A topic common amongst photography and photographers both online and in magazines is that of personal projects.
As yet I’ve not really had one or worked on one and so I thought it about time.
Various ideas crossed my mind such as low-light London, however I realised that because I’ve essentially become a people photographer (I wouldn’t say portrait as that doesn’t really cover events) it would be more fitting if I did a project on people. An obvious choice was the weird and wonderful people that I know…. I use the term “weird” as a complement by the way, and an alternative to “interesting”. In addition I wanted to do more photography away from the studio environment and so I’m looking to do environmental portraits of friends who have interesting jobs or hobbies in the environment in which they do these. An inspiration for this has been reading several of Joe McNally’s books which I’ve found to be very interesting and inspirational.
So first up is my friend Margot Magpie.
Margot is a friend of mine who does taxidermy. Starting as a hobby she now gives taxidermy classes throughout the UK and is a member of the UK Guild of taxidermists. Her classes are primarily mouse taxidermy and are called “anthropomorphic mouse courses” as the mice are often given props and posed in ways in human like scenarios. Classes are often put on in London, Manchester and Edinburgh. In addition to classes she also produces taxidermy related items for sale and various other commission pieces such as for museums (e.g. London Science Museum) and theatrical productions.
Our shoot was at Hackney City Farm where Margot usually holds her London classes. As we had sufficient space I went for the option of using studio lights rather than small speedlights. It was shortly before one of Margot’s classes, stuffing a young rat which had been found dead a few days prior. Unfortunately we ran out of time for Margot to complete the piece but it was most of the way there.
Margot and I have worked together a few times – I’ve photographed some of her items for PR uses and her etsy shop. Since this shoot – we’ve also had another to document the whole mouse taxidermy process in detail for a project of hers which hopefully will be out soon.
Manchester : http://madlab.org.uk/courses/
I’ve just done another product shoot for a friend – this time for Shannon of Forgotten Feline.
I must have a lot of creative and entrepreneurial friends 🙂
Shannon/Forgotten Feline is a taxidermist and creates fun and quirky taxidermy – usually mice with fun props in somewhat alternative poses – not your usual stuff. But she’s also doing a line of hats, fascinators, head-pieces and such. It was these that she asked me to photograph.
Setup is similar to my other product shoots:
- White background – over a table.
- Reflector/barn doors light, on a boom, pointing down and back at the background
- White Umbrella camera right pointing down at item
- Silver to subject left bouncing some light at subject and some at background
I could use a third light instead of the reflector but I prefer to keep it simple – also I’ve found that the white umbrella gives a very good spread of light – more than a softbox would.
Here’s a quick diagram:
Before shooting I take a whitebalance setting using a grey card. A colour checker would be better but I don’t have one yet – I’m keeping an eye on eBay etc for cheap ones.
Editing is fairly basic:
- Double checking the white balance
- General exposure adjusting for the whole picture (usually Exposure, Blacks and Shadow sliders)
- Additional exposure for the background in Camera Raw using Quick Mask
- General other tweaks – Clarity, Vibrance, Saturation.
I shoot RAW, edit in AdobeRGB then convert to sRGB for web.
Here are links to her shop and Facebook pages:
Etsy Shop : http://www.etsy.com/shop/forgottenfeline
Facebook Page : https://www.facebook.com/ForgottenFelineCouture
And a selection of the pictures: