As part of our Value The Creators campaign, we’ve asked the talented and amazingly supportive Graham Oakes, one of our Birmingham-based photographers, to answer some of our questions and share his passion, lessons, and tips with us.
We’re now sharing these with you, and hope that you’ll feel inspired by Graham’s work and words!
Before we get started, tell us about yourself!
My name is Graham Oakes, I’m a full time professional. I’m a Creative Commercial Photographer, and have been since I left school! I shoot an incredibly diverse mix of images right across the spectrum — from food to fashion, lifestyle to landscape, model shoots to mailers.
What’s some valuable advice you’ve received? What advice would you give?
The best advice I was ever given was to give the customer more than they expect and whenever and wherever I can. For example, yesterday I turned up at a shoot knowing the client and his team had dressed up in Peaky Blinders gear — I brought along a toy gun to get this shot. My advice to the guys and girls I use as assistants: get shots you’re so proud of, you want to use them yourself!
In your opinion, what’s the best thing about being a photographer?
Job Satisfaction and freedom, and being thrown in at the deep end of a job , knowing you can come up with an arresting and informative image. Meeting new people, who are as passionate and enthusiastic about what they do as I am about what I do. Making whatever or whoever I’m shooting look as professional as can be. Showing the client images, and getting great feedback.
What inspires you?
I read many a photographic magazine, but also visit Art Galleries or watch documentaries about image makers and artists from across the globe. I enjoy the Sky Arts program Master of Photography. I’m not sure about the x factors element, but its a joy seeing a bunch of people all given the same brief, and coming up with completely different photographs. I see beautiful things all around me, and take photos all the time, on my phone if I’m not with my cameras (rare!).
What introduced you to photography?
It sounds very grand — but really wasn’t. I had an exhibition of my work up at school. The career advice guy said “you have a real eye for this”, and I still do!
To find out more about Graham or book him for your shoots, check out his profile here!