31 May 2010

Wild Horses

I've been to the New Forest probably hundreds of times, but never before today have I seen the horses (ponies?) running around in almost a stampede like way.

We were just outside Beaulieu and I was in the middle of a photoshoot with a fitness model.  She was changing in the car so I took my chance to snap a few shots of the horses running around.

These are my favourites.

30 May 2010

Beware of the wild hamsters

As regular readers of my blog will know I'm going on the last 2 weeks of the Roof of the World rally which will take me from the country who came in fifth place in Eurovision this year, Azerbaijan across several countries ending in 'stan' before finally finishing in Tajikistan.

We'll be encountering all kinds of wildlife along the way, including, wolfs, bears, wild boars and camels and of course not forgetting the most dangerous of the lot, the wild killer hamsters.

My adventure starts when I fly into Baku and meet the team who have driven all the way from London over the previous 2 weeks.  Our first challenge is then to get across the Caspian Sea, on a boat that may or may not leave when it's supposed to.

I've had to obtain 5 visas for the trip, 1 for each of the country I'm visiting.  It's the first time I've ever needed to obtain a visa before setting off on a trip, and especially as some of the countries are relatively closed to outsiders it was an interesting experience.

Once make it over the Caspian Sea (which is likely to take well over 24 hours) we'll be travelling across the desert of Turkmenistan heading for the Uzbekistan border and the city of Tashkent.

From here we start to climb into the mountains using loosely described "roads" towards Kyrgyzstan and Sary Tash at 9000 feet above sea level. Due to civil unrest in Kyrgyzstan we may have to make a detour, otherwise we head for the Tajikistan border and the second highest road in the world – The Pamir Highway in the Pamir Mountains.

This area is very remote but has spectacular scenery, so plenty of photographs will be taken, which are available to anyone that donates. We follow the China / Afghanistan border along to Dushanbe and on to the Children’s School at Quergan Teppa run by the Charity Sworde Teppa.

There will be some "dangers" along the way, such as dealing with the high altitudes, maybe having to give a small bribe to border guards and others along the way.

Although to be honest my 'fears' about the trip are smaller things, like how we deal with the heat - likely to be around 50c in the deserts; what we eat and drink and the risks of getting sick from it (I'm packing lots of imodium just in case!)

My target for the team is £1000, which is going to help cover some of my costs (including visa applications, injections, and flights).

After we get back I'm hoping to put on an exhibition of some of the photographs, and also to stage a charity auction where you can buy and own some of the more stunning images from our adventure.

I'm a bit behind in my target, so any donations would be much appreciated.  You can donate via the Just Giving website link below.


27 May 2010

Brill windmill photographic training

While I was in Oxfordshire last week I took a few photos around the windmill at Brill.  This was to later give me the inspiration to do some photographic training there and in the surrounding area.

Hopefully these photos will inspire you to book on, or even just to go and take some photos by yourself.

For more information on my debut training event, please visit the below link.


26 May 2010

Two hairy biker character shoots

I did a couple more motorbike character shoots earlier this evening.  They're really a rather fun subject to shoot you know.

Meet local Southampton based bikers Karl (above) and Eric (below).

If you'd like one of my biker character shoots, they are just £99 and include a montage 10x8 print like you see here.

Peter Gabriel signed my photo!

I'm a big Peter Gabriel fan, so last year I got a ticket to WOMAD, took my camera along and got some of my best concert photos ever.

After I decided to send a photo to Peter to see if I could get him to sign it.  Nothing ventured nothing gained and all that.  Today that photo arrived back with me, personally signed by the man himself.

Rock and bloody roll!

I'll be going shopping for a nice frame to put it in shortly.

Big thank you to Peter, and to Rachael at Real World Studios for making my day!

Fitness Photoshoot at the BodyPower Expo

The look on Tara's face when I told her we'd be doing the fitness photoshoot she'd booked for the BodyPower Expo at the NEC in the car park was priceless.  Granted it wasn't a perfect location, but it was away from the majority of the crowds, and it worked.

The above is my favourite from the quick taster shoot we did.

I'm offering more of my taster fitness photoshoots this coming weekend while the FAME UK event taking place at the Excel Centre.

For more information - http://fitnessphotoshoot.eventbrite.com

25 May 2010

A couples photoshoot in Leicestershire's Bradgate Park

I've done some fitness shoots with couples before, but never a real couples / pre-wedding photoshoot.  So when my good friends Sam & Tina said they'd like some shots done, I jumped at the chance.

They took me to the amazing Bradgate Park near Leicester just before sunset after a very lazy Sunday.

I find myself shooting more and more with prime lens these days - all of these shots were taken with the Canon f1.4 50mm lens and a Canon 30D SLR.  It means moving a bit more, but I'm totally lovely the quality.

I have the privilege of photographing their wedding in November.  With an American theme, in a barn somewhere in the Midlands its gonna be a fun one!

A photoshoot with a biker

I've been doing my character photoshoots for sometime now, but a couple of weeks ago I had the idea to offer the character shoots to bikers.

So, somewhere in the depths of Leicestershire down a quiet country lane I did my first biker character shoot.

My model for the afternoon was Tina.  Thanks Tina for being my first!

Would you like to be photographed with your bike?  The cost is just £99 and you get a 10x8 print included.

23 May 2010

Outtake from a stock photoshoot

A quick snap of what a shoot looks like behind the scenes. My reflector holder, Russ, was multitasking and trying to take a business phone call while also reflecting light onto my wonderful Japanese model Kozue.

Photography training in the Oxfordshire countryside

A couple of months ago it was suggested to me that I share my photographic knowledge through some training courses.  What they were suggesting was more of a sit down in a room thing, with cameras, and I help people learn that way.

However that wasn't quite me, I wouldn't be very good standing in front of a room full of people and to be honest it sounds kinda boring.   A couple of days ago, while trying to get to sleep on a sofa bed at Russ Hewers house, having spent a couple of hours earlier that evening doing some photography for fun in the wonderful landscapes around where he lives, it struck me.  I should do "on the job", or maybe more appropriate "in the field" photographic training.  With Russ in the business of organising tours around the UK and Europe it seemed like a winning combination.

We discussed things over breakfast, and the first photo day out is on Sunday 4th July.

So I would like to officially announce that I am teaming up with Russ Hewer of Tailored Tours UK to offer a photographic training day.   It will take place in some of the best countryside England has to offer in and around the rolling hills of the Oxfordshire countryside.

We will meet and start the afternoon with a light lunch at the Pheasant pub in Brill.  From there Russ will take us on a specially crafted tour.  Although Russ will have a plan for the route, we'll keep things flexible and fluid.  No two tours are the same, if we see something of interest, we'll stop.

Quality digital cameras have never been more affordable. Yet most people only use them on P mode and probably aren't getting the best results.

You'll be using your own equipment and I will be on hand to advise how to get the best possible results with the kit you have at hand.

Bring everything, lens, filters, tripods...

Come rain or shine the day will happen.  Often you only get one chance to do a shoot and postponing / rescheduling isn't an option.  So be prepared.  Bring sunblock and wet weather gear just incase.

To make things more interesting we'll all have our own individual themes to shoot, which we'll pull at random from my hat.  So as well as the normal landscapes you will have your own specialist subject as it were, eg man made, flowers, grass etc

The evening will end as it started at the Pheasant in Brill where we'll be able to photograph the windmill and undulated landscape at dusk.

Limited to 9 people, there is a special introductory price for the first of these training days of just £50 * (normal price will be £95).

TIPS!  Make sure all your camera batteries are fully charged, and you have plenty of memory cards available.

* Food & drink at the pub not included!

To book yourself please visit click here.

18 May 2010

An expressive stock photoshoot

I love it when a beautiful woman is confident enough to make silly faces to the camera.

I really like this photo of Aycan.

14 May 2010

One of the most photographed roads in the world

Pick up a holiday brochure featuring the American West and you've almost certainly seen this photo, or one very similar to it.

The road is in the bottom right hand corner of Utah, just a few miles north of Monument Valley.  I've driven it 4 times now, and each time I stop and take some photos.  The road is quiet, so standing in the middle of it is fairly safe ish.

This particular sunny morning back in October 2009 was the start of my 4th day without any connection with the outside world.  I had no local mobile with me, and my UK Blackberry had been out of service since entering Zion Canyon some days before.  I'd failed, and to be honest not tried very hard to find a wifi spot, so I was totally out of the loop.  Although I was still on schedule, Debra, the model who was waiting for me in Moab for my last photoshoot of my trip, had no idea where I was, or whether I was still going to be there.

Stopping for breakfast in the only place open in a town in the back end of beyond I eventually got a wifi connection, and caught up with the 15 or so emails Debra had sent.  She was in Moab waiting.  Opps!  Lucky we've shot several times before so we know each other.  The shoot did actually go rather well.

So, to buy this photo as a fine art print, please visit thisisthepicture.com

A cold business shoot in London

It was May bank holiday weekend in London.  It was stupidly cold, pissing down with rain, and it was the nastiest conditions I've had to take photos in for a good long while.

We used a couple of Watford hotels, hiding under umbrellas and roofs to stay dry.

Did I mention how bloody cold it was?

We shot a little at the first hotel, then moved half a mile up the road to a slightly nicer one.  We shot inside and out, and got the results.  Hard work in such conditions, but we done did it!

Thank you to my models and lovely new clients Donna & Hannah.

It was cold though.  Did I mention that?

13 May 2010

A Rally Charity Do

Ashley, the man on the far left makes stuff happen.  He makes stuff happen good!  I've only known him for a couple of months since he dragged me into his Roof of the World charity project, but the boy is good.

So last night was a charity do dinner thingy at Monkberrys in Bournemouth.  There must have been at least 50 of us in the room, and we pretty much took over Monkberrys.  Most of the guys were sporting their logo'ed up charity shirts.

In the picture above Ashley and David (on the left) are doing the whole trip, from London to Tajikistan.  While Abby (purple dress) is going from London to Azerbaijan.  Kerry (in black) will be joining them in Istanbul and going through to Azerbaijan.  I'll be picking up the tour in Azerbaijan, and then John (with his hand on my shoulder) will be joining us in Toshkent and we'll both be going through to the end.

After a very pleasant dinner was the charity raffle and then charity auction.  Ashley had managed to get his hands on a boxing glove signed by Frank Bruno, and rally shirts signed by the Poole Speedway team, and Bournemouth Football club.  There were loads of other donations, but these were the most visual.

With the auction over and lots of money made for Make A Wish and Sworde Teppa Frank Sinatra stepped on stage.  Anthony Adams was Frank for the evening.  While not exactly my choice of music, but he was rather good and the perfect choice to finish the evening with.

Oh, Nick I hope you make a speedy recovery.  Nick fell over a small step and put his shoulder out and had to be taken to hospital.  It shook me up a little because it reminded me of when I fell over a similarly small step twisting my ankle so badly that I also had to be taken to hospital.  Hope you're feeling better by the time you read this Nick.  I also hope the next time I visit Monkberrys they've put some tape on the step to help people see it.  Dark coloured step, dark coloured floor and low lighting means an accident is always likely to happen.

Oh we raised a tad over £2500!  However we want to raise more.  Please visit charityroadtrips.org to donate.

Enough of me, and to some photos from the evening.

12 May 2010

Shaft of sunlight at Antelope Canyon in Arizona

Antelope Canyon just outside Page in Arizona is an amazing place.  It's one of my favourite places to shoot, and also one of the most difficult.

This image makes it look all nice and peaceful.  Truth couldn't be more different though.  I was sat on the floor, crammed between a several other people and the wall of the canyon, bent over, and trying to get the shot.

Directly behind and to my left, behind held back by the native tour guides, there were probably 40 people, with easily that many again just around the corner in front of me.

To help make the shaft of light visible in the photos people were throwing handfuls of sand into the air. Sand and camera equipment aren't exactly the best of friends.  Just saying.

Last time I visited about ten years prior I was visiting with my girlfriend and we had the place completely to ourselves.  How time changes places.

I've just launched a new website called thisisthepicture.com where I'm offering a select few of my images for sale as fine art prints.

Click to purchase shaft of sunlight as a fine art print..

11 May 2010

Will these business card designs get a reaction?

I'm after opinions on these design ideas.

Will they get a reaction?

The moose is my general business card, and the others are pitched at weddings, family & children and fitness photography.

Get noticed, get a reaction & get remembered

When you're at a networking event most people are dressed in a similar way, most people have similar ish business cards and promotional materials, so how exactly are you supposed to remember anyone, or more importantly how are you personally going to stand out from the crowd and get remembered?

For me two things are making a difference.

The hat.  It started off life as a purely practical thing, keeping the light out of my eyes etc, but it's evolved to the point where it gets me noticed, helps people find me in a crowd, and even gets me business.

However the thing that is making the real difference is my change from using 'boring' images on my business card and promo materials.  I was in a room full of business people, trying to get them to use me for commercial photography, so I had photos of that nature on my cards.  Although they were fairly well designed, printed on nice card stock they almost never got a reaction.

Things changed however when a few months ago I decided to put a photo of a moose on one side of my business card.  When I hand it to people I often say "here, have a moose".  I'm sure a few people think I'm a bit simple, but you know what, I don't care.  It gets a reaction, and more often than not people make a comment and a conversation starts that isn't business related.

All of this brings me neatly back to the photo at the top of the page of some of the staff from telephone answering company Frontline.  I met one of their company directors, David, at Business South a few months ago.  Within moments of him seeing the card we were talking about road trips around the American West.  Despite there being no talk of business, a few weeks later I got a call to come in and do some photography work for them, and this week I was back there doing a second stock photography shoot for them.  Would I have got the gig if I hadn't got noticed, got a reaction and then remembered?

Towards the end of the shoot I was asked do to a few group shots of some of their staff.  Now having spent a couple of afternoons there I knew Frontline although very professional at what they do, they like to have fun at the same time.

As we'd done plenty of 'safe' shots on the previous shoot I suggested that they write out the company name in big letters on A4 paper and then hold them up while standing outside their offices.

Silly?  Yup, a tad, but will you remember them?

That reminds me.  I'm running out of moose cards, I need to order some more.

Canvas Prints Website

It's been a long time coming, but finally my canvas prints website thisisthepicture.com is finished and online.  For now there are 48 canvas prints available, from subjects as wide ranging as a ballet leap to a seagull.

At the moment I'm only offering prints for sale in the UK.  Logistically sending canvas prints to North American isn't going to be easy (or cheap).  However if there is demand I'll figure out a way and maybe source a supplier / manufacturer in the USA or Canada.

Please take a look.  The world of e-commerce is a new beast to me, so any constructive feedback will be gratefully received.

10 May 2010

Shooting an Italian business woman in London

The other day while I was in London I asked my Italian friend Francesca if she'd be interested in shooting some "sexy business photos".  She was.  The following afternoon we found ourselves at a cold Canary Wharf.  It was just a couple of days after the attempted car bomb in New York's Time Square so they had stepped up security and we had to stop the car twice for them to look in the boot.

Canary Wharf is a perfect place for a modern business shoot - its clean and clinical, and at weekends fairly quiet.  My only concern had been that technically it's all private property so unlike shooting on a street in the City of London which is public land, I was aware of the fact that we might be asked to stop and move on.

As it happened, asides from a couple of curious Docklands Light Railway staff nobody appeared to give a damn, and we were left alone to do battle with the cold and the wind.

Francescas Italian style was great, and if that's how the average Italian business woman dresses then I think I want to do business in Italy!

I want to revisit this shoot in the near future and try it again under nicer conditions.  It was just a little too cold, a little too windy, and quite a lot too dark to get really optimal "stock library business images".