A softened approach to Corporate Portraits

I was very pleased this month to be commissioned by Southbank BID, (Southbank Employment group) to photograph all their new company profile portraits and team shots.

I understood the brief that the portraits were to convey both professionalism and warm approachability. A friendly group of people that are focused on contributing to the regeneration of positive use of the surrounding public realm for visitors, businesses and local residents and therefore needed a softer look. I decided against the traditional corporate portrait shot with a bright plain white backdrop and went for the softer subtle interior look, still keeping it uncluttered but featuring posters commissioned by Southbank BID’s marketing team in the background and a natural feel to the lighting.

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The skill to photographing portraits of people not use to their picture being taken is beyond the technical aspects of handling camera and lighting. It is firstly the ability to communicate warmly and relaxed, putting them at easy and actually making it fun. It always puts a smile on my face when editing images later to see the laughter in the ones that do not make the final cut, as they look like they are having far too much fun! It is the hardess thing to capture that fleeting subtle smile across the eyes and in the corners of the mouth. Once achieved my feelings soar high that I captured it in camera.

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Another essential ability of a portrait photographer is to find, but not force a pose from the subject that communicates to the viewer, and recognise different poses suit different personalities and body types. After 21 staff portraits it was an achievement that day that every one of them found their best side : – )

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Capturing the pose in portraiture is all about the eyes, arms, shoulders and the hands… the most important aspects that reflect a lot of what is going on inside.

I enjoy people – meeting new and interesting charactors to photograph, and look forward to all those I am yet to meet and photograph.

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Trace… snip… fold… POP-UP!

When I am commissioned by Quintet to shoot a new craft ‘makes’ book I get to work in many lovely location houses with lots of opportunities for me to style my own shots. The very recent new Pop-Up card book I was commissioned to shoot I especially loved photographing against interesting backdrops, with an abundance of nice details/items for me to place in the frame in a supporting role to graphic cut-out cards themselves.

Here are a few I shot that day…

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I am sure my 10 year old son would especially like to make the last one!

Wishing all the best of luck to Quintet at this October’s Frankfurt book festival.

A taste for travel…

PHOTOGRAPHING FOOD ON LOCATION

On many of my travel & location lifestyle commissions I get to shoot some wonderful chef creations. Understanding how to work the natural light, and styling on the spot is a great asset. My background as previously an Art Editor has served me very well when sent off on a commission alone, never knowing what I will find at a location and then make the most of it. Here I recall some of the images I have captured…

JW Marriott Hotel, Venice

This beautifully presented Panna cotta above I photographed when on assignment for Conde Nast at the JW Marriott Resort in Venice earlier this year that appeared in their July issue of Traveller. With a quick glance around I placing and turning the dessert in a lovely softly diffused light area of the restaurant. Then I tweaked how I wanted the papery leaves to fall for nice shapes and so that the light shone through them. The final touches were adding the spoon on an angle and placing the potted herb just into the top of the shot with a very soft aperture to create some interest and sense of being on a real table setting and not in a studio. These seemingly little details I love to play with.

Pescheria San Pietro, Florence, Italy

Above is a wonderfully fresh seafood platter I shot in Italy. I decided it worked best from an aerial perspective. I like the main circular shape clipped off on the left side. I placed in the natural muslim fabric napkin to soften the shapes. Then I positioned other circular shapes of the glasses, in top left each partly filled, which along with the fork was a conscious decision to capture a feeling that I had just casually grabbed my image as someone was enjoying this lunch. Two empty glasses would have looked wrong. Plus, always enjoyable to sip some of the wine to achieve exactly the right amount I want visually in the image : )

JW Marriott Hotel, Venice

Great restaurants always present such attractive food, but when photographing reportage style, I like to add my own touches such as above a little bit of the food spilling onto a fork, and twisting around the clam shells to capture different shapes and textures – a glimpse of the shells’ exterior colors and pattern, and at same time the soft edible centre. Once happy with the fine tuning I then explore different angles to frame the shot, and how close to come in on the dish.

SOME TRICKY LOCATION LIGHTING – Interior locations can offer tricky light for shooting food & drink, such as hard light pouring through windows into a darker interior or too many different artificial light sources. But I try to play to what I visualize working with the quality of the object I am shooting and what available light I can find at the time.

The image below I shot in a wonderful cocktail bar interior lit by day with only a very low light spilling in from just one small exterior window, but it worked well as a very directional backlight to shine through the cocktails, which ‘lifted’ them against the dark upholstery and created sparkle.

JK Place & Cocktail Lounge, Florence, italy

Below, Natural light spilling in through frosted window out of shot, on the righthand side. The rich textures of the furniture, and placing a black area in the background helped ‘lift’ the brightly coloured cocktails in the foreground.

Dublin

I really enjoyed my shoot to The Pump Street Bakery in Orford, Suffolk for Country Living Magazine – spotting the quality of the harder sunny light shining through the cafe window and their wonderful clear glass teapots, combined with extra luminosity it gave the gilded vintage cup and saucer with delicately tinted herbal tea I pushed them further into the pool of light to capture this image, which I hope does emulate a true sense of what it was like to sit there sipping lightly fragrant tea with sunlight on your face.

The Pump Street Bakery

Below: The bakery sold their own delicious cakes but the counter area was lit by vintage light bulbs. As food is best shot in daylight the solution was to move them, still on their glass stands to a window on the other side of the room with a much softer natural light than the image above, so as to remove any moody shadows. If you can not find such an ideal softer light then you can always use a diffuser to place in front of a window to create this light as it passes through its fabric.

The Pump Street BakeryThe Pump Street Bakery

TIME LAPSE – Some times after I have photographed first the complete dish I like to deconstruct the food, slowly breaking into it with a fork or spoon until there is just a smear of sauce and that one final mouthwatering piece left to savor…

Lydia Evans wedding pudding

Lydia Evans wedding pudding 2

Lydia Evans wedding pudding 3

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FOOD MARKET CLOSE-UPS – There are so many great graphic shapes and textures to photographing food in street markets around the world, from Istanbul to right here in London Borough market…

Pomegranates, Istanbul

Street Food on Istiklal Caddesi, Taksim, Istanbul

Simitci bread roll, Istanbul

Insight City Guides, London

Insight City Guides, London

Insight City Guides, London

ON A FINAL NOTE… just take one cupcake… This is one of the simplest but favorite shots of mine taken in a cafe in Stoke Newington Church Street, London to represent in just one shot: the feel for the interior, its vintage mismatching crockery and yummy cakes.

The Tea Room, Stoke Newington Church Street

The Tea Room, Stoke Newington Church Street

 

 

Dublin city cooool!

I am very please I can finally share my images published in this November’s issue of Conde Nast Traveler, a feature I photographed for them in Dublin to capture the city’s renewed ‘sassy swagger’ fueled by the entrepreneurial flair of returning bright young independent venturers that had gone overseas to seek new things and be inspired.

With a brief to capture this new cool dynamic energy I spent a great couple of days amongst one of the friendliest nation I know. Never short of striking up a conversation. Great quirky interiors, and wonderful brunch served at The Fumbally – a plate of scrabbled eggs, avocado, chilli & tomato on toast I photographed then simply could not resist eating.

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Even on time-out for a lunch break my lobster risotto at Super Miss Sue looked too good with fresh basil leaves on top not to be photographed! Yes, it was delicious. The Diver and Siren black and white photographs in the bathroom here also added a WOW factor.

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Below: The Marker Hotel Dublin

Below: Vintage Homeware at ‘Find’ in Temple barDublin Dublin Dublin

Below: Cow’s Lane Designer Studio in Temple barDublin

Peruke & Periwig’s barman Robert went beyond his call of duty nearly setting light to his gristly beard as he repeatedly lit his flaming ‘Walking dead’ cocktail for me to capture it at the ‘decisive moment’, at one point leaping backwards as the amber flame shot high into the air. I will spare him blushing by not showing that image.
His cocktail mixing skills were super and adventurous!

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Impossible not to drink a guinness when in Dublin and one of the best places for this was The Kehoe’s pub where I got to share a pint and some good Irish banter with the subject of my photograph who thought he was just quietly sipping his guinness whist waiting for a friend until I spotted the photographic potential with a nice light flooding through the door. The three of us swopped a few good tales, then off home I went to my lovely room at Guesthouse Number 31, for an edit of the day’s shots.

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Below: Guesthouse, Number 31Dublin

A huge thanks to the Conde Nast team for this assignment, meeting great people and feasting my eyes on fab interiors, cuisine and cool quirky buys. I hope readers of my blog enjoy the images and you are tempted to visit Dublin for a long weekend. xx

The Talented Mr Oldfield

This month You Magazine published a lovely feature on the ever stylish and talented Bruce Oldfield. It was great to be part of this, to meet Bruce to take his portrait and details of his glamorous creations at his showroom and atelier around the corner from Harrods.

Here below are a small selection of images I shot that morning.

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Where for art thou in London?

What an opportunity I had thought… A commission to run all over London for three weeks photographing a new guide book of the City. Then I saw the length of the picture list! followed by the arrival of a heat wave… thus followed some very hard work. The schedule was tight, but 8,000 files later edited to 2,000, another deadline met. Now a month later it is very rewarding to sift through and edit a small selection I like most. Can you guess where any of them were taken?

Insight City Guides, London

Insight City Guides, London

Insight City Guides, London

Insight City Guides, London

Insight City Guides, London

Insight City Guides, London

Insight City Guides, London

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Insight City Guides, London

Insight City Guides, London

Insight City Guides, London

Insight City Guides, London

Insight City Guides, London

The House Of Wolf

Earlier this year I was commissioned to photograph the very funky eclectically styled bar #houseofwolf, (http://www.houseofwolf.co.uk) in Islington’s Upper Street, London.
My brief was a nice relaxed portrait of the owner Matt Fleming plus, some interior details of the multi level bar and restaurant, and two close-up food shots of a nice cold pint of beer coupled with their chef’s bar snacks: pork filled doughnuts or chunky chips with a chocolate dip… both great yummy combinations, trust me, (dabbing my mouth with the napkin once the shot was done).

After a quick scout around for where to shoot the portrait I fell in love with this first floor room as the backdrop, with it’s gloriously rich swirling coppery embossed wall paper, mustard coloured leather armchairs and huge circular mirror. The natural light spilling in from the open roof top doors sealed my decision. The crucial thing for me as photographer is directing the pose but at same time capturing a relaxed subject. Hopefully I achieved that here… absolutely nothing to do with sipping delicious cold beer. Matt was great, and very passionate about his work which shows in how he has created the locations aesthetics and what original cuisine to serve in the restaurant as well as the bar food.

A very enjoyable shoot. Very inspirational as hopefully something like that multi stranded, multi bulb light feature in one of my images below will soon be making an appear in my home.

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The Decorative Ceramics of Karin Moye

When I have been commissioned to photograph Artist/designer’s profile features I have often found myself loving and wanting to take home with me a piece of the work by the artist. Karin Moye’s work I love not only for it’s decorative quality and gorgeous colour pallet and combinations, but because of the illustrative folk art feel of her motifs, (http://www.katrinmoye.com). I use to be a published illustrator, so they are very appealing to my taste. I really regret not picking up one or two pieces of her work. I am sure they would make me smile every time I should go to sip my morning tea.

If anyone was lucky enough to be at the Bovey Tracey contemporary craft fair in Devon this past weekend, 7-9 June (www.craftsatboveytracey.co.uk) then you may well have been lucky enough to come across her stall. It truly enhances my experiences as a photographer, to have a small creative memento to my day’s shoot. Here below are a few images I shot at the time for the BBC Homes & Antiques magazine up in Karin’s Nottingham studio…

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http://katrinmoye.wordpress.com

Another wooly story…

Following close behind the book ‘500 Crochet blocks’ (Quintet Publishing, Autumn 2012)
I also was commissioned to photograph ‘HandKnitted Letters’ published earlier this year worldwide. In my photograph above I liked the twist on the old craft of hand knitting a cover but for the modern day Kindle.

Next stop was having fun and games trying to capture kids in whimsical brightly coloured hand knitted hats that took on various shapes and sizes…

The project was started back in October, and thereafter we battled with keeping toddlers and babies from frost bite on various very cold UK winter days – come March still little improvement. You know what they say about working with kids and dogs, well, add freezing temperatures and bitter winds… However, hurrah! Come April we completed it, and the result for us I must say is a very good looking book. ‘Fun Hats’, Search Press (UK) and ‘Whimsical Hats’, Barrons (USA) will be published Autumn 2013. Below, is a small selection of my favorite shots.

A road trip to Suffolk and beyond…

It was great to be invited by Country Living magazine to photograph one of their first ‘Dream Business’ features. I could not have asked for a better visually beautiful business to shoot than ‘The Pump Street Bakery’ in Orford, Suffolk, (Issue February 2013). They are the winners of BBC Food Awards – Best Food Producer 2012. I was blessed to have a bright Autumn day for my shoot and thought I would share some of the images I like to wet your appetite…

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The Pump Street Bakery

The Pump Street Bakery

The Pump Street Bakery

The Pump Street Bakery The Pump Street Bakery-758

The Pump Street Bakery The Pump Street Bakery The Pump Street Bakery The Pump Street Bakery

I arrived at 6am after a VERY early start driving out of North West London. These guys though had been there from about 2.30am! They held back some of the product for my arrival but very rapid photographing was required as rising dough needed to be put in and out ovens with specific timings. I dashed between floors in the bakery photographing pastries on the ground level and breads on the first floor. I grabbed sips of a freshly made coffee and did not say no to a freshly cooked doughnut straight out of the machine whilst at the same time re-setting up my tripod in different spots around the busy workers. There was just so much that caught my eye to shoot.

Once Cedric Citroen, (the mobile bread shop) was loaded up, we took a short trip down a country lane into Orford itself to the shop and cafe. The staff were so friendly and very patient as I had to pick my way around customers and cake stands fully of wonderful crafted eccles and a variety of pastries to get my shots.

THANK YOU! to all there that day. For my wonderful homemade soup, the interesting conversation exchanged with locals and accommodating my efforts to do a good job. Cheers!

Country Living Feature Feb 2013

http://pumpstreetbakery.com

@pumpstreetbakery