Inspiration

10 great sources of photographic inspiration for the summer holidays by Neil Alexander

Expecting to find yourself with a rare few spare hours over the summer? I know I'm hoping to! Then check out these photography related resources guaranteed to provide you with a little inspiration for your photography somewhere.

First up, a few websites:

1. Bruce Percy is a Scots adventure photographer who has had his work published all over the world and has an extensive client list ranging from Fujifilm to American Express, though he now primarily runs workshops in Scotland, Iceland, Norway and South America. His work is absolutely stunning. Spend a little time going through his portfolio and you can’t fail to be impressed. He also puts together short slideshows complete with his own narrative. I find these incredibly inspiring aided considerably by his soft spoken voice and artistic insight - See them here.


2. According to the website, Lenscratch "is considered one of the 10 Photography-Related blogs you should be reading by Source Review, Wired.com, Rangefinder and InStyle Magazine.”. There’s more incredible art on this site than you could shake a stick at. Originally created 7 years ago with the aim of showing a different photographers’ work each day and gaining a deeper insight into the thoughts of the artist, there’s now work from thousands of photographers on here and it’s well worth subscribing to the Lenscratch RSS feed for daily updates. 


3. David duChemin is a legend in his own right. I love this guy. His lengthy thought provoking blog posts are only superseded by the quality of his photography and the amount of effort he goes to to give back to the photography community at large. On top of being one of the best humanitarian photographers in the world, he’s also an international workshop leader, a best-selling author and the founder of the amazing resource that is Craft and Vision. Not only does he give the impression with being totally in tune with himself but also with mankind as a whole.


And so now onto some eBooks. These can be read on a laptop, iPad or any other device (a smartphone may be a bit tricky) and are all either ridiculously cheap or even free!

4. I’ve been a fan of Martin Bailey’s for some years now. An expat from Nottingham now living in Japan, Martin has risen his way from mediocrity to a global leader in the field of nature and wildlife photography. This latest eBook of his on the Craft and Vision label is his best to date and jam packed with inspiration. And it’s only $8!
Striking landscapes by Martin Bailey - Check out the contents here.


5. Scott Bourne, an industry legend, who has now officially hung up his boots, has long been prolific on the old social media front. Scott, who started shooting long before I was out of short trousers, has had his work reproduced in just about every manner and medium possible. His thoroughly engaging manner is only outdone by his loathing of social media trolls and naysayers and this free PDF is well worth a read for the novice and seasoned pro alike. 
Scott Bourne's Essays on inspiration, creativity & vision in photography - Download it here.


6. Trey Ratcliff, one of the pioneers of good looking realistic High Dynamic Range photography is another star on the rise. Trey is a photographer, artist, writer & adventurer who runs the number 1 travel photography blog on the net. His work became popular after having the first ever HDR photograph to hang in the Smithsonian. Rather extraordinarily, Trey was born blind in one eye and has a background in computer science and mathematics so he brings a somewhat different slant to the world of art. Trey releases all his work under the Creative Commons licensing standard which means that anyone and everyone is free to use and distribute his work as long as it’s not for commercial gain and currently resides in one of my must visit locations, New Zealand. This brilliant article titled "10 Principles Of Beautiful Photography", which starts "There is a fine line between a photo that is quite nice and one that is quite breathtaking” is really well worth a read if you’ve a spare 15 minutes or so. This used to be an PDF format, but now is up there as a plain old web page to make it easier for you.


And onto some movies:

7. Tim Hetherington- Restrepo

Tim Hetherington was a Birkenhead born photojournalist, who in 2007, won the World Press Photo competition for his moving photo of an American soldier in Afghanistan and proceeded to win many more. In 2010 he went on to release Restrepo, a joint project with acclaimed director Sebastian Junger which was subsequently nominated for an Academy Award. Sadly he was killed by shrapnel doing the job he loved while covering the civil war in Libya a year later. In the movie, the two directors take their cameras into the trenches for a "day in the life" look at what it's like to fight in the Korengal Valley, Afghanistan, nicknamed the most dangerous place on earth. It’s vivid, intense, unvarnished stuff, and the two filmmakers won the Grand Jury Prize for documentary at Sundance this year for their troubles. 


8. Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window

I love Hitchcock, his use of minimal lighting and ability to create something out nothing. Suspense is his middle name and his ability to leave so much to the viewer’s imagination is something that many photographers could learn from. Rather than a stock thriller, this particular movie is more about the viewer’s interpretation of the relationship between the photographer and his wife, how he copes with his acrophobia (fear of heights especially when one is not particularly high up), and his obsession with his old friend’s wife. Featuring James Stewart and Grace Kelly the film has gone on to be nominated and win more awards than I’d care to mention. It’s slow and not a great deal happens but is still a stunning piece of film.


9. The Bang Bang club

This is a movie based on the real-life experiences of 4 combat photographers set in South Africa during the final days of apartheid directed by Steven Silver and released in 2010. The film goes to some lengths to build the back story of the 4 photographers and then follows them as they try to document a situation that was clearly terrifying to be anywhere near. 
"After proving his worth with a Pulitzer prize photograph of a burning man the four young men bond closely as the Bang Bang Gang and proceed to capture all of the fighting and incomparably cruel hostilities as the three fighting forces in the struggle for power in South Africa create the chaos of 1994. In a particularly touching scene Kevin photographs a starving child being stalked by a hungry vulture and his photograph wins a second Pulitzer Prize for the group. But war is war and takes is mental and physical tolls on the Bang Bang Gang and only two survive to write the book whose journal like content provides the story for the film."
It’s quite a harrowing film and not easy to watch, but well worth the effort.


10. David Lidbetter

And finally, just for the beauty of the colours and simplicity of the compositions, you have to check out David Lidetter's still life work.
I stumbled across his work pretty much by accident, but never fail to be entranced by his use of colour and the beauty he creates from such simple items. A still life photographer based in London, David’s work has "a keen attention to textures, colours and the smallest of detail, he has a simple yet fun style”. Fun it most certainly is. And inspiring too boot.


So there you go. That lot should keep you entertained for a bit. If there's anything you'd like to send my way for me to consume over the summer, then just leave it in the comments section below.

Manchester In Art Exhibition by Neil Alexander

I currently have some work on display as part of the "Manchester In Art" exhibition at the Double Tree by Hilton in Manchester. The show only opened a couple of weeks ago, and has been extremely well received. There's all different styles and types of art on display, and all of a very high standard.

"Depicting one of Europe's greatest cities, with over 70 pieces of artwork by 18 local artists and photographers our latest exhibition celebrates Manchester in a unique way.

The Manchester In Art exhibition is located within the hotel's public spaces including the Lobby, Piccadilly Lounge, City Cafe, Mezzanine Breakout Space and the SkyLounge.

Curated by Ventures In Art, in partnership with Double Tree by Hilton Manchester Piccadilly.

If you would like to know more about any artist or artwork within the exhibition, please contact Simon Richards from Ventures In Art on venturesinart@virginmedia.com or via www.venturesinart.com"

 

The show is on until mid-January, but by all accounts work is selling fast. So don't hang around.

10 Great articles for getting the best out of your camera by Neil Alexander

Zejtun, Malta

 This week I thought I'd share some articles from around the internet all of which provide a whole host of insightful tips and lessons to help you get the best out of your camera.

    1. 6 Tips every new music photographer should know by Todd Owyoung Fancy getting into music photography? Then learn from the best. Todd is your man. If he hasn't shot them, then they ain't worth shooting, or they died a long time ago....
    2. 7 Photographic lessons learned traveling through Europe by Christina N Dickson Some basic non-technical tips for getting the best out of your travel photography.
    3. 7 Signs you've outgrown Flickr by Todd Owyoung At what point do you abandon your trusty Flickr account and set up your own website? Flickr certainly has its uses, but it also has more than its fair share of shortcomings.
    4. 7 Things I wish I'd have known when I first became a photographer by Scott Bourne Scott finishes this article with "If I could have had this conversation with myself 30 years ago, I'd have become a good photographer MUCH sooner." - I think that says it all. Well worth reading, digesting and bookmarking.
    5. 8 Things every camera owner should know about their camera by Lynford Morton Some essential points about your camera that you should know intimately such as "What's the fastest way to change your settings?", "How do you adjust your flash?" Get that manual out, and read, and re-read it. They didn't print it because they had reams of paper lying around.
    6. 10 of the things beginners should know about photography by Scott Bourne A concise list to get you started. Everyone's got to start somewhere. By no means comprehensive, but a great starter for 10
    7. 10 Lessons for portrait photographers: The art of story by Christina N Dickson Some more simple, non-technical tips for portrait photography from the plethora of information available over at the Digital Photography School
    8. 10 Principles of Beautiful photography by Trey Ratcliff In my opinion, Trey is the man. His work is simply breathtaking, so who better to serve up an article on beautiful photography.
    9. 12 Tips for DSLR Beginners by Mandy Jones You're not going to be Ansel Adams overnight, but this list will at least give you a good grounding.
    10. 13 Resources for DSLR Beginners by Mandy Jones Crikey, you're still here? And want to know more? I like it. Use Mandy's link above for even more information.