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Welcome. Thank you so much for being here. I am here with legendary photographer Damien Lovegrove.
I have been a huge fan of his and I am so happy to introduce him to the group. And if you guys aren’t familiar, I have actually brought up some of his galleries and his lighting is exquisite. And I brought him on to talk about his journey in photography, his workshops and basically his lighting principles and how he achieves that. So thank you so much, Damien, for being on.
Thank you very much for the invite. So, yeah, I mean, Tappin, I’m here for you guys, so tap into the knowledge and experience that I’ve got and let’s go for a creative journey.
Yes. Damien, before we get into let’s just say what you’re doing right now, can you walk us through just how you got into photography and how you ended up and where you are now?
Yeah, OK. Well, in 1984, I joined the BBC as a cameraman, having done photography.
My brother at the time was a professional photographer, a mother, an art teacher. And so my father was an architect. So quite an artistic background. And I signed up for the BBC, applied for a job. I think about eighteen hundred people applied for the same job. And for some reason I got it. And then in nineteen eighty four, for the first three years of my BBC career till nineteen eighty seven, I was training to be a cameraman. And so in 1997 I qualified as a cameraman and then I did another three years of training to train to be a lighting cameraman. So that’s a cameraman that goes out to shoot documentaries and takes a lighting kit, maybe two or three lights and sets up all the interviews, et cetera. So that was six years of training to get to there. Then I did another three years of training to become a lighting director. And so then I worked in Television Central London as a lighting director and I got made redundant back in what year it was. But that must have been about I suppose nineteen ninety four, something like that, maybe a bit later actually. And so I got a job in news, so I worked for BBC News for a few years and then I realised what actually news is.
It’s so dull as long as you could see the person and hear them. There was no room for art so I decided to leave that and become a commercial photographer.
So I spent two years from nineteen ninety eight when I left the BBC till 2000 thinking that, hey, I’m going to be a commercial photographer and I was doing OK. I was photographing for perjury, polka pens, Motorola, quite big companies, but I just spent the whole of my time chasing money. You know, people would look me to do a shoot, I can’t do the shoot. I’d have all the film costs and the processing. And I’m was on transparency back then and everything had to be right and camera and but I just spent money, time chasing pavements, you know, maybe three months after the shoot I’d get paid. And so I thought, I’m not having this. And I thought I saw at the time the the wedding photography industry was a little bit dull, very dull. It was just like painting by numbers. You know, there wasn’t really any good at all. So I thought, well, I’ll come up with a new product for the wedding market, which I did. And I shot everything at it for a shot into the light for every every show, for ten years. Every picture I took was a four. And and every I didn’t have any sky in my pictures. So I have all these sort of rules about the structure. I had a wide lens and the tight ends and those standards. And so when I put our wedding albums together, we had a wide shot to establish the scene.
Might be the guys getting ready or the ushers outside the church. So we had the close ups closer, closer, closer, and then you turn the page and then the same again, but with the bride and the bride’s friends, the bridesmaids, et cetera, then you turn the page and now you’re with the. Yeah. So we had this sort of rhythm and a story going just like shot in a movie. I mean, multiple scenes running concurrently.
So I thought I’d build that product. And I launched that product to retail, retail photography, social photography, and it took off.
We had brides from Philadelphia getting married at a castle in Florence and Italy that have their photographer from Bristol. That would be me and my wife, us. They’d have the dress designer from New York and the makeup artist from Paris know it was just that time of opulence in the wedding industry. And quite often people, customers would spend ten thousand pounds just on their wedding pictures. So, you know, it was a period of quite dramatic sort of work for us.
And of course, my lighting skills really came in because every all the it looked like it was. From a movie, because I let everything I didn’t just create this show up and hope for the best or just use the film Flash or so, and that was our style was established. And that was that was where we were. So, you know, then once I did 10 years, I did 10 years of weddings, 400 weddings in total, what I call the sort of high end, and that paid for my mortgage to pay for my pension. They paid for my life. So after that, I retired from shooting weddings and I started everybody wanted to know what we would do. So I wrote a book called Wedding Photography, which became a bestseller. And I then started teaching weddings. And I was working with models because during the week, on a Monday to Friday, there were no no real people, no couples.
My couples from weddings weren’t available because they were at work or what have you. So many people were available were models. And then I realized I actually quite enjoyed photographing models because they they were happy in front of the camera. And I thought, oh, this is good.
And so I soon realized that it wasn’t how to photograph a wedding people needed to know about.
It was how to use light, how to photograph a person, how to make someone look fantastic, and how to analyze a face to to work out what level of what they’re like from this side or that side. Someone’s nose bent slightly, in which case I liked interdependent. It straightens it. Or if you like the wrong way on someone, it just looks appalling. So these basic things that no one seemed to be teaching how to light a person, how to make someone look gorgeous.
So those are the skills, of course, I brought from from the BBC, because when we work with actresses and actors and things, we need to know how to make them fabulous. And that was part of the image.
So I started teaching, lighting, lighting workshops, and then I made videos and it all sort of sort of took off from there and boudoir became big. And I thought, well, look, why don’t we introduce the classic lighting, which was Fridell Spotlights that has been used in the film and the TV industry since the 1930s with these concentric ring lenses and bring that back into photography, into stills and use that crisp hard with that soft edge feel to it. Break the light up with with some Kopans, and then you end up with something really, really fantastic. And of course, that’s what we did. And yeah, it was just something that it became it just took off. And people up until that point had been using soft boxes and soft light. And of course, that makes everybody look fat and white. If you put soft light on something and it just makes them makes their face or their features wide, if you put hard light on then their face and their features become narrow and the cheekbones become more refined and become much more beautiful, especially back in the days of film, using hard light was a bit risky because you often highlighted texture in the skin and spots and things like that. But of course people use Photoshop now and they’ll Photoshop someone, whether it’s a soft or hard light.
So you might as well just use half light and have the most beautiful light source. And of course, then it became a very, very popular thing. And I’ve been teaching that ever since.
So I so I feel in the photography community, everyone knows outboxes, everyone knows robe’s flashes. So you said the word for now. And even for me, it’s something that I know not a lot of people now say. Can you describe what those are Rinella can be?
Can you go back one picture? Because I think you’ve been clicking through on these.
We’ll take a look at this short on it. So take a look at that shot. See if I ask people, is this lit with hard, lighter, soft light? Sometimes half the audience will say, oh, lots of light, but it’s actually hard light. It’s crisp, hard, right. You look at the shadow of a hair on the headboard and then you look at the shadow under the under the chin.
You can see how crisp and hard that light is. But what is used? Well, it creates a sort of magic and a beauty. The it’s filled in quite well because of the light is hitting the pillars and things and so reducing the contrast. So but people often find high contrast lighting. They think, oh well that’s hard light and low contrast. I can and stuff like it’s not like that, but a frontal lens is a it’s a lens on a lamp that you can flat and spot and. Yeah, exactly that. So any of these fittings here that you see on that screen, it doesn’t matter whether they’re aristos tungsten lights from twenty years ago or up to date, modern Lepo led lights, whatever. These are the type of lights that are going to make boudoir photography beautiful.
Ok, so this type of thing. So yeah.
So and this is actually what I like. The only times I’ve ever seen them before I even saw your a couple of years ago, I saw your simply we do our tutorial. I remember thinking, like, that’s something out of like a broadcast. I remember seeing those like on the show of like Seinfeld pointing down at the at the thing. I’ve never seen this being used in photography.
Yeah, well, it’s a it’s a light that’s always been used in the film and TV industry because it makes people look fantastic. And when you watch a news broadcast, you’ve got a newscaster sitting behind a desk on the set.
They will be lit with hot light because you get that it’s very good at making creating three dimensions on a two dimensional screen and creating debt. Now, this picture here, for instance, is lit with hard light and it’s very effective light. And you look at the shadows from eyelashes that absolutely to die for that just it’s got that beautiful feel. And I often shoot at 90 degrees to the light. So here the light is 90 degrees to the camera. And I’m just sort of got the camera down and I’m looking through her arms to her face. But you look at the way the transition of light on the cheekbone round into the onto the cheek and then on down onto the jaw line. Absolutely fantastic. And that’s what I love about the light. It’s very good at sculpting. And you don’t really need to see detail in the shadows as you bring that the shutter detail down in turn. And so here it’s about zone one. It’s printable. Certainly not it’s not all just a black hole. And that’s important, but it’s also gives a sense of mood and drama. And it’s a little bit more flattering.
I think as soon as you start using soft light and you see everything, it’s it can just be it’s a little bit vulgar in a way.
It’s something less artistic about it. Was was this one is this like a window or a selfie or is it is it’s a window at about four metres or 16, 20 feet or so, something like that. And but I just close the curtains and just open them a little bit.
And so, like, you can see that cheekbone. See what we’ve got here is what we call the Hollywood Triangle, where the the nose shadow touches the cheek and the enclose is a triangle of light on the on the camera side of the face.
So I always shoot into the light. So her face is lit from the other side. So if if I bought a camera around to the other side of her, then the whole of her left side of her face is lit. But I always look into the unlit side of the face.
That’s again a characteristic trait of beautiful light, beautiful sort of cinematography and dizzier to your gallery’s mix.
So if you were shooting her, well, are you also mixing in and like closing the windows and using the loop of lights?
So you’re using a combination? Absolutely. I mean, this was just this is just one shot from a series.
So when I’m working with someone, I mean, I don’t shoot good for clients because that’s just not what I’ve done. But I’ve worked as I teach photographers how to shoot. Good. Well, and mainly women photographers. And then on my workshops, I have a lot of workshops just for hobbyists and people who want to photograph models, and I teach them as well. So but for the for boudoir itself, I’ve been teaching mainly women photographers how to make other women look fantastic. And I think that’s it’s just that’s the way it’s been. But what I would do in a session is I would show how to get the most out of one room. So with the bed we can use here, it’s like you can tell it’s it’s sort of daylight and the windows are open. The curtains are open just a bit because of the light that’s coming across onto the face. But if we were to close the curtains and then use a spotlight, we can make it like a light coming from a bedside lamp and it would be taken at night. So just by closing the curtains, you’ve got a completely different ambience in the room and you could shoot at night and day evening wear or getting ready to go out. Very glamorous hair, makeup, beautiful. All you can do Sunday morning, relax with a cup of coffee, just sitting around in some underwear or what have you. So you’ve got different styles and genres that you can bring in to shoot into the same space.
Yeah, well, and then as far as from you saying that, I do remember when I was watching this, that this woman, you took her into like all sorts of scenes and there were some where there was absolutely no light other than the four now or just like little things you were you were basically putting in different foreground elements you were using. I even saw one where you did like blinds and it casts a really beautiful shadow. Yeah.
So, I mean, you have to be creative. You got to bring your own style. For now, I’m using that. And that’s an HMO dilemma. It’s a mental highlight.
So somebody switches it takes a few minutes to come up, but when it’s on, it’s the most beautiful light ever. It’s wonderful. Unfortunately, those aren’t made anymore. So we have to pick them up. But the the way I work is I make my own Cobos with with with Venetian blinds. I make my I use parts and break up panels that go over scatter jokes that go over the light heads.
I want to break the light up because if you look around you now in the room you’re in and you look at the walls, you can see the color of the walls. But what you don’t necessarily notice straight away is the fact that there’s so many little dappled areas where some part of the wall is one stop brighter than another just because of the way light breaks up in a room, gets reflections, et cetera. And that’s what I try to recreate with my lighting, because if you just put a box on a room, it just illuminates and everything is illuminated with an even quantity of light. And it just real it just looks quite flat and dull. So if we start to break the light up, we create much more magical, beautiful light, as if it’s like sunlight coming through net curtains or or something like that. And it just this wonderful textures. And so that’s where a lot of the work I’ve been doing has become very popular.
And it’s a demand, I suppose, for my workshops and my videos.
I actually the reason I reached out to you is because I saw this and I was like, man, this is so cool. This was getting such a I mean, these sold out and like, I don’t know, a couple of hours, maybe a couple of days. But when I saw these, I saw that this was super popular. So I know you you were. So this is what do you call it specifically?
Yeah. This is this is scatter flashing.
So it’s a full carbon fibre runs with a printed acetate gel over the attached to the front of the apocalypse and that attaches to a speed light or in this case got eighty two hundred, which is a superblock by the way. And I sort of designed this product and it’s taken me three years to design and sort of put it all together and it so that I can create the same type of light that I’ve been using with my panel of lights, but actually on a speed light because the lens on the front of a speed light is also a French lens. It’s concentric rings gives you that ability to spot the light up and on Canon Netcom type speed light. So you’ve got the zoom, zoom in or zoom it out. And it’s quite interesting how these things work, but this is a really good little bit of kit and it creates that lovely, fantastic sort of Hollywood scene lighting.
Now, you’ve got to be careful where you place it because obviously you can’t see the picture until you’ve taken it.
You don’t know where the pattern is. And that’s the advantage, of course, of working with continuous light because you can put a gel over a lamp and you can just pan the lamp slightly until the light a patch is across the eyes or whatever you want to highlight. And then the bits that you don’t particularly want to highlight are just lurking in the shadows. And so the eye is drawn, the attention is not drawn to them.
So whatever flash, of course, you have to engage the person you’re photographing to help align it and things like that.
So and we were speaking about this a little bit earlier, because you do have I tend to find maybe you were talking to me about how you kind of prefer continuous light. So when you’re doing, let’s just say boudoir or you’re doing women’s portraiture, when do you pull out the speed lights?
Well, it all depends on what it is I’m shooting. So this particular shoot was a fashion sort of styled shoot.
And working with Flash, of course, you get short duration so you can the person that you’re photographing can move around, which is great, although I’ve got a camera on a tripod. That’s just the way I work when I’m working the meeting format. But this was shot f f a hundred ISO and I think to fiftieth of a second or something, it could have been a thousandth of a second to five point six. Or have you so the point is you’ve got quite a lot of light, it’s a bit like in a studio when you’re working with Studio Flash, you could be at 11 and you couldn’t. You’ve got that to feel and you can decide whether how much light you need now when you’re working with continuous light instead of being at Efate for this shot, I would probably be the F2. And instead of being at two hundred and fifty thousand of probably being at one hundred and twenty five and instead of being one hundred eyes, I might have been at 400 iso so you know, and working at F2, you get a very different feel than working at fight. And so you’ve got to, you know, choosing the right light for the moment is important. Now this flash, the 80 200 is is great for doing what I call sort of fashion and interior portraits like this, where the Flash might be working at about three to four metres from the subject and then outside in bright, even in bright sunlight, you can work with this this set up. So it’s a good transition from bright interiors to to daylight exteriors. And it is very, very powerful.
Is is this set so that without the flash, you’ve basically cut out all the natural light? So the only light source you’re seeing is basically just the flash.
Yes, exactly. Now the shadows that you’re seeing there on the doors are the darkest parts aren’t lit by the flash directly.
They’re lit by the the flashlight coming off her trousers and off the lit part of the wall reflected. So when you when you light, it doesn’t matter whether you use continuous light or or flash. When you light a bright surface like the world here, then the light rattles around the room because a hyper high percentage of it gets reflected and then it hits other other parts, which also rattles around on. You get that sort of slightly higher key look than some sometimes you particularly want. And so the way way to process that is then just to just sit the shadows down. And that’s, of course, as you do that you drop the you drop any noises in the picture as well and just sit down. So they just look like in the lower level, leaving your highlights where they are. And the pictures just looks wonderful. Dynamic range in this contrast. And this is just striking. I mean, this is the shot we’re looking at here. These pictures here, it’s just one light and then this little set here, this is how I would print them. So you just give people the idea of how they would look on the page. Now, when you’ve got when you’re shooting boudoir and your aim and your objective is to actually sell the prints to the person that’s in the photograph, then it’s really important that they have something striking, original and beautiful, these pictures, because it’s lit with like take over those sorts of boxes. And so it doesn’t matter whether she’s in lingerie or whether she is she’s naked or whether or not it really wouldn’t matter. The point is, it’s the light that makes the picture quite dramatic.
So I feel like you’re right, it’s hiking with it’s pretty.
And I guess in comparison to some other places, I’m sure it’s a pretty plain background in the sense that it’s just a wall and a door and you’re basically able to create almost a whole new set or you can create a whole new spread just from scattered out or just from you see in this particular shoot.
Straight after I finish this little video sequence, it took about twenty minutes to shoot for that four minute video.
Then we we we went shot in the other side of the road. We shot the stairwell and just by keeping the flash at the same distance at about four metres from her, then it just the sex is vertical. So I didn’t change anything. I just you just thought, OK, let’s go straight over there. And then I put a flash up in four metres away and shot off exactly the same. And so you when you people think that when you’re working with light, it takes a lot of time and a lot of effort and it’s a lot more hard to do. But actually, the thing is, once you’re in the zone, you can go all around the house, you can photograph in the kitchen, you can photograph on someone’s perpetually photograph in the hallway, in the garage, on the bottom of the Cadillac, whatever. You know, you can shoot anywhere and work with keeping your flash to subject. This is reasonably similar. Your aperture and your settings just remain the same.
And the apparent energy that you bring into the shoot and the speed of working and the flow makes it much more comfortable and easy on the person that you’re photographing. As soon as you become nervous and you’re fiddling with settings and things, you lose that attention from the person you’re photographing and that that nervousness carries through to them.
Yeah, and this fits any basically any speed line, I’m assuming, yeah, this one, this is the large speed limits.
So for instance, the Cannon 580 or is it 600 that they’ve got yet? No problem for 30. Well, it wouldn’t fit. So the smaller baby speed like it would fit with the larger professional sized dogs like 60, Minicam, SB nine, 10, etc. that no problem at all. That’s that sort of size. But of course, with a speed like like, like the cannon and rocks and things like that, they’ve got a hot sheet and a hot shower is the weakest thing ever. It’s such a shame that it carried through from the nineteen forties when like I introduced it and it’s still there today. And the trouble with it is that as soon as you put an attachment on the front of a speed like a of pressure on that hawkshaw is ridiculous. So to use this with those cameras, especially those flashbulbs, especially outside where a bit of wind will just but if you’re inside and you’re careful, you don’t just stand down with the flash on you. You’ll find that you’re hot. You will be fine on the flash. But and I’ve made such a flash as light as possible by using carbon fiber, etc. and it is a very lightweight unit, but definitely the Cox eighty two hundred and eighty two. A pro is the way to go because it’s a very powerful light. The battery lasts an awful long time. It’s got a really good standard bracket which like the Clorox adds two hundred. Oh the 80s. Yeah. It’s, it’s the one that’s the one that most wedding photographers, boudoir photographers I know you use. And it really is this the one in that picture that is at two hundred watt.
Because I know my lights are like something.
Yeah. Two hundred watt seconds. Yeah.
So it’s the same power, it’s about three times the power of a regular regular spillar and it still fits in a pocket and it’s a great but so yeah that’s, it’s, it’s just it’s, it’s cheap, it’s about four hundred bucks and it gives you a lot of light and you’ve got a bad bulb head which, which is perfectly right inside of boxes. So if you have the sort of person that likes to use the box that it’s perfect for that. And it’s got the front outlet which is ideal for the things that’s got a flash, but also creating a flash of light. You want to recreate sunlight. You don’t want to think about working with soft boxes. You want to work with a crisp pop, like to get that lovely shadows. And so I can recreate sunlight with the eighty two hundred easily. And I put it outside a window on the drive or just outside someone’s house. And I just put the light through the, through the, through the window and it looks fantastic. Glances across a bed or something, you know, don’t feel that you have to have the light in the room that you’re shooting at because obviously if you’re trying to recreate the look of natural light when there isn’t enough or it’s not beautiful enough in that room, you need to bring the light from outside through the window. And that’s what I do. And if it’s raining, I just put a plastic bag. I get in line, as you see, in train stations and stuff, you know. So but I put one of those clear ones right over the top of the unit and it can be raining the way outside.
No problem with modern tickets that go through Buzinski.
And this is hard like what we’re seeing now from like a front from an actual continuous a continuous clamp hard like the picture of back.
So I go back to that one.
So this was shot wide open at F2 on one hundred and ten millimeter lens on my X, and you can see that the eyes will focus by a hair above her head is completely out of the shallow depth of field. And that’s got the look of that sort of that Hollywood look. But the light when you’re lighting someone, you need to make sure the light goes down the nose. So, for instance, the light in this situation is to the right of the camera and it’s angled straight down her nose. So we haven’t got a strong nose shadow. We’ve got the cheekbones a little underneath a lit from above and the shadows of the cheekbones are underneath. And you want to avoid having the bottom of a nose lighter than the top. So these are the things I like to set in the light. So it’s going down the nose. You’ll see you get the most beautiful of light and there it is. And this is going to get a job on it. And that’s why as little dappled areas, which are a little bit darker, like just above her. Right. That is a darker patch of the tree. But that’s because of it’s coming from the Stratego. And that gives a really lovely feel rather than that flat consistent light when you shooting. Without a gentleman like.
And do you find yourself maybe it’s because I’m on the Black and White Gallery, or I think it is the black and white collection, mainly shooting in black and white.
And when do you decide everything?
I mean, it’s difficult.
I mean, I often shoot in black and white just to see the total balance, especially where things like this color’s not important. But there’s a God there’s a there’s a color gallery on this website that you’re looking at, which is equally as popular, probably more pictures in color. And generally speaking, I will shoot everything in color, but I often have a camera switch to black and white. But when when you shoot in black and white, when you create creating black white pictures of you shooting nudes or shots like this, for instance, the black and white just simplifies the picture and it sort of makes it slightly more artistic. And you can see that you can see in this film. So you can see on the right side on the headboard of the bed, which is the right of the show, you see that dappled texture of light. That’s from the gel. That’s from a sketch. That’s what I mean. And it’s just clipping her knees, you see her thighs, et cetera. And that’s the type of light which I love using. But a shot like this, it just loves black and white. There’s no reason to have color.
And it’s too and this is just one light.
You have one like. Absolutely, this is in a hotel bedroom in Berlin.
And I’m I’m assuming it’s usually when someone buys a continuous Farinelli, they’re usually getting barn doors, but you basically always standard with bundles.
You can’t buy one without barn.
Ok, and then we can jump out of the control over the line.
Yeah. So we can have a look at this one.
This is late with this is by the way, this is in the name of the house now, but it was where Princess Diana grew up. And I’ve used this as a front light to the left and there’s one to the right now, one of the rules that I have in my photography, I mean, we have to have these rules just because they are not talking about rules of thirds, et cetera. I’m talking about just lighting design rules. If there’s a lamp in, the picture switches on. So those back, those lamps, even though it’s daylight, I’ll switch the table lamps on and things like that because it gives the gives me excuses now to add extra light. So there’s a light on the left, the shop just off to the left, the shot. Now the shadow from the light. That light is the lamp on the right of the picture is being lit by the light from the left. Now you notice that lamp has a shadow. Now light sources don’t generate shadows, but it gives you a clue. As a photographer, when you’re looking at a picture to see how it’s lit, just start looking for the shadows and the shadows, tell you where the light sources are. So that’s exactly the shadow we’re talking about. But my light is lighting color. The model left now. I got another light just out to the right of shot, lighting her arm and providing a bit of back like that. And that’s her shadow from that light is landing on the white fabric on the dressing table near the window. OK, so that’s her that is sitting down there. So that’s exactly it. But the thing is, she becomes the star because she’s lit and she’s in the center of the frame. And yet it looks quite natural.
When you first look at the photograph, you don’t imagine that there’s extra lighting put in because there’s enough light sources in the room to imply that she would be lit anyway. And that’s how we light TV drama and classic period dramas and things like that all lit in this way so that the subjects within the room are in pools of light that are practical lighting in what we call the sort of lights on the tables and things as excuses for allowing us to put our own our other lighting in.
Yeah. So I, I will say any time when I used to get stumped, I would just kind of, you know, take a cop out and say, well, the photographer must have composited something up.
I can’t figure this out. Is that ever does that ever is that something you ever have to do? Would you ever have.
I never I never compose anything I never take out and I never say, oh, well, I’ll just remove that lighting, stand light later.
You know, I just if I if I’ve got a lighting stand and the way the light needs to be, the stand is in this shop, then I’ll put the light on the food and I’ll put the food to the stand is out of shot and the light can be just over the top coming in with or something. But no, I don’t, I don’t, I don’t use Photoshop. So this is all light room. It’s all light room and it’s all 60 seconds maximum per picture. So because I grew up shooting weddings and it just added three hundred pictures for a wedding in a day, you’ve got to do it in five hours because obviously you’ve got to have lunch breaks and stuff. And so that’s you’ve got 60 seconds, one minute per picture. So I looked at it one minute. Perpetua, some pictures. You don’t do anything. Other pictures. You might strengthen the verticals a little bit, darken in the top third of the picture and tweak the color slightly. And then the next picture, you’re doing something else. But, you know, it’s it’s straight through quite quick. You need to be quick in this game, otherwise you’re never going to make any money. So we did four hundred weddings to to to to finance service a whole career. But if we weren’t so efficient and we weren’t effective with our marketing and sales strategies, et cetera, we might have had to do a thousand weddings. We might have had to work for twenty five years to earn the same amount of profit. So where where in commercial world of photography, etc., or portraiture, which I’ve been doing, then it’s really important to have an efficient system to get light. Where you want to be is much quicker and easier to adjust to light, to make it look fantastic, fantastic and rather than have to try and rescue it in post.
I can attest to the fact that you ate it quickly because I watched the Lightroom editing and I just remember seeing just kind of some of the masking and just the brushes, the brushwork and just even imposts. It was almost like you were just slightly enhancing the good light that was already there.
Yeah, absolutely. Just the same like it did to the darkroom.
I spent more of my photography career shooting on film from 1984 through to 21. I was shooting on film. I’m for photographing for photo libraries in London and shooting stock and shooting some advertising stuff alongside the BBC career.
And then I went digital in 2001 and I learned how to torture and burn them, etc. After that, from that point on, just carried on all the traits that I had in the darkroom. So it’s the same stuff. You’re selecting the areas I don’t tend to vignette because I think it looks obvious, I tend to do that just with lighting. So created this dappled light and if I want light to fall off to the side, I’ll just bring about those in a little bit and it just cuts the light off of the edge.
And as I said, this is the color balance, how are you doing this indoors?
Because it almost looked like in the video that it was like daylight balanced. Yeah.
Are you able to slam the lamp in here that we’re using for this shot?
This is the light, the lamp in the background. The practical light is fixed. We have no control over that. And the light that I’m adding is adjustable. So I can set that for anything from three thousand two hundred Kelvin up to five thousand six hundred Kelvin. So I would have probably set that at about four thousand Kelvin and maybe a little bit a little bit higher.
And then I’ve left the bed to go quite blue and quite cool.
The walls are already blue and then the lamp in the background is still quite warm. And I’ve got her skin looking about right.
Yeah, our skin, our skin tones look beautiful.
I don’t think so, and that’s really what we’re doing. So I’ve got the white balance, but I can adjust the light to suit.
But by having the bed go a little bit bluer cooler and those white on the sheets and stuff is something of the night of about it. It makes it look like maybe it’s moonlite through the roof. I don’t know. But yeah, I don’t know. I quite like that warm, cool balance. I love a warm, cool mix of color temperature. I don’t like culliton color of all the light sources to be matched. As soon as you get that situation we’re matching the color, then you kill the natural beauty of transition, etc..
In the color scheme, I back in the day in the 80s and 90s, photographers used to get out great cards and shot white balances on them. So, you know, that’s like it’s okay for record photography, if you want to be artistic about, you will have control of the color and the mood in the field. And so I pressed the right balance button on the camera and I scroll wheel up or down until the picture looks right. You get a real time view of the white as you change it.
Using the Kelvyn control, I will say that I was definitely jealous. The fact that I think the Lupa lights, they do change at least, and they have variable because trying to put on gels to some of these and taping them on these lights can get very, very hot.
Yeah, the lighting is yeah.
You can use Joe’s the Joe on the Tongson Lamps.
The heat is the problem. It is not really a problem for the job because you clip the gels using crocodile clips, the sort that I think the type that would be used with battery terminals for a battery charge on a car. So you use those unclipped into the barn doors and a piece of gel. You can buy a set of gels for ten bucks on eBay for fantasy. Don’t. Yeah, half kto quarter ctor. You just cut the amount of the size that you want. That covers twenty five inch by twenty one inch I think. And I, I use them all my life, you know, when they say we just warming up a bit or cool it down a bit. But these days we do have luxury within the LED lights, the loopholes to be able to adjust those. And now the next generation of what we call full color LEDs, where you’ve got red, green and blue outis and then you can adjust the watch the white ones, which can create a theatrical look and you can go from anything like one thousand nine hundred Kelvin, which is about the color temperature of a candle up to ten thousand or even twelve thousand Kelvin, which is the color balance of blue blue sky effectively. So you’ve got that massive range. Plus you can make the magenta or a sort of dirty green or something. So you can use it for the actual stuff. But that’s the sort of next generation it’s rolling out now. But the first versions of those lights aren’t as powerful as what I call the the standard dual colour versions.
So it’ll be a couple more years because they almost have to share the diodes or they have to share the.
Yeah, I think they’ve got the power. You’ve got the problem you’ve got is you’ve got three lots of light sources all on at the same time and all generating heat.
And you’ve got to get the heat out of the light, but you can’t put a fan in the light or if you can put a fine, but you can’t make any sound because the sound recordist isn’t going to work with it. And these lights are principally made for the film and TV industry. So the need for video makers, video production, so you need to see the lamps to be silent. And so it’s a case of moving through the light to cool down the days. And there’s a limit to how much how much current power you can put Lidija on the size of the heat. So the technology changes all the time. You know, it’s a bit like old laptops used to get really hot and the fan was always on and the latest generation of the much cooler. So these things happen. Now, if you hold that picture there, you see the stripes, the pattern on the wall and the pattern on her legs. That’s coming from a Venetian blinds, which I attach to a pattern of wood and then a creative counterbalance weight on the other end. And I had a stand and and so the Venetian blinds, one metre wide, one metre high, it’s the smallest size I could get. I just bought online from Venetian blinds are us dot com for about twenty pounds or something. And I attach it, as I say to you, about a woman put a lock on it that just sits on a lightning stand and I can put a light through it and I can move it to wherever I want. Now it’s the sort of thing I tend to use more in a modern building, like an office building or something like that, because you don’t tend to have Venetian blinds in classical houses like this. But I just thought the breakup of the light was fun and I just thought it worked really well here. And so I just stuck with it.
And these locations that you’re shooting in, because, of course, as Americans here, well, we don’t have a lot of locations like this, you’d be surprised.
Quite a lot of the pictures you’ve been flicking through of the New York brownstone, brownstone loft apartments and things. Yeah, certainly some of these ones with big chandeliers and things like that. They are classic English houses. That could be a hotel in Manhattan that’s know that’s in Manhattan. That’s in Harlem. That place, this one. So, yeah, it’s Harlem. So you’ll be surprised at just what you have in the America of every country. I go to, people say, oh, well, we don’t have locations like this, actually, because I shooting them everywhere I go. You got some amazing locations. Of course, you’ve got some of the best landscape locations in the world, the desert and the that you love the desert, but an old shack’s wooden shacks and textures and old villas with verandas and swinging doors and saloon bars. And, you know, I love all that sort of stuff. So but you don’t have what I call the sort of the grandeur the five hundred year old or a thousand year old castles with big entrance holes. But what you lose in one aspect, and we don’t have Empire State Building, we don’t have a Chrysler Building, we don’t have beautiful thirty’s iconic design and strategy structure. So, you know, I think you just got to work for the style that you’ve got available. But I know that from my wedding photography, a lot of my clients were from America and they’re getting married in Europe because they could have the castle or they could have the country house, the estate that they wanted. And it had it was quaint or cute or whatever they wanted to call it. And it was just sitting there still. So the grass is always greener, shall we say.
By the way, one of the reasons I stopped on this one is. Any time I come to a photo and I can’t tell whether it’s natural or whether it’s artificial, I’m always like I always have to stare at it. And so this is natural.
This is in Paris, just off the chancellor’s say in a little hotel in Paris. And the light is coming through a window.
And there’s a beautiful balcony on the window overlooking the street scene below. But I close the curtains and just open them a little bit. Vertical slash of light, vertical light source. And it gives you it doesn’t spread horizontally very far. So it’s like a strip, like softball’s but vertically and it just lumps in the cross and are just shooting into the side of the face. You’ll notice that pretty much every shot that we’ve seen, I’m working at 90 degrees to the light. So the camera and light angle about 90 degrees. Now where there’s eye contact, I come round to the light source and shoot with alongside the light source. But generally speaking, almost all of the pictures that would sell the most are the ones that are shot at 90 degrees to the.
Yeah, and, you know, I feel. A lot of people wouldn’t think to, like, start closing things, it’s usually let’s open things as much as possible and it does, like you said, it creates a lot of softness, but it doesn’t create a lot of drama or drama or is you open the curtains, the whole room becomes bright.
If the whole room becomes bright, how can you can’t control the light onto your subject. What you really want to do is close the curtains a completely and then just open them a crack and then place your subject in that where that light is coming through. The the chances are the light is coming off a cloud outside that side, little something from the sun and that cloud is and say it will create by closing the curtains down to a vertical slot, you will create a definite direction and angle and pattern of light which you can then place your subject into, and then you shoot towards the light and wow, everything becomes they will start singing.
And is there anything you could say about posing, because I feel a lot of your posing has like emotion or feels like, yeah, it’s almost like voyeuristic or.
Yeah, I think you see the difference between the work that I do generally for myself and is that I build rapport with the person I’m photographing and I bring that character into the picture.
So the energy, the character, the intimacy is is cased within the image.
Now there’s a gallery on Lovegrove adventures which I’ve created, which is Chuck Scott. Lots of pictures of. It’s got that energy, a lot more pictures with eye contact and where there is eye contact. I want the icon to be really strong. I want it to feel I want the impact to be there. And I want you to feel that you could if you could reach out and touch the person in a way. You know, as a viewer, I think if you go to Lovegrove adventures, you go to the one below the. With that one. Yeah. Let’s have a look at that. So this we can start at the bottom actually and work up because this is a gallery where all the pictures are standing. And then when you get down to here, you starting to see this sort of the boudoir. So click on that one. Look at your mouse. So this was shot in Berlin of Florida. And it’s just this makeup artist that she could have done with that has been done. There’s a lot of things that could be better, but you can see that connection, the spark, the energy we’ve got. And again, I’m shooting into the light. I just had the exposure. But you can see there it’s I say two thousand five hundred, I think. Don’t be scared. And this is shot with a little X one hundred.
So that’s a lesser processer.
Fuji APAC little it’s the first generation, you know, it’s like eight or nine year, nine years old now and 12 million pixels. But you can see the energy, you can see the sparkle. So I try to put in that Karisma into the picture. Now it’s not.
Something that everybody can do, something that I try to build that rapport really quickly. I don’t have one line jokes or whatever, we just have fun. And sometimes to build that rapport, I will start with maybe a little pillow fight. So I’m throwing pillows at the model and she’s throwing them back to me and we just have that spark of energy and then we just let that carry through the shoot. I think this is the situation where the girl was sitting on the edge of the bath and I’ve just got to sort of further back. And then she fell into it. But of course, I take the picture because that’s my training.
Yeah, we should you capture the moments. The trick is to create the moment that is the most challenging part of the style of work that I do.
Now, a lot of photographers think of boudoir as a shoot boudoir as if it’s sort of for the husband of a sexy scene and without necessarily the eye contact, the energy, without the connection. It’s all about the beauty within. That’s the title of this gallery. And it’s the energy comes from within the person. It’s not what they wear or how much they’re wearing or it’s just a personality. When someone is lying down like this, I think she’s got a top on. But because she’s lying on a bed that’s feet off of me, you know, you don’t need fancy lingerie, bras or whatever. It’s all about the connection. And this is great intimacy that’s finally hashed out. So but hopefully people will understand that this is my new gallery. I’m working on these these galleries and there’s text on the right. So I’m writing about each of the pictures. This is in Coal Mine Canyon in Nevada. I love I love the locations in America. I do a fantastic and for the text. And there will hopefully be of use when describing some of the lighting sources that I’m using.
Oh, for sure. And I think some of the settings and maybe this is almost the importance, is that when I look at the photos, especially the one I saw with the woman in the bathtub, I thought, oh, my God, this is stunning. I love it. But if I never would have guessed that it was an F-16 or at one two hundredth and you can almost see that it actually kind of looks alive because you can almost see it’s there’s a little bit of like motion blur. You can feel the sunlight in that.
But I have no idea why it’s yeah, maybe it should be a phone, but I’m not sure. I can’t remember. But I’m think I’ve got the The X Factor of light written for these. So but yes, it’s a little bit random, but it was some light in the bathroom and that’s the whole room is lit, these light glowing. Yeah.
But I say that to say that regardless of what the settings were like, it came out amazingly well because of the emotion, you know, that got the gloves from from Claire’s accessories, a little shop.
And I like all these things.
I style everything so that the this little cami top and knickers and stuff. And so I tend to do the styling for the shoots as well.
I was going to ask that who is like the creative director, because I know you do all these workshops and if we were on this, I love adventures and do these adventure workshops. I remember you did one in Cuba a couple of years back. I mean, all over the US.
Yeah, I style. I work. I’m a single one man band.
So these pictures here, occasionally the models bring their own stuff, their own clothes and things, and we work through those and we put things together. But a lot of the time I will just pop by for the shoot. But what we need sometimes is just simple tops and white dresses in the top. Right. They were just very simple. This girl, when she arrived for the shoot, should I have any clothes with her? She arrived in jocking bottoms and the top and I just I had five. Clients, photographers are going to dispute this penthouse in the top of a hotel in Berlin and the photographers are there in the gallery, in the reception area waiting for the workshop to start. And I was my mother was late and she arrives and she was nearly in tears and. She was out of breath and she didn’t have enough money to pay for the bus to go all the way, so she had to run the last part and she didn’t have any clothes with her because she thought it was styled. So I said to the photographers, you know, we’re going to start an hour later at 10 o’clock and have a cup of coffee, put it on my room and also things. And I went down to see and a clothes shop down the road and I was buying bras, t shirts, many shirts, all sorts of stuff, knickers and shoes. And I bought and tights and stuff. And I brought all the stuff back. I had time to sort itself out a little bit and we started shooting and we had the most amazing shoot. And sometimes you just have to do these things. So you know what we did.
Yeah. And I and I don’t want to leave before people see how good the couples work is. Is this is this something you do in workshops as well? Is this something people ask for?
All the pictures you we’ve been looking at pictures that have been taken in workshops or a couple of these ones, these shoots here I’ve done for the couple.
So this picture left on the first picture in that show that that’s that’s been my most stolen picture. I’ve had one and a half million pins on Pinterest with this shot. But it’s quite interesting. I mean, she’s got what you can see if you can zoom in on it. But if you can, you can see she’s still got Harry, but there’s been no editing at all. It all has as it is. I don’t know. I don’t clone stuff I show. And that’s partly why the match was why my clients. But I don’t show my custom. The pictures online. I don’t share them. I don’t put them on Facebook, Instagram. So when a customer is photographed by me, they know that their pictures are they’re not going to be shared around. I’m not going to put my name on them and stop helping about out. And so that exclusivity means that I get a higher rate of client. So that’s really useful. But yeah. So these are all on work. These are my Hollywood workshops. So I’ve had a few years ago. Well, I tend to do is run maybe 10, 15 workshops and then I’ll create a movie. So I’ll go and shoot for five days with a film crew and we will recreate the pictures that I did on the workshop, committed to the video so that, you know, thousands of people can benefit from it over over time.
Yeah, and I know we were talking a little bit before this, you know, obviously with covid and everything and things are rescheduled. But I do encourage anyone watching. I’m going to leave the links for this below. They might be picking back up as things get better and things get safer. So make sure you sign up for his newsletter, get updates.
Yeah, I mean, I’ll be doing workshops in the US, I think in 2000. Where are we now. Twenty, twenty one next year I got forgotten even what year it is. It’s been so bad this year, 2012. Next year I should be doing a 14 day tour of Death Valley, the high desert to sort of Mono Lake and that area and mainly in California, actually right through on that side. So and then I’ll be doing a tour and I’ll be doing some workshops in New York, certainly. And then maybe up to Chicago as well. So often do single day workshops so and things like that. And then I’ll do some road trip tours where we get to shoot some landscapes and we shoot figure in the landscape as well. And we just have some fun and we have some creativity and we get all the kids have a big flash and stuff. And we just it’s it’s about a lifestyle, really, and it’s about having the opportunity to go out and shoot really good models. And I suppose my clients have to set it all up.
They don’t have to find the locations that’s all dealt with so they can concentrate on getting great pictures and having fun meeting new friends.
Yeah, I think this is definitely great, especially from somebody somebody to add to their portfolio. We’ve had photographers, you know, set up kind of like client things overseas. They will travel to like to learn to invite clients and stuff. So, yeah, one of the steps that is maybe showing some of that work where you’ve traveled, you’ve shot other places and not just maybe in that boudoir studio in their hometown.
Yeah, I mean, most of my customers, I would say it’s almost like the highest proportion of customers from any one particular country are from the USA.
So whether I’m doing workshops in Tuscany or workshops in in America or in Venice or Fort Ventura or wherever or Cuba, it’s going to be a majority of the customers are going to come from different parts of the USA. So and again, with Shutterfly, my custom, majority of my customers are from the USA. So so it’s certainly I tend to steer my products towards people from the USA because I know. When they going to travel quite a long way to come up to Venice or something, they want to make sure that nice trip. So we choose lovely hotels ET.
Well, as soon as this opens, I’ll back up, I’ll be the first person on the list to carve out time my calendar. But thank you so much, Damian, for being with us.
I really appreciate it. So much insight. And I feel every time I see your content, I’m always just learning something new or getting new ideas.