shakin' with the bluebottles

I had never heard The Bluebottles when Mic asked me to take photos for his new band. But that didn't matter: Mic had reference shots for me. Seeing as it was, apparently, an instrumental surf guitar band, the images we were working from were straight outta the sixties. Cheesy and over-the-top; just a bunch of good clean white boys having fun with guitars. (A side note on this particular image: in Googling around for info while writing this post, I came across what may be the only ever example of a drawing based on one of my photos. Awesome.)

We used colour and black and white because the old bands tended to use a lot of both, but because the reference shots were largely studio shots and we weren't in a studio, we had to accept that there would be some photoshopping necessary to get that flawless, smooth sixties look. (The photos here are the originals, though - I don't put any photoshopped work on this blog! Hence the unsightly white sheet in a lot of them.)

Getting the cheese to flow, so to speak, was pretty easy with these four - primarily because Rich and Jim have it in abundance, with or without a camera present. It made for a highly entertaining couple of hours, as well as some amazingly hilarious images.

Yeah, they were pretty great subjects. Even from these portraits it's clear which two like to pull faces. But evidently, the need for tomfoolery was merely encouragement for these two - encouragement to take it much further than anyone needed it to go. And so I leave you with a few of the unconventional gems of the day - photos that definitely couldn't (or shouldn't) be used for promotional purposes.


the many faces of holly

Caught off-guard.
Camera smile. 
Pretending not to pose.
Cracked it.




yellow fever

Taking flash photos of people late into the night appeals to me immensely. There are two main reasons for this: it's quite simple once you have the settings right, as you don't have to worry too much about lighting; and depending on where you are, late into the night people are often (usually) a little intoxicated, making for some interesting, if not technically perfect, images. Take this one, for example. One person isn't even in focus! But that's ok (or so I think, anyway), because there is enough character here to redeem it.

In the past, I have used the multi-colour flashes for colour photos on my plastic cameras, or a bright white flash for my high-contrast 35mm black and white images. I have always been reluctant to take colour 35mm photos using a flash, because the speedlight tends to wash people out, unless you are an expert with diffusers and bouncing techniques (which I am not). But then it came to me: put a coloured filter on the speedlight! And so we have these canary-tinted photos from early 2012.

It all started with Saskwatch. Liam worked really closely with me to achieve a pretty specific vision for the latest shoot we did (more on that another time), and one of the things we decided to pursue pretty heavily was coloured flashes. So I bought some filters and experimented to see what they would do. This shot probably won't be used for promotional purposes (I always get a lot of these, as you would know if you happen to read my blog even semi-regularly), but it is a wonderful picture of nine particularly unique personalities who somehow manage to work beautifully together.

The yellow flash does for colour what black and white does for everything: smooths bad complexions and gives ordinary scenes an element of the extraordinary. But it's not only people that benefit from the kiss of the golden light: inanimate objects take on a pretty fascinating look, too. These flowers would look stunning no matter how you shot them, but this hue turns the photo into a real curiosity, because we're seeing something very familiar in a way that we most probably haven't seen before.

All the other photos here are taken on a very straightforward colour film; there isn't a need for special film, because the flash does all the work. But I did try it out on slide film, which I thought was a bit of a waste at the time, but I needed to finish the roll and so I shot with the yellow flash. I'm so glad I did! Look at the gorgeous greens that come out as a contrast to the warm yellow. And look at that dress! Have you ever seen such a vibrant red?! Well, you probably have, but still - this is pretty phenomenal. An expensive endeavour, as slide film always is, but totally worth it in this case. (Probably much like Rhiannon's dress.)

So, ok, the yellow flash gives something special to the ordinary, or takes something lovely and makes it unusually lovely. But then there are those images that, aside from any camera adjustments or fancy film, are always going to be special. And by special, in this case, I mean marvellously absurd. There really isn't much to say about this that you can't tell by looking at Tom's eyes, and at Meagan's overall expression. Yellow flash or otherwise, this is one damn good photo. Which is always, always the aim.