Changing the story.

I set out to learn how to take some better pictures so that I would have some nice images of family and friends. So far I’ve enjoyed the learning curve and it has taken me off in a few different directions that I never imagined it would. To be honest, I thought I would learn some basics and then, Bobs your uncle. You’re on your way to being a photographer. Wrong!

There is so much more to it. All the technical stuff, all the artistic stuff, all the different genres and much much much much much more.

I’ve recently been thinking about the editing side of things. Well that and maybe getting a little portfolio together.

You see I’m thinking about signing up for a photography course that will give me a qualification. Yes I know people out there are earning money or just having a lot of fun without gaining qualifications but, I’m going to end up doing several short courses throughout the year; just to give me ideas and to nudge me in the right direction. So, why not do a course that gives me a bit of paper at the end of it?

After all it is something that I can stick on a CV For any job right?

It shows that I have an interest, that I have commitment and an aptitude to learning.

I have a job, I have a good job, a rewarding job (sadly not finically!!). However, its a physically and mentally demanding job and I’m not so sure that I want to do it for another twenty years. Therefore anything to add to my CV is a good thing. So I’m told.

I digress…. Editing and a Portfolio.

I don’t know where to start with a portfolio. I kind of guess I have a body of work with this blog but I need something with printed images. How do you choose what images to put into a portfolio?

There are obvious answers to this, such as your best images, duh!

I might come back to it when I sit down and have a really good think.

Editing is really the key issue here. I’ve just taken a slightly rambling route to get here.

How we edit the photo can change what story we are telling. It is also one of those areas I am having a little difficulty with. I’m not a technical wizard with software, huh! I am barely computer literate. Even the basics of editing can be difficult to know what to do and when to stop……

I’m going to go back to my 100 candid strangers to use as an example.

This is the image I recently shot.
stranger 1.4
It is wonky, its very wonky! In fact I have no idea how I managed to take it this wonky? Anyway, we’d all agree its definitely wonky. Some people will like this and some will not. I don’t.

So its into lightroom for lens corrections, to straighten the image out and add a slight crop to tidy it all up a bit.
Personally I think this looks much better but I wonder if my reflection in the window detracts from the image? Does it add to the story? I guess that because it is a candid street shot of the waitress who was folding napkins (until someone at the back of the restaurant hollered something that made her turn around and face me) It doesn’t really matter whether I’m there of not. Again some will like it and others will not.

Here is one without me. Please do not comment on the editing. I am by no means proficient at altering images. I also do not have the tools to do the job. I’m on a lap top that has a small pressure pad, no mouse, no fancy image editing pad and stylet pen type thing. Nothing fancy and I know if I had the equipment and the time, it could be marvelous. The somewhat scruffy alterations took just a couple of minutes and I’ve added the image purely for illustrative purposes.
Stranger 1.3
My point is to simply show how our decision to carry out any edit can change the feel of the image and the story we are telling.

Taking a much closer crop we then have a candid portrait of the person. Some would say the close crop is better and some would say it no longer tells any of the story of how the image was obtained.
I actually like all of the images, even the very wonky one.

I guess the three things I would like to know are:
Whether or not the inclusion of the photographers reflection adds or detracts from the image?
If I took time and care over the image with me removed, which one of the last three would be better in a portfolio?
How much should we be altering our images & changing the story?

Opinions on this are definitely welcome folks.

Kind regards,

Jim Jimmy James.


  1. As someone who used to take a lot of photos, and no longer does, (not that many, anyway) I have always had a problem with alteration software. The best photos I have ever seen were all achieved without it, so that must tell us something. Or does it?
    I prefer not to see the photographer reflected in the shot, unless that was the point of it. I also prefer this type of candid to tell more of the story, so would ideally liked to have seen more of the building, and perhaps the use of a longer lens, from a distance. I know that this is not easy in central London though.

    As for the courses, as long as you do something recognised, it can only be a good thing. They will also be able to advise you on the best way to present a portfolio of your work too. With so much computer manipulation and alteration used these days, I actually wonder if conventional photography still has a future. My feeling is that is does not. With most pictures taken on mobile phones, and less reliance on apertures and shutter speeds, or lighting conditions to achieve results, does anyone actually need to hire professionals, except in niche markets?

    I like the new theme Jimmy. Much easier on the eye.
    Best wishes as always, Pete.

    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts Pete.
      Especially regarding the theme. A photographer advised me to change it to something more simple. I’ve had an email of approval too. Good news.

      I think the more convenient cameras are okay for web based sites but when it comes down to printing images, a good camera does make a difference. I like printed images.

      Kind regards,

      1. My point was mainly about whether or not there is a future for a career as a pro Jimmy. Perhaps in news, or gigs (which I know you like) but less likely in the conventional sense of a pro photographer who does weddings, portraits etc. Like you, I enjoy printed photos, but if you are seriously considering a career in the industry, I believe that you should think about specialising, right from the start.
        Cheers mate, Pete.

      2. I’m told there is no money in gig photography either.
        I imagine it would be hard work, self promoting and getting out there all the time. I also wonder if it became a job whether I’d get as much enjoyment out of it?
        I certainly wouldn’t want the stress of a wedding photographer. My God! Could you imagine?! Newly weds relying on you to capture the most important moments and happy memories of their big day. No thanks!

  2. I did a City and Guilds many moons ago, and it was really very good. One thing I would say though, if you are going for a taught course, rather than online, it does all depend on the person teaching you, as well as your fellow students.

    Another thing you might want to consider (if you haven’t already) is shooting in RAW format. The close crop of the waitress is under exposed. You can fix this in any RAW converter (Lightroom, Adobe Camera Raw, or Aperture are the main ones). There is much less latitude with Jpegs.

    Good luck with the course, I’m sure you’ll get a lot from it.

    1. As always, thank you for the feedback.
      I’m looking at a C&G level 2 or a BTEC. I don’t really know what the difference between them is? The city & guilds fits in rather well with work.


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