Adventures in Photography – 2012 so far

I like taking pictures, but I’m loath to call myself a ‘photographer’. My status is definitely that of an enthusiastic amateur. I’ve never had any kind of formal training, everything I know about photography has been gleamed through a trial-and-error process, youtube tutorials and impromptu lessons from knowledgeable and talented friends. I couldn’t tell you what most of the settings on my camera do, and most of my best shots are happy accidents.

Fast-forward a couple of years since my then-boyfriend got me a second-hand dSLR for my birthday (possibly the best gift I’ve ever had!) and I think I’ve definitely come a way. Work demands have meant that I never have quite as much time for photography as I’d like, but I have done several shoots with both models and friends, as well as taking my camera along to capture adventures and the world around me. I’ve created some shots that I feel really proud of. I still couldn’t tell you what most of the settings on my camera do, but I have a better idea of how I can use them to get the effect I want (even if I can’t verbalise exactly how I did it!). I still place a lot of emphasis on luck and accidental discoveries!

One of my motivations for moving to my current room was the size – it’s big with wooden floors and large windows and is well suited to a small (portrait or 3/4) studio. This excited me muchly. I’m ashamed to say I’ve only used it twice in the 10 months I’ve been here, but I’ve recently had some inspiration and am feeling inspired to do more!

Pretty much all the photography I’ve done in the last 8 months has been personal commissions. I don’t yet feel confident enough to take payment for my photography, I’ve been tending to work on a trade basis (usually I get paid in tasty food!), but working to a brief and a deadline focuses me and forced me to get my arse in gear and get on with it! So here’s a little run-down of what I’ve been up to! Often the shoots were quite a different style to what I’m used to, but it was a great opportunity to try things out and learn. It’s a real  honour when people want to use and keep my photos, it’s quite humbling.

Couples shoot

Two friends of mine who had recently got engaged asked me if I’d take some shots of them, as they said they had few together that they liked. This was a much more natural style than I usually take, but I didn’t static, studio portraits would suit them, a bit too formal! So we went off on a wander to the beautiful and leafy Snuff Mills in Bristol, which provided some nice background texture. It was a brisk and blustery day. Many shots of the couple looking lovingly into each other’s eyes, it was rather lovely and heart-warming. The shots look warm and have some personality to them, they’re hopefully not too sickly sweet!

Naughty (and nice) Shoot

One of my most fun collaborations! A friend asked me if I’d take some photos of her to give to her boyfriend as a surprise for his birthday. She wanted something a bit sexy and said she’d be most comfortable doing this with a friend than a stranger. We spent a whole day dressing up in underwear and corsets and generally being silly, striking poses. The shots ranged from a soft glamour look, a kind of geek-chic and more sensual part-nudes. I think she really enjoyed the experience and apparently his face on receiving the pictures pretty much summed it up! Very satisfying to create something that other people get so much enjoyment out of! I can’t post most of the photos as they’re for his eyes only, but I’ve included a fun one of her in her Rogue (X-Men) outfit.

Band Shoot

A friend who works for Illin’ Media asked me if I’d take some shots of a band they were interviewing for their website. I found this particularly challenging – how do you pose a band (not playing their instruments) in a way that looks interesting and dynamic? I’m so used to photographing just the one person. We were in a cute little pub in shoreditch, which was a lovely location, but was also tricky for me to light. I tend to prefer natural lighting, I only had the one strobe and a narrow space and a short amount of time, I found it quite tough to light and was continually only getting one band member in focus (although there were only two of them!). I felt quite frustrated with the results, but the girls said they liked them, and I guess it’s all practice and learning. Above is Elisa from Black Casino and the Ghost.

Wedding Shoot

I was honoured (and terrified) to be asked to photograph one of my best friends’ weddings. Luckily I had another, more-experienced, photographer along and we shared the job, but it was still quite nerve-wracking! I was scared I’d somehow miss ‘the shot’ and spoil things. We did a lot of formal group shots, but my favourite bits were shooting portraits of the happy couple, candids of the guests and little details. It was a very special (and also quite nerdy!) wedding. I feel thrilled thinking that they’ll keep our photos in an album, maybe put them over their fireplace, and keep them to show to people in the future – how amazing is that?

Actress/Singer Shoot

My most recent shoot was for an old (and talented) friend, Miss Rebecca Zoe. She needed some new headshots to show off her new hair (brunette with dye-dipped ends, looking like the sunburst on guitars). She also has a big support-slot at a gig coming up and needed some promo shots. Working with an actress is great, I’ve shot a couple and they need so little direction, so much expression and character! Becky is also very beautiful and photogenic, so it was quite an easy job. I hope can use them for something. This was much closer to my usual style, one-on-one portraits and natural light! I am putting together some higher-contrast strobist headshots that will be more touched-up than I usually do, so they’re a good standard for printing and using in a headshot portfolio.

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