Category Archives: education

Don McCullin in conversation with Fergal Keane

Probably the most moving, revealing, honest, soul shaking and tear jerking talk I have ever been to, was last night’s event at Kings Place. Photojournalist Don McCullin opened his heart and shared his soul in a way I’ve only ever known from the very closest of friends. To say it captivated every ounce of my being would be putting it mildly.

Photojournalist Don McCullin in conversation with foreign correspondent Fergal Keane. Kings Place, 90 York Way, London, UK. 24 April 2019. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Photojournalist Don McCullin shares a story from the Vietnam War, during his conversation with foreign correspondent Fergal Keane. Kings Place, 90 York Way, London, UK. 24 April 2019. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Without doubt, Don McCullin is one of the very greatest photographers of our time. He was in conversation with foreign correspondent Fergal Keane OBE, as they discussed McCullin’s 60 year career, covering his extensive work in war zones across the world, his documenting of poverty throughout Britain, as well as his more recent, therapeutic landscape photography.

The evening though was made unforgettable by hearing, nay, feeling, the inner most thoughts and emotions of a journalist who has dedicated his life to showing the injustices suffered by many.

The Preoccupation With Gear

As the talk came to an end and I collected my emotions, it came as the biggest shock to hear the first question:

“What’s your favourite film stock?”…

Astonishing that the whole emotional and intellectually challenging rollercoaster ride of pure, uncensored heart felt emotions, dotted with the very best of the “stiff upper lip” humour as a temporary escape, a member of the audience’s only question was about the type of film used.

To think that the power of McCullin’s images have anything to do with the brand of film used was as astonishing as it was infuriating. McCullin of course answered patiently that it was Tri-X, but followed with his own question of “Let me ask you something; why did you come here tonight? What were you expecting?”. There was no cruelty in the question, just a genuine wonderment of why after his outpouring of emotion about the human condition, that the only thing thought worthwhile asking was about film. Of course there was no answer from the chap and the questions continued, thankfully about the actual work, not film, aperture, shutter speed or cameras.

Don McCullin’s words, on the wall in his retrospective at the Tate Britain.

Don McCullin’s words, on the wall in his retrospective at the Tate Britain.

During the talk, McCullin did share that sadly he felt that none of his pictures made a difference. Decades of wars continued, captured by his mastery of seeing and he moved onto wars which he didn’t cover. The futility in his voice was exceptionally moving. Thankfully, the final question of the night was as wonderful as it was powerful. A lady thanked him for his dedication and work. Saying that whilst when he was at school studying history, he didn’t have the advantage of seeing pictures by Don McCullin, she had the tremendous advantage of studying history and seeing the photographs by Don McCullin.

Some Thoughts

Anyone who knows me, knows that I take a huge interest in the equipment I use for my work, be that professional assignments and commissions, or personal work. However, this equipment is the tool which helps me create. Its part of the beginning process and not the be all and end all in my photography.

Photography has, what I think is a unique peculiarity about it. When some people look at an amazing photograph, they immediately jump to asking what camera and lens is used, or in the case of this chap from last night, what film was used. However, if the same person has a great meal in a restaurant, they would never ask the chef about the make of pans used, and the model number of the cooker used. When has anyone asked a great author about which pen, typewriter or word processor they used?

Its great to have nice gear. For me, when I started out as a photographer, I had an aperture priority only camera called the Nikon EM. It was great and I loved it. However, I outgrew it relatively quickly and I would miss photographs or not be able to craft them the way I had envisaged, because of it’s inadequacies. My second camera, a second hand, original Canon F1, had a terrible focusing screen and a stiff lens, which meant focusing became an issue when speed was of the essence. At that stage, as I began my career on my first local paper, the Ealing Gazette, I vowed that I would as much as possible, buy the best equipment I could, as I never wanted to miss a picture because my equipment wasn’t capable enough. I never wanted to blame my tools. I should take the blame, learn what I did wrong and improve.

Looking at photography, especially for those who enjoy this as the most wonderful hobby, or even those about to take the road to becoming a professional, I have one piece of advise; recognise the camera as a tool, for making wonderful imagery. Invest your money after having bought a decent camera and lens, at the beginning stages, into learning about photography. Books, exhibitions and articles written in proper, established photography magazines as well as magazines and newspapers which use great photography. Blogs and YouTube videos by self appointed gurus and influencers will do nothing for improving your photography. Search out workshops by real, proven photographers with real track records, not fake robot followed Instagram accounts by self appointed ambassadors. Photography becomes so much more joyous and interesting when one starts to invest time and money into the craft, rather than just the gear. The gear will always be there and once you know how to craft an image, then getting better gear and more lenses will elevate and not hinder your photography.

Mindfulness, intelligence and emotion, mixed with an aesthetic, a sense of timing and an understanding of the situation, makes the photograph. I’ve found that when a photographer genuinely starts to understand photography, then they truly appreciate the ability of their tools and this then elevate’s their imagery. It’s a long term thing and results in a life long love of photography. Those who just see the gear as being the important thing, will get lots of kit, get disillusioned quickly and leave photography. Play the long game is my advice.

Incidentally, if you haven’t yet seen his retrospective at Tate Britain, I can’t urge you strongly enough to catch it before it closes on the 6th of May 2019.

Image Of The Day

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Thank you to the team at Alienskin Software for their choice of today’s “Image Of The Day” on their Instagram. 

The portrait of the hugely talented Angela Simkin was made on a Panasonic Lumix G9 with a Leica DG 12-60mm lens. 

The raw image was processed in Adobe Lightroom and made into a BW using Alienskin’s Exposure X3.

If you’d like to find me on Instagram, I’m: @terakopian

Discrimination In Journalism

Seeking Diversity In The Media Industry

Press Card Mosaic

It’s a very sad truth that sexism and racism is rife in the media. As a British photojournalist born in Iran and off Armenian descendants, I have lived in the UK since the age of eight. It’s very much my home and I’m extremely proud to be British and to contribute to society through my work, both professionally and in various volunteer basis, as well as numerous charitable contributions.

Through various publications, competitions and awards over the years, I have proven my ability as a photojournalist, yet sadly have never managed to make it past being a casual freelance photographer (meaning being commissioned daily) for the newspapers and agencies. I have several talented colleagues who are of various ethnic backgrounds who have the same struggles. The same discrimination is shown towards white, English female colleagues when contracts and big projects are filled. It is indeed rare to see someone of ethnicity or female photographers in good contract positions, the recipient of the top commissions or in possession of staff jobs (even when these were more abundant).

It truly is a shame that one’s ability and skill is often overseen, in place of one’s ethnicity or sex. After all, the reader or viewer sees the work, not the author. Its quite bizarre that over the last year, I decided to grow a long beard. Instead of this being seen as a trendy or hipster type thing, because of my slight tanned complexion, I could see a lot of people were judging me as some sort of religious extremist. Since shaving it off a couple of months ago, the reaction of the same people when seeing me is the polar opposite. Its quite sad really. Ignorance is most often not bliss.

Picture editors, editors, publishers and media owners need to look at the quality of work and ability of the photojournalist, not their ethnicity, sex, cultural background or religion. I’m definitely not one to condone positive discrimination either; quotas shouldn’t be filled based purely on one’s ethnicity or sex. I just think that the best person for the job should always get the job regardless of the colour of their skin or their sex.

The NY Times has this excellent article, which is well worth a read: Seeking Action — Not Just Talk — About Diversity in Photojournalism. Even more importantly, at the end of the article is a link to a survey for working photojournalists. Please put aside five minutes and fill in this Reclaim survey. Hopefully it’ll benefit the industry and our readers too.

Staging and Manipulation

How Far Can Photojournalists Go?

Professional Photographer Magazine May 2016

During the Photography Show earlier this year, I was part of a discussion panel for Professional Photography magazine along with my talented friend and colleague Paul Sanders and the talented Elisabeth Blanchet and Martin Middlebrook. It was a fascinating hour long discussion on staging, manipulation, ethics, the press and photojournalism. I’m happy to share that the text from the discussion is featured in the May issue of Professional Photography magazine, over six pages, which is now on sale.

You can get a copy of the May issue, or a subscription to the magazine HERE. Hope you enjoy the read and feel free to carry the discussion on here in the comments section if you wish.

The Photography Show 2016

Hope To See You In Birmingham!

Very happy to say I’ll be at the Photography Show again this year. For the duration of the show I’ll be with my friends and colleagues on the Snapper Stuff stand (B101 and B102) talking about Think Tank Photo bags (for whom I’ve been on the design board) and FLM‘s range of supports and helping out with any questions you may have.

Presentation

From last year’s show: “Essentials In Documentary Film Making” talk by Edmond Terakopian at the Filmmaker Theatre on behalf of Snapper Stuff. The Photography Show, NEC, Birmingham. March 23, 2015. Photo: Freia Turland

On Sunday, March 20th, 2pm-2.40pm, I’ll be giving an Olympus Visionary talk on my Opera By The River project at the Behind The Lens Theatre. I’ll share with you my thoughts and experiences on shooting this 11 month project at the prestigious Royal College of Music and naturally showing my favourite images from the reportage. I’ll also share which Olympus cameras and lenses I used along with some other equipment which were invaluable. Hope to see you there!

Albert Herring; an Opera by Benjamin Britten

(L-R) Lady Billows, played by Janis Kelly and Miss Wordsworth, played by Sofia Larsson, make their way across backstage to the rear of the set. The final performance of Albert Herring by Benjamin Britten. Royal College of Music, Bitten Theatre, Prince Consort Road, London. July 08, 2015. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

There will also be a unique opportunity to purchase a copy of the book that goes with this project. Please see THIS post for details. I’ll be happy to sign your copy for you!

On Monday, March 21st, 2pm-3pm, I’ll be a panelist on a discussion in the Piazza Suite 3; “Are staged or manipulated pictures ever acceptable? The panel discusses just how far you can go…”. This discussion brought to you by Professional Photography magazine is sure to be interesting, so hope to see you there too.

Lastly, do make sure you pop by and see my friends at the Eizo stand. They’ll be showing my photographs and video work to showcase just how great my favourite monitors are. Colour and density accuracy and built in automated hardware calibration! Definitely worth asking a demo.

Who Owns A Photo?

The Copyright Of A Photograph

Copyright Symbol Textured

The folks at Clifton Cameras have put together a very neat graphic explaining much about ownership of the image.

The only thing I would add is that adding a watermark (use Marksta on an iPhone or software such as Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop on your Mac or PC) is essential when you post images online on services like FaceBook and Instagram which as their T&Cs state, have full rights to use the posted images as they see fit. You need to protect not only your copyright but also the subjects in your images from having their likeness used to promote services they wouldn’t be happy with. Watermarking also protects you against companies which may steal your image for commercial gain, try and Photoshop out your watermark and then plead ignorance. Image forensics can easily show tampering and with this you prove intent, followed by a nice payout.

When hosting your own website of photography, it’s wise not to post images full size; these are easily stolen and can be used in a variety of ways as the size allows printing and so on. Using the services of Pixelrights as your host means that you benefit from all the various anti-theft features they have as well as future plans for their new partnership with ImageRights. Highly recommended.

Shaun Curry, Co-founder & CEO of Pixelrights adds; “ImageRights International is honored to announce a new and exciting partnership with Pixelrights. This groundbreaking partnership will provide post infringement, image tracking & USCO registration included in the price of your Pixelrights subscription.
Pixelrights are the only portfolio service focused on championing copyright awareness by use of their patent pending ‘Smart Frame’ image technology
This new image format provides their members with substantial customisable technical protection, blocking illicit web-bots, stopping unwanted hot linking, disabling right click , blocking some screen grab attempts, save-as, and eliminating the image from the source file and web page.
With ImageRights technology included if anyone removes any technical protection measures from your Pixelrights site and publishes it on the web, ImageRights will track your image down, and provide a global network of IP
lawyers to take action on your behalf. Never before has a portfolio website been so safe yet so easy to use!”.

Remember, copyright is your right. You are the author and the image is yours. When getting commissioned to take pictures, you aren’t being paid for the copyright, but are being commissioned to make the photograph and granting the client a right to use the image; you’re licensing them image usage. Without your copyright you can’t even legally post your picture on your website, enter it in a competition or have a print in your portfolio. You will lose all sales and recognition as the image becomes of historical value in the future. Don’t be bullied; don’t let multi-million pound companies take advantage of your work and force you into signing away your rights.

Click to enlarge the graphic:

Who Owns A Photo

The Photography Show 2015

With Olympus & SnapperStuff

21-24 March 2015, NEC Birmingham

Olympus OM-D Action Factory with the new E-M5 Mark II, Prague, Czech Republic. A former water purification plant with several miles of underground tunnels. February 09, 2015. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Olympus OM-D Action Factory with the new E-M5 Mark II, Prague, Czech Republic. A former water purification plant with several miles of underground tunnels. February 09, 2015. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Very happy to share that I shall be at The Photography Show this year.

My Olympus Talks

I’ll be giving some talks, sharing my thoughts, experiences and successes shooting with Olympus OM-D cameras and naturally answering any questions you may have.

A self portrait by photographer and film maker Edmond Terakopian. Picture shows his Olympus OM-D E-M1 camera. London. February 23, 2015. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

A self portrait by photographer and film maker Edmond Terakopian. Picture shows his Olympus OM-D E-M1 camera. London. February 23, 2015. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

ID: 8570

My talks will be at the seminar room at the Olympus stand C51 and B49.

All seminars are free but will be ticketed to control numbers; 35 persons seated in private seminar room on the stand, so arrive early and get a ticket! All talks are 35 minutes in duration, plus a 10 minute Q&A.

Olympus Stand, seminar room
Saturday 21st
Seminar Start: 11.30 “Awards success in photography and video using the Olympus OM-D E-M1”. I will showcase and talk about the images that brought me awards success during 2014 and share my thoughts and work on the new OM-D E-M5 Mark II.

Olympus Stand, seminar room
Sunday 22nd
Seminar Start: 11.00 – “Awards success in photography and video using the Olympus OM-D E-M1”. I will showcase and talk about the images that brought me awards success during 2014 and share my thoughts and work on the new OM-D E-M5 Mark II.

Olympus Stand, seminar room
Monday 23rd
Seminar Start: 16.00 – “Awards success in photography and video using the Olympus OM-D E-M1”. I will showcase and talk about the images that brought me awards success during 2014 and share my thoughts and work on the new OM-D E-M5 Mark II.

Olympus Stand, seminar room
Tuesday 24th
Seminar No 1 Start: 11.00 – “Awards success in photography and video using the Olympus OM-D E-M1”. I will showcase and talk about the images that brought me awards success during 2014 and share my thoughts and work on the new OM-D E-M5 Mark II.

Seminar No 2 Start: 15.00 – “London Taxi – a short film shot on the new OM-D E-M5 Mark II”. I will show and talk about his short film, sharing what makes this new camera indispensable. As an added bonus, I’ll actually be showing a brand new edit and grade of the London Taxi film, which I have called Taxi Driver. The show will be the first place this is shown and will be online after the event.

There are lots of talks by my friends and colleagues at the Olympus stand, so make sure to check out the full Olympus schedule.

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Members of the Snapper Stuff team at Tower Bridge Studios in London. The team with some of the products from Think Tank Photo, KLM, Lightech and LumiQuest.  December 08, 2012. Photo: Ant Upton

Members of the SnapperStuff team at Tower Bridge Studios in London. The team with some of the products from Think Tank Photo, KLM, Lightech and LumiQuest. December 08, 2012. Photo: Ant Upton

I’ll be with the SnapperStuff team on Stand B102, so pop by and have a chat about all things Think Tank Photo (by far my favourite and most used bags), FLM tripods & heads, Lumiquest hotshoe strobist flash modifiers, Lightech light modifiers, MindShift Gear (outdoors bags) and of course, all things photography and video! You can also meet the SnapperStuff team; uniquely, we are all full time professional photographers, so relevant advice and good conversation is pretty much a given!

My SnapperStuff Talks

I shall also be  giving two talks on behalf of SnapperStuff at the Film Making Theatre at the show:

Film Making Theatre
Saturday 21st
14.30 – 15.10 “Multimedia Shooting”. Discover essential filming techniques and how to mix photography, timelapse, video and audio.

Film Making Theatre
Monday 23rd
11.30 – 12.10 “Essentials of documentary film making”. Advice on the steps needed to achieve your filmmaking vision.

You can see a full list of all my talks on the Photography Show website.

Hope to see you at the show!