Sunday, June 26, 2011

Rule of Thirds

Most photographers use a size of 18 X 12 to compose photographs. DSLR cameras mostly shoot for this format also, with a few exceptions. The basic rule of thirds indicates that the focal point of the photo should be one third in from the side edge, and one third in from the upper or lower edge of the photo. In the case of a human subject, the focal point of the photo is usually their leading eye. Ideally, this rule works very well for most photos, but it's not cast in stone.

The main focal points for a photo can be found in the image above. Draw a line from the upper corner to the lower diagonal corner to bisect the image. Now from each OPPOSITE corner, drop a line that meets the original line perpendiculy. These are the "ideal" natural focal points of an image. Strangely enough, they comply with the rule of thirds.

Isn't this photography stuff simple???

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Why not be NICE???

There are a lot of photographers, amateur, semi-professional, professional, good, fair, terrible, gifted, or any other description you can come up with. The arrival of digital photography opened the doors for a veritable flood of "photographers". Nowadays, anybody who can push a button at the same time as looking through a viewfinder or into an LCD screen can be a photographer. I welcome this, because I love photography. I remember the old days when I used to stumble around in a darkroom, knocking things over and reeling in the smell of the chemicals. Printing photos under red lights, like a character from an old Frankenstein movie, hoping that at least ONE of the photos on my roll of 36 would turn out half decently. From the crushing disappointment of finding 36 crap photos to the elation of finding three or four terrific pics on a roll, photography was a heady, roller coaster ride of all sorts of emotions. I loved it.

Then came the digital age. My trusty darkroom was consigned to the dark ages. Fixers, developers, enlargers, all were disposed of. My darkroom became a store room. My much loved Canon A1 was wrapped in a good soft cloth (read tea towel stolen from my wife), and placed into a bottom drawer where it still resides, hopefully not crusty, dusty, or rusty.

First item on my shopping list was a Fujifilm DSLR. 8 MILLION pixels of the latest technology. My old desktop was taken to a computer whizzkid who installed PhotoShop on it. A CF card and a card reader were purchased. I was ready to enter the digital age.

So off I went, hired a model, took some shots - lingerie if I remember correctly. I followed the digital trend and posted some of the pics on a networking site. Big mistake! It was my first experience of the "keyboard warrior"...

Now I welcome OBJECTIVE criticism as much as anybody else. It can be a very useful learning tool. But the barrage of insults, cheap comments, and abuse that I received shocked me. And to this day I'm sometimes shocked by this apparent lack of respect for a person's efforts over the internet.

I've adopted a different stance nowadays. I used to fight back, but fighting an online clique can be a dead end alley. Unless a person specifically asks for feedback or critique, I only say nice things about photos that I like. If I like a photo, I'll say WHY I like it. If I don't like a photo, I'll say absolutely nothing about it.

One mistake that I made in the early years was taking the comments of the nasty idiots personally. And I gave as good as I got. This only brought me down to their level. I don't do that anymore. Now I ignore them.

I found that being NICE was a good way to make friends on the net. Friends who will support me when I need it, and friends who will offer only genuine and helpful critique. Friends that you can actually meet in person and enjoy a pint of beer with. And learn from.

The lesson that I learned - the HARD way - was to be NICE.

It's so much easier and satisfying than causing grief, and in return receiving grief. And the negative people? I simply ignore them. Have nothing more to do with them...

So, why not be nice?

Monday, May 30, 2011

Couples Shoots.

If you're reading this you're most likely a couple who have expressed an interest in posing for one of my "couples" shoots. I thought it would be best to show some examples here so that, if you decide that you'd like to try it, you'll know exactly what you're letting yourselves in for...

My shoots are actually explicit, and you, the models, would be having real, actual sex during the shoot. These are not simulated, they are real...

Although my couples shoots are explicit, I try my best to shoot them as artistically as possible.

Typically, a shoot such as this one would take between 60 to 90 minutes to complete...

I only ever shoot with REAL couples, as I want to portray genuine passion and emotion...

It would be easier on me if I simply booked "porn stars" to shoot with, as they are well used to "performing" in front of others, but the fact is that they are merely "performing". I shoot to portray emotion, passion, love, and purity of a couple's relationship. Porn stars cannot bring these ingredients to my shoots, and therefore I prefer to shoot genuine couples who have not tried this style of shoot before.

I never use the model's real names, and I am VERY selective who sees my work. Discretion is therefore assured to the models, who remain anonymous. Similiarly, I expect full discretion from my models. As a photographer from a small town in Ireland, I prefer that this side of my photographic career is kept as low key as possible.

I fully appreciate that this style of photography is not to everybody's taste, and therefore will understand that many couples are unwilling to pose in this manner. If that is the case, I hope that I have not offended you by offering you this shoot. However, if you ARE interested in this project, I can tell you that the couple shown here (who have given permission to be shown as examples of this type of shoot) thoroughly enjoyed the experience, and are keen to do more shoots with me in this genre. The girl shown here is a semi professional "art nude" model who had never before posed for an explicit shoot, and still maintains her limits to most other photographers at an art nude, non explicit level. Even though this shoot has been published internationally, nobody has recognised her and her anonimity is assured. Her husband had never posed for a photoshoot prior to this.

I have done a great number of these shoots, and am delighted to say that ALL the models that took part in this project to date have been thrilled with the experience and are very happy with the results. They have ALL asked for (and been given) copies of the photographs, and many have had the photos printed into "bedside" books as memories of their passion. ALL of the couples involved have expressed a desire to work with me again, and have remarked on how the experience had been very positive for their love lives, enriching their confidence and strengthening their bonds as couples.

I hope that this example will answer most of your questions, but if you have any questions or queries that remain unanswered, please feel free to contact me and I will answer as best I can. Please note that this particular shoot was carried out in my studio in a "low key" style, but I also carry out couples shoots in hotels, in couples homes, and in many different styles.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Professional models V wannabe models...

Go to any photographic networking site, based in any country in the world, and you'll discover some quite remarkable similiarities. They are all inhabited by polar opposites, models trying for paid work or photographers attempting to persuade models to work for free. Its really quite simple after a while.

For today's lecture we will concentrate on a hybrid breed of female called "Models".

I have discovered that many of them have seven grannies, are adept at having their mobile phones stolen, or are tragically unlucky in a Darwinian sense. These are known as "wannabe" models. They WANT to be models but don't realise that modelling, done PROPERLY, is actually hard work.

Now don't get me wrong. There are professional models who actually work hard to justify their title, but they are sadly few and far between. I have taken to hiring these professional models at usually very fair rates of pay rather than risking premature dementia attempting to work with the "wannabe" type models.

There are certain factors that can, to the trained eye, indicate whether a model is a professional or a wannabe. Chief amongst these indicators is the number of references that a model can produce. Careful checking of these references can reveal that a model may have more than two grannies. I personally have been in contact with a girl whose claim to fame is that she had SEVEN grannies. And they all died. On the morning of a planned shoot with various photographers. Three of them died on mornings that I had organised shoots with this girl. But that was years ago, before I got sense and decided that the first no show would be the last no show.

I have had to develop a heart of stone since I took up photography.

Another good indicator of a models status as a professional or a wannabe is how often her mobile phone gets stolen. Professional models seem capable of hanging on to their cell phones - even in bars! Wannabe models are, unfortunately repeat victims of callous thugs with a public cell phone fetish. Strange that they can't hold onto their phones. Wannabe's are ALL capable of fluent text speak ("hi hun wer wil u be n how much wil u be payin me to get baps owt? i get 10,000 kwid per ower fer topliss"). How can they manage to learn this very strange language when they're constant victims of callous cell phone thieves?

Professional models tend to communicate with a photographer in English. Generally the Queen's English. Usually by email at first, and then by phone on the eve of the shoot and on the morning of the shoot.

So these days I prefer to deal with models who have a proven track record of actually managing to get in front of the lens, as there is a very high probability of them turning up!

There are a zillion and four wannabe's who look stunning, and I'm sure that Charlie, my camera, would love to take their photos. But unfortunately for Charlie, I'm his operator. Therefore I choose the model. And I really don't give a flying fuck how big the wannabe's "baps" are.

I have a strange preference for booking the professional with the smaller "rack", as a model friend of mine refers to that portion of the female anatomy. At least that way I actually manage to take some photographs!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Model Manners...

Tricky post this!

Well, I've had a few more experiences on the path through my photographic life. I thought I'd seen everything, but these beat Bannagher...

Model Anna (name changed), eighteen years old, reasonably good looking but gradually growing chubby. She wanted to be a "glamour model". Cute smile, about 5'9" tall, huge boobs, things were in place to make her into the aforementioned "glamour model".

First item on the agenda, no holds barred pep talk. I gave her MY opinion on her future as a model. First, a career as a fashion model...

The big model agencies survive by providing models to fashion houses to promote their new ranges of fashions. The idea is that the agencies "promote" their models as being out of the ordinary girls, who exude class, style and a certain "look". The look, despite numerous attempts to change it, including lip service to politically correct fads of the moment, has not changed in fifty years. The fashion houses, and therefore the model agencies, all want the anorexic, waif type of look. A tall girl, skinny, bog all boobs, with unhealthy, pale, translucent skin. These are the ones who have SOME chance of making it as a fashion / catwalk model. Forget the outcry about the politically incorrect "size zero" girl starving herself to death to try to achieve a dream career as the new Kate Moss. The real world is cruel and looking for victims. There is a high price to pay for recognition as a successful fashion model.

Anna was NEVER going to make it as a fashion model. Not if she lived to be a hundred and ten years old...

The glamour side of the business was her only realistic other hope. This invariably meant that the model was going to be portrayed as a "sex object". Desire, lust, sexuality, titillation, tease were the keywords here. I explained this to Anna. Did she want to be a glamour model?

"Oooh yes", she giggled. "Make me famous! I want to be famous!"

Ok, I said. We'll do a shoot, within her comfort zone, to her limits, and see if we can get it published.

She wanted to keep her top on, and I agreed. No problems from me there! A comfortable model is a happy model. Happy models take better photographs!

I sent Anna copies of the photos. She LOVED them.

I was asked to submit photos to a glamour web magazine. I thought of Anna. I asked her if she wanted me to send her photos in for possible publication. "Ooooh YES", she squealed. "Make me FAMOUS!"

I sent the photos that she approved to the magazine. The editor of the magazine contacted Anna. Yes, she was happy to be published. The editor asked her a few questions to write a supplementary Bio to accompany the pics. Anna gave him all the info he wanted.

Anna got published. As she wanted. As she agreed.

Two days later, Anna started whinging that she wasn't happy with the image that she portrayed. She wanted the photos pulled from the magazine. She texted me that she hadn't seen the photos that I sent to the magazine (Lie number one) and that she hadn't realised that the editor would write that she didn't have a boyfriend (lie number two - she TOLD him that she was looking for a fella), and that she hadn't given her permission to be published (Lie number three - I kept the text messages and chat records).

Luckily, the magazine was online, not printed. So the editor pulled the photos - embarrassment to the magazine. Embarrassment for me. I look like a twat here.

Unfortunately, I made a serious error. The agreement to publish was verbal. I foolishly trusted her.

So, if any photographers manage to read this blog, there are a few lessons to be learned.

I know for sure that I learned from this experience! GET THAT RELEASE SIGNED BEFORE EVEN TAKING THE FIRST PHOTO!!!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Irish food.

If you ask anybody on the planet which is the best food, they'll happily wax lyrical about the French, Italians, Greeks, Indians etc etc etc.
If somebody mentioned Irish or British food, you'd be inclined to picture them wearing a straitjacket, slobbering dementedly in a padded cell.

It is, after all, unthinkable that a sane person would ENJOY eating bland, stodgy, fatty slop!
But I think you'd be wrong...

Good, wholesome, fresh food, much of it organically produced, is my take on Irish food. Think about this. A veritable treat for visitors to the Emerald Isle is the local food. A full Irish breakfast, sausages, rashers of bacon, a couple of fried eggs, mushrooms, tomatoes, maybe a potato cake, toast with REAL butter, all washed down with a cup or two of Barry's tea, laced with milk and sugar. Just the thing to get you sorted before heading off for a morning's sheep shagging or hill walking on a grey, rainy day.

Stop for lunch in some secluded spot. A crumbed ham and red cheddar cheese sandwich on soft, fresh white bread with a nice crispy crust on it.

And a steaming bowl of Irish stew for dinner, nice lean chunks of mutton with the freshest vegetables that God ever grew, or perhaps a creamy fish pie, with prawns and cod and salmon smothered in cream, nestling snugly under a crust of creamed potato topped with melted cheese. Yes, I hear you shriek. But its FULL of calories. A heart attack on a plate!

Maybe so. But it all tastes bloody good. And the odd bit of hill walking and chasing sheep around the bog in the rain works off a calory or two...

And give me a nice pint of Guinness any day over a glass of poxy, pretentious red wine.

The frogs, eyeties and ass bandits could learn a thing or two about cuisine from us Paddies!

Saturday, October 3, 2009


Rules are laid down for the guidance of wise men and the obeyance of fools.

Any half decent photographer will be familiar with the "rules". But to become a good photographer one needs to be able to break the rules.

My new exhibition will be at a size of 12 X 16 inches rather than my usual 12 X 18 inches. This will make the photos more square, which will not be as pleasing to the eye, but I don't really give a toss. It will suit ME because I can buy four frames for the same price as three this way.

I'm shooting for two exhibitions and two books as well. They'll probably not sell, but I really don't care. I'm doing these things to share my visions. I've cancelled a third book, as it seems to be close to impossible to find models who are willing to push the boundaries to create something DIFFERENT. No point in dwelling on that! Book cancelled!

I'm going to try to put more grit into my work. Up to now I've been trying to make models look "pretty". I don't think women are pretty all the time. I'm going to try to uncover the more sinister side to women.

That should be an interesting project...

And it should break a few rules too!