Apart from the odd hat (or five) the rest of my money is spent on making art. Not surprisingly a big chunk of that is on photography equipment and the various things that help me to make the crazy images I do.
I often get asked what gear I use or which camera is good for starting out in the world of photography. For this reason, I decided to become a featured creator on Kit.com where I have curated some lists of items that I couldn't live without.
So if you're interested in the kind of stuff I have in my office or the weird photography books I love to read most you can check them out here...
If you missed my last post on Instagram I was showing just how much detail there was in my latest 150mp image 'The Rooftop'. The problem with social media is it can be tricky to show the world your large scale art through one postage stamp sized photo. (And you can't even zoom in!)
So I thought I'd pick out some of the details and share them here so you don't have to strain your eyes so much. I'm kind like that. I'm not going to go as far as to tell you what they all mean but the fact you are reading this blog means you're intelligent and probably have your own interpretations already.
Instead I thought I'd talk more generally about my work and how I'm a sucker for a detail. Those little extras which you wasn't expecting or didn't experience first time round. They always seem to enhance things, add additional depth or make you feel that more care & attention has gone into it than most.
This isn't just related to the art world. Details improve every walk of life from the fancy lining no one ever sees inside your blazer jacket to the way that song mentions an obscure movie reference from your favourite film. Those little extras in life are always an improvement and welcome addition.
In my work I incorporate props, locations and universal symbols to help explain the story and encourage the viewers imagination to soar. There is something magical about discovering a detail. Its almost like sharing a private joke with the creator and who doesn't love a private joke!
For me these ingredients are crucial tools in being able to tell the stories I want to in my work. In many ways a good image is like baking a cake. You wanna get the right balance of complimentary components mixed together to produce something which works on all levels.
I'm sure we've all eaten a cake which was lacking any real flavour or had too much of one ingredient and was hard to digest.
I think what I'm trying to say is don't feed people badly baked cakes. Think about every ingredient that you are going to add and most importantly try not to give anyone food poisoning...
Here's a big clue to the theme of my next shoot...
I'm sorry to disappoint you but the giant shoes are also a prop and not a new fashion accessory. (Although I think a lot of you who know me probably wouldn't flinch if you saw me wearing a pair!)
I haven't written much about my process leading up to a big shoot so I thought I'd share a few lines about what/why I do what I do.
The picture above was taken a few days ago at my buddies studio where he kindly let me paint a HUGE canvas with red stripes. Just a standard day in the office really! The paint went down well and I was pleasantly surprised with my ability to create straight lines as I'm usually terrible at those things. One unforeseen outcome was the fact it took 6 hours to paint and not my naive prediction of 2!
For me, these strange events are standard practise leading up to a shoot and I think a lot of people might be surprised at how many areas of the final image I am physically involved in.
In a nutshell I am involved in EVERY aspect!
Yes I have to admit I am a control freak have trouble letting go of things but I actually enjoy every part of the shoot from prop making to set building to location scouting etc. At times it can be difficult to articulate to others what I want and although I have a small team I trust explicitly for some roles I much prefer doing things myself. It can actually be quicker for me to do it than try and find someone who is both able and trustworthy to perform my strange requests.
I promise you I am not some tyrannical ringmaster! I am all for getting the right people in for the right job. I always hire stylists and make up artists as there are some things which are beyond my skill set. You might have also noticed that I don't feature in my own work as I know there are lots of wonderful actors/actresses who can do a MUCH better job. In addition I will only resort to making props if there is no other way of acquiring one. I won't spend a whole week making something which I can buy for a fraction of the cost. I'm not quite that tight-fisted!
I do appreciate there are times when it is better/faster to outsource. There are many obvious benefits to working in a team but I want to share with you why I think doing more than just operating the shutter on the camera and throwing up a few lights is highly benifitial.
What I have found over the years is how much these none photography roles have enhanced and inspired my work on so many levels. Even painting lines on a canvas gives you time to submerge yourself into the subject matter you are exploring. On a more practical note that visit to the costume hire store (which you may normally delegate out to a stylist) can take your work down a totally different path. After all, if you never step foot in the shop how will you ever find out about all those crazy unrelated props they have. Another example is that time you start building something in the studio and while you're at the hardware store getting supplies you notice some random plumbing part which inspires you to do some crazy sci-fi shoot next.
Having a good understanding of every part of the shoot is really important for me and has always added extra dimensions to what I am working on. For this reason the way I work will always be more hands on than most. I do encourage you to try some roles outside of your comfort zone as being able to see all sides of a shoot can be great for avoiding potential issues further down the line and a good place to find inspiration where you least expect it.
Who'd have thought that chance discovery of a soil pipe at the hardware store could be so rewarding...
Just wanted to share a little BTS of something I'm working on and briefly talk about the concept of luck.
For those that saw the above pic on social media will appreciate the task of trying to squeeze a 60MP panoramic into a square crop, it kills me every time!
I hope you enjoy this version which doesn't require a magnifying glass to look at it...
In life I try to keep an open mind about most things and that includes the concept of luck/fate.
On the day in question I was scouting for a location for something else and just happened to come across this cool spot.
I think most of you would agree my find was a bit of good luck. But what you haven't heard about is the 20 or so trips I made to similar places which have resulted in absolutely nothing.
Now I'm not about to write everything off in life and say it can all be explained with basic mathematics but I'm sure you can agree that purely from a numbers perspective the more times you do something (like randomly looking for a location) the better chance you'll have the desired outcome you want.
Personally I apply the numbers game to most things in life. It's a cliche but hard work always pays off. Or put another way: "Trying something many many MANY times increases the chances!"
So take that obvious bit of advice as you will but it's surprising how much of your life you can apply it to.
Keep an open mind and make sure the numbers are always in your favour...
***This advice probably doesn't apply to buying lottery tickets so please don't remortgage your house. Saying that if you do win money on the lottery this week (after reading my lucky blog post) you owe me half! 60MP Version here!
Honoured to be interviewed by art historian & curator Rosa Berland for her blog.
Rosa started the feature with this wonderful quote:
"We have art in order not to die of the truth." Friedrich Nietzsche
Which got me thinking about other great quotes which help describe this thing we call art.
My personal favourite art quote is: "Art is the concealment of effort." Which was reportedly said by Charlie Chaplin. This gives me great comfort when I'm working so hard behind the scenes and makes me feel less bad about not updating this blog as often as I could!!
Do you have any cool art related quotes you like? Drop me a line, I'd love to hear them!
You can find the full feature here. Even if you're sick of my ramblings it's still well worth checking out some of the other cool artists she has interviewed...
Check out the new lapel pin badges which I had made to celebrate 10 years in the photography game.
In my mind: Skulls + Hats + Lightening Bolts = Awesome.
It's pretty much what you'd see if you could tune into my cluttered mind...
I really wanted to mark the occasion in some way and also wanted to show my appreciation to all the people who I feel have helped me over the years.
The badges work EXACTLY the same as Blue Peter badges & give you free entrance into most theme parks, castles and zoos.
For those who receive a badge and decide to visit their favourite zoo/castle; please make sure you take some money along with you.
You know, just in case they didn't get the memo about free entry...