ACHUKAphoto: Blog http://photo.achuka.co.uk/blog en-us (C) ACHUKAphoto achuka@gmail.com (ACHUKAphoto) Wed, 11 Jan 2017 14:47:00 GMT Wed, 11 Jan 2017 14:47:00 GMT http://photo.achuka.co.uk/img/s12/v181/u546191306-o935718711-50.jpg ACHUKAphoto: Blog http://photo.achuka.co.uk/blog 80 120 2nd Half of 2016 PART ONE July/Aug http://photo.achuka.co.uk/blog/2017/1/2nd-half-of-2016-part-one-july/aug This second half of 2016 began with a second shoot for The Quartermasters T-shirt design shop in Folkestone, using one of their and my favourite models, Alyx. We incorporated some general portfolio shooting in this walk-and-shoot using some of Alyx's personal outfits and used the results in an editorial on Instagram.

and my favourite from this day's shoot:

 

My next shoot was with Charlotte, a German actress from Hamburg. We used a home studio in Shoreditch and I was so happy with the portraiture produced we decided to try and work together again whenever she returned to the UK.

Third up in July was an artnude location shoot with Greek model, Odette. This was my second time working with her (previously modelling as Irida) and the location proved a perfect setting for Odette's style of modelling. [I have much still to share from this shoot.]

The next shoot took place on one of the hottest days of the summer. The original intention had been to shoot partly indoors and partly outside, but the weather was so good Jemma and I spent the whole shoot in the open and produced a lovely summery sequence for use as an Instagram editorial. Her hair had been styled in a single pigtail, at my request.

 

 

As usual, August was a holiday-from-shooting family-visit kind of month... and a chance to catch up on some editing.

 

 

 

 

 

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achuka@gmail.com (ACHUKAphoto) artnude camera location model modelling nudity photographer photography portrait portraiture shoot studio http://photo.achuka.co.uk/blog/2017/1/2nd-half-of-2016-part-one-july/aug Wed, 11 Jan 2017 14:42:24 GMT
1st Half of 2016, PART THREE, May/Jun http://photo.achuka.co.uk/blog/2017/1/first-half-of-2016-part-three-may/jun Early in May I had my first shoot with a young local model called Alix. It was one of those golden evenings full of summer promise.

I was to have three more shoots with Alix before the year was out.

Two days later I finally got to work with someone who had been on my Want To Work With list for a long while - Rebecca Tun. She was spending some time at a cottage in Kent that is often used as a location for photographers, and the portrait shoot was entirely interior.

The next shoot was significant for being the first one planned speciifcally with an Instagram editorial sequence in mind. Since that shoot the remainder of 2016 became heavily focused on this style of working. It was my second shoot with LilyNicole and we were blessed with continuing good early summer weather, which was ideal for a casual in-the-country set, styled with a 'sticksandstones' vibe in mind. [The sequence uploaded to Instagram was given a richer, more-golden-toned edit than the ones uploaded to the linked gallery.]

The next day I had my second shoot with redheaded Beth and the weather couldn't have been different. Torrential rain meant we had to shoot entirely indoors which wasn't the original plan.  This was also my first shoot with MUA artist Lu (Luciana), who gave Beth a beautifully understated natural look.

 

Next up it was back to Little Chelsea studio for a set with long-legged, long-haired Inesa

The following day it was up to Birmingham and back in James Beddoes' studio for a shoot with big-haired beauty Dionne. I was so pleased with Dionne's presence in front to the camera I knew for sure I'd jump at the chance to work with her a second time.

It was also a shoot in which I featured some necklaces by claudiamadethis...

And that was just May for you.
At the beginning of June I did a shoot with Beth's sister, Meg, a dancer.

Then I had another shoot with Helen. It was only a brief one but sometimes you don't need very long...

The next shoot produced some of my most popular images from 2016. The only things marring the memory of the shoot are i) it was the day following the 'Brixit' referendum and ii) the car suffered a minor 'prang' when collecting Olga, the model, from the station. 

The shoot had been a while in preparation and planning. Ruby, the MUA I work with regularly, had arranged use of a horse and the weather was set fair.

A couple of days later I did a mixed location shoot (seafront and park) with Francesca, who was great to work with.

 

June, and the first half of 2016, culminated in my first shoot with Kelly, and the first at a superbly versatile location, as represented by these two very different images from the same shoot.

 

 

 

 

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achuka@gmail.com (ACHUKAphoto) Birmingham Instagram MUA editorial fashion location photography portrait shoot street studio http://photo.achuka.co.uk/blog/2017/1/first-half-of-2016-part-three-may/jun Mon, 02 Jan 2017 12:48:04 GMT
1st Half of 2016, PART TWO Mar/Apr http://photo.achuka.co.uk/blog/2016/7/1st-half-of-2016-part-two

 

March and April got off to a highly significant start when, on the very first day of March, I had my first shoot with Alyx. And what a shoot it was! Never have I worked with a model who arrived with such a neatly folded set of outfits. We shot an amazing range of images - studio fashion, studio portraiture, natural light portraiture, informal lifestlye, punchy gel-lit work, and even a bit of street fashion. It was the start of what has been an ongoing collaboration.

 

 

A couple of days later I worked with Spanish cinematographer Beatriz Delgado Mena, taking some suited black-and-white portraiture while walking along beside the Regents Canal.

 

A week later it was up to Birmingham to work in James Beddoes' studio with a model carefully chosen to create a lighter style of portraiture. I love working in James's studio. It has so much great natural light as well as lights for standard studio work, and Georgia hit the desired mood perfectly, although this portrait shows she's perfect for a my moodier style of portraiture too.

 

 

I love taking portraits of redheads. And Beth has to be just about the most amazing natural redhead of all. She looks incredible, with hair up or down, as these two images show.

 

The later part of March was taken up with Easter and family visits. 

 

April started in street fashion style with a second shoot with Alyx, on behalf of an indie cothing design company in Folkestone, The Quartermasters. Colin, the owner of Quartermasters, had seen my work on Instagram, including images of Alyx, and sent along some T-shirts for me to use in my next shoot with her.

 

 

The shoot went really well (except for the wind and the rain) and both Alyx and I are now official members of the Quartermasters squad, and listed on the website as contributors and co-conspirators.

 

 

The very next day began with a big disappointment. I was due to work in the studio with Italian model, Alessia, who had been the model for the highly successful team shoot last autumn. I was really looking forward to doing a different style of personal project portrait shoot with her. But she developed a soaring temperature and had to call the shoot off early the same morning. I didn't want to waste booked studio time so at 8am put out an urgent casting call for the same afternoon, not holding much hope of a response. I couldn't believe my luck when Tanya (who I had worked with twice previously in her role as MUA) messaged me to say that she was available and was ready to jump on a train down to London. Thanks for saving the day Tanya, and for bringing such a colourful dress.

 

A few days later I was in London at Wordcamp (Wordpress conference) and rather than stay on for the after party, encouraged by the success of my last-minute casting-call earlier in the week, I put out a feeler on Facebook to see if anyone was around in the evening for a short street shoot. My luck was in again and this shoot with Hannah resulted.

The next day it was back shooting with Alyx. We were in mid-flow when she suddenly noticed she was having some kind of allergic reaction, and a livid rash was rapidly covering her entire body. We had no choice but to abandon the shoot and get her safely dispatched home. Here's one from just before that happened.

It was in the middle of April I had my first shoot with Brooke, who has just recently featured in a beach-shoot wearing Nasty Gal swimwear. The April shoot was a different mood entirely. Ruby, my go-to MUA, turned Brooke's hair silvery for a pixie in the woods shoot. 

 

These two months ended with two hours working with Helen Stephens at the Little Chelsea Gallery as part of her fund-raising studio day in support of Young Epilepsy, a shoot which ended up featuring a hippopotamus.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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achuka@gmail.com (ACHUKAphoto) Birmingham MUA fashion location photography portrait shoot street studio http://photo.achuka.co.uk/blog/2016/7/1st-half-of-2016-part-two Tue, 26 Jul 2016 12:50:29 GMT
1st Half of 2016, PART ONE Jan/Feb http://photo.achuka.co.uk/blog/2016/4/1st-half-of-2016-paret-one-jan/feb I started 2016 with a New Year’s resolve to fill in some missing ingredients in my portfolio, one of these being boudoir/lingerie themed shoots, and I booked some shoots with that predominantly in mind, seeking to work with models who were already used to working in that style.

I quickly discovered that framing, and particularly lighting (in the studio), a reclining, horizontal subject is altogether different from taking the portrait of a standing or seated model.

 

 

Obvious really, I suppose, but it meant I suddenly felt like a novice all over again. As with all things, you get better the more you do something, and although I’ve shot some images that were so awful they were quickly wiped from the drive, I’ve ended up with a reasonable collection of boudoir work that I feel happy with.

 

First up at the start of January was a test shoot with a young model called Chloe… I’ve taken out a rolling booking at the Little Chelsea Gallery for the first Tuesday of each month. Chloe came over from just outside Brighton for the first of these monthly studio sessions.

 

 

I love working with Asian models and a photographer I had met on the Hampstead Heath group shoot a year ago helped to arrange a shoot with his friend Lucie. Originally conceived as an outdoor location shoot, we ended up working in one room inside Lucie’s apartment and got some very nice windowside portraits.

 

 

A few days later I worked with LilyNicole, a onetime SuicideGirl, who was just returning to modelling following a break.

 

 

The next day it was over to Hove to finally work with photographer/model Jade Lyon. We were treated to some fabulous winter sunshine in the front room of her apartment.

 

 

A week later it was back into the studio to work with Helen, who had first come to my attention on WeeklyImogen’s YouTube channel, where she came across as a delightfully natural model.

 

 

Just a couple of days after that I teamed up with MUA Ruby to work on a concept shoot in a Brighton hotel room. The shoot came about after I responded to a model’s casting call for a Poison Ivy themed set. The full edit on this shoot is still being worked on.

 

 

 

 

At the end of January I got to work with Ayla, a model known principally for her athletic artnude work. But she is just as amazing at fashion and portraiture, so we had a fabulously varied shoot, which I am still mining for great images.

 

 

 

 

First shoot in February was the monthly first-Tuesday studio shoot, and I had arranged for Irena to come down from London for half a day, specifically with a lingerie shoot in mind. Irena is rather passionate about lingerie. She works with lingerie during the day, and makes her own lingerie in her spare time. She models it rather well too.

 

 

 

 

The very next day I drove to Fleet to do a shoot with someone who had been on my Want To Work With List for a while and who I knew was experienced in boudoir style shoots. Natasha was a dream to work with, and I have so much more still up my sleeve from this shoot.

 

 

Still continuing with the boudoir theme but also finding time for some artnude, it was back in the studio mid-month, to work with someone whose modelling name is Serenity...

 

A few days later I drove over to Boxley to work with Faye, who had a couple of small dogs and a cat who managed to get into some of the shots.

 

 

The very next day I attended the launch of independent designer Louise O'Mahony's new 50s-inspired Oh My Honey line of wedding dresses and was struck by one of the catwalk models in particular. It turned out that her name was Insea, that she was German, and would only be in the UK for one more week. I was thrilled when she agreed to do a location shoot with me on her penultimate day in the UK.

 

 

 

And that was my start to the year. A rewardingly full first couple of months.

 

 

 

 





 

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achuka@gmail.com (ACHUKAphoto) artnude boudoir camera location model modelling nudity photographer photography portrait portraiture shoot studio http://photo.achuka.co.uk/blog/2016/4/1st-half-of-2016-paret-one-jan/feb Fri, 08 Apr 2016 09:52:49 GMT
2nd Half of 2015, PART THREE Nov/Dev http://photo.achuka.co.uk/blog/2016/2/2nd-half-of-2015-part-three-nov/dev I had had Beffy on my Want To Work With list for a long time, but as she was Midlands based it had taken a while to organise. As chance would have it, my shoot with her turned out to be the last official modelling slot she undertook before taking a full break from the scene - whether permanent or temporary we shall see.

 

Hopefully the latter, as I’d shoot with her again in an instant.

I have become very partial to working with models with very short hair. The fact that Harriet was also a ginger redhead, very tall and new to the south-east was added recommendation. She brought along some very distinctive vintage clothing and we had a great shoot.

 

A London street shoot with a green-haired La Rana Arrogante was one of the highlights of my first year of model shooting (2014) and I jumped at the chance to have another brief London location shoot with her during one of her occasional trips to the UK. Her hair was no longer green, as can be seen.

 

 

Ever since my three shoots with Mai Osuga I’ve been keen to find more Asian models to work with, so it was a delight to be contacted by Li, a young Chinese model, via Facebook to say that she liked my work and would like to arrange a shoot with a designer and MUA. It was great to work with all three.

The Fulham studio was being managed that day by Mona, 18yr old Austrian girl with an absolutely radiant natural beauty. Later I asked the studio owner to see of Mona would be happy to do an informal shoot with me and one was duly arranged. It was good to work with someone who is more anxious to become a photographer than a model.

 


 

It was a fitting way to end the shooting year, the rest of December being taken up with my first experience of exhibiting work - at a 4-man exhibition held at the Little Chelsea Gallery in Eastbourne. I selected quite a few images not previously shared - principally from shoots with Estrany, Lulu Lockhart, Nina Sever and Laurence.

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achuka@gmail.com (ACHUKAphoto) Asian December November hair location models monochrome photoshoot redhead short street studio tall winter http://photo.achuka.co.uk/blog/2016/2/2nd-half-of-2015-part-three-nov/dev Mon, 15 Feb 2016 17:17:37 GMT
2nd Half of 2015, PART TWO Sep/Oct http://photo.achuka.co.uk/blog/2016/2/2nd-half-of-2015-part-two-sep/oct The high point of my shoot with Jammy, near her home in Horsham, was a hard sun sequence shot at the side of a skateboard park. Some photographers avoid harsh sunlight and find every way they can to shade and soften it. I actually like it. Partly, I think, because we get so little of it in this country. Our English daylight is naturally grey and diffuse so much of the time it is rather glorious when these bright sunny days come along.

 

As well as the open sunlight I enjoy portraiture in dappled light, and models have to get used to me asking them to position and incline their heads very precisely. Jammy was hugely obliging.

 

 

Barbara first came to my attention on Instagram. I loved her short-haired androgynous look and was thrilled when she agreed to do a shoot with me.

 

I decided to return to the same natural light studio I had used with Nina Sever, and booked a MUA I had worked with in Brighton on one of my very first studio shoots. Tanya Marie McGeever is currently one of the most interesting individuals on the UK photography scene.  She started out as a model, then gave prominence to her work as a MUA. She has recently started modelling more frequently again, and has become a photographer too. Quite a few models have recently turned to trying things out on the other side of the camera and it’s great to see - especially when they get results as good as Tanya does.

When she’s working as a MUA Tanya is a true team player, watchfully on hand throughout the shoot.

Laurence is a Belgian model who travelled to Kent to spend a few days shooting out of ‘Tim’s cottage’. I had never used the venue before. Or worked with a Belgian model. I'd be more than happy to do both again!

What turned out to be the biggest and possibly the best shoot of the year happened towards the end of October, with a team consisting of designer Michail Jarovoj, Italian model Alessia Vaccaro, stylist & blogger Savina Nikolova and MUA Olukemi Kolawole. Quite a number of images from this shoot have been selected fro the Front Page (FPI) on the Purpleport website.

 

 

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achuka@gmail.com (ACHUKAphoto) October September autumn interior location photography shoot sun sunlight http://photo.achuka.co.uk/blog/2016/2/2nd-half-of-2015-part-two-sep/oct Sat, 06 Feb 2016 20:36:20 GMT
2nd Half of 2015, PART ONE July/Aug http://photo.achuka.co.uk/blog/2016/2/2nd-half-of-2015-july-aug Continuing with my determination to plan and work with models of distinctive appearance and ‘look’, I arranged a shoot with Nina Sever, a Russian model whose work with Italian photographers I had been admiring for several years whenever it cropped up on Flickr.

 

 

 

Now resident in London, she was able to recommend a natural light studio out at Hackney Wick which was perfect for the free ranging shoot we had in mind. When I look at the images form that shoot it’s remarkable what we managed to achieve in two short hours, never having worked with one another before. But Nina is magical, a really special individual, and is remarkably expressive with her eyes and hands.

 

 

Lulu Lockhart’s diary gets booked up months in advance so we made plans for our shoot well ahead. I booked it to coincide with a visit to the David Fickling Oxford office on the same day. Interview with Fickling in the morning; shoot with Lulu in the Oxfordshire countryside in the afternoon. Not a a bad day to look back on.

 

 

An incredible model, who can pop herself into pose after pose, doing wild things with arms and hair, but is also capable of great stillness. Having worked as a life model from an early age, she is completely at ease with her body. I included several images form this shoot in the exhibition just before Christmas.

 

Then there were two more shoots with Mai (Mai2 / Mai3). I still have sequences from both these shoots to finish editing and sometimes think I am being intentionally tardy in this regard, because I know that currently I’m unable to arrange a further shoot with her, so don’t want to completely use up all the goodness.

Near the end of August I got together with a team of two models (both of whom I'd worked with before - Danielle and Naomi) a MUA, Helena Sergeant and model Al:ce (working in this instance as stylist) to create a sporty editorial sequence with a view to magazine submission. The shoot was envisaged as an outdoor shoot but the late August weather had other plans and we were mainly confined to Naomi's Brighton apartment, except for a brief period at the end of the afternoon.

The editorial was accepted for publication by CT Magazine, which obligingly ceased operating just before our issue was due to be released. C'est la vie...
[The editorial is still being held back for possible publication elsewhere).

 

 

 

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achuka@gmail.com (ACHUKAphoto) August July fashion location portrait shoot summer year http://photo.achuka.co.uk/blog/2016/2/2nd-half-of-2015-july-aug Sat, 06 Feb 2016 18:13:41 GMT
1st Half of 2015 PART THREE - May/June http://photo.achuka.co.uk/blog/2016/2/-st-half-of-2015-part-three---may/june Six great shoots in these two months, beginning with two models whose names both begin with ‘I’ - Irida and Isabelle.

Iris and I had first planned to work together in 2014 when she was working as a tennis coach in London, but those plans fell through when she suffered an ankle injury. As soon as I realised she was now living far closer to me on the south coast we arranged a shoot in my favourite studio, the Little Chelsea Gallery, Eastbourne.

 

 

What a varied and creative model she is and our shoot ranged from period costumed to artnude.

 

 

In fact, this artnude shot proved to be one of my most popular photos of the year.

 

Isabelle is a photographer rather than a model. We met in the photographers’ ‘pit’ at Brighton Fashion Week, and I could see that she had a face and demeanour suited to my style of shooting. I suggested some heavy stylised eye makeup for the shoot and Isabelle bravely traveled to the location by bus with her makeup pre-prepared.

 

 

 

We did the shoot in Stanmer Park. I chose the same location for my first shoot with Mai.

Oh, my!

From the moment she sat down in the smart surrounds of Stanmer House and started playing with the leaves of a houseplant, I could tell we were going to produce some fabulous photos.

 

 

This photo of Mai reclining in an old tree was the first of three photos of mine to be showcased by Breed.

 

 

 

I did two further shoots with Mai during the summer and was highly disappointed when she decided to return to Hong Kong and Japan following her graduation.

 

 

 

One of the best models I worked with in my first year was a young Londoner named Danielle. That had been a street shoot in and around Brick Lane. I was keen to work with her in the studio so arranged a special shoot with designer Isaac Raymond to coincide with Danielle’s release from A-Levels.

I booked Ruby Lonsdale to do the makeup and Danielle modelled a gold dress.

 

 

 

The next shoot was with MaryAnn, a MUA and hairstylist rather than a model. I had first come across her during a Halloween group shoot in 2014. We shot on a fabulously warm summer’s day and got some tremulously beautiful outdoor photos.

 

 

 

I very much hope she’ll agree to model for me again some time.

I like to create varied work, but it is still pure portraiture that satisfies me the most, and my next model provided me with what I think are my two best natural light portraits of the year. We conducted the whole shoot in a small living room at her shared student flat. It’s remarkable what can be achieved when the window light is good, and your model has such natural radiance.

 

 

 
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achuka@gmail.com (ACHUKAphoto) June May models photographer photography photoshoot shoot http://photo.achuka.co.uk/blog/2016/2/-st-half-of-2015-part-three---may/june Sat, 06 Feb 2016 10:37:14 GMT
1st half of 2015 PART TWO - Mar/Apr http://photo.achuka.co.uk/blog/2015/8/1st-half-of-2015---mar/apr At the start of March, I went up to Preston to attend a World Book Day event and on the evening before arranged a night shoot with 45-year-old local model, Geena. It was icy cold and an hour's outdoor shooting was all that could be managed, but we got some good shots.

Next up was a home shoot with Bex, expressly arranged as an opportunity to shoot artnude and bodyscape. 

Although it was an indoor shoot, the sun was shining brightly and meant I was able to use the contrasts between light and shadow on  the model.

Next came a London location shoot with Canadian redhead, Morgan Poole. I met her while hanging out around Somerset House on the last day of London Fashion Week and we arranged to do a shoot on the basis of a couple of shots I took of her on that day. You can see why she stood out from the crowd:

And when it came to the location shoot we worked it in fashion/editorial style:

What with one thing and another, April was a little sparse shoot-wise. But things got moving again right at the start of May....

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achuka@gmail.com (ACHUKAphoto) April March artnude editorial fashion light model portrait shadow shoot street http://photo.achuka.co.uk/blog/2015/8/1st-half-of-2015---mar/apr Fri, 14 Aug 2015 14:36:47 GMT
Ist half of 2015 PART ONE Jan/Feb http://photo.achuka.co.uk/blog/2015/7/ist-half-of-2015-jan/feb I began the New Year eager to build on the experiences of 2014, determined that each shoot would give an opportunity to grow and improve as both a photographer and retoucher.

The first shoot of the year (with Holly, sporting her new pixie cut) certainly produced shots worthy of spending time retouching. I think at least a couple of the portraits from this shoot were my most accomplished studio/retouching work to date. [The level of skin retouching below is a little beyond what I would choose to do for personal taste, but I was attempting to show a capability of achieving a result popular with some.]

The session also showed what can be achieved when working with a model who is as interested as the photographer in creating mood and atmosphere.

Later in the month I had the opportunity to shoot my second catwalk show, at young designer Isaac Raymond's first London Show, held at an Autism convention in central London. This was closely followed by a second shoot with Naomi, a young musician of intriguing Italian and Japanese parentage. 

We set up lights in her garage, and the mood for the shoot - referred to as the Garage Shoot - became quite light-hearted, which I like...

Early in February I managed to work with a model I'd been looking forward to shooting for a long time, having missed an opportunity to do so on David Long's Beach Shoot last summer. Stephanie Ellen came down to work in the Little Chelsea Studio Gallery with me and MUA Ruby Lonsdale, who I already knew from working with Brighton model Laura Hunter on the Perfume Shoot.

It was a great shoot, with a range of results...

Some of the images from the monochrome set that the above image is taken from were accepted for publication in Fluffer magazine, and printed in Issue 10, finally released January 2016.

A few days later I went to Hampstead Heath for a group shoot, mainly for an opportunity to photograph a freckle-faced American model, Maile.

The highlight of the first two months of the year though has to be Estrany. My New Year's Resolution in 2015 was to become more selective about the models I did shoots with, to do fewer TF shoots and pick out faces and types that I felt would be best suited to my way of working. Estrany was certainly someone who had caught my eye on other photographers' portfolios and I booked her knowing it would give me a first opportunity of dedicating part of the shoot to artnude. She did her own makeup and provided her own styling.

 

There is much goodness yet to be mined from this shoot and she is certainly a model I shall be working with again. 

At the end of February I attended the final day of London Fashion Week and discovered Canadian redhead, Morgan - someone who would become the subject of a street fashion shoot during the next part of the year (see Mar/Apr)

 

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achuka@gmail.com (ACHUKAphoto) Estrany MUA portrait redhead retouching studio styling http://photo.achuka.co.uk/blog/2015/7/ist-half-of-2015-jan/feb Tue, 21 Jul 2015 15:02:29 GMT
Why do you take photographs, she asked http://photo.achuka.co.uk/blog/2015/7/why-do-you-take-photographs-she-asked They were almost the first words she said to me.
"Why do you take photographs?" 
I hesitated (I'm never all that swift with my replies) then mumbled something lame about liking to take pictures that are pleasing to look at. And went on to talk about always having had a fascination for cameras and photography - all quite inadequate as a response.
From that point on conversation became easier, and the shoot went well. Very well. One of the best two hours I've ever spent working with a model. As you might expect with a model the calibre of Nina Sever. (You will shortly be able to see some samples from the afternoon spent in the Cre8 studio space in Hackney Wick, in the shoot resume.)
Nina's question may have been disarming, but it deserved a better response, and especially one that explains why I have spent the past eighteen months shooting almost exclusively portraiture.
The bit about always being fascinated by photographs is true. I would spend hours looking through black and white photos that my grandmother kept in a biscuit tin, many of them showing photos of her home and family in Melvich, a little place at the tip top of Scotland in Sutherlandshire (my great-grandfather was a shepherd on the Duke of Sutherland's estate). My grandmother had left home at the age of fourteen for a life in service to various grand families in England, and had ended up in a Sussex village, where she was, when I was a child, a (semi-retired) lady-in-waiting to the 'Commander's wife'. Many of the photographs in the biscuit tin showed notable visitors to the country estate, including Princess Margaret. 
For a young boy, photos such as these were windows into an exciting world of possibilities. We used to spend the majority of every school holiday at my grandmother's house, and every Sunday we would go and have tea in the cook's residence at the Court. My sister and I would dive straight for the cook's collection of National Geographic magazines and when we weren't busy giggling at photos of naked African tribes, I would marvel at the stunning photography from all corners of the earth. The Cook was a frequent world traveller and often had slides of her own to show us. My grandmother and parents would groan, but I never minded, happy as I was to look at any kind of still image.
I was about 10 when I got my first camera. It was a grey plastic box-like camera made by Kodak, and if I'm not mistaken took medium format sized film. We lived in Wembley and I would go out on my own with it on forays into the local park and side streets. Very few if any of those early snaps survive, save a few I took on family holidays. 
My first 35mm camera was a Zorki4k, bought when I was about 18, and which I still have. It has lost its self-timer lever, but is otherwise still working.
I loved this camera and it was capable of taking some beautiful photos, but accurate focusing was awkward, and the proportion of good to poor shots when the prints came back from the developer was often rather disheartening.
I did not do my own darkroom developing till much later, by which time I was using a Minolta dslr. I used it almost exclusively for family photographs and in my work. I ran a photography club, took all the photographs for the school newspaper and for events such as sports day and performances.
The establishment of my children's books news and reviews website ACHUKA coincided with the advent of digital photography. I bought myself a Sony point and shoot and from that point onwards all my book event (launches and parties) and school event photography was taken digitally, while I continued to use my two Minolta film bodies for more personal work.
As I replaced the first Sony digital camera with improved models I began to use the film cameras less. By the time I joined Flickr in 2005 I was shooting all my work digitally.
I had never been in a position to spend large amounts of money on camera bodies and lenses and so although I ogled the camera magazines and read reviews of the latest Nikon and Canon models I never felt in a position to invest the necessary capital to become the owner of what might be considered a full set of 'pro' kit.
And anyway much of the best and most innovative photography I was appreciating on Flickr was being taken with modest digital cameras of the type I was using myself.
When Sony announced its first digital dslr I was immediately interested because it meant I would be able to use my Minolta lenses with the a100 - not that I had many, but I would be able to supplement the kit lens with a 50mm prime and the lovely soft 75-200 Zeiss Jena.
After the a100 I moved to the a580 and now use a full-frame A mount a99. My portrait lens of choice with this camera is a Sigma 1.4 85mm.
Another reason I was rather slow to acquire professional quality gear was that for much of my early life I considered myself primarily a writer, rather than a photographer. While I was researching my novel about Melville and Hawthorne and later writing my biography of Tennyson, I had a membership card for the University of Sussex library and would bring back big bags loaded with relevant titles, but usually found room as well for two or three oversize photography monographs. 
I had always studied the lives of artists (Gauguin, Van Gogh, Vuillard, Cezanne, Turner) and now studied the lives of photographers (Weston, Adams, Stieglitz).
Likewise I had always had an interest in fashion magazines, despite maintaining the most unfashionable personal appearance. Without being aware of it, I realise that what I was admiring was the styling and creativity that goes into the best fashion shoots.
I have a very low tolerance for non-figurative, abstract art. My favourite paintings are portraits, or at least paintings that contain a human figure.
So as soon as I had rid myself of a fulltime salaried position in education I knew that I wanted to devote much of that freed-up time to taking photographs. I had never been in a studio or worked with studio lights until February last year (2014). A short, very well taught introductory workshop and the highly functional internet modelling website Purpleport provided me with plenty of shooting experience with models and make-up artists. 
Two or three group shoots and a couple of catwalk shows along the way and I was well and truly hooked.
I'm 63 going close on 64 but in portrait and fashion photography terms feel more like 23/24. I know I have some things to prove. Models are apt to refer to men in my age bracket who want to work with them but have no particular prowess as photographers as gwc's (guys with cameras) so at one elementary level I want to take photographs and build a portfolio that emphatically states "NOT a gwc". 
I have an ambitious streak and a desire, not to be approved, but to be respected for an ability to produce work that is worth looking at.
I like to take photographs because every now and then I feel I produce a photograph that stands the test of scrutiny - and that is a richly satisfying thing to be able to do.
Which is 1200+ words of saying more or less the same thing as my original inadequate muttering, which at least had the merit of brevity.
So, good enough after all: I like to take photographs that are pleasing to look at. Just that.
But thanks, Nina, for prompting these extra thoughts.


It's time I summarised the shoots I have done in the first six months of this year, and will be doing that in three instalments - coming next, Jan/Feb 2015.

 

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achuka@gmail.com (ACHUKAphoto) answer models photography portraits question response shoots why http://photo.achuka.co.uk/blog/2015/7/why-do-you-take-photographs-she-asked Thu, 09 Jul 2015 09:49:54 GMT
Momo - The Lemon Session http://photo.achuka.co.uk/blog/2014/12/momo---the-lemon-session I was due to start a shoot on the seafront on a gloomy drizzly day in November.

I knew the model had green hair and wanted a dash of complementary colour for the fashion/editorial style of shoot I had in mind.

So, on impulse before leaving the house, I grabbed a single lemon from the fruit bowl, and that became a motif throughout the first part of the shoot.

Momo had first suggested an autumnal shoot, so we later went to a park and shot with rich natural yellows and golds in the background. For that part of the shoot, the lemon was no longer required.

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achuka@gmail.com (ACHUKAphoto) editorial fashion fluffy green hair http://photo.achuka.co.uk/blog/2014/12/momo---the-lemon-session Mon, 08 Dec 2014 20:45:00 GMT
Laura - The Perfume Session http://photo.achuka.co.uk/blog/2014/12/laura---the-perfume-session I worked with Laura three times during 2014 (each time in the studio), and I'm sure I will do so again in 2015.

These are some favourites from the most recent occasion. I called it the Perfume Session. You'll see why.

 

 

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achuka@gmail.com (ACHUKAphoto) fragrance model perfume photography portrait studio http://photo.achuka.co.uk/blog/2014/12/laura---the-perfume-session Sun, 07 Dec 2014 20:22:31 GMT
Hunting The Enneagram http://photo.achuka.co.uk/blog/2014/9/hunting-the-enneagram

Hunting The Enneagram from achuka on Vimeo.

I enjoy watching behind-the-scenes footage of photography shoots and although I've had my Sony a99 for nearly a year now I haven't really worked with it as a video camera. So when I heard that Brighton headshot photographer Mark David was going to take to the streets to spot essential body types and take on-the-spot portraits of them to use on his website markdavidshots.com to help explain an esoteric casting theory based on the Enneagram - a system that divides human personalities into distinct types - I asked if I could tag along in the middle part of the day for the purposes of a brief documentation. Mark had an assistant - Hungarian photographer Agnes Wonketoth - working with him and I'd like to thank them both for letting me film them as they worked.

The Body Types Enneagram is not to be confused with the better-known personality types tier of Enneagram theory. Mark's interest as a photographer is only in the physical characteristics of his portrait subjects. He believes that the Enneagram is almost always at work when casting directors make their choices. He uses an encyclopaedic knowledge of film and TV actors to illustrate the way complimentary body types and combinations - as set out in Enneagram theory - can be seen in everything from soap operas to Hollywood blockbusters. His unique 'selling-point' as an actors' headshot photographer is that, knowing this, he can accentuate the body type in his portraits to assist directors in their casting choices.

I was surprised at how few people met Mark's criteria sufficiently strongly for him to stop them and request 5 minutes of their time. But he reminded me that he was on the lookout for pure representations of the six essential types : Lunar, Venus, Mercury, Saturn, Mars, Jovial. Most of us are paired combinations of the six classic types. There are also triangularly-combined types, so it all gets a little confusing. He had me down as 'Jovial' with a mix of Saturn - or was that Venus or Mars, I don't remember.

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achuka@gmail.com (ACHUKAphoto) Brighton Enneagram headshot portrait street theory http://photo.achuka.co.uk/blog/2014/9/hunting-the-enneagram Thu, 25 Sep 2014 13:28:06 GMT
Model Photography http://photo.achuka.co.uk/blog/2014/9/model-photography headshotOne of my first studio headshotsmodel: Laura Hunter

Six months ago I had never worked in a studio or had a model shoot - this despite the fact that I have always loved looking at fashion photography.

Occasionally I had looked into Studio Lighting introductory courses but they had always seemed unduly expensive. Then I joined the Brighton Photographers Group via the MeetUp website and immediately saw that they were hosting a half-day Lighting Workshop with photographer Jon Gray and a local model. The cost, compared with sessions I had seen advertised elsewhere, was exceedingly modest, as was the fee the group's organiser, Dade Freeman (a full-time Brighton portrait photographer), charged for a follow-up hands-on session a couple of weeks later.

jacquiAnother early studio shotJacqui

I was immediately hooked and arranged my own solo sessions in the same studio (at the Brighton Media Centre) with four different models, mainly sourced through the PurplePort website, which has had as big an impact on my photography as Flickr did nearly ten years ago.

jessicaSummer location shootJessica

Since joining the site I have done over 20 shoots (see references). In the summer months these were mainly location shoots but I am now once again actively booking studio time to continue building my experience using artificial lighting and the different retouching skills that working with the resulting images requires.

DanielleFirst FPI (Front Page Image) on PurplePortDanielle Sams

The whole six-month period has been an education. As well as the introductory sessions mentioned above I've attended an available light day course led by Kris Karl (whose style and attitude I like a lot), a full-on immersive experience in styling and organising a commercial shoot (led by Erika Szostak), and joined in a group beach shoot with its own closed Facebook group, organised by David Long of Exposure Studios London.

charlottePortrait of Charlotte taken at Kris Karl's workshopCharlotte

Mainly I've been learning and loving the making of beautiful headshots and fashion portraits, and constantly improving my retouching skills using Lightroom and Photoshop.

ashleyGeisha shootAshley

There are some full-time professional and commercial photographers on Purpleport, some agency-level models, and some other models who manage to make a fulltime living from a life of internet modelling and specially arranged day-long studio sessions. But the vast majority of those using the site seem to be either hobbyists or indulging in a pastime that both boosts self-confidence and provides pleasure.

dinaDina at VauxhallI developed my own Lightroom preset for this shoot

Trade shoots, as they are called (where both parties are trading their time in return for the resulting photographs), can be somewhat precarious. Where there is no financial reward involved, last-minute cancellations are a constant worry. I have had three or four of those. Indeed, I'm writing this overdue Camera Blog update during an afternoon when I should have been shooting in the studio. 

francescatest shoot for MUA Francesca Piercymodel: Francesca Sullivan

It may be premature, and an inappropriate feeling to have at my time of life, but it feels as if my fledgling status in this form of photography is coming to an end and I'm ready to fly. If all goes to plan I'll be shooting a 1940s themed fashion/editorial shoot in some private grounds next month.

 

 

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achuka@gmail.com (ACHUKAphoto) Brighton fashion lights portrait shoots studio http://photo.achuka.co.uk/blog/2014/9/model-photography Mon, 15 Sep 2014 14:33:02 GMT
Zoom Zoom Zoom Launch Event http://photo.achuka.co.uk/blog/2014/1/zoom-zoom-zoom-launch-event

Photos from the launch of Macmillan picture book 'Zoom Zoom Zoom' by Katherina Manolessou

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achuka@gmail.com (ACHUKAphoto) Macmillan art book illustrations illustrator picture http://photo.achuka.co.uk/blog/2014/1/zoom-zoom-zoom-launch-event Fri, 31 Jan 2014 13:31:58 GMT
Waitress In A Trance http://photo.achuka.co.uk/blog/2014/1/waitress-in-a-trance

A few more shots from a recent roam around Brighton. 

 

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achuka@gmail.com (ACHUKAphoto) Brighton Sony sedan street waitress http://photo.achuka.co.uk/blog/2014/1/waitress-in-a-trance Fri, 03 Jan 2014 18:34:37 GMT
Street x2 http://photo.achuka.co.uk/blog/2014/1/street-x2 A couple of new additions to the Street gallery, both taken in Brighton recently on one of the few dry, sunny days of the Christmas holiday season.

Piggyback Strret

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achuka@gmail.com (ACHUKAphoto) Brighton meditation piggyback street http://photo.achuka.co.uk/blog/2014/1/street-x2 Thu, 02 Jan 2014 19:23:21 GMT
Nosy Crow Party http://photo.achuka.co.uk/blog/2013/12/nosy-crow-party

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achuka@gmail.com (ACHUKAphoto) ACHUKA Nosy Crow Philip Reeve Sarah McIntyre party publishing http://photo.achuka.co.uk/blog/2013/12/nosy-crow-party Wed, 11 Dec 2013 20:09:33 GMT
Found In Translation http://photo.achuka.co.uk/blog/2013/11/found-in-translation A set of photos taken at the Found In Translation event held at Europe House, Smith Square, London, on Friday 15 November 2013

 

David Fickling, seen here soon after arriving too late for the panel discussion (there had been confusion over timing). To make up for this he held an impromptu 'event', holding forth in inimical style in the lobby where people had assembled for a tea & coffee break.

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achuka@gmail.com (ACHUKAphoto) Europe European Fabio Fickling Geda Italian Italy translation http://photo.achuka.co.uk/blog/2013/11/found-in-translation Sat, 16 Nov 2013 12:00:24 GMT