“What do you shoot?” If you’re a photographer how often have you been asked that question? Or even the dreaded one; “What sort of a photographer are you?” I’m never sure how to answer it – Umm… the best one I can be?
We’re guilty of it too. We constantly try and put fellow professionals into boxes, genres and categories. “Oh, she’s an art photographer”or “he’s a wildlife photographer” and so on. I’s taken me almost 15 years in the industry and getting to the grand old age of 38 to realise we can be all things, without the need for explanation. The things I shoot tend to be very varied. I guess most of my living has come from “art” photography, but my first nationally published book would be considered more landscape photography than art photography.
You see, fashion, art and travel are the genres that interest me, so of course that’s what I want to shoot, that’s what I want to share. I no longer buy into the ideology of having a style or genre. Why limit myself? Fuck it! I might head off to work on a Monday morning to shoot a model for a portfolio or an advertising camapaign and I might be in Berlin the week after shooting travel images. I want to shoot the things I love to shoot. No boundaries, no questions. So as I roar into my forties (hey, it’s only a year and a bit away) I have dedicated myself to shooting what I want, when I want.
So maybe the next time someone asks me “What do you shoot?” I can simply reply with “Anything I want to”.
Shoot what you love… That’s what they tell you. Someone told me it when I first started shooting. I’m not sure who told me that, maybe it was one of my lecturers, maybe someone else. Come to think of it, maybe I just read it somewhere. I’m really not sure, but that’s not the point…
In my day to day life, throughout the years I have worked with hundreds of models and actors etc, capturing their portrait. But as much as I have enjoyed every single shoot, my very favourite person to photograph is my wife Emma. I think a lot of it is because, obviously, I now her so well. I already have a connection with and I already know what will work really well and what might not work so well. I think comfort comes into play here too. I’m comfortable enough to ask Emma to do anything for a shoot and she’s comfortable enough with me to do it. It instantly knocks down boundaries. She has seen, and lived with my frustration first hand when I haven’t quite got the “the shot”. She understands how much it plays on my mind, how much it bothers me. That’s why I think she’s always patient with me while I’m shooting her. She understands I have a vision for the aesthetic of the shot, and she’ll work tirelessly to make sure we achieve it.
I bet if I had to pick the favourite 50 portraits I’ve ever taken, at least half (and probably more) would be of Emma. She has soaked herself in fake blood, hung around town centres at 2.00am, got drunk and even pretended to murder me, all for the sake of my photography. The most recent shots I took of her, are the ones above – taken on a rare sunny afternoon. The ‘Model’ t shirt is really apt, as I’m pretty sure she’s probably been photographed a lot more than a lot of professional models.
I made a decision a few days ago… For years now I’ve been shooting models, not just for standard portraiture work but for my conceptual work too. I’ve decided recently, that rather than models I’m now going to try and shoot my conceptual work with actors and actresses.
My favourite work to produce is work that has a narrative. Images that offer a glimpse of a story. For me that’s why it makes complete sense to work with actors. Because that’s exactly what they want to achieve. They are natural born story tellers. They will understand what I mean by emotion. By fear, sadness or confusion. They’ll get it immediately because it’s something that is asked of them every day.
I have a few ideas for new shots I want to create, and they are very much what I’d describe as “narrative shots”. Where as I’d normally work with a model I know or have worked with before, or post a casting call on Model Mayhem, I have this time decided to post the casting call on ‘Star Now’ and specifically seek out male and female actors. So far I’ve had lots of casting submissions from people, so I can’t wait to get started! As part of this series we are also going to be creating some YouTube exclusive, behind the scenes videos, which will include interviews with everyone involved as well as footage of the actual shoot.
I’m really hoping this will start a new chapter in my creative work, and I hope you all enjoy the images as I come to share them…
In 2001 Carl Beebee decided to attend College and signed up for a photography course, he could have only imagined that 15 years, and a lot of hard work later, he would be a successful and sought after photographer…
Carl has made a name for himself with tenacity, determination and talent.
He’s exhibited in New York, London, Toronto, Chicago and will soon be breaking ground in Hong Kong.
After the success of his first book ‘California Calling’ (an Amazon Best Seller) his next project felt like it needed to be closer to home. ‘FATALE’ sees a variety of 50 different women – all powerful, all beautiful, and all from different walks of life. He’s shooting professional models along side of the girl who pours your pints, and the lady that cuts your hair. This book, in its essence, is a celebration of women- an empowerment of the female form. It’s anti advertising; a great big middle finger to Hollywood, almost the antithesis of the bright lights and sunshine of California.
It has a dark and gritty heart that says ‘I’m beautiful and I’m pissed off and I have every right to be so’.
More information including release dates and ISBN will be available soon.
Last Sunday (12th November) my Wife and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary. I wanted to do something small to document the day photographically.
We had already been out and celebrated on the Saturday night, so we decided Sunday evening we would celebrate by having “a few drinks” at home in the living room. If history has taught me anything at all, it’s the fact that I know a “few drinks” is never really a “few drinks”. On these occasions it often looks like our living room has a had a head on crash with a pub.
I decided it would be really cool for us to have a few drinks and then get changed into our Wedding Day smarts and get a shot. That was really my only plan. So after a few drinks, and definitely feeling a little worse for wear I set the camera up in the living room on a tripod and programmed it to take a photograph every 5 minutes. I didn’t use any lights or camera flashes as I didn’t want anything to feel intrusive.
I ended up with about 20 different shots, and this is one of my favourite ones. It’s not lit perfectly, far from it, and in all honesty it’s probably not an image I’d use in my portfolio, but I love it. I think it’s a fun memory to keep from our evening. It captures a moment, a moment where we’re drinking and having fun. In some ways I think the image sums up our last twelve months really perfectly.
It is ironically, what photography is often all about for me. A five minute set up and a second on the shutter for a memory that will last a lifetime.
Alt Travel Photography, I’m not even sure that’s a real thing, but regardless it’s the description I’ve gone with for this particular project. Let me try and explain a little…
Every holiday (or vacation to those of you in the States) I come back with a handful of photographs. You know the kind; selfies, a few pics of the beach etc. The kind of photos I always refer to as “snapshots”. This is nice and all and upon my return I put them in a folder on my Mac, or occasionally get them printed. They’re nice memories to keep and look at a handful times over the years, but it kind of ends there. I decided this year I wanted to try something different…
This past November my Wife and I headed on a working holiday in the beautiful coastal town of Santa Susanna – a short journey from Barcelona and very much in Catalan territory. Before we left I had already decided that I wanted to give this “alt travel photography” a shot. I wanted to create something different. Obviously whilst there I’d still take the selfies etc for personal use, but I wanted to really think and create a set of images I’d happily publish, or at the very least share on my website.
Everywhere we went, everywhere we explored, every activity it made me conscious of taking photographs. Finding a unique shot whilst still documenting our journey and our week. The day we had chosen to go into Barcelona city happened to be the day of the Catalan general strike which saw over 100,000 people take to the streets to protest against police brutality, and stand for democracy. I included only a couple of photographs from this day, partly because it’s not exactly what I wanted this project to be and partly out of respect for those protesting…
I knew from the get go I wanted to include portraits of us both but still capture the beautiful landscapes and surroundings. So that’s what this project is. ‘Alt travel photography”? I’m not sure, but it’s certainly alt for me. Something different, something that made my creative brain tick and something that led to a series work I’m proud of, all whilst experiencing a beautiful place in a sometimes drunken, but always happy state.
To view the full gallery please click on the following link: Sleepless in Susanna by Carl Beebee.
Here’s a little shot I managed to get at the end of a shoot the other day…
A company I was working for had hired a pool to do a fashion shoot there. The pool had really been hired to shoot around it, but once we’d finished we still had over half hour left on the clock. I grabbed my GoPro, asked one of the models to put a floaty dress on and began to hold my breath and shoot underwater… Considering the lack of available light I’m really pleased with the shot. In fact, I think there’s something quite haunting about it.
Amazing what you can do with a little free time, a small amount of light and an undertsanding model… Here’s a few behind the scenes iPhone pics from the shoot.