WWIL 16 Food Photography DIY Backdrops

Check out the video to see how I made the backdrops for free. 

Manifest Arts Festival - Open Studio


As part of Manifest Arts Festival me and Kochi Kochi opened up our studio. To keep things interesting I decided to drag out some of the old photographic paper that I picked up a while ago. It's expired and so the quality of it isn't great for printing on. What it does do is make for a great, cheap way to shoot with my 4x5 camera. 

Shooting with this non-standard process is probably not a good way to get into 4x5 because it doesn't have some of the benefits, but as a bit of an exercise in composition it can be fun.

So I set up a small backdrop in the studio and asked people who came in to pose for a photograph. I offered a dark and stormy to everyone in return. 

I also shot some 4x5 film so if I shot your photograph and it isn't here then it will have been done on film, which should be much better fidelity. 

Open Studio 2.jpg

John Lynch

Manifest Arts Festival Director

Open Studio 4.jpg

If this is you let me know.


Open Studio 3.jpg

Marie Jones

Kochi Kochi

Open Studio 5.jpg

Katie Jones

Katiebetty & Tacit Vintage



When Will I learn Landscape Photography

So I'm going to lead here by telling you to watch the video if you haven't yet.

Watched it now... Good

The reason that I wanted to combine this video with a written component is firstly I feel like I need to apologise for my use of language, I hope no one was offended. I am usually pretty good at keeping it under wraps for these videos but I guess lack of sleep makes me really sweary.

Secondly I thought It might be useful to go into the gear that I used. Even though a lot of the gear didn't figure in the photographs that I took in the end it might be helpful to know what you can get to start you off.

So lets jump in:

As I said in the video, I'm not really set up for this sort of photography and I probably don't reccomend going as extreme as I did for what basically amounts to a first outing. That being said there are a few crucial things that I do have.

The first and most crucial (assuming you have a camera) is the tripod. I have a big heavy tripod that is a very light studio tripod which amounts to a very heavy travel tripod, but it works.

The next thing that I think cannot be done without is a cable release, these can be dirt cheap the one that I bought (This one) was about £6 and it makes shots like this possible...

Taken on the Sony a7r with Sigma 24-70

Taken on the Sony a7r with Sigma 24-70

This shot was taken at 2 am just by the light of the moon, and it would not be sharp at all if it wasn't for the combination of tripod and remote release. 

You may also have noticed that some shots are not ground based, that would be down to this little fellow...

DJI Mavic Pro with ND8

DJI Mavic Pro with ND8

Something else that I have been testing out is an affordable (née cheep) camera backpack. Its not really a hiking bag but for the longest time my cameras lived in one of those over the shoulder lowepro guys that looks like carry on luggage, great for weddings and locations shoots but not for carrying gear when you don't have a form of transport that isn't person powered. 

Before this guy I've not owned a camera backpack style bag because I didn't need it. I was looking at some Think Tank stuff and wondering how much change I would get from £300 when I saw this amazon basics fellow, in orange, which I love. 

Its been great, I should do a full review on it because I feel like it is the kind of price range that a lot of people are looking for, especially as it is well made and feature full. It's this one.

One other thing that I would highly reccomend is a battery pack. I was using a very small Anker one because mine broke so I borrowed my girlfriend's ( I have since purchased this one ) This is great for piece of mind with the phone and with the Sony cameras because their batteries are piss poor, even though I have five they still run out.

I had a Cokin filter kit and a L bracket for the a7r to speed up switching landscape to portrait. Its a small purchase that will change your shooting experience.

So I might as well show you some photographs. Remember I don't do this stuff and the weather wasn't on my side...



Just for good measure, the cameras I use:

Sony A6300

This is how I manage to shoot 4k video without breaking the bank. I pair this with a small rig cage and handle which I love. 

Camera - http://amzn.to/2tLkUJw

Cage - http://amzn.to/2tNikCy

Handle - http://amzn.to/2vhXCbU

Sony A7R

This one is only for the stills

- http://amzn.to/2uUd8eH

The link is to the newer one, the mark 2, but if you are on a budget I would have a look at getting the mark 1 second hand because it is a great stills camera.

The links are amazon affiliate links, if you buy through them I will get a tiny cut but it doesn't cost you anything extra. Its basically a free way to support this stuff.


Utilising Youtube


I use Youtube very much like many people use their cable or satellite subscription. It is where I get most of my entertainment and it wouldn't be much of a stretch to say that I love it as a platform.

I also create content that I put on youtube and I've been trying to work out what the best use of it is for me. I settled on a a format that I describe as 'Youtube tutorials done in the style of Louis Theroux meets Mythbusters' I call that my elevator pitch. 

I have only made a few videos so far in this style and only a few have them have so far made it to the internet but I just wanted there to be a record of my intentions linking this site to my youtube channel.

Moving Images

So one of the things that I offer to clients is motion graphics for their videos. The most common incarnation of this is to animate their current logo. Im not sure how this stands from a copyright standpoint, but I imagine that they have the rights to the logo and therefore can have it changed. In this case the design remains essentially the same but it has to move and the movements are original from the intentions of the person who created the artwork in the first place.

Original Artwork as jpeg

Original Artwork as jpeg

This video is an example of making a simple line drawing move. It looks like an easy and simple process but it is actually quite complex. To start with you have someone else art work which is usually given as a jpg and so you have to redraw it. The other thing you have to do once you get the art work is to design an animation for it that is believable and aesthetically pleasing. 

So as always when I am designing I start on paper, as simple as this logo is I had a few days of mulling it over to come up with a final, simple and visually concise idea. 

My first attempt involved SketchUp, because I thought it would be simpler to model the pieces in a 3D program and animate them using a plugin. This first attempt failed because I couldn't get the lines to look right so I left it and then went back to Illustrator.

I had to draw out each item that I wanted to animate as a separate entity and make sure that they both looked like the original logo still and they were free form any extraneous objects in the drawing which could later mess things up.

Once I had these drawn out I could take them over to After Effects and actually make them move. This is the easy bit if you have done the Illustrator part well. You just time map the movements of each piece and you end up with something like this.

The next part is a little more difficult. I know that this logo will be used over the top of b-roll for videos so I had to make the white transparent. This would have been really simple if I had animated the logo differently but I had made a rod for my own back and I had to use multiple effects to remove the white from the image, leaving the final a little washed out but acceptable for now. 

Fake it to Make it

I am not an activist, I have no agenda to speak of when it comes to the use of animals for our food and enjoyment. I have theories on how we should cope before we get to crisis point but I am not going to share them because they are unpopular with both sides. 

That being said I love to make things that are meat free just to see if they can be done and how well. I am a trained chef and I worked in the industry for several years before leaving to pursue photography. I love food, but even more than that I love to experiment with it one of my favourite things used to be hot wings. For this series which will feature as a recipe on Definitely Vegan, my friends blog. I wanted to make a recipe that I have been working on for hot wings that use cauliflower as the base. 

I have given these to meat eaters who don't really like wings because they don't like the bone in there. Everyone has loved them.

This is a series that I shot for the blog.

Wrays Latest Project

I am Currently working on the before and after video for this project but in the mean time I've shared some of the still images that I created along side the motion.

This is the result of a standard before and after package. Right now I am working on four videos like this and I really think that they sell the idea of an extension or home improvement to your clients. 

Stay tuned for the video, but in the mean time check out this work by Wrays Builders and Joiners.


Portraits - Winter & Kurth

Today I was shooting portraits for Winter & Kurth. There are part of the new designers 1 year on exhibition and they needed some publicity shots. Having the mill as a backdrop was a huge help, it is such a beautiful and diverse setting. We started in the studio [that we share].

The studio has fantastic light and it was a beautiful bright day outside [for once] but it wasn't right straight out of the box. The wall behind is the back wall and so wasn't getting much day light and the light was only coming in directly from behind me so it was flattening the whole image. So I have a soft box set off to stage right and to aid separation I have another bare speed light bouncing off the [stage] left wall onto the back wall for the separation. 

Winter & Kurth_17.jpg

The rest of the shots were done just using natural light. The courtyard at Islington Mill has a small vista of Beetham Tower, one of the most prominent things in Manchesters skyline so we wanted to include that to tie them to the city. 

I love the signage for the mill, this is how we know we're home. The post industrial decay of an industrial building makes for an interesting back drop. 

The final image here is to show off one of their pieces, we have done a few studio sessions with their products. So this was just about getting their hands into the mix, showing both of them handling it.

Winter & Kurth makes beautiful homewares, have a look at their work over on their website.