The man in this picture, his name is Tommy and he’s a Glaswegian photographer.
I started taking photographs properly a few years ago. I stumbled in an out of different styles and ways of looking at my own work, I tried emulating the work of famous photographers and I just ended up with sub-standard facsimiles that just screamed “I don’t really have a clue what I’m doing or why I’m doing it”. I just wanted to be good.
Then I joined Flickr and found Tommy’s photographs. They’re so rich in colour, thick and potent with life and energy, so bright and full of narrative. I made the same mistake of trying to emulate his work for a while but then I read something he wrote;
When it comes to processing, I use Adobe Lightroom, and do not use any presets, because the requirements for each photograph are different. If I am to analogise my processing with cooking, then I will not reveal my recipe. This is in part for reasons which, while obviously selfish, are I’m sure understandable. Secondly but separately, I genuinely believe it is better that you find the way yourself. I used to admire photographs I saw on Flickr and would have loved to know exactly how they had been processed, but if I had found out then perhaps I would have imitated and stopped pushing to improve my technque: instead, I continued - and continue - to experiment, and eventually found a recipe of my own, with surprises I couldn’t have imagined when I set out to develop it; a recipe with which I was very happy and which I think is uncommon and distinctive.
Postprocessing is an important learning tool: in my experience, playing around with all the possibilities teaches one how to understand more deeply and how to notice more readily light and colour. Having processed hundreds of thousands of photo’s on an individual basis, I can now look at an image I have taken and know what I want to do to it: I can say that the balance of blues is fine, but the red balance is off: that the shadows are too dark but that the highlights are too flat. If you just work with presets or by imitating someone else’s technique without analysing and understanding what you’re doing, then you will learn nothing.
And that, friends, is when I realised that it’s best to stop emulating and start creating.