Here's a look at my photography within 2017.
It was a time of big change for me this year. 2016 ended with me working solely as a photographer, 2017 began with myself being involved with a film company and and author Ian Livingstone.
Looking back this year was one of the most exciting years I have had and yet the most depressing year I have faced.
Working as a photographer in early 2017 I was able to set up a Film company to complement the photography I did, as my camera equipment upgraded, due to the success as a photographer and branch out into setting up other projects I was wanting to work on. I had written so many stories as a teenager and completed so many screenplays to films waiting to be shot, I decided now would be a great time to do just that alongside any other commitments, such as weddings.
Early 2016, I found myself approaching game designer/writer Ian Livingstone to turn some books he wrote for a series called "Fighting Fantasy" and even filmed a promo for one episode. It was a great learning curve as a producer for me. I was able to secure an exclusive distribution deal with Amazon when the episodes were complete based off my concept. I was able to secure the rights on some of the books with talks for further books to be included if I was able to produce the entire series. It kind of fell against what I was trying to achieve as I had a specific plan for all the books in the series in a certain story thread, covering seven series. It was kind if in the style of the television show "Game of Thrones".
I also found love in my personal life and moved in with them in early 2017, because we were near enough the same mind, we decided to work together and set up a company together in May. It was great, we hosted events and wedding fayres in North England and Wales. There was so much work to be done though something had to give and so I placed my focus on the new projects with the events company. I was still doing photography, just not advertising anything new. It got to a point where I only had two weddings to do.
As the work was coming in thick and fast for the events company, it demanded my full time, we had about 7 venues under our belt to host wedding fayres at and even put on a concert for an ABBA Tribute band called Swede Dreamz in Wales.
Success does have it's drawbacks as you find many people will seek you out just to gain from you and that's it.
I learnt a big lesson at the end of 2017 as the relationship I was in ended and was made homeless suddenly.
All the time I was placing in with this person was a complete waste as they took everything from me. Still owing me thousands to this day. Putting my eggs in one basket meant I had nothing to fall back on when I was made homeless one night suddenly.
At the end of 2017 I had just ended the training as a Celebrant to compliment the events company we ran, I had worked exclusively for a company I no longer ran and was living with someone in their home. Looking back, I was living someone else's life. I was happy together with this person, and devastated when suddenly one night forced out by their family members.
Luckily the one thing I have always done and enjoyed was writing, I began writing again during the dark times towards the end. I began writing stories that interested me and wrote out a series of books that read as a game. I was even lucky enough to grab a deal with a publisher to distribute the books.
So now, working as a writer with the occasional Celebrant/Photography work, I have more time for loved ones and can help others better than I could before.
Fantasy, Magic, Movies......there's so much to shoot. Models, families, children, pets.....
Another past time of mine when I was young was writing, I love coming up with narrative tales and fictional stories. As a young 12 year old I used to sit in front of my typewriter, old man, and write out stories most weekends. With my friends as a young man such as Tim Jefferies we would write stories together and sometimes even film them. As with my cousin when I was about 10 we used to film little horror stories together. Which mainly involved one of burying ourselves in the back garden and filming each other coming out of the ground. Since I came back from the USA I have wrote numerous stories and even managed to put together a collection of four short stories, sadly nothing published. As I grew older I began to explore other types of stories and even laid out a series of children's books. As I approach my forties now, I feel if I do not do anything with these ideas, then nothing will ever get done with them. In the future when I die they most likely will be binned, so that is what has spurred me into the next phase of my life. Combining all my hobbies into one.
For now I will be concentrating on my photography and still do the portraits, but soon will be leaning towards film making, I soon will be on the look out for someone who can run my photography business as I concentrate on the film making. Currently I have set up a Film Production company called Portrait Films to handle any video within my business. My business and I so far are the main shareholders and from now until April 2017 there are options for anyone to invest in and become a shareholder in the company as well. So if anyone out there fancies a yearly % of the company, get in touch to Pestridge Portraits on Facebook using this link:
As for now it's business as usual, creating great Portraits for those who wish to see themselves in a different way.
As well as the usual way of photographing portraits....
So by now, I was itching to upgrade my camera and take it to the next level. I had amassed thousands of pictures, a hard drive full of imagery. I longed for a full frame 35mm camera that was fully capable of getting the imagery I had in my head into reality. When I was young I wrote nearly every day, stories, poems and little drawings. I had saved all that work from when I was a teenager in the hopes that one day I would be able to visualize it into something. I wrote in secret, I never told people I wrote, I never showed anybody what I did and the worlds I created. But I could as a photographer visualize them at least. A lot of people was telling me that my images were good, and I should do this as a job. Yeah right, I couldn't manage my personal life so how could I cope with a business. I had managed a studio under the rule of a company with full training, but how could I set up a business and run that?
Well luckily for me I was getting heavily depressed in my current job and wanted a change. Although I loved dealing with members of the public, the company I worked for was awful to their staff. Working them into the ground and when they got sick they would discipline them with warnings. Of course me being epileptic did not go down well in the company, and every time I had a fit, they would punish me with a warning, which quickly escalated into a final written warning within a year. The funny thing with epilepsy is that stress is a trigger. I was going through a marriage break up two years prior and getting back was very stressful, stress at work was mounting the more fits I had and one day in August, I said goodbye and handed in my notice. Did not know what I was going to do, but know I needed money to pay bills. So I went to the job centre, started to sign on until I could think what I wanted in my life. I found help out of depression in my photography..
I decided that I didn't want to end up in that situation again and have to rely on a company for my life. I watched a film that changed my life because it taught me that I CAN change my life, I had all the tools necessary, ME. I just needed the help and push in the right direction. Lucky for me the local job centre hooked me up with an agency that helps people set themselves up in their own business. They send you on courses, plan out your idea, help you create a business plan and guide you through to going live and serving your first customers. They even give out a grant of £300 to start you off. Brilliant.
The first idea I gave them was too big for them to make a reality and asked me to downscale it to something more manageable. So I decided to take the photography part and concentrate on that.
Smile Pictures was born.
I used natural light and outdoor locations to service my clients and got gorgeous results. Even more better than I had before.
Too cut a long story short, I learned a lot in the next two years, about managing a business, spending money wisely and hard work. My working hours went from 4pm till midnight working at the supermarket to getting up at 8am, starting work at 9am and finishing work at 3am in the morning. I worked my tail off to make the business a succss, I went door to door, rang people up, sent out leaflets, created online adverts and websites. Within a year I was managing 4 websites: my main business website, a website dedicated to advertising other businesses within my local area, a website to offer out editing services, a website I used just as a blog, and I was in the process of building another for training workshops when I met someone who changed my life.
He was exactly in my shoes, he ran a shop and had customers in a small area. He had kids and had common interests with me. We went into business together and created a photography and film studio that also trained other photographers.
I knew I needed to upgrade the camera by this point to something more suited to my needs. I couldn't still yet afford the kind of camera I wanted as I was investing £1200 into the building of a studio. I went instead for a camera older than my Olympus, but yet had the functions and picture quality that was required for studio photography for the kind of portraits we were doing. The Fujifilm FinePix S3Pro. Still not full frame, but the sensor was still larger than the Olympus and I got some killer Pentax lenses to go with it. The images that were coming off were much better than the Olympus under the right conditions.
But sadly by then end of the year in 2015 my business partner had enough, just after three months of opening he decided he could not afford to be in the business anymore and backed out just as we were getting regular work in. Oh well I'm sure I can do it alone, I'm not gonna get into details here as it's pretty ugly but to cut another long story short the studio had too close as he owned the space in front of the studio and was not allowing access to the studio anymore. In that experience I learned a lot about business and life as well as you never know what people are like, I found out some home truths that ended my marriage and partnership with both wife and what I thought was a friend.
So going solo and expanding on what I learned. .
I decided if I'm going to do this, I'm going to do it right this time, I will do it the way I want to do it with images I have in my head, rather than what sells to the usual markets.
I am going to need a more up to date camera. As much as I loved the images coming off it I really needed a bigger sensor size more in line with the photography I wanted to achieve, film like imagery. The above image was not edited in any way as I liked it the way it was as it was the kind of photography you find usual professionals offering. Standard photography sessions. I feel I want something more than that, I want my imagination to really lift off and get imagery that evokes other worldly beauty and timeless, classic images that one day would be regarded as gallery worthy with a real cinematic feel exactly like the imagery below.
So with a budget of £400 I went out and started to create my current photography business, The camera I now use is a full frame Canon 5d Mark iii, which I was to later find out is the same model of camera that marvel used to shoot the summer blockbuster "The Avengers"....Awesome. I also was able to buy additional accessories and lenses that I required for the type of photography I do now.........
With Photoshop, beginner photographer's I would say less is more. Photoshop is only a tool in taking the shot, just like the camera. The software won't take it for you or make it beautiful. Only you can do that with your eyes and inner eye in mind. If you find yourself relying on Photoshop too much, then ban yourself from it for a month. Increase your picture taking and work on framing the image and moving your subject (or yourself) in order to pose and compose the image. Use vertical and horizontal lines to create a balanced and interesting photo or using converging lines to follow the eye to a focal point you want the viewer to see. The best practice is taking pictures of hill and mountains. Even though my images did improve in picture quality in terms of colour, the composition did not suddenly get better. It's the same with a camera, having a professional camera DOES NOT make you a better photographer. Only your eyes can get you that.
Practice. Practice. Practice.
That is the only way you can perfect/nourish a creative mind.
The subject you are shooting, how you pose them and how they sit in the frame with the light surrounding them will make or break an image, it's the basic elements that go into a photo is what you will enhance with Photoshop.
Having a membership to the local Zoo is a must for any photographer, it's great value and a varied world of diverse plants and animals to capture. Still loving my Olympus camera and the additional lenses I used, I had a Sigma 24mm 1.4 lens. It was a prime lens and looked great even tho the Olympus camera had a cropped sensor. I also had a Ziess 40-150mm 3.5 lens as well. It was an okay lens and far better than the lens that came with the camera, I was able to get to grips with the settings on that one, but with this I was able to get past the wires on cages by zooming through and watch then disappear..!
I was happy with the picture's I was getting, but I knew I could make them look a lot better with proper editing software. The usual routine for me was to encode them into a jpeg using a small program. I still kept the RAW files thankfully, I think this really helped me with creating a picture with composition in order to create an interesting picture rather than relying on editing to make the picture.
In 2012 early of that year, I had saved up my money and purchased my first and only copy to date of Photoshop. Version CS5. I had used a friends CS3 once a few years before so I wasn't a stranger to the interface. But CS5 performed slowly on the computer I had and was forced to upgrade when I lost CS3 when it crashed and never recovered. Luckily I never had lost any photo's. But now I was able to process my RAW files before saving to a jpg file. I still use CS5 today to process my photo's, I have got so used to the controls and presets I've created, that I feel there's no real reason to upgrade and get used to a new interface or control system. If it ain't broke do not fix it, just refine it. At first I got real Photoshop happy and every photo got a certain treatment and I soon became blinded by composition and thought to myself sometime, it's alright I know I can make that brighter or darker on Photoshop when taking pictures. Effectively I became very lazy with composing a picture. I have had a real large wake up call and gone back to composing my frame as I did when I first learnt photography. That's the best thing about photography, it's a creative medium and so therefore can be anything you want it to be, just like a painting or any other creative process. There's no right way or wrong way, there's YOUR way.
So it was here I started to get into photography more with every trip to the Zoo, yet I knew I was miles away from the type of photography I wanted to be doing. I wanted big, detailed images, full of colour and atmosphere. I had a zoom lens for the camera but it didn't get me the shots I wanted to see, that i have imagined in my head. I then bought magazines and saw the images in my head from professional camera's. I knew I couldn't afford them yet, I would have to work my way up the camera ladder. One Christmas I was given a compact camera by a friend as he knew I loved photography. It was a brand new Sony Cybershot, 14 megapixels, I was in heaven! With these added pixels I could zoom in more and get more detailed pictures, YES!
I soon discovered one thing, the pictures looked more brighter and on the surface more gorgeous than the Olympus one's out of the box. On Olympus out of the box, the pictures were flat in colour. Playing around with the setting I was able to get more from it and found out that it's how you use the camera, not what type of camera it is. The compact one was riddled with noise even in bright daylight!
The colour had a real nice look to it but only in daylight. Using the flash indoors gave the pictures a real unflattering look. I never used it, I always turned it off and soon found out that colours were not right, I soon missed the Olympus and found myself going back to it and upgrading the lenses instead. It really is not what camera you have, but what you do with it. Creativity comes out of your head, not your camera.
I took my first step now into getting a proper camera that I could control the settings on and began to get some more varied images from. I never used Photoshop or any editing software in those days, it was out of camera imagery for me only. I really learnt about composition this way and how to fill the frame. I did some research this time and chose to go with a camera that was two years old already for two reasons. One was price and the second was I felt the technical specifications for the camera suited the type of photography I wanted to focus on. Animals/locations and more better shots of my children. The Camera I chose was the Olympus E410 DSLr. It was second hand and came with the standard lens. It was more heavy compared to the Kodak EasyShare and the first thing I noticed was how the images were a lot crisper in sharpness and detail. It was the first time also I was working with RAW images, but I never felt the need to correct them afterwards. It would be good to go back to those original Digital Negatives and re-work them to see the results. Maybe in a future post.
Now there were better camera's on the market yes, but I wasn't going to start a business, I worked in a newsagents and the following year left there to work at Tesco's, as the pension was better. I really wanted to learn good customer service.
I was able to get better family pictures now and explore other imagery in nature, and combined with a Chester Zoo membership a year later, I was always going to the Zoo each year to capture every animal with my new toy. I was not yet playing around with the editing, simply just taking the shot and working on my composition. Learn the basics I thought and slowly work my way up. Of course in 2010 I made a purchase that would make me think twice about cameras in the future. The Olympus camera was great and I was learning how to use a more manual setting, but I got an itch that I could not scratch, and that was the techno bug, with a mega pixel fever.........
It was Christmas and my mom and step dad had split up months before so me and my sisters were opening our presents and I had the Polaroid camera in hand taking pictures. As soon as I clicked the button and moments later when the image developed I was amazed at how in a few short seconds I had frozen time within this image and how awesome that was. To be able to create a window into my world and see it again whenever I wanted and remember the emotion I felt in the moment was incredible. I loved taking pictures and recording the events and from that day on I did just that.