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Words with your pictures


Of the hundreds of articles I have had published, only a handful were not illustrated with my pictures. Whether the words sold the pictures or the pictures sold the words is impossible to determine but it seems obvious that a package offered to an editor must make his or her job easier if they do not have to seek pictures to illustrate the words. There is, of course, the proviso that the subject of the article is what they want and the words and pictures are up to scratch.
If you are wanting to make some sort of cash return on the investment you have made in your photography, perhaps you should consider adding words to your pictures.

And, if you need help to get started, maybe my e-book will be helpful. It is available for tablet readers, including Kindle, or for reading on your computer at

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Photography in Autumn (Fall)

To some, autumn signals the beginning of the end. It’s all downhill from here. Short days leading inexorably to even shorter ones. Summer warmth and long days, are disappearing. Gloomy skies are on the horizon. Cold, wet, and even colder days to come.

William Cullen Bryant, the nineteenth century American poet, wrote, ‘The melancholy days have come, the saddest of the year’. One can almost feel him shuddering with distaste as he penned those lines.

But not all feel like Bryant. His compatriot James Whitcomb Riley exulted at the change of season when he wrote, ‘O it sets my heart a clickin’, like the tickin’ of a clock, when the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock’. And, of course, England’s John Keats welcomed the ‘Seasons of mists and mellow fruitfulness’ with something akin to open arms.

This ambivalence to the onset of autumn is common for many reasons. Sufferers of hay fever for instance are glad to see the dampening down of their pollen producing tormentors while those who suffer the excruciating itching of chilblains live in dread as the year moves on.

For landscape photographers, it is an exciting part of the year. Summer is all very well but at times our lenses get overpowered by the omnipresent greens of high summer. What a thrill it is to sight the first flaming torch that is a poplar tree in autumn.

To read the full article Click here

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The raindrops from the sudden sharp summer shower splattered on the spreading and well-leafed canopy of the oak that was my welcome shelter. As I leant back against the solid trunk and idly watched the rain it struck me that I often take trees for granted. As a photographer of the landscape, this seems to be a dreadful admission.

With inactivity came the questions. Is it just because they are there? Because they are a familiar part of the scene? Because they have always been a part of our lives from playing peek-a-boo to climbing in our childhood to relaxing in their shade with a favourite partner as we grow older?

To read the full article Click here

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Water — an essay

The only concession to dawn was a lightening of the grey lowering clouds hanging above the rolling white-capped waves in the east.
I pulled up the collar of my spray jacket and, head down, set off along the beach. Here, seagulls swooped over the breaking surf then climbed and hung almost motionless as they faced into the wind while there groups of their kin stood imperturbably, feathers ruffled, upon the wet sand.

Imperturbably that is until, with a joyous rush, Mac, my bit of this and a lot of that dog, raced among them.

This walk was my early morning ritual; a chance to get the cobwebs of the night out of my brain and, hopefully, some ideas into it. As a writer, I rely upon ideas and sometimes, like this morning, they are hard to find. Mostly, I was thinking of a nice hot cup of tea and a chance to warm myself and get dry.

I stopped and turned to face the sea, watching with fascination as the jumble of waves rose before tumbling with a crash and a cloud of spray onto the sand. Mac came running back and, with careless abandon, jumped into the spume that was piling up on the edge of the water.

I turned for home. There would be no ideas out here today.

To read the full article Click here

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My Interview with Michael Scott Lees — Photographer of the High Country

This interview is now several years old and many things have changed but it is still worth reading as an insight into how a professional went about establishing himself. Michael’s gallery is now closed as the high rent finally persuaded him that the time had come to consider his next photographic project. He now sells his superb prints through his website at and through many retail outlets in Jindabyne.

I met Michael Scott Lees at the Kosciuszko Mountain Retreat at Sawpit Creek, a favourite place for me to stay when in the New South Wales High Country. It seemed an appropriate place, tucked away as it is in the bush, to talk to a photographer who makes his living from selling images of the Snowy Mountains in all their moods.

Having explored our backgrounds, we got down to the serious business of discovering just how Michael had ended up with a gallery selling his fine art prints in Jindabyne.

My research had already uncovered the fact that the photography bug had bitten while Michael was in Year 10 at school — coincidentally at a school which was a close neighbour of the one where I was Publications Officer and in charge of the school Photographic Society.

It was at a time when his school was having considerable success in outside competitions thanks to the enthusiasm of the photography teacher and Michael won first prize in the portraiture section of the Sydney Morning Herald competition. As he commented, “The school made an almost clean sweep that year.”
Photography was firmly established in Michael’s life and he went off to Art College.

“At the time, I felt Art College was a bit of a waste of time,” Michael said, referring to his disappointment that it appeared that the technical aspect of photography had been subjugated to the demands of artistic creativity. But hindsight is a wonderful thing and he quickly added, “but not now”. The fact is that he now recognises that it is that very creativity and good grounding in design that has enabled him to produce the stunning images that people are prepared to buy from his well-known gallery in Jindabyne.

Once out of college with his brand new degree under his arm, Michael followed the traditional path of becoming an assistant to a professional photographer. It happened that he was a fashion photographer but that was incidental as this period enabled Michael to fill in the technical gaps that he felt he had missed at college. It also introduced him to the panoramic format in the shape of a Widelux and, as Michael puts it, “I fell in love with the format”.

Still following the traditional path, Michael then became a freelance commercial photographer with a leaning towards industrial photography. He survived for eighteen months but he failed to promote himself and by that time Africa was calling.

That continent had been a bit of a passion so it seemed as good a time as any to buy his own panoramic camera, an Art Panorama, and head off and “then come back and start again”. Michael had the idea of a coffee table book — they were all the rage then — but that didn’t see the light of day but, he commented, “I grew up a lot in Africa”.

To read the full article Click here

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How to live with Rejections

Whether you are a freelance writer or photographer, rejection is a nasty word with all its implications of ‘failure’. But, it is a word that we as freelances have to get used to and accept it for what it really is, an indication of one editor’s opinion which could stem from a number of factors. He or she may not like our article or picture (which is their right), they may have another (in their mind) better article/picture to fill their space, they may have covered the subject recently, the article/picture doesn’t fit in with the magazine’s mission, and so on and so on. I am assuming, of course, that the article is grammatically correct with no spelling mistakes and the pictures are correctly exposed, clean, well composed and sharp.

Do remember that most judgments are subjective with opinions being formed taking into account the past history of the individual. I know of one photography judge who cannot abide pictures of pelicans. Why, I do not know. Maybe he was frightened by a pelican as a child, maybe he doesn’t like the long beak or the way they waddle when they walk but, more likely, he has seen too many pictures of these birds in the competitions he judges. Whatever the reason, a picture of a pelican will get short shrift from him. And, editors are only human and we have to accept that their judgment may have nothing to do with our writing or photography being poor.

So what do we do when our words and images are rejected or should I say, ‘not accepted on this occasion’?

What I do is to look carefully at the article to make sure that there are no mistakes that I should have picked up and, assuming all is in order and it doesn’t need re-writing to suit the style of the next publication on my list, I send it back out into the wide world. I do the same with my pictures. I check for blemishes and, when satisfied, they go off to the next editor on my list. That way, I have no time to sit and fret about my ‘failure’.

With reference to my previous Post, Monochrome from Digital Colour, you may be interested in the picture I posted to my Facebook photography page yesterday.

To go to my Facebook Photography page Click here

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Freelance Photography — should you specialise?

Do you specialise in your freelancing? I’ve been giving this subject a bit of thought lately as these days I seem to be specialising in landscapes. It wasn’t a deliberate choice; it has just happened. Admittedly, I do like it.

When I started freelancing I specialised in pictures of kids doing things but that was just because I had the subjects on hand and a camera always ready. I was fairly successful with black and white prints that were sold regularly to Nursery World and Child Education among others. I invited these magazines to hold prints on file if they wished and I often had pictures published some years after I had submitted them — I think the record was something like eight years. As a bonus, several pictures were used twice, several years apart with the added cheque out of the blue being very welcome. That sort of specialisation was, I suppose, specialisation of opportunity.

Most of us have these, whether they be at work or at home. If you have a craft hobby, you probably know others with a similar hobby who could provide photo opportunities and, as most hobbies have some sort of publication allied to them, there are market opportunities, too.

To read the full article Click here

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An interview with David Noton

A number of years ago I interviewed at long distance David Noton, eminent landscape photographer, when his book Waiting for the Light was published. It has become one of the books that I constantly pick off my shelf when I feel the need for inspiration. Here is the article I wrote and which was adapted for use in Australian Photography magazine when it was combined with another interview which I did, again at long distance, with Tom Mackie, another equally eminent landscape photographer.


It was a cold November day in England’s Lake District with regular showers from the jumbled clouds that scudded over a landscape filled with the glowing colours of late autumn. I was on a weekend workshop with Charlie Waite, one of England’s finest landscape photographers and it was then as I stood guard over my tripod mounted camera with a plastic bag hood over it that I learnt that most valuable lesson for the making of landscape photographs — “wait for the light”. When the light did eventually come, it was fleeting but I got the shot. It was worth the wait.

When I heard that David Noton, another of England’s fine landscape photographers, had written a book called Waiting for the Light I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. I had known of David’s work for many years and during the time I spent in England a few years ago, I had read his articles in the photographic press with enthusiasm.



To read the full article Click here

David Bigwood is a writer and photographer. He is a member of the Australian Society of Authors and has qualified as a Licentiate of the Royal Photographic Society (LRPS).

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Interview with Ross Hoddinott

I have interviewed Ross Hoddinott a couple of times. This young nature photographer has made his mark in his chosen genre and has also written several books. This is the text of the second interview written several years ago but still worth reading.

When I first interviewed Ross Hoddinott in 2005, he was about to have his first book published. Now, he is awaiting the delivery of his second book which for a young fellow not yet 30 is an impressive record.

But not a surprising one. After all, he had won his first photographic competition at the age of 12 and went on to become the British Gas BBC Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year five years later. He has since been highly commended in the adult section in 2005. He had also decided at 17 that he would be a wildlife and nature photographer — this at an age at which many young men are still debating whether to be a professional footballer or a racing car driver if they are even thinking about the future further ahead than the next weekend!

“Ever since my parents first gave me a small compact camera for Christmas, when I was 11, I wanted to record wildlife on film. A year later, in 1990, I won BBC Countryfile’s junior flora and fauna category in their annual photography competition with a photograph of paired dragonflies. By the time I was awarded the British Gas BBC Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year in 1995 I had already decided my future profession — I wanted to be a natural history photographer!

To read the full article Click here

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John Potter, Yorkshire Landscape Photographer

I interviewed John Potter a number of years ago and the following is the text of the article that was published in The Countryman (UK).

There is one thing that all photographers of the landscape seem to have in common — passion. A passion not only for photography but an abiding passion for the countryside that they are picturing.

And, John Potter from York is no exception. “I love the countryside and am passionate about landscape photography, so to have the opportunity to combine the two is enormously satisfying, and far more important than earning great riches!”

I had found John through his website and having been very impressed with what I saw I immediately contacted him to arrange an interview. And, I wasn’t the first to have been impressed with his work.

“A major break happened for me about two years ago when, in the autumn of 2003, Barry Milton of Myriad Books Ltd called me after seeing my web site. He asked if I had many pictures of Yorkshire Dales villages. I sent him some sample pictures and within a couple of weeks I had signed my first contract with Myriad. My deadline for supplying approx 120 pictures and all the captions for Yorkshire Dales Villages (ISBN 1904736114) was November 2004. I planned to draw 50% of the pictures from shots that I already had and shoot the remainder during the next 12 months.”

That was the sort of break that landscape photographers dream about but for John it was not all plain sailing as he was a teacher with all the commitments that that entails. However, he achieved his target and his first book was published.

I learned that John had been a teacher for over twenty years and I wondered how long he had been involved in photography.

“I made my first black and white print in 1983. I joined York Camera Club that year and was soon entering competitions and sending my work to magazines. During the mid-90s I produced a series of darkroom articles for Practical Photography magazine and then went on to teach O Level Photography in the evenings for a number of years in a local Adult Education Centre.

To read the full article Click here