31 March 2011

Timea Majorova - Shooting a fitness legend

There aren't many people in the fitness industry who you could describe as a legend, but Timea Majorova is probably up near the top of most peoples lists.

I've had the pleasure of working with Timea twice, once in Los Angeles, and then again a couple of years later in Las Vegas.

These photos are from my first shoot, back in 2007, at a private house somewhere deep inside the Hollywood Hills.




Behind the scenes video on a fitness product shoot

The time was 08:00, and the place was a central London Fitness First gym.

We had just 4 hours to get through about 12 different scenes, this was going to be a stressful shoot.

The subject for the shoot was "Gripad", a new type of weightlifting glove.

This was one of my biggest shoots to date.

Joining me on set were...

  • Zuzana Bielikova, Andrea Budova, Gustavo Milton and Roy Eden - our models for the morning

  • Laura Forrest, the Make Up Artist.

  • Jorge, my assistant.

  • Chris & David, the designers who are working on the product PR / packaging etc

So to the video.  Filmed by my able assistant Jorge, and edited by designer David.  I'm not convinced about the music myself, but rumour is the client likes it so it must have something going for it.


30 March 2011

My first audio slide show

With some photos from the recent Red & White appeal day, and a little help from the voice their marketing girl, Amy, I've created my first audio slideshow.

28 March 2011

Pole Dancers

After the earlier sneak peak at photos from the pole dance shoot, here's another for your viewing pleasure...

Thanks to Amy, Lucinda, Isobel, Emma (left to right), and Elenor up the pole.  These are the girls from Pole Crazy.

Pole Crazy in Bournemouth

Just one picture of the girls from Bournemouth based Pole Crazy (Pole Dance Classes) for now.

More photos coming soon...

26 March 2011

Paparazzi Photographers...

Arguably paparazzi are the lowest form of life in the photography food chain.

I've been asked before if I do, or ever would do paparazzi photography, and my always has always been a very blunt no.  When celebrities are "on the job", on stage, at an event (awards ceremony, film première etc) they're fair game to be photographed.

Stalking them, for that's what paps essentially do for me is wrong on every level.  Sure most of the time paps are legally doing nothing wrong, photographing someone in a public place, from a public place, but morally its highly questionable.

A low lifes as paps are, is it their fault?  Of course just like me they have a choice about what they photograph, but it's a case of supply and demand.  The media outlets, newspapers, magazines, but ultimately the general public are to blame.  They buy the papers and mags and therefore pay for the paps.

What got me thinking about paparazzi photography was after the Peter Gabriel concert I went to on Thursday.  After the gig I went to the pub around the corner with friends.  I'd parked my car just opposite the venue, so sometime after midnight we walked by the venue.  There were still people waiting at the stage door, so obviously Gabriel had not yet left the building.

Ten minutes later he drove himself out, stopped, politely signed a few autographs and then continued on his way.  I could have gone over, aimed my camera at his windscreen and snapped a few...  but to what end?  He'd left the stage, this was Gabriel in his private life which neither I or anyone else has no reason to be a part of.

What happened next was quite disturbing.  Several so called fans jumped into a car waiting across the road and attempted to follow him.  Apparently Gabriel lives in London, so chances are he was going home.  Wrong, so wrong people.

Sadly it seems paparazzi are here to stay, with our celebrity obsessed culture.  I don't get it, but it's only going to get worse.

25 March 2011

Peter Gabriel at Hammersmith Apollo

It was a last minute decision for me to get a ticket to the concert.  Although I'm a big fan of Peter Gabriel, over £70 for a ticket was stretching the budget just a little too much.  However a couple of days before the concert I started following the official Peter Gabriel twitter account [@itspetergabriel].  I knew the concerts were upcoming, but wasn't sure exactly when until seeing rehearsal photos tweeted.  So I decided to see if I could find a reasonably priced ticket.  Ticketmaster, no joy, still over £70.  A couple of other websites were around the £50 mark, but then I found getmein.com.   They had tickets for the Thursday show for just £15.  I'd never heard of getmein.com before, but its a Ticketmaster company, so surely could be trusted?

So the day before the concert I purchased my £15 ticket.  After several confusing emails, one saying an e-ticket was going to be emailed, and the next saying the ticket was being sent by special delivery (and might take 72 hours to arrive), I was a little concerned.  After a couple of worried phone calls to getmein.com, and an agonisingly long way for the postman, my ticket arrived.  I could go to the ball!

I arrived at the Hammersmith Apollo at 6pm, and found myself parking 20 seconds walk away for just £2.50.  Result!

At almost every Gabriel gig I go to, I meet up with my friends, and fellow fans, Alan & Ian.

The first half, I was sat up in the gods, just behind a man with the biggest head ever.  Musically, the songs he played that half were good, but Wallflower asides, weren't really anyone's favourites.  The first half for me can be summed up in one word...  "meh...".

At the half time interval, I found my friends in the smoking area outside, and also got recognised from a wedding I photographed last year in the Midlands.  She recognised the hat first, me second.  Hello Lucie!

Alan has a habit of never sitting in his assigned seating, and always pushing his luck by taking empty seats closer to the front.  This time he'd found 3 empty seats, 3 rows from the front.  I followed him back in. This was more like it.  If you can't see the whites of the performers eyes concerts just don't interest me much any more.

The second half was much more like the Peter Gabriel I love.  Standing ovations came after Signal To Noise & Rhythm of the Heat.  When Solsbury Hill started, there was a mad rush to the front, and I found myself standing just a couple of rows back.  Happy days!

Gabriel might be 60, but he can still hit the notes, and can still put on a hell of a show.  Brilliant stuff Peter!

The reason why the two London gigs happened was because of an offer to Gabriel to film it in 3d.  Personally I think 3d is bullshit, but I have to say their cameras were rather impressive.

Unlike the last time I was close enough to the front of the stage to photograph a Peter Gabriel concert (follow this link for photos), this time I only had with me my compact Canon S95.  While it might be one of the best cameras in its range, it was always going to struggle with getting quality pictures in this environment.  I was pushing the camera, not to mention NoiseNinja in post processing to the limits here.

I tried to get good photos, but essentially these are just "happy snaps" from a good night out.

Update: Just wanted to say hello to the fellow lunatics who have found me via the Peter Gabriel forum.  :-)

Update2: For all those interested, this is the set list...

The Boy In The Bubble
Après Moi
Washing Of The Water
The Book Of Love
The Power Of The Heart
San Jacinto
Digging In The Dirt
Signal To Noise
Downside Up
Mercy Street
The Rhythm Of The Heat
Blood Of Eden
Red Rain
Solsbury Hill
In Your Eyes
Don't Give Up
The Nest That Sailed The Sky

24 March 2011

Richard Prince, Image Thief...

Fine Art Print - Monument Valley at Sunrise

Without question, Monument Valley is my most favourite place in the world to be and photograph.

It's a magical place, and I don't think I have the words to say what it really means to me.

I've visited Monument Valley 5 times now.  One time camping, 3 times staying at the Gouldings Hotel a few miles back down the road, and this time, when the above picture was taken sleeping in the back of my car.  I'd parked as close as I could to the valley entrance in the RV campsite, and this was the view that greeted me in the morning.

If you've yet to experience Monument Valley, add it to your bucket list.  For me it's better than the Grand Canyon.

To purchase a Fine Art Print of the featured image of Monument Valley, please visit my Fine Art Print website - www.thisisthepicture.com.

23 March 2011


Just the very word "rephotography" or "rephotographer" makes me feel a little nauseous.

What it appears to mean is that you steal someone else's work, change it, even just a little, and then put it back out as your own work.  Of course this is just bullshit that a talentless thief will say in his defence.

What bought this to my attention is the case of Richard Prince.

Just because he's taken digital images, bastardised and then resold them, he seemed to think it was "okay".  Sorry Richard, it's bullshit.  What you're doing is no real difference from stealing the Mona Lisa, drawing a moustache on her with a big thick marker pen, and then selling it on as your own work.

Here's one example of what Richard does.  Original image copyright belongs to photographer Patrick Cariou.

As you can see, it's bullshit.

Apparently Richard stole 41 photographs from a Patrick Cariou book called "Yes, Rasta", modified them in various ways, and then displayed them in a gallery of his "own" work.  The exhibition went on to generate over $10 million.

I'm not quite sure which is worse.  Richard for producing crap, or the suckers that buy his "art".

Sadly though, having no morals or talent seems to be rather profitable.

Photographing a farm is a misdemeanor?

I've been following a story over the last week or so whereby photographing a farm in Florida where law makers were trying to make it a felony of the first degree.  This was the original text...
A person who photographs, video records or otherwise produces images or pictorial records, digital or otherwise, at or of a farm or other property where legitimate agriculture operations are being conducted without the written consent of the owner, or an authorized representative of the owner, commits a felony of the first degree.

Thankfully some common sense has prevailed and the "crime" of taking a photograph of a Florida farm is now only a misdemeanor and you also have to actually be on farm property (ie trespassing).

However to get permission to take a photo on a Florida farm you'll permission in writing from the property owner.  Now I've done a few shoots on farms in England.  I always ask for permission before starting to shoot.  Permission in my case means knocking on the front door or asking someone walking around.  Normally when you ask a question to a farmer "can I bring a pretty girl onto your farm and take some photos of her" you're going to get a yes answer.  Now would that same farmer have agreed to my shooting there if they'd have had to put it in writing?  I'm going to take a guess here of almost certainly not.

I don't really care much about farms in Florida, but is this just the start of it?

Sorry Florida, this is just bullshit.

22 March 2011

Paying in a foreign cheque

So I had to pay this US dollar cheque into my "Spanish" bank (the one that uses that boring Lewis Hamilton in their adverts) this morning.  After queuing for 10 minutes in their chav infested Shirley, Southampton branch it was my turn.

Whenever I present a foreign cheque to the ladies serving me, I can literally see the life force start to ebb away from their bodies.  It's a long process.  I have a sign a 3 page "agreement" and also take a copy for myself, which I told the lady I was only going to throw away, but I still had to take it.  It's their policy damnit.

The girl has to then read and check about 15 questions, before photocopying stuff, and then finally, some 15 minutes later my cheque is paid in.

Of course during the this, the only other open desk can't cope with the influx of chavs, so the queue builds up.

It's an awful system they have.  Every time I visit it seems to get worse.  I was lucky this time because the lady serving had done them before.  If you get a cashier who hasn't had the training and you're screwed!

Grumpy Photographer signing out...

I am a grumpy photographer

Rumour has it that I can be a bit of a grump at times.

This is my happy face.

Shooting a bus in London

It's not exactly going to go down as one of my most glamorous of shoots, but it was something new for me, and I have to admit I quite enjoyed the bus related ramblings of self titlted "Barmy Bus Driver" and company owner of Tower Travel, Dan.

We had a mini tour of London, stopping near Regent Park, Battersea Power Station, and The London Eye for photos.  I also got Dan to drive around Parliament Square 4 times while I stood on the kerb taking "action" shots.

All in a days work...

21 March 2011

Victor "The Angry Mexican" Espinosa, MMA fighter

Popular opinion says Victor Espinosa should have won this fight, but the judges didn't agree.   Here's hoping you come back stronger Victor!

The last time I photographed Victor fighting he won in just 17 seconds.  I didn't exactly get much of  a chance to get any decent photos.  This time the fight went the distance, and the picture above is one of my favourites from the evening.

Alexis Rufus - IKF World Champion

On Saturday I was asked to photography my second Muay Thai / MMA event.  My main attention was the final fight of the evening, an IKF World Championship fight between Alexis Rufus and Lorena Klijn.

Without question photographing fights in piss poor lighting is the most difficult subject I've yet had to shoot.  My "hit" rate of good shots is dramatically lower than any other subject.  It makes my job even harder, but out of respect to the fighters I always shoot the fights without flash.  The last thing they need is to be blinded mid fight!

I shot over 200 photos from the Alexis v Lorena fight, and I ended up with 7 that I like, with the lead picture above being my favourite.

Anyway, enough of my moaning about the lighting.

Big congratulations to Alexis for winning the title in what was a tough fight.

20 March 2011

IFBB British Grand Prix & Fitness Expo

If you charge a premium price, then customers expect a premium product.

With a ticket price over double that of Olympia in Las Vegas (£25 just to get into the expo), you'd expect an expo to write home about.  Sadly, it wasn't all that.  Take away the strong man and the bmx areas, and there really wasn't much left.

The price also got you into see the pre-judging going on in the huge arena downstairs, which I have to say was rather stunning.  Easily the best stage set up & lighting I've ever seen at a UK event.

The event I'm sure will grow, this is year one after all.  Congratulations to all concerned for getting it here and happening in the first place.  Hopefully next year will see a larger expo, and a reduced ticket price.

Hello to everyone I met there, including lots of previous fitness models I've worked with...  Jamie Eason, Lynsey Beattie, Sarah McLean, Audrey Kaipio, Henrietta Leung, Danielle Laws, Tara Stevens, Francesca Giacomini, Joyce Nunu,  Paulette Sybliss, Jenny Pacey...  Did I forget anyone?

(The photos here are just snapshots.  I went to the expo to network not to work.)

19 March 2011

Happy Days with Pash

I've just been reminded that it's been a year since we lost Sarah 'Pash' Howells. I still think of her often, her energy, her smile, and sadly how quickly life can turn around.

Live the life you've got to the full....

This is how I'll always remember Pash.


15 March 2011

Facebook Business Page

I've yet to be totally convinced as to why having a Facebook business page is even useful. I get much more "likes" and comments on my personal page.

Regardless I'm trying to make my business page - Michael Palmer Photography - a bit more interesting.  I added this as a welcome page earlier.

14 March 2011

Black Rapid Strap System

So it's got a slightly silly name, but the Black Rapid strap system has solved a problem that I've wrestled with for years.  How do you comfortably and easily carry around 2 cameras while shooting things like weddings & other events?

I saw the Black Rapid RS-7 product demonstrated at Focus a few days ago, I tried it out for size and liked it so much that I bought one immediately.

If you want the technical blurb you'll need to visit the Black Rapid website, essentially its a rather expensive strap attached to a bolt, which then attaches to the tripod mount on the camera, but to quote another company, "it does what it says on the tin".  It just works.

Having used it in "anger" at the funeral I photographed on Friday I'm impressed.  It worked perfectly.  I shall be using it lots in the future!

12 March 2011

Didcot Power Station

Earlier in the week, while on my way to visit a friend in Oxfordshire, I stopped off to watch and photograph the sun setting over Didcot Power Station.  While probably not everyone's first choice of location to photograph the sunset, I did get a couple of shots I'm rather happy with.

11 March 2011

Photographing a Sikh funeral

I've been sitting here for five minutes looking at an empty screen.  How do I put into words the funeral I was asked to photograph this morning?  It was big, and at times it was intense.

I'm going to borrow some words from The Southampton Daily Echo website here...

"Mrs Jeet Kaur died on Monday, aged 78, after battling Lymphoma and Pneumonia.   After moving to the UK in the 1960s, Mrs Kaur became well known within the city’s Sikh community, for her vast knowledge on the Sikh culture and was seen as a leading figure within the community.  She leaves behind four sons, seven daughters and 148 grandchildren and great-grandchildren."

Having photographed a wedding for the family last year I expected the numbers of people attending the funeral to be big, but nothing prepared me for the scale of it.  11 limos, and 10 coaches transported everyone from the Southampton City Centre family home to the Southampton Crematorium.  The police were holding traffic back as the convoy lead by a horse & carriage made its way out of the city centre.

At the crematorium there were so many people packed inside that it was all but impossible to take photos so I waited outside.

The intensity reached a climax when I was asked to follow members of her immediate family around the back to the incinerators.  If like me you'd expect to see a slow gentle movement of the coffin into the incinerator, much like when the curtains close, it's probably best you stop reading now.   In what can only be described as a "violent action" the family pushed the coffin into the incinerator with lots of emotion.

Intense doesn't begin to describe it.  It was a moment that will live with me forever.

Mrs Jeet Kaur.  RIP.

About the photos on this page. I took lots of photos throughout the morning, most as I'm sure you can imagine will be very personal to the family, hence I'm being very careful with the ones I post here.