Darcy Troy

(Click on the Image to be taken to the shoot gallery) Sometimes I'm lucky enough to be asked by a new model if I'll shoot with them. That model might only have one or two shoots, or even one or two images posted. Sometimes, though, I'll see something that makes me think... yes-this could be a productive shoot. Sometimes it works out, and sometimes it doesn't. This was one of the occasions where it worked out magnificently.

That said, it's fair to say this was The Shoot That Almost Didn’t Happen. Pretty much everything that could go wrong, did…

To start with, a text from the studio first thing in the morning to say that we were going to have to cancel the shoot. Something super urgent had come up, and it was going to have to be done that evening, so the studio would be closed. Frantic texts followed, and fortunately, within a couple of hours, we were back in track. The studio had rearranged stuff, drafted in helpers, and the shoot was back on. Hurrah!

And then the make up artist fell down stairs.

Yup, a text in the afternoon from my planned MUA to say that she had fallen downstairs, and was on her way to casualty. By now, I was beginning to think the shoot was jinxed. With a model who'd travelled up from Devon the night before, enduring five hours of trains each way just to attend this shoot, cancelling wasn't really an option. Fortunately, a quick text to the studio, and Adrian had a make up artist sorted within an hour. And, a fabulous make up artist and hair doer upper at that-the wonderful Carla Levy. Hurrah! What else could possibly go wrong?

Okay…. how about, the model arrives, but her friend accompanying her is in excruciating stomach pain, and is in tears. Darcy is also visibly distressed, and surely the only thing to do is to head straight to casualty. No, say's Darcys friend-just carry on, I'll be fine in a short while. Through clenched teeth and sobs. This seemed to be up there with the
Black Knight from The Holy Grail claiming 'tis but a flesh wound', as far as inappropriate self-diagnosis goes, but she's pretty insistent that Darcy gets on with the shoot, and refuses to budge on this, claiming she'll join us in the studio shortly.

So, we head to the studio with a somewhat distracted Darcy, and start to prepare for the shoot. Fortunately, about half an hour later, Darcy's friend came into the studio visibly restored, and seemingly none the worse for her experience. From there onwards, finally, things started to take shape. We had a limited time to work in, so got straight into the shoot. Fortunately, it was a lot less eventful from this point onwards. The aim of the shoot was to give Darcy a range of images across different genres, and considering the hoops we had to jump through to get the shoot up and running, I think we've achieved pretty well with the images here.

Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey

Wibbly Wobbly, Timey Wimey
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(Click on the Image to be taken to the shoot gallery)
Or, playing about with the shutter, if you like. This blog post is my first in a while, and first of all, my apologies for that. Unfortunately, the day job has been intense of late, and keeping me super busy. I’ve actually been shooting, but just not had the time to keep up with writing about the shoots. Hopefully, I can rectify that in the next few weeks.

Before writing about the individual shoots, though, I thought it would be good do to a short post about a shooting style I’ve been experimenting with for quite a while. I first tried this in the mid eighties, before putting my camera down for two decades, and enjoyed shooting in this style all that time ago. I’ve experimented with this style a few times since, with varying degrees of success, but feel like I’m learning something new each time I do so. As an aside, I’ve recently purchased a ringlight which I think will remove a lot of the hit and miss aspect of this kind of shooting for me, so I’m looking forward to playing with that at some point soon. In the meantime though, a little bit about this technique.

First off, though, the confessional bit. I’m not exactly au fait with all the technical aspects of this. I’ve heard it referred to as front synch or rear synch, depending on if you trigger the flash as the shot starts, or as the shot finishes, as dragging the shutter, and various other things as well. Bottom line is, you leave the shutter open for longer than the usual 1/125
th of a second, which will change your shot in a number of ways. Depending on what you want to achieve, though, the results can make for some great, atmospheric, and unusual images.

First of all, there’ll be some blur in the shot. The flash will freeze an image, but by leaving the shutter open, if your subject is moving, you’ll get motion blur in the image. This can add a real sense of drama, and of course of movement, to your image, while the flash frozen image will still give the image a central, coherent point.

Secondly, it will let in more light. Obviously, even if you’re only opening the shutter up for 1/50
th, or 1/20th of a second, there will still be more light. What kind of light will depend on where you are, and needs to be balanced against the image you want. Shooting in the middle of Summer outdoors (well, maybe not in England right now) will result in a bleached out image, for example. Indoors, though, if it’s a studio, you can manage very carefully what ‘kind’ of light gets in after/before the flash, as with the fierce image of Kayt Webster-Brown. If I recall correctly-it was 18 months ago-the flash was gelled with red, and the warmth beyond the red was the result of leaving the shutter open, and letting the ambient light in.
The photographs of Ella-Mae, though, were taken in a nightclub that we’d borrowed for the shoot. We were able to leave the flashing lights around the dancefloor on, and even got to mess around with the glitter ball thing. The photographs of Anita DeBauch were taken in a rather splendid hotel room, where the bedside lamps gave a very warm flight, and added some real warmth to the images. Finally, the images of Miu were taken on the streets of Tokyo, and the mono one-they don’t all have to be colour, for sure-was taken in the back of a cab on our way back to the train station.

And thirdly, you can mess around with moving the camera as well-the motion blur doesn’t have to be just in the subject. One of the pictures of Miu was taken whilst twisting the camera around as the shot was taken. Equally-although this isn’t something I’ve given any time to as yet-you can zoom the lens after the flash has fired, for a different effect again.

I still reckon this is an area that’s absolutely super-ripe for exploration, and I suspect that I’ve only just begun to get a sense of what can be achieved with this kind of photography. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy what I’ve got to date in this style.

Joceline Brooke-Hamitlon: Part One

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I was fortunate enough to have my first collaboration with Joceline Brooke-Hamilton late last Summer. Another model I'd aspired to work with for a very long time, Normally Joceline would priced well beyond my usual shoot budget, and not surprising, really. She's a truly remarkable model, with a massive and well earned reputation. I was fortunate enough to take advantage of a late cancellation, and managed to get four hours with Joceline lined up.

The only snag was that this was at Jocelines local studio, down near Reading, which meant I had to plan the journey- two trains from London, and then a hefty taxi ride at the other end. And, a new studio. Obviously, most shoots have two basic elements: model, and location. If it's possible, I like to be familiar with one, or the other. If you already have a rapport with your model, but it's a new location, then fine. Equally, if I'm shooting a model, but in an environment that I'm comfortable and confident in, then that's fine too. But, new model and new location/studio, not my favourite. Did that once to arrive at a studio, only to be told that they didn't actually have their own wireless (or wired) lighting triggers, and thought I would be bringing my own.

Combine this with a model who I've admired for the longest time, a model that I was sure that I'd want to work with again, very little preparation time, and not surprisingly, I was a little apprehensive.

I needn't have worried, however. Within seconds of finally arriving, Joceline came bounding up to introduce herself, and immediately put me at my ease. Very sociable and great company, there were quite a few moments where we actually stopped shooting, and chatted for a few minutes. I had to keep reminding myself that we were on the clock, and I had a limited time with this fantastic model.

We shot an absolute ton of stuff, the very great majority of which is great-Joceline really is exceptional, But, as with most shoots where I get an embarrassment of riches, it's taking me no little time to get to narrow down the images, and master them up. (in a manner, this is why I often prefer tf shoots to paid shoots. The obligation to master and forward images within the agreed timescale is a sure fire way to get me to actually do the editing work in a timely manner. Still, this was an opportunity to shoot with Joceline...). I'll post more images from our shoot over the coming weeks, but to get things started, I've started off with a selection of the nude studies from our collaboration.

Iveta Niklova, at Harwood House, 2011

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Whilst I'm sorting images from my latest shoots, I thought it'd be good to do a couple of wibbly wobbly timey wimey blogs, going back into the not too distant past to cover some of my favourite shoots.

I can't remember exactly the circumstances which led to me collaborating with Iveta Niklova on this shoot from Summer 2011. I suspect it was more chance than anything else, but such good fortune on my part, for certain.

The images were taken on a small informal 'communal hire' shoot. Often called group shoots, but most definitely not a traditional group shoot. Effectively, a group of photographers hiring a venue usually far beyond the price of the individual photographers, but enough clubbing together gets you the venue. So it was with Harwood House. I'd been invited, I'd paid my share… and for whatever reason didn't get round to sorting out a model until *much* too late.

No change there, then.

Anyway, I posted on the Mayhem boards with my budget for the day, and was beyond delighted when Iveta said that she was interested. The casting was taken down about five seconds after I read the mail from Iveta-no point at all in looking for anyone else, I was sorted. Iveta will probably not need much of an introduction to most of you. She's a wonderful model, and an absolute joy to work with.

Anyway, we met in Coventry, made our way to Harwood House, arriving a little later than most, and finding a good number of the best shooting spots already bagged. No matter, we'd doubtless be able to get to them later. Instead, we started out in one of the main rooms, with deep red walls. Setting the lights up to ensure a lot of drop off, thus taking the reds even deeper, we set to work. Iveta rattled through poses like there was no tomorrow, and we came away with some great images. The pattern continued throughout the day, in various rooms, but probably some of the most interesting shots were grabbed on the main staircase. So many favourite images from this shoot, and one I'm sure I could continue to mine for images for weeks and months to come. Indeed, a couple of the images here are 'new', in that I've only just edited them. One, the solitary nude image from the shoot, is one I've loved for a while, but the radiator actually annoyed me-it kind of spoiled the image for me. I recall Iveta liked this one on the back of the camera, and now, a year or so on, I've got over the hate of the radiator, so here it is for the first time anywhere.

Anyway, a totally wonderful shoot. I've not shot with Iveta since, but really look forward to the opportunity to do so. Hopefully sooner rather than later!

Elle Jonas in London

(Click on the Image to be taken to the shoot gallery) I photographed Elle in a somewhat last minute fashion almost a year ago. We go some good images-not least, it was pretty much my first attempt at shooting high key art-nude-but as it was such a last minute thing, we didn't have much time to do any planning. If I'm honest, this time wasn't so much better, but at least we scrambled together a dozen or so photographs for a very short mood board, to at least give us some pointers as to where we would go. Additionally, on arrival at the studio, we found some huge letters which had been discarded by one of the other units near to the studio, and were just stood waiting to be binned.

So we nicked 'em. Obviously. Be rude not to.

Unsurprisingly, the shoot went in a different direction to the mood board. This isn't unusual for me. Rather than slavishly copying the mood board, I like to take it as inspiration, and see where the shoot takes us. I've had some great results in taking this approach, and this shoot was certainly no exception. This shoot gave the perfect example of this.

Elle was particularly inspired by an earlier image of mine. A nude, except for a pair of ballet style boots, and which I've included here. Elle wanted to get something similar. Ish. There's no point in trying to reproduce the earlier image-that was a single, spontaneous moment in a shoot a long time ago, as the model was attempting to carefully stand in the incredibly awkward boots (and forget about walking anywhere…) to prepare for the 'proper' shot.
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It served as great inspiration, though, and I'm equally happy with the shot which came out of my collaboration with Elle. Still a (mostly) nude, still boots, but not anonymous, very powerful eye contact, very different lighting and finishing, and a highlight shot from the sitting.

In the post production, on a lot of the images I went for slightly heavier processing, to get a different light and tone to the images. I wanted something cooler (temperature wise) , stiller and more 'fashiony' (that's a word, right?… yes???) . I also finished up a number of the images in mono, and that again gives several of the images a slightly different feel…

Anyway, in the overall, a shoot that I'm very happy with. You'll find a selection of the images in the gallery which you'll get to by clicking on the image at the head of this blog. And there’s an iPad wallpaper from the shoot

Kayleigh Lush in Spain Part Three: On the Rocks

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(Click on the Image to be taken to the shoot gallery) Update part three from my shoot in Spain with Kayleigh Lush.

The friend we were staying with in Spain knew a lot of quiet spots where we'd have no trouble shooting nudes. And, travelling in October doubtless helped, as the beaches were likely to be much quieter than they might be earlier in the season. As we drove down to the beach in the early evening, it looked like we might be out of luck. It was pretty overcast, with very few breaks in the cloud. By the time we reached the beach, things were looking up, and we managed to find ourselves on a wonderful shoreline, beach and rocky outcrops, pretty much deserted, and with sunshine breaking through the clouds.

I'll return to the shots we got on the beach in a future blog, but for the moment, focus on the images we managed on the rocky shore.

Working our way round the headland from the beach, we very quickly found ourselves in a very rocky, but surprisingly accessible, shoreline. Within minutes of starting to explore, we managed to find a great half collapsed building-probably a boat house-right on the shore, and took full advantage of the arch directly overlooking the sea. Kayleigh quickly found a number of ways that the archway could be integrated into the images, becoming an integral part of the shot, rather than just a pretty bit of scenery. We also took full advantage of the more dramatic outcrops we found, with Kayleigh posing dramatically close to the edge of the outcrops as we shot.

Again, another very fruitful shoot, and one which has given me a number of images that I'm very proud of. You can check out the gallery by clicking on the image above.

Kayleigh Lush in Spain Part Two: Indoors

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(Click on the Image to be taken to the shoot gallery) In October this year, I was lucky enough to travel to Spain for two days with Kayleigh Lush. I have a good friend out there who owns a fabulous converted farmhouse/villa with small apartments, let during the Summer. As this was at the end of the season, there were no guests, and we had the run of the place, including the extensive private grounds.

I probably don't need to mention that Kayleigh is my 'go to' model, who will always be the first person I call if I've got something unusual or experimental in mind. I know that no matter how awry things happen to go on the shoot, or how far off the original intention we veer, I can be sure of coming away from the shoot with images that I'll be delighted with anyway. I've lost count of the number of times we've collaborated on shoots, and on every one, I've had an embarrassment of riches, as far as quality pictures go.

Kayleigh was obviously my first choice when I was given the opportunity to shoot out in Spain, and I was delighted when she agreed. I had plans to shoot a whole load of different things, and in fact, did so. Indeed, it's only now that I'm really starting to work my way through the images. We shot a number of images underwater, which have already been featured in my blog here, and one of which has appeared in Professional Photographer January 2012 edition.

As we were in October, however, we couldn't count on great weather all the time, so one afternoon, given the pretty chilly temperature outside, we decided the best plan was to stay indoors. Fortunately, we had a bit of an idea as to what we wanted to do, and a pretty extensive mood board to refer to.

The images featured on the gallery here are the result of that afternoons shoot. More to follow-I suspect I'm about one quarter of the way through the images so far… And, it's worth saying that one of the images here is one of my favourite images of Kayleigh to date. And that's saying something…

Claire in Salisbury

(Click on the Image to be taken to the shoot gallery) Two years ago, I photographed Claire at a nightclub location in London, a venue I'd used before, and which had some wonderful opportunities to shoot. This time, though, there was a different manager on duty, who took it upon himself to police the shoot, suddenly appearing in the doorway of any room we were using, to check we were not shooting anything he didn't approve of. Consequently, it was a lousy shooting experience, with neither I or Claire able to relax and enjoy the shoot, or focus for anything more than four or five minutes without interruption. A year or so later, Claire decided to quit modelling, so it looked like I'd missed my chance to have a decent collaboration with her. We kept talking, though, and I finally persuaded Claire that we should really get round to having a proper shoot.

Claire was up for collaborating, but our planning wasn't helped by Claire living in Devon, and me in London with a demanding day job acting as a major time sponge. Fortunately, invites to a mutual friends Hallowe'en party (Hawaiian theme, of course...) meant that we were both going to be in Salisbury over the Halowe'en weekend. So, having booked
Graeme Curves studio in Salisbury for the day, we got to finally planning our first proper shoot together.

As this would be Claires first proper shoot in well over a year, we agreed to just see what developed, without any big agenda, or any real need to get images for a specific purpose. Rather, we wanted to focus on just having an enjoyable shoot. Fortunately, Graeme Curves studio is directly above the aforementioned mutual friend
Nikita Sabliers retro and corsetry boutique in Salisbury, and we were able to borrow items to our hearts content. So we did…

And, whilst our first shoot two years ago was riddled with unwelcome interruptions, this time round, whilst we were interrupted, it was all welcome. Graeme was on hand, Nikki was in the shop downstairs, and our friend
Jess dropped by to try a few things on as well, ahead of the Hawaiian Hallowe'en, as well as Cheryl.

It was great to shoot without any big agenda, with the intention to have an enjoyable afternoon, and without fear or threat of interruption. As it was, we have a good fistful of great images, and have quite possibly persuaded Claire out of retirement. No bad thing, I'm sure you'll agree, based on the images.

Kayleigh Lush in Spain Part One: Underwater

Kayleigh in Spain Part One: Underwater
I recently visited Spain with my long time collaborator and friend, Kayleigh Lush, to spend a couple of days shooting at a friends place out there. Grant runs a small converted farm house, which he’s extended and developed to provide five guest rooms. It’s usually a naturist place, so it was going to be the perfect venue for our shoot-no hassle, no chance getting any grief for shooting nudes around the grounds.

Given that we would have a private pool to ourselves, and were just ten minutes rom the beautiful coastline of south east Majorca, one of the things I wanted to be sure to try was underwater photography. I looked around at various options-spend two or three hundred on a small waterproof camera, spend a whole lot more on a proper housing and risk throwing my D300s in there, but in the end, I opted for a comparatively cheap option, and using one of my older cameras, a Nikon D60 that’s been sat on a shelf gathering dust for a year or two.

The first thing I had to do was relearn the camera. Considering that at one point I was using the D60 on a weekly basis for at least a year, it’s shocking how much I’d forgotten. And, next to the D300s, just how small and light it felt. Once I’d remastered the basics-it was into the pool, and time to learn a whole lot more stuff. First thing I learned-it’s difficult to focus, frame, shoot *and* stay under water. Kayleigh would throw herself to the bottom of the pool, a second or two later I’d throw myself under, and grab about two or three frames before starting to float up again. After more than a little trial and error, we eventually figured out that the best way to do manage was to have Grant hold me under the water (really….) and to let me up to breathe once Kayleigh surfaced. So the routine was: Kayleigh dives, I throw myself under, trying to focus through the marine case and goggles, frame the shots, Grant holds me under the water, Kayleigh surfaces, Grant lets me surface…. And repeat.

It should also be noted that the pool was freezing. No matter that 16 degrees is a not bad Spring day, 16 degrees on a pool thermometer basically translates as ‘you’ve got five minutes before your fingers start going numb.’ So, our pool shoot was limited to two very quick ten minute sessions, with a much warmer and more enjoyable attempt at shooting in the sea sandwiched in the middle. It has to be said, though, that Kayleigh was fearless, whilst I was looking for any reason not to get into the pool again for a second time, regardless of the layers of, um… insulation that I carry, Kayleigh, slim as a twig and not an ounce of insulation to keep her warm in the water, was determined we were going to get back in there for a second attempt.

I was too ashamed to wuss out, and am glad that I was forced back into the water, though. Considering we had comparatively little time shooting, I’m happy with the results. I suspect that, I’ve overegged the processing a little, not least as I’m still trying to figure out what kind of approach I like best-whack the image with filters and clean ups to remove the grain that you inevitably get from the sand churning off the sea or the weird pool chemicals, as I’ve done in the second and fourth images, or go super grainy and gritty, and emphasize the grittiness of the environment, as in the first and third images. Like I say, though, I’m pretty satisfied at this first attempt at underwater photography, and really look forward to the next opportunity to try this again. Whilst the first shoot was brief, I feel I’ve got a few pointers for my next shoot, and hope I can get yet better pictures the next time round.

A small selection of our underwater images just below…

Anita De Bauch, photographed in Essex

(Click on the Image to be taken to the shoot gallery) I’ve attended a small annual shoot for the last three years, in which myself, and around a dozen other photographers, take over the Channels Lodge Hotel, near Chelmsford, for a day and a night. Each photographer will bring their own model, and as we have the run of the hotel, we'll rotate around the different locations offered. Some of the buildings of the Hotel date back to the 16th Century, and make for a great location to shoot.

This year, the wonderful Anita De Bauch was my model for the day, and I have to say, that was no great hardship. A great location, and a wonderful model. Perfect. As I'd shot in a number of the locations previously, I had a pretty clear idea of what I wanted to shoot in each locations, and additionally, what and where I wanted to shoot in the timeslots where my allocated shooting space wasn't great. It obviously helps a lot when you've got a model as talented and versatile as Anita, who can belt through any number of poses in almost no time at all.

We did manage to get a good number of great images from our limited time shooting together, shooting some alt-fashion in a disused-and probably more than somewhat dangerous-barn on the Hotel grounds. We also shot some great images in a bathroom, with a fabulous roll top bath, as well as some pretty lingerie images, and finished up with art nudes with experimental lighting.

It was a long day, but ultimately very productive, and very rewarding. I’m already looking forward to the next opportunity I have to collaborate with Anita on a shoot.

Margo, photographed in London

(Click on the Image to be taken to the shoot gallery) I was put in touch with Margo via a mutual friend. Margo is a personal trainer, and was happy to collaborate with me on physique images. It took us a couple of months to actually finalise a a time for the shoot, though, and in the meantime, I'd had a play around with neon shots, covered in an earlier blog, and thought that that would be a cool thing to introduce into our shoot. And, I wanted to try it once more, do a little more experimenting, and try not to forget everything I learned first time round.

This shoot was Margos first time in a studio, and more importantly, also the first time as a figure model. Little secret here-when I know, as has happened on a couple of occasions, that a shoot with me is the first figure modelling shoot for my subject, I get nervous. Don't know why-I suspect it's me overcompensating and trying to make sure that my model is entirely comfortable with things, and isn't quietly freaking out. Consequently, the first few minutes of the shoot are usually me prattling away about anything and nothing, trying to make things normal. And usually failing, but there you go… Given it was Margos first figure nude shoot, let alone first studio shoot, I was into prattle overdrive...

Anyway, we started the shoot with various fitness images, before going on to the figure nudes. Margo was a natural, and threw herself into the shoot with real energy and enthusiasm. This first gallery is from the figure nudes, using the neon again. We did get some great results, and I know that the neon style images are something i'll be returning to again.

Neon, photographed in London

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(Click on the Image to be taken to the shoot gallery) I recently attended a workshop on shooting with various flavours of neon lighting, at Adrian Pini's studio in North London. It's rare that I attend any kind of workshop these days, but this one intrigued me. Definitely a chance to try something a little unusual, particularly in a technical sense, but more importantly, an opportunity to try a few things out before a forthcoming shoot.

There was some stuff about colour theory, I gather, and some technical information on why, etc, which I’m sure was fascinating, but I managed to miss that by showing up 30 minutes late. I then made a spectacular entrance by taking a seat, which then promptly collapsed, much to the amusement of everone else in the studio. Now, I'm no supermodel, granted, but I'm not the biggest bloke on the block either. I may sue Adrian.

Ania, our model for the evening, was fantastically patient, and worked her heart out. She made loads of contributions to the shoot, and managed to stay focussed and enthusiastic throughout. No mean feat, I can tell you. Overall, I would say that I'm pleasantly pleased by the results. Whilst it's difficult to come away from a group shoot like this with images that are truly your own, I'm happy to say that I think I managed to do so. Overall, no complaints from me.