Photography studio, gallery and training complex

Archive for November, 2012

Heffy By Night

Those photographers who joined us for the “Urban Location Model Shoot” at the end of October were once again given the chance to shoot a great model in a few locations close to the studio here in Birmingham. This time it was the gorgeous Heffy Wheeler, a model who is no stranger to Fotofilia (she is one of top local photographer Andy Watson‘s models of choice – and for good reason).

As usual, I get to take just a few shots to test the lighting, exposure and to demonstrate a few posing ideas to the group, but here are a few images from the evening…

Heffy, with gelled flash on the ceiling…

Heffy and Brum skyline. I experimented with the treatment a bit.

Heffy with green gel on wall behind.

Heffy in one of our favourite locations.




This is probably the last of these events I run for a month or two while we get the worst of the weather out of the way (hopefully) – I’d rather not expose my Bowens battery kit to the extremes of the West Midlands winter. But I’m always sourcing new locations and new themes so keep an eye on the “Learn” page of our website –!learn



Goddess Turns Temptress

Ivory Flame in Goddess mode

You may remember my recent post about the (then) upcoming “Goddess” themed studio day with Ivory Flame, one of the UK’s most beautiful and distinctive models, here at Fotofilia? Well, I think I can speak for everyone who came along when I say it was a wonderful and very productive day.

Holly (Ivory Flame) has been here before, modelling for the Rebecca Parker Masterclass course a year or so back. But this is the first time I have worked with her on a 1-1 basis, and I couldn’t have been happier.

Ivory Flame, with inspiration from religious iconography

The first thing that strikes you when you’re in Holly’s company is how “familiar” she seems, to the point that you think you’ve known her for ever. I haven’t, of course. But I’ve seen her image SO many times in magazines, in portfolios, on the web, on book covers etc, that she just SEEMS familiar.

Known for her trademark red locks and alabaster complexion, Holly has developed a unique stylistic niche – at once angelic, pre-raphaelite, celtic, virginal. classic and timeless – and so the “Goddess” theme fitted her to a tee. However, I wondered of there was something “darker” that I could bring out of her. I know she’s been photographed by many many photographers and in many many different ways but usually the tendency is to play to her ethereal, dreamy qualities. I did some of this too, but I also had other ideas…

Ivory Flame looking a little less angelic

With Holly’s co-operation, we worked on bringing out more of that perhaps under-exploited “temptress” aspect of her personality. By asking Holly to look straight into the lens and to lower her chin slightly, the “look” is, I think, altogether a bit more edgy, and possibly sexier.

One of my personal favourites of Ivory Flame

I’m keen to bring Ivory Flame back to Fotofilia again very soon, possibly early in 2013 and hopefully next time at a weekend. But for now, thank you Holly for a great day.

Here are a few more…

Heart & Soul


Opening night of “Heart & Soul”. Image courtesy of Keith Goodwin

Sunday saw the launch of “Heart & Soul” – an exhibition of photographs by members of THE CLUB (one of the two photographic clubs based here at Fotofilia) – and I think it’s fair to say it was a great success.

It was only a few months ago that I “suggested” the exhibition. That is to say I booked the venue, Birmingham’s Custard Factory gallery, and announced to THE CLUB that they needed to get some work together for display. Participation wasn’t compulsory, of course. There is always some expense attached to staging an exhibition, not to mention the deceptively huge time commitment involved, and so it wouldn’t be fair to force members to take part. However, an intrepid team of 10 members took up the challenge, and boy, did they rise to it.

It’s easy to under-estimate just how much work goes into staging an exhibition, not just regarding the production of suitable work (which can be a trial in itself) but all of the planning, organisation and publicity that goes with it.

The Geoff Smith frame surgery, Sunday morning.

Once a theme had been selected from a shortlist of five or so, and group members had filled the necessary roles – treasurer, web presence, social media, wall allocation, communication, invigilation rotas, programme design, poster design, logo design etc – I was able to sit back and let the group get on with it.

The result is an impressive and inspirational exhibition, with each member bringing their own unique interpretation to the theme.  Here are some iphone snaps of the exhibitors on the launch night. Take a bow, guys…

Esther Duber with the subject of several of her images – model Emile Walt.

Keith Goodwin (2nd from right) with the subjects of his images.

Paul Southon


Andrew Crawford


Sarah Burgess

Valeska Hass



And it’s still not too late to see the show. It runs until Saturday 17th November at the Lake Gallery, Custard Factory, Digbeth, Birmingham. Opening hours: MON-WED: 10am-4pm, THURS-FRI: 10am-9pm, SAT: 10am-4pm.

Find out more about the exhibition, and the exhibitors at as well as



Scarlett Lacey in a Gillian Wesley Design

I first me the mucho-talented Gillian Wesley a few years ago when she attended a couple of my courses. But happily, we stayed in touch and it’s been my intention ever since to work with Gillian’s design business. I finally put together an outline for a location-based shoot using Gillian’s beautiful corsets and a couple of our favourite models. Then I thought, “I bet a few other photographers might like the opportunity to photograph this too”, so I offered a few spaces for photographers to join me on the shoot.

Finding the right models was harder than I expected. Gillian ideally wanted size 10/12 “real” women and most of the models I work with are a size 8 (occasionally 10). The corsets really “come to life”, in my opinion, when worn by more curvy models. So I casted for size 10/12+ models and had little response from suitable local models. In my mind, I’d also visualised having one blonde and one dark-haired model if possible.

Josie Jayne in a Gillian Wesley Design

From the outset, I’d hoped to bring in Josie Jayne who I knew had done lots of lingerie and corset shoots and certainly had all the required curves. I discovered that she was now blonde, which meant all I had to do now was find a suitable dark-haired model.

Josie Jayne in a Gillian Wesley Design

Now, if you have attended Fotofilia courses and workshops over the last couple of years will have worked with the raven-haired beauty who goes by the name of Scarlett Lacey – but I knew she’d taken a break from modelling to have a baby, and she was also a bit too slight for this shoot – and so she was discounted. I carried on casting with no-one really suitable coming forward. Then I had a message from Scarlett saying that she’d heard about the shoot and might be interested. Since having her baby she would actually be a perfect fit for the brief (not briefs – that’s a different shoot entirely) and this would be her first post-baby modelling assignment. Needless to say, I promptly booked her.

Scarlett Lacey in a Gillian Wesley Design

The problem with shooting alongside a number of other photographers – which is obviously the situtation that I often find myself in when I’ve set up the shoot for myself and others – is that it’s hard to make your images stand out from the others that were taken from your angle, using your lighting etc.  My brief was to take some images of Gillian’s corsets, which I did, but I couldn’t resist tweaking a few of the final results in Snapseed, just to give them an even more timeless “painterly” look.  So the images you see here are the quickly grunged versions that I’ve done for my own amusement…

Gillian Wesley Designs and!/gillian.wesley1?fref=ts

Josie Jayne on Facebook!/josiejayne?fref=ts

Scarlett Lacey on Facebook!/scarlett.lacey.56?fref=ts

PS. The location is my secret… for the moment!

Gillian Wesley, with Scarlett & Josie Jayne

Josie Jayne and Scarlett Lacey in a Gillian Wesley Design


Oh, and the lighting? We did use the Bowens power packs for a few shots but ended up going with the wonderful (if annoyingly changeable) natural light that beamed – then trickled – then beamed again – through the big Victorian windows, helped along with various reflectors.