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Kirstie Allsopp shoot

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of photographing the lovely Kirstie Allsopp at her home in Devon for Channel 4’s Kirstie’s Handmade Christmas. It’s currently running on Channel 4 as you can see from the C4 website screen grab below.

Kirstie was brilliant, by the way. Super nice to us and everyone else on set and a really polished professional too. And her house is amazing!

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Ice queens

Here’s two gradings of the same set of images from a recent hair shoot with Ian at Ocean, Cardiff. The brief was to produce a futuristic feel but with a slightly unfinished look to the hair.

After a lot of debate, we finally settled on the first set with the blue metallic skin tones. We liked the way the cool and smooth skin tones contrast with the hair’s warmer tones and textures – helping the hair stand out. This set also seemed to fit the brief really well.

But I’m sure I could have made a decent case for the second set (the original approach) with the more natural skin tones. I’m still not sure if I don’t actually prefer these as they’re more subtle and a lot less ‘Photoshopped’. Photoshop is a great programme but sometimes it just gives you too much choice!

Models: Zana, Valencia, Florence and Charlie. Styling by Clair Rawlings and make-up by Shevaun.

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Wild and Wonderful

Wild and Wonderful is a new venture set up by a couple of friends of mine, Becky and Anna. Their aim is to lure kids away from their TV’s and iPads and out to explore the great outdoors. The already have a brilliant range of toys, games and the like to help kids, and their parents, re-discover the joys of fresh air, getting plastered in mud and, well, just having good, old-fashioned fun. Check them out here: http://www.wild-and-wonderful.co.uk

The models are Becky and Anna’s kids, along with a couple of ‘ringers’ from Becky’s friend!

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In the deep

Mixing large bodies of water with expensive camera gear is rarely a good idea. I once fell (well, I was pushed) into the sea while I was shooting with a Hasselblad. The camera didn’t survive. And I didn’t really care as it belonged to the person doing the pushing!

So, it was a bit of a worry having 365 gallons of water sloshing about in the studio for a few days but all was fine and no Hasselblads were hurt in the making of these pictures. I can’t say the same for the models who nearly froze to death despite our efforts with kettles and pool heaters! Lizzy, in the first pic, had it even worse as there was a fire drill while we were in the middle of her shoot. She ended up in the car park, dripping wet and covered in towels to keep her warm – much to the amusement of everyone else on the drill. Trooper that she is though, after the drill was over she went straight back into the studio and plunged (as in ‘stepped gingerly’) back into the pool.

I hope the pics were worth it so special thanks to the models: Lizzy, Immy and Harriet. Also, thanks to Eve-Marie Parry for the make-up and to Gabriella for the assistance.

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El Campo

A couple of images shot out in the ‘campo’ of Andalucia last summer. I love the structure in all these plants when seen up close, even though they’re scorched to a crisp by the intense heat.

Shot on my Fujifilm X-Pro1, with an XF60mm, f2.4 macro lens.

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The Mac

I love the slightly creamy, low-saturation look we’ve achieved in these images from a recent studio shoot for The Mac – http://www.the-mac.co.uk

They were shot on a Canon 5D mklll with 24mm – 105mm f4 zoom lens, tethered to Capture One Pro 8 which is easily my favourite raw processor, and possibly my favourite software of all. Working tethered on a shoot like this is essential, as you can set up your grade in the test shots and monitor exactly what you’re getting as the shoot progresses. Working hard on the look at the start of the shoot pays off in the final post production phase and it’s interesting that the final images are almost identical to the ones captured on the day, with just a bit of skin retouching to finish off.

Shooting tethered is also good for the rest of the creative team, as it gives the models, make-up artist, hair stylist and stylist a great idea of what you’re after and helps them to create just the right feel.

This set was a very simple one light set-up, with just a Broncolor mini-Cumulite (a perspex-fronted softbox) over the top of the camera. The only other elements were 4 8’x4′ poly-boards either side of the models; two white boards in front and slightly facing the models to give some soft front-fill, and two black boards just behind the models to create a shadow outline, helping to ‘pull’ the models out of the background.

The fabulous models are Jasmine B and Rui Liu, hair is by Sam Ashford at Ocean, Cardiff, and make-up by Rhianne Evans. Clients Justine Jones and Lorna Oakley did everything else, including styling (Lorna) and making lunch (Justine)! Top work, ladies!!

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Couch

Over the past four or five months, we’ve been working almost exclusively on the launch of a new sofa brand, Couch (www.couch.co.uk).

It’s been one of the most interesting and rewarding projects I’ve worked on in a long while. We were lucky enough to have great clients who were open to new ideas and very supportive throughout the project. It’s a whole new direction for them and I hope their commitment is rewarded with huge success.

All these pics were shot in our studio with help of a great team: my assistant, Francesca Jones; stylists Lynda Shell and Anwen Pegrum; and my good mate Nick Stuart who helped me build the sets. Lynda was also responsible for the set painting effects (‘concrete’, ‘distressed plasterwork’ and ‘brick’). I think she’s done a fantastic job. Have a look through the pics below and decide for yourself.

Not bad, Jonesy

This lovely image was shot by Francesca Jones, who works with me here at the studio. It’s been chosen for the AOP Open Exhibition, which is on at The Truman Brewery, London, from 18th-21st October.

For those who aren’t familiar with the AOP, or the Association of Photographers, it’s the UK’s leading body for commercial photographers and one of the most prestigious professional photographers’ associations in the world. Getting a print chosen for it’s annual open exhibition is a fantastic achievement, and no more than Francesca deserves. Not only is she a great assistant but she’s also an accomplished photographer in her own right. You can see more of her excellent portraiture on her blog at: http://www.francescaljones.tumblr.com

Francesca’s style is very unique and beautiful. Anyone wanting to book her for a shoot can contact her at the studio.

Image © Francesca Jones 2013

First pics with new 50 megapixel Hasselblad H4D

I took delivery of my new Hasselblad H4D-50 last week, so shot this quick test to get up and running. The shoot was tethered to and processed in Phocus (Hasselblad’s RAW processor), which produces beautiful files from the H4D. So a big workflow change from Capture One Pro but looks like it’s going to be a smooth transition. Many thanks to David Summerfield of Hasselblad for taking the time to walk us through the set-up of camera and software.

Hair and styling by Casey Coleman at Ocean, Cardiff. Model: Chelsea Keeling

One model, two looks

This is the super-gorgeous Signe from sunny (!) Lithuania. We had the pleasure of working with all 5’11” of her on a recent hair shoot. Both sets use pretty-much identical lighting with the difference being through post production in Capture One Pro 7. No Photoshop used on these.

Hair on first set by Helen @ Ocean, Cardiff; hair on second set by Casey @ Ocean, Cardiff. Make-up by Victoria Valentine, who did a great job under a lot of pressure!

One room, three sofas

We wrapped up an eight-week studio roomset shoot just before Christmas. Here’s a set of three images from one of the sets. A bit more mood than some we shoot. Thanks to assistant, Francesca Jones; Lynda Shell for the styling; and Nick Stuart for help on the set build.

Annelies Kruidenier

This is the second time I’ve photographed singer Annelies at the studio. She’s great fun to work with and always puts 100% effort into the shoot. I really like the lighting on both sets – each very simple but effective. Make-up by awesome Emma Ashton!

Fuji X100 – a quick review

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Fuji X100

I’m really, really late to the party on this as the Fujifilm X100 has been around quite a while now. But this is such a fantastic little camera, that I feel compelled to do a quick, non-techie write up on it.

I have to start by saying that this is my absolute favourite camera at the moment. Forget the Hasselblads and Canons that I use on a daily basis for work – they’re all great but none of them put a smile on my face like the little Fuji. That’s not to say it’s perfect or doesn’t have flaws; for instance it sometimes goes to sleep on you and takes a frustrating moment or two to wake up. And it’s certainly not as fast to use as a DSLR. It also has a few other minor niggles and quirks but they’re really too insignificant to worry about. And anyway, if you just invest just a little time in getting to know the X100 and you’ll soon find ways to manage these little quirks until you forget about them completely.

So why is it such a great camera? Here’s a list of it’s best features:

•  it has a super-sharp, 35mm equivalent F2 lens – perfectly matched to…

•  the large APS-C sensor which delivers amazing image quality

•  ‘proper’, positive manual controls for aperture and shutter speed

•  it’s built like a small tank

•  the hybrid viewfinder is superb

•  almost silent operation

•  great at high ISO’s

•  lovely retro design

If you need to check out some technical reviews, go ahead as there are plenty of them around. I just think this isn’t a camera to buy because of it’s technical specs, although they are very respectable. No, this is a camera to buy because you love photography. It’s so great to use: it handles brilliantly, the viewfinder is a revelation, the fixed focal-length lens – yes, fixed, no zooms here – is fabulously crisp and the wide aperture/high ISO performance combination means it will shoot decent images in near-darkness. Add to this an incredibly reliable metering system, auto white balance that is nearly always spot-on and great out-of-the-box, hi-res jpegs (if you don’t want to shoot RAW) and you have a very convincing camera indeed. You’ll also find that the silent operation and relatively small size mean you can take it with you anywhere and get images with this camera that you’d never get with a hulking great DSLR.

It’s fair to say that the Fuji X100 has changed the way I feel about taking pictures outside of my work life. It’s so lovely to use, so tactile, so immediate, that I pick it up at the least opportunity. My kids have never had their photos taken so often! And as it never fails to deliver image quality that is an absolute wonder for so modest a camera. I never feel I’m resorting to second best if I take it out instead of a DSLR and I’ve even used it to shoot commercial work where a DSLR would have been too noisy and obtrusive. Praise Indeed.

Barcelona with my new Fuji x100

Mrs D and I were in Barcelona recently, on a sort of work/leisure extended weekend. I bought a new camera for the trip – a Fuji x100. It’s essentially a posh compact, with a fixed-focal length lens, a large sensor (for a compact) and 1950’s ‘rangefinder’ styling! It’s had lots of good press, so I thought I’d buy one and get to know it on the trip. I’ll be writing a non-techie, real-world review here soon.

In the meantime, here’s a selection of pics taken with the x100 over the weekend. The foodie pics we shot will be on Jen’s blog (http://barabrith.com/) within the next few days, so check them out too if you get 5 mins.

Owner of tapas bar

Juanito Bayen, Pinotxo Bar

Street scene

Barcelona Street

Bakery owner, Barcelona

La Valenciana

Stall holder

Mercat de la Boqueria, Barcelona

Black and white interior on Fuji x100

Palm House, Parc de la Ciutadella

Water Fountain and archway

The Cascada, Parc de la Ciutadella, Barcelona

Mono mountains

These were shot when Jen and I were training for the Welsh 3 Peaks Challenge. I used a variety of cameras, from full-frame Canon to humble iPhone, depending on how fit I felt on the day. A big Canon is a heavy beast, so sometimes I took nothing but my iPhone, and sometimes my little Canon G10 compact. One day, when I’m feeling really fit, I’ll take the Hasselblad kit out for a trip. (Never happen). Oh, and they’re not strictly mono either…


Team KDP

This is us, the team that makes Keith Davies Photography. And you thought it was just me.

That’s me in the crumpled shirt, and as you’ve already guessed by now, I’m the photographer. In fact, that should have read ‘award winning’ photographer. Awards include: 25m swimming badge, Best Dog in Show and winner of the Polaroid competition for Best UK Advertising Photography Student, 1981. I’ve photographed people from Tom Jones to Ryan Jones, and from Meg Ryan to Mystic Meg. Okay, not Mystic Meg, but I couldn’t resist. I shoot things too. Things to eat and drink, things to sit on and things to wear. In fact, for anything that can loosely be described as a thing, then I’m your man.

At my feet is Alfie the dog, often to be found sleeping under my desk at the studio. In his spare time Alfie likes chasing balls, swimming in the sea and looking on hopefully at meal times.

Then that’s Rebecca on the left of shot. She’s the doer and organiser around here. Think Monica from Friends meets Nurse Ratched and you’re close. No one has more drive than Rebecca; she’s the beating heart of KDP. But there’s another side too – a natural blonde who eats natural yogurt and likes natural history (her being from Pembrokeshire, an’ all). She’ll still kick your arse on a tennis court, though.

Sitting on the stool is Nick. Nick used to run a highly successful repro business before selling it all to concentrate on a life of hedonism… and now works with us. Nick builds sets, lifts heavy things and drives a big truck. Cool. He’s also got an ‘alternative’ view of the world which not only challenges received wisdom, but is hugely entertaining too. Often to be seen late night shopping for reduced stuff in Tesco. No, really.

Finally, and on the right, there’s Lynda. With a ‘y’. Tells you all you need to know. Oh go on, here’s some more: Lynda is our stylist. Need to source that rare and expensive antique prop that will make your shot? No chance with Lynda. But she will find you something on the High Street that will cost a fraction of the price and look exactly the same in a photograph. And she’ll return it to get your money back afterwards. If her face looks familiar, it’s because you’ve seen it on a wanted poster at the returns desk at John Lewis.

So that’s us, a well-oiled (occasionally too well-oiled) team of professional creatives, working together to turn your ideas into great images. Pick up the phone and you’ll probably get Rebecca or me, and we’ll be happy to talk about your project, whatever size, whatever budget. Look forward to hearing from you.

Location, location, location

We recently spent a very enjoyable and productive two weeks shooting office furniture on location in Bristol. Although there was a pretty punishing schedule to meet, the whole fortnight was so well organised by all involved that we completed everything asked of us with time to spare – and even managed to squeeze in a few extra shots!

A major reason for the shoot running so smoothly was the great relationship between client and art director. The client gave our art director, Ceri Lovett from Stills, the freedom to get exactly the shots he was after, but was on hand with help and advice whenever it was needed. Ceri had a really clear vision of the images he was after so was able to give us really great, strong art direction.

One of the problems we faced was that we didn’t have enough product on site to populate some of the big shots that Ceri had in mind. For instance, for the first shot below we only had three of the blue/black chairs and only half the number of desks, monitors, lamps, etc. So the shot is a composite of around eight separate exposures – which took some organising! Also, with the daylight outside constantly changing it was a challenge for us, both on the shoot and in post production, to keep all the exposures exactly the same and all pin sharp from front to back.

Fortunately, we’re using some of the best equipment and software on the market  – and we took enough of it with us, see the last pic below! So this particular image was shot on our Hasselblad camera with Leaf digital back and Hasselblad 35mm lens. Processing was done on site in Capture One 6.3.3 and lighting was a balance of daylight and our lovely Broncolor flash.

I think the results are well worth the effort and I can’t wait to see the final printed brochure and updated website.

Office furniture

Office chair

All packed and ready to go!

‘Behind-the-scenes’ at Ocean hair shoot

Here’s a quick peek behind the scenes during a recent hair shoot for the stylists at Ocean. Over a hectic two-day period, we shot over 20 models for ten stylists. The shoot was organised by Casey Coleman at Ocean, who I have to thank for doing a great job of getting it all together.

As I was busy on the stills, the extremely talented Craig Harris shot the video footage for us. He edited it too – as I’ve already mentioned, he’s a talented guy and cuts every video we shoot here at the studio. Assistant on the shoot was Lucy Phillips (who also styled for Casey Coleman). Make-up by Eve Parry & Lowri James.

Experience the Nineties

There’s a lot of people in the studio today for a 90’s inspired fashion shoot. With so much going on I thought I’d jot down what’s happening and take some pictures behind the scenes.
The shoot today is the creation of Lucy Phillips. Lucy has been working alongside Keith for a few months gaining valuable work experience in a commercial studio environment. Keith has been mentoring Lucy and helping her with her technical knowledge and confidence as a photographer.
Lucy’s aim for the day is to add some commercial editorial photography to her portfolio and gain experience in organising and directing a photography shoot. Lucy arranged the booking of make-up artist Annalise Williams and hair stylist Casey Coleman, as well as models Demi Matthews and Yasmin Monawar. Yasmin is also on work experience at the studio. The clothes are from ASOS and Topshop.
Lucy hopes to create a collection of simple but effective photographs using straightforward techniques to showcase her talent. She has used the early 90’s glamour period as her inspiration, looking at fashion icons such as Kate Moss and Cindy Crawford – glamorous yet natural supermodels. Below is a selection of Lucy’s modern take on this glorious (in my opinion) decade.

A nice bit of bling

Hi everyone, I just thought I would write a few words to introduce myself. As Keith mentioned I’m working at the studio to build on the business and add to our client base to hopefully keep things fresh and interesting for everyone involved. So far I have been burying myself in research learning all I can about the photography business locally and nationwide. Thankfully, a lot of the elements are similar to what I’m used to especially on the client side of things such as interpreting and working to briefs. I also get to see all the behind the scenes workings which is quite an eye opener! Design and set builds, propping, lighting and styling, not forgetting all the post production. Cut out anyone?

In the next couple of weeks I’m going to be busy putting together a database of all our clients and some contacts I hope will become clients so that I can keep everyone up to date with what we are doing in the studio and out and about. My plan is to email a newsletter periodically so that you can read about it and see the pictures for yourselves. Lots to do so I’ll keep you posted!

We have an exciting portfolio and are adding to it all the time, with some impressive jewellery images soon to be uploaded in the next few weeks. Below is a preview of some of these images recently shot for Clive Ranger. If anyone has a spare 5 minutes I would love to come and show you our portfolio. My contact details are below and you can follow us on twitter @studioKDP

Rebecca<at>keith-davies.co.uk

Mobile: 07807 323149

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