Lynched…

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I have recently started working on a new photography project. ‘Lynched’ is a project inspired by the work and quirkiness of the brilliant David Lynch and will be live on my website soon.

Lynch has been one of my favourite directors/artist/photographer for years. I adore how he celebrates the horror and the quirks of the ordinary and manages to make statements out of silence.

I started shooting this project last month and so far it includes portraits and images of friends, family and models. I’m loving exploring the themes of the work…

The Guardian in the UK once described Lynch as “the most important filmmaker of the current era”. I think it’s difficult to disagree with that and he’s certainly the most important to me.

New Artwork & Digital Prints.

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‘Classic Cola’

The above print is something I worked on last weekend. I had it professionally retouched and I’m really pleased with it…

Today I’v also (finally!) opened an online store selling digital prints of my images. There’s only one on there so far but I promise I’ll be adding more soon…

If you’d like to check out the print(s) please visit my Etsy store by clicking here.

Video Killed the Radio Star… Will Netflix Kill the Cinema Star?

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It was 1980 and The Buggles burst into a verse of “Video killed the radio star”. It sounded like a warning, a premonition and a war cry all in one. Just one year later MTV launched and it would go onto become a phenomenon and video did indeed kill the radio star… Of course radio was still around and still relevant for that matter, it was just no longer necessary for an artist or band to “make it”. They had other outputs, other ways. The “look” and appearance of a band had never been more important. Flamboyancy took over. Whilst commercial radio continues to exist to this day, I would think a band or artist are more likely to be discovered on a podcast, or a Spotify playlist as far as audible measures are concerned. Of course the music video is possibly more important than ever with the runaway, commercial success of YouTube.

When I saw that the original Netflix film ‘Rome’ had been Oscar nominated it made me ask if the age of cinema is coming to an end. Perhaps with escalating prices, Hollywood embarrassments and scandals along with streaming service providers offering genuine content, it can now be said that streaming is going to kill the movie star. You have to believe people in Hollywood can see it themselves. There has recently been a host of what would be considered Hollywood golden A stars signing up to do movies and tv series on streaming services. What if this is their curve point? They tried 3D to make the cinema experience more interactive but in reality, it only had limited success – if you need glasses to watch a movie – try putting your specs, over your specs. Or maybe you could pay thirty bucks for you and your partner to sit in a room next to the annoying person who needs a toilet break every three minutes in between eating his nachos, checking his phone and talking to his partner… It’s not going to be an easy task for them is it? Can the Hollywood elite turn it around, when the tide seems to be ever changing against them?

£10 a month for Netflix is great value for money and the content is constantly updating and changing. It is actually their original content that has always been invaluable to gaining me as a customer (or consumer). In the last decade or so, I can’t help but think the movie industry has had ample chances to turn it around, but have largely failed every time. Similar plots, the same old tired actors been cast as the same old, tired characters. Sequel after sequel after sequel with little or no emphasis placed on either young film makers or female writers/directors?

Surely it stands to reason that the next and future generations of filmmakers don’t have a cinema release within their dreams, but a Netlfix release?

 

MiNT TL70

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This past Christmas my wife bought me the MiNT Camera TL70 – a twin lens reflex camera that shoots on Fujifilm Instax Mini film. It’s a beautiful looking camera, modelled and designed on the vintage twin lens camera systems.

The camera, has a aperture range of f5.6 to f.22 and boasts a shutter speed range of of 1/500 – 1 second in Automatic mode and up to 10 seconds in Bulb mode.

Since having the camera I’ve mostly shot fashion shoots with my wife as well as snapshots whilst out walking, as I’ve not yet felt confident enough to use the camera in a pro shoot. In fact, after shooting approximately 8 rolls of film, I think it’s only now that I’m getting used to the cameras capabilities and limits – both of which, there are many.

I absolutely adore this camera but it definitely has its quirks. Focusing, can at times be difficult, but if you get the focus right, with enough light, the f5.6 aperture can look incredible. In fact I would definitely suggest it has been worth the perseverance.

I have long loved Polaroid film and instant photography in general – I think it’s about having something physical and present in your hand as soon as the shutter is released. Watching the image appear – just like I did in a darkroom all those years ago, has never lost it’s magic for me. It’s one of those things that can remind you of why you fell in love with photography in the first place. I think personally for me recently Polaroid film has just outpriced itself somewhat – I still love the square format but at almost £20 for 8 exposures, I find it hard to compete with the Instax at £15 for twenty – and sometimes cheaper.

My portraits have definitely got better, the more I have come to understand the camera. Just below is one of the very first portraits I took with the Fujifilm black and white Instax film, and to the right of it is one of the latest images I have taken – both on the sytems f5.6 aperture.

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There’s a definite “mood” to the portraits it takes which I really like.

In a world where everyone has a camera in their pocket – the MiNT is a definite conversation starter. I’ve been asked about the camera on several occasions whilst out shooting. Good or bad (good in my case) it’s probably about as “hipster” as it gets!

If you’re someone who likes to shoot Instax film, ‘d definitely recommend this camera. Quirks and all – it is just so much fun to use for portraiture and still life.

You can follow my adventures with my mint on my specific Instagram page here.

*****

 

The Jack of all trades…

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“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.

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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.

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So maybe the next time someone asks me “What do you shoot?” I can simply reply with “Anything I want to”.

For my next trick I’ll need a volunteer…

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…

Thanks for reading. Fade to black…

FATALE info and press release.

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.

An Anniversary Shot…

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.

Fade to black…

Sleepless in Susanna – alt travel.

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…

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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.

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Underwater…

Here’s a little shot I managed to get at the end of a shoot the other day…

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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.

 

A Photographers Love of Polaroids: An Instant Love Affair.

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If I spoke to ten different photographers from ten different backgrounds, working within ten different areas of the field, I would hazard a guess that at least eight of them would have a love for the instant photograph. Whether it be the age-old chemical process of the Polaroid or the (relatively) new electronic mechanism of the Instax. They probably wouldn’t be able to explain their love or fully understand it themselves. Like a married person in the heat of an affair. Unable to comprehend it, or explain it but fascinated by it. Drawn to it.

For me, I think it’s the physical attribute of the process. It is the anti-digital but with the same immediate result. Look through the viewfinder, release the shutter, and seconds later you are holding a physical print. Something to keep, to frame, to use as a bookmark or prop up on a shelf. It gives you an instant sense of ownership, something that will live with you. In a similar way that the 12” records from the 60s and 70s look like they have been lived with – they look like they could tell a story. Every crease and coffee stain revealing something else. Put this in comparison to shooting 35mm film and it’s easy to understand the love of the instant. For most people – or at least those like me who don’t own darkrooms, you can shoot a roll of film and wait up to a week for the prints to arrive with you. It’s somehow just not the same for me. It doesn’t have the same substance. I feel a little withdrawn from the process of it.

A few months ago I went away for a weekend with my Wife, I decided to document the trip on the Fuji Instax Mini (discussed in this blog post). I took approximately 40 exposures, and those photographs have already been looked at dozens more times that the equivalent would have been – ten to twenty photographs lurking in a gallery on my iPhone. Pushed further and further down the gallery with each click of the shutter and with each screenshot.

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I like things in my life that are unpredictable. Nights out, late nights, work projects. Unpredictability fascinates me. That’s what instant film offers. It’s like the unplanned “quick pint” with your friend that ends with a 4.00 am drinking session and an almighty hangover. You’ll never know what you’re going to get with instant film. You can do your best to create the “perfect” shot. Check your lighting, stage your subject, but I can almost guarantee you won’t get the same results twice. With limited to no control over exposure, ISO, and shutter speed, and without the ability to look through a single lens, every image will be different. Each will have it’s own personality. It’s own failings and equally it’s own brilliance.

This is nothing new, photographers have been fascinated with instant film since it came to light. Professionals used it, families used it. There would have been countless nude photographs taken of partners, hidden at the bottom of drawers during a time where instant photography was the only private photography.

Maybe all of that is part of it’s charm. Today there are artists who only shoot on instant film. I truly admire that but have to admit it’s not something I could do. After a week or so I’m always pretty happy to go back to the comfort of my DSLR, like the cheating partner walking back through the door of his house. It feels like going home.

When you think of instant film it’s hard not to think of the resurgence of analogue. Vinyl is back in record stores and outselling physical CD’s. It’s a throwback to a simpler time, a time when “things” meant something. A time where things weren’t thrown away. A time where not everything was considered disposable.

– Carl Beebee.

An Autopsy of Rural England.

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**A new and ongoing photography project**

Come to Herefordshire and you’ll be surprised by its natural beauty, the green fields, untouched landscapes and the tranquility of the idyllic market towns and villages, where people try desperately to grasp onto a time and period that has all but passed. You will probably fall in love with Herefordshire and remark to your nearest and dearest how it’s such a wonderful place to visit. You may even want to retire here…

But dig a little deeper, cut it open and you might find a very different story. A very different county. You might find a story of the lowest wages in the West Midlands, a story of constant compromise, a story of a Tory seat that has largely been unopposed for the last two decades. Cut deeper and you will see a county that has placed all of its funding into one city centre. A failed regeneration that has left everywhere else behind it, in its murky shadow. You’ll find quiet streets – and I don’t mean in the tranquil way you may think of – but in a way where a lack of true investment, opportunity and a disposable income has emptied the streets until they look like a damaged Hopper painting.

This project is not about the people here. By large, the people here are good, honest and hard working. There are of course people who do not want change. They don’t understand it. There are also plenty of the “love it or leave it” brigade and there are people who undoubtedly deserve better. People who have been let down by a place where social injustice is being pushed into the very forefront.

Herefordshire is of course beautiful too. There are countless books and postcards to demonstrate that. There is an undeniable charm here, but the things and places that will be photographed for this project, unlike other counties, are not hidden. They are not relegated to the back streets, they are on our doorsteps, outside of our houses, in our town centres. Unhidden, unapologetic and in plain view. They are a constant reminder of an unbalanced county and an unbalanced economy. It is compromised and frequent, it is every part of our county. It is in equal measure to the beauty, the charm and the silence.

Look past the natural beauty and the over marketed history and you’ll see it. Clear as day. A political commentary? Perhaps. But it will be a definite and honest autopsy of the place I call home.

– Carl Beebee.

Blogging, you have to blog right?

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Blogging, you have to blog right? (Is this ‘blogging’ on here?). Everyone tells me I have to blog. My agents tell me, my publicist tells me, so do my clients, friends and everybody else. I have to blog. I enjoy blogging I’m just not great at finding the time to do it, and I don’t pretend I’m actually any good at it. But I’m not bothered about that. I think I’m meant to blog about work and life but ironically those are the two things that seem to get in the way of me blogging. Let’s face it, there’s things I’d rather do than blog; spending time with my family, visiting galleries, drinking, fucking, shooting. All of the things that fill my life and generally make me happy. As I mentioned, I enjoy blogging, just generally not as much as the other things I’ve mentioned. I guess I need to find a way around this, but for now I’m going to tell you a little about what I’ve been working on because that seems as good as reason as any to blog.

Most of my time at the moment is taken up by working on my new book ‘FATALE’. My agents want this released in November of this year but that means a really tight schedule. I’m photographing approximately 50 women for the book. A mixture of professional models, friends, people I’ve known for a few years and people I’ve never met. It is a portrait of the real FATALE’s of 2017. The girl who lives next door, the woman you see down the street, the Mother dropping her kids off at school. It’s cool, sexy, seductive and different. I was recently asked to sum the book up in one line. My answer was “it’s a fuck you Hollywood” — and it is. There’s another slice of irony there considering I got this book deal on the back of my previous book ‘California Calling’. That leads me onto something else I’m working on… In the next couple of months I’m releasing a new version of ‘California Calling’ exclusively to the iBookstore — hopefully there will be more news on that very soon.

I’ve also been working on a short documentary filming a duo who are in the UK from the States to record an EP. Actually, this is something I’d like to blog about but I’m contracted to keep my mouth shut until the release. That’s irony biting me firmly on my ass again.

Those are the things that are currently filling up my schedule along with the things I mentioned earlier. I’m going to try and blog more but I must admit that this is something I’ve said before. The intention is there. The will is there. If there was a school report for it, it would simply read “must try harder”.

Thanks for reading… See you in the pub.

– Carl.

Hotel Nights.

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Every New Year it gets me. Like clockwork, the creative slump drags me down every January. I know some people who enter the New Year full of life and hope. The gyms get busier and the bars get quieter, but historically January has always been a royal pain in the ass for me. I just get a complete block on any creative ideas. Much like authors can suffer for years with writers block, this grabs hold of me and seemingly never wants to let me go.

It’s not that I haven’t tried in the past, but every idea is met with a depressing “what’s the point” attitude. Or a feeling and thought that it wouldn’t be saying anything. It’s a hard chain to break and usually for this month I only ever use my camera for “work”.

This year I was determined to break the slump. I didn’t want to go big but I wanted to feel creative. I wanted to create something that I liked, that interested me, regardless of whether I eventually shared it with an audience.

I came to the conclusion that the best way to do this was to shoot something I’d enjoy, without necessarily worrying about its relevance, context or artistic merit. With that in mind I booked myself and my Wife two nights away in a city centre hotel in Birmingham. I stocked up on Fuji Instax film and decided I’d document our drunken fueled weekend getaway. As soon as we got there and I started I instantly felt good about the project. It was great shooting something for myself rather than a client.

In the end I did share 30 of the of the instant photographs and I’m quietly (or not so much now) pleased with them. (You can view the photos here) Not only are they a great reminder of our time away but they have a feel and a look to them I love. They look like part of a documentary photo essay. Are they saying anything? No. Does that matter? No. Because I returned and felt that the annual creative slump had this year passed me by. Which in fairness, with a book to get finished this year is pretty important.

If you’re creatively suffering, whether you’re a photographer, writer, painter or any other artist my advice would be just to create. Don’t worry about what it’s for or what the point is. Just create. Shoot, write, paint. Anything. The only way I have personally found to defeat the slump is to ‘do’…