Personal Work: Focus - The World's Elite Divers

Those of you who know me, or just follow my Instagram feed, might know that I've taken up diving recently.  I've been taking lessons at the newly opened London Aquatic Centre which is also where the British diving team are now based. Even during my short time in diving I have learnt that so much of the sport is psychological; not just the unease when you look down at the pool from the higher platforms for the first time, but the focus and concentration needed to execute a dive perfectly. There are other sports that you might notice when watching on television the way that an athlete might stand focusing, or visualise the course they are about to take.

I starting bringing together ideas for a project involving the divers, when I learnt that FINA (International Swimming Federation) would be holding one of their World Series events in London. After a couple of phone calls and emails to their press department in Geneva I managed to obtain accreditation as a photographer to the event. I had higher ambitions than to photograph the event as a press photographer, I would have loved to arrange an area to take portraits in pre or post event, however I knew this wouldn't be possible. 

There are several photographers whose work I have cherished for some time which became really relevant to my thinking of how to shoot the divers. These included Rineke Dijkstra, Braschler & Fischer, Tim Kolln and Spencer Murphy. The photographers made portraits, taken immediately after they had come out of the field of play, be it the bullring, the football pitch, the bike or the racecourse. In all of the portraits you can see the tension of the sport still in the eyes and face of the athletes, though they can now relax as they have finished the event they still all seem on edge, exhausted, relieved.

Fortunately there was some freedom of movement for photographers around the diving pool during the event, I managed to position myself right next to the plunge pool. I was far closer than I thought I would be to the athletes and was one of the only photographers in the area as it wasn't a great spot to shoot the action from. This the ideal set-up for me as this area was where each diver would return to once out of the pool. Between dives they would speak to their coach, stretch and start to visualise their next dive. I tried to follow the patterns of each athlete as they would go to a different side of the pool, face a different way or speak to their coach. In a diving competition each competitor must perform 6 dives (5 for women) which are scored individually and combined for their total score. The pressure is immense, as any tiny mistake in the execution of the dive will result in dropped points.

What I wanted to capture was the focus and concentration held by each athlete as they prepared their mind for the next dive. 

With thanks to:

Viktoria Dijakovic,  FINA

Gemma Field, British Swimming

All the competitors and their coaches 

Commission: Nicola Taylor for RBS Business Agenda

Back at the end of November I was comissioned by RBS Business Agenda to photograph Nicola Taylor, the managing director of Chardon Trading, which was the largest hotel management company in the UK until its management wing was sold in September 2013. 

I was given 20 minutes with to photograph Nicola in the rather splendid Intercontinental Westminster Hotel, my only brief to make her look friendly and approachable. Fortunately I had time to visit the hotel the day before, which meant I could meet the manager and staff and find out any location possibilities.

There was little to no natural light in the areas of the hotel which were open to me, which was a shame for what I had in mind, also making things slightly harder with the time constraints as I would have to bring in my flash kit. In the end I went for a simple set-up, using an off centre beauty dish with a large reflector on the opposite side.

I've assisted on many shoots where there has been limited time with the sitter before, sometimes as small as just a minute with somebody, so I knew that making the sitter feel comfortable and relaxed in front of the camera was vital. Fortunately Nicola was very easy going and happy so we got straight into the shot, I had about 6-7 minutes in each of my two locations I had picked out. 

Below is the shot that the magazine went with in the end, taken in the Blue Boar Smokehouse Restaurant. 

You can read the Article online here: http://rbs-businessagenda.co.uk/Issue11/regions-11/Scotland-11/scotland-local-heroes-11/Scotland-Local-heroes2-11.html

 

With Thanks to:

Nicola Taylor for being wonderful to shoot

Andy Cowan, Claire Majury and Pauline Anderson at John Brown Media

Andrew Coney, General Manager at the Intercontinental Westminster and his staff

Zulma Powell for assisting

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Personal Work: Bangkok with Serena

During my month long winter break in Thailand I had a managed to fit in a small shoot with the beautiful Austrailian/Malaysian model Serena. We only had a few hours together in Bangkok, so I lined up a few locations all close together. We started in and around the ultra-cool Tenface Hotel where Zulma and I were staying for the first week of our trip before heading out into the nearby streets and into Lumphini Park.

I mainly used a 52" Lastolite zebra gold/silver reflector, giving a great warm light. I also used a subtle speedlight with shoot-through umbrella on a few of the shots.

Serena was great to work with and really understood what I wanted to get from the shoot. See a few of the results below!

 

With thanks to:

Serena C for being awesome and looking great!

Golf at AreaMGMT for booking.

Zulma for assisting.

 

Shot at Tenface Hotel, Bangkok: http://www.tenfacebangkok.com