I am doing a little talk at the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery in Stoke this weekend (18th August). If you are free why not pop down and say hello. There will be cream tea’s, a good selection of photos (not all mine) and (hopefully) an interesting talk (plus the BPPA’s assignments exhibition) .
Luna and I had been talking about getting together for a photoshot for a couple of years now. We met working together at Frightfest where she is one of the presenters of Frightfest TV.
When discussing the shoot we decided we needed a prop or two. She suggested she could use a Mustang GT for the day and so I outline planned an outdoor shoot. I say outline planned as with this kind of arrangement I only like to put together rough ideas as when heading outdoors weather is a a major consideration (especially in the height of summer in the UK). I also like to spend some time with the model, chatting and gauging their mood on the day before firming up my shots.
There are a number of ways to shoot a darker, gothic feel type style on a bright sunny day, my preference being for high shutter speeds with high power flash units. I worked with a couple of AD200’s combined with the X-T2’s on High Speed Sync.
The first set of images we shot right in the centre of worthing, near home, with my “assistant” holding a Godox AD200 with a beauty dish, just to get a feel of the light and how the shoot would go.
Now I had a feel, we packed a couple of the flash units, a couple of lightstands, modifiers and lenses and headed out of town (to the mighty burble of the 5.0L engine).
On the day, the light was really variable and most of the time I was having to use the Godox at full power (some of the shots had a second light) whilst waiting for the clouds to help with the light also.
I wanted the images to have a “film” quality to them and so back in the office I edited the RAW images in Lightroom using either the Classic Chromeor Astia simulations before moving them in to Photoshop for retouching. These two simulations gave me a choice of base tones (especially skin tones, where Astia is my favourite).
The final look was applied using the NIK collection (now owned by DXO) running inside Photoshop. I learned a thing or two here as well; It had always frustrated me how adding a NIK layer to a PS image was a “one hit” action. If I decided I did not like the look after I had applied it (or subsequent edits), with my old workflow it was a case of deleting the layer and restarting. However a quick goggle on a train this week revealed the “magic” recipe. Convert the source layer to a smart object first and then the NIK filters are applied as Smart Filters meaning they can be edited with a right-click..
As you can see above, I used a combination of Colour Efex Pro to get the contrast and colours where I wanted them before adding a subtle film look and grain with Analog Efex Pro.
The style may not be to everyones taste but we had a loot of fun shooting these and they definitely work with Luna’s style.
In a world where it seems everyone wants to leave the “rat race” and become a “creative” of some kind, why does it seem so guilty to admit it?
“Hi I’m Julie and I’m a photographer” – almost sounds like something that should be said at “Photographers anonymous” . Well I am and after a few months of struggling I am happy to admit it again, to myself and others.
Note: It’s often said that press photographers should not be creative but thats just rubbish, there are times to be creative and times not to be creative in this job, the key is knowing when.
I had become jaded with my work, with the situations I found myself in, with the images I created. The fact is it’s easy to blame the situation, the lack of control (in public places or arranged photocalls), the light, the kit (oh how often do we hear “if only I had xxxxxxx”) but the fact is, what we produce is never the fault of the kit, of the situation, of the lack of control.
What we produce is always a product of the decisions we make given the situation we find ourselves in. They may not be the images we planned, or want but we always have a choice how we shoot something, how we approach it, our attitude and our commitment.
I was recently introduced to the concept of “Hell Yeah or No”. Put simply it means 100% commitment. When presented with an opportunity, decide “Can I give this 100%?”. If not then say no! Once there, commit to the job, no matter what the situation, too controlled? poor light? bad positioning? poor location? If they are things you can control then take ownership. If not, make the best images you can.. 100%..
Take the 3 dance images above. When I had the notice that this photocall was available, I checked my diary, found I was in town and had time. It was obvious that it should make nice images, I was not sure what they would be as you never know how a production is staged until you see it, all I could be sure was that the light would be “interesting”. Upon arrival it was suggested it was “a bit dark”. I had sort of surmised this before and although I did not take a tripod I did carry my 35/1.4 , 56/1.2 & 90/2.0 giving me the best chance in low light. From then on it was a case of using what I had, making the most of the light and making the most interesting images I could. Some I shot with intentional blur, some I froze the movement.
The key was though, I did not think “this is too dark”, I just committed 100% to what was in front of me. Looking back now (and listening to others) it’s obvious, if I (you) don’t commit 100% to what I (you) are shooting, how can I (you) produce the best images possible?
“Hi, I’m Julie, I’m a creative and I am always going to create the best images I can”