Diversify or Die - Photography, Videography & More...with David Newton

I’m not quite sure how I got where I am, I just kind of fell into it, but I’m doing what I love!
— (David Newton - Togcast Ep.18)

David Newton (www.photopositive.co.uk) is a SanDisk Extreme team member, a Canon specialist tutor and one of the busiest photographers on the scene today. In this weeks Togcast episode we chat with David about the necessity to stay ahead of the curve professionally and discuss some of his recent road trips for Canon and other brands.

It's something of a cliche to say that modern photographers need to be not just 'Jack of all trades' but 'Masters of all trades'. David has diversified into videography and drone work alongside his already broad portfolio of skills covering all manner of photography from macro to time lapse, and portrait to landscape.

Something that drives me on is a fear that I’m not getting the best out of every situation
— (David Newton - Togcast Ep.18)

David and host Paul discuss the desire and drive required to stay on top of your game and bring fresh eyes and techniques to your kit bag of skills. Whether it's because of the mental burdens of being self employed in a highly competitive marketplace or perhaps just because of his own internal drive David discusses some of the fears he may have whilst out shooting and how that helps inspire and motivate him to work harder, try different things and stay fresh.

This is a guy who took 63 flights for photo/video related work projects in 2016, it may sound glamorous but that's a lot of time away from home and living out of a suitcase. Knowing your gear requirements inside out is par for the course and also understanding how to match that to a commercial clients vision is part of the skill required.

“There are a lot of people who go and teach but they don’t ‘do’…I want to be able to say I do go and shoot this stuff before going and teaching it”
— (David Newton - Togcast Ep.18)

Whilst many pro's have found it necessary and commercially constructive to diversify, David also loves the technology. His work with Canon as a specialist tutor and touring brand 'evangelist' has driven him to really stay current and make sure that if he's teaching these skills and techniques it's something he knows he has mastered in a real life commercial situation already, bringing another level of credibility to his teaching and advice.

It can also be enlightening teaching other creatives at different levels of skill and at different stages of their development. Sometimes when teaching you can learn a great deal from the student making it a two way exchange of ideas and it's Davids open mindedness to this that has helped make him the 'go to' guy for big brands wanting his teaching skills and style.

“We’re now in a world where photography has less value…Clients are less willing to pay for photography”
— (David Newton - Togcast Ep.18)

Many photographers are now trying to seamlessly bridge the gap between photography and videography, David chats about the commercial value of videography now being higher for him than photography. We speculate that this is probably due in part to the time consuming nature of editing and the fact some of these skills and processes are still quite tech heavy for the average marketing team member who might be comfortable making reasonable images for branding but hasn't had the time or opportunity to up-skill and produce high quality video, leaving a space for the pro market to fill.

If you cut me I bleed Canon red!
— (David Newton - Togcast Ep.18)

Obviously David is Canon through and through, and on a recent road trip with a fellow photographer he was able to compare the 5DsR back to back with the new Fuji GFX. It seems like there wasn’t a huge amount in it with regards the image quality but David makes a fair point that at this stage the Canon is perhaps more versatile due to the wide selection of lenses and other accessories available to help in all shooting scenarios, something Fuji are surely working towards so it will be interesting to see how that develops.

The Togcast is a Landscape & Travel photography podcast and is hosted by Sam Gregory & Paul Sanders. Subscribe on iTunes or Podbean to get the latest show straight to your device.

Shooting Long Term Projects with Marc Wilson

My work is based around a memory of history set in the landscape
— Marc Wilson: The Togcast Ep.17

Sainte-Marguerite-sur-mer, Upper Normandy, France. 2012 Studland Bay I, Dorset, England. 2011(The Last Stand Project - Marc Wilson)

As many of you know I host The Togcast - Photography Podcast with my friend Paul Sanders. We've completed 16 episodes since Sept 2016 and have primarily concentrated on Landscape photographers as this is both our fields of 'expertise' and we move in those circles of peers. However, our appreciation and study of photography is across a broad range of genres, some of which crossover with landscape photography in some way. So it was a great pleasure to catch up recently with Marc Wilson (www.marcwilson.co.uk) who is best described as a documentary landscape photographer and to delve into some of his project work on Episode 17 of the show...

Marc deals with long term projects anchored in the history of the chosen landscapes. Between 2011-2015 'The Last Stand' project focused on old military posts and stations around the coasts of Northern Europe. There was a strong visual aesthetic that ran through the work and in the show we discuss some of his shooting methods and preferences to create that consistency and visual narrative.

Studland Bay I, Dorset, England. 2011 (The Last Stand - Marc Wilson)

Studland Bay I, Dorset, England. 2011 (The Last Stand - Marc Wilson)

It’s a combination of sticking to a visual aesthetic but treating each image individually as well
— Marc Wilson: The Togcast Ep.17

The project involved trips to various parts of coastline in the UK and Northern Europe and the completed work was met with critical acclaim. The work was one of the award winners at The Terry O’Neill awards in 2013 and was published as a book in late 2014. It has sold out of its 1st edition by early 2015 and a 2nd edition has now been published.

We also spent some time in the show chatting about his current work based on the locations, stories and impact of the holocaust called 'A wounded landscape'. This project has raised the bar even further with more locations, more exploration of the back stories and obviously a hugely sensitive subject matter.

After I’d created ‘The Last Stand’ I felt that I’d found a visual language that was subtle or sensitive enough...so as a photographer I now felt ready to approach the subject that I’d been hoping to do for 20 years or so
— Marc Wilson: The Togcast Ep.17

In the episode we discuss Marc's dedication to getting the project completed, whilst balancing the commitments of his professional commercial shooting life and having a young family. It's clear that he's very passionate about the subject matter and what's interesting is how his approach to shooting the images in this project have changed based on his emotions to the landscapes as he finds them.

After having worked with large format film equipment on 'The Last Stand' Marc actually has changed his shooting approach with 'A wounded landscape'. This came from his experiences in a test shoot trip he made to France where he realised that to really connect with the work he had to shoot with more freedom to capture his emotional reaction to the location. This meant sometimes using medium format and smaller 35mm cameras whilst coming off the tripod which allowed more spontaneity and no doubt a different set of options for compositions and style of image.

We also discuss how the feedback he's received through showing the work to survivors, specialist historians and groups of modern youngsters has kept his motivation and also re-assured him that the ongoing visual aesthetic is suitable for the subject matter.

Taking on such long form projects is a huge commitment, Marc has budgeted £40,000 to complete 'A wounded landscape' so we chat about how that figure is raised, and how he has to work in stages to keep momentum and maintain his focus.

What makes a strong visual image is that dedication and caring to get the image exactly as you want it
— Marc Wilson: The Tocgast Ep.17

As part of the funding process and to engage those who are connected to the project Marc has released a 'Working Archive' of the images so far in 'A wounded landscape'. This is a box set of 55 7"x5" inch matt C-type prints (49 photographs and 6 texts). This set gives a glimpse into the sprawling nature of the subject, encompassing location images and the beginnings of some of the stories that are an integral part of ‘A wounded landscape’.

It's a clever creation to keep followers engaged in the process, carry on the funding cycle and also to begin the visual narrative for the project as whole.

A wounded landscape - Working Archive Collection 1 - Available at marcwilson.co.uk

In summary, I have great admiration for Marc's work ethic and commitment to his projects. It takes a huge amount of organisation and self discipline to plan for a 3-4 year project, and it can only be achieved when the subject matter really connects with you. If you're looking at starting a longer term project it doesn't mean it has to just be based around a historically stirring topic, it may be something more local to you or something to do with your passions and interests. Whatever it is you'll need plenty of determination and persistence but with the hard work and planning will come really meaningful sets of work to be proud of.

You can listen to the Togcast via the TheTogcast.com, or via iTunes or Podbean. The show is released twice monthly and features interviews with photographers across the UK and further afield.

Thinking of going Pro?

The people who say today I’m going to quit my job and become a professional photographer...you’re living in a dream world!
— David Clapp - Togcast Episode 15

IMAGE CREDIT - David Clapp

Our most recent guest on The Togcast - Photography Podcast was David Clapp (www.davidclapp.co.uk). David is a busy working professional photographer who has carved out a stellar career primarily in the travel & landscape genres but as we discuss in the show you need to be doing a whole lot more than that. He contributes to Getty Images, gets commissioned all around the world for big brand shoots and he also runs workshops teaching everything from capturing to post-processing.  It's been a tough road from scratch to get where he has and we have quite a frank discussion about the realities of being a professional on the show.

IMAGE CREDIT - David Clapp

IMAGE CREDIT - David Clapp

It's something that many listeners have asked us to cover in our episodes, we often get emails saying "can you cover how to turn pro and make a living etc" and the difficulty is there is no set roadmap to lay out. Each individual has to shape their own career through a mix of hard work, opportunity, persistence and motivation. As discussed with David in the show you also need the rest of your life to be in order; do you have a large mortgage to pay? do you have dependents? are you prepared to cope with running a business? can you budget for the lean months at the beginning? It's quite clear that it's not just about the pictures...

You can’t just be romancing a camera at the top of a hill and expect everything to come to you
— David Clapp - Togcast Episode 15

IMAGE CREDIT - David Clapp

Your main interest may be in getting up that hill on a Sunday morning with a camera but if you're serious about turning your Photography into a viable career that's not going to be enough. You have to widen the subjects and genres that you shoot in, you have to be making work with a commercial value. What individuals or companies want to put on the walls of their homes or offices might not match your blazing sunrise or abstract rock formation.

Whilst this is a fairly frank conversation in the episode we hope that it actually leaves you the listener feeling energised, empowered and motivated to get out there and pursue your dreams...just remember to keep it real and be prepared to go the extra mile, or two!

David Clapp is a presenter for Canon Europe and has traveled widely to lecture, and create tutorials for Canon products and services. Find out more at www.davidclapp.co.uk

You can find The Togcast on iTunes, Podbean or via www.TheTogcast.com. The Togcast is a Photography Podcast hosted by Sam Gregory & Paul Sanders and is released twice monthly.