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Why and How Defining: or Becoming a Good Photographer – Part21

Click Here to Read the Part I of the Article.
Photograph in black and white of a red deer stag in a forest with ferns in France.
Photograph in black and white of a red deer stag in a forest with ferns in France.

Quality 4: “Having One or Several Photographic Styles"

You are a good photographer when you have one or more well-defined styles. I voluntarily use the plural. It is quite possible to develop several photographic styles in contrast to the vision and signature that must be unique.

Some photographers have only one style, but they are very rare. Their signature is confused with style. Personally, I find that eventually it becomes boring. Even if the subjects are different, we always find the same atmosphere.

I believe that if you do not create many photographs, one style is possible: a few dozen photographs a year.

If you create more than 150 or 200 photographs by, several styles are possible.

They must not be diametrically opposed. They are similar with variations.

Of course, these photographic styles must be a declination of your signature. It cannot be otherwise.

Quality 5: "Having the Precision of a Laser in your Artistry"

You are a good photographer if you are an average photographer able to create series of photos with the precision of a laser.

This means that you can make consistent photographs that fit exactly what you have defined.

Making specific artistic choices in a project is an essential quality. Boriding your photographic approach with precise, simple criteria that you will implement during the sessions will allow you to make photos that your audience will be able to recognize.

You will be able to emerge from the mass. You will exist. The precision of a photographic vision is essential.

Quality 6: "Coding Photography in your DNA"

You are a good photographer when your desire to create photos is in your blood. It became part of your DNA.

If so, when you get up in the morning, the first idea that comes to mind is to make a photo or a series.

The idea of creating images is like an obsession.

. This quality meets the quality number 1 but it is more blurred. It's more of an impression, a way of life.

I think that the creation of a photo or a series is not done only at the moment of the shooting or the development. It is a more complex process that takes time. Initially, you must have an idea even if it is fuzzy. Then, little by little, it develops until becoming concrete. If you arrive on the field without having this preparation time, your photographs will not have this brilliance and the difference that will make you a good photographer.

Quality 7: "Giving Meaning to Life with Photography"

In general, I think life does not really make sense. We did not ask anyone to be born. For years, we have been educated without really having or making choices.

It is only after a long period of maturation and learning that some of us are able to decide their destiny.

You may be one of those people who decided that the choices of their life belonged to them. I belong to this category too.

You have decided to make sense of your life by making choices.

If one of these lifestyle choices is photography, then you are a good photographer. You do not just take pictures just by the way. Your photographs have become a way to create, to testify, to express your emotions, to transmit messages.

This choice to give meaning to your life with photography is in my eyes a characteristic to define a good photographer.

Quality 8: "Never Be Afraid to Fall"

You are a good photographer if you are not afraid to fall. Do not be afraid of failures, refusals, criticisms. To be a photographer is to be alive. Chess will allow you to grow and develop your photographic approach.

This is one of the prizes to pay for creating interesting and meaningful photos.

Of course, I met photographers who managed to create good photos from the first projects. They were praised immediately. But as nothing lasts, they have very badly taken the negative criticism of a project less successful than the previous ones. They felt unloved, misunderstood. They are not questioned. They stopped the picture thinking they were good, but people did not understand what they were doing. This is a sorry attitude because they did not understand that they were average on some projects.

To become a good photographer, you have to be patient, perseverant. It is necessary without delay to return the work on the trade.

Quality 9: "Believing in yourself"

To become a good photographer, you must believe in yourself. At first you may be the only one but it's a good start.

If you do not believe in yourself, no one will do it for you.

Never devalue your creations or you will become demotivated.

The confidence in you, allows to try new technical or artistic experiences. You must understand that only your imagination is your limit.

Even if your photographs do not meet the success you hope for, keep moving forward, change. If you believe in yourself, you will eventually succeed in creating interesting photos.

Quality 10: "Seeking Excellence at All Times"

To become a good photographer, you must always strive for excellence.

Excellence is defined as the eminent degree of quality that a person achieves in his or her field.

You realize immediately that it is impossible to achieve excellence because you can always go further in the quest for quality.

Yet one thing is certain: you can always try to achieve excellence.

Never be afraid to look for the best setting, to invent new techniques, to look for new lines of development for your photographs.

You have to be constantly looking for different pictures. Never be satisfied with what you have accomplished. Always try to do better next time. It is at this price that you will become a good photographer.

Quality 11: "Never Give Up"

To become a good photographer, you must never give up your photographic choices whether they are artistic or not. You are free. The desire for freedom to create, to express oneself, to share your feelings, to express your emotions is a war in itself.

If you make the picture the meaning or one of the senses of your life, you must always remember it. You must assume this choice to the end. If you let go, all the efforts you have made will never be successful.

Always go to the end of your possibilities. If you ever think you have it, change direction. Take other paths to reach your goals.

Quality 12: "Affirm Your Photographer Status"

You live in a society of resigned people where most people are content to suffer.

To be a good photographer and affirm your status, you must fight against yourself and the rest of the world.

The freedom to create is a fight of every moment that you are not aware of.

You must always try to create new photographs, complete your photographic vision and enrich your photographic style.

It is at this price that you will be able to create interesting photos that will emerge from the mass of anonymous people.

Quality 13: "Get Out of Your Comfort Zone"

As I wrote in this article, you have to learn how to regularly get out of your comfort to create interesting photos. If you are still confined to what you can do, you will constantly repeat the photos that made your success and your recognition.

Do not hesitate to change, test new techniques, go to new horizons. You must have little of the unknown. But you must not be afraid to confront it.

By going exploring new creative paths you will find new sources of inspiration. They will allow you to enrich your photographic process and may be your artistic approach.

The world is vast, complex, sometimes incomprehensible. That's what makes her beautiful and interesting.

Quality 14: "Mastering Perfectly Your Photo Equipment"

To Continue Next Friday. Do not forget to come back.

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Why and How Defining: or Becoming a Good Photographer – Part 1

You are certainly wondering if you are a good photographer. Your question is legitimate. The answer is not easy to give. You must answer objectively.

In addition, you certainly miss elements to define you.

In this article, I will give you a list of elements that constitute a completely objective analysis grid. I make an inventory of everything that seems important to me to define a good photographer.

These criteria will help you find an answer to your question.

Photograph in color of a landscape of Monument Valley.
Photograph in color of a landscape of Monument Valley.

You May Refuse the Obvious

When I ask a photographer if he thinks he is a good photographer, the answer is often no.

This may be the case for you. This is what I call " denying the obvious ". I knew that time when I lived in doubt. I refused to show my photos.

This response and attitude are often motivated by lack of self-confidence or by a misplaced ego.

I also think that many photographers have the qualities to become good photographers. They can create interesting photographs that make sense. But often they do not give themselves the means to become one.

The Story of This Article

A blog article is like a photograph. It is always interesting to know its story. It gives a light. It helps to better understand the why and the how.

This question of the good photographer tapped me for years. My scientific cursus always pushed me to ask questions and to look for answers.

I read dozens of books about photography. No author has ever taken the time to address this thorny issue.

Finally, over time, as an artist photographer, I have developed a list of points that seem interesting to me to define what is a good photographer.

It is the result of many years of reflection and work. It is only my opinion. It will certainly evolve over time. Photography is a world that changes often. But I thought it was interesting to share it in this article.

You Are Part of a Group of One Billion People

You are certainly one of the billion photographers in the world.

You may be practicing photography as an amateur or a professional. You use either a smartphone or a DSLR equipped with mirrors or a mirrorless camera.

But do you make interesting photographs that make sense? It is totally impossible to answer because everything depends on your tastes. Likewise, everything depends on the definition you give to the word “interesting”. It is a very subjective question that has no answer.

Still, I think it's possible to tell if a person is a good photographer. I think it's possible to define criteria that make it possible to be objective. It is possible to define if someone is a good photographer even if you do not appreciate his photographic approach and his works.

Before going into more detail of the grid, it seems very important to define what the words and concepts that I will detail.

Why Becoming a Good Photographer?

You are certainly wondering why the question is whether to be a good photographer.

The answer is simple. To make interesting and meaningful photographs, you must, as I explained in this article, define a photographic consciousness.

When you know where you stand in relation to others, you will understand the meaning of your photographic approach. You will be able to create different photos. You will be able to get out of the crowd. If you do not want to understand why you are doing photography, you will stay in the crowd. You will just copy the other photographers you like. You will not leave the mass. Finally, one day or the other by dint of not being recognized, you will stop practicing the photographer. It would be a shame!

Definition of a Photographer

The word photography was created by John Herschel in 1839. He was a British astronomer. He is considered a pioneer of photography.

The word is composed of two roots of Greek origin:

  • The prefix "photo": light, clarity.
  • The suffix "graphy": paint, draw, write.
Photography is a technical process that allows you to write with light.
In general, a photographer can be defined as a person who practices photography.

Definition of a Good Photographer

A good photographer is a person of his kind with above-average qualities.

But how to define the average? For me, being average in photography is when someone who knows at least the few theoretical bases of photography

  • Shutter speed.
  • Aperture.
  • Sensitivity.
  • Triangle of the exposition.
  • Rules of composition.
  • Framing rules.

I used the words "at least".

Indeed, these basics are necessary to be a photographer in the average. But I do not imply at all that because a person has more than this knowledge that she can be qualified as a good photographer. It is much more complex.

How to Become a Good Photographer

There is no magic recipe for becoming a good photographer. You can become one if you follow studies in art, photography or if you are self-taught.

I created an analysis grid with criteria that I called "quality". It is an objective grid, easy to understand.

I named each paragraph " Quality Number ". There is no chronology. Numbering is just a way for me to be clear and precise in my comments.

Quality 1: "Knowing How to Last"

To know if you are a good photographer, you must be able to judge you over time.

A photographer who has created some good photographs that have been recognized is not necessarily a good photographer.

Some good photographs do not make a good photographer.

Duration is an essential factor. When a photographer can create interesting series in the long term, it is because he has developed a real photographic approach. It can be called "good".

You can very well perform this test yourself. Look at how many photo series you have created. Analyze them. You will find the answer by yourself.

Quality 2: "Having a Clear Photographic Vision"

Your photographic vision reflects the way you see the world.

Photography with its language is a way to express yourself. Some people choose painting, others drawing, others writing.

Your vision is personal. It belongs only to you. It gives you the reason why you go on the ground to create photographs.

Your vision reflects what is often called the soul.

Your photographic vision allows you to find the balance you are looking for in your life. It gives a real meaning to your actions.

To be a good photographer, your vision must be clear and precise. If you are asked why you are creating photos, you must be able to respond by explaining your photographic vision.

Quality 3: "Having a Photographic Signature"

I believe that it is essential to have a clear and precise signature for all the series of photos that you will create.

The signature is certainly what will mark the most. When you look at your photographs, people will say, "It is one who created these photographs ". For me it is essential to be recognized.

The signature of a series is more precise than a style that remains general.

The signature reflects the way you shoot, but also the way you develop your photos.

Quality 4: « Having One or Several Photographic Styles »

Click Here to Read the Part II of the Article.
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Why and How Photographing the Bugle of Deer using a Cloth Photo Blind

The bugle of the deer is the inevitable fall event for wildlife photographers. You have certainly heard deer bugling not far from home. But photographing deer during this period is a real challenge in the wildness.

I propose a technique using a cloth photo blind to hide you from the eyes of deer. This accessory allows you to make interesting pictures of deer stags and deer does without being seen.

A cloth camera blind is very suitable to photograph deer during the rut.
"A cloth camera blind is very suitable to photograph deer during the rut.

The Principle of the Cloth Photo Blind

Before going further, it is interesting to explain you what a cloth photo blind is.

A cloth photo blind is a piece of cloth that allows you to camouflage at the sight of animals without being spotted.

In general, the color is khaki. The color should be chosen according to the environments in which you will evolve.

I recommend you choose a waterproof cloth photo blind. They are never perfect for heavy rain, but if you set up your tree under a tree, you will be almost dry.

Why Using a Cloth Photo Blind for the Bugle of the Deer?

In previous articles, I explained to you that to photograph the deer's slab, it was interesting to practice the photo-walking, the approach or the static blind. These techniques depend on the terrain, weather conditions and your physical condition.

Each technique has its advantages and disadvantages.

  • The photo-walking allows you to move in search of deer but in this case, you are visible from far enough. The advantage is that you can play on the surprise effect. With the camera handheld, you can take pictures without being prepared.

  • The approach allows you to get closer to the deer. The disadvantage is that it requires a good physical condition because it is often necessary to crawl on the soil.

  • The static blind has the advantage of not getting tired. The disadvantage is that even if you know the field well, you are never certain that a stag or a doe will appear in front of your photo lens.

The cloth photo blind is a hybrid solution. It allows you to move and stop to make a blind for a few hours. If no animal shows up, you can change places again.

The cloth photo blind allows to be mobile in all discretion.

To use it, you must follow these steps.

Step 1: You Must Choose Your Background to Camouflage You

The goal of the cloth photo blind is to make not visible to deer stags or deer does.

You must choose a background that must be adapted to your cloth blind. In fact, the shape you are creating with your body under the cloth must not be detectable. For example, there is no point in using a cloth photo blind in the middle of the meadow.

Wild animals such as deer have an excellent photographic memory. As they move a lot, they have learned to memorize all the places through which they pass. If they realize that something has changed in their immediate environment, they will become suspicious. I have already tested this way of proceeding. A stag remained motionless for several minutes watching me hiding in my cloth blind. After 2 or 3 minutes, he went back by the way he had come.

I advise you to choose as a background a large tree, a thicket, or undergrowth. The more you blend yourself with your immediate environment the better.

A cloth photo blind is a camouflage. It must allow you to blend in with the background.

You must not cut yourself in the environment.
A cloth camera blind should not be used in a meadow because it is to visible.
A cloth camera blind should not be used in a meadow because it is to visible.

Step 2: Choose Your Foldable Seat

Once you have carefully selected your background, you must install your foldable seat.

As you are going to make a blind that can last several hours, I advise you to choose a comfortable seat. Personally, I opted for a rectangular camping seat to support my size and my weight. When I started, I had a tripod seat. But I found over time that it was not comfortable at all because the seating surface is insufficient.

Step 3: Properly Install Your Tripod and Your Camera

This step is crucial. You must use a tripod to place your camera. You could very well make photos handheld, but the movement caused by your arms when you lift the camera will be immediately detected by the stag or doe.

Once your tripod is placed in front of you, you put your camera on the gimbal tripod head.

To adjust the height of your tripod, I recommend having the chin at the height of the hot shoe.

Thus, you will avoid generating a movement when you pass from the direct vision through the mesh to the viewfinder. The transition from one to the other will be discreet. You are not likely to attract the attention of the animal that came in front of you.

Step 4: Wear a hat or cap

Before wearing your cloth photo blind, I recommend you to put on a hat with edges or a cap. If you stay naked, the fabric will slip on your head.

When you go from direct vision through the mesh to the viewfinder, you may have the fabric that bothers you. You may also create a slight movement that will make you noticed by the animal.

Step 5: Put on the Cloth Blind

All you must do is put on the cloth blind. You must first place the photo lens through the slot provided for this purpose.

Then you must put your eyes face to the small window provided for this purpose. Initially, it is not very easy. But after minutes, you get done very quickly.

You will quickly find that the viewing angle is limited to 120 degrees. This is the equivalent of a 14mm lens. You will find that it is not enough when you are in the field. You must absolutely avoid moving while turning your head.

The cloth blind amplifies the movements. Deer can easily detect them.

Be as motionless as possible.

Click on a thumbnail to enlarge the image.

Do Not Move with a Cloth Photo Blind

The function of the cloth blind is to allow you to make a discreet blind. It saves you from having to break branches and ferns to prepare a natural lookout.

Do not try to move with even on the edge of a wood. Deer have a piercing view. The slightest abnormal movement will cause them to flee at once.

The cloth blind is made with a piece of cloth that is wide. If you try to walk, you will get your feet in it. You may fall and damage your camera.

When you move, simply fold your cloth blind. Store it in a bag. Then move to another place to wait. It is an easy accessory to store and transport.

The Use of a Cloth Blind Obeys to Certain Rules

The ghost of the woods is an accessory makes the carts easier.

You must respect certain essential rules to take good pictures:

  • Know the habits of wild animals..
  • Identify the flows of passage.
  • Choose the right wind.
  • Choose the light well.
  • Respect the environment and nature to where to wait.
  • Never choose a boar passage area.

Finally

I hope this article about using a cloth camera blind to photograph deer during the rut will help you make the right choice.

Personally, I use this accessory every year to take pictures. The results are always up to my expectations.

I am a fervent practitioner of the approach. But doing two approaches per photo session is a maximum because it is exhausting physically and mentally. I do not hesitate to choose an undergrowth to stop and to hide under my cloth camera blind. I can rest for an hour or two.

To create interesting animal photos in an environment that you do not yet know very well, the cloth camera blind is the most suitable tool.

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Why and How: Developing a Photographic Consciousness – Part 2

Click Here to Read the Part I of the Article.
The magic of dawn when the blue hour fades away.
The magic of dawn when the blue hour fades away.

A Definition of Photographic Consciousness

Above all, it is necessary to define the word “consciousness”.

By definition, “consciousness” is the ability to perceive oneself, to identify oneself, to think and to behave appropriately. It is what we feel, what we know about others and the world.

The goal of consciousness is to know how to define oneself in relation to others.

If we extrapolate this to photography, we can say that

the photographic consciousness is to be able to situate oneself in relation to other photographers.

Why: Developing a Photographic Consciousness

If you want to create interesting photos, you need to create different pictures than other photographers. This is an essential condition.

Take the case of all photographers who simply copy or reproduce a style that another photographer has created or developed. Their photos are destined to be pale copies of original works.

When they are going to show or exhibit their photographs, they will hear that it is déjà vu. They will not even be watched or analyzed by critics. Copies will have been seen before, thus they lack the spark of interest.

Emotionally, these photographers will be affected. They will quickly become discouraged. Finally, they may stop photographing altogether. I think it is a shame because some of these photographers have great talent. However, they did not take the time to develop it. They wanted to proceed quickly in their work by creating fashionable photos, which unfortunately, did not last.

If they took photographic time into consideration by analyzing the photographic approach of other photographers, they could have better defined themselves and asserted their own style.

Developing a photographic awareness allows you to define your own photographic personality, your signature and your artistic approach.

The Consequences on Your Artistic Creativity

If you take the time to develop a photographic awareness, the following consequences will become visible to you:

  • You will see that your nature photographs are becoming more and more interesting.
  • You will focus more on your own personal photo projects.
  • You will not waste time making photos that sit on your computer without ever being shown to an audience.
  • You will create photographic works with an authentic meaning that is consistent throughout the series.
  • You will create interesting photographs.
  • Some people will praise you on your artistic approach.
  • Your motivation will increase.
  • You will want to please you audience.
  • You will continue to create interesting photos.
  • You will have a solid role to play.
  • You will use your creativity to set your own little brick in the building of humanity, which will be useful to others.

It is this virtuous circle that I apply in my photographic process. It is a true pleasure.

How to Develop a Photographic Consciousness

Once you understand why you need to develop photographic awareness, it is necessary to give yourself the means to define it.

Different solutions are available to you:

  • The first solution is to document about other photographers who are in your field of artistic and photographic activity. To accomplish this, browse websites and purchase books that they have published. Read all the writings related to these photographers.
  • The second solution is to visit all museums dedicated to photography or all photo exhibitions. I think that this is an amazing way to progress in the development of photographic consciousness. For my part, I often extend this field of investigation to national museums which exhibit painters, draftsmen, and sculptors. It is a very important and rich source of inspiration.
  • The third solution is to participate in photo workshops. Personally, I participate in one or two classes a year. This allows me to confront photographers who have better skills than mine in certain areas. Workshops are unique moments to meet and exchange points of view. I always look for workshops with a good atmosphere in which the tutor is primarily a facilitator who shares his own knowledge, but also promotes the exchange of ideas between participants. Classes, in my opinion, are a great way to develop a photographic awareness in relation to others.
  • The fourth solution is contests. You must search for contests where you will receive feedback on your photos. Contests for which you receive a letter telling you that your photos have been selected or not selected are useless fo the development of a photographic consciousness. You must look for contests or competitions which will give you an in-depth critical review of your work(s). Personally, I participate in four competitions a year. I present four photographs each time. Fees are required, but I gain a video from the jury commenting on my photos. These fees are nothing compared to the interests of those remarks. This is a real plus for me.

Tools for Developing a Photographic Consciousness

You are certainly wondering what sort of tools should be used to develop a photographic consciousness.

They are very simple to find. You have them all at your disposal.

  • Mind.
  • Topic.
  • Time.

My Method

Personally, I use a notebook and a pen. Every morning I wake up at 6 o'clock. I take my book, and I prop myself against two pillows to be as comfortable as possible in my bed. Then I write. All the columns you read on the blog are written this way.

At first, I write the idea that I wish to develop into the form of a title. Later, I will write several sentences and ideas that I have dwelled on for some time. Finally, I write the body of the text itself. I refrain from implementing a word limit.

Although I do not abide by a word limit, I do adhere to a time limit when writing. Every morning, I give myself 45 minutes to develop my photographic consciousness. Then I take 45 minutes to develop my marketing actions.

For some mornings, I have found that a pause in brainstorming is the best way to rephrase specific ideas, formalize them, and develop them.

I also sometimes revise texts already written. I correct them. I modify them. I update texts according to any new information that I have encountered.

My photographic consciousness evolves with time. Nothing is fixed. When I meet new photographers or new people, I question myself, and new ideas constantly arise.

This is what I call the plasticity of photographic consciousness.

Photographic plasticity is the ability to adapt and to change according to encounters and events while maintaining your own photographic approach.

My Advice for You

If I had any advice to give you, it would be to define a fixed time slot every day or every other day, where you can isolate yourself and take time to develop your photographic consciousness.

Think, think, think. Disregard the outside world. Develop your ideas.

Define your photographic artistic approach. Decide what you like in photography. For example, specify exactly what you most enjoy composing and what methods work for you. In short, everything that sparks your artistic creativity is worth continuing.

Write a text for each point. Do not try to make a long text that summarizes information that has already been stated. This would be a waste of time and a mistake. Be fragmented in your approach, and you will experience greater productivity.

Finally

I hope this article has opened your mind to a new way of approaching photography. If you feel that you have reached your limits in artistic creativity, I guarantee you that this way of looking at photography will allow you to expand your horizons. Your imagination alone is your limit. This is one of the ways to create photographs that make sense and are interesting.

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Why and How: Developing a Photographic Consciousness – Part 1

Your passion may lie in terrestrial or underwater photography. Or perhaps photography is your hobby, a way to relax and escape the stress of your daily activities.

You may have reached the limits of your creativity, and yet, desire to expand your level of expertise in techniques and creativity.

However, you cannot define what it is that you need to embark into greater unknown photographic territory. Perhaps one path you have not explored is the development of your photographic consciousness. This path may enable you to accomplish your goal of expansion.

In this article, I will give you some tips to help you better define your photographic consciousness, thus allowing you to venture to heights in your artistic creativity.

The magic of conceptual photography. A photo from the 'Illusions' art prints collection.
The magic of conceptual photography. A photo from the 'Illusions' art prints collection.

Photography Can Become a Real-Life Project

Nature photography, like many photographic domains, can be considered an ongoing, realistic project of life.

It can give meaning, profoundly directing your existence.

This occurrence happened to me many years ago before I became a professional photographer.

I worked for twelve years as a computer engineer. I worked as a design and development engineer, project manager, and then project leader of an IT department. Nevertheless, I continued to question my purpose. Why should I create temporary applications that I knew would only last a few years? These applications would surely disappear with the emergence of new technology. At each technological transition, everything had to be restarted: the analysis, development, and production. What was my purpose in this process of cycles aside from correctly creating meaning in my life? I do not regret working in those positions, because I learned a lot about organization and methodology. However, I discovered that I was constantly racing against the clock to meet deadlines.

In my free time, I practiced photography. During these hours spent in the field, I found peace, rest, and the serenity to truly question myself.

Naturally, I decided to connect my professional activity and my passion for photography. My goal was to create something that would last in time. I desired to create something that I would not have to question the validity and relevance of every two or three years.

I envisioned my long-term future with the possibility of leaving a trace or a brick in this huge building that we call “humanity”.

I found my real-life project.

Understand Photographic Time

I started working for magazines or photo stock agencies. Quickly, I fell back into the trap of my previous professional activity: I finished productions more and more quickly while adapting to the demand and evolution of the market.

After five years of intense work and despite the impressive income being earned, I decided not to continue. Instead, I turned to artistic photography.

Today, when I log in to my Instagram account or my Facebook account, I notice that 95% of the photographs are completed with mobile phones.

I have the impression that photographs are snapped, uploaded, and consumed like a quick meal in the fast food industry. Nothing is crafted to last. Nothing is completed that will greatly enrich humanity. Most of the photographs posted are made by individuals who disregard the concept of creating a brick in the building of humanity.

In these moments of scrolling through images, I feel as if I am reliving my years as a computer engineer or stock-photo photographer for magazines.

All social media photos are taken in a hurry so that they are the first to be seen by the general public. It is a real race against time for those posting on social networks.

Why do all these people fail to realize that it is time for them to rethink their photographic process? Why do they not consider the product value that could increase if they used their photographic time?

For me, this expression of “photographic time” means “to think about real photo projects and real creations”. Authenticity is crucial. It is important to take the time to pause and consider options when publishing a book, creating an exhibition, or giving a photographic presentation. This applies on the field as well.

Photographic Time: The Key to Creating Interesting Photos

Have you ever tried to blend into a landscape, to be one with it just before taking the picture? That is what I try to do in every shot, even when I photograph terrestrial or underwater animals.

When you are on the field trying to capture a photograph, I recommend that you forget your technique for a few moments and try to harmonize with all the natural elements surrounding you.

This perception impacts the way you perceive the light, the photographic elements, and the enveloping atmosphere.

It is a bit like a meditation technique. It is this way of understanding photography that allows me to create nature photos. If you apply photographic time to your own process, you will quickly realize that you are creating interesting photos, because you better understand the setting in which each photo is captured.

Photographic time occurs thinking before, during and after taking a photo.

Viewing the World Through the Lens of Photography

I think practicing artistic photography is a way of looking on my life and seeing the world as it truly exists.

Artistic photography is an art. The photographer always provides his own interpretation of the world he is photographing. However, with time, I realized that the photo itself is not limited by the author’s perspective.

Artistic photography is an extraordinary way to transcend everyday life.

Everyone needs to find solutions to everyday problems. Everyone must understand how to compromise. We must check our accounts, manage collaborators, and respond to customers. Work can be quite stressful.

The artistic photography of nature allowed me to take a step back from my professional activities and my existential questioning. When I'm in the field as part of a photo project, I am at peace. I soak in the serenity of the scene.

I become aware of myself and the world around me. As the years passed by, I developed a photographic consciousness.

“But what is this photographic consciousness?” you may ask.

A Definition of Photographic Consciousness

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Why and How to Read, Appreciate a Nature Photograph

You certainly look at hundreds of photographs daily. Whether for your personal projects, professional or in the articles you link, your attention is constantly captured by images.

But do you really read a photograph? Do you know how to appreciate certain photographic creations?

In this article, I propose a method of photographic reading to better decrypt the content of photos.

This method will help you to develop your creativity and improve your artistic process.

Black and white landscape photograph of Zabriskie Point in Death Valley, United States.
Black and white landscape photograph of Zabriskie Point in Death Valley, United States.

Trois articles essentiels avant de continuer la lecture

In order for you to fully understand the reading grid of a nature photograph, I recommend you reread the article explaining why and how to analyze a photograph and the article about the method to judge a photograph.

These two articles are essential because they give you all the keys to well dissect the contents of an image. The ideal before addressing the rest of this article would be to re-read the article " why and how story telling makes an interesting image".

The Story of this Series of Articles

The four articles including the one you are reading is a progression.

You may be wondering why I wrote them by revealing personal techniques that I use in my professional photographic activities.

The idea of writing them came to me after the last workshops of nature photography that I organized. Many trainees regularly come to participate in the courses. Their level had become so high that I devoted a whole progression to the photographic consciousness.

I realized that very few of them had developed a true creative photographic consciousness. They had all become excellent technicians. They were all able to create photos for international competitions, exhibitions or publications for prestigious magazines.

But most of them remained blocked when I asked them to analyze other photos or to understand a photographic approach.

The blockage was even more obvious when they had to read a picture.

I thought it would be interesting to share my point of view with a larger number of people to exchange and have feedback on my methods.

These are all the reasons that led me to write this series of four articles.

Definition of the Words "Read" and "Appreciate"

Before revealing the method to read and appreciate a photograph, I think it is interesting to define the words "to read" and "to appreciate" to better place them then in the photographic context.

By definition, to read is to follow the eyes of graphic signs by identifying a writing.

One of the definitions of to appreciate is:

"to appreciate " is to judge the intellectual, moral, artistic value of something. It is also to estimate something.

Application to Photography

If I refer to the definition of reading, I can say that a photograph can be read. Artistic photography has its own photographic language. It is therefore perfectly legitimate to talk about reading a photograph.

Likewise, the verb to appreciate can be perfectly used in a photographic context because you can judge a photograph and give an appreciation.

Why Read a Photograph is Important to You

If you learn to read and appreciate the photographs of other photographers, you will gradually develop a real photographic consciousness.

It will allow you to build and to improve your artistic approach.

I remind you that the definition of a true personal artistic approach is the founding act of your photographic creativity. It is the foundation of your photographic activity whether for leisure or professional.

Knowing how to read a photograph in an objective, systematic and consistent way will help you to create different but above all interesting photographs.

This is certainly what you want to do by choosing artistic photography as a means of expression.

The consequence of a good photographic reading is the development of an extraordinary quality for you who are a photographer: to appreciate the creations of other photographers. In addition, you will be able to more easily locate you compared to the others. You will define your place.

How to Read a Photograph

My method for reading a nature photograph is always in three distinct steps:

  • Define the field of photography to which it belongs..
  • Analyze the content.
  • Judge and evaluate.

Step 1: Define the Photographic Domain

For this first step, you must be able to clearly say whether it is an illustrative, artistic or conceptual photograph.

Is it intended to promote a product or brand? Is the photo a translation of an emotion felt by the photographer who took it? Does it convey a message, an idea? Is this photo intended to shock, to question, to create a questioning of the viewer? Is it an aesthetic picture? Was it created to testify, to show a scene of life? Is it just a detail of a scene?

This step number one must allow you to define the purpose of the photograph.

Step 2: The Analysis of the Photo

During this second step, you must analyze all the photographic elements.

You simply make an inventory. I advise you to analyze the composition, the framing, the positive space and the negative space.

Try to study the construction desired by the photographer. Look for the elements of reading reinforcement. Try to understand why and how all the elements have been put in place.

During this step, you try to understand the technical reasons for creating the image. You must remain objective. You look at how the depth of field was managed, if the bokeh technique was used, what speed was chosen, etc.

If it's an animal, what does it do? What is his attitude? Where does he look?

If the scene represents a landscape, do you recognize the place? What do you see in the foreground? What are the details that you see in a second time?

Step 3: Judging and Evaluating

During this third step, you must try to clear the general atmosphere of the photo you are watching.

It is at this precise moment that I recommend you to read the title and the legend which accompanies the photograph. You will be able to discover its context. The proposed text will guide the understanding of the image.

Do you have to understand what photography wants to show? How do you react? What emotions and feelings do you feel?

The idea behind this third step is that you carry a value judgment. You have to make sense of the picture.

This step is subjective. It appeals to your ethical, moral values, your experience and your experience.

You do not make a criticism. You just have to formalize what you feel and what inspires you the picture you are looking at.

It is you who speak. Be honest, straightforward and direct.

Some Photos are not Readable

If you apply this method of photographic reading in a systematic way, you will quickly realize that many photographs are not readable.

Do not imagine that the method is ineffective or inadequate. Do not believe that you do not have all the keys to read them well.

It is just that the photographers who propose them have taken photos but have not created them. They just took snapshots.

As I wrote in this article, there are many reasons why people take pictures.

If you cannot read photos, it's because they were not taken in order to make them interesting. Do not waste time looking at them.

Spend your energy reading and enjoying photos that are worth it. Life is too short to waste time. It is this principle that I adopt in all that I do.

Finally

Reading and enjoying photos allows you to progress in photographic art by further developing your photographic awareness.

I proposed to you a reading guide in three steps. It is simple to remember and very effective.

If it does not satisfy you, do not hesitate to define yours. I recommend you always apply a systematic and consistent method to have the best results possible.

Knowing how to read and appreciate photos is a real lever for creating even more interesting and very different photos.

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How to Judge a Photo and Why

In the article entitled "Why and how to analyze a photograph", you will learn about both my method and my reading grid, which enables the photographer to systematically and objectively analyze a nature photograph.

In this article, I propose a method that allows the photographer to easily and systematically judge a nature photograph.

Although both of these methods have been applied to nature photographs, they can certainly be used in other photographic fields.

Black and white photograph of a landscape of Antelope Island in the state of Utah in the United States.
Black and white photograph of a landscape of Antelope Island in the state of Utah in the United States.

The Definition of "Judging"

I strongly believe that it is very important to define “judging” in specific terms, since it is at the center of these methods.

To judge is to form an opinion of something or someone.

In judging, you assess the person, object, animal, etc. that is the subject of your gaze.

Application to Photography

In the context of photography, judging consists of providing your opinion on photos. You communicate your appreciation of photos made by others. You form a value judgment, thus enforcing the idea that the action of judging is subjective.

Why Is Judging a Photograph Important?

Learning to judge other photographs is an essential act for you as a photographer. It allows you to better judge your own photographic creations, because your eye is attuned to precision and effectiveness due to your experience.

Knowing how to judge a photo will allow you to better understand how your photographs appear to others, and what makes them unique.

Photographic judgment is as essential and natural as breathing.

Why Do Many Photographers Find It Difficult to Judge?

During my nature photography workshops and lectures, I have realized that many photographers are afraid to judge others’ photographs.

  • The first reason for this inclination to neutrality is that the photographer may not feel that they personally the legitimacy to do so. They may feel that they do not have the skills, importance, or level of fame to judge another’s work. But where does this feeling of insignificant worth come from? Is it because we believe that we create less important photos? I do not believe that these feelings contain truth.

    A well-known photographer is first and foremost a photographer who knows how to sell his work. He knows how to propel himself towards success. His creations may or may not be interesting. Regardless, he still knows how to attract loyal followers through his work. When these followers share his work with their connections in the media, a buzz will erupt around the photographer, and he will experience success. However, this would not occur if other people had originally judged the photo and deemed it insignificant. Everything would have been different.

  • The second reason that some photographers feel the need to judge is that, like you and I, they find it hard to recognize what really constitutes us.

    We too experience weaknesses, anxieties, fears, and cowardice. Nevertheless, we refuse to consider these things as part of ourselves.

    We focus on other positive qualities, refusing to recognize our defects as limitations that define us.

    Photographers who negatively criticize their own performance project their attributions onto those around them, creating an environment of falsity. They attribute their failures to others, instead of admitting that they themselves are actually to blame. I think this second reason is fundamental and essential.

    It is always easier to judge others than oneself. Years ago, I also went through this stage. It is not easy to overcome. But with introspective work and self-questioning, it is not as hard as you might think.

Judging a Photograph Allows You to Better Know Yourself

Judging the photographs of other photographers will allow you to better understand your vision, your style and your photographic approach.

Judging the photographs of others is prepares you to judge your own photos. In truth, you can explain your creations better than any other person could.

For example, if you think a photograph is built with too many photographic elements and you cannot read it, it certainly means that you are attracted to minimalist photos.

Proper judgment is simply an identity mechanism.

Judging the Photographs of Others is a Beneficial Act

I think that every photographer usually judges the photographic approach of others. We have certainly done so.

While some may hesitate to share their opinion, others will not.

Photographers belonging to the second category are afraid to displease anyone. They fear being disliked or misunderstood. They are especially afraid of being judged harshly. In general, they want to avoid a conflict.

But I think these photographers make a very serious mistake. They begin to believe every judgment that passes by. They attach social value to themselves and their work based off of others’ beliefs. They fall into the value judgment. This is the worst thing about judging photographs, that it could potentially limit your opportunity for growth.

Criticism Is the Consequence of Judgment

To criticize a photograph is to engage in an examination to identify its qualities and defects.

Criticism is therefore a consequence of any judgment you make.

By examining the qualities and defects of a photograph, you can help the creator of the photo correct problems. When you naturally provide a solution for his future photo, you are demonstrating constructive criticism that is positively focused on a goal.

But above all, you refine your look on your own creations.

To Judge Correctly, You Must Always Use a Grid with Rules

To judge a photograph well and to avoid cookie-cut judgments, you must define rules with specific criteria that you will apply each time. This is absolutely essential.br>
In this article, I talked about using positive and negative spaces to judge. In this other article, I explained how to define a good photo.br>
Photo contest juries each have their own rules. As I mentioned in this article, it is better to fully understand these rules before participating.br>
Personally, I use the following guidelines to judge a photograph:

  • Impact
  • Light
  • Story
  • Technical quality
  • Creativity
  • Composition
  • Interests
  • Use of colors
  • Style
  • Presentation

This grid is easy to implement and remember.

If you wish, you can define your own grid with your own criteria. It's an interesting exercise.

Judging and Understanding Other Photographers Makes You

With time and experience, I have realized that in learning to judge other photographers' photos, we can be less obstinate and more forgiving. This allowed me to open new creative doors and go further in my artistic process by refining it. I think it will be the same for you. Judging will allow you to explore new ways of inspiration. Of course, it is an endless quest. It can limit your mind and your imagination. Regardless, it is an absolutely necessary step as I wrote in this article.

Finally

By learning to judge the photographs of others, you will perform an essential act. You will develop your artistic creativity.

If you want to create interesting and different photos, do not hesitate to make objective and consistent judgments with your personal analysis chart.

But do not forget that judging cannot be improvised. It takes time. You will see spectacular results on your future photos from this process.

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Why and How to Analyze a Photograph of Nature – Part 2

Click Here to Read the Part I of the Article.
Photograph in Black and White of Poles planted in a Pond. Conceptual Photograph.
Photograph in Black and White of Poles planted in a Pond. Conceptual Photograph.

The Third Step: The Contextualization of The Photograph

This contextualization of a photograph can be likened in a certain way to storytelling. In this article, I explained the importance of storytelling to enhance the impact of a photo.
This third step should allow you to state in the manner of a story what you know about the context of the creation of the photograph or series.
This step requires you to be interested in the external elements of the photograph.

For example, you must:

  • Know the artistic and technical context of photography.
  • The environmental context in which the photo was made.
  • Know the personal history of the photographer. It will allow you to better understand the motivations of his artistic acts.

All these elements allow you to better contextualize photography. This will allow you to better remember the work. You have probably already realized that an anecdote is always a real plus to remember a photographic work.

Contextualization requires general photographic culture as I wrote in this article. I agree that photographic culture does not particularly help to appreciate a photographic work. But here we are in the analysis phase. I think that owning photographic culture is a real plus because it will allow you to see details and better understand the artistic approach of the author.

Knowing the history of a photograph also allows you to judge the difficulty of its creation. This will help you judge a photo better.

The Fourth Step: The Interpretation

The photographic interpretation is to give meaning to an image. You are still not in a judgment or criticism but analysis stage. You must not give comments but just say what you feel.

In this phase of interpretation, you only bring in your own feelings. You must not try to understand what the author of the photograph wanted to do. You stay in your mind.

You must interpret according to the narrative elements that I described in the third step.

During the interpretation phase, you will try:

  • To determine the different functions of the photograph you are looking at.
  • To define the symbolism that you see there.
  • To explain why this photograph speaks to you.

This essential step is a form of introspection. You do an analysis of yourself in relation to the photograph you are looking at. You try to understand the motivations that drive you to analyze this picture. Looking for a sense in the assembly of elements.

Make your emotions, your feelings, your experiences speak to put words on what you see.
In this step, you can also make comparisons with other photographs or series of the same kind.
The interpretation is totally subjective because it totally depends on you.
If you ask another person to give you their feelings, the result will certainly be very different. You can then confront your ideas to enrich you.

An Example of Analysis of a Photograph

Photograph in Black and White of Poles planted in a Pond. Conceptual Photograph.
Photograph in Black and White of Poles planted in a Pond. Conceptual Photograph.

Step 1: Visual Description

This photograph represents wooden stakes planted in the ground. Some of the stakes are interconnected by barbed wire. The reflection of the stakes suggest that the photo was made on the surface of the water.

The name of this photograph is "Forgotten I". It is part of a collection called "Forgotten". It was created by Amar Guillen. The title corresponds to what the picture shows: stakes forgotten for a long time. They are abandoned.

This is clearly a conceptual creative approach.

Step 2: Technical Analysis

This photo does not leave indifferent. She asks a lot of questions. Where was it done? Why are these pickets abandoned? Why are they in the water? What happened? Has a village been engulfed? The number of questions prove that it is a photo that has impact.

The stakes are aligned in a diagonal rising from right to left. It's a positive note. We can still have hope. What happened may not be dramatic.

The horizontal framing accentuates the space and gives depth to the photo.

The choice of black and white and a negative space in high key further accentuates the effect of loneliness and abandonment.

The masses are managed in a harmonious way. The photo is bright, easy to read and decrypt.

The reflection of the stakes on the water is a strong attribute.

Step 3: The Contextualization of The Photograph

This photograph was made on a pond. Several carriages were mounted around this pond because deer come to bathe during periods of high heat. It was while looking at them through a window of the lookout that the idea came to me to evoke solitude, oblivion and abandonment. I wanted to build a strong symbolic image with a total dematerialization of the environment. I wished that the stakes seem to float in the air. It is thanks to the reflected image that we can understand that they are in the water. I really like the photographic suggestion. Everyone can travel and imagine a story that belongs only to him.

Step 4: Interpretation

I will not give my interpretation of this photograph because I have already done in the previous paragraph. It's up to you to say how you feel by looking at it.

If you wish, you can write a comment at the bottom of the page to say in a few words your feelings.

Finally

Analyzing a photograph or a series of photos is not a judgment or criticism phase. This is a phase that is upstream.

This method of analysis takes place in four stages: the first two are visual and allow to define the elements that you see. The third requires photographic culture. The fourth appeals to you: it is introspective.

Try to apply this method of photographic analysis and you will notice a noticeable improvement of your photographic vision.

Your creativity will improve because you will have points of reference to develop it.

The photographic analysis is one of the key elements to master to allow you even more interesting photos.

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Why and How to Analyze a Photograph of Nature – Part 1

Every day, you will certainly look for your photographic inspiration by looking at websites or by turning the pages of photography books.

You analyze and judge the photographs you see. You are trying to determine why you like certain pictures and not others.

But do you have a methodology with systematic evaluation criteria that allow you to do the same analysis every time? I propose a method of photographic analysis that has been proven for years that I use it.

Photograph in black and white of Upper Antelop Canyon in Arizona.
Photograph in black and white of Upper Antelop Canyon in Arizona.

The Meaning of the Expression Photographic Analysis

The word analysis has several definitions. The one I will keep for this blog post is:

An analysis is an intellectual operation of decomposition of an all-in element and their connection.

Analyzing an artistic photograph will consist of studying the various elements that compose it to detect the emotional sense, the message transmitted or to identify the aesthetic qualities.

Analyzing a Photograph Does Not Mean Judging It

Analyzing a photograph is an objective action on your part. Judging a photograph is a subjective action.

You can judge a photograph in parallel or after its analysis. For my part, during my workshops dedicated to nature photography, I always analyze the photographs that are proposed to me by the trainees and only after, I give my judgment.

To propose a judgment of a photograph without having provided a coherent, systematic analysis never brings anything. It is neither constructive for you, nor for the photographer who create the photo. It is totally counterproductive. The relevant judgment of a photographer is fed by objective elements of a correct analysis.

In this article, I listed some criteria for judging an artistic photograph of nature.

During all these years during which I built my ACAPN method to animate photo courses, I used this photographic analytical method.

Correctly analyzing a photograph is an essential act for a nature photographer who wants to create artistic photos.

Why You Need to Know How to Properly Analyze a Photograph

If you take the time to develop a method of analyzing the photographs you are looking at, you will develop personal qualities that will greatly help you in your photographic activity.

Being able to correctly analyze a nature photograph will help you to:

  • Better identify your own artistic tastes.
  • Define, improve or enrich your artistic approach.
  • Define precise criteria to better identify and limit your creativity. You will not disperse in the meanders of creativity.
  • Understand why you like certain photographs or series.

By knowing how to analyze a photograph in a systematic way, you will better determine your sources of inspiration. You will save time when you do research for your photo projects.

As a professional nature photographer, having created a good methodology has saved me a lot of creative time. When I search for a client project or for personal photos, I always look at what has been done on the subject. I do not want to do it again. The methodology that I apply allows me to write a scenario with clear and precise ideas. They will help me create interesting photos that will stand out.

My method of analyzing a photograph is based on four successive steps.

The Four Main Stages of the Analysis of a Photograph

When you find yourself in front of a photograph or a series, here is what I advise you to do:

  • Visually describe the different elements you see. It is an objective step.
  • Perform a technical analysis of what you see.
  • Contextualize the photograph or series in a narrative way with all the elements of which you are aware. It is an objective step.
  • Interpret the photograph or series based on how you feel. It's a subjective step. Be careful because I am not talking about judgment or criticism. It is just your feeling.

The First Step: Visually Describe What You See

This first step should allow you to answer this simple question " What do I see? ».

You have to be able to tell if it's a landscape photograph, if it's a terrestrial or underwater photo, if it represents an animal. You must be able to describe in a few simple words what you see.

Remember that photography is a visual art discipline.

For example, when you look at a photograph printed on paper, take a little distance by stepping back a bit. I recommend placing you at a distance of three times the length of the diagonal. This very empirical method works very well. You will be able to better distinguish all the elements that make up the photograph.

The first vision of a photo must always be global. Do not try during this first phase to look at the details by sticking your nose on the work.

Describe mentally all the different elements that you distinguish. Try to define the different relationships that exist between each of them.

Once you have answered the question "What do I see?”, you should be interested in the following points:

  • What is the name of the photographer?
  • What is the title of the photograph?
  • What is the title of the series?
  • What is the relationship between the title and what you are watching?
  • What is the nature of photography: illustrative, artistic, conceptual?

This first step is a visual inventory of what you see. It is always done mentally. It is objective.

The Second Step: Technical Analysis

This second step will allow you to dissect the different components of the photograph. It requires a certain photographic skill and some technical knowledge because you will have to name specific points of a photo. Without this technical knowledge, you will lose yourself in useless details. Photography is based on solid founding foundations established over decades. All photographers agree on these terms.

Here is a non-exhaustive list of components:

  • The impact.

    It is certainly the most important component for me. This is the famous "Wow" effect. The impact is given by the shock you feel immediately after the first look. This is the visual effect of a photograph. This is the essential component for an interesting photograph.
  • The foreground.
  • The background.
  • The negative space.
  • The centers of interest.
  • The elements of reading reinforcement.
  • The attributes.
  • The light.
  • The colors.
  • The management of the masses.
  • Harmony and balance of forms.
  • The framing.
  • The composition.
  • The format.
  • The sharpness.
  • The contrast.
  • Modeling management.
  • Creativity.
  • Etc.

All these components are part of a list of my own. You have to add your own criteria. But do not forget to stay simple and concise.

A technical analysis is always done mentally. It is objective.

If you apply a complex system, you will forget some components that can be very important.

The Third Step: The Contextualization of The Photograph

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Personal Data

What is personal data?

What are the data we collect?

What is the purpose of these data?

How are your personal data kept and for how long?

What rights do you have on your personal data?

What is Personal Data?

Personal data is data that identifies a natural person directly or indirectly. Personal data is grouped into two categories: non-sensitive and sensitive personal data.

Non-sensitive personal data may be a person's name, date of birth, phone number, IP address, etc. Sensitive personal data refers to information that can discriminate against a person, such as sexual orientation, ethnicity, political opinion, health, etc.

What Are the Data We Collect?

As part of its professional activity, Guillen Photo collects the following data:

  • Identity and contact details: Surname, first name, phone number, email address. These are non-sensitive personal data. This information is provided only through a form voluntarily completed by the user. We do not collect this information without the knowledge of people who visit our website.

What is The Purpose of These Data?

As part of its activities and in compliance with the law, Guillen Photo collects personal data:

  • for commercial purposes, such as prospecting and the creation of new offers and services;
  • To provide the services for which you have hired us, such as organizing photo courses or selling art prints.
  • To meet our legal obligations, including accounting;
  • In our interests to improve services and customer satisfaction.

How Are Your Personal Data Kept and For How Long?

The personal data of Guillen Photo customers are kept securely and are only accessible by our team, in order to keep the confidentiality of the information collected. We keep the personal data for the regulated period, from the closing of the customer account or the achievement of the purpose.

What Rights Do You Have on Your Personal Data?

You have the option to ask Guillen Photo the right to verify the personal data we hold about you, the right to rectify incorrect information, as well as the right to erase personal data about you. You also have the right to information, opposition, portability, limitation and to request a copy of the information that our company holds about you.

To exercise your rights over your personal data, you can contact us via the contact form at your disposal from the main menu.

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