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Variety is the Spice of a Photographer's Life

This mid-May has been a fortnight of intense photo taking. With two weddings (both Covid postponements), three shoots for the Salvation Army and a major day of (kitchen) interiors work there has been little let up, with a lot of editing too to keep the backlog of images under control. By the end of tomorrow’s wedding I will expect to have clocked up around 7000 images taken. On top of that there has been routine material for Affordable Granite – images of slabs and samples etc.

All of that adds up to a lot of work. It has been intensely busy, but I have noticed as ever the benefit of variety. It keeps life full of interest and fun, and I am really grateful for the varied work coming through from my clients.

Here are a few thoughts I am taking away from the experience.

Photography is about creativity and technique

After all these years I am still fascinated by the technical and creative challenges involved in photography. It is that crossover between the technical and artistic that gets me. Taking photos of a small group of salvation army officers in strong slanting sunlight? Flash on to fill those shadows in – but you still have to compose right. Taking images of a kitchen with a wide angle lens – shots that may be printed at up to 3 metres long on the side of a van? Auto ISO off, use the tripod, bracket the exposure because of the lovely bright garden through the window- and you still have to compose the shot. Photographing the entertainers at the gala dinner? Light isn’t great, but use the monopod and catch the still moments at the end of each movement. And you still have to compose the shot!

Charlie Green singing at the SATCOL dinner and awards ceremony on Monday

Samyang 10mm rectilinear lens

Multiple shots, blended to give that currently popular HDR effect – very fresh view of the whole kitchen. Image taken for Kitchen Design Hub/Affordable Granite

Use of the Samyang 12mm Fisheye at the latest wedding

Photoshop is used to partially correct the the fisheye, but not so much as to make the people at the edge look enormous. That’s a creative decision that needs understanding and technique

The view straight down on a kitchen island – technically and physically demanding, and creates a good effect, I think. Image taken for Kitchen Design Hub/Affordable Granite

Photography requires reliable equipment

Amateur photographers talk about suffering from GAS – gear acquisition syndrome. Professionals have it less than amateurs! I can’t say that I am totally immune, but I certainly don’t feel the constant need to buy the very latest “upgrade.” No bride or groom has ever asked me to be (or not to be!) their wedding photographer because of having or not having any given bit of kit.

I run four full frame Nikon bodies, of which one is semi-retired. None are “latest and best”, and three are actually quite old. I also have three flash units, a large range of lenses, some hefty tripods and other bits and bods. Much was bought second hand. I may buy used, but I buy good. My cameras and lenses have just run through nearly 6000 shots in a week without so much as missing a beat. My oldest flash has given 11 years of steady service and never let me down. Reliability is vital – I am thankful to Nikon (plus a couple of Samyang lenses) for the fantastic service their equipment has given over the years.

The General and Officers of the Salvation Army
International College for Officers – Sunbury on Thames

Taken with a D800 and a Nikkor 35mm f2D. This is a lens which I bought secondhand from MPB. The design came out in 1995. It is beautifully sharp and easy to use.

Photography is about people

My new friends Alison and Hazel at the wedding in Coventry

Above all, photography is about people. Even my kitchen shoots only become easy and effective as I chat with the kitchen company rep or the end use customer as I go about the work. And when it comes to pictures that include people, a photographer cannot be a mere fly on the wall, a silent technician. There must be some give and take, some relationship.

That isn’t simply a matter of putting people at their ease, though that is important. For me it is about the emotion in the photographs. An image is not a detached array of data. The angle chosen, the moment of capture – these things reveal something of the heart and mind of the photographer.

One aspect of work that has recurred even within this last fortnight has been the theme of people with special needs of some kind. Heidi and James’ wedding was an amazing object lesson in the glorious joy that can be experienced in families where one member or more face some challenges. The same theme came up at the Salvation Army Trading Company Conference I photographed this week.

Some years ago I photographed the rehearsal and recording days for a choral arrangement of the Beatles’ Strawberry Fields Forever. It was a fantastic couple of days – working in Abbey Road Studio 2 with Mike McCartney (Paul’s brother) – I thought I would tire of the tune, but didn’t. The choir was made up of young people with learning difficulties. The aim of the recording was to raise money to turn the old, disused, Strawberry Field Salvation Army Children’s Home into a completely refurbished centre for training of young people with learning difficulties.

Staff and Trainees from Strawberry Field

It was one of the unexpected delights of photographing the SATCOL conference this week that I was able to meet staff and trainees of the now up-and-running Strawberry Field Centre! It was slightly odd – I half expected to meet members of the same group – but no – they had come and gone. The training centre is TRAINING people, and many are finding jobs in the community as a result!


This to me is enormously joyful and exciting to photograph. That for me is the beauty of photography – my camera is a way to honour what is good, kind, generous and thoughtful. Using my camera is a way to honour people.

Meeting people from Strawberry Field, 5 years on from that wonderful recording day, was a highlight of what has already been a good year. If you want to know more about the work of the training centre (or about the real meaning behind John Lennon’s song!) then check out the Visitor Centre website. Even better, gio there, and take the tour!

Variety - the Spice of Life

Whether it’s a new kitchen, or formal group or a candid portrait, I’ve “got a Nikon camera and I love to take a photograph.” Bring on the quantity and variety, I say. And when it comes to people, quantity really is variety, isn’t it?! Tell me what you are looking for, and I will work out how to meet your photographic needs.

Photos by Andrew King, copyright © Andrew King Photography. Images of people shown with permission.

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