God bless the Scottish

November 08, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

Gosh it seems like ages since I wrote a blog for my site. Logging on today amazing to see that there has been so many visitors to appreciate my work and to my blog pages. If you visited, from the bottom of my heart I want to say thank you so much it means a great deal.

So...what have I been up to? Well I have just finished my MA - I wish I could say it was in photography but it was in another subject equally as close to my heart. AND...I have been getting out there....

What does that mean...? That means I have been putting myself in the spot, pushing my boundaries. Only last week was I at the top of the mighty Ben Nevis only after driving through roads filled with so much beauty that I wish I could have stayed there a lot longer. Scotland is one of those amazing places; if you haven't been, I highly suggest that you do. There is a reason why it is fondly called the “ancient kingdom,” and indeed there are so many places that would not have seemed out of place in many of the Jurassic Films. Scotland is one of those places that if you look at the scenery whilst driving you are going to end up crashing or worse going off the edge, so most of my time my hands were spent glued to the steering wheel but when I had a chance to park, my gosh did I take some shots. After just three days being blessed by the Scottish hospitality do you know what I realised? God loves the Scots. Not only were they granted incredible lands but they were blessed with some of the most wonderful natured people I have ever met. I literally felt depressed coming back to London getting on a tube and having my head under someone's armpit for 20 mins of a journey without even a hello; intimacy I say which should never become a normalised experience for anyone unless they are family and you have no choice but to sleep toe-to-toe. 

I have so many photos to work on it is unreal although I will try and post one or two for this blog I was well aware that if I did the photos first I might never get the piece out.

O.k So a few people have asked me already what's the best advice if you are shooting landscape and you are looking to improve your game. So I have come up with the following advice - hope it is of use:

  1. Make sure you are wrapped up warm - I have learnt the hard way so many times now that in my camera bag I have gloves, a beanie and even a small snack in there. When I did the 24 hr photo marathon I learnt that if your hands are cold they will shake and that will ruin the shot, if you are hungry you can't concentrate and that can all help to spoil the experience. Essentially you are looking for the beauty in what you see, so you need to be relaxed so you can focus.
  2. Make sure you have the right equipment - a good couple of lenses is all that you need. You don't even need to spend big sums of money. I use my kit lens which I paid slightly more to have a lens with a wide focal and telescopic range, I have the 50mm prime and I have a couple of graduated filters and of course the ND filter for time lapsed shots. But I have to be honest out of all of those the wide telescopic lens gets used the most because it is all I need the majority of the time. Don't forget a tripod, especially if you plan on shooting at dusk, again you don't need to spend big sums of money unless you really want to.
  3. Make sure you give yourself plenty of time.  Landscape photography is easy to do, hard to do well. Therefore you need to have time on your hands. Going back to Scotland I would give myself easily a week to do photography alone. So many different aspects; night shots, dusk shots, dawn shots and so many places to shoot from. Again you don't want to rush these things, give yourself plenty of time.
  4. Get off the beaten track - so many people just shoot from vehicles or get out with the camera when the coach stops. I know a few photographers who failed to get the shot because they didn't want to cross a road or lay down on the ground to get an awesome new perspective. Often times changing our point of view can completely change a composition.
  5. Don't take chances - Again I learnt this the hard way. Never do anything dangerous or put yourself in a position where it would be difficult to get help or for help to get to you. The key is to try pushing yourself beyond your typical comfort zone to really get a shot that is special. Trust me there no shot that is worth serious financial or physical loss. I have yet to see someone cry over a photo of a landscape but I have seen plenty of photographers cry over their injury or losing their camera.
  6. Keep making mistakes - its amazing that people think that they can get out there and walk away with incredible shots first time. Equally they can become so focussed on getting the shot they forget to have fun. Enjoy your craft - if its not fun, the question is - is it actually worth it? 

Loch LomondLoch Lomond


Detail is in the eye of the Beholder...

April 06, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

Yes I know that should read 'beauty is in the eye of the beholder' but I actually think that detail and beauty are not far removed from each other. For example look at a lovely painting and one of the main attractive features might be the attention to detail. Now I know what I am going to say may cause some contention but I'll go ahead and say it anyway. Us men are not necessarily blessed with attention to detail genes; in many ways it actually helps us; we can do more with less. When a man is blessed with these remarkable abilities they tend to end up highly revered - a Gok Wan of this world, a celebrity that never becomes a 'z lister'. Why am I mentioning this? The field of make-up is the one exception to the rule. You can't get away with doing more with less, I'm sure most women will testify to that idea. Good make-up done well can create a flawless masterpiece whereas good make-up done badly can reveal and accentuates flaws. I had the privilege to work with a make-up artist whose skills and attention to detail in my opinion were second to none. A make-up artist who holds the promise that she can teach her skills over the course of 3 days. Her name is Maryam Taqi; an internet and instagram sensation with some 21 thousand plus followers to her name. I responded to her casting where she had requested some beauty shots done of her latest students' work. Under her watchful eye the pupil delivered style after style whilst I clicked away in the background. Maryam was very clear in what she wanted and in what the end outcome would look like and it fell to her student to deliver on her requests whilst she advised and directed her until she achieved the required outcome. The thing I will take away from seeing Maryam teach is the understanding that real perfection is actually the ability to repeatedly provide smaller consistent corrections, slowly chiseling away on a work of art until it is the best it can be. The second aspect I will take away is the knowledge that you need always to be practising to consistently improve. Then it came my turn to deliver on the shots and again Maryam was just as clear on her directives on what she wanted. I was pleased by the end shots I took and also that Maryam was able to take the shots there and then before we parted company. I slept assured knowing that whilst make-up artistry might never be my forte, its the small things that I do well which makes me great in my own way. 

Its well worth checking Maryam out and the different services she provides. Her website is: http://maryamtaqi.co.uk/

 


What Goes Into Promoting A Brand

February 13, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

For as long as I can remember I have always been passionate about helping social enterprises succeed.

As a photographer I carry that ethos; that determination to help those trying to establish a business for themselves, change their lives or create something that makes a difference. In my time at Active 8 Images I have successfully provided packages to several brands that have been essential to helping them succeed at competitive pricing that really makes it possible

Quality photography can make all the difference, having incredible images that engages the eye can equate to customers staying longer on your site, having an accurate representation of your skills, having a 'wow' factor portfolio that gets you hired or casted and even having a solid promotional base for all your material.

My latest assignment was for a jewellery company established by a woman who had overcome incredible odds to find her inner polish and is now helping others to do the same. K.ing was one of those kinds of work which at first glance seems relatively straightforward but actually is quite an intensive piece of work.

 

 

First thing was the shoot. I have been highly recommended on many occasions for my proficiency in casting. With my contacts I have been able to cast often at short notice with high quality models and I have a shrewd short-listing process preferring to work with those I have worked with before and can trust. Models don't get a second chance if they fail to show or cancel at the last minute. Time is money.

Four models were selected, three female and one male and a studio was sourced. Again, I have a solid reputation with different studios which have different types of looks and feel. I built a solid relationship with the brand owner, for me it was essential that I understood her brand and could translate it in terms of a vision and images. In the studio I am a consumate professional; model releases were signed, the females were given every ounce of privacy and I like to have fun, experimenting with new ideas. I remember seeing this huge silver reflector against the wall and I am like "hey - lets shoot against that" the outcomes were incredible.

 

With the shots in the bag the real work began in terms of retouching. Those of you who know me well or have seen me work will know that my style is to shoot as much as possible, hence there was a mammoth amount of images to go through. From those a short-list of about 100 were selected and from those about 60 went into the final pieces. I aroused interest from Frost Magazine who were really interested in the work and were happy to consider and article, I even organised a writer to cover the first drafts.

From there came the video promotional material. In this case with the subject matter being jewellery, the project warranted images of elegance and sounds that mirrored the magnificence. Of course copyright issues are paramount which mean that the soundtrack was required to be sourced before even the images were put into place. Then came the structuring of the showreel and timings. I place emphasis on pacing, timing and emotional content. I always feel that the strongest images are those which create emotion and convey a story.

The video complete, I tested the video with a small selection of the models and with the jewellery designer. The feedback fantastic the final pieces were to create a social media campaign and various articles for promotional material for K.ing to showcase to customers. The end result from a commitment of hours is a wide variety of materials for the customer to use, a fantastic response from the client base and increased engagement and ultimately potential sales.


What I love most about the Xmas Party Season

December 14, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

Dare PartyDare Party As a photographer it’s hard to decide what I enjoy most. Is it seeing people fling themselves into the whole festive season with wild, wanton abandon, CEO’s doing the Runnning Man on the dancefloor or bopping to tracks by Bob Marley? Is it seeing people drink enough alcohol in celebrating their achievements to become automatic members of AA? Or is it seeing some teams bond with sincerity with a good old fashioned board meeting? Maybe it’s the look on the Secretary’s face as she decides whether she’ll accept or decline the 7th dance offer of the night. Some companies go the whole hog; whole fancy dress, DJ sound system while others go for the quiet drink.  

Either way as photographer one of the biggest compliments I regularly receive from my clients is on my personable nature with people and highly professional attitude. Put it simply, I just love people and love to have fun. In the field of photography this means that in events I get invited to take a lot of snaps purely because I am approachable and people come up to me (even when I am setting up) and say ‘hey, can you take a snap of me and…my girlfriend/my boss/my ceo/me defacing this wall/my tattoo on my left bumcheek’ etc. Equally, because I work quickly and I’m unobtrusive I get in and out of groups quickly, taking snaps that most people don’t realise until after.

Dare PartyDare Party Last week I was out covering two events and in one case they had their own ‘company issue’ photographer as well. Working the event was real fun. I am a true team player and work as such; I didn’t see them as competition as we were on the same side which was keeping the client happy as that was going to be most important at the end of the day. But I watched him and it was such a shame that despite the fact he had all the gear, he simply had no idea how to communicate with people. He also fell a little bit flat because when you are taking shots in a dark environment such as the arena of a club, you should be checking your shots back often as the lighting radically changes moment to moment. Also in contrast to popular belief you don’t ‘always’ need a flash which is great for ‘freezing action’ but terrible at sucking the life and colour out of people’s faces.

I could see the surprise on people’s faces when they were asking me ‘why didn’t the flash go off?’ and then when I showed them the image they were like ‘WOW’. Now, the use of flash is a very personal choice, but for me I like ambient light and save my flash for times when there is little other choice for example portraits of the team by the bar. Anyway, all of this meant that I got invited to take some very limited edition snaps of the CEO drinking what must have been her 12th shot of the night which unfortunately I cannot share – personable and professional remember…

Dare PartyDare Party Now the professional part means as a photographer I work very quickly. As of my last count there were over 250 usable shots for each event for just the few hours I was there which means that my rates are very competitive. The only disadvantage being that Onedrive and Dropbox really suffers when it comes to uploading them as I shoot in hi-res (4.5GB upload anyone?) so it can take time to get a link to the client. But when the client sees the shots, that’s when I get the emails of thanks and the only shame is I never get to see people’s faces when they see the shots themselves because if what they tell me is true then they effectively relive the moment which can only be an incredible thing.

Anyhow I am going to leave my blog here and get back to editing the snaps. If you want to see examples of my Event photography click on this link and if you are interested in booking me head over to the Prices section by clicking on this link.

Best wishes for now

Jnr


Adventures in Photography – The Magic Hour Shots

October 26, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

Got up at insane o’clock this morning having responded to a model Jasmine T’s (check her out she is great) casting to capture the ‘Magic Hour’ at Tower Bridge. What is the ‘Magic Hour’ I hear you cry… well,  the magic hour, sometimes referred to as the ‘golden hour’ especially in cinematography is the period shortly after sunrise or before sunset during which daylight is redder and softer compared to when the Sun is higher in the sky.

Why is this weekend so important? Well, with the clocks going back the sunrise aka the magic hour is within reach of mere mortals as thanks to the time adjustment sunrise is actually brought forward (6.45am) and remains there until much closer to Christmas and New Year when unfortunately it gets damn cold. Prior to today sunrise was really early (4.30 – 5.30am). Now, whilst the early starts may not present a problem for determined landscape photographers it can present real problems for those looking to capture models especially if they prove to be ‘no shows’. Fortunately for me I spotted Jasmine T’s casting which was a request for photographers looking to capture the said ‘Magic Hour’ and not only did she choose me but she turned out to be every bit as good as her profiles (she has loads Purpleport, Starnow and Model Mayhem) dictate. Believe me, given the early start and it being a Sunday I did check out every one of her references.

I arrived a little late but still in good time (I blame a certain golden arches fast food restaurant and their long queues – I needed coffee). Still, I wasted no time and got us warmed up with a middle of the road shoot on Tower Bridge itself. I think she was a bit surprised at how eccentric I was, my main aim being not to waste any time. I was clicking away literally, measuring the light, checking the shots back and then making adjustments and then having us dashing back into the centre of the road to take more shots until I was happy.

The sun started to rise but then came another problem of why ‘Magic Hour’ shots can be so tricky. If the sky is cloudy you get no ‘magical light’ at all; magical meaning gold and red, instead all we got was erm…shades of grey. I felt rather disappointed that I was seeing nothing out of the way incredible. Fortunately Jasmine had a couple of places which were really local we could shoot which were largely unnoticed by the mainstream public and one of them we found by accident was a set of stairs which led down to the water’s edge. Bearing in mind the Five Key Points of Photography (which I will explain in another post) we were thankfully able to grab some really good shots.

The key lesson is always when life throws you lemons make lemonade and when I am faced with challenges I always think to myself are there any skills I can practice here or any way I can turn this image on its head. The results always surprise me.

Jasmine was a lovely girl to work with, really easy going, a ‘non-complainer’ which meant I could try stuff out. This is probably the first time I have ever been on a shoot and the model has bought me coffee which was a nice touch.  As soon as I got home I left her some fab references on all the sites I could find for her. It was great to know that on a couple of the sites she had done the same for me. So now this afternoon I have a birthday party to shoot (lots of coffee between now and then I assure you) and then a good night’s sleep before I am back to the grind again tomorrow.

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