Thursday, 27 October 2011

Getting to grips with Tumblr

My first photo hosting account was Flickr, to which this blog serves as a complement. I added a second, DeviantArt, in 2009 at the request of a model with whom I'd worked (my debut subject, Sazza). And now I have a third: Tumblr. I've heard of it, and seen a couple of FB contacts using it, so I thought I'd try it out for myself. Seems to just be a sort of combination photohost and blog, but it's early days yet.

Flickr and DeviantArt both generate similar amounts of traffic, although in different ways. Initially, dA's genre-grouping system will give me the most eyeballs, but it dies down quickly; there seems to be more of a "here and now" vibe about the place. By contrast, Flickr's tagging system and greater visibility to search engines means that traffic keeps on trickling in, and over time I ultimately tend to get more views there.

They do have one thing in common though, which they don't seem to share with Tumblr. Boobies for traffic. Images of nude women, which I've been taking for a couple of years now, almost always get hundreds or even thousands of views without a great deal of effort. It doesn't bother me at all, nor is it surprising; on the contrary, it's exactly what I'd expect. But so far Tumblr seems to operate differently. It's certainly possible that I'm just misreading the data, but despite posting several shots of naked women, my most successful Tumblr posts so far have been on the subject of salmon leaping (38 "notes") and a close-up of a rope and chain (37 "notes"). Most peculiar...

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Glen Etive

I had two shoots at the Loup o' Fintry last summer with Karen, and a third, home-based shoot at her flat this past January. Since then we've become close friends, but oddly, aside from a lovely day out on Cumbrae at Easter, I've never pointed the camera at her since.

Circumstances threw us together again though. It had been three months since I'd done a decent waterscape and I was getting antsy to try another before the good weather disappeared. Karen, meanwhile, had missed a shoot in Newcastle and desperately needed to fill her diary. I said "how about we travel to Glencoe for the day?" And that was it.

She's been hinting about being my muse for a month or two. Maybe this'll be the start of that? Fingers crossed.

Friday, 3 June 2011


A London-based model, Tansy Blue, was taking a trip to Scotland last week, and she had one free afternoon remaining before her coach trip back down south. So she posted a casting call on Purestorm asking for a shoot, and I volunteered. There was a long pause ~ about 36 hours, during which time I began to feel the first pangs of rejection and inadequacy ~ before she finally approved me.

Had a miserable false start where I inexplicably thought we were meeting on Thursday instead of Friday (my fault entirely, no clue how it happened), but once we met up things were fine. I explained my plans at the outset: a combination of my usual artsy slow shutter speed stuff, plus something new inspired by a lovely black & white shot on DeviantArt I'd come across, using a very fast shutter speed to capture the turbulent water.

Tansy proved to be exactly the kind of model I love working with. Unselfconscious, body-confident, and as interested in the art as her hourly rate. She was also brave... maybe too brave. In all our pictures she's either serene and graceful, or larking about with a carefree smile as in the out-take shots. But she slipped and fell twice early on, coming perilously close to plummeting over the edge and into the churning waters. And then at the death, with only one more set left in the cooling evening, she did take a tumble. A really horrific one where she flipped upside down and bounced off the rocks, before splashing into the freezing water below. She emerged shivering but unscathed (and somehow, with her specs still on), but that was the end of our shoot right there.

Sunday, 22 May 2011


I was feeling sorry for myself a couple of weeks ago, because of a shoot which hadn't gone according to plan; in fact, it hadn't happened at all. So, sitting at home late on Saturday night, I saw a casting call on Purestorm from a new model looking to boost her portfolio, and I thought what the heck.

I contacted her with a suggestion to do some edgy "wet look" portraits, since the forecast was for rain, and she was keen. She also wanted some full-length pictures, as she was 5'10" but didn't have any existing images which showed off her height properly. But would you believe it, for the first time in Scotland's history, the weather was better than predicted. I didn't have a Plan B so we had to wing it, and I'm never the best at on-the-fly creativity, but we still got a couple of usable shots. I did notice afterwards though, that I had this "run your fingers through your hair" thing going, and at the end of the day, I didn't have any shots where Eilidh wasn't doing that ~ dumb of me.

Saturday, 30 April 2011

A week with Karen

I had eleven consecutive days off work from 22 April, and I'd organised a shoot for Easter Monday. However the model, normally a reliable and reputable girl by all accounts, flaked. I'd been having such a good break until then, so it dragged my mood down a wee bit.


A close friend of mine had a date on Monday evening, and when she got home (at 7.45am on Tuesday, wink-wink) she wanted some relationship advice. So I headed over to her place that evening for chow-mein, footie with her dog Dexter, and a lot of bla-bla.

Same close friend needed more advice on Wednesday. So we took a wee drive to our old stomping ground at the Loup o' Fintry to enjoy the weather, the views, and more bla-bla.

I thought she'd have been bored of me by Thursday, but she took a sickie from work and we jumped in the car for a day trip to Millport. Snapshots on the beach, a wee drink in the beer garden, and a third day's bla-bla. On the way back, we stopped off to buy her a mobile broadband dongle, and so got her back online too.

Friday... well surely that's the last I've seen of her? She has a prior engagement this evening, after all. But no, she'd rather cancel it so that I can come over for an all-nighter, and we can get drunk while watching comedy DVDs of Billy Connolly and Kevin Bridges. I slept over, and then gave her a lift to her folks' place on Saturday where she was attending a family do.

This was supposed to be a quiet week of housework for me, but as I write this my place is still an absolute tip. I don't care though; good times with good friends are more important than laundry and washing up.

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Natasha in latex

Last month I lost my professional studio virginity, shooting Roxy and Mr Bones at Veverka in Blantyre. It wasn't a particularly satisfactory session, as I struggled with a lot of the basics and came away with barely a handful of shots my longtime collaborator could use. And unfortunately this wasn't a one-off ~ a commercial shoot for a comedy group, a homeshoot with Karen1985, and an evening jaunt to a classic rally in Glasgow had also left me struggling creatively, so I was 0 for 4 in 2011.

However, my half-decent commercial assignment in December for the Forbidden lapdancing club had thrown up some hope in the shape of Natasha Scott, a terrific model and dancer who was by far the most talented girl I photographed that night. I chased her up for a second session, luring her by offering to do a TFO (time for outfit) latex shoot. She picked out a wee custom-made black & white mini-dress from Jane Doe which was on sale, and we were good to go.

Once it was delivered (and very quickly too, thumbs up to Ms Doe) I booked Veverka again ~ my sophomore professional studio shoot. Although it's not as easy to reach as some city centre studios, it's good value and has two spacious facilities. And, because I have a car, getting there isn't a problem for me. I was also able to borrow Roxy, this time as my assistant, and since she and Natasha are pals, it meant everything was familiar and friendly right from the off.

The day itself was a hoot. I was running late, and although I'd bought talcum powder and baby oil, I didn't have any silicone spray to make the latex shiny (it looks kinda flat and dusty straight out the pack). When we collected Natasha, she too was running late, so she climbed into the car wearing ~ I kid you not ~ a leopardskin robe and her jammies, while her hair was wrapped in a towel. I confess that I thought she looked fab. Dressed like that, we detoured into the Party Times sex shop in London Road and bought ourselves some spray. As you do.

Got to Veverka about 30 minutes late, and while we began setting up, Natasha dolled herself up like a pro, before squeezing herself into the outfit. There was an amusing interlude involving talcum powder and a naked bum. There was a brief "Oh my god it disnae fit!" moment before Roxy and I teamed up for some pulling'n'zipping. And there was a brief panic when Natasha realized she didn't have her lighter, before a long and desperate trek around the streets of Blantyre finally got her lit up.

After that everything was just great. Natasha had brought along several outfits as well as expecting to do some nudes, but in the end there was just too much to do with the latex dress. Just means plenty more for our next shoot, woo-hoo. We packed up at three, and gorged ourselves at Pizza Hut before heading back to Forbidden for the start of her shift.

Even looking at the images as they transferred to the laptop I could tell this was (finally) a shoot I was happy with. I'm not going to tell you I'm the greatest thing ever ~ I know that the biggest reason everything went so well was that Natasha's an absolute corker in front of the camera ~ but for the first time in literally months I felt like I was actually doing a half-decent job, and I came away with plenty of straight-from-the-camera keepers.

A good day.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Veverka with Roxy

Long-time muse Roxy Stardust asked me if I wanted to do a glamorous Valentine-themed pin-up shoot with her, and of course I did. I always felt like I'd never shown her at her best, unless you consider a woman's best to be covered in gore and chewing at a chain-link fence.

After asking around, I decided to try Veverka Studios in Blantyre. Decent location, good prices, and recommended by Greig Middlemiss, an experienced friend and colleague who runs Different Light Photography and the Scottish Creative Network.

However, on the day things didn't go as planned. Poor Roxy was under the weather and didn't feel at all glam (although she did give 100% as usual), and I... well, I stank. I'm going through a crisis of confidence at the moment, and this was not helping. Aside from the steep learning curve ~ it was my first studio shoot ~ I was just creatively bankrupt that day. The images were bland and unimaginitive, and I knew it.

Eventually, Roxy suggested that I bring in Mr Bones. I went out to the car and fetched his body bag, and we got to work. I can't say I was thrilled at the day as a whole, but at least thanks to the macabre chemistry between my two favourite subjects, we were able to salvage something.