I haven’t done one of these contact sheets for a long time and I thought that this set was an interesting example. I submitted this set of sixteen pictures and they are all landscape in orientation. That’s because the slot they were shot for was across two pages and always a squarish landscape image. As I said in the previous post, the whole thing was done in ten minutes on a dull Autumn (fall) day in Hyde Park. That time included setting up and breaking down the Lumedyne light and chatting to the subject. Note that she is clutching her novel in the opening frame. I find that it’s always a good idea to do that if their publicist insists so that you can then go on to get the pictures that will actually get used.
Back in 2004 Fearne Cotton was enjoying a very rapid rise in her profile and her career was really taking off. The TES Magazine had done an interview with her for their “My Best Teacher” feature and I was sent to a studio in west London to shoot a portrait to go with it.
It turned out that it was a hire studio where she had been shot for a BBC magazine earlier in the day and they were (rightly) less than happy about another photographer coming in and piggy-backing onto another shoot. In the end we reached a deal where I shot using all of my own lights in the main studio and in the dressing room as long as I was in and out in twenty-five minutes. I think that the shoot in the studio was over in less than ten minutes and the whole job was completed in fifteen. Fearne had had a long day and the weather outside was dreadful. Neither of us wanted to prolong the job and, even at an early age, she was such a good professional that it was a very successful shoot.
These portraits were shot using a Canon EOS1D camera with 16-35 f2.8L, 24-70 f2.8L and 70-200 f2.8L lenses and lit using a single Lumedyne Signature series flash kit with a 24×32 inch Chimera soft box. The job was shot in the days when I was happy to shoot JPEGs straight out of the camera.
This was a set of pictures shot on location as part of a “how to do it” technique piece for Photography Monthly magazine. The idea was simple – use flash to make something very cool from some sort of active sport. I was put in contact with the tier, Keegan Walker, through a young photographer that assists me from time to time on commercial shoots and we arranged to shoot at the skatepark near where they both live which is about ten miles from my own home.
I used a couple of Canon EOS5D MkII cameras with 16-35 f2.8L, 24-70 f2.8L and 70-200 f2.8L IS lenses as well as the excellent Elinchrom Ranger Quadra flash system supplemented by a couple of Canon 580exII Speedlights with Elinchrom Skyport receivers triggering them. There were plenty of clamps, gels and light modifiers in use too – including my rather lovely modified beauty dish and the equally great Chimera 24″ x 32″ soft box.
The sky at dusk is my favourite backdrop for all kinds of shoots and the May evening sky provided us with something special to work with. Keegan is pretty good at what he does and I had to ask him several times to actually get less height from the ramps so that my pictures looked better! Two hours on a nice evening messing around and shooting pictures is a pretty good way to make a living. The unfortunate part of this particular commission was that I had to write the words that described exactly what I had done and how I had done it. One day I will get around to reproducing the whole piece for you.
One of my favourite sets of portraits that I ever made was of a lady by the name of Reina Lewis who had just been appointed to a new post at The London College of Fashion to become Professor of Cultural Studies. The pictures were shot at her home and I could see when I got there that she was definitely aware of how important some good pictures in the right newspaper could be. We shot a range of images from some tight head and shoulders against a plain wall to some full-length sitting ones in one of the elegant chairs that she had.
All of the pictures that you see here are entirely uncropped. They were shot on a pair of Canon EOS1D MkII cameras with 24-70 f2.8L and 70-200 f2.8L lenses and lit using a single Lumedyne Signature series flash kit with a 24×32 inch Chimera soft box. The Canon CR2 RAW files were converted using Adobe Camera RAW in Adobe Photoshop CS3.
Within two hours of posting a portrait of College Principal Jane Rapley at Central St Martins on this blog, I’d had four emails asking to see the rest of the shoot. I can’t do that but I can share the rest of the edit.
I’m not going to repeat everything that I wrote on the original blog posting but you can see that the image I selected to feature was very much the “odd one out”. I have always thought that this set represented a good selection of portraits from a single session but looking back five and a half years on I have realised how many uprights there are and how few horizontal compositions. I’d like to think that was because I knew that the newspaper wanted uprights but I’m not sure that’s the case. Anyway, to those of you who wanted to see this selection… I hope that you like them!
Going back through an old portfolio I was reminded of a lot of portraits that I used to love. One of them is this session with Mexican author Carlos Fuentes shot at his London home in December 1999. He was both charming and cooperative and his home was easily spacious enough to set up as much gear as I had been able to carry up the stairs.
He had already been interviewed by a reporter to whom he was obviously a hero and I had spent a while asking her about him and his work. These were the days when the internet was just starting to become useful for background research. The trouble was that this was a last minute assignment and getting on line when you were on the road was a very tricky task. These days we all have smart phones with Google and Wikipedia but back then it was a lot tougher to become an instant expert of your subject. I looked his CV up later and was a bit embarrassed that I had never heard of him. I read a coupe of translations of his books over that Christmas break and I hope that I will never get caught out like that again.
Techie stuff: Kodak/Canon DCS520 cameras with 17-35 f2.8L, 28-70 f2.8L and 70-200 f2.8L lenses. All lit with a Lumedyne Classic series flash and a 70cm shoot through umbrella with the hair light in some frames provided by a Canon 550ex flash unit.