portraits

Meeting the photographer 2

When I started this blog I made reference in the very first blog post ‘Getting Started’ to just a couple of the photographers who have work that I like. Gavin Watson is one of those photographers and I had the pleasure of meeting him last Friday where he was giving a talk at a YouthClub Event showing/exploring subcultures.

Gavin started off letting us know that he was a nervous slightly built kid that suddenly found his identity & voice through his friends that he made through his “cool brother”.

Although he speaks of being a 14 stone teenage skinhead that wouldn’t take any crap from anyone, it was interesting to hear that he wouldn’t have gone up to strangers to take their photos. This is something a lot of photographers struggle with including myself.  Its this familiarity with his subject matter in his early images that makes them appear relaxed and natural.

I was curious what made him pick up a camera in the first place. For me I really think it was the motorcycle accident that made me slow right down. I also think about the talk by Dennis Morris where he explained that he was shown a dark room and was just blown away at “how amazing it was to see this image appear like magic” with this being the start of his photographic journey.

I asked Gavin if there was any particular photographers images he was struck by and what made him pick up a camera in the first place.

I half expected him to say that a parent or other close family member was a photographer and gave him an old camera but that was way off mark. He explained that the type of kid he was wanted to go to the shop and buy binoculars to look at the moon but when he arrived they had gone, so he bought the camera.

As with Dennis Morris, I wasn’t going to miss the opportunity of being a bit cheeky and asking Gavin to take my portrait!

So one of these images was taken by a legend (Well maybe not a legend but a “Noted photographer“) and the other was taken by Mr Gavin Watson.

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I have no idea why I took his portrait in landscape view?! Its been a while since I’ve taken any portraits so I’ll use that as my excuse.

If you happen to see this Gavin, thank you for the portrait.

As usual, thank you for stopping and reading my blog.

Constructive comments and return visits are welcome.

Kind regards,

Jim Jimmy James

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:

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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.

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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

Boxing.

If you are a new photographer or an old hand, it is important to have little projects.

They keep you practicing and this means you should be learning and getting better.

The more exposure you can get (Pardon the accidental pun!) to different situations and environments means that if and when you get to the point of earning some additional pocket money or making a living from photography, when you come across problems you have the tools to overcome any snag you are faced with.

You can get ideas from anywhere, reading other blogs, not necessarily photography blogs. You could join a local camera club, ask friends for suggestions or enroll on a short college course. You could, if so inclined even earn yourself a masters degree in photography.

I set out to blog about a boxing shoot and have gone totally off course and started what looks like I’m prepping a presentation on Photography Projects. So please excuse the sudden change of direction…… Boxing!

Actually it was a little project where I had to get ten to twelve photos in an editorial style that could accompany an article. My choice was to hit a boxing gym (Another accidental pun!!), get a mixture of portraits, people working out, sparing and the general feel of the gyms.

Most boxing gyms that I have visited might be considered a bit rough and ready. They are not like your posh gyms where you pay a fortune every month and hardly ever use. Boxing gyms are much cheaper and they are working environments. You’ve heard the term ‘Fighting fit’. Well if you think you are fit and want to know the difference between gym fit and ‘fighting fit’ you should go to a boxing gym.

I’d probably add gymnastics and cross-fit into the seriously fit people and working gym category, so please don’t bombard me with emails about how good this or that is…

Boxers get a bit of a raw deal, I remember growing up and hearing things about boxers being thick thugs with no prospects. Guess what? Its not true.

If anyone has those perceptions, again I would say that you should visit your local boxing gyms and you will soon change your opinion.

Most of the boxers that I have come across are absolute gents. Probably more courteous and patient than most of the general public that I commute with.

Boxing gyms also do great work in pulling their communities together, even the police started to get involved with boxing gyms because they realised that if they got young herberts into the gyms, those herberts would learn self respect, restraint and discipline.

Still not convinced? Go see for yourself.

The two gyms I focused on (Yet another one of those accidental puns. Sorry!) where Fitzroy Lodge on Lambeth Road, London, SE1 and The All Stars Boxing Club on Harrow Road, London, W10.

Fitzroy Lodge is located within some railway arches and was founded by M.r Mick Carney in the mid to late 1940s.

All Stars Gym is in a grade 2 listed former church and was founded by Mr. Isola Akay in the early 80s.

I am told both Mr. Carney & Mr. Akay were friends and both have a well deserved MBE for the work they have done within their communities.

Both gyms mentioned are charities and rely on donations and local support to keep running.

Both also have a great deal of history. Much more than I could squeeze into my short photography blog so please click on the name of the gyms for more information:

Fitzroy Lodge.

All Stars.

Without further waffling from me here are a selection of the images from two brief visits to the clubs.
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I kind of know my weak points with these images and unfortunately my flash started to play up with the image of the Akay brothers that happened to be in the darkest part of the gym (Typical). If you have tips, tricks or useful suggestions to help me improve, I would like to hear them.

If you like the images, please also feel free to tell me 😉

A massive thank you to Mark Reigate of Fitzroy Lodge, The Akay Brothers of Harrow Road and the boxers that agreed to be photographed.

Kind regards,

Jim Jimmy James