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Phlogger aka Andrew Walmsley

A website dedicated to photography showcasing articles, interviews, reviews and Photography Insights podcast.

Podcasting as a learning tool

Just like every type of media allows us to learn, podcasting can be used as a learning tool too.  Through my youth and early adulthood, we were crammed in rooms and spoken to (well it was the 80’s). As the decades move on we have used new paradigms like the dreaded PowerPoint, video (Youtube is used in so many schools) and audio (e.g. audiobooks).

In this article we are going to explore this medium (its not new) and talk about a number of areas. The point of each is to discuss how podcasting can help you in different ways like:

  • how you get started (your catalyst)
  • the community (the people)
  • learning (the knowledge)
  • what to use (the technology)

During the 2016 my source of education started with Youtube, Udemy.com as these types of platforms were my only option. Since I had no photography friends around me at this point, the online world was a great start.

Fast forward 3-4 years and I started listening to random podcasts by using an app called anchor.fm.  Like a “eureka” moment I decided to start reaching out to learn about people, their photography passion and something myself too. 

The catalyst

Early in my photography hobby it was clear my passion was in many areas of photography rather than a certain genre.  Although it was apparent I had a compulsion towards street photography.  So one day after getting to know a street photographer in New York I reached out and started my podcasting journey!  I have to thank Sarah for bearing with me, I knew nothing about audio or remote interviewing at this stage, let alone photography, but we made it happen.

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Anchor.fm logo

Using anchor.fm allowed me to use something for free and have a platform to record my journey of learning.  You have to thank people like anchor.fm for providing such tools for free (recently bought by Spotify). But remember with free, there is normally a caveat – surrendering your privacy (they are allowed to use your content in this case). 

The People

Once you start chatting to people you soon realise you have a mutual hobby and people love talking about their work.  So in theory it’s actually really easy to interview, you just have to get past the initial hurdle of arranging it and technology (we will discuss that shortly).  

It’s also quite clear you learn so much about yourself, in my case audio editing and sound quality.  You can easily reach out to people globally too, so don’t confine yourself to your local area (though it was great to start with a few friends admittedly).

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Mobile shot during meet up with Paul Lefko in 2019

My approach of interviewing a variety of guests turned out wise, as this kept me motivated and seemed popular with my audience.  From the very first interview I started to collect nuggets of information. After speaking with Paul Lefko, he told me Leica invented 35mm for instance, which I didn’t know (article link)

People like John Hughes (street photographer) talked about their approach of using shadows when working on the street.   Street photography is always going to be of interest to me and talking with street photographers will continue.  Each of them seems to have a different style, whether its night, seeing single elements, shadows or street portraits, there is something for everyone.  With this sort of work you do notice tendencies with the people – it’s like a drug.  Photography is not always a drug in all genres, but with street photographers, it’s like there is a compulsion to go out and look.  They have some sort of innate part of their brain they need to record, watch and capture life around them.  Of course, for some, it turns in to documentary work and for others its casual street life.

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Shot during walk with John Hughes (hp5 film)

Interviewing models like Billie Gregory, Josh and Indrija was also very rewarding as learned about their perspective when shooting. Knowing they had the same deliberations as us photographers was endearing.  As quite often when working with models, they liked very different images to myself and it didn’t make sense.  So when discussing this they were very honest that they hate their appearances and often worried its their fault when some shots don’t work.  It also highlighted that when we don’t show them our work or are slow in delivering them, this can be problematic too.  It has certainly helped change my attitude about shooting with models and being open and direct with them.  I can honestly say I have a wonderful relationship with the majority of people I work with and we have strong friendships.

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Billie Gregory (model)

The knowledge

You can easily expand your mindset by looking at different genres but also looking at alternative, historic and analogue photography.  When starting podcasting I had shot a good number of 35mm and 120 films on my cameras.  However, little did I know there was much more out there.  

After talking with people like Quinn Jacobson a wet collodion master and Nick Brandeth from the Eastman museum in new york my mind was sent in to a frenzy.  The passion people like these 2 have is really infectious.  Quinn and Nick both teach about their subject and help people get started with these very different processes.  I mean knowing wet collodion worked of U.V. light was crazy, since you cannot even see it!  Then when Nick starts talking about Lipmann colour plates which in itself is not a well known process and died off many years ago! 

One person I cannot forget and you must check out is John Graybill due to his ancestry of Edward Curtis. Now, you may not know either name, but Mr Curtis has a historical significance to US history. of the native people. I became so interested I purchased a book about Edward Curtis and follow John Graybill’s foundation.

Through these sorts of people you feel a compelling need to investigate and learn further.  Sometimes its alchemy and chemical processes, other times its people and their work. Just watch out as its just like the say you more you learn, the more you realise you know nothing!

The network

Expanding your network of knowledge and friendships takes time, but podcasting really does help. The key is to be yourself and reach out to people and they might help you with another contact.

Running a pay it forward type scheme has allowed to reach out to even more diverse people and something I encourage with my guests.

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The washi project (2019/2020)

I was introduced to Lomig at Washi films and this taught me that there are small businesses out there with unique ideas.  This was so interesting I started shooting his film and making darkroom prints from the negatives too.  We formed a friendship too and currently running a project involving a group of photographers using a custom camera with Washi film!

The learning

Only a very small number of people realise podcasting has been my way to learn, most see it as a marketing type ploy.  However, once you know me you realise I’m here to learn and to form friendships.  Clay Mcbride was one of the few who called me out on this, but he is an intelligent, talented and educator himself, so no surprise.  

One of my friends mentioned when I had made some darkroom prints for models and this had genuinely motivated him.  Moments and remarks like this are golden, this proves all my work and commitment to learning does affect others too.  During the lockdown because of COVID during 2020 all this time allowed me time to produce more print for models.

Another conclusion you can draw from learning this way is meeting others from different countries.  Each guest had their niches, way of life was affected by culture or history and is often conveyed in their work.  Listen to people like Quinn or Jan Schlegel and you enter a world of true learning.  Honestly, the work they are doing is totally different and focused on intent.  Quinn uses cameras that suit the period of what he is documenting.  Jan uses the finest chemicals and methods he can to record his art and won’t compromise on quality.  I could go on, but hopefully you are feeling some urge to check out these people.

The technology

Like any endeavour, you will have to learn how to use new technology too.  My prior experience with audio was okay in the sense I had used microphones in a school audio environment but not at home.  The difference is vast, I was working with a minimal budget, a phone or laptop, not speakers, microphones, decks and high end audio cabling.

From learning how to use the right minimal microphones to editing because a new skill.  It didn’t take long to be able to remove coughs and blank parts of audio.  After producing over 80 podcast shows, i’ve also started using video too.  The realisation of seeing people changes everything, body language is a better clue for listening and pausing between talking to each other.  The video element has allowed us to see each other’s locations too, so I’ve even seen in people’s film fridges, studios and dark rooms!  But the main reason for video is definitely seeing manorism, because you soon realise if you have found a friend as you really listen to each other and there have been some laughs too! 

podcasting as a learning tool - 3cx podcasting tool
Screenshot from Podcast

Ibarionex from “The Candid Frame” laughed so hard at one point he moved away from his microphone – at times like this you know your doing something right!

Learning to use the technology has shown me the pitfalls of each and even the method I use currently is not perfect. Just remember when you are carrying out talks over the public internet you have no guarantees.

My conclusion

So hopefully you can see podcasting is not about figures, podcasting is a learning tool. Each new podcast is a new chapter, and introduces me to a new person, genre or nugget of information for me to store.  I truly feel honoured to have everyone spend time with me and as for the listeners – thank you. 

My work as a photographer comes from learning with my friends, online courses and podcasts.  But podcasting has allowed me access to people I wouldn’t be physically be able to see frequently.  Maybe I should put together a go fund me and travel to see all my guests, document this and share with you all?  Well let’s see, will you back me?

I hope you enjoyed reading this and learned from it and don’t be shy, reach out and send me a message!

Check out my show here –

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