Specialist headshot photographer, food photographer and shiny things...
What does that mean?
In essence it means that we have extended our knowledge in these areas because of research, testing, education and exploration. We don't do what everyone else does the way everyone else does it... we look to provide a lot more bang for your buck as the old saying goes.
So why those things?
These are simple to identify as a specialism in our portfolio of possibilities, we have been doing them since day one, we understand lighting for this, have made the mistakes in the early days, know how to relax someone in front of the camera for what is probably the most intimate and in-your-face type of photography possible. So our skills come in the way we interact, the lighting patterns we use (both in and out of studio) the styles we can utilise within this genre and the understanding of what stands out and why.
We have spent probably hundreds of hours looking at different styles of headshot, seen what is required for a corporate, what you need for an actors portfolio, the differences that translate to a model rate-card and then those that are there for people in the people industry. All of them are different and whilst we can't go into detail here, when you identify what you need the shot for, the creation of the right sort of image for you becomes easier to denote.
A massive part of getting this right is the ability to interact, to make someone almost instantly comfortable with what you are doing and the proess behind it. Some people want to know that you will make them look slim? Well that happens with good lighting and (weirdly) good posing. No-one thinks that posing is a part of a headshot until they are in front of a camera and you have to get a natural but good lood from a person. Suddenly, posing is incredibly important and having the lighting right to make the best of that pose is crucial. If you light someone with a wide cheek from the wrong side, (its called broad lighting) you make them look fat (even if they are slim). If you light someone with heavily sculpted cheeks from the wrong side, they look skeletal!!! It's about appropriate, correct and well executed lighting if in studio and utilisation of good natural light if you are on location.
Here are a couple of examples...
This is one of our favourites because it's way more challenging than people grabbing a snap on their mobile phone realise. Again, we have researched this type of photography for literally hundreds of hours. Looking at photography that is used by the highest end restaurants and chains... through to what people post when they call themselves a food blogger... all of them are at different levels of expertise. So what is that magic formula for a photograph of food that makes it edible off the screen? Where do you start? How can a plate of chips be made to look enticing?
For a start, we'd like to bust the myth that all food photography is faked with plastc chips, pva glue and wax... this simply isn't true at the higher end! Are food shots edited, of course and will the food look exactly like the photograph, well, in our opinion, it should be so close that you couldn't tell that the dish in front of you could be the one that was in the photograph. This means you need a top notch chef on board with real plating skills.
Where do we photograph food... everything we do is on location and yes, some restaurants are incredibly busy. In those situations, we simply photography the food as it comes off the pass and before it lands in front of a client... it is possible, we have done it many times an the food doesn't suffer for the few seconds delay. The trick to being able to do that is damned good lighting that creates the right look instantly and without drama. Obviously this isn't our preferred method of food photography, we prefer to have a window of opportunity where dishes can be created specifically for the shoot with time to finesse and perfect the shot... to allow for maybe capturing the ambiance of the restaurant at the same time.
Being able to shoot some preparation photographs is also great to do, the final touches, the addition of a jus, those extra details that can be used in a marketing campaign to draw the clients in... it's all vital and par for the course in this genre of photography.
The last item in our specialisms, why shiny things, what's the allure?
For us, it's about the complexity, whenever you have something shiny, whether it's large or small, you have to consider the way the item is going to look with different lighting types, do you need a specular highlight (one of those pinpoint lights) or do you want a soft gradation of light? What's appropriate to the item being photographed? Every thing that we photograph that has a shiny surface has to be treated differently and in line with the end use in the forefront of our minds. If the images are to be lit then you don't want things that are too specular and pinpoint as the pin-points will draw the eye to just that bit. For us, this whole area of photography has grown from our food photography, many of the same issues arise from shooting wet (sauces, glazes etc) food.
So what are our main criteria, one is not having a reflection of the camera on the surface of the item, you will probably appreciate that this is impossible to engineer, it has to be there, it's just got to be edited out so it's not visible. Editing with shiny things is imperitive, if you don't clean the shiny things first, you will have finger prints visible, if you then don't edit effectively you will have fabric filaments visible... each thing creates it's own particular set of problems.
We aim to create images that are enticing, and sympathetic to the item being shot. For jewellery, this would have a luxurious feel, for an ice sculpture, it would need to show the watery feel, each thing is different, challenging and interesting. We are able to shoot and manipulate focus stacks (this is where you shoot through a macro lens and capture each tiny in focus bit of an item and then stitch all those images back together through some very clever software).
So what sort of things class as shiny? Bottles, (perfume, wind, whisky etc), jewellery, and then those little ornaments, glass items, silverwork (particularly difficult as silver has a glow to it) and the hardest of them all, pearls!!
As a photographer, we can of course point our cameras at anything and having an understanding of light and form, perspective and framing, will be able to shoot the item within the frame. We know how to photograph fashion, interiors, architecture, groups, exhibitions, cars, concerts and most other things. What we don't have the right equipment to photograph are sports, astronomical, landscapes or wildlife. Those things are a different type of expertise, yes we could get the relevant kit and learn it but it's probably not worth it to us.
The other areas that we believe need an expert are weddings, newborns families and boudoir. For those things, we'd recommend checking in with our sister company Studio Cwtch...
We hope this breakdown has been useful, see you soon.
The Bokeh Team!