The first term of photography is over. Next term, we move to our “major project”.
My major project is to produce 50 images for Making Life more Beautiful (my book). Last week we had to produce our proposal. The tutor had one word to describe my plans – “ambitious”.
We talked through how to approach the pictures I want to illustrate the book.
I want to take full length and facial portraits. Many of the students are doing pictures of people and some of them are using a studio with professional lighting. I have seen lots of versions of this type of photo (this one from Tilly and the Buttons) – brand coloured background and clothes, lighting, flash, perfect hair, makeup and subtle tattoo. I was thinking I would need a backdrop, lights and a flash gun, reflectors and various other expensive extras.
However this is not the look I want, even though it is pretty and appropriate for the market (young beginners).
I don’t want to be too pretentious but my inspiration is @DamianFoxe who is a truly amazing stylist and photographer. Here is my inspiration wall at the moment, packed full of work by Damien. The clothes are great but I am currently focused on the backgrounds.
For my own project I want real backgrounds, backgrounds that reflect my environment: London, the Cotswolds, building sites. I want backgrounds which complement my models and their natural beauty and colouring, rather than my “brand” colours.
My tutor suggested I research the backgrounds first, photographing them and being prepared for the model. This turned out to be brilliant advice.
Over the weekend, I went round the Cotswold estate where we live, which is still being built, and I took several backgrounds. I tried natural ones, fences, brickwork, stone work. These all had a nice neutral look and I thought if I could get mastery of the depth of field I might be able to get a muzzy background.
I also tried painted, distressed surfaces which I found more appealing, a bit more edgy, and of course more colourful.
This was a fascinating experiment and really meant I was well prepared when Bella, my teenage model and next door neighbour, arrived. I knew where to go and what setting to use. I was confident I could get a good picture and I was able to “direct” her.
I have five more models to find and photograph, and I have a deadline of early June. I am hoping to rope in a few friends from work, and possibly a couple of family members. Bella enjoys being photographed and it shows, I think. Most people I know hate it. That’s a problem I have yet to overcome.