by Mark Ashworth Published 01/04/2012
Involvement with industry bodies such as The Societies and Click is central to Mark's philosophy as a photographer. "Being an active member of organisations such as these keeps me in touch with current trends and new developments," he says. "Also I have made loads of friends ove the years and it's these people who inspire me to achieve better, both in business and from a creative point of view. The Societies provides its members with the best source of knowledge and an amazing Convention, and it gives me, and others like me, the chance to give something back by presenting seminars and workshops to those coming through."
Mark has been working hard over the past two years to build up the portraiture side of his business to try to combat the more competitive environment that exists in the wedding market these days. "I know many wedding photography businesses that are struggling with increased competition and a decrease in demand at the moment," he says. "So I'm concentrating on family and kids' portraiture as well as fashion makeovers. Virtually all of my work is now studio based as I know I'm a master of good lighting and that, along with rapport with the client, is crucial if you're looking to produce the best work.
"Almost every client, particularly in the social market, tells me that they hate having their picture taken. So immediately the challenge is to build up that trust with your sitter, and making them feel relaxed and confident with you is the most vital part of taking someone's portrait. Having a picture taken is such a personal thing, and many people find it quite intimidating. While they want a great photograph they often think it's unachievable because they don't own a good picture of themselves already. So the key here is to make them feel as relaxed as possible - they will find it easier once you start shooting.
"Once you get the pose and expression right as a result of making them feel relaxed, the lighting is the next most important thing. It has to flatter them, suit the subject and give the right look to the portrait you are going to create. I often shoot kids and babies with just one light and reflector, but my makeover and fashion shots can involve up to four lights, with a bias on back lighting. The fundamentals here always remain: there are rules about certain styles of lighting, such as Rembrandt, Butterfly, short, broad, etc that I generally never break. If the client has a perfect face with great bone structure you can sometimes break the rules and the shots look fab, but if they don't then experience suggests you will get a much better result if you adhere to the ground rules. Know what you are going to shoot before you start out and if there is time at the end try something new."
It's a philosophy that's got Mark where he is today, and as he celebrates his status as Click Photographer of the Year it's helping to establish him as one of the brightest young photographers working in the country today.
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