Joanne Rowe is a folk singer based in Surbiton, who moonlights as a photographer/videographer/PR person herself, promoting various other musicians she is in contact with. So this was more of a collaborative effort on both our parts, rather than the simple 'photographer and model' dynamic. Furthermore, Joannewas happy to be on the other side of the camera for a change!
We met on the forest moon of Endor and wandered into the woods. We had a good laugh and the shots got better the more we chatted and threw ideas around. With a couple of outfit changes we really worked the woods, and I took way more photos than I'm prepared to admit. Joanne is a pleasure to work with, more than happy to immerse herself in a hedge or clamber about in the bracken and nettles if we thought it might make a good shot.
It was also amusing to note that we were setting up certain shots with social media in mind, paying attention to the positioning and cropping of various banners and avatars online. I guess it's a factor that can't be ignored these days.
Thanks to Joanne for such a great adventure. Hopefully we can do it again sometime. And don't worry about JJ Abrams, he is the chosen one.
Casting Call (limited offer!) 23/08/2015
For the next couple of months I am looking for TFP photography assignments in the Surrey area to get more exposure to different customer requirements and to develop my portfolio. Weekend appointments preferred. I'm particularly interested in working with the following:
- ANYONE wanting portrait photography
- Models happy to do TFP work to pad out or update their own portfolios
- Small clothing/fashion labels
- Musicians, bands, record labels looking for promotional shots
I'd already RSVP'd to Tannice's wedding when she suggested I bring my camera along and take some unofficial wedding shots to help me get some wedding photography experience, as I had absolutely none.
There was one rule: I was to stay out of the professional photographer’s way. The rest was easy and with my 70-200mm zoom lens I set about playing sniper and taking many lazy - sorry, I mean “reportage” - style shots of people laughing and enjoying the day, largely oblivious to the fact that they had a lens trained on them.
I also got to enjoy watching the pro photographer spend ages organising and arranging people to get the perfect shot, and then grab a few sneaky pics myself, taking full advantage of all of his time and effort. So thanks guy.
I had no clue that any of my shots would be any good. I'd never shot a wedding, and never used that lens before. So I was chuffed to see that a handful of them came out great.
Congrats again to Tannice & Jacques for their big day and thank you for letting me be a part of it.
Olympus Camedia C1 02/09/2015
I recently made the move from a Canon 550D to a Canon 5D mkii. An upgrade for sure, but technically I was upgrading to an older camera, and had to jump backwards from SD cards to CompactFlash. This got me thinking about the ruthless inertia of technology. Digital cameras have more in common with laptops these days than the olde worlde 35mm film cameras they are based on. So I went for a rummage in the gadget graveyard that is my bedroom, and bingo, there it was! My first digital camera, the Olympus Camedia C1 Zoom. One point THREE megapixels! And containing a storage card that stored up to SIXTY FOUR MEG of photos!
It brought back a ton of memories. It was purchased on Tottenham Court Road in November 2001 for £270. My girlfriend of the time and I trudged between the various gadget shops trying to haggle a deal, as the RRP was £300. The girlfriend would later insist that the discount was due to her smiling and twirling her hair at the sales guys, and all I did was get in the way. Hmph.
It went everywhere with me, and I squeezed some great shots out of it, in particular some fantastic urban night shots of blurred busses with streaked headlights. The gratification of being able to see your photos immediately was amazing. Gig shots I’d taken with it appeared on 7” records, and I noticed my shots appearing online in various places (usually without permission but hey, I wasn’t keeping score). In 2015 our £270 would have bought us an entry level DSLR such as the Canon 1200D or maybe a decent little mirrorless like the Sony Alpha A5000, but in November 2001 when we bought it the only DSLR options were the brand new Canon EOS1D with a price tag of $7000, the Nikon D1 for $5600, or the Fujifilm FinePix S1 Pro at $3995.
EAT Food Festival 25/08/2015 Fluke shot taken at the EAT Food Festival in Reigate’s Priory Park in Summer 2015. It probably only looks good because I did my best to get the symmetry right, and I tweaked it a bit in LR to give the impression that all the people had posed in those positions for me. Anyway, the organisers of the festival picked it up and it is now their main banner image across their Facebook and Twitter accounts. It also got used in Surrey Life magazine. I ate the most glorious Ethiopian street food that day, and I will be back with a hungry stomach and my camera next year, and maybe I’ll try to recreate the same shot!
Bimmerflex mag 04/10/2015
This was a bit weird. I was meeting up with friends who own Japanese cars similar to my own in the Summer. As I got to our meet spot a BMW owners meet called ‘Bimmerflex’ was taking place literally opposite us. The organiser hadn’t had the turnout he hoped for, and asked us if we wanted to park up at his event to make up the numbers. After taking photos for a couple of hours, the organiser handed me his little point & shoot camera and asked if I could grab some shots for him, as he’d been stuck on the front gate all day. I said “Hey, I’ve taken tons of my own already, you can have them”. I probably should have worded that a little differently since EIGHT of my shots then appeared in a feature on the event in BMW Performance magazine, with his name as the photo credit! my fault I guess. It was a nice surprise to walk into WH Smiths, open a magazine and see so many of my photos staring back at me anyway.
IcyKal photoshoot 17/10/2015
I was gagging to do an urban/street shoot and needed a suitable subject. I found IcyKal on social media. She is a hip hop and spoken word artist, and was only up the road in South London. From previous photos I could tell she was perfect for the vibe I wanted to capture. I also noticed she was a bit light on promotional photos. So I messaged her and we arranged to meet up. We naturally chose Croydon as location due to it’s serious graffiti game and gritty alleyway ambience. So we shot a few of those types of locations, including the legal graffiti wall in St George’s Walk. Icykal works her social media profiles hard pushing her music and her live events, so my photos got put to good use immediately.
Dealing with darkness 22/11/2015
How do you shoot discreetly in relaxed, low light gigs or open mic events? A flash is going to draw lots of attention to you, ruin the atmosphere and possibly even put the artist off. In fact a lot of venues running smaller more intimate gigs often discourage photography entirely. There are pro tutorials out there about how to tackle this. My own answer is basically have a go, despite the lighting starved environment, and and try to do the following: 1) Know the exact point at which your camera’s ISO throws up its hands, says “I can’t do this” and turns your pics into a sheet of grain.
2) Come down one stop from the tipping point of grain/noise.
3) Stop worrying that a dark photo is going to look like a dark photo. Dark can look great in its own right. 4) Shoot in B&W, or turn the shot B&W in post production.
With cautious use of the contrast, exposure, temp, highlights, and whites sliders in Lightroom you can tease out the whites, yet keep everything else dark enough to minimise too much visible grain. Be gentle with the sliders and massage the shot into shape.
I thought the Chloe Ray shot (upper left) was going to be too noisy until I stopped worrying because I realised that Chloe has very dark hair, almost exclusively wears dark clothes, and was playing a very dimly lit open mic event in this shot. With all that considered I think I managed to convey that without the shot drowning under grain and noise and I somehow even made the room look way lighter than it was. Likewise, the shot of Thea, Andy and Dan jamming (lower left). Same room, same lighting, but different open mid night. You CAN see noise and I have had to tweak this shot hard, but the eye seems to forgive noise and grain a bit more in a black and white image.
How much can you break the handheld rule? 26/11/2015
It’s a truth universally acknowledged that when shooting handheld, your shutter speed should always exceed your focal length. I actively try to cheat this rule with my 50mm prime lens, to see how much I can get away with, and how steady my hand is. I thought I was doing alright until I bought my retina display 15” Macbook which exposed a lot of dirty secrets. Since then I break the rule less, but can’t help myself sometimes. This shot of a Cardiff based busker called Sophie was taken at 1/40th with no flash. I almost got away with it.
IcyKal mixtape cover 01/12/2015
One of the shots from the Croydon photoshoot I did for IcyKal as mentioned in another blog entry. We actually ran out of time and had to rush this, improvising with some railings in a multi-storey car park. The graphics and those intense flames were created by Willkay Oddkingdom (oddkingdom.co.uk) and the finished product is now the front cover of IcyKal’s newest mixtape that came out on Dec 1st 2015. Hoping I can shoot her again soon.
Rebel Propaganda Photography Sean McKee M: 07590425150 T/IG: @rebelpropaganda