Mel Pettit Photography

People photography…and more!

Posts from the ‘About’ category

Lots of changes recently

So much has been happening recently.   When I went full time nearly 18 months ago I knew I would need to make some changes, but I didn’t realise just how drastic those changes would be.

The biggest change has been the design of a brand new bespoke website, Mel Pettit Wedding Photography,  which I love.   Getting that done enabled me to make a couple of tweaks to my brand, so the new site now shows all of my wedding, portraits, family and non-nude fashion and lifestyle work.

I’ve decided to shut down my Chic Fashion & Boudoir site.   The non-nude fashion and lifestyle is already on my new site, any nude work will be moving to Sensual Edge, along with my boudoir stuff.

My new website has a fully integrated blog on it, so that’s where all of my blogs concerning that site will appear.  Anything else, and that’s mainly work involving nudity, will show here.

Phew – it doesn’t sound much but the changes have caused me much heartache and soul-searching.   I hope you will continue to look in here, and perhaps the other sites too.

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Trials and tribulations 1…..

This is the first in what I intend to be a series of blogs looking at the changes I’ve encountered since I decided to give up my old day job, take redundancy and early retirement.  I’m hoping it won’t be negative reading, because that’s not my experience of my new life at all.

Going full time with my photography has brought some surprises.   I thought I was ready for the move, completely prepared and up for all of the challenges the change would ring to my life.  I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, wedding photography in particular is a very hard market to break into, and I certainly wasn’t expecting instant success.  So it has proved.

In the beginning I carried on pretty much as I had been doing when I was part-time.  Lots of private and personal shoots mere mixed with paying events, mostly weddings and family occasions.   I undertook some training, ventured to Hungary and later in the year I went to the Swiss and Italian lakes on a road-trip.  It was a great start, but pretty soon I realised one thing, and that was that eventually my photography was going to have to support my lifestyle, or my lifestyle needed to change.  Things were not sustainable.

Gradually those changes have started to take effect.  The first casualty was shooting for fun.  I used to do a lot of model work, which allowed me to practice and improve various techniques.  I particularly enjoyed working outside in the elements with ever changing backgrounds and lighting conditions, as opposed to working in a studio where everything is much more controllable.   Sadly I just can’t shoot for fun now.   Models need to be paid, they have a life to live too, and I won’t insult them by trying to offer TFP.   I need the potential to earn something off my model shoots, so photographing for stock was an opportunity that opened up.  Of course, it’s not quite as easy as that.  Nothing ever is, is it?

Shooting for stock has limited the number of models I can use.   Some of those I’ve worked with in the past are signed to agencies, so can’t sign the model releases that I need to be able to use my images on a commercial basis, unless I pay the agency’s commercial rate.   I could use the images editorially, but ethically I don’t think that’s right unless the model is aware of my intentions.    That leaves me with models that aren’t signed, and there are plenty of them, but without meaning to be unfair, I have to choose carefully.

Shooting for fun then is non-existent for me now.   There’s a host of other things that have changed too, and I’ll be looking at those things in subsequent parts of this series of blogs, but despite things which can at first sight appear to be be negative, I know that I’ve made the right decision to go full time.  I wouldn’t change what I’m doing now for the world.

I’ve included a link to my wedding website below, however that’s another thing that’s going to change in  a big way.   More about that in the next post!

Mel Pettit Wedding Photography

Qualifications?…… Yes

Why qualifications now?

This might be a lengthy blog about qualifications, but there’s a bit of background to go through.

I don’t need pieces of paper or qualifications.

I’ve never been big on qualifications before.   I dropped out at school around 14, when I found it was much easier to make people laugh than study.  That may have had something to do with the education system in place at the time, but only partly.   I loved going to school, but it was really all about socialising for me, the learning was definitely secondary.    Consequently I left school with just one ‘O’ level, in English, and that was due to the respect I had for my teacher at the time.  I made the effort, or as much as I thought was needed, and got a C.  I was content with that, but my teacher wasn’t.  She made it very clear that she thought I could and should have done better.

I didn’t stay on for the 6th Form.  I’d had enough and wanted to get out working and earning some money.   My initial job was with a superb carpenter, who taught me a lot, but it wasn’t the job for me.   After a year I left and got a job as a clerk with a tyre fitting company.   Employment there also lasted about a year before I got restless and wanted something more challenging.   Step forward the Royal Air Force.   They were looking to recruit, and after getting two jobs fairly easily without qualifications, surely I could get a third.   On top of that, an old friend had bet me that I couldn’t do it, that it wasn’t my type of life.  I love a challenge.

Perhaps some pieces of paper might have helped.

My first interview was at the Careers Information Office in Ipswich, Suffolk, close to my home town of Felixstowe.  I went through all of the basic stuff, they checked I was still breathing which was a requirement, and then invited me back for another chat.   They seemed keen to get me in, tough I found out later that manpower at the time was low.  We started talking jobs, but was pointed very firmly towards supplier which they dressed up to make it sound like a fabulous area to work in.   I was keen to join, so agreed.  It was only when I got home and started reading about pay that I felt a twinge of disappointment.  Technical trades got a much higher salary, and that was the first time that I got a feeling that some qualifications would have helped.

Now I want some pieces of paper.

Moving forward some 40 years since I joined up, my attitude has changed.   As a self employed photographer one of my tasks is to sell myself to potential customers.   That can be done by displaying my work, and hoping it’s of sufficient quality to get people to part with their money in return for some images which they love.   Therein lies the problem.  It’s an argument that has been flogged to death, but it’s still valid.   Everyone has a camera on their phone, which of course makes them great photographers.  Comments are left on their Facebook pages, like ‘stunning’ and fantastic photo’ and lots more besides.  Are they really that good?   I don’t think so a lot of the time.

This is where the piece of paper comes in.   The Guild of Photographers offer a range of qualifications.   When I say offer, I don’t mean that they give them away.   It’s hard to gain them, all panels are judged by a number of the UK’s leading photographers, and they are critical.   It’s my intention to go down that route.   I’ve managed to gain Qualified status in the area of professional photography, but I don’t intend to stop there.  As a wedding photographer, my next goal is to get qualified status in that specialisation, and then Craftsman in general and wedding  photography.   It’s going to be a long and hard road, but I want those pieces of paper.   I’ve seen the light after all of those years.

There’s a bit more about the Guild of Photographers qualifications here and here.

Mel Pettit Wedding Photography

Qualifications, The Guild of Photographers, Qualified

Yes, I do charge for my services…..

Before I start this blog, I’d like to make it crystal clear that this is not a rant, nor is it pointed at any particular individual.  I hope that this post will provide the reader with my point in a balanced and considered view and you’ll see where I’m coming from by the time you get to the last paragraph.

Let’s be honest, there are a lot of photographers out there, many of whom shoot weddings.  There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s how I started.  A few kind people who knew me took a bit of a gamble and gave me the opportunity to shoot their big day, and I jumped at it.  My point is that I did it for free, on the understanding that if it went wrong there would be no comeback.  That’s a massive leap of faith on their part, but the important thing for me is that I did it for FREE.

I liked what I did, and so did my couples.  Nobody threatened to sue me, and prints were sold.  I also started to design and produce albums, all for no charge except for the actual cost of the prints.  I made not a penny.  After a while, wedding photography got serious and I decided to up my game substantially, and I decided to charge for my services.   That action started to cause a few problems, not least that I stopped getting inquiries from people who would have approached me when I wasn’t charging.  I knew that would be the case and accepted it wholeheartedly.   The annoying thing for me is that I was considered to be expensive.  It’s not my intention to discuss my prices, you can see those on my website here, it’s the thought that some people think that I just turn up at the church and venue, point my cameras at the action and pretty pictures appear from nowhere and make lots of money.  Therein lies my first issue.

Note that I said cameras, plural not single.  Well, I shoot weddings, so one camera is not enough.  The thought of having a body fail on me whilst I’m mid-way through shooting a wedding mortifies me.  I need two, one as a back-up, but we’re not talking about any old cameras.  I’m talking about having kit that’s able to cope with low light situations in churches, some of which are dark, very dark indeed.  That’s magnified by not being able to use flash during the ceremony.  To counter that, I have very capable camera bodies to deal with situations such as that.  Good cameras cost a lot of money.   That brings me neatly to my next issue.

If I had a pound sterling for every time I’ve been told that my camera must be good to get the pictures I do, I’d not be photographing weddings.   As I’ve mentioned, I do have good quality cameras, but I don’t turn up at a venue, put them on the ground and let them take pictures on their own.   As good as they are, I have to have some input in the picture taking process.  I have to assess the location, light, people and a load of other things before I press the shutter button to get the shot the bride and groom are going to love.  That’s me pressing the shutter button, not the camera doing it for itself.  How do I make the right decision?  Through training and experience, that’s how.  Experience you get as you go along, but training costs me annually.   The cost word seems to be appearing frequently here.

What if it rains?   That’s ok, I’ve got some studio lights, some portable flash heads and some flashguns.  That’s enough to get me out of any sticky situations caused by the weather.  Sure enough, each one of those items costs me too.

I could go on for quite some time yet, listing things like my PC, electricity, heating, petrol, repairs, replacements, consumables, insurance – your photographer is insured for public liability and public indemnity I’m sure – but I think you can see my point.  Factor in editing time, about four hours for every hour at a wedding, taking into account my booking fee only, and I’m getting considerably less than £1.50 an hour.  Would you work for that?

 

Integration……

Search Engine Optimisation – what a nightmare!

It means that it’s time to stop posting here and move all of my blogs to my my own websites.   Google is king, and they’ve dictated that I need to do that to get a reasonable search index, so I’ve got to go.

The change means that I can no longer publicise my posts on any social media, so if you want to take a look at my meanderings you’ll need to go to either – or all – of these three places:

Weddings, portraits and family shoots – http://melpettitweddingphotography.proimageblogs.com/

Fashion and boudoir shoots – http://chicfashionandboudoirphotography.proimageblogs.com/

Art nude, glamour and all other genres where there is a degree of nudity – http://sensualedgephotography.proimageblogs.com/

I hope to see you on the other side.

Sitting in my hotel room

Here I am, sitting in my hotel room in Hounslow on the outskirts of London, the night before my first wedding shoot of 2016 and I’m feeling kind of happy.  It has nothing to do with the rather nice pint of  Boddington’s draught I hasten to add.

It’s nothing to do either with the fact that I got here safely, despite my satnav’s mean and nasty trick of getting me to the hotel via the North Circular road.   I knew it was up to something when it told me not to take the A421 to Bedford, and I was more than a little surprised when it totally ignored the M25 junction.  I decided to play its little game and see where it took me, as it has loads of smart technology to guide me around roadworks, earhquakes and plagues of locusts.   Little did I know that it was going to take me on the A406.  The last 18 miles included passing the RAF Museum at Hendon and the mecca of football, Wembley Stadium.  Each mile passed was a target, as were a load of other cars on the road, but I missed them all.

So, why happy then?  Well, I get to have a relaxed evening in my hotel room before the wedding shoot starts at 13:00.  I can have breakfast, walk around the venue, take some test shots and get to meet and chat to the very helpful hotel staff before I get a suit on and start doing the business stuff.  That makes my first shoot of the year so much easier.

All of that is down to the bride and groom.  I’m not going to mention their names to save their embarrassment, but for the first time ever I was told that they were getting me a room at the wedding venue to make it easy for me, so I’ve not had to arrange anything.   Kind and thoughtful brides and grooms, you’ve got to love them.

At last – HD video on YouTube!

Sensual Edge Photography – YouTube video

It’s taken me a while of experimenting on my own website and failing miserably, but now I’m very happy to say that I can now post my behind the scenes videos and shoot slideshows on YouTube in full and glorious HD.

My first video is all about my Sensual Edge Photography venture, so it’s not safe for work.   Take a look if you are not bothered by a bit of nudity, and if you like what you see please subscribe.   The link is at the top of this post.  There will be more things to see as and when I can process them.

A New Direction…Introducing Sensual Edge Photography

I mentioned in one of my previous posts that I was going to re-brand, and I’m glad to say that I’m very nearly there.   I needed to split out my wedding, portraits, family and fashion work from my boudoir/lingerie, glamour, fashion nude and erotica shots.   I’ve done that and I’m happy to introduce Sensual Edge Photography.

What do I do?  Well, I could explain but it would be quite lengthy story, and as they say a picture is worth a thousand words I’ve put together a little slideshow so you can see what it’s all about.   Please be warned that this clip does contain nudity of varying degrees.  Sit back and relax for about 7:30!

Sensual Edge Photography.

I thought it would never happen…..re-branding.

Five years ago, when I first got properly into photography I was convinced that one site would fit all, and people would arrive in their droves to view my photographic masterpieces.   How naive can one person be?

For ages, I was told that viewers wouldn’t want to see my wedding shots alongside some of my raunchier stuff, but I chose not to listen and carried on posting all of my work side by side.

Now I’ve made a decision to separate out my wedding photography onto a dedicated site, here at http://www.melpettitwedding.photography That’s weddings dealt with!

My portrait, family and fashion work, along with other non-nude photography will continue to be posted at http://www.melpettit.photography.

All of my other work, from fashion nude through to erotica, will be posted to a new site, to be revealed shortly.  It’s under construction right now, and I’ve decided that it won’t carry my name, as a Google search will find and show all of my work, which is exactly the opposite of what I want to happen.

That’s the future for me then!  I hope you’ll dip into all three of them, I’ll be watching my Google Analytics figure to map my progress.

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