London Day 2 – Killer Not Filler

Up is down and day is night. Today was the first day I felt normal. Well, until mid-afternoon, then jet lag kicked in. Morning started with a traditional English breakfast buffet. Everything I was warned of was there. Baked beans, runny eggs, strange fruit and bacon that is somehow different. The room was full of Europeans with accents ranging from German and French to Italian seated in very close proximity to each other. Definitely something I’m not used to, but I tried to embrace as it seemed the norm. Tea instead of coffee… sign me up. That has been very enjoyable.

Finished with breakfast, it was a race through the streets of London to the Somerset House. A team of iStock photographers took a couple of models into the streets. After that, I attended what was by far, the most inspiring class so far. Three of Getty Images top contributors gave a presentation discussing the conceptualization of stock photo shoots and how to think in an original way. They shared their stories of getting into stock photography and it was very close to my own story. I felt that twinge of destiny listening to them speak and sat in awe of the imagery they shared.

I had no idea how involved and expensive it can be to photograph stock at the level these photographers are working. Conceptual photo shoots in South Africa with budgets of $35K-$50K to produce and shoot. Just for a handful of images. It’s inspiring however, as you are no longer looking or hoping for work, which never seems to come, but are creating the work yourself. Fulfilling the artist within and working with no limits. They shared their motto “killer not filler” meaning, it’s not about shooting dozens of similar images, but about developing strong concepts, being original and being the best you can be technically. Music to my ears.

I was scheduled for a portfolio review by a famous English portrait photographer and had 15 minutes for a quick break in the courtyard. As I stepped into the courtyard, I walked into a scene of hair stylists, wardrobe and makeup, handlers, producers and television cameras. Ended up being the Entertainment Tonight show filming a segment for the Royal Wedding. ET hosts, Nancy O’Dell, Mary Hart and Jane Seymour (Royal Wedding Correspondent) all being filmed on the balcony of the Somerset House.

My portfolio review was a punch in the stomach. I know everyone has an opinion (all valid) and different tastes, but this gentleman was downright rude. He proceeded to start the review by announcing to the room that American photographers are obsessed with strobe lighting in their portraiture and that English photographers are much more refined in using only natural light. He eluded that there really was no point in looking at my work as he would likely have nothing nice to say, which he didn’t for the most part. I tried to keep an open mind and listen to what he had to say, as I promised I would approach this event with no preconceived ideas about what the outcome would be. And I certainly wasn’t looking to have my ego stroked, but his review was harsh and impolite.

The next event was a presentation about the inner workings of the stock photography business. From what works and doesn’t work to keywording images for best results. By then, I was ready for a 12 hour nap. I’d been going non-stop since breakfast and hadn’t eaten all day. There simply wasn’t enough time.

The day ended with my first black cab ride through the city of London and the unbelievable crowds of people camping out on the parade route for the Royal Wedding tomorrow morning to capture the Parliament Building and Big Ben at sunset. Truly spectacular light and a brisk wind to remind you it was still Spring in London.

Tomorrow will be an early morning. A couple of us have decided to go out and photograph the crowds and craziness of the Royal Wedding event. From what I witnessed tonight, there are sure to be some spectacular and unique images for tomorrow’s update.

Thanks for following along. It’s been a struggle posting images. The iPad is definitely not the best tool for doing this on the road. The photo programs crash regularly, including the portfolio app I purchased for my portfolio review. Given the outcome, I’d say that was par for the course. Inspire a conversation by leaving a comment. I look forward to sharing more with you tomorrow!

iStockphoto event in London England

iStockphoto event in London England

iStockphoto event in London England

iStockphoto event in London England

iStockphoto event in London England

iStockphoto event in London England

iStockphoto event in London England

iStockphoto event in London England

iStockphoto event in London England

This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. Amy Ruth

    Randy! I am so jealous of you – what a perfect time to be in London!! So awesome. Please, please do go out and take photos of the royal wedding madness, I’m a junkie and seeing your “behind the scenes” photos is too cool.

    Sounds like the iStock has been pretty helpful? Sorry to hear about the rude guy – there seems to be at least one on every bunch, hey? Hope it didn’t get you down. You’re a fantastic photographer, go seize the day and enjoy England!

  2. Brian Laurent

    Go killer! You can take a punch. Remember, “rope a dope” was invented by an American. And anybody who’s more interested in disregarding the work of an entire nation of artists based on the use of strobe must be forgetting something about creativity and openmindedness. I admire your positive attitude and humble and perservering spirit. Thanks for sharing.

  3. “I know everyone has an opinion (all valid) and different tastes, but this gentleman was downright rude.” If he was rude and his review “harsh and impolite”, then maybe he wasn’t really a gentleman! Thanks for sharing your adventures Randy. It sounds like you are rolling with punches but more importantly learning a great deal this week! Looking forward to more posts from London!

  4. Stephanie Howard

    I’m sorry to hear that English photog was so rude. You would think he would have had a more open mind and taken the time to actually look at your work. The whole point is to gain constructive feedback to learn from.

    It sounds like you are making the most of your trip with how much stuff you are packing into each day! wow! I am soo excited to see some pictures from the Royal Wedding! You couldn’t have gone at a more perfect time. I really hope you get to see the wedding party and such. It’s not often you get a chance to see an event like that. I hope you rest well tonight.

  5. My man, eff that arse and his pre-concieved “review.” A portfolio review is supposed to be constructive not destructive (unless he’s a bitter fart). You’re too kind to refer to him as a gentleman.
    You and Big Ben look good. Have fun tomorrow. Back to wedding photography already, hmm?

  6. It really is amazing that you just happen to be there for the Royal Wedding. I’m sure you’ll get some great images.

    How sad an unfortunate the guy doing your portfolio review was so biased. Good for you in keeping an open mind. Unfortunately I’ve witnessed similar reviews throughout the years. The reality is that if he doesn’t keep an open mind and contain his comments on the actual work presented he’s just not the person who should be doing portfolio reviews. Shrug it off (as best you can) and move on.

    My suggestion to improve on the food it to cross The Channel into France. Great food to be had everywhere.

  7. I think maybe your critic was attacking strobe lighting to cover up his inabilities or his laziness to learn how to use strobes…it’s not easy you know! But it is a lot of fun! Thanks for sharing your trip!

  8. Hey Randy! Looks like you’re having fun already!

    Hoping to be able to meet up with you tomorrow if your schedule permits – sounds like it’s been nonstop so far.

    Give me a call – I think you have my mobile number – or email me…



  9. Tammy Kepple

    I’m so proud of you that you contained your “gentleman” ways with this “critic”! You are an amazing photographer and a pretty amazing person as well. PLEASE post today’s photos! I’m so anxious to see them…btw-did you get my return text?

  10. Fundy

    Man, I love Jane Seymour.

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