We were recently commissioned to photograph a Church Architect for a business portrait. The setting was a prestigious Grade 1 listed church located in West Wycombe, Buckinghamshire. The church receives many thousands of tourists, pilgrims, and architectural enthusiasts throughout the summer and dates to the 13th and 18th century. The Church Architect maintains the fabric of the structure and is designing the first extension in over 250 years.
Collaborating with Joshua Harrison of Cohanim Architecture was a pleasure, allowing me the latitude to create these amazing images. As a result, I was able to convey the passion and responsibility Mr Harrison feels for his clients in his profession.
It is a privilege to photograph one of the oft unsung heroes who help maintain England’s rich and beautiful heritage.
To me, an outstanding and memorable business portrait is one that integrates you with your working environment. It sounds obvious, but I regularly see the opposite, which only enhances the honour I feel each and every time that I create a business portrait that clearly tells my clients’ story.
Achieving the right balance between business portrait and business environment is crucial…
…and the set-up requires the delicate use of studio lights to take advantage of the ambiance of the natural light. Consequently, the resulting portraits will look as if they are naturally lit.
Certainly, having such a beautiful location steeped in history offers plenty of inspiration. Therefore, if you find yourself in or around High Wycombe on a lazy Sunday afternoon, find some time to visit St Lawrence Church and the surrounding area; West Wycombe Park, West Wycombe Caves will also serve you well for your day of sightseeing. The views from the church tower are astounding
You may be interested to learn that St Lawrence Church has been featured in the popular TV series ‘Downton Abbey’. Most recently it was also the setting for a scene in the latest Bridget Jones movie.
Update 2016-10-06: Pleased to achieve front page of ‘the door’. Pick up a copy from one of the 855 churches in the area http://www.oxford.anglican.org/
…a budding Actor who recently approached me for a promotional / commercial headshot to be used in her portfolio.
Razwana contacted me via my website’s Contact Form and, once we had linked up, we immediately booked a pre-session meeting. Prior to the meeting, Razwana shared some sample headshots and she spent time to describe the reasons in choosing those particular images. This gave me the opportunity to do my homework; identify possible locations in the High Wycombe area, sketch some ideas and understand the general feel the images we need to portray.
During the meeting, we dug deeper over a cup of coffee, discussing the images in relation to the scope of requirements. This was also a good time to learn about Razwana in general, hobbies, favourite colours, goals in life, style, drive and personality, and the type of work she is interested in pursuing… There was plenty of active listening. This time also allowed me to share my current portfolio of portrait images face-to-face. I explained my work ethic, how my style would be inspired by her selection and how it would translate into the resulting commercial headshot. We spent time reviewing the possible locations, preferred backdrops and lighting, and whether we would be attempting a natural or studio look.
“It was a pleasure to work with a creative spirit with so much enthusiasm and commitment.” – Razwana
Of course, Razwana wanted it all and so would I, but there is always a budget! We set a date and decided on a two-hour session in a great outside location that offered a multitude of scenarios. First impressions count, and even though I was only getting to know Razwana, I was confident we could work well together to achieve at least four wardrobe changes and a similar number of sets – we agreed to push the boundaries and create five individual looks!
“I really enjoyed the shoot with the different locations that you proposed working brilliantly with the choice of clothing I had in mind prior to the shoot.” – Razwana
The session date was set and the heat was on, literally; this was going to be the hottest day of the year so far, forecast at 34C! With this in mind, I thoroughly scouted the location and took test scene shots. I also made sure we were fully prepared to allow us to keep comfortably shooting no matter what temperature a balmy UK summer’s day threw at us.
During the shoot, we reviewed the unedited images immediately on the computer screen This enabled either of us to easily adjust any aspect as we felt necessary. It proves invaluable to get this instant feedback when attempting to capture the perfect commercial headshot.
After the shoot, the image selection process is simple. I provided a range of hand-picked final photographs and Razwana selected the agreed five that were most appropriate to her needs.
I will let a few of Razwana’s favourite images and testimonials speak for themselves. I do hope the behind the scenes shots provide some insight into the process.
“I was taken aback at how great I look in the shots, so thank you so much…
…Thanks again for your support in helping me create great images ready to put out there for potential agencies. You’ve captured my personality throughout all the shots perfectly.” – Razwana
No matter what our experience levels, the setting of expectations is critical – and that works in every-which-way; Customer, photographer and assistants included. For a commercial headshot in particular, I suggest that my customers arrive at the session with their attitude prepared just as if they were attending the casting of their life. The same applies to hair, make-up and wardrobe, for which I offer guidance but I do prefer my customers to be themselves (and to prepare for a fun experience). I brief my assistants on our Customer even before the shoot and we run through our action plan of who, what, why, when, where and how.
Of course, once we have secured the safe shots and achieved the brief, I like to try something a little out of the ordinary as it could inspire the next session with my Customer.
A journey that took me over five thousand miles from home to meet up with my fellow Project 52 group members.
We spent two days in and around our tutor’s (Don Giannatti) studio in Phoenix, Arizona. This was followed by a five day trip north into the country that rekindled memories of Lone Ranger matinees and John Wayne movies.
During the first couple of days, we had the opportunity to photograph five models. Never having experienced a working studio, let alone directing “real-life. human” models, I was more than a little overwhelmed; I am sure others in the group felt much the same. No matter, Don’s helpful and patient demeanor soon had us feeling comfortable, as he provided measured encouragement and advice while letting us solve our own problems. To stretch us further, Don split us into smaller groups and sent us out into Downtown Phoenix to photograph the models in a more challenging environment.
Here are some of the resulting images from this fabulous weekend in Phoenix.
I like this photo of Ivy with her direct eye contact
Ivy takes five between photo sessions
An impromptu still life
Downtown with Jeremy. I recently discovered the pleasing news that Jeremy is using this photo as his Facebook profile image
Downtown with Briana. An unwavering trooper and treasure, who would be with us the entire road trip.
Downtown with Ivy as she busts some moves. Back-lit from a quickly setting sun.
While writing of this post, I was reminded of how the group were united through a common goal and worked together to form a well-rounded team. This diverse set of individuals shared part of themselves while offering each other support as needed.
In the next post, this glorious adventure continues with the first leg of the road trip – from Flagstaff to Springdale and so many stops in between.
A huge thank you to our models; Briana, Ivy, Adrian, Jeremy and Garratt for putting up with us bunch of mad-hat photographers.
For a long time I’ve wanted to find an excuse to use a melting effect in Photoshop. At long last I got the perfect opportunity with the concept “HOT” as a P52 assignment; a perfect challenge for my ingenuity.
After some experimentation in Photoshop and a search of the web for melting effect techniques, I sketched out my idea and composition.
I took a whole bunch of pictures to use in the final composite image, here’s a sort of start to finish snapshot of my workflow. The yellow goo is custard, a great idea from my wife.
I originally wanted a red background but I just couldn’t get it to look right. Instead, I tried the orange/yellow, which provided a better balance with the greeny-blue of the tee-shirt and dark blue jeans.
Here’s the final composite.
This week’s P52 assignment calls for an image that screams texture. The challenge for me is to find a suitable subject. There’s a variety of textures all around us but how to make them interesting? My starting point actually has nothing to do with texture, but more to do with an off-hand comment regarding still-life subjects “they don’t talk back”. This made me pause for thought, I enjoy portraiture but rarely spare the genre the time and effort afforded to my more patient models of Cognac, Bourbon and perfume bottles. My new challenge, how to find texture in portraits!
The first task is to set the lighting, I make such a great stand-in-dummy with my far off “what’s that coming over the hill” stare The second task is to find some appropriate texture-rich attire to help frame my intended
victim model. Finally, I must motivate my intended model to don said clothing, stand just so, position eyes/head right there… I think it worked. It seems that these posts are becoming a chronicle of my P52 assignments. While it’s great to chart my progress, it’s clear that I need to find a personal project; a project that puts this new found knowledge to use. It’s not just the taking of photos, but the interacting with people outside my usual circle of friends, family and colleagues – in other words, experiencing the big (not so bad) world in the guise of a more rounded photographer.