I feel a bit of spleen-venting coming on…
If there’s one thing that makes me choke on my choccie digestive, it’s the seemingly endless Facebook status updates by photographers saying “Here’s a sneak preview of Fred and Hilda’s wedding today at…”
Aaaaargh! There’s a reason why traditionally, newspapers don’t print wedding photos until about a month after the ceremony: because you are announcing to the world (including your friendly neighbourhood villains) that the happy couple’s house is likely to be unoccupied for a fortnight and therefore a great target for burglary!
Include information about the wedding venue and even the least tech-savvy crook can often access information about the couple’s name and thereby help to locate their home address. If newspapers did what these photographers are doing, your local rag would become a kind of home-shopping catalogue for burglars. I’m imagining a couple of housebreakers sitting at home in their striped sweaters thumbing through Dullsville Weekly and deciding on that evening’s burglary schedule.
And even leaving aside the security issue, I would NEVER show wedding images to the wider world before being approved by the couple! What if you post an image online for the whole world to see FOREVER and then find that’s it’s one that the couple absolutely hate? Remember who’s paying you!
Spleen vented. Nuff said.
Mention a nude photography shoot to some people and eyebrows may be raised, ribs may be nudged, and schoolboy giggles may arise. But the nude shoots we organise at Fotofilia are very much about using exquisite and appropriate lighting to accentuate all that is beautiful about the human form.
And it really is beautiful. Just to keep things nice and equal, for our “Bodyscapes” studio evenings, we bring in one male and one female model who, as far as possible, best exemplify physical perfection. These are just a few images from one of our Bodyscapes workshops back in November 2012 but we’re running another on Monday 29th July. The male models in the images shown here is Joel Hicks http://www.joelhicks.com/
Needless to say, there are other images that I couldn’t show here.
First there was comedy. Suit-wearing middle-aged men in working men’s clubs and on our most popular TV shows telling jokes about mothers-in-law. And then came “alternative” comedy. Younger, casually dressed, men – and women – telling jokes about absolutely anything and everything, including subjects which had previously been taboo. In time, the men in suits began to disappear, or adapt, and the “alternative” comics became the most visible form of comedy in the media. At some point, the term “alternative” ceased to be used, just as it ceased to be relevant.
Browse any of the model/photographer interface sites, even the mainstream ones, such as Model Mayhem, Purestorm, or PurplePort and you’ll see lots of models listed as “alternative”, or simply “alt”. And you’ll find plenty of castings for “alternative models” placed by photographers too. And over the last couple of years we’ve run a few “Alternative Studio Evenings” at Fotofilia.
But I have a couple of questions about the “alternative” label…
- What actually IS “alternative” (in modelling terms)?
- At what point does alternative become the mainstream?
Someone once told me that “alternative” was another word for “tattooed”. I’m not convinced that that’s very accurate but then I can’t really come up with a better… erm… alternative. According to our old mate, Wikipedia, alternative is…
“…a branch of the modelling industry that features models who do not conform to mainstream ideals of beauty. Alternative models are often niche-specific, with a personal style that represents subcultures like goth, burlesque, latex and fetishism. An alternative model may for example be tattooed, pierced, or have distinctively subcultural hair (shaved, dyed a distinctively unnatural colour, mohawk, or in dreadlocks). Alternative modeling can be clothed or unclothed. Alternative modeling was given substantial mainstream media coverage in the last decade, partly through the creation and popularisation of community-based alternative modeling sites, like GodsGirls, SuicideGirls and BlueBlood. Alternative modeling community sites promoted their models for their personality as well as for their looks and portfolio.”
Yeah, okay, that’ll do for me. But with the proliferation of this branch of the modelling industry gaining ground, at what point does it cease to be truly “alternative”? I don’t know. What i do know is that I like the added variety it has brought to modelling. There was a time when unless you looked a certain way – either beautiful in a classical/fashion kind of way (tall, bones structure, flawless complexion etc), or glamourous in a glamour kind of way (well, busty), you simply didn’t go into modelling. Or at least it was hard for photographers to find you if you did. I welcome this broader aesthetic and think photography is all the richer for it, but a part of me is always wondering when it will no longer be alternative and what will be the next thing to challenge it’s hegemony.
The images shown here are from Fotofilia’s “Alternative Studio Events”. Look out for new events on the “Learn” page of http://www.fotofilia.co.uk.
Tell someone you’re a photographer and they will usually respond with, “Ah yes, weddings”. But of course some photographers never shoot a single wedding, and some, like me, shoot them very rarely. In fact, I’ve shot two weddings so far this year and have one in the diary for 2014 but before this year I haven’t photographed a wedding for over two years.
But I still get enquiries, which, thanks to the many wedding photographer listing websites, usually begins with “I’m getting married on this date. How much?” Occasionally, the client will also say “We only need you for an hour or so between x o’clock and y o’clock” to which I might reply, “Okay, that will be £1400” (for example). “What?!?” they shriek, “for an hour’s work?”. What clients often fail to realise is two things…
- That while you’re covering an hour of their wedding on the first Saturday in August, you could be covering another wedding at the neighbouring church for the whole day and charging accordingly. You clearly can’t be in two places at once.
- A wedding is not just an hour’s – or even a day’s – work. In fact, even with a fairly slick digital workflow, you may well be spending the equivalent of a whole week on what they will consider their “big day“.
Let’s travel back in time to the days when you’d shoot a wedding on film: You take the pictures (and I was usually given enough film to shoot a maximum of 60 shots), get them developed and printed and arrange them aesthetically in a nice album. Job done.
The advent of digital has not made this easier – one might argue that it has made it harder and more time-consuming. At the weddings I have photographed so far this year, my “second shooter” and I have taken upwards of over 1500 images, all of which have to be looked at, edited or deleted as necessary, and then possibly whittled down to the album edit which then have to be arranged in the more modern album style. So how long does all of this take? Every photographer will have a different method and workflow split but here is an idea of how mine looks…
- Pre-wedding Consultations: usually a minimum of two prior to the wedding day plus phone calls, emails and contracts =4 hours.
- The Wedding Day: Including travel, photography at up to three geographic locations, equipment checks, location scouting etc = 14 hours.
- Assistant/Second Shooter: Let’s not forget that a second photographer will do almost the same hours as you will on the day so that’s an additional, say, 12 hours.
- Initial Edit: Uploading, backing up, and weeding out the “blinkers” etc. = 3 hours.
- The Tweak: Going through all of the whittled down selection (usually upwards of 1500 images) and making adjustments to exposure, crop, white balance, matching the “look” of shots from two photographers and possibly up to 4 cameras, deleting more of the duplicate images, aligning images chronologically. 10 hours.
- Viewing: I usually meet with the couple to show them my edit and gauge their reactions, removing images that they have a negative reaction to and highlighting images they have a very positive reaction to in order to prioritise for the album. 2 hours.
- Album Design: If you’re producing an album for the couple, you’ll need to carry out an even more radical edit to select the final 120-170 images for the album from the 800+ acceptable images. And then there’s the design of the album itself, which even by using the album printing company’s own design software, can add up to quite a few hours (especially if you’re a perfectionist). Plus add uploading files, and even collecting the album. So in total, say 13 hours.
- The Presentation: Possibly my favourite part of the whole process – handing over the final album to the excited couple and seeing their faces as they go through the album. 2 hours.
I make that 60 HOURS! So the next time you get a call (as we once had at Fotofilia), saying “We’ve been quoted £70 for our wedding, can you beat it?” you will have a good idea what to say, won’t you?
Imagine entering your work for a major international exhibition, which if you fail to be selected, makes you automatically eligible to enter another exhibition with a greater chance of having your work seen, and, arguably, a fairer selection system..? Too good to be true? Nope.
I first read about Portrait Salon in the Professional Photographer magazine and was instantly impressed with the brilliance of it’s simple and audacious concept. So impressed, in fact, that I invited the peeps behind it, Carole Evans and James O Jenkins, to come up from London and tell Fotofilia’s THE CLUB (plus a few f2 members) all about it.
The story goes something like this: Ever so slightly disgruntled at being rejected for inclusion in the famous/infamous Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in 2011 (along with all but 60 of the 6000 entries), Carole and James began sharing their frustration via social media. And an idea was born. The Taylor Wessing is not a cheap event to enter – there’s the £25 submission cost plus printing (yes, only prints may be submitted) and all of the associated delivery/collection/travel expenses. For the “lucky” 1% who are selected and have their work hung in the National Portrait Gallery, this is probably money well spent. But what about the 99% whose work is rejected?
Carole and James hastily printed up some flyers and loitered hopefully outside the exhibition’s collection point. Approaching anyone who appeared to be collecting their rejected prints, they asked if the photographer would be interested in taking part in a sort of Salon des Refusés of the Taylor Wessing, but for free. Some did, some didn’t – but those who did were then entered into another selection process, this time for what was to become Portrait Salon 2011. The selected images were published in a specially-published colour magazine.
Interestingly, once the national press began to take notice of this upstart project, some of the Portrait Salon’s images were then reproduced and disseminated to a much wider audience than (most of ) the Taylor Wessing selectees. The “failed” 99% were suddenly being seen – and people liked them! There have been murmurs in the photographic community for some time about the… how shall we put this… “not entirely objective” Taylor Wessing selection process, a process usually conducted by the same group of people, year in, year out. Some feel this has resulted in a predictable and staid “style” of photography being repeatedly shown.
Portrait Salon repeated the process in 2012 but this time with a different jury, resulting in a different type of images being selected. I like Portrait Salon. It appeals to my long-standing belief that organisations within the arts need to be shaken up and challenged from time to time.
So, enter the Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize from now on and if you’re rejected (and let’s face it, the odds aren’t great) you can enter Portrait Salon instead – and might do better for it! Find out more about Portrait Salon at http://portraitsalon.co.uk/ and this is where you can also order copies of the magazine for 2011 and 2012 (incredible value!).
Of course you can also follow them on Twitter – @Portrait_Salon
Remember, to be considered, you must first be REFUSED by the Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize. Time to get printing…
Following on from my last post about the unexpected potential of the humble scanner, I have since found another scanner artist that I’d like to bring to your attention. Like many other platen-glass practitioners, Seattle/New York artist Jon Feinstein is no stranger to “real” photography (as you will find by looking at his website – http://www.jonfeinstein.com/fastfood.html), but has used a scanner to produce his thought-provoking “Fast Food” series.
Simultaneously revolting and eerily beautiful, the images are exactly what you might imagine from the title: fast food, in all it’s greasy glory, isolated in a sea of blackness – your snack-on-the-run as you’ve never seen it before.
Jon explains the background to this project…
Enjoy your lunch…
A year or so back, I was asked to go along and deliver a talk to Smethwick Photographic Society and eventually settled on the topic “Keeping it simple“. The basic idea was that you don’t have to be a techno-geek with a few grand’s worth of kit to produce interesting and creative photographic images.
Happily, the talk went down very well. So well in fact that I recently revived and extended it for a day’s course at Birmingham Botanical Gardens, also entitled “Keeping it simple”. This time I expanded on the “taking it simple” part of the course to include some other, less orthodox means of photographic capture. I showed the group images like these…
If you haven’t already worked it out, what you’re looking at are Scanographs – photographic images made with the kind of flatbed scanner you probably already have at home or in the office. I’ll do more about scanography in a later post (as I’ve had a little dabble myself – and rather enjoyed it). One more to finish things off…