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“Only 10 per cent of what I shoot is good enough” – the truth of photography revealed by Leeds Trinity graduate

by Tom Heath

Don’t “spray and pray”, but be prepared to take a lot of photos during a shoot, trainee journalists were told today.

“I would say, only about 10 per cent of what I shoot is good enough to be delivered to the client,” said Mark Dolby, director at Story Film & Photography.

In a talk at the Leeds Trinity Journalism and Media Week, Mark said it is about ensuring each photo you take is deliberate, but you will need to make sure you take too many, as opposed to too few.

He told audience members that for some shoots he’ll take over 5,000 photos, before cutting that final total of images to under 500.

Mark Dolby explains the process behind how we takes and then discards a large amount of photos he takes.

Mark also discussed how the increasing quality of cameras on phones opens up great opportunities for anyone to dive into photography and get learning.

On the topic of phone photography, he said: “You can take better pictures with your smartphone now than ever before.”

For Mark, it is more about the photographer, not the equipment. Even a seemingly simple setup can allow you to produce brilliant photos.

“Good photography isn’t about the equipment,” he added.

Mark also discussed how he thought modern technologies had changed the photography industry.

He believes that there is a greater desire for content creation because of the expansion of platforms to distribute content.

He said: “More people can make video, but the demand has increased as well. We don’t struggle to find work because people understand the value of video and photography.”

Mark spoke about the more emotive side of photography too, after being prompted by a question about his favourite types of photos.

“Some of my favourite images I’ve ever taken, are the personal ones of the family. Especially surrounding the birth of our two daughters,” he added.

The best photos to Mark, are those which have an intensity to them, and show a powerful story behind the image.

Yorkshire Voice Mark Dolby explains the importance of creating an emotional relationship with your subject.

Build a relationship with who you’re taking photos of, try to have some camaraderie with the subject instead of diving straight into shooting is Mark’s advice.

He said: “If you’ve not got the connection, it just shows in the pictures.”

It wasn’t all just about the taking of photos, with Mark dedicating some time to how he edits his images and how he makes the process easier.

“Try and think ahead when you’re taking the photograph… There are often things which will take 30 minutes to remove in photoshop, but can be eliminated before you even take the photo,” he said on the topic.

After being asked what he would go back and advise his younger self, he said: “I wish that I had created more when I was at Leeds Trinity. I’m very envious of the kit students get their hands on now… I’d have been making more images, more films, just creating a portfolio.”

What do you think?