Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Guffogg's Guest - Malefica

Welcome to 'Guffogg's Guest', formally known as 'Where When How Wednesday'. The series in which I interview creatives about their journey into the creative world, their works, and what makes them tick. This week I have a returning guest, Durham based model, Malefica.

Photographer - ColobusYeti

Welcome back. Before we start, I believe congratulations are in order for recent nuptials?

'Thank you!'

How was the wedding? Was it a big lavish affair or a small intimate gathering with a select few?

'Excellent! It was very small; just us and two witnesses. We're both introverts so it suited us best that way. We didn't have a reception, but we did have tasty red velvet cake made by one of our witnesses and coffee so it was cosy and chilled out. Then home, and a nap as we were both really quite tired!'

Other than wedding stuff, what have you been up to since we last spoke?

'Quite a lot! I have finally been accepted on a Master's degree, so I am now juggling modelling around lectures, seminars and lab time focused on Palaeopathology (the study of past disease in human remains in the archaeological context). I am also now a Sponsored Model with Maskerade, a Model Ambassador for Plundering Productions, a regular collaborator with Basque and Glory and represented by Rogue Model Management. I still have personal goals that I'd like to fulfil in relation to modelling, such as being published and travelling internationally for a shoot, but the wheels are in motion for both.'

Photographer - Aphrodite Images

What are your top picks for where you'd like to be published and where you'd like to travel to model?

'I'd like to be published in 'Femme Rebelle' magazine and 'Gothic Beauty' magazine in particular. So far as travelling goes? France - there are a handful of rigger-photographers and latex designers open to collaborating with me there -, Norway, Iceland for the black sand beaches and Scotland for the rugged wilderness.'

Photographer - Marshall Photography

Some of your recently uploaded works had you modelling in the snow that hit the country in recent weeks. Whilst I'm a fan of snow, both how it makes a scene look and the childish act of playing in it, I can't say I fancy been naked in it. I may have neglected to mention your uploaded snow images were nude images. Anyway, what possessed you to risk such severe frost bite?

'I've always wanted to do a snow shoot, since I first started modelling. However due to asthma, I have always been quite wary about modelling nude outdoors later on in the year (the latest prior to this shoot being in October last year). This time, it was a relatively secluded location which appealed - no dog-walker dodging, yay! - and the photographer was someone I have now worked with probably close to or even over ten times. I understand how quickly they work and shoot, and the rapport gained from that frequency of collaboration meant that if I was cold, I could say so and wouldn't have to worry about being pressured in to one more pose! one more shot!.'

Photographer - idollphamine photo/retoucher

Has dog walker dodging happened a lot in your time as a model?

'Dog walker dodging, not so much. People out for a nice walk in the bright sunshine, definitely. I modelled nude on the island of Lindisfarne on the 28th of December last year, which my spouse helped me to get to to, and they ended up playing lookout. It was surprisingly crowded for that time of year! Lots of tourists. Which, if you pick iconic and pretty landscapes or ruins, is only understandable and should be anticipated/prepared for.'

Artist - C Thompson

Whilst I was looking at your images and saw the results of some of your life modelling work. How do you find it compares to photographic modelling? Does it share a lot of similarities? Is it surprisingly different?

'The one thing I found that differed was the poses required. A pose that is fine for a photograph becomes excruciating for a 5, 10 and definitely 15 minute pose for a drawing. The lines and poses that might normally ruin a photograph (i.e stomach rolls from leaning forward, thigh shape depending on leg position etc) are considered all the more interesting in life modelling rather than being detrimental to the final image. I would say that it is quite different to photographic modelling in that while there are transferable skills, there are also new skills involved too; posing for extended periods of time and body awareness for posing capabilities. I really enjoy it, and I am always open to doing more life modelling.'

Photographer - Andy Green

As you say, often times things that everybody has such as stomach rolls from someone leaning a certain way are seen as detrimental to a photographic image, however the same can't be said of drawings. Or for that matter paintings, sculptures or pretty much any medium that isn't photographic. Why do you think there is this view with regards to photographic imagery?

'I think at least some of this view stems from what the photographs are used for. Photographs to me are immediately foremost associated with editorials, glossy magazines, billboards and the promotion of perfection - perfection that is, in mass media, significantly helped by a computer. There is a massive disconnect between what is published and promoted, and what people look like. Sure, there are people that naturally appear as they do on billboards, but post-processing is also always still involved.

As someone who suffers from body dysmorphia, I am always distinctly aware of the difference between 'me' and 'post-photoshoot post-image processing me'. I think that this distinction needs to be more strongly highlighted in the media, rather than people taking what is used in advertisements and the media as fact.

I love campaigns that are now making people aware that they do not airbrush their models (while still, I assume, doing post-processing like colour balancing and the like). Sculptures, paintings and life drawings capture the 'as they are'. Photographs can too, but most of what people see in the wider world outside of communities like Purpleport are 'the edited perfection'. 

I have nothing against glossy, perfected images. I love it when people are elated by their best, their refined, their polished selves. I just wish that people were more aware of the work and effort that goes into making those images, and that it is more than just the model alone but posing, lighting and post-processing as well. Photographs are the perfect, the ideal, the striven for. I like seeing such images of myself, but I also enjoy life modelling as it definitely helps to ground me and keeps my self-perception from skewing too far. For me, both depictions of the self are necessary for a healthy view of things.'

Do you think there's been any improvement in this view over recent years? Or is it getting worse? Do you think it can be improved? What, if anything, do you think could be done to improve it?

'I don't think the view has changed in the slightest, certainly since I started modelling anyway, which is when I first became aware of it. I think that more education on the distinction between back of camera images and final polished images would definitely help.'

Photographer - Marshall Photography,  Taken At - Studio f2-8

For anyone who didn't see our previous interview (that there is clickable. Go on. Click it. You can read it after this!), where can people see more of your work?

'I'm predominantly on Facebook (maleficaofficial) and Instagram (maleficaofficial).'

Promo image for Chris Cross

Since we last spoke I've a new finale to my interviews that you have to partake in... What's your favourite joke?

'Tough choice! I tend to find different jokes funny or not depending on the audience and setting, as my sense of humour tends to be quite mutable depending on who I am around and the setting in question. "Why was the squirrel late for work?" "Traffic was nuts!" works for one audience, while "Where did Nicholas II of Russia go to get a coffee?" "Tsarbucks" works for another!'

Photographer - Restrained Images

I'd like to thank Malefica again for taking the time to answer a few questions for me. Be sure to check out all the links above for more of Malefica's work, as well as the links attached to the images for the other creatives involved in creating them.


Friday, 16 March 2018

Raging Ranter - A Differing Opinion Isn't Hate

We live in quite a golden age for technology and information. At any time, day or night, with the tap of a few keys, we can find pretty much anything online. The amount of content on the net is growing daily at an exponential rate, with the amount of content creators also growing. With obvious exceptions, a large portion of this content available is purely peoples opinions. Take this here post for example, this is not proven fact, it is merely my musings. So why, when people have a differing opinion, are they labelled as "haters spewing hate"?

For my sins I view a number of YouTube channels that aren't photography related, and this "you're just a hater" issue is especially prevalent amongst that community. People ask thoughtful, intelligent questions and instead of receiving an equally thoughful answer, they're accused of hating and told to "go elsewhere".

As content creators, myself included, we put out content that people will have opinions on, questions about, concerns over. It would be incredibly naive, or incredibly big headed to assume, and as happens in some instances, demand that people view it and simply bow down to our all powerful knowledge.

This notion from many creators that viewers can't question, or have differing opinions on their content is also hypocritical, especially when you consider their content. A lot of the creators with this "you shouldn't question me" attitude produce reviews. Be they reviews of products, music, movies, services, the opinions in these reviews will, at some point, differ to those of the people responsible for the product. How then is it ok for you to make a 12 minute video, or a few hundred word article, in which you, to use your words "hate" on a product and the people who created it? Why, when your career is based on reviews, you bring a product out and people review it honestly, they're "hating"? Why, when your career is based on parading your kids online, someone expresses concern, they're "hating"?

Whilst there will admittedly always be people in the world who are, in fact, trying to cause conflict with their comments, the majority of commenters are asking legitimate questions or expressing legitimate concerns. To tar everyone with the same brush in such a way is not only offensive to the viewers of your content, but also calls in to question how you, the content creator, view them, their thoughts, and their feelings.

Maybe instead of just accusing someone of "hating" because they don't like your content, or they disagree with something you say, you should try having a conversation with them. Find out what they think is wrong, explain your side, hear their side. If you're not confident in your content, or are unable to have a rational conversation with viewers, maybe don't bother posting content in the first place.

NOTE: The "you're a hater" pandemic isn't limited to content creators such as bloggers and YouTubers. I was merely using these as examples as I myself am within that field, and these often give the most obvious instances of it. It happens daily on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. Pick a social media platform at random and I suspect, without much looking, you'll see "you're a hater" pop up.


Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Guffogg's Guest - Richard Wakefield

Welcome to 'Guffogg's Guest', formally known as 'Where When How Wednesday'. The series in which I interview creatives about their journey into the creative world, their works, and what makes them tick. This week I'm interviewing Oxfordshire based photographer, Richard Wakefield.

Model - Jessica Megan,  Stylist - Maria Mirage Photography,  Taken At - Medusa's Garden

Hi Richard. Thank you for taking a little time out of your day to answer some questions for me. How did you come to find yourself wielding a camera?

'Hi Ian! I’m so delighted to have been selected for an interview, so bear with me while I now stumble through the answering process!

Ok, it genuinely all started when I was a young kid. I was obsessed with filming short films (yes as naff as you can imagine), and putting scores to them. From that point on, I could never watch a film without analysing compositions and sequences. Between then and now, this passion never died away and although I did GCSE photography and had interest in media studies, I was always talked out of pursuing the creative field. So yep, after a non-related degree, years of travelling and random jobs, I then realised actually, using a camera was what I wanted to do with my life. That became 15 years of filming which then transitioned into these last few years of photography. I always think it’s useful to know about the filming aspect. Why? Because I genuinely feel my love of cinema has influenced the style and mood of my photography work.'

Model - Amber Joy

Speaking of your filming. Do you think your filming background has it's advantages when it comes to your photography? Or for that matter, do you think it's caused any disadvantages?

'I think it's mainly storytelling and lighting elements that have transferred across from my films to my photos. Also, filming intense 'no-repeat' situations (e.g. weddings) taught me to very quickly react to what was around me (lighting, white balance, people!), and this prepared me for many photography situations too. Filming was all about getting it completely right 'in-camera' (not much dynamic range to play around with) so it's been an absolute joy to now play around with such latitude in RAW photos! Disadvantages...hmmm....I can't think of any (that's a good thing, right?!).'

Quite often when I interview models I ask why they shoot the styles, levels etc that they shoot. I rarely however ask photographers why they shoot their subject of choice. If you don't mind me bucking this trend with you, what is it that drew you to shooting people?

'It’s genuinely funny that you ask this! I literally had my lightbulb realisation moment only last week, that it’s people I love to photograph. More precisely, it’s people on location. I simply adore the (huge) challenge of mixing themes, colours and lights between subjects and locations/venues. Compared to studio shoots, I really do get that thrill of how utterly unique the image set and colour palette ends up looking. To think, even if I turned up with the same person, at the same location, just a few hours later, the sky, ambience and general look and feel would all be completely different.'

Model - Rebecca Cordell,  Make-Up - Olivia Morewood,  Designer - Rosie Red Corsetry and Couture,  Millinery & Assistant - Donna Graham,  Stylist - Walter's Wardrobe,  Boat design - Tiffany Maksymow & Rob Kirby

If I may ask, what caused your lightbulb moment?

'Well I was chatting with a photography buddy about how I 'STILL' hadn't discovered my 'style' or 'niche. To which he instantly replied that he always spots my photos easily on social media outlets. I was massively complimented by this, and I asked him how/why. He described my work as being consistently vibrant and punchy, and always with people in great locations. So that was the lightbulb moment, in that he totally summed up what it is I do, and the style I (didn't know I) go for!

So to answer your question, it’s the variety, challenge and uniqueness of shooting people I enjoy.'

Model - Courtney Diana,  Stylist - Holly Brooker

With the exception of the images with obvious manipulation, such as your doll like images (which I'll be asking you about a little later), and your dragon image (unless you secretly have a dragon?) how much of the final image of one of your standard images is in camera and how much is post processing?

'Great question! I might even save this answer and pass it on to clients/models, haha! A shoot (on average) takes a max 2 hours (apparently I work quickly!), however each image can take 1 hour (maybe even 2 hours) to process, retouch + grade. That is of course depending on the complexity and if anything major needs to be composited, altered etc etc. Like many others out there, I really only sign off on an image when I’m 100% happy. To help with that process, I’ll walk out of the room, make a cuppa, then go back and re-assess the photos! I think we all need that little ‘refresh’ moment to go back and self-critique. It’s ok to be a perfectionist, provided you know how and when to sign off and move on.'

I briefly mentioned them before, your doll like images, how did they come to happen? What was your inspiration for them?

'True story then. I got asked to take just one or two photos for a model who had married up a corset-with-ruffles outfit with a minimal circus-tent set design. The poses she went for were completely reminiscent of puppet/doll poses. As soon as I saw the back of the camera screen, I could see it was almost crying out for some sort of doll-look to exaggerate the theme. It wasn’t until I started experimenting in Photoshop though, that I realised the more I pushed the look, the more I liked it. Out of nowhere, an online educational site called ’DIYPhotography’ spotted the image and asked if they could share it. The comments poured in, and I have to say it really spurred me to then create more and more doll images!'

Model - GiGi Marie

Whilst prepping this interview I was looking over your list of former clients. Judging by some of the names on there, I'd assume you'd have some interesting behind the scenes stories. Do you have any interesting, funny, embarrassing anecdotes you could share?

'Oh yes! Many, many stories! Trapped in sinking mud on set with Kirsty Mitchell … ill from shooting in a pigeon-cr#p-infested derelict house with PortraitX … driven round by ‘The Stig’ on a Car Magazine shoot … shooting for 4 days non-stop in India with severe delhi-belly … eating a burger with Kylie at James Corden’s wedding.'

Many questions spring to mind. I'll limit it to two... What did The Stig drive you round in? How does Kylie have her burger?

'I truly can't remember which one of the 6 supercars on the day The Stig drove me around in.  I was too busy holding on for dear life! Oh, and Kylie bought a 'dirty' burger, from the Dirty Burger Van, haha, hope it hasn't changed anyone's opinion of her!'

Model - Michael King

I believe you offer your expertise for training purposes. If someone was to book training with you, what do they get?

'I really do pride myself on training in a way that I don’t hold anything back. I’ll share entire kit lists and workflows (shooting, lighting, retouching), as well as give follow-up advice and critique if need be. During my uni years I trained to be a teacher, so I think I’ve always had that internal desire to train and help others.

Oh, and trainees get fed, watered and sent home with luxury biscuits.  Maybe that’s what entices them.'

Model - Layla Lee

If life had gone differently and you were teaching, what would you be teaching? Also, it wouldn't be one of my interviews if, at the mention of biscuits I didn't ask...what biscuits?

'Well I actually trained to be a primary school teacher, specialising in Maths. So I guess that's the answer right there.

And ALWAYS chocolate hob-nobs.  There is no alternative in my opinion.'

Model - Jodi Lakin,  Make-Up - Abi Pulleyn,  Dress designer - Mishi May,  Millinery - Donna Graham,  Stylist - Walter's Wardrobe

If people would like to see more of your work, or book you for training, where can they find you?

'I’d say the main place is my website, (recently updated with big, bold galleries).

Then there’s my Purpleport page
and FB'

Model - Patrycja,  Make-Up & Hair - Brothers oxford,  Stylist - Tia Oguri

Lastly, what's your favourite joke?

'My Dad and I are huge fans of Stewart Francis and Tim Vine (think one-liners and puns). So my joke is actually one I made up myself once (must have been a rainy day!) and I guess something even Stewart and Tim might smirk at:

Conveyor belts. They’re the way forward.'

Model - Ella Newport

I'd like to thank Richard again for taking the time to answer a few questions for me, be sure to check out all the links above for more of his work, as well as the links attached to the images for the other creatives involved in creating them.


Sunday, 4 February 2018

The As Yet Unnamed News Series - Instagram Post Scheduling

Welcome to my as yet unnamed news series. The series in which I share photography, tech, and geek news I happen to stumble across.

This time it's a quick one regarding a recent update from Instagram.

Instagram Now Allows Post Scheduling. Well, Sort Of...

In a blog post released by Instagram this past week they have announced that users can finally schedule posts for automated publishing...providing they jump through some hoops first.

For starters, it seems the scheduling feature is only available for users who are using a "business" account (that's the one with the graphs, right?). So, if you're one of the many who have kept their account a "personal" account, you'll have to make the switch to use the feature.

Before deciding to make the switch however, there is another hoop jump you'll have to consider. The scheduling feature isn't available on Instagram's app. You have to use Instagram approved third party apps such as Hootsuite to schedule your posts. Having quickly scanned the Hootsuite website, this could potentially lead to the average user needing to spend £16 per month for this feature.

I'm the first to admit that when it comes to "social media", I'm a little behind. I understand the basics, I dabble with the likes of Facebook and Twitter, but the extent of my interaction with Instagram is limited to looking at other people's work. As a blogger, scheduling posts is something I do on a regular basis. It gives me the option to write something at 3am when inspiration hits, but post it at tea time the following day, or a week later. Based on my very limited knowledge this seems a positive step forward by Instagram. However, it's sullied a little by the fact that you have to use Instagram approved, often times pay to use, third party apps.

Please feel free to leave your thoughts below, and you Instagram handles (that's what they're called, right?) so I can give you a follow.