Photography News | Issue 34 | absolutephoto.com
Rising Star Each issue Professional Photo magazine talks to a photographer just making their name, about their journey into photography and where they hope it’ll take them. This issue, Tom Calton talks about his move from words to pictures
on YouTube. Nobody else was doing that around the Peterborough area so I got quite a bit of business from it. Being in a band myself at the time meant I got to know all the local bands, so it was really easy to contact friends and ask if theywanted promo shots. They already knew me, so the ice was broken.” Shooting bands in urban scenes seems like a world away from the romantic side of weddings he also shoots now, but when asked to shoot his first wedding Tom, although nervous, took up the offer. “I cacked myself at the thought and I actually didn’t like doingweddings because of that experience, all the pressure and stuff, but you build your confidence and get used to the day and the schedule and meeting new people. I actually fell in love with it! I view it as a privilege, you get to meet these people and take on the responsibility of capturing their day and you only get one chance at it.”
Interviewby Jemma Dodd
With a love of film from a young age Tom Calton has always been about producing creative work. His initial interest in film saw him take media studies at college and after finishing his A levels he decided to buy his first DSLR to take on holiday with him. A nudge from his girlfriend Lucy (now his wife), who told him to take his new-found interest in photography further, led him to apply for a National Diploma in photography at college. It was through his diploma that Tom got into portraiture, but it was his passion for music and eagerness to learn that helped him break onto the scene. “I’ve always been interested in music and bands so I started shooting band promos on the side of my college diploma. As I was really into off-camera flash I taught myself by watching videos
Above “Some of my favourite wedding shots were taken on the spur of the moment.”
After completing his diploma Tom’s job search found him working for a photography publication for three and a half years as a writer. “It was a steep learning curvewhen I got that job, I really appreciate my time there because it taught me a lot, but after a while I wanted a bit more of a challenge and wanted to be outside taking photos rather than being in an officewritingabout it,” he says. “Lucy had quit her job to go self-employed doing nails and beauty and I helped her through that, so I thought if she’s done it, then I’ve got to do it.” Through the work on the magazine, Tom had built up a number of contacts within the industry so aimed to continue some of his writing work. “It was kind of a whim, I was fairly confident that I could get some written work, but it’s always a gamble. I saved up for about a year before I quit and made sure that I had enough money in the bank that if I got absolutely no work for six months, I could still pay the bills and eat. If at the end of six months I still wasn’t making any money then I could get a part-time job to tide me over. As it happens I didn’t even take a penny out of my savings so it all worked out,” says Tom.
It’s not just weddings that Tom shoots; his portfolio includes family portraits and corporate headshots, and he’s shot for the likes of National Express, the NHS and Big Society Capital. “Most of my corporate work comes in via my website. I have two websites – one for my corporate and personal work and one for my weddings. This was done intentionally to separate the two very different streams of online traffic. The family stuff is a natural progression from weddings; couples settle down and have kids and want photos of them. The first person they think of is the person they’ve already worked with and trust.” Since going freelance Tom has also brought his video skills to his business. “I’ve always done video stuff, from stop animation to filming music videos. One ofmywife’s clients asked if I did wedding videos so I decided to give it a go. Rather than filming traditional two- to three-hour wedding videos I create six- to eight- minute highlight reels and they’ve gone down really well. Last year I ended up doing more video work for weddings than I did photography, it’s one of those things that has just snowballed,” Tom tells us.
“I’ve had quite a lot of people ask if I could do both on the day and I’ve been reluctant to do it because it’s a lot of work and I don’t really feel like I could focus on one aspect enough. Next year I’m going to start offering both, I’ve made friends with some videographers through weddings so we’re going to team up. They’ll film the video and I’ll edit it.” When setting up your business it’s important to consider what you want to focus on; do you choose one subject or open up the doors to a range of genres in order to be able to take on more jobs? While Tom shoots more than just weddings he keeps hiswork under one umbrella. “I think you can fall into the category of a ‘jack of all trades’, but I’m quite lucky in that the three genres that I do are all portraiture and dealing with people – it’s not like I’m shooting landscapes and weddings, I’m doing the broader scope of dealing with people, and if anything the more you work with people, the more you understand how to make them feel comfortable.” Read more of Tom’s story and plenty more in the latest issue of Professional Photo , on sale now!
Above “I’m a sucker for lens flare – I love the hazy glow it creates.”
You’ll findmore insight in the latest Professional Photo – the UK’s best magazine for full-time and aspiring pro photographers
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