What do you get when you combine one of the best photographers in the UK with a top of the range Olympus OM-D camera? Truly amazing photography, that's what.
Two names now synonymous with each other are Damian 'The BIG Dog' McGillicuddy and Olympus. Over the last year, Damian has been using an Olympus OM-D to create some of the most visually and technically stunning fashion, fetish and glamour portraits out there today.
You could say Damian caught the photography bug with Olympus as his first digital camera was an Olympus E10. "I was impressed with it, but I wanted the versatility of having interchangable lenses. I've always thought Olympus delivered the best quality," says Damian.
Damian started his career wanting to be an album artist. "I went to art school quite early to study for a degree in fine art," he explains. "I'd have loved to create album art for the likes of Iron Maiden but records were being phased out in favour of CDs so I had to think of another way I could express myself creatively."
'The BIG Dog' got his first taste of photography snapping the bands at college. "Believe it or not, I was quite socially awkward at college. I hid out in the dark rooms - which led me down the photography route. David Bailey has always been a great inspiration of mine, and my new - although somewhat childish aim - (I was still in my teens) was to emulate his success and strive to be an iconic photographer," he says. "A few of the bands asked me to take some shots of them, which in turn brought me to the attention of girls. I photographed them flatteringly. I suppose that's where the model photography began - suddenly little awkward me was becoming a little more popular!"
Damian is the ONLY photographer to hold 5 UK Master Photographer of the Year Awards, along with 7 Society Photographer of the Year awards and being one of only 3 individuals to be honoured with the title of 'Grand Master'. He has been a professional photographer for over 25 years, gaining a whopping 673 awards along the way!
So, why does glamour and fetish photography appeal so much? "I like the way it shines - it's not just because it's latex or leather," Damian says. "Fetish is like the last taboo - nudity just doesn't seem to have the same effect any more. I like how fetish imagery plays with the mind - and I get paid!"
Joining him now on his very successful fashon, fetish, glamour and portrait photography career path is the Olympus OM-D or, in Damian's words, the 'OMG OM-D!'
"I was initially sent the OM-D for review," explains Damian. "I took an initial shot, and printed it off in 20x20 format. I was impressed immediately by the quality and sharpness of the shot - even more so when I realised the shot was in fact a JPEG, and not a RAW file!"
Above: Damian's sketches for two of his shoots.
"Most professional photographers would look at the OM-D and immediately think that it's not big enough for their needs," adds Damian. "But it's not about the size, it's what you can do with it that counts! I myself initially wanted the camera to fall down at the first hurdle. I thought: 'it's trying to be something it's not'. I was soon proved very wrong!"
Damian first 'fell' for the OM-D when he compared the quality of OM-D shots to that of other cameras: "I was photographing showroom interiors, and I didn't have a wide enough lens at the time on the OM-D for the shot I wanted. I was forced to use another camera - and the difference in quality was apparent. The images on the other camera appeared soft compared to those on the OM-D. I was totally bowled over by the clarity you can get from shots with this camera."
Over his career Damian has had the opportunity to travel the world and photograph some of the top models in the world, as well as some of the most famous, and infamous, celebrities. He is a master of portraiture, among several other genres, and the OM-D has given him the creative freedom to achieve the best images around, with models all over the country clamouring to get in on the action. He has a unique style to his shots that is, quite simply, not matched by any other photographer out there today.
"For the above image I wanted to prove that, with just a little thought and effort, some of the old maxims can be ignored - you can shoot a portrait with a wide angle lens if you use its properties to your advantage," explains Damian. "The narrative, posing and styling of the image all play an important part in the overall success of the image. The styling, propping, pose and even the tilt of the camera all contribute to the feeling of 'Gangsta chic'."
Lay your hands on an OM-D and you’ll soon discover why it is the weapon of choice for this top Pro photographer. The electric viewfinder alone makes it super easy to check your highlight and shadow levels and your white balance, among other effects, without having to take your eye off the subject. Fast autofocus and 9.0 high speed sequential shooting make it a challenge to miss a shot!
There's such a wide variety of lenses and accessories available for the OM-D that, whatever your preferred area of photography is, the OM-D has it covered. From grips and battery packs to flash units, it’s all there to allow you to focus on your photography, safe in the knowledge that the OM-D has got your back.
The OM-D delivers stunning quality while being compact enough to be carried anywhere. Like Damian, once you've picked up an OM-D you will soon be leaving all your old kit behind in favour of this all-encompassing mirrorless wonder. Whether you're shooting in a studio environment, or out on location, the versatility of the OM-D means that it can be used in almost any photographic situation to produce out-of-this-world results.
"The OM-D means that I no longer have to take huge luggage with me. I no longer have to drive around in an estate car. It's all there, in one small and perfectly formed package," enthuses Damian.
Damian's love for the OM-D has recently led to a collaboration between 'The BIG Dog' himself and Olympus, to bring photographers a series of unforgettable workshops on a wide variety of subjects where they can learn to shoot images that are as impressive as Damian's. The 'WOW! It's just the way we work' series of workshops, which took place last year, were a sell out success. Plus, that's not the end of this perfect partnership – they've got more fabulous events planned for this year!
"I'm very excited about what we've got planned for this year," says Damian. "We've got plenty of affordable hands-on seminars and workshops taking place around the country - with some chances to win fantastic once-in-a-lifetime prizes too. We'll teach you the truth about photography. No smoke, no mirrors. As important as your equipment is, you also need the right knowledge to succeed. Anyone can learn if they're given the right guidance and put enough effort in."
On top of all this, Olympus has got something big planned right here at ePHOTOzine. Watch this space - you won't want to miss it!
Visit Damian McGillicuddy’s website
to learn more about 'The BIG Dog' himself and more information about the OM-D can be found on the Olympus website
To Buy your OM-D now, visit the WEX Photographic website.
To sign up to be notified of upcoming workshops, click here