Getting to Work

It has been nearly 3 months since I left my old job to become a full-time landscape photographer. It is now time to shift focus from my photography to my business.

Stable Hills on the edge of Derwent Water at the foot of Walla Crag

Monday 18th November 2019

My organisation has been poor of late. I was completely unprepared for this week and so this morning I had no idea where to go.

I hurriedly scanned the OS map app on my phone for inspiration and quickly settled on Fell Foot Park.

Sitting at the southern end of Windermere Fell Foot is owned by the National Trust. When I have visited before I have always been drawn to the view south where the lake flows into the River Leven.

It was a cold, crisp, clear morning when I arrived, a thick mist sitting on the river. As I waited for the mist to lift a little I allowed my mind to wander.

The River Leven at the southern end of Windermere
Fell Foot Park is at the southern end of Windermere where the lake flows into the River Leven

The National Trust has many properties in the Lake District, all of which have a great deal of potential for the photographer. “There is a video here somewhere” I thought to myself.

Once I was back in the office I jumped onto the National Trust website and found their photography policy.

They are very clear that I require permission to carry out commercial photography or videography on National Trust land.

I have written to Harvey Edgington, Head of Filming and Locations at the National Trust, to seek permission.

Watch this space…

Tuesday 19th

This morning I decided to head to Derwent Water along with most of the other photographers in the northwest it would seem!

Overnight there had been a heavy frost and I was keen make the most of the conditions.

After struggling for some time to find a composition that I liked I eventually settled on a shot across the lake towards Catbells which featured a frosty log in the foreground.

A frosty log on Derwent Water
At the moment I like to get out as often as possible to practice my photography and to improve my location knowledge

✓ – Simple composition featuring interest in the foreground and the background

✓ – Muted colour palette creates a calm and relaxed feel

✕ – The lighting was a little flat and so I have had to push things a little further in Lightroom than normal

With the classic shot across the lake in the bag I went in search of something a little more intimate.

I have always been drawn to the white house that sits on the edge of Derwent Water at the foot of Walla Crag.

The scene works well with the muted colour palette so cracked out the telephoto lens and grabbed a shot.

Stable Hills on the edge of Derwent Water at the foot of Walla Crag
I have always admired this white house on the edge of Derwent Water – the muted colour palette suits the subject perfectly!

✓ – Simple composition with a clear subject

✓ – Muted colour palette suits the subject and stops the orange of the trees form competing with the house for the viewers attention

✕ –The position of the house is not quite right. It could do with being a little further to the right and a little lower in the frame

Wednesday 20th

At the moment most of my income comes from 1-2-1s. This is where photographers hire me for my knowledge and expertise.

Next week I have David coming to the Lake District.

He wants to get a shot of the view towards Crummock Water from the summit of Low Fell.

Having only climbed Low Fell once before I set off this morning to double check the route. Good job I did!

I remember that the path that I had used before was very steep and I found it to be in very poor condition. I decided that it was not safe to use in the dark and so looked for an alternative route.

As I was in the area I decided to call in at Loweswater to get a shot.

Moody black and white long exposure at Loweswater
When conditions aren’t less than ideal we can always try a moody black and white long exposure.

✓ – Black and white long exposure makes the most of less than ideal conditions

✕ – The water does not add anything to the shot; it would have been better to have removed it completely

✕ – The white house would have made a strong focal point had it been larger in the frame

Thursday 21st

I spent much of this morning responding to comments on my latest video.

Whilst generally the comments are positive but a small number of people once again are choosing to criticise my images.

I will never understand what a photographer hopes to achieve by criticising another’s work.

For the record I am happy with the work that I am producing. I like my images and I am happy with the rate at which I am improving.

I feel that my images are of a high enough standard to inspire many others to invest more time in their own photography. That has always been my main aim.

In the past I have just ignored the comments but today I decided to stand up for myself.

In future anyone who consistently sets out to criticise without offering any form of constructive feedback will be blocked from my channel.

Friday 22nd

Today I spent time putting my ‘Hand of Man’ project in some sort of order.

I am someone who needs structure in their work, something to aim for, a clear vision of what they are trying to achieve.

I started by listing 20 locations that I would like to include in the project.

It also helped to list out the reasons why I want to complete the project, in order to keep me motivated:

  • Produce images for my first exhibition
  • Create a book to accompany the exhibition that I can sell
  • Provide content for a talk that I can present to camera clubs
  • Form the basis of a submission to the Royal Photographic Society for an ARPS distinction

Reviewing this list it was clear that the ‘Hand of Man’ is at least in part a commercial venture.

Therefore I need permission from the landowners to use photographs taken on their property.

It can be difficult to work out who owns what in the Lake District so I have started by writing to the National Trust, United Utilities, Lowther Estates and English Heritage.

You can follow the progress of the project here.

Saturday 23rd

I finally found some time to add a page to my website that provides all the information that people need about 1-2-1s.

It was originally my plan to delay starting my business until next spring. However, there has been so much interest in booking me for 1-2-1s that I decided to get on with it.

So far 1-2-1s have accounted for about for 60% of my income which breaks down as follows:

  • 1-2-1s – 60%
  • YouTube ad revenue – 26%
  • Workshops – 12%
  • Print sales – 2%

Breaking my income down in this way makes it fairly obvious where I need to be focusing my efforts.

Sunday 24th

I have been thinking for a while about creating a photo book. After doing a bit of research I have decided on give Blurb a go.

What I like about Blurb is that I can create a book, order a copy for myself and then publish it on their website for other people to buy.

It didn’t take me long to create the book and I have ordered a copy for myself.

I am keen to see what it looks like.

I always knew there was a lot more to being a full-time photographer than just taking pictures.

For the last 3 months I have been shooting as often as I could and haven’t been leaving enough time for all of the other things.

As we move from autumn into winter I need to start to dedicate more time to the things that are going to generate an income.

The hard work starts now!

37 thoughts on “Getting to Work”

  1. Thanks for the Blurb tip Chris, interested to hear how that process goes.
    I’ve been using two different publishers over the last ten years to make books covering family photo documentaries and some of my landscape images. The publishers have come a long way in that time in terms of quality, publishing software and comparative fall in price.
    I had a quick look at the Blurb website and their publishing software looks way more powerful than what I have been using if a little bulky (they say they need 500mb of disc space).
    Might give them a spin on my next project. that’s assuming the postage to NZ doesn’t kill it dead in the water. There are advantage and disadvantages to being as far from the rest of the world as possible 🙂
    Liked the second Tuesday image, a nice frosty quality without being just snow.

    1. Thanks Chris, I really enjoyed putting the book together. I took my 20 favourite images from the last 3 months. It was kind of a reaction to the criticism that my work has been getting lately. I am so pleased with it I think I might try and sell it. First I need to get permission from the land owners to include images in a book.

  2. Anyone who criticizes your or anyone else’s work should take a look at Sean Tuckers latest vlog on YouTube. The man talks a lot of sense! We all have likes / dislikes and if you don’t like something that’s fine just move on without leaving unnecessary and unhelpful comments.

  3. Chris, you’re absolutely right about people who make criticisms and offer no constructive feedback. They’re not worth bothering with and deserve being blocked.

    1. Hi Tony, you are so right. I know some of them do it to see if they can get a reaction out of me. I used to believe that it was best to just ignore them. Blocking them sends them a signal that they have got to me in one way or another. I didn’t want to give them the satisfaction. But enough is enough.

  4. Hola Chris – A lot of planning for 2020 it seems. I can’t believe it’s been 3 months since you made the leap. I’ve been meaning to put together annual photo books for myself and family the last two years. This year I’m determined to do so. Good luck with your efforts. Lovely images as always. See you soon.

    1. I know mate, the time has flown by! I am really enjoying myself but there is so much work to do I sometimes find it overwhelming. I would recommend putting a book together. I am really proud of mine.

  5. The Fell Foot Park image is my favorite. Indeed, if we weren’t moving into the van soon, I’d consider buying a copy for my study.

    So glad you’ve decided to block the trolls.

      1. My husband is retiring (again) in April next year. Our middle son is moving into the house with a roommate to pay the mortgage and we’re taking off in the van. First major stop will be to spend a few months in Kentucky visiting relatives. Then we’ll probably come back here for a bit and I need to be in North Carolina in October for a workshop. Finances will be a little tight but doable.

        1. Oh how exciting! Sounds like a wonderful adventure. I hope you have a wonderful time and that you get many opportunities to get lots of great photographs. I hope you will post up lots of images on Instagram.

  6. Hi Chris,

    Nice article this week. You have to accept that criticism for some, without anything constructive is part of the faceless modern era. Those of us who like face to face discussions based on balance and honesty are now in short supply. So don’t block people, as remember they are potentially contributing to 26% of your earnings. I’d keep them along for the ride and the income.

    I have used blurb for all of my photographic books for around a decade now. It’s decent and the quality is exceptional too. Anyone else reading these comments please use blurb for it freedoms in use and product quality.

    As for the images this week I liked the second image in the article from the top. Nice reflection and composition.

    Remember us photographers are subjective beasts. One mans rhubarb is another’s custard.

    Keep it up

    1. Thanks Dave – it is all part of the game, I understand that. Art is subjective and everyone is entitled to their opinion. But I am starting to get a few people turn up every now and then who goal is clearly to knock my confidence and get me to doubt myself. I won’t tolerate that. I want to send a clear message to those people that their cowardly behaviour is not acceptable.

      P.S. I like both rhubarb and custard. 🙂

      1. Don’t let the b*****ds grind you down. I learnt early on to smile politely and be genuinely pleasant to the people who cannot stand me, or spend their lives criticising me, or stabbing me in the back. (its an occupational hazard).

        The only advice I would give you to the knockers – is generate a standard response, that is both warm, polite and thanks them for their helpful guidance and views. But use it repetitively for every comment that irritates – trust me they will either soon f off, or do something else. Trolls only troll if they believe they are getting to you, same as bullies and other poor degenerates.

        Embrace them, and dont let them get you to doubt yourself. You are better than that.


  7. Wow, the three months have gone by quickly! I have been following your progress but I have been so busy myself lately that I’ve not had made enough time to interact in your blog. Given the time commitment involved I can’t imagine how much time you must spend responding on social media. I commend you for answering virtually every comment, though it must get somewhat tedious at times. It must be disheartening to read the occasional snipes and criticisms, but it just comes with the territory I’m afraid.

    I quite like the frosty log shot. I’m very drawn to images with mirror-still water especially when a polariser cuts through and makes the rocks at the bottom of the lake visible. I think you’re right that the light is a little underwhelming, but still it’s a very nice shot.

    Quite a conundrum regarding the NT properties and photography. Obviously, the letter of the law states that you cannot shoot commercially without a permit/license, but I have to believe those types of laws are aimed at big production companies rather than photographers like you. Not worth taking chances though. It will be interesting to see how things shake out.

    1. Hi Jeff, According to the National Trust if I want to sell any image taken on their land I have to have permission. That is huge swathes of the Lake District! I am in to process of sorting everything out but it takes time.

      I really enjoy responding to all the comments on my videos – it’s great fun to interact with the same people week in, week out. I got a lot of comments when I announced I was going full-time and I have to admit I was completely overwhelmed. Not responded to a single comment on that video.

  8. Well Chris, I really do have my fingers crossed for a positive reponse from the National Trust as I myself used to undertake assignments for them in North Wales back in the mid-late 80’s. Initially it was aerial photography of various properties using a helicopter on hire from Liverpool. Sounds very exciting (yes it was) but this was done via the large multi-national company I worked for at the time – I did photography for my own firm and included the NT to help spread the hire costs.
    But the point is, that leading on from that I was then invited by their regional manager to complete other assignments, usually land based. Now the NT are excellent both in terms of payment (no having to chase them!) and subject matter. I photographed properties paintings and furniture, nothing that a well prepared photographer need be scared of. I wish you well as it always looks good on your c.v.

    1. I am keeping my finger crossed Alan. So far the National Trust have been extremely helpful but it is difficult to get to speak to the right people at times. I hope it will lead to other things eventually, both photography and video. Obviously having a good relationship with the National Trust is essential for someone in my position.

  9. I cannot believe it’s been three months, it sounds like you are ahead of where you hoped and from the videos (and impressive podcast debut) seem to be enjoying your time photographing.
    I think from what I’m seeing you’re investment in you and your technique is having a really positive impact. I look forward to you next three month update from the Bahamas in a Porsche…..

  10. Wow, that 3 months has gone real quick. It’s probably a good thing that the honeymoon period has worn off and you’re settling in on a routine as I suspect the business side gets away from a lot of people without a certain degree of organisation. Quick aspect ratio question, are you sticking to 16:9 for your project? I know we’ve spoke about the reasons you use it on the website but that constraint is possibly null and void for the project. The reason I ask is I really like the white house image but do agree with your comp notes which would be difficult to achieve in 16:9. I realise that is not an image that would be in the project and more so I accept that the content aware fill section of my brain has added really nice trees to the top of the frame that may not be there, haha.

    1. I won’t be sticking to 16:9 for the project Steve. My plan for prints is to do everything as A3, both landscape and portrait whichever is appropriate. The format of the book that I am experimenting with allows me to produce 10×8 portrait (single page) and 16×10 landscape (double page spread) so that should be perfect for me.

  11. As someone who is about twice your age Chris my thoughts are ignore the b******s if you can, but then if it gets too much slap them down hard(not literally!!!) use the blocking tool. What enjoyment these people get from putting others down is mystery to me. Just keep looking to your loyal followers to see the true value of your work.

    1. Thanks for the advice Tim, I think that is the best way to deal with people who insist on trying to drag me down. I totally agree with you, I just don’t get what another photographer would hope to gain from criticising another. I will try to focus on the people that support me and ignore the others.

  12. Hello, really enjoy your work and that you are sharing your journey. I live in the Chilterns and you inspired me to get out and photograph the autumn colours. I primarily focus on wildlife photography and have been trolled a few times despite being an amateur hobby photographer. I just wanted to reach out to let you know that your content is appreciated and anonymous idiots shouldn’t put you off!

    1. Hi Paul – I think that is disgraceful that you have been trolled, absolutely disgusting! I am becoming more and more aware of a small minority of photographers who seem to get pleasure from putting others down. It can be difficult to take, I myself struggle with it from time to time, but as people have commented here we cannot let the b*****ds beat us. Delighted you have been inspired to get out and shoot the autumn colour. How are you getting on so far?

  13. I’ve the greatest respect for you Chris for going full time. It takes a lot of guts and self belief. Ignore the trolls – they’re only jealous and try to put you down to make themselves feel better. I met you about a month ago near Elterwater when you were giving someone a 1-2-1 and certainly knew what you were talking about.

    1. Hi Matt – I had a wonderful afternoon at Elterwater with Sheila and her husband Lawrence. It is moments like that that make is all worth while. It helps to remember those times when I am having to face the criticism. Nice to hear from you again, hope you are well. How is the landscape photography going?

  14. I’m well thanks Chris. The landscape photography is ok. I love getting up to the Lakes but finding the time can sometimes be tricky. I enjoy looking at your fab photos and reading your honest posts.

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