No update

One of my biggest concerns when I started this blog was about me not updating it. I have a reputation, deservedly so, as somebody who is good at getting projects started, but not so great when it comes to finishing them. I didn’t want this to happen with my blog, but with no update for two months it would appear that I’m dangerously close to having another unfinished project left by the wayside.

I don’t want this to happen. My photography has come on leaps and bounds over the past 12 to 18 months, and I have created some wonderful images I’m really proud of.

A little bit of real life has cropped up n my personal circumstances recently which means I do not have a huge amount of time to keep updating this blog continually, but I am determined to keep it going and for it to be a record of my photographic journey. With that I shall upload a few recent images, just to get me back into the swing of things.

Paul
Paul

 

Artemis Fauna
Artemis Fauna
Cinnamon Gaze
Cinnamon Gaze
Harley Monster
Harley Monster
Fat lad inna hat
Fat lad inna hat
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5 steps to getting the best from your model

One of the models I’ve worked with, Sinopa Rin, recently created a blog post titled “5 steps to getting the best from your model“. What can a photographer learn from a model? Well quite a lot actually. Her post struck such a chord with me that I decided to write this post as a direct response, but from the photographer’s point of view.

Admittedly I have little experience, time wise, working with models. My first photoshoot, yes with Ms Rin, was a little under a year ago. However, in that time I have managed to squeeze in 35 photoshoots, working with 27 different models along the way, and feel that I have picked up a few hints and tips for a mutually beneficial working relationship that I will share with you now.

1. Treat the model with dignity and respect at all times

This is incredibly important, hence the position at number one in my list. Something you shouldn’t need telling, but alas it would appear that some people need to have this spelled out to them.

Of course you should offer this basic human right to everybody that you meet, but if you will be working with this person, during the shoot and hopefully again in the future, then you should make a special effort.

First off, never touch the model. This is a cardinal rule that cannot be said enough. Some models will tell you they don’t mind you adjusting their clothing, hair, or removing a stray twig stuck to their backside. This is irrelevant. You tell the model about the clothing, the hair, and the twig. You do not touch another person you’re working with unless it is to save them from danger.

“Please” and “Thank you” go a long way. There are photographers who can get away with calling their models “rat bag”, but these are exceptional people with tons of idiosyncratic credit and talent; very few and far between. This does not apply to the likes of you and I so courtesy is always the order of the day.

Be kind, be nice, be polite.

If your model feels safe and protected, if they feel respected, if they’re comfortable, then it will show in the confidence of their poses.

Bottom line: Be nice. Be courteous. Always.

Sinopa Rin
Sinopa Rin

2. Communicate

Communication, both before and during the shoot, between the photographer and the rest of the creative team (model, make-up artist, stylist, etc.) is vital for an effective photoshoot. This post is aimed at the model, so I’ll focus on them (no pun intended).

Before the shoot you should be in regular contact with the model about the shoot. Let them know any ideas you have for the shoot. If you have no ideas at all, then let them know this too. I do this a lot.

It is my firm belief that effective pre-shoot communication reduces the risk of cancellations and no-shows. I’m not saying you should pester you model each and every day, but draw up a shoot plan together. Decide upon the location together. Check in with them a few days before to ensure that they’re ready for the shoot. Any last minute issues that may have arisen can be dealt with at this stage. It pays to keep in touch.

Bottom line: A well planned and confirmed shoot is much more likely to happen than one where you have hardly been in touch with each other.

Beau Divine
Beau Divine

3. Ask, Listen, and Involve

Take the time to involve your model in the creative process. If you are lucky enough to have a model who can help you from a technical side then grab that chance with both hands (don’t touch the model), but if not at the very least you will have somebody who is interested in creating some great photos. Models I’ve worked with have been dancers, artists, creatives, poets, fire breathers, singers, actors and photographers as well and modelling. They have life experiences to draw on, and they also have a good understanding of what looks good in a photograph. An appreciation of art is not limited to those that own cameras.

I’ve had models create mood board on Pinterest that acted as a reference for us both, before and during the shoot. I worked with a model recently who upon hearing my request for suggestions of some images to create came up with three awesome sets that we put together during the shoot. I asked, I listened to the suggestions, and we created art together; a great collaboration.

Bottom line: Every photoshoot is a collaboration. Work together for better results.

Amy Stout
Amy Stout

4. Home comforts

Take the time to ask your model is there are any snack or refreshments you could bring along to the shoot. You bringing lunch or a snack, especially if they’ll be working in an unfamiliar environment may be a great relief to them. If you’re shooting in an indoor location or studio consider bringing some music along. Ask the model what kind of music they like. I’m currently compiling a playlist of “80’s rock and pop” for a studio shoot tomorrow. The model has a fairly long journey to make tomorrow and I’m keen for he to be comfortable when she arrives. Her favourite music will help here. Very much worth the effort.

The models you work with will have varying degrees of experience. I’m sure the ones who’ve been doing this for many years will have a set routine, or be able to organise themselves, but if you’re working with a model who’s only done a handful of shoot, or possibly this is their first, then there will be things they forget. Whilst an inexperienced model is worrying about bringing the appropriate outfits, or spent all night practicing their poses in front of the mirror, they may have forgotten to bring a drink, some lunch, or even some straws to drink through – essential for not smudging lipstick. If you can bring these things along to the shoot you’ll be a hero, and you will have a grateful model. If they don’t want anything then you can eat all snacks on the way home. It’s a win-win situation.

Bottom line: A happy model is better to work with, and will work better than an unhappy one.

Lydia and Lillith
Lydia and Lillith

5. Be nice

If you are our on location, check with your model if they’re warm enough. Are you traversing a rocky outpost to reach the next location? Offer an arm for them to hold on to if they need it (never touch the model, but they can hold on to you for support if required).

I have been witness to an episode where a photographer was pressurising a model to rush her lunch.  She had a few salad leaves and radish left on her plate when his allotted time for the shoot started. He was worried about missing out on five minutes of his two hours time with her if she didn’t stop eating immediately, or at least rush the remnants of her meal. People need to eat, even models. If you allow a little leeway, show the model that their needs are important, they will work so much harder for you, and this will show in the results.

At this same photoshoot the model I was working with actually encouraged me to continue shooting even though our booked time had expired and we were technically into her lunch break. “Let’s just do five more shots … Ok, they’re really good we’ll do another five … I like these, just a few more and they’re the last ones”. I had to say to the model that we should stop and she should go and eat. I’m wondering if Mr You-Must-Finish-Eating-Now got this extra effort from his model.

I’m not suggesting that a professional model won’t work hard if you even if you are a stickler for exact timekeeping, but I am saying that if you give them some leeway, treat them well, then they’ll go that extra mile for you.

Bottom line: If the model is happy they’ll work so much harder, and you will get much better images.

A happy model
A happy model

Ella – A remarkable young lady

Just as you though winter was over and spring finally on the way the British weather has once again taken a turn for the worse. Cold mornings and rain do tend to weaken the sprit so I though I’d share with you a photoshoot from last summer, with hopefully a heart warming twist to the tale.

Those of you daft enough to ever read my other posts will know I usually have a less than serious tone, and poke a little bit of fun out of myself. This one is slightly different; I still waffle on, but there are no jokes, just a remarkable young woman.

I first sent a message to Ella after my third photo shoot. I’d struggled with confidence at the beginning of my PurplePort “career”, but three photo shoot in and all had gone well, my confidence was sky high and I was ready to take on the world. I’d spotted Ella in her Everybody Welcome post, and then she appeared looking absolutely stunning on the Front Page so I sent Ella a “wanna shoot?” message. If I’m honest I expected a “thanks but no thanks” reply, I mean what could I possibly offer a model like Ella to improve her portfolio? I was astounded to receive a yes reply, and so we went about the process of setting up a shoot. Super.

As time passed I started to worry more and more about the shoot, and really started doubting my abilities.  Then one day my recently rebuilt confidence just shattered. I composed a tearful message expelling why I had to cancel the shoot, I just wasn’t good enough, and explained that she should be working with photographers who can help her, and that certainly wasn’t me. I pressed send, and waited. Soon enough a reply came from Ella and I almost fell over when I read it. I was expecting to be rebuked for wasting so much time, or told to pull myself together, or …. I don’t actually know what I was expecting. Ella’s reply had none of this. Ella’s reply was the most supportive and encouraging message I’d received on PP. I won’t tell you the specifics of what she said to me, but ten minutes after reading it I knew that I could do this, the shoot was back on, and I was feeling a whole lot better about photography and the world in general. In short, I was taught a life lesson by somebody 30 years my junior. This is quite a humbling experience I can tell you.

Ella was 16 at the time of the shoot. She has recently turned 17 – happy birthday Ella – but never have I know such compassion and maturity from one so young.

That’s enough of my talk. Let’s see how the shoot went.

I should point out that because of Ella’s age, I insisted that she bring along a chaperone. I decided that I’d bring along a chaperone too, just for safety. Well the chaperones had been chatting along all the way through the shoot, getting along like a house on fire.

At this point of the shoot both chaperones wandered off for a nice chat together about Facebook, shopping, men, or whatever it is that chaperones talk about. I had to stop the shoot, and drag them back so they could keep an eye on me. Worst chaperones ever! Wink

I had a great shoot with Ella, and it really did do wonders for my confidence. She certainly is a remarkable young lady and I’m grateful to have worked with her.

Christmas Market with Harley Monster

Slightly out of order with my blog posts, but this has to come next seeing as it’s Christmas week, and the photos are all from the German Christmas Market in Manchester. This photoshoot was arranged by the fabulous model Harley Monster who I’ve been lucky enough to work with before. As previously Harley and I didn’t have much of a plan, we just met up at the market and had a mooch.

I wanted to get some wide open aperture shots, hoping to catch a bit of bokeh from the lights on the market stalls. I also find markets a great place to capture some candied street moments, so this was my first combined model shoot and street photography session. Hope you like the results.

Bokehlicious
Bokehlicious
Harley loved this bear
Harley loved this bear
Trying on hats
Trying on hats

The guy working on the hat stall was a real character. Earlier in the day he’d cycled to the clinic to get some injections ready for his upcoming trip to India. The story of his immunised wobbly ride home was hilarious, and more than a tad dangerous. He was kind enough to pose for a picture, but I was too scared to ask if he’s be a part of my 100 strangers project. Guess I’m out of practice.

Hat Seller
Hat Seller

It wasn’t all about Harley and hats though. I did get the chance to capture a few candid moments of the other stall owners and their customers.

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But of course if you have a wonderful model in tow it would be a shame not to take some more pictures of them.

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I would like to say a big thank you to Harley for dragging me around the streets on Manchester once more. Having such a beautiful model really does help bring out the best in my pictures. Thank you.

Thank you all for reading this, and hopefully enjoying the images. I wish you and those you hold dear a very Merry Christmas.

Danny.

Six month review

Last week saw the six month anniversary of my very for photo shoot working with a model. I have been somewhat lax in creating posts for each shoot, so I thought it would be fun to include some images from each of the shoots since the last one I blogged about so you can see if I’ve made any progress. I do hope to catch up with a post about each shoot with more photographs, but for now here’s one from each. Hope you like the images.

Pooley Bridge, Ullswater with Bryher.

Bryher
Bryher

Mooching about Manchester’s the Northern Quarter with Harley.

Harley Monster
Harley Monster

Spiers Old School with Sarah

Sarah Green
Sarah Green

Quarry Bank Mill with Ella

Ella Kehoe
Ella Kehoe

Home shoot with Vivian Blue

Vivian Blue
Vivian Blue

Out on location with story teller Amber

Amber Castle
Amber Castle

Fun studio shoot with Becky

Becky Kvittems
Becky Kvittems

Second shoot with Sinopa Rin, this time in Scotland

Sinopa Rin
Sinopa Rin

Trip to Largs with Katarina

Katarina Marie Mannequin
Katarina Marie Mannequin

In the woods with Meg Sarah

Meg Sarah
Meg Sarah

In the park with Louise

Louise Pierced
Louise Pierced

Pretty portraits with Enna Victoria

Enna Victoria
Enna Victoria

Back to the studio with Sinopa Rin

Sinopa Rin
Sinopa Rin

Freshfields with Lydia

Lydia Lawton
Lydia Lawton

Autumn shoot with Kes

Yes Wild
Kes Wild

On location with Leanne

Leanne
Leanne

Dance shoot with Amy

Amy Stout
Amy Stout

Rainy day indoors with Lucifera

Lucifer
Lucifer

The most beautiful of all the models I’ve worked with, my rock.

My Rock
My Rock

Fun studio shoot with Beau

Beau Divine
Beau Divine

Which brings us right up to date. My shoot with Beau was last week, and is pretty much exactly six months since my first shoot.

I have noticed the change within myself. The stuttering, nervous wreck, too afraid to shake the model’s hand is gone. I’m back. Me. The man I was a few years ago. I’ve also noticed an improvement in my photography. I feel I’ve learned more in these six months shooting with models than I have in six years of watching tutorials on YouTube or reading how-to blog posts. There really is no substitute for experience.

Can you see an improvement? I know I have much to work on, but I feel that my photography is heading in the right direction, and I’m thrilled with it.

If you like my images I would love to hear from you. Please feel free to write a comment.

Danny.

October Photo Challenge

When it comes to new projects I am a very enthusiastic starter. I always throw myself into the task with vim and vigour, learning as much as I can about the subject matter, getting started, finding out what I’ll need to do to get on with things. However, those that know me, and know me well, will already be aware that when it comes to finishing said projects, I am less than successful. My life is littered with examples of new hobbies, skills, computer programs, and a while host of new ideas that have been started well, but once I’ve figured out how it all works, understood the concept, or made a good start, I’ve lost interest and gone on to find the next new thing.

So, when super amazing and talented muse, model, photographer, and all round good egg Sinopa Rin suggested I should take part in the October Photo Challenge I was a little hesitant. The idea is that there is a set theme for each day, and you upload an image related to that theme. I was keen, but then I always am with new tasks, but a little reluctant because of my track record of never finishing things. Then I got a grip of myself: it’s only a few photos and it’s only for one month. I can do this yes? Easy.

It was decided that the best place to share the images with the world would be Instagram. I downloaded the app, set up an account, and got started.

Well here we are on the final day of October, and therefore the challenge. How have I done? Well I’m delighted to report that I have uploaded an image each and every day for the challenge – today excepted, but due to the theme for today, Trick or Treat the best photo is to be taken later when the little ones come knocking on the door looking to scare me and procure some sweeties.

The fact that I have applied myself to the challenge thrills me. I’ve thought about each theme, sometimes on the day, others planning my image in advance. It’s been great for me to work through something and not only start, but to get right through to the end. That was the challenge for me and I’m delighted to get there. I would like to say thank you to Ms Rin who also took part in the challenge for the nudge to get started, to my truelove for helping out with suggestions, ideas, and the occasional work as photo assistant, and to all of my Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook friends and followers for the encouragement along the way. It’s have been a delight.

In no particular order, here is a selection of some of my favourite images from the challenge.

Image of me holding a wine glass. In the background a clock is showing the time of eight o'clock
Day 23: Eight o’clock
A model, Amy, is shown in the photographic studio from a great hight, making her look smaller than her five foot one and three quarters of an inch height.
Day 25: Small
A dinner plate is shown, two pieces of toast with scrambled egg on, and some mushrooms on the side.
Day 29: Full
My collection of Lego mini figures, all neatly presented standing on a chessboard
Day 17: Collection
A tiny snail makes it's him underneath the petals and on the stem of a plant. I think it's an elderberry but may be mistaken.
Day 4: Up
Four images of plants and moss growing out of cracks in concrete
Day 21: Growing
A close up image of a crisp leaf, fallen from the tree, lying on the grass.
Day 10: Crisp
Image of me juggling apples, keeping them up in the air
Day 4: Up
A tin of Lyle's golden syrup
Day 8: Golden

Drinking all of Arabella’s tea

Last few posts about my photographic journey have of course all been about working with models ever since I found the PurplePort website. This post is no exception, and is all about my shoot with Arabella.

When I first joined the site I knew I was going to need some help getting started. When you create an account on PurplePort, they create a list for you called “People I’d like to work with”, and you can add people to the list with the click of a button. Not keen on the name so I decided to create a new list called “Models who could help me get started”. A much nicer name I felt. So I set about the task of searching for some help.

This is a fairly short list, and the models were chosen because they were either nearby, mentioned on their portfolio notes that they would work with beginners, had an outstanding portfolio – images and notes, said nice things in the groups, or, let’s face some facts here, I had a little crush on. Arabella qualified for the list on all counts and was instantly added as soon as I saw her portfolio. Thinking nothing more about it, I continued my search.

A short while later I received a flashing red notification. I had a message. I didn’t get many messages at the time. I wondered who it could be. It was a message from Arabella. I panicked. Models didn’t message me other than to keep their reply rates up with a “Thanks but no thanks Mr No References”. This was a different message however, a nice message thanking me for adding her to my list and would I like to arrange a photo shoot? My hear skipped a beat; several in fact.

I sent a very direct and succinct reply to Arabella, stating …. oh who am I kidding? I prattled on and on about me and Lego, and how I’m new, and how I’m a complete nervous wreck, and who pretty she looks, ladies underwear, and just a whole load of nonsense. Awful message! I pressed send, started looking for the Recall Message button, realised there wasn’t one, had a little cry, and then got back to counting my no references.

A short while later Arabella replied and ACTUALLY AGREED TO DOING A SHOOT WITH ME! I couldn’t believe it! Mad woman!

I was of course overjoyed. I did a little happy dance around the room, got back to the keyboard, and tried to act cool. More messages were sent, a mood board created, and a date arranged. Before I knew it, the date came, and here’s what happened.

Arabella says that she likes to drink a lot of tea. This is good. I love tea. So to get things started we had a cuppa,  had a nice chat about photography, drink some more tea, bit more chatting, and a final get-read culpa, and then we got started.  We began the shoot indoors with a portraiture session. I wanted to practice using my speedlites so we tried some head shots. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get one of the strobes to fire. It would work for two shots then stop. I would like to say that this is the first time I’ve ever had an equipment failure in front of a beautiful woman, but alas that wouldn’t be true.

Me: “This has never happened to me before”

Arabella: “It’s ok, it’s not important”

Me: “But it was all working fine last night when I was practicing on my own”

Arabella: “Don’t worry, it’s not a big deal. It happens to lots of other men. I have a solution …”

Fortunately Arabella took the matter in hand – now now – and provided some lights and soft boxes of her own, and we got down to creating some photos (at last).

I’ll be honest here, most of the shots from the first session are not my best work. Arabella was great, and had lots of props, hats, nets, and all kinds of things, but my heart just wasn’t in it. Studio type environments are quite alien to me and that’s somewhere I really need more practice. After a quick cup of tea we decided to head outside to a local beauty
spot. I’m much more comfortable in this sort of environment.

There was a nice bridge.

And then we found a bench

I really was starting to feel much better about the photo shoot now, and I think it’s showing in the images.

We wandered over to the bandstand an Arabella stared doing her stuff.

If I look back at the images I’ve taken since starting to work with models, oat are head shots. I like them. The reason I started this little journey was to get better at portraits. So, I moved in a little closer …

And closer …

And even closer …

It was around this point in the shoot where Arabella told me a funny story about how when out on another photo shoot her and the photographer met another middle aged man out with a beautiful young woman and realised they were out on a shoot too. They waved to each other in a photographer-and-model-comradery sort of way. I laughed, but all I was thinking was “Oh no! I’m a middle aged man chasing after young women with my camera. Talk about mid-life crisis!”

So for pointing out the obvious I made Arabella lie on the freshly cut grass as revenge. Wink

We wrapped things up, almost a full hour over time, and headed back to Arabella’s, bu alas she was out of tea bags.

The three models unfortunate enough to have worked with me at this point will have noticed me saying “May I?” whilst gesturing with the camera moving towards my eye, in a may-I-take-a-photo kind of way. This is something I’ll need to get over. As we parted I did ask Arabella “May I?”, but was with outstretched arms in offer of a goodbye hug. I couldn’t even shake the hand of the first model I met, just left her stood there with an outstretch hand for far too long. This I think is personal progress for me.

And that’s the end of the story … almost.

Perhaps I should’t share this with you, but after returning home Arabella and I exchanged a few messages and appropriate feedback was left. She then told me that she’d only recently heard news of a tragic event involving somebody dear to her. She thanked me for a nice shoot. I was utterly gobsmacked that she’s gone ahead with the shoot. I’d have cancelled. Arabella honoured her commitment to a complete stranger, a middle-aged GWAC (Guy With A Camera) she’d never met. This I think speaks more about her professionalism and honour than my words ever could.

Thank you Arabella. x

Keeping you waiting

Apologies for being so quiet of late. I have been very busy with model shoots. Three you have seen, and another seven in the bag, with four more planned for the future.
I promise to share the results with you soon. Bear with me … It’s worth the wait believe me.

Pretty In Pink – Wandering around the park with Senade

A fortnight ago I had my third photoshoot, a few hours in the park with a model named Tiger Hula Hula Lilly, or Senade as she is sometimes known.

The reason I contacted Ms Lilly about the shoot was the comment “This for me is not a serious career, I’m more curious and interested in getting some nice photos done if anything” on her portfolio. Perfect model for me. Contact was made, and the shoot arranged. I’d been to the agreed location the week before for a little scout around. Very pleased I did this as it gave me ideas for the type of shots we’d get, and the look and feel of the entire photo shoot.

The day came, Tiger arrived, pleasantries were exchanged, coffee was consumed, snacks and refreshments proffered, and we got going.

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Yes, I’m starting off safely with a head shot. Readers of previous posts may have guessed this. Hula Hula has the most incredible pink colour in her hair as you can see. So of course I’ve created a load of black and white images. Stupid man.

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We wandered around the park and found a nice bench.

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And then a bridge.

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Hula Lilly (still not sure which name to use) was really helpful, keen to get some good shots, and was playing around with some different poses. We were both a bit inexperienced if I’m honest but she took my inexpert direction well. Then as THHL was leaning from a nearby prop her hair fell down. A switch went off in my head.

“Stop. Stay there. Lean back. Tilt your head again. Look to me.”

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This is without doubt my favourite image from the set. It also made me feel like a “proper photographer” for spotting the opportunity for the photo and giving direction to my model. I’m pleased with this image.

And this one too.

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And of course we have a couple more head shots to finish.

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I had a really lovely day, and found out something new. It turns out that not all models like Jaffa Cakes. Good job I’d brought shortbread as an alternative.

Thanks for reading, and thanks in advance for any comments you care to make.