Category: Creative Thinking
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. 


EMPIRE BURLESQUE: JOYS OF COLLABORATION

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COLLABORATING ON A PHOTOSHOOT.


If you’re anything like me – a freelancer working for yourself – then you probably don’t get to collaborate that often. I mean I spend about 80% of my time working on my own. That’s the nature of the game I guess. Photography is, in the main, a solo pursuit.

Sure, when I’m on a shoot I’m with my clients and subjects (which are mini-collaborations in themselves), but even then I’m often working alone before the shoot and then behind the camera (unless the budget allows for an assistant).

When I’m editing it’s hours (days more often) in front of the computer with just Photoshop, Deezer and coffee to keep me company.

The plus sides of working this way are that you just get on and work. There’s rarely anyone to wait for or delegate to. Any decisions that need to be made on the whole can be made in the time it takes to brew another cup of coffee then go ahead and take action.

The flip side is that often we can get overly used to regular ways of thinking and routines which can get stale, safe and comfortable. And over time that can lead to reduced energy and creativity.

As we all know, the best ways to learn and grow are to get outside our comfort zones and challenge those feelings of safety and comfort.

That’s why I jump at the chance to collaborate with people as often as I can.

It’s why when talented make-up artist and stylist Lucille Dee (www.lucilledee.com) asked me to work on a shoot with burlesque performer Lady Marmaduke (check out her Facebook page here) in order to showcase how Lucille uses Urban Decay cosmetics (www.urbandecay.co.uk) and get some publicity shots for Lady M, I said yes straight away.

And it was, as I anticipated, a breath of fresh air for a number of reasons.

Firstly, I was working with people engaged in their passions, what’s hugely important to them and, above all, they do it with dedication and always to the best of their abilities.

Secondly, I was called upon to work with minimal preparation. Lucille was organizing all the styling and looks, the props and the location (Patterns bar/club on Brighton seafront). Plus my schedule wouldn’t allow for a recce of the location in advance, so I’d have to make decisions about kit from what info I could glean from Lucille in advance and a quick search of the venue’s website. Then trust the equipment I had with me on the day, rather than carting every item of kit with me ‘just in case’.

Finally, I’d not worked with the subject/model Lady Marmaduke before – and that is always an immediate challenge: breaking the ice, making them feel confident and comfortable, and building trust and complicity between you.

There were a lot of potential pit-falls.

But one thing I find that when you dive in: things happen. You reinforce your skills and learn new ones.

And it’s one of the beauties of working with other creative people: there’s a freshness that comes from combined ideas and effort; working things out in real time with an idea or two in mind to kick start from, seeing where you are led along the way often influenced by unforeseen elements in the shoot.

Take for example the two wildly coloured images (above and right): these were shot in the ladies toilets and lit by three small overhead lights (a red, green and blue) that are part of the decor. It was actually very dark in there. However the light was so exciting to us that we had to try and find a way to make it work. To me they came out pretty good I think (with a bit of post-production work thrown in).

Or in the more ‘panoramic’ dressing room image below: actually a reflection photographed in a huge wall mounted mirror that gave a more of a wide-angle view than we could get if we’d tried shooting it in the normal, straight-on way.

And there’s other things to enjoy: other people’s ideas, their time-frames, what they propose in the moment all must be taken into account and worked with. So by remaining flexible and not ‘stuck’ to every one of your own ideas, then collaboration is ultimately challenging and fun.

That’s great.

And best of all it shows in the end results.

One of the additional benefits of collaboration of course is that you build your network and even start building potential teams that you could work with again and again. And who knows where that could lead?

So, if you’ve never collaborated on a project of any size, then have a go. It’s worth it.

And if like me you have, then do it again whenever you can. I know I will.

If you have experiences of collaborating I’d love to hear about them and what you’ve learnt.

The tech stuff:
All images shot on  Canon 5D MKIII with Canon 35mm, 50mm & 85mm lenses and a 110cm EXPRO hand held reflector. Edit & post-processing done in my usual mix (collaboration?) of Adobe Photoshop and Alien Skin Exposure 7.

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. 


A CERTAIN UNCERTAINTY

A Certain Uncertainty - On Staying Curious

Leaving Lewiston – Maine, USA

ON STAYING CURIOUS.


I guess that most of us are curious about something. What makes you curious?

What gets into you enough that you want to know more about it until it’s almost obsessive?

Curiosity is one of my main motivators. Actually it’s the main one if I think about.

I’m curious about a ridiculous amount of things: London’s Oxford Street, Iceland (the country not the shop…although who knows!), smartphones, the comics of the Luna brothers, making the ultimate smoothie, visual composition (I get a bit obsessive about this one), videography, New Mexico, blogging, Caravaggio … the list goes on and on actually.

As a photographer curiosity is part of my everyday process. My internal dialogue when I’m shooting goes something like this: ‘Who’s that? What are they doing? What’s their story? What’s that place over there? What’s happening? How can I get under the skin of this? Have I understood as much as I can right now?’

Our lives are in many ways vehicles for finding ways to answer those kinds of questions. I happen to use a camera to do it; for you it might be something completely different. I don’t always succeed. But even being willing to be on the journey is part of being curious.

There are many demands on us these days, demands that often keep us locked into our habits. Habits that can be hard to break. As a result being curious is often quite a battle. Curiosity means remaining open to the unknown: the stranger, the new journey, experiencing a different culture, or a change to our routine.

So curiosity is something that is necessary to growth (witness the eternal children’s question: WHY?) and scary at the same time (isn’t that just always the way with growth?!!).

I’m not a ‘trained’ photographer in any academic sense of the word. I’ve developed any practice (such as it is) through simply shooting, making mistakes (a lot of those!), re-shooting, reading reading reading, and listening to the advice of those who’ve been there before me. As a consequence nearly everything I do is a form of learning driven by curiosity: to understand more of what I am seeing and how I see it. That never ceases.

And yeah it’s a blessing and a curse. Staying curious is like developing an internal restlessness, it provides energy and forward motion certainly; but on the other hand it’s a case of learning to be comfortable in the centre of the unknown. Not always easy but perhaps creatively worthwhile.

That in turn takes time. And patience – something that our Western culture no longer seems to hold very highly. I mean to really achieve the full fruition of one’s curiosity takes a lifetime and, as we know, we are all becoming prone to the need for hyper-fast results that are often short-lived. And I’m just as prone to that as anyone so don’t let me give the impression of any superiority here. I’m just as fond of my social media feed fix as the next person!

But curiosity (married with patience) is a good thing. They manifest themselves as resisting the temptations to leave something too soon or to stop asking the important questions. Its another one of those small acts of rebellion I’ve talked about before (you can find another one here).

After all isn’t our natural curiosity a desire to journey deeper into our selves? To understand our motivations for living?

Woah! Got a bit philosophical there but I think it’s true. In my case it is anyway.

The more curious (and patient) I am the more I see that ALL of life is there to be engaged with. The ‘ugly’, the beautiful, all manner of ideas, truths, relationships, collaborations, the new and the decayed etc. So, by extension, photography becomes not just about taking pictures but about attempting to hear the dialogue the world is having with us. The unique conversation.

At the same time it is an opportunity to stretch the self technically and creatively. And always to ‘fail better’ as the great Samuel Beckett once wrote. Always, and with permission to do so.

There’s a few things that I think are fun to explore when it comes to remaining curious. In no particular order:

  • Make-believe/temporary re-invention. This comes from my background working in the theatre and performing arts, but viewing the world through different eyes, pretending to be someone or something else is a fun way to see and feel differently. For example, my favourite is to pretend to be a Martian visiting earth for the first time – what do I see that I find interesting? What am I drawn to today that yesterday I would not have noticed because it seemed so commonplace and yet today, well, it looks…..? 
  • Daily dispatch. This is something that I learnt from reading the wise and playful Austin Kleon whose books Show Your Work and Steal Like An Artist are invaluable mini credos for the creatively curious. Put simply a daily dispatch is exactly what it says on the tin: something about your work or process that you put out somewhere every day. 
  • Notebook. Digital or pen and paper. The Google Keep app is an absolute gem for digital thinking. But whatever you use, our thoughts and the process of writing about them remind us what we’re curious about or what we might become curious about without influence. And that limit of influence is important because it’s easy to get sucked into what others (media, fashion, peers etc) deem as important. If we get beyond that we find out what we are truly curious about i.e. what our hearts are curious about which leads to all sorts of good stuff.
  • Working imagery/videos (or recognising that everything is work-in-progress). So perfectionism is a creativity killer – we all know that right? You can be awash with curiosity and that will motivate the journey, the need for answers, but (take it from me, I’ve been there) perfectionism can quash that feeling dead. Re-framing everything as work-in-progress is a great way to free that up and keep it alive. I now do this by approaching my work in this way as much as I can (admittedly that’s harder with client work but it’s about finding some balance). This goes back to the Samuel Beckett quote above: permission to ‘fail better’ which I take as meaning that there is no such thing as failure where creativity is concerned.
  • Scrapbook. I wrote about this recently here. But scrapbooks to me are an essential part of the curiosity tool-kit. Similarly to the previous point, they maintain a sense of work-in-progress and flexibility – for example, putting unrelated cuttings next to each other without any particular agenda is an indelibly curiosity driven thing to do. Maybe curiosity is something akin to knowing there are rules but breaking them any way? Which leads me on to the next point:
  • Throwing out the normsThat’s the personal norms, and even the social ones too perhaps. Not in any way that damages others, but the ones that might hold you back. Our comfort zones again and again. And believe me there are times when I wish I could go back a decade or so and retake certain paths in my life so that I wasn’t quite so stuck in certain places. It doesn’t get easier as you get older but harder to break those comfort zones. So take the chances when they come. Or be prepared to fight harder to stay curious as you ‘mature’.
  • Knowing the self in connection to communityIsolation is a sure-fire way to dim curiosity. And it’s very easy to become isolated especially if, like me, you’re a freelancer working on your own. Being part of a community/communities, or seeking out ones that you might connect with is a great way to feed and inspire curiosity. They are places for questions to be asked, for ideas to be thrown around, and for new ones to arise. If you find you’re spending too much time alone in front of the computer or in your work-space then find a like-minded community and go talk. 
  • Listen to music. I don’t need to say much about this do I? Music feeds our brains in ways we are only just beginning to understand and for that reason alone it has to have some impact on our natural curiosity. Something about music for me feeds that curiosity energy.

Please tell me what you’re curious about – I bet there are some real curiosities out there.

Image © James Bellorini

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. 


SCRAPBOOKS ARE NOT CRAP BOOKS

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SCRAPBOOKS & CREATIVE PLAY.


What do you do with your old magazines or newspapers? Or (if like me you’re a photographer) your discarded contact sheets and unused prints that won’t ever see the light of day? Or even random bits of printed matter that catch your eye lying around on the street? Well call me old-fashioned, but I still gather them into what once upon a time we used to call scrapbooks.

I wasn’t even sure if scrapbooks still existed when I began writing this post (although I suppose Pinterest is a digital version of sorts), but a quick search on Amazon threw up a slew of very fancy versions so I guess they are still ‘a thing’.

Anyway, if you don’t know what one is, basically the idea is to collect your scraps and cutouts, get jiggy with glue and/or tape, and paste them into your book how you want. It’s lo-fi curation at it’s most hands on and tactile. But more than that it’s also a great form of creative freewheeling and play.

I tend to cut up a lot of my own work and use it quite brutally. In fact, as you can see from the images above, I often score and scratch the surfaces with a knife and then paint over them. Maybe that’s a healthy form of deconstruction?

I also give vent to verbal imagery and thoughts that don’t follow any logic or might rise as a suggestion from what I’ve pasted together. A kind of automatic writing.

And yes I confess to appropriating some found imagery and using it in contexts that wouldn’t normally be their home, so apologies if anyone out there is offended. I’m not making any money from them but using them because they are usually visually striking or speak to me in some way.

Anyway if cutting things up and sticking them in over-sized books appeals to you, I recommend it as a creative tool. It helps ‘out of the box’ thinking, breaks down ideas that have been stuck, preconceptions, or points to new directions. It also helps remove preciousness or perfectionism which in my case can only be a good thing.

Mostly though the value of a scrapbook is simply in the doing, the cutting and pasting, a form of collecting and ‘doodling’. The joy is enough.

Why am I highlighting this today in terms of my image making?

Well, recently I’ve given myself permission to try to unlearn elements of my practice as a photographer (and my ‘learned’ historic creativity in general) – to try to see again after half a lifetime of believing I was ‘seeing’. I’m hoping this will alter and improve my creative output. The scrapbook process is really helpful here. It’s pure playing. Trying to leap over or around logic and reason. And it often throws up unexpected things: unique juxtapositions, project ideas, a ‘hook’ or theme, who knows. 

One thing I have noticed is that a scrapbook distills the symbols and visual elements that I find appealing. It generates a kind of personal lexicon or dictionary and that is great to mine elsewhere in my work.

So forgive my indulgence in showing some pages here from my scrapbooks, but I hope that this might be impetus enough to send you on a quest to start (or keep going with) your own.

Actually there’s a great book called Photographer’s Sketchbooks published by Thames & Hudson that’s worth checking out – I’m not alone!!

So is there anyone else out there that indulges this passion for scrapbooks? I’d love to hear from you or better still share some of your pages if you can.

All images © James Bellorini 2015

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 organisations/brands. Recent clients include: Siren Design, Glyndebourne Productions Ltd, Sonisphere UK, Stone Nest, The Old Vic etc.  

 


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. 


WORLD PHOTOGRAPHY DAY PLEDGES

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A TONGUE-IN-CHEEK LIST OF PHOTOGRAPHIC PLEDGES.


I pledge my allegiance to the camera – though don’t try to make me a single-system patriot. May I be free to be a photographic Don Juan and use Canon, Leica, Fuji and Mamiya and/or whatever else comes to hand depending on the requirements of my work or my creative promptings.

I pledge my allegiance to both digital photography and old-school analogue photography – may they both remind me that light is my master and guide.

I pledge to always be reminded that a camera is an object of great wonder and joy to me – that it is an incredible tool that has the power to change our perception of the world, the way we look at it, and the people we meet.

I pledge my allegiance to photography as a medium – that it makes me who I am; and that as an introvert when I have a camera in my hand I have a reason to meet, talk, and engage.

I pledge my allegiance to ‘the moment’.

I pledge my allegiance to the power of photography to freeze time and literally make history.

I pledge my allegiance to photography being the most democratic of mediums  – that anyone can take pictures and enjoy it.

I pledge to honor that democracy by being as open to the world as possible. That I greet it and the people I meet without prejudice or preconception.

I pledge my allegiance to knowing that light is my teacher; and that form and matter my subject.

I pledge to abide by the formula: open mind + open heart + open eyes = photographer.

I pledge to learn the inverse square law by heart and to actually understand it practically (apologies for the photo jargon – an explanation for the layperson here).

I pledge my allegiance to people and diversity: all that richness of life, culture and visual information.

I pledge to continue working harder than I ever thought possible before I started working as a full-time photographer.

I pledge to daily ignore my G.A.S. or Gear Acquisition Syndrome (sorry more jargon – more explanation here).

I pledge to never stop learning about this wondrous, frustrating, inspirational and obsessive craft.

I pledge to always have a camera of some kind on me wherever and whenever I am.

I pledge to honor the clients who have seen fit to believe enough in me to keep coming back. And I pledge to honor those I haven’t even met yet.

I pledge to say thank you to all those close enough to me that they have to put up with all the tears of joy and sorrow that being a professional photographer makes me shed.

And finally, I’m proud to say I’m a photographer and a world citizen. I can’t help it, they’re in my blood.

All images © James Bellorini 2015. 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. 

 


SMALL ACTS OF REBELLION

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ANALOGUE PHOTOGRAPHY & HOW IT HELPS ME CONNECT.


Style. Beauty. Authenticity. The unexpected.

If I’m not playing with at least one of those things in my photography and/or business at least once a week then I get jittery. Seriously. And I’m not talking something like coffee jitters, you know. It’s worse. Like a chunk has been taken out of my soul.

When that happens I need to shake the shackles off and make a stance for my creativity. That’s the way I keep going. So I find ways to experience one or more of those elements I’ve listed above through small acts of rebellion (SARs).

Take this little bunch of pics here. All shot over a month ago on a camera that uses FILM. Remember that stuff?

I think of analogue photography and the photos themselves as SARs.

Why?

Well the image/outcome can’t be the only thing I’m focused on, even though it does take up a huge part of  my attention. It’s the process as well. It has to be. It can’t be product product product all the time. Like the old adage says it’s not the destination, but the journey that’s important. For me, it’s taken a bit of time to understand that.

Which is also happens to be part of my point.

Time. Patience. Slowing down a bit. Breaking out from the digital treadmill. It runs against the grain these days. We’re often made fearful that we might ‘miss’ something or not be cutting edge enough if we haven’t for example sprung something new on social media in the last hour.

It makes sense to my creativity to throw into my photographic mix the discipline of slowness when I need it. Taking my foot off the photographic pedal. Allowing a whole month from the shutter-press to the point of editing and publishing personal photos (good or bad) is a small act of rebellion.

And what does that rebellion lead to? Fruit. Maybe not always immediate or ‘commercial’ fruit. But other kinds. In this here picture-monger it creates excitement, inner space and a greater awareness of the world around me and what I’m doing in it. Which photographically and creatively has to be a good thing.

And in this case there is also the greater appreciation of the medium itself: film, film cameras and all things analogue photography. Go get an old camera and walk out with it. It’s amazing how many conversations start because of this old contraption slung over my shoulder.

Then there’s the film ‘X’ factor.

Maybe you can’t see it in the pictures. I hope you can. Maybe it’s so sublime as to be like a breath of wind across the back of your hand. There is a depth and richness that comes from film (I want to say the word like I might say “ice cream” – playing it round my mouth, tasting it). The images are that much more sensual than the digital equivalent.

I’m often battling on the front between two forces: creativity and commerce. When they’ve signed their peace treaty and are working hand in hand that’s an amazing place to be. More often than not though, they are dividing their territories and building defences. Slowing down in this way actually helps them both come to terms with each other. Plus I have time to learn more about myself and my craft which soothes the creative beast in me and at the same time provides fuel for better photos (my products) for clients.

The business of making and creating is often conducted through a ‘cloud of unknowing’. Walking blindly in the cerebral dark guided by a tiny whisper of light in the guts, with limited conscious understanding of where you’re going. Yet knowing that you have to go, whatever. It’s the kind of place that, like a rebellion, lacks a sense of control. A place I’m hoping will always be a frontier of change.

If you’re interested, my ‘museum pieces’ are a Mamiya C220 TLR with 80mm lens and a Mamiya 7 with a 65mm lens. They help keep me sane.

I think of all of this a bit like this song by Parov Stelar – it’s kind of old and yet at the same time it very much of today as well. Have a listen and you’ll see what I mean.

All photography © James Bellorini 2015. 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.


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.  


INSPIRATION HANDBOOK FROM PHOTOSHELTER

The Inspiration Handbook by PhotoshelterPhotoshelter (creators of online portfolio platforms for photographers) have just released the latest in their series of free industry guides: The Inspiration Handbook. It’s full of hints and tips for all manner of photography and business related matters.


The Inspiration Handbook: 50 Tips From 50 Photography Trailblazers is an special one for me as I’m included (on page 24 if you want to know!).

Extra-special because it’s humbling to be included in these pages alongside some incredible photographers and industry professionals. Many of these folks I’ve admired for a long time (e.g. Zack Arias & David Duchemin) and remain my inspirations. I can’t believe I’m on the same pages as these guys!! Pinch me. Seriously.

When I took a change of course in my life 18 months ago, and set out to become a freelance photographer, I had no idea that the road would be one of such a lot of blood (not literally), sweat, (many) tears, self-doubt and financial ups and downs. So I’m really grateful to the people at Photoshelter for acknowledging me in this way. And in this kind of ‘stellar’ company. It really really helps to be encouraged so early in my career.

If you want to see some great photography and pick up some tips for your business (photography or otherwise) then the guide is available to download for free here. It’s worth the click.

 The Inspiration Handbook by Photoshelter