Photography studio, gallery and training complex

Archive for June, 2011

Factory Girls

Emilie Walt

You can always bet that when I arrange an indoor workshop the weather outside will be wonderful. And so it proved last Sunday for Fotofilia’s “Location Fashion/Portrait Shoot“. While we photographed our two lovely models (Michelle Grice and Emilie Walt) in the dusty but cool interior of a newly vacated industrial unit just a few metres from the studio, the blazing sun outside was cracking the flags.

The group was split into two parts, one shooting Michelle in one of the window-lit offices while the other group took advantage of the amazing light pouring through the unit’s grubby skylights to photograph Emilie on and around a (hastily-wiped old) leather Chesterfield chair we found in an office. Then the groups swapped models/locations.

"Extreme Posing" demonstrated by Emilie.

After a comfort stop (us) and a change of outfit (the models), we returned to the unit but this time Michelle enjoyed the main factory area while Emilie was assigned the office.

Another day in the office for Michelle.

We were mainly using the available, if not abundant, light plus reflectors, although strobes were employed by one or two participants. Very different light in the two areas and very different looks from the models meant we were able to achieve a wide variety of images from the shoot.

Michelle, pursued by the pack.

Finally, a word or two about the models: I know I occasionally grumble about models but both Michelle and Emilie work frequently at Fotofilia and they never fail to impress. Both have plenty of ideas of their own, are always patient and good-humoured even when the shoots are demanding, and most importantly, they are always professional, punctual and look fabulous – would-be models take note!

The flawless Emilie Walt.

A few linkingtons…

Michelle Grice –

Emilie Walt –

Goodman & Fineman (my lovely obliging and ever-helpful landlords, without whom shoots like this would be considerably more difficult to arrange) –

Michelle tries out the chesterfield.


The Best Job In The World?

Occasionally, just occasionally, there are compensations for the long, anti-social hours, grumpy kids, and bridezillas that come with the life of the professional photographer. A week or two ago I was asked to photograph some “products” for the Devenish Girl bakery for their website.

Melanie from Devenish Girl arrived at the studio laden with boxes and boxes of beautiful cakes. The studio has never smelled so good.

Cakes by Devenish Girl

I’ll post some more information about Devenish Girl (and a link) at a later date but as I understand it, cakes are just part of what they do there – they also help people back into work – something I think deserves support.

Anyway, here are a few images from the shoot. And yes, a few cakes were sliced in the making of these photographs. One or two were even damaged – which meant they just had to be eaten. Ho hum. One just has to help where one can.  

Cakes by Devenish Girl

Oh, and the geeky bit: These were shot using just the modelling light on a single studio flash fitted with a softbox for a window-light effect. The camera was bunged on a tripod and set to tungsten white balance. I used a 50mm f1.4 lens.

Cakes by Devenish Girl

52 Suburbs

"Clary" by Louise Hawson

I’ve been tipped off (thanks R!) about what I think is a great idea for a photography project based in Sydney, Australia (…in case you were thinking it was another Sydney).

Sydney resident Louise Hawson photographed one suburb of the city each week for a year (hence “52 Suburbs“) and presented the resulting images in the form of cleverly-coupled diptychs with appropriate slogans/titles. Her quest, she claims, was to find and photograph beauty in every district, many of which she had never previously visited.

"Spanish dancer" by Louise Hawson

Apparently the catalyst for this project was a nocturnal bite from a poisonous spider (…bear with me…) which might’ve resulted in an amputated hand, but instead caused Louise to rethink her life and career, ultimately resulting in her decision that “I’d rather eat baked beans for the rest of my life than not do the one thing that really excited me“. Hear, hear.

"A rose for the redhead" by Louise Hawson

Many of the images are taken at close range with a wide-angle lens and often a minimal depth of field. The vibrant colours and ingenious presentation makes for a fascinating and illuminating series of images. She covers it all – people, architecture, and the kind of minutiae that provides a real “feel” for each, very different, location.

"Knit one, purl one" by Louise Hawson

Of course, this kind of project might be a bit trickier here in the UK where light is pretty limited for eight months of the year and is rarely as bountiful as it is in Sydney. One wonders whether after taking one image, Louise then scoured the area for a suitable image for the other half of the diptych – or did she simply take so many photographs that it was simply a matter of pairing them up afterwards? Either way, this is a great piece of work.

See the full story at Oh, and there’s a book that looks well worth getting hold of.

When Is A Beer Can Not A Beer Can?

…When it’s a camera, of course!

I, along with a half dozen or so other adventurous souls, chose to annoy our respective families by spending Father’s Day making pinhole cameras under the guidance of the brilliant (and ever-so-slightly bonkers) pinhole maestro Justin Quinnell. Stella Artois tins (sadly not emptied by myself), matchboxes and a couple of 35mm films were appropriated in the name of art.

2nd attempt

What an amazing day! I thoroughly enjoyed myself a-cuttin’ and a-filin’. I am now the proud owner of 2 very low-tech cameras (pics to follow). For now you’ll have to make do with my rubbish efforts at self-portraits using the beer can camera. I’m embarrassed to say my efforts were among the worst in the group.

 You may be interested to know the camera was loaded with black and white 5″ x 7″ photographic paper (a perfect fit! – Thanks to M. Artois!). The shutter was a piece of black insulation tape and after exposure, the paper was developed in the usual way – dev, stop, fix – in the darkroom. When dry, the photograph – a negative image – was scanned and reversed into a positive image in Photoshop. Et voila! Worth all the effort, I’m sure you’ll agree.

I know. I've never looked better.

 My thanks again to Justin for a great day, and to the group who proved themselves worthy of at least a gold Blue Peter badge.

Here’s the appropriate linkage once more… and and

PS. Does anyone know where I can get the raw chemicals for the cyanotype and gum bichromate process (potassium dichromate, green ferric ammonium citrate and potassium ferricyanide) in the UK? My usual supplier seems to have gone. Please note I need the actual raw chemicals rather than the much more expensive kits.

Main Website Down – Apologies

Fotofilia’s main website – – has been offline since Saturday but should be back up and running by Monday night (they tell me).

We’re doing away with our front page, which required a separate hosting package, and instead transferring the domain to the hosts of the rest of the website. This will mean you won’t need to click through the first page to get to the body of the site in future.

Our apologies for any inconvenience.


Italian Vogue in Plus-Size Model Shock Horror!!!

Twice today, I’ve been sent links to articles about Vogue Italia’s use of so-called “plus-size models” (what a hideous phrase!) on their cover and in a fashion spread, shot by Steven Meisel and styled by Edward Enninful.

That these images have attracted so much attention is, in itself, worthy of mention and debate. I’ve also seen this story discussed on a photographers’ forum, where comments were invited – and unanimously in approval. But what’s the big deal? Should the size of the models really be such a talking point?

In this case, each of the models –  Candice Huffine, Tara Lynn and Robyn Lawley – are “plus size” (ugh! there it is again). What if a mixture of models had been used? Some skinny, some not so skinny? What might the impact have been then?

What do you think of these shots?

See for more.

The Devil In The Detail

A few days ago I was editing some studio shots I’d taken of model Emilie. I made all the usual (though minimal) Photoshop tweaks to one particular shot but something still didn’t look quite right…

Spot the difference

It didn’t take long to work out that the angle I’d used, coupled with the length of Emilie’s hair , had created a most unfortunate beard effect! Fortunately it was a straight-forward process to remove the offending goatee and restore Emilie to her usual scrumptiousness.