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Product or Passion

Product or Passion

Recently I had the opportunity to take photographs of Ford GT40’s. I make no apologies, but I am a ‘petrolhead’. Remembering back to my childhood, I received a Hot Wheels track complete with two cars, one of which was a metallic gold Ford GT40 with opening engine bay. I can’t even remember what the other car was, but I do remember manipulating the races to ensure continuous victory for the gold car!

Now, having said I am a ‘petrolhead’, let me qualify this using the Ford GT40 as an example. It is not about the kudos of ownership or being an enthusiast with a pristine example tucked away in a heated garage. It is the history of this iconic car, it’s design and the reason it is called a GT40 in the first place. Back in the sixties, Ford were talking to Enzo Ferrari about purchasing Ferrari. When the deal fell through Henry Ford II instructed his racing division to develop a winning racing car, a Ferrari-beater on the world endurance circuit.  The GT40 arrived and captured 4 consecutive Le Mans victories and later the imagination of a small boy.  Quite a story to tell!

Wind the clock forward to a bright November morning in 2018 and that ‘small boy’ had the opportunity to mix his passion for photography with a passion for a childhood racing icon. I was warmly welcomed by Oliver, Nigel and the team at Le Mans Coupe ltd, had unlimited access to three spectacular GT40’s and later the fulfilment of a dream, a spin along local country roads.  Believe me, these racing cars are spectacular to ride in, I can imagine as a driver they would have a few ‘party tricks’ that would excite any passenger.

There is a danger that the blog will be consumed by my automotive appreciation when the purpose is to discuss a photographic topic, specifically, Product or Passion.

As a creative photographer I will never be dispassionate about the subject matter. Spending time with my client is critical to discover the essence and emotional connection they need from my images. Take time to appreciate this in depth and establish the connection for myself to deliver those powerful images.

This photoshoot has highlighted a question that I now pose to myself and you the reader. Will a personal passion for the product change in anyway the creativity of photography output?  To be clear, by ‘product’ I refer more broadly to the term subject matter.

My portfolio is extensive and includes many images ranging from people, places and yes, products. To simplify the question, I will stick to product shots specifically.  Looking through my archives I selected the images below, apart from one all were captured on site using natural light and not in a studio.

Personally, I have no particular connection for any of these items, especially the block of hybrid batteries, but isn’t that the challenge? Having the ability to understand the connection it will have with the viewer combined with my photographic experience has produced a set of images that deliver the right product visualisation to the right audience.

So, have any of these images triggered a desire for crusty bread, bottle of sparkling English wine or chilli relish?  Or perhaps a curiosity about hybrid batteries or a yearning to learn to play the drums?

In answer to my own question, photography is my passion.

Having a gorgeous car in front of the lens always helps but the driver for me is my passion for photography that I carry into any assignment.  Being challenged to capture the best image irrespective pf the subject matter; choosing the best equipment, finding unique perspectives, thinking outside of the box and having a great back drop and lighting.  Composing the shots then making them pop in post-production editing.

The photoshoot of the Ford GT40’s was a memorable project.  If any of my images of these iconic racing cars has made a connection and stirred an emotion, then they have achieved the purpose.  If that has generated a desire to own one, then I believe that they may even be for sale.  Contact Oliver or visit their website http://www.superformanceuk.com they are really friendly people also passionate about their business.

See the full gallery here.

Fisheye Film Festival 2018

Fisheye Film Festival 2018

Cinematography. This is one of my favourite words, not so much the actual word itself but as a creative person the imagery and narrative it conjures. Thinking through the list of movies I cite as favourites, one in particular stands proud in my mind and I never tire of watching it. I refer to Sergio Leone’s The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. The combination of the close-cut cropped photography, Ennio Morricone’s dramatic score (including deliberate silent breaks) and storytelling builds tension on top of tension, totally absorbing me. A great example of this can be experienced watching the final gunfight (link below). The first five and a half minutes of the clip easily delivers a short film in its own right – it tells you a lot about each character their relationship and joint purpose through to the climax without a single word of dialogue.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly final gunfight

 

This movie and others like it serve as an inspiration for my own photographic style irrespective of the assignment.

Recently I was contacted by Mariko Francombe to join as official photographer for the 2018 Fisheye Film Festival. Mariko had seen many of my images posted on social media and wanted me to employ my style and capture a more unique narrative, atmosphere and creativity of the festival.  An opportunity!

It was a brief too good to pass by. Following a discussion to understand the aspirations and note specific requirements, I was given the “carte blanche” to allow my own creativity to flow. During the fortnight, I was also privileged to meet passionate film makers, watch films they had produced and become involved in deep conversations regarding their own inspirations. I immersed myself into the festival and will admit to feeling a little bereft after the final shoot.

The events were varied, everything from highly interactive showcase presentations to more simple evenings with an audience of people watching niche movies. The latter representing a challenge in two key respects; it was dark (flash not an option) and how do I deliver an interesting shot of an audience watching a screen.

 

 

As a boy, the TV channels were much more limited than now but during school holidays one of those channels would often show old Harold Lloyd silent movies along with a backing musical score. The visual comedy would unfold on a backdrop of wonderful 1920’s Art Deco American city architecture, the stunts performed at dizzying heights by Harold himself. These movies have since disappeared into the dusty corner of my memory until brought back to life at the Fisheye Film Fantasia evening, live music provided by pianist John Lenehan. Do I photograph or do I enjoy the experience an trip down memory lane, actual I did both.

 

 

A tour given by Paul Fields (Senior Lecturer) around Bucks New University was next up. The university was used as the location to film episode one of Black Mirror, the group were guided around all of the sites followed with a showing of the episode itself. Having stood in other locations used in films myself, notably Silverton, Australia (location for Mad Max 2) and Charlestown, Cornwall (Poldark) I could the sense that the group’s excitement was palpable.

I enjoyed photographing the interaction of the group with the surroundings, making a connection with the film locations and capturing their excitement and interest. Use of black and white amplified the atmosphere on some of the shots. No pigs were involved in my shoot!

 

 

The Competition Showcase brought together creativity and passion in one room. The filmmakers had the opportunity to present their short films for all to watch, appreciate and critique.  After each film, a ‘Graham Norton’ style sofa interview was hosted along with questions fired from the audience. Getting in amongst the filmmakers allowed for some more intimate documentary style photography capturing the energy and engagement within the room. The film craft was stunning, thought provoking stories, drama and humour.

 

 

The Fisheye Festival wrapped up with final Competition Showcase hosted by Glen McCoy best known for ‘Eastenders’, ‘Doctor Who’ and ‘Emmerdale’. The venue, screen two at Cineworld High Wycombe with international movies shown to an broad audience. Usually I would go to the cinema to watch the latest main feature but this evening was very different, short films with compelling stories. My favourite of all the films was Chuchotage, a short file centralised around two langauge interpreters during a professional conference in Prague.

The location afforded me with the opportunity to capture a cinemascope crop within the cinema, which I considered a fitting nod to the world of film making and cinematography.  Hopefully a great reflection for the Fisheye Festival as we look forward to the 2019 event.

 

 

Finally, what does a photographer do during downtime at the back of an audience, whilst relaxing with a glass of wine?

 

 

Please take a look at my images from the festival in the Fisheye 2018 gallery.  Take a look at the Fisheye Film Festival website, there is a lot of information about the festival plus an overview of the all of this years events fisheyefilmfest.uk.

 

Video credit: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly, Sergio Leone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat

I am not a huge fan of musicals.  Other than those televised and very rare visits to Westend shows so also no expert. However, when I was asked to be official production photographer for a local production of Joseph and the Technicolour Dreamcoat, I jumped at the opportunity!

It also gave me the opportunity to ‘road test’ my new pro camera and lens in a stage lit enviroment.  The subject for another blog.

My role was not just limited to a final dress rehearsal stage shoot, I was asked if I would collate a photographic record of the journey to final production.  Immersing myself into the world of amateur dramatics became compelling.  I had a unique through the lens view but more than that I met a group of passionate and engaged people with a collective purpose.  Outstanding talent in the room from; directors, choreography, players (some of which have never done anything on stage before), costume design, musicians and sound/lighting engineers.

The Wycombe Community Arts Centre theatre space was the chosen venue.  The gothic internal structure of the deconsecrated Victorian church provided an atmospheric space made spectacular with Westend quality sound and lighting.  I have been involved as a board member for the Arts Centre since 2011 and watched as it has grown to encompass a wide range of art forms, from exhibitions to performing arts and music.  This year (2018) it was relaunched with exciting new branding.  The Joseph production truly demonstrated the potential of the space and facilities, supported with four sell-out performances.

I watched as each of the musical numbers were directed from tentative beginnings to dress rehearsal show ready beautifully choreographed standards.  Listened to the live band as they practiced each of the now well-known Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice songs.  The lighting, set design and costumes added energy and vibrance. It was a pleasure to photograph.

As the photographer I was not technically part of the production, however, I felt like a part of the team.  The final dress rehearsal really showed the dedication and professionalism of each and every one involved.

On the opening night I stood at the back without using my camera and watched the show as a member of the audience.  The quality of the production was truly superb, and the reaction of the packed auditorium quickly became electric.  I will admit that my pride in this fantastic achievement genuinely brought a lump to my throat. Although, I could not help but take a few images to capture the audience reaction and hopefully the atmosphere of the space.

What a journey!

Actually, the images speak for themselves – please take a look at the full gallery.