Terry McNamara is a Manchester based freelance commercial photographer.  Here you can keep up to date with the projects Terry is working on and whatever he may be currently thinking about.

 

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Welcome to 'A Tog's Blog'.

In these pages I hope to give you an insight into my life as a freelance and commercial photographer in Manchester.  I hope I can make it interesting enough for you to want to read it. Thanks for stopping by to take look.

Today Has No History!

May 02, 2012  •  1 Comment

© 2012 Maloof Collection, Ltd. — All Rights ReservedOne of the things that first got me interested in photography was looking at images that had been taken by photographers a long time before I was born.  Some of them were just snapshots but others would today be classed as social documentary, recording a slice-of-life for us all to see.

Some of my favourite photographers, people like Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Doisneau, created images that told stories of everyday life.  They recorded the things that happened around them, everyday events, social occasions and people going about their normal duties.  They captured them on film and thanks to modern digitalisation they are there for us all to see today.  In fact, we can learn about the way people lived by looking at and enjoying these images today.

© 2012 Maloof Collection, Ltd. — All Rights ReservedThen, there’s my favourite street photographer of all time, Vivian Maier.  Today, Maier would be classed as a hobbyist photographer – someone who takes photographs just for the pleasure of it.  However, for those who know of her work, she is classed by many as possibly the best street photographer that has ever lived.  Employed as a Nanny in Chicago and New York, Maier used her spare time to document the life that happened around her.  She photographed everything; children playing in the street, homeless people begging for food, drunks being carried off by police, lovers holding hands in a restaurant - the list is endless.  Yet, thanks to her skill, determination and effort it is all there for us to see and enjoy today.

But what about tomorrow?  What will my great grandchildren have to look back on from today?  The answer, unfortunately, is very little.

© 2012 Maloof Collection, Ltd. — All Rights ReservedToday’s life is not being recorded in the same way.  If you so much as produce a camera in a public place you are likely to get very stern looks form the people you point it at – and that’s if you’re lucky.  Some street photographers have been threatened and actually assaulted for trying to capture everyday life.  People tell you that you don’t have a right to take their photograph without their permission.  Yet, they are already being photographed by several thousand CCTV cameras without giving permission for that.

If the public don’t stop you from taking photographs then it’s a strong possibility the security guards will.  They often quote laws that don’t exist or even suggest that taking photographs in public areas could be classed as an act of terrorism.  If questioned about the laws they are citing their most likely response is to involve the police.

© 2012 Maloof Collection, Ltd. — All Rights ReservedThen, when the police do get involved, they also cite rules and regulations that have no relevance or jurisdiction over the taking of photographs in public places.  The police will also, quite often, ask photographers to cease taking images or even request that the photographer deletes images from their camera.  This is despite the police issuing guidelines for photography in public places stating that photographers must not be prevented from taking images and that officers have no right to ask a photographer to delete images.

As a result of all this, the sad outcome is that there are fewer and fewer photographers prepared to go out and record life around them today.  Street photography is dying out.  The Cartier-Bressons, Doisneaus and Maiers of yesterday don’t exist today.

Where does that leave us?  Unfortunately it leaves us with the sad news that today has no history.

 

 

Images accompanying this article are © 2012 Maloof Collection, Ltd. — All Rights Reserved, and have been used by kind permission.

For more information on the work of Vivian Maier please visit www.vivanmaier.com & www.artsy.net/artist/vivian-maier


When Passion Meets Passion

April 10, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

The recipe for a fantastic photoshoot is passion plus passion.  If you're passionate about what you do, your enthusiasm will be captured by a passionate photographer.

It doesn't matter what you're passionate about.  Just let your passion exude and take over, and those around you will be affected by it.

I've had the pleasure of working with a few passionate people and I just love being in their presence. There's just something captivating  that sweeps you along with them.

 

Passionate about Coffee!

I had the pleasure to meet Sophie Highfield just before Christmas as she was getting ready to open her second Cafe Blend coffee shop in the UK.  Sophie discovered her passion for coffee while she was travelling and it is this passion that has led her to open a chain of unique coffee shops.  Sophie doesn't just supply coffee because she knows people will buy it, she does it because she is passionate about what she does.  The range of coffees, coffee-martinis and speciality teas that Cafe Blend produce are quite unique.

I recently had the opportunity to photograph some of the Cafe Blend drinks and it was a pleasure to hear Sophie enthuse about the products - from the specialist coffee blend they use and all the other ingredients to the time, skill and technique they put into making each drink.  As well as photographing them I also had the opportunity to sample one or two of them.  I can honestly say they taste as good as they look.

 

#TheKiss2012

Vintage Passion

Somebody else I worked with who is passionate about what they do is Laura Norrey.  Laura is a model with a passion for the 1950's.  We met as a result of a tweet I sent asking for a 1950's style model.  Within minutes, three separate people had recommended Laura and I'm glad they did.  Laura is a quintessential 1950's model - elegant, refined, delicate and she just oozes style.  When I met her it was actually a surprise to see her in colour - I almost expected her to be in black and white.

I worked with Laura on 'The Kiss', a recreation of a classic shot.  Laura's passion for everything vintage was totally contagious and this was evident in her attention to detail and just how much hard work she put into the shoot.  I have some other projects in the pipeline which will allow me to work with Laura again, and I can honestly say I can't wait for them to happen.

 

I'm passionate about photography.  It's why I do what I do.  One thing I have noticed, though, is that my passion increases when I am around other people who are passionate about what they do.  There appears to be some from of exponential growth.  It's synergy in its truest sense - the end result is far greater than the sum of the component parts.

So, if you want to be successful, if you want people to love what you do to the same extent that you do, get passionate about it. Then connect with other people that are passionate about what they do.  Success, then, is only a matter of time.

 

If you would like to know more about the people mentioned in this article, you can find them here:


What’s in a Name?

April 05, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

Who am I? ©TerryMc PhotographySome people get really hung up about how they are referred to.  What’s all the fuss?  Some people only like to be referred to as a ‘professional photographer’, as if stating the word ‘professional’ makes them better than anyone else.  Actually, some of the best photographers I know are amateur and proud to be so.  One guy, in particular, creates far better images than any of the professionals I know.  But he doesn’t get hung up on the fact that he is an amateur photographer.

Some people call us ‘togs’ (as in phoTOGraphers).  Yet again, I know quite a few other people who see that as a derogatory term.  I’m quite happy to be called a tog and so are most of my photographer friends.  In fact, we got the word ‘togging’ added to the urban dictionary as a description of what a bunch of togs do.

There appears to be a theoretical hierarchy in photography circles – pro’s at the top, then togs, amateurs and then the lowest of the low is a GWC – ‘Guy With Camera’  Unfortunately this is definitely a derogatory term.  It refers to a certain type of person who buys all the right equipment so that they can get closer to models that they normally wouldn’t get the opportunity to associate with.

So who am I?  Well, I’m a photographer.  It’s what I do for a living so I guess that makes me a professional photographer.  I’m a tog.  It’s what I do.  It’s who I am.  I suppose you could call me a Guy With a Camera.  I am male, and I do have a camera.  In certain photography circles I am called ‘The Tedge’ – that’s a whole different story and not one I’m going to share now.

So what should you call me?  Actually, in all honesty, I don’t care what you call me.  The only thing I do care about is that you do call me.

Just call me!

 

 


Taking Pictures for the Press

April 04, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

I was recently asked by a client to write a small article on how to take pictures for press use.  So, my blog post today is that article.  I hope you enjoy.

 

Taking Pictures for the Press

As more and more newspapers are reducing the number of staff photographers they employ, it is becoming more important for event organisers to have their own photographers present.  It is, therefore, also important to understand the type of images that the newspapers are likely to use or likely to reject.

Here are some of my tips for taking press images.

 

Always fill the frame when taking images that the press can use. © TerryMc Photography Fill the Frame

This is one of the first photography techniques I teach my students.  Before you take the image, have a good look all around the view finder.  Make sure your main subject fills the frame.  Our brain cuts off anything we don’t feel is relevant, but unfortunately our camera doesn’t.  Therefore, when we see the image we’ve taken we suddenly find that the main subject is tiny and surrounded by a lot of space.

 

Get the Eyes

If you are photographing people, make sure the eyes are in focus and are looking at you.  If the eyes are sharp other areas of the image that are not quite in focus will be overlooked.  Obviously, aim to get the whole image in focus, but you absolutely must have the eyes in focus.

Make sure the eyes are looking at you and are open!  When taking a group shot at an event it is highly likely that someone will be distracted by what is going on around them and will look away just at the point you take the picture.  Make a lot of noise.  Keep telling the group that you need their attention and keep checking through the viewfinder.

Also, people blink.  They do it all the time.  When you have a group of people posing for a photograph the chances of one of them blinking just when you take the picture are multiplied.  A blink only lasts a fraction of a second.  Therefore, take several shots in rapid succession and before the group disassembles check the back of your camera to make sure you have all eyes open.

 

Tell the Story

Once upon a time photographs were used to support the text in a newspaper article.  Then, in the 1940’s, that all changed and the picture became the story with the text supporting the picture.

In these current times of instant everything, the average attention span is dramatically reducing.  When you think about the shots you take, assume that nobody will read the text unless the image first grabs their attention.  Make sure people can look at the image and immediately understand what is going on.

 

Think About the Background

It does matter what is behind the subject in the image.  If the background is too cluttered it will become a distraction.  Also, keep an eye out for objects that might look odd in the image – poles growing out of people’s heads etc.

Where possible get some distance between your subject and the background.  This will give your image more impact and make your subject more noticeable.  If you must use a wall as a background get your subjects to stand at least 2 metres away from it (unless the wall is important to the story).  That way the wall is likely to be thrown out of focus.  If you are taking your image at an event and there is likely to be a lot of people in the background, pull your subject as far away from the rest of the people as possible.  Again, this will give your subject some separation from the surroundings and make them more noticeable rather than being lost in a crowd.

 

Get Some Activity in the Shot

If the event includes lots of activity, capture some in your shot.  There’s nothing worse than seeing an image of a group of people standing still when the event had lots of excitement and movement.  If it’s a sponsored run get pictures of people running, if it’s a netball match get pictures of people shooting for the net.  They don’t have to be live pictures. You can separate a group of people, give them instructions and then shoot away.

 

Pictures of cute children sell newspapers.  © TerryMc Photography Don’t Forget the Cute Factor

Everybody loves cute pictures.  OK, not quite everybody, but the newspapers do.  A cute picture of a child will almost certainly get in the papers.  It adds the ‘aww’ factor – the human interest factor. Local papers love images of local children.

 

Call in the Professionals

If you are staging an event and want some publicity in the media, now is not the time for someone to pull out a phone-camera and snap away thinking that the Nationals will beat a path to your door wanting to print the images.  Neither is it the time for someone with a half-decent camera and good intentions.  Make sure that whoever has the responsibility for taking pictures at your event really understands what they are doing, how to create pictures that the press will use and how to use the equipment properly.

The key word in the above sentence is ‘create’.  The images from your event should be created and not just snapshots of opportunities that present themselves.  Carefully plan and stage each image.

Your organisation’s reputation hangs on the quality of the images submitted to the press.  Thousands (if not millions) of people will see them.  If in doubt, call in a professional photographer with experience of submitting images to the press.  The cost may not be as high as you think and the benefits will be endless.


Don't Judge a Book by its Cover!

April 03, 2012  •  2 Comments

One of the things I love about being a photographer is the variety of people I meet.  I can honestly say that so far I haven't met anyone I don't like.  In doing this job I have come across many people that I wouldn't normally associate with.  Not because there is anything wrong with them.  Just because our paths wouldn't normally cross.

As an example, on Saturday I met Dani.  Dani's reputation had gone before him so I knew what to expect.  However, I was still a little unprepared for the actual event and was still a little surprised.

Dani is a punk.  He has the whole punk thing down to a T - ripped clothing, very tall, spiked Mohican hair cut, body piercings and tattoos.  To be honest, if we were to find ourselves walking towards each other along a street on a dark night, I think I would feel a little apprehensive.  But, as I said before, I had already heard of Dani and I knew about his reputation.  Dani is well educated, well spoken, extremely polite and extremely obliging.  He would do anything to help anyone.  During the shoot on Saturday Dani worked very hard and I don't think he grumbled once about being asked to do some ridiculous things by the other photographers.  He is one of the most likeable, professional people I've met.

When I talk about the shoots I have done or what I have coming up, it's interesting to see the reactions from the people I talk to - particularly non-photographers.  What I've learned is to get to know the person behind the image first and not to judge anyone on appearance.  In fact, not to judge them at all.  It's good advice because they could actually misjudge me (or you), too.