Tuesday, September 28, 2010


20100919_0045iIt’s not might often that I get requests to shoot birthday parties, nor do I actively market these. When these do come along, most of the time people aren’t aware of the cost of professional photography, or they want to pay you in cake or something along those lines. Then, on the odd occasion you get a client who phones you with a really cool proposition and you have to listen. D* (for the sake privacy at private funtions I don’t use names) she wanted to do something different for her censored’th birthday. Instead of getting pics of the event, which everybody does on their BlackBerries and iphones anyways, she booked me for a fashion/beauty/fun shoot as part of the event. She booked 3 make-up artists that would get the ladies ready and then we would spend an hour shooting these images.
The venue she chose for the day’s activities is breathtaking. Go see for yourself here: http://www.mwanzoleo.co.za/ We were hampered slightly by rain, but nonetheless we found a spot that we could shoot from and give that elegant background and view a bit of coverage.
 20100919_0001.jpg Here Philip acts as model (obviously the perfect stand-in) at our first location, which we then had to re-establish a bit further under cover, to avoid electrocution by rain and Profoto.
The brief? Well, the ladies needed to just be ridiculous, act out, have fun, pout, laugh, pose and be completely silly, if need be. The friends and models were allowed to chirp and jeer at me, or the unfortunate victim in front of the camera. So, generally, don’t take anything serious, but come away with pics that they could smile at when they look back, and also some that the husbands and boyfriends could keep in their wallet!
We did fun group shots, and then D came forward with a surprise for all the ladies. Wigs! Suddenly all the stylish ladies took on a slightly more “pretty woman” look, if you know what I mean. For the sake of their fun I’m not posting any of the photos that ensued! They might kill me.
Afterwards, the girls continued the rest of their activities, including lunch, cocktails and all sorts of pampering. By this time it should also be evident that this was a girl’s party. Myself, Philip, the waiter and the barman were just about tolerated.
20100919_0017 comp   20100919_0023

Click here to view the rest of the images (for guests only - restricted access, password protected.)
To the photogs:
Light set-up included Profoto 7B’s (I do rent out the pack and 2 heads if you’re interested) and Speedlite 580 EX II’s. The key light is a silver beauty dish I made from a recycled Teflon frying pan! It works absolute magic and creates a great spread.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

ICSC – Portraits

ICSC Comp Portraits 20100915_0023My passion for corporate portraits continues. In this case it is my good clients from Ilse Cilliers Strategic Communications/Round One Design.  They are celebrating their 10th anniversary this year (interestingly enough, so does Danie Nel Photography). In lieu of some publicity they wish to create around this event in their corporate communications, we were asked to come and take some portraits.

Now, as any male photographer would tell you, stepping into an all female company (which I have done countless times and still am working), to take portraits, of ladies who are very self-critical of their own likeness, is dangerous to your own self-esteem. You might look at the images on the LCD of the camera and feel particularly good about yourself, and then you offer the screen to the subject, and you are suddenly cut short, just below the knees. Expressions like “Dreadful!!!”, “What a disastrous picture!”, “Delete it!” and the like are aimed at you with wild abandon, even though you might believe that this is the closest she’ll get to Annie Leibowitz in her lifetime. 10 years in the game, you learn that this is nothing personal, but simply a way for the person, who is normally not used to having so much attention and light directed at them, to deal with the suddenness of their own likeness. Few beings are as self-critical of their appearance as women. Men look at themselves in the morning, belly hanging over their boxers, unshaven faces staring at their own likeness in the terrified mirror and think “Hey hey hey, handsome!” It is said that most Hollywood actresses think they are fat. Well, anyways, that doesn’t make life for a photographer easier, but in the case of ICSC, they were extremely accommodating and not openly hostile! In fact, we had a great time shooting and the results are great.

What made the difference?

1 – They work in communications, understand the importance of great company profile imagery, and got me to do their pictures!

2 – They trusted that it is in my best interest to make them look fabulous, and have no hidden agenda to make them look ridiculous. You’ll be amazed how many people think that is what photographers do.

3 – They were relaxed and kept it light-hearted, fun, and committed themselves for the total of 5 minutes per portrait it would take. If it meant getting on top of the back-rest of the sofa, then so be it. They didn’t mind following directions or supplying their own ideas.

4 – They serve great coffee.




We also got around to making a small video for them, as a spec, so they can see what our video capabilities are for their clients. This is only the draft, the final is still in post-production. This is a new product we’re offering our clients. Watch this space to see some of our results go live.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Video, Stills Animation…

For our video blogs/series’s, I’ve decided to put together a little opener, much like you’d see in a Universal, or Viacom, or MGM or 20th Century Fox production. What’s different is that mine is more like the tongue-in-cheek one’s like “Heel and Toe Productions”’s opener, and “You stinker!” and the “I made this!” from some other production company.

Mine is based in an idea I got when Jeremy was working for me. He himself has been playing around with stills-animation and has done really cool work with it. Since, we’ve done some animations with stills, but this one stayed at the back of my mind. In the end we put it together in about half and hour of shooting. If so much. I could make it a lot more intricate and full of movement, but that would just become clever and lose the ultimate idea – just to be a branding mechanism.

Also, since I’m mainly a stills photographer, I thought it would be appropriate to have a stills animation for my branding. The pics were lit with a single soft-box and brush light, and then the 580 EX II in the back that flashes towards the end of the sequence. The guitar tune is just a little lick I played on my six-string in the studio and recorded it via pc-mic to Audacity. I’m hoping people will think the distortion is intentional!


Just to see how else we’ve used still animation, see the following videos:


As all my videos so far has only been for my own promotion, and that of Danie Nel Photography, nelimages.com and my music, I’ve never made a lot of effort in the production, however, lately, with amazing DSLR technology in HD, along with still animation techniques and my lighting experience, a whole world of possibilities is opening up. I’ve already started submitting video clips to stock sites, and slowly but surely getting more confident with video production as part of my arsenal.

At this stage I wish to focus my efforts on viral type, web-targeted 3 to 4 minute shorts. Already there might be some plans in the pipelines with a well known foodie in Cape Town… The options and abilities brings a much more blanketed approach to your visual mix, not just limiting it to stills, but possibly some video to add to online campaigns. At 1080 HD, the quality is there for broadcast anyways.

So watch this space, and let me know if you’re interested in exploring some moving images concepts.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

I can because it’s my party


<a href="http://danienel.bandcamp.com/album/painting-with-light">Mercury River by Danie Nel</a>

This is my blog, so I can. Please go download, for free, or pay-what-you-want for my first album, burn it to disc, give it to your mates… and write a review for me in the comment section.

First things I would do differently now (the album was released 2006).


I’ll sing better. Way better.

I’ll be more agressive with my guitars.

Who cares. You tell me.