All parents tend to think their kids are exceptionally photogenic but mostly, this is wishful thinking. However, when I was recently asked to photograph two brothers by their proud mum, I was inclined to agree that despite the inevitable teen insecurities and first-shoot-nerves, both lads were a dream to photograph. Here is “Son #1” – Dominic. I think you’ll agree that he has a real “fashiony” look and model potential.
Sometimes, others’ loss is your gain. On this occasion, I’d booked lovely model Elena to pose for a short, fairly casual, studio lighting demonstration for two clients but despite having paid in advance, they failed to turn up. This meant that Elena and I could either call it a day and go home or make the most of the opportunity for a quick shoot in my studio and around the building. We went for the latter option and I was chuffed with some of the results. It was a cold wintry evening and I was in the mood for some noirish filmic images. Good job I took my camera!
The last (as in final) FOTO-CLUB workshop at Strangetown Studio was a fashion shoot featuring the beautiful Bethany Reynolds, a young model I’d wanted to work with for some time. I think it’s safe to say that it was a successful evening with everyone walking away with a selection of tremendous images.
Here is a quick selection of images that I took during the evening (all shot on my Nikon DSLR)…
Please forgive a bit of self-indulgent nostalgia. One of the highlights of the year, in so many ways, was the second FOTO-CLUB Spain trip. Same villa, a couple of the same models and I’m ashamed to say I haven’t posted any of these here before. Funny how being snowed-in for two days makes you pine for Spanish sunshine. Here’s the stunning Lauren, who despite insisting she was not a model, turned out to be one of the best models I’ve ever worked with…
I decided a few months ago that after some 14 years of photography training, I was going to hang up my virtual board-rubber and concentrate on other aspects of my business – and perhaps some new business ideas as well. This was a very difficult and emotional decision for me but the more I considered it, the more it seemed like the right thing to do.
I began teaching photography at Birmingham Botanical Gardens as a way of earning a few extra quid while studying for my photography degree. As quite a shy person, I didn’t really relish the idea of standing in front of a group of fee-paying students and finding out I didn’t know as much about photography as I thought I did. But contrary to my expectations, I not only really enjoyed teaching, but I knew more than I thought I did, and I continued to learn with every course I taught.
Over the years, in courses and workshops at the Botanical Gardens, mac (Midlands Arts Centre), Stratford College, Solihull College, via Fotofilia and FOTO-CLUB, and at numerous private venues and institutions, I have had literally thousands of students in front of me. It has been a real pleasure and a privilege to watch absolute beginners develop into competent (and sometimes professional) photographers, some of whom I still consider friends. Our journey has taken us through at least 6 studios, too many courses and workshops to count, overseas trips, exhibitions, two successful photography clubs, numerous “copycat” “competitors”, a fair bit of frustration and a LOT of laughs.
So why would I give up something that I have grown to love? Well, there comes a time when other priorities arise, and you realise that what you’re offering is no longer achieving the level of interest that it used to and is suffering from a very crowded marketplace (so many photographers I know have begun to offer training on a more regular basis where they were previously less interested) and a growth in “peer knowledge” where groups of beginners or near beginners come together to “learn” from each other, often at little or no financial cost. Quality, it seems, can be less important than cost and increasingly, people are happy to glean bits of experience from other eager amateurs for free than have to pay the inevitable overheads/salary of full time, qualified professionals. I can understand this and believe it’s an inevitable consequence of the widespread belief that “anyone can be a photographer”.
Also, when many of your workshops rely on professionally-minded models, it can be frustrating to note a significant decline in the reliability of models, both male and female. I’ve been fortunate to have worked with some wonderful models (and non-models) over the years and there is a reason that some are invited back time and again – they can be trusted to show up when a group of paying photographers are expecting them too. Sadly, I have been let down by more and more models at the last minute – arriving up to 90 minutes late or even not at all, calling in sick or suddenly uncontactable shortly before the shoot only to pop up on social media as working elsewhere or out on the tiles. The modelling interface sites like Purpleport and Purestorm are no help in this regard – when I left appropriate feedback on one model’s profile to reflect a last minute no-show, the feedback was removed within 24 hours. It is therefore increasingly difficult to provide a supply of “new” models for workshops without that knotted-stomach feeling of wondering whether they’ll show up.
So, I’ve arranged a few last bits and pieces for FOTO-CLUB early in 2018 and then that’s it. You’ll find these here on the website. I’ll say a proper goodbye to FOTO-CLUB nearer the day but for the moment, thank you.
…Is probably our favourite FOTO-CLUB model Emilie Walt and her equally sparkly accomplice at this week’s “Showgirl” themed group shoot at Strangetown Studio.
Professional dancer (and our most-photographed model) Emilie will be bringing some welcome seasonal sparkle to the studio and there’s still a couple of spaces if you feel like braving the arctic conditions to get here.
I work with model/actor/fundraiser/photographer Joel Hicks far too rarely nowadays but he’s still my “go to” for any kind of shoot that involves sheer muscle and the ability to adapt to any role. When you organise a workshop called “Warrior“, there was only ever one model in the frame. Joel never disappoints, throwing 100% into absolutely everything he does. My group and I were rewarded with some excellent images (we think).
These images were taken using either studio flash OR the wonderful natural window-light that my studio, Strangetown, is blessed with.
Once upon a time, I ran a short course called “The Portfolio Booster”. You know the kind of thing – 5 weeks, different models, different themes/genres, different lighting etc. Well, it was very successful. So then came “Portfolio Booster II”, yet more different models etc. Again very successful. Then came “Portfolio Booster III”. However, my little studio was a bit limiting when it came to providing the widest range of possibilities for the shoots, so there was no “Portfolio Booster III”.
But now that my base is Strangetown Studio, with the whole of the wonderfully industrial Telsen building to play with, I’ve decided to run a “Strangetown Booster“. Similar aims as before – 3 hours, 3 (very different) models, mixture of lighting and environments and bags of creative possibilities. I have a feeling this is not going to be the last…
The shoots we’ve done so far at Strangetown Studio have proved what a versatile and inspiring space the studio (and the Telsen building as a whole) can be. On Wednesday 28th June, we’ll once again be putting it to the test when the gorgeous Helen Gibson is the model for our first female “studio evening”.
I’ve been looking forward to this for a while. Helen is one of those models that I’ve been dying to work with and this is a great excuse. There are still spaces if you’d like to join us…
Images below courtesy of Joby Rawlins (left), plus two other photographers (name not supplied by Helen).
Although the take-up was a bit slower this time, the FOTO-CLUB photographic holiday planned for March 2017 is finally a definite “go”. We’re back at the beautiful villa that you will have seen in the previous posts and will be using many of the same wonderful locations. Needless to say, I’m extremely excited to be back there in an area that I called home for almost five years.
There is still one place left (subject to flight availability) so if you’d like to join us, get in touch. Here’s a bit more about it…