I never saw myself as a mentor.

I couldn’t get up in front of a classroom of my peers and give them a five minute talk about a simple subject, let alone run classes and expect people to understand or believe a word I was saying. I am not a public speaker. I never intended to teach. I honestly felt I wasn’t good enough, or experienced enough, or confident enough. But when you find yourself chatting with people about a subject you truly love, one so close to your heart that you ramble on for hours about it and it feels like only a few minutes has passed and then those people all come back to you and say the same thing… “Wow, you should teach this stuff!” Well, it starts to niggle and you start to wonder, “Can I? Can I really teach this stuff?”

Heart Lines | Cultivating Photography with Soul grew from a seed of an idea where I realised I wanted to share all the stuff I’d wished I’d known when I first started out. And I don’t mean all the technical stuff, that comes to us all the more we practise and read. I wanted to share more than that – the heart, the soul, the elusive “something” we are all looking for when creating images. So I sat and I wrote and this is what came out…

I want to convey a passion for photography.

A passion not just for photography, but photographing people.

Photographing the essence of a person – their heart, their soul, their deepest emotions and, indeed, their own passions. The love they have for one another. For their partners, their children, their mothers and fathers, siblings, friends and extended family. For their family pets. For their professions, their hobbies, their experiences.

Portrait photography should be about capturing all of this and I want to help photographers find their why, to teach them how to capture more than just a photograph.

Photography is not just about the technicalities – the f stops, the shutter speeds, the ISO or the kit. In fact, technically imperfect photographs can actually be the most perfect photographs of all.

I want to inspire less technically-minded photographers, fill them with the confidence to go out and take portraits, capture those emotions, document those memories and create permanent records of those moments in time.

I do not want to teach photography basics. I don’t want to lay down rules of composition or how to perfectly expose a photograph. I don’t want to explain how to use a camera, or what lenses they should use.

Nor do I want to teach anyone how to run a business. I don’t want to discuss workflows, editing, accounting, marketing, filing, social media or blogging.

BUT, I do want to explain that there is NO RIGHT WAY to run a business, there is only YOUR WAY.

I want to teach them not to compare themselves to everyone else out there. To stop emulating the work of everyone else. To walk their own path, create their own work.

I want them to realise they are the sum of all their experiences, their beliefs, their thoughts and feelings, their fears, how they were raised, the music they listen to, the books they read, the films they watch. And this is what they should pour into their work.

I want what I teach to be encouraging, inspiring, life-affirming and achievable.

I don’t want it to be controlling, rigid, disheartening or out-of-reach of the realms of capability.

And so this has become my manifesto. This has become the basis for Heart Lines. This is what I want to teach, to encourage, to cultivate. I will be working on putting together lessons, courses, one-to-one classes and, even, beginners lessons too, which will include a small element of learning the technical side of photography but will also aim to give beginners the confidence to get out there and shoot and not be discouraged by harsh critics or jealous peers. So I throw this open to you… what would you like to learn about? Throw any questions you have into the comments below (even technical ones – I will cover this stuff if you really want me to, just don’t expect the most technical answer!) and I will work my way through them over the coming weeks and months.

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