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Category : Profile Photography

Inés Miró-Sans co-founder Casa Bonay

A Flying Visit To and Then Around Casa Bonay, Barcelona

 Inés Miró-Sans co-founder Casa Bonay

Inés Miró-Sans, co-founder Casa Bonay Hotel in Barcelona

One of the first really interesting job of the year was a shoot at Casa Bonay, a boutique hotel recently opened by Inés Miró-Sans in the centre of Barcelona.

Receiving an email that is a possible job is always a little like Christmas, when it comes from another country even more so, because apart from the appeal of the exotic, it often means they might actually pay you a reasonable amount!

Living in Spain is all too often an exercise in stoic acceptance of clients pleading poverty, not understanding the value of things, or just plain penny-pinching, but what the hell, the sun shines most days and the wines good and cheap.

So, sometime back in March I get an email that boded well, ostensibly from a Miami based magazine called Le Miami, but via an agency in London, so I guess that infers extra exoticness.

Several people were CC’ed into the email. Experience told me that this would likely complicate the process and on top of that the shoot meant organising 6 busy people to be at the location the same day, the same hour, for group and portrait shots.

When I look back on the email exchange it lasted about 3 weeks and jumped from magazine to agency quite a lot and of course each had distinct ideas of the look. Basically it went from sober examples of Time portraits to the Day-Glo mayhem of a summer edition of Italian Vogue for men.

Some grandiose ideas were floating around my mind for the Casa Bonay shoot. I had recently purchased a new and rather large light modifier and was going to use it come hell or high water.

I also decided to dig out the war chest with just about everything I own and haul it over to the location in a taxi. No amount of experience seems to sink in with photographers and the overly cautious or overly enthusiastic make a rod for their own back (and risk injuring it as well) with the amount of kit they are willing to drag around.

Arriving extra early I made my presence known and then went off to scout locations. They hired me to do ‘environmental portraits’ a term I have used on my site and which may have therefore got me the job. I was not really photographing Casa Bonay per se , but the people concerned in its design, etc, so it was a backdrop to the portraits.

I assumed the staff would inform these people where I was when they arrived, but no, that did not happen. So caught up in my location hunt was I, that I did not see the time passing and when I finally went to check if anyone had actually arrived I found them all chatting in the bar. Lucky for me they did not seem put-out by my apparent late arrival. Of course this ate into my shoot time and like most people they assumed doing portraits is a simple click and shoot affair and there was I, wielding gigantic flash lights on stands…

In the end I ended up doing 5 portraits in 7 locations and one group shot in about an hour.

Not ideal, but in truth I find that kind of stress to be conducive to creativity; if you can think on your feet your ideas rarely fall flat.

Included here are the original images, as the ones in the print edition were cropped a little too much for my liking.  Also apart from the photo they used of Inés for the cover, you will find the one I prefer; after shooting for a while she suddenly lit up with this wonderful smile that kind of melted my heart a little.

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IBIS Geneva Professors

UBIS, Geneva

IBIS Geneva ProfessorsI was contacted by Elena Panizza, head of Brain Bazaar about this job. I was very pleased to be asked, after all, it combined travel and decent renumeration, though, in truth, living in Barcelona means I am no longer sure what that is, as very few here want to spend money on work that might be professional when they can get amateurs for free. But this is not a post about the woes of being free-lance in this otherwise picturesque city.

We spent about a day and a half in Geneva at the new premises of UBIS, a Business University. Basically, the work consisted of an impromptu studio set up, for formal portraits and if time/weather permitted, some more informal shots of students being, well students.

There are countless stock library images of photos like this, but it always nicer to get your own; hopefully something less anodyne, more particular, to the client in question and in truth, if I see one more shot of bland preppie models pretending to be students, I might swap my camera for DVDs of Gossip Girl, start shopping in Ralph Lauren and then get a lobotomy, so I can enjoy the whole experience guilt free.

The people we dealt with at UBIS were really great, It was an enjoyable shoot; this is an institution that is being developed a new, so there is a freshness about their approach I like; you are not hide-bound by a too rigid a corporate ID.

I did maybe 17-odd portrait and groups shots and also some video (which was a first and gives me an excuse to learn new skills).

We did not have much luck with time being short or the weather, so we did not really get any informal images, but hopefully future trips will rectify this.

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Olga and Carlos Pregnancy Photo

Olga & Carlos

Olga and Carlos Pregnancy PhotoThese 2 were my old flat mates for about a year, they moved out when Olga became pregnant.

She asked me about doing some photos and I got this idea in my head that was something between a portrait and a still life, I wanted to include a lot of objects that were symbolic and we used my sofa and the coffee table for the arrangement. The photo posted here does not have any of this and is in B&W, I was not so satisfied with the result of the original idea but will revisit them again and see if I can make of them something I prefer.

I was a little unsure about this one at first, but several comments from other people convinced me that it’s actually not a bad shot, this does include some critical comments as well; sometimes having certain people not like something is proof positive that it has merit!

I think what some people are uncomfortable with is the strength of the image vis a vis how her tummy look; it does rather hit you and maybe it’s not the most romantic vision of pregnancy, but for me it has some truth and the ‘third person’ in this shot certainly has a presence. Also the way that Carlos is lit and Olga is almost a shadow is a different take on the usual soft  focus schmaltz of mother and child.

This image may not get me more work like this, but what the hell, I like it and am happy to own it.

My Experiences with Home Studio Photography

Almost all my work involves me going places and photographing people in their homes or somewhere convenient for them.

I have on occasion used my home as a make-shift studio, the walls are of a light enough colour and I can get just about enough distance that shooting portraits wide-open it is possible  blur away the textured surface.

I have included 2 portraits shot like this here, the first is of my friend Jane and it was taken because I had just been to NYC and purchased a new light modifier I wanted to try out, so I gave her a call and took some shots.

The second one is of Marc, this was a commissioned job, he needed pictures for CVs and general online networking sites. The lite panel I had used with Jane was also used in this shot but instead of with a flash shooting through it I had a bright silver cover on it and moved it in and out if the shots changing the fill on the right-hand side of his face.

The lighting on him was pretty standard, the other variable was the background (in the other images of him), here I sometimes had it lit trying out pure white, gradients and in the one above, no direct lighting; if you are careful it is possible to get all the light from the other flashes to light it without shadows (there is no ambient light in these images).

In the end I prefer this one, with the neutral warm grey. it is essentially a fairly conservative image but this background seems to me to give it a subtle twist, plus, he is not smiling which somehow makes it more like creative portrait rather than a corporate head shot.

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Editorial: Paolo Guidoni, Opera Singer

Paolo Guidoni, Opera Singer

Editorial: Paolo Guidoni, Opera SingerPaolo is one of those people you just get on with. I went there with an idea to experiment with a lighting effect that would give me an almost painterly effect; quasi Renaissance perhaps. As a result I fluffed around a little experimenting with different things, but Paolo was very patient and amenable.

I photographed him in the building where he is setting up a new company that will be  mounting productions, they have a nice sized space and a stage and I look forward to seeing productions there. I love the way it is situated in a quiet side street in El Born and from the outside you would have no idea just what was going on in there.

The effect I got was by using 2 lights on the same stand, one with a brolly and the other above with a warming gel on a bare head, for the background another was used to pick out the details of the stair case which I liked as it almost looks like a stage set. Unlike a stage set I could not control the comings and going of people, sure enough when you want to start taking pictures, your supposedly deserted location turns into Piccadilly Circus.

After the shoot we went for beer and pizza at a local place he knew and so started a new friendship which has involved a few dinners, parties and the occasional drunken night, once with him singing opera in the streets of Raval, much to the chagrin of certain uptight residents!

He also taught me the secret ingredient for the basic sauce in pastas; celery, who would have guessed, but it works!

Profile Photography: Joan Calvet Merce, Wine Tester

Proile Pictures: Joan Calvet, Wine TesterJoan works for a wine company as a taster. To get to his house I took the Bicing to what is the last stop in that direction, essentially Sarría, it is all up hill and with a heavy camera bag quite a challenge.

Once you are in the rarified world of this barrio you soon realise where the money is; they actually have houses here and private foreign schools.

Joan lives in a kind of bungalow at the end of a cul-de-sac, you enter a large security gate to find yourself in a world of vines and plants and, unfortunately, a haven for Tiger mosquitoes, I was as obsessed with killing the little devils as I was in getting the picture; they leave you with big welts and a bad itch almost the moment they touch you.

For this shot I wanted the dog to be in shot because A. He is mentioned in the text and B. I loved how he matched the throw on the seat.

The lighting could have been simple because there was so much natural stuff flooding the place, but after having hauled all my kit up those hills I was damned if I was not going to use it. The only thing I regret is that the fill which was a ring flash was a bit too strong and has left its distinctive shadow effect, especially around the dog.

I can just blame the mosquitoes for that lapse in concentration!

Pregnancy services Article: Esther Jones

Women at Pregnancy Services

Pregnancy services Article: Esther JonesThese are images for an article about people who offer services to pregnant women in Barcelona, aside from the usual midwifery this includes such things as massages etc.

I did pictures of several of them together at the offices where they worked. There was a nice amount of white space and natural light to play with as well as using the flash I had with me. I started with some minimalist shots to differentiate from ones I had done earlier in the week of someone on a verdant patio, I also wanted to do something that was not all smiley, the trouble is of course this is what most people want.

Two of the women photographed in this simple austere white style wanted to have more images taken in the pastoral vein of the others I had done.

Shots like this are easy to do and have no technical challenge, all you need is sun, shade and some greenery, it is hard to get inspired but what the hell, I had the shots I prefer, I understand they may not be the most flattering but they are  honest and I like them.

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    For complete story: http://blog.leex.co.uk/

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    Pregnancy services Article: Uby Muñoz

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    Pregnancy services Article: Viktoria Lowenthal

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    Pregnancy services Article: Viktoria Lowenthal

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    Pregnancy services Article: Viktoria Lowenthal

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    Pregnancy services Article: Amy Proszowski

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    Pregnancy services Article: Amy Proszowski

Editorial Photography: Mertxe Hernandez, Fashion Designer

Profiles: Mertxe Hernández, Fashion Designer

Editorial Photography: Mertxe Hernandez, Fashion Designer, very much a tourist magnet and set up to entice them, she told me when she first set up shop there, over 10 years ago, it was very different, her street was a narrow little alley in a humble barrio, then they widened it and gentrified the place, she is not complaining, even if every other customer is just asking directions to the Picasso museum.

I did not really notice till I saw a shot on the back of the camera that she looked just like Penelope Cruz. It gave me a bit of a shock, a pleasant one obviously…

The set-up was a little tricky, as I wanted to get the mirror in to show the space, but because the shop was so narrow, keeping me and the main light out of view called for some uncomfortable positions and wedging the flash umbrella into a changing room that it kept trying to pop out of.

It also meant the angle of the key light was very acute to her (almost 45º), so I had to use a ring flash to fill the shadows, this then meant balancing the light, so it did not overexpose the white chair which was pretty close to the camera. I also had to arrange the clothes because the preponderance of black behind her meant she was not getting much separation; I took the few coloured ones on the rack and positioned them to delineate  her hair, which was an attractive feature.

We got there in the end.

She was a joy to photograph, very amenable to trying stuff out, I was thinking of putting some other images here but they are quite similar apart from some cool shoes and this one is the nicest of her I think, it should also be the one used in the article.

 

Editorial Photography: Venus O'Hara

Profiles: Venus O’Hara, Writer

Editorial Photography: Venus O'HaraVenus O’Hara has an interesting career, it might be best if you go to her  website to find out more, I could try to explain but, well, maybe not…

We both agreed that this shoot would be tame because it was for the magazine and also she wanted to do something more a kin to a fashion shoot.

I had an idea for another experiment with lighting, something shadowy and moody but it just was not happening and also I wanted to do somehting with a white background as the last few had been pretty dark.

So I got rid of one of the grids, swapped it for the trusty shoot thru’ and on the other light, still with grid, I put  a gel to really maximise the colour of her hair. I used a ring light to fill the shadows.

She was very easy to work with and understood how to play to the camera, it was a fun shoot. This was all done in her living room which was quite limited, space wise and also there was a lot of natural light with I was determined to eliminate.

I am tempted to mention some of the many and varied subjects we touched on whilst working, but it’s late and I am not sure I have the patience to try and find the right way to couch what was said in a way that is not too salacious, or likely to titillate or shock!

Very interesting though. She writes for GQ magazine, amongst others, so if you are curious take a look and judge for yourself.

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    Editorial Photography: Venus O'Hara

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    Editorial Photography: Venus O'Hara

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    Editorial Photography: Venus O'Hara

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    Editorial Photography: Venus O'Hara

Profiles: Eric Goode

Poor Eric. I arrived with a mind to try out something new. When doing these interview pieces you are doing it because it is great to meet people and usually affords you a chance to try out something different with the lighting, you certainly are not doing it to become rich.

The problem for Eric was that I had it in mind to try out a new boom arm and hang a flash over him with a grid, using a ring flash as a fill if needs be. I also wanted to go for something very hard and gritty, paying little attention to what he was hoping for.

The end result was the first set of images and he was to say the least a bit shocked to see himself portrayed thus: hardened criminal, homeless person, world-weary-seen-it-all spectator, take your pick.

I was too caught up in what I wanted to do and ignored the fact that he was a really nice amiable guy who is none of the above.

So we arranged another shoot and again I tried something new, but this time more complementary to him and indeed more representative. Though the other images have a certain curiosity value and I did get to try out something new, they don’t really show Eric in a true light, the others do.

The moral I guess is to see what ‘it’ is and not what you want ‘it’ to be.

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