Headshots & Why You Need One

black and white headshot of young, female model

Do you need a headshot? The answer is yes! It doesn’t matter whether you’re an actor, dancer, model, small business owner, author, executive etc then the first image people see of you will have a lasting impression.  Think what your current profile picture says about you on social media or your website; does it reflect the image that you want your clients to have of you? If not then it’s probably time that you invested in professional headshots, and no, a quick snap taken on your phone won’t be the same.

I’ve just added headshots to the photographic services I offer, and for a limited time only they’ll be priced at £50 for two fully edited images.  This is a not to be repeated offer so hurry and book soon.  We’ll discuss in detail the type of images you want and discuss whether it would be better for you to have an outdoor or studio shoot. I can come to your home or place of business too if it’s easier to shoot there.  I make shoots as relaxed as possible and guarantee you’ll be thrilled with the images that we get. So whether you’re after a romantic soft shot, or something quirky, or more formal, please get in touch.

 

headshots, male, with lighting on both sides of the face

 

Headshots, black and white, young female model

Inspired by Edward Hopper

On being inspired by Edward Hopper…

Where do you find inspiration? It can be from anywhere and everywhere. For me, films, paintings and books are great sources of inspiration.  Take this image for example, I’ve just been going through some old work from last year and I’d forgotten I’d taken it.  But looking at it now, I remember how much I loved the feel of it.  We were aiming for an Edward Hopper style, with that sense of isolation and melancholy.  Alice did a brilliant job in pulling this off.  We were lucky enough to be able to shoot in a fabulous art deco style room at Sywell Aerodrome for this, which although not exactly the correct Hopper period still evokes a sense of the past, of someone distanced from ourselves by time but evoking feelings we can still totally relate to.

Our Edward Hopper tribute.

What I love about Hopper’s work is the wonderful sense of story and mood that they evoke; they look as if they could be a still from a film.  Also, although the subjects often seem sad, the pictures aren’t sad to look at, it’s more that we can empathise with the characters and their plight, they remind us that we are not the only ones alone or in pain. Alain de Botton calls it The Pleasures of Sadness in an excellent article which you can read here. He likens their effect on us to that of a piece of sad music, which I think is exactly right.

If you’d like to find out more about Edward Hopper and his work, there’s a website at  http://www.edwardhopper.net . On there you’ll find some of his best known works such as the wonderful Nighthawks...

Happy New Year & Happy Pinterest!

 

A bright and breezy happy new year to you. A new year is a chance for new starts, not resolutions as such as I don’t believe in them, but time to take stock and make plans.  One of my main aims over the coming months is to get to grips with using social media for marketing.  It’s something I usually avoid, but since I’ve discovered the power of Pinterest I’m inspired!  Click on this link and take a look at my Pinterest profile.  If you don’t use it already you really should:

a) It’s ideal for photographs as it’s got a fab, clean layout.

b) Your pins remain there forever, it doesn’t matter when you pin them, people can still find them, so it’s a great way to drive continuous traffic to your website.  Things I dislike about Facebook such as the way it limits the audience for your posts just aren’t relevant on Pinterest, and that’s great!

c) The majority of users of Pinterest are women, you know, the ones who usually make the decisions when it come to booking and buying photography sessions for their family.  Why wouldn’t you want to attract them to your website?

d) It’s an amazing source of inspiration.  I generally put a Pinterest board together for clients before a shoot which they can contribute to.

 

So there you have it, go take a look now and you’ll wonder how you ever managed without it. Please note however that I take no responsibility for the amount of time you’ll be spending going from one beautiful board to another. Happy Pinning!

 

 

Shooting for Yourself…

I think it’s important to take time out from shooting what other people want, and just take time to start shooting for yourself.  It should be an ongoing personal project, something completely different to your ‘paying’ photography, or simply experimenting with different lighting or techniques.  Whatever it is it has to be something you enjoy.  Personally, I like shooting still-life.  It means I don’t have to direct people (or pets!), and I can choose anything interesting that catches my eye.  I have total control over light, background, composition etc without worrying about what a client will want.

Because the weather was so warm last week I did a mini shoot in the garden involving some very cute drinks jars I found for 59p each! I knew that I wanted a bright, summery shot and I knew that I wanted my Japanese Maples in the background.  The spot I chose had bright morning sun on it so I had to soften the light somehow.  I decided to use a reflector as a scrim so that there was less light hitting my setup. It also meant I was able to shoot at a wider aperture to make the background less in focus.  Use anything translucent to make a scrim – a shower curtain, tracing paper, a voile curtain. It’s great when you’re shooting portraits too and want to keep bright sunlight from someone’s face.

I shot these mainly with my 85mm f1.8 lens – I love that lens.  I also used my 50mm f1.4 for a couple but I have a love/hate relationship with it.  I’m never quite sure if it’s going to focus for a particular shot so end up taking many more than I would want to in the hope that I’ll get one that ‘nails’ focus.  And yes it’s been calibrated – it’s just rather temperamental!

Shooting for yourself
Behind the scenes shot showing the scrim at work.
Shooting for yourself
The first shot – but it didn’t look quite as bright or summery as I’d imagined it
Shooting for yourself
I added a white tablecloth which also helped bounce the light back up into the scene

Shooting for yourself

Shooting for yourself
Props you pick from the garden are the best…

Stuffed Butternut Squash

Butternut squash… what can I say? I just love it.  When not taking portraits of people or pets I’m to be found in the kitchen with camera in hand, and in this case, with butternut squash in a roasting dish.  I love the colour of squash, I love the shapes, I get ridiculously excited when pumpkin season comes around.

I have to say here that besides my squash obsession, I love food photography in general.  Why? Well it’s the kind of thing you never run out of subjects for; you can go to town with styling and props or keep it as simple as these overhead shots.  I guess my favourite thing is you get to eat the photographic subjects afterwards!

I like to take photos of the whole process, to try and tell a story of how the dish evolved.  This is especially useful if you’re trying to explain a recipe of course, visual aids are always appealing.  I did a pre-roast shot, an after roast shot, and one with the completed stuffed squash.

So back to the butternut squash.  I had this squash lying around for about a week and couldn’t decide what to do with it, then stumbled across a recipe from Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall which you can find here .  I loved this recipe, as did my husband who is not a great veg-lover.  The blue cheese was really tasty and I liked the crunch of the walnuts alongside it.  My squash did take longer to cook than Hugh’s, probably about 15-20 mins more, but it was worth the wait!  I was also going to use maple syrup instead of the honey in the recipe (I don’t like honey), but completely forgot to add it, next time I’ll try and remember.

So what else is butternut squash good for?

What about soups, dips, casseroles, desserts, salads, cakes, pancakes…the list is probably only limited by your imagination.  To get you started there are some good recipes on the BBC Good Food website which you can find by clicking here.

Sorry about the pitiful salad in the last shot – our shopping gets delivered on a Tuesday morning so Monday is usually a case of ‘eat whatever’s left in the fridge’.  Sometimes it’s a bit sad.

 

Stuffed Butternut Squash

 

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Sywell Aerodrome Vintage Styled Shoot

Sywell Aerodrom Vintage Styled Shoot

I was lucky enough to be asked to do a vintage styled fashion shoot at the fab Sywell Aerodrome in Northants recently.  If you’ve never been there it’s worth a visit, there’s a hotel which has art deco styling, a fascinating museum, and always lots of planes coming and going.  Our vintage styled shoot actually took place in the VIP Lounge.  What a gorgeous room!  The main thing we had to look out for were reflections in the wood panelling and the chrome, but that was a small inconvenience.

Our three models were Lillian, Honey and Alice, and they all looked amazing.  Alice chose an authentic 1950s dress which was gorgeous. Lillian and Honey had brought some evening dresses as well as day were – it was vintage-styled heaven!

This is the room we got to work in… You can see my light reflected in the picture on the back wall. We used an Elinchrom D-Lite as the main light source.  I love Elinchrom lights, the quality of light they emit really is a thing of beauty.

Sywell Aerodrom Vintage Styled Shoot

 

Just because we had lights with us didn’t necessarily mean we had to use them all the time. The shot of lovely Alice below was taken using natural light and a reflector.  I love my reflector, it is so handy! If you haven’t got one (why not?!), then do think about buying one.  It’s one of the cheapest, easiest ways to improve your portraits. I have an enormous one in the studio and a smaller, portable one that I keep in my camera bag.  Westcott do a 5-in-1 reflector for about £30 but you could probably get a cheaper one if you shop around.  Just don’t get one that’s too small.

 

Sywell Aerodrom Vintage Styled Shoot

 

Sywell Aerodrom Vintage Styled Shoot

 

LIZ LIZZIE ALICE SYWELL-5133-Edit

 

Sywell Aerodrom Vintage Styled Shoot

 

Sywell Aerodrom Vintage Styled Shoot

 

Sywell Aerodrom Vintage Styled Shoot

 

Sywell Aerodrom Vintage Styled Shoot

 

I decided to have a play when we’d finished the main shoot and asked the ladies to pose as if they were in a Edward Hopper painting, I love the sense of solitude and loneliness in his work and you can see how well Alice did in portraying this in the shot below.  Find out more about him and see his art here.

Sywell Aerodrome Vintage Styled Shoot

 

Our lovely models were all brilliant.  To see more of their work or to contact them to work with them yourself, their details are as follows:

Alice Katz:  alicekatzmodel@gmail.com

Honey Malone:  https://purpleport.com/portfolio/honeymalone

Lillian Love:  https://purpleport.com/portfolio/lillianlove

 

Location Shoot at Thornton

Location Shoot Thornton

Because it was particularly cold, grey and unpleasant we thought ‘Hey! Wouldn’t it be a great idea to get out of the nice, warm, dry studio and do a location shoot at Thornton Reservoir’! So that’s what we did last Monday. Not that I’m after sympathy or anything but I also had a cough and cold, yet still I battled manfully (womanfully?!?) on…cough cough.  I am somewhat of a control freak when it comes to lighting my images, never quite trusting that nature will supply the right light at the right time and in the right direction, but I was faced with a dilemma: I had no lighting assistant (or ‘minion’ as I like to call him) due to him having some plague-like symptoms, which I thought damned inconvenient.  In the end I decided to take a speedlight and softbox with a light stand.   It seemed the most portable but effective option that I could feasibly manage on my own on a location shoot.  Thus equipped and well wrapped, up I headed off to Thornton.  My model Honey arrived looking glam, and put on a beautiful tulle frock over her jeans and boots (it’s all smoke and mirrors I tell you) and we were set.

If you’re wondering why I didn’t just put the flash on my camera it’s because I don’t like on-camera flash. It usually looks harsh, and because the light source is small compared to the model it also looks too ‘flashy’, and it also doesn’t give me the ability to shape shadows the way that I like.  The softbox immediately makes the light source bigger and softer and I can position it where I want, firing the flash with triggers.  I actually used a cheap, manual Yongnuo flash as they’re reliable, easy to change the settings on and work like a dream.  See the one I used here on Amazon UK.

Here’s a behind the scenes shot of my very basic lighting set-up and the effect it achieved.  If you want to know how to use off-camera flash a great place to start is at Strobist, it’s a mine of information!  What I did here was to set my camera to the highest sync speed possible to work with my flash (usually 1/200 second but sometimes lower than that when working with triggers), then altered my other settings until I had a good exposure for the background.  Then I altered the ISO and aperture until the background was slightly underexposed (I wanted it to have more of an evening feel than it did), and set the flash to 1/4 power as a starting point.

Location Shoot Thornton

 

So that was it really, combine a great location, basic lighting set-up and fab model and you get beautiful results!

 

Location Shoot Thornton

 

Location Shoot Thornton

 

Location Shoot Thornton

 

Location Shoot Thornton

 

Location Shoot Thornton

 

Location Shoot Thornton

 

Location Shoot Thornton

 

Location Shoot Thornton

 

Location Shoot Thornton

p.s. that isn’t the sun on Honey’s hair in that last pic, it’s my trusty speedlight again, I just positioned it behind her and to one side to give the illusion that we had some evening sunshine 🙂

Location Photo Shoot at Shenton Station & Bosworth Battlefield.

When you’ve been confined to shooting in a studio all winter and you get a beautifully sunny, but freezing day, all you can do is wrap up warm and head out for a location photo shoot.  After tea, cake and photo talk at Whitemoor’s Antique Centre we went to nearby Shenton Station and Bosworth Battlefield to get some photos of gorgeous vintage-style model Honey Malone.

Note I said ‘sunny’ day. This can be both a blessing and a curse for photography. To avoid the harsh light we shot some images in the shade, and also used off camera lighting in the way of a softbox and speedlight.  I’m a bit of a control freak when it comes to lighting!

 

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Liz at Shenton-2250

 

Honey was brave enough to take off her jacket for some of the shots (I can’t emphasise enough how cold it was. I was wearing boots, jumper and jacket and my teeth were still chattering), so kudos to her for her professionalism.

 

Liz at Shenton-2524-Edit

 

I seem to have an obsession with getting a sense of movement into my images right now. I love the sense of energy and life it gives.  Honey gamely twirled and pirouetted (she’s also a dancer) whenever I asked, despite getting some strange looks from passers by (it’s a pretty popular place!).

It made such a change to get out and about and do something different. I highly recommend it if you’re feeling stuck in a rut and lack inspiration and /or motivation with your photography. Do something completely different!

Portrait Shoot with Ewa

I had a great portrait shoot with beautiful Ewa on Saturday, she has such amazing eyes (and I have total hair envy).

As I seem to be obsessed with getting a sense of movement into my images at the moment, I decided to try it with Ewa’s portraits too. I just love the sense of energy and life it gives.

Rather than get Ewa leaping around or dancing (it has been known), we went for a bit of hair movement in these two shots with the aid of my trusty hairdryer.  (Less energetic but needing more from the photographer in terms of co-ordination!).

 

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