Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Where When How Wednesday - Darryl J Dennis

Welcome to 'Where When How Wednesday'. In these weekly posts I'll be interviewing creatives about their journey into the creative world, their works, and what makes them tick. This week I'm interviewing Darryl J Dennis, a talented photographer based in Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire.

Model: Sinopa Rin.  Make Up: Katie S MUA.

Hi Darryl, thank you for taking the time to answer some questions. We should probably start at the beginning, when and how did you come about getting into the world of photography?

"I’m relatively new to the world of photography. I’ve played guitar in bands since my mid-teens so music has been my main creative outlet for most of my. Fun fact: one of the bands I played in managed to get a 9/10 review by Metal Hammer magazine for a demo EP... that’s really my only claim to fame.

My girlfriend can take the blame for me inflicting my attempts at photography upon everyone. We were attending 2012’s London Film and Comic Con in cosplay, well, my girlfriend was in cosplay. No one had a clue who or what I was supposed to be. The phrase I heard the most throughout the day was ‘So who are you?’ For the record, I was supposed to be Voldermort… a poor, poor attempt at Voldermort.

No surprise that my girlfriend’s costume (Babydoll from the film Sucker Punch) went down a bit better than mine. So much so that she was approached by a Pinup company that had a table there and were looking for new models to work with.

She stated modelling for them, but wanted to build up her confidence between shoots, so I thought it would help if I got myself a cheap camera in order to give her someone to practice with. Looking back now it’s pretty amusing (and somewhat cringe-worthy) to think how naive I was. Believing that I could help a brand new model with things like posing and angles before I even knew how to use my camera… facepalm!"

Taken At: Saracen House Studios.

Photography, especially online, tends to fall into specific genres and/or gets described as being a specific style. The trouble with this is it's quite subjective, the style someone views an image to be can often differ to the style the person creating it views it as. How would you describe the work you are putting out there?

"Hmm, that’s a tough one. It’s a little bit scattershot if I’m honest, as I like to bounce from genre to genre. That’s not to say there isn’t a style to some of the stuff I shoot. My erotica work tends to be on the darker side of things. Darker in the lighting and not so much the content, but even that is subjective.

I’d imagine that those readers that are aware of my work probably know me more by my portraiture work. How I’d describe that portraiture work is a tougher question. I’ll let the reader decide."

Model: Anna Rose.  Make Up: Anna Baldwin MUA.  Taken At: Big Shot Studio.  Designer: Florissima.

Photography can have it's share of problems. I personally have a particular problem with self confidence. This confidence issue can and has caused me issues with my photography. Do you find any aspects of photography particularly challenging?

"I know what you mean about self-confidence. Shooting can be like an emotional roller coaster. I’ll finish a shoot and I'll be on a high… and then the doubts start to creep in. Did I get everything I was after? Could the lighting have been better? Once I’ve had a chance to look at the images and get a few edits done and posted I’ll start to feel positive again, but it’s not long until the doubts about the choice of image, style of editing pop up again. This is especially true when trying out something new.

The other challenge for me is making sure I’m always learning and that I push myself out of my comfort zone. I found myself needing to take a couple of extended breaks last year after my photography started becoming a production line of the same lighting, same poses, same processing. It was great for creating consistency in my work, but as someone doing this as a creative outlet, it left me feeling bored and uninspired. I still find myself falling into patterns of shooting from time to time, but I’m a bit quicker to change things up."

In my series 'Foto Inspiration Friday' I share the people, images, places etc that I find give me inspiration. Who, or what, or where do you draw inspiration from?

"The short answer: anywhere and everywhere.

When I was first starting out I found Matt Granger and his tutorials a great inspiration. I had no clue what I was doing, so it was nice to have things to aim for and try out. Matt made things seem accessible.

Pinterest is something I use quite a bit these days. You can often find something on there that will jump out at you and get you thinking. In terms of photographers, I’m a fan of the likes of Christa Meola, Joey L and Glyn Dewis… a bit of an eclectic mix there. I'm also going to throw in Andrew Griffiths, the man behind Saracen House Studio. His advice and knowledge has been invaluable to my development. 

Films also provide a ton of inspiration. Room in Rome, while not a particularly great film, has some utterly beautiful cinematography. The mood of that film is something I aspire too, but yet to reach. Honourable mentions to David Fincher with cinematographer Darius Khondji) and Ridley Scott (with cinematographer John Mathieson). Those guys sure know how to construct a compelling image."

Sometimes images hold a special significance to us. It can be the first image we ever made, it can be an image drawing attention to a cause close to our hearts, it can simply be an image of someone we love. Do you have an image or images that hold a special significance to you?

"I’m quite proud of the images that made it onto while I was using it, as I know that site has extremely high standards - something I fall woefully short of most of the time. But the image that I’m most proud of as never received much attention on the platforms it’s been posted on.

It’s from early 2014 and my first attempt at shooting erotica. At this point I’d been shooting for roughly a year, and what I’d been shooting didn’t really have any kind of narrative. They were just pictures of people. This shot with Artemis Fauna was the first time I’d ever produced something that was actually trying to a story. Whether it does convey anything is, as always, subjective.

Wow… how pretentious does that sound?"

Model: Artemis Fauna.

Photoshoots can sometimes leave you open to scary or funny situations. What's the scariest or funniest situation you've found yourself in because of photography?

"The scariest thing to happen on a shoot would have to be working with Eddie Cheng. You can never be too sure what he’s going to throw at you.

One particular moment that sticks out in my mind was during a ‘Creative Thinking’ location workshop he was hosting in London. I was due to take part in the evening session, but due to a little mix-up, I found myself pulled into the madness halfway through the afternoon session. As soon as I arrived I was told that I’d have to walk out into the middle of the Oxford Circus with Stephanie Dubois, wait for the road to clear of people, take a shot with the few second left on the red light and then get out of there before we held up traffic.

The pretty much sums up doing anything with Eddie… terrifying, but extremely rewarding."

We've talked about your start in photography, we talked about your current work, let's quickly chat about the future. What have you got coming up this year, more of the same? any special projects? And in regards to a more long term plan, where are you hoping your creative journey will take you in the years to come?

"I’ve been working on an anonymous erotica project for a good part of the year. I’ll be looking to wrap that up by the end of the summer. The idea here was to get away from all the portraiture I’d been doing and branch out into other genres. What I’m hoping is the content I’ve shot is interesting enough to get involved in an exhibition. I’m also going to try to put together a book from it all, too.

After that, I’ve got two different projects in mind. The first involves a lot of conceptual and composite imagery. The second will require me learning a whole new skillset as it involves videography. Watch this space."

Taken At: Saracen House Studios.

We can't really talk photography without discussing gear, so...what is your 'go to' equipment that you find yourself gravitating towards the most on shoots?

"My main body is the Canon 5D Mk III. I jump between the 24-105mm L and the 135mm L for my portraiture. The 135mm is also my preferred lens for natural light location work.

For my boudoir and erotica work you’ll usually find my Sigma 50mm 1.4 on the front of the camera. I’d love to add a focal length either side of that (35mm and 85mm) at some point, but not for a while yet... unless I come into a lot of money.

I’ve also got a Sony A65 with a couple of lenses that gets some use from time to time, usually when I’m going to be shooting something with my Lensbaby  The live view function with the flipdown LCD screen is really helpful when trying to shoot odd angles.

I spared no expense when it came to the lighting for my home studio. It’s a mix of cheap Godox 300w and no-brand Chinese 300w strobes. If you hear on the news about an explosion in Bedfordshire, chances are my lights just failed."

Model: Vicky Burns.  Make Up: Katie S MUA.

Now for the shameless self promotion part of the interview...where can people find you and your work?

"Those readers that have suffered through my waffle above and still want to see my work (you poor people) you can find me here:

My website:

I'd like to thank Darryl again for taking the time to answer a few questions for me. Be sure to check out all of the links for more of his work, and the links attached to the images for the other creatives involved.


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