So earlier this year Jenny Morris got signed on by Food Network UK, the pay channel focusing on food. This is a huge scoop, as Jenny will now be seen in homes and kitchens all over Europe and Asia, and possible in time, the US. Filming of the first series starts in January in none other than Morocco, one of Jenny’s haunts in world travel.
It couldn’t happen at a better time, as this year Jenny also released her long awaited “Cooking with Jenny Morris” recipe book, that I had the privilege to shoot, and we’ll still discuss in this blog in coming weeks.
However, in the interim, Food Network commissioned me to shoot Jenny’s international PR and publicity material. What a a fab day. Joleta Keane, my favourite make-up ally, was in the for day, fighting some early pregnancy nausea, but she’s a trooper and made Jenny look fab.
For a quick vibe of the day, see the video, and here I’ll just post a bunch of the pics.
This pic was the first of the day, more or less as a make-up test shot, but I like the vibe and decided to do some shots in this setting. I’ve found that the first bunch of pics of any given portrait shoot is more settling in, getting the sitter comfortable and “feeling” out the vibe. A lot of these images gets chucked early on. However, in some instances, you don’t have that luxury, and you need to capture the shot within the first five minutes, or it’s all going to go downhill from that. Not all people have the ability to stay focused and relaxed.
I have found with people like Jenny that initially must get a winner shot, which builds her confidence and then the rest of the day she just keeps getting better and stronger in front of the camera. However, and this is not exaggeration, on a full-day shoot like this, the poor subject gets smile fatigue and tired. This starts to show later on, so short bursts of shots helps keep everything fresh.
I’m a big fan of the environmental portrait, as the person is more comfortable here, it tells you even more about the subject and you normally get to play with a mixture of available light and flash. As much fun as shooting strictly flash-lit portraits are, a good mix of available light just cements the local atmosphere and ambience. For lifestyle type shots like the above it is also essential.
Jenny’s kitchen studio is also great, as it has a funky urban design interior, but the most gorgeous little alley outside, giving you the sense that you’re somewhere in Greece or Portugal. The cover for her book (front and back), was shot in this little alley. The textures and shapes all add to the ambience and story that is being told about Jenny.
Since images like these get used in all types of media, online, print, lifestyle, advertising, posters, avatars, etcetera. I find it is very useful to shoot in a variety of styles. Newspapers and magazines have different requirements in terms of style and one size does not fit all, so to speak. From airy available light lifestyle vibes, to more conservative, publicity portrait lighting, to proper studio lighting. Apart from the fact that this variety is in the interest of the client, it also keeps thing interesting for me.
In this case we also needed to shoot a food image, so we had a set-up that I could get this done, while Joleta was touching up on Jenny’s hair and makeup. Dual set-ups in high turnaround shoot days are a huge help. In this way the subject can move in-between sets, without having to wait around for me to get my gear set-up, and also to have food-setups ready or product setups or whatever the need may be on the day.
What was particularly cool about this shoot was all the locations. We did about three set-ups at Jenny’s studio, we went to her home where we did pics in her garden and then off to my studio, for more conventional PR portraits.
This does create a bit of work, and also some urgency on getting things done, but the variety is priceless in my opinion.
It certainly doesn’t hurt that Jenny’s house is situated on a beautiful piece of land, overlooking the Cape and Table Mountain with huge lavender bushes in her garden and a bit of cloud cover to soft-box the light. Fill-in was used in most places though.
Jenny and I have been working together for the last four years, and have built up a great repoir and work-flow together. It helps so much if your subject trusts you to make them look their best. Some people simply does not seem to understand that it is in my best interest that they look good. Often times people seem to think I’m waiting for that one shot where they look stupid, so I can create a viral email out of it and take the mickey out of it. Luckily, between Jenny and me the understanding and mutual symbiosis is understood and respected. We have fun, laugh and get the shots.
Now, about makeup and retouching. Yes, I do recommend both. No, it’s not dishonest, in most cases, as you don’t go out into the street without brushing your teeth. Your teeth is not naturally clean and minty-smelling, it takes some grooming. We present ourselves all the time. I’m not for excessive retouching or overdoing things, naturally, but I do advise all people, where possible to make use of a makeup artist. Photography does not conceal normally, it is more likely to reveal. I don’t need to explain the problem that develops with this characteristic of the medium, once you start photographing persons over the age of twenty five who does not have perfect skin.
Did I do any retouching on Jenny’s face? OBVIOUSLY NOT!