Photographing the Cabinetmaker

Continuing the theme of photographing genuine craftspeople in their work environments I took the opportunity to visit Paul, a skilled craftsman, a Cabinetmaker,  working from his garden workshop in the small village of Thurne in the English County of Norfolk, UK.

gjn_0126-edit

It was a very frosty morning in December when I arrived at Paul’s historic home. The sun was shining in a clear blue sky but it was very chilly!  The visit had been planned but I hadn’t seen the space Paul works from, for all I knew it could be cluttered or untidy, cramped or dark or full of power tools. These situations can be tricky to photograph aesthetically.

gjn_0152We chatted over a warming cup of coffee before venturing around the back of the house into the workshop. I was in for a treat, as I stepped into the space the sunlight filtered through the window behind Paul’s uncluttered, tidy workbench. The ambience of the space was more than I could have wished for.

gjn_9993Positioning Paul between me and the light coming from the window ensured I got the soft, backlight I love to work with. As a skilled cabinetmaker Paul uses vintage hand tools in his craft. As he worked on the wood with these tools I captured moments as the particles of sawdust almost glittered as they floated into the air.

To avoid dark corners in some shots I used strobe light directed into them and kicked a little reflector behind the subject. I also tried to counterbalance the window light by experimenting with the added glow of an electric heater almost out of the frame.

For more small business, craftspeople images see here.

A Photo Tour in Andalucia

Next year we are offering Photo Tours in Andalucia, Southern Spain when we will be dipping our toes into the city of Seville, Spain’s sun dappled, fiesta loving, passionate land with the scent of orange blossom and the sounds of the flamenco guitar.  Also on the agenda is living like a local in Genalguacil, an Andalusian  mountain village seemingly sprinkled into the mountain and home to modern artists living and working alongside octogenarians who have lived here all their lives. Art works are displayed at every twist and turn of this stunning white village. Our tours will include a stay in Granada, with it’s medieval, moorish Albaicin area and the impressive Alhambra Palace. 

We travelled with Air Portugal from Miami to Malaga with a change in Lisbon. The flight out gave us 15 hours to explore a corner of Lisbon. Having never visited before we found it a pleasure, enjoying walking in the Jardims gardens, a coffee at one of the typical coffee kiosks and some satisfying warm Autumn sunshine. 

From Malaga we rented a car for a week to travel from place to place on our location scout. The first adventure was a drive into the mountains, an hours drive north from the coastal town of Estepona. The road winds up and down with spectacular views into the Genal valley, past olive groves, cork trees and sweet chestnuts. We met the occasional goat in the road who were not startled but merely peered at us as if to say ” I belong here not you” before hopping out of the way amongst the rocks.

A tourists takes photos of the scenic Genal valley, Andalucia, Spain
A tourists takes photos of the scenic Genal valley, Andalucia, Spain

In the village of Genalguacil we met Miguel, he is the Mayor of the village and a personal friend. Over a beer or 2 perched on rustic chairs outside the local Rural Hotel , where we were staying for the night – we casually discussed our plans to bring a group of photographers to his village. Miguel is very keen and proactive at bringing Artists into the village and offered ways to help including a studio for tutoring classes and an exhibition of final work to be printed in a brochure. The next morning we woke early to meet Salvadore, a friend of Miguel’s who was taking us to see some local chestnut harvesting. A great opportunity for Gary to get some authentic images of people / small business/ farming. 

After a typical late lunch with the locals consisting of  egg and meat soup, followed by tortilla we set out down the mountain for the city of Seville.

Almost 3 hours drive away Seville has been a favourite get away location for a while. Having always arrived by taxi we soon learnt how difficult it is to park a car! It took an hour to find a place, fortunately it wasn’t far from our Airbnb location. Once in Seville there is no need for a car. Everywhere is accessible by foot, the narrow winding streets have a surprise for you at every twist and turn with a cafe, plaza, decorative Spanish tiling, a church or monument. Photo opportunities abundant in the architecture, colour and lifestyle of this enchanting city. We particularly enjoy finding our way to the oldest tapas bar in town, El Rinconcillo established in 1670, not only for the great wine and tapas but also to people watch and shoot some street photography. 

Our 2 hour drive from Seville to Granada saw the scenery change again, expanses of dry arid desert land with layers of mountains as it’s backdrop. In the Spring the mountain peaks are snow capped and it possible to combine a day of sunny city exploring with a snowy Alps like hike. 

We chose to explore the Albaicin, the old Moorish quarter of the city late in the afternoon. With its medieval maze like cobbled streets to meander, climbing high in the town we got the perfect view over the terracotta rooftops. It is a neighbourhood where you can experience the atmosphere of its bars and terraces, and watch a red sunset over the Alhambra. whilst listening to the sounds of Flamenco coming from the caves.

Flamenco show in the caves of the Albaicin, Granada
Flamenco show in the caves of the Albaicin, Granada

With the curiosity to explore the coast between Granada and Malaga we spent our last night in Almuñécar a resort town on the beach. Not blessed with beauty by day we discovered a gem at night. At this time of year the town has few tourists, there are many beach front restaurants to chose from for dinner. On our to-do list was to sample some Espetas de Sardinas, freshly skewered and smoked in a wood fire laid in a boat on the sand. Carefully selecting a restaurant with tables almost on the sand we chose a table at the front, ordered our sardines and watched them being cooked. They were fresh and delicious and cost only €6. Sitting back with a good wine in a good glass, the sun had gone down, the night was warm, we toasted our successful treasure hunt.

Fresh sardines cooked on charcoal fire on beach, Almuñécar, Spain
Fresh sardines cooked on charcoal fire on beach, Almuñécar, Spain

The drive back to Malaga took us on the coast road through regenerated old fishing villages, some of which still retained charm with tastefully renovated fisherman’s huts, tidy promenades with typical pavement cafes and bars. 

In the city of Malaga where we have visited a number of times we always discover something new to us. The Cathedral, The Gibralfo castle, The Glass Museum, The Picasso Museum to name a few. This time we only had time to say hello to Picasso ( a statue of the artist sits in Plaza de la Merced) and sit with a coffee watching the people go by. Picasso was born in Malaga in 1881 in a house in this square and spent a part of his life here before leaving to study art in Madrid, Barcelona then Paris.

Now we have an itinerary for our photo tours in Andalucia but will be researching transport options using the train to travel between Seville and Granada. 

Summer Fun in the Low Country

Brother and sister exploring outdoors and climbing tree in the summer vacation
Brother and sister exploring outdoors and climbing tree in the summer vacation

This month we packed our bags and the cameras and took a road trip to South Carolina to photograph and video some summer fun.

Here we caught up with a great family who were enjoying their school vacation in the great outdoors. The beautiful natural environment with big trees and expanses of water are the ideal playground for adventurous, brave, energetic kids to explore and learn just by being themselves.

Summer fun would not be complete without friends, brothers and sisters to share it with. This family of four took us to their grandparents home where they love to be. A tree swing, a big grass area to run around and a wooden boat dock jutting over the river was the perfect location for our photography.

We took along some props for the kids to have fun with. Some bubbles, water bombs and juicy watermelon were introduced intermittently. By doing this the kids response was real. Laughter, expressions and spontaneity where there to capture in the camera.

The really wonderful thing about these kids is their desire to be outdoors. They are not afraid to run barefoot, get dirty feet, swim in the lake and climb trees.

During a location scout we found a friendly neighbour who had a fallen tree in her backyard. It stretched across a muddy dyke where pieces of wood had been placed making precarious bridges. Having made sure it was safe ( Gary’s excuse for crossing the bridges and climbing on the tree trunk) we brought the kids to the tree and let them loose. Their pleasure at discovering a new adventure was exciting. Off came the flip flops and bare footed they explored their capabilities.

Back at the dock they amazed us once again by fearlessly jumping into the river, climbing higher as they gained confidence. It was refreshing to watch their support and encouragement of each other as their held hands and leapt to the count of three.

Of course Mum was at hand for these moments and no one was pressured out of their comfort zone.

Due to the great light in the early morning we were able to use minimal equipment. For stills a Canon 5dmk3 with a bit of handheld strobe light to kick light into shadows and for film a Canon 1dc shooting 4K and a hand held reflector.

Regardless of how much attention we paid to photographic equipment, propping and styling the best ingredient for this shoot was undoubtedly the kids themselves.

See a link here to more images.

Our visual story of luxury travel

Women enjoys quality time having breakfast morning light on balcony.
Women enjoys quality time having breakfast morning light on balcony.

True luxury travel is a great experience but t is not necessarily defined by the thread count or star rating.

Today every bodies idea of a luxury vacation is different. For some people it will always include comfort and high standards of accommodation, food and service. For others it’s getting away from it all in a cosy, hideaway cabin or starting the day with the perfect cappuccino in a local cafe.

We are working on a project to show luxury travel in pictures. Our first scenario describes the high end resort hotel experience. A sophisticated woman enjoying the luxurious amenities and services in the resort. To complete this story we also photographed her at the start of her travel boarding a private plane and again gazing out of the window.

For this photo production to be successful we were organised and prepared.

A genuine location and delicate styling were important to capture that sumptuous realism of a luxury experience. It was not to be too lavish. The audience should believe this experience could be within their reach. For this shoot the location was in a luxury resort where we had all the amenities on hand. A scout the day before enabled us to pinpoint exact locations for each shot and secured towels and covers for the sun loungers. Styling was soft and natural, using quality products both model’s own and from our wardrobe supplies.

We started outside early in the morning for two reasons, first to capture the beautiful soft light of the morning sunrise and second to avoid too much people traffic. We moved indoors to a hotel suite – space was important for a wider shot and also room for crew to set up equipment. The images capture the woman with an air of freedom and nature, engaging with the experience and building happy memories. 

Ask how we can dazzle your clients with a teaser sizzle reel for social media and advertising requirements. We will be happy to help you, say hello@garyjohnnorman.com

 

Stock photography and how we make it work

Stock photography and how we make it work
Woman in silk dress in the sea, used as book cover.

Developing concepts and ideas for a stock shoot pays off when you see the published work.

For us stock photography is producing and creating a curated collection of innovative still images and motion clips which are fresh, dynamic, compelling unbranded and released. The content is distributed by our agents to fulfil the needs of creatives who are looking for immediate images. This post explains a bit about stock photography and how we make it work.

OK, so we know what stock photography is but how is the content created, what is in demand, where do you shoot, who do you photograph and when do the photos get selected by licensed stock agencies?

Also stock video clips are making a huge impact on the market these days. Look closely at TV advertisements, how many can you spot which are mainly a bunch of video clips strung together as opposed to a full production? Thus we shoot video clips too.

The journey of a still or motion clip is basically the same from ideas to production to revenue in the bank and this is how we do it.

  1. Research. We research topics, keep up to date with latest trends, seek and meet interesting people (old, young, in between, active, individuality) seek advice on photo requirements from creative advisers and take note of interesting and suitable locations. It’s important to think of a concept for the shoot beforehand then build the storyboard around that.
  2. Planning. Sometimes a shoot is planned in fine detail with a production plan, models, crew, travel and budgeting but sometimes it is a walk on the beach with the camera, yet even this simple pastime has been given some thought, for example, the time of day, the location, what to wear and whether we need props.
  3. Production. Getting the right shot takes many, many captures and much patience from all involved. The lighting, camera exposures, props and talent adjusted and tweaked. Then the talent, be it a friend, relative, new talent starting out or a pro has to sign a model release…otherwise the pictures will be worthless. This needs to be agreed beforehand. Even dogs, cats, homes, offices, boats require a property release.
  4. Editing. Back in the office the photos are edited with a fine tooth comb leaving the best to be distributed to the agency for their selection.
  5. Key wording. Generally about half of the edit will be selected, these then get cleaned up in photoshop, removing logos and a little colour adjustment, uploaded to the stock agency portal where the metadata and description is completed using those conceptual keywords and phrases, these have to be good to get the images found, selected and sold.
  6. Selling. Images are now live and ‘for sale’
  7. Revenue. It could be 3 months before we see any revenue..it could be as little as a dollar or enough to book a plane ticket to a nice location for the next production.

That is stock photography and how we make it work for us.

Companies are asking us to produce in house libraries of content for their social media and advertising requirements. If this interests you contact us with your needs, we will be happy to help you. hello@garyjohnnorman.com