Shoot what you love…

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 already can’t wait for our next shoot…

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…

Saal Digital Review – Photobook.

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I’ve been looking for somewhere to print a small run of photo books for a while now – with the idea of self publishing a small book to sell exclusively at exhibitions etc. After seeing a featured add from Saal Digital on Instagram I decided to check them out…

I downloaded their software and eventually decided on a glossy 19 x 19 book with approximately 30 pages…

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The software was really simple to use, but much more importantly it was effective. A simple case of ‘drag and drop’ for the files you want to use – all embedded into the software at high resolution. There are many templates available within the program but I opted for either their ‘blank’ or ‘double’ pages. A note here: the double pages look incredible! No loss of image within the fold or crease at all, which means your images are seen how they are meant to be!

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Once completed you simply upload your final design, choose your shipping method and pay. The book took about a week to arrive, and I have to say I was so impressed. The quality of the product is exceptional. All too often as a photographer, I’ve uploaded images to print, only to be left disappointed with the quality. That’s certainly not the case with these photo books. They look and feel great. Thick pages with a high gloss finish really make the book stand out.

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Over the years (too many to mention) I’ve tried and used many publishing tools to create books to self publish, but Saal Digital are definitely the best for ease of use, quality of the product and delivery/shipping times.

For more information on their products head on over to www.saal-digital.co.uk

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Live Music Photography

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When I started taking photographs (all those years ago) I used to take a lot of band portraits and live sets. It made sense, I had friends who had good reputations in the music industry, so bands were the very people that were accessible to me. For years, this is what I specialized in, picking up commissions from music magazines such as NME, Kerrang!, Metal Hammer and Rock Sound etc. I loved the work, as at the time I felt it allowed a creativeness that you didn’t really see in more commercial photography. I loved doing the promo shoots on locations and I loved that the gigs took me all around the country and into parties, that quite honestly I’d never make it into under normal circumstances…

After a few years something changed and I stopped. It no longer felt that creative, I felt repetition was seeping into my work and I hated it. That along with the fact that, in the internet age many music publications were either falling under or losing all of their budget, seemed to make it a difficult career to maintain. That’s not to mention the endless list of photographers who are prepared to shoot their idols free of charge. (I don’t blame them by the way, that’s how I started).

Every now again I’ll get offered to shoot a live band, and if it’s something that interests me it’s something I’ll do. Simple as that. When I start to shoot the right band (for me) it does something to me. It takes me back. It reminds me of why I love music so much, and sometimes it even gives me the “bug” to do it all again. That “bug” is usually met the following morning with a hangover and the realization that a life spent in London depresses me more than anything at this current time.

Still, those times, those gigs and those bands remind me of something bigger. Something better. They make photography exciting. The same way it was all of those years ago. Music and photography are two of the most important parts of my life. They are so incredibly ingrained in my personality and my culture.

Sometimes the music industry as a whole depresses me. I look and listen to new bands and they just don’t talk to me. They don’t reach out to me. I’m very aware that this is absolutely because I’m getting older, and typically these bands aren’t meant to speak to me. But when you hear a band you love (new or old) and you’re front row ready to capture that moment, there’s simply nothing better.

Photography as a memory.

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When photography is your day to day “job” I think it becomes increasingly difficult at times to remember one of it’s most important uses; the ability to capture time and create a memory.

In a few short weeks myself and my girlfriend will be married, selfies aside I have very few (deliberate) pictures of us together that I really love, because after the completion of commissions, traveling and the general burden of day to day life, I often never get around to setting shots up. I get home and my camera is packed away until the next job.

I’m starting to make a real conscious effort to change this, because I want to remember this time in an artistic way. I want to look back in ten, twenty years time and remember what we looked like, what we wore, what our apartment was like etc. I want to remember the details. I want to have proof of them.

Although the photograph above is “staged” and stylized it is very ‘us’. This is how we hang out, this is what we do. This is our house. These are all of the details that I want printed in my memory.

I’ve tried these personal projects before, and honestly most of the time I have failed miserably, but I intend to start “creating” a photograph of the two of us once a week. Some of them I will post, some of them will remain private. But I’ll have them. To keep. To remember. To check. To look back on when tomorrow becomes yesterday.

Failed Projects and Creative Culls…

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Noir Hotel Portrait – Taken on iPhone – October 25th 2015.

I hate admitting defeat. I hate giving up. But as far as my work goes if I feel something isn’t working or that something’s having a negative impact on my work I’ll always pull the proverbial plug. And that’s what I have to do here… The 365 Project just wasn’t for me. It’s changed the way I shoot – I shoot more, undoubtedly, but it wasn’t working. It just didn’t sync with my own creative process.

I don’t “share” photographs easily. I think about it and probably overthink it – before I post anything. This was my trouble with the 365 project. I went to Birmingham for a few days last week. I came back and there was about 5 photographs on my iPhone that I really liked and wanted to share. The trouble? I had to dwindle it down to 1. But then, the next day (I took a day off) I didn’t really have anything so I had to settle for some half arsed snapshot I went out to take. That’s the part that will never work for me. I feel it degrades the integrity of the photography. It’s sharing for the sake of sharing.

Ive changed the website to better reflect what I want to achieve. I want it to be a kind of photographic journal. The same kind of imagery; iPhone shots of things I see, concepts and portraits etc. But now I no longer feel restrained by the ‘what’ and ‘when’ I post. I still plan on updating the site frequently – at least 4-5 times per week but I’ll be a little more methodical with it. It will hopefully now be a site that I feel reflects me and my work.

Anyway, I’d love to get your thoughts on this, so please take a look at the site at: http://beebee-see.tumblr.com/

Audience Isn’t Important.

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018/365 (Taken on iPhone) from Beebee365.

Blogging. I like blogging, I need to blog… But… I need to blog more…

I’ve always been someone that writes things down. I have kept a working journal of tech info and ideas since I first picked up a camera. I find it helps me. It helps me organize ideas in my mind, reflect on my work and helps with my creative workflow. But… I need to blog more…

Blogging… it’s important. But it’s difficult. Shoot, edit, meeting, shoot edit, meeting –  the days drift into weeks. As part of my 365 Project I’ve been keeping a journal each day. Just recording when and how I took the photograph and my feeling towards that days photograph. There’s every chance no one else will ever see these writings apart from me but they’ve been important. They’ve helped. They, at least for me, have given the project an extra significance.

On that note, I am very much enjoying the project and I’m experimenting a lot with it. It’s fun and it’s forcing me to think as I really don’t want to be repeating myself on there. I think it’s one of the few projects I’ve ever done where audience isn’t really important. If people want to look at the images and are interested in them, then great but it feels much more like a “self help” project. I needed it. I needed this project, and I needed it at this time. It’s a project about nothing else other than that “one” photograph. You take one and you really like it, but by the next day it’s already forgotten about. You have to move on, and you have to move on quickly. In contrast, you take one and you don’t like it, or feel you could have done something better. It’s okay because tomorrow is a new day. And with a new day comes a new photograph. It’s also quite possibly the only project I have ever done that has no end goal. None. Nothing. Just me and my camera. Usually I have to deliver a project to a client, a publisher a website or a magazine. With that comes added pressure. With this there are none of those things. No real pressure on anything other than to deliver one photograph each day – and surely that shouldn’t be a task for someone who lives and breaths to take photographs?

You can view the project here.

On a side note we have given the website Bro&Brew a face lift. I’m really proud of what the website has become. It’s now full of really talented and really amazing artists; Illustrators, photographers, musicians. It’s really cool so make sure you check it out and even submit some work if you fancy being a featured artist?

Blogging… I must blog more… I will blog more…

Previously on 365…

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011/365 – Geisha.

So I am only day 12 into my 365 project and I have to say I’m finding it more difficult than I first considered… Although, I guess it’s inevitable, I’m really trying to stay away from “point and shoot” images. I’m doing my best to work on the photographs each day; come up with an idea and concept and shoot it. For obvious reasons – the main one being time – this is much easier said than done.

The image above was taken on my Pentax DSLR yesterday and it’s one of my favorite images of the project so far. It’s deliberately under exposed and shot on RAW as I wanted a dark, grungey and grainy effect for the shoot. For this image I just used one flash light to the side of the model.

I’m trying to be very varied in the photographs I’m shooting for the project – mixing up iPhone shots and DSLR shots.

However, make no mistake, even so early on I can see the benefits of this project. Even on days where I am full up with meetings and editing etc I’m still “forced” to shoot, and enter the creative process. I remain pretty determined to see the project through. Already there are some photographs I prefer to others which I guess is natural. On the flip side of that there are photographs I’ve taken for it that have really grown on me. I’m also keeping a journal and entering information each evening about that days photograph; just things like how I shot it, how I feel about it. I’m finding this very handy as it helps me keep track of what I’ve shot and what I need to focus on. It will also be a real benefit if I decide to publish this in print at any point.

You can see my 365 project at: http://beebee365.tumblr.com/

Thanks for reading.

Beebee 365

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I’ve finally decided to take the proverbial plunge and do the 365 challenge. Each day, for a year I’ll upload an image shot that day. I think it will mostly be stuff shot on my iPhone – some conceptual pieces, some portraits, some behind the scenes images and a host of randomness. I know this isn’t a new concept by any stretch of the imagination but hopefully I can do things a little differently… You can follow my 365 project by clicking here.

Also just a quick note to say my website has had a redesign so please feel free to check it out by visiting carlbeebee.com

That’s it for now… Stay safe…

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Creative Context…

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‘The Girl & The Stag’ by Carl Beebee. Taken from Instagram.

Just a very brief note with a little news…

Very pleased to say that this week I have signed a contract to write and release a theory book. The book ‘Photography Philosophy & Creative Context’ will be available to buy next year. In all honesty I’m a little daunted by the task in hand – and the idea of writing 30,000 words is terrifying me… But dammit, we’ll give it a good go… I’ll keep posting updates on here and maybe a few snippets of the writing to get a little feedback off you good people.

Ok, on a completely separate note – as far as my Facebook goes I have now all but given up on using my ‘page’ as any kind of worthwhile tool. It seems other than sponsored posts things aren’t really seen from other pages. I’m concentrating on using Instagram more now – both for personal bits and work related things. So please give me a follow on there http://www.instagram.com/carlbeebee (@carlbeebee)

As ever – thanks very much for reading. It is very much appreciated.

See you on the road.

Carl.

My Portrait Philosophy

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The following is a recent article I wrote for Bro&Brew

My Philosophy of a Portrait.

These days I frequently lecture on photography and truth be told for a man that hated being educated I actually quite enjoy it… But lets keep that between us bro’s.

At the end of my lectures I always open it up for any questions. One of the questions I often get is ‘What’s your favourite portrait you’ve taken?‘ It of course, isn’t an easy question to answer because my favourite portrait is usually my most recent one so it obviously changes on a regular basis.

Like in all art, I like my portraits to have some narrative and context. As of 9th July my favourite portrait is this one on the top of this article of my partner Emma…

Lets face facts, it can’t be easy going out with a photographer and having the constant threat of a camera being waved in your face – or being woken up at ridiculous AM with the words “wake up, I’ve got an idea”.

Anyway… back to narrative… My girlfriend, Emma went on a night out with some friends. The theme was  ‘cheerleaders’. To say Emma didn’t have a good night would be an understatement. But that’s not my story to tell so I won’t. The next day the cheerleader outfit was dumped unceremoniously in the bin. I looked at it and thought it needed a portrait. Something that would portray not just the outfit but the destruction of it. The photograph is real – it was her outfit, my girlfriend – stood in her bedroom. None of the surroundings were fabricated – that is something that has always been of great importance to me. Why try and recreate something that’s already there?

I want to be clear, there was no blood spilt that night but I wanted the image to show the inevitable hurt of a girls night out gone wrong. A night that ends in drama, disappointment, and an argument alongside a 3.00am “please come and get me” phone call.

I guess this gives it a personal touch. Apart from those of you fine people who have read this – most people will look at it and simply see a photograph of a woman covered in blood. I look at it and I see a memory. An evening. A real thing. Something that lives with or without photography. It’s that word I always speak of. I ramble on about. Yes, it’s that word: context.

Carl Beebee. (Photographer, Lecturer, Co-founder of Bro&Brew.

Bro&Brew

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Bro&Brew has now launched – if you’re an artist or writer please head to the site and go to the SUBMIT page if you’d like to have your work featured…

For my part – I’m going to be shooting a new model each month for the online version of the magazine. Above is 2 images from my first shoot with model Phoenix Ra.

Please go check out the site – it’s still a work in progress but any feedback would be greatly received.

www.broandbrew.com

The RANT! #1 (NSFW)

What has has happened to photography? I mean, what the fuck has happened to fine art photography?

I’m tired. I’m tired and I’m fed up of hearing about f stops, apertures and shutter speeds. To me it is all completely irrelevant. Always has been. Always will be.

You have Peter Lik, a man who literally calls himself “God” and describes himself as “one of the most important artists of the 21st Century” selling landscapes to his hedge-fund buddies, that frankly, wouldn’t look out of place on a Windows 98 desktop…

Now, I’m not here to criticize other photographers – far from it. It’s just that I’m fed up with tired, old landscape photographs professing to be fine art. I’m tired of all the technology chat and it makes my blood boil to hear a graduate talking about which camera they should or shouldn’t buy.

Take it all – all of that stuff. Destroy it. Destroy it with creativity and context. Because, surely that’s the “fine art”? I don’t care if people shoot with a disposable camera, an iPhone or a Hassleblad but I want to see narrative. I want to see context, but most importantly of all, I need to see creativity.

Don’t get me wrong, there are photographers out there that I love, that I’m jealous of, but they’re all sinking in a sea of mediocre, old photographers who claim to be producing “fine art”.

I realise this opens up the debate of“what is fine art”. I also realise that is a question that would fill up pages because there is no real answer. But surely, we can all agree, that the one thing “fine art” has to have is creativity? It is creativity that is the freedom of expression – and creativity should never be judged by pounds or dollars because that’s fundamentally flawed. Creativity is the art forms very soul. Without it, it is empty. Empty and redundant.

I’m tired. I’m tired and I’m fed up. I’m tired, and I’m fed up and I’m bored. Bored of Peter Lik, tired of an industry mascarading as fine art and fed up with the people who buy into it all.

For the love of God (not Peter Lik) please, please, please give us creativity and context before a whole industry is on it’s knees with no identity what so ever…

Yes, I know this has been a rant. Yes,I know a lot will disagree. But… it’s my column.

Trash Tuesday – The Film Stills

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As mentioned in my previous post; I’ve recently been working on a new project. ‘Trash Tuesday – The Film Stills’ is now all available to view on my website. There’s 25 images plus an artist statement. Please take a look if you get the chance by clicking here.

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Speaking of my website, it’s had a bit of a facelift. With a new landing and home page we’ve also added a ‘news’ page and updated the other pages. The site should now be faster and more accessible on mobile devices… Please view my site by clicking here.

Fade To Black…

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‘Fade To Black’ by Carl Beebee. Click on image for high res version.

Fade To Black is a series of self portraits that explore and recreates the initial, early days of separation and divorce.

The depression, loneliness, confusion and drinking that engulfs your life to a point where you feel like an outsider staring in at your own world – your own movie…

These images (others added to carlbeebee.com soon) portray the moments in the darkness – the time where reflection is essential.

They portray an ending. A final scene. The fade to black moments.