Tuesday, 21 November 2017

ignorance is bliss

The world is so beyond inverted it is criminal. If you really look around this is obvious.

This inversion has created extreme wealth in the face of extreme poverty. We have working families who depend on food banks, and our towns and city streets are becoming full with people in such dire straits they have no choice other then to live on the streets.

We are a extremely wealthy nation, however the majority of that wealth is kept for the 1 Percent, the elite. The other 99% of us are left with no other choice than to turn to 'charity' in our hour of need. As a nation, we are brilliant at charity, but absolutely rubbish at changing the status quo and ensuring charity is never needed. We simply accept it, like its our vocational responsibility to raise money, even though we are one of the highest taxed nations and should never be in need of charity.

I am donating a percentage of my income from all commissions, image and print sales to help with food banks and the homeless. For me these are 2 of the biggest issues we are facing as a nation. 

I do not trust charities (note I said 'charities' not charity workers) Having examined in great detail how donations are broken down and where the majority of the money donated really goes, I prefer ensure any money I may donate is actually received by the people for which it is intended. So the money and bought food will be donated locally. 

We are all only a few months without work away from being on the streets, that how the system is set up. That person in the doorway outside the department store could be you in 2 months if you are laid off, ill or the company goes bust.

Think about that, and perhaps stop walking by...

Liverpool, 2017....
Cheers, Lance


Thursday, 9 November 2017

En Vogue

I often find that writing (like talking) is a great way to relive stress, tension and help with your mental health. 

This does of course require time, something which I rarely have. Time is a real and extremely rare commodity. 

I have found over the years that writing (Venting) about some frustrations often helps me to deal with other more real situations and stresses. 

The Fashion industry and in turn Fashion Photography frustrates the hell out of me. It is pretentious, often ludicrous and for the most part seemingly populated by upper middle-class and high-class silver spoon fed snobs (or people who have grafted to get to be an upper-class snob) 

That's most of us counted out then eh! 

As a somewhat avid engager in fashion photography, although be it not on the Vogue scale, I have tried a few times, and I did once get a lovely written reply from Alexandra Shulman, on headed note paper, hand signed the lot, thanking me for sending my portfolio and that she had kindly passed my deets on to her team.... 

I have engaged from a distance over the years, watching what the high-end fashion people do and create, and this has led me to my question today is 'Is Vogue really all that?' 

With a new editor at the helm, the erstwhile Mr Edward Enninful , Vogue magazine promised a new vision upon his command. I actually applied for his job when the fabulous Alexandra Shulman stood down, I figured if Turnip Trump can become leader of the free world then I had a shot at editor of British Vogue right!! 

Well, it didn't quite work out like that, but I can take it. I promptly congratulated Mr E on his appointment and quickly offered my services. I am still waiting for his reply, but I know he is a busy man.... 

Edward's first cover as editor is now out here, and with all of the press it has received over the last few days I thought I would take a proper look at what the new Vogue looks like, all these months of waiting, this is going to be fuckin awesome I thought!! 

I logged on to Instagram, and I was scrolling down the feed and boom.... 

At 1st to be honest I thought it was one of those fake covers you can do on an app, then I saw Edward himself has posted the image... 

So I look again, zoomed in, zoomed out, zoomed in again... 

My reaction... I've binned better test shots. I am being serious. 

image copyright Steve Meisel/ British Vogue. 

This is a cover that reveals more about ensuring you give all of your mates a job than ensuring you create something memorable, different, surprising and a cover you will look back in in 20 years and go, wow he/we/ they got it right. 

Of course, all of those involved and all of their mates love it, the whole of Instagram has been a total love fest. I have been itching for some honest soul to say, actually wft is this.... but no, no one has yet had the balls... 

Over the me then... 

This is nothing personal (it is just my opinion) there are clearly some exceptionally talented people involved here, but this reads to me like when everyone daren't tell the boss that everyone thinks it's shit, so they carry on nodding and grinning like good sheep.... 

The cover features a photograph of British/ Ghanaian model Adwoa Aboa (the model of the moment, apparently) 

As I examine this image, I am beginning to critique it. I am asking how does it make me feel, does it talk to me, does it do what Edward and his team wanted it to do? For this exercise I will Imagine that I am describing this image and cover to someone who is blind, a literal critique of you like. 

This is a magazine cover, British vogue, with the big Vogue type face in red across the top, with the words 'Great Britain' in the same font big and bold in white, to the bottom right corner, which actually takes up around 20% of the page. To the centre left from top to bottom is a list of no less than 21 celebrity names, people involved or featured in this issue, the font is quite British in style and a mixture of black and red, and quite difficult to read. 

The cover image is set on a white background depicts a mixed-race female model in her mid 20's. The image is a close crop of head and shoulders, with part of the models left shoulder and left side of her head off the page. Her face and shoulders, which are quite pale and milky in tone and which are bare to the elements with her head and hair wrapped in a coloured patterned head scarf, one of which Hilda Ogden herself would have been proud. This is complemented by some sort of matching shall? The strategic positioning to the right of the page allows her long neck and thin face to peer in to the page. This is a nicely lit shot, subtle shadows to the models right with minimal reflection on the right cheek giving a nice amount of separation from the white backdrop. The blue metallic eye shadow compliments the fierce eye contact, yet somehow fades out in a clumsy way, like a hasty retouch or poor application. The models faint eyebrows provide little in the way of separation between the eyes and the forehead, but I quite like that. The model's brown eyes tone down the overall blast of colour from the clear incorporation the British theme of red white and blue, but it seems to me that it was more important to get those colours in the image rather than asking should they use those colours at all? Her large red lips heavily accent the centre of the image, the strobe lights seem to bleach and heavily highlight the lips in places. 

Large silver earrings which look something akin to what Danny John Jules alter ego the Cat in Red Dwarf would adore (Fish!!!) the right-hand side one partially hidden behind the models face which clumsily peaks out from behind the model's slim cheek bone, and appears a little washed out by the lights. The earrings completely distract me from the models face. They spoil the image. 

Overall this image, although nice does not jump of the page and cream 'Great Britain' to me. It is a rather flat, nice, unassuming image, more like something from a travel catalogue, or Littlewoods latest billboard than the front page of the most famous fashion magazine in the world. Furthermore, the image is a headshot, which I guess in itself is a bold move as opposed to the regular ¾ or full-length fashion covers. But the image doesn’t work, it is awkward, almost as if they had to find an image that best fitted around all of the fonts and the list of contributors. 

The layout of the cover is ugly and lopsided. (Not the model I may add)

I am left to ponder is this image then anything special? Is it something we haven't seen a million times before? I would argue no, it is not. It looks like the kind of image you create will a create team when you are testing ideas and concepts. it feels as though it is not complete. It does not speak to me how Edward would like it too. 

For me, there are a million better ways for the team at Vogue to represent Great Britain! They could have used the same team, but perhaps pushed the boundaries at least a little. 

I expected something wow, controversial, memorable, what I got was, oh, erm, right.... 

Another massive disappointment for me is the choice of Photographer. Yes, Steve Mesiel is hailed as one of the modern fashion greats, and although this is a competent image, it is a little easy and not one of his best technically or creatively. From what I have seen of the rest of the set, they fair no better, save for the black and whites which are more heavily shadowed and edited. 

Considering this cover pretends to celebrate all that is British, I do wonder why an American Photographer was selected to shoot the set, as there are dozens of us British fuckers out here who are extremely capable of pulling of something much, much more... 

So, I am back where I began, wondering if Vogue is all that? 

It seems to me it is not really about being great, or creative, or a genius, or a boundary breaker. It appears that it is more about who you are and who you know. Getting your mates round and playing at fashion and photography, and just happening to have a massive outlet for what you create. 

Simply reading the list of this month's contributors and features tells you this, without even looking at the content. 

The chances of the likes of us working class hero's being invited to add something fresh to this faux fashion mix is about as likely as the Metropolitan police actually investigating Paedophile rings in Westminster, or Jeremy Corbin actually being any different to his predecessors. 

This is Edwards 1st issue, let us see where this goes. He has commissioned great work preciously W mag and who knows the next issue may begin to break the boundaries. Edward has promised to rid Vogue of its posh girl reputation, so let us hope he extends this to its contributors... 

My answer to my original questions: Given all of this, right now my conclusion is no, Vogue is not all that. 

But what do I know? I didn’t get his job and Mr E and his team don't answer my e mails... :)

Here's a few of my favourite 'fashion' and cover images I have created. In comparison to this Vogue cover, I know this work would be massively out of place, but perhaps that is my point? 


cheers all , Lance


Wednesday, 1 November 2017

You cant polish a turd

Image is not mine, couldn't find the author

I hear it often ‘Photoshop editing is trickery and Photographers should be able to do it all in camera’ Mostly these are people who have a fear of technology, of embracing digital image editing, or a general misunderstanding of photography.

This is of course all Bull! Editing or manipulation are not cheating! They are an essential element of photographic image making and have been an integral component of photography since its inception.

Imagine an artist sketches an outline for a painting, and then colours it in, does that make the artist a cheat? No, it is simply part of their process in producing their final piece. Photography is no different. Photography has nothing to do with the cameras, the camera is a facilitator of control of light, nothing more, nothing less.

Anyone who does not process their digital images, is not paying attention to what they are actually creating. Digital images are a load of dog shit straight out of the camera, and that is a fact, an absolute.

If you shoot film, you have to process the negatives correctly. Without processing them, you simply have a no negative. If you process them badly you will have a shit negative, and then you can only ever make a shit print.

Digital photography is no different. Your RAW file is your negative, and Photoshop is your developer and your darkroom.

Get over this purist bullshit and embrace the digital darkroom, it is an essential element of photography. Once you do that your imagery will begin to excel.

The good, the bad and the ugly.

Now as with traditional photography, there are good ways and bad ways of creating an image. In the case of digital photography we are making a digital image for digital display, and also preparing digital image to be printed on paper.
My basic workshop is specifically designed to enable you to understand how to process your RAW file correctly, being careful to avoid any over processing. I teach you how to have 100% confidence in the processes you will learn, and more importantly be able to repeat these processes.  

There is no wanging about of sliders, no assuming the exposure is correct, no trusting the monitor, no sliding buttons about until we think the image looks cool!

Everything I teach gives you precise, 100% control in all of the elements of your image processing. We trust in Maths.

We do not 'Wang' sliders around in hope like this...

The beginner workshops give a gentle introduction to the basics, the terminology and the why’s. This will allow you to begin to understand the importance of correct image editing. It will also give you an insight into correctly editing your image for use on any display, and how to correctly prepare your file for print.

The Advanced Digital image editing and manipulation workshops follow on from the basic introduction to image editing workshop. This more advanced workshop allows you to explore the unlimited possibilities of digital image editing and manipulation.

The Fabulous Molly McCarthy with hair by NJUK. 

Remembering you are a photographer, my workshops introduce you to the tools and techniques which will enable you to push the creative boundaries of your photographic practice.

To enable you to fully understand and comprehend digital image editing, you must first consider what the hell you are photographing!

Having a definite view of what you want your final image to be is everything. You should understand the limitations for your camera & lens, and have in mind the processes you will need to perform to create the final image. It is not good practice to wang sliders about and trust a poorly lit and none calibrated screen to judge that your image will look amazing wherever it is see. Guess work is for amateurs.
I teach you the skills which will enable you to how to get to this final image, quickly and precisely. Importantly you will be able to repeat the process, thus enabling good workflow and to ensure that your entire catalogue of images retain excellent quality and high standards throughout.

I often find that inexperienced photographers (we’ve all been there) are not aware of the possibilities within photographic image making, and only when they learn these editing skills do they truly begin to explore their true creativity and become awesome photographers.

Museum of Liverpool

Deal with it.

Every single digital image you see is edited. They are supposed to be. If you believe you can reproduce an awesome image you have seen in camera, you are kidding yourself. All the top photographers out there edit and or retouch their work (Or farm it out to a firm that is another conversation)

So embrace editing!

Having said that, we are photographers, not poster designers!

Any manipulation of your work should be carried out to make your images, photographically the best they can be, because you are a photographer. Although it may be brilliant to Photoshop your horse onto a cloud with rainbows and fairies, it is not going to make your images excellent, or respected. So we avoid that here.

The oft told fallacy… Being excellent at Photoshop makes you a better photographer.

No it doesn’t!

Becoming an excellent editor will make you an excellent editor. If however your original images are dog shit, no amount of turd polishing is going to change that!

Dates for my upcoming workshop are here WORKSHOPS

Any questions feel free to give me a shout burkittphoto@gmail.com

Keep on trucking folks, cheers


Quantifying success

A successful shot with my Sony A6000 in York, UK this week.

What is success? For some it is simply lifting their head from the pillow each day (works for me) for others it may be gaining that promotion, or their team winning the league.

For the most part though, us humans equate our success to the amount of money we have made, or what we are worth...

Bill Gates is worth more money than some nations... Success? He's demonstrable man. 

Sir Paul McCartney is worth half a billion pounds, but he still cannot afford to buy the rights to his songs back. Successful?

If we equate success to how rich we are, then we will never be successful enough!

Forbes rich list each year proves this. Watching on as people scramble to see who's the richest out there, and then being in awe of them... whilst feeling unsuccessful! 

But is success really to do with finance? Or is success more of a personal thing? For me it is definitely the latter...

When I began Photography over a decade ago, I never dreamed I would become as decent, as competent as I have. I never imagined for a second that people which I had admired for their talents over the years would call me up and ask me to photograph them!

The fabulous Cheryl Baker, Photographed in 2015

I never imagined I would exhibit my work!

From my MA Photography exhibition 'This view from here' 2017

Success? For me, yes! 

As a photographer (and teacher) I have to earn money to exist in our capitalist world, I hate that, but it is where we are at as a society.

I do not however approach my photography or teaching with money in mind, or to use what I may earn as a measure my success. If I did, I would be deemed, and I would deem myself unsuccessful...

Having an idea for an image, following it through and creating what you intended, and often better than you intended, using your hard earned knowledge and experience, having people enjoy your work, to me that is success.

Selling the work or being paid for creating it is simply survival in a capitalist world, not a measure of success.

Money means you eat, not you succeed as a creative. 

When people ask what I do, when I say I am a photographer, 9 times out of 10 they ask 'Have you photographed anyone famous?'  When I reply yes, often the reaction is 'Ooh you must be worth a few quid then' You reckon?

Why is it never 'They are a great actor that must have been a great experienced?' 

I am never faced with such a reaction. My success, as a creative is always equated by others financially.

The fabulous Actress & performer Tupele Dorgu, Photographed in 2015. 

Lots of the most famous and celebrated artists and musicians lived and died financially poor, yet rich in content, and in my view were highly successful. Yet only now does their work make money, changing hands at auction for often millions of pounds, and deeming them successful in this capitalist world. Take Vincent Van Gogh as one example. 

Vincent Van Hogh 'Starry night' Image source

Van Gogh produced 2000 works during his life, but only sold 2! Does this mean that he was not successful? Of course not, he just didn't make any money from his art while he was alive, the art and therefore Van Gogh was still as success! 

I often speak to artists and photographers who are desperate for recognition, for acceptance, to prove they are successful. I myself have been one of these artists. Most of these people are producing awesome work and as such are already successful. 

Success depends on your own desires. Money enables you to survive, but it does not guarantee you creative success.

Did you make an image you were happy with? Did you learn from the process? For me that is real success.

For the homeless Ex Service man who is forced to live in the street, getting through the day without freezing to death is success. 

Homeless man and his dog, selling the 'Big issue' Sheffield, 2015. 

Don't misunderstand me, there is nothing wrong with becoming a multi million pound earning Photographer, artist or whatever, bloody good luck to ya! But in doing so it does not mean you are more successful than the guy who just shot their first well exposed, in focus image!

So the next time you see a Photographers work (including your own) don't simply equate the work to how well its sold, how much the artist, photographer or you were paid, how widely it has been published or exhibited.

The image was created, and that for most artists is beyond a success.

Cheers all