Professional – Never!

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This topic contains 1 reply, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  Peter Robinson 1 year, 6 months ago.

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    I have often said that we amateurs have such a lovely time with our photography in being able to pick and choose when, what and why we photograph. On occasions I have (like many of us) been asked to do a job on a professional basis and you are reminded of what a demanding life it can be.

    This time I had a problem that I didn’t have with my Canon gear – no high power TTL flash with the Fuji (in fact such a beast has now become available but at £500). The job I had been asked to do would likely demand flash – to photograph the unveiling and blessing of a commemorative plaque in the Municipal Buildings.

    It may seem to you that (if you remember the time when they existed) the newspaper photographer is like the SAS – in and out so fast nobody notices. This is because they know exactly what they are doing and what their client (the paper) wants. They are also “tooled up” for the job.

    I spent quite a while experimenting with the flash gear I have and I couldn’t get anywhere near the convenience of the Canon and the TTL hammerhead flash gun. I still have my Canon flash, the Fujis will trigger it, but only at non-TTL, so it requires test shots and experimenting to get the output right – you can’t be messing about like that when 15 people are posing for you or you are dealing with changing situations.

    I got to the town hall well before time. The plaque was in a corridor, the day was dull and a meter reading of 1/20 at f2 at 1600ISO meant that flash was absolutely essential. I could have set up the Canon flash but only to work at a set distance, I could use my small Fuji EF-X20, a wonderfully compact and flexible beast for my own purposes,  but not sufficiently tried and tested on the XT1.

    I tried the “kit” flash supplied with the XT1. I have used this once or twice but had dismissed it from the trials because it would surely be under-powered. It wasn’t. Despite its diminutive size it easily had the “reach” that I wanted. I couldn’t “bounce” it, or use a diffuser, but, with the ambient light being just about adequate to avoid harsh shadows and the “head” of the gun being elevated enough to avoid “red eye”.

    I knew my results would not equal the work of my ex-Chronicle photographer mates Ken, Gerry and Tim – but then, workers like them don’t exist any more anyway.

    So, after much stress the job was done and the results quite adequate – you may see them in this week’s Chronicle!


    Peter Robinson

    Being a professional photographer is certainly a different ball game. It’s your bread and butter and you photograph what makes you money, not what you like to photograph. You have to know your equipment inside out and how to deal with different environments. The other side of it of course is that it helps if your a people person as you need to know how to handle, persuade and pose people. I’ve covered a few events posing as an unpaid professional and it puts you under more pressure to get the picture that the organiser wants, not necessarily what I wanted to take. However, it was useful experience and I’ve learned a lot from doing it.

    I’ve never really liked using flash and consider it a black art especially when it’s set to auto. You don’t know how much power it’s going to output in auto. If you set it to manual and work out your exposure, it will change as soon as you change the camera/subject distance. Having said that after doing some live experiments I’m finding I get fairly consistent results by setting the camera manually to something like f8 for a decent depth of field and 1/125. Then set the flash to auto. I used to use shutter priority but found it always sets a wide aperture so the depth of field was too shallow for my requirements.

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