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The Stars of the Land of Egypt

EgyptStarsHaving displayed photographs from Asia and Europe this week, I thought what was needed is a picture from Africa. Now the only country I have visited in Africa is Egypt, so my choice is pretty limited, but nonetheless it’s still very different from anywhere you will see in Europe.

It was a kind of a back to basics thing finding this photograph and post-processing it yesterday. It wasn’t a complicated process and I processed nearly all of it in Adobe Lightroom (I did a little work as well in Nik Color Efex 4). But what I love about processing this way is it reminds me of why I fell in love with photography in the first place – visiting places and coming back with records of the trip. At the time I got the photography bug, it wasn’t necessarily about getting great photographs, just photos that told the story of the trip to wherever we were visiting.

This was a little rooftop restaurant in the old market town area of Sharm El Sheikh, and what initially caught my eye was I thought one of the men in the picture was Humphrey Bogart, giving it a kind of Hollywood feel. I realise now it is not Bogart and these guys could be famous Egyptian actors or no one in particular, but I still like the visual element created. That coupled with the warm sunset made this a picture I always liked, but have never actually done anything with until now.

Scott Kelby in London

I initially did not have the opportunity but now a holiday cancellation at work has meant that I am able to take a trip to London on July 14th to see the Scott Kelby seminar ‘Shoot like a pro: Reloaded’. I’m very excited to attend this seminar and spend a day listening to the highest selling digital photography author in the world. If you’re going as well, give me a shout!

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The Wroclaw Saxophonist

Wroclaw Saxophonist by Pete HalewoodContinuing my international theme this week, and delving back into my archives at the same time, today’s picture was taken a couple of years ago in Wroclaw, Poland. I am by and large not a people photographer, but I am always eager to capture examples of the living local culture and people within their city. I accept that most photographs probably are more interesting with a human element to them (to most viewers anyway).

This guy was absolutely playing his heart out whilst we were walking towards the spectacular Wroclaw Cathedral, and so it presented a perfect opportunity to capture the life within a city. Naturally, I did not take just 1 picture and move on. I took several pictures of the saxophonist, and like any people photographer, simply chose the best shot of the several pictures I took. He was so wrapped up in his playing that he seemed completely oblivious to me taking pictures of him.

 

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The Lights of Dubai

DubaiLightsAs promised, here is a more international flavour to my blog this week. I love London, and it is a great place to take photographs, but my ratio of London photographs against any other place in the world this year is overwhelming. So for today we are going over to the Middle East where I found myself in January 2014, being lucky enough to travel there with work.

I was asked to take some pictures of the event the company were organising, which gave me a good excuse to take my Nikon D700 out there, to get some professional shots. This particular picture was of course not on the requirement list, but the hotel we stayed at was on the Palm Jumeirah complex, which gave great views of the Dubai Marina area, and the multiple skyscrapers it houses. Without a tripod, it was not going to be easy, but I was absolutely determined to get a shot of the lights of the skyscrapers across the sea at night.

I took several long exposure shots that evening, using beach chairs and tables as stand-ins for a tripod, but this was the best result. With it being being a moving body of water, I never expected to get a mirror shot, but I was much happier with the way the light was captured on the water, especially the way they curve towards the edge of the water.

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River of Money

WorkingLondonI genuinely think this will be my last London photo for a while. I’ve pretty much exhausted my London trips of photographs now, and even if it means going into the archives, next week will see a more international selection of pictures.

Nevertheless, today’s photo is similar to the London Jungle picture I posted last week, but this version was captured to show the contrast of business within London. From the big money of the skyscrapers that line the River Thames, to the…..the…..well whatever the boat in the foreground is doing.

It’s payday today, so have a prosperous weekend everybody!

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Why Taylor Swift is doing Photography a Favour

An unlikely heroine, at an unlikely time, but Taylor Swift’s stance against Apple music is making strides outside the world of pop music. Not that this was her intention of course, but the accusations of double standards by fellow UK photographer Jason Seldon in a brilliant response to her open letter to Apple Music, have opened up the debate about photographer’s rights, that have been ignored for far too long.

I, like many people, admire Taylor Swift’s letter to Apple Music, because at the centre of it is the message that people at any level should be paid for the work they have created and has been used. I’m sure there are other double standards people can find on Taylor Swift in addition to the photography contracts, but if her stance against Apple leads to wider recognition of creative artists rights, then it is a certain good thing.

There has been a consensus for far too long that photography is not a valuable resource. Having had a particular passion for 5 years with photography, I can’t count the amount of times I’ve heard ‘anyone can do that’ by both photographers and non-photographers. But it simply isn’t true. Yes the digital camera era has opened the floodgates for people to easily create and post-process photographs, but a good photograph still takes dedication, craft and a keen eye. Anyone can’t get published in a professional magazine. Anyone can’t make a living by taking pictures. Like any discipline, it takes years of experience and practice to hone your style and stay passionate enough to reap the rewards of an income earned through photography. I’m sure there are people ‘getting away with it’, but it would only take so long for a truly talented individual to come along and blow away any individual cruising their through making a living through photography.

You only have to surf the internet to see how common photography is, and is required, which is why people will do all they can to not pay for it. It is a common experience amongst many photographers to be approached by a magazine to carry out a shoot, only to be told that there won’t be any money involved, but it will be ‘good exposure’. The magazine of course has no interest in the likely outcome of the photographer’s career as a result of the shoot, but it will do all it can to ensure it keeps its own costs low when requiring professional work. It is up to the photographer whether they accept these assignments, as of course it is up to the photographer whether they accept Taylor Swift’s photography contracts. Accepting them doesn’t make it right though. When you have created a piece of art (yes, art) and stand to be the person who profits least (if at all), there is something not right in the arrangement. A lack of respect to say the least.

Freelance photographers put time, money and effort into events that they might not even get paid for, as Jason Seldon pointed out. So years of practice and hard work are rewarded with a strangling contract and no money. I’m sure it’s the same in other artistic fields as well, but against much bigger individuals, companies and brands, the opportunity for change is a very small one.

Inadvertently though, Taylor Swift maybe the saviour. She is not a struggling artist by all means, but an artist nonetheless, who for whatever right or wrong reason, is prepared to stand up to those who want to avoid paying artists if possible. I’m sure she herself is not in charge of dictating photography contracts of her concerts, but she has an opportunity now to look at her own business team’s policies and practices, and provide a fair and better deal for artists also working hard to earn a living. As I said earlier, if her letter to Apple, and the subsequent response from photographers leads to a better deal for all working artists, then she could just become the photographer’s new friend.

The Antonio Vivaldi Museum

It has absolutely nothing to do with Taylor Swift, and I’m scared to death of using a picture of her anyway, but I can’t blog about photography without posting a picture. So here is the nearest thing I could find, a picture within the Antonio Vivaldi Museum in Venice. I’m sure he struggled to make ends meet at one point or another as well, but at least they couldn’t bootleg his music…

AntonioVivaldiMuseum

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