Monday, 7 July 2014

Kim Ayres - Photographing the New Collective

Photographing a bunch of photographers was never going to be the easiest assignment of my career.

There's been a turnover of members at the Galloway Photographic Collective this past couple of months. Allan Wright, Roger Lever and I are still at the heart of the Collective, but we are now joined by four new members - portrait and editorial photographer, David Moses; wedding photographer, Giles Atkinson; children and family photographer, Lynne Atkinson; and wildlife photographer, Tom Langlands - see our "About us" page for more details.

With new members, a new group photo was required.

My idea was to photograph us in the woods, each of us holding up a flash to light up our faces. It should create a slightly moody atmosphere as spill-light would illuminate some of the surrounding trees. Everyone was asked to bring a flash with them to the shoot.

Group shots are considerably more complicated than single portraits. The more people involved, the more chances there are of someone blocking someone else, someone blinking, someone looking in the wrong direction, or someone making everyone else laugh - which is no good if you're going for the serious photographer look.

Then there's the additional problem that I had to be in the shot. Setting a 10 second timer and heading over to join the others in the semi-darkness across roots, fallen branches and rocks to arrive and position myself before the camera goes click is not without its challenges. Then it's back over to the camera to see who was blinking, looking in the wrong direction, blocking someone else or, in this case, whose flash had or hadn't fired.

Flashes not firing, not syncing up and not appearing in the photograph turned out to be an unexpected problem. In my usual everyday photography I can use the built in flash on my camera to optically trigger my Canon flashes. However, not everyone had Canon flashes and I couldn't figure out what the problem was.

Needless to say, with 7 photographers gathered together, everyone had an entirely different solution to suggest.

In the end we settled on setting the camera for a 3 second exposure, which gave everyone the chance to manually trigger their flash as soon as the shutter opened.

Click on the image for a larger version

I have since discovered when the on-board flash is used in Master/Commander mode, it sends a pre-flash, milliseconds before the main one, which can end up triggering other flashes early. There are a variety of ways around this, however, as the old saying goes, "experience is something you gain immediately after you needed it the most"

Giles filmed one of the shots with his iPhone, which I turned into a short video.

To showcase this new incarnation of the Galloway Photographic Collective, we are all exhibiting at The Workshop Gallery in Castle Douglas until July 29th.

Come along and see examples of all of our work.

Finally, we would like to say a big thank you to Morag Paterson, Ted Leeming and Phil McMenemy for their contributions to the Collective since it's creation a little over two years ago, and to wish them all the very best in their future photographic endeavours.

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