Having started his career with British Rail and Ministry of Defence, FocalAgent photographer David Swinbank then moved into event photography when he moved to Canada. When he was back in the UK and ready for a better quality of life, he started talking to us.
With 75% of his workload coming from FocalAgent jobs, he shares how planning and forward-thinking help him consistently keep a strong relationship with his estate agent clients.
Shooting with FocalAgent since: June 2013
Locations covered: Dartford, Gravesend, Faversham, Medway
First camera: Pentax Spotmatic & Mamiya C3
Favourite photographer: Monte Zucker- Ansell Adams
From your chats with your Business Coach, Alex, we know you've had a really interesting career path. How did it all start?
My passion for railways and steam trains kicked off my interest in photography. I was extremely fortunate to start my career with British Rail as photographic assistant to five photographers. The Ministry of Defence provided my next opportunity, where I was working alongside the Royal Air Force to produce high quality illustrations for all aircraft pilots' notes. A promotion to manager and senior photographer took my career to the Royal School of Military Engineering, which was the most amazing and exciting photography experience!
After that, a quick life change took me to Canada. I was working in a busy wedding and portrait studio. I was able to enhance my photography and personal skills enormously, and even won the distinction of Photographer of the Year. The confidence and experience I gained from such a varied career made sure that my diary was very full indeed.
You were certainly busy with a lot of different projects then! What made you to decide to switch to real estate photography?
When I first heard about photography work with FocalAgent, it was clear that the work would be enjoyable, challenging and regular. I already knew I wanted to switch from photographing two or three events a week, and working with FocalAgent was clearly great way to improve my quality of life. Property photography allows me to spend more time with family friends and focus on my other passions, like golf.
We've been working together for three and a half years now! What's changed since you started?
On my first job, I remember trying out several techniques with the same scene and came out with some strong images after an hour. Since then, experience has taught me how to produce a higher quality of work with simpler techniques.
Peak season is just around the corner! When there are lots of jobs coming through to the FocalAgent App, how do you cope with workload?
Planning is key. I always take into account traffic, the property size and layout (chatting with your estate agent is the best way to find out beforehand), and the appointment time. We're in the darkest months of the year at the moment, so I always take this into account. I also keep a good relationship with estate agents all year 'round - which, by proxy, means having a consistently strong relationship with the home owners. Being understanding to home owners and tenants is the best way to make your shoot run as smoothly as possible.
And lastly, what are your equipment essentials for a FocalAgent job?
There are five that help me with every job:
- Nikon D800
- Nikon 14mm-24mm lens
- Good, flexible lightweight tripod
- Lens cleaning products
- Nikon flash