Filip @ Grace Model Management

Last week I had the pleasure of doing another shoot for Grace Model Management. I’ve done 2 shoots for them before, and both times I’ve got some awesome images for my portfolio, so when they emailed me to ask to do another shoot, I figured that it would be a great idea.

Also, I’d just (finally) brought a speedlite that I really wanted to use for a shoot.

I brought the speedlite so that I could challenge myself with using flash in my outdoor work. I came to this decision after sitting down, looking at my portfolio and really considering what it is that I like about my work. Also, I went through my photography “inspiration folder” to figure out what kind of images I’m drawn to and what it is that interests me.

Having looked through my portfolio, these images of mine really stood out to me:




Edith @ Grace Model Management



Considering them, I really thought that they all have quite dramatic lighting, or, at least, there is something about the lighting that adds to the image. One thing I love is drama, and, as every one knows, shadows always add drama, so I considered how I could make my work a bit more dramatic and buying a flashgun seemed like a great idea.

Another thing I wanted to think about in relation to my work is the technical aspect. I love watching videos and researching new lighting setups. I really miss shooting in the studio, and, as I don’t have the money to hire out studios, I’ve been thinking about how to utilize the great outdoors to create images that look like they have been shot in a studio.

Anyway, getting onto the shoot:

I was in London about two weeks ago for a shoot for a client, and it happened to be in Moorgate. Luckily I got there a lot earlier than expected so I took the time to wander about. I’d never been to Moorgate before but I was sure glad I did! I found some awesome locations to shoot, and I knew that as soon as I had the chance, that I wanted to come back and shoot:

Initial Location scouting images.

IMG_20150822_121103 IMG_20150822_121146 IMG_20150822_121302

The photo shoot with Filip went very smoothly, as he was very comfortable in front of the camera.

I decided to start off with a few quick test shots and then I decided to get out my flashgun and figue out how it works.

I’d brought a TTL wire for the camera, but it proved to be way too short for my liking, so after a few frames of shooting TTL, I decided to stop and use the ambient light for the rest of the shoot. This proved vital; I knew that I wanted to shoot more with the flashgun but there would be plenty of time for that; for now I just wanted to make sure that it worked!

Here is the only “final” image I shot with the flash:

Exif Data: 1/100th, f9,

Although I like it, I’m aware that it’s not perfect; the flashgun should be raised higher so that the left hand side of Filip’s neck is in shadow, rather than there being such an odd looking shadow. Also, I realized that the tripod I was using was not high enough for my liking, so I know that I have to buy a “proper” flashgun stand!

After shooting with the flash, I knew that I really wanted to continue shooting images that weren’t flat and evenly lit so we took a wander around, trying to find small quiet backstreets that would give us:

a) a quiet and mostly deserted place to shoot. Sometimes model’s can find public spaces intimidating, especially if they haven’t had a lot of experience.

b) the kind of lighting I was after. I was looking for a thin alleyway that had a solid ceiling with a wide doorway, so that I could position Filip in a spot where the ambient light filters in. By shooting in a place with a ceiling, it meant that some light would be blocked, creating shadows that I could control by asking Filip to move. Also, this allowed me to think about shooting different looks and how I could maximize the time we had shooting by trying out different lighting techniques.

Filip 2
Exif Data: 1/100th, f7.1

After shooting these two images, we took another wander (the whole shoot was quite a constant wander, of the best kind) and found another interesting location where the light filtered in from one direction. Havig shot mainly headshots for the last few images, I thought that this would be ample opportunity to shoot some full length shots, which are very much required in a model’s portfolio! Also, I really liked directional lighting in this location, as it allowed for a much more dramatic image than I could have shot in the middle of the street. I also paid very careful attention to the background, which was already quite dark, and I knew that shooting against this would add more of a variety to the images. I shot most of these images in this location in black and white, because I knew that was I was going to edit the images:

Exif Data for both Images: 1/125, f5.6.

We then decided to shoot another image literally 3 steps away from the last location and we ended up shooting this image:

Exif Data: 1/100th, f5.6

As you can see, the image is vastly different in mood and atmosphere. With a little post production, this image has more of a vintage feel, and the split lighting adds a good contrast to Filip’s face.

It’s super important to be aware as a photographer about how you can use the environment. Look around you in all directions and see the world in shapes, textures and patterns. What will happen if you position your model in front of a textured wall and shoot with a wide aperture? How will this different from shooting below the model and using the sky as the backdrop? What kind of mood will each location add to the image. Do you want a dark background because the model is wearing something bright? Or perhaps your model is wearing black and you want to shoot in front of black wall so that you can pick out details of the clothes using rim lights. The location can really help or hinder an image!

Filip and I then ended up in front of this really cool building (after wandering again), which was a community centre for young adults. I really like the oldness of the location, and the fact that it was full of texture. Also, there was a lot of space for me to back up and shoot, so I knew thart I could get a decent full length image of Filip here. I asked him to sit down on the steps, as I was aware I hadn’t shot any images of him sitting down (variation!). I also like the composition that the door gave to image, which, for me, balanced out the frame:

Exif Data: 1/125th, f5.6

Just as I was about to go, I noticed this wall, that I’d been standing perpendicular to, and I knew that I wanted to shoot here. Because the wall had a lot of different textures, I asked Filip to put his black jacket on, so that it would separate him from the texture. I had originally intended to shoot this image in black and white, but when I put the image into photoshop, I noticed that Filip’s hair merged too much with the darker stones, which was sorted by editing the image in colour:

Exif Data: 1/125th, f5.6

After shooting here, we ended up wandering around Liverpool Street, trying to find a backstreet where I could shoot something a little more dramatic. We ended up in a really thin alleyway, which was perfect for what I had in mind, especially when I saw some dark green shutters.

I knew that these shutters would be really easy to turn to black in photoshop, and, as light was only filtering in from above this little alleyway, that the light would hit Filip in an interesting way, almost giving a studio like effect that could be accomplished with snoots. I was aware that this image would end up being quite dark and contrasted, but I thought that it would make a great variation on all of the other images we’d shot so far:

IMG_3808Exif Data: 1/100th, f4.5

All in all, I had a great time shooting Filip, as it really gave me a chance to experiment with ambient light to create different moods and lighting patterns. Also, I got to test out my flashgun (which I’ll totally be using a lot more of!) and I got to create images for Filip’s portfolio!

If you have any questions or comments about my shoot, or to ask about how I did anything, just ask!


Miss Aniela’s Surreal Fashion: True Art or False Photography?

Migration of the flock


I have been a big fan of Miss Aniela’s work for a long time. I really admire her self-portraits but I feel that her latest series of work, Surreal Fashion is really exceptional. In fact, I think it could really change the way photographers shoot fashion. But is it really about fashion?


I understand that Miss Aniela is a fine art photographer, who has ventured into creating these amazing fashion events, but realistically, what is her work really about?


When I look at her series of work, I see images of amazing clothes worn by amazing models shot at amazing locations. But I don’t see a fashion photograph; I see an image that hasn’t fully decided if it belongs in the realms of fashion or fine art photography.


The taking and reusing animals from old paintings is a wonderfully creative idea, but at the end of the day, these images (in their own right) aren’t really Miss Aniela’s work. I like what she’s done and in no way am I condemning her for creating such visual photographs, but I feel that taking art and placing it in a photograph does not make it your work. Sure, she may credit the artist’s but I feel that that doesn’t really translate the vision and passion they used to paint these animals, which has been completely forgotten in translation.




Yes, I respect that she has given a new life to these animals but I feel that in most of her images, they serve as a distraction to the initial focus as the image rather than add to it. If the image is about fashion, they why the animals? Surely they aren’t there only to add a surreal context to the image? Surely Miss Aniela is much more creative with her images (as her self portraits suggest) and can create a surreal atmosphere without adding tons of postproduction into her images. In my opinion, her best work in the series are the ones where she has used no animals at all.


In fact, I really worry about the amount of postproduction in her images. Sure, her images are amazing because of it, and sure, she can sell each image for £1000 because you know that they are worth in in postproduction alone, but realistically, why does the original image need to be altered so much?


More importantly, what affect will that have on the future of photography? If thousands of photographers are looking at her work and aspiring to create work like hers, and fashion designers are looking at her work and wanting that look for their garments, then where will fashion photography end up?


I respect the merging of fashion and fine art photography as they are both genres of photography that I find myself creating, but by merging them together, Miss Aniela has created images that are neither. They seem to be stuck in a weird limbo of reality and unreality, where you are looking at neither a photograph nor a painting. Calling her images photographs does somewhat of a disservice to photography, as her image was not made in camera. Even if her images were not made in camera, the fact that the animals are not photographs she has taken means (technically) that she cannot call her images photographs as it retains elements that have not been taken with a camera, which is what, ultimately, photographs are.


At the same time, Miss Aniela does not paint her images (albeit you could argue that the painterly quality she achieves through postproduction could count for something) so the images are not paintings.


Is it a piece of art?


I’m not sure. Her work seems to have the painterly quality and visual aesthetic that is associated with art but it’s being sold a  photography. (I don’t really want to go into that whole “what is art?” debate right now, but I’ll create a super long blog post about it sometime, soon. Maybe). I can see why it could be considered art. She certainly seems to have taken a huge amount of time to post process the image. So much so, she probably could have painted it in that time.


To be honest, Miss Aniela’s surreal fashion series confuses me. It seems to be photography, posing as art, without having been painted, whilst remaining limited to the viewfinder of the camera.

Is it art? Is it photography?

It may be awesome but to be honest, I think it’s both and neither at the same time.