The Master of Tough Love - part 2 of 1 2 3

by Gordon McGowan Published 01/10/2011


"People these days think I'm a dinosaur and that it's possible to correct everything in post production but you should be aiming always to get it right in-camera. Years ago when photographers worked off a tripod they would take that time to set things up and to scan the viewfinder before pressing the shutter, but these days the digital approach has led to some people just not being careful enough.

As a regular mentor for the SWPP Gordon works with other photographers all the time and he's currently teaching a neighbour the ins and outs of wedding photography. Following the principle of 'tough love,' however, he's not in the mood to go easy on someone just because he happens to know him. "He's already reached the point where he can pick all of the faults out of a picture," says Gordon, "and by teaching him how to analyse a photograph he'll pick up the things he needs to look out for.


"If he accompanies me to a wedding and the pictures he produces aren't up to scratch he gets slaughtered for it, but I know this approach works and he can take the heat. In six months' time he'll be able to tackle weddings himself and he'll do a really good job, and he'll have something behind him which will set him apart from the bottom end of the market." Gordon himself has experience of what it can be like to be on the wrong end of a tough critique. Thirty years ago when he was starting out he took his pictures along to established professional Kenny Martin's studio in Peebles, fully expecting a pat on the back and to be told that he was doing everything right. "It was a bit of a wake-up call for me," he recalls. "I walked in and looked at his work on the walls and realised immediately that I wasn't even close to him in terms of my standards. Kenny was a Gold Award winner and his pictures were amazing: he looked through my work and picked out faults that I'd not even seen, and I've never forgotten the experience. I drove home that evening very upset but realising that everything he had said to me had been honest and for my own benefit and that's what I've always tried to do for photographers who come to me."

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1st Published 01/10/2011
last update 07/04/2022 09:14:00

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