ENTRY ELEVEN: GETTING SNAP HAPPY!

2016 has brought with it plenty of challenges and a whole load of opportunities but one of the most exciting avenues we have begun to explore as a company is the world of professional photography. Starting the year I was really keen to get myself back into the practice of photography and begin to offer photography as another service within the SuperfreakMedia brand. Back when I was in college for my first year, Photography was one of my AS subjects. Then going on to University it really helped prepare me for a whole lot of technical information that would come my way, regarding the likes of F Stops, Shutter Speeds and Aperture Settings. With this being said it was still an incredibly busy time so I had very little spare time to continue practicing in a way that I was happy with. I know that in some peoples’ opinion you can pick up a camera anytime and just take a picture, camera phones and the likes of Instagram (you should definitely follow me HERE) have turned everyone into photographers, I just wanted to do it properly.

At the start of 2016 I really made an effort to up my game as a photographer. Offering headshot packages for actors, I began setting up my own photoshoots and started to create a professional looking portfolio of my work. I started off small, trying to take my camera out with me as much as possible to shoot as I travelled from place to place. I think then I realised that I really wanted to pursue a more constructed style photography. I wanted to have more control of the lighting and the aesthetics and try and tell a story with the pictures I had taken. Rather than just capture what was in front of me, similarly to the films I make, I wanted to create a world and convey a narrative with the pictures I took. Creating a Board on Pinterest to collect sources of inspiration I found I was drawn to vibrant and nostalgic inspired pictures. It didn’t take long to realise these were the kind of pictures I wanted to create and got the most excited about.

I began by doing a small improvised shoot with my other half in a bath tub filled with milky water. I used lighting equipment I already had (LED light panels, light boxes and a simple dual photography lighting kit with diffusion umbrellas). The equipment I had was overkill for what I wanted to create so I ended up using only a couple of LED light panels, one as a fill light and another to catch the side of my subjects’ face and to also create a glint in her eye. Makeup was kept fairly minimal, but a strong smoky eye and a deep red lip really stood out against the murky grey water surrounding my model. To say that the shoot was completely improvised and utilised only a few pieces of kit that I had to hand I was and still am really pleased with the results as seen below. I suddenly began to see a new potential for the equipment I had.

Posting the pictures online I knew that I wanted to set up plenty more shoots like it to continue practicing. Sure enough I was contacted by a friend of mine back from University, Steph. She had seen the pictures I had posted and wondered if I would be able to do something similar for a fashion/editorial assignment she had coming up. I jumped at the chance and honestly in reflection am really glad I did as I think they are perhaps some of the strongest pictures I have taken to date. Adding to my Pinterest Board I started collecting, edgier and more vibrant images. I ordered myself some more colour gels for the lights I had as myself and Steph had both decided that colour could really come into play with this shoot. Check out some of my sources of inspiration below and compare them to the final results I was able to get on the day. (All credit goes to original Photographers for the following images – no copyright infringement intended.)

 

Below is a blog entry I wrote on the day of the shoot. Believe it or not, earlier in the year, another aspiration of mine was to set up a blog to document my progress through the year with my various creative endeavours. Anyhow other things got in the way so the entry was never posted. Digging through the archives I managed to unearth what I typed excitedly on the train home from the shoot. Enjoy folks.

BLOG DIARY – MAY 23rd (written on the train home from London)

A whole day earlier than planned due to an error with my timekeeping I headed to London on May 23rd to embark on my first ever professional, fashion Photo Shoot. I had previously worked in a studio before in my time at College and University but was a little out of touch with studio practice, so was naturally a bit anxious on my journey down. This year one of my targets was to try and get myself involved with more photoshoots, whether they be my own or commissioned and challenge myself with the means I have available. For months I had been compiling images on my ‘Photography Inspirations’ board on Pinterest (Which you can see HERE) and was finally given an opportunity to experiment with some more of the editorial stylings that had taken my fancy. In my time at University I worked closely with a great course mate named Steph. Throughout the course she developed an interest for makeup and upon completing her degree, then went on to study in London. Contacting me after seeing some of the work I had posted earlier on in the year, she wondered if I would be interested in taking some fashion/editorial style shots for her. The result of the shoot would be used for one of her assessments, I would handle the photography and creative direction with her undertaking the challenge of makeup. I of course jumped at the chance to head to London and help out.

 It was obvious from a very early stage we were on the same page in terms of styling, colour choices and what we wanted to get out of the shoot. I really wish all clients were this easy to work with. Getting a train down I met Steph outside the studios where she took her classes. What I didn’t know was that the studios happened to be EALING STUDIOS. Wheeling my case of lights and light stands up to the door my mind was blown I was in film heaven. Walking past trailers and crew members carting props to set, I walked in awe toward the shooting space. Once inside I met Rebecca and Hannah, who I must say were both lovely and so much fun to work with. It was clear Steph wanted to first photograph them with a natural looking face of makeup, with subdued, cool lighting, to then progress to the more colourful and stylistic side of the shoot. I was pleasantly surprised to find some lighting equipment I could comfortably utilise in the space already and a nice white backdrop to photograph my subjects against. I had brought some equipment down with me and had a new set of gels in ‘teal’ and ‘yellow’ I was dying to try out.

 As stated we first started off with a cool, subdued set up. The key was simplicity as both the makeup and the lighting would be amped up in shots afterward.

 I was really pleased with the results and admittedly think that both myself and the models took a little time to warm up and become accustomed to one another. As with all of my shoots, film or photography I always encourage a really nice, relaxed atmosphere. The shoot overall was an absolute breeze. From the outset of the shoot I was really pleased with the results.

 Taking my time to photograph each model, both Rebecca and Hannah, dipped in and out of makeup once more, allowing me time to adjust the lighting and experiment a little more with the set up. Based on some images I had collected in my research prior to the shoot, I was keen to capture something a little more vibrant than the opening shots. This would work to showcase the makeup and my lighting ability. This was most present in the shots I took with Rebecca, I played with gels, utilising teal, yellow & pink as well as some soft box lighting to cast colourful shadows and illuminate her in a creative way. Overall for my first time attempting something in this way I was really pleased with the results and think this is something I will definitely revisit in the future.

 When Hannah came down again from makeup she had a smoky eye and a beautiful flower crown crafted out of her hair and fresh roses. I suggested we opt for a more bronze/yellow hue with the lighting and try to capture something with more of an ethereal nature. Straight off the bat, utilising some poses from other great photographs I found had sourced I was able to snap picture after picture. The end results to me look reminiscent of an album cover or a magazine cover of a music artist. It was great reviewing all of the shots because as I was completely out of my comfort zone and had not ever tried anything like it before, I really surprised myself with the results I got. Credit has to given where it is due. Steph did an absolutely amazing job with the secondary makeup looks and both models were more than capable of posing in an artistic way in front of the camera.

 Coming away from the shoot both the models and Steph were an absolute pleasure to collaborate with and I really hope I get the opportunity to do something similar again. It was great to create something and dabble in a field of photography I wasn’t too familiar with. Aside from that I was extremely proud of myself for travelling around London on my own for the first time and not getting lost. Admittedly I did have some help from my other half in the morning and Steph saw me off at the station on the way home. The cherry on top was getting to shoot at Ealing Studios and have a brief glimpse into the professional world I so desperately want to break into. This whole experience has just proved to me I love what I do and can’t wait to push harder so it’s my full time job, everyday.

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The shoot I discussed prior has still got to be one of my creative highlights of the year and I know for a long time the pictures I got on the day will still be regarded as some of my favourites. I was really out of my comfort zone coming on the to shoot but sometimes the stars align and everything works together perfectly. The equipment I had at my disposal at Ealing was perfect, Steph’s makeup skills were incredible as ever and the models I got to work with were so accommodating and professional. I really hope I get the chance to be a part of a shoot like that again.

Starting to feel a little more confident with my photography I decided it was time to take the plunge and start offering my services to the public. This is where I set up FREAK-TOGRAPHY, a branch of the SuperfreakMedia brand that focused purely on the photographic side of things. I thought this would be a great place to start building my portfolio further and start pulling in clients. Although not immediate I was then presented with a couple of varied jobs that would once again work to challenge me in the most positive of ways.

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First off came a couple of Headshot bookings with some great acting friends of mine. Both actors that came to me wanted something different that showed a different side to them that their existing headshots had not captured. Both clients have since said how happy they were with the service and the headshots that we got. If you yourself are an actor or a professional in need of a headshot or two take a look at our prices HERE and see if we have the package for you. – #shamelessplug. Looking below at the shots I got on both shoots, I think they stand up really well to other industry standard photographers out there that are charging an arm and a leg for something similar. I think the key to a successful headshot from my experience so far is to create the perfect comfortable environment for the pictures to be captured in. The energy of a shoot can really determine so much, if you feel uncomfortable and allow your subjects to feel the same you will never get the results you want. I try to utilise natural light as much as I can as it is by far the most flattering compared to the harshness of studio lighting. I think a Headshot shouldn’t look constructed in anyway, it should feel and look natural as it reflects ultimately how the client looks for the majority of their time. Aside from that I have learnt to really take my time with the clients and find out exactly what they are after with each picture, each client is of course different and that’s what makes the world of professional photography so exciting.

Following the headshot bookings I had come in, I was also asked to be the official photographer for a Burlesque and Talent show event that was raising money for an extremely good cause. Donating my time I knew that this would be the perfect opportunity to practice my photography skills in the field once more and learn how best to shoot a live event under changing lighting conditions. The event was about 3 hours in total and I have to say I did not stop once, I took as many photos as I could, trying as many different techniques and tricks as I could. Below are a few examples from the night I am fairly pleased with. The lighting although low and backlighting a lot of the talent on stage performing was extremely vibrant and was a welcomed surprise when I arrived at the venue. I know I have a long way to go when it comes to shooting live events but the event in November will hopefully be the first of many bookings I get, each with their own set of challenges allowing me to improve from shoot to shoot. Check out some of my favourite snaps from the shoot below.

Wrapping things up for the year I did one last bout of photography work for another client I had worked with in the past. Having done work for Tab’s Productions earlier in the year for their production of MIND GAME, I was thrilled to be asked by one of the actors involved to help shoot another piece of promotion for another theatre piece. This time the material was to be used in promotion for a play called ‘The Nightmare Room’ and was the first production to come out of newly founded company Encaustic Theatre Productions. This time I wasn’t just required to do moving image work but also grab some high quality of the actors on stage to be used in print and promotion for the show.

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This again was another extremely exciting opportunity for me. The shoot itself didn’t provide me with much room to get ‘too’ creative with the lighting or the set up as it was really just a case of capturing actions on the stage, within the set that a paying audience would see when the show hits theatres. I used the stage lights as best I could, combined with the off camera placement of some LED light panels to add a bit of depth to each shot and add a glint in each subjects eyes. For me this was another shoot experience I was completely unfamiliar with and I found myself learning so much so quickly. I don’t really think you can’t beat being on a shoot with the healthy amount of pressure to deliver that encourages you to get the best results possible. Knowing this year that several clients have paid me to deliver high quality and professional content is an amazing compliment and is of course a service I hope to maintain and improve upon within the new year.

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Thanks as always and until next time…

– LIAM

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