A few outtakes

Four or five times a year I prepare my latest work and head out into the Suffolk countryside for a photoshoot. You may remember in August I did just that making the most of the early morning light down by the River Orwell .

An interesting view of a misty morning on the River Orwell.

I usually take 250 to 300 photographs during the course of a shoot.

Swimming dog in the shallows equals a wet dog.

Now, not all pictures are attempts at capturing the essential ‘best’ photograph of model and scarf, some are simply capturing a moment.

Watching the dog chasing his stick into the river again.
Wet dog now investigating who and what has turned up on the riverbank – us!.

Putting all the doggy fun aside, it’s not possible for me to know before I get back to my office if I have got the shots I actually need. Unlike professional photographers I don’t have a laptop with me on location to check pictures as the shoot progresses. And, looking on the tiny camera screen only gives a very vague indication as to the quality of any image.

A white shirt in full sun makes for an over-exposed feel and shut eyes in the full glare.

Obviously, poorly framed, extremely over and under-exposed and grossly out of focus images can be immediately deleted, but it’s not possible to tell if any shot is pin sharp until I see it on my computer screen.

Apart from somebody being distracted again by the wet dog this time returning and running straight back towards our gear including a snack-filled backpack, it turns out the scarf in this photo is not in focus.

Finally, here’s a reasonable photo. However, it didn’t look like it on my camera screen, but thankfully it wasn’t deleted at first glance, made the cut and will probably be used on my shop at some point.

Silk Scarves for Valentine’s Day

This time next week it will be Valentine’s Day. I do have a couple of red scarves on my online shop at the moment, but they don’t feel classically romantic to me. They’re too bright and, too, well, red.

Thinking about it in an old-fashioned way and despite the supermarket aisles of red Valentine’s merchandise, I find I associate the colour pink with romance more than red.

So with romance in mind for this Valentine’s post I have put together a selection of my work that features pink more or less.

The first scarf (at the top) has accents of zingy fuchsia, but the rest of this mini collection are all rather dusky, muted affairs.

In general I think that softer pinks are easier to wear, and, who doesn’t like a touch of pink lippy every now and then.

Young talent – Annie Lai

More-Annie-LaiCreative-review

Every now and then Instagram gives us something interesting and positive. On Tuesday 26th June the media folk at Creative Review posted this intriguing photograph by a new young talented photographer, Annie Lai.

The post informs us that Annie (for those of you who might want to have a peak on Instagram she’s @annielai_) has only recently graduated from the London College of Fashion. She grew up in China, but spent her High School years in New Zealand, before taking up her place to study photography in London. I can see why Creative Review chose to feature her work as there is a hint of a retro quality about it yet overall it is most definitely new contemporary work.

Creative-review2Looking at this fashion photograph I feel I should grab my Art Historian’s hat and immediately delve into the world of Roland Barthes to consider why I am so taken with this image. Although it is not a blatantly emotionally charged photograph, I think its composition, tone and framing, and crisp lighting is engaging us more than the average fashion photo. I think it has both studium and punctum. Naturally, this is a subjective view and in Barthes’ musings on photography he suggests you can be interested in a photograph (studium) without it having that special quality/effect he called punctum:

A photograph's punctum is that accident which 
pricks me (but also bruises me, is poignant to me). 
Rolande Barthes 
from 'Camera Lucida - Reflections on Photography'1980

After considering why, for me, the photo has pricked me, I think it is very personal. Overtly, it has made me recall images of Twiggy and Edie Sedgwick that were splashed across the magazines from my childhood. Then, in a fleeting drift of linking memories radiating out from this recollection I arrived at recalling my childish thrill at wearing some new orange sandals. My sister and I had accompanied my mother on a visit to a home hairdresser. It had been a very hot day and she had dressed us in matching homemade turquoise and green paisley print mini-dresses. And, I got to wear my new sandals. Amongst the many events of childhood, a random moment on a random day was caught to become a poignant memory for me and it has been strangely evoked by this 21st century fashion photo.

As far as my own attempts at fashion photography go I think I have captured one decent shot in the last 1,000. Again, it’s all subjective, but I think this photograph probably works for more than just me as it is one of my popular pics on Instagram.

Walkies copy

Back from Narnia?

Agnes-Ashe-Banner-Apr2018 copyIt has been awkward finding appealing interior spaces and decent natural lighting for a scarf photoshoot this past winter and the following grey, grey spring, but, eventually, I have some new photographs for my online shop.

Agnes-Ashe-Fenella-Model-insta1

It always takes longer than I think to start achieving interesting shots and then there is that moment when you capture somebody’s ‘selfie business’,

and, of course, there’s always capturing the odd rather strange scary expression – at least one if not more of those!

Model-stare

But if you were wondering what the ‘Back from Narnia’ title was about, well, it was wardrobes. In particular, it is about a partially dismantled Edwardian wardrobe (still, as I write, in pieces) that provided an obvious gateway between 21st century Ipswich and Narnia.

Back-from-Narnia.jpg

Bag ladies for London Fashion Week

Bag-ladiesIt has been London Fashion Week again and to mark this kaleidoscopic event a Sunday newspaper printed a special, big fat, bumper edition of their fashion magazine. Flicking through the 182 pages there wasn’t much about the up and coming bright young things, but instead there was plenty from the major luxury fashion brands launching their autumn ad campaigns. Is it me or do the ad people have a tin ear? Okay, I have been a bit naughty and photoshopped the top picture (original photo below), but, really, what are the Burberry folk signifying?

Burberry-bag-ladies

According to the charity ‘Streets of London’;

8,000 people sleep rough on the streets of London every year. They come from every walk of life, and many of them want to find work.

Maybe I have misinterpreted the images, but sitting on grey city steps in oversized winter coats and knitted hats with what looks like giant shopping bags, (okay I note they all look pristine), reminds me of homeless, bag ladies. Surely that can’t be right.

Burberry aren’t the only ones with brittle, nonstandard photos. In need of something a little different Gucci have stepped off planet – literally.

Gucci-aliens

Yes, look closely and it’s aliens now modelling for Gucci.

Mind you the most startling ad in the whole magazine was, now wait for this, modelling for Louis Vuitton, an OLD person. And, she is the only old person in the whole 182 pages.

Catherine-Deneuve

Admittedly, this beautiful old person is the internationally famous, French film star Catherine Deneuve. At 73 years old she is over three times the age of the other models featured in the various campaigns. And, as a final comment, according to this Sunday newspaper’s own circulation data for 2017 (so far), 70% of its readership are 45 years old or older, with nearly a third of its readership Senior Citizens!

Age

Mugshots or fashion?

Mug-shot-or-fashionScrolling through multiple images from the last clutch of fashion shows it struck me that hair and make-up was moving towards the austere or even harsh. Several shows have models with pale faces featuring that modish special accent, heavy, dark eye-brows. The look is completed with the face framed by tightly styled and restrained hair.

Here this model from a recent Chanel show featured in Vogue UK looks quite irritated in colour, but positively scary in black and white.

Some of these looks combined with the contemporary model countenance, the ‘blank stare’, made me think of mugshots for police records rather than the refined world of haute couture.

However, looking through some of my own recent shots, both in colour and as black and white, I think you can see that it is the facial expression, particularly round the eyes, that makes the tone of the overall image menacing or not and not really the hair or make-up or those eye-brows!

Beside the seaside – sunny, but still surprisingly chilly

Bright-but-chilly

A quick drive over to a quiet place on the east coast of Norfolk for a little product photography didn’t go according to plan. Quite often the final week of May feels like summer, but last weekend we had a surprisingly chilly east wind. Growing up on this side of England you’d think I’d be used to it. Actually one year in my teens I remember being on the Suffolk coast when it snowed on the 3rd of June! So I should have known better,
but we were caught out.

Disappointingly, only got one useful image.

hand painted silk
Modelling hand painted silk scarf – Thistil Gold.
Waxham, Norfolk.
2015

The ‘bleached’ filter aesthetic

The advert for Coach - photographer Steven Meisel, stylist Karl Templer and art director Fabien Baron.  Spring 2015 from Vogue Italia.
The advert for Coach – photographer Steven Meisel, stylist Karl Templer and art director Fabien Baron.
Spring 2015 from Vogue Italia.

Last week a couple of photo shoots caught my eye. One was this advert for ‘Coach’ which shows a professional shoot where the images have been treated to a post-production working in a very similar manner to filters on a camera app on your smart phone or the filters on Instagram.

Fashion feature for the Sunday Times 'Style' magazine. Photography and set design by Elena Rendina.
Fashion feature for the Sunday Times ‘Style’ magazine. Photography and set design by Elena Rendina.

And, the second was a shoot for a magazine which also produced images with a bleached out effect. Now using filters in photography is nothing new, but I was just wondering whether this recent shift in the look and feel of these fashion pictures, is an attempt to close the gap between the immediacy and youth of mobile social media uploads, and the more sedate rendering of a formal fashion magazine spread.

Below is my series of three images using Instagram. It shows the original (left) and a couple of standard filters – not exactly subtle when viewed on my phone let alone on a bigger screen.

And then, I thought I’d take the same image and try a little Photoshop manipulation to see if I could achieve a ‘bleached’ kind of look but not as harsh as the Instagram filters.

And finally, this is what I settled for. I like it as a picture, but it doesn’t give the most accurate representation of the scarf!

Added a warm filter layer.
Added a warm filter layer.

Italian favourites – laughing, posing, eating

On a daily basis there are things that are uplifting and then there are things that irritate. And, sometimes those two responses meet in a head on crash. I don’t want to have a huge rant about this, but I couldn’t resist making a comment. Firstly, I love the women’s designs from the Italian fashion house Dolce & Gabbana. I love the rich, ornate fabrics, put together in irrepressible combinations and finished off with an expert attention to detail. Haute couture by its very nature isn’t mass market, but its long tentacles spread influence across the world of fashion through lesser, mass-produced merchandise embellished with a luxury brand name. As with much fashion retailing collections are supported by extensive, glossy ad campaigns. Last year’s Dolce & Gabbana’s campaign was a take on a vintage version of Italy, recycling the 1950s, über cool, stylish look. Sparkling models grouped together displaying a youthful, exuberant version of living. Fine. Gorgeous.

Dolce & Gabbana Spring 2013.
Dolce & Gabbana Spring 2013.

This year’s campaign’s launch photograph, not so fine. Beautiful people, beautiful clothes, beautifully shot, but one huge ERROR a female model is shown eating bread!! I mean let’s face it, it’s almost headline news to see a model eating, but blatantly eating white bread what is going on? Or, hang on, is this a deliberately provocative photograph? As beautiful as it all is, I just find seeing an industry infamous for the ‘size 0’ phenomenon parading stick thin models posed pretending to eat refined carbs a bit rich for my taste.

Dolce & Gabbana Spring 2014.
Dolce & Gabbana Spring 2014.