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John Duder Chats With ePHOTOzine Member Mistere

Learn more about ePHOTOzine member Mistere as he sits down with John Duder to discuss how he got into photography, what kit he uses and who he'd most like to photograph.

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Dave photographing Kym Williams at Click Away Studio, Wednesbury. © John Duder

Dave photographing Kym Williams at Click Away Studio, Wednesbury. © John Duder

 

Dave (known to ePHOTOzine members as mistere) has been a keen amateur photographer for a long time and a member here at ePHOTOzine for getting on six years but has tended to focus on landscape, travel and architecture. He’s relatively recently started shooting models, both portraits and nudes and I caught up with him just before a lighting workshop with Kym Williams at Click Away Studio in Wednesbury – which has provided some of the pictures for this article. I know, from working with him, that he’s soft-spoken and considerate – the sort of photographer who models like and respect (and this shows in the references models leave on his portfolio on Purpleport!)

 

Why did you decide to branch out in your photography?

A number of reasons. Partly because I wanted to improve: I’d very rarely had the opportunity to photograph people, other than kids and grandchildren. I wanted to learn how to do that – it was another part of photography that I hadn’t ventured into. I looked at it and decided that it was something I’d like to do.

 

Kym Williams at Click Away Studio, Wednesbury. © Dave Edkins

Kym Williams at Click Away Studio, Wednesbury. © Dave Edkins

 

What are you aiming to show in your pictures? Do you have an artistic aim?

Up to a point, yes, but I haven’t discovered exactly what direction that is yet. I know the pictures that I like to look at, and the pictures that I take that go in that direction are the ones I tend to prefer. But I’m relatively new to it and there’s an awful lot to learn, deciding what to do and where to go with it is… not confusing, but not making the wrong decision is the important thing, really.

I remember you posted a very characterful portrait of Misuzu a few weeks ago and you said afterwards, in a private message to me, that you’d had doubts about whether to post it, though I suspect it’s one that she’d like an awful lot. It brought out character rather than being a conventional glamour portrait.

Yes, I looked at that picture for a long time before I uploaded it.  The thing with that was that I looked through Misuzu’s portfolio and there wasn’t anything that was quite as intimate or had that much of an introspective look. I haven’t had any negative response from her, so I’m assuming she’s OK with it. It is a particular favourite and I'm very pleased with it, I look at it sometimes and have trouble believing that I actually took it.

 

What’s your technical approach?

I’m still learning, so I’m not sure. I look at the subject and try to work out what settings would be required to get the picture that I want. I’m not quite good enough yet to instinctively know that, so there’s always a bit of trial and error. I can usually get to where I want to be. Capturing what’s in front of me is the important thing, not how the book says to do it. I read the destructions, then adapt them and try and get something that looks right, and feels comfortable. I’m probably a little bit over-aware of the subject in some respects, and I’ll abandon getting the photograph if the model’s not comfortable in any way.

 

Dave looking thoughtful while being interviewed.

Dave looking thoughtful while being interviewed.

 

That sounds to me like something very important, in that many photographers know what they want to get, and everyone else gets out of the way. I’ve seen a press photographer working with a child in hospital, taking variations until the child was in tears. It strikes me that you’re the opposite of that.

I would have removed the man. I’d rather look after the subject than get the wonderful picture – the model might never want to work with you again. Why spoil a whole working relationship for the sake of one or two images? Bear in mind that with one exception, all the shoots that I’ve done up to now have been workshops or group shoots. I’ve only done one shoot where there was just me and the model. I definitely am going to do a lot more though, it’s fabulous. It’s quite a steep learning curve, from never having done it before to walking into a building where it’s just you and the model. Where it landed with me was after I’d booked the shoot. Then I thought 'OK – what am I going to do?' Having some idea is important, so you’re not wandering around taking photographs for the sake of it. I did have a very definite idea of some of the things that I wanted to do, some of which would have been better in a warm studio than in a natural light setting.

 

Misuzu, with Christmas light bracelet at The X Factory in Stoke-upon-Trent. © Dave Edkins

Misuzu, with Christmas light bracelet at The X Factory in Stoke-upon-Trent. © Dave Edkins

 

Inherent in that is that you value the long-term working relationship with the model above individual results on one occasion.

Absolutely! I hope to be working with Misuzu for a long while to come. And some of the other models I’ve worked with as well.

 

Are there any lenses that you find particularly useful?

Walking about somewhere like Rome, I like to have a telephoto – very, very useful. I’m a bit lazy, so changing lenses… I forget to do it. I see something, I pick the camera up and then it’s ‘oh if only I’d put the long lens on.’ So the Tamron 16-300mm that I have is very useful. For the studio work, I’m getting used to working with prime lenses that I hadn’t used prior, and I love the results, but I’m still missing the zoom aspects, so the lens that I tend to keep on the camera is the 24-120mm. I think it’s a reasonable compromise, but I do try and make myself switch over to the prime lenses. 

 

Do you prefer working in natural light, or in a studio?

Misuzu out of doors on a rather grey day at The X Factory. © Dave Edkins

Misuzu out of doors on a rather grey day at The X Factory. © Dave Edkins

 

Natural light, absolutely. Because it’s natural, it just feels easier. You’re not restricted by the light you have, it’s far more flexible. If it’s not right over here, try it over there. Studio lighting is great for getting specific results. If you want to get that type of picture, you can set it up and control absolutely everything and get the picture that you want. But in order to do that, you have to know how to do it, and I don’t, yet. Maybe in six or twelve months, when I’ve learnt how to use the studio better I'll do that... But at the moment, I find natural light far more enjoyable.

 

What’s the biggest challenge in working with models?

In my limited experience, I would say it’s remembering to talk to them. You can get so involved in trying to take a photograph that you forget that there’s somebody standing in front of you. I've realised sometimes that I’ve taken twenty or thirty photographs of someone and not said a word. I think it matters, otherwise, you end up with a whole bunch of pictures of someone that you don’t know. I think you get much better results and people usually respond well if you show an interest in them. It’s a person doing a job, and it’s just nicer to have a conversation while you’re taking the photographs. The first few shoots, I had no idea, but I’m learning now. It’s beneficial, you can take a portrait of a real person. An absolute benefit is that is slows me down! Rather than taking lots of photographs, I can try and take some good ones.

 

The context for Dave’s shot of Misuzu on the roof. © John Duder

The context for Dave’s shot of Misuzu on the roof. © John Duder

 

What do you do if you lose motivation?

I’ll let you know.

 

Your pictures often make me wish I was there – is that a good reaction, for you?

I love that. We have some friends who always used to have holidays on the beach. I showed them some photographs of one of our holidays in Rome, they were really interested and they came with us the next year, they’ve been back many times since. If I can take photographs that have that kind of effect it’s brilliant. If people get in touch and ask who’s that model, or where’s that cathedral, or any chance we can come to Rome with you, that's great. I'd be more than happy to be the tour guide.

 

Misuzu and Dave indoors at the X Factory – a beautiful contrast of Misuzu’s elegance and the dilapidated look of a factory that hasn’t been used for years. Legal urbex! © John Duder

Misuzu and Dave indoors at the X Factory - a beautiful contrast of Misuzu’s elegance and the dilapidated look of a factory that hasn’t been used for years. Legal urbex! © John Duder

 

Who would be your ideal subject for a portrait sitting?

Robert Redford perhaps. There are so many people you think you’d like to meet, but when you sit down and think whether you’d like to take that person’s portrait, that’s another thing altogether. With Robert Redford, as he’s aged, he’s still fascinating.

 

What advice would you give to other photographers wanting to follow you into model photography?

Find a mentor. Find somebody whose work you admire, somebody that you can work with – especially if that person happens to be a tutor. It’s absolutely priceless. Group sessions have a place in the mix, but not as much as I thought they would. Good for practising technique and they can be useful after a few sessions with the same people, as you get to know them and talk to them. The more experienced photographers will pass on what they know and it’s nice if you can help someone with their photography. Sometimes groups can be a bit cold and unwelcoming, but in general, they are helpful, but not as good as one-to-one sessions and workshops.

Kym Williams at Click Away Studio, Wednesbury. © Dave Edkins

Kym Williams at Click Away Studio, Wednesbury. © Dave Edkins

 

And jump in and do it, feet first. Go and do it and enjoy it. It’s a hobby – if you’re not enjoying it, just walk away for a while.

 

Dave and Kym at Click Away – the difference between the simplicity of the images Dave was taking and the busyness of the background reflects the way that studios are full of equipment and props to allow a wide range of photographs in limited space. © John Duder

Dave and Kym at Click Away – the difference between the simplicity of the images Dave was taking and the busyness of the background reflects the way that studios are full of equipment and props to allow a wide range of photographs in limited space. © John Duder

 

Note:  Both Misuzu and the X Factory are members of Purpleport.com, and members of that site can book them there. I also interviewed Misuzu for ePHOTOzine and it's well worth a read. I also chattered with ePHOTOzine member Andy Gray earlier this month to learn more about his love for landscape photography

 

About Author: John Duder 

John Duder has been an amateur photographer for fifty years, which surprises him, as he still reckons he’s 17.

Over the last year or so, he’s been writing articles for ePHOTOzine, as well as being a member of the Critique Team. He’s also been running occasional lighting workshops and providing one-to-one photographic tuition.

He remains addicted to cameras, lenses, and film.


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Comments


dudler Plus
15 861 1488 England
29 Jan 2019 6:42PM
Sincere apologies for the omission of a link to Dave's portrait of Misuzu, when theis first went up. It's HERE . It'll be in the right place tomorrow.

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mistere Plus
5 4 3 England
30 Jan 2019 8:25AM
Thanks John.

Dave.
mex 11 27 3 United Kingdom
30 Jan 2019 5:21PM
Thanks John & Dave interesting article nice images too

Phil.Smile.
30 Jan 2019 6:02PM
Thanks for sharing your insight in this article, John & Dave.

FredSmile
An excellent article Smile

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