Photography Through Inspiration and Exploration


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An ongoing series of informative entries


03 August 2020

Finally in our quest to finding our photographer’s eye we look at light and our image.


While the choice of viewpoint and the composition of an image are vital to the effectiveness of a photograph, it is often the way in which a subject is lit that is the ultimate factor in creating a really striking image. The relationship between the subject, the light and the final image is perhaps the single most fascinating aspect of photography – and the most elusive (and frustrating).

There are three essential ways in which light affects a photographic image:

i. Intensity

ii. Direction

iii. Quality.

Light Intensity

Intensity is important because it determines the amount of exposure needed to record an image.

With a completely static subject and a tripod-mounted camera, long exposures can usually be given to compensate for a poorly illuminated subject, but with a moving subject or a hand held camera, a short exposure is necessary to prevent blur.

Light Direction

The angle from which light is directed towards a subject is a vital factor in determining how effectively the key elements within it, such as form and texture, are recorded.

But the direction of light in relation to the subject is also governed by the camera’s viewpoint, and the effect of light is often another factor which should be considered when choosing a viewpoint.

Technical note: The shadows in a scene are the best guide to judging the way in which the direction of the light affects the subject and the way in which it will be recorded. In many ways they are responsible for creating the basic structure of an image, and once you are aware of their size, direction and density, you can begin to see more clearly how effectively the image will be recorded, and if any changes need to be made in the choice of viewpoint and the way in which the image is framed.

Technical note: It is very easy to misjudge the contrast of a scene when viewing it in the normal way, because our eyes are very accommodating and can see clearly into dense shadows.  Looking at a subject on the rear screen of your camera once captured is a good way of judging the contrast of a scene more objectively. Beware that this will show more detail in shadow and highlight areas than can be recorded on a print.

Light Quality

The quality of light refers to the degree to which it is diffused and to its colour. The degree of light diffusion affects the contrast of a scene: the strongly diffused light from an overcast sky produces weak shadows and no bight highlights, and can make a subject look flat and lifeless, whereas denser shadows and brighter highlights created by strong light produces very high contrast and images with a harsh quality that lacks detail.

The colour of daylight can vary enormously, from the strong orange tint of early-morning and late-evening sunlight to the pronounced blue cast of light on overcast days and when light is reflected from a blue sky onto subjects in open shade.

The warm, orange tinted colour of sunlight when it is low in the sky can contribute to the mood and effect of some subjects, but a blue cast is usually less desirable. When working with digital images both the contrast and colour balance of an image can be adjusted relatively easily.


26 July 2020

Having looked past the subject of an image, in our journey to train our eye to really see, we move onto composition and design.


Those shooting subjects such as landscapes, architecture and nature are largely in the position of having to achieve a well composed image solely by their choice of viewpoint and the way in which the subject is framed.

But the advent of digital photography has gone a long way to providing photographers with the ability to combine images and individual elements on a computer screen in an almost limitless way. When using this medium, the photographer also needs to become a designer in the true sense of the word.

Technical note: The majority of photographs are taken from the photographer’s eye level when standing. But even just a slight change in the camera level can often make a significant difference to the composition of an image.

  • Viewpoint

The choice of viewpoint is perhaps the single most important decision to be made when considering how the image should be composed in the camera, as it establishes the relationship between the subject and the other elements in a scene.

When the camera is moved closer to the subject it becomes larger in relation to distant details and more dominant in the image, while moving the camera further from the subject makes the background details larger in proportion to the subject and the foreground less dominant.

Moving the camera to the right makes a subject in the foreground appear to move to the left of distant objects, while moving the camera to the left has the opposite effect.

  • Framing the Image

Having decided on the best viewpoint, the next step is to consider how the image should be framed. In order to do this it is first necessary to establish a focus of interest within the scene. Once identified, this detail can act as a fulcrum around which the other elements of the subject can be balanced, by deciding where the focus of interest can be most effectively placed within the frame, and which of the remaining details should be included or excluded.

  • Balance and Tension

The place within the frame where the main focus of interest has the greatest effect is said to be at the point where lines which divide the picture area into thirds intersect. There is no doubt that in many cases this produces a well-balanced and pleasing effect, and it can usually be considered a safe option.

There is more to it than this, and your aim should always be to strive for a sense of balance in the image – and this is dependent upon the size, shape and colour of the main elements of a scene.

In addition, think in terms of creating a sense of movement and tension within your images. Some contemporary photographers use techniques such as deliberately tilted horizons, distracting details at the edge of the frame, and images cropped in unexpected ways. While this approach can lead to rather contrived and self-conscious images, it can also help to open your mind to other ways of seeing a subject and of avoiding clichés.

Technical note: In most cases there is no best viewpoint or one perfect frame, and it can be very instructive to try several alternatives. This is a good way to develop a personal style and to avoid your images becoming too predictable.


20 July 2020

In our quest to attain a photographer’s eye we look at texture, perspective and colour in this blog.

  • Texture

The way in which a photograph can recreate the texture of an object’s surface can be so convincing that it often invites a tactile response from the viewer.

Like form, the impression of texture is dependent upon the tonal range of the subject and in the way it is lit, and it is an invaluable aspect of a photographer’s ability to produce images with a powerful sense of realism.

Technical note: It is essential for the image to be tack-sharp if the texture of a subject is to be fully exploited and the finest details in the image are to be recorded.

  • Perspective

While visual elements such as texture, tone and colour help to establish the character of an image, perspective, like shape, is largely responsible for creating the image’s basic structure.

The effect of perspective is produced when the size of similar objects appears to become smaller the further they are from the camera. The effect is exaggerated when a wide-angle lens is used and objects both very close to and distant from the camera are included in the frame.

  • Colour

The key to good colour photography is to be fully aware of each and every colour within a scene, and to see how successful – or otherwise – they work together.

Most people are likely to be inspired to take a picture when confronted by a particularly colourful scene. Paradoxically, this is often a situation in which it is most difficult to produce a striking colour image. A subject that contains a mixture of bright colours will almost certainly produce a disappointing image unless a very selective and restrained approach is adopted.

Technical note: Images with a mix of bright colours can often be made to work when they have a bold design or shape that dominates the image. But very often the most striking colour photographs have just a single, dominant colour that is the main focus of attention, with the other colours and details of the scene creating a pleasing and harmonious balance around it.


14 July 2020

It is significant that a camera lens is sometimes known as an “objective” as it sees in a very cold, dispassionate way. But we, on the other hand, see in a very subjective way, focusing on things that interest us and ignoring those that don’t.

Having a “good eye” is something to which all photographers aspire. Some, like Henri Cartier-Bresson, seem to have been born with it, but it can be acquired with a little practice. There are a number of tangible visual qualities that the camera will record in a way which can have a powerful effect in an image and create considerable impact.

This is what the next few blogs posted here will look at.


The most important step is acquiring a photographer’s eye is to look beyond the subject itself and to identify the crucial visual qualities that can be so striking in a photograph. Some of these can be inherent in the scene, such as colour, texture and shape, while others can be revealed or enhanced by lighting.

These key elements are effectively the building blocks of a photograph, and even if just one of these elements is particularly striking in some way it can create an interesting image. When two or more of these components have a strong presence in a subject, you are likely to produce a powerful image.

Let’s look at SHAPE, PATTERN and FORM here and the other elements (texture, perspective and colour) in up-coming blogs.

  • Shape

The dominant shape of a subject often can be the most striking element of an image. It might be the shape of a principle object; it can also be when a shape is created by an arrangement of objects or a shape created by perspective.

This element is much stronger and has more impact when the object in question is clearly defined and stands out from the background; this happens when there is a bold tonal or colour contrast between them, or when the objects outline is emphasized by lighting.

  • Pattern

The effect of a pattern is created when a number of similar shapes are placed together in an image, and it can have a quite compelling effect, even when the pattern is only suggested. But pattern alone tends to have only an initial impact, and other elements, such as a break in the pattern to create a focus of interest, are usually necessary to give a picture a more lasting interest.

  • Form

Although the shape of an object can have a powerful effect, and even a complete silhouette can have considerable impact, a more interesting and satisfying image usually results when the objects within a scene have a feeling of solidity.

The photographic medium is capable of creating an almost uncanny sense of depth, and can give the impression of being three-dimensional on the flat surface of a print. This quality is created by the tonal range of the subject, which is often at least partly dependent upon the way it is lit. As a general rule, a fairly gentle gradation from the darkest shadow to the brightest highlight within an object tends to create the strongest impression of form and solidity.

To be continued…


09 July 2020

Back in the day, which manufacturer of the camera you used did not matter as much as it does today. Camera manufacturers did not make film; they made lenses and camera bodies.

Film was interchangeable.

Today, things are different. Cameras are built around sensors. In a sense, the sensor is the film and the file that is produced is the digital negative.

What has remained the same is the same over-riding goal: always try to get it right in camera.

Raw processors are designed to help you get the most of your digital captures and ensure that when you get it close in camera, you can then make it right.

A raw processor is meant to get you your best starting image, not your final one. If you are looking for a higher level of control and quality, then the use of a Raw processor is just one link in the workflow chain.

Raw processors are not the ultimate in producing a final image because:

  • They do not have variable opacity on a layer mask that you can fine-tune
  • You can do brushwork, but once you do it, you cannot go back to it if you miss a spot
  • Adjustments are too coarse and tend to be too global

A raw processor is meant to get your best starting image, not your final one. However, if you have an image for which a Raw processor is adequate, stop and call it a day.

Never lose sight of the most important goal; to create an image that reflects your feelings at the moment of capture.

More on this in another session!


29 June 2020

Say out loud to no one in particular

          “Hi. My name is…” and your name.

Then pause for a moment and say, again out loud

          “Hi. My name is Izzy Smith”.

Unless your name really is Izzy Smith, you should observe a difference in the way those two statements make you feel. It is most likely that the first statement felt comfortable and personal, while the latter felt empty.

The difference is that your real name is inhabited by who you are, and the latter is just some words with no meaning to you.

This is because your name is your personal icon; the representation of everything you have experienced up to this moment. Think of your name as having a shape that contains everything you have ever said and done, all you have ever seen and felt, and every lesson learned in your life.

The shape of your images should contain nothing less.

Be Present

What does this mean? To me, it means that you approach all experiences with no preconceptions and that you allow yourself to be open to learning at all times.

It means realizing that while any lesson may have specific and immediate significance, it may also have the same or greater significance for things you have yet to experience.

Life is dynamic and not static. Life is about the way in which our experiences interact with each other in a non-linear way, and it is that interaction that results in who we are. Just like a beach is made up of grains of sand, every experience we have is a grain that makes up the beach of our lives. They interact and shift, changing the landscape of who we are.

There are two ways to approach learning:

i. Granularly – we learn to do steps in a set way and sequence to get a prescribed result. Results are repetitive and without growth; become more about technique and stifles creativity. However, it is a good starting point as beginners.

ii. Globally – being open to something more – keeps us from experiencing creative stagnation. If you allow yourself this level of presence, everything you need to know, you will know when you need to know it. Allow yourself to take a piece of knowledge that you know works in one instance and generate a new train of thought.

The digital image allows anyone willing to take it, the pathway to unlimited creativity; a path to a place where impossible is merely an opinion – an opinion held not by the viewer of the image, but by its creator. This means that the photographer’s imagination is the only limitation.

Do not focus on technique for techniques sake, but to discover what it means to see rather than to merely look.

Once you discover that technique is merely a detail, you will be free to create images that will change the world of those who view them.


21 June 2020

The human eye sees in a predictable manner. The photographer must decide what journey the viewer’s eye will take through their image because controlling that journey can strongly influence the viewer’s perception.

I believe there are two types of eye at play:

1. The unconscious one that sees the image

2. The conscious one that interprets the story that the unconscious eye sees

Seeing: The Unconscious Eye

The human eye is always in a seek mode; it tends to wander rather than to look at any one thing for very long.

One of our goals should be to create an image in which the human eye is compelled to linger in order to short circuit its wandering tendencies. The longer the eye looks at your image, the more likely you are to convey to the viewer the emotion that you felt when you captured it.

When creating an image, you must be totally engaged, all creative cylinders firing at once and as one.

In Japanese Zen Buddhism this is referred to as being in a state of Shibumi – the act of thoughtful thoughtless thought, or doing the right thing in the moment without consciously thinking about doing the right thing.

In this state of grace photography becomes not merely about looking, but about seeing, because to look is simply a visual experience. Seeing is a creative process.

Digital revolution has simplified the taking of images, but creating meaningful photographs is still a difficult creative process.

So, how do you get the viewer’s unconscious eye to stay locked onto your photograph so that their conscious eye can see into it?

We need to understand how the human eye ‘sees’.

The eye moves from patterns that it recognises first:

  • From light to dark
  • From high contrast to low contrast
  • From high sharpness to low sharpness
  • From in-focus to blur
  • From high saturation to low saturation of colour

The eye tends to see warm colours as bright and moving forward in an image and cool colour as less bright and receding.

The human eye is frequently compared to a camera, but it is so much more. It is an optical biological device that has the ability to record time and motion. A still camera can only record fractions of time and stops motion with stillness.

The human eye is completely light-tight except for one opening at the front of the eye; the pupil. The amount of light allowed in is controlled by the iris, which opens in low light and closes in bright light.

Images are projected onto the retina, upside down and backwards. This reversed image is then translated into electric impulses that are sent to the brain to be interpreted.

Believing: The Conscious Eye

The human eye is not unlike a camera, and the brain is not unlike a high speed, image processing computer. Together they make up the hardware of the human visual system.

Light travels to the eye, lands on the retina and then proceeds via the optic nerve to the visual cortex. This is where the first part of interpretation begins. Edges are defined as is what is light and dark. With this information these are translated into simple shapes.

In the parietal lobe and the cerebral cortex this information is compared to previously stored information, the resulting information is then moved into the temporal lobe (where it is assigned meaning) and then moved into the frontal lobe where feelings are added and then onto the pre-frontal lobe which is the point at which we are guided to doing or saying something based on what our eyes have just seen.

This means that what we believe we see is not based simply on what the eye saw; it is the raw data of the eye interpreted by the brain. So, in a sense, seeing is not always believing; rather believing happens after we see.


The Black and White about Light and Dark

Dark is as important to an image as light. It is the understanding and controlling of the relationship between dark and light that results in more successful images.

In very low light situations we see only in black and white instead of colour. So when we look at a black and white image in the bright light of day with our full colour vision, there is a part of us that knows that we should not be able to do this. It captures and holds our attention because of this and gives us time to become emotionally involved with the image.


15 June 2020


When we look at the work of other artists we are able to decide whether we like a piece or not. Why are we unable to do this with our own work? If we constantly torture ourselves about our creativity why bother with this aspect?

I think it is too easy to spend too much time concerning ourselves with the notion that for our creative work to be valid, that others have to like it.

Every image you create is an expression of the artistic inspiration that moves you. You express your creative voice by developing the ability to show this without screaming for the attention of others.

Your goal should be to trust what you feel and constantly strive toward personal excellence. When your effectiveness becomes effortless, your images will move the viewer solely by the power that caused you to be moved.

Another thing, your work is only as good as the inspiration that you find in the life that you lead. What makes images even more successful is bringing life experiences and a knowledge base of techniques with you. This allows you to create an image that reflects what you felt when you were taken by the moment.

I know it sounds like a cliché but photography should not be about taking photos but about being taken by them.

Another cliché that I strongly believe in is that Photoshop is not the end, it is the means to an end, and that is a great image. In other words, you shouldn’t be capturing images to Photoshop them. Photoshop is a tool, nothing else.

Here endth the lesson!


08 June 2020

Why pursue creative, expressive work which may require effort and be less productive than pursuing easier work?

For me there are two reasons:

1. Most of the things that are interesting, important, and human are the results of creativity.

2. Creativity is so fascinating that when I am involved in it, I feel that I am living more fully than during the rest of my life. My excitement as an artist comes close to the ideal fulfillment we all hope to get from life, and so rarely do. This, to me, is worth investing some effort into!

When I am creating I am known to be “in the zone” to such an extent that nothing else seems to matter and all sense of time is lost. This requires an extensive amount of effort and attention and stretches my mind to its limits.

In Japanese Zen Buddhism this is referred to as being in a state of Shibumi…the act of thoughtful thoughtless thought, or doing the right thing in the moment without consciously thinking about doing the right thing.

In this state photography becomes not merely about looking, but about seeing, because to look is simply a visual experience. Seeing is a creative process.

With time, experience and knowledge I have learnt that to consider only the end product misses a more important point. That is, overtime the most rewarding and transformational experiences of creating come from the making – from the process – and not from the art itself.


01 June 2020

Creating a series is relevant because it allows the photographer to tell a meaningful story through images in an organic way. Instead of a portfolio or show feeling disjointed because of seemingly random images being put together, a series takes the viewer into a new world. Now each image expands upon the last and when the images relate, the story grows.

Compiling a series requires a different way of creating altogether. In some ways it requires deeper thought. However, that being said, a series does not require a specific type of shooting – the images must only make sense together in some capacity, no matter how they were gathered.

One way to create a series is to think of a story first. It doesn’t have to be literal, but should connect each image in a way that it is accessible.

Thinking of a series is more complicated than thinking of a single image, but the inspiration can be found in the same way.

A series can be very intimidating because an audience expects to be entertained by each photograph, yet each photograph must be similar in some way to the one before it.

There has to be a thread connecting each image in order for the viewer to understand why they are moving through the series. To incorporated story into the series, each image must continue the story, or provide the next piece of the through line.

As your story moves organically and logically each image will build on the story started by the one before it. Each image will carry the through line that brings the viewer to the end.


25 May 2020

I often create images that are inspired by fairy tales, fables or myths. Fairy tales are a way of connecting us to our childhood and taking the mind to a place that it does not often get to experience as an adult. Photography, for me at least, is about learning how to access different types of creativity and how to apply those is physical photographic form.

Think about your childhood. I bet it was free from thinking about paying the bills, housework or being practical. Anything goes as a child, and why fairy tales are such inspiration. Fairy tales put us into the mind-set of a child, and there are few better mind-sets to inhabit when creating.


19 May 2020

Using parts of dark art and surrealism can help you widen your visual skills and conceptual inspiration. To be able to see beyond what is obvious and into a more creative place is rewarding and beneficial to all artists, especially photographers.

With a photograph, the scene is laid out in front of us. While we can construct the scene however we want, it is rare that someone has a completely blank canvas to work from. If a photographer can transform their way of seeing into one similar to that of a painter, suddenly a world of possibilities opens up for us. By this I mean that painters start with a blank canvas and the only thing dictating what the final product will be is how the painter moves their hand.

Photography for me is a creative outlet without limitation – only those of my imagination. Much like a painter starts from scratch and then fills the canvas, I work from scratch in my mind to build an image. What I tend not to do is “take a picture”. I construct images instead, and whether the viewer sees them as art or not is a different matter.

All photographers can train themselves to think this way, and to see beyond the frame. By believing that anything is possible, a photographer can begin to construct their own reality. It might look very similar to the world we see around us, or be entirely different.

The logical question here is technical and lies in wondering how to bring these ideas together and into life – saying something and then doing it are two very different things.

By practicing, experimenting and failing, I was able to learn how to create my own world.


11 May 2020

A wee while ago I had someone approach me concerned for my mental well-being. Intrigued I asked why the question? Apparently to this person my photography was disturbing.

I guess, to be honest, dark art and surrealism are my passions in photography. Photography allows me to twist everyday reality into something more unusual enabling me to explore new worlds. Surrealism allows artists to bend truths and capture moments that could otherwise not exist.

While my images are conceptually dark, they are visually beautiful. I have been surrounded by death and dark things for the majority of my life – it intrigues me and I am not scared of the darker things in life.

The heart of surrealistic art is to create dream-like images filled with juxtapositions, to bend reality to my liking, and to capture what cannot be captured naturally. These are all different paths that surrealism can take.

Because surrealism deals so often with juxtapositions, it is easy to pair dark art with surrealism. So much of dark art is about understanding a different part of ourselves, either as the artist or the viewer. It is about accessing a part of the mind that gets used less frequently on a regular basis, and allowing ourselves to go there.

Dark art often has a negative reputation, as it can be misconstrued as grotesque, horrific or violent. While it certainly can be those things, dark art is so much more – it offers a different point of view seldom expressed and has the power to present something very different, thus standing out from the crowd.


04 May 2020

Being able to read an image (similar to a book) is an invaluable skill. It allows us to take each and every part of an image and look at it in depth in a more critical and meaningful way. Looking deeper into an image will highlight the reasons why we are drawn to or repulsed by something. This is incredibly important in order to not only understand imagery better in general, but also understand our own pictures in a more personal and critical way.

In learning to break down images to their basic parts, you are teaching yourself both how to create, and to recognize why you create.

The way a viewer looks at an image is very influenced by the colour a picture presents, so you owe it to your art to make conscious decisions about the elements you use in your compositions.


Colour is often the most striking element of an image. Everyone has a different personal association with colour so its use in an image is an important choice to make.

Knowing how a certain colour might universally affect people is a great way of putting deeper meanings into your imagery that more people will understand. Colour is so deeply related to symbolism that knowing how a certain colour works can add a lot to an image.


27 April 2020

Sometimes you will have ideas that are totally out there. To free yourself to embrace your inspiration, you’ll need to first trust yourself. This can be a huge challenge to your creativity, especially if it is not your typical approach.

By embracing your inner weirdo and letting it out you challenge viewers to see things in a new way – you stretch their imagination.

Sometimes photography can be seriously competitive – challenging someone’s perception of the world through your photography can make your work stand out from the rest and make it more memorable or refreshing.

It took me a while, but I have reached the point where I really no longer care if the viewer likes my image or not.  As the first viewer of an image it is me I have to please, and if I don't like one of my creations then no other viewer is going to see it.

In our early days as a photographer, as we are learning, it is good to listen and learn from more experienced photographers as to what they think about your image regarding what works and what doesn't and the reasons why, but eventually this can have the effect of us as artists creating for others and not for ourselves.  Not a good thing for creativity in my opinion!

So, go ahead, embrace that inner weirdo lurking within and let them out!


20 April 2020

So much of the battle within photography is about getting the viewer to believe in the image.

With most great images, the viewer is able to see beyond the picture and into the dynamic and interesting world that the photographer has created or captured.

I use locations that are accessible to me (and most other people), use props that I either already own or pick up on my journeys, and textures I have captured over the years. It’s what I do with these individual pieces and how I put them together into something distinctive and different to our reality that makes them uniquely mine.

The essence of my inspiration is to create new worlds within my images – to make the viewer see beyond the photograph and into the world of the story.

The created world needs to be believable to me for my imagery to work. Even if what I am photographing couldn’t exist in real life, it must be able to believably exist in the world of my imagery.

Making the unbelievable believable:

 Consider rooting your images in reality – while creating a completely abstract piece can give a powerful result, a better effect for me, is to give some element of the familiar to draw in the audience.

 Make the most of colour casts, washes and light effects. Few things are as effective as colour at manipulating the emotions of the viewer.

Sometimes I use texture as an image overlay in order to give a “painterly” feel to my image or cohesiveness to the elements it contains. This separates my work a little more from a traditional photograph and blurs the line between media, which is another method of creating a new world within an image. Another technique is to turn some images into brushes in Photoshop to give another feel to this element and a different feel to the end result.


13 April 2020


Inspiration is everywhere – we just have to look for it.

All artists at some time end up frustrated by a lack of inspiration. We all need help sometimes finding it, but there are techniques that help a lot, luckily.

In general, they involve changing our personal perspective. Human beings are creatures of habit, and breaking some of those habits might well be the key to opening up our minds to find inspiration.

Complete failure can sometimes be the best form of inspiration because it pushes us further, to try harder, and learn more.

If we break up our routines we start to break out of our comfort zones. Once out there, make a conscious effort to notice things that are new and unusual.

Taking this one step further, try to find inspiration in the mundane.  I go running through my local forest and just let my mind wander - thoughts come in and go out.  Those that I find intriguing I recall at a later date and write them down or attempt to draw them on a piece of paper so I can refer back to them.  For this reason, I normally have pen and paper relatively close by and always in my camera bag, especially when travelling.

In order to find inspiration you have to be open to seeing things in a new way – thus allowing your mind to open up.

I believe there are two types of inspiration:

1. Internal – comes to us from our own experiences and perceptions of the world,

2. External – this comes from other people. There is a fine line between putting our own art into the world and regurgitations of other people’s work. The line is easier crossed the more inspiration an artist gets from external sources.


Finding out where your real passions lie gives you the advantage of having a path to follow in the development of your art.

To find out what you are really interested in, ask yourself if you had one full day to do whatever you wanted, without limitations, what would you spend it doing?

Whatever it is, there is no right or wrong answer. The answer you come up with is your stepping stone to figuring out what your passion in photography is.


06 April 2020


Creativity is the application of a thought, while inspiration is the force that originates that thought. We all have our own ways of bringing forth our creativity; the key is learning how to embrace our own personal style.

Creativity is often nothing more than problem-solving. To come up against a problem during a project and then figure out a way to resolve the issue: that is being creative.


Having a recognizable style, no matter what your genre of photography is, is essential for understanding how you need to visually interpret your inspiration.

Try defining your style using a series of 5 to 10 words. These words are not only how you should see your photography, but how you want other people to see it. Try to stay true to these keywords, at least in part, for each image you create.

My keywords:

Dark, mysterious, creepy, timeless, whimsical, surreal, fantasy, texture, haunting, colourful.

Being able to define your own style is very important, because if you do not define your style, as soon as your work starts getting attention, someone else will define it for you.

Style doesn’t necessarily have to be a consistent visual representation, but can include the ideas and motivation behind the work.

Once you know what you want to photograph, ask yourself why. Once you know the reason behind doing something, you know the core of your inspiration and style, and can make a conscious decision to focus on this in your work.

There are always ways to adapt your style to enhance what makes you happiest about creating.


29 March 2020

Being able to identify what makes us happy is the first step toward finding inspiration.

To be constantly and creatively inspired is a wonderful state to be in, and leads to a happy, bright and varied life.

To be able to find inspiration anywhere, anytime can be the difference between feeling fulfilled and feeling something vital is missing in life. Getting from one to the other is as simple as adjusting the way we think or approach things in life.

The ability to see the world in a different and more inspiring manner is something worth striving for, because if we can achieve this, then our creativity will know no bounds.

We all relate to the world in a unique way, and this perspective can be used to understand what motivates us, and can help us to figure out how we personally handle inspiration.


There is a perception that creativity comes to only a select few. I believe this is an excuse of people who have simply not yet found how they are creative.

At the heart of our creativity should be one underlying question: what makes us happy? The first step to understanding how to unleash creativity is to understand that there is no rule dictating what is and is not creative.

Creativity can come from anywhere, take any form, and most importantly, comes from within. Creativity is not a competition.

My Photographic History

25 March 2020

From an early age I knew I was relatively “arty”; I also learnt that so long as there was a ruler about I was pretty good at drawing and so set about studying towards a career in architecture.  Holding down four jobs wasn't sufficient for me to be able to pursue this so into the sciences I went.

Still holding those four jobs down, I eventually saved enough to purchase my first camera.  I had no idea what I was doing technically but had a heap of fun. The only bummer was having to pick up extra work to now pay for the film I was churning through and, of course, its development.

I had found an outlet for my artistic, creative side!

Skipping forward I learnt that NZ didn’t really invest in its scientists in the way that I needed to allow me to stay in NZ. An opportunity arose which saw me change direction and go from Marine Chemist to Forensic Scientist.

I joined the Police as a Fingerprint Examiner. During this time I suffered from Jarvis syndrome!  My crime scene sketches required the use of a ruler to save me as like Jarvis here, I can’t free-hand draw!  My photographic skills in this position were increased in ways that few other jobs would allow. Going along to crime scenes, especially those of a serious nature meant that an accurate record of evidence needed to be made.  Once located some fingerprints proved challenging to photograph and so specialised forms of lighting and filtering were required in their application.

My introduction to digital photography occurred around the same time I was asked to travel to Phuket to help identify the victims of this tsunami.  Because of my photographic endeavors I was unofficially chosen to assist the photographer on my first rotation to Phuket. This extended into recording such things as our working conditions, the techniques used and a daily diary of achievements.

With time and loads of practice, I have gained experience in most forms of photography from weddings, to births, to events such as school concerts, theatrical plays and commemorative services, to promotional shoots to interior design photography.  I love creative photography as I don't cope with limitations of expression particularly well any more.  In the coming weeks I will be blogging about creativity, my processes and influencers.

I recently found a quote from Jerry Uelsman and I think it sums up what I do quite nicely and would like to end with it.  It goes…”A camera is truly a licence to explore”, a sentiment I concur with wholeheartedly as this describes the way I have lived my photographic life.