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Andrew Billington Photographyon

Friday, 27 November 2009

November Catch-up

Incredibly busy over the last few weeks - sorry for not posting before.I'm really enjoying exploring modern portraiture at the moment and playing around in the studio to create different lighting effects (I can't explain how much I love my 'snooted' beauty dish.I'm very sad!) as well as trying to create a fashion look tat I'm happy with.Thanks to Giselle for being a great model, MUA and dressmaker.
I've shot a couple of shows - The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe & The Accrington Pals - which are always exciting to do and I'm producing some big prints for Glebe Primary School of the work I did there during their Creativity Week.
Christmas comes on a pace and then it's easing myself gently back into the wedding season, hoorah!

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Having been asked for advice...

"Hi Andy
I hope you don’t mind me emailing you like this but I’m after a bit of help!
I’ve got a couple of friends who’re getting married later this year - the end of December in fact – and in the interest of keeping costs low (despite the thirteen bridesmaids and 240 guests!) they’ve decided to ask a couple of people they know to act as ‘official’ photographers for the day. I’m one of the two (un)lucky friends. Although I’m hoping I’ve been asked because they think I can take a decent photo or two (and not just because I’m one of the only people they know with a DSLR!) I must admit that I’ve never been put in this position before." David Thorley

My response (I didn't go for 'If you want to make sure of good photography hire a professional' cause that would have been rude and obvious):

Hi David,

It’s difficult to give someone an A,B,C of that relaxed, candid reportage style but here goes….

1.Fast lenses: It helps to have pretty fast lenses as you are often shooting in low light and I like to avoid flash for the reportage shots. The 50mm 1.8 that you say you have is a fantastic lens and will help you to get the crowd shots and general party/guest groups. I use a 24-70 f2.8 and a 70-200 f2.8 on two bodies so that I can keep a constant aperture and shutter speed (around f3.5 at 1/160) without having to ramp up the ISO too high.
2.Be alert: If you are shooting the wedding you can’t be a guest. Step back and watch everything unfold and try to anticipate those moments when someone is going to share a joke or greet with a hug etc.
3.Get a long lens: For those candid headshots you need something around 200mm. Fill the frame with someone and wait for them react to something that is being said – laughing, grimacing, surprised all work well!
4.Watch the kids: Kids always reinvent the spaces they are in. They will guide you to the interesting, fun stuff – and they are cute.
5.Have a vision: Don’t think ‘What do wedding photographs look like?’ and try to take that. Think ‘What shot do I want to make? What interests me?’ then you’ll get a memorable shot.
6.Photograph the details: Time and energy has gone into every detail of the reception, service, dress etc. Shoot all the texture of the day.
7.Use flash ‘off camera’: If you have to use flash (and it’s inevitable) use it off camera via a sync cord or radio trigger (you can get radio triggers from ebay for £20) it stops the harsh shadows associated with on-camera flash. Also, either bounce or diffuse the flash to further stop harsh shadows.
8.Be nice and enjoy the day: Weddings are fun. Join in with the atmosphere and don’t order people to do stuff – particularly to repeat things. If you miss a shot another will be along in a second.
9.Drink water and eat: I’m generally shooting from about 12 till 8/9 pm. Hydrate and try to eat to keep up your blood sugar. It takes a lot of energy to concentrate for that amount of time and not start to flag. Everything matters, don’t miss a moment.
10.Have fun. If you’re keen on photography then it should be fun and not a task – it will show in the final images.
11.Expect to spend as much time editing the shots as you do shooting them. Nothing looks great straight out of the camera. Time spent on a bit of colour correction, contrast and sharpening will be time well spent.
12.Know you camera inside out so that you can make adjustments on the fly as the lighting conditions change.
13.Have enough memory – make sure you have enough memory cards as you don’t want to run out and try to edit down the shots you’ve taken to make more space. You may delete everything.
14.Know when to stop shooting. Have an end point in mind and know when you’ve achieved what you wanted.
15.Get the images out quickly – weddings are exciting, the images from the wedding are exciting but they lose currency and gloss if they arrive 3 or 4 weeks later. Mine are up on the net to be viewed the next day.
Hope this helps and is not too daunting. It’s just my musings and my approach to shooting the day.
Any questions please get back in touch and I’ll try not to take so long to reply.
All the best,
Andy Billington
07748 352464

Thursday, 8 October 2009

One more Wedding and a Bouncers Shoot.

More weddings (only one more this year 'Boo!' - never thought I'd really getinto them but I LOVE the whole day and the pressure of getting everthing asit happens) and some theatre work this month. Had a great shoot with the cast of 'Bouncers' at the New Vic - end of theweek, 20 minutes to shoot and a tired bunch of actors - but it was great funand everyone got into the swing of it.Followed it with a weding the next day at Keele Hall with a lovely Bride andgroom in Janet & Steve - very up for some relaxed portraits inside (itrained and rained and rained) and happy for me to do my thing on the day andproduce the candid, relaxed story of the day.Coming up - some documentary work in schools, a charity wedding, productionphotos for 'Bouncers' and 'The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe' and a bandshoot at the end of the month!Click on the 'Photo-video' link below to get a quick look into Janet andSteve's Day...

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Taking 'WeddingEdge' out for a spin.

I've been concentrating over the last couple of weeks on the weddingphotography side of my business. Trying to sort out the website - and secure some bookings for next year. This should give me a firm platform to build on for the other types of photography -performance, commercial, documentary, fashion, portraiture - that all seemto feed into the one day when shooting a wedding.

I find that I really like it! It's challenging, pressured, creative,exciting and above all fun... Everyone is there for a good time and tocelebrate and it's a privilege to capture that in an interesting andarresting way (I hope).I've shot a couple of weddings over the last fortnight - examples above -and tried to approach them in the way I like to shoot rather than try toshoot in someone else's style. To tell the stroy of the day in my way andcreate my own voice (blah, blah, blah... always difficult not to soundpretentious when talking about art/style/approach!!).

Anyway I've had somevery positive feedback so I shall keep ploughing this furrow.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

CD Cover and a glorious wedding in Macc...

Busy couple of weeks considering I was supposed to be having a holiday and overseeing my new kitchen being installed!

I sold a print from the exhibition at the Burslem School of Art which lead to shooting the CD cover for international DJ Andy Moor's new album (they probably don't call them albums but what would I know)... it's funny how things link together. It was a quick job which needed to be turned around in about 6 hours so I could get the artwork to the Estonian Digital Artist (the photo above shows my shot and his subsequent work).

I also shot a couple of wedding in Alderley Edge and Macclesfield - both were blessed with great weather which is a miracle against the odds for this summer. Both had a lovely Bride and Groom who were really interested in getting some interesting shots and made the whole day a pleasure for them and me.

I shall try to take a bit of time now and concentrate on all things relaxing - as soon as I have designed and sent to the printers the wedding albums fron June!

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Adam & Phil's Wedding

I attended a Civil Union this afternoon in Bolton. I lovely couple - Adam and Phil - had their service at The Holiday Inn at the Bolton Centre. It has a converted Church as the function room which creates a great backdrop to the Civil Ceremony - family and friends gathered for the brief service and it had just the right amount of camp... masks, feathers, musicals and glitter.
Watch the brief photovideo to get an idea of the day.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Exhibition, Facebook and New Websites

Not too much to report this week, it's been fair steady on the photography front and I've been trying not to convince myself that the sniffly cold and sneezing that won't go away is Swine Flu... it's not, I'm sure.... is it?
Anyway, I've got some prints to enter in a Stoke photo exhibition which I shall submit on Wednesday. Watch this space for further exhibition detalis.
I've set up a budget wedding photography side to my business - I want to give value for money and a very modern feel so WeddingEdge was born. It's strapline:
Unlimited Time, Unlimited, Photos, Unlimited Imagination, One Price.
I figure that if I present a print and photo only option (so no album) the time saved can be passed on and a reasonable deal for both photographer and customer should be the result. PLUS I want to shoot more contemporary style and use fashion lighting and shooting techniques - more fun for everyone! So this resulted in the new website -
Please check it out.
More next week....

Monday, 20 July 2009

Wicked Lady Photo Montage

This is a 'photo montage' that has been compiled for the British Council - the UK's international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. It features the original score composed for the production.

Monday, 13 July 2009

Chris & Becky PhotoVideo

I thought I would add a video montage of a recent wedding at Coombe Abbey - first time I've done this but I thought I'd send the link to the Bride and Groom as a quick way to network photos of the day to friends etc. See if it is a useful thing to do...

Monday, 6 July 2009

Another Exciting Show and Some Prawns!

An interesting week this week. Had the privilege of shooting a cracking show at The New Vic Theatre in Stoke - 'The Wicked Lady'. I'd already shot the poster image and I went back to shoot the Tech and Dress rehearsals. Whilst being a 'bodice ripping' show of some proportions it also features some great aeriel work and dramatic fight scenes on bungee cords! All very well but a devil to photograph - actors all over the shop and in the air above you...

I then shot some commercial shots of prawns in my home studio under flash lighting - weird and wonderful I hope!

Oh, and I shot a wedding in Coombe Abbey in Leicestershire last weekend - a lovely wedding with a really pleasant bride and groom. I think everyone had a really enjoyable day and thankfully the rain held off. Becky's dress - the bride - I thought was exquisite (see photo above) and I hope I did it justice.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Spy Steps and Am Dram

An interesting weekend. I was helping my father put on a piece of amateur theatre he had written, which was fun. I was lighting the show for him and took my camera along to grab some rehearsal shots for Front of House - just to give it that 'professional' feel. They were a great bunch of people and we had fun amidst the tension of technical rehearsals and 'putting on a show'.

I went from Northampton to Warwick Arts Centre to photograph some kids exploring a piece of experiential theatre by Stan's Cafe. It's called 'Spy Steps' and is a hybrid between a Dance Mat and a Play?? Vinyl cut-outs guide you around the Foyer and Cafe of the Arts Centre and you get to perform a Bond-style movie as one of seven characters. Dialogue is written on cue cards and there is even a cinematic soundtrack to compolete the experience. It was great!

Busy time coming up with a few weddings and theatre project - plus I hope some more publicity and documentary work.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

The end is nigh....

I'm nearing the end of the documentary project that was commissioned by Stoke City Music and Performing Arts' Service. It's been a really interesting and rewarding job - seeing all the work that goes on around the city and recording it. Going into Primary, Junior and High Schools as well as to public sessions - the idea has been to record the work and capture kids and adults interacting and being inspired by music. I hope I have achieved that...

A couple of projcets are hopefully coming up - a School for the Deaf in Derby and some web and print shots for a UK band. More to follow...

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Very lax blogging recently.

Again... not keeping up with the blog. Slapped wrist.

I've been busy this month with sopme interesting commissions - Creative Partnership work with local schools, Stoke City Music and Performing Arts' documentary photography project and a couple of model shoots. All very enjoyable and challenging in their own ways.

I loved getting back to the documentary work with the Music department. The brief was to cover all of the work happening around the city of Stoke-on-Trent - loads of kids, loads of sessions, loads of fun and involvement and trying to portray that without it just being photos of kids holding instruments... it became about looking for those moments when they became emersed in what they were doing, when they were laughing and enjoying it and when they were connnecting and learning. I've a few more sessions to do but I hope I got it. Some photos are above.

More next month.... promise.

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Haven't posted for a while....

Hello again,

Feeling a bit remiss in not posting for a month!

I have done some model shoots in the meantime and a nice job for the Arts' Council shooting primary school teachers trying out a Creative Partnerships project in Shelton Park.

There are a couple of photos above that I am proud of but hopefully will be doing a longer post next week when I have sorted the Shelton photos.

Fingers crossed....

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

More Models and Plays

Hello again. Sorry for the short break but it's amazing how doing stuff stops you from writing about the the stuff you are doing.

I had an informative day out at 'Focus On Imaging' a photographers trade fair - I managed to avoid any insular, geeky chat and concentrate on going o some useful seminars and demonstrations.

I have photographed a couple of shows recently but have mainly been asked to shoot models for their portfolios. I am really enjoying it and getting some images I'm really loving - I spend most of my time not achieving the photograph I have in my head going into the shoot but have now come to the realisation that I will never produce that shot because it's not based on a real set of circumstances. The model, the light, the setting - these are the factors I have to work with in the real world and by accepting that I've starting producing photographs that work as a collaboration between all these things.

Enough 'arty' speak. Have shot an image for a theatre poster of 'The Wicked Lady' - I'll post it when the finished print is done. And will be shooting a 'B Movie' inspired shoot in Manchester in early April - 3 models, 'cinematic' set ups and a dark horror feel.

Photos up soon.


Friday, 27 February 2009

Manchester Fashion Shoot

I got involved in a great studio shoot on Saturday last for a company called Zmurko Model Agency. It was at a big old mill to the west of Manchester - Blue Door Studios, Vale Mill near Stalybridge.

We had six models to shoot throughout the day and a room full of equipment to use, but in the end I shot very minimalistically with just one light and using natural light as a fill. There was a great abandoned room beyond the main studio which the shot above was taken in - I like a bit of texture in a shot. The models were all new to the agency, although not to modelling, and I spent most of the day working with another photographer to get headshots and some fashion shots of everyone.

Really enjoyable and, I think, effective day.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Nice Niece and Nephew Time

No jobs this weekend so popped down to Cardiff to meet my new nephew Finlay. As you can see from the photo above I did manage to capture an odd moment when he wasn’t shocked and screaming to finally be in this world.

I had to catch the odd shot of Lily May as well – especially when she was showing her ‘jazz hands’ to her Auntie Rachel.

It’s interesting I have been asked to photograph lots of children – particularly in lessons at schools or doing drama workshops – and they are a lot less self conscious of the camera than adults, they just tend to ignore me and get on with more interesting things. Which is when the good shots happen.

Still, more next week – Theatre and Fashion this time….

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Quick Entry - New Model and Indian Dance

Just a quickie for the start of the month.

I photographed a new model in Nottingham at the start of the month - Aggy - who has just arrived here from Poland to model and study architecture. Really fun shoot and shot in about 4 square meters of space in half a front room in her house...

Then I was asked to do some quick publicity shots for the New Vic Theatre of a modern Indian dancer, Sonia Sabri. Great dancer, with a fusion of rhythms and classical Indian dance, who performed solo for the whole first half of the show and was completely captivating.

A few things coming up this month - more performance, fashion and portraiture. Still no live bands...

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

'A Voyage Round My Father' and other people...

I was called in a short notice this week to The New Vic Theatre to photograph the dress rehearsal of the recently-late John Mortimer's 'A Voyage Round My Father'.
Great set. A big green 'O' around and on which all the action takes place. And a very interesting adaptation which was performed well by a sterling cast of actors.

At the weekend I also met up with a lovely couple from Cambridge - Katie and Nigel - who were looking for a photographer for their wedding in September. The day is taking place at Somerford Hall and looking at their website - - I think it will be really lovely and photographic. Oh, they phoned on Sunday, and after seeing some other photographers, they chose me: sorry to brag but it's nice to be picked. They liked my 'modern approach' and 'reportage' style - plus they thought my storybook albums worked really well to tell the whole story of the day.

More photos next weekend from a couple of model shoots...

Sunday, 18 January 2009

A Model and a Dancer

Two very ncie jobs this week to get back into the swing of things.

A very pleasant, enjoyable and creative shoot with a model from Derbyshire (Ruthy). We took the photographs at a studio in Long Eaton - Phoenix Studios - which we came to the conclusion was mainly used in the 'Galmour' market.
We shifted the living room set around to make it as simple as possible and funnily enough didn't get around to using the hayloft set...

Second job was shooting Anton DuBeke's new show at Birmingham Symphony Hall, 'Cheek to Cheek'.
I had shot a similar show last year but backed by the larger Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, this time it was still a quite impressive 40 piece swing band.
The show was fine and pleasant - nothing more - but It was a bit of a shock to be told I only had 10 minutes shooting time from a high vantage point behind the dancers - this wasn't mentioned before. But you have just to adapt to these circumstances. I think the press Office at the Symphony Hall couldn't be bothered accomodating a photographer for a show that wasn't thier own - but that might just be my own paranoia. I think I got the shots I was looking for anyway.

Till next time...

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

New Year, New Start

As this is the first entry of 2009 I should do the usual thing and try to set out some goals for the coming year - and then look back in 12 months and see what I haven't achieved, I had a very relaxing family Christmas and New Year and now want to come back to my photography with renewed vigour and goals.

Thinking about what I enjoy doing here is my top three ambitions for 2009:

1. Increase the amount of portraiture I shoot - I love capturing people and to get a natural, recognisable portrait is really thrilling.
2. Shoot more live theatre - I love it and think I understand it.
3. Do some personal work - I tend to shoot assignments and neglect personal projects, which is a shame as the personal work always feeds into the professional work in a positive way.

There that's hopefully three ambitions that I achieve through this year. I'll continue to shoot weddings (when asked), dance and editorial but here are three more things that I want to shoot professionally but haven't:

1. Live bands
2. Fashion
3. Architecture

There I've said it. Let's see how many of that list I can do in the next year.
All the best and a Happy New Year.