July - Are we just taking a few snap shots or are we working quite hard?

I have been asked why I have set such an easy theme for July? – is there enough education value in taking just a few snaps? Well, let’s just look at that for a moment, most of our learners are probably going to end up being self-employed or running a small business. Until that business can afford to pay for a professional photographer and a marketing department they will be taking their own pictures for the flyers, business cards, website etc.

Therefore, they might need to know somethings and better to practice now rather than later: if you’re going in to catering, floristry or cake decorating etc. you’re going to need to know how to take a good still life. If the food doesn’t look great in the picture - people are not going to come to eat at your business regardless of however good it tastes.

If you are going into gardening, landscaping or property development etc. you are going to need landscape photography, you will be selling a concept or life style to the customer, you will need to set that out very clearly before you even get to speak to them.

If your business is all about your passion for horse riding, dog walking or grooming etc. you are going to have to show off your work in a slightly different way to every other cute animal picture on the web, so you will need to be creative.

If you end up working in the holiday, sports and leisure industries then you will want to show people enjoying your activity but you might not be able to pay for the models. You also have a duty of care and some responsibility of safeguarding to any children used in the pictures, you will have to gain their parents written permission to use the photographs and how, when and where the photograph is going to be being used.

Now, if you’re going into construction, a photograph of your last beautifully laid wall or roof might rock your boat! – but will it make a great advert for your business? Here is where the editing really is going to come in to play.

If you had been out with us on the Walking for Friendship this month you would have understood the value of framing the shot. (I will be teaching that in the one to one sessions as I come around.)

This month we walked around Virginia Water as normal, but it took over two and a half hours to do so, because we were stopping every five minutes to snap this and then that and “let me just take this from a different angle.” We went at 7.30am, yes, the lesson started at 7.30am and they’re all teenagers and they suggested that time. I had suggested that early morning light would be something to consider when taking the landscape shots in the original challenge details. They remembered that during the winter month walks there were a lot of very good scenes around the lake where the winter sun cast long shadows and areas of light and shade and they were right!

And that’s 2 ½ hours of the 20 or 25 a week they need to do to show they are receiving enough education just getting enough shots for the next stage and that was only for the landscape challenge. Then, there is the process of selection: many, many photographs will be rejected – why this one and not that? Editing is a real valuable skill in running a business.

To give you an idea of this I have included a sample photograph: I like this photograph because of the way the yellow grass slops from left to right and the way it contrasts against the dark green of the trees and the sliver of the water behind. The edge of the trees and bushes frame the water in a very wiggle line which is the opposite of the bowed line of the grass. Then there are the two tree trunks at an angle forming a ‘V’. Right in the middle of this is a very straight and brightly coloured sign.

I like this! But - is this a good photograph? Would this be something I would use to market Virginia Water?

Justifying your final choice will be all about pervasive writing and a clear sense of artist value and this is what this month’s theme is all about - the art of photography and the challenge of editing! So, are we just taking a few snap shots or are we working quite hard? In truth, it’s all about learning the skills for that business to come. Hopefully, I have argued a case for enough educational content in this ‘easy task’.

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