I’ve worked with Lizz Lipscombe before, when photographing and videoing Jane Taylor’s band. When she needed new images for her new website, Lizz asked me to take them. She came to my studio (ok, it’s just my tiny living room and garden!) and we took a variety of shots, outdoors and in, in a variety of outfits – she plays at weddings and other events, as well as with Jane Taylor and Daisy Chapman. We had a lot of fun taking these, as you can probably tell :)
I thought it might be useful for people to see what sort of retouching I do to my photos. Of course, what I do and how much I do varies drastically depending on the type of image and its use – a fashion shot gets far more ‘tidying’ than a gritty urban shot.
The above example is from my fashion shoot with Fiona. The photo was taken using flash (umbrella above me and reflector held by Fiona) to get very soft shadows and enough depth of field to have everything in focus.
In retouching I hid a few spots, toned down some freckles, increased contrast, increased sharpness in some areas, made her eyes a bit brighter, and removed a few stray strands of hair.
I wanted to do a black and white shoot in order to test my ideas, lighting, composition, etc for the parallel world in my film, MindTwist. Charlotte Howard will be in the film, and is doing costume and makeup for it, so she seemed an ideal model – especially as she has modelled in the past, and she has an amazing collection of vintage clothing!
We borrowed a house (which is also in the film) and Charlotte tried a variety of outfits while I messed about with my lights to see what would work best. These shots are a mix of flash (staircase) and continuous light (all the others). I needed to practice with continuous lights for the filming we were about to do but flash provides more control over the ambient light just by shifting the shutter speed.
I wanted to use the kitchen as it was, rather than hiding it, because that gave me better practice for filming, when we need to include the environment and not just the actors.
I’ve taken headshots for several of the actors I know but recently I was asked to take headshots for an actor that you probably know! Derek Fowlds is an actor I’ve admired since way back when he was Bernard in “Yes, Minister”, so it was lovely to be able to work with him for an hour – in his kitchen. Yes, these shots were taken in his kitchen, using three speedlights, with and without an umbrella. It’s amazing what you can do with a bedsheet, a couple of clamps and some small flash units.
I used two styles, as well as two backgrounds. Hard light (on the black background) and softer light (white background) in order to give him more choice as to how he looked. In the end he and his agent chose the one on the left for his current headshot.
And if you’re thinking, “he looks a bit old”, that’s intentional – seems people remember him younger (possibly from years of Heartbeat) so we needed to convey the age he now plays.
Katie works at the cafe where I usually have lunch. I’ve been wanting to photograph her for ages because she is very pretty :) Finally we managed to work out a time and we did the photo session in the cafe after closing (I had already got permission from the owners, who I know quite well).
We got through a lot of different setups, probably too many for one session but that was my fault – should have focussed more on three or four, I think.
I did retouch these photos – I was treating it was a fashion shoot – but Katie’s skin is very clear so that didn’t need much work at all. Tidying her hair took quite a bit longer!
Laura enjoyed our last photo session and she was fun to work with so when she asked to do another I was happy to say “yes”. This time she brought Aida, another Spanish girl living in Bristol, and we did lots of shots of the two of them together as well as individually.
We started in the harbour area, among the water fountain pools – an area I like for the mix of water, metal and textured pavement, especially on a sunny day. To look at the girls baring their midriffs you’d never think it was January and (with wind chill) the temperature was below 0C! We did have a coffee break after the harbour so they could warm up.
We moved on to Brandon Hill which I’ve used before in a music video with Samantha Marais. Near the top there is an area of bushes and trees, which helped keep us out of the wind. Despite the cold and wind the girls enjoyed the shoot and hopefully we’ll work together again – when it’s warmer!
These were all shot on my 5D Mark II, either with 70-200mm f/2.8 IS or 24-105mm f/4 IS lens. I used flash on nearly all the photos, so I could use the sun as a back/rim light, get a reasonable exposure on the environment, and still have the girls properly exposed. Most shots I used a 580ex II and a 430ex II – either together, to reduce power on each (fighting bright sun takes a lot of power) or one left and one right. Using Pocketwizard MiniTT1 and FlexTT5 triggers with an AC3 to control the two speedlights easily from the camera. Down in the harbour I avoided using light stands so I wouldn’t attract unwanted attention. On the hill I did use one but it was a nuisance to move because I had to hop a fence and clamber about rocks each time I wanted to change it – next time I’ll get me an assistant :)
During the Jane Austen Festival I met Laura, a lovely Spanish girl currently living in England but soon to move to warmer climes. She looks great, likes being a model and is interested in being a photographer so we arranged to meet up for a photo shoot. The season being autumnal we decided to shoot amongst trees and coloured leaves, which can easily be found in the botanic gardens area of Victoria Park in Bath.
Last Saturday I got to do a photo shoot with singer/songwriter Jane Taylor, who is preparing for the full launch of her second album, Compass (which is very good). We used most of the rooms in her house in Bristol, as well as her small back garden. The day was utterly grey, which can be a nuisance but can be used to good effect – the light coming through a window casts very soft shadows in these conditions. I used flash as well, when I wanted to include some fairy lights in the background – just using natural light they would have been completely blown out but with flash I can set the camera for the available light and adjust the amount of flash on Jane to balance it.
It’s lovely to work with musicians, especially singers – they drift into song as they wander around the house! Lovely to listen to Jane and Bex Baxter who did Jane’s hair and makeup but is also a singer/songwriter.
This coming Saturday I get to work with her again, this time on a “day in the life” video which I’m shooting and editing. The photos I took will turn up in the video.