Friday, 3 May 2013

Paying it forward

The internet has been responsible for some fundamental shifts in our culture; The music industry, retail,
photography and the way we communicate with people. Unfortunately this change isn't always positive there's plenty of negative press about what's happening in the world because of technology.

There is however a really positive movement that has become much more "mainstream" because of the way we communicate and share information. Something so completely inspiring it gives you that shivering sense of excitement when ever you come across its content. I'm talking about altruism.

There are many negative traits as humans that are paraded on mainstream media to make the headlines and yes the shock and awe is something that makes us take notice, but kindness without any type of agenda is one that really resonates with people because it's not something that we see that often in the news. Because of the way we now communicate, people are sharing these stories amongst themselves, which inspires others and then they share and so on.

No I haven't gone off-piste, this is still a photography blog, stay with me.

I'm not sure whether it's because I used to read/watch about too many superheroes as a child, but the thought of helping someone out (even when I know it was going to bite me in the ass later on) without asking for anything in return has always been something inherent to what makes me who I am. Those of you that know me, know that I've been an avid fan of David Hobby and the Strobist movement since it first started, the thought that someone would give all of this information away for free was a major inspiration and a real changing point in my life. In a field where competition was already hard, now making that more accessible to millions of people was only going to make the marketplace more difficult. I'm not sure if this was the intention of David Hobby when he first started Strobist, but opening up that market to millions of people who were collaborating and constantly pushing the boundaries of what was accepted as "good photography" has accelerated how fast things progress. It was almost like the end scene in the Jet Li movie Hero where he has what he thought was his purpose right in front of him, the chance to attain what was right in front of him... but then realised that the world was much bigger than him, so sacrificed his own personal goal for something that would benefit everyone else.

Over the last few months I've been seemingly quiet when it comes to photography. I've been working  on various charity projects to help inspire other people regardless of what they do. I won't go into a huge amount of detail about specific projects now, but I have been shooting with some people that are doing things for others or needed a bit of inspiration. How much did I charge for a photoshoot? Nothing. My only stipulation was to remember the kindness and to pay it forward when they get the chance.

Why would I do that, it doesn't make business sense?!!! Once you understand the difference between needs and purpose you'll really understand how to keep your motivation and drive in anything you do and therefore be successful. I'd love to claim to have written that but it was brought up in a conversation Jamil Quereshi. In an absolute lightbulb moment for me I finally understood that being successful wasn't about how much money you have, the car you drive, the house you live in; It is for some people, but for me money has never been my main driver for photography. Don't get me wrong I'm not saying that it's not important because without it I can't continue to do what I do, but this is just a need it's not my purpose.

I'd love to start a movement, much like David did with Strobist, something that will live on in the history books past me and the generations to follow and maybe one day I will. But for now using my talent to do something that will really benefit someone else in need and hopefully get them to do the same in the future is my contribution to making the world that little bit better.

My purpose- the thing that drives me to do what I do is to inspire people, to do/think/see something differently. What's yours?

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

It's nearing that time of the year again.

Almost a year ago I wrote this post which were New Year's Resolutions for 2012 to help me to improve what I've been doing in photography. It's really important to revisit what you set out to do a few times a year so you don't forget and start panicking at the end of the year. It's also really important and this goes without saying to do a review of how do you did against what you said at the end of the year regardless of whether you completed what you set out to do or not, it's the only way you'll be able to change something if it isn't working.

I'm big on this because it's how I've got to where I am now in photography by reviewing every shoot I do afterwards (not necessarily with the client or anyone else) but I write down what went well, what could be improved and what I need to consider for next time.

A summary of my 2012 Photography - Gareth Dix
So how did I do against my New Year's Resolutions?

1- Shoot more for myself
This I have done much more of in 2012, it's been a really liberating experience allowing me to make mistakes and without those mistakes I'd still be shooting exactly the same

2- Shoot Fitness Models
I can check this one off as well, in 2012 I've shot bodybuilders, boxers, kick boxers, personal trainers, apart from being great to shoot, they've really inspired me to step my game up in my fitness so everyone's a winner.

3- Use more local talent
I've shot with so many great people from the local area over the last year, in fact I think around 70% of people I shot with in 2012 were from around these parts.

4- Assist other photographers on shoots
I'd love to say I did this a lot this year... but I think coaching is probably a better term. I did have an opportunity to assist Felix Kunze for his London 2012 Project back in August, and I would have jumped at the chance, but I was sitting on a beach in Kefalonia, Greece at the time.

5- Upgrade my camera
Check! I'd been looking at the 5DmkIII but can't live with the flash sync speed on it so opted for the 60D instead, loving the video option as well and the best part, I won't have to change lenses (I opted for crop sensor focal lengths instead of L glass)

6- Shoot Some Lingerie, Glamour... Boobs
I have to admit I haven't shot a lot of this, but I have shot more than I've ever done... from shooting Latex in dungeon to a naked calendar (well implied) I think I've at least gone some way to cover this off.

7- Shoot for Shits and Giggles at short notice
Admittedly I only did two shoots like this at the start of 2012 which went really well, definitely one to carry over for next year to do more of.

8- Do a shoot whilst travelling
This year has been a terrible year for travelling, I only went away once, however I did manage to arrange a shoot next year if I go back.

9- Take an opportunity when it presents itself
I've taken on a lot of photoshoots that I normally wouldn't, really pushed myself past my limits on some of these and have come out on top. YOLO actually does pay off!

10- Build a strong team
I rarely work with the same people time and time again, this year i've changed that, I worked with some of the same people a lot which has meant getting better results every time.

11- Print off a physical portfolio
I'm actually putting the finishing touches to this right now and should have it in time for the new year.

So in summary looking back at what I've achieved, it isn't bad at all. I've got a few that I'll want to carry over from this year, but now I need to start working on what my resolutions for this year will be.

Got any ideas for next year? leave it in the comments below or on one of my social networks at www.GarethDix.com

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Why some people make it in Photography (and why the majority don't)

I have been writing a huge post around creativity and basically how you're going to get to where you want to eventually when I came across a video on LifeHacker this morning about how it's ok to suck.

This isn't specifically about Photography but can be applied to creativity in general, and I think it pretty much sums up what I was going to say but in fewer words.



My advice, shoot as much as you can, keep that creative spark alight and don't worry about failure as long as you learn something from it but never give up!

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Just a quick update to say...

I haven't died... normal blog posting will resume shortly.

Gareth Dix Photographer
I've uploaded some of the work I've been doing over the last couple of months to the new Portfolio section in the links above

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Never Delete a Photo

I remember back in 2007 I attended the first ever London Strobist Seminar and apart from getting my photo taken by David Hobby of Strobist.com fame himself (Warning: The image may cause some people of a weak disposition some level of distress) I probably learned more in those few hours than I had in years of taking photos.

All the knowledge from that day was great and I would be nowhere near where I am today without what I learned in that seminar. So if you haven't already head over to www.strobist.com and either book yourself on a seminar or grab a copy of the lighting DVD's produced by David I promise you won't regret it.

Ok so I digressed...

In that Seminar there were two things that really stuck with me that day.

1. David didn't shoot in RAW only in Medium quality Jpeg and
2. Press photographers had to submit every photo so nothing was ever deleted.

The first point is irrelevant to this blog post but I had to get it in there because I think if there's one thing a Pro could do to silence a room it was say something like that (or break wind loudly). Thankfully a little while after that David moved to the Raw side... but again I digress.

The second point came about because years ago press photographers were all taking photos and then realising the girl wasn't anyone famous decided to deleted the images... except for one photographer. When the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke, this photographer had the only photograph of her before the event... so probably made a fortune.

I never delete photos in camera either, because you can't really tell from the screen on the back how good the shot is and also there may be elements of that photo that you want to use to fix something on another shot e.g. hand position or something in the background.

I only ever archive photos because I may have missed a great image the first time because of a tight deadline, my tastes have changed as to what makes a good image, or my post processing techniques mean there are images that I can re-do differently.



Rianne Van Gijn on the RoofAs an example I want to talk about Rianne, who was a great model (and I hope she's still doing it). I shot with her back in August 2010 at a group shoot with the London Strobist Group. At the time I'd discounted the image as I preferred the look of a few others with more complex lighting set ups such as the one to the left.


My tastes and post processing skills were very different back then and I think I would light this shot and finish it completely differently now, not that it's a bad thing, it just shows that my skills as a photographer are still developing.

With Rianne, I had the chance to shoot for quite a bit of time at the shoot which meant quite a few images to get through. We had a 2 week turn around to get these back to all of the models on the day so the selection process was extremely quick.

At the end of 2011 I was taking a break from shooting which gave me a chance to look back through some of my previous work and I picked up on some great images that I'd previously discounted.

Rianne's SmileAfter going through these images there's quite a few I wanted to have a play around with in post to try out some different toning techniques. This image was the result of going back through the photos that didn't make the cut in 2010. The smile in this photo is genuine and admittedly was a complete accident because I made her laugh at the time. But for me it's completely different to all the other images I took of her and that I've seen on her portfolio. It's actually more of a portrait than a fashion image as I believe it shows the real her. Anyway if you want to see the larger version of this image in all it's glory have a look at my 500px.com account here.

There are plenty of other images I could share where I have done the same thing but I'll just leave you with 2 points.

1. Never delete a photo
2. Always have a look through your old work, even if you don't find anything you can use, it's a good measure to see how far you've come.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

New Years Resolutions 2012

It's that time of the year again where we do things like buy gym memberships that we'll never use, go on diets that never last and there's a surge of people looking for new jobs or making life changes. This makes it the perfect time to set yourself some goals to achieve over the next year that will really help to keep you motivated (Whether it's photography or anything else in life)

Normally by the end of November I look back on the year I've just had and I'm already looking at NY resolutions to set as goals, but this year I have been so busy I'm only just starting to look at this now. Before I get into listing some of things I'll be doing this year there are some rules that need to be followed.

The Rules of Resolutions:


  1. If you write it down it's set in stone -  However you do have until the 1st of Jan to make changes but whatever is on that piece of paper/word document/tattooed on your skin on the 1st of Jan is final. This is to stop you trying to move the goal posts closer and should stop you being lazy about the resolutions through the year.
  2. Make a couple of the resolutions take you out of your comfort zone - This will keep things interesting but also means that you're forced to try something new.
  3. Keep copies of the resolutions everywhere that you'll see them - Whether that's on the bathroom mirror on the wallpaper of your computer screen, in your camera bag or on the front page of your note pad. Just make sure that it's somewhere that's going to keep them front of mind.
  4. Every day as soon as you wake up read them - Like number 3 it'll keep things front of mind, but it'll also change your day when you have something to aim for
  5. Keep track of your progress and Celebrate your successes - Make sure you know when you're achieving them and celebrate the success. This isn't something you have to wait until next December to look back at again and see if you have achieved it.
  6. Tell other people about it - Just as I'm doing by posting about it on my blog, you should shout about what you're hoping to do next year and share it with others. Not only will it make you feel great about yourself when you share your hopes, but it's also an added piece of motivation in that you'd rather tell them about how successful you were than you haven't done it.
  7. Finally if you don't achieve them all don't worry about it - You'll accomplish more by aiming high and missing than aiming low and achieving it all.
My Resolutions for 2012

This year I'm creating different resolutions for different things. Those of you that know me, know that I'm really into my fitness and philosophising about life, however in the interest of this blog I'm only going to talk about my photography resolutions. I'll be adding to this list over the next week or so and should have a finished article by the 1st of Jan.

  1. Shoot more for myself- 2011 was a lot of shooting for clients and other people and my own work took a back seat, 2012 will have a lot more time dedicated to what I want to shoot.
  2. Shoot Fitness Models- It's something I've always wanted to do more of and as an added bonus is great motivation for my fitness goals for this year.
  3. Use more local talent- living so close to London I tend to gravitate towards the talent pool there but there's loads of talent in Essex, Kent and Herts
  4. Assist other photographers on shoots- I learned a lot doing this years ago and don't do this nearly enough now.
  5. Upgrade my camera- I have been saying this for awhile now but I think it's about time I got a new one. Now that it's on the list I can't put it off anymore.
  6. Shoot some lingerie, glamour, boobs- Not something I've done before but in the interest of taking me out of my comfort zone I will make that sacrifice.
  7. Shoot for shits and giggles at short notice- I tend to plan, plan and plan a shoot, I know what I want, I know what model I want, I know what equipment I need to do it. Here I'll try booking a model at short notice, doing a shoot in a forest, park or even in the street just to see what happens off the cuff
  8. Do a shoot when I go travelling- I don't do this nearly enough, so I will book a shoot when I'm holiday this year.
  9. Take an opportunity when it presents itself- Some of the most successful photographers I know are successful not because of their technical knowledge or how good their photos are, but because they have the confidence to (in the words of Nike) "Just Do It"
  10. Build a strong team with MUA's, Stylists and Models that I can use again and again - Just as a good team, we'll know the abilities of each member and the limitations so we can get the right result every time.
  11. Print a portfolio I can show off to people- I've always used a digital portfolio, but I think it's important to have something printed that I can take with me to show people my work.

It's a start, I'll be adding/modifying these over the next week or so but remember whatever is here on the 1st of Jan is what I'm sticking to.

Anyone else fancy sharing their new year's resolutions? If so drop me a note in the comments below or on Twitter and I'll link to them from here.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

I'm now on 500Px

I've been looking at creating a portfolio site for some time now instead of just using flickr links. A few of you guys have been telling me about 500px so I thought I'd check it out and so far I'm impressed!

Come find me on there and say hello, I'll be posting quite a bit over the next few weeks.