New YouTube video - working with modelling agencies

My latest YouTube video gives my top 5 tips for photographers who want to start testing with new faces from modelling agencies. This is a new series I'm developing where I give 5 tips on various elements involved in being a photographer. I've already made a video on 5 marketing tips for photographers which you can view here. If there's any particular videos you'd like to see from me, let me know in the comments below!

New work for 55 Pages magazine

My latest editorial for issue 12 of 55 pages magazine is out now! I met the editor, Chris, at London Fashion Week in September last year and was struck by the political spirit that pervaded the magazine. I knew I wanted to shoot an editorial for this unique magazine.

Although my editorial would be trend lead, in the wake of the snap general election I wanted the shoot to make a political statement as well, or at least nail my colours to the wall in some way. 55 pages is a Labour supporting title, red is a huge trend for AW17, and so 'Red Revolution' was born!  

You can view the full editorial here. As is always the way, the magazine chose different photos to those I would have chosen; they're looking for different things. The stylist and make up artist will choose different photos to me as well. They'll will be looking for photos that showcase the clothes or make up best. Everyone on set has a different priority. 

My blog is a place where I can share my favourite photos, not those chosen by someone else, so here are my favourite photos from this shoot     

We shot at Sunset Studio in Peckham with an amazing team and some fantastic brands such as Teatum Jones, Scoth & Soda, Preen Line plus exciting new labels Helen Lawrence, Havva and RDLux at Young British Designers. Looking forward to my next editorial for 55 Pages already! 

Organising your photography equipment with TrekPak!

I’ve mentioned before that some advice I got as a young photographer starting out was not to get preoccupied with the latest model of equipment and feel pressure to keep up with the constantly changing advances in technology. Far better, I was told, to focus on improving your skills with the equipment you have. This advice has always stuck with me and I haven’t ever felt obliged to keep up with the latest model. I've only upgraded when I felt I’ve gone as far as I can go with my current equipment. This has allowed me to stay focused and, as the phrase goes, ‘never blame my tools’.

This advice has also extended to how I carry my equipment around. I once read an interview with a famous photographer (whose name, frustratingly, escapes me at present!) who said they used to carry their equipment around in a plastic bag. This reinforced the lesson I learned starting out, so I always thought, ‘if it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for me’. But I definitely found maintaining my 'earthy' methods of transporting my equipment more of a struggle than resisting the peer pressure to upgrade my kit. I’ve always wanted to look stylish going on shoots so for years I carried my equipment around in various different hand bags, usually carrying two or three at a time because one wouldn’t fit everything. The upshot of this was my back and shoulders were always sore, I arrived on set a sweaty mess (thus completely undermining my goal of looking chic) and most importantly, my camera equipment wasn’t properly protected.

About a year ago, my selfless mum lent me her very stylish carry-on case when I was taking a flight from Dublin to London and didn’t have enough room for everything. This case (which I still haven’t returned #terribledaughter) quickly became my camera equipment case. Undoubtedly a vast improvement on my situation but still not ideal. The equipment was easy to carry around and I arrived on set less sweaty. BUT the equipment still wasn’t protected - the case simply wasn’t designed for that purpose - and I could never find anything because the gear was thrown together, pell-mell, in one large compartment.

Imagine my DELIGHT when a company called Peli Products reached out and said they wanted to collaborate on the TrekPak divider system they stock. TrekPak have developed a customisable divider system for the Peli case range which protects and organises your photography equipment. I make no exaggeration when I say, it’s changed my life! Now the proud owner of a Peli 1510 Protector Case, I finally have appropriate and robust protection for my equipment. The case is virtually indestructible (plus all cases come with a lifetime guarantee) and the dimensions mean it can be taken as carry-on luggage with most airlines. SO handy.

Trekpak make inserts to fit a whole host of different Peli case sizes - here’s the one to fit the 1510 case. They all come with protective top foam and bottom foam (designed to fit around the wheels and handle of the case) as well as perimeter pieces of foam - also designed to fit the case perfectly. The really clever part though is the dividers, cutting tool and pins provided which allow the user to create as many compartments as they need to feel organised. I’ve made this short YouTube video to show you how I’ve organised my TrekPak and how quick n' easy the whole process is.

As you can see, I’ve created three compartments: one for my nano stand, one for my camera and flash unit, and one for sundries such as radio triggers, spare batteries, memory cards etc. This is perfect for organising and transporting shoot essentials and the beauty of the foam dividers provided is that if I want to reorganise my gear in a different way, I just need to cut a new piece and pin it in.

Before

Before

After

After

Organised bliss!

Organised bliss!

Before I started using TrekPak I hadn’t realised how much time I wasted on a shoot looking for smaller items like memory cards or batteries. Now that everything is organised, I can find it immediately. I can’t recommend the Peli case and TrekPak highly enough, the only downside is that I now have no excuse not to return my mum’s suitcase…

Shooting for Noctis Magazine

Back in March I shot this SS17 menswear editorial for Noctis Magazine. It was my first time shooting with Sinclair from First and let me tell you, it won't be my last! Sinclair is such a great model, full of ideas and absolutely fearless - I've never seen anyone so readily pole vault fences or scale drain pipes.  

Our stylist, Dani, had pulled some amazing brands such as House of Holland x Umbro and KTZ

As ever, I shot with flash, my trusty Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT never lets me down! The one photo in this editorial where I haven't used flash (can you guess which one?) happened purely because I was shooting faster than the recycling speed of the flash and I quite liked the result. 

We used my apartment as a base for grooming and outfit changes and then walked 15 minutes to the location. This eventually became too tedious and time-consuming to do each time so some changes may have taken place behind walls and wheelie bins. Never let anyone tell you fashion is glamorous!  All in all, it was a fab day with a great team - thanks for having me Noctis!

Shooting for House of Coco Magazine

I'm delighted to share this exclusive editorial I shot for House of Coco Magazine - Blade Runner. I used gels for the first time in my career and loved it, I'll definitely be using them again. They can be tricky to get right but with a bit of trial and error we found the balance. I'm excited to say I'll be shooting again for House of Coco later in the year so watch this space! 

Such a pleasure to shoot with Sarah Obende from First Model Management, her look was absolutely perfect for this editorial. Huge thanks to Smashbox Studio for letting us use their amazing space and their very talented MUA Joanne Reyes for the stunning make up. Art direction by the wonderful Charlotte Lea and awesome, futuristic styling by Karine Jones.  

New video - 5 marketing tips for photographers

My latest YouTube video is all about my top 5 marketing tips for photographers. The video expands a bit on a blog post I wrote on this subject previously but I've included a couple of new items including some really cool business card drives from USB memory direct - watch the video below or click here to view. 

What's in my camera bag?

I've made a video all about what's in my camera bag. I have blogged on the subject before but this video goes into a lot more detail - perhaps too much! Check it out, I'd love to know what you think. If you have an idea for a video you'd really like to see from me, let me know in the comments below. 

'Damn cool bridesmaids' - new YouTube video with Rewritten

Late last year I shot with bridesmaid dress label Rewritten who make affordable, luxury dresses for 'damn cool bridesmaids'. You might remember in my first YouTube video - I promised interviews with designers, models, make-up artists and various fashion industry folk. Well, it's taken a while but I've finally delivered on this promise with an interview with Frances Hudson and Katie Arnott - co-founders of ReWritten. 

These ladies have a really inspiring story about how they started their brand so it's well worth a watch if you're thinking about starting your own business, are interested in fashion or are in the market for some beautiful bridesmaid dresses! 

rewritten montage 1.jpg

I love the images from our shoot last year and I especially love the fact that the red 'chianti' dress is red wine proof! If you like this video, do subscribe to my channel for my behind the scenes on fashion shoots and interviews coming soon! 

Dreamingless Magazine cover shoot

I have mentioned before that I started working with model and DJ, Zara Martin last year. Zara and I had said for months that we would like to shoot something more creative together so at the start of December, having put together a damn fine creative team, we arrived at Smashbox Studios for a day of shooting. We had decided to submit an editorial to Dreamingless Magazine, a favourite I've shot with before, which would be coming out towards the end of the month - near NYE. The working title was ‘Last night a DJ saved my life’ (geddit?!) so the outfits were sparkling and we had glitter canons at the ready. The glitter canons actually caused something of a stir in the studio, we had no idea how loud they were going to be. Despite almost bursting everyone’s eardrums/risking cardiac arrest, the canons created a beautiful effect which snagged us the front cover! Totally worth it.

Inevitably, some of my favourite shots didn’t make the cut. I’ve spoken before about the photographer and client having different priorities. So here are some of my favourites, because if I can’t sneak them into my own blog, where can I?! 

Shoot credits

Art Direction by Charlotte Lea

Styling by Daniela Suarez

Stylist assistant Rojan Said

Make up by Joanne Reyes using Smashbox

Hair by James Wilson 

 

Shooting: challenges and rewards

 

On a Saturday night towards the end of last year, I received a call from an unknown number while I was cooking dinner. I almost didn’t answer because we had guests over at the time, but I decided to abandon my hostessing duties for a moment. As it turns out, the call was from Debut Magazine, asking me if I was available to shoot the main fashion editorial for their December issue that coming Monday morning. Never one to shy away from a challenge, I said yes. I suppose someone dropped out, but I was only too happy to pick up the slack.

The theme of the issue was ‘Celebration’ and the editors wanted the editorial to depict a raucous Christmas party. Well, maybe I added raucous to the brief actually. We were shooting at Bodo’s Schloss in Kensington, which for those of you who don’t know, is an Alpine ski lodge themed bar. Kitsch doesn’t begin to cover it and I’d say they’ve seen a raucous party or two in their time. When myself and my assistant, Charlotte, arrived the first thing we saw was a life size plastic reindeer on wheels. I immediately thought of the iconic picture of Jade Jagger riding a horse in Studio 54 so we made reinterpreting that photo our top priority.

Shooting for clients is a privilege, of course, but I think most photographers would agree that there is often a chasm between what you want to get out of a shoot versus what your client wants to get out of the shoot. You have different priorities and it’s important for both sides to remain respectful of that. You need to appreciate that a client is paying you to shoot what they want but equally the client needs to appreciate that they have booked you for your particular style so there is little point in asking you to make a departure from that. If so, they may as well have booked a different photographer. 

This shoot was no different, there were frames we agreed on and frames we didn’t. Set-ups I loved and set-ups the client didn’t. You figure out a compromise as you go along. Sometimes a challenge can be that a client will want to see an entire look from head to toe. But I feel that an 8-10 page editorial of full looks, using the same focal length, has no cadence and no story. And I'm all about telling a story. 

This red dress was the last look we were shooting and I was finding it quite tricky. Especially as we had shot in every possible nook and cranny of the location already. Below is a shot I thought was really fun, but Debut didn’t like. The shot below that is the one we finally worked out and agreed on. And I love it! 

This shoot was unusual as I slotted in last minute. I normally have more time to prepare for my shoots, get to grips with the mood board and styling and help choose the models. I wasn’t involved in any of the preparation for the shoot and I felt the effects of that. I didn’t quite have the same ownership of and vision for this shoot as I would for others. But you’ve got to challenge yourself, put yourself into new situations, make some mistakes, and think on your feet if you want to improve. I’m delighted I did this shoot and it’s always such a thrill to see your work in print. Thanks for having me Debut!

If you'd like more chat about common challenges photographers face - let me know in the comments below! 

 

Favourite photos 2016

Following a bit of end of year self-reflection, I decided to share my favourite photos I took in 2016. It’s quite exciting to see your style and skills evolve. I didn’t do a round-up of my favourite photos in 2015, but I can see a marked difference in the work I produced that year, compared to this year. On that subject, I recently stumbled across the photos I put into my application for my MA in Goldsmith’s over 8 years ago. I wept with laughter at how appalling they were. But it felt great to see evidence of the huge difference practise, grind and putting in the hours make. I can’t wait to see where I am in another 8 years…hopefully at the start of 2025 I’ll look back at my 2016 work and laugh too.

So without further ado.

My favourite photo taken in January 2016 is from a personal project I’m working on where I photograph legs and shoes. This one was particularly memorable because the legs in question belong to my little sister and the photo could not have happened without the help of my other sister and my mum. The matching shoes, weights and gym shorts were provided by my family and my little sister could only balance on the Swedish ball because my mum and sister held her in position until I was ready to shoot. I would take a couple of frames and then she’d fall off the ball. It’s one of my favourite photos and it was just taken in my parents house with help from my family - I love that!

February’s favourite is from the editorial I shot for PAUSE Magazine - ‘Earn your stripes’. Our model, Freddie Fame from Established, was fabulous and his cheekbones were one of my favourite things about this shoot.

In March, I shot this beauty editorial of summer looks for 2016. The make up trends were interpreted and created by super star make up artist, Gemma Tyler, who I love working with. With looks called ‘Desert Rave Glossy Eye’ - who wouldn’t be intoxicated by that? 

An unseasonably hot April meant shooting against a brilliant blue sky on the roof of the Bussey Building was an option - huzzah! I get asked a lot if this editorial, for Sukeban Magazine, was shot against a painted background. Nope, it’s all real baby. Sukeban Magazine runs a section called ‘Girls by Girls’ which only publishes photos of girls taken by girls (or women, in my case). I like this idea. The majority of fashion photographers are male so it’s interesting to see more focus from a female perspective. Incidentally, if you haven’t already checked out Amanda de Cadenet’s initiative #girlgaze, which champions young female photographers and their perspectives, then get on it post haste. 

In May, I was thrilled to shoot the look book for incredibly cool, modern, Scandi jewellery brand Coco's Liberty. It was one of the best shoots of the year, we all got on so well, ate cinnamon buns, drank coffee, had lunch in the sunshine and sang ‘Formation’ approximately 1,000 times. It’s a wonder we got any work done. Happy days! (I made a BTS YouTube video about this shoot, check it our here)

June brought another opportunity to shoot some more personal work, so I sought out another pair of legs and another pair of shoes. This shot was my favourite.

I shot an editorial for Dreamingless Magazine in July and wrote a blog post about it at the time, here’s the link. In the post I talk about the paradox within fashion, shooting summer clothes in winter and vice versa. This shoot was no different. On the hottest day of the year, I think I did a fine job of making this shoot seem a bit darker and more autumnal than it was!

Speaking of the fashion paradox, another beauty editorial I shot in August was finally published in Xiox Magazine in November! I loved working with Jesse from M&P, she was great fun and has a wicked laugh. My wonderful assistant Charlotte developed biceps of steel (or perhaps she had them already) by fanning a reflector to get the right kind of movement in the hair. We had tried a fan and hairdryer and neither gave the desired effect. I didn’t inflict the pain without checking it was absolutely necessary first!

In September, I did something a little different. I was invited to take part in a TV pilot called ‘Glam Squad’, a competition based programme about the fashion industry. It reminded a bit of the Britain’s Next Top Model format, challenges are set and a winner is declared. Except instead of models, the contestants are stylists, hair stylists, and make up artists. I was asked to be involved to give opinions and to take photos of the challenges. (See one of my interviews here!) It was really exciting to do something so different. Styling the band ‘Running with Wolves’ was one of the challenges and this photo of the lead singer is my favourite (probably because it involves a leg and a shoe).

I shot the main fashion editorial for the December issue of Debut Magazine in October. The magazine’s theme was Celebration and we shot a Christmas party style editorial at the fabulously kitsch Bodo’s Schloss in Kensington. This was my favourite shot. It looks exactly like the kind of night out you should be having at Christmas.

In November, I was chuffed to be booked again to shoot the look book for Coco’s Liberty. We had just as much fun and just as many cinnamon buns as the last time. I can’t wait to work on the next one!

And finally, in December, it was my privilege to shoot for Dreamingless Magazine again, this time the cover! Myself and the team shot Zara Martin at Smashbox Studio. There were glitter cannons (that made a LOT of noise), a wind machine, metallic trousers and sequinned dresses. What could be a better cover for a December issue? And what could be a better way to end 2016?!

Fashion photography: Any person, any camera, anywhere

This year I have been giving a series of fashion photography workshops across the Soho House Group in London and New York as well as The Gallery of Photography, Dublin. Incidentally, the Gallery of Photography was where I did my first ever photography course about 9 years ago so it’s really nice to have come full circle.

The workshop is entitled 'Fashion photography: Any person, any camera, anywhere' and the premise of the workshop is that you don’t need expensive camera equipment and technical prowess to take a good fashion photo. What you need do need are good ideas and if you can communicate those ideas visually, then even a smart phone will take great fashion photos for you.

Image taken with Canon 7D and Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT

Photo taken with disposable camera from Boots

These images are the premise of the workshop in a nutshell. One was taken with a professional camera and flash unit and the other with a £6 disposable camera from Boots. Although the top image is more on brand for me as a photographer (bold and colourful), I actually prefer the image taken on the disposable camera. The cheap film of the disposable camera gives the image a grainy feel, which makes the image look a bit like CCTV footage. Because the flash of the disposable camera is so weak, it means I have to stand quite close to the model. This results in the model being overexposed (and losing any realistic skin tone) and the background underexposed. I quite like this though, I think it makes the model look like she’s been caught doing something she shouldn’t. In this slide, I'm showing that it doesn’t matter if you have expensive camera equipment or not, what does matter is how you execute your idea and exploit the essence of the camera you do have.

Throughout the rest of the workshop I show some examples of my work that were taken with a really simple set up and work of some of the greatest photographers in the world that use famously simple technical set ups. What these photos show are that the ideas and intimacy with subject are the most powerful tools in a photographer’s arsenal, not the latest camera equipment.   

We then break up into groups and spend some time shooting and experimenting with ideas, concepts, poses, locations, narratives, etc. Students have said the most difficult thing can be to come up with an idea on the spot. Creativity is like a muscle, you need to exercise it regularly to make it strong. Use it or lose it! But you have to start somewhere. One idea begets another and teamwork is essential to this, which is why I recommend students pair up or shoot in groups. 

The group in action! Photo courtesy of Gallery of Photography

Me looking at the settings of one of my student's camera...and holding a bunch of balloons, naturally.  

A quick photo I took on my iPhone during the session. 

After the practical session has ended, we review everyone’s photos and I go through some quick editing and retouching tips. I’ve been so impressed by the creativity and skill of each group I’ve worked with. I'm giving another of these workshops at Soho Works this Saturday 19th November (open to Soho House members) and at the Gallery of Photography in Dublin early next year so keep an eye out here to book your place. Alternatively, if you want me to come to your company to give the workshop, get in touch

 

Interview for Adorama TV

A few months ago I was approached by a Cutting Edge Productions who work on behalf of Adorama TV to produce the 'Out of the Darkroom' show with Ruth Medjber. In this show Ruth, a music and portrait photographer herself, interviews a selection of her favourite professional photographers in Ireland, the UK and the rest of Europe about the photographers’ practice methods, their equipment, their style and so on. 

Adorama is a behemoth, one of America’s biggest photography retailers with a huge following on YouTube. The interview sounded really fun and coincided with a work trip back to Dublin (for my fashion photography workshop at the Gallery of Photography) so of course I was game!

In part I of the interview we chat about my career, how I got started in photography, developed my style, what I think makes a successful photo, the realities of being a fashion photographer and give one or two tips along the way. 

In part II, we focus a bit more on the technical side of my practise, what equipment I use, and the retouching I undertake. 

I had a blast chatting with Ruth, she’s so warm and friendly, and I intend on making her my friend post-haste! Let me know what you think of the interviews in the comments below and if you have any burning questions that I didn’t chat to Ruth about here, let me know!

Shooting for Dreamingless Magazine

 

Last month, my editorial for Dreamingless Magazine came out. As is fashon’s fickle nature, spring/summer stories tend to be shot in the winter and autumn/winter stories in the summer. With the collections shown a few months previously, this is so the stories are ready to publish in the relevant season. However, catwalk-to-shop retail models are slowly emerging, with big players such as Burberry, Toyshop, and Ralph Lauren at the helm. What the implications of this will be for shooting timelines and the fashion industry as a whole, remains to be seen. We are in the midst of a frenetic change so we’ve got to ride the tide and see how it all pans out. But I digress. My point is, I shot this dark AW16 editorial at the height of summer, on a sweltering hot day in July. My challenge was to control the light in such a way that it looked nocturnal or wintry…or at the very least, not the heatwave we were experiencing. Using flash and shooting on a small aperture always helps…as does Photoshop. 

I was so excited to book Lexi from M+P for this shoot. Lexi got down to the final five in the most recent series of Britain’s Next Top Model and has a girl-next-door-gorge look. Lexi was energetic, versatile, full of creative ideas and possessed a steely determination to do anything to get the shot. Ideal! I'll definitely work with her again in the future.

Natasha Freeman styled up some amazing looks for this shoot and make-up artist Erica Schlegel created some smokey eyed deliciousness for us. Both Natasha and Erica have seriously impressive client lists so I was thrilled to have such a brilliant creative team on board. Here are some of the tear sheets plus a selection of some of my favourite shots that weren’t published. Hope you like them!

 

It Takes Two - shooting with Radley

 

A couple of months ago I was approached by luxury leather brand, Radley, about a collaboration. Being a huge fan of the company, I was delighted. I get a lot of emails about shooting for brands but I became a little confused about half way through the email when I realised that Radley didn’t want me to take the photos, they wanted me to be in the photos. Bit of a role reversal pour moi!

Radley were running a feature called ‘It Takes Two’ about how women seem to carry a crossbody bag for valuables and a tote for shopping and laptops to go about their day. They wanted to shoot some inspirational women (their words!) with a matching Radley tote and cross body and they wanted me to be one of those women! Being on the other side of the lens is not my comfort zone but it was such an honour to be asked by a brand I love so I jumped at the chance.

Radley wanted to build a story around the shoot (which I delighted about, I think is really important to have a narrative in a shoot) so we shot a story about a day in my life as a photographer. I’m often running from meetings to location reccies with my laptop and camera in my tote bag and a lens cloth and batteries in my cross body (for quick access).

I was keen to know who would be shooting and a bit nervous about being shot by another photographer.  I was also conscious that I wouldn’t be in control of how things would be shot because I was on another photographer’s 'set'. I don't relinquish control easily! But I needn’t have worried because Kylie Eyra is wonderful. She made me feel really relaxed and confident before we started shooting, was encouraging throughout, gave great direction, and took beautiful photos. I’m thrilled with the results and to be in the excellent company of author Laura-Jane Williams and founder of Quill, Lucy Edmonds. Thank you so much to Lauren and Sara from Radley for having me! 

All images by Kylie Eyra