What could have been and what might

For week 40 of my self portrait project, I  had every intention of posting a studio shot. Only I was shooting film. And in my rush to get to the studio I’d forgotten to bring one vital piece of kit that would allow my  camera to trigger the studio lights. But more on that in a minute.

I’d been invited to join rashbre in Liverpool where he was catching up with his friend Imran from A&R photography, a studio-based business that he runs from Liverpool’s creative hub, the Bluecoat Centre. Imran had generously offered us the use of his studio for a day, and after a tour of the Bluecoat and a stroll around the city centre where I took some amazing photos (you’ll just have to trust me on that because none of them came out after the film jammed in the camera), we set to work in the studio.

After some messing about with the light set up and being talked through how everything worked, we started moving the lights around, trying different things. I went straight for the mean and moody lighting, using just a snoot for a dramatic effect.

I’m not sure Rashbre liked it, but I was happy enough with my initial results.

Imran was the perfect host and tutor, he allowed us to experiment but when that experimentation bordered on messing around he took control and moved things along. And by lunchtime, he’d taken this great shot of me.

After lunch we tried setting up Vlad for my film shots, but I’d forgotten to bring my hotshoe pc cord adaptor. I’d also forgotten that the point of this little gadget is that the shoe mount is plastic which is essential as the shoe adaptor that slides onto the side of the Hasselblad is made from metal and will short out the flash before it fires. I’d connected the trigger to Vlad via a pc cord so that it would set off the lights when I pressed the shutter, but the trigger was attached to the metal shoe adaptor, which meant that it shorted instead of firing. Complicated, isn’t it?

We scratched our heads, fiddled about with leads, changed batteries, all to no avail. We even tried setting off the trigger manually at the same time as the shutter, but none of it worked.

The next day sorting through my gear and checking my set up, I realised my mistake. How annoying.

Except that the day was far from wasted. I’d had an insider’s guide to Liverpool, a practical lesson in lighting, and a really fantastic time.

The next day I had a job interview and when that was over, I set up my tripod and tried out a few shots. I used available light, but the same principles apply. So when I took this, I’d tried some dramatic down lighting, which isn’t all that flattering, some warm sidelighting, but in the end I came to the conclusion that nothing can beat the natural light from a window or two, even on a dreary day.







  1. Yes – it was certainly a fun day and some lovely pictures taken by all of us. And now, I even recognise that camera bag in your self portrait.

    Amusingly, I had to meet someone for work yesterday (we’d never met before) and emailed one of your pix of me to help us locate one another in a random Costa coffee before we headed ot a client.

    One of his first comments was – wow that was a professional photo you sent me 😉

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