INTERVIEW // Photographer Paul Struijk by Pete Littlewood

Paul Struijk explores the facial architecture of the Dutch capital with his Leica M10

Amsterdam is one of the most culturally diverse cities you will find anywhere on the planet. It was among the most important ports in the world during the Dutch Golden Age of the 17th Century and ever since then immigrants from all over the globe have come to call Amsterdam their home. Amsterdamer, Paul Struijk, set out with his LeicaM10 to document the facial archetypes of the city’s residents and, in doing so, captured the diverse yet kindred nature of humanity in all its forms.

You studied an array of subjects from biology to archaeology and even classical dance. What was it that drew you to photography?

It was the creativity of the work. I needed to create things from the inside out and have the freedom to choose what I do. I also wanted to encounter new worlds, new people and new ideas.

How would you describe your photographic style?

My aim is to document. I try to find authentic images with a mix of old school and modern approaches. I like real life. I love people and how they try to make the best of it. I am absolutely a color person but over the last 2 years with my Leica, my photography has become more and more monochrome but always with a little shade of color, a little hint of a tone.


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EXHIBITION // Hull Portrait of a City, British teens by Martin Parr and Olivia Arthur

If your lucky enough to be in Britain this October, check this one out.......

Image: Ross and Ryan © Olivia Arthur / Magnum Photos

Image: Ross and Ryan © Olivia Arthur / Magnum Photos

Hull UK City of Culture have partnered with international photography co-operative Magnum photos to create this bespoke exhibition, commissioning Martin Parr and Olivia Arthur to explore the culture and creativity of Hull. The exhibition highlights the qualities that have made the city stand apart in an unforgettable year of culture.

Hull, Portrait of a City owns the discussion about where, what and how. How might we define Hull? How has culture changed our landscape and regenerated our city? What impact has it had on everything from economy to civic pride? How do we record it? As stories merge and new ones begin, we start looking to the future and exploring what’s next.

Magnum Photos is a photographic cooperative of great diversity and distinction owned by its photographer-members. Magnum photographers chronicle the world and interpret its peoples, events, issues and personalities. Through its four editorial offices in New York, London, Paris and Tokyo, Magnum Photos provides photographs to the press, publishers, advertising, television, galleries and museums across the world.

13 Oct - 31 Dec | 10am - 6pm



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PHOTOGRAPHER // Alasdair Mclellan

BoF talks to photographer Alasdair McLellan about his personal and professional path, from DJing and taking pictures of friends in the South Yorkshire village where he grew up to shooting covers for Vogue.

ONDON, United Kingdom — Alasdair McLellan is sitting in the corner of Bar Bruno in London’s Soho with a cup of strong milky tea. It’s an old-fashioned sanctuary from the neighbourhood’s self-aware cafés and stage-managed members' clubs. “It’s a locals’ place,” says McLellan, who prefers the casual setting to the table originally booked by his assistant at the upscale Charlotte Street Hotel.

The attention McLellan pays to the mise-en-scène of the interview offers an insight into his photographic style, which refers to early years spent growing up in the mining villages of South Yorkshire (where he took pictures of friends messing about and DJ’d in the local youth club), but nonetheless reflects a consciously created world. The same might be said of his outfit. “It probably looks like something you could pick up at the market in Doncaster,” he says of his zip-up, cropped houndstooth jacket, which turns out to be Prada Autumn-Winter 2013.

But McLellan is not some hokum pretender and both his artistic voice and heart are still closely bound to his northern adolescence. “I remember getting a camera, I think it was a Halina, for my thirteenth birthday and thinking, ‘Oh this is quite good.’ I took it everywhere. I took it to school. And I remember my mate and his girlfriend and my girlfriend all came to my house and I started taking pictures of everyone and I realised it was quite good fun. The girls liked Bros [a British band popular in the late 1980s and early 1990s] and they did my hair like Matt Goss and Jason Donovan and took pictures of it. We were listening to everything in the Top 40 at the time.”

His initial enthusiasm for photography became more serious when he decided to study it at school. “For my GCSE, again I took pictures of my friends, but it was more of a sitting. I think we were trying to recreate posters she had on her wall of Madonna — it was a Herb Ritts image. I shot it on black and white film, which I think is pretty cool for a 16-year-old. I remember watching the Ritts’s video with Madonna and the Pet Shop Boys videos and thinking, 'That looks really appealing.What is that? What kind of job is that?'"



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PHOTOGRAPHER // Willy Vanderperre

A interview by Wayne Sterling

Willy Vanderperre studied fashion design and photography at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp alongside the key Belgium fashion designers of his generation. He still lives there today.

Could you start Mr Vanderperre, by telling us a little bit about your background and how you came to be a fashion photographer?

I grew up in the southwest of Belgium, and at an early age I knew I wanted to do something creative, it was my dream. I was obsessed and was following art school every weekend. Then around my thirteenth year I went full time to art school, nearby where I lived, in the same province, the West Flandres. When I turned eighteen, it was the period in which fashion was really important in Belgium. We had the boom of the Belgian designers ‘The Antwerp 6′ and you would see them written up in magazines everywhere. What that early influence of fashion did in my life was, that it gave me the extra push to study fashion at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp where everybody from that group of designers came from. When I arrived in Antwerp, Margiela had just started, but was doing one amazing show after the other in Paris. It was the early 90′s, the period when fashion and photography and art photography… they started to flirt with each other, like a cross-over, where it was acceptable for an art photographer to do fashion photography and vice-versa. It was around that time that I went through a transition, and where I found, that for me the medium of photography was more interesting. I was more excited, to go about finding images, cutting out images, taking pictures…creating the world around it, than the actual design of fashion itself. Because I always thought that at the end, to translate and capture the emotion I wanted, it was more efficient to do it in images. I think that is the main reason why I went through the transition from studying fashion to photography.

It sounds like those days at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts were quite a defining influence on your aesthetic.

Oh yes for sure, because you know, you come to the ‘big city’…Antwerp…and only entering this ancient school building (the architecture of the school itself dates from the 1600′s) …, where you had corridors filled with Roman and Greek Renaissance statues and you have that feeling of a lot history, the weight, you could actually feel, in this school. That was quite impressive. In the backyard of the school was this little building, on the verge of collapsing. You would have to very carefully go over the stairs, because if you took one mis-step, you could literally push your feet through them. It was almost dangerous. So I think that the whole thing melted well together. It was the switch from the 80s to 90s, the reaction on excess with minimalism and deconstruction, the first appearance of grunge. So that feeling of romanticism, together with the history, the building and the run down corridors with the statues, it really did make a big impact on how you formed your visual language. I really think there was something quite dark and magical about it, matching perfectly the zeitgeist of the period.



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QUICK TIP 6 // Using Smartphone Flash To Light Portraits

In this quick tip, we show how using a smartphone flash (iPhone in this case) can make an ambient portrait come alive by helping to separate the subject from the background.

Just watch the position of the light as it is a hard light source. For quick black and white portraits, it can be a great way to make a more interesting portrait.


No Frills HEADSHOT With & Without a Reflector

Quick Tip #2 in our ongoing no idea when we finish tutorial tips. So here we are again so the simplest head-shot EVVVER. Once again we have our trusty white wall and reflector. Whip out your camera set it to your largest Aperture you can focus on an eye whack a reflector camera left of light sorce (in this case our shop front window and ......BAAAAAMM.

Above we have no reflector (left) and with a reflector (right). We used the Leica Q set to a 50mm crop which is still a HUGE 8mp capable of 10x8" prints. All ya really need I say. A subtle but pleasing difference. Below is a basic diagram of the shooting location and the light direction

Crop above just for quality purposes. Nice and spanky. Now the final image below after Photoshop and some film emulation (thank you Exposure 7)

Not that it is needed but above is a crop of the eye area, nice and sharp.


So, a NEW regular feature which Nick and I have decided to do until we run out of brains. Every Monday  8;35 AM, we will post some random 'QUICK TIP' related to photography. Some lame, some brilliant, stay tuned and without further adieu ...

Harsh Light 30 Second Environmental Portrait

Over breakfast this morning (Sat 7th November) Nick and I decided to put up some quick low-fi photo tip just for kicks. We eventually decided on a Harsh Light Portrait scenario, an obvious problem when you live in sunny QLD. I am certain many of us have wished to take a portrait of someone in the middle of the day; the sun beaming down harsh as ever frying ones retina at any opportunity. You get the general idea.

So what do ya do? Simple, grab a wall in the shade and a reflector (white card whatever), place it on the ground leaning against something so as to angle the sun towards your subject (your bag would be a great leaning post). Fill in the shadows of your subject and shoot away, the rest is Lightroom.

There you have it, couldn't get much simpler really. Remember you can find anything white for a reflector. Hell, even some cardboard painted white or wrapped in cheap-ass silver-foil would do. Above are 3 examples of Nick Bedfords image post processed in Adobe Lighroom CC using the 3 separate VSCO presets.

What a HOOOOOT shot, it's obvious you need awesome models to get the best results.


'The Man maketh the image (or women)'. 

I know many of us  megageekles like to point out the benefits of pixelcount and distortion ratio and Zeiss vs this or that. Sufice to say way back In 2001 Professionalas all salivated over the Nikon D1X and its 5.3 effective mega-pixels. Everything proffesional fashion, Sports, Social documentary, whatever was shot using it so end of story. 

Now that gripes out of the way, and we all agree great pictures have been taken on below par equipment (compared to todays standards), I will say, sometimes 'Equipment does Maketh the Man (or women) kinda'  

Sam Herd is one talented photographer and although he primarily does weddings, he just nails a Portrait whenever he has the oportunity. One part of his kit is an interesting one, a Nikkor 50mm f/1.2. It has helped create a style and look like a fingerprint on his pictures. His diliberate choice of the Manual Nikkor definetly 'Maketh the Image'

Gary Sinise by Sam Herd

The Story

I overslept. A long night the previous evening judging a print competition for the Capital Hill Photographers group had me in bed way later than usual. I knew Gary Sinise would be speaking at the National Press Club 9am-10am for a breakfast luncheon, but had completely forgotten that driving down from Baltimore to DC in the mornings can be Amrgeddeon (see what i did there…?!). Out the door at 8:15am and who pulls in my driveway? None other than the electrician that was going to be doing work on my house the entire day! He needed me to run through the detailed list I had e-mailed him of all the work. So, there goes another 15 mins. 8:30am and I’m in my car. Pulling out I hear the nicest sounding nightmare I could imagine – gas alert sound came on as I was running on empty. Pull around to my closest gas station and it’s totally full. Pull around to the second closest and I finally put $20 in and speed away. Traffic is looking dicey. Puts me where I need to be at 10:11am – 11 mins after Sinise is done addressing the press and supposed to be doing photos. Tapping up my collection of Waze, Tom-Tom, Google Maps, and Apple Maps I decide that Tom-Tom would be the best approach and head on.


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TECHNIQUE // Three Lighting Tips

There are many guidelines, rules and assertions about lighting, but I've come down to a few which I instinctively keep to when lighting my photo shoots. Take these with a grain of salt as these pertain to my style.

One Key Light

This is more a rule than a guideline in my mind. The idea is that you only use one of your light sources as the light that defines the shape of the subject's face and body. All other sources only aid the composition and don't try to compete with the key light.

Even when you are shooting on a cloudy day, it is still one light source. Though extremely soft, it is generally coming from above. The Sun is the one source of natural light, so that idea lends itself to manufactured lighting as well.

As you can see, there is one shape defining light (the key light). All other sources of light are less powerful and are often acting only as fill light to bring the shadows up and reduce the overall contrast. The third being the softest and only lit by bright, full window light bouncing around and providing substantial fill.

Key Lighting Tends To Come From Above

The Sun follows an arc above our heads from East to West. As a general rule of thumb, it doesn't tend to look nice when the key light is coming from under the face unless that is the effect you are pushing for. Horror and suspense often utilises this "abnormal" lighting to great effect.

I've found that if you are having trouble flattering your subject from a side angle, moving that light above and center over your subject will often change the portrait entirely. People are used to seeing light from above so this tends to be why it works well.

Contrasty Bright Rim Lighting Adds "Glam"

You can easily add a "glam" factor by making your rim lighting less subdued. As you can see in the two photos below, the first has strong rim lighting whereas the second does not. The second looks more natural and the first has a staged, studio feel.

Both the contrast in the scene and the relative hardness of the light sources helps to separate them into different moods and styles.

These are some basic tips about portrait lighting. Things you learn in lighting subjects as well as the reasons why they work.