I was recently put in touch with one Rachel Frost of @thecraftybeggars She is a maker of all things fine and crafted, primarily hats, often for the world of historic re-enactment. She also likes to work on some rather more adventurous fine art projects and we thought we could both work on a project.
This eventually culminated in a shoot of some wonderful Skekler outfits she had created for a workshop she was running in Edinburgh. There’s not much known about the Skeklers or ‘straw men’ but it’s thought to derive from a tradition based in Shetland during Halloween and other celebration periods. There’s a great piece on them in a Document Scotland page that gives a bit more background and showcases a project initiated by Glasgow photographer Gemma Ovens.
Myself and Rachel took her outfits to Yellowcraigs beach as it was a suitable canvas to show something as otherworldly as the Skeklers outfits. My artist friend Hazel Terry and Rachels friend and dancer Sara were up for playing the part.
As well as a grand day with them both I later went with my wife Krista to a darker forest where we created a rather more sinister version around burnt trees. While there a man passed with a Harris Hawk sitting on his arm, it fitted the moment perfectly.
So, much as I should, I never seem to get around to exhibiting my work, it just ends up Facebook and Instagram or my website and thats it. Well I challenged that and submitted a couple of favourite Mythoslogos images into the RSA Open Exhibition 2018 which is held every year their beautiful centrepiece gallery on the Mound in Edinburgh. I’m pleased that both got accepted and I even managed to sell a couple on the same day. It’s really a wonderful exhibition of very diverse and skilled work from a huge pool of artists so I was delighted to be involved. It fairly got my thoughts turning and I’m determined to do more exhibiting.
It’s on until the 25th of July 2018 so do get along and catch it before it’s over, it’s free to enter and has a damn fine cafe and shop to boot..
I recently visited the Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh, a regular haunt. They are currently showing some incredible work by the acclaimed Scottish artist, Jenny Saville I remember her work when she first gained wide recognition over 20 years ago but hadn’t seen much for years. I was totally blown away and would recommend a visit. You really need to see the images in their larger than life scale to appreciate them. The wild textural style seems at odds with the subtlety of the overall final painting from a distance.
While there I saw some of the Francis Bacon images they hold in their permanent collection. I’ve always loved the abstraction in his work and like Saville I’m so impressed that brush strokes so seemingly wild can result in art so nuanced. I’ve always felt a little frustrated that those contradictory qualities are harder to capture in photography. I have been playing around with light from a projector and I calculated I could use it’s qualities to allow more unpredictability and abstraction into my work . I’ve never seen anyone else using light in quite this way and was unsure if my late night pondering on the technique would come to anything.
I first tried lighting a moving model during a long exposure in the studio and liked the outcome, especially the lack of control over what the final image would look like. I then tried shooting a self portrait, largely for the want of a suitable (slightly!) craggy face that would work well for this approach. All rather hard to do while holding the camera at the same time! All this from a man who can’t abide ‘the selfie’. The self portrait has a look of something highly edited but I love that this image is straight from the camera unedited other than a crop. The rather wild look of the image is captured raw in both senses! A couple of days later I was shooting a theatre image for my friend Matthew Zajac and managed to sneak in another projector portrait of him at the end of our shoot.
I’m not sure where all this might lead, I’m always inclined to jump around stylistically but I really enjoyed the lack of control inherent within the process which I think allows more to come from the sitters in that moment. Anything that challenges your normal practices, especially after 30 tears of shooting is very welcome. I also just love to play!
A good while back I saw a couple of amazing paintings at the RSA in Edinburgh. A friend of mine introduced me to the artist, one Kirsty Whiten. She specialises in powerful surreal images, ritualistic, symbolic paintings I felt strongly drawn to. We ended up meeting and got along. I persuaded her to appear in one of my photographs. Loving her work I wanted to reference it in my own image somehow. She invited me up to her amazing home studio in Fife then on for a traipse around some local spots Kirsty thought might be a good location for a picture. Eventually we ended up in an amazing forest that was full of sink holes and mini caves in Blebo woods. This seemed like the perfect location to capture something otherworldly. The elemental quality of the location made me decide to use fire in the image. We took a couple of test shots in a shallow cave and headed home.
The forthcoming shoot was in my mind to the extent I ended up dreaming about it. In my dream the location was different, in a much deeper cave with a lower cave within the main cave that was full of people that we had to negotiate with before being able to take the photograph. When we arrived back at the location for the shoot Kirsty mentioned that there was a second cave nearby if I wanted to see it. We ended up heading over and as soon as I stepped inside I was surprised to see the cave you see, one with a deeper lower cave at the back, just like in my dream. Naturally we ended up taking the images in there.
The smell and atmosphere in the cave made it one of the most otherworldly and intense places I’ve ever shot in, even more so when we began to light up the balls of fire. It’s a tricky process all about subtle timing but that intensity helped in a way. As well as Kirsty portrayed as Tatwari, ‘a god of fire and shaman of ancient times,’ I took a couple of other images of her as well as the cave alone which is the one I keep getting drawn back to.
Been busy with commercial work in the second half of last year and got a bit frustrated at a lack of personal projects being ready to go. Especially over the Christmas holiday with so much free time. So I decided to do a few more in my nudes series as it’s so quick to put together and still a highly creative process. I planned a shoot with a model who shall remain nameless, who decided to bow out late the night before. Then totally by chance another model announced she was free, in Edinburgh the next day and would I like to shoot? Curious that her model name is ‘Angel’.
I had always planned to try out more experiments with projecting images. It’s tricky as even with a fancy powerful projector the light level is remarkably low requiring high iso and wide aperture, not the usual favourite of photographers unless you’re looking for that. Regardless I like the results and will continue the series some more. I’d love to be able to use flash with projected images but I’ve never heard of a system that allows it. Anyone?
So I’ve been shooting an ongoing project for several months. A lovely commission to shoot many award winning apprentices for Skills Development Scotland. This recently involved a road trip up to Inverness then onto Aberdeen and then a hop over to Shetland. I’m not long back and can’t yet share any of the images from that shoot as the campaign isn’t up and running yet. However, I did manage to have a few hours spare at the end of the Shetland shoot before flying home. I asked some locals where the most dramatic bit of coastline was within an hours drive. They pointed me in the direction of Eshaness in the north so thats where I headed with my camera.
I realise now I never quite arrived there, after 50 minutes of driving across a beautiful barren landscape of deserted homes and sporadic colourful villages I turned a corner and found the bay overlooking Hillswick from Urafirth. It was so beautiful and dramatic looking into the light that I was happy to stop there, get out and explore. To be honest I didn’t at the time know if this was Eshaness or not, what with no mobile reception and scant road signs. With the wild remoteness of it all it seemed fitting not to know quite where I was.
I wandered down past a abandoned house complete with a very creepy pair of children shoes left at the end of the road, like something out of an Edgar Allen Poe story. I wondered if it was something thats done to mark an abandoned home, then realised I was being too dramatic and it was probably just a forgotten pair of shoes. Spooky and poignant all the same.
I walked along the clifftops for an hour or so with a wild wind forcing foam and rain up the wall of the cliff into my face and lens, then the clouds would part and it would be perfect sunshine for a minute before returning to a torrent of rain again, then back to sun again, over and over. I found my eyes constantly being drawn to the Jagged rocks breaking the surface of the sea in the distance, the light changing the same view dramatically every few minutes.
I had a two hour drive back to Sumburgh for my flight and managed to check my bags, just allowing time to take the hire car down to visit the coastline by the monumental lighthouse nearby. Despite being the most notable spots to visit I saw not another soul out walking, the only tourist about I was aware of was me.
Definitely have to go back and spend more time exploring. It’s bleak and barren quality is weirdly compelling and Lerwick has some beautiful wee corners. The whole island is a photographers dream.
I just added a few of my remaining Shadow double exposure portraits to my website so I just thought Id mention it on my blog. I haven’t really done more work on this in quite a while but there are a few that haven’t been added to the site and every now and then I think of an idea and will often return to the basic portraits and try to combine them with something different. That produced the shot of Anaa-Lena with the feather Head dress. I felt it suited a much more muted tone too, sometimes I feel my images are too literal and I just can’t stop experimenting. I know that can mean it’s hard to maintain a single consistent style but for me that comes second to the pure creative process. If it feels right to me it goes in.
See the whole series on the website here http://commercial.lwinram.com/personal-projects/shadow/BLUE8854-3-Mihaela-as-Cerynitis/
Prints of many are available on Artfinder or contact me by email
I took shots for the Lyceum Theatre’s production of the Iliad a while back and Ben asked if I’d take a few shots of him when I had time and he was still up here. We managed to squeeze in a quick session at the end of the run of the play. I knew he’d be a good subject after our rushed poster shoot, he’s an intense person and thats how I like them!
I shot him with dramatic lighting and a harsh process, rather in a similar style to the great Anton Corbin. It gives a Lith printing feel to the shots.
I was recently contacted by Roarie, a free spirited world wandering model and creative muse. She would be in the UK and did I want to work with her? She herself picks the people she wants to work with and her motivation is first and foremost the creative process and will readily turn down a photographer if she isn’t inspired by their work. I’ve never worked with a model quite like her before but loved the edgy energy she brought to the shoot. She’s constantly on the move and is full of ideas and where I find I’m often trying to create a certain edge in images, with Roarie it was more like trying to contain her intensity.
I’m all too aware that shooting nudes can be a bit of a cliche but the process of working on this theme has been one of the most creatively satisfying projects I’ve worked on. I love that there’s nothing to clutter the image, just form and light, it feels like when I used to do life drawing with a huge piece of charcoal and work really fast. I love the speed and freedom. No clients, no brief, just pure creativity and beauty.
I had the pleasure of shooting a wonderful Glasgow based model, the eclectic Miranda. Amount other things she’s a fine art student and a life model. This really helps me when I’m exploring slightly offbeat themes. She was as enthusiastic as me about what we were trying to achieve and brought her own form of creativity to the shoot. I thought she had the perfect expression to capture that certain mythical, feral look I had imagined. To be honest I based the shoot on her look. I’m hoping we can shoot together more in the future.
Yay! Just opening tonight, (12th March 2016) is the New York Times Art for Tomorrow conference being held in Doha Qatar. Louise Hunter from Summerhouse media was kind enough to invite me to exhibit there alongside some world class artists. All the framed prints were collected the other day and shipped out.
I’m showing five of my Conemen images as well as The Watchers (from Mythoslogos). Sad not being able to attend but hope the work is well received.
From a recent shoot in the studio. Still trying to explore nude photography. It’s hard not to repeat yourself and you need to be very organised in advance with what you want to do otherwise it’s easy to waste the time you have with a model.
I especially like the effect of the tilt shift lens, it lends a slightly more impressionistic slant to the shots.
Some of the images are for sale on Artfinder https://www.artfinder.com/product/emma-iv-130/
I have been shooting a few more nudes recently on the back of my Shadow project. Ayla Rose is the first professional nude model I’ve photographed. The shoot worked out very well, it made a real difference having a model who was so familiar with the process and who was so professional. I love the opportunity to be completely free with form and light. I’ve always felt more in tune with painters than most photographers and I feel photographing nudes for me is about as close as you can get to painting.
So Nikita is a model I shot for a client of mine the other day. She was very into doing some personal photos and came to the studio for a session. We spent ages messing about with double exposure, fabric, feathers, the lot! I love experimenting, especially when the subjects are into it. Shot a few of these on my new 85mm tilt-shift lens which I totally love. The crow was shot with daylight alone, a nice change for me. Nikita and the crow is for sale as a signed edition print on Artfinder
The double exposure image, Nikita II will be added to my Shadow series. It’s also on Artfinder
So I just added this image, ‘Mihaela I’ and a few others for the time being to the Art Finder website. It’s available for sale as a signed edition of 30. They have been selling at the exhibition in Aberdeen Royal Infirmary but an online gallery is good to offer this to a wider audience. This one out of all the images in the exhibition seems to be the favourite. I’ll post a few others that may not have been seen. Check out the Artfinder site here. I’ll be adding to that gallery a lot more.
Filmed this in the grounds of Menzies Castle by Aberfeldy in Perthshire. 13th August 2015
The sound you hear I recorded on my phone at the time I was shooting. I thought it was a deer but I’m not sure. Any thoughts?
It was wonderfully spooky, especially with the mist rolling in. The traces you see are satellites. The occasional flashes are the meteors.
Shot as single frames on a Canon 5D Mk III then put together in Final Cut pro X
My good friend Matt Armstrong came by the studio with his new partner Helena the other day and this happened! Fortunately Matt and Helena are broad minded and creative people who embraced the notion of a portrait like this. I stretched invisible head across the set passing it through the middle of a single candle. I didn’t foresee the image being exactly like this but when Matt held the horns in front of the candle it became clear what would work. I can’t decide if Matt looks just like Gilbert of Gilbert and George fame, or is it Philip Larkin? Regardless I think they look suitably bohemian and members of a group of whom’s creed it would be ne’er impossible to fathom. The style of the shot I thought was reminiscent of Man Ray. I’ve always loved that period of surrealists and Dadaist art.
In an earlier incarnation Matt was a member if the most excellent Kaisers and is always dressed immaculately in threads of a vintage no later than 1974.
Recently I’m becoming aware just how much a sitter brings to a shoot. If someone is happy to sit for me then I’m happy. But I’ve found that when they share something of a similar artistic nature it adds so much more to the image. I suppose that would seems obvious to most but for whatever reason I’m now becoming much more aware of it.
Sophie is an illustrator and her artwork has a pretty dark feel with a heavy dose of weird, so she was well in tune with how I see things. She didn’t have to have to play a part in our shoot, her strength of character loomed large the whole time, in fact I’d say it dominated the shoot. I did intend to use some of these for my double exposure series but it soon became clear that there would be way too much going on to add anything else to her images. I wish all my sitters brought this much to a shoot!
Prints of these and others available direct from me or on the Saatchi website. Once again, any women happy to pose do get in touch.
Tara – Amazing shoot with Tara the other day. She was very clear about how she wished to be portrayed, in a strong and confident way. We had all kinds of ideas, some more impractical than others but when she turned up with this sheep skull I knew it would make for a powerful image. I also liked the more traditional seated pose. It’s not as dramatic but I think it still shows her strength of character. As ever, any other women who are interested in posing for this series please do get in touch.
Michael Wildman – Had the pleasure of shooting my friend Michael today. I first met him several years ago in the Cameo bar. I liked his hat and asked him if he and his partner would like to come down to the studio, the rest is history.
I’ve been looking to expanding my experience with portraiture and also wanted to see if I could produce images of him that lent themselves to my double exposure technique. I ended up not doing much with that as Michael has such a strong presence I didn’t feel anything other than straight images were what the moment suited. Michael is a fine art photographer himself with a strong sense of what constitutes a worthy image. This to me is a bit of a double edged sword that brings a lot of intensity to the moment but can feel intimidating too. As it turned out by the end of the shoot the direction of the images left both of us with smiles on our faces.
Such is Michaels presence I thought I’d shoot just the one wide view, those eyes seem to fill the shot! And of course this image might satisfy some of those lighting geeks curiosity. I’ll post a couple of the favourite ones later.
Another version of these double exposure images. I love working on these, I’m learning a lot about what works and what doesn’t. It’s amazing how the mood and feel of an image changes so much on the tiniest of changes. Once again, if you want to model for these do get in touch.
Another for the Shadow series. Signed prints for sale on Artfinder. When I was out shooting the background bushes image I had some guy come up to me asking why I’m shooting ‘dead trees’. I did explain how it would be used but his face never gave that look of understanding of what the hell I was on about. I just have to live with it that someone out there thinks I shoot dead tress for fun. I just should have said I was a twitcher, is that less weird?
Amazing shoot in the studio the other day with my photographer friend Mihaela. We had no plan to shoot anything like this but I think that makes it all the more rewarding when you get a worthwhile result. I love working with arty people, they get what you are trying to do and add to it. She was the one who suggested using the antlers. I love how her neck almost forms a deer skull. #antlers Always looking for new models to work with, do get in touch.