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Studio lighting and retouching workshop with Sophie Traynor

This week’s workshop was about studio lighting and the retouching process.

Sophie Traynor specialises in food, fashion, hair and beauty photography.

In the beginning she explained the way she photographs people and the lighting she uses. When photographing in the studio she always sets up her camera to ISO 100, f.8 and 1/125s to start with. The lighting is always position on the side of the model, and the model very close to the light (image 1). At first light is always set up to half of the power. When the lighting isn’t as she planned, she moves the light towards the front of a model. If the lighting still isn’t as desire, she move the lighting and/or adds the reflector on the other side of model’s face until she have the desire results (Image 2). Next, she adds one light towards the background, so it doesn’t look flat and has more tones. To make the background white, she adds two lights positioned towards the background (Image 4). This setting just proves that we don’t need to have many lights to created beautiful images.

If something aren’t going right, Traynor’s advice was to always check if things are plugged in. We, the photographers must agree, as perhaps everyone had some problems when shooting in the studio; stressing as something broke, but thankfully it was only unplugged.

However, in the fashion and beauty standards, photo shoot is only the begging as each photographs requires a lot of retouching. Traynor showed us the way she edits her beauty images. To start with she is using healing brush to get rid of unwanted stuff like for example hair. She is editing pictures in black and white, as she thinks that some stuff are more visible than in colour. She uses non destructive editing and always keeps the original file. Next she uses curves to make the image slightly lighter and uses brush, or dodge and burn tools to darken or brighten the area on the skin. She also uses selective colour if some colours doesn’t look as it meant to.

Treynor suggested that if we are thinking about this business is very important to have a team of people who together create a great shot. To consider fashion stylist, make-up artist, hair stylist. It will make your work easier and pictures wont required as much retouching.

Treynor told us to always learn new stuff within retouching, but even we knew more, we should do less. As the less we do for an image the better for the image.

Within food photography, similar to fashion or beauty Traynore mostly uses simple lighting. Soft box right up to the edge of a table and if needed she adds reflector on the other side of the product. According to Treynor, the closest we get to the light, the better shadows and contrast it will create.

The fallowing day, Sophie Traynor gave us a talk about her few years adventure as a freelance photographer. She told us to always be prepared for the photo shoot and to practise the lighting even on a friends or family. She said that we don’t need to move to London to have clients, as well as we don’t have to work as photography assistant. She build her own photographic kit, however she encouraged us to rent stuff, as we could charge client for it and won’t have to spend thousand pound for a new lens for example. She uses two lenses 100 mm for hair, beauty and food photography and 24-70 mm for fashion. She said that having anxiety before each shoot is totally normal, as when you stressing it means that you care. Additionally, facing difficulties is part of this job, but we get to do what we love. She said that “it feels as jingle fire sometimes, but you need to learn how to jingle the fire.”

Her biggest advice was to be nice, reasonable and communicate well, be honest even about the problems which appears to have returned clients. Off course there are other stuff, you need to prove yourself that they can trust you and build the relationship with a client. I really enjoyed this talk so as the workshop. Another guest speaker who deliver very useful talk and was pleasure to meet, for her honestly, great sense of humour and a lovely personality.

Check some more of the amazing work at sophietraynor.com

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Large Format Camera Workshop

Last Thursday we’ve had a large format workshop with one of out tutor Yan Preston.

Yan explains what is a large format, how does the camera works and why its been widely used even thought being huge, heavy and considered as a very slow and expensive process of making photographs. Large format is used for the quality and beauty of images and for huge size that photographs could be printed. Yan also introduced some artist who as well as her uses large format in their photography. For example Alec Soth, Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, Sally Mann-Immediate Family, Alys Tomlison, Awoiska von de Molen, Taryl Simon-American Index, Andreas Gursky-River Rhine. According to Alec Soth the subject become less conscious when photographed by the large format, as the photographer is under cloth, so the subject don’t get to see when the image is taken (You tube, Alec Soth: Portraits – The Ground Glass).

In the second part of the workshop Yan explained how to use large format camera, how to put the film in it and how to set up the exposure. We then went outside and each of us had a chance to take two images. There were a lot of stuff to remember but Yan told us that we can only learn it by use it and that we can learn from our own mistakes!

I really enjoyed and this session and looking forward to see how our images turns out.

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Lewis Chaplin from Loose Joints publications guest speaker

Last Friday I had a pleasure to attend Lewis Chaplin’s talk.

Chaplin talked about his adventure with photography, as well as publications, book making and designing process. He made his first book when he was a teenager, printed in numerous examples and sent it to many publishing companies. Someone got back to him and this was his first step towards his carrier. He then introduced us to his publishing company Loose Joints he created together with his partner. As well as speaking about the books he published, he brought many physical examples of them, so we could have a chance to look through. One which catches my eyes was about fetish and called 2041. Book isn’t as interesting, but the way Chaplin talked about his relationship with the photographer and how they become friend and shared their interest in dressing up, was very interesting and really funny. The book contains self-portraiture, where the artist performs in his own house, but as he covers his own body in a various textiles, he always remains anonymous.

The most interesting for me was a book called Homes by Harley Weir. Weir created his body of work in refugees camp in Calais in 2016. I love the context of the book and the way she photographed the camp, which shows migrants’ struggle and the conditions they get to live in. She doesn’t’ just raised the awareness of the migrants situation in the camp, but also raised the money for human rights charities in the area.

After the guest speaker, we went to our base room and was able to show our work to Lewis Chaplin. He was very useful and gave me some good ideas. He said that I have a lot of strong portraits, but as a viewer he can not get the message I am trying to say to the viewers. Therefore, he advised me to add a lot of text, like essay, subject’s stories, facts, statistics etc. He suggested to talk to each photographed people and ask about their feelings, if they feel frustrated, or as they are working too hard, or are they under valued?… I told him that I am planning to mix the subjects with their belongings, so as their stories and he said that this is a good idea, as I shouldn’t give the viewers every answer, as it may changes their perception.

If you would like to see some more Loose Joins publications, check their website

http://www.loosejoints.biz

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Portfolio review by Karina Lax and Sian Bonnell

As part of our Friday mornings group portfolio reviews this time we were joined by Karina Lax. Firstly, Lax said that I have a interesting name for a photographer. It may sound exciting, but she doesn’t know the real meaning of my surname and I didn’t tell her (exactly it means an “orphan”, but it also used to call somebody “walking disaster” and I truly hate it). Coming back to my portfolio, Lax was impressed with my work and picked up a few of my best portraiture. However, she pointed out a few which aren’t best. She added that I should always think about the context, subjects face expressions, their hand gestures and keep an eye on the composition, so there won’t be any distractions (she said it as one of my subject is dressed in dirty clothing and has his hand in his pocked, what means that he is insecure or somehow distress and that I should edit it to look clean; however, I replied that he is a farmer and that’s the message I want to communicate). Lax suggested that I have a lot of portraiture and should add more conceptual images to create the narrative about the subjects and their story. She recommended to experiment with the edit and mixed up subject’s stuff and pair them up with the person they don’t belong to (this is the second person who suggested this, and I must say I like the idea). She recommended to look at some photographer’s work: Liz Hingley for lighting and narratives and Tom Hunter for his staged narratives

If you would like to see Karina Lax’s work check out her website: http://www.karinalax.com

On Friday afternoon Sian Bonnell was our guest speaker. She talked about her photographic journey right from the university, until now, 40 years as a practitioner. She shared her story about going back to photography when she became mother; she paid a child minder to look after her children and went out to create her artistic images. Mainly juxtaposed household item in the landscape (biscuits cutters, jellies etc), or used food and domestic items to recreate landscapes for example: ham on the wall. She plays with boundaries and mixing reality with fantasy. This kind of photography has not much to do with mine however, I am glad to be part of this talk; as Bonnell has a great personality, made us laugh all the way and gave us an important lesson. She suggested that we should not take it personally when people criticize our work (she said that the older she gets, the less care she became about what other people say). That we should love our work as if we don’t, it won’t be any good, but if we do, that’s when best work will arise. She believes that the camera is her partner in crime and makes her behave badly. Photography for Bonnell isn’t a subject but a tool for translation, it has philosophy. Bonnell also tried self-portraiture, where she reperformed painting’s gesture or her state of mind. The funniest story she told us was where she got commissioned for children surrealism and when she created a scene of crime, she got rejected. I am glad to have a pleasure to meet her for her creativity and lovely personality.  

After the guest speaker, some students and I met Sian in our base room. We’ve had a chance to talk to her and to show our works. According to Sian my work is good and interesting. Bonnell suggested that I need to add a lot of text for my photo book, as pictures can’t express everything what I am trying to communicate to the audience. Bonnell recommended to add newspapers articles, headings about Brexit or other fictional headlines. She also gave me a few photographers to consider researching Rosie Martin, Tom Duffield, Jo Spence, Sian Davey, Mathew Finn and Guy Martin-Syria.

If you interested to see Sian Bonnell’s work have a look at her website: http://www.sianbonnel.com/

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Lens Culture Portrait Award 2019

Today, I entered a single image for Lens Culture Portrait Awards 2019.

I chose this image, as I love the lighting, so as subject’s pose and the composition.

The image is part of my project about the foreign people who live and work in the UK. The image doesn’t necessarily communicate what’s my project about. But as the subject is looking away it gives me impression as she is missing something, possibly her country of birth or the family who lives there. As the media relentlessly portray immigrants as damaging to the UK, she feels displaced, just like perhaps every foreign born; and since the public voted for Brexit, she feels unwanted in the UK, broken apart between their country of birth and the country of residence, so as many other European Union’s immigrants, including myself. While each of us is different, none of us knows our future in here. One day we could end up like one of those poor South Americans, which UK decided to kick out of the country.

I choose the Lens Culture competition for many reasons. Firstly, as its free entry for a single image (which is significant, as being student I need to be careful where I am spending my money) and most importantly for great opportunities.

  • Possibility to have work exhibited at Aperture Gallery in New York City’s Chelsea district
  • A chance to receive press coverage from publications and media outlets around the world.
  • A chance to have work reviewed by Lens Culture editors for immediate exposure in their Competition Gallery and across all their online channels, reaching a combined audience of over three million.
  • An opportunity to have the work reviewed by International Jury
  • “Entrants to our Awards receive massive online exposure throughout the competition”
  • “Winners, finalists and selected entrants have been featured in major publications like BBC, The Guardian, The Washington Post, Internazionale, VICE, The Times of London, Huffington Post, Spiegel Online, The British Journal of Photography, and The Telegraph.”
  • “Selected works will be screened at photo festivals and events worldwide. Over the past year, our winners and finalists were screened at festivals in the UK, Greece, Croatia, Italy, Japan, Australia, Spain, France, the US, and more.
  • “Lens Culture is continually forging new partnerships with leading photo festivals around the world (like Voies Off, FORMAT, Tokyo International Photography Festival, and more) to increase exposure and showcase opportunities for our winners and finalists from our competitions.”
  • have the work “Published in the best of Lens Culture, volume 4”

Deadline for entries: Wednesday, the 20th of February 2019

To find out more about the competition check Lens Culture website:

https://www.lensculture.com/photo-competitions/portrait-awards-2019

Wish me luck!

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Volunteers program

Last Thursday we’ve had a visit form one of University volunteer, who talked about the opportunities available for students around the campus as part of SU volunteers program . She explained how to register, how to apply for each role and how important is to give our spare time. As well as helping others, volunteers job has a lot of benefits too. For example to gain experience, to learn new skills, to develop contacts and network within creative community, to build our confidence, as well as improve our listening skills, problem solving, developing social skills, working as part of the team or as leadership of the organisation…all to build our CVs, which will be very useful when we graduate and start to look for a job.

Fortunately, I am aware of volunteers opportunities as I am already volunteered for The Hepworth Wakefield. I’ve had an induction day last Wednesday and yesterday, I’ve had my first shift as the gallery host. I must say I enjoyed it. I love The Hepworth for its kind and helpful people, for the beautiful view surrounding the gallery and of course the variety of amazing art. I meet some interesting people, everyone made me feel welcome and was happy to help if I had any question. I am very grateful for the opportunity to became part of this amazing place and I am definitely looking forward to my next shift, but firstly I will have a training about the new exhibition – Magdalene Odundo: The Journey of Things. I am looking forward to the training, as being part of the visitors experience team, I need to be prepared for the questions asked by gallery visitors. As stated everyone made me feel welcome and my job is to be helpful and to make visitors feel welcome. I am very thankful to be part of this amazing place. It feels as a dream job for me, as I love talking to people especially about the art. If you ask my boyfriend, he would perhaps say that I talked too much, but luckily this job allows me to be chatty.

On Friday the 15th of February, 7-10 pm is the opening party of Magdalene Odundo: The Journey of Things.

Free entry, pop-up bars, Resident DJ Andy Hickford… Its going to be amazing evening, so make sure you join us!

Find out more at:

hepworthwakefield.org/opening-party

beauty retouching, editorial, fashion, final year, Karina Lex, photography, photoshop, workshop

Retouching workshop with Karina Lax

Karina Lax joined us again, this time she shared her beauty retouching tips. Lax gave us a few of her images to edit and each of us had a go with skin, beauty, hear, clothes and background retouching. We used numerous tools for example Healing Brush or Clone Stamp. Additionally, Lax explained how to use High and Low Frequency, how Liquify Filter works and how to make teeth whiter. I knew most of it, but never used Liquify tool before. I am glad that I took part in this workshop, as I learned a lot and maybe one day, I’ll use the new skills. Though, to be honest I am rubbish with retouching and don’t enjoy it at all. I am specialising in portraiture and documentary style and thanks god this style doesn’t require much Photoshop. The other reason I don’t do much fashion or beauty, as I don’t like to change people’s appearance. I feel as each person have something special what makes them who they are. Each additional scar, wrinkle or extra pound tells their life story; so I don’t see the point to make them appear slimmer, prettier, taller etc.

I understand that we live in 21st century and both fashion and beauty require all this change to sell their product; but playing with Liquify tool makes me think even more about how horrible world we live in. Many people and kids are still looking in beauty or fashion magazines, Instagram, TV and other digital medias and thinking that this is the true appearance of each model/actress etc. Worrying that they will never look as good, but its all one big lie! A lot of make up and Photoshop! Lets not forget about the high expectation imposed especially for woman, but also becoming visible for men. Life is brutal and I always explain my daughter, that the way we look isn’t important. The most significant is if we are happy, healthy and doing all we can to fallow our dreams.

What’s so special about Lax is her honestly, as I mention in the blog before. When someone asked her how long it takes her to edit the image, she replays it depends how much the client pays for it. We all burst in laugh, but she explained that is different if she is editing picture for Instagram account, fashion or beauty magazines. I like this person even more and looking forward to having portfolio review with Lax in a few weeks.

Have a look at some edits. The last one just proves how easy is to change somebody’s appearance in the Photoshop. I made model’s lips and eyes bigger but it clearly doesn’t suit her.

All images taken by Karina Lax, edited by me.

Check Karina Lax website: http://www.karinalax.com/

Art Gallery, photo gallery, The Hepworth Wakefield, Volunteer

Volunteers open event at The Hepworth Wakefield

I found out that The Hepworth Wakefield is hosting volunteers open event and I sign up for it. Last Wednesday I attended the event and had a pleasure to meet many interesting people who works or volunteer there. I was introduced to each of the available roles, I have been told what’s involved in them and who is it for. I have been asked many questions about why I want to volunteer, if I have any customer service experience and about my level of commitment. I applied for two roles, which sounds the most interesting for me: Gallery Host and Evert Assistant.

Luckily, on Friday I received an email with the invitation for an induction day. I am so excited and can’t wait to be part of this wonderful place. As a photographer it is a great opportunity for me to build my customer service skills, to make contacts within creative community and to meet new people who are interested in my favourite subject – art. I am very enthusiastic about this volunteering opportunity and I will make sure to prove that I am the right person for the role.

I went for an event a bit early to have a chance to look around, as I knew that a lot has changed since my last visit in October. The gallery is amazing, and staff makes everyone feel very welcomed. If you never visit The Hepworth Wakefield you should do, I can assure you that there is lot of amazing exhibitions and everyone will find something interesting.

To find out more check the website https://hepworthwakefield.org/

book making, Books publishing, documentary photography, photobook, photography, photography workshop, Richard Higgingbottom, Tide Press

Book Making Workshop

Our tutorials are finished however, as many of us making photobooks for major project, last Wednesday one of our tutors Richard Higgingbottom delivered book making workshop. Higgingbottom is associated with Tide Press – independent photobook publishing company, what make him a specialist in book making process. Higgingbottom gave us a lot of useful information regarding photobooks and brought a lot of physical books, so we can get the idea about different sizes, covers, bindings, designs etc.

When making books there is many things to consider. Paper type, the thickness of the paper, size, scale, format, soft or a hard cover, colour of the cover, kind of bind, font in the book and on the cover, uppercase or lower case, the cover with the image or without, what writing on the cover both front and back (title, name or nothing), the consistency within the book or not at all to surprise the viewer…

Higgingbottom stated that the design must fit the context, however, the design is to elevate the project not to make the project better. The best photobooks are when the design relates to the project and make the viewer engaging with the project. So, we need to make an interesting book that tell the story we want to convey.

I asked Higgingbottom if hard cover would fit my project? He says that I should try it, and to make each portraiture huge full blead to humanize each of the subjects. He recommended book size like A3. As he told me to work on a sequence, he advised me to do a few more dummy books to see how it feels reading through each of them. First to sequence the images as kind of themes (people at work, people at homes looking straight, looking sideways, text etc). Second sequence with consistency. For example, portraiture with additional image, two single portraiture, one with the text and so on. Next one, start from colourful images and carry on to the ones with the lack of colours, or other way round. He also told me to look at Rob Hornstra work 100 Billionaires to see how the adding text works in the book. Thanks for your feedback Richard, I will try all of this.

My latest dummy book:

Higgingbottom also recommended few printing and binding companies:

F&G Ratchford to get stuff for binding; Spink & Thackray – book binding and hard covers; Precision in Leeds – hard cover binds; Entwistle in Manchester for prints, Hp indigo press printers; G & F Smith for paper – Art shop in Leeds and Manchester; For a book pages no thicker that 150gsm, for a cover around 275gsm if we want to fold it and bind it.

If you have any more ideas regarding book design or prints, please get in touch.

documentary photography, final year, major project, photography, portfolio review, portraiture, uni work, university

Group and individual tutorial

Each Friday morning, we have group tutorials with one of our tutors or guests, where we talk about our new work. Additionally, every two weeks we have individual tutorials. I had my first meeting with Liam last Thursday.

Feedback form Liam Devlin: Your pictures became a lot better and the lighting is more interesting (thanks Liam). You freed yourself, instead of photographing the same way and you responded to the location. Devlin asked whats the parameters of the project? I replied that is a positive impact of the immigration from West Yorkshire. What drives you to make this project? Showing these people as my own mirror. Having not an easy life as an immigrant, we have to work a lot harder. I am showing that immigrants are also a humans, not just hard workers who contribute to British economy. Devlin adds that it is normal to feel frustrated, as Prime Minister claims that we “jump the queue”. Foreground a humanity in a face of dehumanising process. We have to live our lives through being stereotyped and labelled as the others, outsiders. Those stereotypes breaks down when counted the individuals, as individuals are way more complex. Part of humans condition is not who we are, but who we are not. To present the complexity and the humanity. You kind of getting there. You need to give a working title. I’ve been asked what my relationship to this country? I answer that its my home, I have family and friends here, but I love Poland and I feel Polish. Devlin said that: ” it is complex, very stable relationship between where you from and where you live”. He advised me to play with the pictures when sequencing them. Not to place them besides the people that are exposed to be for, necessarily. Mix them up, make the viewer work and peace together. In this process they will recognise the complexity of it. Add little phrases but don’t placed them next to the person who said it. Surprise the viewer and play with people expectations. Look at Jitka Hanzlova and Tom Duffield’s work.

Friday’s feedback from Yan Preston: your photographs gone better (wow, thanks Yan). I’ve been asked how my experience as immigrant makes me think and feel. I replied that I feel displaced, especially after Brexit I feel uncomfortable, unwanted and blamed (the same as each of the subject I photographed). As many people believes what the media or Theresa May says about immigration, therefore we became blamed for everything. Which is all lie and perhaps May knows this, but she won’t tell the public that European Union Immigrants brings positive impact to UK’s economy. Life as immigrants isn’t easy but we still try to build our homes. Preston advised me to add facts and statistics. To let the viewer know ho claims benefits or to write an essay about it. Additionally, to combine text in my photo-book, to ask each subject for their story, as text is more accessible and not everything could be said through photographs. Guide them, reach deeper into yours and their stories. Reflect on your story, write the story you want to tell. I told her that I came to the UK as fully trained Security Guard able to work as Police Officer. I was trained in self defence and held a gun licence; however, my qualifications wasn’t recognised here and I had to work in the factory. This is one of the main reasons why I went back to University, as I didn’t want to work as a factory worker forever. Similar story applies to many immigrants.

I’ve  been told to consider Self portrait, “no way” I replied. I hate being photographed, that why I became a photographer. However, each of the subject’s story is similar to mine, so the viewer could see me through other photographs, as they became my mirror reflection.

One of the student said that one of the subject seams to be interesting person with worn look, as he went through a lot in his life but, he wants to know more about him. As I explained what is immigrant life experience, I’ve been told to add subject’s stories, to ask them to write a paragraph about their story. What is home? Where is it? What is ideal country you would like to live in? Tell me about you. What is love? Where is homeland? whats your biggest dreams?

I am always responding to my feedback and portfolio reviews and will try my best to deliver it.

artist talk, final year, photography, Sam Laughlin, university

Video chat with Sam Laughlin

Each Friday afternoon we have timetabled speakers talk at uni. Last Friday we had a Skype video chat with Sam Laughlin, who talked about his work and answers our questions.

Frameworks, 2012-15 are photographs of unfinished building and constructions, emphasising the feeling of monumental and transparency, very strong aesthetically created at nigh through long exposure.

In Untitled, Laughlin was commissioned to document constructions where he focused on situation on construction side. His images appear dark, greyish, not as usual black&white. His tonal gradation was made through exposure and developing the film, not much through post production.

Slow Time, 2014 are the photographs of concrete structure, nature, animals, mountains, texture, etc. taken all over the UK and Europe. A state of mind in a black and white photographs is a main element to this work. Meditative photographs, as a result of slow way of looking and considering what to photograph. When the viewer is placed into this stage of mind,  the connection between objects and nature become visible.

Other interesting works: Nest, 2016 and A certain Movement. The movement of landscape, animals behaviour, man made evolution, environmental crisis, landscape shaped the way animals are adapted to…

According to Laughlin, photographs works on tree levels: 1. aesthetics 2, reading the caption 3. poetical and philosophical level

I love the details in every photographs and this sense of intimacy created between the photographer and subjects.

http://www.samlaughlin.co.uk/

final year, photography, portraiture, Rick Kelly, uni work, university, workshop

Portraiture worshop in location with Rick Kelly

This morning I had the pleasure to attend a brilliant workshop with Rick Kelly.

Kelly showed us how to use Elinchrom flashes with Quadra portable battery in location, mixed up with available light. To start with we’ve used one flash on tripod to light the subject. Nikon d700, ISO200, ss 1/125s, f.11 (according to light meter).

Then we added a second flash to light the background. This time the light meter read f.8. Each of us have a chance to shoot some pictures and to change settings to see the difference in exposure. Kelly explained, that when working with flashes and changing the shutter speed one stop down (f.11 to f.8) the light on the subject won’t change, but the background will be brighter. But keep in mind that if you go too slow it will affect both the ambient and subject.

To make a subject brighter, we have three options to chose from: higher ISO, wider aperture or to turn flash power up. Other way round if we want to make the subject darker. Additionally, apart from exposure when working with client remember to always consider composition and subject,s pose.

After that we went to shot in the direct sunlight with one light pointed towards the subject. Then we shot towards the sunlight, with the subject faced back to the sun.

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http://www.rkellyphoto.com

Model: simonweldon.co.uk

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