July: Projects & Planning!

July has been quite a quiet month for me photography wise! It has seemed to be the case that whenever I am not scheduled to work that it is either raining or I am unable to travel to locations and am limited to areas near my house to explore, which isn't always a bad thing but I do like a bit of variety! I have taken a lot of time this month to think about where I want to take my work next, where I can improve and ways that I can extend both my portfolio and gallery. There's a few main areas I want to focus on over the next year, particularly as these aren't areas I am strongest at but they would be key photography abilities to have and to understand.

Learn The Lingo & The Tools

In all honestly I have learnt my photography via a more hands on approach and as a therapeutic hobby, therefore I am not completely clued up on all my technical jargon. A lot of what I do know (though if you put me on the spot I'd fail miserably!) I have learnt from experience whilst out using my camera, whether it had been when I had been experimenting with settings myself or advice from my friends. I believe it can be easy to overthink shots when working with several technical elements that they lose the essence of what caught the photographer's eye in the first place or some techniques can be overused and they lose their dramatic impact! I do hope that by learning about these techniques it would be something I can naturally adapt to when using my camera and explore when the perfect photo opportunity arises!

Although I don't own any lenses beyond my kit lens, a zoom lens and some cheap 'macro' and 'wide angle' lenses, I have been lucky enough to use other people's cameras who do have lenses, and my brother had very kindly lent me his Nikon D3300 and a lens specifically so I could work my macro shots! I have always soon adapted to any new lenses I have been experimenting with, but when I have looked into purchasing my own, I have got a bit overwhelmed by the choices and features that are available! I was hoping to be at a point in my photography this summer where I would be able to buy new lenses and really reap the rewards. However, I have decided to push this back to next summer as I haven't managed to get out with my camera as much as I wanted over the last few months, and it doesn't look too hopeful for the rest of this summer either unfortunately. I shouldn't look at this as a set back, but rather an opportunity to properly learn about lenses and then I can make a informed decision to choose the best lens for me and my photography style so that next summer I'm ready!

The technical side of photography is a principle area I do need to work on, but meanwhile I think I will work on other, more exciting stuff such as...

Street Photography

A main aim which I want to develop over the remainder of this year and primarily throughout 2019 is my street photography. This is something which I generally haven't held a strong interest in, but something which I have dabbled in a little bit in the past when visiting cities or towns for the first time. When I have taken these photos, I am generally not happy with them and would not consider them part of my photography work, but rather as a personal souvenir from that event. I am aware that I am very poor in framing my shots of streets and I struggle with working with unpredictable elements such as people walking down the streets or cars zooming past just as I've hit the shutter. I think it is good that I can see my flaws in my street photography because it provides me with clear goals as to what to improve on, and it bring me out of my comfort zone, which is generally secluded nature with very little people around me!

An important thing I will have to consider when starting to develop my street work, is my timing. I always feel awkward pulling out my phone or camera in busy places to take pictures of non-nature subjects - I feel like a goofy tourist in my own town sometimes when doing this, so I tend to be try to be discrete and haven't taken a lot of time to get the perfect shot in the past. I am more in favour of dusk/night-time photography primarily for the ambient lighting, but also as my hometown is quieter in footfall at that time especially down the little side streets so I wouldn't be disturbed as much when setting up my shots. My phone camera is my go-to for sunset shots as it tends to pick up the richer colours better than my camera, so I will most likely use my phone at night time (Sony Xperia XA Ultra) when beginning to develop my portfolio... that and I'd be too scared of accidentally knocking over my tripod in the dark when I'm faffing around setting up shots! I'm always keeping an eye out for interesting, but quiet, areas of my hometown that I can visit in the daytime with my DLSR and get some practice setting up my camera for more effective street photography.

I know it may be summer, but I am excited for when the nights start drawing in so that I can start location scouting and getting some practise shots in on my walks to and from work in time for the arrival of Christmas (and the rain!). I just absolutely adore the look of festive street lighting reflecting in puddles after it has rained - in fact, this is generally when I feel most inspired for street photography and have previously managed to 'fluke' some photographs I am happy to be featured within my photography gallery. I am generally not a festive person, but I am an advocate for cute lighting (Also, a self-proclaimed fairy-light addict with over 20 sets currently in my bedroom alone...) so one of my favourite things to do during the holiday season is to don the hats and scarves to keep warm whilst exploring little villages or quaint towns in search for decorations so it is the perfect time to practice!

Portraiture Photography

My reasons for developing my portraiture photography are very similar to those listed above, but also as it has become a prominent element in modern day life that it is an extremely handy, if not necessary, skill for any photographer to know. Again, this is a confidence thing within myself, but also that I find the pressure that I place on myself extremely stressful, even in informal environments with no time restrictions on how long I can take. This has generally been when I have been working within an indoor studio working on musician headshots or sometimes helping with video camera set up on video recordings. I have also done some still photography work on film sets, some of which were outside which I did find an easier environment to work in, but as these were generally horror films it was inevitable that I would become covered in fake blood at some point so my camera was hidden well away from the splash zone!

I do have a particular style or atmosphere I would like to capture within my portraiture work. I would like to base my portraiture work outside, as I think a more natural setting would add more to the story told, and the photograph as a whole. I would also like to focus on the model(s) looking and acting natural rather than structured posing, however I would be more than happy to help those who need a portfolio of headshots within an indoor environment as this would allow me to further develop my technical skills with my camera and studio lighting/set-up as well as my general confidence in the studio. My confidence definitely has to improve before I open my 'services' to the public, so I plan on enrolling (or rather, forcing?) close friends to model for me so that is a calm but lively environment for me to practice in and less pressure upon myself to produce perfect photos for expecting clients!

New Website Look/Features

I am always tweaking little bits on my website, and generally these are bits that will go unnoticed by anyone but me but hey-ho! As I've been at work majority of days the last month or two and haven't been able to get out properly with my camera, I have been spending a lot of my evenings working on this website. I am constantly thinking of ideas or discovering new features that I can to it via my host site that generally makes viewing it a more enjoyable experience. Sometimes, these jobs are easy enough but sometimes I make more work for myself... I recently tweaked my watermark and website logo slightly so that it is more squarely aligned than before, and as I like most stuff to match, I am currently in the process of re-watermarking all my galleries! Looking over all my photos is inspiring me for future walks next time I have a suitable day off!

As many of my galleries hold a significant number of photographs, I have began developing a different method of viewing the galleries so that it is easier for you lovely lot to enjoy! Each gallery will have the option of viewing them via a slider gallery which will display one image at a time on the page, or the 'full' gallery where the images are displayed for you to scroll down the page and click on the image to view full size. These edits will also make it easier to view the information about the photographs such as the location or the product codes.

When my website was first released, I had a 'locations' tab featured on the header, but I soon removed this when I had tweaked the main look of the page (within a month or so of its release!) as my priority was in developing my gallery in light of these changes instead and adding features such as the blog to my site. My other issue was that I was visiting so many places which would be deemed a favourite, that I would have been constantly adding to this page which may have been overwhelming and some what unorganised, so I needed to be selective in what I chose. I am now slowly developing a locations page again, alongside an 'A-Z' guide of all the places I have visited with photography in mind - I think it is lovely to be able to see where an image was taken as well as finding new places to explore. This page will include map links, nearest/central postcode, a few interesting places near by or other features within that particular area as well as information on geocaching locations, Wainwrights and places such as the National Trust or English Heritage. I really hope that this will be useful to some of you to find some new exciting walking routes!

Upcoming Trip to Ireland

In other news, it is just over a month until I visit Ireland for the first time! We are staying on the east coast of Northern Ireland, about 20 miles from Belfast but have plans to travel up to the North coast and visit the Giants Causeway and Carrick-A-Rede! I am really excited, it will be good to have a weekend away by the beach with three of my favourite people - my mum, my grandad and my camera! We are travelling via ferry from just north of Stranraer so it will be nice to be able to see some of Scotland on our way there and back! Keep your eyes peeled for an Ireland themed blog post coming your way!

Well, I hope some of you are as excited as I am about some of my ideas for the upcoming months! It really does feel nice to have some sort of plan or guidance in place to motivate me to continue doing what I love!

Take care everyone!