Planning and Volume

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been thinking about shoots – planning, and creativity.  I had in mind a certain character that I wanted to portray, and spent some considerable time finding the right person for the shoot.  Once I’d found that person, I had to decide on what I wanted them to wear, how I wanted them to act and so on.  Finally, I had to find the right place to shoot.

All of this took months of preparation, and I think that in the end it all worked out, and I ended up with a handful of photographs that I am pleased with.

During the shoot itself – I spent more time setting up lighting, than I did actually taking pictures – and I see that as part of the creative process.

In this world of rush, rush, rush – I see photographers who have a massive output of imagery, some of which leaves a lot to be desired, as though thought fell out of the window, in the hurry to make pictures – pictures of anything, with no planning, and no imagination.

I see instagram, and Facebook pages full of mediocre work, in an overwhelming volume, with no sense of organisation and heavy, often poor, editing – almost as though the urgency to produce an image immediately after a shoot is in preference to waiting a while and being selective in what is published.

There are two kinds of  photographer – those who think, and those who don’t.

Those who do, tend to be slower, more thoughful, and use locations and also models in a more respectful way.  They plan, reconnoitre, judge safety and legality – get paperwork in order, use the right people, at the right time – and edit afterwards slowly and images appear sometimes weeks after the shoot.

I watch groups of photographers pile out of cars, rush to the same spot, and start shooting – the odd person will walk around, take in the view, inspect what’s there – and then take some images.  Rushing the planning makes for a poor result in general.

Ignorance shows mostly in comments passed …  by ‘photographers’ (and I use the word in inverted commas intentionally), who don’t know the history of photography, or how the process began.   Ask one who their favourite photographer is,  and I’d expect to hear names like Ansel Adams, Henri Cartier Bresson, Mann Ray, Annie Leibovitz, Dorothea Lange, or Robert Capa – to name but a few who inspire me, but I bet I wouldn’t.

We’ve all made the same mistakes at the start, but we need to grow up – and stop being disparaging of those who want to take it slow and get it right.

Let’s do the right thing – the input and planning is far more important than the output – get the first right, and the other will follow as a matter of course.

Enjoy your image making.



Puffins on Skomer Island

Skomer Island is owned by the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales, and is situated off the Pembrokeshire Coast.  The Atlantic Puffin population is the largest in the United Kingdom.

The Puffins themselves are fairly habituated to humans, and so you can get very close to them without causing them to be disturbed, even during the breeding season.

We decided to re-visit Skomer – in memory of a photographer who died last year, and for whom this was such a special place, so it was a bitter sweet photo trip.

Three days were planned – with a day to travel each way, and a full day on the island – where I decided to fully embrace the puffin….  The weather was set fair, the boat trip smooth, and the birds were amazing..

I am finding these days, that climbing up to the top of the island with all my camera gear, much harder than it was in my younger days…..  this getting older business is a very over-rated pastime.  I can heartily say that I don’t really recommend it.

(Click on the images above to see them larger)

Getting so close sometimes meant that the camera could not get a focus lock on the birds, and I found myself backing off just to get them in the frame.

The weather did start to close in during the afternoon – with thick sea mist often obscuring the cliffs


Shots of the birds in flight, I did find very difficult – they fly like they’re clockwork toys, and they are incredibly fast too.

None the less – although a tiring three days, it was worth it doubly in memory of a great photographer friend, and to get shots of the Puffins in such lovely weather.

So, despite the sea mist, and a tinge of sadness, it was a truly wonderful experience – and if you’ve never been, I suggest you do.  The only hard part is the 85 very steep steps up from the boat to the island.  The staff are lovely, and have a wealth of detailed knowledge.  So, if you do get to that part of the world – give it a go – you won’t be disappointed.