Portraits

Karin Park - Electronic Sound Magazine by Ed Walker

ESmag_Karinpark2 Neil Mason is the commissioning editor at Electronic Sound Magazine (electronicsound.co.uk) and approached me about shooting an electronic musician they were featuring called Karin Park. He’s been watching my street work on my Flickr and blog for a while and encouraged me that he wanted me to do a similar style of thing for the feature.

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I went to Olso in Hackney with the writer Danny Turner in the afternoon for the soundcheck and met the band which consisted on Karin Park, her brother David on the drums and bass and Juno on the keyboards. I started off by shooting Karin in her dressing room applying some makeup and chatted briefly to her about her music, I find this kind of interaction hard as it's quite intimidating and the whole patter of a portrait photographer something I’m not used to but as a former model she was an excellent subject, knowing just what to do to give some great close up shots of her in a mirror.

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The sound check was a great place to get all sorts of shots, with the band being completely happy to have me move around them on stage and shoot completely unhindered from all sorts of different angles, they also had a YouTube music channel there shooting some film for a feature which meant that they did full run throughs of a couple of tracks with full lighting. It gave me one of my best shots where Karin was sat on a stool and the lighting guys bathing her in wonderful blue and purple light.

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After the soundcheck was finished we shot quite a few backstage shots in their dressing room and in a small bar area. I found a spot behind the bar which had great lighting and took portraits of David and Juno, testing out a few different settings and getting ready to shoot Karin for what I felt would be a great intimate portrait of an artist just before she went on stage.

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When Karin was ready I asked her if I could get a few shots of her and while she was quite busy and clearly nervous she agreed. She said she didn’t have much time but because I had already shot David and Juno there I was all set up and after only ten shots I said ok; which surprised her. ‘That’s the fastest photo shoot I’ve ever had!’ but she was pleased with the shots I had got of her and so was I.

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The show itself was full of a really enthusiastic audience and I took quite a few shots from in front of the stage. This was the most challenging aspect of the day as getting a great shot of her live with people all around you proves hard. It really goes to show that getting a really fantastic live shot is a lot harder than you would imagine. The lights are moving and changing, Karin was very energetic in her performance and this made it hard for my Nikon and Sony to freeze her in the action. I never use flash and obviously this is not desirable to the artist while they are in full flow so shooting at f1.8 on quite a slow shutter speed makes this challenging and tricky.

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I moved to the sound and lighting booth for some wider shots which encompassed the whole stage and audience and while this made of a couple of interesting shots I can see now why most photographers don’t do this, the intimacy is lost and the shots look a lot less exciting from this far back.

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The performance was fantastic and the new album ‘Apocalypse Pop’ sounded superb live, if you ever get a chance to see her live I would highly recommend it. Make sure you check out the article in Electronic Sound Magazine and I look forward to my next assignment!

You can see even more pictures from this shoot on my flickr page

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St Pancras Pianos by Ed Walker

Between December 14 and the end of January 15 I was walking through St Pancras Station every day. I noticed people playing the three pianos that are along the walkway towards the tube station and after a few days I realised I needed to be taking pictures of them. unnamed (6)

Before my car boot sale pictures I had never worked on a project that had and start and finish, my work was ongoing and I always assumed it would be, but the benefits of a project with a finite life are much clearer to me now. A change of scenery and a different approach is a breath of fresh air after being stuck down those tube tunnels for so long.

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If you Google for them you get hundreds of pictures of people’s backs so I decided to get parallel alongside them to capture them in portrait, it also means they sometimes see me and look over. It’s an interesting angle for shooting these pianists as you also capture the bags and personal items they bring with them, the people watching them and the other commuters walking past; it makes for an great picture.

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It also works quite well for a square format and perfect for an Instagram project. I’ve been experimenting with growing my audience by trying to come up with separate projects for Flickr, Instagram, Google + and soon Pinterest with only Twitter and Facebook the aggregators, so only subscribers to those social networks get to see them all. I’m not sure it’s going to work but personally it annoys me when I get a Facebook post, Tweet and Google + update which all contain the same content, so I’m trying to get away from that.

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So while these pictures are processed in Instagram they are not taken on a phone camera, but on my Sony A6000 and wifi’d over to my phone for processing. This means that I have the original raw files and plan to give them a second life in much higher quality and processed differently in the form of submissions to magazines, exhibitions or a book.

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But back to the pictures themselves, I’ve had an amazing response to them I think because there is a story in each one that leaves the viewer wondering what made this person sit down in the middle of a crowded train station and start to play the piano. Where did they learn, can they play well or just a few notes and where are the going? It’s an extraordinary public place to play the piano and while they might shy away from performing in front of an audience normally maybe they feel like no one is listening, although people do.

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Some of the same people crop up again and again and some people bring sheet music or play off an iPad so they clearly came to play there while many others just simply sat down while they were waiting to get on their train, it’s a fascinating slice of human life.

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I no longer commuter through there so whenever I go into London I have to make sure I grab a few shots as I still feel there are legs in this project and it’s ongoing and shall continue. I hope you like it.

My photography in 2013 by admin

Borough Market What a horrible year, miserable, frustrating and the biggest let down I think I’ve ever had creatively. It’s 2012’s fault, it was such an amazing year and I expected it to keep going. But it didn’t.

It all start in November when someone took my work apart on Facebook, you can read about that here but in short it put me back six months. I spent the first half of 2013 with my camera in my bag, demoralised and feeling like I’d got it all wrong. Despite some very kind words by people I respected and trusted it was to no avail.

It still haunts me today, a few weeks ago I spoke with a professional photographer who after seemingly being very intrigued by my work became almost similar in the view that it was intrusive and wrong when I said no to her suggestion that I really should talk to my subjects afterwards and explain what I was trying to achieve. I think I’m going to have to live with this from now on. I can’t change the way I am and the interaction I want with the subject is very specific.

So my output this year has been considerably lower, I didn’t enter any exhibitions until the autumn and I’ve had to readdress my approach, what was I doing? why was I doing it? what am I actually trying to achieve? I still don’t really know. My solution was to get back out there and get back on the bus. In fact it’s the only solution, I can only take the pictures I take, if someone doesn’t like them, fine. As I said in my August blog post this isn’t a time limited project, in fact the more time the better because fashion will kick in and these images will start to take on historical importance.

The other thing I did, which I resisted for so long, was to buy a different bit of kit and see if that helped. In truth I was already back on the bus by this time, so maybe this was a gift to myself as well as an investment to try and see how different technology would change my eye and the results. I’m still struggling with it, my second hand Fuji X100, but I love the challenge. For some reason the harder it is to take these pictures the better it feels when you capture something good. I just have to put to the back of my mind the amount of images I’ve missed that I knew I would have got if I had my Nikon in my hand.

So the year has ended better than it started and actually when I look at the crop of shots, they aren’t too bad at all. Not as good as last year but a couple of them show progression and it was nice to be accepted into the Photofusion Salon/13 exhibition for the second year running. Expectations lower, sitting on this bus is maybe what I needed and a reflective year has maybe done me more good that I can, at the moment, see.

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Brixton Village

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London Bridge

Oxford Circus

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Victoria Line

Victoria Tickethall