An Interview with Brian Cooney Photographer
How long have you been a full time professional landscape photographer?
The best way to answer that question is to recount the story of how I got to where I am today. I wasn’t always a full time professional landscape photographer. I spent a lot of time in the corporate world doing a job which paid well, but just didn’t excite me.
I remember the day when I had had enough. Enough of selling myself short, enough of dreaming too small, enough of doing what others expected of me. I had put away my dreams and told myself I would get back to them later, but somehow there always seemed to be something else that had to get done first.
A friend of mine had recommended I take the NLP Business Practitioners course, and although I was really busy, I decided to do it. During that time, I began to imagine the different paths my life could take from here. While I had a hazy picture of what this other life might look like, I had a clear picture of where my current life was going if I didn’t change.
It was a scary moment, a bit like standing on the edge of a cliff deciding whether to jump into the great unknown or stay on the cliff, safe but trapped. I jumped.
The transition to the life I wanted was challenging but I would never go back.
After that day I resolved to do only what I loved most, only to follow my bliss.
I wanted to be a photographer!
Picking up a camera after several years away, I found that many things had changed, the digital age had arrived. In the intervening years, I was too busy to pay any attention to my photography, and occasionally when I took something I really liked, I would think
“Why do some photographs seem so captivating and others leave me completely cold?” Gradually I began to work out strategies that would make my hit rate more and more consistent and I began to see the results I craved. You can see them here on my website!
I knew this is what I was meant to do, if you get excited about getting out of bed at 4 am to go and shoot the arrival of the dawn or get outside with a camera and a tripod in a raging storm then you must be in the right place!
I dedicated myself to learning everything I could about being a photographer. I took many, many courses and I read every book I could get my hands on, I still do.
Since then, I have dedicated myself to helping other creative photographers achieve the results they want. I help my clients to discover their own voice, to trust their own creative intuition, to develop their vision and to overcome the obstacles that prevent them from making the work they want to create, that deep down they got into photography to create and that they know in their heart and soul they are capable of producing
Who are your clients exactly?
Photographers of all levels and abilities and all ages who share a passion for photography. Busy professionals, people, who know they can do anything once they set their minds to it, who like to give everything they do 110%. Some are still enjoying their careers and some are retired. Men and women who love photography but don't have the time they would like for it but who take every chance to escaping with their cameras that they can. They are enthusiastic and eager to be up bright and early to see the arrival of the first light on the landscape and are not afraid, indeed relish the chance to go out in any or all weathers. They are open minded and ready to see things from a different perspective. They love learning and developing their vision by spending quality time immersed in the landscape. They love going home exhilarated and exhausted with plenty of stories to tell and memories to cherish!
How are you different from other photography teachers or schools?
The thing that separates my photography workshops and photo tours from others is that I believe that great photographs exist all around us and that all you have to do is be open to seeing them. I believe photography is an art and that imagination and vision are they two most valuable assets that a photographer can have. While I obviously help my clients to master the camera and use Photoshop etc, I concentrate on the photographer behind the camera and helping them developing the vision needed to create their great work, to trust, build on and be guided by their own creative intuition.
My photography workshops are about the photographs you make not mine or anybody else's.
What type of camera is best for these workshops?
I believe that any camera is a good camera but that the best camera is the one you have with you. To take great photographs you need vision so even if you don't have a camera with manuals modes – like a DSLR –you can still participate in the workshops or tours and nurture your own personal vision as well as enjoying the great locations we will visit too.
I am only a beginner and I am not sure my photography is good enough?
I help photographers of all levels and abilities. The most important is to come with an open minded and enthusiastic attitude that ensures you get the maximum from your week or weekend and go home with even more skills to implement in your photography practice.
What is the difference between a Photo tour and a workshop?
Thats a very good question! Both involve starting early and finishing late, working around the light and being outside in the field. Both involve learning hands on by doing. Both involve transport, tuition etc. The real difference is that on a workshop will have a specific formal curriculum based on the subject i.e Black & White, Long Exposure etc. We will also make more time for post processing either in my studio or in a designated place in our hotel.
A photography tour is more like a photography adventure! So while I will do everything possible to answer someones questions about Photoshop or post processing we will be maximising our time in the landscape, getting outside to learn in a hands on fashion. So while we discuss informally subjects such as Black and White photography vs Colour or techniques such as long exposure we don't cover them in depth.
What type of personalities do you work best with and what is expected of me?
My photography workshops, Ireland photography vacations and programs are designed for people who are absolutely excited and deadly serious about being the best photographer they can be. People who are passionate and who got into photography because they have something that they want to say, something that they want to share and express through the pictures they make.
People who just want to get going making pictures. People who want to see results not make excuses.
These are hands-on, learning by doing courses so we will be spending lots of time out in the field making images, mastering the camera, developing vision and observing the light as it changes. We will be having fun, constantly pushing out of our creative comfort zones, doing things you haven't done before, experimenting, playing and practicing new strategies and techniques.
What types of personalities or professions are these programs NOT so great for?
Thats a great question! When I first started coaching and teaching photography I would try to help everyone who asked me but then I began to see that that is not possible. Now I no longer work with just anyone and I am quite selective about which clients I choose to work with.
My programs do not work for clients who do not implement, I no longer work with clients who expect to see results without putting in the work needed or who expect that money can buy the results for them. I also prefer not to work with people who have a problem getting out of bed early to go shooting or whiners and chronic skeptics who want to make excuses or debate and argue about every step in the process and feel they already know the solutions I have to offer.
What exactly is the 7 step guide to creating Powerful photography™?
You've probably heard that old cliché about photography ; “to be a good photographer you must have an eye for it” and I can tell you that this only partly true. If you have ever taken even one single photograph that you think is good then you have an eye for it. What makes a good photographer is the will to take that talent and work on it to develop and grow it. Even Picasso had to practice constantly.
1. Building the Mindset of a Genius: I believe that Mindset is everything. In order to be a successful photographer among the strategies you need to employ are tenacity, determination, single mindedness and playfulness. Together we will work to build on your strengths and grow your confidence.
2. Expanding Your Vision: What makes a good photograph? I believe that just like music or literature its the image's ability to connect, to move or inspire the viewer. In order to make your photography the best it can be and make you fulfilled as a photographer we will work on how to figure out, to articulate what it is your creative intuition is telling you and how to listen to and be guided by it. There are great photographs everywhere all you need to do is be open to seeing them.
3. Mastering your camera: The best camera is the one you have with you! You do not need to spend thousands of Euros on the top of the range camera to make great images. Whichever camera you have you need to learn to use it, to get in the driving seat.
Just like learning to drive every photographer starts out camera-incompetent and gradually develops the skills and techniques needed to take her proficiency to the point that she can operate on auto pilot. Through continuos practice we set ourselves up for success by playing with and learning to control the camera.
4. Designing Like a pro: The structure of any image, the bones on which it is built is its composition. Which elements a photographer chooses to include or exclude and where they position them can make or break an image. There are no rigid 'rules' and a successful photographer treats composition as a subject to be explored endlessly and knows that what what might look right in one image doesn't necessarily transfer to every image.
5. Inspire with light: Light is the element that breathes life into an image and although its all around us all the time most of us never see or really notice it. A successful photographer spends time paying attention to the qualities of light and how they affect the subject of the photograph. A successful photographer loves to notice, loves to experiment and play with different lighting conditions and learns to use the available light to make the best picture.
6. Colouring with emotion: Colour is another everyday element that goes unnoticed and is an essential element in creating drama, emotion and adding impact to an image. A creative photographer needs an understanding of the way our vision perceives colour, how light affects colour and how to use colour to create a moving, dynamic photograph.
7. Finding your voice: Just like a writer a photographer has a personal view on the world and his chosen subject. It is his personal response to the subject that will make his work stand out from the rest. While we might start out imitating another's style when we gain confidence we are better able to express ourselves and tell the stories we want to share.
How quickly will I see results?
Very quickly! Anybody who comes on a workshop with an open mind and the right mindset will feel and see a difference in a matter of a few days intensive practice. They go home feeling more confident and with a different perspective.
Does it work?
Yes! Take a look at the testimonials here on my website and also this video testimonial from one of the participants on a workshop.
How can I Guarantee that I will see and feel a change in my photography?
Successful people are people who take action and implement. Whether you are participating on a photo tour, a workshop or an online program get clear on exactly what results you expect to see, commit to throwing yourself fully into taking action on what you have learnt, track your progress and be patient with yourself.
Can I contact some of your former clients?
No problem! You can read their testimonials here on my website and I would be happy to arrange for you to chat with any of them.
Brian, Based on what I have read here and seen on your website I know you are the one I want to work with, where do I sign up?
I am delighted to hear that! The most successful people are people who take action so you can be sure you have already taken the first step to becoming the best photographer you can be! I run several photo tours and workshops and some online programs. Everything that I am currently running will be on Tours & Workshops page Here.
I like what I see there but the dates don't match or I am looking for something bespoke for myself, can you do that?
I certainly can and I would be happy to discuss it with you further. You can contact me at email@example.com and we can schedule a telephone of Skype call to discuss your particular needs.
I am not sure that I am ready yet, how can I sample your work at low cost to see if its the right solution for me?
The best way sample what I have to offer is to sign up for the monthly ezine that is full of tips and strategies on how to be more creative with your photography, how to nurture your personal vision, details of workshops and photo tours here in Ireland and else where, everything you need to become the best photographer you can be. You can sign up here.
O.K I like what I see but I have a few more questions can I call you?
Good! Sounds like your ready to make some changes and explore your creativity to see where your vision will take you! You can mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can schedule a call by phone or Skype.