As I get older, and somewhat wiser, I have realised that keeping everything I have learned in my photography profession and life, to myself, is not only selfish, it’s pointless.
Trends in business are changing, and with that so are values and competitive business practice. Things have chilled out a lot, well in the freelance photography landscape anyway. The tone is now one of supporting each other, collaboration and shop local. I love this trend, as it means the little guy has a chance to get his venture off the ground. The local producer gets the opportunity to do local work (instead of a large company) and it means that people like me can share my knowledge with others and not feel like I need to charge an arm and a leg for it, and also not to feel threatened in doing so, because everyone has a place in the sun.
Paying it forward:
I would never have learned all that I have learned without kind, inclusive photographers telling me their secrets. I remember when I was just starting out in the freelance photography business in Cape Town, I was desperate for a mentor or someone in the industry who could give me some tips. The climate back then was very rigid, and if you wanted advice you had to buy it, there was no Instagram and YouTube was in it’s infancy.
I took a risk and called a very famous local photographer after reading about her in a magazine article. I literally got on the phone and spoke to a complete stranger about photography for about 30 minutes. Guess what, she was kind, and more than willing to give me some pointers, one of which was “never give up, it’s a tough industry, don’t quit, keep learning and growing” and that conversation has stayed with me for over 20 years!
My father (artist and architect) has always said that you should share your gift and skill with those around you. If you can teach, teach.
That is why I make what I know available, affordably, most of the time for free. People want to learn, they want to grow and they need other professionals to open up their gifts and share. Yes it’s hard to share, yes I’ve been burned by the users/abusers, but I won’t stop giving out the lessons, because someone can learn from it, then, if you have the drive and the talent you will go far, on your own steam.
I cannot make you famous or talented, but I can teach you what I learned to make it easier.
Chef School Photography students
Once a year I get the opportunity to teach the Mills Academy Chef Students their basic food photography course. It’s probably the highlight of my year. Cause I love good food (having worked in the fine dining industry for a few years in management) and I love photography (my passion for over 20 years).
We go through the basic, basics. No technical stuff in their classes, because they’ve already learned so much about aesthetics and plating, they already have a grounding in basic layout, they must just learn to work with a camera and translate a 3D scene onto a 2D medium.
So I’ll let the photo’s do the talking, cause I can promise you, it’s the most fun I have all year!
We used Marina Wharf Restaurant and function venuehttps://marinawharf.co.za/ as the location for shooting, and the chef there, Leo, is one of my past students.