Drive-In Gallery

As Bowie never sang, “It’s a crash course for the ravers, it’s a dri-i-i-ive-in photo exhibition.”

So having crammed another Bowie reference into a blog post like pushing a banana through a keyhole, what I’m trying to explain here is that I’m massively thrilled to announce that tomorrow sees the launch of my first solo exhibition in an open-air space. To be precise, it’s a car park, making this the world’s first drive-in photo exhibition.

Now, don’t ruin it for me by googling this and finding one already exists, I did search and the closest I found was an underground car park ramp to some billionaire’s posh residence with walls lined with priceless paintings. That doesn’t count.

This all started a few months ago when I approached Mendip District Council (owners of the Saxonvale site) to see if there was any way I could continue documenting the site since they’d made it secure. The timing of my contact was perfect – someone in the council had seen What Happened Here and decided some of the photos would look great on the site hoardings, so we looked at various possibilities from a few different angles and came up with a plan.

Mendip council officers agreed to go ahead with the project and I re-scanned the chosen images since they were going to go big, and I mean VERY big.

Two days ago I visited the very excellent Compugraphic in Frome to see some of the prints coming off their large-format printer ready to be mounted on aluminium composite board; thirteen images in total, 1.5 x 1 metre in size with two of them 1 metre square format. In other words, really huge prints and certainly larger than I’d ever had anything printed before.

I’d been concerned that I couldn’t supply good enough files for such enlargement, but when I saw the prints I nearly cried! They look fantastic, and where I’d been thinking that viewing distance would make up for any loss in quality, I’ll be happy for visitors to walk right up to these. They’ll be able to dive right into the grain of the images.

The panels will be displayed on hoardings in the Merchants Barton car park in the town centre for at least the next few months, so if you do happen to be in the area I hope you’ll check it out. You can find out even more from Mendip’s press release here.

In the meantime, this may well be my final post of 2019 as Project Bunker is overrunning and I’m on a deadline to transfer my office into it by the end of December.

So I’ll take this opportunity to thank you, my clients, my friends, colleagues and suppliers for making 2019 a pretty good year, with an extra special thank you to Naomi and her colleagues at Mendip District Council for rounding it off so spectacularly for me.

Oh and with regards the continued access to the Saxonvale site, we’ll see. I’m doubtful at this stage, but you never know, it could be what keeps me busy in 2020.

Going a bit Google

Question: When is a wedding photographer not a wedding photographer?

Answer: Apparently when they say they’re a commercial photographer, a press photographer, an architectural photographer, a spoon, a pomegranate. Whatever their keywords and web blurbs say they are that week.

You may sense from this post that I’m a little fed up. Maybe I am. Maybe I’m frustrated at the number of new clients telling me they were looking for a commercial, press or PR photographer (in other words, a photographer with the requisite experience for the work they’re looking to get done) but had to wade through pages and pages of Google search results of wedding photographer sites to get to mine. I’m not half as frustrated as those clients are, but I feel their pain.

Google is a great tool, but it becomes pointless if businesses pretend to do what they don’t, and try to attract visitors who will rarely convert into clients, and who will probably regret it if they do.

I know some wedding photographers can take good corporate, commercial and maybe even decent press photos, and they’ll have galleries on their sites to prove it, but most only ever do weddings. On the rare occasion they get near a corporate shoot, it often ends up looking like a wedding in an office.

So why do photographers pretend to do something they don’t and mostly can’t do? Perhaps they think clients are stupid and won’t know the difference, or they think that since they mainly work weekends it might be nice to pick up the extra work in the week. They clearly also believe that once you have a camera, you can tackle absolutely any photographic assignment. Regardless of the actual kit, experience and skills required.

wedding photo for press article

In my defence, this was shot for a feature on eco-friendly weddings.

So off they go with their keyword blunderbuss, kerblamming their site with keywords that have only a tenuous connection to what they actually do.

I don’t list weddings as one of my skills. I don’t put “wedding” in my keywords. Neither do I put “puppies”, “Bat (or Bar) Mizvahs” or “christenings” in there. Why? Because I don’t do them. Just like I don’t do plumbing, antique restoration or brain surgery. Why compete with people who already know what they’re doing and have the workflow, supply chain, mental skills and experience to do those jobs?

Recently I added my details, with keyword tags, to a local creative forum website. Within a week, a wedding photographer had done a copy and paste of my keywords, then added “wedding” to the end. A look at his website showed no sign of all the disciplines he’d listed, except weddings. He’s clearly on a fishing trip for extra work, but his entry, like a blunt pencil, is now largely pointless.

If anyone needs to do a web search for a photographer to take pictures for commercial publication, they will have to be sure to type “-wedding” (thus removing any site ranked using that word) into the search box in order to get more relevant results, which seems a bore. But if these jack-of-all-photography types are going to insist on using keywords like a drunk uses expletives, it may be the only solution.

I could strike back by adding all the weddingy keywords to my site, but there’s no point in that. Did I mention I don’t do weddings?