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.

iPad. Workflows.

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iPad Collaboration with Emma-Louise Gibbons.

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.

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.

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.

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

Revisiting Previous Shoots…

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Recently, I had to back up all of my work and Lightroom catalogues so I decided to use the opportunity to re-edit some older images…

It’s strange I’ve been working on photographs from shoots that perhaps originally I ignored or skimmed past.

I didn’t just want these new edits stuck in a folder on my MAC so I made the decision to post one per day on my Instagram profile: http://www.instagram.com/carlbeebee ( @carlbeebee )

The shot above is from a home studio session with model Jo Fry I shot a couple of years ago. There’s a fair few images from that shoot that I’ve used in various portfolios and marketing etc – but to my knowledge this is the first time this particular shot has been edited and uploaded anywhere online…

I hope you like some of the images and hopefully it will inspire others to actually have a proper look through some of their older images – it may just surprise you!

Thanks for reading…

The Un-United Kingdom

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‘The Un-United Kingdom – 2003 by Carl Beebee.

I created this photograph 11 years ago and it seems fitting to post it today considering on this day the fate of a nation and a “United Kingdom” will be decided.

This piece of work was originally titled ‘Jack’ but was part of a series for exhibitions called the ‘Un-United Kingdom’.

The majority of people mis-read the concept of the photograph completely. Admittedly this could be my fault for not explaining well enough but lots of people considered it to be unpatriotic – it was even once deemed “racist”. Nothing could be further from the truth. I believed at the time (and still believe) that collectively as a nation we need to reclaim nationalism from the right wing extremists…

I guess if nothing else it serves to remind me that at times it really is best to explain the meaning/concept behind a particular piece or series of work.

Censorship… My Take.

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Image from the series ‘Fade To Black’ by Carl Beebee. 2014.

I recently read an article on the popular photography website fstoppers.com called “Censorship is Good for Photography. Seriously” The article explains, or rather argues, why censorship in photography is a good thing. It is of course the writers opinion and he offers valid points. But to me it is not a good thing. It is something that restricts creativity, opinion and thoughts. It simply holds artists back!

I want to make it clear here; i’m not in anyway supporting illegal images – only images that fall within the law. I’m also not talking about classification – where it is important to fall within age restrictions etc. If an image is “not safe for work” does that make it wrong? If it’s labelled “not safe for work” or ‘NSFW’ then to me it is fair game. It is after all, at the heart of it, personal preference. If someone wants to put the word “fuck” across their image is it inappropriate? Should it be censored?

I think we live in a world where we should all be able to offer our opinion with freedom and creativity. Surely, it’s a simple rule? – if you don’t like what you see then look away. Galleries, curators and the press already put so many restrictions on artists I feel that at times it prevents said artists from creating the work they actually want to create. As soon as that happens then they have lost their voice.

It’s so important to believe in your work, regardless of others opinions or thoughts. It has to have an honesty and an integrity to it in order for the artist to be themselves – not just as an artist but as a person. It is this trait that will blends personality into the work.

How will history view the censorship of photography? Well, look back in time at Hollywood – films such as ‘The Exorcist’, ‘Clockwork Orange’ and ‘The Texas Chain Saw Massacre’ were all banned in certain regions and countries. Today they have been re-introduced and are widely available – but perhaps more importantly, each in their own form is considered ground breaking and important. That is perhaps the biggest lesson to be learnt and the reason why I will always say “Censorship is bad for photography. Seriously.”

Film, Polaroids & The Digital Revolution.

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Double Exposed Polaroid 600 – Circa. 2000.

Nearly everything I shoot these days is in digital because let’s face it; it’s easier, cheaper, quicker and often (usually) more commercially viable. Bridge cameras, DSLR’s and iPhones have all helped bring the digital revolution to the forefront of photography. It’s nothing new. But it leaves me cold. More people than ever now take photographs. This is a good thing I realise but I think it takes away the love of it all. I realise I’m probably not explaining this too well but there is something so unique, and so special about shooting with a film or Polaroid camera.

I’ve recently moved house, and this gave me a great excuse and to sort through boxes and boxes of 35mm negatives and exposed Polaroids. I looked through them all, and they just seem to hold so much more substance. They are real. Printed in front of me. There is in my opinion an art to them which will forever elude digital photography. 

I’m aware there are many photographers that still shoot in film, but in truth it’s not something I do enough of and I need to change that. I need to feel like a “photographer” again and in my humble opinion shooting with film is such a large part of that.

I decided that I needed some personal projects to work with to use film again so I started to look through the internet to gather some inspiration. I came across a great article on fstoppers.com by David Geffin titled ‘Why I’ve gone back to shooting film, and why you should too’ It essentially told me what I already felt and I found myself nodding in agreement as he suggested that our DSLR’s have “turned us into the equivalent of photographic sloths”

I then watched a film which I had been meaning to watch for a while called ‘Finding Vivian Maier’ who was a Nanny in America but had a somewhat secretive life as a street photographer. I’d urge anyone with an interest in film photography to watch this film.

For me, I’ve decided that for the first time in years, next month I will shoot a model completely on Impossible Project Polaroid 600 film. I’m looking forward to this shoot more than any other I have done in a serious amount of time. I have also been wondering for some time how I could make my 2nd California book different to the first. I am now starting to consider shooting a large portion of the book on Medium Format film as well as Impossible Project…

Thinking about film, and how I can implement it has kind of taken me back to where I started and in all honesty it has helped me regain my love for the art form which is photography.

Professional Photos Are Not Blurry!?

I found this article recently in a book called ‘FotoLog’ – I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.

‘PROFESSIONAL PHOTOS ARE NOT BLURRY!’ the purist shouts, screwing his SLR onto a tripod as he lines the family up for a portrait. ‘Red-eye is ugly!’ he recites, swivelling the flashgun so it bounces off the ceiling. ‘Wide-angle lenses make your nose look big!’ But there a are a few gaps in the purist’s impressive photographic knowledge. He doesn’t know that Terry Richardson shoots magazine covers with a cheap compact camera, that Ryan McGinley makes red-eye sexy, or that Wolfgang Tilmans won the Turner Prize with images containing flaring, blurring and camera shake.

Continue reading “Professional Photos Are Not Blurry!?”