Posted on Leave a comment

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

Posted on Leave a comment

Freelancing — Targets and How to Set Them

Whether you make your sales direct or through an agent or photo library, do you have a target to keep your mind focused on your output? And, if you do, is it measurable? It needs to be otherwise you cannot assess just how you are performing against your target. It can be as simple as the number of submissions/pitches sent out each month or the number of sales made, or the monetary amount of sales made, all of which are measurable. My targets began as the number of submissions made each month but I felt that that didn’t stretch me enough. Regular submissions are, of course, essential in this freelancing business but results are more important.

So, I amended my goals by setting myself an income-based goal for each month which encourages me to continue to send submissions out but will not let me feel satisfied just by the making of a submission. Now I won’t feel satisfied unless I can eat! Hopefully this approach will improve my selections and lead to more sales.

Don’t forget, that setting a target is not the end of it. There is no point in having a target that there is no chance of achieving just as there is no point in having a target that is too easily achieved. Setting targets that challenge is a fine balancing act so review your goals regularly. And don’t feel that you are cheating if you downgrade your targets if you find that you are not achieving them even though you have put a 100 per cent effort in. Of course, if the non-achievement is brought about by lack of application on your part, you know what to do.

Equally, if you are achieving your targets fairly easily, do consider upgrading them.

Posted on Leave a comment

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

Posted on Leave a comment

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).

Posted on Leave a comment

My interview with Nick Jenkins, Welsh Photographer of the Landscape

Some years ago I interviewed a number of photographers with the results being published in The Countryman, a popular UK magazine. This is one if them.

“So much beautiful landscape — so little time!” Nick Jenkins smiled as he said it and then added, “What really drives me is the total love I have of our landscapes and the desire to share that with folk through the medium of my work.” In a few words this company executive turned landscape photographer summed up his passion for our countryside and his photography.

When the company that Nick had worked in for twenty-seven years was taken over he found himself ‘surplus to requirements’ as he so succinctly puts it. At an age that is, in employment agency speak ‘difficult’, he took stock of his talents and interests and decided to have a go at converting his ten years experience as a hobby landscape photographer into a business.

It is often said that fortune favours the brave but it is often forgotten that fortune tends to come to those who make an effort. In Nick’s case, he sought advice from a fellow photographer, Steve Day, who, as Nick said, “not only provided plenty of sound advice but put me in touch with a very prestigious possible first client! This worked out well and my first big commission was under way within five weeks of setting myself up as Freespirit Images in August 2002. Sadly, Steve died of a brain tumour shortly after we made contact but his generosity and help were very instrumental in the successful launch of my business.”

To read the full article Click here

Posted on Leave a comment

Resurrected Blogs

I have just been through my blogs and decided to resurrect two of them.

The first is We Write for You, offering writing and publishing services for businesses and individuals. It can be accessed at

The second is The Guide to the Snowy Mountains of New South Wales, a guide for tourists to the home of Australia’s highest mountain. It can be seen at

If either interests you, Have a look. Your comments will be appreciated.

Posted on Leave a comment

An Unforgiving Place

Kiandra 1002-4

New Chum Hill, Kiandra, Snowy Mountains, NSW, Australia

I stood on the hillside at Kiandra and through the wind whipping along the valley and cutting straight through me I heard voices of the diggers from the past as they searched desperately for the metal that would change their lives.

“G’day! Any luck?”

The grimy, sweating miner grubbing in the creek looked up at the weary travellers, “Sure, but your best bet is on that hill over there.”

The newcomers moved on, a steady climb ahead of them. All around the hills and creeks were alive with frantically searching miners, an occasional whoop signalling that the hillside or a rushing creek had revealed some of its golden treasure.

Down by the creek they had just left the miner laughed as he jerked his thumb at the travellers trudging up the hill and called to his mate, “New chums. They won’t last long. I’ve sent them up to that hill.”

To read the full article Click here

Posted on Leave a comment

The Snowy Mountains of New South Wales — a great place to be

Jindy Cover

I live in the Snowy Mountains of New South Wales and happen to think it a great place to live and to visit. Have a look at some of my articles at Click on ‘Snowy Mountains NSW’ at the top of that page to see all the articles.

You may also like to look at my e-book Explore Around Jindabyne, an illustrated guide for tourists to some of the attractions around the Snowy Mountains town of Jindabyne in New South Wales, Australia.

It is available in epub, mobi, pdf, rtf, lrf, pdb, txt formats from Smashwords at, from your Amazon store for Kindle and as a pdf from my website at

Posted on Leave a comment

Put Words with Your Pictures


Put Words with Your Pictures
An e-book encouraging photographers who want to earn from their photography to add words to their pictures. Written by a regularly published writer/photographer who shows how he has worked with practical examples.

Available from Smashwords at and your Amazon store and as a pdf from my website at

See all my photography e-books at Smashwords at