In his fathers footsteps.
Phil Silverman joined me this week to talk about his work and especially the images he posts to a Photo Stock Agency. Something I have never discussed on this programme before and found it of great interest.
Phil was introduced to photography by his father with his first recollection of a camera being the Yashica TTL and the Weston Master 5 light meter - still working! But like me Phil was more interested in the outdoors and sport, especially football. He showed no interest in photography really until he got his own Camera the Yashica FX3, that he bought in 1987 for just £75 with a 50mm lens. His preferred film at the time was the Ilford FP4 and HP5 mono film. He and his father attended a photography night classes and set up a darkroom which Phil enjoyed immensely. I think its wonderful that Phil could share this passion of photography together with his father. Memories that will stay with him forever.
His day time job at the time was an apprentice working jeweller. A great career which he has done for the majority of his working life. With his photography he by now had switched from his Yashica to Contax film cameras and then to a digital Sigma SD10, purely because of the fantastic image quality from the 10mp camera with the Foveon sensor, that he had seen at a Photo Trade exhibition. By now Phil had been steadily building on his stock photography interest with an agency and had also submitted work to magazines. He had done this by taking advice from two main bodies (associations), the BFP (Bureau of Freelance Photographers) and BAPLA (British Association of Pictures Libraries and Agencies). His decision to switch to Sigma was based on the knowledge that he needed to produce quality images. But his choice of the SD10 didn't quite work out despite the advantages, as he had found the Sigma speed was difficult to work with and so the decision to switch to Nikon and in particular the Nikon D300, was taken. This started a long association with Nikon from the D300 to the D700 and finally the D800. The latter two cameras being ideal for high ISO use use in dimly lit halls and churches for the weddings that he was now attending as a second shooter for a wedding photographer. But it was not all plain sailing with the Nikons as you will hear in the show.
Looking at Phil's work on the screen-share. You can clearly see his his skill in supplying the stock agency with superb images of the country side especially his local Yorkshire Dales and other landscape images. Because of the agency submissions, some will stipulate, very little editing is made to the images. He shoots in RAW and submits the jpg file to the agency. Some of his images are HDR which again agencies would prefer not to receive certainly those that have been 'overdone' at the editing stage. It goes without saying that it is the classic image or (chocolate box) image that the stock agencies are looking for. When he goes out shooting his first thought is to get the stock shot. On the screen-share we saw a selection of his images shot with either the Sigma SD10, Nikon D300 or D700/800 and the latest addition to his camera gear, the Fuji X-T1.
Phil decided again to switch systems this time to Fuji, mainly because of the weight of the gear he was carrying. Retiring from the 'Weddings game" he found that the more he had in his camera bag there was less of a chance of using it!
My sentiments exactly! 'A camera bag of just in case gear'!
He wanted a good system with a good pedigree in camera manufacturing, that was smaller to carry, than what he had previously used and one that could deliver the images not only of what he had produced before with the Nikon D700 but also with D800. He decided on the Fuji. He had read a number of reviews, watched You Tube Videos and chose the Fuji X system, without even trying or holding the camera! He just had a 'gut' feeling by choosing the Fuji X-T1 with XF10-24mm and XF 18-135mm lens package... And he wasn't disappointed. He is now waiting for the XF100-400mm (which as it happens has been put back in production - which he appreciates is better for it to be produced and released right!). In his opinion the images from the 1.5 crop of the Fuji X-T1 are everything bit as good as the D800 image! I've heard this stated before by many photographers and read reviews that the files are on a par with D800 files (thats a Full Frame camera remember) - Thats amazing to hear and from a photographer that depends on high quality images for his stock library requirements. We both mentioned about the fantastic support that we and other users have come to appreciate from Fuji. Updates of firmware for older cameras, recognition of manufacturing errors and repair or replacement facilities and of course full user support! Something which I'm afraid the main two, Nikon and Canon have let slip over the last few years.
His inspiration for photography has been his Father. He's not sure what he would have done if he hadn't been introduced to photography by him! I think its fantastic when a Father and son can share a hobby. For me I've enjoyed many a golfing hour with my son, memories that I will never forget and for Phil memories that he will never forget with his photography.
Favourite photographer Brett Florens for Wedding photography and for Landscape work it would be Charlie Waite the UK based landscape photographer and Jimmy McIntyre a travel photographer who is in China at this time..
One final tip from Phil... Stock photography is not a quick fix to make money. Think of it as a pension. You have to put in a lot of work. He has thousands of images with a library! Take your shots, edit and load, then reformat your card and go again!
Until next time leave your camera bag at home
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