Photographing Boys and Their Toys

Glenn Guy posing for a portrait with a tiny photographer statuette purchased in Buenos Aires

You know the saying, boys and their toys. I want to explain how I used that concept to meet a most serendipitous challenge.

Arcanum Inception Master

I’m one of the Inception Masters over at The Arcanum, a new and exciting way to learn photography online. My main responsibility is to build a community of like minded, supportive and super keen photographers who via creation, interaction and one-to-one critiques will build their technical expertise and ignite their creative side. I take the responsibility associated with building the culture of the community very seriously, as do I the role of supporting and mentoring future Masters from within my cohort.

I’ve invited several members of the community to take on extra responsibilities. Some are responsible for managing specific categories (e.g., Photo of the Week; Mobile Madness; and Themes, Schemes, Dreams) within the community. I call these folks Administrators. Others have the extra responsibility of adding content that enhances learning and user experience. These folks, who are referred to as Moderators, work closely with me to shape the look of the cohort and make a special effort to help new members navigate their way through the community, particularly during the initial weeks following their arrival.

Thus far I’ve identified two members of the community, Hugh Ferguson and Kingsley Burton, whom I believe would make excellent masters. But that’s not to say there won’t be more. The role of Moderator isn’t an easy one and it does require a pretty significant time commitment. Both Hugh and Kingsley have performed their roles exceptionally well and will certainly have my support should they decide to apply to run their own cohorts down the track.

A Challenge Accepted

One of the Administrators in our community, Peti Morgan, sent a friendly challenge my way. Peti noted that, while it’s important to strive for consistency in branding from place to place across the web, I might want to consider updating my profile photo or, at the very least, start adding photos (even selfies) of me across my site, our community on the Arcanum and across social media.

I completely agree and have taken action in that regard. Indeed, not being one to baulk at a challenge, I determined to make it so.

It’s interesting that, despite being my mum’s favorite child, there seem to have been very few photos made of me while I lived at home. I was the fourth of five children and photography was a relatively expensive hobby back in the day. I have very few memories of the old man bringing out the faithful Kodak 126 size instamatic camera. Almost certainly its appearance would have coincided with major birthdays, Christmas and the like.

Since beginning my career in photography 35 years ago my focus has always been on the other which, even at family events, rarely sees me in front of the camera’s lens. Over recent years I’ve become aware that there’s a real lack of photos of me in the archive and Peti’s challenge has, finally, spurred me on to take action.

So, be warned, you’ll likely see more photos of yours truly popping up on this site and elsewhere from now on.   

Serendipity Strikes

Earlier on the same day that Peti had announced her challenge I’d run a one-on-one photography course during which the participant, Garima Dewan, mentioned that she was very keen to learn how to make better portraits of her 2 ½ year old daughter. I gave her as many actionable tips and techniques that I could. But an important part of the learning process is putting those tips and techniques into practice. That meant I had to change my role from tutor to subject, after which time I was confident that Garima had largely come to terms with her camera as well as the crucial subjects of lighting, posing and composition. The rest, as they say, is practice. By which I mean do it, rinse and repeat, again and again and again. Through repetition we learn, gain confidence and the ability to make images in a more timely fashion.

Making The Most Of It

Both photos in this article were made by Garima Dewan. We utilized window light, a nifty little prop (i.e., a statue of a photographer which I purchased at a market in Buenos Aires back in 2010) and the top of my TV as a substitute table. Simplicity is the key. The glasses were added, in the top photo, as a simple way to explore notions such as thoughtfulness, consideration, contemplation and critical thinking which, might otherwise, not have been so obvious in a ”smile for the camera, wally” pose.

A closer up view, perhaps more contemplative, but less considered, than the first.

I strongly advise all photographers to step out from behind the camera and have some photos made of yourself. Selfies and snapshots made by friends are a great start. But it’s also worth considering having some really good photos made for you by a really competent photographer. You may even be able to arrange a barter deal.

Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru