Welcome to Photosmudger

At work in the studio. I’m the one behind the camera, not the one drinking the beer

This blog is an evolution of a site I started over a couple of years ago. For some time I had been receiving a steady trickle of emails and phonecalls that ran along the lines of: “How do I get to be a professional photographer?” I’d also given a few lectures and talks at colleges and similar places that sought to answer this question. Whilst I recognised that there was a wealth of information on the internet that addressed technical matters (everything from lighting to equipment, to digital workflow) there seemed to be very little that covered the more esoteric aspects of professional photography. So I decided to start writing about it, and in about 2 years I’d amassed about 50 000 words of content on such subjects.

Early in 2007 I realised that the content would reach a wider audience, and would be better presented if I turned photosmudger into a blog. This was not as simple as I thought, and there is still a long way to go to convert and edit down all the old pieces, plus I’ve had a right headache getting into the mindset of a blogger as opposed to someone who only updates their website every month or so.

My aim is to provide a resource of information that throws light upon relatively obscure and arcane aspects of a photographer’s life, such as production, psychology, creativity, business, finance, and professional practice. I reckon this stuff will be of most interest to students of photography, other professional photographers, photographer’s assistants, and very keen amateurs. As always in these situations what I say is based upon my experiences or the experiences of those close to me – I’m not necessarily right, and your mileage may vary. Please feel free to comment if you think you can bring something to the party – if not, don’t.

Where possible I’ll also include diary pieces as well as setup shots and links to other useful goodies. A note of caution at this point – working for magazines means that the “lead” times on shoots I do can sometimes be very long, and I can’t go publicising stuff until the magazine has used it first. Because of this there will almost always be a gap (sometimes a huge one) between doing a shoot and posting the results.

So I can qualify what I’m saying, here’s a very brief biography:

I first picked up an SLR at 13, then within 18 months did some work experience at my local paper in the Midlands. Overnight I fell in love with the whole “shooting for a living” lark, and for the next 2 years I proceeded to heavily supplement my small amount of pocket money with photographic jobs, and was usually earning more (and having far more fun) than mates who were doing more conventional evening/weekend jobs. After studying photography formally at night school, I went to Blackpool College to study for a degree.

Again I scored some work experience, but this time through the AoP, down in London with advertising and Editorial photographers. I stayed in touch with the people I’d worked with, and on leaving college in summer 1998 I started working as a freelance assistant in London. Thanks to some lucky breaks I was shooting for magazines myself within 9 months of leaving, and after 3 years of assisting, during which time I’d worked for nearly 30 different photographers, I “retired” from being an assistant and set out on my own.

Since then I have been working primarily in the editorial market (magazines to the layman), for titles such as Maxim, Men’s Fitness, Golf Monthly, Runner’s World and so on. A minority of my work is made up of shooting directly for commercial clients, very occasional advertising, and a few charities. I shot my first cover nearly 6 years ago, and was very chuffed when I managed to fulfill one of my ambitions and shoot 30 by the time I was 30 back in May 2007.

I’m based, like most other editorial photographers in the UK, in London, though I have to travel extensively for work. I currently shoot almost everything with DSLR’s, though I still keep film cameras for the times when clients request them.

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