The Killers??

Photographs

We were invited to attend the “Hard Rock Calling” festival at Hyde Park by “James” on Friday. We decided to train it up and back as we thought there might be some alcohol involved. Again, we were assured both guest and photo passes as the Godin project continues to roll. We arrived without a fuss at around 3pm at Hyde Park. We had already had a hearty lunch and bottle of wine to get in the festival spirit!

We approached the “Media and Guest List Booth” and asked for our tickets. As we have become accustomed, these moments are always fraught with a bit of worry, “have they remembered to put us on the list” etc etc. Well, this time, they hadn’t. Saul, the guitarist, was quickly contacted. He assured us he would sort it and get the guys to get us in. Well, 60mins later we were starting to doubt we were ever going to make it in through the front gate! We had already become personal friends with the Security Guard, Rob and the girl in the ‘hut’ Debs. But we were still not in! At last, Kat arrived. Kat was all of 20 years old but she was a PA to the James Tour Manager and we felt we had a lifeline. We wandered back to the smallest hut in the world at the entrance to Hyde Park. Nope, no tickets there. We wandered back to where we started this escapade and Kat asked Debs where our tickets were and what she had to do to get us in. A quick phone call to her Manager and his calling to Justine and we had a pass!! Wow! However, I reminded Kat that we needed a photo pass and she nearly collapsed in front of me. However, three minutes later we had everything. Passes and an entry to the massive gig featuring James (our reason for being there), The Kaiser Chiefs and The Killers.

After entering, I saw an entry point titled “Guest Area”, well naturally, I tried to get in with our wristbands. Amazingly we got in without any fuss and found ourselves pretty much behind the main stage in an area with a few private bars and food areas etc. Well, not wishing to appear rude and not believing our luck, we proceeded to make use of said facilities and grabbed a beer, or two. Within minutes it seemed, we needed to get front of stage where we were going to be photographing to get pics of James and the fabulous Godin Saul was playing. Well, we wandered out to the front, pushed our way past the thronging masses and made our way to the front left stage and showed my photog pass to get into the ‘pit’. “Sorry, you have to go through the ‘Guest Area’ to get into the pit” we were told. Ben flashed his wristband and said ‘Really, can’t we come this way?’. Incredibly, we were ushered quickly through the wrong way and entered the pit. I then set up and proceeded to grab the shots that were the reason we were here. 3 songs later and that was it. We were out, as per normal.

Only, I had a feeling, I had a feeling we had some pretty cool wristbands that were better than the normal bands we received. On trekking back through the backstage areas I decided we should try t0 get on the mainstage and join family and other artistes for the rest of the gig. Well, guess what? Instead of being hiked off as per normal we were waved through and on the main stage we went!! I had my 5D II and a 70-200mm f2.8 strapped to my front, hardly inconspicuous but still no worries from anyone. I shot away, nobody turned a hair!! Amazing. When we had all the shots we wanted we went back behind the stage and wandered unchallenged anywhere we wanted and ended back up at the Guest Area for a few beers.

When The Kaiser Chiefs came on we decided to do exactly the same. To the front for the photog pit and then backstage after the 3 songs. Incredibly we did exactly that. Wandering on to backstage at the fourth song unchallanged due to our wristbands. Cool or what. The Kaisers were amazing! Backstage, I snapped away and then something was shouted in my ear. I couldn’t hear so asked Benno to repeat it. It sounded like he had said, “Prince Harry” was right behind me! Haha! I turned around and guess what, there was Harry! Seriously, I was stood with a 70-200mm lens and two feet behind me was Prince Harry! Well, I wussed it and after 10 mins we left. Leaving Harry to his girls and his privacy and I had no shots of him! Should I have gone for it? I don’t think so, I didn’t want any of him, I was just pretty amazed he had the same goddamn wrist-band as me!

So, a while later and I arrived at the front of stage for the main act. The Killers. Well where were all the other photographers? I got out my camera and within seconds I was pounced upon by the Head of Security! “No photographs of The Killers” he told me. “No way”, I said, “I have been given clearance”, I lied. He radioed through, I ignored him and walked away. He held onto my coat and received his answer. The answer I knew was coming. “Sorry Sir”, he said, “you have to leave!” Bollocks. Never have I been so pissed off. I love The Killers. Oh well I thought. I have this wristband. I shot backstage to get a prime position for some shots from the side of the main stage. Within seconds I realised I had a great wristband but not the best wristband. “excuse me” said the lead singer from The Kaisers, as he pushed past and got onto the main stage. I was told that my pass was not gonna get me on, I needed a green band and I didn’t have one! Bugger!

Out to the front we shot with the plebs! Pissing it down we got soaked but loved the set and sang along to all the classic Killers tracks.

A brilliant gig but so nearly the best we have ever been to……. but not quite!!

Tim Booth

Tim Booth from James performing at Hyde Park

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Fluffy Cats!

General

Yes, I know, I resisted the obvious slap and tickle headline here but I do have standards ya know!

Yesterday was an early start to get to the Studio on time and make sure that we had everything we needed. My ‘Assistant’ for the day, Ian, arrived ahead of schedule and we set off at 7am along the M4. Why do so many people have to be somewhere so early in the day in this technological age? Anyway, the dreaded jam only started just as we were about to leave the motorway so any hassles were duly avoided.

The studio was already open at 8.20am so we duly entered and made ourselves a lovely cup of Earl Grey. Refreshed we set about organising the lighting for the first shoot. We were shooting tethered so we tested that out and as I suspected, the 5D and Lightroom 3 don’t gel on the cable front. So, we switched to Capture One as our RAW capture software for the day and all was pretty seamless.

The guests and the animals arrived right on schedule at 10am and we immediately began shooting for the main and most important ‘Hero’ image. Our cat model was an absolutely gorgeous ‘blue’ fluff ball that was startled every time by the flash head recycling ‘beep’. Having turned them off we attempted to reduce the noise in the studio despite there being quite a throng developing with video producer, animal handlers, models, end clients and agency personnel. However, all were well behaved and realised the need for slow movement and quiet while we were shooting. The ‘Hero’ took a while to settle and then began to get into his stride (so to speak). What is required is a great deal of patience and gentle coaxing from a brilliant handler, Liz. The shot we were after was a cat looking very chilled out and relaxed having received wonderful treatment at the vets, and meaning it can lead a happy, contented life again. After a while, we began to get the shots we needed. The lights were great and on quite low power as we needed a tight depth of field for the shot itself. It was great to work with top ‘profoto’ heads and quality modifiers. The quality of light is consistent and very honest, meaning little messing in between shots when a sitting is taking place.

We then introduced the two models to a different cat for some Vet/Owner/Pet shots and these worked very well indeed. Eve and Ruth were very willing and able models giving us exactly the scenario, looks and style we were after. We ran through quite a few poses, cats and dress to achieve a look and style the client and agency were happy with. We took loads of shots as the animals were quite skitty (to be expected) and moved heads, bodies and eyes very very quickly making each shot much more likely to fail on one count or another.

The old saying of ‘never work with animals or children’ may well be true in most cases but in this one, whilst we had to be more patient than normal, we were just as successful.

The day went really well and we had some spare time so we decided to shoot some other more spontaneous shots with the models and the cats themselves. Ending up with some cat portraits which was quite good fun and a little less intense towards the end of the day. We stopped shooting at around 5pm meaning a full day in the studio. We were however very productive producing about 1,100 images and over 24gb in total. Of course, of those images a huge number are ‘binners’ due to the fact the cat blinked, moved its head, body, paws etc into a strange or non-photogenic position. Looking and reviewing the images there are many that are very good quality indeed and we are delighted with the outcome from this shoot. We think the clients will be too and that at the end of the day is the very important factor in all of this.

The day was enjoyable and we hope those present enjoyed the shoot too. We look forward to seeing the video when it has been produced!

iPhone capture of the studio, set up and some videoing!

Wild Thing

Photographs

I met with one of the guys who is looking at the new internet business with me. I kind of expected there to be a financial obstacle to get in the way that would render this whole thing useless and fruitless. Again, I am pleasantly surprised that no such issues seem to exist. Sure we would need to raise many £millions of other peoples money, invest it and turn into something even more significant. However, I have now got to the point where my normally very sceptical brain is fast running out of excuses as to why this would not work. The whole thing is extremely exciting and needs to be further developed and then mashed together into some kind of exciting ‘pitch’ that will give it some more form and reality. My reckoning is that it has a 5% chance of succeeding as we sit here today (this is a vast improvement on 0% from a few weeks ago). Only more time will see how that develops and what %ge we can build that into.

Friday night saw Claire come round to review her portfolio of fully processed images. I did the full works including a sexy slideshow and full Adele soundtrack on a full iMac display. I think she really loved the photographs and stayed to have a chat about some of the images and to have a glass of wine whilst chatting about life and the marketing world in general.

Saturday we decided to shoot off down to the south coast and stay overnight in a B&B. We travelled down early and landed in Weymouth. We wandered along the seafront and watched a slightly odd military bridge building display that I am sure was to mark some commemorative event but we didn’t spot what that was. After a refreshing cup of tea we decided to mooch over to Osmington Bay and grab a lovely relaxed lunch at the Smugglers Inn. What a little gem and so close to Weymouth itself but poles apart in terms of feel and ambiance. After filling up we cruised along the Jurassic Coast and went for a stroll along the beach at Lulworth Cove and watched a couple of mad heads swimming in what must have been an icy English Channel. The tide was fairly high and the sun poking its nose through now and again made the cove light up and bathed us in a warmth that dispelled the chill of the bitter southerly wind in a second. Up on the cliff tops was a different matter. The wind was ferocious and made standing upright on the top overlooking the coast quite difficult. We sought more shelter and decided to head off down to Durdle Dor and its renowned arch. Parking up we made the trek down the hill to the top of the cliff overlooking the beach itself. I was a little surprised to be encouraged to walk down the less than inviting steep steps onto the beach itself but did so with good grace and a little trepidation. The trip back up again was not quite so welcome but blew the cobwebs away from the lungs and made the calf muscles burn. It is no wonder the bay is so well photographed. It is a beautiful and quite serene place. I will return one day in the Winter and photograph it myself, if not only because it is one of those lovely venues one should have visited and tried to do justice to.

The evening saw us head towards our destination via Corfe Castle and on towards Swanage for a few drinks, a meal and a listen to some Blues in a local bar. The next morning we headed off to look at Kimmeridge Bay, a place I have visited and photographed before. It also is beautiful but the tide was fully in which benefitted only those with sails and kites attached to them out in the bay itself. We headed back towards Weymouth and on to Portland Bill. I don’t recall visiting here before but having lived and grown up close by I can’t imagine why not! It is stunning. I am now desperate to return soon to photograph the whole of the area itself maybe spending a week or so just exploring and searching out the best shots. Again, the lighthouse itself is well photographed but that isn’t an excuse to ignore it and not capture your own images of such a wonderful part of the country.

Today has been spent working again on the new internet project and making final preps for tomorrows commercial shoot in Wokingham and then meeting up with my friend who is 32 today! Happy Birthday Benjamin! My ‘quiet’ week has also jammed itself up with various meetings with experts on IT, Marketing and hopefully maybe even an Assistant Photographer!! Watch this space as they say, exciting times are afoot….

Claire Richardson

Claire Richardson kissing goodbye to shyness!

Claire Richardson

Cowgirl Claire

Tethered

General

Monday started oh so well. I had to travel to Bath to discuss some regulatory stuff about the website business we are currently looking at. I wasn’t looking forward to it as I really thought this might be the big ‘something’ in the whole plan that might prove to be a hurdle too far. I met with Jeanette and we headed off to a suitable coffee house. Refreshments in hand she proceeded to inform me that not only was my proposal not too difficult but I was making it even more tricky than it really had to be! But “this is the FSA” I cried, but she would have none of it. It was easy, easy as pie. Stop being so concerned! This from a Compliance Director!! Cool.

With a spring in my step I headed off to visit a Marketing Agency to discuss this business idea. I met them in a building in Bath Spa called “The Dispensary”. I kid you not, I could have spent all day just looking at the building. The attached photo is a mobile upload of the meeting room we met in. It was quite the coolest room I have ever held a business meeting in. It was simply ace. As was the whole building. Its history is that it was the first ever free dispensing chemist in the UK! It’s Board Room is the dispensary room itself. Amazing and brilliant. The meeting went well and I hope to hear from the agency about photography as well as the idea as well!

Sometimes we all have to undertake the less cool things in life as otherwise our taps would drip constantly and our food wouldn’t taste the same from dirty crockery etc. Well, Tuesday was a bit like that. I spent 3 wasted hours waiting for my car to have its brakes done while I merrily sent personal emails from my laptop whilst drinking the obligatory Earl Grey. In the afternoon I went to South Wales to discuss the photography ideas we had around the brief we were given a few weeks before. They seemed to be well received but it is a long road and I hope we will hear positive news shortly.

Wednesday saw me visiting our accountant to discuss the normal accountancy things that make the world tick and our businesses survive, hopefully! Rod is a really great bloke and we had a good chat. I do love meeting people and chatting, I wish there was more time in the day! I managed to finish the processing of Claire totally and have put together a whole slideshow with music for her. She arrives tomorrow to see the whole thing played out on a 27″ iMac with masshoof speakers! I really hope she likes them as much as I do. I have played the images time after time and I know I am like an artist that wants to continually tinker with each image but really, although I say it myself, I absolutely love the set. One or two are stunning, really stunning. I hope she loves them. She is excited so it will be a rank shame if she doesn’t!

I played a game of Badminton that I haven’t played for many many years. I haven’t lost it. I was good before and I still love the game, however, the fitness isn’t quite what it used to be! I hope to continue this along with my new found fitness and weight loss regime! I came home and then we went to do our Radio show last night, same drudgery in that we have a fantastic facility with a great product but absolutely no marketing and no decent website etc. Its frustrating cos the guy that runs it is so passionate and a really good broadcaster, they just need to get their act together. Familiar?

Today I did something that I haven’t done since I was very young, foolish and naive! I overslept! I didn’t have anything to go and do but 10.50am! Heehee, boy did I feel guilty. Ho Hum. This afternoon I went to the studio we have hired to complete the big agency shoot we have next tuesday. Wow, what a great place. A brilliant studio and the guy that runs it is very similar to me. Left another career to undertake the wonder of photography and is hopefully making a success of it! All is good there and he has an iMac so I can shoot tethered for the client to watch and see. Now tethering. I paid £28 for a 20m USB cable with boosters and the lot. Guess what? It doesn’t work!! Damnit. Now what? Bugger. I need to be able to shoot tethered. Sod it lots and a visit first thing is required to the sellers to take the said lead back. Bloody useless and these tech issues are starting to hack me off big time. So much time wasted dealing with them all. Grrrr…..

Tonight I have spent many hours processing the Hotel Garden images and have done most of them. I hope to be able to send them a disk tomorrow that has all the images they need for their website and other collateral. I am pleased with these and they look really good. I also heard back on the QT that the images taken the other day were well received by the appropriate agency. This is really important info and I am really pleased as I was happy with them myself which means we are all on the same hymn sheet.

Now just to decide how to overcome tethering issues…….

 

Ooohh Ooohh!

General

Well a great end to the week was had when we we realised that we had made our client happy on the agency shoot we had completed earlier in the week. I converted all the acceptable images taken into a funky black and white format as the Agency had stated they wanted and personally dropped them off. The Agency aren’t far away and I was out that way anyway. The Director seemed to be pleased with them and also said that images like those helped them to decide how best to market the company as it often helped to draw out the character of the individuals and assisted in the creative process. I had never thought of it that way but I agree entirely. Business is all about people, selling your skills is all about people so anything that really captures what you and your business are truly about has got to be a really positive thing!

The other piece of good news was that another company we have done work for liked an idea we put to them a week or so ago for one of their products. It was something I worked on with a friend and between us we came up with a funky idea and a cool approach for an advert. The client have put it to their sales team and they are quite interested. We find out more on Tuesday. We also were given another brief and I did get some professional help for these with ideas and ‘scamps’ coming from a really good friend and acquaintance. Well, he came back with 3-4 ideas of which one is really really cool! It captures everything we would want it to, would be applicable to totally different audiences in different ways and would be so much fun to do! I meet with the client as I said on Tuesday this week so fingers crossed on this one. It could be a fantastic opportunity all round to really develop these ideas and shoot some brilliant ads. Whats more, we also have some ways that these could be self funding meaning the budgets of the client will not have to be too stretched if at all!

On a personal note I have nearly finished the processing of the delightful and beautiful Claire Richardson from a couple of weeks back. She has been very patient waiting and I hope to deliver them to her one evening this week. I really hope she loves them as much as I do. One or two are stand out, which is common for me to think, but it often isn’t the images I like the most that the clients do. I suppose it would be weird if it always was but I am sometimes surprised as you do get an insight into a persons soul when you shoot for 4 hours or so. It never ceases to intrigue me how well you can read a persons whole attitude to life by watching and observing their postures, demeanour and candour during a shoot. Some appear terribly nervous at first but may display deep inner confidence and determination when you get into the shoot. Others appear full of beans and even cocky but underneath you spot a lot of self doubt and gestures and glimpses that don’t match the obvious character they are displaying. Now don’t get me wrong here, I am not saying you become a mind reader and can tell everything about somebody but if I do the job well and a shoot goes well, I feel I have connected with the sitter. If I have connected, then I have become closer to them than most others would in a much longer timeframe! A bold statement but a true one I think. I am sure there are studies about these things but I expect I am not the first to say this.

Anyway, I took a few shots of Rob who was lounging around at the same time and was keen and up for it and he really liked the aggressive ‘Dragan’ effect processing on images. Well, I took an appropriate, simple, one light shot and processed it like the great Polish master himself. Wowee, it is an awesome effect indeed! Incredible. I loved it so much I even processed this image in a similar style to see if it worked with a younger subject and I think it does. Again, maybe there is a beauty here that only I am seeing but I am going to experiment with this some more! Fully blown up images in this style simply stun the eye with their detail. They are cool and gorgeous to look at in every way. The eyes of the subject tear through you, the viewer, with an intensity that is difficult to get in other portraits.

Mack Ellis

Mack

Click the image and view at full res for an eye popping experience!

Commercial Shoots

General

Its late on Weds the 8th and I have just got back from doing my radio show. Its cool to do, and I keep on getting great and interesting chats and meetings while doing it. It just goes to show that we aren’t on this planet for long and when you are it is worth taking every single opportunity to do as much and to experience as much as you can. Not for any other reason than it just takes and puts you in so many brilliant places! I have just had a chat with the fascinating and obviously brilliant Ian Williams who runs www.itfm.me.uk and whilst chatting he remarks that he has a girl called Gabrielle Aplin on his radio show on Sunday.

So, being on the button, I grab a Gabrielle tune and play it on my show. Well, OMFG! This girl is 18 years old. She is sensational. Absolutely sensational and she lives close by and she writes and sings and plays all her own stuff! Seriously, she is playing Glasto on the acoustic stage this year and if you get a chance, make sure you get along and see her. Visit her website http://gabrielleaplin.co.uk/ and listen, just listen. WOW! 18! Mmmm….. I am going to meet her on Sunday at the Radio Studio where she is playing live after 11am on itfm.

I spent yesterday shooting a small firm of architect’s people and offices. I think the shoot went really well but the truth will out tomorrow morning when I meet the Agency to show them the proofs! I quickly converted them to B&W (which is how they want the web images) and did little else with them so I hope they are as required! It was a challenging shoot as the space (the offices) were quite compact and difficult to get the angles as required. Still, I am sure the agency will have more than enough to choose from! Overall the shoot took about 2 hours and the clients were very accommodating and patient, as a ‘tog with ideas can be a bit tedious to the subjects as we all know!

Today was spent doing further research on the business project and then processing some of the wicked and thrilling Claire Richardson shots. So little time and so much processing to do. I wish there were more hours in the day! I would so love to get so much more processing done but it takes soooo much time.

Some great news though! I got my hard drive back, fully recovered and fully bloody expensive! Feck! (Note to self, NEVER let this happen again!) It is a relief to have ALL my work back with me but soooo scary to make sure that all projects are backed up twice at all times!

Talking of projects, I want so much to move my lyrics project forward so that I can put an exhib together soon! Need to find more models as the last two from MM didn’t respond which is a shame ‘cos they were perfect. Below is a reminder of what it is about and a chance to show a gratuitous naked woman shot! The beautiful Anita de Bauche, nude, doing the famous Travis lyric “I’m being held up by invisible men”.

Oh well, keep pluggin’ on!

X

Anita De Bauche

For the lyric project, this is, "I'm being held up by invisible men"

Chillin’!

General

Weekend was spent pretty much frantically processing for all I am worth! The Olly Murs Gallery should be up later tonight on the www.ellisimagery.co.uk website. Well overdue but good things always take time to mature. There are one or two belting images that I am very proud of in there! Really very pleased overall with the shoot despite the tiny amount of time I had to complete my mission (8 Minutes!).

Saturday evening was spent celebrating a friend’s birthday and although we started out with the best of intentions the evening became almost as dark as the weather as we were gently asked to leave Wetherspoons as one of our party had ‘had enough’ can you believe! They were right though so we headed for a gentle stroll in the lashing rain to find a pool table and a more relaxed atmosphere. We did the crazy curry late at night thing and ended up tired, fatter and extremely wet!

Sunday was spent chilling. Aren’t Sundays meant for that? Chillin’? Well, we did that and the most strenuous we became was cooking a delicious roast chicken evening meal in between processing and watching the latest episode of Shadowline on BBC. Wow, is anyone else watching that? It is fantastic! It was also during the weekend that I saw the incredible new Kronenburg advert with Madness. It is cool, they are cool and I am not sure why it seemed to strike a chord with me. But it did and I love it…

I finished off processing the portrait photographs I took of the Proprietors of The Old Rectory Hotel, Sam and Huw, today. They are now in their hands, or on their computer and I hope to see them uploaded onto their brand new website very soon. As always on cool shoots, we did have a bit of a laugh and there were one or two images that probably won’t end up on their site but might well raise a chuckle when they see them.

I was wondering about a total re-organisation of my website? It has too many Galleries in too few sub-divisions. It’s hard to work out what works best though. I think I will have a good think about it tonight and maybe start it tomorrow evening when I might have a bit more time. It does seem that I am working quite a few hours a week at the moment but then, I am enjoying it and therefore it doesn’t feel like work really. I promise I can’t wait to get to your images next Claire but I do have a shoot tomorrow for a firm of Architects! Oh god………………. I am soooo tired………………..Zzzzzzz……………

Huw Rees

Huw in a lighter moment during our shoot!