After a few last-minute changes to the programme this week we were very fortunate to welcome Ady Kerry, photographer, who came to speak to us about his experience as a sports and commercial photographer. You can read more about Ady Kerry and see examples of his work here
Ady started taking photographs as a child around the age of 10 or 11. His bedroom overlooked the flight path and circuit of RAF Waddington so he started taking photographs of aircraft in flight. He decided the natural career route was to become a photographer for the RAF so at 18 he started the process. After a period in the RAF undertaking lithographic printing he was then assigned as a unit photographer for the Army, which he said was the making of him both as a photographer and a person. In 1995 he decided to make a break and become a freelance photographer and has spent the last 21 years working on varied projects and commissions which has taken him around the world.
The presentation took the format of us being shown some of Ady’s work, photograph by photograph. With each image Ady gave us some background and asked us some questions about the image and we discussed. We also had a chance to ask questions too. This session was extremely interesting and informative. There was so much guidance, advice, tricks and tips given at this session that is would be difficult to provide everything in this blog post, so I have listed some key things that for me were the main take aways;
- Think Backwards!
When most hobbyist photographers go out to take photographs they have the mind-set of ‘lets go out and see what we can get a photograph of’. As a commercial photographer you are given a brief and need to think about what you need to do to achieve that image for the client. So, before the camera is even touched there is a planning phase. You need to ask yourself some questions; What am I going to take? Where is the best location for capturing that? What time of day do I need to shoot? What equipment do I need etc. Ady suggested that before we take our cameras out we should have an idea of what we want to take a photo of and how we will achieve this. This will provide greater focus, we will take less photographs as a result as we have a more detailed brief and will be looking for specific subjects/conditions. Also I imagine there would be a sense of achievement if you managed to capture what you had aimed too.
- Left to Right.
This has come up before but Westerners read from left to right so we should bear this in mind when constructing photographs/images. In particular when images are going to be used commercially and have text added, if so the positioning of that text, or rather the space we leave as photographers to allow for that text should be considered.
When mounting our work for competition we should consider leaving a slightly bigger border to the bottom of the image to give it space. [Note: I will further research this point].
- Mind the Gutter.
No not the one that captures water or waste, but the area of an image which would naturally sit in the middle of a two page spread in a magazine. One of Ady’s aims when submitting commercial images for a magazine/publication is to compose an image so it can be used as a two page spread i.e. ensuring that the centre of the image does not include anything important. As a photographer you want to get your images noticed and what better way than by having a two page spread.
- Emotional Attachment.
When producing an image for commercial use it’s important to be objective and not to submit an image just because it’s a place or subject that gives you good memories without considering if it fits the brief. Everyone looks at images differently and another person will not have that same emotional connections as you, so think more about the rules and maybe understand the client’s emotional connections more as you are more likely to sell that to them.
I hope the above points have made you consider composition from a commercial perspective, they certainly have given me some food for thought.