Saturday, 18 December 2010

Two Peaks are better than none (via iPhone)...

On our second wedding anniversary Tom and I decided we were going to try and run the Three Peaks. Approximately 24miles over the three highest peaks in the Yorkshire Dales. Peny-ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough. We've walked them all (a long time ago) and loved it...but it was Summer then! Unfortunately, not having a map meant we couldn't start until we had purchased one. We arrived the night before at the usually open Peny-ghent Cafe but they had closed for Christmas so the map purchase was going to have to wait until the morning :(

At 9am in Settle the next morning, the map was bought and our adventure began. Armed with a bag of Mars Bars, my iPhone and little else we trotted off confident that we'd make all three as long as we could run the downs and the bits in-between the peaks. However, once we got up high the snow and ice was treacherous and it made the up and the down very, very difficult to navigate and stay upright. It was such an adventure and a little hairy in places but it was so much fun. Armed with my iPhone I knew I had sufficient photographic armoury to make the best of the surrounding breathtaking views.

We were the only people out there and in places which are popular among tourists and walkers a like we both relished the solitude. The peaks were all ours for one day. The time ticked on though and we knew we would be cutting it fine to make the last peak (Ingleborough). As we climbed Whernside, Ingleborough was just a stones throw away and bathed in the slowly setting sun. If only we had left an hour earlier and that last peak would have been ours. But we had to err on the side of caution. We could definitely have made it up to the top of Ingleborough but we weren't so sure we would have made it down in the light and as much as it was our anniversary, a trip in a helicopter wasn't quite what we had planned so we ran into the setting sun to the nearest village.

With 23 miles in our legs, a day full of cold, fresh Yorkshire beauty and my iPhone full of magic we got back to our warm snuggly cottage with tired bodies and the filthiest feet and we ended the evening in a restaurant up the road. Our perfect anniversary...except for the missing peak... an opportunity to go back and finish Summer!!!

Enjoy our day from start to finish via my iPhone... (if you want to see the picture bigger just click on it).

H x

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

What's a Licentiateship???

I've had such a lovely response from so many people about my award and I can't thank you all enough for your positive comments and genuine happiness for me... but... I know a few of you are a tad confused about what I won the award for. It's way to complicated to explain in 140 characters so hopefully this will make some sense of it for you.

I'm a member of the British Institue of Professional Photography (BIPP) and they have a qualification system. The levels are Affiliate, Licentiate, Associate and Fellow. When I joined the BIPP last year they said I didn't have to qualify for Affiliate, that they recognised my photography as being of a high enough standard to start as an Affliate and that I could head towards my Licentiateship straight away.

I had to submit 20 images including a working profile that explained:

-What the images were taken for and how I achieved the end result (technically).
-A personal statement about me and my photography and what I'm working towards.
-My photography insurance certificate, proof of professional indemnity and my CV.
-And supporting evidence (basically proof of published work and commissions).

Click on the below jpg for the panel of images I submitted...

All of the high res images and required information goes to a panel of judges who discuss the work and the images separately, it gets marked and then that determines whether or not you get awarded your qualification. I was awarded my Licentiateship earlier this year, yeahhh!!

BUT what I hadn't realised was that they had chosen my panel of images to go forward to be nominated for the Best Licentiateship Panel 2010. On the evening of the awards, held at Blenheim Palace in Oxford, we were told that 100 people were awarded their Licentiateship this year, that five people had gone forward to be nominated for the Best Panel award and... that I was the winner!!!!

... phew... does that make sense now?

I'm so pleased to have won, and so surprised... those that know Tom, he'll tell you if you ask, I nearly fell off my chair! I had some inspirational conversations with some of the photographers that were there and they were so complimentary about my work, it's motivated me like nothing else and that's such a great feeling.

My plan is to start working towards my Associateship, and I'm really looking forward to being assigned a BIPP mentor that is going to push me and my images as hard as possible to get the best out of myself. I'm also hoping the process will push my photography into a particular style and that based on that style I'll get booked for lots of the shoots that I really love doing.

So there you have it, that's what a Licentiateship is and that's what I won my award for. Thanks for all of your comments and support and I can't wait to get the Associateship ball rolling...

H x

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Busy bee...

"If you need something doing, give it to someone busy"... isn't that how the saying goes?

This month has been crazy... brilliant, but crazy!

Earlier in the year I was commissioned to shoot the cover image for a great book, Britain and the Olympic Games - Past, Present & Legacy, which was launched last Tuesday in London. Matt Rogan and his Dad Martin (the authors) weren't quite sure what they wanted to have as the front cover. The nice thing about this commission though was that Matt already loved my work and trusted me and my ideas. We worked together to come up with what we thought would be the perfect image for his first ever book.

I shot it on the track at Leeds Metropolitan University armed with a British flag and a plethora of ideas, none of which I was sure would work! I'd asked my good friend Sarah if she thought her son Joe would like to be the model, he's got such a great face and he's also an aspiring and talented athlete, I knew he would be perfect. The hardest thing was trying to keep an element of childish hope, talent and Britishness yet not really show Joe's face as he needed to be anonymous to stop people wondering who he was. We also wanted to age the picture to maintain the sense of the past yet keep the colour in the flag to represent the present, with Joe representing the legacy.

The launch on Tuesday went brilliantly and it was great to meet the publishers as well as hang out with Matt & Martin Rogan. The book looks great (available on Amazon if you fancy a read) and I'm proud to have shot the cover. Matt loved so many of the images Joe & I created that day on Carnegie track that he asked for five of them to be printed on blocks (see below). I found some motivational sports quotes and added them to the images and Matt auctioned them, raising £1500 for the Meningitis Trust. Hope you like them...

So... what else have I been up to...

Well, if you take a look at the portfolio section of my website you'll see I've finally got round to updating a lot of the images on it. It's one of those tasks that I put off and put off but I'm pleased I've done it.

I've just shot another front cover for TVTimes with Lorraine Kelly and was really pleased to be commissioned to shoot Theo Paphitis, for the BBC. I'll tell you all about him in my next blog. I've just spent two days in Manchester Children's Hospital for ITV's series 2 of the programme and tomorrow I'll be photographing ballet dancers just before they go on stage. My job is anything but boring, I absolutely love it. I'm also really excited to see if I'll be lucky enough to be commissioned for a tv project that will take me over the pond to the US of A with a celebrity...fingers crossed!! And of course I'm still shooting my daily picture via iPhone, a habit I don't think I'll ever stop.

Happy snapping!

H :0)

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Not as easy as it looks...

I always thought that the photographs that appear in TV listings guides/papers/magazines were video grabs from the actual shows. Then while working as a freelance press photographer I discovered this wasn't actually the case and it got me thinking how much I would enjoy being on the nicer side of the media fence. How lovely it must be to have 'all that time' to set up some dramatic images I thought. All of those camera tested, beautiful, photogenic actors/actresses to photograph and then see your pictures every week in glorious technicolour in said listings. Oh how wrong I was!

I learned pretty quickly while climbing the staff photography ladder at ITV that time is certainly of the essence and as the stills photographer on a TV or film set none of that time is prioritised for stills thank you very much. Oh and those lights that have beautifully lit the scene you're there to capture, nope, they're not there for you either...

So how does it all work? Oddly it does and I still love this part of my job, I know how the television industry works like the back of my hand, understanding my place and when and where I can over step the mark (which I have to overstep every now and then or get forgotten) and when to keep my camera quiet. It's a challenge, honestly, it's really not easy. Cast and crew make the numbers on a TV set up to at least twenty five to thirty people (minimum). All departments work like well oiled machines and from camera's, lighting, costume, make-up, props and then behind the scenes press and publicity, communication is key.

There are two types of photography used to publicise programmes and films... unit photography which basically covers certain scenes that represent the episode/show/film and what we call 'specials' which are set ups of the main characters/cast.

For unit stills, picture publicists tell me the certain scenes that they want covering. They're usually fights, stunts like car crashes, train crashes etc, kisses or arguments. I'm there while the scenes are rehearsed and then recorded. Depending on the scene sometimes I shoot the rehearsal (it means I don't have to cut into scheduled filming time and I keep everyone happy) but sometimes shooting the rehearsals doesn't work for me and so I have to set my images up, usually at the end of the scene (not favoured when you've been given last scene of the day to cover on a Friday evening!!)

Then we have the specials. The above TV Times cover is a 'special' which means that time (haha, I'll get back to this) is actually given to get these images. Sometimes if I'm lucky I get to shoot specials when the main characters are on off days and not filming which means pressure isn't so high.

For this TV Times cover however, due to hectic schedules, I wasn't that lucky. TV Times were very keen to get a strong image from the period drama Joe Maddison's War and from their warm picture desk in London had no idea (or care) that for this shot I had ten minutes. Hardly oodles and noodles of time to get quite an important and strong image for them. Luckily for specials I always have an assistant and so while some of the scenes were being shot my assistant and I chose a spot to do the shoot, set a couple of lights up and did a test shot so that I would be as ready as I could be when I was given the nod. We were shooting at a war memorial on the coast in Whitley Bay, and the second Kevin & Robson had finished on set I used my ten minutes as frantically as Anneka Rice and managed to get a few different set ups so TV Times had a choice of images. Costume and make-up always accompany a shoot. I haven't got time to check buttons are buttoned, or collars are flat or hair is in place so as a unit we work together (in a hurry) and before you know it the actors are being screamed for to be back on set and I'm done.

So, there you have it and the next time you see an image in a listing magazine then think of me, I was probably standing in the cold waiting like a sniper for the right moment to pounce to get my pictures :)

H x

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Stick to what you're good at...

It turns out that being a successful photographer doesn't mean that you're good at all photography. Actually that's quite an obvious thing to say. However, It's taken me a while to shed my defensive nature and accept that some photography (usually the stuff I enjoy - surprise surprise) is the kind of stuff I love doing and am good at. Whereas other areas I really don't enjoy and surprise surprise although I can do it, I'm no good at it... there's a difference.

While Tom & I were spectating at The Vitruvian (a half Ironman distance triathlon event in Leicester) I travelled light and only had my trusty iPhone4 as my camera companion. The day was littered with amazing photographic opportunities. We were there to support many of our friends who were racing yet oddly my eye was drawn away from the people as individuals and I got caught up in the mysterious loveliness that the rising sun and thick fog were creating.

As we waited for the start of the race Tom got his camera out so he could catch our friends during the race. It was then that I realised I'm just not into race photography. Don't get me wrong, I love looking at amazing race/in action images (which Tom's actually really good at.) A couple of my triathlete friends (David & his wife Sharon Rowe) are a wicked race photography combination and I love seeing their sport images. The images that appear on back pages after huge sporting events like the Olympics blow me away but for me personally I just don't enjoy doing it. Give me athlete portraiture and I'm there, man/woman at one with their sport, I love it. It's a bit weird but I can only put it down to actually not being that great at race photography and the monotony of snapping away at every competitor bores me. There's definitely a talent to it and I admire those that are good it, but leave the random arty side to me and I'm as happy as the proverbial pig.

Now I've accepted that a) I don't enjoy that sort of photography and b) I'm not that good at it I can move on.

So I'm sticking to what I'm good at...BUT that doesn't mean not pushing my photography boundaries and getting out of my comfort zone. That's an important part of learning how to grow and lately I've been challenged quite a bit and as uncomfortable as it's been at the start by the time I've finished the process I've learnt so much. No one job is ever the same, it's an amazing occupation, in fact I dont really feel like I work for a living, it's a bonus that I get paid for doing something that I love!!

Freelancing is a bit like these tentative swimmers. They can swim and they all know roughly how the course goes. The fact that the fog has blighted their path doesn't stop them from getting in and trusting their instincts and the people in front. Even if they go off course a little they'll find the end eventually and be all the more proud for doing so.

I've just finished shooting the cover image for a book being written about the Olympics and once the launch in November is done I'll blog about the creative process and how we went about getting the right image from start to finish.

Happy week.

H :0)