Proud Parents

One of the areas I’m moving into is the idea of “pet photography”, more specifically, dogs, in fact, even more specifically “puppies”. The premise is that if parents will pay a large amount of money for pictures of their new born babies in baskets\hats\other ‘props’, why won’t the new parents of a puppy.

In order to do this of course, I need the beginnings of a portfolio, so I started putting the word out at my local pub, especially as there seems to be a number of proud parents showing off their bundle of fluff recently.

So far, I’ve photographed a 9 week old Jack Russel called Maisie, who was the perfect model, sat incredibly still most of the time, but did pee on the living room floor 🙂 The second was a bit more a handful, a bonkers cockapoo called Frankie. But in both cases I managed to get some ‘nice’ (but not yet “WOW”) shots that the respective parents seemed happy with.

Cockapoo, puppy,photography

Frankie the Cockapoo, may need a MUA next time!

It was an incredibly useful exercise, both from a technical perspective (getting the lighting right) and from a subject. In summary, it’s all about the preparation, getting the lights set up and metered before the subject arrives. Then working quickly, you have about 10-15 minutes maximum before the treats run out or the model gets bored and goes off sniffing something else.

It has been great fun though!

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When you meet your heroes

Glyn, Annewiek & Frank

Glyn, Annewiek & Frank

Like many aspiring photographers I “follow” a number of photographers and photoshop professionals on social media. People that I look up to, who’s work and success I hope to replicate.My 17 yr old daughter, describes herself as a “fan-girl”, so I guess I’m a “middle-aged-fan-man” 🙂 Frank Doorhof  and Glyn Dewis are two such people.

I love Franks style of fashion photography, breaking lots of rules and creating a unique look that always makes you go “wow!”  I’ve watched countless videos on his approach to lighting, use of a light meter and getting that something extra out of a shoot. I’ve also poured over his book, absorbing as much as I can.

Glyn is an excellent trainer and his youtube videos provide such simple but effective tips and techniques in photoshop that are so easy to follow. I think I’ve watched every single one (there are over a 100) and my photoshop skills have improved immeasurably as a result.

On a couple of occasions I emailed both Glyn and Frank to ask advice or feedback on images and have been very surprised to  receive prompt and very helpful responses. There are others, that without naming names, are not as responsive, and have come across very dismissive.

Last week I went to my first “PTO” (photography training overseas) an annual event bringing together around 80 photographers and 8 trainers\ professionals for a week of education, entertainment and a seemingly endless drinking! One of  the main reasons I decided to attend was that both Frank and Glyn were training so it was like a being a teenager again, looking forward to meeting my idols, and hoping they live up to my expectations.

I needn’t of worried, it goes without saying that the training they provided was excellent, it is after all their job, and the reason they are successful. But the most important thing for me was that they are both genuinely really nice people, they aren’t pretentious, arrogant, or look down at other people in any way. Just regular guys, who enjoy a laugh and joke and share the same interests. Juliet (Mrs H) and I spent several evenings with Glyn, Frank and his wife, and had a great time and both of us found it very easy to get on with them all and I came away feeling as if I had made good “friends”, not in the social media sense, but in the real world, or at least as real as a week in Tenerife in January can be.

The perils of a “group shoot”

The day started at the very reasonable 11am and went on til 3pm and involved the delightful Vicki and a big black motorbike! The studio owner Sabel was on hand to help with the setup and he also had a very experienced studio photographer Mark Bigelow on hand for inspiration.

Back Street Heroes throwback

Back Street Heroes throwback

The studio day was for up to 6 but only 4 had signed up so I was really looking forward to the day. The initial setup was on a black seamless with a large octo as the main light, a strip soft box as fill plus a gridded spot for a hair light. i don’t know the specifics of settings etc and thats really part of the limitation of this sort of event.. Basically you turn up and point your camera.. We were given some information on what the setup was and why, but I didn’t really get the opportunity to develop my own ideas.

The second problem was more specific to this event, in that the idea is that you take it in turns to direct the model and get the shots you are looking for, on this occasion my fellow “togs” didn’t want to play, instead it turned into a bit of a free for all, with all of us tripping over each over to get the shots. It also meant that if someone took a shot just before you the lights didn’t have time to recycle and wouldn’t fire.. At least 10% of the shots I took were useless because one or more of the flashes didn’t go off. Another 10% didn’t work because the model was looking at a different camera etc.

i got some good shots, and we did change the lighting setup a couple of times but did I learn a great deal? Probably not.

It was a real shame because the it’s a great studio space and Vicki is a great model, with the most amazing eyes. i’ve added a couple of shots to my gallery, a nice headshot that I’m very happy with and a 70’s throwback that looks like something out of “back street heroes”.

I really enjoyed the day, but I think I’m going to take the plunge and book a specific slot next time so I can learn a lot more about both directing the model and developing lighting set ups.

Group shoots are a great opportunity to try different things but there are limitations and I think I’ve reached those.

A journey into cyberspace

The title is actually a little confusing, I’d actually like to discuss my choices on this new blog and my portfolio site.

I’ve been considering creating a new portfolio for my work for some time, I previously had a custom website that I had written, with my own custom domain. However, that was ten years ago and it had become difficult to keep up to date and inflexible.

In those ten years obviously technology has moved on significantly and in particular a number of template based portfolio sites are available. The most widely known are smugmug and squarespace. I ended up choosing smugmug. The reasoning was simply that I preferred the template styles smugmug had. I had spent quite some time building a squarespace portfolio but there were a few scenario’s that I simply couldn’t get to work how I wanted. I found the wysiwyg editor buggy and ever so slightly annoying. Smugmug on the other hand whilst (on the face of it) less functional, allowed me to quickly get to what I was looking for. However, I have begun to find things that annoy me, in particular the way of adding a new page seems disconnected.

This blog is another example, I looked at both blogger and wordpress. Settling for wordpress simply because I struggled to turn off G+ info appearing by default. I know wordpress from my professional work so decided to go for it.

My problem, is that I know what I want to achieve, and have a  reasonably strong vision of what I want to appear, but I didn’t want to go down the custom site route again, so it’s all about the compromises I am prepared to make from that picture for the sake of the chosen tool.

I’ll attempt to document more on my journey to building a meaningful presence over the coming months.