On Sunday 21 April 2013, 144 runners (otherwise known as ‘Team Breathe’) took part in the London Marathon for the British Lung Foundation (BLF). They were - all of them - amazing. Luckily, I got to snap a lot of them.
I've never been to the London marathon before. Never been to any marathon, either as a spectator and certainly not as a runner. The weather last Sunday was glorious - "perfect for running", my wife (who does run) told me. As a former events team worker with a couple of charities, she'd also told me about the unique atmosphere at the marathon. She wasn't wrong.
I'm one of those people who never much saw the sense in standing on the side of the road watching people go by. Growing up in Ireland you had the St. Patrick's Day parade. I couldn't see the point in watching people walk by holding a banner or dressed as a huge leprechaun (although they probably didn't). It was boring. Maybe I'm a bit miserable (it's been said) but I really do love live sports, music and exciting events. Those things I can spectate at. Because you can see the agony and effort on the faces of runners going right by you, the marathon is strangely uplifting. You know that most of these people are running for something they truly believe in, probably something that has affected their lives dramatically.
The marathon really is unique. You find yourself cheering people you've never met and will never meet
by their first name as they go by. The name's on their shirt, you cheer them on, they smile and keep going. Probably they think "who's that person cheering my name?" but chances are it will encourage them on. You get caught up in the whole thing. I was very fortunate to be asked to capture the British Lung Foundation runners as they took part in this special day. You can see more of my images from the day on the BLF website
and on their Facebook page
Last month, Mark and Rhian got married at Westminster Register Office and I promised some follow-up images. The weather wasn't always the most favourable for wedding photography (something we've all got used to this year) but that didn't dampen spirits. Post "I do's" , a London bus ride through the streets dropped us off at St James's park for a few snazzy backdrop shots. The brightest skies of the day miraculously appeared just long enough for us to capture the shots we wanted with iconic capital backdrops like Buck House and the London Eye in view. It wasn't the longest shooting day I've spent with a couple but it certainly wasn't short on fun. Rhian was a very smiley bride - something that helps with your wedding photos enormously - and Mark a very decent and obliging groom. I think their happiness at getting married comes through in every shot.
A selection of group posed & reportage wedding photos from Mark & Rhian's big day can be seen below. Just click to enlarge.
When is this horrible winter going to end? Cold weather and outdoor headshots don't always go hand-in-hand. Red noses need a little more tweaking at the editing stage. So why not get some indoor shots too? The really good part of standing out in the cold yesterday was that it was an old friend who needed a few new headshots. Karl Sedgwick's a talented and funny actor and a real pleasure to photograph.
It's been a varied past couple of weeks for me with shoots for BBC's Holby City, an education project at a primary school for Westminster Abbey, corporate portraits for a solicitors firm, as well as some really special photos to come from a recent London wedding. Each project is rewarding if you take out freezing temperatures and London traffic. On top of this, we've just started to house hunt so hoping for a lot more future bookings to cover estate agents fees.
Mark & Rhian got married last Saturday at Westminster Register Office, venue of many famous nuptials including those of Sir Paul McCartney and Liam Gallagher (not to each other, need I say!)
With over 50 enthusiastic, happy guests, it was a day to really cherish despite the best efforts of a never-ending London winter! Although I only was there to spend the first half of the day with Mark & Rhian, you just knew they were a couple who were really happy and in love and we even got a brief dry patch for some beautiful photos in St. James's park, not to mention on the London bus ride through the capital.
More photos from Mark & Rhian's full gallery will be viewable soon but the simple shot taken on the bridge (with cooperative tourists standing back) sums up for me how happy they were on their special day. I'm still taking bookings for some remaining dates in 2013 and of course, well into 2014 and beyond so get in touch if you want to ask me more. Come back soon for more images from their big day.
Matt Bardock, star of BBC's "Casualty"
Let's say you get new headshots once every two or three years (which you probably should to stay up to date). There are possibly hundreds of photographers out there who will take your money. Of those, there are maybe a dozen or so who will do a good job. Go to any of these photographers and you'll be fine. You will get commercial castings based on your photo alone, simply because you went to someone who knew how to get the best out of you and was technically able and experienced enough. Your chances for theatre and TV auditions will also improve. So ... how do you know who's good?
I was an actor for over a decade, working mostly in the theatre, sometimes on exciting shows and sometimes on ones that paid the rent. Most of the time I wasn't acting at all though. I decided to change course when it became apparent that more people wanted me to photograph them and to be honest, acting 'retired' me. Now (somehow!) in my forties, I've always been a photographer despite other chosen career paths and really, I think it's what I should have always done. It may just be what I do best. I have been in business professionally for the past few years. As well as having captured dozens and dozens of actors, comedians and singers in that time, I photograph many weddings and do a lot of publicity work for the BBC on shows like Casualty, Doctors and Holby City. I also shoot rehearsal photos for theatre companies, family shoots and event photography. The reason I mention this is to demonstrate that my first and foremost skill and interest is in capturing people. As well as understanding the needs of an actor, I believe I can capture something special in a face; something that makes you want to look. You want to make casting directors stop and look. That's the key.Think about these few things and then choose ...Choice
A good photographer will use the session to get the correct variety of looks, expression and (for want of a better word) "feel" from your images. I say the 'correct' variety rather than 'a lot' of variety because we all know that we don't suit every look. When I give a full smile, I look goofy and a bit false looking. It's just not right for me. Others just look silly when they try to appear tough. Plenty of actors freeze when instructed to smile for a stills camera. It can feel unnatural & obtrusive, despite what they do for a living. Any decent photographer won't waste time pushing for something that isn't you. They should pick up on what's right for you and gently, seamlessly coax the best portrait that matches your casting look and energy. That's not to say you shouldn't have some variety - just that time shouldn't be wasted on chasing the wrong "you".Technically perfect
Seems obvious to say but yes, perfect. What excuse can there be for out of focus eyes or poor lighting? It drives me mad to see dark images or images with flat, bright lighting where you see no depth or personality to a face. Scan through actors' headshots and you'll see plenty like this (occasionally from photographers who are recommended in the industry and have been around a long time). A professional photographer must be using professional level cameras and lenses and absolutely KNOW how to handle light, be it natural or under studio conditions. Images should be pin-sharp and bring out the beauty or lack of beauty in your face. Yes, that's right, we're not all models but we all have a face that's interesting and needed by some casting director or agent on some particular day. If your thing is a characterful face, use it and let a good photographer send you away with stunning images that get you in the casting room.Service
How long does your photographer spend with you? Do you feel you are part of a production line - come in, brief hello, take off your coat, sit down, snap snap, "these will be ready in a week", you pass the next guy on the way out? How many images are being captured? Anything less than 100 could be a problem. Anything more than 200 and you have a photographer who needs
more than 200 captures to find the best you. Not a hard and fast rule but maybe think about that. Are they charging more for retouches? How many retouches are you getting for your money before paying extra? How are your images delivered? Are you provided with an online gallery for viewing and proofing? Once everything is done do you get a hard copy DVD of all your images including the retouched ones? Is your photographer flexible? You should always be prepared to ask questions from your photographer. You'll know pretty quickly if they are going to provide you a good service or not.Price
Beware of people offering cheap sessions. I mean the "£80, one hour session, two top changes , two retouches, images provided at end of session" merchants. It sounds tempting and yes, you may only want one killer shot so you may think it's worth it. It usually isn't. I've had actors come to me for more headshots after one of these cheap and quick sessions. By the time you've walked out the door, you are probably already going out of their mind. You won't have time to relax and feel your way in to a session. The photographer wants to get through his 100 clicks. Then they have your money. These headshots are your professional calling card
- a tax-deductible once every three years expense that determines so much of your career. It is madness to try and save £50 or so when it doesn't have to cost a lot anyway.A session with me involves ...
- You can shoot indoors or outdoors or for just £30 extra, do both. Indoor means in my home studio set-up using softbox lighting, reflectors and some combination of strobe fill-light and natural light
- we'd have a chat about previous castings you'd been to, your current headshot, your general 'look' and what you are looking for. At this stage, I'd imagine we will be drinking tea or coffee
- you can bring all the clothes you want. We'll go through them and see what works best. Usually people end up trying about four different tops but very often we hit on a couple that complement you perfectly for portraits. Change your hair during the session if you want. People (usually men) have shaved mid-session more than once with me. It's all fine
- I'd usually capture about 140 - 170 shots. It's hard to be precise as everyone's unique. Some people relax straight into the session. Others take a while to 'warm up' and the better images come later. I just always make sure I get what we need
- after the session you can expect to see your contact sheet within 72 hours (but often within 24 hours). You will have a password to your own private online gallery where you can study the images with friends and your agent and decide which you like best. These images will all have had some treatment already so you will have a good idea of what the finished headshot looks like
- I also provide six completely finished shots in a separate gallery. These are my own choices based on what I think is a good headshot for you. These six will have had full retouching done for light fill, contrast, tone, balance and correction of imperfections. I can gently enhance the eyes to make them look bright and clear while keeping a very natural look to your portrait. Retouching to enhance an image naturally is a skill of its own and one that people get paid very well to do at magazines etc. Believe me when I say I have spent many days of my life in front of a monitor improving this skill and perfect it for portraits
- you can then choose up to six images of your own (you don't have to agree with mine) to have the full treatment. There's no extra cost for this, of course. I shall retouch these and re-upload them on to their own gallery. All images can be downloaded off this gallery in full high resolution, ready to be used on Spotlight, CCP or anywhere else immediately
- once everything is finished and you are happy with your new headshots, I will send you a picture DVD of all your images by first class post.
For this work, I charge just £150 incl. VAT
. Additionally, if you are a returning client I reduce this by 10%.
Painfully, I am starting from scratch. Not with photography but with my blog. This will not affect the world in any way and maybe it's a good thing. But I have lost every entry in my blog history (don't ask) and this is day one. So I'm starting with this: what's it like to be a wedding photographer and what do I do all day (my wife may be interested in this bit)? Most importantly, why should you choose me to be your wedding photographer?
Some of my time is spent worrying about stuff. Like bookings, websites, retouching that perfect looking photo and a football team who are worryingly inconsistent. Fortunately, a lot of the time involves working towards that satisfying feeling of making people happy. Wedding photography is incredibly competitive. With the arrival of digital, it can sometimes seem like everyone is a photographer now - which in a way, they are! That's not a bad thing at all. It's wonderful that people can have instant images of their happiest moments. Professionals like myself have to keep adapting to changing circumstances, upping our game, providing more for your money and that's important. But I still feel that couples shall always want their wedding photos to be something very special and that's where I know I can make a difference.
My approach is to capture hundreds of beautiful, happy, smiley, emotional and lasting moments in a gorgeous reportage style. I bring the best equipment available (and plenty of back-up), a patient and cheerful temperament and years of valuable experience and know-how to each wedding I capture. I also aim to keep prices affordable. I know weddings are expensive but asking a friend "who's a good photographer" to be responsible for your wedding photography is very risky. There are key moments which can't be missed. You need to know what you're doing and there is absolutely no second chance to capture well-lit, beautifully framed, pin-sharp images in a creative fashion.
If you choose me to photograph your big day I am confident you will be extremely happy. Take a look at my testimonials to see what others have said. View a selection of my wedding day galleries to see a full day of coverage. Be certain that what you want is what I can provide for you. I work very hard to listen to couples's desires and give them images they will enjoy for years to come. It's a big decision to choose your wedding photographer and everyone says they can do it best. If my style, approach and prices meet your needs then don't be afraid to pick up the phone or email me. I won't push you in to anything. The packages I offer can always be tweaked and tailored to fit your needs. This is what I do and even after numerous weddings, I keep striving to do it better.