…this is not meant to be like a “Campaign for Real Photography”. After all a great image is a great image regardless how it was created. End of.
No, what I’m championing is the fact that creating a fab image is only part of what makes photography such a “great thing”.
Yes the images we create on any given shoot are probably the most important thing about a shoot but the actual processes leading up to it are always integral to the total experience. That may be the planning of a studio shoot – picking out your creative team, models, planning the lighting,sets and so on.
Or it may be a trip out in the country with the planning for the location, conditions, logistics, travel etc..
Yes, we can all do (or learn to do) some fancy tricks in post-production to create images in the studio that look like they were taken on location. But what about the experience? What about the adventure? The whole world IS our studio. And besides, how else would I one day be able to tell my grandkids about the time I got chased off a pig farm by a red faced farmer yelling “My pigs are CLEAN!!!”, and the time when we raced across country on a 24 hour mission to capture the sunrise over Quantoxhead Beach, or the time when I photographed a proper Bond Villain AND Jesus Christ on the same day?!?!!? All true stories by the way….
But so much richer for the fact that I had to be out there.
The Lakeside Shoot.
This workshop was definitely as much about the experience, the improvisation and the ‘real’ side of photography.
In planning for the Lakeside workshop some of the images I had in mind were of the models in the water. I had an inkling that I wanted to try some low angle shots to create dramatic effect. This would require getting in the water myself, so I put out a request on social media for a set of waders. My call was answered with someone happy enough to lend me a pair. However just when I thought I had solved my problem, I was advised that if I ducked a bit too low or if indeed I fell over, the waders would fill rapidly and I would end up as wet and cold as the models. But I could borrow his dry-suit if I wanted…..(Thanks John!). Yes a drysuit meant for divers! Problem solved. At least it would have been until one of our party (the erstwhile Mr Jones) reminded me that if I stumbled and fell over in the water, I might stay dry but my camera gear would probably not survive. Not a great prospect. Could I stay steady on my feet on uncertain underwater terrain? Dare I risk it? Fortunately I didn’t have to find out as the (very useful) Mr Jones also pointed me in the direction of the internet where he showed me some waterproof housings for cameras for not a lot of money. I was always under the impression that waterproof housings generally cost more than the cameras, and indeed the ‘proper’ diving ones do. The one I eventually purchased cost around £23.00 inc p&p. (go on Ebay/Amazon and search “waterproof housing DSLR). It’s not and could never be described as a proper housing as it is basically a plastic bag for your camera. But as long as it kept my kit dry if I happened to drop it and I could take some decent images then I would be happy. Once procured I tested it by inserting a toilet roll and ducking it several times in a bucket of water, holding it under to see if it leaked. When the toilet roll emerged it was bone dry. Result! Needless to say I tested it several times more just to be safe.
So we rolled up at the lake in Leicestershire on a sunny June afternoon and got our camera kit ready. To get us all warmed up we started photographing the models on the jetty. But we were of course itching to get them into the water….
The water even in summer never really gets above 14 centigrade, so we had towels, a flask of hot chocolate and robes ready. The models entered the water and Spencer and I got into our dry suits (check the video) to see what that looked like. Then we proceeded with the shoot. It was very strange to get into water and not getting wet (or cold). Getting used to the drysuit and the buoyancy it gave me took a bit of getting used to but I was soon bobbing around in a semi-controlled manner. This was fun! However, I had to get on with the more serious (but also fun) business of taking some images. From our ultra low angle we were afforded unique angles and some very striking photos. The waterproof housing was doing its job – I couldn’t resist ducking the camera under the water just to see (that’s just me!) and it didn’t let one drop in. Incidentally I didn’t slip once or drop the camera – however, how much more nervous, shaky and clumsy would I have been had I not had the housing on…..?
After about an hour of shooting the models in the water, we fished them out and got them warm and dry. I cannot say enough how amazing the two models Joel and Faye were in making this happen. Without their patience and endurance this could not have happened.
We spent the rest of the afternoon using the idyllic surroundings as a backdrop for our photography. Some great images were created that day and experiences that will add to both our photographic armoury and our library of memories.
So what are you waiting for? Get out and start your adventure!
NB. A couple of things I learnt about the waterproof housing is try to purchase the ones with the hard plastic lens cover, and make sure it fits your camera. My 5d mk3 just about squeezed in even without the battery grip and my 24-70mm L was a snug fit to say the least. Make sure of the dimensions of the housing before purchasing. Also in order to keep your photos as sharp as possible you need to make sure your lens is pushed right up to the front to minimise any internal reflections (like shooting through glass). And test the housing thoroughly (without the camera) before risking your kit. You have been warned.