Fun and Colourful Portraits.

I got asked by a regular client of mine if I could shoot portraits of all of their staff.

The brief was to make sure they were natural and injected some of their personality into the images and were not forced  or awkward looking. The Pr agency as a whole are a fun and dynamic one so after a bit of deliberations, we (the client and i) opted to use a background wall which was really bright and colourful (this colour scheme also was used on their business cards too so it would tie in quite well with that). Lighting wise, I kept it quite simple, I did not have too much room to play with with so it was important that I controlled the light as I did not want backlights spilling onto the subjects like a cut light might. I used a gridded head for the background which channelled the light onto the wall and away from the sides of the face. The front light was a small soft box, (ungridded, so if any light did spill onto the back it would smooth out the light on the background cast by the gridded dish). I used a silver reflector under the front light to clear up any shadows in the eyes or under the chin… the rest was trying to make the subjects as relaxed as possible, smiling and generally making it a pleasant experience! The end result was great, a really good set off natural portraits. Hope you like them!

A selection of a few portraits

A selection of a few portraits

Making a portrait more moody, with flash and daylight.

A lot of the photography I like seem to be dark and moody portraits, be that movie posters or stills to advertise Big budget TV Shows for example…(Image 1)

The photographer who shot this is actually my favourite photographer out there currently,(plus I used to assist him back in the day), the stills are dark, menacing and have so much life to them you expect them to start talking when you look at the image. The level of Post production here is probably vast, from the outset I look at the lighting, how many heads have been used to light them, (as they were all probably shot individually) probably two heads,(maybe 3 for a hair light on a boom coming down on thier heads slightly from behind), a soft box to the front and right (possibly with grids or egg crates in to make them more directional as well as slightly underexposed) and a hard back light (KEY LIGHT) coming in from behind and high up to create mood. The images look like they have been pushed a bit in contrasts well as desaturated in the skin tones. The usually skin work has been employed, adding or taking away blemishes, cleaning up the eyes etc..Oh and a dropped in background too…all in all, really nice!

My Work

Image 2 (my Shot), I tried to give a similar feel, it can be hard when you are outdoors to re-create a studio shot, but with a good balance of flash and ambient light you can get there or there a-bouts. I desaturated the face, darkened the sides to create more mood in the face and played around with the stubble so to speak, darkening areas and lightening the white bristles. This gives that visceral feel to an image, making it more alive and in the context of this shoot, more grizzly and weather beaten.I used a large scrim (diffuser) off to the right and used more of the ambient daylight. working with the shadows and the softened light I tried to create a darker portrait, letting the left side of the face fall into shadow but with just a spot of light on the left eye. I desaturated the image and also dodged and burned certain areas to create that depth and lifelike quality to the image that I wanted.

Image 3

Image 2

Image 3

Image 3

Image 1.

Image 3 was shot differently to Image 2, I used a light right above camera and very directional, Almost in the territory of a ring Flash, (which blasts light at the subject removing wrinkles, shadow etc). I knew this was a mood killer but as I had the moody ambient shot in the bag I wanted to try a different tack.I wanted a really shallow depth of field too, putting the emphasis on the subject and less on the environment. In post the lighting actually gave me great scope to push the contrast in the images well as working with the subjects features and giving it a different feel. A bit of darkening around the cheekbones and sides and some dodging etc and desaturating I came away with an image I was really happy with.

Album Cover Shoot

I was asked by a local singer/songwriter if i could take some shots for his forthcoming album.. obviously I said yes! When constructing the ideas in my head I wanted some atmosphere to the shoot, positivity and generally a bit of mood and movement. The location was in a forest out towards crawley, east sussex and I wanted the images quite warm and with a sunset feel. I used my Bowens Pioneer portable flash, some pocket wizards and my trusty 5DMK2 with a 70-200 mm lens on. I chose this lens as I wanted to shoot on maximum focal length on a shallow depth of field to blow out the background. I got the artist in position and away we went…. I added some warmth to the image by raising the colour temperature of the photo to accentuate the sunset look, upped the contrast and really very little else was done, there were other images in the edit but I felt this was the most natural and in accordance with my initial brief, I felt it met the brief perfectly, there was a bit of motion blur, but I actually preferred that, it gave it a relaxed and non set-up/staged feel.

 

Hope you like it.. enjoy!

 

Album Cover

I was asked by a local singer/songwriter if i could take some shots for his forthcoming album.. obviously I said yes! When constructing the ideas in my head I wanted some atmosphere to the shoot, positivity and generally a bit of mood and movement. The location was in a forest out towards crawley, east sussex and I wanted the images quite warm and with a sunset feel. I used my Bowens Pioneer portable flash, some pocket wizards and my trusty 5DMK2 with a 70-200 mm lens on. I chose this lens as I wanted to shoot on maximum focal length on a shallow depth of field to blow out the background. I got the artist in position and away we went…. I added some warmth to the image by raising the colour temperature of the photo to accentuate the sunset look, upped the contrast and really very little else was done, there were other images in the edit but I felt this was the most natural and in accordance with my initial brief, I felt it met the brief perfectly, there was a bit of motion blur, but I actually preferred that, it gave it a relaxed and non set-up/staged feel.

 

Hope you like it.. enjoy!

 

Album Cover

Landscapes for St Katharine’s Dock

A regular client of mine asked me to get involved on the photography side of things for the recently bought St Katharine’s Dock which sits hidden in the shadow of Tower bridge and a near stones throw from the new Shard building as well as other iconic buildings like the Gherkin. It is a real hidden gem of a place as it really feels tucked out of the way from the hustle of London. The task was to shoot landscapes of the dock at various times of the day, but preferably when the sun was shining and the sky was at its bluest, nobody likes a dreary grey London!

One of the biggest challenges with shooting buildings and water together is often that the reflections are at least 2 stops darker than the buildings being reflected… This throws up a few problems and a number of subsequent solutions can be utilised..

1. You can either bracket your images, taking the best above ground exposure and the best below ground exposure and marrying then up, this can be tricky as it means a lot of post production and sometimes just not feasible if there isn’t a clean horizon line which, in my case there wasn’t.

OR

2. You can use Graduated ND (Neutral Density) filters. This for me was the best solution, it meant i could darken down the top half  and make it look both natural and it would all be done in camera (the less post the better, the problem with digital photography compared to film is over reliance on Photoshop).

This was how i proceeded with the landscapes, using a variety of grades of filter (ND Grad 0.6 and a ND Grad 0.3 and sometimes a combination of the two) a camera cloth to throw over the camera to assess exposures, which can be tricky in bright sunlight, a firm tripod and a cable release).

Below is one of the images… enjoy.St Katharine's Dock Landscape ecample

A shoot for SAB Miller…

SAB Miller are one of the worlds biggest breweries and make some damn tasty lager too… I was asked by them to go out and take informal group portraits of certain divisions of their brewery around the world. This normally wouldn’t be such a logistical problem here in England, but the shoot was in Switzerland and once you are out there you better be sure you have all the relevant kit as the photographic community is not that vast out at Lake Luzern should something go wrong…. thankfully, it didn’t.

I wanted to get away from the staged and rather wooden group shots that can be done too often and make them more personable, friendly and relaxed, no mean feat when you are shooting people who are not used to being in front of the camera. The shoot was in a very nice bar in a very posh hotel and I wanted to portray a sense of enjoyment in the images, basically, give them a beer (one of their own brands of course, Peroni) and let them chat and have fun and interact with each other. The front light was a high diffused flash to give a nice even spread and then balancing that with the ambient bar lighting yet maintaining a quick enough shutter speed as not to get any movement…a few phrases that were used on the shoot were, “if you are going to laugh, can you laugh slower please and more towards the camera…”.

The HR Division of SAB MillerThe end result was great and I got a good series of images, which hopefully captured the group in a positive, fun and energetic light. Enjoy….

A shoot for the Daily Mail..

I have been Working for the Daily Mail in one capacity or another for the past few years and they always throw up a different challenge each time which is good as it keeps you on your toes. This shoot was a “real life” feature so I had to light a lady in the most flattering way possible yet put a bit of colour into the images. Red and Grey always go well together so the “model” was put in a nice figure hugging red dress, all that was left was to light it nicely. The spot effect to the rear was created using two elinchrom 600 heads, one on each side, with a dish and medium spot diffuser grid i

Daily Mail Shoot.

n, a bit of tweaking to centralise the spot was done and that was the backlighting sorted. The front lighting was a bit trickier, she was lit from above with a boom arm and a beauty dish with a slight gold insert and a soft cover over the dish, this gave a warm soft light (a healthy glow so to speak). The bottom light was a small soft box on a spider stand which just meant that there were no harsh shadows under the chin and eyes which isn’t that flattering for a female subject, it also put some light on the body and legs so the fall off from the beauty dish was not too harsh and was graduated. The sides had two black polyboards which cast a slight black shadow on her sides which helps to helped to slim her down. The rest was just posing to get a flattering look for her, hope you like the results, i thought she looked great in the end,,