Thursday, 10 May 2012

Where I stand...

Watch this first...

''The most important thing you can do is a lot of work, a huge volume of work''

When I first picked up a DSLR I had no idea about how hooked I would get. Yes I've used cameras before; for snapshots, sometimes disposable ones when out on the drink and sometimes pocket cameras when I've been on holiday...but there was something about the possibilities of using a DSLR and the control it gives.


I think it's fair to say I'm obsessed with the art, I could never really paint or draw, so always found it hard to express myself artistically. I seem to remember an art teacher at my secondary school even ripping-up a piece of my work and throwing it out the window...maybe I should have done the same to him.
If I'm honest there isn't a day that goes by when I don't capture one thing or another which for me is a big part of the learning process! No-one else is going to truly teach you how to use a camera, yes they may help you with settings and talk about formal elements  but it's really up to you to get out there and shoot.
I'm happy to say I honestly know what all the functions are on my camera, and when is best to use them! I'm not saying I've mastered it, far from it, but it's second nature now and gives me a lot more scope in the field I want to work in.

©2012Matt Elliott

I seem to remember a friend of mine saying there are three types of photographer, ones who shoot from the head, the heart or the sleeve. For me I would say it's from the heart due to the pleasure I get from it, the day it bores me or I lose my passion for it I'll give-up, but I can't see that happening anytime soon.
I'm always flattered when people comment or give me positive feedback on my work, I don't mind constructive negative feedback too; it only aids in the long-term. I'm also happy to help others, which I do quite a lot!
Looking back at where I have come from, with regards to my early images, it sometimes makes me cringe! I won't delete them as I find it really helpful to see how far I have come and how far I have got to go...a long way. One thing I will say is if you truly love photography and are passionate about will show and you will learn fast! You should always stick to your guns with your work too, yes take advice, but if you've made something and are happy with it then say so! I've seen the work of some professionals and coughed user my breath ''what the hell is that!'' I won't go into the question of 'what is art?'' that's way too long of a debate, for me I know what I like and I will say so. I don't look at someones work now and 'rubbish' it unless I've at least tried to put it into context, you should at least try and understand what the person is trying to express, even if it is a bit confusing.

©2012Matt Elliott

Long-term I'm still not sure where all this is leading too. I have a family, two young children and commitments, sometimes I look around at some of the younger students I'm working with and have a touch of envy. For some, they have the world at their feet and should grab any opportunity they get with both hands. I spent my early working years travelling the world in a work capacity, looking back at the places I have seen and things I've done, I would have loved to have had a camera strapped around my neck alongside my rifle. All I can do is stay positive, tick boxes that need ticking and not lose sight of why I am doing this in the first place...

*The images above I took recently while walking around the Hoe with a friend. To be honest I've 'done' Plymouth to the death now and find very little in the way of inspiration now, especially when I see the work of others from around the world. But the fact is, always have your camera to hand! I'm really happy with the images above, and it's quite rare for me to like my own work.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

A busy day....

With the advent of digital it's easier to shoot all day long without giving it a second thought, this may be the case in certain circumstances but that depends on what you are working on. When I shot my first wedding I came away with over 2000 images from an eleven hour shoot, looking back I would say this was down to over-excitment and not wanting to miss anything!
My most recent wedding was at the Livermead hotel in Torquay with Penny and James, who I am now very friendly with. Penny saw some of my work on Facebook and contacted me through there. I know there are some out there who believe Facebook is the work of the Devil, for me I have a personal page and a photography page, which I treat professionally!
Coming away from Penny's wedding I had shot 700 images from 11 am to 9 pm, looking through I have a fair amount of doubles which I always check through on full screen, you could have 'the' image only to find the subject has their eyes shut!

©2012Matt Elliott

Sadly the weather on the day was what I would call 'squint' conditions with very little contrast! I never like bright cloudless days with harsh light or overcast 'bleached-out' skies, but you can't control the weather and have to work with what you have! 
For this shoot I took a friend along who wanted to get an idea of what the wedding game was all about. As a second photographer wasn't added into the price plan Penny and James were more than happy to have a second pair of eyes. Looking through Paulina's work before the wedding I felt she had a good eye for the small details and told her to work to this. She was a bit nervous at first, but I told her to relax and have fun. I'm not sure after the day was out she had caught the wedding 'bug' but you never know.

©2012Matt Elliott
What I found enjoyable when working with Penny is she knew what she wanted from day one. I had already travelled to Torquay previously to plan for the shoot and study the location. Sadly on the day we couldn't use the small beached area for a backdrop so I made use of the steps leading to it for their posed shots, with a muted tone to give a classic look.
For some the traditional group shots are not wanted, which I'm sure will make some photographers smile (crowd control). However, personally I don't mind being asked to do large group shots, as long as you

  1. Ensure you can fit everyone in (wide angle lens)
  2. Compose your group well (can you see everyone)
  3. Ensure there's good light (flash probably won't be enough outside)
  4. Eyes, there's nothing worse than having four or five people with their eyes shut or looking the wrong way! I deal with this by telling everyone to shut their eyes and open on a count to three! 
  5. For the person who really would rather look at their feet be polite and ask them to look at you, it's their friend or family members images they are spoiling.
I'm still learning about wedding work, although I like to feel I have served my apprenticeship, there's always something you can improve! I never suffer from nerves anymore but what I enjoy is the fact no two weddings are the same...and if you get it right the couple will remember you forever!

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Take the stage....

Take the stage with David Beckham

I don't normally enter 'mass' internet photo competitions with a generic theme, however this one caught my eye! At present I am working with Mark Ormrod who, while serving with the Marines in Afghanistan, lost both legs and an arm after stepping on an I.E.D.
One of my ambitions as a professional photographer is to have an image exhibited in the National Portrait Gallery in London. This is probably the only gallery I always visit and where I have seen some of the most inspirational work!
Every year they run the Taylor Wessing portrait competition, which I intend to be a part of this year...with the right image of course!

Mark ©2012MattElliott

You see, share or like the image here... VOTE.