From brightly coloured Shibari shoots in the studio to a barefoot model in the snow, welcome to my A Decade in Review Blog where I look back at my favourite photoshoots and images over the last 10 years.
2013 was a very busy year for me building model portfolios, creating Royalty-Free stock images and experimenting both in and out of the studio. I also meet lots of new people in the industry, most of whom I'm still working with or still in contact with today, one of the perks of the job!
My first shoot of the year was with Kelly (click HERE to see more) where we created a bunch of royalty-free stock images and a series of lingerie shots for Kelly’s personal portfolio. We were also chatting about the idea of shooting a female assassin series of images so we decided while we were set up in the studio to literally just spend 15 minutes shooting a test set inspired by the film La Femme Nikita, below are my favourite three images from that test shoot.
Later that month, model Grace Gray posted on Facebook asking if there were any photographers interested in shooting in the snow as we’d just had a light sprinkling, of course, I jumped at the chance and fortunately for me, Grace was happy to shoot with me again. We started by creating a set of alternative fashion styled images and then following a quick clothes change and new look, we made our way to a small green space.
Above left: It took me a while to find the right camera settings but I got there eventually.
Above left. An unedited Raw file
By now the light was fading quickly so armed with my 'Plastic Fantastic' lens, a cheap £99 Canon 50mm f1.8, a Canon Speedlite and reflector we hastily started shooting. To get herself in a fantasy mindset, Grace actually took off her wellies and modelled barefoot, even though the majority of shoots didn’t show her feet, massive respect as always to Grace. I felt as though I was struggling a bit at the start of the shoot, as there wasn’t much light available and then I had a lightbulb moment and that was to position the Speedlight Off-Camera behind Grace and lean my reflector against me bouncing light back onto her.
Above right: Unedited image of Grace modelling barefooted in the snow.
Then we captured another of my all-time favourite shots, The Snow Maiden. I don’t think I’ll ever get bored looking at this image and it’s like a treasured family Christmas decoration which I always pull out of the archives for social media during the festive season!
In March 2013 I posted on Star Now looking for a Makeup Artist and models for a test Fashion and Rope Photoshoot, this was the first time I met and worked with MUA, Clare Bradshaw and model, Sasha. Since then we’ve had so many shoots together and I’ve always really appreciated all the help, support and friendship they have both given me.
For this first shoot, Clare and I discussed a bright and colourful shoot and I was keen to experiment with rope tying ideas after being inspired by Canadian photographer and digital artist, Renee Robyn, who had a shot a really cool set of Shibari inspired images (link below). Renee was the first artist I remember seeing to create something different from the usual Damsel in Distress, rope bondage images. I remember reaching out to Renee through Tumblr to ask for her honest critique of the shots below. Renee has always been extremely generous with her time chatting online with creatives and offering advice for which, I for one, am so grateful for.
For my Fashion and Rope shoot we had a second model Nerigna and photographers assistant for the day, Dan Lilly. The shoot really gave me the chance to experiment with lighting and retouching techniques, please don’t judge me by my lack of rope tying skills and knowledge back then.
Above: Makeup artist Clare Bradshaw and model Sasha
Above left: Taking the time to experiment shooting through fabrics in the studio
I’m pleased to say that both Sasha and Clare were not put off by the experience and both continued working with me. Sasha is also a self-confessed makeup addict and at the time, amongst a list of other jobs, she worked in the cosmetic industry so was very comfortable applying her own makeup, we agreed we would both make time to shoot after work during the summer, more of that soon.
March was a busy month for me, what I’m showing here is just a small selection of portfolio build photoshoots I had. Just going back a few months for a moment, I had discussed the idea with model Nikki Chislett of a lifestyle shoot in the snow which we were planning to do but being the absolute professional and honest model that Nikki is, she called me for a confidential chat and suggested another theme, a lifestyle pregnancy shoot! There was no need for a prosthetic maternity bump as Nikki was expecting her second child. I was really excited to be invited to her home for the day where we would create images her agency could use and I could sell as Royalty-Free images on Shutterstock. These images were subsequently used by so many brands and services, including the NHS, private Hospital's and Nikki’s favourite, a book cover 'Pregnant with the Soldier’s Son' by Amy Ruttan.
Nikki is also, like me, a little OCD (my personal opinion), when it comes to colour combinations our look and style just came together with colour coordinated shots in white and grey creating a neutral look as well as a traditional baby pink for the girls and blue for the boys!
Above: Adding some coloured props to style the images, Pink for the girls and blue for the boys
You can check out and purchase a selection of our maternity and pregnancy images of Nikki from Shutterstock at the link below. Would you agree with me, Nikki had the perfect baby bump and figure for this shoot!
In June Sasha and I met up again to build her commercial portfolio which included a set of office and fitness images.
We chatted about a Boho themed shoot one evening which suited Sasha’s as it was her favourite style! So on a beautiful July evening my young daughter, Melissa, Sasha and myself headed to a local field where I knew we would get the last of the sun and created the following images, again using just a couple of reflectors, a Speedlight flash and Canon 5D mk1 with a 70-200mm f2.8 lens and a Canon 50mm f1.8 lens.
As you can see by the Raw image above, our lighting set up really worked a treat and I was so happy with the Raw unedited images. Of course I was still experimenting with a whimsical look also inspired by Emily Soto so I tweaked some of the shots in Photoshop.
Above: Behind the scenes with my daughter Melissa helping as our assistant stabilizing a Gold reflector from Lastolite.
I should also mention Sasha was also an agency promotional model and was Hamley’s real-life Barbie, a Bennetts motorcycle grid girl who was once Scott Reading’s lucky charm at the British Silverstone Moto2 GP and appeared on the podium alongside Valentino Rossi. Sorry, I went off on a tangent but you can tell I’m proud of her! If you ever needed a model who could smile all day long, Sasha was your girl!
In September 2013, Kelly and I created Strength and Beauty, a commercial watch shoot for Bellefontaines' Jewellers in Billericay which showcased the Seiko Sportura watch in a fitness photoshoot. This consisted of a studio shoot where Brad Carter kindly filmed and edited a behind the scenes video and a location shoot at Basildon Sporting Village.
Below: Behind the Scenes video
Finally for this year was another really fun photoshoot with Sasha - Beauty and Lingerie.
For this shoot I once again called upon make up artist Clare Bradshaw for her help. Although I have created some beautiful images with just Sasha and I working together, to create the beauty images I wanted I knew a great makeup artist would be vital. When I’ve worked with Clare previously we didn’t have the luxury of a hairstylist so Clare kindly took control of the straighteners and did an amazing job, but for this shoot Clare asked hair stylist Marianne Piangos for her help.
Throughout the shoot, both Clare and Marianne were on hand to keep a close eye on how the makeup and hair were translated on camera. Working tethered to a computer is a great way of checking the detail of a shot. I used Adobe Lightroom on a MacBook Pro, which is also connected to a colour calibrated monitor.
So that was 2013 and what a year it was creating a selection of my favourite and timeless classic images. Of course, I have to thank everyone for their help and trust.
Please DO NOT use any of the images without written permission. Some of the images are available to buy from Shutterstock, Click HERE
If you would like to connect here are the Social Media Links, don't forget to mention Phil sent you!
Sasha Wright Instagram
Grace Gray Instagram
Clare Bradshaw Twitter
Phil Jones Photography Instagram
Renee Robyn Instagram
Renee Robyn reneerobynphotography.com/
To see Renee Robyn 'Bodies' and Shibari images click Here
I don't want you to miss out on the full blog:
Part One 2010 Click Here
Part Two: 2011 Click Here
Part Three: 2012 Click Here
Part Five: 2014 Click Here