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.
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.
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 : – )
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.
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:
How does one capture the essence of a place?
Here is a second taster of my Insight City Guide to London… Borough market, Kew, Ham House, Hogarth house, Chelsea Physic Garden, Westminster Cathedral, Nelson’s Column, Hampton Court and Chiswick House. I just laugh at the three elderly ladies in Chelsea Physic Garden with the busk of a man’s head amongst the flowers. I often am trying to get low and shoot through layers to create atmosphere. Trying to remember to look for all the angles; the graphic shot from above, or the low down close up where you can almost smell those cakes! Feel free to write to me at the foot of any of my blogs.
Beyond my commissions I teach a few short courses at Morley College, London. Why not come along to one of my ‘Street Photography’ courses? Two Saturday workshop 21 & 28 Sept 2013, and better still a 6 week program, working to themes within Street photography, 3 hrs a week from 4 November 2013.
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?
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.
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 great day had at the Chelsea Flower Show press day yesterday. The light may have been a bit flat and dull until late in the day but still the glowing plant and flower combinations were amazing. Also a great opportunity to catch up with lots of familiar faces that I have know from my time as a freelance Art Editor on Gardens’ World magazine and others very talented freelance writers. Many now doing some very interesting blogs.
I did spot the odd famous face but most of time I had my eye looking down the lens at a flower or two. Enjoyed a refreshing complimentary cocktail at The Caravan Clubs garden… very nice , very strong! Waited about an hour before sipping a champaign at the David Austin Stand. Could not go the whole day without a little indulgence.
Yippee! Another year I have the great honor to be going to the RHS Chelsea Flower show. Hopefully lots of good pictures to be taken for placing with my picture library client, GAP Photos. Last year was great weather, for a change. So let’s hope it will be a dry day this coming Monday.
As the Travel bug is still getting to me I reflect on aspect I have enjoyed doing past travel book commissions, especially Thames & Hudson Style City Europe book where I shot the Lisbon Chapter, and beautiful Paris for Rough Guides. With these two books I got to show how I enjoy to shoot interiors as much as capturing a sense of a location at street level too. Both books gave me the opportunities to shoot in top rated venues. Here below are some of my images from these publications.
Just as I am thinking about a new diet I came across these images that I shot as part of a wedding commission. Photographed as I found the dish to be served up in front of me, and oh dear yes it was me eating it as I wanted to capture each delicious stage towards that satisfaction of an empty plate.