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!
It's amazing, we take headshot photographs all the time, it's one of our major types of photography. However, when we look around, it's amazing how many people have headshots with major photographic flaws... now this may not stuff up how good you look, how approachable or intellectual, it may not determine that initial thought process that determines what type of person you are to the viewer... BUT, if you have a chance of improving that chance of making a great first impression, shouldn't you take it?!
So... check this out... here's a few things to look for in your own photographs that you use as your avatar in social media sites.
Here are a few examples of headshots we have photographed... and after that, a couple of tips of things you should look for in a photographer when wanting your headshots done professionally.
There are potentially four areas that most headshot photographers worth their huge fees will do for you...
Now I realise that some of these need image explanations so here goes...
This is number 1. Flattering lighting, in this case, a biiiiig softbox close to the subject... it smoothes out any wrinkles and creates a lovely soft edge to the shadows. This image is also narrow lit... that basically means that the side of the face nearest to the camera is in shadow... it sculpts the face and gives a really lovely catchlight in the eye when this is done properly. The opposing shot would be the second one... Broad lit with a harsh light at a point you don't want it... I had to search high and low to find something that sort of shows this point... the second shot is the closest I have to poor lighting. but you can see from that shot that the lighting is flatter on the side turned towards us... it makes his face look fatter as his cheek bleeds into his neck and the shadow side though darker is less prominent.
Number 2... The major difference between a forced smile and a natural smile. It's all about communication! I speak to my clients continuously, find out what makes them interested, thoughtful, happy, involved etc. The brief of what the shoot is for determines how I work with a client and that's all combined into how a client responds to me. In this profession, we have to read a subject quickly, connect and interact.
3... It's subtle this time... but the first photograph, whilst striking is a little off... if you look closely, you will see the eye nearest us isn't as sharp as the one further away so our gaze is drawn through the shot and out the other side... it feels a little uncomfortable. However the photograph of the gent shows us where the focus needs to be... and the closest eye is sharper.
Now for number 4... It took going back into a test archive shot to find something to show you here, I take care that this doesn't happen but you can see how very confused the first image looks... and it's purely because of this weird light behind her head and the very sharp etching on the glass... so after a cut out and added blur (ideally a re-shoot) the image is useable. I haven't shot an image with a confusing background for many many years and hence having to dig this out. If you see stuff like the first image on a photographers website, smile and move along... lol.
The last item, number 5... everything looks lovely, happy smile, nice pose but that background (on the full sized image) is very distracting... in the uncropped version, there is a fairly evident black pole cutting straight through her neck that just looks awful and does detract from the whole image. The second one though, a clean but busy background that her head stands out from. It's seeing this type of thing that makes so much difference.
There are other do's and don'ts but this post is long enough lol... look out for noses that have been lit from behind when someone tries to do sandwich lighting but does it badly!!! Your nose should never be highlighted be a light from behind...
Oh ok.. a quick example... 'cos I know I have a test shot with the wrong lighting somewhere...
So there you have it... I hope all this helps and that when we see YOU online in LinkedIn, on Facebook or through some other social media platform that your headshot is going to look amazing. If you want a chat about it all... well just book in for a consultation 🙂
This was the conundrum... create images for a company that deal in video... moving subjects but do it with a photograph that isn't a cinegram!!! So, thinking head on and I realised and then implemented a combination shot, one where the shutter speed and flash created a very static image of the main subject and then another slow shutter speed, no flash, high ISO to allow the subjects to blur when moving... merge the two images and have a photograph of a static subject with movement! Voila!
Stand back, don't crowd in on your subject, in fact, if you haven't had to zoom in a little with your phone, be it compact, mobile phone, bridge camera, in fact, ANY camera, then you are almost guaranteed to be too close and using too wide an angle lens. This creates distortion and means that the end result is just going to be a little bit err, rubbish!
How often have you thought, I never seem to get that meaningful moment, the point of everyone laughing... it's down to this bit, listening, listen to the cadence of what someone is saying in a chat with others... you will hear the build up and be poised, ready to get the real laugh at the end of a joke or the defining tears at the emotional point of a story.
The images that define an exhibition are simple to acquire when you have shot a lot of them. We work hard and time our shutter release to get the right shot... we don't just machine gun blast an event, with constant clicking and interfering with speakers... it's our aim to be as invisible as possible, quiet, stealthy and accurate.
Interested to know more about our event photography, get in touch!
We have a lot of people ask us about this, what cameras do you use, what's best... best lens... best make...
In reality, the best camera is the one you have with you at the time... the best lens is the one that's on your camera at that moment, the best make is absolutely irrelevant these days, almost any camera you buy for the money you can afford will get you great images within your limits.
If you give me your phone camera, I will likely take a better photograph with it than you would with my professional DSLR... the tools matter when you reach a certain level for sure, you don't see the best photographers with the lowest value kit for a reason, but the reason is that the best kit allows for ALL the image capacity to be explored. If you gave a good professional an average camera, you would still get incredible photographs, it's just knowing the tool and using it to it's best advantage.
As an analogy, if you put a formula one driver in a basic family saloon and asked them to drive around a racetrack, you would expect them to out-drive you on that same track in that same car. However, if you give them AND you the formula one car, the likelihood is that you would never even get out of the pits, let alone give them a run for their money!!!
This is the same with cameras... so the answer is, all cameras that can capture an image are the right ones to have... based on your experience and what you plan to capture, some will be better than others but essentially... it's the knowledge that takes the better photograph.
We often have people ask for the unedited images from a photoshoot.
Our answer is no. The reason for this is that we shoot in RAW. This is an uncompressed, very high density file but the image held within it is flat. This essentially means that the image is untuned. All the vital information is there but there has been no contrast applied, no bolstering of colour, the image is dense but in it's raw state, pretty unuseable. It would be like giving you a garden that has been left for 10 years, until it is sculpted and trimmed, the weeds removed and the borders defined, the garden will just look a mess.
We tune every image before it leaves us, we make sure there is a consistency of exposure, colour balance, contrast and saturation and then go on to refine the image by removing any specs of dust if that's appropriate or (as happened once) a fly that managed to invade a photograph... there are all manner of things that make an image that final item. If you think this is just something we do now, check this link... even editors in the early days did it with film images...