Life, Work, Photography
Bands and musicians, portraits, cats and a wife.
March 18, 2018 • Leave a Comment
I've nearly given up on photography so many times recently mainly due to worrying about my obsessive nature.
A friend said this week, "your like a sledgehammer.. do you ever bloody stop?" as he turfed me out of his office again. It hit home to be honest and worried me. The need to win or be the best has always been a nagging part of me, driven or obsessive.. it's hard to tell.
I never thought I was creative, I thought I was a "builder". At work I build teams, in the past I've ran paintball teams, I've built a worldwide gaming clan, built websites... always with the "building", how big can we make it?, how far can we go? how much money can we make?. Then photography happened for the second time in my life.
I've fallen in love with the camera, but more so with the creating of images. Over the past five years this passion has come with a price, much soul searching about my photography. Is it photography or art? I'm not really used to creative soul searching like trained art people (the wife). Apparently it's all part of a process.. who knew?
When I can't see the path or "do peoples heads in" with this mad passion.. then it seems easier to give in, stop and put the energy somewhere else.
Then someone say's one little innocent comment on their photograph from a shoot, about how the picture makes them feel.. "I FEEL FIERCE".
"I FEEL FIERCE".. Victoria wrote under her picture on Facebook, and I filled up inside. How can I give up if I can help one person feel so good about themselves? Three words that saved my photography..
March 04, 2018 • Leave a Comment
What can you say about Peaky Blinders, I love the TV show. OK.. so it's not historically correct, but I love the characters and how it's shot.
When Matty asked would you fancy doing a shoot based around it I jumped at the chance. I really wanted to create the look and feel of the show and Matty went all out on the costume, props and haircut.
We decided to shoot over two locations, Preston Park a local museum for the street shots and my cellar studio for the portrait shots.
The museum staff were great and welcomed us in.. "on order of the Peaky Blinders" as one of the staff said. I'm always polite and seem to get anywhere if you wave a camera around with a 70-200mm lens on it.
It was freezing cold, so we shot fast and headed back to the cellar.
Matty had a couple of shots in mind, a couple we grabbed at the front room window. At this point Matty had to smoke his first ever cigarette, which gave us all a great laugh and Matty a huge coughing fit.
I used some old blinds and smoke to add to the atmosphere in the cellar, and some new light setups on some of the shots to get the TV look.
All the shots were edited in Lightroom with a preset I made myself to get the colour coding as near to the TV program as possible.
I loved this shoot as it tasked me to create a "look".. I think we achieved it.
October 17, 2017 • Leave a Comment
Last of the Chernobyl phone films, this time playing with a musical score.
This has been up on YouTube for a couple of weeks and gathered a bit of interest and questions. The dog is a wild dog, not my dog though that is my whistle. The music is royalty free music bought through the editing package.
I've really got the bug for playing with video at the moment, it's given me new tricks to think about. The learning curve is pretty steep, but reminds me of when I began photography. I'm spending hours on an evening reading, watching YouTube and chatting in film groups to try and catch up to my piers.
September 18, 2017 • Leave a Comment
The Zone, better known as the Exclusion Zone at Chernobyl is a must visit if your into urbex. A town that has been abandoned for 30 years, a town where people evacuated and left everything behind, a town where nature is reclaiming it's space.
I hadn't really planned to visit Chernobyl but a chance came up to shoot a festival involving the local art college, CCAD . This would give me a chance to make new friends both locally and the Ukraine, so I packed my gear and went.
This blog shows the shots I got from scrambling about in the buildings, what a place and what an adventure.
As I don't normally shoot landscapes or buildings remembering how to set up the tripod took sometime and gave much amusement to a new photographer friend. Everything was rushed, ducking and diving into buildings you were not supposed to enter, hunting down shots and quickly setting up and then getting out.
I also shot a little video on the phone, a regret is that I didn't shoot more. As usual I was travelling too fast, with too many thoughts and not enough time to do everything I wanted to do.. so another visit will be called for, taking more gear.. "the dogs" and "the bat".
The video below shows Pripyat Cafe, complete with it's amazing stained glass. A fantastic piece which I could have shot all day.
March 11, 2017 • Leave a Comment
A work trip up in the Highlands gave me a chance to give The Bat a couple of flights in among the mountains.
The visit was to catch up with old contacts and touch base with some new quarries. The boss and I clocked up some miles during the week, long hours and lots of miles to be honest, but the scenery was awesome.
Luckily for me, the boss happens to be a drone pilot himself, so didn't mind the jumping in and out the car to grab some flight time.
I shot some footage of one of the quarries, all went well until The Bat decided to take things into it's own hands and crash in to a gravel pile. This made me very nervous from then on. Even with all the tech on board these things still do strange things by themselves. Luckily.. no damage.
The wife and I are planning a road trip up to the Highlands soon after reviewing this video, we think we can do better. Planning more photography and now.. a little video.
January 11, 2017 • Leave a Comment
After much thought and people asking, I've bought a drone. Me being me it has to have a name, so here's The Bat.
The plan is to learn a little bit of video production along with the photography and add this to a skill set. I'm still pouring hours of my free time into learning photography so adding, learning to fly, the rules and regulations, shooting from a drone and learning three new video editing programmes should keep me busy.
The good thing about The Bat is it's state of the art technology and is actually a flying camera. I'm hoping the learning curve isn't so steep as the last drone due it nearly flying itself.
The video above is flight number three and actually video number three, so still lot's to learn.. but it's a start. In other words, yes I know it's not a great video, it's tooooooo long and some of the flying is poor.. but if I apply myself to this form of art like I do to photography, hey who knows.
December 06, 2016 • Leave a Comment
Shooting at HD Studio, a big deal for me. First time shooting in a big photography studio with professional models, and with photographers that I aspire to.
HD Studio is located in central Newcastle, several shooting spaces, very well equipped, wifi and kitchen, changing rooms etc. A very impressive creative space, so many backdrops and rooms it was actually mind blowing. Studio One has to be mentioned with it's towering infinity wall, it's worth visiting just to shoot on it alone.
Both Stu and Dev are cracking photographers, guy's I've followed for a while.. so going to hang out with them was a bit daunting if I was honest.
As I've never attended a workshop with professional models before, I didn't really know what to expect.
From walking through the door everyone made me feel very welcome. Dev gave me a quick walk around, Stu then picking up on the tour and introducing me to everyone which is a really nice touch and broke the ice.
Meeting the models was cool, both girls being professional models.. Maz Ulvants and Faye Hunter were very approachable and pulled off "looks" and poses that made it hard to take bad shots in all honesty.
I got into the swing of things as the day progressed. There was planned clothing changes and different areas to shoot in, lights being set up before our arrival at the area. Everyone taking turns at shooting, some posing the models, some just going with the flow.
Shooting on white backgrounds has never been my thing as I'm unsure of the results, also fashion style shoots is alien to me. So did I enjoy myself and did I learn anything from the day?
I had a real laugh and made new friends (hopefully) and I got some great shots. I would do it again and recommend HD Studio.. I'd also recommend Stu and Craig for advice on photography, and I'd recommend Maz and Faye as excellent models, who are fun and helpful with the shots.
Here comes the but...
I can't get past the feeling these aren't my images. I'm so used to working through an idea, setting lights, planning locations, bouncing ideas back and forth.. I think I love the creative process as much as the photography. This is the biggest thing I learnt from the day, a bit of self discovery.
But.. HD Studio.. I will be back. I did learn new lighting settings.. I just want to get my hands on those lights and play.
On a final note, if you are a pro or an amateur photographer.. just go check out HD Studio.
November 06, 2016 • Leave a Comment
Shooting the folk festival again, meeting friends, hanging out, listening to music and doing photography.. could it get any better?
Here's an interesting thought though.. what do wedding photographers do at a wedding if they are feeling ill? Battle through I suppose?
I wasn't well for most of the weekend and skulked around in the merch tent with the wife. I did get to meet some great new people and got some pictures over to Findlay Napier for him to use (fabulous artist).
Roll on next year, the festival is going from strength to strength so I'm hoping I'm chosen again to shoot.
October 09, 2016 • 2 Comments
Step one of a new tribal shoot, checking out the makeup and headdress.
I also wanted to practice back button focus on the Sony, something I set up during the week. I have heard many thoughts on back button focus so thought I'd give it a try and see if it helps me nail my focus. I just haven't been nailing the focus lately and felt I've been getting sloppy with my shoots and could do better.
Lauren and I have so many ideas for shoots, styles, locations and shots my head nearly explodes with the ideas. We have had the tribal shoot on the burner for a while, this is step one.. the next will be on location with and outfit.
Today Lauren dragged herself round, full of cold and tired.. I keep asking myself why are we doing this? I have a burning desire to be a good photographer, to learn as much as I can.. I can't help feeling like I'm playing catch up with my peers. This leads to me nagging friends to shoot.. even when they are ill. I'm going to try and stop this to be honest before I kill one of them.. "Death by Photography" will not look good on a young persons grave stone.
I know to some the shoots appear the same, but like Lauren says.. we both learn something on every shoot. Today I practiced back button focus and had two "dogs" for lighting, one gridded to light the feathers.. I didn't nail this, but it's a start.
I'm hunting for a location for the second part of this shoot, the image is in my head. I know how Lauren will look, the props needed and the lighting.. now all we need is the time and good health to get it done. Thats what drives me.. getting it done.
October 03, 2016 • Leave a Comment
I had this sort of shoot in my head for a while, so when Bethan asked to shoot with me I knew we should go for this look.
Coming from Hartlepool we have some great beaches, but not hot sunny mornings. A 6.00a.m. morning shoot was always going to be a bit chilly... and it was. The big plus side, we arrived on the beach at just the right time to start watching the sun come up over the horizon.
I got "the dogs" out and set up. I have no idea why I call my strobes "the dogs" apart from I can say "release the hounds" or "who let the dogs out?". Perhaps they remind me of barking dogs when they flash?. They are all labelled, Dog One to Dog Four so I can keep a track of them in a lighting set up and know which one to switch on, turn up or down etc..
Never having shot with Bethan before it was a great surprise and relief when she started pulling off poses. Posing people is not one of my great strengths and something I'm working hard on.
I got my settings nailed in and we shot quickly, me being worried that Bethan would freeze on the beach. This proved to be totally ungrounded as she proved to be oblivious to the cold.
We had a quick break, taking some time to chat and for me to swap lenses and pack the "dogs" away. Bethan did a quick change and we headed down to the shore for some softer style shots, using some of the old pier.
Spotting some old wooden pier legs, we decided to use them. At this point Bethan decided to fall in the sea! I nearly died and she thought it was funny and never stopped laughing. I worried from this point on that Bethan may freeze to death, but with some good stuff in the camera we decided to call it a day and head home.. mainly so Bethan could get warm.
People don't see the time that goes into editing from a shoot, this one would take me the rest of the day. I like to get the pictures edited and back to the model as quick as I can because I know they are as excited as I am to see what's in the camera.
There's a few different editing styles from the shoot, I like to play with the images, experiment and learn.
I've had a great response to these images, but most of all Bethan is thrilled with them.. we'll be shooting together again.
October 01, 2016 • Leave a Comment
10 minutes.. no pressure?
I was invited to shoot some stills for The Four Colour Ghosts and take some friends along to be in their new video, Freak. I'm lucky to have some great creative mates who were up for it and didn't mind helping the band out.
Amy turned up wearing a Killstar outfit, it just had to be shot.
While we were waiting around I'd spotted some long reed grass, the perfect place to get a couple of lights out and shoot. I was looking for a semi fashion style look with a mysterious edge.
We only had time for a couple of shots, not much time for chat or different looks. I normally like to shoot for about three hours as it gives time for the model to relax and a couple of ideas to be worked through.
I`m happy with these shots and I'm hoping Amy will give this another shot sometime.
September 19, 2016 • 1 Comment
Last year I was honoured to be asked to shoot for the Hartlepool Folk Festival . This year I`m doing it again!
The festival runs over two days, one major event place Hartlepool's Maritime Experience which will be fabulous for a folk event. To say I'm excited is an understatement.
Yesterday we had a run down of the brief with the festival manager, outlined times of acts and where they will be located. It's a very busy schedule and I'll be working my butt off for this event, but we get free food and beer.. BONUS!
I don't mind doing events, especially if there's music involved. I guess I'm drawn to creative people. Talking of creatives, the art work for last year and this year was all created by Mandascat, a talented local artist. Go check her out, she'll be there again this year selling art.
I plan to do some portraits this year, so if your reading this and plan to be there come up and say Hi. You may end up with a portrait as well as a great time listening to the music.
September 12, 2016 • Leave a Comment
I have a project in mind called "The Girl".
This project came about by accident during a shoot on the beach with a friend and some props. A shot from behind the model made the image mysterious and open to storytelling in the viewer's mind, so we have decided to do more.
Over a period of time "The Girl" will appear in different settings and carrying different props that relate to the surrounding area, or giving a nudge to a suggested idea.
As with projects of this kind they may take a while to complete, but this may turn out to be the fun of them.
I'm getting the first shot printed and framed for my office wall to add some character to it.
September 06, 2016 • 1 Comment
A vampire shoot can go two ways, awesome or cheesy.
This shoot has made me think that I need to have a chat about stylist shoots and what's going on in them.
A few people have asked, what's it about?, why?, why is she doing this?, what happens to the images? and lot's of other things to be honest.
I always answer these in person, but still understand that people sometimes don't really get it and may think it's a little odd.
I can answer all the questions both for me and a few of my model friends I think.
This type of shoot is about creativity. Here the young lady has made the costume, done her makeup and props. Sometimes this process is joint, lot's of discussion over style, colours, props etc. Sometimes not so much and then it's called "winging it".
I'm still learning photography so a stylist shoot is no pressure, no money changes hands and it's a case of.. let's see what we can get. I learn lot's about lighting on a stylist shoot, which then comes in handy when I shoot bands and portraits.
I also learn about communication with a model, how to make them feel comfortable.. and how to make me feel comfortable. Normally this leads to lot's of laughs. I think I'm improving in getting a model to pose, which has been a huge weakness from the start.
So.. you can see for me, it's creative, practice and fun.
For the model, creative and fun.. but for this young lady.. a bit more. She's using these shoots to open the door to art college, her makeup and prop skills are going to be put to the test this year as she embarks on a Product Design Degree at Hartlepool College of Arts. Students from here have gone on to work in TV and the film industry.. so I wish her all the luck.
So I know people won't "get" all of my images and that's ok.. I'll keep on being creative and having fun.. and if it helps someone along the way that's a great bonus don't you think?
August 29, 2016 • 1 Comment
Shooting for CED Stone Group.. or mixing business with pleasure.
I never guessed a few years ago that I would be shooting for the company that I work for. I've now shot shows, Hampton Court Flower show being the latest and now shooting for the marketing team.
The remit was to show the skill and attention to detail that Steve has when it comes to his bespoke stone work.
The focus is about the man not the machine, so I focused on Steve's eyes... the focus he has for the detail in his work. So you could call this a portrait shoot.. with water and a stone saw.
I'd like to think that my photography skills will be put to good use again.
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