Category: Business
Photography Resolutions 2017

 

So a new year. No doubt you’re thinking about what you want to develop and experience in 2017.

I’ve never been a stickler for the usual resolutions of diet and detox, but I do make a check list of things that are going to keep expanding my creativity and craft across the next 12 months.

Even so, I hold these things lightly. If they don’t all happen, that’s ok – the important ones will rise to the surface.

Maybe some of these will chime with you.

Keep A Lighting Notebook/Scrapbook.

The more I photograph, the more aware I become of the beauty and complexity of light. It is after all the basic ‘building block’ of photography. Thing is, there’s always room to learn more about it. Both natural light and the artificial variety. It’s an infinitely endless subject: how light changes through a given time and across different surfaces, how to manipulate it to best effect both indoors and out. This year it’s time to delve even deeper into light through natural observation, lighting diagrams and practical experiments. So I’m keeping a lighting notebook where I can collect my observations, and the observations of other photographers and artists, through notes, cuttings and ‘sketch’ photo’s. And translate that learning to my photography.

Exhibit.

There’s probably lots of you out there who have physically exhibited your work in some way. I’ve never done it. But it’s one way to get out of the comfort zone. For a start it will mean printing much more of my photo output than I normally do. I usually only see my work in print when it’s been shot for client use. Plus we all know how easy it is these days to only see photographs on a screen of some kind. And it has to be said that a physical print is so much more satisfying. Indeed, it will make me more conscious of the techniques I’m using to make and  develop images. There’s also the gift of meeting an audience/community face-to-face and having the opportunity to observe the response to your images: are they are speaking to people or not? Something that’s impossible to truly gauge via social media ‘likes’.

Give away more.

It’s not always about the bottom line. There’s always room to give something away. It’s important. I’ve always done it and 2017 will be the year I do more of it. Over deliver. Offer skills and learning to someone for free. Give away a shoot every so often. I’ve noticed that whenever I do give something away something else comes along that gives back to me – a new opportunity, a booking, whatever! Funny how that works. So, give it away in 2017 – your time, your skills, whatever you’re comfortable with . . .

Draw, paint and collage more.

This is about experimentation. Throwing out any notion of a ‘final’ product and instead going with the unexpected. Playing. Following what is suggested and being open to it. Especially by putting unrelated things together or combining differing types of media. In the long run I find it helps generate ideas, and develops my image-making in unexpected ways. Often I’m using prints of my own work to cut-up or alter in some way. Other sources are magazines and newspapers, things found on the street, and random bits of text or notes that come to mind.

Travel more.

I’ve just come back from a flying visit to Berlin in Germany. And it made me realise something: when you’re a sole trader/freelancer travel for travel’s sake often gets forgotten. Sure we get to do it for work from time to time, but that’s not the same. Deliberately heading out on a journey is good for the mind, body and emotions. Deliberately setting out with an eye to embrace the new and unknown is also part and parcel of photographic and creative learning. Exposure to diversity, difference and change. Paramount experiences for this photographer.

Develop personal projects.

In 2016, I started developing a number of projects in collaboration with other photographers and crafts-people. The process has been a wonderful thing: challenging, inspiring etc. It expands critical skills as we look at our own work in the context of working alongside fellow practitioners. It improves technical and organisational skills. When you drill down into a project theme it’s surprising what that process fulfils in terms of expanding the creative ideas you have, the subjects you’re interested in, and altering the approach to the way you work. It also reduces the sense of isolation we can often feel as photographers.

Get to know local people and  businesses.

Since moving to Brighton in early 2016, I’ve made an effort to devote time to getting to know local people and businesses. Their experiences, likes and dislikes. Seeking out where we chime together and where we differ. Not necessarily because they might become clients, but because relationship development is one of the key strengths of being a photographer. Especially in such divisive times. Maybe it’s part of the natural curiosity photographers have? Also, on a personal level, I’m an introvert so it’s a good way for me to challenge how that affects my relationships. Making a concerted effort to get out and meet people locally in 2017 will, I hope, make it a less divisive and more relational year. One that is likely to reap benefits that aren’t only about the bottom line.

Choose Yourself.

Authenticity. Being yourself. Not doing what other people are doing or following a ‘formula’. It’s the only way to keep us away from the distinct move toward homogeneity that we see in the world in various forms at the moment. I’m a huge fan of James Altucher’s book Choose Yourself. It got me through the early years of my calling as a photographer when I was floundering in the dark. It taught me to keep putting one foot in front of the other and listen to my instinct. Not that the need for that ever fully stops. I find myself going back to Altucher’s book regularly to keep me inspired and motivated about who I am and what I’m doing. If you’ve never heard of James Altucher, check him out here or better still read the book.

Replace a certain four-letter word.

What word is that? W-O-R-K. This resolution is one that I’m really conscious of and already practising. Partly because it’s a promise that both my wife and I made to each other on New Years Day. But mainly because we want to re-frame what we do in our businesses as forms of exploration or play. And as words are powerful things, especially the word ‘work’ with all it’s connotations of duty, routine and drudgery, it’s an empowering thing to challenge. So words like craft, calling, skill, practice, and activity are going to replace that four letter word.

So those are my little declarations to the self as the year begins. Be great to hear what yours are.

Happy New Year…


All images © James Bellorini 2016. All rights reserved.

I’m a commercial and editorial photographer. I started shooting full-time in 2013. Subsequently I have worked with advertising agencies, design agencies, entrepreneurs, performers, musicians, DJ’s, singers, models, and culture and entertainment organisations/brands. Recent clients include: The National Theatre, Innovision, UKTI, Siren Design, Glyndebourne Productions Ltd, Stone Nest, The Old Vic etc. In September 2015 I joined the Redeye Network’s Lightbox programme for emerging photographers and I’m a founding member of the photography collective RISE. 


FAMILY PORTRAIT – NEW WORK.

GANDHI FAMILY (lo-res)-27

CELEBRATING A NEW ADDITION TO A FAMILY.


The first few weeks of a child’s life are a precious time for a family. So it was a privilege to be booked to photograph this lovely family together at home a few weeks after their second daughter had been born.

That’s one of the things that I’m learning is great about being a working photographer: getting asked (and trusted) to contribute to people’s lives and memories.

I’m known more for my commercial and publicity portraiture of (mostly) single subjects, but I have been asked to capture a few families recently so I jumped at the chance to put to use what I’ve learnt from those shoots in order to keep pushing and strengthening my skills.

Shooting this way required a lot of energy, patience, focus and a willingness to put aside preconceived ideas and go with ‘the moment’. Often it’s a case of following what the family are doing between themselves and being aware that any moment is ripe for a potentially lovely image but that it will happen fleetingly. It was also a case of keeping things light and fun in order to keep everyone engaged.

In this way we were aiming to make a set of images that were natural, immediate and personal and made sure they captured the loving bond between the family. To underline this I chose to shoot using natural light and a single reflector as much as possible (although there were a few images made using flash).

The images here are a very small selection of the final output that the family chose.

As with a lot of my work, the images were chosen by the client from an online selection gallery and then  any retouching and post-processing was carried out in Lightroom and Photoshop, with the results provided in time for Christmas printing as well as in a bespoke online album (via Pixieset) that the clients could share with friends and family.

All images © James Bellorini 2016. All rights reserved.

James is an editorial and documentary photographer working for the commercial and consumer markets. He started shooting professionally in 2013 and has since worked with advertising agencies, design agencies, entrepreneurs, performers, musicians, DJ’s, singers, models, and culture and entertainment organizations/brands. Recent clients include: Innovision, UKTI, Siren Design, Glyndebourne Productions Ltd, Stone Nest, The Old Vic etc. In September 2015 he joined the Redeye Network’s Lightbox programme for emerging photographers. 


UK CHINA BUSINESS SUMMIT 2015

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EVENT REPORTAGE AT THE UK/CHINA BUSINESS SUMMIT.


Last week I was commissioned by a UK events company to document the UK China Business Summit at Mansion House where the UK government deepened it’s trade links with China. This was alongside the state visit to the UK by the Chinese President Xi.

In the slideshow above and the images below you see speakers, delegates, as well as the more familiar faces of Professor Brian Cox, UK Prime Minister David Cameron, and President Xi of China.

This was an unusual job as it crossed the line between events work (which I’ve photographed before) and press photojournalism (which I’m much less used to). Each have their own ways of working and it was a healthy challenge to be bridging both disciplines. It kept me on my toes that’s for sure and pushed me non-stop for six hours.

Whatever the politics involved in the day, it was good to be photographing an historic event and, on occasion, to be the sole photographer given access to certain parts of the summit (some of which are presented in the slideshow above).

I guess that’s what I love about photography: having a watchful eye and persevering enough to be in the right place at the right time.

All images James Bellorini © Crown Copyright 

For the tech heads: all images were shot using a Canon 5D MkIII or a Fuji X-T1

James is a commercial, editorial and documentary photographer. He started shooting professionally in 2013 and has since worked with advertising agencies, design agencies, entrepreneurs, performers, musicians, DJ’s, singers, models, and culture and entertainment organizations/brands. Recent clients include: Siren Design, Glyndebourne Productions Ltd, Sonisphere UK, Stone Nest, The Old Vic etc. In September 2015 he joined the Redeye Network’s Lightbox programme for emerging photographers. 


A KIND OF HUSH

James Bellorini Photography Year 2 Best Of Images - James Bellorini Photography 2014-3 (2)

DEALING WITH THE HARDEST PART OF MY JOB.


The hardest part of my job is often August.

And a bit of July.

Oh and most of January too!

The dreaded quiet times when holiday season switches the business PAUSE button on. When clients and contacts pack their suitcases and jet off to beaches to sip cocktails and watch sunsets (lucky things). A kind of hush descends on my world and for a month or so I feel invisible. Things are on hold. It can be very frustrating.

If you freelance, this may be a familiar feeling.

So how do we deal with that?

In my case, truth be told, I don’t! Well not very well.

If you’re a creative like me, then you’re probably happiest when you have a healthy list of projects and commissions to sink your teeth into, occupy your heart/head, fire your imagination and keep your creative juices flowing. One of my core values also happens to be ‘relationship’, so being in contact with people inspires and motivates me. Consequently, when I hit the quiet times I go a bit nuts.

This August I decided to develop a few strategies to help me get through these seasonal wastelands and stop me partnering with tumbleweed (maybe they’ll help you a bit too):

  1. Actually, the first of these is that we can allow ourselves to go nuts. Not for long. Maybe a day a week. I’m a great believer in not running away from ‘my stuff’. Often I think that when we let the ego take control, start stamping our inner foot and say to ourselves over and over: ‘This isn’t the way I want it to be! Why is this happening? No. No!’ then we stay in the problem. So I find it’s helpful to accept I don’t feel great at the time and let myself go a bit funky in the membrane. And that’s ok. It takes less energy to accept things don’t always (if ever) look the way we hoped they would than to keep fighting. Often something shifts and the next day I find I’m re-energized and can focus again.
  2. Turn off Facebook, limit the social media exposure and stop looking at other photographers websites. I guess this is kind of a holiday too – certainly a sabbatical of sorts. It’s too easy these days to be sucked into ‘comparison mode’. Over-exposure to social media can easily dupe us into that kind of negative headspace. We all know that happy highlights on timelines aren’t the whole truth and yet despite that knowledge we can get sucked into thinking that we might be doing life/business/craft/art/relationships wrong. At this time of year I’m particularly vulnerable to that so switching it all off is very healthy.
  3. Listen to (and play) music. A lot. I couldn’t live without music. Never have. It has the power to liberate, inspire, and soothe. I’m fortunate enough to be able to play the guitar. So listen and play (if you can) music lots during the quiet times. It helps get us out of ourselves, brings new ideas and generally cheers us up. My particular favourites: Bob Marley, Kate Bush, anything by Anjunadeep, Parov Stelar.
  4. Look at where you’ve come from. This one is really important. Especially when the frustration rises. It’s so easy to forget the developments that you’ve made. Taking a look at your history helps you see how far you’ve come, and often it’s further than you had fully acknowledged. This is one of the best motivators I know. It reinforces development and achievements. It also helps with the next point.
  5. Look at where you want to go. Yep! Planning planning planning (which I’m usually really bad at when I’m busy). Doing a SWOT analysis. Refining your priorities and nailing where you need to improve skills or some elements of the way you work.
  6. Learn a new skill or develop one you already have. Kind of obvious, but with all that time on your hands it’s a perfect opportunity to do this. In my case this is usually connected to learning new lighting skills, Photoshop skills or developing new personal projects.
  7. Keep your difficulties to yourself. OK, big one this and some will disagree. I strongly believe in an approach to life as  ‘everyone is in this together, so let’s help each other out’ – especially in the creative industries, which are tougher than they’ve ever been. But it’s true that you have to pick who you talk to very carefully during frustrating periods. Why? Most people only want to associate with success or those perceived to be successful. It’s human nature, I guess. People who are at the top of their game, or industry pundits usually help only when there’s something in it for them. Genuine helpers are few and far between. There are some amazing communities out there who will offer support but in reality that only extends so far. Much better to stay quiet and deal with your stuff in other ways – such as by looking to the next point:
  8. Get some coaching (or therapy! They’re not the same by the way). Often the quiet times, as I’ve said, are the times when our ‘stuff’ comes up. After all, when we’re busy we don’t really have time or energy to think about that or deal with it. Busy-ness is often the sticking plaster for underlying issues. Finding a coach or even a mentor, or booking yourself in for therapeutic treatment in some way  is often a great investment. It doesn’t have to be expensive (there are plenty of good workbooks on the market or an online courses of CBT for example – which is great by the way, I’ve been there). meditation and mindfulness are really useful here as well. But even if you can pay for a session a week for 4 to 6 weeks it will pay huge dividends as a result. Especially coaching.
  9. Blog. I’ve come late to the blogosphere but I’ve recently learnt how important (and enjoyable) it is. That’s thanks to the WordPress inspired Blogging 101 in the main. Try it. It’s worth the effort. Again all those quiet times are perfect for writing draft blog posts, exploring new themes and lining up material to publish in advance of the weeks/months to come.
  10. Archive editing. This is a sibling activity to point number 4. Looking at work I’ve created in the past and perhaps completing or adding to work or projects. Certainly it’s a great opportunity to reassess work with the benefit of the distance of time. A fresh eye. Controversially, in photography, I believe one of the skills we are losing is that of editing. Not post-processing but editing our work i.e. what are we putting in the public domain and above all WHY? That’s the most important question in my opinion for creating good work and any related output. There’s a lot of amazing photography online but there’s even more mediocre work that once upon a time would never have seen the light of day because it (rightly) had personal growth connected to it not communication. Learning to discern what actually ‘speaks’ and communicates is part of the craft. The digital world has altered that fundamentally. As we know everything and anything can go online and does. That democracy of that is great, but the quality is often undermined. Going back through an archive of work is a great way to develop an editors eye. There’s a lot of work I have that the world will never see. I wouldn’t want to subject people to it. There’s also some that I thought it wouldn’t see but with the benefit of hindsight actually might have a purpose to being seen somewhere. I regularly stop myself from posting an image that I might like but doesn’t have the best answer to the question WHY?
  11. Plan your advertising and marketing. This is a big one for me. One of the things I’ve discovered in my brief two and a half years in business is that it’s very easy to forget to market and advertise during the busy times. Especially if, like me, you work alone and have to wear all the hats of your business. So again this year I’ve taken the opportunity to build stronger advertising and marketing strategies (which I hope will help to reduce the quiet times moving into 2016). And also to learn more about how those elements of business work.
  12. Walk. A lot.
  13. Tidy up your work-space. Clear out the clutter. Dust. Refreshing the work-space is another great motivating activity. It’s like you’re preparing the way to start again in some way.

There’s no rocket science here and nothing particularly original in this list, but I hope some of these points resonate with you and help if you do find those quiet times frustrating and confusing. I hope they provide some practical steps. Maybe you have more of your own? If so I’d love to hear about them.

Roll on September!!

Image © James Bellorini

James is a commercial, editorial and documentary photographer. He started shooting professionally in 2013 and now works with design agencies, entrepreneurs, performers, musicians, DJ’s, singers, models and big brand culture and entertainment organizations. Recent clients include: Siren Design, Glyndebourne Productions Ltd, Sonisphere UK, Stone Nest, The Old Vic etc. His portrait and headshot clients include actors, musicians, writers, artists, international singers, entrepreneurs and corporates. In September 2015 he joined the Redeye Network’s Lightbox programme. 


HELLO WORLD: BLOG INTRODUCTION

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A ‘HELLO’ POST FOR THOSE THAT DON’T KNOW ME. 


So, hi.
 
I’m Jamie. Or James.
 
The images at the top of this post might help you guess that I’m a commercial and editorial photographer.

I shoot people. A lot. Not literally of course.

I also shoot food, lifestyle imagery, music and entertainment photography.

But, I guess that’s not all I am. Underneath the ‘job description’ is someone who has, for most of his life, been creatively driven. I’ve always believed in the pursuit of self-expression: tapping into the human experience and making things. Photos, collages, music, food, a mean tiramisu even!!
 
At college I trained as a fine artist and photographer. And when I struck out from there it was in interior design photography. However, my adult life took me along a number of different paths that didn’t directly relate to my training but which had creativity (in some form) at the centre.
 
But throughout my journey along various avenues of life, the one thread I’ve been drawn back to time and time again is visual creation. Perhaps it’s because I think visually.
 
After a life-changing experience (that’s another story), in May 2013 I changed the focus of my career. I returned to what I’d learned when I was younger and the subject that inspired and excited me most: photography. I embraced the challenge of exploring the new digital landscape and began turning that into a career. I’m just over two full years into that journey, still at start-up stage, but with an ever-expanding list of clients and commissions that include design agencies, national brands and some amazing individuals.
 
Challenge has always been one of my main motivators. I respond best when I’m being stretched in some way and have to step out of my comfort zone. If I get too familiar with one aspect of my work/creativity then it’s time to explore something else. Not at the expense of what I’m doing but in addition to it. I want to keep growing. To keep learning. I never want to become stale. It’s a challenge I acknowledge in photography AND with blogging.
 
So, what’s my blog about?
 
It’s a place to reflect on and investigate the challenges of being creative and in business.

It’s about images, of course. Recent work from client shoots. Archive photos. Experiments. And more.

It’s about what I’ve delivered for past clients and what I can offer potential clients as a photographer AND person. My skills. My eye. Strengths. My quirks.

Occasionally it’s about cameras because, well, you know, I love them. I can’t help myself. They’ve been in my life for so long.

It’s about my direct experiences as a creative and as a business start-up.

And it’s about the things that inspire me: style, music, films, the streets, people.

Hopefully something in it will provide some value to you the reader/visitor enough to want to check in again from time to time. I’d like that. Above all else, that is what I would measure the success of my blog by.

After all being creative is about communication, so if I can say something with my blog (and my work) that speaks to someone else then that is the best ‘hello’ of all.

All images © James Bellorini. All Rights Reserved.

James is an editorial and documentary photographer working for the commercial and consumer markets. He started shooting professionally in 2013 and has since worked with advertising agencies, design agencies, entrepreneurs, performers, musicians, DJ’s, singers, models, and culture and entertainment organizations/brands. Recent clients include: Innovision, UKTI, Siren Design, Glyndebourne Productions Ltd, Stone Nest, The Old Vic etc.  


PHOTOSHELTER INTERVIEW

Photoshelter interview with James Bellorini

 HOW TO MAKE CLIENTS HAPPY.


I’m featured in an interview today on Photoshelter’s blog page. Talking about making clients happy and how I connect with my portrait sitters.
 
Check it out here.
 

James is an editorial and documentary photographer working for the commercial and consumer markets. He started shooting professionally in 2013 and has since worked with advertising agencies, design agencies, entrepreneurs, performers, musicians, DJ’s, singers, models, and culture and entertainment organizations/brands. Recent clients include: Innovision, UKTI, Siren Design, Glyndebourne Productions Ltd, Stone Nest, The Old Vic etc.