“Summer Pursuit” Paddle Boarder North Devon Coast
One of the most enjoyable times with a camera is when you simply walk and discover…
Last week I was in central London shooting for a new client Receipt Bank.
Receipt Bank provide revolutionary accountancy/bookkeeping software that helps automate tasks.
The brief was pretty open to interpretation and required me to capture corporate portraits of around 80 staff members at their London headquarters with the business portraits being suitable for website use and profile pictures for sites such as LinkedIn.
After viewing some snaps of the office space and chatting with Stuart the Creative Director we decided to utilise the corporate orange coloured couch in reception for the shots.
Stuart also wanted to capture some fun shots to hang in the office wall at the same time.
I suggested I create some Polaroid-style images complete with authentic light flares commonly associated with the instant prints which I felt would add to the fun element requested.
The shoot went well despite an issue towards the end when we had one flash unit go down but this was quickly rectified and I did not let it interfere with the flow of the shoot.
The second thing that people often ask after what I do for a living is “how did you get into that”
I must admit to often asking the same of others I meet as either I’m just nosey or intrigued about the work paths people follow in life.
I always tell my children although all are quite young still ( I was a late starter) you are a long time working so find something you love and make a career in that.
One of the beautiful things about photography is that there are no set ways into it. You can go and get a degree, attend part-time evening classes, assist or simply teach yourself.
Not being the academic type I chose the self-taught route with a short stint as a rather poor assistant.
Ultimately it is the work you produce rather than how you got here that counts at the end of the day.
My journey was rather as my mum would say arse backward!
My father had an interest in photography and this is definitely where my interest initially came from at around 14 years of age. This did not last for long and for whatever reason I sold my camera and moved onto other interests or 5-minute fads as my mum would call them (she had a phrase for many things in life and most not printable!).
As a teenager, my interests turned to riding Vespa and Lambretta scooters to rallies and events across the UK with my friends.
This was the 80’s and by August of 1984 at the age of 16, I decided I wanted to build a custom show scooter.
Another passion I had inherited from my dad was the love of Greece with its rich history and of course mythology.
This was to be the theme for my scooter build and decided to travel around the archeological sites of Greece for a week for further inspiration.
This trip turned out to be the catalyst for my lifelong love of photography.
I borrowed my dad’s very impressive camera kit consisting of Canon A1 and several lenses including a monster of a 200mm zoom.
Looking back I think I probably enjoyed the attention I received from having such an impressive looking camera around my neck.
In 1985 the scooter was completed titled “Chariot Of The Gods” and it won several awards at many of the shows I attended.
It was around this time a national magazine was launched called Scootering which I approached and started to freelance for.
I couldn’t believe it I was actually getting paid albeit very little to shoot the people, scooters, and places in the scooter scene which at the time was my life ..I was hooked and decided this was the career I wanted.
I needed to learn faster so I consumed as much knowledge about photography & printing as I could and enrolled onto a home study course with the New York Institute Of Photography to learn the fundamentals.
This also allowed me to study while still working in the family Carpet & Furniture business.
Most of my knowledge was then gained by large amounts of shooting and note taking, so basically much trial and error.
Approaching the late 80’s an opportunity to start my own business came along with the government’s Enterprise Allowance Scheme together with the Princes Youth Business Trust.
This gave me a grant for equipment plus a loan of £1000.00 to kick start my business. In January 1990 my business called Apollo Photographics was launched.
Looking back now I don’t know how the hell I thought I was ready to enter business especially as my photography was still very raw to put it kindly but as Nike say “Just Do It” and indeed I did.
Business, however, did roll in coming from small local businesses, local papers, and tourist boards.
Circa 1991 with no apparent fear I booked an appointment to show my work to Somerset-based Clarks Shoes and incredibly came away with the biggest shoot to date which gave me my first real big break into Advertising work.
The job went well and I apparently became flavour of the month and more work followed from Clarks for the following 12-18 months and I thought I had made it ….but I was very wrong!.
Photography can be a cruel bitch and you can never sit back and relax for any length of time especially in the digital age where everything changes so quickly.The country went into a recession and work did go very quiet.It was around this time that another client who probably recognised I needed a photographic reality check got me a day assisting a friend of their’s who was a well-established advertising photographer based in Bristol called Colin Peacock.
That client was right Colin’s studios and his work were an incredible wake-up call for me and I quickly realised how little I still really knew.
I was lucky with my timing in that Colin was in need of a second assistant so I ended up putting my business on hold and staying with him for around 9 months.
We worked on many large-scale shoots for well-known clients. The most memorable being a day at St James Palace in London shooting a royal portrait of Princess Alexandra.
Eventually however, I got itchy feet and despite knowing I still had much to learn I left Colin to continue on my own.
I know he rated my chances of making a living in photography at exactly 0 and at that point looking back, I would have to agree with him.
However quoting my mum once again she would say “Your like a dog with a bone once you get a bee in your bonnet” meaning I’m quite a tenacious bugger if I get an idea in my head and for me not being a Photographer never entered my head for a second.
So as you can see my path was indeed slighly arse backward but passion, hard work, eagerness to keep learning and a refusal to give up is what has guided me this far and still does. Yes it can be hard and yes Ive had doubts probably at least once a month but pack up and do something else ?… nah I’m like a dog with a bone.
A few weeks ago I produced a mature travel lifestyle photoshoot Mature Travel In The Pesky Sun.
Following on from this I decided to capture another travel shoot this time with a younger more upbeat concept.
My models Tristan & Robyn were in their early twenties and quickly built a great rapport. On all the shoots I do my aim is to not only get the brief nailed (and some) while making the production as fun as possible. This was especially true on this shoot, in fact, my pre-shoot chat was simply let’s have fun!
Tristan & Robyn built a great rapport very quickly and my job was made much easier as a result. This really underlines the importance of having the right models that not only look the part but have the right personalities.
This was a shoot I had planned for a while but my workload and that of Jerry & Annabel my models seemed to hinder things.
My fab studio base at The Monks Yard was also a factor as the site was moving a short distance to a larger and even more beautiful location at Horton Manor.
The image assets I planned to create were to be composite images (backgrounds & models captured separately) so ideally, I wanted to shoot in natural soft light and add the sunlight where I needed it with my own lighting for complete control.
I did say I didn’t want any rain but the fabulous sunlight we received on the shoot day was also unwanted (yep no pleasing me) so shade was required to get the lighting as I needed….but no problem.
Shooting images this way can solve many problems one being the costs & logistics for the client taking a large crew and models abroad for long shoots.
It’s not that I’m against jetting off and shooting models in situ I have shot this way for many years it’s simply about providing alternative solutions and getting the images the client needs.
I have to admit I do love the freedom shooting this way provides me both creatively and being able to move quickly from location to location without the logistics of moving so many people.
Being in a beautiful country and heading out (often on my own) at dawn to capture backgrounds for a lifestyle concept I have is wonderful.
Capturing the model images to blend into the location images requires some pre-planning to match not only the lighting and perspective but several other factors too for the image to work seamlessly.
For this reason and the fact I enjoy the process, I always like to shoot all my own image elements needed but occasionally I have no choice as with the ship images here to use stock shots.
Isn’t compositing cheating?
I do admit to having moved the bay of Bodrum and surrounding mountains a few feet for a better composition in one image many years ago but then the image was a personal shot and not used to sell a visit to Turkey.There’s definitely a responsibility to be truthful when shooting to sell a holiday location and you always have to consider that on every image created this way as it’s easy to seek perfection.
The locations you see here are as I captured them with nothing removed from the scene…honest!
With a little post-production and 3D rendering, it was possible to repurpose the image into a simple and eye-catching image asset.
This image was a little more involved and shot with the Parallax technique in mind which allowed a little more scope for creating some depth and motion.
You can view more motion work here
At the end of last year, I decided to totally rebrand, make some further tweaks to my website and also change the way I market my work.
The last few years have been very fruitful for assignments so you won’t see me complaining, never the less, I felt I needed to freshen things up.
Along with my approach, I decided to have some new promotional packs designed to hold a small selection of the work that I could choose from to post to a select number of potential clients.
The envelopes are created from a stunning grey pearlescent paper and foil stamped with the new logo.There are 12 5×4 inch image cards to choose from to place inside and these will be added too when required.
These are not something I had created to mass mail but instead, are used to showcase what I do to select number of contacts whom I would love to work collaborate with.
If you would like to download a PDF overview of our current book you can do so here
A few weeks leading into Christmas assignment work quietened down enough to catch up on some long overdue personal work.
Shooting a summer themed Travel Lifestyle in December is not ideal for summer clad models for obvious reasons but needs must.
I prefer when compositing images of natural daylight lit scenes to use daylight as my main source if possible and add any other strobe lighting to this.
In short, if I need to replicate daylight on my subject to match a scene then I use daylight rather than try and recreate it in a warm cosy studio!
Great for the integrity of the image not so great if your a model being asked to pretend it’s 32 degrees and it’s actually minus 2 and wearing a slinky evening dress.
Needless to say, I worked quickly (in my thermals) to avoid too much discomfort for her.
I have to say Lilliana my model did not moan once and was fabulous to work with and I think the final images work beautifully.
Have a great Christmas everyone.