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.


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.

Aviation photography, creating engaging portraits for the aviation industry.

Student pilot standing with his light aircraft on tarmac in Barbados
Student pilot standing with his light aircraft on tarmac in Barbados

Aviation photography, creating engaging portraits for the aviation industry.

I want to build a portfolio of aviation photography to target future clients in the aviation industry. My thinking is to transfer my skills I already demonstrate in shooting luxury yachts for the marine industry, coupled with a wide repertoire of experiences shooting environmental portraiture. I can produce some stunning, forward thinking images, connecting people with their craft to ensure realism that make future clients sit up and take note.

Aerospace businesses needs to have believable aviation photography showing real people in real environments looking experienced, knowledgable but friendly to encourage their clients to trust and believe in them.

To put my claims to the test I met up with a young pilot in Barbados who is currently training for his licence. His knowledge, confidence, and energy  in this environment was remarkable, he will do well with a future of air craft ahead of him. I wanted to make the viewer feel his pride and positivity.

With his help it was quite straightforward, through the Light Aircraft Club, to gain access to a ramp and a small aircraft on the runway very early one morning as the sun came up. The only rule we had to follow was not to shoot towards the main terminal so a little time was taken to manoeuvre the aircraft into position, following this rule and making sure the light would be in the right place.

The fact that this young man really does fly the plane was an important element to capture, I wanted to show the connection and confidence he has with what he does e.g checking paperwork, safety checks. With a model this would be difficult to do as they would not be familiar with actions around the plane. I first asked him to lead me around the plane showing me what he would really do before he got in, how he gets in and demonstrating using headphones and flight maps etc. This gave me an overview of possible scenarios to shoot. Using my skills in directing people as to where to stand, how to stand, using props and body posture and communicating with the pilot I was able to get the shot.  More images from the collection here.

Business portraiture around London.

Businessman in the city casually engaged in business on the go.
Businessman in the city casually engaged in business on the go.

In the summer of 2015 I spent time in central London observing city workers conducting business in the streets and squares around their offices. Business men and women seemed to bring the office outside, standing under monuments or conducting meetings under the canopy of a shady tree on a park bench. It’s become an escalation from the coffee shop and temporary work spaces into the public spaces where we now find formal and informal business being carried out.

Business portraiture is breaking away from the suited businessperson cocooned in a stuffy office and becoming an on the go, action figure grabbing a few minutes in the day wherever they find themselves, moving forward to connect with colleagues or clinch the next deal.

Where we do business can now be visually hilarious and whimsical. The curious spaces that we now find ourselves conducting business stems from our technological driven world and that has given us a license to escape the ordinary and find extraordinary environments that we work. The oddity in today’s era has come about from being unconstrained from time and space, somewhat due to technology and some through the choice about how we want to live our lives.

With my observations as visual references I engaged a friend to replicated these images for some business portraiture around London.

Location scouting



Location scouting for corporate portrait
Location scouting is a very important part of the process in the pre production stage of commercial photography. The right location can make or break the final product. Once the client has decided on the setting or scenery required for their location the search begins.

Location scouting for this job took us around the city of Norwich. The client was focussed on her decisions so we looked for large, bright, modern, glass expanses as a backdrop for a sophisticated corporate portrait.

With any location scouting certain factors have to be taken into account.

It must be aesthetically suitable as a location and available at a time to fit in with the shooting schedule. The financial cost has to be taken into consideration, the time taken on the location scout and any rental costs. Also consider the availability of parking and facilities for client, crew or talent with health and safety in mind. The availability of electrical power, available light and weather conditions are a huge factor when selecting suitable locations . Finally and most importantly permission from and cooperation of location owner.

Through local knowledge and research we visited three locations with the client. The first was eliminated due to poor light and availability. The second was not sophisticated enough. That left Norfolk Tower, a bespoke office space with a contemporary finish. Here we found many boxes ticked, the client’s request met. There was ample parking, bathroom facilities and electrical power. It was an indoor shoot so no concerns regarding weather.
A phone call to the owner gained permission and availability of the location then all was set for shoot to go ahead.

Portrait shoot for Muntons




















Portrait shoot for Muntons, manufacturers and suppliers of grain malts to the world market.

The shoot began with a site visit to learn a bit about the company and a chat with Vanessa, their marketing manager to discuss the kind of style she was after for the portraits of the company’s Directors and Senior staff.

She showed us around the site and we were able to identify a few locations which would work well for both individual and group portraits. This allowed for final adjustments if bad weather prevailed.

On the day the sun shone so we were able to assemble the group of Directors outside, with the huge tanks of malt in the background. The company wanted fresh ,fun, images of businessmen looking relaxed and friendly. This was achieved by the postures and hand positions, breaking away from the more traditional ‘ lined up looking at camera’.

Similarly the individual portraits, shot in a meeting room using a plain white background, pulling back just enough with the camera so as not to be too tight a shot and relaxing the subjects with simple props to engage with, resulted in a loose friendly style. Strobe lighting was used as it gives a clean, crisp lighting scenario.

“Thank you for sending through the photos today. I am really pleased with them and I think you have captured everyone really well. I really enjoyed the day and being part of the process. It was great to see the professionals at work rather than me having to take a picture and hoping for the best!” Vanessa Fowler, Marketing manager Muntons Plc.

Portrait of Francis Guildea – The White Horse in Blakeney


Yesterday in the cold and rain of North Norfolk I photographed Francis Guildea manager of The White Horse in Blakeney for Tilston Phillips publishing

The photograph was to be a feature in their annual magazine, Best of Norfolk. Classic big, cloudy skies and wide open landscapes  are the classic features of a Norfolk scene. The traditional public house is another traditional scene and the two are often connected, a walk along the Norfolk coast followed by a pint and bite to eat in the pub. With this in mind, I located a classic location in Blakeney, where the muddy waters at low tide against the grey sky provided the perfect backdrop for Francis’ portrait.

Now for a pint…..

Behind the scenes business portrait for IOD Suffolk magazine

Dr. Andy Wood Chief Executive Adnams Brewery & Antony Howell Business Development Director Hethel Engineering Centre. For IOD Suffolk magazine.
Dr. Andy Wood Chief Executive Adnams Brewery & Antony Howell Business Development Director Hethel Engineering Centre. For IOD Suffolk magazine.

Dr. Andy Wood Chief Executive Adnams Brewery & Antony Howell Business Development Director Hethel Engineering Centre. For IOD Suffolk magazine.[/caption]

We recently photographed a business portrait for IOD Suffolk magazine featuring two high profile businessmen; Dr. Andy Wood Chief Executive Adnams Brewery & Antony Howell Business Development Director Hethel Engineering Centre. Commission by Jane Chittenden of Format Words
Dr. Andy Wood Chief Executive Adnams Brewery & Antony Howell Business Development Director Hethel Engineering Centre.

A behind the scenes video of the setup for the business corporate portrait created by Tom Martin Fast Forward Media.