by Jo Hansford Published 01/11/2010
Brief personal background and years as a pro.
I started out as a journalist, then decided it wasn't the career for me. I began to see photography as more than a hobby around 1996, when I did two City & Guilds courses, then decided to pursue it further by going to college. After college, I assisted some commercial photographers before setting up Jo Hansford Photography in 2000.
First camera/ photo experience.
My first memorable camera experiences were with a Pentax K1000 and a 50mm lens. Whilst I was a journalist I would occasionally be asked to capture some shots of events/people while out on stories - I can still remember the sense of combined excitement and terror when I was asked to take some photos of Sir David Attenborough at a local wildlife reserve opening. Scary! rewarding experiences of that stage in my life.
Photography gives me a unique way of combining art with personal expression, at the same time as documenting and commenting on life. My early work was very personal - using very abstract imagery from nature, colour and shape to reflect mood and emotion
Film/digital (both?) Is there still any place for film?
I shoot digital these days, though it's only in the last year that I stopped using film. For me, film will always offer a unique and beautiful form of craft and artistic expression, which is different to digital. Much as digital has come a long way, I feel film will always stand out for the unique and slightly less predictable and artistic imagery it can produce.
Capture and output devices used
I use Canon EOS-1D, 5D and 5D MkII DSLRs, plus three zoom lenses; a 70-200mm, 16-35mm and 24-70mm. As a business, we shoot weddings (60%) family/children/babies on location (25%), commercial (10%) and fine art (5%); so the main need is to capture images suitable for albums and wall art. The 1D and 5D range support these needs perfectly.
We shoot RAW and process all files on Apple Macs, using Lightroom and Photoshop for processing and finishing of images.
Bit of detail about your own studio set-up/staffing
We are a largely two-man team; myself full-time and my husband, Nic, works for the business on a part time basis. We also have part time help with bookkeeping, accounts and albums. We have offices and a viewing room at home, so our clients come to us. Our brand is about our unique style coupled with high quality products (albums, prints, frames and so on) and customer service to match.
The problem with professional photographers today is.....
The industry is largely unregulated, so there is huge variation in what people are offering in terms of quality of imagery, the product (print, albums, wall art etc), the service offered and the price tag on photographs. Since the arrival of digital, photography has become accessible to the mass of the population, resulting in a new breed of weekend and part time photographers, selling their work for very little. This is dangerous because it lowers the value of photographs as a product. We all need to strive to achieve the highest quality of work and to charge for it accordingly.
The worst commercial error you have made to date
I went solo and full-time as a freelance photographer before I was ready, then I struggled with how to market and price my product and felt isolated. My first year solo didn't really happen!
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