It’s week two of our countdown to the Societies Convention in January. This week, we speak to portrait photographer James Musselwhite about his two seminars at the show, his career, and his advice for newcomers to professional photography.
Learn from experiences
James’ two seminars focus on the art of portraiture, discussing the ins and outs of the craft and how delegates can find a niche topic to create unique portraits for certain markets.
He began hosting educational talks and seminars because he wanted to be frank with people about the industry:
“I’ve always wanted to provide a talk unlike anything I have been a delegate in before… It was always my intention to deliver a real talk, with no front, just pure honesty.”
James’ seminars are all about learning from past mistakes and gaining experience. He doesn’t shy away from discussing his own faults:
“All of my talks are as much, if not more, about the times when things went wrong as they are when things went brilliantly. It’s only by learning from mistakes that you can progress.”
Master lighting techniques
James’ superclass ‘Shooting Creative Portraits on a Budget’ is all about just that – saving photographers and their clients money. The cost of equipment alone can sometimes put off aspiring photographers and it can be a real barrier for newcomers. He hopes to teach delegates that their skill is far more important than their equipment:
“My entire Fellowship panel was shot on the most entry-level lighting set ups, and essentially light is light, you just have to learn how to use it. My portraits were always about simple, effective lighting, but more importantly the ability to get character and emotion from my subjects.”
Reliable service with Loxley Colour
James uses Loxley Colour for prints and products like the beautiful Fine Art Float Frame, which has proven to be a popular choice. There’s nothing that compares to handing clients a professionally crafted album or framed print. The benefits of upselling are huge to photographers. James shared his thoughts on his experience as a Loxley customer:
“Loxley have never ever let me down on a print order. All prints arrive on time, in good packaging and with excellent vibrant colours… For me, it’s their consistency and reliability that is most appealing.”
Photography that packs a punch
As part of his Fellowship project, James photographed a series of wrestlers in bold and dramatic portraits. It’s not a common topic for a project, but he has managed to produce a stunning portfolio full of eye-catching images. Wrestling was an easy topic for James to choose, he’s been fascinated by the sport for a long time:
“I was always a fan… I remember seeing posters advertising local shows and feeling that the photography on them let the promotions down. Perception is reality and if you see a bunch of poorly shot images on a poster, you are less likely to book a ticket and take your kids to the event.”
Professional photography is an incredibly competitive market and sometimes it can be difficult to stand out above the rest. James’ advice for photographers is to try to think about what makes their style of photography unique, rather than try to repeat the already successful formula of others:
“It’s important to have aspirations, but they should guide you, not lead you. If you copy and mimic other photographers you are doing a disservice to yourself.”
Secure your place today
His advice for the next generation of portraiture photographers is to have fun and ‘learn where to find feedback and appreciate the value of it. Treat your successes the same as your failures.’
You can get tickets for James’ ‘Capturing the Art of Wrestling‘ and ‘Shooting Creative Portraits on a Budget‘ seminars now. Book your place today to make sure you don’t miss out on the chance to learn from his professional insight.