Friday, 13 June 2014

Knowledge is Power

Digital's are not just for fun......they can also drive you insane!

I've always been a Canon man from day one and I've never really been able to get along with all things Nikon and so this proved to be the case with my first encounter with digital photography and Nikons first generation  Pro Digital SLR camera, the D1 but before we talk about what went wrong and the inevitable car crash that followed, let me give you some background. 

The Nikon D1
The first time I clapped eyes on a Digital SLR Camera was that belonging to press photographer and friend, Peter Corns,  then the number one contracted freelancer for the Daily Express and Daily Star in the Midlands. He had spent a truck load of his own money buying into this new technology, hoping that this would give him a jump on the competition and for a time it did but it came at a massive cost to his fragile finances. In those early days, we were talking mortgage money just for a digital body alone. Then there were all the other bits and pieces such as top quality glass, dx strobes, computers (both laptop and desktop) and software to run the whole shebang.  Then came the learning curve in getting all "this stuff" to work, which was steep, very steep. So straight away I knew my transition from analogue to digital was going to be an expensive one both in time and money. Going digital, Peter assured me, couldn't be done on the cheap! 

Back in the day, the Kodak DSC 760 cost as much as a house.
The short story? This is exactly what happened when I moved with Sharon from Telford to join a company called Barkers Trident as a staff photographer in the City of London and it was an truly awful experience. I was given little to no training and even less support when things inevitably went wrong. In the end my confidence was all but shot to pieces and I hated at times even feared going to work. Being forced to also use Sigma lenses which were universally regarded at the time as " 3rd party crap", ( whereby the lens wouldn't communicate with my Nikon D1 body and the D1 body wouldn't communicate with me) didn't help matters and soon I was left wondering if I had any future at all as a photographer. I was unhappy at work and increasingly unhappy at home and one day I simply couldn't take it any more and informed Sharon that I was going to leave and go freelance, leaving Shaz has the main bread winner. 

On leaving Barkers, which by now, three years later had transformed itself into Trident Communications,  I took it upon myself to liberate a few items which I was sure it's photographic department wouldn't miss. One of the items was a reference book written by a Canadian Photo-Journalist called Rob Galbraith and as irony would have it, this book "borrowed" from a department that had up until then had done everything in it's power to ruin my working life, ended up saving it. Ironically I was introduced to Rob Galbraith's website by my head of department who's name I will not mention here and who's singular act of kindness lead me to read from cover to cover "The Photojournalist's Guide to Digital Photography". 

The Digital Photographer's Bible.

By the end of the first chapter, I knew I did not have a long term viable future with Trident and that my goose was well and truly cooked. So after O-levels, A-levels and a year at Richmond College, Sheffield ( nuff respect to my main man Paul Delmar), I found myself once again back at the drawing board re-learning the art of photography. Only this time, it was digital. I cannot stress high enough the old saying that "Knowledge is power". In my case, it gave me the power to set myself free and begin my progression into event photography, as by then the viability of editorial photography earning me a decent living had become as dead as the future of negative film. Both were on their way out!

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