by Jon Jenkins Published 01/11/2010
'The Convention is amazing. It is the single most important date in the calendar and has taken over from Focus which is just about equipment really.'
Brief personal background and years as a pro.
I have been a professional for six years now. I had a total of twenty two jobs before that.
I ran a high street studio in Newport for four years then worked from home for two years. Now I have a really successful studio in Cardiff. It's making plenty of money. I shoot 20-30 weddings a year and work on studio portraiture through the week.
First camera/photo experience.
I had a 'disk camera' when I was a child and I felt great about it! Little did I know.
I thought it might be more fulfilling than being a driving instructor. And I was right.
Film/digital (both?) Is there still any place for film?
Just digital. I don't really see any place for film anymore. It's a shame. Photography doesn't have a value like it did back in the day. Now young people will never feel the joyous anticipation of waiting for their photos.
Capture and output devices used.
Camera, lens and lab. That is about it. I'm not an equipment dork like so many people out there. A camera to me is what a spanner is to a car mechanic. It does one little job. You must create the image and just let the camera capture it.
Bit of detail about your own studio set-up/staffing
My Studio is tiny. It is one room just fifteen feet square.
But with a bit of smart manipulation I can have a studio, then a viewing room and a wedding booking room. I love it.
The difference with me is the quality of the service the customer receives. It's very personal. It's always me who answers the phone. I am the one that does everything. My products are a little different with montages that contain up to 51 photos of the baby. Parents love it.
The problem with professional photographers today is....
Everyone thinks they are an expert and the camera is the most important thing. They have no knowledge of light and just think photography is point, shoot, then add a Photoshop action.
The worst commercial error you have made to date.
I had nowhere near enough planning when I opened my first studio. I went from being a shopping mall photographer to running a studio - and took all the bad practices with me; i.e. cheap prices and showing the customer the images straightaway. Not clever.
How you rectified it.
I shut down the studio and worked from home for two years before I opened up a new studio and then started again as I meant to go on.
Are you excited by the evolution of imaging?
I don't get excited anymore. Frankly I get disappointed when new equipment comes out that appears to make photo-disciplines even easier. Every new generation of camera takes the untrained general public a step closer to achieving results that are closer to what we can give them. Facial and smile detection? For goodness' sake...what is that all about?
Is it getting harder or easier to make a decent living?
It is getting harder for the reasons specified in the last answer.
Photography has increasingly less value for much of the public. Although, mercifully, there are still some people out there that admire really professional work.
How do you stay ahead of the game?
I try and keep things fresh and I am not afraid to try new things. It isn't just about photography but more about the products and value-added services you can offer.
How do organisations like The Societies help?
The Societies for me exemplifies the best way to bring everything together.
The Convention, the magazine, the members' days and forum all keep everything unified - like one big happy family. There are many friends I have in the industry that I know simply from being a member. These are great people who are always willing to help and lend a hand.
For me it also keeps me moving forward. Everything from the Business School, the competitions, the talks I give and the talks I attend. All these things keep me fresh and moving forward.
Why is The Convention such a big deal for photographers?
The Convention is amazing. It is the single most important date in the calendar and has taken over from Focus which is just about equipment really. I always come away full of inspiration and a keen mind to focus on the next year ahead. I don't really know how I would improve it really apart from the obvious thing...... move it to Wales!
Your own mentors. Who today is leading the way in creative social photography?
Got to give a shout out to my mate Richie Walton, he's moving forward at a good pace. I still love 'ole Gordy's work (McGowan) and he's such a good mate, a genuine nice bloke, even though he frequently offers constructive criticism of my work!
Julie Klaasmeyer is someone I follow on Facebook. Her baby photography is amazing. I also recently got talking to Kenny Martin. This guy creates exceptional work and his business sense is excellent. This is truly a photographer worth listening to. To be honest there are too many photographers I admire.
If you could pick just FIVE seminars to attend at the The Convention: whose workshops would you attend?
Gordon McGowan for weddings
Damien McGillicuddy for studio work
I want to go on the Dave Beckstead workshop (it looks very promising good)
The Business School (especially Catherine Conner. She always gives a good talk)
I haven't had a good look but the other would be someone who makes a good living from baby photography.
Oh yeah, I forgot, and Richie Walton!
What do you think will be the next big thing in the industry?
I have no clue. I thought everything had already been done. I think a move away from high-key portraiture and back to more traditional will be one thing I predict but the next big thing...who knows?
Would you want your own children to take up the reins of your empire?
I would love my business to be passed down to my kids but only if that is what they want. My son is quite keen at the moment and wants to assist me on weddings.
Your plans for the next five years?
To grow my business steadily and improve the quality of my work with every photo shoot. Oh yes...and also not to have any more kids (I'm a dad of four)
I want to take more holidays.
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