Thursday, 18 December 2008

A saving angel and snow

Life lately has been a bit crazy and bizarre. So much has been going on in the run up to xmas, and I have a feeling 2009 will be amazingly busy and bring something new.

A couple of weeks ago I did my last shoot for my "Losing you" project. I had another case of a no-show model and needed to book a new model just a day before! No show models annoy me so badly and I think it's pretty disrespectful to a photographer and make-up artist who have spent time planning a shoot, bought props, spent time to find locations etc. There should be a black list somewhere! I honestly didn't think it would happen, and if it wasn't for my friend model Sarah Beake who is Miss organisation and contacts, I wouldn't have been able to carry on with the planned shoot. I had been planning it for ages with make-up artist Deborah Lawson, who I was really looking forward to working with, as she is both talented and lovely. She had found this amazing site up north we had planned to use, as long as it didn't rain, and I just didn't want to miss out on working with Deborah and shooting at such a wonderful location. As by a miracle Sarah got me in touch with model Sarah Martin, a Manchester based model, and trusting that she would be wonderful I booked her without even having seen her pictures! It's not something I've done before, but when Sarah says someone will be awesome, they will be awesome.

And as I showed up at Deborah's next day I was right not to worry as Sarah was absolutely wonderful, and reminded me slightly of Liv Tyler. What a saving angel to turn up at such short notice - I was all smiles all day! Except at the end of the shoot when we were all soooooo cold and had to go into the car to warm up. There was snow!

The site was amazing with hills and deserted cottages and we shot till the sun went down. Sarah did a great job in giving me lots of emotion and expression, even though her only brief and preparation time was to listen to "Losing You" at the back of my car on our way to location. I think for the first time ever I included a tree in a photograph haha. It just had to be done as it really fitted into the story of tragic love.

I can’t make it on my own

All pictures from shoot can be viewed here.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Girls with apples

My last shoot I knew was going to be a challenge, I was shooting a girl band (The Scarletz) - there was four of them! I have shot Kissing Freddie before, but more fun, behind the scenes kind of images, so I was really excited to work with this band and see what sort of images we could get.

The Scarletz is a fun bunch of girls and they have recorded at Parkbench Studios where I work before. I knew it would be a fun day, and I had prepared well by buying apples. Cause they're red. And we wanted red stuff for some of the images. On their MySpace site they describe their music as "quirky pop with an apple on top". See how clever I was bringing the apples in? Oh yes....

My first challenge was how to fit all the girls into my tiny studio! I sort of managed to get it to work with some creativity, and as it stopped raining for a couple of hours we also managed to get some outdoor shots. The girls were thrilled I challenged them to climb a hole in a fence through some bushes and trees to get into a local car sales place with some wicked backgrounds. For those that have read some of my other blogs you'll know it's not the first time I've made girls climb stuff to get to cool locations. After some creative climbing using my reflector (oh the creativity) we managed to get in and get some cool shots. Even managed to incorporate a lovely used red car that we were very excited about.

Mid day the girls got hungry and ordered pizza, which we thought we had to shoot, so expect some pizza pictures as I start to edit these. Yep, definitely a fun day with a quirky and fun bunch of girls. And when they started their own rendition of "Boomerang" (a Kissing Freddie song) while helping create their own "magazine wall" background, I thought they were just a little bit more awesome than when they came. Yay to the Scarletz.

The Scarletz

All pictures on my Flickr.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

The beauty and the cemetery

I have to write about a shoot I did a couple of weeks back as it was another one to remember. I was so excited to be working with make-up artist Sandra Bermingham again, who is amazing and also a pleasure to work with. And even after I made her face her fears and climb a fence whilst balancing along the Thames on our last shoot, she was still up for another shoot! Yay! We had planned this shoot for a while, but last minute needed to re-book the model, so I was slightly worried we'd need to reschedule. However luck stroke and Crystal Truehart got in touch after a casting on ModelMayhem, which made us very, very happy. We had the perfect model for the day!

Crystal (next to having the coolest name in the world) had the perfect look, and gorgous portfolio. She is a US model, but was over in Europe for a few weeks to shoot. She had recently been part of the Janice Dickenson Modeling Agency show, which I'm surprised I hadn't watched as I'm addicted to all modeling shows such as Britains Next Top Model, American Next Top Model, Australias Next Top Model, Canadas Next Top Model (you get the idea.....). This was another shoot for my photography project "Losing You" and I wanted to go for something emotive, a bit more fashion and images that would really capture the story of the song. Crystal is one of the genuinely nicest models I've had the pleasure to work with, and she gave 125%, making sure she gave the expression we were going for throughout the song lyrics.

We decided to go with two complete contrasts in styling and make-up. It's really cool how putting together clothes/accessories that three people have brought can work. First setting was all white, innocent and sad, and Crystal looked like an innocent little Maria in her white hood top. And for the second setting we went all dark and angry in an "I'm losing him and I'm angry about it" kind of way. As we shot in a cemetery/park this supported both the innocent and darker vibe, so can't wait to really get into my editing for this shoot! The location was the most fascinating place I've been to in a while, as the walking paths in the park intertwined with the beautiful, gothic gravestones. Not a place I'd like to be on my own in the dark!

I'm losing you I need to tell you now before I go away from you

View all images on my Flickr.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Streets of London and the lighting battle

I love my car. Although it's not very practical if bringing more than more passenger in it. For my shoot a couple of weekends ago it was only Marina Berry and myself, which meant that we could simply drive around London, cry out "ooooooh that looks cool" and jump out and use it as a back drop.

One of the great things when photographing someone you have worked with before is that everything flows just that little bit easier. Having both photographed Marina before and worked with her with the band Kissing Freddie, I already knew all her angles and was comfortable bossing her around while shooting straight away (just in a needed photographer giving directions kind of way lol). I've heard I am more vocal than some female photographers. I must ask more of the models this question, as I didn't think I was that vocal while shooting, but maybe I am.

Although I don't mind shooting when it's a bit cold, there is one thing I hate about winter, you end up loosing lighting before you want to! The majority of the shoot was perfectly fine and perfect lighting wise. But in the last setting, we had some awesome stairs to work with, and due to the light disappearing extremely quickly, I simply wasn't able to salvage any of those photos afterwards. Damn it..... they would have been cool. BUT..... we got so many other great images hitting different back streets around London that my stairs will have to wait till another time.

I've developed a slight obsession with Marina's eyes I think, as they just pop out at you. And when you find a green background that matches her eyes it makes them stand out more and it's all just bliss.

Marina Berry

All pics from shoot here.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Wings, chains and lingerie

Wings, chains and lingerie...... sounds like a bit of a random combination perhaps, but it was just the accessories for my last photo shoot! Although I have done a swimwear shoot before, lingerie was new territory. At this point I'm trying out everything!

I wanted to try a bit of a different angle to a lingerie capture where the model is simply looking into the camera with her best "I want you, look how hot i am" look, as I don't find those images that interesting unless they're done amazingly well. So I wanted to capture some vulnerability, natural beauty and still ensure it was essential a sexy series of pictures.

My model for the day, Sam, had beautiful dark features and a body to die for. We had found a secluded area for privacy so we could focus and that added some charachter to the photos. The weather was being very English and awful and it was half raining all day. Great when you're posing in your underwear all day, right?!! Lighting was a nightmare, especially with lots of tall trees making it even darker, so long live the reflector that was a total life saver!

We tried one of those Janet Jackson style images where someone holds the breasts from behind, but annoyingly couldn't get this quite to work (maybe next time). Although one of our behind the scenes photos had the head of the lucky boob-holder popping up from behind, which had my retouching tutor in fits of laughter...... lol

Such a fun shoot, despite the rain!

Sam

All pics from shoot, view here.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

The old house and the Birmingham Bermuda Triangle

My last shoot was an adventure to say the least! Make-up artist Katie and I had an early start on a Sunday morning, driving from Reading to Birmingham. Bit of a roadtrip, which was a great chance to get to know each other, plan the shoot ahead in more detail and listen to "Losing You" which this shoot was also part of. We planned a "moth" like make-up, to match the line "like a moth into a flame" in the song we were taking inspiration from. We were also planning to shoot in an old abandoned house, so this seemed to fit in well. Model Anarchy met us and we were spoiled with food and drinks while make-up and outfits were being done! Yay!

After having survived the embarrassment of wearing one brown and one black boot (it was dark in the morning!!) we were ready to hit the road again to location. Maybe it'll be a new fashion.....? Location was great and just what I had in mind for the shoot. Again I managed to sneak in some of my own clothes and accessories into the shoot. I've now got a new habit of going on ebay buying things for shoots, which I'm sure will fill up my house very quickly! I've bought the oddest things lately for use in some of my planned shoots. A metal key, black blindfold and bandage-like elastic band to name a few.....

Anarchy was feeling the sadness of the story and gave me lots of expression in the images, so will fit really well into my project and hopefully be some great pictures. I really wanted the pictures to tell a story, so hopefully when it's all put together when all my shoots for this is done it will all make sense.

It took us 4 hours to get from Birmingham to Reading on the way home! I swear there is some kind of secret Birmingham Bermuda Triangle going on! Katie's dad had to be our direction saver after my sat nav totally failed to get us anywhere. Was such a great team to work with on the day though, so was definitely worth it.

So here I sit all on my own, feel so desperately alone

Click here to see the rest of the images.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Photography project "Losing you"

Music is my passion. Photography is my passion. So the two together really seems to make sense!

As a bit of a different take on presenting my photography portfolio, and at the same time find an interesting direction in approaching some of my shoots, I wanted to do a series of pictures that would tell a story. I work for a music studio (Parkbench Studios) and the wonderful Ben Adams has provided me with a song to use for my project that he wrote a little while ago, which I am very excited about, called "Losing you"!

It's such a lovely song, and I can't wait to continue on the shoots I have set up for this. My first shoot with Elly was done last weekend, and was great fun. It's all a bit of a tragic love story, so I'm trying to capture that in the images. All my shoots planned for the project will have different models, locations, make-up artists, so the interpretations will be different. And in the end will be like parallell stories of the track.

Can't wait to see how it develops as I play around with it!

It will all be up properly on my website probably beginning of the new year, but in the meantime the pictures will be added up on my Flickr. Some pictures from the first shoot included below, and the rest is on Flickr.

I can't take it any more I need to tell you now before I go away from you

Sunday, 12 October 2008

The fear factory

I had the most interesting and enjoyable shoot yesterday! I had booked a shoot with model Elly Luxton and MUA Sandra Bermingham last Saturday to shoot some images for my new photography project (will blog very soon about my project called "Losing you"!).

I always have nightmares it will rain before going on a location shoot, but luckily it was one of those rare days with blue sky. This obviously creates some sun/shade issues, but better than having to cancel due to too much rain. The last couple of weeks I had been on a totally mission to find a good location for this shoot. I really wanted a location that was looking quite run down as a contrast to the beautiful Elly. Turns out it wasn't as easy to find the right kind of place that I thought, but after some good advise from a lovely photographer on a forum I understood East London in general was a good starting point to find some suitable spots. So we headed down in the morning, and while the hair and make up was getting done I went location hunting and found some perfect spots.

Now.... I'm pretty determined on getting a good shot when I have something in mind. And fortunately for me so was the rest of my team for the day. I did make them push their boundries slightly though and made them climb a fence and balance a bit in the process, but we managed to get to our perfect spot in the end! And even though Elly afterwards nicknamed it "The fear factory" (sounds a bit like a TV show), seeing the pictures we got it was all worth it! Also Elly pulled out all the stops giving me all the expressions I was looking for to fit the theme of the shoot. And as usual I managed to get some of my clothes in the shoot, yay (my jacket this time which I got a couple of days ago. Just loved it)! Sandra made Elly look incredible with her amazing make-up, and I loved the hair she did. We also decided to go all dark and dirty at the end and did a smudged eye mask thingy, which looked really dramatic.

Posting the first picture here, and check this link for the rest of the images to come.

I'm losing you

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Some photographers that inspire me

When you are working to improve your photography it's so great to have other photographers to be inspired by. I like to follow the work and development of others and be inspired by what they do, their talent and ideas.

I wanted to share with you two other photographers that have inspired me lately. They are both young girls in their late teens, which is so annoying thinking about my own age and how amazing they will be when they reach my age if they are this amazing already now! haha I don't think age matters, some people just have an eye for something.

I have been an admirerer of Lara-Jade's work for quite a while, and I love how she sees something beautiful in something ordinary and makes it into art. She will take an idea and turn it into this fascinating concept with places and sites that most of us would just walk by. She also has a special flare for how she process her images and I've just grown to love pretty much everything she does. I also love all her self portraits, I really should do some self portraits as well, but I'm not really the model type to start with and time has just seemed to fly by lately.

Click to see Lara-Jade's images on Flickr

Another photographer I have discovered more recently is Chrissie White. She's incredible creative and I enjoy her self portraiture the most I think. I love how she creates an image that is like a snapshot from a movie you can make up yourself. She let's her photography say a lot about her life and how she's feeling and it's interesting to follow as well as inspiring shots. Also love her post processing.

Click to see Chrissie's images on Flickr

Just wanted to share these with you as I have been inspired by their work a lot recently. There are so many other photographers out there I love, so will share more in a later blog :)

I have so many shoots booked the next following weeks, so can't wait. A lot of them are location shoots, so crossing fingers the weather will be on my side, but I don't want to jinx it!!

Saturday, 27 September 2008

The day it was summer.......

Last Sunday it was actually sunny! In England! I know.... a miracle, right?

Lucky for me I had a beach shoot planned with model Clare, so we had been crossing fingers the weather would be on our side. Doing a swimwear and summer dress shoot in the rain... not so much fun. Also this was my first swimwear shoot, so a new angle to try to master. Although I love a good old sunny day, the weather represented another challenge, shooting in the sun. Lighting issues for moi! Luckily I managed to find an assistant for the day, the lovely Emma! She gave it absolutely all and didn't care that her shoes got all wet and she had to deal with her fear of flies while working with us. So thumbs up for Emma, for helping us get better lighting on the shoot.

There is always that moment right before you meet the model you are going to shoot for the day for the first time and you wonder how they actually look in real life. Do they look like they did in their portfolio and it will be easy to capture them right, or will it be more of a challenge and you'll need to spend a bit more time than planned on retouching skin etc. When Clare stepped out of her car looking a little bit like a mix of Charlotte from Sex and the City and Penelope Cruz, I knew it was going to be a shoot I would enjoy and we'd get some nice results. She was absolutely lovely to work with and we did a wide range of photos going from swimwear, summer dresses, commercial look, sexy and a bit more artsy.

Im working my way through the pictures as I write and if you check out the final images once they're done you'll see there is quite a mix in the results. There were so many things I wanted to try!

Below is a couple of the results with very different directions. All final images will be posted on this Flickr album.

While I wait

On the beach

She looks a bit like Charlotte

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Shortest shoot in the world... It was good while it lasted....

This shoot can hardly be called a shoot as it was almost over before it began. Ben Adams (British singer/songwriter for those who doesn't already know) needed a black & white headshot for his portfolio, so we grabbed 5 minutes outside his house after doing very glamorous things such as sorting passports and parking permits. I always feel like I'm in a computer game when we're driving through London on his moped, passing all the annoying traffic and getting to our destination quicker than any other way you can imagine in the city. Fun!

Even though the little time we had to shoot Ben never fails to bring some handsomeness to his photos, so I was quite happy with the result for his headshot.

I have shot Ben a few times before, where the latest shoot was for his solo project "What Jane Did Next", which was more of a street style/snapshot/lifestyle style to fit into the vibe of the music. I want to do another shoot in a different direction soon with him as he's such a pleasure to work with and photograph! We have a few ideas already so could be good.

Ben Adams headshot

Monday, 22 September 2008

My first male model

It seems to have become a trend that I keep shooting women, and for some reason I've stayed cleared of guys with pretty much one exception, until this very recent shoot in San Jose, California. I got in touch with Greg on ModelMayhem, as he was based near where I was visiting a few weeks back. And although I was looking for female models to photograph, when I came across Greg I thought it was about time I got rid of my "fear" of photographing guys. Surely it couldn't be that hard?!

So glad I went slightly outside my comfort zone, as it was a great shoot and as I'm working my way through these pictures as I write I'm happy with the results. Especially the picture included below. I feel I will become the queen of retouching guys soon as well! 

I should add a few more guys to my portfolio I recon. Maybe mix and match a bit even. I just realised I haven't photographed more than one model at a time. Remind me to do so! 

Greg Fanara

All final images on my Flickr.

Sunday, 21 September 2008

The wonders of ModelMayhem + Santana Row security watch

I have made a new discovery thanks to Lara-Jade who brought it to my attention - ModelMayhem! For those not in the know it's a networking site for models, photographers, make-up artists, hair stylists etc. Brilliant!! And it works! At least the experience I've had with it.

A few weeks ago I had some meetings in California and I was staying over the weekend. And as all my American colleagues were off doing interesting things due to labour day (why don't we have that in the UK? Any reason to have a day off.....) I wanted to take the opportunity to do some photo shoots. I don't know any models in California, but after a simple bulletin through ModelMayhem I had 15 models to choose from! Nice! I ended up shooting the lovely Amber, who also through this site had sorted a hair stylist and make-up artist for the day (Amberlee and Trudy). So full team for the day - yay for web 2.0!

We were shooting on Santana Row (probably the only cool place near San Jose). Challenge: You are not allowed to shoot on the street without a license (which costs much more money than I had). So using our best creativity, security watch skills and "oh, we're sorry, we didn't know we couldn't shoot here"-skills we managed to get some great results! Although I got caught by security  three times that day..... oh well........   Great team though, would happily work with all again when I'm next over. I feel so international...... lol

Been waiting for so long
Thumbs up to Amber for pulling off this pose! 

All final images from shoot on my Flickr.

Fashion on Battersea bridge

A recent shoot I did was one with singer and model Sarah Beake. We hit the streets of London and shot a variety of images for her portfolio. It was one of those days where it was threatening to rain and we weren't quite sure wether to go ahead or not. We took a chance, and luckily as soon as we started it stopped raining. London always surprises me with what it has to offer. Just by walking in little side streets on a Sunday in an area I thought I was familiar with, we found some real location gems!

Lighting was a challenge though as every time I had set my camera for one lighting situation the sun did something different. Behind the cloud, out of the cloud, behind the cloud, out of the cloud. It's funny to think about it now....... Made me say swearwords in Norwegian then.

I finally got to shoot on Battersea bridge, which I have wanted to do for like 6 months! It has this cute little pattern on the side of the bridge that have fascinated me in a sad photographer way, but thought it came out really well in the photos. I have a feeling there is still a ton of location gems around London, so will keep shooting there for sure.

A theme seems to be building up during my shoots - I keep putting my models in my clothes! Although I'm starting to run out of clothes to use that hasn't been shot before. Must mean it's a good excuse to go shopping again soon :)

A few of the final results:

Trying hard to forget you

Sarah

Sarah

All final images on my Flickr.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

hmmm....... I have a blog!

I almost forgot I actually have a blog! I set this up about two years ago and think I posted once. It's about time I start posting some stuff again I think. Surely I have something interesting to share and everyone is interested in hearing about it! Yes......? And if not I will write just for my own sanity. Sadly I'm one of those people that spend way too much time in photoshop and start to look at real people in layers imagining what another layer might bring for interesting results.

So what's been happening the last two years in a nutshell? Not a lot, but a lot at the same time (are you liking the logic?).  I think I can safely confess that I am a bit of a geek (but in a good way, and I think in the spirit of web 2.0 I'll stretch to say that even makes me a little cool) and also to some degree a workaholic. Next to a variety of jobs (yes I have a few that all inspire me in different ways), helping to create a girl band, a few interesting trips to interesting places, I have started to pick up my camera again and really getting addicted to photography. 

I've mostly focused on musicians, actresses and models and want to continue to build my portfolio till it's simply awsome. So spending most of my spare time doing as many shoots as I can fit in. 

I have fabulous plans to update my out of date website: www.cecilieharris.co.uk. This will include a new personal project I'm just starting that I'm very excited about. In the meantime I update a lot of my photos to my Flickr and MySpace site. I will start to share my photo journey on here including some of my shoot experiences and other random stuff. I have done a lot of shoots recently which was a lot of fun so will start to share some of that.

Till then, weekend is here, which means; getting a new mobile phone (as mine cuts out after 3 minutes of conversation), another photoshoot (on the beach this time!) and some more time in photoshop editing my first shoot with a male model. Very exciting. His name is Greg.