The Internet is making us lazy

I’m starting this essay with the background knowledge that it may upset some people. Thats ok though, if it makes one or two think then I have achieved something.

So what to I mean by my title “The Internet is making us lazy” ?

Take a step back, take a sip of your coffee and think about the resource you have in front of you. If the internet did not exist you would not be reading this (I would not have written it), you would have probably found a far better resource of information, something far more useful to spend your time doing, however I digress. What I want you to think about are all the images you have seen on the internet, all the places, all of the inspiration for your work (I am assuming you are a photographer or artist).

Think about those images, on instagram now or if you have been around a few years, on Flickr or other photo sharing sites. Now extend that thought to the comments below “Great Capture”, “Inspired” etc… If the photograph was great or unusual it would not be far down the comments that the first “What Camera” question would occur, closely followed by “What lens?” “Aperture?”, “Shutter speed?”, “Why don’t you open up your exif data?”. The equivalent questions can be applied to many subjects but I’m a photographer and artist so I will stick to this realm.

In the garden studying a book of Terry O’Neill’s work through the years.

When I first see a photograph that excites me, once the initial “joy” has ebbed away I start asking myself “how was this done?”, “how would I have done this?”. Once I have worked this out I start to question “why was it done this way?” .

Think how different that process is compared to just asking the creator how they did it. What do we learn if we are handed all of the settings on a plate ? Other than at that moment, at that place, with that equipment a person made an image in that way; thats not learning. If this information is taken and used in exactly the same way to create work, these works are not unique creations, they are copies!

Photography is an art, so lets cast our minds back to learning about art at school, college or university. Teachers led the way, examples and inspirations shown and discussed, the way forward was shown but the student had to find the way, make the mistakes and learn.

Some people say no, photography is not an Art, it’s a science! How about science lessons then? The theory was thought, a method for proof was explained and the student would be helped through the experiment to learn for themselves and understand the proof.

Take a look at the 10 Rules for Students, Teachers, and Life by Sister Corita Kent (yep you can find it yourself in the true spirt of research). When it comes to all creativity Rule 4 is the key.

I probably should have written this nearer the beginning of lockdown. I’ll admit whilst I know I should have been documenting these difficult times with a camera, for various reasons I have been studying, learning and creating with pen, paint and ink as well as video (take a look at https://julieedwardsvisuals.com for a hint of what I have done).

I started my JEX photography blog as a resource to help photographers using Fuji cameras and mobile workflow, it holds a lot of information but I always try to write in a way that guides the way as opposed to detailing every press.

There are a lot of resources out there for us all, (not all of it trustworthy!) If used in the right way it could fuel a generation of great creatives, however at the moment I am worried that its mostly fuelling a lot of copyists….

“Nothing is a mistake, there’s no win and no fail. There’s only make”
– Sister Corita Kent

Stay Safe
Julie

Goodbye Stirling

People that know me well know I am a petrol-head

It will probably come as no surprise that I met and photographed Stirling Moss a few times. One of my most prized possessions is a biography of him I “borrowed” from my father, it’s probably the first biography I ever read and I still have it – have had it for over 40 years now. I regret not having the courage to ask him to sign it when I last met him (I had it in the bag and had carried it around all day).

These 4 pictures were taken on the celebration of his 80th year at Goodwood Festival of speed. A wonderful man. I’m a bit surprised but I did shed a tear when I read the headline…

Goodbye Stirling… Rest in peace The best driver ever not to be champion… he put loyalty before prizes..a lesson there for us all I think…

All my work has been cancelled! What Now?

The last few weeks have been difficult and it is about to get a whole lot tougher! What now?

During February I flew to Los Angeles to cover The Oscars and then to Berlin to cover Berlinale (The Berlin Film Festival). I then used a loan GFX50R on a photoshoot for a band. I had also covered the March4Women on International Women’s day and the 50th Mark Kermode in 3D at the BFI. I had planned that the next 5 or 6 posts were to be about these trips, shoots and the camera but events have overtaken us somewhat and I feel that maybe there are other, more pressing, words to be written. (The other posts will follow).

Stars and activists gather #March4Women this International Women’s Day for gender equality and climate justice on Sunday 8 March 2020. X-T3 / 16-55 + 2 * Godox AD200 for Fill

Like (almost) every other photographer I have seen my work diary empty, rather rapidly it must be said and I now have nothing booked. Obviously this crisis will come to an end and photographs/photographers will be needed again, hopefully the portrait bookings I had will re-book and there is the glimmer that Festival de Cannes will be moved to the summer (oh damn 2 weeks in the French Riviera in the Summer!) As I said above, but what NOW?

Only one person in the shop please. X-T3 / 27mm

As a press photographer the obvious thing is to go out and report on the carnage. The Shops, the queues, the goods shortages but then there are so many doing that.

Watching a Classic Film, Le Mans : X-T3 / 14mm @ F2.8 / 800ISO

I want to take a different tack. So many photographers have written on Social Media in despair, with no income what can they do? I want to suggest some different ideas to keep ourselves occupied and whilst these ideas may not solve the immediate financial problems, they will at least help with the future.

Reading West is West by Sarah Lee. : X-T3 / 14mm @ F2.8 / 1000ISO

First up – don’t sit doing nothing worrying. “Satan finds some mischief still for idle Hands to do” – as I see it the less we do the more we worry and these are worrying times.

The world will without doubt change, work will without doubt change. I personally cannot see it becoming a financially stronger world but maybe as people start to realise what actually matters to them. My hope is it will become a culturally stronger world.

Try to put that aside. Use your creative talents to add to (what I hope to be) this culturally stronger world. There are so many things we, as photographers can be doing right now, to strengthen our position for when the crisis does end. There are so many other things to photograph than shelves devoid of toilet rolls. Need Ideas?

Too much social media may be a bad thing, but it also may be a positive. : X-T3 / 14mm @ F2.8 / 1000ISO
  • For how long have you put off updating your website? Now is the time!
  • Don’t understand social media? Learn!
  • Lots of old images that are just languishing on your disk? Edit & Upload them to a stock library!
  • Think video maybe the way forward? Time to learn to light, shoot and edit video!

A quick note on the stock library idea: I know not everyone is a fan of libraries or agencies but at the moment, each month I get regular income from images I have shot over the past 12 years, this income will help hugely during the next few months.

A Pub Sunday lunch delivered! (Thank you Brunswick and Thorn)! : X-T3 / 14mm

The thing is, right now time is the one thing we have plenty of, so don’t rush these jobs, take your time, vary your day, tackle a task then get an old (or new) photo book down for inspiration. Then move on to the next small task. There is no rush the moment!

Supporting local businesses : A Pub Sunday lunch delivered! : X-T3 / 14mm

I’m doing all of these things but I am also doing a personal project: We as photographers always point our cameras out, at others and we defend ferociously our right to do so in public. So during this time I am pointing it inwards, documenting our home life, how we are living, what changes we are having to make to get through this. There is so much to document!

Too much social media may be a bad thing, but it also may be a positive. : X-T3 / 14mm @ F2.8 / 1000ISO

It’s not a vanity project, its warts and all!

Ok no warts but not exactly flattering! Home Exercise! X-T3 / 14mm (Interval timer)

I’m sure every photographer, if they think about it, can find something at home to photograph to make a project, either inside or in the garden. Home-working, family, there are so many subjects.

Don’t be idle and send me your links, ideas and work.. In times of crisis it helps to talk to others … Stay Strong!

J xx

Berlin Wall

With one more week to go of February I can look back on a bit of a “mad month”. Awards season is over and it saw me shooting at the The Critics Circle Awards, the BAFTA’s, the Oscars and this week I am in Berlin for 10 days covering Berlinale – The Berlin International Film Festival.

The Berlin Wall Monument on Sunday 23 February 2020 : iPhone 11 Pro Max

I need to write about the awards and especially The Oscars but today I felt compelled to write a small entry after visiting The Wall so this entry is slightly unusual, having no technical point in addition to having photos shot on the iPhone in addition to those shot on Fuji.

The Berlin Wall Monument on Sunday 23 February 2020 : X-T3 + 27mm/2.8 @F8

This morning, between photocalls, I had a couple of hours spare and as it is not even 15 minutes walk away, I headed over to The Wall. Although I have visited Berlin a number of times over the years on business, I have never managed to make time to visit. To say I found the experience moving is an understatement and I plan to go back later in the week when I have more time.

The Berlin Wall Monument on Sunday 23 February 2020 : X-T3 + 27mm/2.8 @F8

Although I was not directly affected, I remember the “night” the wall came down very clearly. At the time I was a “photography enthusiast” living in Crawley in my first house. Next door lived a single guy who was (shock horror) a press photographer. I must admit, I was probably a nightmare neighbour always asking questions about assignments and kit. I can’t remember his name for the life of me and I sometimes wonder what happened to him and wether we have met since without realising.

The Berlin Wall Monument on Sunday 23 February 2020 : iPhone 11 Pro Max

With expectations that thew wall was to come down that day, he was flown to Berlin that day to document the night the wall fell. We chatted a few days later, with him showing me images shot on an ultra-wide “I really got in their faces” he said.

The Berlin Wall Monument on Sunday 23 February 2020 : X-T3 + 27mm/2.8

I remember feeling jealous and how I wanted his job….. I got there in the end ….

The Berlin Wall Monument on Sunday 23 February 2020 : X-T3 + 27mm/2.8

Reminders of the wall are dotted about the city, this segment within 5 minutes walk of the festival hub in PotsdamerPlaz..

The Berlin Wall Segment on Sunday 23 February 2020 : X-T3 + 27mm/2.8

Visiting the wall not only reminded me of that conversation though, it brought back memories of the divided time which I grew up, of east and west. Despite my best intentions always to keep politics and beliefs from my work and this blog, I could not help but worry that maybe as I head into later life and I watch my son forge his future that we are headed back into divided times.

I sincerely hope not.

Royalty, Celebrity and the Press at The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery – The Talk

Further to my last post, at the weekend I did indeed make it up to The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery where I spoke about my journey to the world of Entertainment photography.

Celebrity photographer and BPPA Board member Julie Edwards speaks at The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery in Stoke-on-Trent on 18th August 2019 as part of the BPPA Assignments exhibition.

At 1pm Sunday approximately 20 people joined me in the exhibition space of the Assignments 2019 Gallery. 

Celebrity photographer and BPPA Board member Julie Edwards speaks at The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery in Stoke-on-Trent on 18th August 2019 as part of the BPPA Assignments exhibition.

My slide show included over 100 images with subjects such as:

  • Childhood Dreams
  • My Journey – From my first published image (The Sunday Times 13th Jan 2008)
  • Access (The Key)
  • Working with “Stars”
  • Camera Shy “Stars”
  • Papping (or not!)
  • Dealing with photographing your idols
  • Dealing with Egos
  • The rocky relationship between celebrities and the press
Celebrity photographer and BPPA Board member Julie Edwards speaks at The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery in Stoke-on-Trent on 18th August 2019 as part of the BPPA Assignments exhibition.

The talk itself ran for an hour, after which the questions and answer session lasted another 30 minutes with all sorts of interesting points raised.

It was great fun, I really enjoyed it and despite all the hard preparation I would be really happy to do it again should anyone express an interest. If you are, please do not hesitate to contact me!

I even got asked to sign one of the Assignments 2019 books (as I was on the creative team and one of the curators of the exhibition). It is a great book and well worth a look (they are selling fast).

I would like to thank the Potteries & Art Gallery Team who were really helpful.

I even got asked to sign a book at the end!

Royalty, Celebrity and the Press

Just a heads up.

I am doing a little talk at the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery in Stoke this weekend (18th August).  If you are free why not pop down and say hello. There will be cream tea’s, a good selection of photos (not all mine) and (hopefully) an interesting talk (plus the BPPA’s assignments exhibition) .

Info and booking:  http://www.stokemuseums.org.uk/pmag/whats-on/events/?event=EVENT598806

Hopefully see you there!

Hi my name is Julie and I’m a creative

In a world where it seems everyone wants to leave the “rat race” and become a “creative” of some kind, why does it seem so guilty to admit it?

Phone selfie

“Hi I’m Julie and I’m a photographer” – almost sounds like something that should be said at “Photographers anonymous” . Well I am and after a few months of struggling I am happy to admit it again, to myself and others.

Note: It’s often said that press photographers should not be creative but thats just rubbish, there are times to be creative and times not to be creative in this job, the key is knowing when.

I had become jaded with my work, with the situations I found myself in, with the images I created. The fact is it’s easy to blame the situation, the lack of control (in public places or arranged photocalls), the light, the kit (oh how often do we hear “if only I had xxxxxxx”) but the fact is, what we produce is never the fault of the kit, of the situation, of the lack of control.

National Youth Dance Company / Botis Seva perform MADHEAD during a Photocall at Sadler’s Wells. Picture by Julie Edwards/LFI/Avalon. X-T2+XF90 @ 1/100 F2

What we produce is always a product of the decisions we make given the situation we find ourselves in. They may not be the images we planned, or want but we always have a choice how we shoot something, how we approach it, our attitude and our commitment.

National Youth Dance Company / Botis Seva perform MADHEAD during a Photocall at Sadler’s Wells. Picture by Julie Edwards/LFI/Avalon. X-T2+XF35 @ 1/20 F1.4

I was recently introduced to the concept of “Hell Yeah or No”. Put simply it means 100% commitment. When presented with an opportunity, decide “Can I give this 100%?” . If not then say no! Once there, commit to the job, no matter what the situation, too controlled? poor light? bad positioning? poor location? If they are things you can control then take ownership. If not, make the best images you can.. 100%..

National Youth Dance Company / Botis Seva perform MADHEAD during a Photocall at Sadler’s Wells. Picture by Julie Edwards/LFI/Avalon. X-T2+XF56 @ 1/15 F1.2

Take the 3 dance images above. When I had the notice that this photocall was available, I checked my diary, found I was in town and had time. It was obvious that it should make nice images, I was not sure what they would be as you never know how a production is staged until you see it, all I could be sure was that the light would be “interesting”. Upon arrival it was suggested it was “a bit dark”. I had sort of surmised this before and although I did not take a tripod I did carry my 35/1.4 , 56/1.2 & 90/2.0 giving me the best chance in low light. From then on it was a case of using what I had, making the most of the light and making the most interesting images I could. Some I shot with intentional blur, some I froze the movement.

The key was though, I did not think “this is too dark”, I just committed 100% to what was in front of me. Looking back now (and listening to others) it’s obvious, if I (you) don’t commit 100% to what I (you) are shooting, how can I (you) produce the best images possible?

“Hi, I’m Julie, I’m a creative and I am always going to create the best images I can”

WOMAD

Despite using, writing about and loving the XF90/F2 lens over 2 years ago in Cannes (and borrowing one since), I had not purchased one until a few weeks ago, when I took advantage of the (recently expired) cash back offer to pick a shiny new XF90 up from my preferred dealer Fixation.

It’s with this new purchase, a pair of X-T2’s plus a XF14/2.8 and XF56/1.2 that I rode down to cover WOMAD this weekend. Travelling by motorbike means I like to travel as light as possible. I had guessed that the XF90 (equivalent of approx a 135mm) would be ideal for half length images on the main stage, with the XF56 for full length. I guessed right.

The 2 most effective ways of using a wide such as the XF14 is either to get in close to exaggerate the perspective or to take a step back for the wide general view.

Moon Hooch performs on the Charlie Gillett Stage WOMAD Festival (World of Music Arts and Dance) on Friday 26 July 2019

Moon Hooch performs on the Charlie Gillett Stage : X-T2 & 14mm@F11

Anna Calvi performs on the Open Air Stage WOMAD Festival (World of Music Arts and Dance) on Saturday 27 July 2019

Anna Calvi performs on the Open Air Stage shot from the top of the Light/Sound Tower. X-T2 & 14mm@F2.8 (1/5th sec)

On the smaller, less bright stages, the speed (wide aperture) of the XF56 enabled a lower ISO and higher shutter speed than the slower F2.8 lenses.  Gigs (should) feature bright lights, strong colours and high contrasts which can make them tricky. Shooting with the  Astia simulation dialled in, I set a fixed white balance (depends on the venue) and the dial down the hilights in camera whilst increasing the shadow contrast. The resultant jpgs require minimal work. (If it is a tricky venue, I do switch to RAW).

Anna Calvi performs on the Open Air Stage. X-T2 +XF56@F1.2

Anna Calvi performs on the Open Air Stage. X-T2 & XF56@F1.2

Macy Gray performs in the Saim Tent at WOMAD X-T2 & XF56@F1.2

Macy Gray performs in the Saim Tent at WOMAD X-T2 & XF56@F1.2

The XF90 allows me to stay further back and produce an image with a lovely soft out of focus background. To enable a wide aperture on bright days I sometimes resorted to the Mechanical + Electronic shutter option. As long as there are no artificial lights or fast moving subject the ES is fine.

Atmosphere at the WOMAD Festival (World of Music Arts and Dance) on Friday 26 July 2019

Relaxing in a hammock checking a smartphone. X-T2 & XF90@

Extinction Rebellion The Red Brigade at the WOMAD Festival. X-T2 & XF90@F2

Extinction Rebellion The Red Brigade at the WOMAD Festival. X-T2 & XF90@F2

Extinction Rebellion The Red Brigade at the WOMAD Festival. X-T2 & XF90@F2

Extinction Rebellion The Red Brigade at the WOMAD Festival. X-T2 & XF90@F2

I must admit i got a bit carried away with the bright reds of the robes against the dark greens of the arboretum and did not really shoot enough wide images to put the brigade into a wider context. I did love the images i got though..

So that was WOMAD, shot on 3 fixed length lenses. Zoom lenses are very handy but they are not the only tool!

Next up, probably Brighton Pride next week…..

Assignments 2019

I’ve been working hard on two major projects for the last couple of months, really taking over my work life and reducing time out actually shooting.

Well this week the first came to the first major milestone and huge pressure has lightened. The second rumbles, the second opens next week and it is something i am really proud to be involved in: Assignments 2019, the regular exhibition from theBPPA (British Press Photographers Association) showcasing the work that press photographers do.

Not only have I been involved in the design of the website along with the social media images and campaign, I was also asked to be a curator due to my thoughts on Entertainment photography.

Here are the basic details but if you would like more information head over to the website assignments.thebppa.com where you can also see previous years images.