Flash Centre Birmingham whose advice has been excellent, who have lent me gear as well as sold it to me and who really go the extra mile for their customers. A proper old fashioned business!
I’ve shot glamour, products, events and documentary this year, been featured in a video and a coffee table book. I found time to do a few landscapes too, but the advice ‘follow the money’ has been on my mind lately. The glamour shoots have been different and I’ve enjoyed them greatly. you’re only as good as your team in that situation, and it pays to get good people around you. There’s very little money in it, and its a very competitive world, enjoyable in small doses, but I wouldn’t build a business on it.
Next year we’re focusing (sorry) on Products, photography and video. We’ve opened a studio, Helter Skelter Studios at the Custard Factory in Birmingham and a web site for that business will be launched in the New Year at Helter Skelter Studios. We’ll be working with jewellers, crafts people, manufacturers and more. Perversely, with this new focus, I’ll be able to take more pictures for me, the time consuming and ambitious projects that failed to materialise last year have been consigned to the back shelf – so look out for landscapes from Spain and Snowdonia in the early part of the New Year.
Lastly, the magazine Electrical Image has been a great success this year and will be continued next year with the same range of interests. It’s been a pleasure to curate and I hope next year to include more original content.
So that’s it from me for 2015 – have a great Christmas and may next year bring all your dreams to fruition!