In my day job this week I have been training people about how communication can be affected by prejudice, that is to say once we have made an assumption about the content of a message we tend to focus more on finding evidence to confirm our assumption than keeping an open mind and listening to the full story (which may confirm or confound that assumption).

Of course that doesn’t make me any less guilty of pre-judging, but I think I probably recognise it in myself more immediately.

Sunday’s shoot was a case in point.  Of the five models present, I had shot two before.  Jemma, who featured in yesterday’s post was working the first time I visited “The world-famous Bananastudio” when erotic photographer John Tisbury was the guest running the workshop.  Shortly after that I returned, this time to learn from fashion photographer John Barone.  Both of the Johns had brought the same model to work with, the never-ending pose machine that is Iveta Niklova, but she was joined on each occasion by more local girls.

barone-10One of those working the Barone shoot was Jenny, and I have to say I was disappointed with the results I achieved shooting her that day.  Not through any fault on her part I’m sure.  She took direction well.  It’s just a shame that I don’t give direction well!

On Sunday I struggled again with Jenny, still not really sure how to get the best from her.  Part of the challenge of course was the white dress she was wearing in the extremely dirty environment, but something else was at play.  Subconsciously I was recreating the difficulties of the first shoot.

What made it worse was that because I had shot other models in the morning, there wasn’t really much time to work with Jenny, particularly as she had a train to catch mid-afternoon which added to the pressure.  I think I shot less than a dozen poses with her.  Very disciplined of me.  I knew I had nailed on shot, but didn’t expect much more.

My preconceptions were shattered then when I came to process the results.  Shame we didn’t have more time.

She’s got it!

My first experience of studio photography was a nude workshop run by John Tisbury, and I remember him saying that one of the best pieces of advice he could give to an inexperienced photographer was to work with the best models they could afford. His advice was born out on the day by Iveta Niklova, the model he had brought with him.

I’ve worked with Iveta a couple of times, and she is incredible in her ability to flow from one pose to another, constantly changing the image that she offers the photographer; a huge boon when you wouldn’t know where to start in posing someone.

At the recent meeting of the Bananastudios Creative Talent Circle we were introduced to a new model called Jessica, for whom this was her first time in front of the camera and studio lights. By contrast she was the one needing guidance and direction from the photographers, and yet they unanimously agreed that she’d been fantastic. Sometimes just being beautiful is enough.

The male model who was there, Lee, was also pretty new. He made a pretty decent fist of it too.



A Fistful of Shrapnel

As you can imagine I get some varied responses when I ask people for a picture, but at the weekend I had a first.  A tanned man with a well lined face glowering under a beany initially refused point-blank with a “Picture of me?  What would I want to let you do that for?”, but as I walked on he turned and called me back.

“Tell you what…” he said, “I’ll let you take a picture of me if you’ll pay me one pound forty!”  As I caught the alcohol on his breath (it was 10.30 am) I guessed at what he wanted the cash for, though had no idea what he would get for such a small sum.  Nevertheless I declined his offer.

The value of a photograph is a thorny question.  There are thousands of words written on blogs and forums by pro photographers decrying the way in which a combination of amateurs with digital cameras, and full-time photographers trying to undercut the competition, are devaluing the work that they offer.  Why would someone pay hundreds/thousands of pounds to have their wedding photographed when Uncle Bob will do it for next to nothing?

Of course with a quality photographer you are paying for them not just to “be there for a few hours” but for their ability to capture great images in virtually any conditions (and without upsetting the priest with constant flash), the time they spend editing and processing afterwards, and the fact that they carry insurance, multiple cameras and multiple memory cards to make sure that they are ready for anything.  The alternative can be devastating.

Still there are plenty who will go for the cheapest option available, and realistically this tells me how important the wedding images are or are not to the couple concerned.  If you really want to be sure of some special memories then why take the chance?

There are similar hurdles to be overcome when photographers work with models.  An aspiring model might expect to pay a photographer to produce some images for her portfolio, but the situation is reversed if the model has a good reputation and a photographer wished to improve his or her portfolio.  In the attempt to reach a fair settlement the offer of time for images is often a negotiated compromise.

I mention all of this because there was a cost to today’s image.  I’ve written before about the great work for the RNLI and how they rely on donations to continue that work.  They were collecting at Seaburn today, and probably when they planned it they expected a warm summer’s day with plenty of passing traffic.  Instead it was cold and grey with regular outbreaks of rain.  There appeared to be plenty of promotional items left unsold.

Despite this, Holly, who was collecting, continued to great everyone with a smile and a polite offer to explain more about the work of the charity, and how I could join for the cost of a pint of beer each month.   I happily made a donation in return for a photograph, but when it came to processing I decided she deserved a more colourful background than she had had to put up with all day.  Blue skies to match her blue eyes and give it a promo poster feel.

Wonder if the mysterious beach totem builder made a donation?

Up in the attic, in the Boho zone…*

* with apologies to Joni Mitchell (The Boho Dance)


Down in the cellar, in the boho zone,

I went looking for some sweet inspiration…

It’s Newcastle Fashion week.  What began as a graduation show for students at the University of Northumbria has expanded in recent years to become a week-long series of events including catwalk shows at a variety of venues, industry expert speakers, and VIP events.

At the city’s “World Famous” Bananastudio, Eric Murphy and his team have been heavily involved, both from a photography perspective, shooting promotional materials and covering events, and through their associate business Boho, providing models for the events.

Despite the pressures of keeping on top of what must be one of their busiest weeks of the year, they still managed to host the Creative Talent Circle last night, a fortnightly opportunity to network with photographers, models and make up artists.  Eric and co are always very welcoming to novice and pro alike (though the pro’s tend to get more abuse!). With three models each shooting in two outfits, there is plenty of opportunity to get good imagery, and though the evening was about fashion and therefore geared to full length shots, I couldn’t resist shooting some tighter images.  Today then I’ll share some of those instead of my customary street shot.

The three models working last night were Abbey Bryce, Laura Richardson and a débutante called Lauren who had just signed with the agency.  She worked hard and produced some good poses.  Laura has an individual look that makes more close up work a must, and Abbey, a trained dancer, appeared to be the most at home in the fashion genre as well as possessing the ability to defy gravity!

Here is a slide show of some of my shots from last night, together with a larger portrait of Laura.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.



Related articles