A few images from another excellent “white collar” boxing show by Fighting Fit/Henrietta Street Gym at Pryzm nightclub in Broad Street, Birmingham earlier this month. These are from the first few bouts…
I decided a few months ago that after some 14 years of photography training, I was going to hang up my virtual board-rubber and concentrate on other aspects of my business – and perhaps some new business ideas as well. This was a very difficult and emotional decision for me but the more I considered it, the more it seemed like the right thing to do.
I began teaching photography at Birmingham Botanical Gardens as a way of earning a few extra quid while studying for my photography degree. As quite a shy person, I didn’t really relish the idea of standing in front of a group of fee-paying students and finding out I didn’t know as much about photography as I thought I did. But contrary to my expectations, I not only really enjoyed teaching, but I knew more than I thought I did, and I continued to learn with every course I taught.
Over the years, in courses and workshops at the Botanical Gardens, mac (Midlands Arts Centre), Stratford College, Solihull College, via Fotofilia and FOTO-CLUB, and at numerous private venues and institutions, I have had literally thousands of students in front of me. It has been a real pleasure and a privilege to watch absolute beginners develop into competent (and sometimes professional) photographers, some of whom I still consider friends. Our journey has taken us through at least 6 studios, too many courses and workshops to count, overseas trips, exhibitions, two successful photography clubs, numerous “copycat” “competitors”, a fair bit of frustration and a LOT of laughs.
So why would I give up something that I have grown to love? Well, there comes a time when other priorities arise, and you realise that what you’re offering is no longer achieving the level of interest that it used to and is suffering from a very crowded marketplace (so many photographers I know have begun to offer training on a more regular basis where they were previously less interested) and a growth in “peer knowledge” where groups of beginners or near beginners come together to “learn” from each other, often at little or no financial cost. Quality, it seems, can be less important than cost and increasingly, people are happy to glean bits of experience from other eager amateurs for free than have to pay the inevitable overheads/salary of full time, qualified professionals. I can understand this and believe it’s an inevitable consequence of the widespread belief that “anyone can be a photographer”.
Also, when many of your workshops rely on professionally-minded models, it can be frustrating to note a significant decline in the reliability of models, both male and female. I’ve been fortunate to have worked with some wonderful models (and non-models) over the years and there is a reason that some are invited back time and again – they can be trusted to show up when a group of paying photographers are expecting them too. Sadly, I have been let down by more and more models at the last minute – arriving up to 90 minutes late or even not at all, calling in sick or suddenly uncontactable shortly before the shoot only to pop up on social media as working elsewhere or out on the tiles. The modelling interface sites like Purpleport and Purestorm are no help in this regard – when I left appropriate feedback on one model’s profile to reflect a last minute no-show, the feedback was removed within 24 hours. It is therefore increasingly difficult to provide a supply of “new” models for workshops without that knotted-stomach feeling of wondering whether they’ll show up.
So, I’ve arranged a few last bits and pieces for FOTO-CLUB early in 2018 and then that’s it. You’ll find these here on the website. I’ll say a proper goodbye to FOTO-CLUB nearer the day but for the moment, thank you.
…Is probably our favourite FOTO-CLUB model Emilie Walt and her equally sparkly accomplice at this week’s “Showgirl” themed group shoot at Strangetown Studio.
Professional dancer (and our most-photographed model) Emilie will be bringing some welcome seasonal sparkle to the studio and there’s still a couple of spaces if you feel like braving the arctic conditions to get here.
The recent “Strangetown Booster” shoot that I ran through FOTO-CLUB gave a small group of photographers the opportunity to photograph four models in my Strangetown Studio and around the Telsen building in which it’s based.
I was more than happy to have an excuse to bring back the gloriously beautiful Charlotte “Lottie” Locke for the event and as it was mid-summer, the light evening meant that we were able to use both natural window-light, studio flash, and ambient light (augmented with our own LED lighting) elsewhere in the building.
Always an utter delight to work with, Lottie managed to cover everything from classic high-key beauty to grungey urban rock-chick in a single evening. Note to self: Book her again soon!
This last week has been rather eventful. Not least because I finally moved out of my Jewellery Quarter studio – Alto Studio – and transferred the whole business to my other studio, Strangetown in Aston. Alto has been a lovely base for training for the last 18 months or so and I might miss having a base in the Jewellery Quarter but Strangetown has proved to be a much more suitable creative space.
And so it’s onwards and upwards for both FOTO-CLUB (my training business) and my own photography practice. I look forward to this next chapter in my photographic career.
More images from Fran & Elliott’s wedding in Crete in May, this time before the wedding itself…
I work with model/actor/fundraiser/photographer Joel Hicks far too rarely nowadays but he’s still my “go to” for any kind of shoot that involves sheer muscle and the ability to adapt to any role. When you organise a workshop called “Warrior“, there was only ever one model in the frame. Joel never disappoints, throwing 100% into absolutely everything he does. My group and I were rewarded with some excellent images (we think).
These images were taken using either studio flash OR the wonderful natural window-light that my studio, Strangetown, is blessed with.