A re-blog from my personal site about a charity calendar I’ve been involved in.
With 2014 fast approaching, it is probably a suitable time to finally tell you about a calendar shoot I did quite a few months ago. I was asked by Kate Ross-Kellam, the lady behind the West Midlands’ March of The Mods charity campaign on behalf of the Teenage Cancer Trust, to create some images for a charity calendar.
I am asked to shoot (or contribute to) several charity calendars a year but because of work/studio commitments, I try to do at least one. As an ex-Mod myself and a big lover of everything Mod-related, this sounded right up my street, not least because Kate was open to the idea of doing something a bit… well, classier… than the usual “calendar girls” style, “February = model with hearts, December = model with Christmas tree” rubbish.
Over a couple of coffees, we came up with the idea of re-shooting some…
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I’ve long held the belief that it’s possible to spot the difference between the pros and the amateurs (I can almost hear you groaning “not the Pros Vs Amateurs stuff again”) on social media simply by the notes that they post along with their images. For instance, in the case of photographers who work with models, a professional photographer (or at least most of the ones I know) will name-check the model, the make-up artist, the hair stylist, and any designers or stylists that have been involved in the creation of that image. The amateurs… don’t. Usually (thankfully, there are exceptions – those with a more professional attitude probably).
I’m not sure what to put this down to – perhaps amateurs are in more of a rush to get their images “out there”, or pros are more appreciative of the contributions made by others, or pros realise the value of maintaining good working relationships with the team they work with, or amateurs are more prepared to take credit for the work of others… I don’t really know.
But I do know that if you look at the work of Claire Seville, Tanneke Peetoom, Andy Watson etc, credit is given where it’s due. But, sadly, I could equally point you to the websites of MANY amateurs or new pros who never even mention the model by name.
And since I’ve climbed up here onto this here high horse, this basic etiquette should also, I would suggest, extend to mentioning whether your picture was taken as part of a training event or workshop (even if the details of the course aren’t mentioned). I’ve seen so many pictures published on photographer’s profiles and websites where no mention has been made of the fact that the image was taken as part of a group shoot, even when…
- The model was selected and styled by someone else
- The “theme” was someone else’s idea
- The hair and make-up were done by a third party
- The location was selected or even hired by someone else
- Lighting was provided and set up by someone else
- Camera settings were as instructed by someone else
- And sometimes, when someone else is DIRECTING the model!
In some cases, all the photographer has done is to point the camera in the general direction of the subject and press the shutter, and then sat back and lapped up any resulting internet adoration without acknowledging ANY of the input of the other people who have played such a vital role in the production of that image. I have seen websites of photography businesses where a substantial percentage of the images chosen as representing the skills of the photographer – the pictures that potential clients may use to determine whether this photographer is capable of producing a particular look – were actually taken as part of a group course or workshop (mine, in some instances).
I’ll admit that I do find this a bit rude. A little bit of courtesy here costs nothing. And what of the potential clients who are looking at their work assuming that they’re responsible for the whole look of the images when they’re not? Surely, this is misleading at best, almost fraudulent at worst. After all, they’re selling something that they didn’t actually create, something that they almost certainly wouldn’t have produced without the considerable input of others.
If everyone behaved with the kind of professional courtesy of the likes of Andy Watson (et al), the industry would be a much more civilised place.
Right, can someone let me down off this high horse? Anyone…?
A few months ago, I ran a multimedia competition for Fotofilia’s THE CLUB and f2 clubs. Members from both clubs were invited to submit a short multimedia presentation which would be shown – and judged – at a screening evening at Birmingham’s mac (Midlands Arts Centre). Club members judged their favourites and guest judges (ace documentary photographer) Andrew Jackson and curator Karen Newman also awarded a cash prize for their own choice.
I’m going to share a few of the presentations with you, starting with this, one of the prize-winning entries by Denise Wilson. With all images captured using a 50mm f1.8 lens and cropped square, the untitled presentation could be described as “a hymn to vinyl”, using album cover-style images of her own, coupled with a clever choice of soundtrack which incorporates that distinctive “needle on vinyl” crackle.
Firstly, I should warn you – you may catch a glimpse of some naked flesh in the following blog post so if you’re viewing this at work, be careful. On the plus side, it’s not my flesh.
I love the British summer. Hayfever, washed out barbecues, warm beer, inexplicable traffic jams, inflated ice cream prices, bites from unidentified bugs… what’s not to like? It also means that at Fotofilia, we take a risk by running a nude photo-shoot event. Last year, we ran a “Nude In The Landscape” shoot in a beautiful part of rural Warwickshire – and it rained. It rained a lot. Our model Helen Claire put on a brave face (and very little else) to provide us all with great images, despite the torrential rain.
This year, ever the optimist, I thought it might be prudent to stage our nude shoot in a location that couldn’t be spoiled by inclement weather. I came up with the slightly altered theme of “Nude In The Urban Landscape” and managed to find an excellent location – an empty and partly derelict – industrial complex in Digbeth, Birmingham.
As usual, the event was planned a couple of months in advance. How was I to know the event would coincide with one of the hottest day of the year? This time, our model, Cally, was the only one suitably (un)dressed. The rest of us sweltered in the greenhouse-like conditions but were at least rewarded with some great photo opportunities, even if we did lose half of our bodyweight in sweat.
All in all, great fun, an excellent location and a truly stunning model. Thanks to Cally and our intrepid group of photographers. I’m planning the next one now – anyone know of an accurate long range weather forecast?
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…
I’ve had quite a few exhibitions over the years but the next one in my calendar, a group show called “Off The Wall“, is something of a first in two ways. To begin with, it’s my first overseas exhibition, and will take place at Stigma Lab gallery in Athens, Greece (http://www.facebook.com/david.rann.58#!/StigmaSquad) from 1st to the 26th of March.
My good friend, the excellent street photographer, Gareth Jukes is curating the show and has pulled together seven artists working in very different media. The line-up also includes Christophe Dillinger (http://www.cdillinger.co.uk/) who I first met when I exhibited alongside him at Viewfinder gallery in London a few years ago. Christophe has since been a regular visitor to Fotofilia and is also the editor-in-chief of the excellent online Square Magazine http://www.squaremag.org/. So the full list of exhibitors is, in Gareth’s words…
“Gareth Jukes, artist from Birmingham England. His artwork has been exhibited & published internationally. His large scale street art paste-ups have attracted the attention of several art collectors and art dealers in England. Most recent art work was a 32ft tall paste up inside the Public Art Gallery West Bromwich, England.
Christophe Dillinger, experimental photographer from France , writer, publisher and editor-in-chief of Square Magazine, whose work has been shown in Europe , Russia & U.S.A.
Rebecca Woodcock, sculptor, winner of the Wedgwood Porcelain and Bronze Award. Her work reflects upon everyday life whilst exploring contemporary concerns with inter-personal relationships that reflect on philosophical and emotional engagement, blending elements of figuration and abstraction that encompass image and ground.
David Rann, award winning photographer, currently director of the Fotofilia Gallery in Birmingham, England. David has curated major exhibitions by over 200 emerging and established artists at his Gallery over the last 5 years
Emma Perry, West Midlands artist who works with mixed medias. Her sculptures ‘contain’ colour and she is interested in the internal & the external forms and spaces created in her work.
Julio Orphanides, a Cypriot-born video artist and painter whose works received major compliment when exhibited in a number of successful gallery exhibitions across England in the last two years.
Guy Holness is an emerging young British artist who works in a variety of medias including spray paint, sculpture, photography, and drawing. He is currently developing and coordinating creative arts projects with youth organisations across Europe. The Inspiration Network, a programme that he recently set up brought young people together from, England, Holland and Croatia to participate in a number of creative arts workshop.”
So that’s the “who”. Now for the “what”. The second way on which this is new for me is that for the first time ever, I am exhibiting images taken and edited solely on iphone and ipad. My project title is “Birmingham Noir” and the images are mainly (but not entirely) composite works consisting of a head-and-shoulders portrait combined with a separately-taken background. The subjects are a mixture of models and friends that, quite simply, I think fit the “noir-esque” mood. The viewer is invited to construct their own narratives.
Here are a few of the images to be shown…
I’ll post a few more shortly. But for now, if you happen to be in Athens in March, look us up…
Exhibition Opening: Friday 1st March 20:00 – 00:00.
Exhibition will be on until 25 of March.
Monday-Saturday 13:00 – 20:00.
Sundays (only by appointment)
Andrea Metaxa 4 , Exarhia District.