Planning and Volume

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been thinking about shoots – planning, and creativity.  I had in mind a certain character that I wanted to portray, and spent some considerable time finding the right person for the shoot.  Once I’d found that person, I had to decide on what I wanted them to wear, how I wanted them to act and so on.  Finally, I had to find the right place to shoot.

All of this took months of preparation, and I think that in the end it all worked out, and I ended up with a handful of photographs that I am pleased with.

During the shoot itself – I spent more time setting up lighting, than I did actually taking pictures – and I see that as part of the creative process.

In this world of rush, rush, rush – I see photographers who have a massive output of imagery, some of which leaves a lot to be desired, as though thought fell out of the window, in the hurry to make pictures – pictures of anything, with no planning, and no imagination.

I see instagram, and Facebook pages full of mediocre work, in an overwhelming volume, with no sense of organisation and heavy, often poor, editing – almost as though the urgency to produce an image immediately after a shoot is in preference to waiting a while and being selective in what is published.

There are two kinds of  photographer – those who think, and those who don’t.

Those who do, tend to be slower, more thoughful, and use locations and also models in a more respectful way.  They plan, reconnoitre, judge safety and legality – get paperwork in order, use the right people, at the right time – and edit afterwards slowly and images appear sometimes weeks after the shoot.

I watch groups of photographers pile out of cars, rush to the same spot, and start shooting – the odd person will walk around, take in the view, inspect what’s there – and then take some images.  Rushing the planning makes for a poor result in general.

Ignorance shows mostly in comments passed …  by ‘photographers’ (and I use the word in inverted commas intentionally), who don’t know the history of photography, or how the process began.   Ask one who their favourite photographer is,  and I’d expect to hear names like Ansel Adams, Henri Cartier Bresson, Mann Ray, Annie Leibovitz, Dorothea Lange, or Robert Capa – to name but a few who inspire me, but I bet I wouldn’t.

We’ve all made the same mistakes at the start, but we need to grow up – and stop being disparaging of those who want to take it slow and get it right.

Let’s do the right thing – the input and planning is far more important than the output – get the first right, and the other will follow as a matter of course.

Enjoy your image making.

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Shooting London Fashion Weekend

Thanks to the team at Canon CPS, I was able to travel to London recently, to shoot the London Fashion Weekend at Somerset House to shoot catwalks from the photographers pit.

It was a fantastic experience, and producing a great set of cohesive images was a challenge to say the least.  Canon were superb, and their briefing was very useful, especially to those of us who had not shot professional catwalks before.  Shooting was all hand held, (no tripods or monopods allowed) so shutter speeds had to be upwards of 1/500th second.  We were told in advance that the lighting would be set to 3200Kelvin, and so adjusting our white balance to take this into account meant that every shot was correct.

A flashgun wasn’t essential for this shoot, as the catwalk was so well lit, but some photographers did use one to lift the light a little under the model’s hat, and to add some catchlights.

The challenge was to get the models in focus, all the time, so using the ‘Servo’ setting was essential.  Although the models were not moving that quickly, they were moving faster than I expected, and the pause at the end of the runway, was only for a few seconds.  It was great to have time to be creative, and to experiment with different types of shots….

Achieving great compositions was difficult, as we only had the one chance to get it right – no-one was going to repeat anything for us, and so it was shoot it or lose it.

All in all it was a great shoot, and I offer many thanks to Canon, and to Vodafone for the experience.

To see more shots from the Fashion Weekend – please click HERE

Studio Event and Lighting

Yesterday – my good friend Terry McNamara and myself ran a day for photographers who were unfamiliar with life in the studio.  We were really pleased that 10 photographers were taken on, and that we even had a waiting list… We used 4 models of varying abilities, to encourage the attendees to work harder, but to still achieve some great images.    The sets were excellent, the lighting superb…

We used a combination of overhead lights on a boom, softboxes, beauty dishes, and cold constant lights, to provide a variety of conditions under which to shoot.  The studio had a large infinity curve, which gave some great high key shots, though we also had access to a 1950’s style ice-cream bar.

It was excellent to see inexperienced studio photographers change over the session – one lady started off very quietly, but by  the end of the session, was happily directing, and demonstrating poses to the models….

Many thanks go to the hard working models – Katie, Geri, Danny, and Clare – who modelled tirelessly and I know didn’t get much of a break.

I didn’t get chance to take many images, as we were busy looking after our delegates, but the feedback so far, has been so good, that we are already in the stages of planning our next shoot on a similar theme, but using different models, and different sets.  Watch this space for more information.

Portraits at Barlow

Last week, we set off for Barlow, just outside Chesterfield for a portrait shoot with 5 different models…. The studio which boasts three different rooms, and around 10 unique sets, also has a new wet area, which this time we didn’t use.

Many thanks must go to George, the studio owner for all his help on the day.

The day was arranged for a group of enthusiastic photographers, who used practically every facility that the studio had on hand.

The morning session was set to fashion, and portraiture – whilst the afternoon was given over to more ‘alternative’ models – comprising a male and female ‘punk’.

Everyone worked hard, and the photographers were rewarded with some amazing images.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks to all the models who took part, and to the photographers who took the time, and trouble to come.

The People’s Catwalk – Trafford Centre Manchester

Last week I received a last minute request to assist Liz Henson who was covering the Prince’s Trust “People’s Catwalk”, a charity event hosted at the Trafford centre, Manchester. ( http://www.lizhenson.co.uk ) She had been given the task of organising a team of photographers for each day over the weekend.

I was unable to help for the whole weekend – but the time I did spend amongst the other photographers and presenters was great.  It seems that it is hard to get photographers to turn out for free, but sometimes the event is more worthwhile than money.  The Christie Hospital is something close to my own heart, as is Cancer Research in general, so we looked beyond the financial recompense and went for the experience.

It was good to meet Jeff Banks, a thoroughly nice man, with a wicked sense of humour, who certainly made the event go with a swing.  A surprise appearance of Carolynne Pool – x-factor singer was an added bonus, she has a wonderful voice, and I hope she does well in the competition.

And here are some shots from Sunday………