August 2016 was a great month

For different but related reasons August 2016 was a great month for me.


In Good Company

Firstly I had a comprehensive portfolio of my photographs published in the online magazine f11::for PHOTOGRAPHERS AND AFICIONADOS.

Secondly I gained my Master of Photography (M.Photog) status with the (AIPP)


In Equally Good Company.

The first achievement was the result of over nine months of submission and collaboration with the f11 Publisher and Creative Director, Tim Steele.

With some gentle (and often times not so subtle) prodding, Tim was able to move me away from a grab-bag of retrospective images culled from a lifetime of photography into displaying a targeted and curated array of complimentary shots.  For this I will be eternally grateful.  Whilst I have a fair record in curating photographic shows for other people this was proof positive that the artist should rely on the input of a dispassionate party in such an exercise.

As a long time exponent of the black and white process and genre, it was an eyeopener to me that not a single monochrome image was included.


Istanbul Dolls; © Ian Poole, 2015

The wonder of colour was never more evident than in this portfolio.

Issue 57 commencing at page 98 gave a comprehensive survey of my more contemporary photographs.  The supporting essay alluded to a voyeuristic photographic eye – a statement that I don’t shy away from, albeit not in the wide angle, camera in the face documentary style that is employed by some practitioners of so-called street photography.  I am no Vivian Maier!


Observations; © Ian Poole, 2015.

What this project did do for me was to isolate a not strongly held view that I was attracted to people and place.  Having been fortunate to travel a few times over the past few years it was obvious that I would document those moments.  But it was the urban landscape (with its attendant population) that attracted my lens more than “the landscape”.  It took an analysis of various submissions for Tim to make this point so strongly – a fact with which I am pleased.

The second part of the bookending of the month of August was my gaining my M.Photog.  The road to this achievement has been paved with many challenges (I Earned a 73 ……. and a few other scores) and (Failure) and (The 2015 APPAs).  In this 40th year of the APPAs (Australian Professional Photography Award), it was a nice co-incidence for me.

I had attended the “test run” of the APPAs 41 years ago at the HYPO Convention at Broadbeach on the Gold Coast, and entered the second APPA and earned a Silver Merit.  Having decided early in my membership of the AIPP that I was a better Judge than an Entrant I chose for a long period to restrict my involvement to the judging table – UNTIL!   Some six years ago a few of my Institute “Friends” took me aside at an Awards Dinner and monstered me.  “Put Up or Shut Up” was the demand.  Thank you Mike Langford APP.L GM.Photog FAIPP,  Jackie Ranken, Peter Eastway APP.L GM.Photog FAIPP FNZIPP Hon. FAIPP Hon. FNZIPP, Ian van der Wolde APP.L M.Photog III Hon. FAIPP, Andrew Campbell APP.L GM.Photog and David Oliver AAP.L GM.Photog.  So, with the exception of the disastrous 2014 Year of the Bronzes, I steadily worked my way through gaining my Associateship and then Masters.


Birmingham Gallery Cafe; © Ian Poole, 2016.

This year’s Award images also contributed to my gaining a Master of Photography within the New Zealand Institute of Professional Photography Iris Award system.


Tallin, Estonia; © Ian Poole, 2016.

Huge thanks need to go to Living Image Print and Andrew Merefield (and Darren Jew who was away swimming with whales) for the care and professionalism given to putting these pixels onto paper.  A skilled job for a pair of skilled professionals.


Opposite The Ritz; © Ian Poole, 2016.


Edinburgh; © Ian Poole, 2016.

……and a final comment must be made to my talented mentor Adam Finch M.Photog.  Adam has continually challenged, critiqued and encouraged my photographic output.  No good photographer can exist without a mentor (or an Editor).  Thanks.





Portfolio Published in f11

It was with some pleasure when I read the current issue of f11 :: for photographers and aficionados.    With a substantial number of contemporary photographs to view it was a joy to see them presented with such care by Creative Director Tim Steele.


The process of arriving at this point was both interesting and laborious.  My initial idea of submitting a grab bag of images from a checkered commercial career was ruthlessly rejected  (fortunately) by the editorial board.   I was forced to regroup and reassess the work to be presented and be also constrained by the publishing needs of a journal that is produced eleven times a year.

I am in good company with Stephen Robinson’s delightful memories of vintage New Zealand architecture, the NZIPP Iris Award winners and of course the essay by Tony Bridge and equipment review by Gary Baildon.   I am almost embarrassed to mention a column by yours truly amping up the debate about whether photography award entries should (or should not) be the sole work of the entrant.
f11 Magazine has a social media presence on Twitter: @f11magazine; and

……and one of the photos that didn’t make the cut –


New Otani; © Ian Poole, 2015.

The Way to Art is through Craft

The way to art is through craft; not around craft – Ansel Adams

I was reminded of this cryptic comment whilst attending the recent Iris Awards held in Wellington New Zealand by the NZ Institute of Professional Photography.


Piper and Posers; © Ian Poole, 2016 (IRIS Silver Award)

With over 1,200 photographs judged in various categories over three days by local and overseas photographers, this was an event of resounding success.  Some great images were viewed, discussed and awarded.  With this access to vast riches of both imagery and photographic knowledge, all gathered together in a couple of small rooms, it was an opportunity to absorb creativity beyond compare.

It was not the fact that there was an audience – it was the composition of that audience that surprised me.

The judging of the wedding and portrait categories were unsurprisingly a case of a full house at every session.  Hardly to be marveled at when the photographic industry is largely constructed on the business of domestic image making.  My surprise was that these people disappeared from the rooms when other apparently unrelated categories were being considered.

This is the age where few domestic photographers maintain a formal studio, preferring to work from a home environment, with resulting wedding and portrait images being taken in informal outdoor surroundings.  For example the family group in a park setting, or the wedding couple being dwarfed by a large factory wall.   These good uses of the natural and urban landscape are part and parcel of the 21st century portrait or wedding photographic experience.

So, I wondered, where were all the wedding and portrait photographers when the Landscape Category was being judged?


Hong Kong; © Ian Poole, 2016 (IRIS Silver Award)

Where did they go? There were many entrants in the room but nowhere near the number of practitioners in evidence when the domestic genres were being assessed.  Many a time I have observed the plaintive cries of wedding photographers on social media agonising over an upcoming wet weekend and seeking fresh ideas and secret locations to use while documenting their brides and grooms.  It occurred to me,  wouldn’t observing the locations chosen by landscape workers be potentially useful for placing your bridal couples within their context?  Or a factory, or some city hall steps, or a strange dark and moody alleyway?  These are all locations where I have seen portraits produced for bridal couples working under a photographer’s direction.

A further cause for concern for me was the surprising comment by some audience members during the judging of the Documentary Category that men were assessing birth photographs!  This ironic observation would have had the potential for humour in times other than the politically correct ones we live in today, but the strength of such comments was a little daunting.  The category quite reasonably embraces the idea of the camera as a means of recording (documenting) the human endeavour.

A broad ethos at best.

The criticism was two pronged.  Firstly that male judges had no understanding of the birth process and that they were unaware of the degree of difficulty involved in this area of photography.  This seemed a somewhat sexist approach.

However, putting that aside, my first response would be that the judges (male and female) were briefed to find the best photographs showing a documentation of the human condition.  Note the requirement to arrive at a winning photograph.  All the judges came from different areas of the industry but carried with them skills and abilities to assess and arrive at a conclusion.  Some were skilled practitioners in documentary photography, and all possessed that necessary ability to assess, analyse and score a photograph within the constraints of a well-documented and rigorously maintained process.

The degree of difficulty argument is not new in the awards system.

The wedding photographer working in the pouring rain, the newborn photographer with the wailing baby, the architectural photographer without a cloud in the sky, the commercial photographer with a rubbish skip in front of a building at 5am, the medical photographer with surgeons and anaesthetists in front of their view –  these and many other obstacles are part and parcel of a professional photographer’s daily life.  To imagine that judges are unaware or unable to acknowledge these challenges is misguided and a sad slight on the skills and experience of the judges who worked tirelessly to ensure that high standards ensued.

Fortunately with some long hours, some diligent consideration, some robust discussion and eventual collegiate agreement, the 2016 NZIPP Iris Awards were a resounding success – congratulations to the Institute and their many workers on a job well done.


Nagano; © Ian Poole, 2016 (IRIS Silver Award)

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This essay first appeared in f11 Magazine :: for PHOTOGRAPHERS and AFICIONADOS, p146, issue 56 :: July, 2016.







School of Hard Knocks


Robbie and Margaret Bruce; © Ian Poole, Brisbane, 24 June 1967.

It is not commonly known that I had a reasonably extensive background in wedding photography prior to moving through to the commercial and advertising genres.  With hindsight I was probably not the greatest exponent of the craft at that time.  But I do look back with a little fondness at the skills that I learnt during those development years.

The late 1960s, in yet to come of age sub-tropical Brisbane, Australia, was not a hotbed of creative energy.  Powerful flash units semi-permanently fixed to medium format cameras and driven by the equivalent of a motor cycle battery draped over one’s shoulder were the norm.  It was a time of cameras manufactured by Rollei and Mamiya and Yashica, and flash guns by Metz and Braun. We had moved past flash bulbs, although I did for a while work for a photographer who supplied me with a 2×3 Century Graphic – the roll film version of the Speed Graphic.  I was then able to get my New York press photographer fantasies out of my system.  (Wow, you must be very old… – ED)


Catholic Leader-Birth Control; © Ian Poole, c1966.

No it wasn’t the equipment that was paramount in my early training but the people skills I observed and learnt from clients and other photographers.  Remember I was the classic back-yarder.  No formal training, no tertiary education; just a man with a Nikon F and the desire to earn some extra money.

The Nikon was the first mistake!  No photographer employer was interested in 35mm. It was far too small a film size, ignoring the convenience of a smaller camera.  After investing in the Nikon all I had money for was a second-hand Yashica 635 twin lens camera using the 6x6cm 120 format film.

But the real training came in having to interact with clients who had not booked my services.  It was a time when following a reading of the Saturday morning wedding column in the daily newspaper, I made a list of weddings and times and locations and passed them out to a small group of ‘Spec’ (speculative) photographers who would set off with rolls of film (but not many) and business cards (lots).  Our job was to garner photographs of the wedding guests, and one or two of the bridal party.  Our sales came from family groups dressed in their Sunday best, hair combed and faces cleaned attending a formal gathering, possibly for the first time in a while.  As well as taking photographs, our job was to sprinkle the wedding guests with business cards encouraging them to visit the Studio in the following week.


Gay Walker, Miss Australia 1972 (Woman’s Day Magazine); © Ian Poole, Brisbane.

My job was to create photographs that sold.

This most basic of all marketing business premises was hammered into me.  Family groups lined up in an aesthetic, but well lit, group were only successful if all faces were towards camera and had NO blinks.  Finding a grandmother with a cute grandchild was like striking gold.  These moments had to be exploited (in the nicest most professional photographic way) and turned into ‘must have’ photographs.  Remember I only got 10% commission on SOLD photographs.

This later translated into a formulae that was useful when covering more hectic and fast moving events like the foyer of the theatre holding a Saturday afternoon ballet matinee or in the crowded foyer outside the university graduations.  The Grandmother Formula was a pure gold mine at ballet performances.  Smooth talking little old ladies became my stock in trade.  A sharp, but polite and respectful, repartee was developed.


Sterling Studio Staff (Author far left)

Sterling Studio Staff (author far left), University of Queensland Graduation, Brisbane City Hall; c1966. (note ties, sombre suits and respectful haircuts)

I was working with one or two older photographers who became my mentors – and such was their silver-tongued monologue delivered in the space of 3 metres and 10 seconds.


Mrs Poole and #2 Son, Her Majesty’s Theatre; © Ian Poole, Brisbane, c1967.

Lighting was always easy – blast at f11 with flash.  But posing had to be controlled and arranged and done in moments.

Working the graduating crowds as the completion of the awards ceremony was a short timed photographic feeding frenzy that required similar, but slightly different skills.  The robed and mortar-boarded graduate had to feature prominently, but the cluster of family needed to be respected and appropriately arranged.  Groups of graduate friends could not be ignored, but family groups must come first.  This was all in a time well before such institutions stepped in and arranged a single entity to do this documentation and usually well away from the hurly burly of the public entrance.

The skills gained were many and varied.  Recognising a saleable shot from 20 metres was a requirement.  Using the right language to greet, slow down, stop and interact with a prospective subject was critical.


Carol Stratford at the Theatre; © Ian Poole, Brisbane, c1966.

Posing, rearranging, grouping, checking for bra straps, fly-away hair etc – all of this done on the run and with great respect, was as critical as getting the correct exposure.

Any wonder I regard this 5-6 year period of my life with fondness and a gratitude to those unnamed fellow photographers who shared a few of their secrets.  What they didn’t tell me I learnt from the School of Hard Knocks and Dreadful Mistakes, I’m sure you’re familiar with it?

That period, that school, those learnings would be enduring components later to combine with an understanding of aesthetics gained through post-graduate study.  Together they prepared me for new and exciting opportunities within the photographic profession.


NB: all these photographs will be part of the Ian Poole Archive shortly to be accessible at the John Oxley Library within the State Library of Queensland.


Screen Shot 2016-02-28 at 4.14.49 pmThis essay first appeared in f11 Magazine :: for PHOTOGRAPHERS and AFICIONADOSp156, issue 51 :: February, 2016.








Clothes Maketh Man


Poole @ Boundary Street, Spring Hill; c1975

Clothes maketh man – From the Latin, a translation of: Vestis virum facit

Whilst I don’t necessarily think that Erasmus’ original advice in 1400, or Shakespeare’s revisit to it in 1600 in Hamlet, is totally relevant to today’s photographer, it did spring to mind recently when I was a guest at a couple of weddings and noted, with some disquiet, the dress sense of some of the working photographers at these events..

At a time when professional photographers are complaining that their livelihood is being threatened by large numbers of price cutting competitors, I would have thought that an upmarket presentation would be as important as up-to-the minute equipment and a set of creative photographs promptly delivered to clients.

I understand that jeans, black t-shirt and sneakers can be seen as hip and happening for an advertising photographer wanting to fit in with a similarly clad advertising agency art director, but it seems strange that a similar wardrobe would be seen as suitable wear in front of clients who have spent thousands of dollars on a once in a lifetime wedding dress and a tuxedo by Armani.

Indeed there are good sound reasons for a commercial or industrial photographer wanting to state his skill on a hard hat or a high visibility fluorescent jacket to slow down the work site questions that come with that territory.  I even know a couple of photographers who have created very large impressive nametags which they wear for that very reason.

I am not personally a fan of embroidered and named clothing, but admit that many photographers find it reassuring for their clients, and if it is done within the bureaucratic guidelines, the tax office will allow a uniform clothing allowance.  My personal problem with this tagged uniform is that I would feel that I was being portrayed as a tradesman rather than an artist.  Fighting words I know, and I am not meaning any disrespect to qualified trades people everywhere.  I would never stray away from a highly qualified and experienced practitioner when dealing with electricity, water, sewage, or gas connections, much less car engines or construction.  But equally, I don’t want to wear a hard hat cheerfully emblazoned ‘Poolie’, or worse, ‘The Poolester

The sad irony in taking this stance is that where I live, Australia, 100% of qualified trades practitioners have completed a 3-5 year formal training program and on current available figures well under 20% of contemporary photographers have similar (or any) training.

It is the wedding area of our industry that I am most concerned about.  It is an industry that can be very much on public display.  Just a drive around the suburbs on a Saturday afternoon can bring visions of casually jeans clad, sneaker wearing photographers working with a bridal party who could be wearing outfits costing in excess of $20,000 and waaaaay beyond.  The ironic contrast beggars belief.  And its not like the clients are asking these professionals to slide under their house, or shinny up their chimney…

Not wanting to allow my rant to lack substance, I approached a few photographers with skills and credibility far greater than mine in this area, seeking a real world working perspective on the subject of dress code.


JvK @ Mount Cook; © Ian Poole, 2008.

Christchurch (New Zealand) based Johannes van Kan has some firm views of what photographers should wear, although not necessarily totally in line with mine.  It was instructive speaking to JvK as he immediately spoke of having polished shoes and a discussion point on his check list that spoke of what the bride wanted him to wear at her wedding.  In other words his personal presentation was important to him but he wanted it to be in sync with the bride’s wishes.  All of which is decided weeks in advance of the event.

Brisbane (Australia) based and current Queensland Professional Photographer of the Year Richard Muldoon was equally clear in what he and his staff would wear to cover a wedding.  Even in sub-tropical Brisbane, Richard was adamant that his tailored suit was part and parcel of his wedding package.  He noted that client feedback spoke of the presentation by him and his staff as much as the creative quality of his work.  This possibly indicates as much about a photographer whose business approach measures such seemingly unimportant details.  It follows that Cath Muldoon, wife and business partner, similarly dresses in tailored suits whilst completing assignments.


Yervant Zanazanian; © Doug Spowart, Brisbane 2013.

Yervant Zanazanian needs little introduction.  This extroverted, flamboyant, world traveled wedding photographer is not necessarily seen wearing a suit but his sharp and tailored clothes, black, always black, are sharp, stylish and at the cutting edge.  It matches the manner in which he delivers his skill in covering an event

It strikes me that dressing for success seems to bring its own rewards.  Yes, it’s a personal decision, but it’s also a professional statement, so if you do nothing else, decide what your statement ought to be.

It’s a truism that applies equally to many professions, as well as our own.

Your move…

Screen Shot 2015-08-31 at 3.18.56 pmThis essay first appeared in f11 Magazine :: for PHOTOGRAPHERS and  AFICIONADOSp150, issue 46, August 2015.


Poole @ Warren Street; c1978

In memoriam


Tony Whincup; © Mike Langford, New Zealand, 2014.

A photographic friend of mine died recently.  It was unexpected in a way that these things sometimes can be.  He lived in another country and whilst I desperately wanted to attend his funeral, it was not possible.


A Teacher Teaching; © Inspire Photography, 2014.

What did happen was a series of photographs started to appear in that thing called social media.  Firstly, a shot of him working amongst photographers taken last year.  It was what he did best, imparting knowledge to others, and there he was doing it in a well-recorded photograph.


Brett Whincup and His Father’s Portrait; © Mike Langford, 2015.

Then I heard that a magnificent portrait of him was on display at the funeral, taken by another talented mutual friend.  This was a portrait that he had not seen, but now we all have because of its importance on that day.  Her photographic portrait created discussion amongst his friends, the mourners.  Almost immediately, social media started to fill with images taken at the ceremony.  Photographs that took me to a place I could not attend, to recognise that he was indeed amongst friends at the end.  All of his friends that I recognised were photographic acquaintances shared, because I did not know his immediate family. Amongst the photographic tributes was a portfolio of shots taken on the day by one of his close friends who had earlier delivered a touching eulogy.  But the portfolio of black and white photographs spoke in emotional words that I fully understood despite my physical absence.


Rhiarn Phillips singing Amazing Grace; © Mike Langford, 2015.

There was a poignant photograph of a young female mourner kneeling beside the coffin whilst singing Amazing Grace.  I was affected as if I had been there in person.


A Final Solo; © Mike Langford, 2015

There was the photograph of a musician friend playing a last solo. There were the young girls from the endangered Pacific island that he had championed for so long doing a graceful dance in front of the mourners.  He had published such photographs in books as part of his academic research, and at the end it was part of his final story. And finally we see that it was a grey, wet, cloudy day.  A day fit for a funeral.  We know these things because a photographer shared his monochromatic documentation of an event I could not attend.


A Day Fit for a Funeral; © Mike Langford, 2015

The story is this, photographs can bring tears to our eyes, can convey a message, explain an event or just quietly tell it precisely how it was.  Whilst some of what I write about today is a documentation of events, there is also another thought at play here.  Are we as photographers doing enough to document and record portraits of those who are important to us? We are photographers – it is what we do best, and surely the onus is upon us to go out and take significant photographs of people important to us and to our profession?  It can be part of our commercial practice or it can be part of what we do to repay our own community, and to society as a whole, with that special skill that we possess. Let’s pay it forward, knowing that one day these portraits will be important, valued, treasured. Who are you photographing tomorrow, and why?


Tony Portrait; © Jackie Ranken, Queenstown NZ, 2014

This essay first appeared in f11 Magazine :: for PHOTOGRAPHERS and AFICIONADOSp144, issue 43, May 2015.

Joiners versus Lone Wolves

Lone Wolf_Ian-Poole

Lone Pedestrian in Nagoya; © Ian Poole, 2011.

To the dismay of my Mother, my Father was a committee-man.  Therefore I can’t help it, it is in my DNA!  What Mother saw as wasting valuable family time, Dad saw as an altruistic repayment of events from an earlier life.  He was a returned serviceman who had had a narrow escape in the Battle of the Coral Sea and devoted a lot of time to war widows and ex-servicemen’s associations; and of course our local Boy Scout Troop.  Mum had trouble talking to the neighbours – but was good at sewing Scout badges on the correct sleeve and getting four sons off to Sunday School on time, with clean faces.  I was exposed to the classic joiners versus lone wolves scenario at a very early age.

Me – I started work in a small two man office, then worked in a small marketing self-contained unit, until I started my own photography business with a partner.  I had never been part of a large business structure and was accustomed to making decisions without too much supervision.  With this background, and the aforementioned DNA, I was destined to be a joiner.  It also helped combat the somewhat lonely existence of the photographer working in a small environment by giving access to similarly minded people dealing with like problems. Within six months of forming my first photographic business I was a member of my local state council of the Australian professional body.

For a joiner like me it gave me the security of being able to mix with other photographers, to share ideas and thoughts, and on occasion to brainstorm problems with people suitably qualified, by dint of experience, to do so.  My membership of a professional body also gave me the opportunity to seek peer assessment via a structured process.  This also proved valuable in finding my place in the professional pecking order of the day. Today, I enjoy helping others entering the funnel of achievement to do exactly this, attempting to repay the kindnesses of those who helped me.

Conversely I can see an advantage in being a lone wolf. Running ahead of the pack and not looking over your shoulder must be liberating – if you have the courage of your convictions and the requisite skills to conduct a profitable business without access to moral support.  In a day and age when so many photographers have no formal photographic education (which causes me great heartache – but that is a rant for another day), I doubt that the lone wolf concept is useful within a personal development context.  The lone wolf can only assess their photographic value by means of customer support and satisfaction, and self-assessment against similar published images within his or her genre of operation.  In my experience, thelone wolf is often an entrepreneur or a workaholic who is unable to delegate, or has no one to delegate to. A lone wolf is often a business jack-of-all-trades who is unlikely to share business decisions or ideas.

Nagoya Photographers-Ian-Poole

Amongst Photographer Friends, Nagoya; 2012.

Whilst some lone wolves eschew the social aspects of joining an industry body, it is more the business aspects of belonging to such a body that are important to me. Such a membership assists in validating my involvement in the photography industry, it gives me an introduction to other practitioners in distant towns and even more distant countries.  One of the tangible benefits for joiners, is access to the managed on going education that is best orchestrated by an industry body, this often tailored to contemporary needs as opposed to the primary education which was required prior to entering the profession.

Whilst I occasionally cast envious glances at lone wolves, I have to admit that there is some comfort in having a secure place within an industry body – if that makes me a middle of the road type of photographer then I am proud to be a joiner.

My association with fellow joiners has provided comfort beyond measure in difficult times, more than a few very close friendships and camaraderie within a large group of people on the same journey, even if our destinations, accidental or intended, are manifestly different.


This article is reproduced with kind permission from f11 Magazine – issue 24.

Mentors and Mentoring


Page 134, Issue #22 June 2013

The word mentor variously means a wise and trusted counselor or a teacher; or an influential senior sponsor or supporter. In the photographic world it usually means a teacher in your early days, or a senior supporter when the photographer has started to build a career. 

The importance and value of the mentor varies over a photographer’s career.  As a student, you are influenced by your teachers and their skill base – particularly in a visual area.  This is a great way to learn, but there is a need to start developing a personal style that is independent of the tutor; to continue slavishly following a tutor’s style is heading down the pathway of plagiarism. At this point the concept of mentorship is called into question. As a teacher one is required to delicately judge the difference between showing a direction and demanding an art output that is comparable to the tutor’s work. It is sad to recognise a photographer’s teacher by the student’s output.

For the mid-career, or mature photographer, the importance of a mentor is different.  This is where assistance can come in refining an aesthetic goal or concept.  To have access to someone whose opinion is not only technically valid but attuned to the artist’s specific style is a godsend.  Finding a mentor who can give an unbiased peer review is critical to one’s continued personal development. Some times ‘tough love’ is required from a mentor.

An objective mentor can counterbalance a subjective photographer.  Sometimes a photographer can become so dogmatic in their approach to their craft that such arrogance of opinion can stifle creative productive output.  This is where a mentor has an advantage by offering suggestions that prove helpful in terms of circumnavigating such stumbling blocks.

The time of connection with a mentor can vary.  For a student it will be during the teaching process, and probably that will fade until a career is developed when perhaps a further mentorship will be required. For the established photographer, a mentor may be required to work through a particular problem, job or assignment.  For example, when preparing for an exhibition of work the assistance of a trusted mentor offers a great opportunity to objectively analyse images ensuring that these collectively convey the message being given, or the story being told.  For the creative photographer a mentor is also useful when ‘writer’s block’ is encountered, and a mentor may assist to assess past work and offer directions for future endeavours.

Recently I was presented with the phrase ‘growth through exposure to the sunlight of another, or others’ and was struck by it’s appropriateness to this topic.  With members of professional bodies, institutes and associations, there is an easy solution.  Attending their conventions and awards programs can often act as a step towards a mentoring process, as by listening and learning from presenters you have access to many potential mentors or influences in one place.  It may be by forming a connection with another photographer with a similar style or direction you might be able to produce a mentor/mentored relationship.  The ease of communication offered by the internet, makes it possible for these relationships to flourish beyond national borders and outside of common, and often conflicting, marketplaces.

Having a good mentor can assist in avoiding creative stagnation and encourage continued personal growth in all photographers.

Consider one of your own.

This text was first published in the f11 Magazine, June 2013

Instagram – Real Photography or Not?


Incident on Ginza-dori, Tokyo; © Ian Poole, 2012.

In an article (page 10 March 2012) written for my Auckland based friend, Tim Steele, in his f11 Magazine, I spoke of my anxious concern as to whether a smart phone could take photos/be a camera.  As a late adopter of smart phone technology (an early adopter of belt mounted pagers in the late 1970s, but that possibly doesn’t count); I came to the concept of mobile phones as cameras rather late in life.  Up until late 2011 the telephone had been a “ring ring – hello” type of device for me.  At that time I was preparing for a trip to Japan and was keen to share images with friends both at home and on my travels.  Whether my Japanese friends had good English skills (my Japanese is just short of non-existent) they all had good visual literacy skills.  Therefore photography was a legitimate form of communication.


Clouds over Queenstown; © Ian Poole 2013.

Despite using professional equipment (Nikon D800 and a much loved Panasonic Lumix GF1), I found that the note taking capacity of my i-Phone was seductively easy; as was the instant capacity to communicate with friends on the run with Instagram.  There has been contemporary debate about Instagram since its sale to Facebook, but whilst I have taken some cherished images and placed into this software, it is a visual communication device that differs from my “real” cameras.


Homage to Cartier-Bresson at Matisse Exhibition; © Ian Poole Brisbane, 2011.

Moving from travel documentary, I found that the ready availability of have a device in my pocket led to images being taken that would not normally be exposed.  I am not a reportage type of Cartier-Bresson photographer, but found that I was seeing and taking more of these style of images.  My i-Phone had become a notebook that was as indispensable as my Moleskine.

Just as good darkroom technique is important in analogue photography, post-production with i-Phone (or Android) images is critical.  My preferred software is Snapseed, with a camera setting called 6×6 permanently set at black and white as my monochrome image maker; reminiscent of Hasselblad days.

Yes, my i-Phone is an integral item in my camera bag; no, it hasn’t replaced any of my cameras (and that includes a Holga, a Lubitel, a Sharan pinhole and some more serious bits and pieces.


One Way – Keep Left; © Ian Poole, Brisbane, 2011.


Guardian Angel, Queenstown, New Zealand; © Ian Poole, 2013.


Brisbane Cliche Wedding Location; © Ian Poole, 2012.