Never work with children or animals?

Or, alternatively, do both on your first ever proper photoshoot!

Thats not to take away from when I’ve taken photos of people before, particularly one friend who’s done some modelling, but previously i’d always met people at least once before so this certainly felt like a first time.

The title’s also only accurate in a limited, legal sense as the model was 17 and in no way childish and the dog was lovely, but all the same I could perhaps have picked a more straightforward shoot for starters at first glance.

It was incredibly easy though. I didn’t want to direct much if at all, as me barking out orders was never going to help it look like someone was really walking a dog. I wouldn’t want to compete with the dog either.

My first attempt at doing a shoot for this project with a friend was a simple matter of hoovering – but I said there was no need to have the hoover actually on and the result was that it just didn’t look like she was hoovering! Obvious now and my friend even said so at the time, but my wonderful politeness meant a refusal to invite a friend round to not only pose for me but also do a bit of hoovering for me – and led to pictures that just weren’t up to scratch.

I am much happier with the ones from this and should hopefully be posting more shortly.

Project

This project I’ve talked about a couple of times. It’s nothing earth shattering but I like it and it seems a few other people do as well, going by the initial reaction I’ve had.

I’m delighted and frankly amazed that people are ever happy posing for me and the number of people who have said they’d like to join in with this is fantastic. The more the merrier too so do shout if you read this and it takes your fancy as well.

I’ve called it Divine Mundanity. It’s a rubbish name, but I wanted to call it something and it’s at least descriptive if nothing else. I am trying to create a collection of shots of people dressed up in their finest, be it a ballgown, three piece suit, clubbing gear or lingerie, but doing everyday tasks.

I haven’t got as many under my belt as I’d hoped to from my week off, but a couple (walking a dog and hoovering) are shot and edited and more (loading a dishwasher, ironing, queueing for a bus) are lined up and more being arranged.

I like the idea for a few reasons, none of which I mind admitting.

First, for me, doing a series means I only have to be really happy with one photo from each shoot. Obviously out of pride and wanting to do a decent job for the model I’d want a few to share, but for the ultimate goal of exhibiting I only need one. It takes the pressure off making every shot perfect and means I can play around more with settings during shoots and not worry too much about missing something.

Secondly and most importantly it means people can wear something they like and feel good in. People like dressing up, well, most do.

I love contrasts and it’s a natural way of making people stand out. It’s just a case of matching the right person and outfit with the right activity. Oh and the small matter of making the best of people too.

The idea did come from a photograph, but I’ll not say which one or show it until I’m happy with the collection I’ve put together (or given up on it, but I don’t give up on much).

Do shout if you fancy joining in!

Manners

I’m writing these out of sequence but a couple of posts back I mentioned that at the festival I discovered something about myself – potentially a style.

This is that I’m polite. That sounds immodest but if anything it’s a drawback. I’m certainly not the only photographer who’s polite but during the course of the gigs, despite being cocky about having a press pass and determined to get some good photos, I made a point of not getting in other’s peoples’ way or annoying the artists. I’m not the only one to take more discrete photos but that approach is certainly not universal.

This is not meant as a criticism of photographers who plant themselves in the way of people trying to watch the band or set off flash guns in the face of the artists. They are professionals. I’m sure their results are better than mine. The artists get some publicity and most probably aren’t put off after a while. Even the people they annoy by standing in front of them will cope so long as they don’t spend long in one spot. There are, however, two reasons why that’s not how I feel comfortable taking photos.

First, my ego is too fragile to be called a wanker by quite as many people as I heard people aim at some photographers of that style during the festival.

Second, I just prefer to capture what’s going on without influencing it.

Yes I want to be able to do shoots where people are posing for the camera, but at a gig where people are performing for an audience, that’s what I want to capture. I don’t want the artificial wink to the camera, I want the smile to a familiar face in the crowd, or the gurn trying to hit the difficult note.

That discovery has influenced the project I’ve started subsequently, to try and play to my – well my preference, given that I can’t call it a strength. I am sure it made for better results at my first outdoor shoot a couple of weeks ago though and it’s something I want to try and stick to, to try and develop some level of personal style.

People

Much as the profiles are a pleasant compliment, they’re unlikely to develop either talent or reputation, so a friend who’s done some modelling before got me onto a website for budding photographers, models, make up artists, retouchers etc.

One of the highlights of the site so far have been getting asked if I was a photographer or a model by one short sited, or excessively polite, individual. The other was discovering that there are people who seem quite happy to describe themselves as ‘retouchers’, which coming from a legal background just makes me think of repeat offenders of a particularly unpleasant offence.

Much as I’ve had some positive discussions about doing shoots with models on there for a while, it wasn’t until recently that one actually came off. The problem has been that there’s so often something else that comes up, including for me. There’s also a tendency to be a bit non-committal. To be fair to them, a lot are attractive young women so they’re right to be a bit careful, but there’s nothing to stop a chaperone attending too, so the nutters that are no doubt on the site and turn up to a shoot with a camera phone should not pose as much of a threat!

What I’ve found overcame this was posting a clear idea on the site of “I want to do this” and let the models, male and female, contact me. It’s shown a bit of imagination, it’s a bit different and it’s meant people fancy doing it for ‘free’ in return for some different shots for their portfolios.

To be critical of myself, I should have thought of doing it earlier. I’m a Solicitor – my whole business model is based on “I do this and I’m good, contact me if you want my services” so my previous door-to-door salesman technique of meeting prospective models was never going to be the best plan.

So I now have a project to focus on, have already started it off with a couple of shoots, one of which I’m really happy with and a few people lined up to do more shoots with for it.

A bit more about the project next time.