Episode 14 – Photo blocks, Reddit’s advice for beginner photographers and more

Let's wrap 2018 up with the final episode of the Filter photography podcast by discussing photo blocks, advice for beginner photographers, how to get out of a rut, and more.


Matt Walter
Episode 14 – Photo blocks,...

Let’s wrap 2018 up with the final episode of the Filter photography podcast by discussing photo blocks, advice for beginner photographers, how to get out of a rut, and more.

Listen to the photography podcast episode

You can listen to episode 14 on iTunes, Spotify or one of the other usual podcast places.

It’s been a huge couple of weeks! Been doing a bit of product photography which is different and challenging in a whole new way.

I also presented the award for best Live Music Photographer of the year at the National Live Music Awards, which was an honour. Thanks for asking me to do that, powers that be at the National Live Music Awards!

I also was at Good Things, for Good Things, which was really fun.

Bert McCracken of The Used

I have to say, that was one of the more fun festivals I’ve shot in a long, long time.

The team was great, the organisation was great, security at stages actually knew I was meant to be there and didn’t sweat me about it.

I kinda accept it’s never going to be smooth sailing when you go to festivals anymore because there’s always a cluster of security who are trying to do their job but haven’t been passed on the information about people shooting for the festival.

Then you run into the whole mid-set explanation where you’re trying to tell security that you are shooting for the festival. Trying to do that over loud music is even harder.

When they say no again, and you show them a AAA pass, they still say no, even though one of those A’s literally stands for ALL. Access all areas. But apparently not a photo pit.

WAAX at Good Things Festival

But they’re trying to do the right thing, and you just accept that’s part of the headache of doing festivals with so many working parts.

So it’s refreshing to not have to convince people your pass is real.

Inbox

About the photography podcast

Hi Matt, just thought I would send you a message to say how wonderful I think your podcast is. As someone who has no idea about photography, it’s certainly inspiring me to pick up a camera. Your content about mental health and life advice is wonderful for someone who has a touch of social anxiety. I once touched you accidentally when I was front row at a Ceres gig in Melbourne. I thought you were going to turn around and yell but you turned around and smiled. It was pretty great. And a simple smile really changed someone’s mood. Anyway, that’s my ramble. Cheers again, Marika. – @Meeks321

Got my very first photo pass in July, and had some really sweet photographers, who gave me insights on their editing, which settings to use, how to approach people… your podcast/posts helped me a lot as well! Them and you been the main reason why I started feeling more confident about what I do, even if I am a small fish in the big sea. So, thanks a ton for doing what you do. – @actions_that_echo

About my Instagram stories

A little background, this week I made a heap of comments about releasing photos that you know aren’t your best work. Some of the things I said were:

There are so many great photographers out there producing some awesome work. I love being a part of the scene and contributing in a small way to either helping emerging photographers or just being a peer amongst people I respect.

The past fortnight, I’ve started to realise a trend. I’m identifying this trend based off the quality I know people can produce comparative to the quality of image their name sits beside.

Unedited images, or quick/incomplete edits, shouldn’t be given to a client in my opinion. You are worth far too much to let a client rush you to produce something you aren’t that happy with.

When someone wants you to send photos through in real-time, it is your responsibility as a photographer to set standards and expectations for what they will receive. This does NOT include letting them know they won’t get your best work because it’ll be in real time. The client doesn’t deserve that.

When I say quick edits, I don’t mean editing quickly. I mean giving off work that you know is below your usual work’s standard. For example, not colour editing, applying some basic sharpening, and not adjusting the horizon line.

Because you know what happens when you do that? The client says, yeah that’s ok, I understand it won’t be up to the normal standard, we just need them for whatever reason. But after the event, they will still have those images. And they won’t remember which ones are your final edits and which ones were the ones you sent through incomplete. So the client gets worse work, and you lose control of what you’re brand stands behind.

It is your responsibility to set the expectation for quantity you can turn around, and give the client the choice of what they can have. Know your worth – a client that understands your worth will understand that giving them advice is in their best interest.

Clients are not trying to take advantage of you. They want the best result but they hire you because of what they saw on your website or social accounts. It’s up to you to help them align their expectations with your output in terms of what is realistic.

Let’s put that in context, the day of Good Things Festival, the first question I asked was “What would you like me to prioritise today?” That immediately tells me what the client needs most, which allows me to focus my attention wherever it needs to be to get the client what they want. It’s that easy. The client gets what they want, and they get the best work from you because you know what you need to capture.

I probably delivered five to ten photos across the whole day, but after the festival, I delivered around 200. I could spend my normal amount of time editing to my usual standard because I knew what five photos the client needed in real-time, and what could wait. It really is that easy.

This is so true. I just wish more people understood. I am so pedantic with my editing that it takes me a while to hand out the finished result, but then I hear of people getting their wedding photos within a few days and it freaks me out! I constantly feel like I’m not doing my job properly because I’m not fast enough. Thanks for sharing. – @emmalea_v

You’re very welcome. It’s interesting with wedding photos because there’s probably no job in photography that has more pressure than wedding photography.

The client really needs the best work, because ideally, they only have one wedding. So there won’t be any more photos. You are the person they trust with that.

My sister is getting married soon, and she’s meeting with wedding photographers. She keeps asking my opinion and I can only tell her to get someone who you like the work of consistently. She has sent me some links, and I’ve encouraged her away from some photographers because their portfolio had two good photos in every 10. The other 8 weren’t bad, but they just didn’t have the same ‘wow’ quality that the other two had.

People getting their wedding photos in a few days, other than just a few for a preview sort of thing, that concerns me. But that’s where your point of difference can be. Be the person who delivers 8 photos that wow the client, and two that are just ok, rather than two that wow and 8 don’t because you wanted to give the client the suite of photos in a few days. Aren’t newlyweds on their honeymoon anyway a few days after their wedding?

Thank you so much for these posts! I really enjoyed reading and please share more insights whenever you feel the need! This has made me want to better my work and not rush my edits as I sometimes find myself doing because I get busy with work and uni. But I forget that these images are also representing myself and I should always deliver my best quality products every time! You’re an awesome photographer and I really look up to you! –@hudsonpearce

I’m really happy to hear that. As I said, it’s not that you shouldn’t give ANY early work to the client. Just don’t feel like you need to rush it all out. As long as the client knows when they’re getting the work, it’s fine with them. Just focus on delivering the content they expect because they hired you because of what they saw. If you rush stuff out and deliver subpar work, they’re going to think twice before hiring you again. Thanks for the kind words, dude!

On my Instagram story I also said:

The other thing I have on my mind is I’m starting to really see a shift in attitudes of photography pits. There’s still some work to do, but the improvement is there. People helping each other as peers, not competition.

The bullshit attitude and negative word-of-mouth opinions does not stop people you hate from getting head. While you’re whinging and making stuff up to derail them, they are working and getting further ahead.

Slandering someone will only either get you a lawsuit, or seen as someone who is difficult because they are always whinging about someone else.

So while things are improving, if you are a victim of bullying in the photography industry, just keep working. No, it isn’t acceptable. But everyone who talked shit on me, now rarely appears in a pit and never appears side of stage or backstage. Coincidence? No.

So just keep working, keep being yourself and letting your true personality shine and people will love you for who you are, and love your work because you continually deliver on the standard you are respected for.

Agree with you so much man! I feel as if everyone is trying to be better than each other but in a toxic way, we should embrace more people shooting not slipping them off. – @trenthilaire

Hell yeah. You really hit it on the head I think, everyone is trying to be better than each other, not better each other.

I really appreciate you bringing up this topic! It’s one thing that makes me super anxious and kind of scared to take on a new industry of client work – the want to shoot what you are passionate about while knowing the state of the mindset of a few of your fellow photographers. I’ve been lucky to have awesome open conversations and advice from photographers who want the best for people and their art but the ‘my turf’ mentality really stifles the industry and the ability for any photographers looking to crack a new genre to try and get anywhere. Everyone has a different perspective and the state of news and social media means there will always be someone to shoot for. – @ellywestaway

I’m really glad you have an awesome network or have found the people worth your time to have photography discussions with. The ‘my turf’ way of putting it is so accurate. It is really a deterrent and it sickens me how happy some photographers are to drive people away from an art form we love. I’ve lost business to other photographers and I’ve won business that other photographers wanted. That’s just how it works, because great photography is in the eye of the client or whoever is requesting the work. It’s how the world works, and sometimes you lose no matter how often you think you nail it. There’s also people who think they support others, then cut them down behind their back. The screenshots I see of people trying to do that to me sometimes hurt, especially when I’m maintaining my own mental health. But then I remember that they spent the time trying to convince someone else not to book me, and then that person coming and showing me the screenshot shows that in the end, good vibes and karma really does deliver. Being an honest and chill photographer really does pay off. The people who are trying to badmouth you end up fading away and hopefully become successful at something else. Be good to people, and people will be good to you. Loyalty is everything to me because of the ways loyalty has paid off for me, even when it meant I had to forgo an opportunity to remain loyal to someone. When we start looking at that perspective, the ‘my turf’ perception really starts to fall away because clients, friends and other networks start to make that turf concept invalid. It’s just photographing what you love and what you’re built to do.

Also discussed: What are some of the cardinal sins a new photographer can make? – [found on Reddit]

Questions

Hi Matt, I’ve followed your page for a long time and really love your photography work. I’ve always wanted to start photography as a side project myself, for enjoyment. I find it hard to know where to begin though. Do you have any advice for someone wanting to start photography with no experience? I know you’re probably very busy, but any feedback would be really appreciated. Thanks for your time, Cody. – @codybrownlie

Thanks for your kind words, Cody.

It’s great you’re wanting to start it for enjoyment and see where it takes you. I don’t know what genre you’re interested in, but I would encourage you to try many genres. Everyone starts with no experience. So don’t worry about that.

The best way to start is to get a camera that fits your budget and know that it’s the photographer that makes the picture great, not the camera. The camera enhances you as a photographer, but it’s you who makes a good picture, to begin with.

So get a camera that’s within your budget, and go on photo walks. There are some awesome walking groups around that a bunch of photographers do. I haven’t done one myself, because I like to walk solo and listen to music since I don’t get much solo time with everything I do. So either go yourself or with a group, but walk around and take photos of things. Streets, flowers, gardens, insects, or just life. Try to take different photos of what you see all the time, then come home and edit them and see what photos you liked most.

I think if you keep doing that, you’ll naturally identify what you want to focus most on. Since you’re wanting to do it out of interest, you don’t need to worry about what you’re naturally good at being different from what you enjoy, you can just focus on what you enjoy. It really will become apparent by exploring and photographing things. You’ll be exposed to landscapes, macro opportunities, portraits, street photography etc. I think it’s the most natural way to get started.

I’m stuck in a rut man. Where do you go for inspiration when you hit a wall? – @frycandyphoto

This is a question that everyone needs an answer to at one time or another. I go through these phases too and I am really, really bad at dealing with it.

I just sit there and do nothing about it. I shoot less. And that’s the opposite to what I know I should do.

You should go outside, and like I said with the previous question, go for a walk. Photograph stuff that you don’t know you care about. I think the key is to not produce work that wows yourself, but that’s what people think you’re trying to achieve.

What you’re trying to do is just to take photos. Photography is primarily done for enjoyment. Take a load off, take the pressure out of it, and just do what you feel like doing. Consistency is key. Even though you’re creating work you might not be super passionate about, it’s not about the content or the subject. It’s about you doing photography. That’s all.

Another thing you might find useful, and this can be a double-edged sword, but you could go to an art gallery and look at what is displayed. Reset your brain with content that isn’t yours, and take the pressure off. It doesn’t have to be a photo gallery, it can be any type of art. It’s about consuming something that another person had created and taking a minute to remember that the creative process is equally about you being a consumer as it is a creator.

Well, that’s the last podcast for 2018! The Filter photography podcast will be back in 2019, probably early January!

I have some guests that are going to pop on and give you a break from my solo voice, which I’m really looking forward to.

Thank you for your support this year, have a safe and fun break, take some great photos, and spend some time with people you love, whoever that is.

See you in 2019!

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