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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Take a chair…

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Another year I get to spend a fun morning meeting and shoot the portraits of some interior designer talent of the future at The Interior Design school founded by Iris Dunbar, (Director) http://idschool.co.uk

Each student gets to select a designer chair that they would like to sit in and my part is to photograph a relaxed, approachable yet professional portrait that will introduce them to the interior design community from the launch of their end-of-year show right on through to  their first commissioned post and beyond.

It is amazing we get all 15 or so portraits wrapped up by lunch and everyone feels like it was a whole lot more of a fun experience than they were expecting. As a portrait photographer I always tell my students that once the bells and whistles on their camera and lighting is learnt to level of second nature, the true skill of Portrait Photography is the communication with the subject and being able to read what shape/pose suits them best. There is not one posture suits all. We come in all different shapes and sizes and there is always a great pose for us all. Some subjects are a challenge, that find it hard to relax and not be self conscious, but after a bit of my irish banter I manage to bring out a moment just right for the shot. Above, Interior design student Anya was the opposite and a natural in front of the camera… finally selecting the image top left as her profile image.

I am very much looking forward to meeting all the present year students and tutors again and looking at the work at The Interior Design school’s end of year show early summer 2016. I will also be sharing how I took these shots and more on my up coming ‘Portrait Photography: Studio & location‘ course @MorleyCollege starting on 11th April this year:

https://www.morleycollege.ac.uk/courses/1264-portrait-photography-studio-location/1725

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September teaching at Morley College

Following my busy summer working on commissions around holiday adventures I am finishing off my preparations for my up-coming teaching through the academic year, where one day a week I like to share my enthusiasm for photography and my professional practice experience with students. As well as running progressive Digital SLR courses through the year up to Advanced level I teach term-long courses that will further enhance and enrich photographic skills within various genres of photography such as – Portrait photography, Studio Flash and Speedlight, Urban (street) photography, and Documentary photography (encompassing social documentary and photojournalism).

I am looking forward to meeting and helping new and past students to enjoy and improve both their technical and creative photographic skills. Always happy to share insights in to my professional practice as a commission photographer.

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SEPTEMBER COURSE DETAILS ( for dates, times and further info, click on the url )

Insight City Guides, London

URBAN PHOTOGRAPHY
This course is designed to teach various photographic techniques and ways to photograph the urban landscape taking a fresh look at photographing architecture, street portraiture and the cultural landscape whilst helping develop your own sensitivity to photographing within the city.

http://www.morleycollege.ac.uk/courses/digital_design_film_photography/5637-urban_photography

DIGITAL SLR PHOTOGRAPHY FOR BEGINNERS
This course is for complete beginners who own a Digital SLR and want to learn some of its functions. Students will learn how to operate their cameras in manual mode, make correct exposures and understand aperture, shutter speed and ISO.

http://www.morleycollege.ac.uk/courses/digital_design_film_photography/4867-digital_slr_photography_beginners

You can continue your studies after this course with an intermediate and advanced level, or develop your own specific style and interest within photography on courses such as Portrait, Documentary, or Studio flash photography.

CITY & GULIDS PHOTOGRAPHY, LEVEL 1
City & Guilds Photography Level 1 is ideal if you are interested in learning basic photography skills and knowledge. You will learn how to use your camera, study aspects of image capture including composition and subject matter, and look at different computer editing software. Knowledge and skills gained will support progression to level 2 and 3.

http://www.morleycollege.ac.uk/courses/digital_design_film_photography/4290-city_guilds_photography_level_1/22854

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Boys driving on the Malacon, Havana, Cuba

COMING UP 2016
STUDIO FLASH AND SPEEDLIGHT  (Jan 2016)
http://www.morleycollege.ac.uk/courses/digital_design_film_photography/5646-studio_flash_speedlight/23171

DIGITAL INTERMEDIATE SLR  (Jan 2016)
http://www.morleycollege.ac.uk/courses/digital_design_film_photography/5537-digital_slr_photography_intermediate

DOCUMENTARY PHOTOGRAPHY  (April 2016)
http://www.morleycollege.ac.uk/courses/digital_design_film_photography/5645-documentary_photography/22869

PRODUCT PHOTOGRAPHY  (April 2016)
http://www.morleycollege.ac.uk/courses/digital_design_film_photography/4311-product_photography/23173

PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHY  (April 2016)
http://www.morleycollege.ac.uk/courses/digital_design_film_photography/5700-portrait_photography/23246

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

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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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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.

Cuba covered…

The Malecon, Havana, Cuba

I discovered this week that the image above that I photographed on the Malecon in Havana, Cuba has been bought for a cover of a book. I always get excited when I see an image of mine republished. Although I have shot both Time Out ‘Havana and the best of Cuba’ and ‘The Rough guide to Cuba’, this was a personal image I took on a much earlier trip, back in the day of ‘film’ photography. I once entered it into a Guardian photographic competition and it did make it to be featured on their website. See below a handful of some other favorite photographs I have taken in Cuba…

Afro Cuban Dance performance about to start in Havana Vieja

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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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