I have recently been giving photographic training workshops for a few non-profit organizations, who I normally shoot for. This week I've been in London, and one of the workshops I have been giving over the past few days was with The Brooke. The workshops cover the basics in photography, from teaching local staff about camera settings through to composition and lighting techniques, combined with story-telling and lessons on how to construct case studies. Whilst professional photography is great, it is simply not possible all the time, especially in the field in remote locations where expense and accessibility can be obstacles with having a professional there as often as photography is needed. The Brooke recognize that it is important for their staff in the field to be able to document the day-to-day projects and case studies, and through this training, we work together to better equip them to present compelling photographs of the incredibly important work that the Brooke team are doing around the world. The Brooke is an international animal welfare organisation committed to improving the lives of working horses, donkeys, mules and their owners. To read more about the work that they do, or to view some of the photographs I have taken with them in the past, check out their website.
On this trip to London, I have been involved with presenting a couple of photographic training workshops for NGO's who I shoot for. I was in at the SPANA office this week, teaching the staff the basics of photography, from settings through to composition and lighting techniques. Whilst professional photography has its place, it is simply not practical or possible all the time for any non-profit organization. This is why we have been working together to train their staff for the day-to-day documentation of the incredible work they do across the world. SPANA (the Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad) is the charity for the working animals of the world. To learn more about the work that they do, check out their website.
I have spent the past few days giving a photographic training workshop in Luxor, Egypt where I have been working with ICO staff from the Brooke. In the training I covered the basics of photography, from camera settings through to composition, and story-telling. Whilst professional photography in the field is very important, there are a lot of very valuable story telling opportunities that happen day-to-day, and for NGO's around the world it is becoming more important to train their local staff to capture the work that is being done.
The Brooke is an international animal welfare organization committed to improving the lives of working horses, donkeys, mules and their owners. To read more about the work that they do, or to view some of the photographs I have taken with them in the past, check out their website.
Magnum Photographers have been my greatest inspiration for as long as I can remember. As a collective, Magnum photographs have inspired change throughout the world, illustrating things as they are and producing some of the most iconic images of our time. As a photographer, I often get asked for advice on how to become a photographer. It's a difficult question to answer, and so when I came across this article, I wanted to share it with all those people who ask what it takes.
'Wear Good Shoes: Advice to young photographers' by Magnum photographers is well worth a read, with a wide spectrum of advice from Magnum photographers. Here are my 10 favorite quotes from the article:
"Get a good pair of walking shoes and...fall in love"
"Try everything. Photojournalism, fashion, portraiture, nudes, whatever. You won‘t know what kind of photographer you are until you try it. "
- Alec Soth
"Photograph because you love doing it, because you absolutely have to do it, because the chief reward is going to be the process of doing it. Other rewards -- recognition, financial remuneration -- come to so few and are so fleeting. And even if you are somewhat successful, there will almost inevitably be stretches of time when you will be ignored, have little income, or -- often -- both. Certainly there are many other easier ways to make a living in this society."
- Alex Webb
"Study and theory is useful but you learn most by doing. Take photographs, lots of them, be depressed by them, take more, hone your skills and get out there in the world and interact. "
- Chris Steele-Perkins
"Don‘t become a photographer unless its what you ‚have‘ to do. It can‘t be the easy option. If you become a photographer you will do a lot of walking so buy good shoes."
- David Hurn
"My advice to photographers is to get out there in the field and take photographs but also if they are students to finish their course, learn as many languages as possible, go to movies, read books visit museums, broaden your mind."
- Martine Franck
"Study the works of the greatest photographers like Henri Cartier-Bresson and Andre Kertesz. Try to travel to many parts of the world and understand what a diverse world we live in."
- Hiroji Kubota
"Don‘t stop questioning yourself (it‘ll make you less arrogant). Push. Push, scratch, dig... Push further... And stop when you don‘t enjoy it anymore... But most of all respect those you photograph..."
- John Vink
"Find a subject you care about. Something that moves you. Something which stirs your rawest emotions. And then have patience."
- Mark Power
"If you want to be a photographer, you have to photograph. If you look at the photographers‘ work you admire, you will find that they have found a particular place or subject, and then have dug deep into it, and carved out something that is special. That takes a lot of dedication, passion, and work."
- Steve McCurry
The Brooke are a UK charity for working horses, donkeys and mules in some of the world's poorest communities. They have a small toy horse, Luka, as part of their facebook campaign who is photographed in different parts of the world by field staff. Whilst working with the Brooke recently in India and Nepal, I had an interesting conversation with one of the Brooke Staff. He wanted to know how to get the foreground with Luka and the background of a photo both in focus. He wondered if a new camera lens was necessary, as with the current equipment it wasn't possible to get both the foreground and the background in focus. I explained that this was a simple setting on the camera and we ran through a couple of examples as a demonstration. We decided it would be worth sharing these examples for any other Brooke staff who had the same difficulty, or for anyone else who might be interested too! What is aperture? Basically, aperture controls the amount of light that enters the camera for an exposure. It is often referred to as the f number. One of the key differences you will notice in your photographs by using different aperture (f stop) settings will be the sharpness (or blurriness) of a photography. This is called depth of field.
(Photo: Luka having a look over the balcony at a horse waiting for treatment from the locally trained vet, who has been assisted with training by the Brooke program in Nepal)
Whilst it is often easier to use a camera on automatic, and this can provide satisfactory results, there are occasions where it is essential to have even just a small amount of control. All cameras have automatic settings, manual settings, and then a range of semi-automatic options in the middle.
For someone whose job is not photography, but is required to get good photographic results, sometimes using a semi-automatic setting rather than fully automatic can be the difference between below average and good results.
Aperture Priority is a semi-automatic setting, which allows you to set the desired aperture for a photograph, but the camera will adjust the rest for you, so you don't have to think about anything else. In order to get both the foreground and background in focus in our example with Luka, the aperture must be selected manually. An alternative to using completely manual settings is to use the semi-automatic setting of Aperture priority.
To find the aperture priority mode: - On a Nikon digital SLR, display will show A - On a Canon digital SLR, display will show AV - For digital point and shoot cameras check menu or manual for Aperture Priority mode
If you use a small f number (aperture) like f2.8 this gives limited depth of field, so one aspect of the photo is in focus, and the rest is blurry - ideal for shooting a portrait of Luka, where he is in focus, and the background is blurred
If you use a large f number (aperture) like f22 this gives maximum depth of field, so as much of the photo as possible is in focus - ideal for shooting Luka, to have him in focus and the background in focus
If you experiment with the highest and lowest f number that your camera is capable, and then a range in the middle, you will get a good idea of how much blur / sharpness is achieved through the spectrum of numbers
(Photo: Luka visiting a local Veterinary Store in Nepal, to visit staff who have been trained and assisted by the Brooke)
If you want to find out more about Luka and the Brooke, check out their facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/thebrookecharity
After the 'Barefoot in Ethiopia' exhibition came off the walls of the Hill Smith Gallery in Adelaide, I needed to package the framed photographs, ready to be shipped to their next gallery. I rang several suppliers who make bubble-bags with the intention of buying pre-made bubble bags. There were no suppliers I could find who had a ready made product, although many suppliers were happy to make a custom sized pocket. Unfortunately, their minimum order quantity was mostly between 500 - 1000 units required for one order. I only needed 30 smaller bags (85cm x 65cm) and a few larger bags (115cm x 95cm). Although the unit cost for the bags from the suppliers was only between $3-$4 a bag, I simply didn't want 500+ units.
So, I set out to make my own bubble bags...
It was a relatively easy process, with great results, so I thought I would share the 'how to' knowledge for other photographers and artist out there, who may require smaller numbers of bubble bags for protecting art work.
Before I started, I had read several blog posts that suggested using a hot glue gun, which I purchased and tried, but would definitely not recommend as the best method.
I simply used an iron to melt the two edges together, with a layer of baking paper between the iron and the bubble wrap. I have included some photos of the process and will try to summarize in a step-by-step easy guide:
1. Measure artwork, and cut bubble wrap to the size of the artwork width and twice the length, allowing an extra 5cm for the width on the edges, and an extra 10-15cm for a flap at the top of the bag (flap size will vary depending on size of bag)
2. Fold cut bubble wrap over (so it looks like the bag should with flap sticking out at top), and make sure the edges are lined up straight (I suggest putting a sheet of cardboard or paper underneath to mark where the bubble wrap is placed for the first bag if you are making multiple bags the same size, as further bags can then just be placed on the markings)
3. Place baking paper over the edge of the bubble wrap to be sealed
4. Place a ruler/piece of wood/anything with a long straight edge approx 1cm from the edge over the top of the baking paper
5. Heat iron at top heat, then iron against the long straight edge, going back and forth a couple of times over the baking paper
6. Remove baking paper and repeat on other edge