A white wall, some gels, and a pretty girl.

Looks like it has been a while since I last updated this blog. For regular readers I apologise for having left you in the dark for so many weeks. Please allow me to make up for this with a post about a photoshoot where I attempted to transform the front room into a photography studio. I already had some speedlites and a couple of softboxes. All as I needed now was a model.

 

If truth be told there was only one choice for this photo assignment. I’d worked with Katarina before, knew that we got on well, and that she wouldn’t mind me experimenting without any real clue of what I was doing. Katarina is also a very talented photographer and a really creative artist, so was the perfect person to have around for a few hours of lighting experimentation.

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There isn’t a great deal of space in the room I was shooting in, it does however have white walls. If you don’t add any light to your backgrounds, they tend to go dark. A white wall will turn into grey. Plain, uncoloured paint may not be a particularly thrilling background, but if you fire coloured lights at it, the results can be good.

Luckily I’d got hold of some gels for my flashes, and decided to have a go at turning the white walls different colours. I mean who doesn’t want some colour in their life eh?

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Hey, now we’re getting somewhere.

For those that don’t know, when shooting with coloured gels, the more you increase the power, the lighter, more washed out, the effect appears to be. I’m using minimal power through a blue gel here, which is why the colour is so deep and vibrant. For a more subtle effect, turn the power of your strobe up, and less colour is thrown. This seem counter-intuitive at first, but is easy to understand after a bit of practice.

For the next shot, we decided that a nice pink colour would be best. Too much red would take away the impact of the red strawberry, so I washed the colour of the red gel out a little by increasing the flash power. This gave us pink rather than bright red.

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Next off we went for a green background.

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Finishing off with yellow.

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I very much enjoyed this photoshoot with Katarina, and was pleasantly surprised what can be achieved with minimal lighting equipment and a blank wall. Hope you have enjoyed the pictures of Katarina, and that fellow photographers may be inspired to get out their flashguns and try firing some coloured lights at your walls.

Danny.

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Early evening photoshoot with Katarina Marie

Shooting with experienced models always fills me with confidence. If they’re also photographers then I know the results will be good. Katarina Marie is one such “modelographer”, talented on both sides of the lens; a true artist.

For our first photoshoot together we decided that we should head up to Largs on the west coast of Scotland. We wanted to capture some of the late afternoon sun, and if the weather wasn’t with us at least there would be ice cream at the world famous Nardini’s. Fortunately we did get some sun, and so here are the photos we created together.

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First look was in the bag, so Katarina did a quick costume change and we walked along the coast a little and found a shelter which we thought would look good.

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There is no point going to the coast if you’re not going to visit the beach, so after getting bogged down in some deep sand we eventually found a nice section of the beach we could shoot at.

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We’ve now got some great images stored, but the sun was starting to set and we were losing the light fast. A quick costume change and a chance to capture the last throws of daylight.

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As the sun set we started to notice some beautiful colour in the sky so tried to record that too.

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I think we managed to fulfil our brief of capturing the late afternoon and early evening sun. This time of day, golden hour and beyond, is a great time to create photographs. There is almost magic in the light, and something I should do more of. Sadly we didn’t get to visit Nardini’s for ice cream, but I am very happy with the images we created together. This would not be the last time I shot with Katarina, but that’s a story for another day.

Danny.

Review of 2016

What with the planet once again at some arbitrary point of it’s trajectory around the sun we’ve picked as significant, I thought I’d share some of the results of photoshoots I’ve done this year. I was not going to be shooting any more than twice a month in 2016 so there aren’t too many to go through.

Some images you may have seen, but I’ll try to pick ones I’ve not shared before. I will be sharing some of these photoshoots in a bit more detail so won’t use up all of the images here.

January

2016 started as it ended, with a photoshoot with Lillith. This time we were in a studio, and we brought Lydia along too.  I knew these two would get along. I was a little daunted initially, not worked with two models before, but with everybody’s creative input into the shoot all went well.

Later in January I have my second photoshoot with one of models who helped me get started, namely Arabella. Arabella is a load of fun to be around, charming and chatty, and has a great line in what she calls “facial erotica”. I’ve been very lax when it comes to editing these images. They seemed to have been in the queue for ages. Hopefully I’ll be able to edit a few more in the coming months.

February

February brought with it a shoot with Scarlett Fox. When you work with Scarlett three things are guaranteed. 1) A lot of chat 2) plenty tea, and 3) and incredibly productive photoshoot due to her strong work ethic. Scarlett obviously puts a lot into her modelling and this is shown in the results.

March

When I first joined PurplePort, and started my journey taking photos of models, there was one name that kept on cropping up, over and over again, mainly to do with the quality of her work, which was always of a very high standard. That name was Artemis Fauna. I knew that I wanted to work with Artemis, but arranging something wasn’t easy due to her busy workload, and my ability to shoot only at weekends. Still, I persevered, a dialogue was opened, and sure enough a chance to work together appeared when Artemis was at Sandon Studio in March.

I have to admit that I was a little nervous about meeting Artemis. I say nervous, it was more awe I guess. Her body of work and reputation in the industry speak for themselves. Why would she want to work with somebody like me?

Well I needn’t have worried. Artemis was a pure delight. Five minutes after meeting we were chatting about focal lengths, aperture values, and shooting modes. I do love it when a model talks nerdy to me.

Later in the month I got some studio time with Purple Princess who had decided that we needed to shoot together. She travelled a long way for the shoot so we made the most of it.

April

April gave me the chance wot work with Sinopa Rin again. I say work, but it never feels like work. It’s always so much fun. No doubt I’ll write a separate post about this shoot at some point, and you’ve already seen one before, so won’t spoil the surprise right now with multiple images, just this one.

Also in April I got to shoot with Harley Monster for the third time. Harley has been a good friend to me, and so she shall remain in my good books for an awfully long time. Harley brought Nina, a whiz stylist and makeup artists along to the shoot. We shall meet Nina’s work again later.

May

May brought with it the spring, and a shoot with Stephanie Dubois. We decided to split out time, half in the studio and half out on location.

This is what we did in the studio.

This is what we did on location.

Second shoot for May was with KRG, back up in Scotland once more. Again, I’ve been a bit rubbish when it comes to getting these images ready. They will come, just not right now.

June

Had my third shoot with Lydia in June. Lydia likes to give the impression that she’s the mean and moody type, but when the camera is not clicking she’s all smiles, laughs, and giggles. A real joy to work with.

Earlier in the year Becky Kvittems and I were discussing the possibility of a second photoshoot after the first went so well. Alas it had to be postponed, and was rearranged for June. It was the middle of the summer so we planned an outdoor shoot, summer dress, sunshine, that kind of thing.

July

I’d been admiring the work of a photographer on PurplePort, so we got chatting about photographic styles. It turns out that this photographer is also a model I knew of, by the name of Marianne Di Vine. We arranged a photoshoot, and Marianne allowed me to use on of her lenses that I’ve been lusting after. How nice was that?

August

After my trepidation about shooting with Artemis Fauna earlier in the year, and it going so well, I jumped at the chance to take even more photos of super amazing Artemis Fauna, this time at Hallam Mill, where we created many different looks in just a few hours. Again, more to come later so just a teaser for now.

At this point I stepped back without looking and sat on a bedpost of one of the studio props. Good job I was wearing thick trousers. Artemis was clearly concerned for my well-being.

September

In September I got to work with make up artist and stylist Nina again. this time she brought Kira Dawn with her, and we created some amazing shots.

Hiring out a studio can be a bit expensive. The facilities are (usually) great, but you’re stuck to working at the times you have booked.

I decided to have a go at creating a home studio in September. I had a white wall, some flashes, light modifiers, and coloured gels. All as I needed now was a pretty girls and some props. I send a message to Katarina and she kindly agreed to model for me.

October

Guess who came back to Manchester in October. If you guessed “Sinopa Rin” then you’d be right. I jumped at the chance to create some more photos with her.

I also got the chance to shoot with KRG again, which was nice.

We started off out on location trying to capture some of the autumn colours.

Next was a trip to the studio for some beauty portraits, which with a model as beautiful as KRG is an easy job.

November

For my second shoot with Stephanie Dubois we were planning a couple of different locations. Unfortunately the British weather was against us so out came the lights again and we just went with the flow, creating as many different looks and lighting styles as the time would allow.

Unfortunately none of these images are finished yet. All as I have are a few back of camera screen grabs that Stephanie took as the shoot went on. I love the photos we created so they will be edited and shared just as soon as they’re ready.

December

Alas there were no photoshoots in December. I’m on a short break from shooting models and my photoshoot with Stephanie was the last for the time being. Hopefully it’ll give me time to catch up on the editing and sharing backlog. I’ve also been practicing indoor studio shots, but with more of a slant to still life than models.

If you got down this far, then thank you so much for reading. Hope you liked the pictures.

Wishing you and those you love a very happy New Year. May all your dreams come true in 2017, especially those you work hard to make happen.

Danny.

“You’re too good to work with me”

I recently came across a social media status update by one of the more accomplished fashion and beauty models within the photography community, somebody I’ve worked with and have another shoot planned for next month. The nature of the model’s update was about conversations she’s had with photographers, the type of photographer I would class myself as: hobbyists, keen amateurs, professional hopefuls, or possibly even the complete beginners. These gist of this conversation, and I’ve found that this particular model is by no means alone in this, was the photographer not wanting to make a booking because, in their own words “oh you’re too good for me”.

The feeling being that booking one of the top models would be a waste of everybody’s time because the skills of the photographer don’t match the model’s ability.

This is of course complete nonsense. Utter balderdash.

Of course I understand the sentiment; I’ve been through similar feelings myself, but they are easy to get over when you work with these models. So if there are any photographers reading who think that they can’t book a particular model because she’s too good, or you’re not good enough, and are perhaps thinking some of the things I’ve thought in the past, let me try to help you.

Don’t worry that you can’t produce images as good as those in the model’s portfolio. You’re not meant to. It doesn’t matter, and nobody is expecting you to any way. Shoot for yourself. If you want to improve then an experienced model can help. They have experience and if that’s what you’re lacking then you should definitely book them.

Take Artemis Fauna for instance.

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Artemis Fauna from out first photo shoot

Artemis is, aside from being a very experienced and incredibly beautiful model, is also an accomplished photographer. Whilst we were discussing shoot ideas we also spoke about lens choice and suggested aperture value combinations. This was incredibly helpful.

Sinopa Rin is another example of the “modelographer”.

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Sinopa teaches me something new on each photoshoot

I was lucky enough to have Sinopa along on my first shoot. She was supposed to be there as a model, but ended up being a teacher, educator, motivator, and possibly therapist too. I gain more and more knowledge from each photoshoot with Sinopa. If there is ever a moment of doubt or uncertainty she will always add a creative suggestion when asked.

Continuing the trend of models who know life on both sides of the lens is Arabella.

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Arabella helped me get started in the right way

I only found out how good Arabella was with a camera after our photoshoot had finished and she showed me some of her published works. Arabella was one of the experienced models who took a chance on me in the early days just when I got started and didn’t have a stack of positive references to my name.  Her experience and creative eye were invaluable in helping my get started and most importantly to get better.

Stephanie Dubois is another I’ve been lucky enough to shoot with.

Stephanie Dubois
“Too good to work with me”

I will admit that immediately before making the booking to work with Stephanie I felt a lot of the feelings that some of the photographers mentioned at the start of this post had been going through. Why would Stephanie work with me? The answer is because she’s a professional model and I’m a photographer. That’s how these images are created. Stephanie didn’t care that the images would end up on my blog and not the from cover of Vogue. She understands that there are amateurs out there looking to create photographs and was happy to help me. I’m very much looking forward to working with her again.

There is a longer list of top models that I’ve worked with, but this was starting to look like me showing off rather trying to help a photographer make a booking with one of the top models. Believe me when I tell you that your starting skill levels is irrelevant, and will improve if you work with these model. Don’t be scared, don’t worry you are not good enough, just commit to the booking. You will not regret it.

Danny.

Being nice to new people

I’m sure that a lot of us have had the experience of being the new kid. Perhaps you moved schools as a youngster, or have changed jobs recently and need to get to know new colleagues. It can be daunting, and it’s always nice when the people already there are kind and welcoming. When I first joined a photography and modelling website last year I posted a “Hello, I’m new” kind of message. Lots of people very kindly welcomed me to the community and wished me well. This helped me settle in and was a nice gesture. Since then, I do try to keep an eye out for other new members and say hello, give them a welcome, and generally try to repay some of the kindness I was met with.

One such “new starter” was a local photographer who had just opened up a studio. I wasn’t familiar with the photographer, John, but I saw his post about the studio account being new so I wished them well in their endeavours and thought nothing more about it. A few days later John contacted me to express his gratitude on my welcome message, especially as nobody else had done so. 22,000 members on the site and I was the only person to have greeted him. John was grateful for the little attention I’d paid him, and as a thank you offered me free use of the studio, and all as I needed to find was a model to shoot with. That part was easy.

Becky and I had been in touch a couple of times about arranging a photoshoot together. I told Becky about the free studio time and she jumped at the chance. We met at the studio and made some photos together,

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Beauty portrait
Beauty portrait

We then decided to brighten things up a bit. John helped set up a nice bright background, and Becky put her wig on. We experimented with different facial expressions and Becky acted out some emoji style poses.

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All in all it was a fun shoot, and I’m delighted with the images that were created.

Moral: Be nice to people. Sometimes it pays off.

 

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

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.

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