A Picture of Health | Portrait In Harsh Sunlight

A wide range of characters pass through our studio and often there’s a local flavour, as was the case when I was asked to shoot a portrait of gym owner Steve Gregory We have a lot of connections in our home village of Haddenham, and one of them is Steve Gregory, who happens to be the founder of an incredible local boutique gym. When I say gym, that doesn’t begin to describe the ethos of the ‘Fitlife’ brand: it’s so ...

Lights, Fans and a Seriously Fit Spin Class Instructor

The creative part of a portrait photographer’s job is to look beyond the obvious shot and create something that makes people look twice because it is so striking. In this shot, some creative lighting makes all the difference. Oh, and a whole load of fanning. This was a commercial shoot for Fitlife, our local (boutique) gym. My wife Sarah and I attend a spin class at the gym, and we’d noticed that our instructor, Iona, looked calm and serene. This …

Lighting Up An Ancient Lecture Theatre For A Science-Themed Portrait

This shot was about fire, camera and action, as part of a commercial commission to create a visually striking portrait of a chemistry lecturer. The Royal Institution (RI) is an independent charity that promotes scientific understanding. They put on Christmas lectures every year and in 2016, the lecturer was Saiful Islam and the theme was energy. Saiful is a Professor of Chemistry at Bath University, and I spent a day with him during which I captured about a dozen shots. …

Opaque Smoke & Background Bokeh

How to backlight smoke so it becomes opaque, and using a slow shutter speed to capture background lights as out-of-focus circles (bokeh) in your portraits. Rui was a guest at a wedding I was shooting. I loved his look, and had in mind a specific image I wanted to capture, with backlit smoke around him. Despite not being a smoker*, Rui was happy to pose for me, so we made our way through someone’s else’s packet of cigarettes until I …

Creating Hero Portraits

Using a low camera angle to make your subject the ‘hero’ in your portraits, and underexposing a bright sky for a more moody and atmospheric background. When shooting on location, I look to re-create the lighting patterns and posing shapes I work with in the studio. Here, I positioned two portable flash heads in the same way I’d position lights back in the studio when creating a ‘hero’ shot. I’ve arranged the stances of Kieran, Tom and Evan to give …

Rembrandt Portrait Lighting

There are locations for portraits everywhere – even in an alleyway. This is how I created a dramatic shot in a local alley by overpowering the ambient light. If you think there are no good locations for portraits near you, think again. Even an alleyway can be the backdrop for an effective image, just like this portrait of Katalin in one of the curved pathways between streets in Haddenham. Here’s how I used a single Speedlight flash to light it …

Lighting An Outdoor Action Shot

This comic book-inspired action portrait was taken for my local junior football team. Here’s how I used two portable flashes to create dramatic lighting. I was asked to photograph the local junior football team, which my son played for at the time. I had seven footballers, all under ten years old, and about a minute with each of them to get the shot done. I wanted to replicate the style of the old Roy of the Rovers comic covers, so …

Environmental Chef Portrait

Sometimes you’ve got loads of light sources, stuff everywhere and very little time: this is the world of environmental portraits, & here’s my approach to them. Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons (known locally as just ‘Le Manoir’) is a hotel and restaurant in Oxford that’s owned by French chef Raymond Blanc. It’s a stunning venue, and I photograph a lot of weddings there. During one shoot, the bride and groom asked for a shot of the Executive Sous Chef, a …

Horror-Inspired Fashion Portrait

Stylised portraits can be the most fun to create, especially if you enjoy overcoming technical challenges. For this shot, I needed to make a bright sky look like night-time, and match the model’s pose to the mood of the set-up. This is one of the trickiest images from our book, Mastering Portrait Photography. It was shot for an old friend of the studio who wanted to create some ‘horror-novel-inspired-images’ for a project for her fashion degree. I knew the location …

Lighting The Snow For A Night-Time Kiss In Winter

This is one of my most popular portraits: the drama of the red dress and wintry weather mixed with the anticipation of The Kiss makes for an eye-catching combination. Ah, best laid plans. It was winter. We had everything arranged: Lily and Sam would come over for some beautiful couple’s portraits under the full moon. It would be delicate, romantic and, well, dry. Then the sleet started falling – a sudden downpour of icy rain and slushy snow. I had …