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…
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.
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…
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!
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.
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.
So, I made somewhat of a big switch recently. After watching hours of YouTube videos and reading everything I could find I purchased an iPad Pro and Apple pencil with the intention of completely changing my workflow so I could constantly have my “editing suite” with me.
Installed on my iPad from Adobe CC I have Adobe Fix, Adobe PS and Adobe Mix as well as third party programs such as VCSO and Enlight.
The shot above was actually shot on the iPad, edited on the iPad and then “drawn on” using Adobe Sketch on the device…
It took a while. It was a huge learning curve for me but I’m delighted with the results. I absolutely love editing images on the iPad, and in truth, I’ve barely used my MAC since.
There are downfalls. The file handling is somewhat frustrating as you’re restricted to the built in Camera Roll. So for example, if I take an image into Adobe Fix, work on it then it exports the image to Camera Roll. I then want to edit in VSCO, so I do just that it, save it and it exports to Camera Roll. All of a sudden I have 3 varied images all on my machine. Not so much of a problem if you’re just handling 1 image at a time, but for larger shoots with 100+ photographs it can become somewhat confusing. I almost wish there was a way to overwrite previous versions of the image on saved to the Camera Roll. Despite all of this though I don’t think I’ll ever go back. I love the handling, and the precision the Apple Pencil gives you and having it on the rad with me, at every shoot, on every train etc has been a massive time saver.
With news that the next OS update will give the option to handle true RAW files (not through a conversion in Lightroom mobile) I only see it becoming more and more of a “must have” tool for professional photographers.
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.
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.