Oxford School of Photography

insights into photography

Monthly Archives: January 2016

A Cautionary Tale

So this story is true, it was told to me today by a good friend and if you are lax should send shivers down you spine.

My friend was working on images on her laptop, it was a very important project, hundreds of images shot all over the country and almost unrepeatable as most of the subjects were in their 90’s. My friend, she shall remain anonymous, was feeling unwell and so took her laptop to the sofa and in a short time felt unwell enough to lie down to have a little snooze. She has two cats, one came and settled and my friend fell deeper into sleep. Vaguely aware of the other cat trying to get comfortable but too far in the land of nod to do anything about it my friend continued to sleep.


spoiler alert – this is not the cat in question

When she awoke and settled back into her work she couldn’t find the folder with all her images. She searched her laptop but no they were not there. Panic rising she worked out they must somehow have got into the trash or waste bin so opened that folder and no they were not there……I think by this time panic was no longer rising but had reached it’s zenith of terror. It was clear her images, all of them, the year’s work, were no longer in existence on her computer. I believe we can all imagine how this felt. She worked out that the other cat in trying to get comfortable had hit the delete key and then either out of stupidity or malice when asked “there are too many files to trash these to the bin would you like to delete them permanently” had said yes, or at least pawed yes.

My friend went to a computer store to see if they could help but no they couldn’t, maybe a data recovery company could extract them from the hard drive but it was unlikely and the cost would be hundreds of pounds even if they couldn’t.

Well the story has a happy ending, my friend had backed up her files and so had only lost the processing work she had done since her last back up. All the RAW files still existed.

So have you got your files backed up. I back mine up when I load them into Lightroom, I use the back up to second drive function and later I back them up to a third external drive that I locate somewhere else. I could use the ‘cloud’ but the number of images I have would take a pretty large cloud. If you haven’t backed up recently, or god forbid ever, do so this weekend.

Here are some links that might help you

Your Photo Backup Needs a Backup

Best backup software 2015/2016 UK: 13 best file- and system backup utilities

The 5 Best Ways to Backup Digital Photos

The best way to back up a photo library, back up photos online, back up photos to iCloud


I know the title bar is a bit shouty, sorry for that! This article on Featureshoot is a insight into what photographers think when starting out, it is strange that many of them seem to find the brickbats and rejections were not to be expected. These photographers do seem to be mainly aiming at the art rather than the commercial arena and that might be why they assumed their work might be accepted without question. Anyway it is a very interesting article and worth 5 minutes of your time, I should do the same but ask my commercial photographer friends

Here are a selection


Image © Richard Tuschman

Richard Tuschman: I can think of two. First, you cannot please everyone, and your audience is not going to include everyone. Find your voice, make the work you need to make, and let the work find your audience. Second, you never “arrive;” you are always on the journey. You have to keep constantly searching, learning, and reinventing yourself. There is no auto-pilot.


Self-portrait © Leon Borensztein

Leon Borensztein: That as a portrait photographer I cannot seem to please my subjects. The unsightly ones think I make them look unattractive and the gorgeous ones think I make them look unsightly. It seems that most people believe that what they see in the mirror is much better rendition of themselves than my portraits. Why did I choose this profession? I could be a prima-ballerina.


Image © Sophie Gamand, from the book Wet Dog

Sophie Gamand: Things don’t happen to you if you don’t put yourself out there and you just can’t control everything, which is a great thing! I used to overthink a lot and stop myself from doing the things I wanted to be doing. I would find excuses; I would scare myself out of them. The day I stopped fearing or anticipating, and started actually doing, I shot Wet Dog, the series that would change my life forever. You just never know where a project will take you, so when the desire is there, just act on it: make that trip, take that photo, organize that shoot. When I shot Wet Dog I was planning on a different project, but I was at the groomer and the dogs looked cute wet, so I snapped away. That series went viral, won me awards, including a Sony World Photography Award, got me a book deal, and kickstarted my career. I could have never planned that. So stop over-planning and start doing!

Read the rest of these insights here

Saul Leiter – Photographers Gallery Exhibition

If you have been on one of our courses we would have probably introduced you to Saul Leiter because we love his photographs. The Photographers Gallery in London has an exhibition of his work from 22 Jan – 3 Apr 2016. Now you can see his work as it should be seen, on the wall.

Saul Leiter


Saul Leiter: Red Umbrella, ca. 1958 © Saul Leiter, Courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York. Aus der Ausstellung "Saul Leiter-Retrospektive", Deichtorhallen Hamburg 3.2.-15.4.2012.





It’s only recently that Saul Leiter (1923-2013) has received due recognition for his pioneering role in the emergence of colour photography. He moved to New York intent on becoming a painter, yet ended up working for magazines such as Harper’s Bazaar, Elle andBritish Vogue and became known for his impressionistic colour street scenes.

As early as 1946, and thus well before representatives of the 1970s new colour photography school (such as William Eggleston and Stephen Shore), Leiter was using Kodachrome colour slide film for his free artistic shots, despite it being despised by artists of the day.

“When we do not know why the photographer has taken a picture and when we do not know why we are looking at it, all of a sudden we discover something that we start seeing. I like this confusion.” Saul Leiter

Photographers Gallery 

16–18 Ramillies Street, London W1F 7LW

Mon – Fri: 10.00 – 18.00
Thu: 10.00 – 20.00 during exhibitions
Sat: 10.00 – 18.00
Sun: 11.00 – 18.00

Six Photographers Each Have A Photo Session With The Same Man

This is an interesting exercise in understanding how photographers approach a shoot based on the information given. The preconceptions we all have about people based on what little we know, and how that effects the way we respond to that person both personally and photographically is the basis of this project. I have to say I am glad I wasn’t one of the photographers, I would have felt cheated and manipulated, but then again maybe that is what we as photographers do to our subjects, manipulate them to fit our idea of who they should be.

When six photographers are tasked with taking portraits of the same man, the results are astonishing. Here’s the twist: each photographer is told a different (fake) personal history of the man. As portrait photographers, it’s their goal to portray this man, as they see him, in a single photograph. Though he comes to each photo session dressed exactly the same, carries himself the same way, and speaks with each photographer in the same manner, the photographers treat him differently and photograph him completely differently depending on the background story.
Read more here