Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Where When How Wednesday - KP Photography

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 photographer Keith of KP Photography.

Model - Helen Stephens

Hi Keith. Thank you for taking a little time out of your day to answer some questions for me. How did you come to be a photographer?

'Even when I was young I always admired the female form, so as soon as I was old enough I bought myself a camera and started taking photographs of girlfriends et cetera. In those days I wouldn't really have called myself a photographer, just purely someone who took pictures.'

Model - Melissa Tongue

When you started did you have aspirations of it going somewhere or was it purely an enjoyment thing

'No for 40 years I shot purely for fun, then about 10 years ago I joined my first model photographer internet site and carried on in the same manner. A few years after this somebody told me about PurplePort, so I joined that as well. When I had been on PurplePort for about a year I spotted a casting call by Melissa Tongue saying she was in Dorset and would anybody like to shoot with her. I applied thinking she'll take one look at my work and ignore me, but she didn't. We had a fantastic first shoot, got on like a house on fire, and for me got some reasonably good pictures. I got to thinking I really haven't done this girl justice, so it slowly dawned on me that I wanted to become a better photographer. Although I know I still have a long way to go, I do think I have come along way in the three years since I first met Melissa.'

Model - Zoe Moore

You have by your own admission photographed many styles of photography which of all the stalls your shot is your favourite

'That's an easy one, although I enjoy most genres I would have to say my favourite is art nude.'

Are there any styles you've tried that, either while shooting it or after the shoot, you've thought to yourself "nope, that's just not for me"?

'I once travelled to London to shoot two girls doing a BDSM in a fully equipped dungeon, and although I quite enjoyed the shoot as the girls were brilliant, I thought afterwards it's not really my thing.'

Model - Zoe Moore

You surely can't have shot as much as you have without finding yourself in a precarious, or hilarious situation or two. Are there any that spring to mind?

'Yes definitely. I have had many precarious and hilarious situations over the years but one funny one that really sticks in my mind. I was shooting a girl for the first time on location when somebody spotted us, and we heard a voice come over the fence and shout "tell your misses to get her clothes on and **** off". Anyway, I thought no more of it until about a week later I had a visit from a policeman. He informed me that an older gentleman had been spotted with a young girl, apparently in distress, and wanted to know if it was me. I informed him it was me that she certainly wasn't in distress, in fact she was laughing all the way back to the car because we had been caught. Anyway, I told him I would invite him into my living room show him her modelling page on PurplePort and my portfolio, but unfortunately couldn't do it at the present time as I had a naked lady in my living room as I was halfway through a shoot. By the time I got back to the living room the model was actually dressed and was happy for me to invite the policeman through to show him what was what. On the way out he informed me that we may need to speak again my reply to him was don't worry mate I have so many plans for location shoots in the future by Christmas we will be on each other's Christmas card list. Luckily he had a sense of humour but I never did hear from him again.

The only precarious situation I have really had is when a fellow photographer started spreading malicious lies about me. I heard the same story from three girls that I had worked with in the past, but luckily they all knew me well and knew that what he was saying was untrue. For quite a while this really affected me, and helped to put me in to quite a bad place. For the first time in my life I suffered with depression as I thought a lot of people will think there is no smoke without fire. Fortunately since that incident I have worked with some incredible girls who are all being really supportive, and have helped me realise that nobody believes his stories, and personally I think my references on purple port speak for themselves. In hindsight I don't really blame the photographer as I know the model he received this information from had borrowed £1000 from me, and for some inexplicable reason instead of paying me back she decided to try and ruin my reputation.'

Models - Anna Rose (Top) & Ayla (Bottom)

One of the advantages of the internet is also one of it's big disadvantages, advice is always available. As sites like Yahoo Answers have proven on many occasions, there is as much naff advice out there as there is good, if not more so. Have you found yourself on the receiving end on naff photography advice?

'I have but on the whole I really appreciate it when somebody takes time out of their busy day to critique my work. Especially over the last couple of years I have had some comments that make me extremely proud of my work. Even when I ask for critique on a picture and I get all bad reviews, I really do appreciate it as most of the time I agree with what the people are saying, and it inspires me to do it better next time.'

Model - Zoe Moore,  Taken At - Art Asylum Photo Studios

After that, and somewhat putting you on the spot, what would be the one piece of good advice you'd give aspiring photographers?

'Most of it is common sense. Especially when starting out you will definitely get better pics if you work with some of the top models, they know what works for them and can be really helpful with ideas, lighting and posing. Also when working with models always treat them with respect. It's fine to have a laugh and joke on the shoot but at the same time remain professional, and obviously always respect the levels that the model states she work to. There's no point in trying to push levels, if the girl is not comfortable, it will show in the pics, and you will get a bad reputation and probably kicked off networking sites.'

Model - Ayla

Where should people look to see more of your work?

'I do have a photography page on Facebook, and have recently joined Twitter. Shortly hope to join Instagram, also start a blog and then write a book about all my experiences over the past 45 years or so. I already know a lot of photographers and models that cant wait to read it and unfortunately some are probably dreading it.'

Model - Tigerbelle

Last question, and no pressure but this determines whether or not your interview is published... What's your favourite joke?

'A young boy runs into the kitchen crying and tells his mum that he thinks his dad is dying. She asks him why and he says hes lying on his back naked in the bedroom the nanny is jumping up and down on him trying to give him the kiss of life and he's shouting GOD I'M COMING'.

Model - Natural Happy Girl

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


Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Where When How Wednesday - Simon Carter

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 photographer Simon Carter.

Model - Atalanta,  Taken At - Nic Marchant's

Hi Simon. Thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions for me. How was it you came to pick up a camera?

'Thanks for asking me!

My father – and both my grandfathers – were keen photographers when I was a child so I had a series of hand-me-down manual film cameras. I learnt the basics of exposure & so on – but stopped as teenagehood took hold. I just wasn’t interested in photographing the same things as my family – steam trains, planes, flowers and so on. And the Commodore 64 was way more fun.

Towards the end of my university years I got interested in contemporary circus stuff and that took hold in a big way. I have performed professionally but was never really business-like enough to be a real success in the industry. Fast forward a few years.. my wife gave me a small digital camera and I started doing a ‘photo-a-day’ group on Facebook – and I saw an advert for a group burlesque shoot at WindmillArt and got the bug.. I blame Conrad Webb.'

Model - Amie Boulton

Ah the Commodore 64, my father had one of those. I seem to recall I lost a substantial amount of time to Frogger. Because I fear very few will know what we're talking about (making us feel old), and it seems like it has the potential for a more interesting answer all round... You were involved in contemporary circus?

'The circus thing was a refreshing antidote to the extreme computer geekery I encountered at college. It was much more fun and involved people who didn’t dwell in a basement. It just happened that the folk I got involved with were very supportive when it came to giving people opportunities to perform, and that took off when I created an acrobalance act with my now wife. Consequently I’ve performed in all sorts of unlikely places from a muddy field in Blackburn – while wearing white lycra – to being dressed as a nun in an act with Dame Judi Dench and Kevin Spacey.'

Model - Maja Stina,  Taken At - Nic Marchant's

You have, by your own admission, an affinity for vintage Hollywood portraiture. What is it about the style that captivates you?

'Two things: Firstly, I love the drama of the results, the air of mystery and the sheer class. Secondly, it’s technically very demanding and highly rewarding. Pretty much anyone can bung up a big softbox and create a nice portrait but to create a flattering portrait with multiple hard light sources is rather exacting. Keeping on top of all that while still trying to make something which isn’t rather lifeless is a skill I have yet to master.'

Taken At - Nic Marchant's

Keeping with the vintage Hollywood theme for a moment. If you had the chance, via time travel or something, which three people from vintage Hollywood would you shoot?

'Cyd Charisse – a superb dancer and legs which went on for years.

Humphrey Bogart ‘cos he’s totally iconic.

Ingrid Bergman, the most beautiful and expressive of actresses.'

Taken At - Nic Marchant's

All fine choices... And if you could shoot three modern day, or relatively modern day stars, in the vintage Hollywood style, who would you shoot?

'I’m a rubbish person to ask this question, I watch so little TV and rarely see films. I’m sure Grace Jones would be awesome to work with. Maybe the recently departed Carrie Fisher? Steven Berkoff would be a scary guy to photograph and has an intensity few can match.'

Taken At - Nic Marchant's

Moving to your work around acrobats, dancers, alternate performers and the like if we may... All photography can have it's share of challenges. To my mind, as someone who hasn't tried it, acrobatic and dance photography could be quite challenging. Is this the case or is it actually pretty smooth going as long as you've prepared?

'It’s what I started with, really, and didn’t realise for a while that it has some unique challenges. The biggest problem is that I tend to show full length figures with quite a lot of space around them, often side lit, and often with the body at a rather unusual angle. That needs lots of studio space with big lights which are carefully controlled.

Then there’s the physical challenge – it can take a fair degree of repetition to get lights, fingers, toes, face and so on as I want them and most positions really can’t be held for long at all, or are purely transitory. That takes performers who are at the top of their game.

Lastly, it takes understanding of the skill being displayed. For example, a good photographer could make a perfectly good dance photo but the very best dance photographers are all dancers themselves.'

Taken At - Nic Marchant's

Are there any styles of dance, acrobatic disciplines, alternate performances you haven't shot but would like to try your hand at?

'I’ve always shied away from photographing jugglers – partly because it’s a highly dynamic thing, and partly because it’s the skill I know most about. I know just how hard it will be to make something I’m content with. I think that’s going to change in the near future, though.

I’m also about to start work on a series with yoga practitioners. There’s an awful lot of highly impressive ‘stunt yoga’ on Instagram and YouTube but that has almost nothing to do with most people’s relationship with yoga. That’s more about a personal connection with mind and body. I’m going to start very simply and see where it leads.'

Model - Verity,  Make Up & Hair - Sarah Pumfrey

Whilst researching I came across the blog on your website and read your 'The Process' post. Within it you say how you extensively post process images. Unlike some extensively post processed images your images, to me, don't look heavily processed. They look, for the most part, natural. Without giving too many trade secrets away, and without creating a full blog post about your process (I'm going to hire you for that later!), can you give a brief run down of your editing process?

'I don’t have any secrets! And I certainly don’t claim to be an expert in the PP community. I have evolved a process which works for me, though, roughly...

1. Basic development in Lightroom -camera calibration, sharpening, perspective & lens correction & so on. I often use a lightmeter and colour checker so that I don’t need to think about exposure and white balance issues.

2. Over to Photoshop.. I spend a disproportionate amount of time tidying up backgrounds – this is partly due to the size of my subjects, especially when horizontal - and it’s only recently I’ve got genuinely happy with the process. I’ll quite often light a background in a particular way only to completely replace it with a very similar background in photoshop rather than tidy up what I’ve got. I find that if the original lighting is a close match to the replacement then things look more natural, and more forgiving of errors.

3. Skin cleanup – this changes from month to month but is currently remove some of the reds, micro dodge & burn some fine lines. Then frequency separation – keeping quite a lot of texture on the high frequency layer. Then I and work on the high layer with a hard brush for spots and often use Color Efex Pro’s Dynamic Skin Softener on the low frequency layer to even out the tones. I tend to be rather selective about this, though, and if I reduce any nice contrasty shadows too much at this stage I’ll burn them back in later.

4. Liquify. Occasionally.

5. Dodge & burn as required

6. I very often boost the local contrast or clarity of the main subject via a variety of techniques.

7. Then I get on to toning. I’m not good at this yet but I can occasionally get results I’m happy with. I usually try to simplify and unify the colour palette rather than do any significant colour adjustment.

8. Print & deliver!'

Model - Helen Stephens,  Taken At - WindmillArt Studio

Speaking of printing, that's another thing you mention on your blog, the fact that you tested a lot of combinations. When hopefully I manage to start shooting more, printing is something I am very much wanting to do. How much research, and trial & error did you find yourself going through before you found the combination that matched you and your style?

'I must have tried 5 or 6 different labs and at least a dozen paper types, as well as a few different framing and glass options. I now use three different processes. Learning to get the print density right took a lot of test prints, too. Proper photographic C types on Fuji lustre paper have the best balance of punch and shadow detail for most of my work. I really like Loxley’s gloss Alumini stuff for high impact images, and I occasionally print b&w giclees on a textured cotton rag.'

Model - Roswell Ivory,  Taken At - Nic Marchant's

When you're not shooting what's occupying your time?

'I still teach acrobalance with my wife, though I haven’t performed in years. I don’t juggle anything like so much as I used to but it’s still there. Over the last year or so I’ve got interested in yoga. I love hill walking, and spending as much time as possible with my 9 year old son. (And trying to convince him that hill walking can be fun!). I like food – too much, wine – also too much – and diy hifi – but not so much now my music system does everything I need.'

Model - The Great Bendini, sideshow performer extraordinaire

I had a mate who was into the whole diy hifi thing, trouble was his music taste was abysmal. As a result, I have to admit, it never really interested me. Hill walking I don't mind, as long as I take a camera. Food, now there's a pastime I can relate to. What's your favourite dish(or dishes if you struggle with the "pick your favourite child" nature of the question.

'Lol! The world of hifi enthusiasts is weird, but has a lot of parallels with photography. Nerds spend more time listening to the kit than the music. Food is much easier – for me it has to be something simple and fishy. While there are still some fish left! Probably dab, briefly fried with a spot of samphire and some mash on the side.'

Model - Helen Stephens,  Taken At - Nic Marchant's

What has the future got in store for you and your photography?

'Without getting too fine-art pretentious, I want to work much more thematically, to explore subjects in depth and to make stuff I like whether anyone else gets it are not. My recent shoot with Helen Stephens was my first deliberate venture along those lines.

I’ll carry on doing one-off casual shoots but I hope to be able to put together a more coherent body of work or sets of projects as time goes on.

I love working with experienced models but it’s hard to justify the regular outlay unless I have a particular idea I really need to get out of my system. I also enjoy the challenge of working with folk who are unused to being in front of the camera – that’s slowly evolving into a paying sideline.'

Model - Artemis Fauna,  Taken At - Thurston Lodge

Where can people see more of your wonderful work and get in touch with you should they wish to shoot?

'I put different things on the different platforms.. I’m on PurplePort at, on Instagram as simonbalancer and there’s a selection of stuff on'

Model - Frankie Dubery,  Assisted By - VanessaPhotographer

Last but by no mean least, what's your favourite joke?

'Im rubbish at jokes.

Heres a small piece of photographic wisdom instead: "It aint what you got, it's what you point it at"'

Promo pic for Lily La Mer & Company - and her Winter performance troupe

I'd like to thank Simon 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.