Old Time Stitching

Most of the 35mm negs from the multiple headshot portrait period have been either lost or are in places so deeply buried I doubt I could ever find them again, although I will admit that doing the blog on them has awakened my interest, so I might just go looking for them.

I’m not sure I would claim this image to be a good portrait but it does clearly exemplify one of the techniques I was using during this period, the other of course was using the 6×6 format to slice the person as well as tilting the horizontal perspectives.

Which coincidently, I am beginning to do again with the 6×6.

A big plus of experimenting with this multi-shot technique is that it usually leads to some sort of breakthrough, which then translates into some interesting pictures.

And then I move on.


Continuing on with the Theme

Continuing on with the theme of using the natural framing attributes of the square medium format camera to create interesting framing options, we have this image.

This picture is a combination of careful organization and prompt innovation.

I was walking towards the photo lab and saw this strong slanting sun light and thought it perfect for a portrait in my then current style. The only person in the lab who would consent to having their portrait done on the spur of the moment was this graduate student from Germany.

She liked the picture and has a copy, it is also possibly my most favoured pic from that period, although that can change on a whim.

Incidentally, the image looks much better as a large print than is does on the computer screen.

As a print it has a lot more of a presence, whatever that may mean.

Back in the Day

Back in my days at uni I went through a stage were I cut people in half, quarters with the edge of the frame. It got so extreme that at one stage I would shoot ten or twelve frames of the sitters head and then print them in an overlapping sequence. Remember, this was before the computer made such things seamless. As a consequence, at the time I thought of myself as very avant-guarde.

Fast forward to 2019 and such conceits are almost a cliché, but there were some successes which have stood the test of time.

In this image I asked the young woman to hold her finger near the camera lens as if trying to touch it.

The technical specs of this picture are important because it wouldn’t have worked with a 35mm camera. I was using my Bronica SQA with the 50mm wide, important because the square format allows the picture to be framed as it is and I believe that if the top or bottom was cropped as it would be with the 35mm format then the picture stops being interesting, with the framing becoming just another gimmick, which it is, although it’s not, if you know what I mean.

The image was shot in a studio with a flash and large soft-box on her left side

Back Again

This working life is a funny, complicated thing. Who would have thought that taking someone’s photo would lead to a deep, long-lasting friendship?

Milenko wanted to be photographed at Tempelhofer Feld, an abandoned airfield in the centre of Berlin, at 1 o’clock in the afternoon, in the middle of summer.

A communal space where he cycled daily.

It had history for him.

So now ask yourself, how do you get an interesting shot on a flat, open field with bright, overhead summer light?


Get low, shoot towards the sun and use a high-speed flash as fill.

I had had the high speed flash for about two weeks before this shoot and it was the first time I used it in anger. We were both pleased.

Personal Choices

This is not a portrait that resonates with many people, especially the young woman in the picture, but I find it fascinating. For me there is something a little decadent about it, although I doubt I would be able to explain why.

The session was a very successful one and we got a couple of amazing photos from the shoot. One in particular tends to be a staple when I show images of women, but the above photograph, is usually overlooked, or more painfully, disdainfully ignored.

It was shot in Jakarta during the summer of 2012, ostensibly for a model portfolio, although the young woman never worked as a model as far as I know.

It doesn’t really matter to me why people want to have their portraits done, but often, when they’re young and attractive, I think it’s for future reference, which I also happen to think is a perfectly wonderful idea.

The picture was shot in my studio with a digital camera so it goes without saying that the borders were added in post-production for aesthetic reasons, although today I’m not exactly sure what the aesthetic criteria were.

Four days in Suburbia

This family portrait was done way back in early 1994. I was studying photography at Uni and decided that I wanted to photograph a space totally alien to me for an assignment. Most other students were doing soft political stuff, street work etc. Reflecting on what to do I thought, I’m single, live alone in a small apartment in the centre of the city and have no commitments or responsibilities other than what I chose to do for my studies. The opposite would be to be married with a regular job, living in the suburbs with children, a mortgage, car payments and a pet of some kind.

The result was the photographic project Four Days in Suburbia. This portrait was taken as part of that project.

I lived with this family from Thursday evening until the following Monday afternoon and it was exhausting. I liked the family a lot but being in so close a relationship with all the tensions that families take for granted completely drained me. I think it was cathartic for them because by Saturday afternoon I had ceased to exist as a person and become a camera recording the family drama of their everyday life. This picture was taken early on the Saturday morning while Mark was at work and the family about to do the weekly shopping at the local mega market.

The Importance of Shadows

The Writer Wilfried N’Sondé

This was a very interesting shoot. Wilfred had emailed me that he was very limited with time and suggested Nollendorfplatz Ubahn station because it was on his way to the airport were he was due to catch a plane for Paris.

He could give me forty-five minutes,

at a stretch.

To ensure things went smoothly on the day, I checked out the location the day before. I also read up on his books to get an idea of what to work towards.

This picture, which is universally liked, was easy enough to do. I set up a flash with an umbrella on the stairs at the little-used entrance to the U2. The bars are the doors that seal the stairs at night. I chose this because his most famous book was about a black man who is incarcerated for killing a policeman and I thought with this set-up I could show the author, who is a wonderful warm person, and his fictional creation,