Wednesday, 25 November 2009

#9: This is funny ..................

Some of my friends who are wedding photographers lament about their drama with clients and God knows I have had my fair share of demands.

This video sent to me by another photographer (Jide Alakija) sums up a lot of that craziness, its hilarious 

I found some very inspiring words from a very cool photography blog run by Cheryl Jacobs Nicolai who runs PhotoDino blog. All these ring true

  • Disregard those who say you “must” do this or “can’t” do that. Art is not about limitations and restrictions.
  • If you are frustrated with your work, focus on one area at a time. You can’t climb three mountains at once.
  • Ruts are things we fall into when we work habitually rather than consistently. Switch off your auto-pilot.
  • Perfectionists: consider printing and signing your work. It forces you to take ownership and eliminates excuses.
  • Allow your sessions to breathe. Pauses help you to steer the session organically, and to keep your head clear.
  • Walk all the way around your subject and watch how the light changes the scene and mood. Light is a creative tool.
  • The common denominator in all your sessions is you. Shoot for you first and your clients will always know what to expect.
  • Don’t be so quick to delete and discard failed photos. Study them to learn what to do differently next time.
  • Personal space is mental, emotional, and physical. The key to a great portrait is to know how to be invited in.
  • Know your technique so that you can forget it. Focusing on the technical robs your subjects of your full attention.
  • Overshooting out of fear of missing “the shot” often means “the shot” never happens. Shoot less, engage more.
  • Portraits are like short stories; the elements that don’t add to your story will detract. Choose details carefully.
  • In portraits, mood/expression is key. Light, comp, backgrounds, post-processing, and contrast must work together to support it.
  • Each time you pick up the camera, you hold the raw materials to create a masterpiece. Shoot like you mean it.
  • Improving your work requires practice. Musicians don’t play only when they’re on stage.
  • Don’t allow yourself to fixate solely on your perceived weaknesses. Own your strengths and be proud of them.
  • If the most eye-catching part of your image is the action you ran, it may be time to reassess your work.

Friday, 20 November 2009

#8: The shoot cycle

I have been doing test shoots for about 2yrs now and I tend to enjoy most of them. I actually get a high when the ideas come together well and I get the shoots I am looking for. Now what is a test shoot; it’s basically a shoot mutually agreed between a bunch of creatives (photographer, model, make up artist, etc) for the purpose of developing their respective portfolios. At these types of shoots, the costs are divided between the creatives and everybody provides their services for free.
Before any shoot I think about an idea that represents the concept of the shoot. For me, idea is key and I am not happy going into a shoot without a suitably formulated concept. Once the idea is put together, everything else follows from there from choosing the right model for the shoot and other creatives (make up artist, hair stylist, wardrobe stylist) to picking the colour scheme. I have found that picking the right creative is paramount in making or breaking the shoot among other things. For example; If a model cannot pose or act to illustrate the message you are trying to put across, either it be fashion or a story, then it will hurt the image. I take my time to pick the right people and I am getting better at it from continuous testing.

A beauty image from a recent test shoot

While I am putting the creatives together, I am also looking for a location which could be a studio or location depending on the concept put together.  Outside locations are particularly challenging as I am at the mercy of the British weather. Closer to the shoot date I brain storm with the various creatives involved and explain my ideas and what they need to do for the shoot.
Shoot day and I make sure to have a nice day, get some nice breakfast ………………. Full English baby!!! toast, eggs, baked beans, sausages and bacon, my mouth is watering already. Listen to my favourite music on the way into the shoot so I am in a good happy mood. Its important to give a nice friendly vibe packed with a some energy to create the right atmosphere for everybody in the shoot. To help even more I am gonna be purchasing an ipod touch to create a jamming session. Creative people love the right vibe, it can make or break the shoot ……………… it seriously can. That’s why divas and big personalities ask for puppies or flowers at events …………….. I am not condoning it, but from what I know it creates the right state of mind for them to feel comfortable in. NO I will not make any diva demands …………………….. yet, give me a few years LOL. Very importantly I pray to God before any shoot and commit the exercise into his hands (yes that’s right G-O-D, well He did give me the talent, so He is very instrumental in how I use it).
After the shoot is done, I load the images unto my PC (yes a Windows PC and I am very ashamed to say so, I will get a MAC soon) and review and process them in Adobe Lightroom. Extra creative stuff is done in Adobe Photoshop.

another image from a recent fashion test shoot. I really liked having the horse in the background, I thought it added something intriguing to the image

Putting together a shoot is quite involving, a lot of time and effort goes into making the images look the way they look.
I am at an exciting time right now as I embark on a journey with a few animal friends ……………. Watch this space, all will be revealed.

Have a great weekend
I know I will

Friday, 13 November 2009

#7: A wedding story

A few weeks ago a close friend Dave (aka The Chinese Dragon ……. Yeap you heard that right) decided to get married to the lovely Zee. I helped them get a few images on the wedding day and NO I don’t do weddings. He has leverage with some university pictures that I would rather no one else saw, so I had to pick up my camera and do some shooting. DAMN you Dave Cheung!!! Shooting at this wedding reminded me of the craziness of shooting weddings; the fast pace, the thinking on your feet, accessing and controlling light ………….. Man I kinda miss that madness. Everything moves so fast that you can miss a crucial moment in a split second and lets just say you can never get the moment back again. At weddings I found my self anticipating moments by people watching and I sometimes still do ………………….. yes very sad.

I caught this moment as a I was people watching and no this is not the bride and groom

Why did I stop weddings?
Because I didn’t have any interest in wedding photography anymore …………….. my heart got seriously deflated about the notion of spending the whole day running around and creating memorable images.

Because it took too much of my time. Having a 9 to 5 and a life makes shooting weddings a time consuming affair that doesn’t seem to go away. The pandering to the client’s needs and the delivery of online slideshows, proof books, coffee table albums gave me the biggest headache.

Because I wanted to spend the little photography time I had doing things I wanted i.e. making creative images that are inspired by the life around me.

So there you have it folks, the reason I stopped doing wedding about a year and a half ago. Funny thing is I never really thought of taking wedding photos, a friend of mine saw my images and commissioned me to do some of her wedding images. It kinda snowballed from there.

Here are a few images from Dave and Zees wedding, love you guys.

boy they were having fun, you'd think they all got married

The lovely bride and groom

Thank God its friday

Monday, 9 November 2009

#6: I have an idea

I hereby promise not to over complicate my concepts and ideas.
Man I am a sucker for over complicated ideas and big type shoots. Hmmmm…………… maybe I am becoming an Annie Leibowitz type photographer ……………….. well thank God my wife slapped me back into reality. So from now I am keeping the idea simple and develop it better for depth. I have found that over thought ideas and grand impression concepts make shoots expensive and burdened with drama, I am so out and keeping simple.

I am one of those people with a thousand ideas who always wants to shoot every single one of the them, I have crazy concepts and grand ideas on the types of the shoot I would love to do. But I have learnt to crawl before I walk, learn the basics and manage and nurture the simple ideas while keeping them effective but not complicated.

I now carry a notepad everywhere I go so I can write my inspired ideas on the go. The notepad is basically a scratch pad of scribbles and thoughts, so that I don’t forget what’s on my mind. This really helps to stick to and fully recollect the idea as I initially imagined it.

On Saturday I conducted a beauty/make-up test shoot with a few talented creatives,(Anne Sarah Duncan (make up artist), Debbie Moxhey (Hair stylist), Clare and Elena (from Oxygen models)).  The great thing about tests is that it is an opportunity to learn and develop my photography while working with other creatives who are also interested in developing great images. I won’t go into the nitty gritty but my biggest lesson among others was to keep the idea simple and think everything through thoroughly with another creative person or persons.

Heres a shot from the shoot and no its not a beauty shot, this was more for me cause I like images like this with certain darkness and atmosphere ……………. No I am not the devil spawn. This image is unfinished so I am still working on it.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

#5: Fashionistas night out

Fashion rocks for the childrens trust
On the 29th of October I was fortunate to cover an event called Fashion rocks, which was for the childrens trust  charity. It was a show of catwalk fashion and music entertainment from upcoming artists. The show was put together by the talented and beautiful Karena Sedgwick and was hosted by Samuel J Hextall.

Fashion shows are always interesting events to go to, the flowing of champagne, the crazy fashionista outfits, the fashion kiss on both cheeks followed by the word ‘darling’ somewhere, the frantic backstage chaos as the countdown begins, the excited models looking to strut their stuff. Its all good fun and glamour.

Well at this event they had pink butlers ………………………. What the hell is the a pink butler you ask? Look at the picture below

Yeap that's a pink butler

Yes that’s right ……………….. guys wearing next to nothing. Ok so what happened to a pink butleress?  (is that a word …………….. oh who cares). The guys we cool and seem to have done quite a few events. They were there to serve canapés and snacks, talk about girl power.

Apart from the fashion show, there were stalls of concessions by outfit designer, jewellery designers and various other establishments selling their work. The standard of work on display was pretty good. Some of the companies on display included The Collective by Reeme & Nina, Hussaindeyn, Urban Spark, Amelia Herbert Hair etc.

Music performances by Gabrielle Aplin,The Zemitones and Rocko.

Gabrielle Aplin

My favourite performance of the night was by Gabrielle, she has one hell of voice and she’s just 16. Check her out on Youtube (Isn’t Youtube great, it completes the cyber stalking experience with videos. Anyway I google almost everybody I meet).

Music by the talented Zemitones

Last event of the night was a burlesque performance by the talented and glamorous Agent Lynch and it was an interesting experience seeing as I had never been to such a performance before.

Well done to Karena for putting on a great event

It was a great night out with the missus and her friend Tan Tans baby and off course my truste camera.

Till next time.