A New Year beckons - So does a new direction

Next year I will have been a professional photographer for 30 years.

30 Years!

Spalding Guardian Chief Photographer Tim Wilson took this pic of me in 1979...the paper used my pics too, my very first published work

How does one keep anything going for 30 years with passion?

Well for me variety is the spice of life and I have been involved with just about every field of photography over that time, shooting in just about every format there is.

For many years I was not aware of these phases of reinvention

So to the long list of genres of photography I'm adding the moving image

2009 has been a very challenging year for me in many ways, but it was the year I discovered for myself the joys of Canon 5dMkII and shooting HD video

Moving images and me, difficult to know where to begin but for sometime I have felt my work has life beyond stills, particularly 'the forest' series

In fact one of the motivations was  'Europa' (the water buffalo image)

One of the reasons I made the DVD was to show how much of my work is done 'in camera' and not relying on photoshop as 'a crutch for bad photography'

But still as time passed I realised that the vast majority of viewers saw it as a composite picture, even though it wasn't

I blogged about it on the Scott Kelby website, here is what I had to say

Drew Gardner photographed on Polaroid Type 55 by Lucinda Marland

Recently I was commissioned by Nexush to shoot a print and billboard ad for the Suzuki Swift.

It was based around an incident in a tattoo parlour, which goes horribly wrong, the tattooist misspells the
 word ‘respect’ writing ‘resplect’ instead.

To predictable consequences but very funny all the same.

Now this shoot is the most interesting I have undertaken in a very long time.


Because as well as shooting the ad as a still, my team and I shot it as a short movie for the client too.

How it was used on the Liverpool Media wall......

And a look behind the scenes too.....

A true glimpse into where I believe the industry is heading at breakneck speed.

We shot the still in the morning and decided to retain the same lighting to give the same visual ‘language’ in print and moving images.

It was a lot of fun but there are many differences.

Ok, first the kit………

We used a Canon 5d mk2 on a Zacuto Rig, which puts you in charge of the focus, and a Marshall V-LCD70P monitor, which lets you judge focus so much more acurately than on the LCD, I now mount the Marshall Monitor on my Manfrotto 525MVB tripod with its 503HDV fluid head with a Manfrotto 819-1 Small Hydrostatic arm and 386b Nano Clamp

In my mind the shoot just would not have been possible without the Zacuto and Marshall, those focus pulls with SUCH accuracy

I could bang on about the kit some more but this shoot revealed so much more to me.

For a successful moving image shoot it really is less about one person and more about the team of people around you.

In fact it was like stepping back in time to a pre-Photoshop age for one very simple reason.

Shock horror!

You have to get it right in camera!

Yes folks, if you don’t get it in-camera and have not made provision, it is not there.

I feel this is set to bring back ‘camera’ craftsmanship and will deal a blow to those who use retouching as a crutch for bad photography.

And we all know that there are many of those out there, right?

All of a sudden direction was back in on the shoot, and there was nobody paintively whispering in my ear, “Don’t worry we will fix it in post.”

We either got it or we didn’t.

All of a sudden I felt I had ‘come home.’

Less of the computer stuff and more of the photography.

Which in my mind is what it should be about.

When I’m lecturing I conduct a little question and answer session and I go round the audience and ask…

‘Why did you become a photographer?’

The answers are in the range of…

‘Because I love taking pictures.’

‘I wanted to travel.’

‘To meet people and see the world.’

Many, many others too, but you know what?

Not one person has ever said they became a photographer because they wanted to be a computer operator.

Now I’m not saying I’m against the use of Photoshop, something I use extensively in ‘The Descendants’ series.

But getting it right in the can is way more fun and profitable too.

So enjoy all the post production by all means, but get out there and remember the meaning of the word Photography.

‘To draw or paint with light.’

So there is part of my motivation

I'm really enjoying the unique look and feel of the files from the Canon and those STUNNING 'L' series primes

The Canon 'L' series primes I'm using at the moment...............

Canon 'L' Series 35mm F1.4

The photojournalists favourite, it fits like a glove in your hand, just the right size and weight, tack sharp too

Canon 'L' Series 85mm F1.2

My favourite lens of all time, if there was just one lens I could use for the rest of my life it would be this

Canon 'L' Series 135mm F2.0

A great lens and the cheapest of this lot too

Another prime I'm using at the moment is the......

Canon EF 100mm macro F2.8

OK, not the new 'L' series but it is very good

They make a world of difference, giving my work a cinematic look

Shooting full 1080P HD video at wide apertures has to be experienced to be believed

At the dawn of photography 'the dark art" (for that what it was called by some) split into two

I went to the remarkable 'Collision' conference in LA in August

It was remarkable as it was a forum for Film Makers, DP's and emerging stills-to-video photographers

Now we have a similar event in the UK

As I mentioned in a couple of 'tweets' I will be at 'Converge One' this Friday at the National Film Theatre, if you would like to see where the next step in photography is taking us, see my new mini project and engage in the debate ( not to mention see some of the gear too) do come and join us

So, I hear you ask, where does still photography fit in to my world now? It was my first love and will remain a big part of my life. In fact my still images will always be there, you will just be seeing them move.