- Photographs are fickle, or at least our love of photographs is. We come back from a job and have our instant favourites, or the ones we know are best suited for the client. A lot of the time however there is a picture which we love, but isn’t actually published by the client, or that we have a particular affinity with for no apparent reason…..
For me this is often a gut reaction, and might come from the time I spent with the subject, the overcoming of problems on the job, or just because. A lot of the time it’s because of the light. In fact, without the light the picture never works….
So I thought we would show some of the images which are our secret loves of 2013. Some of these are from jobs we may have talked about before, but hopefully we can find something fresh in all of them!
Dave’s first picture from 2013 is this photograph of the shipwrecked SS Telamon. Taken whilst on holiday (Holidays???? Who would have thought….) on his Fuji x100s, Dave likes the stillness of the water and the impact this has on the mood of the image in contrast with the violence of the disaster. Dave first saw the wreck when he was working on the cruise ships in the mid 90’s, and when he saw it again whilst travelling to his holiday apartment he made a point of coming back to photograph it. Dave cycled back to the wreck before dawn, and the colours on the picture are from the tungsten lights on the surrounding dockyards, with the sky just being lit by the pre dawn light.
Dave’s second choice was taken on one of the hottest days of the past summer, when temperatures exceeded 30′ C. The Outlaw Triathalon consists of a long distance swim, then a bike ride and then a marathon. Held at the National Watersports Centre in Nottingham, the weather could not have been less suited. By the early afternoon the heat was peaking, and the competitors had been in action since dawn. Taking on water and staying hydrated was not just for refreshment but almost survival, and this runner is desperately trying to take in as much as possible.
Dave’s third choice is from a set of portraits he shot for The Sunday Times of world record holding athlete Sophie Hahn, at Loughborough University. Not published by the paper, Dave loves this picture for its simplicity and the quality of the light from the ring flash. The backdrop is actually a soft exercise mat propped up on the wall.
Dave’s fourth pic is this portrait of George Fish, which was produced as part of a set for The Sunday Telegraph. George has done extensive research into his ancestors involvement in WW1. Again Dave likes this image for the quality of the light, this time using a reflector to bounce the very harsh sunlight back into the subject. Used as a cutout by the paper, the narrow depth of field and the background gives the image authenticity and a sense of pride.
Dave’s fifth choice of the year is this portrait of Jim Swire, the father of Lockerbie bombing victim Flora Swire. Shot as one of a set for the Independent on Sunday, this image was used online, but not in print. Shot in the wood Jim has planted and maintained in memory of his daughter, (Flora’s Wood) near Bromsgrove, the sunlight breaking through the trees and the quality of the light again helps to convey the strong emotions attached to the wood for Jim. A very rushed picture, with light fading and changing rapidly (The picture was made on nearly the shortest day of the year…) the result exceeded Dave’s expectations.
My first choice was shot on almost my last job of the year. Taken whilst covering an E.on sponsored party for Age Concern, this is one of those off the cuff moments which I just love. As Santa gives out his pressies he receives an unexpected and enthusiastic response. For me it’s the emotion of the moment combined with my love of that widey photojournalism style. The picture brings together everything I look for, an almost unseen observer perspective, everything focusing together on the subject, and the sense of reality as the other participants seem oblivious to the moment.
My second choice is a portrait I shot of Julie Bailey. Julie has written a book about the disaster at the Mid Staffs health authority which lead to the death of hundreds of people, including her mother. Shot for The Sunday Times, the picture was taken in her tiny cafe in Stafford between interviews with the television and national radio. As usual in these circumstances the stills photographer is bottom of the pile, and I had to wait a considerable time crammed amongst the customers and the TV crews, and when I finally had my 30 seconds I had a location that was limited, crowded and overlooked. A quick shovelling of jackets and TV tripods out of the way, one simple soft box and it was job done. My initial reaction on leaving was one of disappointment and annoyance. Once again I felt I had been stopped from doing a great picture by too little time. On reflection however I love the picture for its simplicity and the normalicy of the location. You can almost taste the custard and feel the vinyl table cloth, and yet in the middle of this slice of small town life stands this larger than life angry woman who was a driving force behind exposing this terrible national scandal.
My third choice is this portrait of Dancing on Ice star Mark Hanretty and his wife Kathy at home with their new baby. Shot for the Daily Record in Scotland, it’s a seemingly normal image, but the simplicity of the picture hides my feelings of pride in producing this almost seamless image in a small room, in a short time, and with a simple one light set up. The subjects are clearly happy and even relaxed, and there really isn’t anything technical or trendy to get in the way of communicating that. Sometimes less is more and this is one of those times when you come away from a job and feel that you have hit the nail square on. The picture was used over an entire page.
My fourth picture was shot for the Daily Express Sports desk. There are a couple of things I like about this image. I am pleased that I was able to shoot a proper picture (for me….) for a tabloid paper. Most of the time portraits like this for the tabloids are pretty dull, but if you make an effort, and have the opportunity, then you can lift these pictures and this would not go amiss in The Observer; So that pleases me. A sense of pride in knowing that I did something that exceeds the norm. I also love this guy. With a name like Exodus, he delivers just what you think. A confident outgoing and fun guy, with an expressive nature, I felt afterwards that I had caught a bit of that, and also that I had nailed the lighting! The paper again used the picture across almost an entire page.
My final choice from 2013 is this portrait shot on location in the lobby at the Theatre Royal in Nottingham of actor Nancy Carroll. (Shouldn’t that be Actress???) Shot as part of a set for the Indy, the paper used two other images from the shoot very well. As with all of these things you are trying to produce a good selection of images from a short 10 minute allowance of time. Arriving early I had a number of lights ready to go, and had pre thought through a couple of shots… with a third as an extra if we could squeeze more time. The first shot turned into a disaster, with awful reflections and poor colour, so I fluffed that and pushed on, attempting to appear cool and business as usual even though time was fast slipping away and I didn’t have a picture… the second location was better, and by now I had everyones confidence and the subject was relaxing, so I was able to push onto the third location and that produced the final images that were used by the paper. My chosen picture from this shoot is from the second location. Again a simple and bold picture, I love the narrow depth of field, and in particular I am pleased that I nailed the eyes. It doesn’t look forced (IMHO…) and I think she looks great. For me all of this combines with the feeling of accomplishment from getting the image in a restricted and difficult set of circumstances. (Radio slaves can be a pita.)
Well, I hope you enjoyed these. There is some variety of style, and I think there are various reasons which go into our choices, which might give some insight into how we have to work, what we are trying to accomplish and what drives us!
I would like to say a special thanks to all of those people who helped us make these pictures, including those who gave us the opportunity by commissioning us, the subjects, and the folks at the various location who brought us together.
Here’s to a good 2014!
Please remember that all of the above images are copyright, and not for use outside of this blog!