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.
Classic postures coupled with clean, simple styling are the ingredients for an elegant style in photography.
Sprinkle these in to alluring locations, atmospheric lighting and the results are exceptional pictures.
When shooting in a luxury location or with a luxury product we aim to get the balance between high end and affordability to encompass various travel and leisure markets.
First, consideration is given to choice of model. Long elegant arms limbs and good posture, someone who just looks elegant in a comfortable way is ideal. Secondly, models are often asked to bring their own wardrobe. If you know your talent from previous shoots then you will have an idea of the styles and colours of pieces in their wardrobe and may be able to use some elegant pieces from their selection. However, we never totally rely on this. We will include one or two luxury items from our own collection or purchased especially for the shoot. Depending on the budget hair and makeup stylists may be onset or talent comes makeup ready. In our experience, for shooting lifestyle a subtle, natural look is perfect which most models can achieve themselves.
Finally, the scene has been set and the model is in place, stylist is happy with wardrobe, accessories, hair and makeup. Now the skill happens through the experience, knowledge and eyes of the photographer using the light at the beginning or end of the day to breath life into the images.
In these two images wardrobe was quite simple but with an elegant feel and subtle tonal colouring, layering and accessories were a key element in the first shot which has proved to be a popular image and one of our highest sellers with Getty Images. The second image has a carefree feeling to it with the woman wearing just a simple cotton dress. Using natural fibres for wardrobe choices is another trick for this type of image, the way it feels, looks and flows is more relevant than you would imagine and the model feels comfortable too!
The creative process I use today is the same as when I began studying photography many years ago. Poking around my parents loft I found an image created at university in 1987. I graduated 25 years ago with distinction and this is one image from a series, the creative process I use today is the same.
Start with what you know and love
This was my first college project. I remember building and painting the lightbox for the subject, in this case the gutted fish. Lowestoft, my home town is traditionally a fishing town. All my family were fishermen and wives – hence the fish theme. Blue is my favourite colour and light is what I play with all the time in my image making.
Today I work with the same creative process. I start with an idea I am confident, passionate and/or knowledgable about. For me this is boats and water. I build the scene around it. People, props and location. Working outside requires an element of timing in order to get the best light. Light is the final part of the process, be it natural light or artificial.
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.
The first beginners guide to digital photography workshop was held on the 12th January it was a great event and we received an excellent testimonial. ‘I would recommend photography training by Gary Norman. He is a dynamic trainer with an engaging style and a massive amount of knowledge, that he communicates in a way that is easy to understand.’
More workshops are planned so keep an eye on the website here.
After shooting two primary school productions I have decided to turn my attention to High school with the emphases on technology as a theme for the production.
Link to production notes here
Link to previous primary school productions here