Patty Papageorgiou Axford [pattapee]
Do you have an online gallery where one can view your photos?
Yes - all my current photographic work can be found here:
And some older work will be added soon.
For how long have you done photography? How did you begin?
My passion for photography began at college where I took a module in creative photography. That was my first taste, which was then put briefly aside as I continued my studies in Film and Video production. My husband (boyfriend at the time) bought me my very first SLR camera a couple of years after graduating and I picked up my love where I left it. Since then I have made the inevitable transition to Digital photography and the last 2 years have turned a much loved hobby into a business.
What has been your education as a photographer?
Snapping, snapping and snapping some more. I learned the basics of exposure and the mechanics of photography at college. During my professional life in video production, I had the opportunity to further experience the practicalities of lighting and framing. But the best education has been simply picking up the camera and taking photos. I have experimented with both film and digital, various lenses and filters and picked up the techniques I needed as I went along.
Trial and Error.
What is your favourite type of photography?
I have an affinity for portraits, in particular children. I favour natural light and environment, capturing moments and emotions that are true and spontaneous. I also love exploring the microscopic world around us - the tiniest plants, insects and details that are invisible to the naked eye. I am fascinated by the vastness of life that surrounds us, not in the unending vistas of landscape but in the smallest of corners in a garden or under a rock.
Composition and atmosphere are what dominate my work but I am still exploring ideas and looking for the style that is truly my own.
What do you try to express through your photography?
I try to capture life. In any form. From a mother's smile at a newborn shoot, to reportage coverage of an event, to a dead baby bird fallen out of a nest. I don't shy away from what some may consider grim images. Death is a part of life and through death comes life. Their co-existence create our experience of the present we live in. I like to portray reality, any way it chooses to appear in front of my lens.
How do you choose your subjects?
Until now, I would say I let my subjects choose me. Unless I have a specific portrait or themed booking, I prefer to take my camera out and go with the flow. Good things happen when you don't have a schedule to adhere to. Relaxed, fun and spontaneous images are what I aim for.
What type of preparation do you do before undertaking the photo session?
First of all make sure batteries are charged! If it is a studio session, I check my lamps have not been knocked whilst in storage and make sure I have spares to take with me. I have a mobile kit I take to clients' houses so thoroughly checking that each time is imperative.
As I work with children a lot I make sure I have consent / release forms for the parents to sign, and make it clear that the images will be used in public on my website and promotional material.
Also, I make sure I have had a good breakfast and wearing comfortable clothes I can move around in - chasing a small child around requires a lot of manoeuvring and potentially lying in mud to get your shot!
Last and not least - that the car has petrol in it.
Do you normally photograph with a purpose already in mind, or do you let yourself go with the flow?
A bit of both. Normally clients will already have something in mind and that is our starting point. However, it is also my job as a creative photographer, to take those ideas and also give them alternative or additional images that they may not have thought of. And of course, working with kids means you have no choice but to go with the flow most times!
Canon, Nikon, Fuji, Sigma, Olympus, Sony, Pentax...which do you place your bets on and why?
My experience with different camera makes is limited. My film SLR is an Olympus OM2 and I have always been thrilled with the results. I worked briefly with a Pentax before and I was equally happy.
My first digital SLR was a Nikon D50 and as I invested in Nikon compatible lenses and kit, it made business sense to me to upgrade again to a Nikon - this time the D7000. I have never used a different Digital SLR so I can't speak for any of them. I am more than happy with the results from my Nikon.
I am however a firm believer in workmanship not tools - of course, a top of the range piece of kit will give you many more possibilities and options, but at the end of the day it is the photographer not the camera that does most of the work.
What software and plug-ins do you use to retouch and manage your photos?
When I first started in Digital photography, I went a little mad on photoshop. I very nearly fell into the lazy trap of "I'll fix it in post". As I progressed however, I inevitably found I was getting bored of staring at a screen clicking a mouse for hrs and missing getting out there and taking photos. So I am pleased to say my photographic brain has settled back into more old fashioned thinking - Get it right in camera, keep editing at a minimum.
I would be lying of course if I claimed to not use any editing software at all. But for my purposes, I have managed to stick to very little. I use Adobe Bridge and Photoshop to adjust brightness, contrast and / or levels and slightly up the saturation. Occasionally I have to spot-clean a bogie or a chocolate stain on a kid's face but overall I try to avoid the necessity of hours touching up minute details on images.
What measures do you take to protect your work against Internet piracy?
This is a tough one... Unfortunately, with the advance of digital photography, the internet is the best and most inexpensive way of exhibiting our work. I keep my portfolio and galleries on a protected website which I pay for and trust. I never post client images on public domains like Facebook and Twitter and even Flicker - if I do, I favour posting links that will take viewers back to my protected website. Anything people can right click on to save an image is a no no for me. Call me cynical, but I also believe if you are offered something for free, don't expect it to have your best interests in mind. I don't feel any of my images are safe on these domains.
Of course I have to put some images up though so I try to keep them at a low resolution and dpi so even if they do get "used" for anything they will not be good enough quality to do anything important with.
Are you a good salesperson of your work? In what should you improve?
Probably not... I like to help people out a lot so tend to do deals that are probably not too friendly to my own business. But, as I am fairly new in my area, I feel it is important to be approachable and get known, than being dismissed straight off as too expensive or not negotiable. I work in a very small and tight community and helping each other out is what makes it so.
I guess what I do need to work on, is wearing my mercenary hat more often...
Which past masters of photography do you most admire?
I don't claim to know many of them and I will not drop any big names here to pretend I do!
Only two spring to mind and neither of them are, at least to my knowledge, considered "masters" of photography, but I love their work nonetheless. The actor Jeff Bridges who captured many a backstage moment with a Widelux camera - I think he is my photography idol.
The second - who I recently discovered was ALSO a photographer, is Jack London. A writer I have greatly admired since my teen years, not only for his novels and stories but for the amazingly interesting life he led as a gold miner, sea farer, penniless writer, land owner... Turns out he also captured moments of that life on film.
Are technology and digital retouching reducing the gap between professionals and amateurs?
No. Perhaps a little, but digital retouching and photography are still skills that need to be learned and honed. Of course anyone can take a picture and alter it in countless ways, but a professional will still give it a standard of quality that is not the same.
Do you consider yourself more technical or more artistic?
Definitely more artistic. I am not technically minded but have had to learn that side of modern photography as there is no escaping it.
How does one develop the instinct of knowing when to press the shutter release button?
Keep looking through your viewfinder! if you don't LOOK you won't learn to anticipate the moment.
When should one use film, and when should one use digital?
I used to be an advocate for film and have slowly come around to digital. To me, film has that wonderfully tactile feel of nostalgia about it. You can recreate it in digital but I can't say it is the same.
Digital photography is extremely practical - you do not worry about wasting shots and even if your card is getting full you can quickly delete images in camera if needed and you are pressed. But getting the film SLR out once in a while is great for making your brain work again - every frame is precious so you take time to consider what you want to do, expose and frame your shot, put some effort into it. I find it is good practice for me to do that often, as I can feel myself easily slipping into laziness and snapping away with my digital cam.
Patty Papageorgiou Axford
Crickhowell - UK