Mentoring and Porth Nanven

Long Overdue

I have previously written about how important it is to continue developing my skills as a photographer.  Sometimes I do this by attending a workshop or by getting some 1-2-1 training.  Though I had been on a workshop recently it had been nearly a year since I had a 1-2-1 session with my photography mentor. I had been very busy with my landscape photography over the last year so I had a lot to discuss and a good number images to review.

So we got a date booked in the diary and as the day got closer the weather forecast was scrutinised carefully. After all, we couldn't possibly meet just to discuss photography, we would definitely have create some images as well.

Image Review

For the first part of the day we went through the best of my images I had taken since our last session. This is a really important part of the session for me as it's probably the only time I can really get some honest and open feedback about my images. But it's not just about the feedback around the composition but I also get useful feedback on the processing. "Have you tried a square crop", or "try cooling this image down".  Critique is often just one person's opinion but getting other people's opinion or view of your images allows you to see them in a different way which should mean you grow as a photographer. 

All this reviewing of images is hard work so we did it over lunch at Strong Adolfos, a fantastic cafe on the A39.  So if you are ever in the area it's highly recommended!

Life as a Photographer

On our way to Porth Nanven, our chosen location for photography that evening, we discussed all things photography.  We chatted about everything from other photographers work, to the state of the photography market, and to our gear.  One thing we were both keen on seeing was some new FX (full frame) Nikon bodies.  Our camera bodies (D810 and D750) are 3 years old now and we're ready for some new tech!

Aside from just chewing the fat over the world of photography it was really good to talk about my continuing journey as a landscape photographer.  Since our last session I had started this blog and created my YouTube channel so there was a lot to talk about.  Both these forms of self publishing are hard work but I enjoy producing content for them.  

However I have recently been concerned that they might be impacting my development as a photographer.  Was I focusing more on delivering content rather than creating images?  Was I going to locations that suited my content plan rather than where I would get the best images?  It was good to talk about these concerns and how it might impact my goals as a landscape photographer.

After much discussion on photography we headed to Porth Nanven so we could create some fresh new images.

Porth Nanven


I first photographed Porth Nanven in March of 2015 and since then I've been back once.  So when the conditions looked good for a sunset shoot at this popular location I was keen to go back.  Porth Nanven is near to Lands End so it's a bit of drive, but sometimes you need to go that extra mile if you want to get some extra special.  Due to the limited number of spots to shoot the beach of Porth Nanven we decided we would get there early as being a Friday evening it was sure to be a popular location for photographers.

Arriving some 2.5 hrs before sunset we found what we thought the ideal spots would be and started to eat our doughnuts and pasties as we chatted about Star Wars and Game of Thrones.  After all, sometimes there is only so much photography you can talk about!

As the sun began to set more photographers arrived so we were glad that we had made the decision to get there early.  We started getting our gear setup and discussed compositions.  Anyone who has been to Porth Nanven will tell you about the wonderfully large, smooth boulders that cover the back of the beach.  Using these boulders and the water from the stream flowing out to sea seemed to be a great first composition of the night.

Nikon D750, Nikkor 16-35mm f/4 @ 16mm, 4 sec, f/16, ISO 100, Lee Filters 0.6 medium grad.

As the tide continued to go out some beatufiful patterns started to appear in the sand so we moved from shooting the more traditional boulder shot to a more minimalist composition.  

Nikon D750, Nikkor 16-35mm f/4 @ 24mm, 10 sec, f/16, ISO 100, Lee Filters 0.6 medium grad, 3 stop ND.

I was really happy with these last two compositions.  Porth Nanven is known for its big boulders so if you look up the location on Flickr for example you will see most of the shots will include boulders.  So I found it really satisfying and interesting to make images that are a little different.  As I mentioned in my recent post about Colmer's Hill, it can take many visits to really get to know a location.  Next time I visit Porth Nanven I will now have a number of different compositions that I could shoot allowing me to vary my plan on the fly.

Satisfied with our shots we started the long drive home.  

A Good Day

Overall it was a fulfilling day.  As always it was really useful to have a portfolio review and to review my progress and goals as a landscape photographer.  My personal development as a landscape photographer is more than just about creating beautiful images.  Having a mentor allows me to develop not only my creative skills but my skills in the business of photography.  It was almost a bonus to capture some lovely images from Porth Nanven!

Have you photographer Porth Nanven before?  Have you ever had a 1-2-1 session with a photographer?  How do you develop your skills as a photographer?  Let me know in the comments below.