Tell us a bit about yourself.
I am a keen photographer based near Leeds in West Yorkshire, I am married and work in the NHS as a Project Manager. I enjoy the challenges of most forms and genres of photography; however my main areas of specialism at the moment are portraiture, fashion and fine art nude photography.
I enjoy working together with my selected model to try and create a strong image, either in the studio or on location.
How did you get into photography?
I was into rally sport for a number of years, but ran out of money to compete so to stay involved I started taking images at events and selling them to competitor and motor sport magazines. So my photography background was rally sport action based.
For various reasons I had a sabbatical from photography for a number of years during which time digital arrived. A trip to Hong Kong was the catalyst of buying a compact digital camera (Sony) and suddenly I was hooked again. I was introduced to ephotozine while attending a Northscape Photography workshop in Whitby and started posting images on the site soon after. I got good pointer and feedback from other members and I felt my work was starting to improve.
What drew you to model photography?
Returning to photography, I wanted a new challenge as photographer, I enjoy landscape photography as it gets you out into the countryside and the magic of watching the light develop in the early morning is special, but a lot of the time you are waiting for light that never happens (or that seem to be my experience). In the studio the challenge is working out where to put the light to create the mood and shadows that you want so there is a creative element with the lighting together with working with the models to create shapes that give you unique images. That is the buzz I get from working with models and creating images with them.
Talk us through how you’d go about setting up and taking a studio shot.
Before I go into the studio I do a lot of image research to get ideas for images that I might want to create when working with a particular model.
There are lots of sources around for image ideas – I buy a lot of fashion magazines and use them to create “tear sheets” for possible use to base a shoot around. Another good source of ideas comes from the web including various image hosting websites and model websites too. I also use mood boards on my Ipad to collect image ideas to theme a shoot.
I then select a model that I feel will suit the image I want to create. So if it’s a dance type image then I would choose a model who is a dancer. I will then think and look at how I want my lighting to be for the shoot.
Once in the studio its setting up the lights and deciding what direction I want the light to come from and where I want my shadows that really brings the photos to life.
How did you get involved in FIAP?
I joined a camera club around 5 years ago to try and get more feedback on my work; I entered a couple of images into one of its competitions and got a second place, which sort of encouraged me. I had some more success and then started to send work to local photographic exhibitions and again had some success. So I then sent work to the national competitions and again had images accepted. So International Salons were the next step and these Salons are run under the FIAP (Federation Internationale de l’Arte Photographique)
Can you tell us a bit more about what it is, and why it’s something you took part in?
So what is FIAP – well I could just point you in the direction the FIAP website: – www.fiap.net/index-en.php but its not that good for this sort of information. So here is my take on what FIAP represents. To start out a local camera club is a body for photographers in a local area that may well organise competitions for their members between clubs in that area. These clubs are often part of a federation (one per country) – for the UK this is the (PAGB) Photographic Alliance of Great Britain. These federations organise competitions and distinctions awards etc, across its member clubs. So FIAP is a federation of the national federations, a world wide photographic body, and like local clubs and national federations, it hosts competitions and offers distinctions. However unlike the local clubs and national federations, you are now competing and being measured against photographers from across the world. Just as a point, FIAP has no employees; everybody involved in the organisation, from the President down, gives his or her services on a voluntary basis. Only actual expenses are ever paid. It currently has some 86 countries as operational members (or National Federations) which represent well over a million photographers.
Do you have any advice for those looking to get involved in model photography and FIAP?
Yes firstly find a local studio that run model days, you can go along and with a group of other interested photographers try out working with lights and models. The lights are usually set up for you (which take out the worry of how to set up the lights for the shot) and so you can just concentrate on working with the model. It keeps the cost down and gives you a feel to how it all works. If you then want to take it further, join some of the model/photographer websites. On the better sites you normally need some model images for your portfolio so doing a studio day would give you some of these. Model Mayhem, and Purpleport are a couple that come to mind. Once accepted onto the site you can then start to see model and studio castings and contact models who you might want to work with.
With regards to entering FIAP salons, the first thing to say about entering competitions is that it can be expensive in terms of printing cost, entry fees and postage cost. However a lot of entries can now be done online as there are Digital projected image exhibitions. There are no guarantees of gaining acceptance either, an image that might do well in the local club competition, might never see the walls of a National exhibition. So it’s worth visiting some of the local/county exhibitions to see what is being accepted and shown
I would recommend starting by seeing how your work gets on in local camera club competition, and then look at the national competitions, in the UK. This will give you an idea of how your work stands up against others. If you are regularly getting acceptance then look at doing some of the FIAP salons in the UK, then you can start on the FIAP distinction trail.