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

 

Homeschooling and Wholesome Imagery

 

Young girl being homeschooled studying through technology at home
Young girl being homeschooled studying through technology at home

Homeschooling and Wholesome Imagery

I was honoured to meet a young girl who welcomed me into her home to shoot a day in her life at her school. She is homeschooled, a difficult decision for her parents but one that is paying off. I just photographed what I saw, no tidying, propping or styling, just the camera and one light followed her moves. In her bedroom at her desk she twirled around on the swivel chair. She used the laptop for research, scribbling notes and listening to music as she worked. In a quiet snug in the playroom she curled up on soft cushions to read a book. Occasionally her loyal dog joined her, only distracted for a moment to stroke his silky ears. Whenever she wanted to she headed outdoors to explore her natural environment, climbing trees and building dens. At the weekend she met a friend to explore the nature in the woods, again I tagged along capturing the friendship and trust between the young girls.

The structure of public school is not for everyone and the popularity of homeschooling is rising with studies showing that students who are homeschooled are scoring higher than public school students in standardised tests, they seem to be smarter and more mature earlier and become self directed learners as adults.

The educational, physical and emotional freedom means students are learning what they want when they want, they can pace themselves to learn when they are ready and live in a world unencumbered with peer pressure, adolescent trends and dangerous experimentation. They can learn in their outdoor environment, exploring and being inquisitive and adventurous. Of course, advances in technology together with the availability of resources over the internet make homeschooling easier and more effective today.

Reflecting on the shoot I learnt two things. First I had to scale down the production to limited equipment, using available lighting and one strobe enabled me to capture moments as they happened. Secondly I saw how being homeschooled can be good wholesome fun, promoting moral well-being, independence and a positive approach to learning.

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.

Croatia Coastal Journey.

Father holds his daughter as she steers the yacht
Father holds his daughter as she steers the yacht

The value of production can never be overlooked, a great example is from our shoot Croatia coastal journey.  

Months of communication with local producer, casting talent and hand picking a crew that were not only skilled sailors but competent and versatile to assist in image production too.

We chartered a yacht, a Grand Soleil 43 from NCP Yacht Charters in Sibenik, an hours drive from Split airport in Croatia. We were very impressed with this company, their communication was excellent and they are very welcoming. The marina was clean, efficient and well provisioned with super clean toilet/ shower facilities, supermarket and cafe/ bar.

For the first three days we took models onboard, a couple, a mum and young daughter, then twin 7 year old girls ( Papa came too ) We were sailing and shooting in different locations around the islands which meant picking up and dropping off at different locations in the Islands or on the mainland. We would be sailing from Sibenik on the mainland to Solta, Brac, Vis and Kornati National Park. I had the logistics finely tuned as sometimes the yacht hardly stopped, as we sailed by the harbour wall people leapt on or off the boat!  Also it was important to keep the boat fully provisioned for 8 people eating for 2 days and plenty of water, snacks, beer, wine and sun cream.

With so many crew everyone had their jobs. Production manager Anna styled models, took care of paperwork and fed them all. I directed and took the images, sometimes on the deck, sometimes from the dinghy propelled by assistants Greg or Jens. Whoever was left on the yacht controlled the lighting. Somehow, someone was always available to steer the yacht when it wasn’t the talent at the wheel.

We would usually anchor somewhere for lunch and  enjoy diving into the unbelievably clear blue sea to cool off. As captain I would look for an anchorage using the charts and work out distances and times, thus when we turned the yacht into the little bays we were always blown away at the first sight of the natural beauty of the location. Sometimes there was a cafe or restaurant which we either reached by dinghy or, my favourite thing to do, swim ashore!

When the shooting had finished it was just the crew left, time to really relax and recharge. We all enjoyed a sail to the Kornati National Park  Wow!, the bare rocks rise out of the ocean, a lack of vegetation give a moon surface appearance, it was as if we were discovering a new land.

Camping lifestyle in Spain

 

Our latest lifestyle photoshoot series revolved around a camping lifestyle in Spain.

Family camping trip in Spain
Family camping trip in Spain

Senior talent and a young family came together in a great location in southern Spain and a talented, fun, adaptable crew included a photo assistant and a stylist. Organising the photoshoot took six months of production with a local producer from Granada. Using a producer added increased production value to the imagery.

The two young boys and their Mum came with us from UK but the senior talent were booked through an agency in Granada. Using a producer helped with the language barrier and he organised locations and permits. A permit was needed to shoot half way up the mountain! Having the young family with us ensured a good relationship with the children and they got to know and trust everyone. Having two boys of similar age meant we could switch them around if one was not ‘camera ready’, for example, still in his pyjamas having been pulled from his bed at 6am! The Mediterranean hours took some adjusting for them. The late nights not being the  problem….

We shot a camping lifestyle in Spain in the Sierra Nevada amongst the snow-capped mountains that formed a background to the playful camping shots. The tranquility of the lake was perfect for the evening shoot with friends relaxing around the campfire.

As always light was the key to the images. Early starts and long evening shoots to capture the delicate light. Luckily we were able to sneak a much-needed siesta!

 

 

Teenage lifestyle

Teenage lifestyle

Teenagers can so often get the wrong kind of attention when most of them are just growing up and exploring their interests and hobbies. They are just finding out what they are capable of, be it immersing themselves in technology of some kind, spending time with friends or listening to music through headphones. A teenage lifestyle often happens behind the closed door of their bedroom.

I was lucky enough to be able capture moments of a teenage lifestyle through 15 year old teenager Beth. She opened her door and let my camera into her world of music, study, creativity and dogs! Beth has a wonderful relationship with her pet dog Simba who is a permanent resident in her room so I had to include him in this shoot. I captured the bond between them. In this image his body rests against hers and they are so close his whiskers are tickling her.

Family Lifestyle shoot, Tarifa, Spain

 

 

dad and two young boys explore rocks at beach in spain

We arrived late Monday for a few days of R&R before shoot begins on Friday. Travelling with Anna, Maria, Jack and Harry aged 5 and 6, the talent for the photoshoot.

Tuesday
Hired car, drove to Tarifa. Stopped in Fuengirola for haircut and coffee.
Great apartment, food shopping, walk along beach to Atlantic/Mediterranean point.

Wednesday
Walked to old town am. Postcards, lunch (menu del dia €11). Fantastic hot sun and blue sky.
Drove up mountain to see wind turbines close up, location scout for shoot later in week. Very bumpy ride and very windy.

Thursday
Road trip
Tarifa- secret beach – Casares to see John Graingers little house – Genalguacil to meet with Miguel to discuss photo workshops.

Friday
Jens arrived, assistant and model to join Maria, Jack and Harry for ‘family simple life’ shoot.
I like to use the evening or early morning light for my scenarios so the following days required early mornings to catch the sunrise or later as it sets.

Friday eve: Jens and boys at home playing chess, quiet moments crashing on sofa.

Saturday
Up early to get to ‘Secret Beach’, climbing, sitting on rocks, walking in sea, time with mum and dad, subtle tender moments with gentle lighting and atmospheric back light.

Evening light : car travel, boys in car using electronic devices, looking out window.
Plan was to shoot some more football on beach but the wind had picked up.. It is Tarifa.. So abandoned for picnic on the terrace.
Later managed to capture a great shot of ‘dad and son’ snuggled up in den with laptop. The light from the device being the only lighting used.

Sunday
Family lazy morning, in tousled bed, mum,dad,boys. Harry’s crossed legs while he uses the ipad makes it all so real and cuddly!
A drive up the mountain to the wind turbines and some exciting fun shots of Anna’s hair blowing madly about her face. Yes, she was cursing later!

Monday
We head home today but not before some great shots of kids in airport pulling their luggage and on plane in awe of the view through the window.

Travelling back from Spain with the kids, I grabbed my camera bag from the overhead locker and rushed off the plane. A women said to me, “Are you leaving your family?!” and my reply, “They are not my family, I just borrowed them!”