Blog Post – What have I been up to this month? Motivation, Organisation, Plans!

Blog time! This is for anyone interested in my photography progression and the practical side of things. The rest of you can scurry away to your holes/homes/whatever and wait until I upload my next New Zealand album.

I’ve been beavering away (is that appropriate these days?) on this website, the About Me page is updated, and I’ll be re-organising the headings on the site. Then I’ll start creating a portfolio which includes my travel photos from the last 4 years. Any photographer will tell you that this is the stuff nightmares are made of – I’m wondering how best to group the photos and how many I should have. Less is more? Different categories for different genres, or different categories for different countries? There’s no easy answer. I’m also struggling to find galleries that I like on WordPress. I like the flexibility and ease of WordPress for a non-programmer like me, but it can be hard to get things looking good when showcasing your work. If anyone has any gallery plugins to recommend for showcasing photography, please let me know!

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It’s me! The new About Me page has up to date photos, where I am older, more grizzly and of course more handsome in a George Clooney kind of way, I found a few grey hairs this year so therefore I am getting sexier by the minute. Most of the photos taken of me recently were in New Zealand in autumn and therefore get used to seeing that green rain jacket!

What other “wonderfully interesting” stuff have I been up to? On the photography front, I have been active on Instagram – where I am alansadventurefails. I’ve been getting some nice comments on my pics and slowly gaining followers, so that’s cool. I’m using my Android tablet to post to that, and brilliantly it lets you link to Facebook, Twitter and Flickr so finally I can post one photo on Instragram, and have it appear on all of those sites at the same time. Ooh, the technologies! This is such a big timesaver, I don’t have to jump between accounts any more, or remember what photos I posted on what sites. Brilliant. Sadly Twitter just includes a link to Instagram and doesn’t show the photo in your Twitter feed, but still, its better than nothing. I’m going to continue to use Instagram and its linking as the main way to get my photos out there to the public.

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Picking New Zealand best photos has taken a while to get through. Of course, they aren’t exactly original, I mean, rocks on a beach, mountains, whatever, but a nice picture is still a nice picture. One day I’d like to go back and do the place justice with my photography.

I’m also getting business cards made for my photography, to help me with networking and finding potential projects to work on. I’m hiring a designer to do a basic card design, and after that I have some ideas for a simple logo/illustration that I can tie into my business card, my website and my photo watermarks. We’ll see how it goes. Of course once I have a business card I am officially a real photographer and therefore logically I will become rich and famous, right? One funny problem with designing a logo is making it clear that this is Alan Stock Photography and not Alan who does stock photography which I find amusing – I’m tempted never to change my business name even if I do go pro, just for entertainment value.

I got to play with my sister's boyfriends big zoom lense in our garden. The bokeh on this thing is awesome!

A recent Scottish pic. I got to play with my sister’s boyfriends big zoom lens (400mm?) in our garden. The bokeh on this thing is awesome!

I’m not taking many photos at the moment. Occasionally I take the camera out on dog walks and get murdered by hayfever. But I’ve been spending a lot of time indoors at the computer the past few months, like a little goggle eyed, hunchbacked hermit. I’ve needed a bit of a rest and some stability after my travels, and have been working and playing on the computer, reverting to my previous lifestyle. The Scottish summer is pretty awful, lots of grey and rain and I’ve not been inspired to get out much and photograph things. Which is bad. Of course, being on the go with my camera for such a long time like I did in NZ, I am appreciating having a break from it. I can go out and see things without feeling the need to be photographing it all the time, like some crazed documentary maker with a low budget David Attenborough voiceover.

What I need is some projects or work to motivate my photography. I need to learn more of the practical side of taking photos, I’m still getting to grips with this camera and using fully manual modes. I need to work on getting consistently good exposure, amongst other things. But to do that, I need to practice, practice, practice and just take photos. Maybe I need to do a Henry Cartier Bresson. And to be around people who can inspire me, and I can learn from. To take photos, I need inspiration. When travelling, it was easy – there was always something new and interesting or beautiful to photograph. Now I’m home, its a lot harder. But, hark, I have a solution!

Village school kids await Sophie's instructions

Great photographer Sebastian Belaustegui, who has worked for institutions like National Geographic, picked this photo out of my portfolio as one of his favourites from a travel/documentary outlook. I did a private workshop with him in Bali and it inspired me to keep pushing my level.

So, to counter this, I’m going to start looking for photography work, training programs, work experience, projects I could do, anything to get practice and improve. I’ll start on this once my website and portfolio are updated. Although I am happy with the level I have achieved with my photography so far, I know I can do so much better and I want to take really awesome photos. Meeting some great photographers on my travels and being exposed to quality photos online all the time shows me how far I have to go. Sometimes I get depressed when I look through my work and compare it to other photographers, I don’t feel I have many outstanding photos. But when I do get great photos, I feel happy and it drives me to raise my standard. If anyone has any photographic opportunities for me, or can point me in the right direction to get experience or work, please let me know!

A screenshot I took in videogame Metal Gear Solid 5. You can get quite creative thanks to PS4's new screenshot button. I like taking "photos" in games, some recent titles have great photo modes allowing you to play with aperture, filters, camera control and so on.

A screenshot I took in videogame Metal Gear Solid 5. You can get quite creative thanks to PS4’s new screenshot button – like here I found the location, positioned the character, waited for the moon to rise, angled the camera. I like taking “photos” in games, some recent titles have great photo modes allowing you to play with aperture, filters, camera control and so on.

Outside of photography, I have been getting some work in my other passion, video games. I was commissioned to write some game articles and reviews for website Comiconverse. This was good exposure for me and has led to some further, interesting work. The money’s not good yet, but this is a good start on my plan to go freelance – part of my plan to give me more flexibility for travel and photography. I’ve also been playing a ton of video games, which I really missed during my travelling years. I think I’ve overdone it now though, and some balance in my life is returning. The goggle eyes are slowly returning to normal!

Well, there you have it. A slightly boring few months, but a chance for me to take a step back, get started on some new projects and consider what direction to take in future. On second thoughts, sod all that, I’ve decided to become an astronaut – I’ll see you on the moooooooooooooon!

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