Saturday, 24 December 2011

Leanne Cope for the cover of The Green

Leanne Cole photographed at the Royal Ballet School in Richmond Park, London

Just after I arrived in London I had my first commissioned shoot for The Green magazine. I photographed the highly talented Leanne Cope who trained with the Royal Ballet at our location for many years. She is currently playing Clara, the lead role in the Christmas production of the Nutcracker. The location itself was the gorgeous White Lodge in Richmond Park and I had unrivalled accessed to any part of the Royal Ballet School's premises there. After a good search around I had a few locations under my belt - we ticked off a variety of shots over the course of a couple of hours. 

The last place we shot was the wardrobe department's store room and it was full of so many fascinating items and brilliant textures. I fell photographically in love with the tones in that room and I am so pleased with the image that I ended up with from there.

Here are a few more images from the day:


Massive thanks to The Green for commissioning me for this fun job and to Leanne and the team at White Lodge for being so helpful during the shoot.


Sunday, 18 December 2011

Ola and Isa


Guest blog post by Olga Dziewulska. Olga has helped me on many of my non-commissioned photoshoots and has a great passion for animals and photography - particularly useful when I am photographing animals. 

There is no better time of the year to reminisce about the summer holidays than the middle of the winter. Charlie and I have been in a number of interesting places for his People and Animals project and have met some really fascinating people. Last summer he flew all the way to the middle of nowhere in Poland to take photos of Marta and Krzysiek, the owners of Kasztanka Stables. And as we were there we thought we could make some money towards our return flights by offering photo-shoots for the people who keep horses at Kasztanka’s livery. And this is how we met Ola and Isa.

I have been admiring Isa, a stunning jet-black Friesian mare long before I met Ola. Isa is the epitome of her breed: her draught-horse past is clearly visible – she is large, muscular and when in motion – absolutely breath-taking. You wouldn’t however want to be on her path when she is galloping towards you. Actually, I bet you wouldn’t even want her to trot at you. She is an impressive beast. I was therefore thoroughly surprised when after a few phone calls about the details of the shoot I finally met her owner. A petite blond, so small she looked like she could easily be blown away on a windy afternoon arrived with a car-full of outfits. Both for her and her beloved pet. Physique notwithstanding, there is nothing small about Ola. She is a doctor with multiple surgeries to tend to and patients all over the region. She is always on the go and applies herself fully to everything she tries. And from what it seems she likes to try things and was really excited about their very first photoshoot.


I had the pleasure to help out with preparing both of the models. Ola brought most of her wardrobe and quickly chose three different outfits for three different sets of photographs we were aiming to get. Then we prepared our four-legged model – a shower and multiple doses of multiple hair products later both of the ladies were ready for their shoot.

What was meant to be an hour turned into a whole afternoon and if it wasn’t for the sun deciding to set on us we would have gone on. Ola was a keen and cooperative model and very soon her and Charlie had no need for my interpreting skills and managed fine on her own. Isa, the horse, was a bit nervous to start with, which actually suited us well. A nervous horse is a tense horse and a tense horse is taller and much more eye-catching than a lazy one. We got the shots showing the contrast between the owner and her pet early on and then focused on the relationship between the two. Ola had no problem controlling her horse bareback and in stilettos. She was a cheeky cowboy in her western shoes and never lost any of her elegance in the cocktail dress. Isa although a bit more stubborn than her human, also made a good model. Horses can be very temperamental – they don’t like being on their own in places they know as a group, they don’t like their owners walking away and they definitely don’t like reflectors. Isa however after initial introduction with Charlie, me and the reflector seemed to be cool with us. She even withstood calmly the ever-present flies, so annoying and potentially painful for horses in the summer. 

Ola wanted a full set of photos – some portraits and some riding. Friesians are exceptional animals (though I may be a bit biased) – their gait is really high and therefore has great potential to deliver spectacular shots and not less of a spectacle for the people watching. Ola dressed Isa up in pink and changed into her casual riding gear. They took it to the dressage ring and were cantering in no time. Charlie, as it turns out, knows no fear and was happy to have Isa ride straight at him until he got the right shots. Isa also seems unmoved by her human’s desire to ride into a person. And you could see how much fun they were all having. Ola – completely relaxed in the saddle, Charlie with his monopod in the middle of the ring and Isa – gathering speed with every circle she did. We then took Isa’s saddle and bridle off and caught the last few rays of sunshine of Isa trotting and cantering around. Ola by that point had to chase her a bit, as Isa was well past her feeding time and hold a bit of a grudge against us all. You should have seen how happy she was ten minutes later when we let her back into her box to the fresh hay and some carrots.

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I have to say it was one of my favourite of Charlie’s shoots. I sincerely hoped one of the livery’s Friesian horses would want some photos taken. What I didn’t hope for was meeting such a great person with so much passion for her horses (she has more) and life in general. Being surrounded by people who like to enjoy themselves is surely the best way to spend an afternoon. And if you add an amazing animal and some sunshine to it then asking for more would just be greedy.

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Thank you Ola for ideas, attitude and company. I look forward to our next ride. Thank you Charlie for the willingness to come to Poland. Though I am sure you know it is worth it.


Thursday, 15 December 2011

Digital Camera Photographer of the Year - 3rd place in Portraits category

'Jim and his pigs' - by Charlie Clift

It has just been announced that I came third in the Digital Camera Photographer of the Year Portraits Category for 2011! The winner in this category also went on to win the whole competition so I feel that I am in good company in the portraits selection.

Thanks so much to the judges for selecting my photo, it is amazing to be chosen in a large international competition.

Find out more here.


Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Fun in the Park

Anoo - 4760

Having photographed some great assignments for clients such as Crew Clothing and the University of Bristol I know just how much I enjoy shooting lifestyle images. The basic idea of a lifestyle shoot for me is to go out and have a great time with people and capture this feeling with my camera. I am looking for relaxed images that make the viewer feel like they are part of a fun experience.

I recently organised a test shoot to expand and update my lifestyle portfolio. I gathered together four great models who were after fresh images for their books, Kinsie - a stylist who's work impressed me but I had not worked with before, and Christelle Pellecuer a great make up artist who I have got to know and trust over the past year. We all got together one sunday and headed out to a local park hoping that it would not piss it down with rain as it was forecast to do. As normal on my shoots I got people doing fun and silly things to break through any worries in them and just get them relaxed. We climbed trees, rolled about in the grass, played ball games and threw leaves all over Danny. To summarise: we had fun and I photographed it.

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Massive thanks to everyone involved, it was a fantastic team to be part of:
Danny Gray - Model
Anoo Kapil - Model
Christelle Pellecuer - Make up and hair
Kinsie Sidolle - Stylist

You can view my lifestyle portfolio here.



Friday, 9 December 2011

London Europeans

Paola Buonadonna - 5606

I was warmly welcomed into Europe House in Westminster recently to photograph Mike Shackleton and Paola Buonadonna who work at the European Parliament Information Office in London. Both Mike and Paola work tirelessly to promote the European Parliament in the UK and make sure that it doesn't get misrepresented in the press.

The shoot was the commonly faced challenge - make an office look interesting. But I like a challenge! I soon found an interesting backdrop in the form of a white wall intersected with a dark blue streak: the perfect place to frame my subjects. With a couple of lights (one bouncing off the white wall behind me as a fill and a softbox as the main) I turned the rather stark office lighting into something a bit more dramatic. All that was left then was to have a good old chat with Mike and Paola and find out all about them whilst gently coaxing some different expressions out of them.

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The second set of images were much easier - embracing the wonderful sun made finding nice light on the roof terrace much easier. It was a gorgeous, but cold day, so I kept the roof terrace session quick and fun. Moving Mike and Paola around a bit to get some different looks and finding my best angles.

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A big thanks to them both for being so great in front of my lens.


Shortlisted for Digital Camera Photographer of the Year

Jim and his pigs - Digital Camera POTY shortlist 

How exciting! My picture of Jim with his pigs has been shortlisted in the portraits category in the Digital Camera Photographer of the Year Competition. This competition is one of the biggest photography competitions out there - last year there was over 114000 images entered, so it's pretty awesome to get picked to be amongst the shortlist.

See my image and many others over on the Digital Camera website

See more shots of Jim and Holebrook Farm


Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Nik Darlington in the park

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Last week I went with the writer and journalist Nik Darlington into a non-disclosed park in London to have a chat and take some photos. We thought that taking a battered old leather chair would make things more comfortable for Nik whilst I lay in the mud with my camera - the glamorous life of a photographer.
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Nik is a freelance journalist and writer living in Richmond, and an all round top bloke. You can find out more about him here: He also has a rather interesting twitter feed: @NikDarlington


Saturday, 3 December 2011

Nicky can lick her elbow

Nicky and her cat - 3605 

I recently had the pleasure of spending a weekend with our great friends in Hull. Being a definite Southern boy with little experience of the North I fell rather in love with the area, York is totally beautiful, the countryside around it was amazing and even Hull itself had a certain charm however much I've heard people putting it down.

Nicky and Chris have two cats and I was for some unknown reason determined to get a picture of Nicky with a cat on her head. There was beautiful sunlight on the Sunday morning streaming through the window - far too nice to ignore, so we set up a chair in the sunbeams and snapped away at Nicky and her cat, plus Chris joined us too for a few pictures.

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Massive thanks to both Nicky and Chris for such a lovely weekend.