Well, this is going just as well as I could have hoped. I’ve now announced three model workshops under the new series of “Strangetown Shoots” banner. I’ve already posted about the first event, featuring the stunning Maria, and the second event, featuring Julie is already sold out. The third event to be released is actually the first one that I booked and I’m rather excited to present Tetiana, a model I’ve been hoping to work with for some time.
I’m delighted to announce that after a pandemic-induced hiaitus, I’m in a position to schedule more “open access” group photography and training events at either my studio (Strangetown) or on location.
You’ll find announcements of new events on the Strangetown Shoots Facebook page, and on the @strangetown_studio Instagram page.
I’m kicking off with a Sunday daytime event at Strangetown featuring the incredibly beautiful London-based model Maria Gardner. I’ve previously worked with Maria when shooting fashion in Leicester and hoped that one day she’d be the star of one of my events.
If you’d like to attend this event, please get in touch by email or text to reserve your place.
Please note: If you have “credit” from one of the cancelled pre-lockdown events, this can be transferred towards the new events.
Looking forward, looking up.
The future is finally looking much brighter than my last post at the beginnng of the year – Trump has gone forever, the NHS have had the huge financial pat on the back that they deserve, and the UK Government continue to inspire confidence and trust. Hmmm.
I’ve been doing occasional socially-distanced shoots for quite a few months now and jobs are thankfully trickling in at a gradually more frequent rate. Sadly, a few of my previous regular clients are no longer operating and so I’m going to be giving my advertising/marketing a push over the coming weeks.
There are a few areas of photography that I’d like to be doing more of in the future and I’ll be posting more about these soon.
As always, I welcome all enquiries about corporate, portraiture, event, studio, editorial and social media marketing photography.
In the meantime, here are a few recent images…
Well 2020 didn’t quite pan out as we’d expected, did it?
But not to worry, 2021 is here – kinda like 2020 but with a slab of medicinal hope, a smattering of eco-apocalypse, a soupcon less Brexit, and a sprinkling of Trumpageddon.
A fortnight into this new year and here in England we’re up to our chins in lockdown, which means photographers are again watching each other, thinking “if they’re opening their studio, I’m opening mine” but with no clear information or guidance from the government (again), I’m interpreting the rules according to “the spirit” of the “Stay Home, Save Lives” message and my studio is closed until further notice.
What this means to me as a business – a business that has “fallen through the cracks” as regards governmental financial support – is that once again, I can’t make my studio available to my little group of “residents” and can only accept jobs that involve shooting outside and at a distance. And this is why I, like so many other photographers, am decidedly “unbusy” at the moment, with a depressingly empty calendar ahead. So, money is going out, but very little coming in.
But… I believe the industry and the economy will “rise again” later this year, possibly with a renewed energy.
For reasons that, with hindsight, even I am struggling to understand, in the middle of the pandemic, with several hungry mouths to feed (mine, 2 felines and an occasional daughter), I decided to splash out on new camera kit. Insane. I haven’t even had the mojo to go out and take photos for fun with my new camera. But an update was long overdue and the shoots that I’ve done with it so far (stilted unfamiliarity aside) have produced beautiful results. I’ll tell you more about my reckless purchase sometime soon but for now, here’s a few images from (comparitively) recent commercial shoots…
Another shoot from almost a year ago (August 2019 in fact – where did that year go?). Jess is a fabulous model I’ve worked with a few times and she returned for a workshop event at Strangetown Studio on a warm but windy summer’s day.
I think I first met Jess when she was modelling for a fashion designer and her fashion experience is very evident here, I think. But she’s much more than a fashion model – with that face, hair and figure, she could do pretty much anything! An absolute joy to photograph, as I hope these images convey.
Since coronageddon kicked off, and my usual photography bookings became rarer than truths from a government adviser, I’ve been filling my time with lots of online tutorials, walks, trying new recipes, and roughly 40% of the time, looking after my 13 year-old daughter – which largely involves making sure she gets on with her allotted schoolwork and regularly shovelling food to within arm’s reach. In addition, it’s been nice (for us both) to introduce her to some new creative activities such as music recording, digital art and editing photographs using Lightroom.
I confess there may be a longer term dream that she’ll one day take over the editing side of my photography business (when she’s not at university or becoming a massive success in whatever “proper” career direction she chooses) while I do the bit I enjoy most – taking pictures. Editing, to me, is a means to an end. Unlike many other photographers, I really don’t enjoy the editing process. However, predictably, my daughter has taken to Lightroom like a duck to water and within an hour of my initial guidance, was using functions that I rarely if ever use myself.
And so here are a few of my photographs as edited on Lightroom by “my young apprentice”. She chose to work on these images from a “Urban Ballet” themed shoot at my Strangetown Studio featuring the wonderful Emilie Walt. Not necessarily how I’d have done them – but that’s the whole point. I’m rather chuffed with her results…
Like many other self-employed peeps, the enforced lockdown has had a humungous and devastating effect on my photography business. For one reason or another, I was one of the many who “fell between the cracks” of the various governmental aid packages for the self-employed and small businesses and so with nothing coming in and still home/studio rent to pay, it’s been a pretty stressful time.
I tell you this not because I am about to announce a link to my JustBegging page or would like you to send me toilet roll and tins of baked beans at your earliest opportunity, but because there have been some actual positives to the time spent here alone. Here are a few…
- Professional Development: I have spent time reading a wide range of material and watching hours of tutorials (some good, many very bad) to consolidate – or learn for the first time – methods and techniques to improve the standard and range of my photographic understanding.
- Equipment: I have begun using my Holga (120) and Olympus Trip (35mm) to record some of my activities during lockdown on film, cameras that I haven’t taken out of my bag for a year or two. I’ve also had time to investigate potential new equipment purchases for when the work situation improves.
- Time Apart: Not HAVING to use my camera on a regular basis has meant that I’m now itching to get back to using it as soon as possible. The same could be said about my studio – I’m regularly buzzing with ideas about new shoots I’d like to realise.
- Worth: Seeing more and more work by my contemporaries, going through old images, remembering difficult shoots/clients has (without wishing to beat around a bush while blowing my own trumpet) made me realise that I am good at what I do and that my experience and skills should come at an appropriate price. I have sometimes accepted difficult jobs and put up with rude, unrealistic, unappreciative, and goalpost-shifting clients, sometimes for lower rates than I should accept and then had to expend a lot of time and effort to chase even those payments. A year or so ago I started saying “no” to clients who had taken advantage of my good nature (yes, it is generally good) consistently, whether through brief-stretching, late/non-payment, unreliability, dropping me for a cheaper photographer only to return when they didn’t get what they needed etc, and it’s been very cathartic. Lockdown has made me even more determined to continue this ethos – if it feels like it’s going to be more trouble than it’s worth, it usually is.
- Appreciation: This a lonely old trade sometimes, even moreso since I stopped teaching, but over the years I have made some true friends through photography. Whether other pro photographers, models, clients, former students, club members or studio residents, I am very fortunate to know some wonderful people. It’s worth mentioning here that several of my current studio residents offered to continue paying rent (or at least some of it) to help me continue to pay my landlord during lockdown. I declined but the offer meant a lot to me.
- Futureproofing: The only thing that is certain as we start to emerge from these dark days of lockdown is that nothing is certain. I personally doubt the industry will ever be quite the same – it has changed so much in recent years and I suspect the post-virus recession will prompt some recently redundant enthusiasts to join the ranks of us shutter-monkeys-for-hire (I know people who are doing this) as we scramble for fewer scraps of work for lower reward. But this is a constantly evolving business and twas ever thus. As some areas of photography become obsolete, others spring up. Photographers have always been adaptable or they weren’t photographers for very long. Some aspects of my business will continue to provide revenue, I’m sure, while others will need to be replaced. As someone who accepted his first professional commission 35 years ago, I am not particularly concerned with having to adapt. However, I increasingy recognise the necessity to consider an additional form of income as many of my colleagues have done.
As lockdown restrictions are gradually relaxed, Strangetown Studio is now able to be used again and I’m happy to say my first couple of shoot enquiries have trickled in. Here’s to a rapid and continued return to normality, whatever that is.
Anyway, enough of that serious stuff, here’s a nice photo of the ever-wonderful Cally…
I’m actually embarrassed at how long it’s taken me to finish and publish these images of Ivory Flame‘s gypsy caravan-themed shoot (we’re talking YEARS). In my defence, I’d already worked my way through editing the 700 or so images from this very inspiring and productive shoot when my laptop conked out and all of my Lightroom work-in-progress was lost.
And then, predictably, I got absorbed in other, current work and never got around to starting again with this shoot. It’s taken a global pandemic, social isolation and the disappearance of all work engagements to give me the opportunity to dip back into these images and start again on the editing. Silver linings, eh?
In a way, I’m rather glad to be attacking these images now because I’ve been developing a collection of painterly Lightroom presets that I think work beautifully with Ivory Flame’s wonderfully ephemeral and Pre-Raphaelite style.
As if Ivory Flame, an amazing authentic gypsy caravan, and a ruined cottage wasn’t enough to inspire heaps of photographs, Gillian’s horses came over to get in on the action…
And here’s a final selection from the hundreds of shots (that I’d be more than happy to share if there were time).
I’ll no doubt be raiding my dusty hard drives for more previously unpublished stuff during the zombie apocalypse. But for now, huge thanks again to the stunning Holly (Ivory Flame), Gillian (for the caravan and wonderful hospitality) and my little group of togs who made the whole thing feasible.
One advantage of the enforced isolation we now find ourselves in is having time to do things we’ve perhaps been meaning to do for a long time. For example, I’ve been able to delve into my deepest darkest archives and find whole shoots that for one reason or another, I never got around to editing.
What I’m going to share today, are images from a shoot I organised FOUR years ago featuring the truly unique Ivory Flame and with a “gypsy” theme (that she does so well).
The other star of this shoot, and the inspiration for the whole idea, is a genuine antique “gypsy caravan” that is owned by my good friend, Gillian, an award-winning designer. When Gillian showed me the caravan, which is at the bottom of her beautiful country garden, the idea for the shoot (including choice of model) instantly popped into my head.
What may not be immediately apparent from the images is that this was early spring and was blimming freezing! It was also spotting with rain and a cold spring wind was blowing through the garden, but Ivory Flame is a consummate professional and soldiered on regardless.
That’s all for now. I’ll post a few more soon.
There is, apparently, a nasty virus going around. It’s separating loved ones, frightening people of all ages, preventing and changing “normal” life, making people ill, ruining businesses, stalling education and careers, and even killing thousands.
Given that perspective, the cancellation of a few photography courses and workshops is pretty small beer really. Inevitably, under these extraordinary circumstances, I’ve postponed all of my training events until it’s safe and sensible to reschedule. Everyone affected has been contacted and have been wonderfully understanding (this is no surprise – my training clients are lovely folks). Whatever happens, and however long it takes, these bookings will be honoured.
I, like many other photographers, and many other freelance/self-employed people (including the models I work with), have a very uncertain future because of Covid-19. I noticed a fairly sudden drop-off in my usual PR and commercial work 4-6 weeks ago but hoped we’d escape the worst of it and could begin to recoup the lost earnings. It’s now apparent this is unlikely to happen any time soon and with studio and house rent to pay, I’m unsure how my business will weather this enforced period of inactivity. I went into self-isolation almost a week ago because I was showing symptoms of what I believe to be (but can’t be certain was) a cold and cough. I have no work whatseoever in the diary until September which is when the school photography contracts should begin – but of course, there’s a chance these may not materialise. Freelance photographers sadly cannot work from home.
But I’m one of the lucky ones. I am in generally good health, have food in my cupboards and freezer, have a little garden I can sit in for fresh air when needed – and most importantly, my family are safe, well and taking the necessary precautions to avoid infection. If my business doesn’t survive this, I’m sure I’ll adapt and eventually find alternative work.
My real sympathy is with those already infected or lost to this virus and their families.
And my eternal gratitude to the wonderful NHS and other keyworkers keeping this country battling through despite the best efforts of the moronic hordes of panic-buying, stockpiling, advice-ignoring, virus-spreading dimwits who see no reason to make any adjustment whatsoever to their own selfish routines in order to save the lives of innocent people. To those people, I wish a swift and painful death.
In an attempt to end on a lighter, photographic note (this is a photography page after all), I leave you with this image of lovely Laura (actually two shots, taken, edited, composited on an iphone) proving that there really is light at the end of the tunnel…