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Time for an update: I still use film, though. Not vast quantities, but I have a darkroom, and I'm not afraid to use it.

I enjoy every image I take: I hope you'll enjoy looking at them.
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30 Jun 2020 10:54AM   Views : 495 Unique : 325


My speciality, photographically, is nude and portrait images. Within these fields, there’s a myth, often perpetuated by photographers (and sometimes by models) that one person makes brilliant choices, and there’s a marvellous picture as a result. There are similar myths in every human activity: the clever detective (unaided, of course, by scene of crime officers and clerical support), the outstanding surgeon (who operates with no anaesthetist or theatre nurses), the entrepreneur who builds a distribution empire through sheer personal drive, unaided by warehouse workers and delivery drivers on zero hours contracts.

And the operative word is myth. Anyone who has worked as part of a good team will know the feeling that comes from interacting with competent people who know their job and do it. I had the sheer delight at one point in my career of running a team of internal auditors who were uniformly excellent. We dealt with some very challenging work over several years, and it was not always fun: but it was always satisfying. The feeling that your direct reports are watching your back – and not trying to stick knives in it – is wonderful! And should, of course, be rewarded by your loyalty to them.


And it’s the same in the studio, or on location, even if you don’t have the luxury of someone ‘assisting’ (which means that they get on with the boring things like loading cameras and adjusting lights while you snatch the glory). There’s still the teamwork between photographer and model, the ability of the model to hold or recreate a pose that you want to shoot from another angle, or anticipating the refinement that you were just about to ask for.

And the ultimate expression is in the way that your ideas feed off each other’s suggestions. The way that each change one of you suggests leads to a further, complimentary tweak from the other.
Yesterday, I had the pleasure of working with a lady called Illy, generally known as Black Beauty. Towards the end of the day’s photography, she said she wanted to use something she’d seen on Instagram as the basis for a few pictures. But we rang a few changes…


The shot we were working from was a colour image of a white girl, clothed, in even lighting. We used low-key, directional light on a nude black woman, and worked at variations on the pose. I think we were both pretty happy with the results. Black Beauty started with as close a copy of the original image as she could manage: I played with the angle and direction of the light to isolate her from the background and create interesting (and modesty-enhancing) shadows.

It comes back to a belief I’ve held for years – that if you put a competent photographer and a competent model in a space with light and a camera, good things happen. You don’t need a mood board, you don’t necessarily need a particular idea in mind, because the space and the light will start to suggest ideas. (Note, though, that some models and some photographers really need predetermined ideas to give them the confidence to start: we all work differently!)


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GGAB Avatar
GGAB 7 31 1 United States
30 Jun 2020 11:17AM
When you work as part of a team and all members are in sync, Great Things Happen!
dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.2k 2063 England
30 Jun 2020 11:22AM
That's so true, George!

In every single human activity... Even a hermit may depend on regular deliveries.
Lovebe_eyes Avatar
30 Jun 2020 11:08PM
"A portrait is not made in the camera but on either side of it" Edward Steichen

Or perhaps better still; on both sides of it..

Felt this quote connects with your thoughts John
dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.2k 2063 England
1 Jul 2020 8:45AM
Very much so, Chrissie! Thank you for the quote, which is absolutely true of good portraits. I'm thinking how it connects to Platon's chilling portrait of Vladimir Putin... But it does!

I'll extend this to bring in the saying that it's the eight inches behind the camera that matters most - was that Ansel Adams? Similarly, the eight inches behind the model's face are crucial.

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