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.

Elegant style in photography, how to capture it

Luxury travel vacations
Elegant woman on luxury yachting vacation

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!

Hello Croatia

Man standing on bow of yacht with arms outstretched.
Man standing on bow of yacht with arms outstretched.

It’s the summer and we are saying ‘Hello Croatia” as we travel around the islands and explore the salty seas by boat .

We will be photographing lifestyle for leisure, financial and tourism around the enchanting sun drenched islands. On board will be photographer and captain, that’s me. Crew to include Anna the wife, stylist and cook. Jens, male talent, assistant and deck hand. Derek and Greg assistant trainee captains. We will picking up various talent along the way to help us create fresh new engaging imagery to engage your customers.

This popular image happened by chance. It was early morning, I mean early, not even all the crew were out of bed. The light was beautiful. This is the perfect conditions time for shooting using gentle natural light. Assisted by Jens my assistant we untied and manoeuvred the yacht out of the harbour. The light wind was perfect so Jens began to hoist the sails. At that moment I saw the shot, grabbed my camera and started clicking away, directing Jens into various positions and postures. A series of images in this series have been very popular with clients in the financial industry.

The image suggests a vitality and well being of the person, who embraces a new day with open arms ready to take on new challenges.


Dubai journal

Dubai journal

It’s been grey skies, rain and more rain in the UK over the last few weeks, an unwelcome challenge for photographers.
But this week work is going to be all about bright light, sun, clear blue skies and creating images for a new luxury hotel in Dubai.
It’s the fifth time I’ve done business in the United Arab Emirates and Abu Dhabi in a year and I’m thrilled to be going again. Dubai is a forward thinking place and you are never sure who you are going to meet.

On one occasion I picked up work on the flight home – my next client was sitting next to me on the plane!
Then another time I asked to share a power source with a guy at the airport who just happened to be the award-winning New York Times journalist, Matthew Rosenberg on his way home from Afghanistan.

But this time my trip is going to be a little different. After shooting some lifestyle images for a luxury hotel chain I’m staying on for a few days to see life away from the UAE tourist bustle. The idea follows my trip to southern India when I rediscovered the joy of photographing local people.

Getty Images took 37 photographs from that trip, something of a bonus, so it has inspired me to do similar shoots wherever I am travelling in the future.
I’m only going to have a short time in UAE so integrating quickly is key – that’s where social media is so great – I’ve already talked to my hosts and have ideas in mind.

And, as always I am travelling light with a couple of cameras and maybe two or three lenses. It’s an exciting project and I look forward to sharing with you what I find when I return.




Kerala fishermen

Kerala fishermen

It is mid-January and by now my editor at Getty Images – the world’s pioneering digital media image experts – will be shifting though what I think/hope are a very different set of pictures.

The reason being a winter break in Kerala – the amazing Indian state known as God’s Own Country- which took me on a photographic journey that has completely invigorated my work.

Southern India has helped me rediscover how to play with the camera and the joy of making pictures that launched my professional career 20 years ago.

I’m really lucky, photography has let me travel the world, work in beautiful places, with beautiful people and luxury lifestyles for some great clients too.

But this trip to southern India was something different – whether it was the warmth, the place or the people it showed me that whatever creative field you work in you never ever stop learning your craft.

Get in with the locals

I was getting up really early in the morning and going to fishing villages, just snapping away like the good old days and having so much fun. This is when I captures these local fishermen of Kerala.

We’d be walking down the beach and I would find myself using my wife’s 8 megapixel point and shoot and the pictures were great.

We travelled third class on the train or on the local bus and the people were so delightful and inquisitive it made me look at things differently.

Of course I did some research before I went out there but I found myself using some really simple lighting techniques – and it made me realise that sometimes the simplest things are so obvious that you don’t always do them.

Also it’s often these simple things that deliver the very best results.

When you try hard sometimes things don’t work but it’s when you don’t think you are trying hard that you get the best pictures.

Returning home it’s made me relook at a lot of my work and I’ve realised that although I’ve shot for clients in the USA, Europe, Dubai I don’t have many pictures myself of these places – so for the future that’s going to change.

But it’s changed the way I work here too – my first job back here was for series of images depicting a carer in her work with seniors and everything I’d learnt from Kerala had stayed with me so I created completely differently.

A change is supposed to be as good as a rest but it’s taught me to take better images and shown that even when you are a seasoned professional, learning never ends.

Later this month I’m also looking forward to giving a series of talks in the UK about Environmental Portraiture and Lifestyle, and Pictures and Search Engine Optimisation before heading out to the sun again for a hotel client in Dubai.



Gary interview by Mewo


Lesson from a Sailor

An interview with Mewo, a photographer booking and management platform and each week they write about some great talent in photography industry. Find more about Mewo:

An experienced problem solver and image creator. I try to capture the real emotions of people, this is how Gary describes himself when asked about his work. The photography industry is changing and I see that a realistic style of photography is in demand by clients. He continues. New technologies have changed our perception of photography. It has become more transparent and available to everybody. Nowadays everyone can be a photographer  services like Instagram allows us easily to capture, manipulate and showcase photos to millions of people. Everybody can be a journalist and share their photos on blogs. However, I do not see this as a bad thing  I use Instagram myself, and see that blogging is a great way to promote your work. For example, if somebody likes the work they will either copy it or they hire me. I believe that photographers do not have to be afraid of these services. Photography is not only taking photos, it is also about problem solving and this is where the experience comes in.

Personally I like to search for a balance between or perhaps a meeting point for humanity and nature. Looking to capture a human breath where it seems nature’s forces have united to create that split instant in time. Creating a glimpse of something beyond ordinary life that forms a transcendent moment, shying away from contentment but bordering on subtle excitement. Capturing such a moments is extremely hard and it takes a lot of preparation. However, so far I have been lucky.

One of my recent photo-shoots I had to organize models myself and all that on a extremely tight schedule and budget. To be precise, it was a photo-shoot of a family on a yacht in a location in the Caribbean. As the client did not have much budget, they did not come to the photo session themselves I had to organize everything. As the schedule was very challenging I did not have time to check out how the model family would be on a yacht. When we arrived on the location, it turned out that the woman for the photo shoot got seasick. It could’ve gone terribly wrong, however as she was a real professional she did what was expected of her. I remember that one moment she was vomiting (or being sick) and in the next she smiled and said: ok, lets take photos. It is always great to have professionals around you.

I am fascinated by people and love the diversity of our society. For example, gay lifestyle imagery is becoming more important in advertising. This photography niche is growing rapidly and I find it interesting how heterosexual models have to learn how act in these photo-sessions. This also is a challenge for photographer, because as I said in the beginning  photography is not only about taking photos but it is also about directing people says Gary.

Image Source best-seller by Gary John Norman

Image Source best-seller by Gary John Norman

John O’Reilly writes about Image Source best-seller by Gary John Norman . The photo was shot in Key Biscayne, Florida as part of a lifestyle shoot using senior models to explore the way they use time and gain fulfilment by taking themselves off for a journey on the water. Read John’s below.

Travel imagery offers a variety of advertising metaphors. This month’s Best-Selling photo on Image Source by Gary John Norman finds stillness in the rush

Travel is one part geography and one part psychology, it’s why imagery is so useful in advertising, tapping into our strangely deep expectations of what Travel can deliver. In pre-modern times there was the pilgrimage, Travel as religious journey to the Holy Land or shrines, pilgrims seeking forgiveness, repentance, a change in their lives. In the 18th Century there was the Grand Tour, the upper classes travelling to cities such as Venice, on an educational, cultural pilgrimage. And while contemporary Travel may actually be about Escape, a weekend break/stag or hen weekend/ chilling by the beach we still mentally file Travel and its imagery under Experience and Discovery.

So this month’s Image Source best-seller by Gary John Norman potentially ticks off a range of general ideas associated with travel, but Norman’s photo delivers some very specific visual cues for advertisers. Such as: Touch, as the hand glides over the surface of the water: or Flow in the blur of the water; and most of all Balance which really focuses the eye in this image.

We can now add geometry to the list of things Travel ticks off. Norman’s shot and crop provides a perfect symmetry, two triangles divide the image diagonally, either side of the arm bisecting the photo, the viewer drawn to identifying with the woman in the boat, leaning over. The foreground is all movement in the blurring of the water, rushing towards us, the background is the horizon the straight lines of the boat and arm. There’s order and balance in this vision of movement. It’s why this would be a highly effective Business or Financial Services image pitching stability. Or the business person or organisation being in-the-zone the calm in the chaos, in the moment. Equally it could work in the technology sector with metaphors around touch and flow.

Look up any quotation site and there’s a hugely rich set of reflections around the meaning, purpose and value of travel. Our idea, our vision of Travel has long survived the often grim reality of it, not least because no matter how unglamorous modern travel is, it still gives us a useful and productive sense of dislocation, of leaving something of ourselves behind. It’s why my favourite Travel insight comes from Canadian author Douglas Coupland’s novel Player One, where he mashes together the modern and the old in an ironic and true observation on contemporary travel, a plane trip exposes you to situations and landscapes unthinkable until recent history, moments of magnificence and banality that dissolve what few itty-bitty molecules of individuality you possess. After a plane trip, you need to rebuild your ego, to shore up your sense of being unique. That’s why religions target airports to find new recruits. I might just rediscover my balance with a quick peek at Gary John Norman’s photo.

By John O’Reilly link here.

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.

Four days in Spain






We flew London to Barcelona, leaving cold, wet UK and arriving to cool late afternoon sun that warmed our faces. Four days in Spain started in Barcelona after which we were location scouting the tree houses in Sierra del Montseny, 84 km (52 miles) from Barcelona,

To get to our hotel the plan was to use the Train and Metro system but we discovered the  airport bus cost €5.90. It took us to centre of the city . This proved a wise choice as we later discovered there is not much room on trains for luggage, which we had plenty of due to the photographic equipment.

A taxi took us from Plaza Espanya to our hotel for the night for €8.00.

My usual luck was still in abundance as having lost our booking the hotel upgraded us to the penthouse suite! This included a kitchenette and balcony. Well worth paying for if you want space and fresh air. The hotel was in a super area, around the corner from Las Ramblas, a short walk to the Mercado and the port, plus the Metro on the doorstep. Highly recommended.

Wednesday 29th

Temperatures warmed up so we enjoyed a stroll along Las Ramblas. We grabbed some breakfast and headed to the market.  I planned to photograph Anna shopping amidst the moving crowds. Unfortunately this was interrupted by the appearance of security. Tapping the tripod and the word ‘no’ was enough for me to understand using a camera with tripod was forbidden. My idea was to shoot using a long shutter speed, keeping Anna in focus but blurring background, thus stability of tripod was essential. With plan A shot to pieces we moved into the street to try the same thing. This time we did not get in trouble but found a ‘crowd’ slow moving and avoiding us! So tricky to get the effect I was after.

Location scouting

After lunch it was time to pick up a hire car, load up and head into the mountains for a couple of nights in a treehouse!
(Fantastic place to escape from the world, very clean, good food and friendly helpful staff. Very little English spoken which pleased Anna as she then HAD to practice her Spanish! )

Only 1 hour 20 mins drive north and inland from Barcelona but we watched in horror as the temperature gauge in the car plummeted from 23 degrees to 5 at the lowest!!
At the ‘cabanas’ it read 7.5, however we soon cosied up with the gas stove on. There was no electric or water in the tree house, everthing was organic and kind to the world. even the toilet was a bucket with a lid and a pot of sawdust. Use your imagination here! We spent the evening in the farmhouse with wonderful home cooked food and wifi!

Thursday 30th

Breakfast was preordered. Coffee, juice, breads and croissants were delivered to our cabana in a basket. It was tied to a rope which you hoist up then enjoy on the veranda or in bed. Looking out over the tree tops, in our case. We really chilled out today then took a hike around the mountain discovering sun and warmth on the south side sheltered from the breeze.

On Friday 31st we returned the hire car back in Barcelona. As we got closer the temperature rose dramatically. A very surreal experience. After four days in Spain we returned to London Gatwick on 4.55pm flight.