WHO’D BE A PHOTOGRAPHER?
By Rob Tysall
I’m often asked for tips on being a photographer. Usually it’s requests from teenagers who are doing photography courses at college. The very best advice I can give any budding photographer after doing a photography course is to also do a business course.
It’s all very well being able to take wonderful photographs of sunsets over the ocean or cute kittens and puppy dogs. The point is, if you’re planning on making a career out of photography you need to know where and how to sell your photographs; and you need to know how to treat it as a business rather than a hobby. Before that even, you need to know how to copyright your images so nobody nicks them!
You also need to be computer literate – and no one could have been any less PC literate than myself up until about 15 years ago. Prior to that it was all film, none of this digital malarkey! But you have to change with the times. And so started an intense learning curve becoming familiar with computers and working with digital images and image systems.
Although with my other hat on I’m a singer/percussionist, photography is in my blood. My father Doug Tysall ran Tysall & Garratt Photography and Photo Finisher Shop in Rugby from the 1950s until his retirement in the late 1980s. He had learned his trade during the second world war whilst serving with the RAF. Based in Ceylon. His role was to work with the reconnaissance aeroplanes, setting up the cameras and developing the film they brought back from behind enemy lines.
After the war he teamed up with an RAF friend – Jeff Garratt and they formed a partnership in Doug’s home town of Rugby. Tysall & Garratt Photography and Finisher Shop became well known all over Warwickshire. They worked in all fields of photography from weddings to portraits as well as developing and processing films for the whole of the Warwickshire region.
Meanwhile as a budding photographer, I often assisted and accompanied dad on photo shoots, but this remained more of a hobby as I concentrated on my musical career. But photography became more important in my life in the 1990s after teaming up with writer Ann Evans and we started writing illustrated articles for many different paying magazines on a wide range of topics.
After 25 years and literally hundreds of published articles later, we thought we’d give ourselves an official name. We are now Words & Images UK.
But back to tips on taking good photographs. Basically I would say know your camera. Know how to use it. Only use manual settings (you are a Pro photographer), get to understand the different lenses available ( by now you should know all about depth of field your F stops and speeds). Know this well enough that you can adjust your settings at the drop of a hat when the situation demands it – and it will!!!.
Also vitally important for any photographer, is to have a pleasant manner with everyone you meet. Some paparazzi photographers get us a bad name by their brusque and rude manner. And that’s one of the main reasons that I try to avoid big press events, and prefer to set up interviews and photo shoots where there’s just one photographer – me! And I object to having another photographer steel my set-ups by jumping in.
You get the very best from your subjects if you put them at ease and make them laugh. So a natural, friendly manner goes miles, plus a genuine interest in what they are doing helps produce good pictures.
When photographing any animals, insects or arachnids you have to be patient. It helps to also like animals because dogs especially will sense if you genuinely like them or not. And on many occasions, a dog owner has been amazed that I’ve got great photos of their pet where others have failed.
Working with Ann on different jobs, we’ve travelled all over the UK and abroad. And I’ve had to do some pretty challenging things at times to get the shots we want. Probably the most dramatic was going out with the Thames Marine Police on the Thames Estuary with a dog handler. I had to climb from the police launch onto a fast moving police RIB way out in the turbulent Thames Estuary. A plastic ASDA carrier bag came in very handy then to wrap my camera in, with just the lens peeping out. Got some great shots though!
On another occasion Ann thought a shot through the canopy of a Vulcan bomber would look good, so having got permission from staff at the Midland Air Museum, I was allowed to climb onto the Vulcan’s nose and take the shots. It was higher than it looked!
When writing about a Russian T55 tank on one occasion, she wanted some pictures of inside the vehicle. Blimey they are small inside!! Being 6ft 2ins, it was a bit tricky for me to actually squeeze in, so I hung upside down into the cab and snapped away. Ann was worried, “But won’t the photos be upside down now?” she asked!
We were flying high when accompanying the Army Dog Training unit in Northern Ireland a few years ago. We were given helicopter flights with some of the dogs and handlers to acclimatise the dogs to flying before they went out to work in Afghanistan. As you’ll see in the photo that the dogs took it all in their stride, as did the photographer NOT!! and writer – honestly!
Lastly always know where the nearest pub is after your shoot – some days you will really need a beer! Good Luck!
PHOTOGRAPHY TIPS IN A NUTSHELL
Take a business course as well as a photographic course.
Know your camera/lenses. Know what everything does.
Learn how to use PC image systems/software.
Be nice to people – that way they will smile!
Get a head for heights and painkillers.
Always have a plastic carrier bag handy – you never know when you’ll need it.
To the bar!!!
Words & Images UK