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.

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“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.

Artemis Fauna
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”.

Sinopa Rin
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.

Arabella
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.

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.

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

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.

Wandering around the Northern Quarter with HannahLee

Flushed with enthusiasm and rebuilt confidence, make that Rinbult, after my first photo shoot I was ready to take on the world. Ok, not quite the world, but certainly Manchester’s Northern Quarter.

HannahLee and I arranged to meet at Piccadilly Gardens and the plan was simply to “Mooch around the Northern Quarter, and look for some interesting backgrounds and graffiti”. I arrived at the rendezvous point early, but it wasn’t long until Hannah arrived. I approached her:

Me: “Hello, it’s Danny.”

Hannah: “Who?”

Me: “The photographer. For the photo shoot?”

Possibly Not Hannah: “I have no idea what you’re talking about?”

Me: “Are you Hannah?”

Definitely Not Hannah: “Ermmm, no. I think you have me mixed up with somebody else.”

I sheepishly returned to my waiting point, and eventually the real Hannah arrived, looking particularly splendid. We got to have a bit of a natter whilst walking to the area, and seemed to gel well.

Before long we saw a wall with some graffiti and got started.

Now I already know what my biggest issue when photographing models is going to be. I’m going to want to take head shots. Lots and lots of head shots. I have to break out of this framework. So, let’s try something a little more full length. Hannah bravely climbed up a small wall and sat there looking pretty. Very pretty actually.

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Ok, what next? I know. Find a different background and take another head shot.

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I’m going to have to watch this. Can’t be taking head shots all the time. Got to try something different. On Hannah’s suggestion we popped into Affleck’s, a department store that sells different and alternative styles of clothes, fetish fashions, piercings. You get the picture. I decided to try something a little more edgy, so used a bare flash, hastily attached to a handrail on the staircase, and we came up with this.

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My creativity no knows no bounds. I am a master of lighting. No. Not really. Too far outside of my comfort zone. I’ll retreat back to the safety of the headshot.

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These images represent a landmark moment for me. I’ve been carrying around a five-in-one reflector with for five years and this is the first time I’ve ever actually used it. I like it, especially on the second image. I shall do this more often. It is also the first time I’ve ever asked a young woman to accompany me down a dark alleyway. Ok, that’s not true, but it is the first time in 20 years.

How about a bit of flash and the reflector? That sounds advanced. What’s the worst that can happen?

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Looks like I’ve reverted to type. Head shot bonanza. I understand I need to show a little more variation, but you need to answer this question: How am I not supposed to take head shots when the model looks this good?

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5T5A3784It’s not possible! Hannah is simply beautiful and I have to try to capture that.

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Just as the session was drawing to a close I finally had a creative idea. Something a little different to try, other than the beauty portraits. A flash of inspiration and I suggested Hannah should “Sit on the floor”, so you know, it’s not all just head shots.

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Thanks to Hannah for a lovely day. It was great trying to capture your beauty. You’re a delight to work with and I wish you all the very best of luck for your future.