Sunday, 28 July 2013

Is Professional Photography Dead?

Once upon a time if you wanted a photograph you went to a photographer in the town.  It cost you a lot of money but you ended up with something that was treasured and in many cases handed down through the generations.

Fast forward a few years and someone at Kodak decided that everybody should be able to take pictures.  Great idea!  Well, it is isn’t it?  We wouldn’t be talking about photography otherwise.  However, that being said, if you wanted a photograph for commercial purposes or a decent family portrait you still went to a professional and yes, it still cost you.

Then one day someone said, ‘Lets make photography digital’ and so an entirely new even more accessible era of photography was born.  Now everyone is capable of shooting high quality photographs.  Not only that, the majority of the population has a camera with them twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

The chances are that if you want a photograph for commercial purposes you may still go to a professional.  Then again, you may actually visit a stock photo site such as Shutterstock, iStockphoto etc.  

While there as always been photo agencies such as Getty, Magnum and the like they have been out of the reach of many including the graphic designers in a small business in Accrington.  The advantages of stock photo web sites is obvious; you see the image on the screen that you want and download it usually for the princely some of around $1.

That takes care of the commercial aspect but what about the personal portraits.  Well here you end up in two camps.  You can still hunt out a professional and still pay them a princely sum or you can find someone who has a DSLR and can use it.  There are plenty of us about now.  You’ll stay pay a bit but it won’t be as much as going to a studio.

Of course the other thing you can do is upload the image you want from your phone to a website, pay a little money and a few days later prints, canvases, books, acrylic blocks and even mugs will be on your door step (does anyone remember how hard it was to get anything other that a print a few years ago?).

Photography is now cheaper that it has ever been and it’s set to be valued even less.  

A new website called Scoopshot has been set up.  Say I want a photograph of a dog playing Frisbee for an ad campaign.  I would post on Scoopshot a brief of what I wanted then mobile phone photographers are invited to submit images and I choose the one(s) I wish to buy.  What’s the average price for a photograph?  US$2.50 that is £1.63 (at today conversion rate) for going out and taking a photograph.

Who is using it?  USA Today, GANT designer clothing, & the Daily Star are among companies that have posted recently.

The mobile phone is replacing the camera and video camera.  Now nearly everyone is truly a photographer and everyone has the capability of calling themselves a professional.

What does this mean to the professional photographers that remain and those with aspirations to have a career in photography?  Generally, it’s going to get harder especially as technology improves.  Are the days of seeing quality images and film (especially from a photojournalism point of view) numbered as the media look for cheaper options then hiring professionals or buying in from agencies?

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Capturing the Thrills and Spills - by Sarah Lee

Image by Sarah Lee
The hill town of Colne is a perfect setting for the high speed Colne Grand Prix on Wednesday 17 July.

Councillor Paul White who leads on tourism for Pendle Council says:

“Thousands of people flock to Colne to see the UK’s top cyclists race in an exciting high speed free event.

“We’re proud to support the Colne Grand Prix – and this is our tenth year!”

“It puts Colne on the map, with coverage from Sky Sports and lots of the UK’s top sports photographers come to cover the event,” he adds.

“It’s a real challenge for a photographer,” admits Pixel’s Editor, Lee Johnson.

“Everything’s happening so fast and the year I was taking pictures the big race ended in a thunder storm and torrential rain! 

“It was pretty dramatic and the light, rain and speed made it an interesting event to try and capture,” he adds.

“At first it can be hard to spot the Olympic and World champions battling it out in that blur of corporate sponsorship and lycra,” says Lee.

“So the last lap when the top riders surge ahead is quite something to watch,” he adds.

The race is part of Britain’s Elite Men’s Circuit Series and Colne’s own 2012 Olympic gold medallist Steven Burke will be racing. 

Colne Grand Prix 2011 winner and fellow Olympic gold medallist Ed Clancy MBE has also signed up for the race.

Another top rider we’ll be watching is Kristian House who rides with Rapha Condor.

Pendle company, the national cottages4you, sponsors the event each year and have lots of keen cyclists on their staff.  It’s a passion for them, too!

“But it’s not all about high speed thrills and spills,” explains Mike Williams, Pendle Council’s Tourism Officer and one of the event organisers.

Image by Larry Hickmott - Velo UK
“On the fun side, there’s a welcome return of the entertaining chopper bike dash with a Le Mans style start. 

“Local enthusiasts will race for their retro bikes and do two high speed laps.

“It’s fun to watch and great to photograph,” he laughs.

This year the chopper riders are taking part in a Bradley Wiggins lookalike side-burns competition -and that includes the women. 

Every year it gets madder!

For the full programme go

Friday, 5 July 2013

New Photo Gallery for Pennine Lancashire - Story by Sarah Lee

Pendle’s first photo gallery opens from Thursday 4 July with a new exhibition of stunning Pennine landscape pictures called Remnants by photographer Lee Johnson.

The Foto Galleria is opening above La Dolce Vita deli Italia at 40 Albert Road, Colne and coincides with the deli’s first birthday.

Sara Mumby explained:  “We started by selling Italian cakes, olives, artisan breads and cheeses on market stalls in Pendle exactly a year ago.

“A lot’s happened in a year.  We have our own shop and now a galleria!

“We’re a deli with a difference!” Agreed her business partner Sarah Lee.
 “People can come and look at the photographs whilst having a cappuccino or a glass of wine and a panino.

“And if they see something that fires them up, they can buy a framed photograph to take home or as a gift for someone special,” she added.

Lee Johnson, is a keen naturalist and landscape photographer.  He’s also Editor of Pixel, an online Pennine Lancashire photography magazine and President of Blackburn  & District Camera Club.

“ As a kid I loved taking pictures and got my first proper camera on my 12th birthday. I’ve been hooked every since!” He confessed.

“The Remnants exhibition began with just one picture,” explained Lee.

“I went to Wycoller to photograph the Panopticon and got some shots of the vaccary walls.

“When I got home I started processing the images and wasn’t happy with the vaccary shots in colour.

“So I changed them to black and white and they were much more powerful.

“I returned to get more shots with Pendle Hill in the background.  I set up the camera and tripod and took a few steps back and tripped over a stone!

“When I looked at the stone I noticed ancient chisel marks in it which looked around the same age as the vaccaries, which are around 800 years old.

“It got me thinking about how the rocks and stones in our landscape tell a story.

“The Remnants exhibition came together from that.

 “I spent a year capturing interesting stones and rocks in our landscape which tell part of our history, from ancient times to the Victorian era,” he explained.
Anyone interested in seeing Lee’s fascinating exhibition can pop in anytime when the deli is open:

Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday open 8.30am – 5pm; Tuesday open 8.30am – 2pm, Saturday open 9.30am – 4pm.

To contact the deli duo, Sara and Sarah about exhibitions and events telephone 01282 866008 or contact us via Facebook:   La Dolce Vita, Colne or Twitter:  @dolcev4

Remnants is on from 4 July until late Summer.