19 February 2010

It is a tough life at times...

A quick snapshot from the end of last weekends tattoo artist shoot.  Tis a tough life at times.  If only all my jobs were like this.

18 February 2010

A Wedding fayre with a difference

My favourite florists are organising their very own wedding fayre.

I've known the mother and daughter team behind Floral Enchantment for some time now.  I've worked a fashion show on the Beaulieu estate and a wedding at Rhinefield House with them.   It quickly became clear to me that they are as passionate about all that flowery stuff as I am with my photo stuff.

So when they invited me to be a part of the wedding fayre they were organising I jumped at the chance.

"Floral Enchantment are coordinating a unique Wedding event, using local specialist businesses that offer that little something different as well as a bespoke service.

Our vision is that each bride to be receives a customer focused, luxurious and relaxed visit to a wedding fayre with a difference.  There will be a small entrance fee, which will  entitle each person a glass of champagne to enjoy whilst perusing the stands.

We visualize this Wedding Fair being very different to any of the current Wedding fairs, with an emphasis on luxury, something different with a more bespoke approach. We want you to come to the Wedding Fayre and see some exhibitors that will put that extra Wow factor into your special day.

The Wedding fayre is on Saturday 13th March 2010 11am - 3pm.  Hotel TerraVina, 174 Woodlands Road, Woodlands, Southampton, SO40 7GL"

I will be there all day on the 13th March.  Please pop in and say hello!

16 February 2010

Improve your profile photo

Earlier today I had the pleasure of meeting and photographing Sam Swinstead for the first time.  I've known her through Twitter for a little while now, but the only photo I'd seen was the inset picture above.

I walked into the room this morning, and if someone hadn't have said "Sam, here's Michael..." I honestly would never had recognised her.

Sam has changed her look, so I can only take a small fraction of the credit here, but I think and hope you'll agree that the new photo is a massive improvement on the old.

Anyway, what's my point?  Oh yeah....   if you change your appearance, then update and change your profile photo as well.

15 February 2010

Profile Photos made easy

Improve your online business profile in an instant with a professionally taken profile photo.

Enjoy the advantage of being recognised instantly.

Remember people buy from people - give them a real face to associate with your business.

For just £35 at any networking meeting I'm attending.  I'll always have a camera close by, so just tap me on the shoulder and ask me nicely to take your mugshot.   It's a mostly painless experience, and you'll get your choice of 2 high resolution images to use as you please.

No terms or conditions - the photos are yours to do with as you please - use them on your website, business card, social networking sites, printed media, roll up banners, on telly...  Anywhere you can think to use them, you can.  I really don't mind.

Tattoo Artist - Part 2

As I was shooting in someone's dining room space was limited.  I had just enough space to pop up my Lastolite background with light, and had one more light just off to the left of the picture.

Although both models were posing nude, my favourite images are hiding their bits as it were.

I'm sure you'll agree that the body painters is quite beautiful.

Edit:  I should also say thank you to my driver and "bag bitch" for the day, the one an only Simon Smith from Amber Electrics!

Tattoo Artist - Part 1

On Saturday I was working with a brilliant tattoo art artist and three naked models.   Two of the models were pretty girls, and the third, well, you can see for yourself.

Fair play to him, he'd never modelled before and was doing it as a favour.  The set was a bit like "Carry On Photography" should such a film have ever been made.  Lots of banter, lots of piss taking, but it worked.

One shot stood out from the shoot as the only image that would ultimately be remembered.

The photos are for the tattoo artists shop which is currently going through the planning permission stage but she hopes to have it open for business sometime in May.

14 February 2010

Salisbury by Night

Note to self.  When going on a night shoot, always, I repeat always, make sure you have a tripod with you.

As you may have gathered I foolishly forgot my tripod for my excursion to Salisbury last week.  It wasn't the end of the world, it just forced me to rethink the shots I had in my mind and do try something different.

It was a bitterly cold evening, and I was out with another photographer.  When we weren't eating chips from the local chip shop, or warming ourselves in Burger King over a cup of tea, we were mostly bitching about the cold and taking the piss out of each other.  Good times!

Here's a few of my favourites.  Enjoy.

Edit:  I always forget to include technical details.  All photographs taken with Canon 5d Mark II with 24-105L lens.  Almost everything taken at 6400 ISO, at F4 and shutter speeds ranging between 1/15 to 1/400.

12 February 2010

Destination Wedding Photography | Edmonton, Canada

I don't just cover weddings close to my home base of Southampton, Hampshire.  Sometimes I do also travel to far away lands to shoot them.

This was the case with the wedding of Valerie and Jason which took place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada in August 2008.

In this case I didn't quite travel all the way from England for the wedding, but I could and would.  I was in Vancouver, British Columbia at the time and I'd met up with Valerie a couple of weeks prior in Alberta on my road trip across Canada.  I should probably explain that Valerie and I have worked together on a number of occasions over the years.  I was wearing our fitness and bikini hat at the time, because in her spare time Valerie is also a most excellent fitness and bikini model.

The date was the 8th day of the 8th month in 2008, which apparently has some meaning, or maybe it's just because it looks tidier on the wedding invites?

It was hot, we're talking Las Vegas desert type heat here.  It was somewhere around 37-40 centigrade, or to put it into a language that my American friends will understand, god damn bastard hot.

I was driving around in the cheapest rental car I could find, a piece of crap Toyota Yaris.  I suppose with recent knowledge I should be grateful the car didn't try and murder me.  All I remember was it was the most awful car I've driven in a large amount of years and the air conditioner was shite, really really shite.

The service, at St. Joseph's church, was unique, a Ukrainian Catholic service with the vicar almost singing his lines.  I'm not at all religious but this really was quite beautiful.

We did our post wedding shots on the grounds of the Legislature Building which apparently is quite a famous landmark in Edmonton.  There must have been around 10 other wedding parties there, all being photographed, but there was no question that ours were the sharpest looking bunch.

The boys especially had come with their own set of ideas for shots, which I loved.  The Reservoir Dogs themed gangster walk is still one of my favourite wedding shots.   These photos are the most commented upon out of any of the weddings I've photographed, be it for the colours of the outfits, the stunning roof in the church, or just the slightly off the wall group shots.

Thank you Valerie & Jason for inviting me to be a part of your very special day.

09 February 2010

Twisted Firestarters

Last Guy Fawkes night I was invited by Colin (above) to a firework display he was helping to set up in Christchurch.  It was a little different to your normal firework display, in being that all the fireworks were manually lit by hand.

Even when I'm not being paid, I'm always interested in events where I can get backstage as it were.  Being a general punter with the public isn't good.

The photo of Colin was lit with a regular LED torch, held in one hand while I had the camera in my other.  Interesting effect I hope you'll agree.

I'd decided I wasn't bothered about shooting the fireworks in the sky, everyone has seen shots like that, so instead I aimed my camera towards the boys setting off the fireworks by hand.  Challenging doesn't begin to cover it.  I was around 100 metres away (for safety), and the only light on my subjects was when a firework was launching.

Given the conditions I think I did rather well.  But you be the judge.

Hotel Lights

Taken from up top of the old wall next to the DeVere Hotel in Southampton.

08 February 2010

Southampton by night

No photoshop was used during the processing of these photos.

I was out taking some photos around my home city of Southampton last night and as I took the first of the photos in this series I was inspired by the classic Andy Warhol visual of old.  So I decided to leave the tripod in exactly the same place and take some more shots as the colours in the wall display changed.

Before last night I've never gone out in Southampton at night with the sole purpose of taking photographs, and I have to say I was quite disappointed with the efforts the local authorities have gone to to light up the old walls the city has.  Other than this wall (next to the roundabout near the DeVere Hotel if you're interested) there was nothing.  The streets and shops were all lit up just lovely, but not even the Bargate was lit properly.

Very disappointing Southampton.

I know it's another expense, and budgets are tight, but surely if the city invested more in this area, then the city would attract more tourists and more money.  The wonderfully lit arches here prove it can be done.

So come on you Southampton council folk, get off your arses and lets display our cities heritage off in a better way.

07 February 2010

First dates with tea & cake

So I was kind of politely told off last week because in this persons opinion tea and cake wasn't an appropriate choice of activity for a first date.

I know there are many more exciting things you can suggest to try and impress someone on a first date but when you think about it, what is a first date about?   Getting to know the other person to see if you want to spend more time with them?  What better way to do that than with a chilled out meeting over tea and cake?

What should I do?   Continue with suggesting tea and cake, or something else?

Please leave your suggestions in the comments box below.

I thank you.  :)

05 February 2010

An Xmas Party cover

I feel I should try and keep with the 4 theme going on, but alas I cannot.

This is the third issue of the 4Networking magazine, 4Community, and it's my third cover.  This photo was taken during the middle of the 4N Christmas party last year, everyone was slightly merry, and it's my favourite cover to date.

Road Trip!

I enjoyed my 'little' 3000 mile / 10 day road trip from Las Vegas to Denver last year so much that I've been thinking ever since getting home in October just how I can better it and do something even more fantastic this year.

After weeks of thinking, I've come up with a cunning plan.

Currently my plan is to start in the Boston, and finish in San Francisco.  I'd take the more northern route across the USA, taking in New York, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Chicago, Denver, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and San Diego.  I did think about hitting up Florida, but the humidity there just sucks the life out of me, so unless I get some amazing offers it's probably not gonna happen.

What about Canada I hear some voice cry?  Not this year I'm afraid.  As much as I love Canada and Canadians, it's time to see some new places.

I haven't quite figured out dates yet, but I'd plan to start the trip sometime late August / early September time.  It would be my aim to be in Las Vegas for Olympia.  I'd end the trip early in October.

How to fund the trip is the next challenge.  To make it a little easier I've come up with the crazy idea of trying to crash in as many spare rooms / sofas as I can on my way across.  You see hotel costs on my extended trip across Canada last year almost killed me, and I figure if I can drastically reduce my accommodation costs then I'll have more money left for nice steaks, beer and cake.

So, if you're interested in shooting, giving me a place to crash, joining me for a beer, being a tour guide, or even joining me for part of the road trip, then please drop me a note and lets see what we can make happen.

04 February 2010

A pleasant pheasant plucker

I saw these freshly shot pheasants hanging outside of the King's Head pub in the small village square of Wickham, Hampshire.  The man who'd just shot them was walking into the pub with three fresh kills while I was taking a couple of snaps.

I'm not happy with the photos, so I'll have to return again in the near future to try and get some better images.

On the specials board inside, £9.50 for pheasant and chips.  If I hadn't already eaten I'd have ordered.

Grey day in Southampton

I had a few spare minutes this morning on my way to a client meeting at the local Krispy Kreme outlet (gotta love clients who suggest meeting at a doughnut vendor!).

It was a damp, cold, ever so slightly depressing morning, and I wanted my photos to reflect the day.

I had parked on the top floor of the Bargate Shopping Centre carpark, and walked up East Street, along to the Bargate, and then in the back door by the book shop in West Quay.

I'm planning to photograph my home town more often this year.  I realised recently after living here my whole life I have no proper photographs of it.   Southampton really isn't as bad as this set of images make out.  It's not the prettiest city in the world, but it does have some nice bits.  I want to show it warts and all.

03 February 2010

Rownhams House HDR

I was at Rownhams House recently doing a little bit of video work for my friend, magician Paul Newton.

We were chatting over a cup of tea with the owner Roger, and he was telling us about a recent booking that he'd taken for a wedding later in the year.  The lady had come to visit in the evening and had been sold instantly by the look of the place at night.  Roger only had photos of the house during the day, so I offered to stay around half an hour later until it was dark enough to capture the house at night.

Rownhams House is hidden away just a couple of minutes from junction 3 of the M27.  The building in the photo has recently been beautifully refurbished for weddings.  If you're looking for a venue for your wedding in the Southampton area I suggest you make your booking quickly, because once word gets out about this lovely venue it's going to be booked solid!

It's also ideally situated for me as its just a 2 minute drive from my house, so I really hope to be shooting weddings there very soon.

Update: I forgot to mention Rogers clock! If you pay him a visit, be sure to ask him to show you his clock as it really is quite impressive.

HDR (High Dynamic Range) images are cheating a little because they allow you to show a greater range of light and detail in the final image.  The above image was created from a single RAW file.  I extracted 3 versions (see below) of the image at -2, 0 and +2 stops and then set to work in Photomatrix which allowed me to combine the best bits from all three images.

02 February 2010

Biggest dog ever?

Now I love dogs probably more than I like most people, but this one scared the crap out of me.  It wasn't aggressive in any way, it was just big, bloody big.

It was early in the year, around March or April and I was on a photoshoot in the Miami area.  I remember it being stupidly hot and humid even at sunrise when we started shooting on the beach.  It was so uncomfortable that we soon had to admit defeat and head back to the house where one of the models was living.  I had heard this beast of a K9 barking for the previous hour from a distant corner of the huge mansion like house.  I've seen smaller horses than this dog.

Does anyone know what breed of dog this is?

Yes I know it's a poor photo, but its all I've got handy.

We also used him as a prop for the shoot - below is a photo of that mornings pretty girl with the beast.

Update: Fast forward the best part of a year...  I've just had an email from Claudia Costa (the pretty girl with the beast), and she tells me that the dog in question is a Presa.  Thank you Claudia for clearing that up.  :-)