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Community photography

Community photography •

• Dining Out •
Community photography is as much about attracting the community as it is about telling a story of the community.
(Community event: Annual sponsored fancy dress swim on New Years Day – great photo opportunities).

Involving the local people in photography

It sounds ideal. Get the local people involved and do lots of photography. In reality it tends to happen the other way around. Photographers get involved in the local activities and events… the rest is great fun! Community photography is a two way street. Get involved in the community. Then your image work will feed back in as you develop contacts.

Just what is community photography

Actually, community photography is just about anything where the local people are involved. On the one hand we have street photography. It’s all about people out on the street doing what people do locally. The focus is rather loose and chaotic.

On the other hand we have community events and activities. These are about people getting together and sharing an event. In this case there is a single focus where everything revolves around the central interest.

Photography is a peculiar pursuit. Unlike most hobbies, it’s mostly a solitary pursuit. One person, one camera. So how do photographers get involved in community photography and develop community ties?

Getting involved

Almost certainly the first step to engaging with your community is to join a club. Failing that create a group of friends or associates. Later a club can spring out of this group. Clubs and groups are a natural consequence of community.

It’s natural to want to use the community and the local area as a photographic resource. Communities get enriched by groups like yours. Your members work to expose their interests and creations to the community. But it also brings the community into contact with your members too.

Community photography is about reaching out

In almost every community on the planet there are dozens of interest groups. Making the best of your photography is what you want as group members. To do that effectively it’s important to get some resources. You can all club together and put in some money for trips, meetings, a group projector… whatever. Ultimately, you need to become self sustaining. Having a ‘membership’ is a big step at first. But, it’s at that point that the community can help you. And, through your community photography, you can help others out in the community.

Reaching out to your community should be a major part of the activity of your group. You must engage directly with other groups and organisations to join in with them. Activities in the community happen at multiple levels. From within your group, and at a different level between groups. This relationship between groups, and the individuals within them, is what makes the community rich and interesting. Lots of photo opportunities come out of such a mix.

Start by brain-storming as a group. Find out what skills you have in your group. Also, list the contacts you all have between you. Here are some of the sorts of things you might identify…

 Group Skills  Group Contacts
 Doctor  Local medical facilities. Pharmacy. Local school. Local farmers club events secretary.
 Town official  Local groups and clubs. The town business club. CEO of the largest local company. Golf club.
 Housewife  Members of the local women’s club. School staff. Children’s group. Library staff.
 Company admin.  Member of local art club. Local sports club secretary. Chairman of the Annual Fair. Hospital nurse on the staff committee.

As the table shows, just four people from your group easily have a broad reach locally. All these contacts work within groups and companies. They have access to events, planned activities and finance. They also have contacts who have or need those resources too. Your community photography group can provide things for them too. The first stage of reaching out to the local community is establishing these contacts. Get talking to them about your group and what you can do.

Charity Swim - New Year Fancy Dress swim

• Sponsored swim •
At this annual swim event there is a whole host of local groups. They include the local Rowing Club; the Royal National Lifeboat Institute; the local Lions’ Club and the Church. Local businesses, hundreds of local people, swimmers and spectators are also involved.

What can your community photography group do?

Penetrating the local community and getting known as a group takes a little time. It also takes a little planning and talking to your contacts. It is worth doing. Before long you will find there is plenty to do. So to help your group keep on track, break up the tasks so people don’t get overloaded.

You members are sure to have a photographic resource already. Your local photos are really important. So start there. Show off your best photos in the local library (library contact). Make plans for an exhibition in the local community centre. Make contact through the town official. Organise a stall in the summer fair or pageant this year. Raise some money for a local charity. Do a portrait shoot in the main street. I am sure you can think of many ideas to extend your skills for the good of your community photography.

My camera club does a number of community photography events each year. We provide photographers to shoot a range of events including…

  • Mayors Annual Golf Tournament
  • Annual town regatta
  • Annual luncheon for local service veterans
  • Annual luncheon for senior citizens
  • The annual “Santa fun run”
  • Armistice March past.
  • Town fair
  • Annual carol singing event

…and quite a few other activities.

Armistice Day - Veterans Lunch

• Armistice Day – Veterans Lunch •

What do you get for doing your community photography?

The whole process of community photography is extremely rewarding. You want your club or group known locally. Then, as you grow and contribute you get more members, raise money and so on. Most of all you will feel fulfilled as active members in your local community. Sometimes it’s quite hard work. But it is worth it. The benefits are…

  • It is great fun!
  • Meet local people
  • Extend the community reach of your group
  • Make more contacts
  • Raise money for your club
  • Raise money for charity
  • Help other community groups
  • Get your work known locally
  • Get in the local papers
  • Get onto local websites
  • Create a photographic legacy for the town
  • Help people understand photography better
  • Joint activities with other local groups
  • Provide the community with a richer experience

Raising money for charity is great. A lot of people in need get help. There are some other rich, but less visible, benefits too.

A rich source of local history is often the local library too. Many libraries retain many thousands of photographs of the town donated by local photogs. Some go back over a century. It is a rich and important local resource. It gets your photos and club exposed in all sorts of ways. So does providing a historical archive of the area for the “Local History Club”.

Another reward is mixing with other interest groups. At fairs and events you will meet other clubs and their members. You can also get to know them by just ringing up and talking. Why would you do that? My community photography club has an annual event with other local clubs. One club night we get together with the poetry club. In advance we have swapped poems and photos. On the night we provide photos to illustrate the poems they provided. They read poetry about the photos we provided. A great evening – really illuminating. We do a similar event with the local artists club.

Publicity is key to community photography

Many a local group has died because of lack of publicity. Community photography should not go that way. If you engage with your local people you will have some brilliant photo opportunities. Each and every one provides a publicity opportunity too.

Community photography thrives on telling the stories of events in the local area. That is the stuff of blogs, newspaper articles, fund-raisers, exhibitions, displays and other types of contacts. Engaging with your community is not just about taking photos. It is also about exploiting the opportunity to get your work and the club known. If you engage with your local people… make sure they know about your group too. Shy photogs are not well known. Get out there and take photos, but make sure you engage with others.

Most of all make sure everyone knows your group took the photos. Insist that, if your clubs’ photos are used, they are acknowledged. Put photos up in the town with your community photography club name and contact attached. Get in the papers and insist the club is mentioned. Have a blog. Link to town event and activity websites. Use your photos and offer them to other websites to use too. Making the best of your community photography is about getting your name and your photos out in the community.

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Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photographer and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photogs.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.
By Damon Guy see his profile on Google+.

Twitter Users – Welcome to Photokonnexion

@photokonnexion :: Twitter is a medium of choice for Photokonnexion.com

Twitter is a medium of communication. It perfectly complements the power of photography.

Twitter :: A series of “now” moments

Photokonnexion is all about learning photography. Our tips, tricks and tutorials cater for all levels of skill. We try to write in easily understandable language and to explain new terms and ideas fully. If you enjoy making photographs this is the place to find out more. If you love your camera this is the place to learn more about that too.

Photokonnexion and Twitter

Because Twitter is all about small amounts of information it is easy to learn in bite sized chunks. The @Photokonnexion Twitter stream aims to be on the fun side. We tweet bite-sized chunks of learning. You will find photographic facts, quotes, philosophy and fun comments. It is all about cryptic and comic, tips and tricks, moments and motivation.

A thousand pages helping you learn

Twitter and Photokonnexion.com :: Learn photography, connect with your cameraPhotokonnexion.com has more pages than your average photography book. All of them are packed with photography facts, resources and links to more. It is a rich resource for learning. It is a fun resource to browse. These pages aim to fill the details in. Photokonnexion.com is a perfect complement to our twitter stream.

Twitter users, let us know what you think

We hope you enjoy the site and encourage you to Contact Us with ideas and questions. Help us to develop this site. The more participation and comment the better.

Not landing here from Twitter?

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For a quick idea of what you might find in our Twitter stream check out some of our motivational quotes.

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Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photographer and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photogs.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.
By Damon Guy see his profile on Google+.

Get some new ideas for your photography – a quick tip!

Get some new ideas for developing your photography

Here is a great book External link - opens new tab/page you can learn some new ideas about photography without paying…

New ideas to develop your photography…

Here is an interesting and easy way to find some new ideas. At the same time you can do some reading at no cost. A great way to grow your knowledge and find out more about photography.

How to get new ideas

I am sure you know Amazon, that great book-shop on the web. It is not all about book sales (and more). It is also a source of actual reading too. There are ways to use the website for new ideas and information. More to the point it’s free.

Let’s take an example to see how you can get these new ideas. The Collins Complete Photography Course External link - opens new tab/page is an excellent book. Well produced and researched. It’s a top seller and well reviewed. When you go to the Amazon page for it the book also has a readable section. That’s right. While on Amazon you can read several chapters. If the book has a “click to read” tag, like the picture above, you can read some of the text. The chapters you can read in this book are…

  • The story of photography
  • Camera types
  • Getting to grips with your DSLR camera
  • About various exposure modes

…and at the back of the book you can read a great little glossary of terms used in the book.

OK, so maybe you are not going to learn the whole of photography with this method. But, it is one way to pick up some new ideas and information. Other books are of interest too. This extends to books about art and composition ideas as well as other information. You could find yourself in a world of new ideas, facts and know-how.

One more new idea

If you are looking for projects or new ideas for a photograph try this. Go to the index at the back, or sometimes the contents at the front. Both of these areas of a book are packed with concepts. If you are in a book about art or composition in photography, these can start you thinking. Inspiration is all about the idea right? Use this resource just to get the new ideas flowing. Then follow your thoughts…

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Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photographer and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photogs.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.
By Damon Guy see his profile on Google+.

Make a new image – create a synthesis

Seaside Lady • A new synthesis on the streetart

• Seaside Lady By Paul Donohoe •
A picture from my Friend and fellow blogger Paul Donohoe  External link - opens new tab/page. He has hit the nail on the head. The added context really makes the scene. Look for ways to add to the image. Make the scene your own by creating a new synthesis.

Thinking about artworks.

A piece of work by someone else makes a great photo, or does it? Maybe, but in a way it is just a record, not a true expression of your view. Anyway, often a photo of an artwork loses something in the translation to a photo. Maybe you should be thinking of adding something to it.

Creating a synthesis

The person who created the original artwork or scene has gone to the same or more trouble you have. When you take a picture of their work you need to think about who is creating the work. A straight picture of another’s work is a sort of theft. However, in the context of the picture you can really make something of the scene – a new synthesis.

In the picture above you can see that Paul Donohoe  External link - opens new tab/page has waited to capture the lady. She is not obscuring the art work. On the other hand the slightly odd pace gives it a new feeling. It is as if she is fleeing the scene. The whole picture, art work and lady, are something new. A synthesis of the original art work and the new aspect to the scene.

A judges view of the synthesis

I have often seen great pictures of sculptures really marked down in photo competitions. They are really a record of the art work. Not the expression of the authors thought on the art. Judges don’t know what to make of that. Who are they judging the sculptor or the photog?

I once heard a judge make a great comment about how a new synthesis matters. In the North of the UK there is a beach with random statues of standing men. Each day the tide comes in and out. The men stand on the sand, stoically staring out to sea. Submerged, or not, they present a simple but powerful image of man watching the world go by. One photographer had taken a picture of one of the men. Boring. The judges comment was illuminating. He said, “When you see them standing there in the cold and wet like that you just want to warm them up. What this picture needed was a bright red scarf around the statues neck”.

On that cold and dreary morning the bright scarf would have made the picture outstanding. The addition would have make it both the expression and the art of the photographer. Yet the new synthesis would have left the statue as impressive as before.

Look to make the scene yours

No matter what you see you always present something of yourself. You cannot help but interpret the scene. When looking at the artwork of others the attention is lost from your picture to the art you are capturing. So, make the scene yours. Find a way to add something or change the scene so you are putting your stamp on the situation.

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Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photographer and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photogs.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.
By Damon Guy see his profile on Google+.

Christmas 2013… and plenty more to come

Christmas is here

I intended to bring you some street photography shots of happy shoppers. I was out watching the final dash for the Christmas presents. However, after ten minutes my camera battery went.

Well that’s not a problem. I swapped it for another and started again. Hmmm! The camera, an old Canon 350D, steadfastly refused to start up. It would only show me the battery was charged. I changed the battery for another – just in case. This time I got a brief “Err05” and then it died again.

Undaunted

No camera. This is not a problem! Undaunted, I whipped out the smart phone.Then I spent a happy hour capturing the best of the happy shoppers.

Now picture this… I am sitting in a car at a WIFI hotspot. I am trying to upload the photos to my laptop. The laptop completely ignores the phone. The phone tells me it is “Not tethered to any USB device”. Well… drat!

Sometimes things go wrong even if you have a backup. I have two other cameras 12 miles away. But no broadband connection there. And, it is late on Christmas Eve. Sometimes blogging is hell! But, I am still smiling.

Supportive

This year, you, the readers, have been exceptionally supportive. I get a great deal of positive comments and thanks through Twitter, 365Project, Google+ and other channels. I also get comments here on the blog. So many positive things are said that it keeps me hard at the keyboard.

Courses next year

Many of my readers and friends have asked if I can start opening up my training courses more. So next year I will be doing a series of one day courses. To start with I will be running some courses on ‘going manual’ with your camera. Also, I am planning courses on portraiture and composition. So look out for those announced on these pages. Some other exciting things will be happening on this blog too so keep watching this space.

Thank you all

I want to send you all my Christmas Greetings. Whatever your beliefs or your holiday activities are about, I wish you all the best of the season and to have a great time over the next few days. I also wish you all the most prosperous and enjoyable New Year. But more than that I hope you have an excellent year ahead of great photography!

PS… Don’t forget to say Happy Christmas in the comments below!

Meanwhile, I think I will be upgrading an old camera  Camera sales after Christmas. External link - opens new tab/page shortly.

Buy a good tripod – nothing beats it

Good tripod as an all-rounder - Manfrotto 055XPROB Tripod

A quality, versatile and robust tripod – the Manfrotto 055XPROB Tripod External link - opens new tab/page is unbeatable as an all-rounder. Buy a good tripod – you will not regret it!

Can you recommend a good tripod?

Nothing beats a good tripod. Most people forget about them until they have struggled for a long time. Then they buy a cheap one. Later they have to think again. Well, I suggest you buy a good tripod now and save yourself strife down the line! I have recommend a good buy at the page end.

Why buy a good tripod?

Too many people I have taught and worked with have told me tales of three legged woes. Everyone thinks that to make your DSLR camera stable all you need is three legs. This is simply not true. Quality is just as important. You need a good tripod. Here are some reasons to go for a quality purchase from the start…

 Good Tripod  Cheap and cheerful
 Solid and stable  Limited by poor engineering
 Reliable fittings  Fittings regularly break
 Quality paint  Poor or no paint – highly reflective aluminium
 Quality footings seal the legs to stop dirt getting in  Legs left unsealed let dirt in and grit quickly wears the joints
Strong enough for all DSLRs and a big lens Wobbly with anything larger than a bridge camera
 Top platform precisely engineered – no movement and good fitting for the camera  Wobbly platform, poor clip, loose fitting. Screws sometimes damage the camera
Quality joints on legs for long life and stable grip Leg joints quickly wear and become wobbly with poor materials
 Multiple leg positions to allow adjustment on uneven ground  One leg position
 Fully adjustable top column to allow multiple positions.  One wobbly top column
 Legs can be adjusted to many wide angles  One angle for legs
 Reversible – so you can get your camera near the ground  Not reversible
 Proper hand grips  No hand grips
 Interchangeable head fitting  No head fitting – or low quality flip up quick release

There are other reasons to buy a good tripod, but you get the idea. Nearly every aspect of camera stability is reduced to keep the price down. I am not one to advocate gear lust or spending money where it is not worth it. However, I have come across each of the design and quality flaws above. From personal choice and experience it’s clear only the best is good enough when making your camera stable.

Adaptability

While a quality tripod is great, you normally need to buy a good head too. Cheap tripods usually without them, or have poor quality ones. A good tripod head is an investment for life. Inter-changeable heads are very useful. I have five heads for different purposes: for macro work; small cameras; panoramas; and one for precise adjustment. My most versatile head I use every day for general purpose work. The Manfrotto 322RC2 Heavy Duty Grip Ball Head External link - opens new tab/page is precise robust, reliable, versatile and has never let me down.

So which tripod do you recommend?

I recommend…

Manfrotto 055XPROB Tripod External link - opens new tab/page

This is a robust, and well designed unit with strong legs. It comes as a legs and platform – ready for your inter-changeable head. The black paint is hard wearing and will not create odd light effects. The two comfortable hand grips are essential in cold weather. The legs and centre column are adaptable to a wide range of angles and heights.

 
The Manfrotto 055XPROB is a great tripod and would make a wonderful present for a DSLR owner. It is on special offer on Amazon. Buy one now. External link - opens new tab/page

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Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photographer and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photogs.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.
By Damon Guy see his profile on Google+.

Portrait context is about the artist as well as the subject

Portrait context is important in photography

• Portrait context is important in photography •
[Image taken from the video].

Art in a portrait…

…includes much more than meets the eye. Photographers taking their first steps with portraits often see only the person in front of them. But the portrait context also includes the scene, the artist and their culture.

Portrait context – a historical boundary

Portrait art historically reflected the fashions and ideas of the time. For example early civilisations tended to depict people in profile. These flat two dimensional portraits were a mark of early Egyptian art. Much later, in the 14th century, the Renaissance masters did portraits as a three dimensional rendering on the canvas. They used artistic tools the Egyptians did not have.

Today the portrait context is still related to the knowledge and experience of the artist. And, they are partly bound by the conventions of their time, culture and so on. You can never fully be divorced from your context. But, we are free to take a wider, more context-free view of portraits. Artists and photographers are trained to take a broad, imaginative outlook. Art and photography schools give the imaginative freedom of students a wide scope. Breaking the bounds of traditional portraiture is a part of that freedom.

Breaking the bounds of portrait context takes careful thought

Portraiture starters often only see their subject through “everyday” eyes. Most of us are not trained in the ways of imaginative scene setting. So we tend to take portraits that represent our every day view of people. There is nothing wrong with that. Family, friends and others make a fun photograph. The images can be pleasing and satisfying.

Great portraiture goes deeper than that day-to-day view. To push the boundaries of your portraits, think in a different way. The portrait photog should consider their own vision and experience. They also need to think of the environment, cultural context, story and location of the shot. The photographer should understand who they are as well as knowing something of the portrait subject.

Of course knowing these things does not produce a great image. What makes a great portrait is pre-vision. It is how you bring out something in the subject, the scene or the portrait context that is remarkable. This takes a unique perspective.

The art of portrait photography

A strong portrait steps out of the everyday view. In the video we get the perspective of a number of portrait photogs. Each has looked into the portrait context in which they are working. With forethought and insight they have constructed artful portraits. They have also made driven and powerful images of their subjects. Each has a clear understanding of the portrait context. Each has a clear view of what they want to say.

The lesson is, look for a point to make. Understand both what you are working with and what you are working to express.
PBSoffbook  External link - opens new tab/page

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Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photographer and editor of this site. He has also run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photogs.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.
By Damon Guy see his profile on Google+.