As part of the Ready Steady Pro Q&A Series we ask photographers from all backgrounds, niches and skill levels to answer 5 questions for the blog. This week, we hear from Simon Dewey of Simon Dewey Photography.
I’ve been a photographer for a relatively short period of time – I came to it just before the birth of my first son, who’s now four. I’m generally quite musical and creative, but I never had any aptitude for the visual arts – (my art teachers pretty much wrote me off in secondary school). I tend to photograph weddings – mainly because so many big things happen in such a short space of time – but pick up other fun assignments along the way. Up until now I’ve been juggling work with an NHS job, but have been served redundancy and am planning to work as a full time photographer 2014.
Here’s what Simon had to say when we him asked the 5 questions:
Question 1: What’s the one single thing that has had the largest positive impact on your photography so far?
Realising that I don’t have to please everyone. In fact I’d go one step further and say that you don’t have to please anyone. Good service is essential, but when it comes to your style and the way you get your results, doing what everyone else is doing will only bring mediocrity. I’m still finding my voice, but I think I manage to attract a premium just by using it. There are photographers out there who are absolutely terrible technically, but they have their own thing and there own niche market.
Question 2: If you could start over again from scratch, what would be the one thing you would do differently?
Come to the realisation above sooner!
Everyone says you should focus on your brand and your business before the photography – set the prices for the money you need to live on and run the business etc… but to be honest my brand grew out of the photography and finding my style. Knowing my ideal target market grew out of analysing my best clients, so I did it all backwards from what many advise is the best way. Not that I’m saying my way was better – I see plenty of photographers falling out of business around me using my approach!
Question 3: Who is the most influential photographer to you, and why? (Or, Which photographer do you admire the most, and why?)
There are two that spring to mind:
- Alex Webb. He’s the one photographer that has it all for me. He has such a dramatic way of using light and colour, and his eye for a perfectly timed moment is impeccable. I love the way he balances seemingly impossibly complicated compositions – to the extent that a lot of the time he’s inventing his own visual vernacular.
- Trent Parke. He’s a street photographer in the broadest sense of the term. His pictures are often dreamlike and ethereal and more about the experience than the visual representation. He tends to use grainy black and white film and develop on the road, yet he constantly pushes, uses and abuses the technical limitations of his process.
I was reading a David Duchemin book on creativity (recommended by Michael Rammell!) last night and he was talking about the positive effect constraints can have on the creative process (something that I always believed and used to my advantage when I was a musician) and I think Trent Parke’s work only goes to prove this.
Question 4: If you able to give just one piece of advice to someone just starting out in their photographic career, what would it be?
If it’s not fun, change it.
Seriously, it’s your business and your creation. The only compulsory part is filing your tax return, and everything else is a matter of choice. If you’re heading in the wrong direction your gut will let you know. Being able to pay the bills is a side effect of having an enjoyable business – if you love what you’re doing and then it shows, which attracts clients in itself. You produce better work. It’s a cycle.
But like lots of other photographers I can make myself incredibly stressed and anxious. I think it comes with the territory where you’re trying to live off a creative well – you have no idea if there will be water tomorrow or if it will be drinkable. As we all know most of us are juggling another job and family commitments whilst our elders constantly remind us that we’d be better off finding another source of income!
I have been studying mindfulness recently – the art of letting it all go and living in the present. It’s quite similar to the Buddhist outlook.
Question 5: Paint a picture: What is the one thing / place / person you would love to photograph and why? It can be a person or a moment from history. As part of this answer also tell us about what gear you’d use, what lighting, what looks, wardrobes, poses and expressions you’d make use.
I love music and I’d love to do more music work with backstage access, huge lightshows etc. I think I’d be in my element. Maybe Bowie, at any point in the 70’s. I’d take one of the later Nikon digital bodies back in time with me though. I always get a second wind at a wedding if they have a live band. I’ve just had an enquiry for a wedding at a beautiful venue in Richmond Park, maybe Bowie will be within their budget!
Well, thanks so much for taking part in the Q&A Simon. For more information about Simon and his work you can find him at all of the following places:
Have a question for Simon? Simply post in the comments section below, or join the fun over in the Ready Steady Pro Facebook Community
Would you like to take part in photography Q&A? Send us an email with your answers to the 5 questions and it could appear on this blog too! More details can be found on the Q&A Page