As I mentioned in the previous article, a common mistake that's made by photographers is to believe that photography is a purely technical endeavor.
In fact, I see the act of taking photographs as an artistic exercise, and friends who are painters in fine art tell me they regard photography as 'proper art'.
The instinct for taking a great photograph comes with time and experience. As the golfer Gary Player famously said: "The more I practice, the luckier I get." I will often go out with a camera and take a whole series of photographs that have no artistic or commercial merit just to 'keep my eye in'. A useful trick is to set yourself a challenge which such as 'only photograph things that are coloured blue'. The staff in our office set me a challenge every Monday morning along these lines, and they write about my progress, and show some of the finished photographs, on our blog and Facebook page. It keeps my skills sharp, forces me to think in a lateral way, and makes me deliver quality images to a very tight deadline. I believe that everyone can be taught to be a good photographer.
Landscape photographs require a lot of time, effort, and sacrifice. The first stage is to scout for locations; tools such as Google Maps are invaluable here. Next, there may be one or two scouting sessions to find the perfect spot to set-up the camera. And finally, choosing the right moment to take the photograph as absolutely vital. In photography, there are two 'golden hours' each day: sunrise and sunset. This is the time when the light is less harsh and is very colourful. This is the best time to take landscapes, but it also means early starts. The team and I recently traveled to capture some truly awe-inspiring sunrises by the coast, but it required a midnight trip to the seaside, and a sleep-over in the back of our 4x4. The results were worth it.
In terms of equipment, we are exclusively a Canon studio. We use a range of Canon D-SLRs, including the 21 megapixel 5d Mark II. We also mainly use Canon professional L-Series lenses, as the quality of the lens is the single most important factor in image quality. Accumulating a large amount of equipment is helpful, but it doesn't necessarily make you a better photographer. The term for this is 'all the gear and no idea'. We also have a full studio set-up with various backdrops and studio flash equipment, and we've reached the stage where we're designing our own photography accessories and techniques. To process photographs, we use Adobe Lightroom, and a mixture of Mac and Windows computers.
I'm inspired by three things: People, landscapes and architecture. I love working with clients to help exceed their vision and requirements. I'm inspired by the beautiful world around us; theUK is one of the most diverse places on earth for landscape, and I think we're very fortunate to live here. Finally, I love architecture and engineering. One of the privileges of being a finalist in Professional and Landscape Photographer of the Year is that it opens doors. I'm fortunate to have been 'behind the scenes' at some of the UK's most famous buildings, to find out what goes on, and to photograph them from unusual viewpoints.
Article by Mark (Photography) / 12th January 2012