Tuesday, 30 June 2009


I'm fortunate enough to be able to work with other photographers on weddings. It's perfect because I get the opportunity to increase my experience, I get more work and the primary photographer can focus on the 'money shots', which I in turn, learn how to create!

These are the websites of the two people I work with:

Will Fenning of Fenning-Brown Photography and Jagdish Patel's company, frontline images.

People can be snobby about wedding photography, but I love it. It's so very interesting. You see a little constructed microcosm of people's lives. At the start, everybody is trying to restrain themselves and behave properly, but come the end of the evening, all the pretension is over. At English weddings people are generally drunk and more relaxed. At the start of the day, I find a lot of people HATE having their picture taken, then towards the end of the night they love it and strike ridiculous poses.

This weekend just gone I assisted on my first Hindu wedding. It was amazing, so vibrant and exciting, all the customs were totaly alien to me, which made for a very interesting (and sometimes challenging) few days. I took this picture of Priti getting ready in her hotel room. I'm a bit cross with myself because it's a little bit soft, and I prefer really crisp, sharp pictures, but I think I can probably get away with it being stylised. Some people like that. It's too romantic for my taste though.
Isn't she beautiful though? I know all brides look beautiful, but honestly, she looked awesome! Breathtaking. I have no idea how she moved. If that was me, I'd have smudged my mascara, I'd have pulled off my falsies in about a second, I'd have accidentally messed my hair up, lost an earring, forgotten to apply lipstick, and probably caught the delicate fabric on everything even mildly sharp and snagged it. I'd probably also fall over in front of everyone. She was so graceful. all day. And it was a LONG day, believe me. In my research for the Drag Kings project, I've been reading a lot of feminist literature about the pressures to conform to femininity, the idea of artifice and constructed beauty being the height of traditional, patriarchal femininity. This took hours of hard work. Amazing.

Monday, 29 June 2009

the fun you can have with a scanner...

So for my last module, Studio Photography, we had to take a self portrait at the beginning using a single light source. Using a scanner is not by any means the most original idea in the world, but it fitted the criteria and managed to twist it just a little. I simply could not bring myself to take a cliche self portrait sat next to a candle or a window or a lamp. The thought made me feel a bit sick. So instead, my little sister and I played with the scanner all night, scanning our faces all squished up and adding in little bits which gave away a whisper of information about ourselves.

The magnetic poetry made perfect sense for me, because I love mixing words and pictures, as well as being interested in visual expression I'm also pretty obsessed with words and communication. It's a set of rude magnetic poetry, which my lovely housemates bought me at University. Thank you Clare, Stu, Sam, Paul, Dave and Helen! It's hilarious. It has the most ridiculous words and you can entertain yourself for hours with it. Simple things...

I also love anything piratey and sparklies too, hence the sequins. Magpie. And the dried flowers were a treasured bunch from a much-loved ex.

I love my sister. We play all the time. Look how cute she is....

darkrooms and the depths of despair...

Tommorow is my final day of darkroom printing for my black and white photography module at NTU. It's an important day. Last Tuesday I arrived at 10am and left at 8.30pm (with a somewhat over-extended break for lunch with my interesting friend Adamski). Even with the break, you still go a little bit bonkers when you're confined to a small space with dim red light and the constant sound of running water for many, many hours, especially when you know up top it's super sunny (a rarity in England!) and everyone is eating ice cream and drinking beer in the park. Having said that, I still only managed to get three decent prints out of last Tuesday and I need six for my final submission, so think of me tomorrow, squirrelled away in the bowels of the Bonnington building, singing made up songs and generally reminding the rest of my class the reasons behind why they all think I'm a little bit strange.

It is immensley fun though, playing in the darkroom. There's something incredibly satisfying about setting up your englarger, organising your negatives, making your test strips, sloshing them about in developer, then stop, then fixer. Then washing and drying, squinting at your print in the fluorescent lights outside the darkroom like a mole. At the end of the process, you feel so very attached to the little prints, that you cherish each one like a child. I love every imperfection, the curled up edges once it's dry, an accidental slice of black border creeping in the shot, a squiggly white line of dust from the neg. You end up giving a deep sigh and thinking, ah well, here we go again then. I'm very new to it all. We've been darkroom developing for 11 weeks. In the cheesy yet immortal words of Princess Jasmine and Aladdin, it's a whole new world.

The course is new too; we are the Professional Certificate in Photography guinea pigs. Because it's a part time night class, there's a wide variation in fellow students. At 25, I'm the youngest and one of only two girls. I would honestly say I'm the least experienced too. I had virtually no understanding of film photography, I cut my teeth on digital, with a Canon EOS 400D, which was given to me as a Christmas present in 2006. Now I have a 10D, which I use for weddings and things. I love my 10D. I love my newest purchase even more, the Canon Speedlite 580ex. It's a sexy, sexy flash. I find the best results for people shots is to strap on an Omnibounce, twist it up but facing backwards one notch, and whack the camera on Auto. Honestly, it sounds like cheating, but you get amazing results.

But anyway, we're getting very off-topic. The pictures I'm developing were taken with a Mamiya RZ-67. I don't need to say anything else other than that. The camera is quite simply, exquisite. I can only apologise for the inexperience of the photographer. I'm a little unhappy with how the shadows worked out. I set up two spotlights pointing in the centre of the studio wall, to try and create a circular backdrop behind the models, then used an overhead softbox to light the foreground. But it's created distracting double shadows, which I've had to dodge out when printing. I decided to print on Ilford Multigrade IV Fibre Based Matt, which I think lends the pictures a depth and softness which almost makes them look like 1920's Hollywood stars. That sounds hugely pretentious. But it does! In comparison to resin coated papers, it's a world apart. I tried a couple of shots with Lomo fibre based matt paper, but you just couldn't retain the sharpness in the detail. I suppose that's why Ilford are so popular...they're amazing! The models are a group of girls I know; I went to school with Alice, the Sailor, and now I'm friends with all the others too! We're collaborating on a really interesting project in Derby, which will hopefully extend further afield in time, looking at gender and the reactions people have to androgyny or mixed gender signifiers; we're exploring the idea of female masculinity. The models are primarily lesbians who dress in drag, not half heartedly either. They glue on beards and go out in public, and I follow them and take pictures. If you're interested, click here. Or just keep coming back, because despite the fact that my module's almost finished, my interest and work with the Drag Kings of Derby is ongoing...

p.s. I apologise for the quality of the scans. I haven't quite got the hold of it yet. For some reason the up close one has come out on an angle and the full body picture is blurred around the face and hand...