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.

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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,

Angel Wings
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.

 

What a difference a day makes

I was feeling more than a little down about my photography. I wasn’t booking any models to work with, and had turned down a couple of offers of work from models who wanted my style images in their portfolio. Not really sure what had caused this negativity on my part, but I did realise that this slump had got hold of me, and I was bereft of idea on how to fix it. My portfolio wasn’t up to date and seemed to be going nowhere. What to do? Upload some images to social media and take some time away.

On Thursday I uploaded this image to a photography group on Facebook.

Classical beauty
Classical beauty

And then on Friday I uploaded this image to my Flickr account

Urban chic
Urban chic

Yesterday I had a look at the statistics on how these images had performed on social media. I was floored. The first image was incredibly popular on Facebook and had out performed any other image I have ever uploaded there, with more likes, loves, and reactions than anything else I’d posted.

The second image had been Explored on Flickr. For those that don’t know, Explore is Flickr’s way of showcasing the best and most interesting photographs each day. There are usually over 8 million photographs uploaded to Flickr each day, and only 500 of those are chosen for Explore. To be chosen for Explore your an image really must catch the attention of those that choose them.

Well I was delighted. Truly thrilled to receive so much love and attention. My notifications on both sites went crazy, and my statistics on Flickr are booming like never before.

Needless to say any negative feelings I was having towards model photography were banished instantly, and I have already started the process of arranging another photoshoot.

Regular readers of this blog will recognise the model in both of these images. It is Sinopa Rin who has been a great ally and constant source of inspiration throughout my photographic journey. For those wanted to get started in model photography she comes with the highest possible recommendation from me. You can view Sinopa’s portfolio here.

I know this story takes place over the course of three days but I just wanted to use the Dinah Washington inspired title. You’ll allow me a little poetic licence won’t you?

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

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.

Abney Hall Park

Yesterday we had a day out at Abney Hall Park in Stockport. I never knew the place existed until last week. It seems the place to go if you are a dog owner, with lots of open spaces for your pooch to run around and chase after sticks. It is also a wonderful place to go for a walk, away from the stresses and strains of modern living, and get away from the city streets. Unfortunately the hall was closed for maintenance, and no doubt this is the wrong time of year to visit. There is however a waterfall, cows, plenty places to walk, and lots of places to sit and stare at just how beautiful nature can be. Definitely somewhere I’d like to go to again.

Abney Hall Park entrance
Abney Hall Park entrance
Lone leaf
Lone leaf
One of nature's more beautiful creations
One of nature’s more beautiful creations
Trees in the throws of autumn
Trees in the throws of autumn
Vivid green moss
Vivid green moss
All the leave are brown
All the leave are brown
Couple taking a stroll
Couple taking a stroll
Waterfall
Waterfall
Dogs at play
Dogs at play
Woof!
Woof!

Stranger 43 of 100 – Ewan

Stranger 43 of 100 - Ewan

I cannot tell you how delighted I am to be able to add another person into my 100 Strangers Project. If you’re a regular reader of my blog (thank you) then you will no doubt know that I quite like street photography, and those that know my Flickr Photostream will probably have seen more in my Street Photography album. The strangers however are different.

I must ask permission from each stranger for them to be included in the project. Sometimes I have a little fear and trepidation with the street photography, but walking up to somebody and asking them if you can take their picture is terrifying for me. Right outside my comfort zone. I was lucky with Ewan as we’d been introduced by a mutual acquaintance an hour or so before. I didn’t feel the same level of fear as usual. As it has been about five months since my last stranger, Brian, I was happy to have it a little easier than usual. There was no guarantee that Ewan would agree, but I felt it was a little easier than usual. A welcome confidence boost when he complied. I was also pleased with how I stood him where background distractions would be as minimal as possible, posed him, and used bounce flash to create a nice soft light. All in all I’m very happy.

Thank you for reading. Please feel free to leave a comment.

Using a reflector on an overcast day

Self-portrait
Man in a coat

It was an overcast day, and the light was not very interesting. I thought I’d try a quick self portrait because I read than an overcast day will not cause any harsh shadows, and the clouds act like a giant softbox. Well this is true, but the light os also lacking something. There is no punch. I decided that this would be a good chance to try out my reflector. I placed the silver side of the reflector pointing outwards towards me. The difference was incredible. It really does help the subject stand out, and makes a huge difference.

I shall be sure to bring my reflector and use it next time I’m taking portraits under an overcast sky.

Back on the Stranger trail

Batu
Stranger 40 of 100 – Batu

A while ago I started a popular photo project called 100 Strangers. The idea is that you take a portrait of 100 strangers that you meet in life. You have to ask their permission to take the photograph and upload it to the group. There were various reasons I decided to take on this project.

The challenge
Readers of this blog will have seen pictures of Lego, the night sky, landscapes, flowers and other objects that never refuse to have their photograph taken. A stranger is just as likely to say no as yes, or possibly more so.
Interest
Pictures of people do have a certain appeal. We are interested in the lives of others.
Stepping outside of my comfort zone
I do enjoy street photography, but I have a certain amount of anonymity with this. I can hide (in plain sight) and have no reason to approach or interact with people other than to steal an photograph as they pass by. With the strangers project I have to interact, I have to speak to people, and I have to ask permission for the photo and to upload it. There is nowhere to hide.
Practice
If I do get the chance to take portraits of people I need to be able to set up the camera and the shot without thinking about it. If I’ve take pictures of 100 strangers then I will have had 100 mini unplanned photo sessions which should stand me in good stead when a pre-planned portrait session comes up.

I knew this project would take me a long time to complete. I had no intention of rushing through it in a couple of months. I need to take my time to learn from each stranger, let the lesson sink in, and move on from there.

Of late I have been a little lethargic with the project. Too much time was passing between each stranger. I lost my bottle. That was all up until this week.

I am very glad to report that I am back on track with the project. I met a very interesting young man called Batu, got to know him, asked if he’d let me take his picture, explained the project, and took the shot. This makes me happy. That’s 40 down and 60 to go.