As a Historical Portrait Photographer, I felt privileged to undertake a sitting with Iain Duncan-Smith. Renowned as a veteran soldier, Member of Parliament and Cabinet Minister, Former Leader of the Conservative Party, andSecretary for Work and Pensions, his political career rivals many, and as such earns him a place of historical significance in British Politics. For me, I was therefore delighted when he accepted my invitation to sit for a portrait at Caxton House, London. I have long had an avid interest in socio-political history and as such have been aware of Iain Duncan-Smith’s presence on the political scene since my own childhood. Over the past few years, as the country has gone through a period of austerity, he has become a somewhat controversial politician eliciting different opinions from various walks of life.
Certain Portrait Sittings can weigh on a Photographer with a sense of trepidation. After all, the rapport and interaction between Photographer and Sitter is often notable in the finished images. The sitter needs to be on board with taking guidance and direction from the Photographer. When the sitter is someone as famous and eminent, as well as a natural figure-head and powerful, it can be somewhat daunting. Before the sitting I viewed various clips on YouTube, read opinions in newspapers and on social networking to gauge public opinion. In some instances he was described as “cruel” and, conversely, “just” in others. There is no doubt he splits opinion, and I wondered what the man would be like to work with.
When taking Historical Portraits I am keen that they should represent historical fact and not be a political statement in themselves. Effectively, the viewer should be able to overlay their own opinion of the character of the person in the picture. Iain Duncan-Smith is well known amongst photographers for creating a neutral portrait, ideal for history itself to become the judge of character.
Once I arrived at Caxton House, I was able to explain the type of Historical Portrait I hoped to achieve. I began by capturing a plain and determined expression. This naturally fed through to Duncan-Smith’s accustomed political stance and stature that we know from his rousing political speeches and broadcasts. These images portray the sense of power of the man speaking with authority and determination on the floor of the Commons.
Any trepidation I had soon melted away, as in person Iain Duncan-Smith is both kind and easy to work with. He is used to having his portrait taken and as such was at ease taking my direction and guidance for the shoot. Timed shortly after the failure of the Universal Credit Bill, pushed by IDS, it was ideally timed to represent the cross-roads which faced him as Secretary.
As opinions have come in to me following the images I am able to inwardly smile at my ability to create a portrait ready for the viewer’s opinion and not weighed down with my own political sentiment. Some feel I have captured the “essence of evil” while others have determined I’ve captured “a proud and well-respected politician”. Two sides of a coin: both correct in the eye of the beholder, both upholding those individual viewers’ opinions. If I can obtain varying opinions, both positive and negative, then I have achieved what I set out to achieve: impartiality. I have remained true to, and delivered on, the essence of the Historical Portrait.
Photographing Iain Duncan-Smith was both inspiring and rewarding, paving the way for many more political sittings and the challenges they bring.
Over the past few weeks I’ve had some down time giving me a chance to have look through my Back Catalogue. I discovered some more gems from my photoshoot with Rebecca Cordell Model; photographed some months ago, and with a little retouching I think they look amazing let me know what you think?
Nikon 24-70mm F2.8Gis a super versatile lens applicable to many different styles of shooting. It offers a wider focal coverage yet without compromising picture quality. The lens produces excellent results for a zoom lens; and with a male fashion photoshoot planned for this week, it was a perfect opportunity to put the Nikon 24-70mm on test. Mounted on a Nikon D810. My first initial thought was the weight of the lens, it’s a heavy piece of kit. Yet, the fast focusing, and sharpness of this lens quickly make it worth carrying.
It’s a workhorse, the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G ED lens is truly versatile and can be used for many different kinds of photography situations – from wide-angle landscapes and panoramas, to portraits and events; the lens is a good all-round piece of kit in any camera bag. I never took it off throughout the fashion session. With its constant aperture of F2.8 (meaning the aperture does not change while zooming) and state of the art optics, the lens is targeted towards enthusiasts and professionals alike, who work in various lighting and weather conditions and need exceptional sharpness, colour and contrast in their images – which is something the Nikon 24-70mm was designed to deliver. Even at F2.8 the lens was ultra sharp, with outstanding Depth of Field.
Using the Nikon 24-70mm F2.8Glens throughout the fashion shoot was a dream come true, the images are stunning, and its worth every penny. The question many photographers would ask is why would anyone want to spend over £1,000 on a lens with limited range when you can get one with a wider range for less? Well my answer is its an outstanding lens the optics are superb, at F2.8 its a fast zoom lens. It focuses quickly and accurately and delivers pictures that are sharp from corner to corner. Its robust construction does mean some increase in weight but it gives a comfortable feel on the camera and gives confidence that it will give a lifetime of good use, you will hardly take it off or be disapointed with this lens.
24-70mm zoom range (DX equivalent: 36-105mm).
Nano Crystal coat reduces ghost and flare.
Slim, durable and lightweight barrel.
SWM (Silent Wave Motor) for whisper quiet and fast autofocus.
Throughout the Spring I have been shooting a series of portfolio updates to bring more diversity to my book. This week I turned my attention to Male Fashion, working with Fashion Stylist Rikki Finley, Oxygen ModelsDaniel and Jay and makeup artist Nita Malata. we created two looks a Modern Fresh look and a Theatrical Expressionist look.
We shot on location at Hallam Mill Photography Studios in Stockport which created a great backdrop for the industrial scenes we wanted to create. I’ve been taught that Fashion photography is all about the clothes and a photographer needs to pull all the elements of the scene and model together in order to reflect it. I hope this is the case with the below and feedback would be appreciated, part two of the shoot will be posted in a few days.
Your Portfolio is the most important asset to any model, photographer, fashion stylist, hair stylist and makeup artist. To be competitive you must update your portfolio regularly with new work taking the opportunity to learn new skills, helping to provide your future clients with the best photography possible.
Religiously I test twice a month; either working on my own projects or collaborating with other creatives on theirs. In 2012 I will be doing a great deal of Testing, if you are a model, designer, fashion stylist, makeup artist, hair stylist or retoucher please get in touch.
This week I arranged a test with Kit from Nemesis Models at the Liverpool Studio. Kit was looking for some Topshop style edgy photography for her book and we spent half a day working on several looks. The images look great and I’m looking forward to working with Kit again the near future. Nita Malata did a wonderful job with hair & makeup.
With the bank holiday approaching its been a slow week so I decided to organise a beauty test shoot today with Rebecca Cordell @Industry People. The Team At Vidal Sassoon Liverpool styled Rebecca’s hair for the session.
As a photographer you should try new techniques and ideas and setup test shoots. You are only as good as your portfolio and your book should always be kept updated with new looks and trends. In my opinion a photographer should aways be shooting, a test can be simple or very complex depending on what level and how much money and time you have to invest.
For me it all starts with an idea, being inspired by a film, an advert, a magazine or even a work of art. My most recent test shoot below was a simple idea inspired by an Agyness Deyn shoot; I wanted some fierce portraiture for my book. I found model India Lownds and Makeup Artist Francesca Dalla-Riva who loved the ideas; we spent the afternoon working on these looks.
Last week I setup a test shoot with make-up artist Ruth Manion Palmer and recently signed model Martha from Boss Model Management. Taking inspiration from Noise Magazine, we wanted to create a series of fierce images.
Different evening looks allowed for Martha to unfold before our eyes. I do like working with new models as it’s a good opportunity for me to direct and learn how they are using their body, and what works well with their facial features as they too are learning for themselves. Fortunately for us Martha’s porcelain skin tone and petite facial features were perfect for the looks we were re-creating.