Super Quick Version for those in a hurry:
I’m Tom Miles, a professional editorial/commercial photographer based in London UK. I shoot for various national magazines, PR agencies, design agencies and commercial clients, and have been seriously invovled in photography since 1993. This blog is about professional photography, but with a bias towards the areas that don’t get covered much, such as professionalism, psychology, and creativity, rather than equipment reviews.
More in depth version, for those with time on their hands:
This blog is my attempt to illuminate some of the less-discussed aspects of professional photography, and answer some of the questions I get asked frequently by students, amateurs, and aspiring professionals. Lots of sites out there will talk about technique, equipment and the like, but not many will go into any detail about issues such as creativity, production, psychology, business, and professional practice. Like any professional, I know a fair bit about technique, and have lots of opinions about equipment, and from time to time I may even share them here, but for the most part it’s those other areas I want to talk about in more depth. I’m essentially trying to fill in the blanks that are left by a lot of courses in photography.
I picked up a camera in 1991, and for a couple of years was simply a keen amateur, but all that changed in 1993 when I went for 2 weeks work experience at the local paper (The Northants Evening Telegraph). Suddenly I was shooting and developing my own work, and going through several rolls of film a day, rather than one roll every few weeks. I was doing fashion shoots, meeting the mayor, chasing after the police helicopter, and getting up to all the usual fun and games that goes with local paper photography. I was still only 15 at the time, and my new found confidence in photography meant that I finally started taking portraits. I discovered that having a camera and lots of ideas meant that all my male friends would do anything stupid in front of the camera, and all my female friends could be persuaded to take their clothes off. I thought to myself “I could make a living out of this!”
I studied photography at night school alongside my A-levels, then went on to a degree at Blackpool College. I hit a few bumps in the road here, as my lack of any Art background caused me to struggle with the approach the college took. Ironically, much of what they were teaching is now the exact thing I yammer on about most on this blog. If only my 18 year old self could see me now.
I was offered work experience again whilst at college, only this time down in London with advertising, editorial and fashion photographers. Just like when I was 15, this blew my mind, and I made every effort to stay in touch throughout my last year at college. This meant that once I left and headed to London to seek my fortune, I had some contacts I could build on, and I started as a freelance photographer’s assistant in August 1998. For the next 3 years I worked for nearly 30 different photographers on everything from big celebrity shoots to still life sets, to feature films and music videos, both in the UK and abroad, gathering a huge amount of experience and making some very valuable contacts.
I set out on my own as a photographer in 2001, mostly working for editorial clients (magazines, Sunday supplements etc) with the occasional bit of commercial work and PR thrown in for good measure. These days I work mainly in the area of sports and fitness, for clients such as Men’s Health, Runner’s World, Men’s Fitness, Forever Sports, Golf Monthly, and the Telegraph. I’m very lucky in that my work is hugely varied in nature. I can be spending Monday in the Brecon Beacons with ex-special forces folks, Tuesday in a swanky gym in West London with some fitness models, and Wednesday out on a speedboat in the Thames. I consider myself very lucky that I’m able to do a job where I get paid to be creative, solve problems, and generally have adventures. Some jobs involve me strapping lots of kit about my body, and riding all over a hillside on a mountain bike, and other jobs invovle me carefully lighting a huge room and managing a decent sized team of people, along with most points in between.
In 2003 I gave a lecture at my old college in Blackpool, and since then in conjunction with the information on this blog, I’ve taught at over 40 universities across the UK, as well as teaching courses for Nikon, Calumet, and the Association of Photographers. Nowadays I also teach specific courses at the Nikon school, and I’ll usually flag them up here on the blog when they’re available. As with the blog, my aim when teaching or lecturing is to throw light on the less well-known parts of professional photography, rather than just give a technical demo, or talk about a fancy bit of kit.
Besides the blog, I’m on Instagram, Behance, Twitter, Flickr, and of course my main commercial site, which is tmphoto.co.uk. I don’t generally post new work on the blog, so if that’s what you’re looking for, you’re better off following me on one of those.
One last thing – the name – Photosmudger. “Smudges” were the old fashioned name for photographs in the press, and so a “Smudger” was a photographer. I thought of the name, and registered the domain way back in 2003, and before I knew it I’d used the same name for several other things including various social media profiles. I’m well aware that effectively it means Photo-Photo, but it’s a bit late to change it now….