My Fourth Exhibition – Reclaim

Exciting times indeed – my fourth self initited project entitled “Reclaim” will be exhibiting at the LCB Depot Gallery from Tues 28th February 2012, private view is on Friday 2nd March 2012 5pm – 7pm.

To me, Reclaim is a photography project celebrating the past, present and future beauty of 82-86 Rutland Street, Leicester.

These buildings, which received listed statute in 2006, are about to be refurbished in keeping with their historical context to become vital workspace for creative industries particularly focused upon artists and designer makers and managed by the LCB Depot ( where I keep my rather lovely studio space ).

This is such an exciting project to be apart of, its very rare these days to be able to emotionally engage in what is technically a restoration project, but I just fell in love with the beauty of the space upon my first visit and was determined to do it justice.

My use of light and shade in this body of work is a visual metaphor for the clash of the exciting new developments and the existing character of this amazing building. I was definately trying to channel the energy of my beloved Tim Walker with this work, using natural light to its fullest advantage.

To see the rest why not pop down? It’d be great to actually meet people!

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69Degrees Spring/summer

It was great shooting the new 69Degrees S/S shoot – fun, clean and fresh was needed! Popcorn, energy and ringflash really go well together!

Shooting with ringflash IS AWESOME – but has some serious drawbacks. Flexability of movement for one, but the PUNCH that it gives is great. Its something I used to use alot, as it suits my brash and contrasty style of photography, but recently I`ve been looking at more subtle lighting techniques ( such as using video lights, I`m shooting an exhibition fashion piece tomorrow, so will blog about that next week as well ). Inspired by Tim Walker I`ve been looking at natural light in a different way – but I still want to blast the hell out of it using strobist techniques – MUST resist the dark side!

I`ll blog more about it next week when the magazines out, but for now here`s a teaser image ( seeing as the publishers already leaked it via Facebook ).

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Horsey Fun

It was on a very cold Saturday morning that we went out to shoot our first self initiated project of 2012 – and we had decided to work with horses (nothing like easing yourself in gently). This year I’ve got a new creative partner in crime, the fabulous designer / re-toucher and all round good guy Tim Harrison of Voice. Myself and Tim have been looking for a project to work on together for some time, and got fed up of waiting for the ideal brief, and so wrote our own!

We weren’t sure if we’d be able to use hard flash (as was my plan) because of the horses, but luckly we were, and so I was able to get those moody, contrasty skies in the background that I’m known for.

I’ve a feeling that we’ll revisit this shoot again in the next three months, and spend more time exporing a varity of different ideas as unfortunately we just ran out of time on Saturday to fully try everything we wanted – but with this as a starting point and I can’t wait to see how we build on it!

Styling was by the stylish Faye Dixon, with hair by the ever fabulous Guy Addison, and make up provided by Femi on Highcross Street, in Leicester, and Alan Sharman Model Agency provided the lovely Sandra to model.

Somewhere over the last two months shooting I’ve managed to lose my hotshoe mounted softbox, and so had to make do with using a small beauty to shape my light. Not too much of a problem, as the light it produces is super hard and directional, but I`d have loved the option of adding the softbox in as a high light. Guess I’ll do that when I re-visit this shoot!

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Bread & Butter expo Berlin – Jan 2012

Last week I was back to my jetsetting ways by flying over to Berlin for a shoot with Vans at the Bread & Butter fashion expo in Berlin. From 18–20 January 2012, High Fidelity BREAD & BUTTER presented fashionistas with the latest emerging portfolio`s of the world’s leading Street & Urbanwear brands like Tommy Hilfiger ( who had an ice rink! ) G Star Raw, Scotch & Soda and converse.

The whole experience was senses shattering and very exciting, and I felt very inspired to see all the emerging trends ( of which I`ll be sure to try to fit into my work ). The Vans boys were a great laugh and even better company, and it was really nice to be able to wander round after the shoot to see some emerging British designers like SinStar ( who I think are set for the big time ) and show my support.

Hopefully I`ll have the opportunity to go back during the July expo, this time though I`d love to see a little bit of Berlin, as I didnt get the chance during my whirlwind 36 hour travel / sleep / shoot / travel agenda.

With that said I`m very excited about this Saturday as I`ve arranged my first fashion test shoot for this year, working with the amazingly creative Tim Harrison of Voice.

We have really clear idea of what we want to create, and our ideas are very grand, so I`m really excited about it. We`re shooting outdoors in the cold, working with horses – wish us luck! Will post images next week!

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New member of the Chris Denner entourage…

We`ve added a new member to the Chris Denner Photographic family! With myself concentrating on the creative side of the business, and Rebecca taking care of the studio management we decided that we were missing the “cute” factor in the studio – enter Indy the Cockerpoo ( cross between a poodle and a cocker spaniel )!

Myself and my partner Kasey picked her up on this weekend, and she`s already filled the house with love and puppy cuddles! Her favourite hobby at the minute is biting Kaseys toes, and she cant get her head around Kaseys afro caribbean hair – she keeps chewing it like its candy floss!

She`ll be coming into the studio with me everyday – so look forward to puppy loves when you come to visit us! Indy may even help Rebecca get over her fear of dogs, she`s too loveable to be scared of!

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Xmas list and 2011 best of kit!

So, its that time of year again – xmas.

People think its easy to buy a photographer xmas pressies, that may be true for most people, but for me I`m a really tricky bugger to buy for. So if your photographer other half is difficult like me, here`s my top three purchases from 2011 that may kickstart some inspiration! The best of 2011 ( for me ) were –

In at number three is my Lowepro classified 250 AW. I saw this bag at Focus NEC, and loved it, and now its my main bag. It goes everywhere ( inc all my overseas shoots as it fits nicely as carry on luggage ). Great design, size and features…Lowepro bags are great in general but this is awesome! Loads of compartments for the gear that I always forhet to take like gloves, bcable ties etc. I just leave them in the bag, I`ll never be without these essentials again!

In at number two are my beloved Sniper pro remote flashs. Awesome bits of kit these are, I freakin love these and use them all the time! See a previous blog post for the full breakdown! The below image was shot with the sniper pro`s, they never miss a flash!!

Off camera flash is tricky enough at the best of times, impossible when you cant depend on your remote triggers to fire – with these I`ll never have to worry about that again!

And in at the pretigous number one spot is a very new addition ( I`ve only had it a week! ) is a lensbaby muse. PYou`ll have to focus the Muse by compressing the lens and move the sweet spot by bending the flexible lens tubing, like a bellows. The Double Glass optic features a pin-sharp sweet spot with minimal diffusion at all aperture settings, and its fun moving the bellows around to find that sweet spot! Below are examples from a recent shoot with AJ Superstar, there`s the desired look first, then I popped the lensbaby on at the end of the session. It`ll take abit of getting used too, but excited about the potentional for mischief.

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Xmas spirit

This xmas, we decided that we here at Chris Denner Photographic would think of those less fortunate than ourselves rather than blow aload of money on a christmas party. Yes, whilst christmas parties are great fun ( trust us, we love a good party ) myself and Rebecca ( studio manager ) agreed that the money would be better used helping others.

Besides there wasnt enough cash left to buy a Lensbaby ( here`s hoping Santa gets me one for xmas ).

So after abit of thought and looking around at charities, we purchased two guitars ( I`m a musician as well, and so wanted to give the gift of music ) and donated both to the rainbows charity ( http://www.rainbows.co.uk ) as its something we really believe it.

This act made us both feel warm and fuzzy inside, as opposed to feeling quessy and hungover if we`ve had used the money in the traditional xmas party way!

We`d both strongly ask that you all look at your xmas budgets, and if possible, do think of other people during the fesitive period.

We`ll ( and jesus ) will love you for it!!

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69Degrees A/W Shoot

In November I was asked to shoot the 69Degrees Magazine Autumn/Winter fashion piece. This includes the cover and a 4 page feature in the magazine. It’s usually the publications biggest issue with 450,000 readership.

The brief was simple enough – xmas wear and party wear. I wanted to stay away from creating something that looked too “High Street” and posy, and wanted a edgier “lookbook” style vibe, tapping into the feel and energy of the city nightlife.

I wanted movement, flow, and that weird scary feeling where you see something from the corner of your eye, so that the image is visually overwhelming.

To create this look, I used my trusty iSniper pro wireless flash units (read a previous entry for a through review), one strapped to a small bowl with grid to create a very narrow and hard mainlight, the other two fired with various gels strapped to them that my assistants moved and manually fired by hitting the test button on the backs of the flashguns as fast as possible.

This created the hazy, sexy colours that leak onto the images as I’d slowed by shutter down so that whilst the flash hit and froze the subjects, the ambient colours and movement could be recorded in the frame as well. Its basic slow sync flash, a very effective technique – in this case I used first curtain sync, but wish in hindsight I`d have tried a few second curtain syncs just to see what the result was. I purposely used the first sync so that the movement and colour leaked over the static flash image, but it would have been nice to see the results for future reference.

The shoot was undertaken in the streets around my studio (Great for being used as a base for changing etc) We got some very weird looks whilst out on the street, as at any one time there was a massive group of stylists, hair & MUA’s and magazine publishers crowded into city streets shooting beautiful people in great clothing.

The highlight for me was seeing a clamping truck that doing it’s job of clamping a car – Great opportunity! So after abit of sweettalk from Ava Maria the stylist, they allowed us 30 seconds with for Tony (male model) to pose on the truck, which then made the final layouts!

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Mexico holiday – AquaPak review

Sorry for the slight delay in blog posts, thats simply because I was away on Holiday in Mexico!

It was an amzing experience, and myself and my partner Kasey loved immersing ourselves in the cultaral aspects, and sight seeing opportunities. 29 degrees everyday, and boy was it humid, Kasey was loving it ( being a caribbean girl herself ) but at times I had to retreat to the shade with my books and camera!

I took my walk around camera ( beloved Lumix GF1 ) with its beautiful 20mm F1.8 lens, and invested in an AquaPak waterproof backpack, so I could take photos whilst snorkelling.

The camera really struggled ( for obvious reasons ) with the underwater photography, but was great for getting some exciting action photos in the surf.

The plastic clear panel that you shoot through got a little smeary at times, but overall it was a great investment. The handy strap I shortened so it bearly fit over my head, so the camera wasnt going anywhere!

Theres three watertight seals at the top that you close after placing the camera inside, lovely and easy! no fiddly clasps or levers like other underwater cases I`ve used.

Chichén Itzá was a great experience, thats two of the wonders of the world I`ve seen now! We loved snorkelling most days, one day off the island of Cozumel in a natural reef, but mostly in natural cenotes ( underground caves ), filled with fish! The DOF with the 20mm lens was amazing, and reallt transforms standard holiday photos into much more exciting images!

Unfortunately during the snorkelling off Cozumel, the aquapak suffered a leak, damaging the camera, eventually making it unuseable. Upon getting back to the UK, I phones aquapak, and had great service, they asked simply that I return the bag and camera and they`ll inspect. I`ll keep you all updated on the outcome, but doubt the battle with the manufactor I was expecting will happen!

It was a well needed break, and a recharge of my creative batteries, it is odd though going from wearing shorts and flip flops to full on artic gear now we`re back in the UK!

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Houdini – He`s escaped!

On Sat Oct 1st, recording artist Houdini came up from the big smoke for some new promo material for his album / new PR campaign.

The brief was simple, this from the agency A&R man ” black and white James Dean images, vogue, Lady Gaga type thing “. After hearing a rough mix of one of the album tracks I felt like we had our direction – classic vogue.

Now Vogue is an instituation. Scary, but cool. My fav shooter Tim Walker is a Vogue lynchpin, and so they were aspiring pretty high seeing that ( to me anyway ) Vogue is the pinnicle of fashion / music photography. This shoot was all about classic. Not a vintage feel, but some simple, clean and timeless. I see so many bad music shoots where the photographer is far to influenced by Dave Hill ( hey, I love the guy, I`m just getting sick of seeing 2000000000000000 photoclones of him pushing shit HDR band shoots ) so it was cool to approach it from a David Bailey vibe – shape and form, great camera technique and staying as far away from post processing bollocks as possible.

So, I set about researching and brainstorming…I`m known for flare and beauty dish high in on a 90 degree tilt down to create butterfly lighting, BUT this didnt fit with the brief and I really wanted to shoot something different.

So, backlighting was the order of the day ( two 1.5 metre strip softboxs directly behind ), and as soon as we started shooting the clients were loving it!

After that look I threw in a bare bulb kicker right at the front to create the hard shadow ( very Bowie apparently ) and we were all rocking in the studio, just feeding off the vibe.

Good times, its always great when clients challenge you to create your best work x

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