Eight things I learned shooting environmental portraits

It has taken me a very long time but I have finally got a project off the ground.  Okay, its been in the back of mind for a long time but I finally made a start.

1/500, f5, ISO 800 @ 23mm

1/500, f5, ISO 800 @ 23mm

Over the course of the next few months I will be photographing artists from in and around Glasgow.  I want to try and show the vast variety of creative people living and working in Glasgow.  Whether they are a painter, a potter, a photographer, a sculptor or a … you get the idea,  I want to try and get a glimpse in to how these people work, what are their methods, similarities, differences, and what it is that pushes them to create their art.

I put the call out on Facebook for artists who would like to be photographed in their working studio and I have already got a lot of interest and carried out my first shoot last week, and immediately I realised this is going to be a steep learning curve.  I did my first shoot with Scottish Landscape Artist Scott Naismith.  It was fantastic see Scott working on his vivid landscapes in his studio - I really appreciate you making the time Scott.

What I learned in my first shoot

  1. PLAN BETTER - I thought I would be able to turn up, get to know my collaborator, and capture at least a few images of them at work.

  2. YOU NEED TO WORK FAST – I am used to working at more leisurely pace, planning a shot, taking my time with composition – time does not exist when working with an artist in their moment, you need to be stealthy, fast and know when to pick your moment

  3. BE CAREFUL OF BACKGROUND CLUTTER – I found it nigh on impossible to get a clutter free shot in the studio.  I managed to get some nice shots of the artist at work only for the background to be too cluttered or a brightly lit screen background ruining the shot.

  4. SHOOT LOTS OF CLOSE-UPS – artists use all sorts of interesting stuff – photograph them – you can make some nice abstract shots from these things

  5. BE CAREFUL OF REFLECTIONS – with so many different tools in use some are bound to be metal and give off some harsh reflections

  6. MY NIFTY FIFTY IS FANTASTIC - the Nikkor 50mm 1.8G is a dream lens, so flexible, lets in so much light, and pretty cheap too - buy one!

  7. KNOW WHEN TO TALK – and when to be quiet, when my collaborator was in the groove I let him be.

  8. YOU NEED TO ENJOY IT – working with other people really opened my eyes to new areas of photography I never considered before.

I have already got three more shoots arranged with different artists, with a loy more planned for November and Ican't wait to continue.  If you think you might be interested in taking part just message me here.


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Equipment used