Best of 2019 & My Year in Review
5th January 2020
Right it's nearly December so I can start writing this right... (as I sit waiting for a flight at Charlotte airport in November). I aim to publish first January, so gives me plenty of time to start writing this then forgetting to save it, and then no doubt coming back to it later in December to finish... as I now sit here on the 27th December with my second glass of 6.5% beer. Oh what could ever go wrong! And now actually it's the 5th January.. so let's get this out the door!
Once again. Click here if you wish to bypass all the filler.
Ok, wow. What a year.
Quick look back, according to Lightroom I shot about 15500images (granted there was a couple of holidays and a puppy thrown in as well) I had about 40 shoots.. which is about one every week and a half. Damn.
So who did I get to work with this year, model wise I shot:
- Pippa Doll x4 (granted one was at SW4...)
- Poetic Minx
- Em Theresa x2
- Boou (also scheduled to me my first shoot of 2020!)
- Abigail Janine
- Natasha Kalashnikova
- Ayla Rose
- Xanthe Rose
- Amber Tutton
- Sinopa Rin
- TFTI-LA (Group event)
- Jam Scones x2
- Alexandra McCue
- Lucy Art Model x2
- Roswell Ivory
- Tears For Fears
- Tangerine Dream
- Giorgio Mordoer
- Backstreet Boys
- South West Four (including Pendulum Trinity, Tinie Tempah, Mabel, Craig David, Ms Dynamite, Wilkinson and many many others)
- Sisters of Mercy
- Jimmy Buffett
- White Lies
- Em Theresa
- Studio Weekend
- Scaresville (Seven nights)
So my 2019 was pretty good photographically. I shot loads, as evident above but lets have a look at a few other bits.
One thing I have noticed, I'm way more in love with 3/4 crops than i used to be, I've also got a couple more lighting setups I love to use, one with strip boxes, the other with a ringlight. I love my ringlight so much! They're just so flattering. Combined with a gel behind as well, you can get some brilliant nice easy head shots!
Ok a fun year for music, not shooting as much as previous years, BUT I did get to shoot at the o2 for the first time. Which was fun... unless you misread the email, thinking front of the house meant pit.. not soundbooth... leaving the 2x extender at home. Resulting in shots of Tears for Fears and Alison Moyet at 200mm rather than 400mm... plus side I could shoot at f/2.8 (meaning I got ISO12800 rather than 25600) but still had to crop.
Also third year on the trot for SW4 and I think the best year, if that's not evident from the best of 2019 below!
I definitly think I've upped my retouching game, especially over recent months, I've gotten much quicker as well, I reckon I can do a full retouch (with no distractions) in maybe 20-25minutes. My colour is looking much better as well, and makes (all be in subtly) my images have started to develop their own style. Especially in the studio.
I've also changed my editing workflow (another blog on that coming soon) meaning I'm actually editing more from a set now. It's also given me a massive backlog to post to social media.
Switching to Mac
Ok. So. I switched to Mac for editing after changing job in February and they provided me with a Macbook Pro (I chose this over Dell, as I seriously hate Dell more).
Granted I still have a dislike of Apple... and Finder IS the biggest pile of poo in existence, it does run Adobe really really smoothly.. (apart from like today where Lightroom just crashes for no reason). I also think they are far too expensive for what they are, and mainly a status symbol. If you spend over £1000 on a laptop to sit on facebook... the mind boggles!
Eventually when I sort out my study I will probably get an IMac for in there as well... Just to double down on the eco system!
I will just say the fact that the Catalina update to MacOS has BROKEN tethering is really annoying, the fact it hasn't worked in a couple of months is even worse!
I've also kept my website pretty upto date, I think this is partly because of keeping on top of my retouching, and then just posting it straight from that, meaning there's always plenty of content frequently being added.
Another new thing I've implemented is posting links to the gigs I've shot/reviewed from the blogs as well, partly as it takes me so long to write one of these things it was looking a bit sparse!
Lastly, a really cool feature I've added is the image reordering. Once a month, it reorders the images based on popularity (as long as the images have been on my website for more than 30days). Just a little thing I think that keeps it fresh and means my best images are near the top of each album! Maybe this is another blog post I could write on how it does this...
I've had a very minor change this year (apart from the editing environment) and that is having a small gear update. Nothing too major I've just supplemented my lighting gear with a couple of battery powered Godox AD200/Pixapro Pika200, I also bought a Godox AD-B2 to use them combined as a 400W light, and a 65cm easy popup softbox I just got for Christmas. Along with a trigger to remotely control all the power of them and a couple of adapters to let me use my bowen fit lighting modifiers. I have used one a couple times in the studio as a small gel light, but it's mainly there as my location lighting set. Small and transportable enough that I can chuck in a bag and quickly fold up the softbox.
The AD200 really is great though and I do highly recommend!
I now have my own studio space! Yay! (Ok I think I had it in the previous blog...) but now it's properly decorated, with a wall mounted and backdrop and FILLED with lights and modifiers. Got to admit it works so well and a large chunk of this years images were shot there.
If you're wondering what equipment I've got:
- Seven (and a bit) lights: 600w, 3x 300w (all Bowen S-Fit fit), 2x 200w (battery powered), a ringlight, an adapter to turn the 2x200w into a 400w.
- Six backdrops: 2m Storm grey, 5x 1.35m (arctic white, aqua, cherry, buttercup and carnation), plus a white wall and a white fabric one.
- Loads of modifiers: Big octobox, small oxtobox, smallish softbox, 2x strip boxes, beauty dish, 4x spill kills, 2x silver umbrellas, 5 in 1 reflector, snoot, lightblaster over 100 different colour gels, a light blaster, 2x barndoors
- 4x 3m aircushioned stands, 2m boom, 1.5m lightstand.
- 2x bowen to speedlight/AD200 adapters, 2x hotshot to bowen adapter and 2x hotshoe umbrella mounts.
- Wall mounted backdrop system, stand mounted backdrop system.
- Tethering screen!
Who needs a dining room? Right?
I also travelled again a bit more this year, which was nice, and something I wish to do more of!
I started the year for New Years in Budapest for my best mates Stag Do. Obviously wasn't anywhere close to a photographic trip but it's a really photogenic city and I would love the chance to go back and shoot it properly. Probably with a model or two.
Then in May time I ended up in California, for the wedding of the friend who's stag do was in Budapest.
I LOVE California. It's the second time I've been and I adore the place. Starting off in LA, I headed up the coast towards San Luis Obispo, before heading back to LA via Santa Barbara, then from there onto San Diego, back up to Orange County and finally back to LA. I love LA. But I'm weird.
I've got various friends in California so it was nice to see them. I even got the chance to have breakfast with one of my favourite photographers. Naturally we chatted about the important things... furries... cameras... dogs... and why did the Dragon have to die in Game of Thrones...
Although it wasn't exactly a photographic trip as I did a bit of road tripping and I was on my own, it did allow me to take some landscapey stuff (obvs). However when I got to LA for the third and final time... I did attend a group shoot on the streets in The Arts District which was really cool. Was a bit of a free for all, but there were models, cars, fire performers. Good fun for my final night!
Then in November I went back to the US for Thanksgiving. This was even less of a photographic trip, but as always I had a camera with me.
I also did my first aerial studio weekend at a local aerial school I'm good friends with!
Was a really enjoyable couple of days but a crazy amount of work; 24 aerialists, 19 hours, 11 session and 1999 images were taken!
The editing then meant there was a crazy amount of work after the fact, the biggest problem being the background (it was just a wall.. but the wall had something known as the bum line, where people lean on it!). This is something I will need to rethink for next time, as this is what the vast majority of my retouching time was spent doing - fixing the background. It was a killer.
At the end of the day though I think everyone was please with their images, which is the most important thing!
Goals from 2018
So I wrote it but never ended up publishing my Year In Review for 2018... but I did set myself some goals.
My aim was to shoot at least once a month... I think i smashed that don't you think!
Shoot more location.
Check. In fact 9 of my shoots were pure location, where as only 9 were typical studio (pre backdrop work rather than sets)
Most Popular Images 2019
Something I generated for Instagram. These are the most popular images I uploaded onto the site in 2019! Granted many weren't actually taken in 2019, but they were all uploaded here so it counts! It makes a nice collage as a sampling of my work! Only disappointment is I wish there was some more aerial in it and I'm not quite sure why my school friend Dan makes an appearance.
Best Images of 2019
So without further ado, here are my personal favourite images from 2019!
Studio - Lucy
I knew as soon as I had edited this, this is one of my favourite studio shots I've ever taken. Maybe even my favourite. The colours, the posing everything is just ahhhh. I have it printed. It's been my phone background. Love it
Studio - Honourable Mentions
They let me fly for this shot. I was suspended from the air in a harness. The video's great as well, so check that out! (It's on my insta stories)
If you follow Abi, I actually went off piste with her usual styling with these, I think it works, plus is something different to how you usually see images of her.
Pippa Doll - Valentines Shoot
Oh look. It's Pippa acting like a badass on a valentines shoot rather than a stereotype. This is what happens when you're asked to do a valentines shoot and I take everything as seriously as I normally do.
I shot Tasha for an hour, and the results are just brilliant. We smashed it, one had to be included on this list, it's genuinely hard to choose a favourite, I expect most of them, if not all of them could have had this slot!
I'm currently trying to arrange a second shoot with Tasha, party as I'm frequently down where she lives and she has a cool couple of places to shoot. So watch this space for 2020!
I have a bit of thing with keeping the ringlight in shot, plus my first go in quite some time for using gels to provide coloured backdrops.
Jam (not her real name) isn't actually a model, but honestly she's as good, if not better then some models I have worked with in the past. She's also lives quite possibly the coolest life ever!
Alexandra Frances McCue
Similar setup with Jam, but ahh, doesn't the colour complimenting go so well!
She's such a badass! I'm just going to leave it at that.
Location - Sinopa Rin
The colours. The location. The atmosphere. The wreck! Just YES!
I this one was quite hard.. I've shot lots of fantastic location work this year at some cracking locations! (ok, not quite Paris like 2017, but still... (although LA was pretty awesome.))
Location - Honourable Mentions
Colours. Location. Golden hour. All just gel together so well. It was cold though, but this was expected for Brighton seafront in January!
Look at her dress. Those aren't flowers. They're actually skulls.
Amber's styling in this shot is so on point, it hurts.
This was such a fun shoot (OK with Em it always is) and reaped some amazing results, over several sets. In the end I had to go with this one (even over the one in the pool), I just think it's chill and the colours of her clothes against the drabness of the shed.
Free mass group shoot. Fire performance. On the streets of LA. Yep.
I plan to be back in LA July 2020, partly to see friends... mainly to go to Disneyland. I hope to attend another one of these group shoots, otherwise I may try arrange another shoot with Emma, who's heavy into Circus... and what do I love to shoot?
Whilst at a festival...
Shot in my spare room, not overly something I shoot, but that room makes for some great natural light, along with the blinds as well.
Music - Kabaka Pyramid
I like the angle, the background, I genuingly think it's one of the best music shots I've caught.
Music - Honourable Mention
Backstreet's back. Alright.
I got so many great shots thanks to lovely afternoon sun.
Not going to lie, I watched Harry Brown a few days prior to writing this... (If you know. You know).
I feel bad I'm not sure who the singer is and Wikipedia/Google haven't been much help. But yet another mid afternoon slot at SW4.
I wanted to shoot some metal. I wanted a break from the dance I usually shoot.. metal's great, the crowds are always better, the acts tend to be better lit and you can get some great hero and action shots.
Aerial - Miles (Silks) - The Greatest Showman
Isn't this just great. The smile, his outfit!
Aerial - Honourable Mention
Em Theresa (Hoop)
Em. This is the third time you've appeared in this blog!
I love how it fills the entire frame, with of course the move being fully on point.
Another great move, pose and outfit!
The aerialist had this turned into a painting she has on display in her home!
Annie & Miles (Hoop)
Boo & Hazel (Double Trapeze)
These two clowns!
Jessica (Hoop) - Scaresville (The Serpent of The Air)
Boo (Hoop) - Scaresville (Sabrina)
Wildcard - LA Skyline
I was staying in LA for a few days before heading north for a wedding. I was on my own for the evening rather than sit around watching Netflix I googled 'best view points of LA' and found a great location a short uber away. I was only there for maybe twenty minutes before getting kicked out by the cops so they could close it up. Worth it though!
This is also printed and sits pride of place in my living room above the TV.
Goals for 2020.
I think my main goal is really keep on doing what I was doing in 2019. I was shooting more, working with new people, including some globally travelling models, I might even consider going abroad and shooting some models (There's one on Instagram I've just started following in Belgium who has a Macaw (he has a little hoodie and everything) although lets be honest, I just want to meet the parrot).
I also want to shoot more new faces, not necessarily new on the scene but people I have yet to meet such as dddomini who I'm working with in February, but there is a few people I shot this year I'd love to shoot again.
Shoot in California. I'm planning on going back to California in July, and after staying at my friends childhood home in Orange county and visiting San Clemente, I really want to shoot down there. It's lovely and just so super chill. Sand, surf, sun, palm trees... Now. To try find someone...
Shoot in a desert. As part of the trip to California, I also intend to go back to Vegas with a few friends including a couple of models. Might as well make use of it. Just no art nude on rocks. I hate that.
Shoot pole. This should happen. I'm chatting to a pole dancing instructor about it at the moment. Pole is cool, Like aerial I have so much respect for the strength and talent involved/
Shoot fire. I loved doing it in LA on a group meetup, spoken to a couple of fire friends of mine and they're game! Fire friends doesn't quite sound right... pyromaniacs perhaps!
Theres a few other models I've been speaking to I want to shoot again, also if any previous people I've worked with happen to be in the area I'm sure I'd love to work with them again!
Finish decorating! For about six months I've been working on my study.. I need to get that finished as I seem to be doing all my retouching on the sofa! Not the most productive that's for sure.