We’ve all heard the saying ‘a picture tells a thousand words’, but the challenge any portrait photographer faces is telling someone’s story through one shot of their face. Paul Blundell is one man who does just this, working as a professional photographer for clients such as Nike, GQ, Equire, FHM and Waitrose. After being obsessed with photography from a young age, Paul completed a Higher National Diploma in fashion photography at University of the Arts London. With a portfolio worth bragging about, Paul’s amazing career has led him to specialise in portrait, celebrity, sports and action photography. I was thrilled when Paul agreed to take a break from behind the lens and share his top tips with Hotcourses. Proving that anything is possible with hard work, dedication and an eye for minor detail; if you’ve ever dreamt of quitting the day job, have a read of this.
So Paul, what inspired you to pursue a career in photography?
The first time I picked up a 35mm camera and processed the film in an old darkroom, I knew. Ahh… good old black and white film – it’s the best way to learn!
I bet! How has your job changed since you first started out?
Technology has changed my business drastically. Where we used to buy a camera and the client paid for the film, we now have to buy new equipment every two years to keep up with the advancements in the industry – it can be very expensive.
Did you have to do any unpaid work placements to get experience?
Yes, lots! I’ve worked for charities, magazines and companies just to get my foot in the door. It’s is a perfect way to meet new people and make valuable contacts for the future.
What’s the most exciting thing that has happened to you at work?
We got flown out to LA to photograph Quentin Tarantino for an Esquire cover. That’s one of the coolest things about my work – you never know what’s around the corner! Becoming a professional photographer is not just a career, it’s a lifestyle.
What are you most proud of?
Photographing and retouching artwork for a band called Enter Shikari, who just happen to be my favourite group. It didn’t pay much, but felt very rewarding working with the band members and the creative team.
What is the environment you work in like?
It’s very insular sometimes with lots of time spent sat in front of a computer and you work on your own more than people realise, so you have to be motivated. It’s a very creative job so I do lots of research, go to the movies, update my websites and folio, speak to new clients, go to exhibitions, parties and social events all in the name of business.
That sounds great! What is the hardest thing about your job?
The pressure. Being a photographer requires a lot of problem solving – sometimes it’s a bit like flying in a plane as the wings fall off. You have to work out how to glue the wings back on while it’s still in the air. But there’s always a solution to every problem, so you have to keep your cool. If you’re late for a shoot it isn’t very professional. It’s always best to have plenty of extra time than be late or, even worse, not turn up at all.
What do you like most about your job?
I have a chance to travel and I get to meet a whole array of fantastic celebrities, sports stars and real people. No day is ever the same and as I work for myself, I have perfect job security.
What tips could you give to someone who is interested in photography?
Take photographs of the things you like – people, buildings, landscapes, food, nightscapes, anything! Your first step, once you have learned the basics at college or university, is to get in contact with a photographer you like and ask if they require an assistant – this is when you learn the most about shooting and working commercially. It’s a very complex business and can be quite isolating and lots of hard work but the rewards are great if you have what it takes.
Finally, remember it takes time to get very good but don’t give up. Always keep in close contact with people who might be able to help you make your photography dreams become reality.
That’s great advice, thanks Paul!
If you think you’ve got what it takes to follow in Paul’s footsteps, why not take a look at the wide range of photography courses listed on Hotcourses? With plenty of full time, part time and weekend options available, we’re sure you’ll find just want you need to get those fingers clicking!