Fashion & Style.

The Crème de la Crème this year….

In my last post I mentioned my punk singers portrait & interview project. One copy will be auctioned for charity once it is signed by the artists. I had great fun with that project and it was really good to be working on something that meant a lot to me personally.

I also mentioned The Crème de la Crème this year….

As photographers we find genres that we enjoy. Personally I’ve always liked to look at concert & photojournalist images. I’ve also enjoyed the challenges of live performance photography.

I like the challenge of changing light and movement. If you think its easy to take concert or performance photographs, go try it; especially in smaller venues.

Along with gig photography I have somehow fallen into the genre of portraiture. This is something I did not expect when I started out and thankfully I can say there isn’t anyone I have not enjoyed photographing. I’ve had a couple of shoots where it has felt awkward and uncomfortable, even hard work but the results have made it all worth while.

I’ve even dabbled a little with photo-journalism and been published.

So, that is a little background for those that are new to my page and hopefully explains why I got excited about my latest shoot and why for me, it is The Crème de la Crème so far this year….

I was introduced to someone at The Rambert Dance Company and contacted them with regards to a college project that would include editorial style photography with some portraiture and I was hoping to include full dress rehearsal with stage lighting.

Pretty much giving me the chance to indulge in everything I’ve come to enjoy about being a photographer.

I had a tour of Rambert’s home on the Southbank; clean, organised, minimalist, modern and functional. The few people I met seemed passionate about their work and the performers were being put through their paces.

While I was walking around I could easily visualise the project I wanted to shoot.

Unfortunately they were already mid way through a production and for a number of other reasons the project had to be temporarily put on hold.

Disappointed but with no intention of abandoning the hope of shooting a project with Rambert, I had planned on approaching them later in the year to seek permissions to shoot a project.

Move forward a couple of months…. I have a few days off and I’m getting some equipment ready to shoot a gig. Two cameras cleaned, lenses cleaned and numerous batteries being charged. Then I get a text followed by a phone call and I’ve agreed to a very very short notice shoot. A shoot that ties in with the type of thing I want to do; the type of shoot I thoroughly enjoy. The type of opportunity that only a complete baffon would turn down.

You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to figure it out but just in case you’ve not kept up, it is The Rambert Dance Company looking for a photographer to shoot their performers and senior artists from Mac Cosmetics Creative Team.

I would love to tell you that they had always planned to use me because they liked my work, were aware that I was featured as a canon showcase photographer or that a photograph taken at Illamasqua received over 10.000 hits on the internet within a few days. However, thats not the case. Yes one of the Rambert team was aware of me, they needed a photographer at short notice and I happened to be available.

I’m not going to pretend to be über cool and blasé about the call; I was very excited about it. Come on, how could I not be?!

If they like me I might get the chance to shoot a production from start to finish. If they like my work I might get the opportunity to work with them again. If Mac Cosmetics like what they see, they might even contact me at a future date.

Then the slight panic that I don’t have much of a brief, I have an idea but I’m not entirely sure what I’m going to need because I’ve had no time to plan.

Like I said, I’d like to say that it was my style and my work that made me the first person they thought of but it was actually more to do with being local and available. Yes it really was that short notice!

Right, a fixed 50mm, fixed 85mm and a 24mm – 70mm… do I take a 70-200? I didn’t but I would have used one if I had it with me. [Note to self: take the 70-200mm]

Lighting stands and modifiers; what am I going to need? There is going to be a cosmetics company so I guess they will have decent lights…. what if they don’t?

Okay, I decide I will take two flash guns and a couple of lighting mods but I’m feeling a little anxious because I’m not 100% sure what to expect when I arrive. However, I’ve got cameras, I’ve got flashes, I know what I’m doing and my job that provides my main income has taught me to be level headed and pragmatic (apparently that is also an Aries trait). I also felt quietly reassured because I know there is a local hire company that could deliver if I needed anything.

I arrive at Rambert and was greeted as warmly and friendly as the day I was shown around. I’m introduced to their team and given more of a brief.

I ask a little about the production to get an idea about lighting, they are filming so I ask if I can use flash photography and I get the go-ahead.

Due to the make up demonstration within the area I was working there was no room for light stands and modifiers so I had a couple of options with regards to lights. Thats something I have learned and something you will always read, no matter how limited you are with space, kit and options, you do have options and that is why it is important to know what and how to get the best from your equipment.

For me, shadows were going to be an issue but looking at the make up design and the fact the dancers will be under stage lighting I opted for some direct hard light and bounced light; shadows were going to be an issue so it would be best to use them and make a feature of them. Provided the client has clean well lit photographs of the performers, their photo editors would be able to easily deal with back ground shadows if they were not happy with them.

IMG_0074-Edit

Joshua Barwick & Dominic Skinner  ©2016 Jim Jimmy James [Marr]

IMG_0001-Edit

Luke Ahmet ©2016 Jim Jimmy James [Marr]

IMG_7213

©2016 Jim Jimmy James [Marr]

IMG_0003-Edit-2

Lucy Balfour ©2016 Jim Jimmy James [Marr]

I hope Rambert, Mac & the artists like the images. I guess I’ll only ever really know if I get invited back. I hope you like the images too.

Anyhow, I’ve seen them working hard and as professionals they made it incredibly easy work photographing them. So it seems right I should book some tickets and see the final performance to judge for myself if the lighting aesthetic of the images works with the performance & stage lights.

My night shifts start again tomorrow so tonight is my weekend. Think I might have a wee dram from The Glengoyne Distillery  and catch up with those blogs I’ve missed over the last few weeks.

As always, thank you for visiting my page & have a great weekend.

Kind regards,

Jim Jimmy James.

Did you miss me?

Maybe? Yes – No. Probably not!

But someone did. I got a message from someone that never comments and never clicks like but follows the blog. They said that I’ve not posted in a while and they hoped everything was okay.

I read somewhere that if you are blogging and going to have a break you should announce that break. The reasons they gave were because people that follow the blog may think you’ve just given it up and remove your blog from their follow list. But also an online community is a community; that even though it is a virtual community, people will still wonder what happened to that man or woman that used to post about this that and the other. I’m very grateful for the message and I will try to remember to announce my absence in the future.

The reason I have not posted is because I have been distracted. It has all been very busy. Lots going on with life in general, work getting in the way of college and my projects. Projects and more projects. Ideas and more ideas and then work again….. I’ve been juggling so much I should apply for a job with the circus.

Actually I would love to live with and shoot a circus for a week or two. That would be pretty cool.

So, I have just finished college and am awaiting confirmation of grades but the preliminary result is a distinction for both projects.

We have some work on show at The Morley College Landing Gallery Although that does not run much longer. I believe there should be a link on there for image sales if anyone wants to check out some other photographers.

I’ve been to a few gigs and recently shot Mood Six who were/are a band made up of existing Mod bands. They have reformed after thirty years and were supported by Miles over Matter. Another old band ‘The vagabonds of psychedelia’ that have been putting themselves out there again. Both bands were excellent and it was nice to be shooting live performances again. (Note to self, when shooting concerts take ear plugs)

However, as much as photographing my punk singers book has been a massive highlight & good fun. The Crème de la Crème this year has got to be ……………. Sorry but like all good TV soaps I am going to leave you on that hanger and you’ll have to come back later in the week.

For now, here are a couple of shots from a recent gig.

IMG_7318

Phil Ward: Mood Six. ©2016 jim jimmy james

IMG_7265-2

Miles Davis Landesman: Jola: Steve Council: Miles over Matter. ©2016 jim jimmy james

As a side note, Miles had links to the dance company that I had the pleasure of photographing last week.

Thanks for stopping, reading, looking and thank you for the DM.

Kind regards,

Jim Jimmy James

A photography post!

So after displaying my frayed seat of my jeans and the rather shoddy initial repair, I think I need to get the blog back on track and type up a photography post.

Just a bit of an update really….. I’ve been out and about taking some photos, putting some final touches to my current project and looking at a prospective next project… From Punk to Ballet. With some luck, a lot of luck, my proposal will be accepted and the project will go ahead.

While out I noticed the Valentino window and was struck by how much it reminded me of arriving in Düsseldorf one night by train.

IMG_6798

The only real differences being that Valentio have mannequins and they are wearing more than the women in the Düsseldorf windows.

I went to The Dennis Morris exhibition at The ICA, I was disappointed that so few images were on display but as I have an interest in that era of music and his photography it was worth my while sticking my head in.

Beetles & Huxley also have an interesting exhibition called ‘through the looking glass’ at the moment and I’d recommend anyone who likes that double exposure appearance in images, should go. The staff are always very friendly and welcoming; even when I ask them daft questions.

I had a little stroll along the canal at Paddington basin and stumbled across an outdoor photography exhibition called Love/Lived by Holly Wren.

IMG_6801

My highlight this week has to be attending Damien Frost’s Night Flowers book launch at The Photographers Gallery. I’ve been following his work for a while and I think he has definitely had some influence on my portraiture.

IMG_1835

I felt too self conscious to take my DSLR to the book launch so this snap was taken on my phone. The book is fab and Damien must have been chuffed to see so many people turn up.

Thats it for now….. A Photography Post!

Happy Easter.

Jim Jimmy James

Ps. I’m on Instagram | Tumblr | 500px | Twitter | Flickr

City & Guilds Photography, Level Two, Part Two.

So my first submission was based on portraits.

For part two we had the same options again, portraits, landscapes, still life and so on…….

I don’t like labels and am aware that the gig photography or portraits are my stronger areas.

Although portraiture was a complete accident and a total surprise to me that I enjoy it.

Anyway, I wanted to move away from these areas and try something a little different. I also wanted to really challenge myself to learn about lighting.

So we are in class and the teacher asks people what they want to do. So far he hasn’t really questioned anyones decisions and then he gets to me.

“How about you Jim, what are you thinking of doing?”

Really I want to do a mix of things, I am happy with my first submission and confident that whatever I pick, if I screw it up, the first images would be strong enough to at least guarantee a pass grade.

Being me (Apparently a typical Aries…If you believe in that stuff) I don’t want to do one thing…. My reply was more of a question; because with tutor approval you can step outside of the suggested genres.

“Can I do some landscape/cityscapes, portraits and still life?”

The poor teacher has had to put up with me for two terms and I can see him thinking to himself ‘where is he going with this’. He asks me how I plan on tying the different images together.

I suggest ‘Film Noir’. I get a smirk from the lecturer who says “Go on then, lets see what you can do”.

Instantly I think I have made a huge mistake. But I have to say I loved this project so much and had a massive learning cure.  Not only technically with the camera and lights but with UK firearms regulations, having to be creative and getting organised.

Due to time constrains I was unable to complete all the images I had planned. I was finding it difficult to find particular props and rather than rigidly sticking to the 1940s and 50s film noir props I had to improvise and settle for the overall mood and feel of those classic movies.

Due to the time of year I was unable to arrange for friends to get city scape shots. Yes cityscapes don’t need people but this is Film Noir, I need shadows, silhouettes and so on. I guess I could have taken some without people and they would have added an element of suspense and danger but I had my plans…… So the long days and light evenings defeated me with regards to that aspect of the planned cityscape submissions.

Budget also played a big factor. I would love to have time and a budget suitable to tackle this project again.

One or two of the still life images may have been posted earlier; prior to making my final submission. Some of the images didn’t make it into the final submission because I wasn’t happy with them or I had stronger images.

As with my portrait post I am going to post two examples of the work produced:

IMG_7366

The image above did not make it in to the final body of work. I do like it and think it has all the right touches of Le Femme Fatale from the era. The silhouette of legs going up the stairs only add some mystery and intrigue to the image.

I was torn between this and another image, my C&G photography peers helped me select a couple of images.

You can see the stronger image that was chosen from this shoot on my flickr page.

FN15

As you can see from image one and two (Along with other images taken in the series) lighting was an important element for the project. I learned a huge amount and feel like I have only just scratched the surface of how to sculpt an image with light.

I hope you like these enough to visit flickr and see the other images.

If you are wondering what grades I got; it was a distinction for submission one and…….. distinction for submission two.

I’m not really sure how the grades work to be honest. I have seen some people call it a ‘double distinction’ but I think the overall grade is just a distinction. Thats good enough for me.

One last thank you to everyone that modelled & provided props. Without you it would not have gone so well. Thanks also to everyone that provided feed back and encouragement. Especially Mrs.M. PJ. & my working photographer friends, Teacher & Classmates whose blogs and work and be found by clicking the links: PJ, Caz, Seb, Ian, Tim, Matt, Hannah, Paul & Sara.

As always, thanks for looking. Constructive feed back and your thoughts on my photographs are welcome.

Kind regards,

Jim Jimmy James

City and guilds Photography, Level Two, Part One.

I have finished my city and guilds in photography.

This had two main submissions. In each case there were topic areas such as still life, landscape and portraiture.

There were no set in stone rules so landscapes could be the more traditional mountains and fields or could be city-scapes. The only stipulation was that the topic area and theme had to be agreed by the tutor.

For theme one I opted for portraiture of people in the age range of forty-plus years but specifically those with a strong visual identity relating to street styles, youth cultures and sub-cultures that I grew up with through the 1970’s into the 1990s.

The vast majority of the people I photographed were strangers and it took a bit of effort on my part to approach them.

Only one person declined which surprised me. The remainder seemed either bemused or flattered.

Although most were happy for me to use the images in any way I wanted, some have stipulated that they would be happy for me to take their portrait and use prints for my course work but they did not want them published in any public forum.

I was able to photograph some Punks, Skinheads, Mods, Scooterists, Rockabillies and Rudies but didn’t find the full range of street cultures that I wanted to.

This was partly because of the time of year and there being no major events that would bring large numbers of particular groups together. I also had some issues around time management; primarily having a full time job that involves some rather unsocial shift patterns.

The dark nights and poor weather meant that when I did spot someone I wanted to photograph it was in poor outdoor lighting or inside pub/club/concert venues.

I found that this restricted me a little as I did not have a good working knowledge of using small off camera flash or lighting modifiers. Going to some of the venues I wanted to travel light and not be weighted down by having lots of kit.

The following two portraits are examples of the work I submitted.

IMG_0331

Biker at The Ace Cafe in London.

I suspected I would find one or two bikers at The Ace but did not expect to get any portraits. The only person to decline was a Hells Angel patch wearer. I have limited knowledge of this group but know they keep themselves to themselves and for that reason I suspected he would say no. No harm in asking and his refusal was never going to be any skin of my nose.

Its a shame he declined but I fully unerstand his reluctance and distrust.

So, I was at The Ace and was actually looking for people with a classic 1940s 1950s rockabilly look.

This biker arrived and looked like he would fit with exactly what I was looking for and fortunately he agreed to be photographed. Once we chatted for a little while it turned out that we had mutual friends in the past and that I may have even been at a couple of venues that his sister occasionally frequented.

The problems I had taking this portrait were the strong contrasting light, I wanted to hint at our location without making the location as equally important as my subject, The Biker.

The location was getting busy and I was limited with composition options and didn’t want to capture people in the background wearing more routinely accepted clothing. That would have ruined the aesthetic of my shoot and removed the impact of my models style and genre.

My next subject is a Mod.

I had been to a number of locations where they are known to meet but again due to the time of year and weather, not very much was going on.

I had met and spoken to several people from the Mod scene but many were a kind of oasis style brit pop hybrid of the real McCoy. Some had the right jacket but the wrong shirt, the clothes but not the right attitude and so on.

To be honest I was struggling until I met David and his good lady who agreed to be photographed.

They both looked the part, not only in what they were wearing but also their confidence and demeanour.

I opted to submit this portrait as I felt it was the strongest of the images that I took with them.

IMG_5755

I was very lucky to have meet some really nice people and everyone that modelled for me were simply awesome, relaxed easy going, a dream to direct and just made my job effortless.

Each person that agreed to be photographed were sent jpegs and it is my intention to invite them all to a private showing so they can see the collection in its entirety as well as have a glass or two of wine.

If anyone of the people modelling for me happen to see this, I’d just like to say thank you again. Without you there would have been no project. What ever your genre……. Keep The Faith.

My second project theme was Film Noir. If you’d like a quick preview of some of those images before I make my diary entry, a handful have been uploaded to flickr.

Thanks for visiting and as always your opinions are always welcome.

Kind regards,

Jim Jimmy James

Rejected image

Please take a look at this image.

Take your time and critique it (to yourself for now).

IMG_7382

This is one of my rejected images that I wrote up for my city & guilds submissions.

If you have finished having a look at the photograph I will tell you why I rejected the image………

Firstly I will say that when I first looked at this image on my computer I loved it. I felt I had caught a really nice portrait and I was really pleased. Actually I was chuffed!

  • The model is slightly off when using the rule of thirds. That was intentional but as other images were not slightly offset, would the examiner really know the intent of the composition. Probably not.

If I had three or four images slightly offset this would show intent and the composition would be perfectly acceptable.

Naturally rules are there to be broken. However, not when I don’t want little things to distract from the image and my grades.

  • The wall paper has damage or creases.

Obviously this is something that can be easily rectified.

  • The chair rail is not totally straight.

To be fair I could live with that and again, it is an easy fix.

  • Some loss of detail in the black areas but hey, its supposed to be in the mood of film noir so thats okay and not really a problem.
  • The image was taken in landscape view and not in portrait view.

Well, every image was shot in landscape to show intent.

Many were also shot around the 30-40mm range. Again to show intent.

Unfortunately only once the image was printed did I notice the false perspective of the models left hand.

That was the point that I felt the image had to be discarded from the final selection.

I suspect you spotted all of those and perhaps one or two or three or more others.

I like the light, the depth of field, the composition, the catch light in my models eyes; generally speaking I like the pose and her playing with the pearls but I kept seeing the hand and feeling negative about the image.

Please feel free to take another look and critique it openly this time (constructive comments are always welcome).

You could also head over to my flickr page to see more images.

Thanks for visiting.

Jim Jimmy James

Its all about the light. Again!

Playing with light, well actually understanding light rather than playing with it will take my photography into another level. I like natural light but haven’t really learned a massive amount about how to use it to my benefit. Although I’m not doing to badly at getting reasonable portraits. I did the candid strangers project to get me thinking quickly on my feet about the ever changing light situations from walking on the sunny side of the road to suddenly wanting to take a photo on the side that was shady or just about to take a candid image of a stranger and the cloud would clear and change everything. It was a good experience, often it was just simply changing my shutter speed, sometimes altering the ISO and on the odd occasion having to think about the exposure triangle in its entirety. I can hear people now saying ‘thats not complicated’. If you are one of those then all I will ask is that you take yourself back to when you started out. Yes once it is explained the concept is easy to understand but putting it into practice and feeling comfortable with it is one thing, its another thing when you need to do it quickly to get candid street portraits. However this was simply a project to get me thinking about exposure. Now I’m moving on and thinking about light modeling. Using light to add interest and another dimension to my images rather than relying on depth of field. When it comes to taking portraits of total strangers I am sure that I will feel like a total wally when I pull out my newly acquired reflector. However, I am following a couple of photographers on flickr that use reflectors and it seems like an easy way to sculpt light, lift shadows and even block out some harsh light. I just need to get over the fear of whipping it out in public. The reflector! Any regular reader will know I joined a flickr group to capture portraits of 100 strangers but this time with their permission and posed. This is majorly stressful for me, I like to do my own thing and just blend into the background. None the less I joined the group as a personal challenge and in the hope of improving my portraiture. Here are a couple of the photographers that I have started to follow…Iain BlakeTerry Lok,  Al Fed,  Barbara Asboth and Arnab Ghosal.  They’ve all given me a warm welcome to the online group and importantly for me, feed back on my images. I’m sure I will learn more from them as I progress through the challenge. If you have time please have a look at their work. They might even inspire you to join in and I hope an old friend that has been supportive throughout my learning might even fancy a go and dust off his camera. So….. learning about light also means learning artificial lighting. There is a huge amount to learn and I have jumped in head first with regards to using flash. My camera does not have a pop up flash built in to the body but I did that was intentional. I knew I would want to use more interesting lighting. Another group on flickr is where I plan on learning about lights. I think however I might have dive-bombed into flash photography when I should have perhaps dipped my toes in first. I have been using the flash on manual when I might have been better starting with the automatic side of things and looking at flash exposure compensation. I need to have a good look at this and once I get that under my belt I can start to think about looking at flash in more depth. Also the joy & expense of buying light modifiers. Anyway, enough waffle from me. Here are some images taken in Camden recently and one has been added to my new 100 strangers album.

At an event in Camden I introduced myself to Dennis and asked if he would sit for his portrait to be taken.

At an event in Camden I introduced myself to Dennis and asked if he would sit for his portrait to be taken.

IMG_0249-2

Dennis was more than happy to have Norman Jay MBE gate crash the photo shoot.

Dennis was more than happy to have Norman Jay MBE gate crash the photo shoot.

IMG_0243

I think the first image is pretty cool in black and white. It needed some work on the sun glasses to remove the flash reflection and the scooter reflection. Image two I will probably submit as part of my city and guilds work. Image three was very rushed, the light had been moved and I was concentrating on that more than changing my aperture. That said, I think the slight softness, although not ideal, is acceptable. If its good enough for Pierre Bresson (I recently viewed some of his work in Piccadilly) then it is good enough for me. In image four I like the point of view but knew the mannequin behind my subject would be a problem. I wish I had the balls to just move it or at least have asked the stall holder to shift it for a couple of minutes. If I was using the image for anything I would naturally try to deal with the flash in the glasses and remove the few rain spots on Dennis’ parker. Thank you Dennis for being a patient model and thank you Norman Jay (MBE) for the guest appearance. As always, thank you for visiting my blog. Jim Jimmy James

Learning New Tricks.

Camden is one of those places that at weekends if you were blind folded, given a stone and asked to throw it in some random direction you’d normally have a 50/50 chance of it hitting someone that looks interesting; be that their face, make up, hair or dress sense. Two weekends and a few hours on week day afternoons I spent there and all the goths, skins, mods, punks……….. where the hell was everyone? I had even gone to a few gig venues but only found people dressing with a kind of hybrid on the old youth cultures I grew up with. So I’m in Camden, it was cold and starting to get late so I decided it was time to head off (via a pub for a swift half and some food). Suddenly I heard the distinctive sound of a Vespa or Lambretta. I was certain it would be one of these hybrid-trendies. The scooter came around the corner and the rider was wearing a parker, looks promising I think to myself. As he passes I clock that he is wearing a crash helmet with the Trojan logo and a pair of DMs. The road goes to a super market, a petrol station or is a good point to turn around if you’d missed a turning. I waited to see where he was going and he headed into the petrol station to put air in his tyres. As I approached him I thought he’d be a great subject for a portrait. Hello mate I’m Jim, offered my hand and he introduced himself as Eddie as he shock my hand. I told him that I was learning photography and about a couple of projects I am doing. Fortunately Eddie was already aware of Flickr and his son in law is a photography assistant. I took a few shots of Eddie, close crop, half length and some with the scooter full in the frame. Whats new for me, learning about off camera flash. My first shot was over exposed and then the next was under exposed. Third shot onwards were all good. Also there is a little photoshopping but I hope it has enhanced the image. I usually use Lightroom to carry out adjustments but it just wasn’t doing the job. I knew photoshop would be a tool I would end up needing to use so I subscribed to Adobe Creative Cloud. Again, photoshop is new to me so I will learn how to get the most out of it with a little practice. In image one I didn’t like the flash on the black drainpipe, I felt that the label of the rodent trap was a little distracting and I really wasn’t keen on the air pump being in the shot.

Image pre photoshop  adjustments.

Image pre photoshop adjustments.

IMG_5273

Edit-1 with distractions removed from drainpipe and rat trap.

Edit 2 with air pump signage removed.

Edit 2 with air pump signage removed.

I am reasonably happy with the work I have done but will only really know how well it worked once I print the image. I emailed Eddie some jpegs and he very kindly offered me the opportunity to do some more photo sessions with him in the future. Thank you Eddie for your time and generous offer. As always, constructive comments are always welcome & thank you for visiting my blog. Kind regards, Jim Jimmy James

100 Strangers

So, I completed my flickr project to take 100 candid stranger portraits.  While I spoke to some of the people I photographed the vast majority were bypassers.

At times I enjoyed the project and at other times it felt very awkward.

My intention was to use this personal assignment as practice for another one hundred strangers project that will push me both technically and sociably.

Its funny that my job puts me in positions where I have to take control of some demanding situations and people/strangers often look to me to control many many different and difficult environments.

During my working day I have to appear confident and totally unfazed by anything I have to face.

At times my job can be physically and mentally demanding. Funnily I’m also often photographed and recorded.

Now, put a camera in my hand and ask me to approach a total stranger, speak to them and ask if I can take their portrait… It is totally nerve-racking!

Its different from my job. At work I have a tacit knowledge of what needs to be done, how it needs to be done and a pragmatism to get the job done. When it comes to photography and I approach a stranger I feel anxious about how they’ll react. I don’t feel particularly confident in how I should go about directing them as a model and I just feel like I have too much running around in my head…. exposure, shutter speed, chatting, pose, background, am I holding the person up…. I actually feel a bit rushed and hurry myself far too much because I am worried about taking up the persons time.

Perhaps unnecessarily because if they were in a huge hurry they wouldn’t agree to having their portrait taken.

Anyway, I find it difficult to engage strangers in conversation and this new 100 strangers project is going to be tough.

I hope it will get easier as time goes on and I certainly want to improve my portraiture along with my understanding of the use of natural light, flash photography and light modifiers.

Below are my first three strangers that very kindly agreed to take part in the project along with a little description that goes with the images.

IMG_5032

This is Chris. He is #003 in my 100 strangers project. I went to a gig at the 100 club on Oxford Street, London. Then on to The 12 Bar on Denmark Street who had a late night DJ.

A Rockabilly/Psychobilly band called King Kurt had been playing. Their gigs can get a tad messy. That is actually an understatement. I once had to walk a good few miles to get home after seeing them play. I could not get a taxi and the bus drivers would not let on the busses. I was covered in flour just like Chris who was the DJ following the live music.

I actually went up to a balcony to photograph the aftermath of the gig and stumbled across Chris. I had a quick chat about the gig, previous gigs I had been to and the joys of getting home in such a state. I told him about the project. He agreed to his portrait being taken.

My batteries had died in my flash and I wasn’t really sure if I’d get a good image or not with the ISO cranked up such a huge amount. There was a small light above Chris’ decks and the light with a high ISO has given me what I think is a reasonable image.

The reason I wanted to photograph Chris is because his hair still looked immaculately fixed but his face and clothes were absolutely caked in flour. His facial expression really made me laugh, its a look of being slightly amused and the acceptance of being covered in flour. (The 12 bar was relocating and the flour-bombs were really only to be expected).

I’m so glad I wasn’t in the venue with my camera when the carnage was under way.
I certainly wouldn’t have changed lenses in the venue.

IMG_0008

This picture is #001 in my 100 strangers project.  So this is Peter. He is a piercer based in London. I meet Peter when I went into a tattoo shop and the tattooist that has done some previous work for me introduced us. I told him that I am learning photography and told him about the 100 strangers project, then asked if I could take his portrait.

The reason I wanted to photograph him was simply because I think he has a friendly face. I was pleased that he’d said yes and also relieved that the initial approach was already dealt with by way of an introduction while talking to the tattoo artist.

I had to take a few shots to try and get the exposure right as I made a school boy error and forgot to put my settings to a near usable setting following some night photography.

I remembered to quickly review the images as I was taking them and noticed that the background was not good in the first shots. It looked like he had things growing out of his head. So I asked him to stand in front of some art work on one of their walls. This was the least noisy place within the shop.

IMG_2446

My stranger number two is Kat.

Kat works at a well known jewellers that makes customised jewellery along with their own designs.

I signed up for a photography course and was given a homework task of portraits, landscapes, street photography and a few others. I opted for Street Portraits with the intention of killing two birds with one stone. Homework and joining the 100 strangers group.

I was walking around and looking for someone that stood out. I spotted Kat having her photo taken by a colleague of hers and I guess she was modelling the chain and cross seen in this portrait.

As she was about to go back into the shop I quickly asked if I could take her portrait. It was all very quick and I didn’t really have time to think about how I was going to approach her or even what to say.  I asked her to step into a doorway that was black as I thought it would be a good background and there were lots of people around that would have been walking between her and the camera.

I would like to say that I considered the light but I have to confess that I just got lucky.

The conversation was very brief, she was obviously at work and I didn’t want to hold her up.
I’m also very pleased I didn’t have time to think about the situation because afterwards I was wondering if a 44 year old man asking a young woman for their portrait maybe a bit weird.
I guess I am just going to have to get over that if I want to take images of interesting people.

Kat is very pretty and with her style stood out from the mundanely dressed crowd (I include myself in that description). I had to have the images printed for college so told Kat that I would drop of any prints I made. Luckily Kat is aware of Flickr as it turns out she was previously photographed by another member of the group and she kindly agreed for me to take her portrait to be post it here.

Thank you Kat for not telling me to bog off!

Thats my new project well under way and I will update my progress some time.

As always, thank you for stopping to have a look at my blog. Constructive criticism is always welcome and if you like street portraiture please have a look at the flickr group. There are some great photographers showing some wonderful portraits.

Kind regards,

Jim Jimmy James

uninspired

Like all good students of photography I go around the occasional gallery or pop into art shops to try and find inspiration; to look at the work of other photographers and try to figure out what I like, what I don’t like and how I want my own work to look.

While in Berlin I visited The Helmut Newton Foundation. I knew nothing about him and still know very little.

Something that put me off the exhibition and wanting to know more about this photographer was a diary entry that stated he should open a museum to himself.

It just didn’t sit right with me. Not just the statement; on its own it could be taken very much as tongue-in-cheek but I got the impression it was not a light hearted diary entry and that he may well have been a very vein person.

The lay out and atmosphere in the gallery may not have anything thing to do with him and he is clearly a good photographer. Clearly!

However I quickly became aware that I was not going to walk out of the building as a fan. The opposite is probably true. There is a very fine line between confidence, over confidence and arrogance.

While I find the cover image below to be nothing more than a bit of harmless fun that is a bit cheeky (Sorry but I am a child of the 70s & 80s) the rest of his work left me feeling a little cold.

IMG_0770

There seems to be a definite arrogance towards women where females were nothing but objects and treated like mannequins. I have tried to rationalise just how sexist his work appeared to me, as part of ‘that generation’ but again, it just doesn’t sit right me.

Something about the work displayed sat very uncomfortably with me and I hope my work never leaves anyone feeling as cold.

I should perhaps research him a little more as I may well be doing him a dreadful injustice but this wasn’t a first impression judgment made in thirty seconds. I spent a fair bit of time in the gallery.

For now my personal opinion stands and rather than looking at more of his work I should be out taking my own photos.

(I am happy to be corrected on this post and would welcome direction to sites you think would make me better informed).

TTFN

Jim Jimmy James.