Yourraceday.co.uk events and placement reflection.

For my freelance photography for 201MC Professional Experience, I worked with yourraceday.co.uk – a company I have been working with for 2 years after my dad, Michael Simkiss, established in 2007. This placement involved attending a number of race events and photographing the participants. Following this, the photos are put online via the website allowing the participants to purchase the images in a variety of ways such as digital and physical copies. In order for them to be put online, each image is checked in terms of quality and entered into a table which is put into a database for the website. The orders are then processed and sent to the customers quickly and efficiently.

Over the work experience period, I photographed 6 events.

Not the Roman IX – 19th January.

http://www.stratfordac.co.uk/pages/nottheromanix

Not the Roman IX is a popular race which has been running for a number of years. The race has a limit of 800 participants resulting in a large number of photos over a 12km distance which meant that when I was positioned at the finishing stretch, it was consistently busy whilst all the runners came through. I took a total of 2,231 images. The weather on the day was good – almost too good as the harsh sun meant that the runners had one side of their face almost washed out by the bright sun whilst the other was in shadow. This was not ideal in the visual appearance of the images however what I learnt from positioning in terms of photography is that the sun has to ideally be behind the camera. Following preparation from the race, we distinguished that the finishing stretch was the best place to be as the runners were spread out the best allowing fluent photographing but caused the problem of the sun on one side of the face. Anywhere else near the finish would have resulted in the sun facing the camera. This taught me how to deal with situations which do not always work in a professional manner and be aware in quality control that the images were still of a good standard despite this problem.

Travel, photographing, quality control and entering information into tables = 1 day for 201MC Professional Experience.

The Blackminster Half Marathon – 9th March.

http://www.theblackminsterhalf.co.uk

The Blackminster Half Marathon was a new event for yourraceday this year, meaning that preparation for the race was crucial. We took up a position 2 miles into the race where the runners are still quite bunched up. This situation helps me improve working under pressure and at a fast pace as they come through quite quickly. It also means that I cannot get a picture of every single runner and improves my framing and composition to get a few people into one image. Following this, we then went to the finish where the runners came in at a steady pace, allowing me more time to compose my images. Deciding this before hand saved a lot of time and has taught me the importance of planning ahead of the day. Important factors include where to position yourself as a photographer – both for good images and away from possible obstructions, suitable timings of where we needed to be and when and where the sun would be in terms of positioning. The weather was bright and sunny which resulted in good photos – a total of 1,246. With the success of the images this concluded overall it was a really enjoyable day.

Screen Shot 2014-05-11 at 21.10.02

Travel, photographing, quality control and entering information into tables = 1 day for 201MC Professional Experience.

Newton’s Fraction Half Marathon – 16th March.

http://www.granthamac.com/nf/index.html

The memories from photographing this event last year weren’t so great, due to horrendous weather conditions resulting in frozen toes and fingers therefore we made no mistake in being prepared with a large number of layers. However on the day came lovely sunshine but it taught me to never be underprepared! The first position we took up was near a canal which highlighted the importance of safety and positioning for myself and the runners. I took up a place which was away from the water and where I could still catch the runners. However, following the quality control when looking through the images I noticed that the focus was slightly off in a number of images which allow I could do nothing about at the time, it taught how I can improve my images and to be cautious and aware of this when photographing next time round. The second position was on a running track inside a stadium which had a good atmosphere and sun correctly positioned behind us resulting in good photos – a total of 1,755.

Travel, photographing, quality control and entering information into tables = 1 day for 201MC Professional Experience.

Worcester Half & Full Marathon – 4th May.

http://www.tempoevents.co.uk/running/worcester-marathon/worcester-marathon.php

The Worcester half  and full marathon is one of yourraceday’s biggest events, being the third year I have helped photograph. Including both a full and half marathon meant many participants, photographs, long hours photographing and long hours of entering into tables. With good weather and a good atmosphere, over 6 and half hours I took a total of 3,385 photographs. This taught me how to handle long hours of both photographing and entering data as both can be quite tedious and tiring, however I have learnt how to deal with the fatigue and stress it can bring with a positive attitude. The weather was quite varied on the day therefore it was important for me to continuously check my camera settings to ensure the shutter speed readings were fast enough for this kind of photography, as well as keeping on top of using the correct white balance as getting this wrong can result in colour cast.

20140504_105228

Travel, photographing, quality control and entering information into tables = 2 days for 201MC Professional Experience.

Kenilworth May Day Mayday – 5th May.

http://www.kenilworthrunners.co.uk/mayday-entrance.html

Kenilworth May Day Mayday races consisted of a 10k race, fun run and schools challenge. Whilst the 10k has a 300 participant limit the event remains quite small however I still took a good amount of photographs with a total of 1,039. For this race, I took it upon myself to choose where to position myself to photograph as during the 10k they do 3 laps which could have resulted in a lot of images just for one runner therefore it was important to take this into consideration and position myself appropriately. This has given me more independence and confidence in making my own choices as well as understanding what works for composing a shot. The fun run and schools challenge were a lot shorter with quite a few participants meaning it was very fast paced whilst crossing the finishing line however this has improved my ability to react quickly whilst still producing good images. Although this race was smaller in terms of numbers of participants and photographs, it clashed with the quality control of the images from the Worcester half & full marathon. This has helped me improve my time keeping and sticking to deadlines by working hard although this may mean long hours of work in order to meet the customers needs.

Travel, photographing, quality control and entering information into tables = 1 day for 201MC Professional Experience.

Processing orders – 7th & 8th May.

As the Worcester half and full marathon brought a lot of orders, this was used as an opportunity to introduce me into how orders are processed and help handle the quantity. I spent a day learning all the proceedings and thoroughly enjoyed it. It was a crucial learning experience which helped me understand the working of the company more and the importance of dealing with customers and ensuring they receive a good standard of service which I may need to apply to my own business one day. There are a number of packages which can be purchased such as a digital copies or physical prints of different sizes and learning these helped me understand the diversity needed to appeal to different customers. Once I had learnt all about processing orders, I spent another day actually completing them. I completed a range of orders such as single photo emails, bundle emails, single prints and print bundles. It made me appreciate the importance of concentration when processing orders to make sure there are no mistakes made as this can look unprofessional if sent to clients incorrectly. Following this, I have been able to see the whole procedure through – from preparation before the race through to photographing the runners, to quality control and entering data into tables then finally processing of customer’s orders. This has really enhanced my understanding of a business and although there is still a lot to learn it has increased my knowledge of the photography industry.

Learning about how orders are processed and completing a number of orders  = 2 days for 201MC Professional Experience.

Crowle Gunpowder Plot 10k – 11th May.

http://www.crowle-online.co.uk/race_entry/#

The Crowle Gunpowder Plot consists of 3 races – the main 10k and 2 children’s races. Although weather conditions for this race were dry, it was a very windy day and I often felt knocked off balance sometimes by the force of it however most importantly it highlighted the issue of being prepared for events particularly weather. It also meant that it was quite a cloudy day so I had to make sure I kept on top of changing camera settings incase of a change of light and or if the shutter speed wasn’t fast enough. As a popular race there are often a good number of participants however over a 10k distance this meant that the finish could often get busy with a number of runners coming in at a time. I was also having issues with my camera battery and whilst I was prepared with spares, the camera appeared to have developed a fault informing me the battery had ran out and stopped me from taking pictures when it still had plenty of life. This was simply resolved by turning the camera on and off again for a quick term solution. However, it meant at times photographing could get quite stressful but this experience taught me how to handle complicated situations in a professional manner and to remain calm and consider alternatives to solve the issue.

20140511_115843

As a follow up with my work with yourraceday, I felt it was important to reflect upon the experience and how it has continued to improve my personal and professional manner. I decided to refer back to my SWOT analysis and the impact this experience has had on it.

Strengths:

  • Organisation
  • Experience in event photography
  • Team player
  • Passion for photography
  • Fast learner
  • Highly computer literate eg. use of Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Dreamweaver
  • Positive attitude
  • Creative

Weaknesses:

  • Lack of confidence
  • Meeting deadlines
  • Like to stick to what I am used to
  • Handling stress/nerves
  • Quiet
  • Don’t like to take the lead role
  • Theory work/research

Opportunities:

  • Learn new skills
  • Meet new people
  • Build up contacts
  • Increase confidence
  • Explore new fields of photography
  • Expand portfolio
  • Take more risks
  • Push personal boundaries
  • Get my name known
  • Feedback from others

Threats:

  • Standing out from others
  • Cost
  • Damage to equipment
  • Safety
  • Not able to drive – transport
  • Competition
  • May not be able to access certain equipment when needed
  • Initially making contact/getting in with companies
  • May be hard to find work experience in particular field

As I already have experience of working in this field, there were a few strengths I had already developed. The previous experience of attending races and photographing the participants meant I was already prepared with what each day held, as well as the post production. With good organisational skills, I was able to prepare myself accordingly for each event in advance and make sure I had essential kit including back up and weather suitable clothing. My skills in Adobe Photoshop also meant I felt confident going into learning about how the orders are processed and being able to complete them myself. With these strengths, I was able to go on and develop them further and continue improving as a photographer. By attending these races, photographing and seeing how the images turn out for people to then go and buy them is forever giving me more confidence and belief in myself. With bigger races meaning quality control of a larger amount of images this means deadlines become tighter however I have learnt to handle this through importance of hard work and determination and the results that it brings. Although I do not like to take the lead role, this year with yourraceday has given me more opportunities to push my own boundaries and target this weakness. I have taken it upon myself to make more of my own decisions which has allowed me to become more of an individual and learn from my own mistakes, which is crucial in terms of learning lessons for potentially setting up my own business. I also really enjoyed learning how to process the orders – this is something I have never been a part of before and actually found it really interesting. It has helped me develop new skills like preparing the images for clients as well as communication with them to give a lasting impression and good customer service which will also be important skill for potentially setting up my own business. Overall, I am incredibly grateful for all the work I have done for yourraceday.co.uk as it gave me the experience to be able to work with Coventry City Football Club and also continue improving and developing as a photographer. I thoroughly enjoy working with the company and looking forward to continuing in the future.

Here is the risk assessment form I completed with regards to this work.

201MC Risk Assessment Freelance Photography Victoria Simkiss

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~ by victoriasimkissphotography on May 11, 2014.

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