Photography interview with Deepika Hatton

An online interview with Deepika Hatton currently her final year at James Cook University in Townsville, Queensland, Australia. It was part of an investigation into Creative Industries for a case study. The case study is intended to provide aclearer understanding into the photography industry and what it takes to break into this field of work.
1) What education did you take before getting into this industry?

None.

2) What did you do to find work in the industry?

I printed business cards, I watermark my photos often. I do good work and then people recommend me to others.

3) pre requisites for the career : Passion, dedication, equipment, time management?

passion I think. If you don’t love photography, you won’t be putting your effort into being the best you can be and being creative. Patience is needed to cope with the times when nothing seems to be working out for a while. Of course for sports, concerts, etc. certain equipment will get you highly printable photos and a higher success rate of sharper photos (given movement of the subject). But you still need to understand your equipment and have an instinct for moments and timing. If you are doing something in easier conditions, such as a daylight model shoot, or a party or a landscape, you can get professional results with entry level equipment if you know how to use it really well.

Planning is important to avoid double booking events and to make sure there is enough time to edit and send photos on a deadline.

4) day to day activities and monthly activities that occur?

I like to go out and take photos for fun of things around me. I get asked to a lot of events/parties, at least one a month I would say. Every couple of weeks I do a model shoot and I used to go to concerts a lot.

5) After graduating University/ Colledge did you find it esasy to get a job yes or no? and why?

I am still studying Marketing at my university so I am not into photography fully. It is easy to get work as a photographer, but typically in parties and not in specialised areas.

6) What advice would you give to someone starting up a portfolio : online, facebook, hardcopy? and what makes a good portoflio and why?

It should be short – www.michael.currin.co.za my DeviantArt portfolio limits to 4 galleries with about 18 pictures each. I only put my best photos on there and I update every few months. If you want to post hundreds of photos from events etc., put them on your personal Facebook page, photography FB page, or on a blog.

7) Whats the biggest learning experience you have faced / dealt with in this industry example: travelling, money, changing jobs?

Working with people is very difficult. It’s easier to do jobs or photos for fun which don’t require a team of make-up, stylists etc. but sometimes you need them and have to work around when they are late or they are busy that day.

8) Do you take on interns / trainees? if so, what jobs are they given?

I have occasional requests for someone to be my apprentice, though I can’t take on everyone and it would be unfair to choose only one. So I have a few friends who ask for advice online or in person, also sometimes I go on a daytrip with to teach them about their camera on an interesting location.

9) How long have you been a phographer for / where did you first start out?

I got my first camera at the end of 2007 but I have only been taking it seriously since I upgrade to a semi-professional quality camera at the start of 2010.

10) Do you think the photography industry is dying out because of amature photographers? yes or no and why?

I like how information and equipment is a lot more freely available because their are so many people demanding it as customers and businesses are providing it. I have at least 10 photography books and I know of several camera stores in my area.

However I have heard that professionals find it more difficult to get work then there are so many amateurs who are increasing their skills and sometimes getting great results with budget equipment. I think this will mean professionals have to work harder to be seen as the best and very creative. No one says it is easy to make money in photography (except if you are brilliant at weddings or something, but that takes years), so if professionals can’t make it then they might have to have a second job to keep someselves going.

Interview for Rands & Sense magazine

For the Rands & Sense magazine of 2011, I was interviewed by Stephanie Craig of the Commerce Students Council (University of Cape Town) about my photography experience.

Knysna harbour

Knynsa harbour large version

1) How did you get started with photography?

I worked with Sony compact cameras since 2008. I decided around the start of 2010 to upgrade to a bigger DSLR to take photos of dark situations like live bands. After a few months, I began taking photos for Big Concerts of bands backstage and I got to do my first fashion shoot. I started to get a lot of requests to cover events and parties and did a few band shoots with local bands like Captain Stu. My involvement in journalism came towards the end of 2010, when I joined the Varsity newspaper, UCT Thursdays and the Ikey Rugby magazine.

2) Who taught you to take photos professionally?

I am self-taught, as are many professionals. When I am stuck, I read online lessons or the manuals. When I need inspiration, I look at other artists on website DeviantArt. I like to tell people that I think I get bit better with each photo and I take a lotof photos, so that adds up to plenty of experience in all kinds of situations.

3) What are your future plans? Is this just a hobby or are you going to turn it into a career?

I am studying Marketing at UCT and finish in 2012, so I still have time to decide. Photography is very competitive since there are many people trying to get known and be successful. Photography is my way of having fun and meeting people. I’d rather not turn it into a career, since I would end up choosing the assingments that pay the most (like weddings) rather than what I want to do.

4) Who would you say is the guy behind the lens?

I develop myself as I discover how the industry works. I strive to be an excellent photographer by visualising scenes before they happen while at the same time always being open to spontaneous moments, spectular shapes, unusual angles and beautiful lighting. I spend time learning how to market myself and how to co-operate and network with people. When doing band or model shoots, I find it is very important to direct the subjects politely and make them feel confident and comfortable. Forced expressions and poses tend to look unnatural – the best pose is often during the transition between poses, when I will say “Stop, hold that pose! Please.”

5). Why do you like photography? What attracts you to it?

I spend a lot of time working on pictures that may never get viewed much, but I do it to improve myself and to relax. When I have my camera with me at an event or party, I enjoy seeing the reactions of friends and strangers… when they see a photo that carries a lot of feeling or beauty, or when they laugh at photos I took of them and their friends.
Photography is also my escape. In Knysna over the mid-year vac, I went off by myself the one day to spend a couple of hours in the afternoon and again at sunset taking photos of boats in the harbour.

6) What is your favourite thing to photograph?

I get the most satisfaction from taking photos within in a challenging genre. Bands were my favourite for a long time, now my favourite thing to do is organise model portfolio shoots at beautiful locations such as a forest, field or train station.

Studio shoot

Studio shoot

7) What inspires you?

I don’t learn the names of famous photographers, but I feel inspired by certain unique or emotional styles of photography. I disect their technique and I apply to my own work such that I aborb as part of my style, then I take it further with my creative.
I try to assess the techniques and ideas used in music videos and films, so that I can incorporate into my own style to create something suitably epic.

8) What’s the worst part about being a photographer?

It’s very easy to get stressed by deadlines and when my photos are in demand, and sometimes feeling lost when I don’t know why or for who I am taking photos for. To cope, I try to focus on the things that make me happy and that keep me inspired.

9) What’s your biggest achievement to date with photography?

Getting to be the regular photographer for Big Concerts for over year is definitely the best thing that has happened. I get to take live and backstage photos of most of the bands that come from overseas to play at GrandWest to huge crowds.

10). What has been the best/worst/funniest thing you have shot?

Earlier this year, I took an action photo of a guy stage-diving into the crowd at the Mercury – with his pants around his legs.

11) What events did you photograph on campus that stood out for you?

Memorable events include seeing the RainbowUCT march, the DA talk in a lecture theatre before elections and RAG beach day which meant inflatable pools on Jammie Plaza.

12) Can people hire you or are you merely doing this for fun?

Most of the paid gigs I get are doing events like formals and birthdays, with the occasional band shoot on location around Cape Town. I enjoy doing portfolio shoots, but I prefer to work with experienced models rather than someone who is doing their first shoot.

13) What are your contact details? Where can people view your work?

My online gallery can be seen at www.michael.currin.co.za and my e-mail address is there.

14) Any advice to people just starting up with photography?

Learn your camera inside and out as well as the basics of photography. Once you know how to get things like the correct exposure, technically good and a sharp picture, look for appropriate times to be creative and go against those rules. Choose a striking composition or choose something unexpected to focus on and your pictures can stand out from everyone else to photographed the same thing.

Interview with Hello Sunshine

For the Eleanour Rigby’s blog, Hello Sunshine.

 

first Big Concerts event - Steve Morse of Deep Purple (click for larger version)

Hello Sunshine: When did the photography craze start?
Michael Ashley Currin: I got my first digital camera for my gap year in 2008. I bought a better compact camera at the end of 2009, which gave me decent live band shots. I did my first paid event in February 2010, which was a 40th party. By March 2010 I was ready to get a DSLR, for professional quality in low light gig venues. By June, I was doing my first fashion shoot with friends and taking backstage photos of Deep Purple for Big Concerts. I went to at least one concert a week throughout 2010.


HS: Being self-taught do you feel that it has given you an advantage above other photographers, who have studied photography?
MAC: I am the sort of person with the curiosity and determination to teach myself so it works well for me. I guess I was able to develop my own technique and style, by absorbing from a wide variety of sources (books, magazines, online lessons, forums, people, manuals), than having a main source such as a photography school. I still think that I have learnt the most through experience though.

 

first fashion shoot - Simóne Meyer

HS: Analogue or Digital?

MAC: Digital for sure. It seems people who are at least five years older than me started on film cameras, since digital SLR cameras were not good quality when they came out around the year 2000.


RR: What make of camera do you prefer to use?
MAC:  A Nikon D90.


HS: What camera would you recommend to the amateur photographer?
MAC: Nikon and Canon are said to have equal quality but Canon is usually less expensive. The Canon 1000d or Nikon D3100 are entry-level DSLRs for those on a budget, but you might like to get 500d or D5000 if you plan to get serious into it and be hired. A budget lens like the 50mm f/1.8 will give good results portraits in the day and dark stages.


RR: How well do you know your camera?
MAC: I know it very well. I’ve set up the custom menu for quick access to certain functions (like flash settings, ISO settings and timer delay). I know my camera’s strengths and weaknesses in light and dark situations with each of my four lenses. I know how it perceives colour, brightness and contrast different to the eye and how to correct for this such as using white balance, exposure value (EV) compensation and exposure metering settings.

Kombat Fudge band shoot

HS: Where do you see yourself in the next ten years?
MAC: I am still seeing the potential for earning from events, band shoots, live gigs and model shoots. I might specialise in one of those but I would always be happy to do the others as well. I don’t plan to rely on photography as a main income though, I would rather have job in marketing (which I am studying for at UCT), so I can new afford photographic equipment and to travel.


HS: Do you think you can have an impact on someone through your photography?
MAC: Yes I do. I often change the perceptions of someone, often unintentionally. I like to show a person that I meet, the beauty and simplicity in taking a photo of something  too small obscure to be noticed by most people, especially in black and white with a unique angle and blurred background.

I sometimes take a photo with someone else’s camera to figure it out and help them. I show them pictures I take with it, it usually inspires them and I get to show them that technique and creativity is more important than camera quality. After talking to me and seeing my photos of whatever event I am at, I have recently had a few people tell me that they want to take up a photography and get a good camera, because of me.

 

SAX Appeal 2011 shoot using bounced flash - Tammy Feldman

HS: Do you think Cape Town is the spot for an upcoming photographer to grow or would you say the place doesn’t really matter, but it’s more what you do in the place?
MAC: With regard to bands, Cape Town is great with a huge variety of genres and levels of fame here and unlike Joburg the venues here aren’t as far to drive to.  Cape Town is amazing for natural landscapes, the sea and urban decay. There are plenty of models, studios, events, promotions businesses, photography schools… Cape Town is amazing but make sure you take your camera overseas or at least on a roadtrip or somewhere away from the city where you can find something unusual to develop your skills.

 

first studio shoot - Lisa Harrison


HS: What do you have to say to the future photographers out there?
MAC:  One of the books I read says that there is always room in the world or in your area for one more photographer. Another book says “Don’t compete unless you have a competitive advantage” – in other words, you can be successful if you can find what makes your service unique, whether it is your style of photos, or how you deal with people and get them to look and feel relaxed in photos. I had one band member after their set, that he liked how I took photos of them, that I wasn’t afraid to get up close to them while they were on stage.

Be accepting of repetitive or what seems like silly questions from those that you meet. Most people are surprised when they see the view through an SLR viewfinder or you answer them with how much it cost. They might assume you are professional or studied photography, just because your photos look better than the average person’s. It is fun to see reactions of people when I explain that my flash works wirelessly, or when I show them is has a zoom inside to make the light go further.

 

Big Concerts event - Rammstein


HS: And a random one, just for fun. Your ideal night out would be?
MAC: My ideal night out happens quite often actually. I go to a club to see a band I know, perform with bands I haven’t heard of who often sound great. I talk to friends who are there. I meet many new people in the crowd who want to be in photos and are curious about what I do. I climb on the edge of stage to get dramatic photos. I chat to the bands to tell them who I am and that I will post a link to the photos on their Facebook page. Some nights, bands come up to me to find out who I am and where they can see my photos. Sometimes they give me a CD or offer to put me on the guestlist next time.

 

first band shoot - iScream and the Chocolate Stix