A flawed argument?

28 11 2010

This post is the first on this blog that isn’t related to photography but I thought it was worth sharing. Since Wednesday last week students throughout the country have been protesting against student fees introduced by the coalition government. Firstly I am going to position myself politically, in  my youth I voted conservative and then throughout my life I have moved slowly toward the left and now find it difficult to vote for any of the major parties so hopefully I am not going to be lambasted for being a tory now.

It appears to me that the argument that is being protested is that the change of fee charging where the overall amount required to be funded by a student is increasing, however, the payment of the fees won’t kick in until the student starts to earn £21,000 and then will be spread over a period of time.

I am guessing that the ideal world for the protesters would be that there were no fees, lecturers were paid well so that they were encouraged to teach and the facilities within the universities were top class. The economics of this are that the funding must come from somewhere and the only place that it is likely to come from is the tax payer.

So now lets roll forward four years to the graduation of today’s students. They will leave university and potentially be faced with earning less than £21,000. They will be at the lower end of the earnings structure however will be contributors to taxation – as will be the people who didn’t go to university and low earners. It is these people that will be funding the university education from the previous four years. The higher tax payers will also be paying for it, remember though, that if the benefit of university education is to be believed the good graduates will occupy the majority of people in this demographic and so would have been paying anyway. The logical conclusion therefore, is that the protest is going to lead to the taxation of the low paid – surely not the outcome that would be wanted?

I am all for the advancement of education but I would like to hear the alternative solution rather than simply protesting.


Your brand isn’t just your name

18 11 2010

I have been thinking for a while, why am I not getting the hits I want on my website and the follow on sales of my images that I thought would pay a nice income. I’m still struggling with the answer but in my investigations I have found some great advice and some examples of how not to go about selling yourself.

I probably have a mixed brand in my photography, my pleasures are landscape photography (probably highly sellable) and portrait (can be packaged but the images themselves don’t get purchased other than by the subject). Additionally, I enjoy erotic photography. I can see this is confusing to the audience and in some ways alienates different groups by my desire to display all aspects of my photography on one site.

This, though, probably isn’t why I don’t get the traffic. If I look critically at my social networking modus operandi I am probably a lurker, who interacts with a small group of people who are, usually, very complimentary of my work – the message this probably sends out is that I am not welcoming a wider group. So my brand needs to change where I offer a metaphorically wider open hand to an audience through the offer of free images, I have started down this venture thanks to Scott Liddell and Dave Loudon who have encouraged me to a free stock site. The next step in my journey is to publicise these images to a wider audience, so I am guessing it is lots of testing and learning of hash-tags to understand which work well.

I mentioned that there are some people who damage their brand. I’m not going to name names, that isn’t the style of my brand,however, some people need to remember that every tweet on Twitter can be read and the message they send to an individual in one tweet could damage every other well crafted tweet offering a customer friendly service.

Hopefully, you’ll see a gradual change in my types of posting, not by spamming the twitterverse but by nicely targeted posts that attract people to me as a brand and then the hits and sales should follow. It’s great to identify a new path on your journey.

Corporate Control

1 11 2010

OK, I am sure that this is going to get some criticism but I am happy to take it. I spent almost 4 hours at Edinburgh’s Samhuinn festival on Sunday evening which is organise by The Beltane Fire Society (I believe). I was last at this event three or four years ago when it was held on the Mound at that evening I got some great photos, despite not having the gear to fully capture low light photography.

This year I managed to capture only 10 reasonable images and none that I would think were going to set the world alight. Was this down to my lack of equipment, no I don’t think so; was it down to my lack of preparation, no, my camera was fully charged and I was the first person to be at the rope cordon; so why the lack of quality photos?


It appeared to me that the Beltane Society were trying to thwart none affiliated photographers from getting good images by strategically placing stewards and torch bearers in front of kitted up photographers and the way the performers placed themselves between the crowd and the main stage also prevented really good photographs.

I can’t deny that the Beltane Societies photos that made it onto the BBC are top quality, but that is easy to do when given privileged access. It’s hardly meeting the ideals of paganism to becoming so corporate in the protection of image. This will be my last journey to a Beltane event, I’m almost sure the zombie walk, uncommercialised and free would have given better opportunity for photography.