Monthly Archives: August 2011

Look into the eyeball

 

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OK, so how to explain… this may be a first although I stand to be corrected. I did not take this photograph. It was taken today though. It’s actually a picture of the inside of my eyeball, which is either interesting or pretty gross depending on your point of view.

I am a glasses wearer, which means I have all sorts of problems when it comes to my photography. I need to take my glasses off to take pictures as a) its uncomfortable and b) most modern digital SLRs have this funky little focussing wheel that you can turn so that everything is in sharp focus. And, before you ask, I cannot wear contact lenses. I have a bit of a problem with eyes or more specifically touching my eyes or putting anything in my eyes. Even eye drops are pretty impossible to get in as I usually blink. Not sure where this comes from but it’s probably the eye trauma from films like Dead and Buried, Zombie Flesh Eaters and Opera that I lapped up in my youth.

Anyway, today I reluctantly went for an eye examination (the first in 5 years – very naughty of me since you’re supposed to go every two years) and it seems that technology has moved on. Not only have they made that thing that fires air into your eyeballs slightly less painful, they now also photograph the inside of your eyeball – to check for signs of diabetes, glaucoma, etc – and then e-mail it to you! My, how technology has changed the way we do things. Now, providing I keep to regular eye examination appointments, they will be able to compare images from test to test and hopefully catch anything nasty earlier.

So there you go; a photograph of the inside of the photographer’s eyeball. Don’t say I don’t spoil you. Or go that extra mile to bring you something different. Apparently, everything is fine, my prescription has not changed in the 5-year period since my eyes were last examined, and that is actually a picture of a healthy eye. Bought some new glasses too so that I can put them down and forget them, stand on them or leave them up a volcano, all of which I have done in the past.

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Softly, softly, catchee monkey

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Back off holiday and another blog post for August. It seems odd having only blogged once before this month after blogging every day for 7 months but I do feel that a weight of expectation has been lifted. As usual Northumberland did not disappoint and I am somewhat daunted by the sheer number of photographs that I took. Of course some of them are family shots and will therefore never see the light of day on this blog but there are still several hundred others to prioritise and get through. Processing all the wedding photographs recently has finally opened up my eyes to the blindingly obvious fact that my old PC is not really up to task in terms of speed or capability. It has become a chore and I spend a lot of time just sitting, with the fan whirring, waiting for it to do something.

For many years I have harboured a dream of upgrading to an Apple Mac, primarily because I don’t know a single pro photographer that is not Mac-based. So I have now made the decision that any income made from photography – meagre as it is – is going to go into a savings fund to trade in the PC for a Mac at some point in the future. This may well take more than a year given my current incomings.

I am more than pleased with Society6 in terms of generating income as it is the first outlet for my photography that has actually worked, and lord knows there have been many failed attempts. I’ve never had a photography sale via this blog or the website I set up for example. The sums involved from selling via Society6 are small but growing and I can see a steady increase in interest. In addition, it’s nice to be seen as an artist by a community of other artists who have no idea who I am.

Also, I have had three more enquiries about photographing weddings; this I am noticeably less excited about, primarily because I find them very stressful and as word of mouth takes them away from friends and friends of friends to complete strangers then my stress levels can only increase further. Nonetheless, it is heartening to be getting word-of-mouth recommendations even if it is only as a cheap and cheerful option. Whether I will do them or not is an entirely different matter.

And what other news? I will continue to add images to my Society6 store and this may well become my primary focus over the blog (to be honest it already has) as operation Mac continues into 2012. I know have three images for sale via the Urban Outfitters print shop (again via a deal they have with Society6) and it is obvious from my stats that it is these images that are selling the most, though the commission is lower. So I suppose my strategy should be to try and get more picked up by Urban Outfitters. The three images they have picked up so far are not my best – in my opinion anyhow, which may be worthless – and are undoubtedly all images where I have consciously attempted to do something quirky or ‘arty’. Again, maybe there is a lesson to be learned here? And this opens up a wider question. Why is it that the photographs of mine that are rated the highest by other artists hardly sell at all? It’s an interesting conundrum and I only wish I knew the answer.

I had a very good meeting with a PR-oriented friend of mine who insisted that I do something or anything to promote the photography and I now have a list of actions, some of which I might actually do something about if things didn’t keep getting in the way such as holidays, first Northumberland and Edinburgh to come. That said, in Edinburgh I am taking some photographs of friends for their company’s website so will be combining business and pleasure (and ticking something off the action plan).

I never really envisaged selling ANY of my photographs when I started this whole adventure and I certainly never envisaged being seen as an artist, as previous blog posts will attest. I am not the most proactive of people – you may have noticed – but it seems to me that if you keep making small steps towards an achievable goal then that is better than making no steps at all. It has been a very slow build since my first blog post in May 2009 but I have come pretty far and learned loads – certainly I have achieved more than I thought I would. I catch myself getting impatient sometimes about the slow pace I am setting but then I think of the day job and the family commitments and overall I’m pretty pleased with my progress. I have also had a lot of support along the way from family and friends, social networkers and other photographers/artists too. So thanks all!

Sometimes I feel a bit like the Wizard of Oz and that any minute the curtain may be whipped away to reveal an old man pulling levers. I am still not completely convinced that I have ‘an eye for it’ and my ability with the camera fluctuates wildly; however, I am improving in terms of my digital darkroom skills and this appears to be half the battle. Sorry that this post is a bit disjointed; I’m not really sure what I am trying to say other than to reassure myself that the blog is still valid and worth updating. I still consider myself an amateur, albeit one that has managed to achieve a modicum of recognition as a tiny fish in a very very big pool of photographers that is growing all the time.

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It’s not grim up North

Holga island

After my last post on the 1st August I said that this blog was not going to die so here is another post just to prove my point. I will admit that not blogging has been a blessed relief for the last couple of weeks, although during those two weeks it seems that England (yes, England NOT the UK as news outlets would have you believe) has gone to hell in a handcart. This blog is not going to try and understand why the recent riots happened but I do I find it very sad. A lot of lives and livelihoods have been ruined and even lost but I think last week’s events have been coming for a long time. Our culture is now obsessed with the accumulation of goods and the cult of celebrity then it should come as no surprise when those that have nothing decide to take what they don’t have. The violence cannot be condoned and those involved must be punished but at the same time those at the other end of society – bankers, MPs who were economical with the truth expenses wise, huge corporations avoiding tax – must also be seen to be punished. But that will not happen. Indeed, our current Prime Minister, and the Mayor of London, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer were members of an exclusive club at university (the Bullingdon) that used to regularly behave badly, smashing windows and trashing restaurants. Of course in their case they could pay for the damage and it was only ‘youthful high jinks’. Similarly, the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has admitted to setting fire to a greenhouse full of rare cacti in his youth.

It’s very sad that a student – with no previous convictions – walking home from his girlfriend’s house who stole a 3.50 bottle of water gets 6 month in prison and does not deserve a second chance; conversely, Andy Coulson, the Prime Minister’s disgraced communications chief did deserve a second chance despite allegedly overseeing widespread criminality at the News of the World. Of course the majority of the rioters deserve to go to prison for a very, very long time but for a government obsessed with fairness this seems to be in short supply. Knee jerk reactions are almost always wrong and there seems to be no proportionality.

But enough hand-wringing. I never meant to write all that but got carried away a little. Despite the news coverage coming out of England this week, its still a beautiful country and today we are heading up north to my favourite place, Northumberland. From a photographer’s point of view I find the landscapes of Northumberland, where it seems you are never that far away from a castle, a rugged coastline or mile upon mile of empty sandy beaches, to be inspiring. I am hoping to get lots of good pictures that I can share as the blog progresses at a more sedate pace.

This picture was taken in Northumberland, on Holy Island, last year at the same time as I was photographing a wedding. Of late I have been experimenting a bit with different effects and tints and this was an image that I liked but which in its colour form was bleached out by the sun rising over the headland. This seemed to work and prints are available from my society6 shop.

In other news, the last set of wedding photographs that I did, which I agonised over for so long were delivered to much praise (phew) and as a result I have had an enquiry about shooting another wedding next year. Sales are picking up slowly on the society6 site and a friend in PR has decided to take me by the scruff of the neck and put a plan in place for promoting my photography more widely. We’ll see how that goes. But first a holiday… Back soon

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Waving the white flag…

OK. its 1st August which marks7 months of non-stop blogging and I am afraid that that I have reached my limit as far as blogging every day is concerned. I have admitted defeat, thrown in the towel  and removed the post-a-day badge from the blog. In the end it was just too much of a commitment and I was running out of pictures to post and things to say.

Writing the blog every day has become too much of a chore and a burden; furthermore, looking at the stats, fewer and fewer people are reading it. Familiarity breeds contempt, or at the very least  waning interest.

It has been suggested that my time may be better served by posting less frequently and when I have something to say and I honestly think that is probably the best way to go; certainly it will free more time to concentrate on doing something more constructive with the photography such as has been achieved via Society6.

This is categorically NOT  the end of the blog, just the end of the post-a-day 2011 experiment. In a couple of weeks time I will be off to Northumberland again (one of the other reasons for calling it a day now) and will no doubt come back with some great new pictures. But in the meantime thanks for sticking with me thus far. Hopefully, less will mean more going forward.

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