Avantech have organised another photography event to inspire local photographers to pursue their dreams. This time with photojournalist and MCAST lecturer Gary Hampton. Gary Hampton has achieved what every photographer aspires: travelling the world and getting published in Time magazine, New York Times, Le Monde, Science magazine and many other notable publications.
Gary fell into the world of photography, completely unaware of what talent he had, during his time working within the pharmaceutical industry on a drug to cure ALS. Having never witnessed first hand the state of ALS patients, he decided to go on a mission to further his work, documenting patients with ALS to better understand this debilitating disease.
This was a turning point and soon after, he quit his job in the pharmaceutical industry to pursue photography full time, documenting patients with rare and forgotten diseases like ALS, tuberculosis and HIV in the developing world.
He shared his story and practical tips to an eager audience of aspiring photographers gathered at Avantech. Here are some of the key takeaways from the talk that every photographer should familiarise themselves with.
Pick up the phone
He explained that to get funding, he would literally pick up the phone and cold call organizations and NGOS. Explain your project and what sort of photographs you will take. Don’t be afraid to ask for funding on projects.
Black and white doesn’t always sell
Unfortunately, photographers wanting to publish and sell their work might be required to change their aesthetic. Magazines and publications in Paris told him they will not buy any work that isn’t in colour. He had to give up black and white photography and embrace colour in order to sell his work.
Capturing the story
Gary Hampton also spoke on how he started the practice of writing back stories on his shots to be able to sell the photography and article together.
Pro tip: Interview people and let them tell their story
The power of the photographer
Gary Hampton has always been fascinated by the power that a photographer holds. People change their mannerisms in front off the camera and it can have undesirable and even negative effects. He opts for a smaller camera like his compact Leica rather than the DSLR bazooka to become more discreet to his subjects.
Pro tip: The compact camera is an essential part of a photographer’s kit
Obstacles you may encounter as a photographer
He discussed how, when sending over your material to a publication, it does not necessarily mean that it will be portrayed in the same way you gave it to them. This involves cropping that might seem untrue to your work.
Other obstacles include finances and visas to foreign countries.
Pro tip: If you are a photographer or journalist entering a developing country make sure to do your research and ask around about the state of play before stating the purpose of your visit. Most of the time it is simpler to just say that you are a tourist.
Are you a photographer or photography hobbyist? Don’t miss Avantech’s talks and workshops by following their Facebook page here.
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