A Week in the Life of a Country Pursuit Photographer

Alitex Greenhouse Photographer by Chris Warren

Chris warren, Writer & Photographer www.chris-warren.com

monday 

I started my week as I often do, sitting in front of my computer doing post production on a job I did on Saturday. It was a charity clay shoot at the Royal Berkshire Shooting School and with 30 teams of four plus the auction at the end, I have close to 1000 pictures to go through. I love digital photography because of the control it gives me to fine tune the tones, colour and contrast and Adobe has given me the tools with their Lightroom software. It takes time and concentration but I try to make sure each and every image is as good as it can be.

I am always warmed by the generous nature of the participants at these events and the shooting world should be proud of the huge amount of money raised for so many different causes. At last year's Royal Berkshire Shooting School's event a staggering £190,000 for the Great Ormond Street Hospital and Madam Curie. 

Being a Monday I tend to do some admin as well but always schedule the daily dog walk which provides welcome fresh air and a break from staring at the screen. 

tuesday

I was off to deepest Wiltshire this morning to photograph a very pretty country house that is about to be rented out while the owners go abroad for a couple of years. House photography is a complete contrast to my magazine work, being highly technical both at the capture stage and later on at the work station. I lucked out on this one, not only is it stunning but the owners realise the importance of the pictures and have prepared beautifully. De-cluttered, tidy, it is a piece of cake to photograph. It is not always that way!

The most difficult thing about architectural photography is guessing the weather. The quality of light is so important and no amount of pixel manipulation can make up for overcast skies and flat light. I use six different weather apps and even then occasionally get it wrong. Sometimes I think I'd do better with a piece of seaweed and a fir cone.

Back home and I transfer the pictures to my computer straight away. I back them up twice on two different hard drives, a real belt and braces routine, and when they are 'processed' I will also copy them to the cloud. 

Wednesday

More post production. Interiors take a long time and the pictures from a four bedroom house will take around five hours to complete. Obviously, no cheating is allowed, it has to be a fair representation of the house, but it takes a lot of tweaking to get the images to reflect the scene as the eye sees it rather than the camera lens and sensor. 

When they are completed I add them to my website and send the agent and owners a link so they can see the pictures. Then I will use WeTransfer to send the hi-res files. We often complain of internet speeds in the countryside. At home they might not be as bad as some but they are not super fast either. However, compared to driving a processor, waiting a couple of hours, picking up the film and delivering it to the client...

thursday

I do a lot of work for country pursuits magazines and today I visited a stretch of the River Kennett for an article I am writing for Fieldsports Magazine. I interviewed the two river keepers a fortnight ago but had to come back for pictures - the light at the time hadn't been very exciting. They told me to bring a fly rod and after I'd finished taking most of the pictures I needed for the piece they let me loose. Well it would have been rude not to and, besides I needed photographs of a fish or two. Three hours fishing for trout on one of the best rivers in the country - a real perk of the job.

friday

I went to photograph an Alitex greenhouse today, though I was doubtful about the weather and sure enough it clouded over as I arrived. It did mean I had the luxury of seeing the greenhouse and garden first hand and meeting the owner before I had to take the pictures. As this one is close by and the owner is super flexible, I have arranged to go there tomorrow at 3pm when the light should be perfect. 

Instead, I sorted the pictures from the Kennett, got my notes in order and began writing the article. It is always better not to leave it too long as memory of the experience fades, though looking at the photographs helps to keep it fresh. For me the first paragraph is key, it sets the tone and if I get it right the other 1500 words flow relatively easily. But writing that first paragraph can be a tortuous experience and usually involves a lot of staring at nothing and false starts.

Saturday

The great thing about working for Alitex is that it is a genuinely fine product and they are always in attractive locations. What you do have to get right is the time of day and the time of year, both for what is inside the greenhouse and for the garden surrounding it. This one had been on my books for a couple of months but I had needed to wait until the profusion of white hydrangeas that frame the greenhouse were at their peak. Happily, it all came together - the hydrangeas were spectacular, the weather was well behaved and I had fun for the afternoon recording it. The contents of the greenhouse were interesting too, no ripening tomatoes here, no cucumbers, just palms, succulents and orchids. Think the Palm House at Kew Gardens but on a smaller scale. 

Back home, there was the familiar transferring of the files from memory cards to hard drives and then importing them into Lightroom. A quick glance to make sure all was okay and I could clock off, open a beer and cook dinner for my family. 

Sunday

Work first thing with sorting, grading and exporting the pictures before sending them to Alitex. I am pleased with the images, lots of dappled light and puffy clouds. The pictures might be used on printed sales material, the website or social media, so variety is important. This involves shooting landscape and portrait versions of each set up and doors closed and open. You end up with a lot of pictures but you never want to get back from a job wishing you had taken more. 

Summer Sunday afternoons for me means cricket and today was a home game against Lodsworth, a new team for us. Our village side only plays on Sundays and we all look forward to the games with keen anticipation. They turned out to be a sociable and competitive team, the sun came out and the pitch played well. Happily, we managed to win with just a few overs to go and we retired to the pub for a well earned pint. 

Last thing before I turn in I write in my journal looking back at the week just gone and planning the week to come. It helps to keep me focussed which can be difficult when you are a one man band. The coming week includes a trip to Kent to photograph the MD of the newly formed British Game Alliance and another to Somerset for Country Life. I have always enjoyed the variety of the photographer's life, there is never an opportunity to become bored. 

Tags: week in the life, photographer, photographer's diary, greenhouse photography