2012 and beyond

Year end is a traditional time to take stock, review the past 12 months and have a stab at resolutions, plans and objectives for the year ahead. Here's a brief list of things I'd like to try to achieve with my camera in 2012.  In no particular order:

1.  A solo show.

This summer's '07' exhibition at The Seven Dials Club, my first ever show, was a great learning experience, well-received and a lot of fun.  Next year I'd like to exhibit on my own somewhere, which will require a new body of work.  I am undecided on the subject matter right now, but am considering at least three major project ideas, all landscapes or portraits.  Watch this space, but here are a few clues:

© Michael Kenna

© Per Zennstrom

© Hannah Davies

2.  'Cherish' couples shoots

It's all too easy to get caught up in the hurly-burly of work and busy lives and looking after the kids and so forth, and to neglect the beautiful person you share your life with.  I'd like to address that by offering a chance to celebrate and document those special relationships, with a set of  pictures that you'll both treasure forever.

I've already added Engagement Shoots to my wedding offering - it's a great opportunity to break the ice with couples before the big day, and to work out how best to shoot them together.  Now I'm offering this up to couples, whether they are actually getting married or not.

It's called 'Cherish'

We spend two or three hours walking and chatting and looking for interesting locations to make fun and compelling pictures together.  It's a chance to have some special time with someone you adore, but are often too busy to remember...  It's fun, lively, creative, there are no children around, and you can be as soppy as you like.

I have some amazing potential locations up my sleeve and am very excited to post the first pictures in the new year.

© Nate Kaiser

3.  Smoke and shadows

Smoke is inherently fun to work with, and looks absolutely fantastic when backlit, and now comes in a can.  I want to start using it in my studio portraits, combined with heavy shadows, bringing a bit more depth and drama to my pictures.

© Damien Lovegrove

4.  Charity Work

Next year I'd like to offer up a proportion of my time to a charitable organisation, and allow them to benefit from my work.  I'm open to suggestions, but I'd be particularly interested to work with children's charities, so if you have contacts at Barnardo's, Save The Children, GOSH, The Rainbow Trust etc then do please let me know.  Or if you know of any other worthy causes that might benefit from some free photography, drop me a line.

5.  More editorial work

Working for the Evening Standard Features team this summer was a really exciting venture.  I loved meeting the wildly varied , interesting folk in and around the news, working to short deadlines, the pressure of having to 'get the shot' in a very limited time, working in hitherto unknown locations.  It really got my creative juices going.  More like that please.

Gethin Jones © Rory Lindsay

6. Open House portrait sessions

I'd like to set up an Open House studio one Saturday, with everyone invited.  We would have hair and makeup artist, and a stylist on site, a big box of clothes and props and lights and loud music and wild creative abandon.  Perhaps it might be combined with a barbecue, or a party in the evening.  Who's up for it?

© Rankin

7.  More hanging

I've a little bee in my bonnet at the moment about displaying pictures.  Or not, as the case may be.  In the new digital age it's terribly easy to simply enjoy looking at pictures on one's computer, and they are easily shared, but what a shame that nowadays we neglect to put together albums, or get physical prints made, and seldom frame them for posterity.  We have an ever-growing gallery of family snaps here at home and everyone comments on how awesome it looks, spreading up our staircase like a swarm of multicoloured memories .

Next year I'd like to encourage my clients to frame and hang more of their pictures.  With the proliferation of excellent online framing solutions, it needn't be expensive, and it's a small investment in what I like to think of as a 'shared family history'.

8.  'Embedding' with families.

I've noticed the more time I spend photographing a young family, the better the results.  Hurried one-hour shoots are fine but those that take a couple of hours or more always tend to yield the really classic shots.   It usually takes and hour or so for children (and parents) to start to forget that I'm there, and that when the posing stops and their true personalities begin to shine through.  I'd like to extend this notion and try out a new genre of family photography, whereby I would spend a whole day 'embedded' with a family.  I'd arrive just before breakfast, and leave just after lights out, and try to capture everything in between.  Sleepyheads, mealtimes, trips to the shops, jumping around, tears, laughter, everything - warts and all.   I'm excited by the prospect, but aware that it will be a huge undertaking, and will need careful planning.  All day may prove to be too long, but I think it's worth a try.  Who's in?

© Michael Chan

© Michael Chan

9.  General development and helpers

Always on the lookout for new ventures, techniques, tricks and tips, I've booked onto two very exciting training courses early in the new year.  I'd also like to find an amazing agent to represent me, and an accountant to keep me on the straight and narrow, tax-wise :)  Oh, and a part-time Digital Assistant adept at using Photoshop and Lightroom to execute my creative vision.  Anyone?

With thanks for all your support this year and best wishes for 2012 to all (both?) my readers!


Bikram Yoga Richmond - studio shots

Following my earlier session documenting the training for the UK Yoga Asana Championships, the team at Bikram Yoga Richmond invited me back for some posed, studio-lit shots. A great privilege. To emphasise the extraordinary contortions, and add some drama, I used a dark grey paper backdrop, hard gridded rim-lights from left and right, slightly behind the subjects, and a softer fill light from directly above and behind the camera.

Many thanks to Kristin, Johnny and the team for this amazing opportunity.

I won't bang on any further as I feel the pictures speak for themselves:

Bikram Yoga Part 1 – Training

I was lucky enough to be invited to photograph members of Bikram Yoga Richmond in training for the 2011 UK Ghosh Cup. It was astonishing to see the dedication and effort that went into their preparation.  Bikram Yoga is conducted in a humidified room, heated to 105°F to allow the muscles to stretch to their maximum potential.

Heat and humidity aren't great for cameras so I had to bag up my gear and allow a little time for it to adjust to the heat.

Boy, was it worth it, though:

This is just the warm-up :)

The camaraderie and mutual support was great to see.  This is serious training for a fiercely-contested tournament, so all the girls were seriously pushing themselves, but there was still time for lots of fun and laughter between poses.

Kristin is the co-founder, and head teacher, of Bikram Yoga Richmond.  She is also the reigning UK Yoga Champion, so particularly keen to defend her title this year.  She bends in extraordinary ways!

Here she is back-bending, whilst practicing for 'Wheel' - a yoga move which involves inverting the back and grabbing the ankles from behind, then straightening the legs.

Back (and mind!) bending stuff.

It was a real privilege to be granted access to the studio like this, and I genuinely enjoyed watching the mass contortions for a couple of hours.  Very pleased with how the pictures turned out.  Largely shot with 70-200mm f/2.8 lens, at maximum aperture, to isolate the subjects from the background.  Processed in b/w to eliminate distracting skin tones and differently-coloured yoga kit.

More on this subject to come soon.