Home Schooling

Since coronageddon kicked off, and my usual photography bookings became rarer than truths from a government adviser, I’ve been filling my time with lots of online tutorials, walks, trying new recipes, and roughly 40% of the time, looking after my 13 year-old daughter – which largely involves making sure she gets on with her allotted schoolwork and regularly shovelling food to within arm’s reach. In addition, it’s been nice (for us both) to introduce her to some new creative activities such as music recording, digital art and editing photographs using Lightroom.

I confess there may be a longer term dream that she’ll one day take over the editing side of my photography business (when she’s not at university or becoming a massive success in whatever “proper” career direction she chooses) while I do the bit I enjoy most – taking pictures. Editing, to me, is a means to an end. Unlike many other photographers, I really don’t enjoy the editing process. However, predictably, my daughter has taken to Lightroom like a duck to water and within an hour of my initial guidance, was using functions that I rarely if ever use myself.

And so here are a few of my photographs as edited on Lightroom by “my young apprentice”. She chose to work on these images from a “Urban Ballet” themed shoot at my Strangetown Studio featuring the wonderful Emilie Walt. Not necessarily how I’d have done them – but that’s the whole point. I’m rather chuffed with her results…

 

Ivory Flame: Gypsy Caravan (Part 2)

I’m actually embarrassed at how long it’s taken me to finish and publish these images of Ivory Flame‘s gypsy caravan-themed shoot (we’re talking YEARS). In my defence, I’d already worked my way through editing the 700 or so images from this very inspiring and productive shoot when my laptop conked out and all of my Lightroom work-in-progress was lost.

And then, predictably, I got absorbed in other, current work and never got around to starting again with this shoot. It’s taken a global pandemic, social isolation and the disappearance of all work engagements to give me the opportunity to dip back into these images and start again on the editing. Silver linings, eh?

In a way, I’m rather glad to be attacking these images now because I’ve been developing a collection of painterly Lightroom presets that I think work beautifully with Ivory Flame’s wonderfully ephemeral and Pre-Raphaelite style.

As if Ivory Flame, an amazing authentic gypsy caravan, and a ruined cottage wasn’t enough to inspire heaps of photographs, Gillian’s horses came over to get in on the action…

And here’s a final selection from the hundreds of shots (that I’d be more than happy to share if there were time).

I’ll no doubt be raiding my dusty hard drives for more previously unpublished stuff during the zombie apocalypse. But for now, huge thanks again to the stunning Holly (Ivory Flame), Gillian (for the caravan and wonderful hospitality) and my little group of togs who made the whole thing feasible.

Ivory Flame: Gypsy Caravan (Part 1)

One advantage of the enforced isolation we now find ourselves in is having time to do things we’ve perhaps been meaning to do for a long time. For example, I’ve been able to delve into my deepest darkest archives and find whole shoots that for one reason or another, I never got around to editing.

What I’m going to share today, are images from a shoot I organised FOUR years ago featuring the truly unique Ivory Flame and with a “gypsy” theme (that she does so well).

The other star of this shoot, and the inspiration for the whole idea, is a genuine antique “gypsy caravan” that is owned by my good friend, Gillian, an award-winning designer. When Gillian showed me the caravan, which is at the bottom of her beautiful country garden, the idea for the shoot (including choice of model) instantly popped into my head.

What may not be immediately apparent from the images is that this was early spring and was blimming freezing! It was also spotting with rain and a cold spring wind was blowing through the garden, but Ivory Flame is a consummate professional and soldiered on regardless.

That’s all for now. I’ll post a few more soon.

This Other England: Model Ellie At Strangetown Studio

Modelling for this week’s “Getting Started In The Studio: Flash“workshop was the lovely Kidderminster-based model Ellie England. It so happens that Ellie’s dad is one of my oldest and best friends so I’ve know Ellie since she was a baby – way before she was one of the country’s brightest new athletics hopefuls, much less an up-and-coming model. Sadly, a period of ill health meant that Ellie is no longer competing in athletics but thankfully, she is back to modelling.

Before Monday’s workshop began, we were able to get a few minutes to grab some studio shots, some of which Ellie needed for an agency application. Ellie is such a wonderfully bubbly personality with a very professional outlook. She is on Instagram and some of the modelling sites (click here for her Purpleport profile).

These were very hurried shots but I hope to bring Ellie back into the studio soon.

James: Headshots

I enjoy shooting “headshots”, especially when the subject is a performer or someone who understands the importance of image presentation. And it’s also more fun if it’s someone I’ve known for many years and have worked with before.

James is an actor and musician that I first photographed around 14 years ago when I was putting together my final project for my Photography degree. We originally met via a mutual interest in a band. James is definitely less affected by those years than I am.

I know I’ve said it before but the best thing about my studio (Strangetown Studio) is that apart from my cosy and well-equipped studio space, there’s the rest of this huge 1930s industrial building to use as backdrops for my portraiture and quite a few of the corridors and stairwells have rather nice natural light.

New Blood: Old Concept

(l-r) Gia, Farrah & Porsha

I recently revived a workshop theme that I haven’t done for well over two years. In fact the problems with finding reliable models for the “New Blood” showcase events (essentially three very different models whose only similarity is that they haven’t worked on my events before) was one of the reasons I stopped doing workshops at all.

Porsha at Strangetown Studio

It’s “reassuring” to discover that nothing has changed and new models are still, on the whole, a fairly unreliable bunch. Of the three models originally booked for this event, only Porsha actually honoured her booking. The other two had to be replaced when they dropped out at quite short notice (one within the 36 hours before the shoot). Suddenly, I remembered why I stopped doing these particular workshops.

Luckily, two wonderful and very professionally-minded models, Gia and Farrah stepped in to save the day. In the end, this was a very successful workshop.  Here are just a few of the images I managed to capture in between running from group to group…

Dream Team Fitness @Henrietta Street Gym

I always enjoy working with Nic and Tracy of Dream Team Fitness. On this occasion, I was photographing a group of their fitness clients as they trained at the wonderfully photogenic Henrietta Street Gym in Birmingham.

Apart from a few posed portraits at the end (for which I used off-camera speedlights), most of the images were shot using the gym’s ambient light which was a mixture of cool fluorescent and window-light.

A few days later, Nic and Tracy were married. Congratulations, guys!

The “B Word”

Just to show it’s not all snazzy cars and beautiful models, here are a few images from a recent conference shoot. The theme was “Beyond Brexit” and luckily the participants were a bit more animated on the subject than I might have been. Good job I was just the photographer really.

 

Spice Of Life

So as I mentioned in my last post, I have a lot of catching up to do! 2018 saw me photographing everything from crematoria to penthouse apartments, from harp concerts to bacon-flavoured cakes, and from go-karts to coaches. Here’s a little sample of the stuff I got up to last year…

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First Resolution Broken

My first, in fact my only, New Year’s resolution this year was to get back on top of my various websites and try to stem rumours that I may have retired/died/exploded.  Sadly, as we near the end of the first month, this is the very first post of 2019 and so it’s safe to say I’ve broken my resolution already.

However, 2018 was an extremely “eventful” year, not least because it was the year that I stopped teaching photography after some 14 years and many hundreds of students. Despite my concerns about cutting off at least 50% of my income, I can now look back and say that I made the right decision. I’m happier, less stressed, and doing more of what I got into photography for – taking photographs.

This is how my 2018 ended. As a thorn between two roses (Shannon and Chet). This was my last night of shooting “photo booth” type photos at the “Christmas Wonderland” events at Birmingham NEC (thanks to my good friend Pete Medlicott). When this was taken, I was exhausted, had a chest infection, and was the fattest I’ve ever been! I’m happy to say I’m now steadily losing weight and despite a miserably ill Christmas, I’m getting healthier by the day.

And so…  2019? I’m coming for ya!