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In the beginnings of my photographic career, I started out on the cruise ships.  If you are interested and can be arsed, I have a whole blog about how we got to Barbados here – but if you can’t (and I don’t blame you) be rest assured that it was a rather long journey.

First things first – I loved the ships.

When you walk on to your first contract, you are ever so green.  You don’t know the rules; you can’t fathom how anyone can navigate the miles of narrow corridors and passageways in the belly of the crew areas, you don’t understand how a bar can survive selling cans of beer for 35p, and you certainly have no idea that you were the only person in the galaxy that doesn’t smoke.

When you step on board for your first contract, it is a very exciting time.

The work is hard and rewarding – but it is not really the job that makes the ships so great.  It’s not the amazing places you see, the cheap beer or the great weather.   It’s the people.  When you step on board your first contract, you board with no friends.  By the end of your first day, you have been blessed with 500.

And so when I got a phantom text from Rob some time last year asking if we were still in Barbados, Sian and I got very excited at the thought of catching up with him and his partner Corea when they were in port.  I worked with Corea (a very talented singer) during every contract that I did with Colorbox, and I worked one contract with Rob – a camp dancer – on the Celebration in 2009 (only joking – Rob is a fine singer too).

We did what most ship mates do; played computer games, drank lots, visited beaches and made tits of ourselves on our days off.

Good times.

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Rob and Corea have been out in the Caribbean for a few months now, working on the Thomson Dream.  We had them over for a roast a few weeks back, and Rob asked if I would mind doing some new head shots for them next time they were in.  So we headed down to Codrington College – a few minutes drive from my house, and got some lovely shots.

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Now, as many of you already know, I am no stranger to headshots and I always enjoy the challenge of getting that portrait.  Corea and Rob are, by the nature of their business, very beautiful people anyway.  This not only makes my job easier, but more fun.  The soft flattering light suits Corea wonderfully, whereas the hard, side-lit shots suit Rob’s larger, more angular frame.

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As well as the usual full length/three quarters and tight crop, you also have to be aware that a lot of performers want their shots to be presented in black and white as well.  And, as fond fans will already know, that means you need to look for texture – another reason for heading to Codrington.  The building is made of beautiful coral stone – riddled with patterns and notches and holes, all of which help add that texture and interest to the monochrome.

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Overall I am really pleased with the shots we got…let’s hope they are too!

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Thanks for reading as always guys, and see you all next week 🙂

x

One of the great things about my job is that I never know who is going to walk through the door and book a shoot.  Last week I got a call from one of my team saying that (a very lovely) guest had come in to book a shoot, and that she had a huge pile of ideas and cuttings that she had as inspiration.

And when I got the big stack of papers, I could feel the grin expand from between my ears…this was going to be exceptionally good fun.

Unlike most of the families that come into the Colorbox Studio, Charlotte did not want pictures of her beautiful daughter, Sandra, with the cobalt blue Bajan sky and deep turquoise of the Atlantic behind her – far from it.  They were after a more high-fashion look, with bleached tones, soft light and lots and lots of buttery bokeh…I was more than happy to oblige.

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We started off with a few shots in the studio,  and then headed out into the grounds of The Crane.   Luckily, Sian was free to help assist with flash, and the weather played ball too.  Normally, when the clouds are overhead and the skies are a little grey, guests are, naturally disappointed.  But when that sun is out and glaring, it makes my job much, much harder.  The sun here in Barbados is incredibly strong, and it makes creating soft, flattering light very tricky.  Luckily, for all parties concerned on this shoot, the clouds were out in force.

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A little about these shots…

[Mega boring photo nerdary – please skip if this is not of interest!]

Charlotte was adamant that she wanted that creamy out of focus for these head shots…which is quite tricky out here in paradise.  Why?

Light.

In order to get that depth of field, you need to shoot at a long focal length for maximum compression (blog to come) but you also need to shoot with a wide aperture.   A wide aperture means you need to shoot with a faster shutter speed – all of this is fine if you are shooting in ambient light, but if I plonk Sandra in the Bajan sun (clouds or not) she is going to end up squinting like mad, and the contrast will be unbearably strong…so what do I do?  Control the light.  I shoot my flash through a whacking great big umbrella.  But this then throws up another problem – shooting at 2.8 in Barbados, you need a shutter of well over 500 to beat out the sun, but my flash will only sync at 250.  So the game comes about of looking for nice ambient light (like shady spots) that I can then introduce my artificial, soft flash, to bathe the beautiful Sandra in…and, sometimes, like today, it all just comes together.

 

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I can’t tell you how refreshing and exciting it was to do a shoot like this.  It is very different to the usual stuff we shoot.  For the first time ever, my job wasn’t to show idyllic Barbados – scenes to make friends and family jealous of what they missed during the holiday of a lifetime…my brief was to get a high fashion look.  And when you’re working with someone as beautiful as Sandra, that job is made so much easier.

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These two shots are, without a doubt, my favourite of the day.  The light is just perfect.  The wind was kicking up and unhelpfully turned the umbrella inside out.  I asked Sian to bounce the light off the grass a few feet in front of Sandra, and the shots we got were stunning.  I love the classic – almost 30s feel to these shots – both in lighting and in Sandra’s expression…awesome.

 

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After 45 minutes or so, we headed down to the beach to finish up – I will leave the final pictures to do the talking.

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Thanks for reading guys – more photos and adventures next week!!

 

For more info on the Colorbox Studio – please visit our Facebook Page, or head to www.colorbox.co.uk 🙂 Also, keep an eye out for Green People – they are suppliers of organic beauty and sun products…and Sandra may well be on her way to being the face for them!

Every now and then, like I was able to here, I get to show you all my ‘real’ work.  That is, proper shoots, that are organised and paid for, rather than me dicking around with my camera knocking coconuts out of trees like I did last week.

Well, I am pleased to say, today’s post is one of those (no, not me dicking about).

While we were at home on holiday, my boss Gary called me and asked if I could do a shoot that he had organised.  Now, most people who are called in on their holiday may be a little annoyed, but when it means going out in the autumn colours with my beloved D800, some pocket wizards and two flash assistants…well, it’s hardly a problem.

Oh – and it turns out Scarlett is absolutely stunning.  Which always helps too.

Scarlett is currently applying to various universities and colleges to embark on her career in the drama world.  It seems like a lifetime ago that I too was doing the same thing, and as such I knew exactly what she was after, the holy grail for any budding actor: good head shots.

Now, a less experienced photographer may think that head shots are easy.  A less experienced photographer is very, very wrong.  I have sat with a lot of my good actor pals for hours whilst they deliberate over which of the fifty shots they have been given is ‘the best’.   As an actor, you are taught to be critical…and most of them are even better at being critical of themselves (seriously, it can get down right depressing).  So your job as the photog is to make sure you get everything right.  Flattering, soft light and eye contact with the model are the most important things.  Scarlett’s picture is about to hit a few dozen desks, and it may be the difference between her application being read or just dropped in the bin.  I (hope) you will all agree, Scarlett’s head shot is definitely going to grab the attention of her future teachers.

Once we had got this one in the bag…well, we had some fun 🙂

We were shooting in Leatherhead and started off in the local church.

And after that we headed over the road to a stream/rivery thing.  I was really lucky to have both Sian and Gary assisting with the flashes, which meant that we could bathe Scarlett in scrummy soft light through a 36″ umbrella, and hit her with a much harder bare bulb speedlight from behind.  This helps separate her from the background, and highlight her beautiful deep-red hair.

Scarlett was great fun and when I  suggested she shuffle out on this branch, precariously overhanging the rivery thing, she was more than happy to brave it.

And as light was fading, and to prove how much fun we are all when we are shooting, I share with you the final shot of the day.

Thanks for the gig Gary – was a blast as always, and good luck  with the upcoming auditions and interviews Scarlett – you will walk them all 🙂

Thanks for reading guys x