Studio Sessions

Over a century of automotive history, all displayed within 25,000 square feet. Forty years in the making, Studio434 is now the home to over 160 cars and 60 motorcycles. An extensive and privately owned collection, it's primary use is as a museum and storage facility, whilst offering rental options for advertising and TV. By no coincidence,  at the back of the mezzanine floor lies a purpose built photographic studio with an infinity cove.

Working with Studio434 to photograph their impressive collection, it soon became clear that this could be a service available to private clients and car clubs. This has proved a huge success with top marques such as Aston Martin and their Heritage Trust, collaborating on their centenary project.

With the cyclorama measuring 8x8x2.2 metres, the studio space is able to accommodate almost any vehicle. Working in a controlled environment, it is possible to change lighting setups from shooting in high key to changing the mood and creating automotive art with dramatic effects. Better still, whilst your pride and joy is in the spotlight you are welcome to look around the impressive collection at Studio434.

Located just two minutes from junction 24 of the M25, we have seen clients travel from as far as Wales. If you are interested in having your car photographed, please feel free to get in touch.


Build your own 1959 Le Mans Winning Aston Martin DBR1...

Well, not quite but how many of us remember those "AirFix" kits with the intricate and fiddly pieces we had to glue together? Why not try your hand at something larger, with this 1:1 Scale Model of the 1959 Le Mans Winning Aston Martin DBR1 race car!

Piloted by the late Carroll Shelby and Roy Salvadori, the number 5 Aston Martin DBR1 Race Car stormed to victory at 24hr Le Mans playing an important role in the history of Aston Martin Racing.

This unique piece was created as a tribute to that iconic 1959 Le Mans win and measures a staggering 6.35metres by 3.30metres. As you may of guessed, that means this car is life size, full scale, 1:1! Hand crafted by the Evanta Motor Company (the brainchild behind the Carbon Kevlar Aston Martin DB4/DB7 GT Zagato I photographed a while back) this overwhelming scale model features the highest attention to detail by Incorporating such items as; four 16" Aston Martin Wire Wheels complete with eared spinners, a "Mota Lita" 15" AM Racing Steering Wheel, Racing Seats in the correct AM weave, full dashboard with smith gauges and a replica of the Le Mans Trophy. Lastly, but most significantly the piece de resistance has to be the Aston Martin baseball capped signed by both of the late drivers making this a true collectors piece...

Although this structure is collapsable into two transportable pieces, it was challenging to photograph in a way which the background would not distract from the overall magnificent structure. With that in mind, miraculously we managed to source a 8mx6m black screen. In the shade and rigged behind the sculpture itself, the above images were created on my Canon 5D Mark II. It's hard to get a sense of scale with photographs, so below we parked an actual road-going Aston Martin DBR1 replica (also created by Evanta)!

This item is currently on it's way to be auctioned off at the Goodwood Revival on the 16th of September where some lucky bidder will be the owner of not just a significant art piece, but piece of automotive history!

"I Am..." A Pilot

It's been a little while since the last instalment of the "I Am..." Series, but it's straight back into the action with another 'high-flying' career.

Panshanger Aerodrome was built during the second World War as a decoy location to divert German bombers away from the factories in Hatfield. Complete with a Bellman type hangar, dummy aircrafts and smoking chimneys, the diversion was so successful that even a few British Pilots proceeded to land there. Now home to the North London Flying school and teaching the general public to fly since 1993, it's a great feature with a brilliant story behind it.

Working at one of the busiest flight schools within the United Kingdom, Ivan has flown for 8 years, 4 of which as an instructor at Panshanger. With the original hanger still standing, it was a great opportunity in which to photograph Ivan and the type of plane he commonly flies.

Until recently, flying is something that has been quite 'alien' to me. It's strange to think that this method of transport is deemed 'normal' for those who work at Panshanger, as I never before saw flying as an everyday occurence. Panshanger and its 875m grass runway is regularly used as a commuter route, with more than 400 pilots joining in the last year alone.

Although I was offered the opportunity of a flying lesson, judging by the amount of controls in the picture below, I think it's best I stick to the controls of a camera for now...

Despite our short amount of time with Ivan, it was a fascinating insight into the world of flying and great fun to photograph. The "I Am..." Series has some great features lined up, be sure to follow me on Facebook or Twitter to stay updated. If you have a career that you think is worth featuring then please feel free to get in touch, I would love to hear from you!


"I Am..." A Chef

If you can't stand the heat, get out the kitchen...photograph it. I'd like to think I can cook, but when you spend five minutes in the company of a professional chef it dramatically brings you back down to earth with a bump.

In the idyllic setting of Potten End is Martins Pond, a friendly family run pub with a fast growing reputation for great food. Owners Melanie and Neil have developed an uncompromised commitment to flavour using the finest quality, fresh and locally sourced ingredients put together with a fine dining twist.

To say I enjoyed the experience of being in the buzz of a working kitchen is an understatement, and was thrilled to meet Andy Mayersbeth (head chef at Martins Pond) who showed the same kind of passion and devotion to food as I do photography. Watching somebody with this level of skill at work was a joy.

With the aim of creating environmental portraits, I wanted to depict the heated and pressurised environment a chef works in. Flambé, a technique Andy was only too happy to demonstrate as flames licked up the kitchen walls. Neil (owner and chef) meanwhile stands calm and proud in the foreground leaning on what I later found out to be a very expensive knife, oops. This image can be seen at the top of this post, and was created using two speedlites. A Canon 580EXII was placed camera left into a 38" Softbox with a 1/4 colour temperature orange gel whilst a 430EX speedlite hides out of shot, carefully positioned behind the left pillar to illuminate Andy, his mountain of fire and provide a rim on Neil's knife. All of these lights were triggered via the PocketWizard Flex system which makes setups like this quick and easy.

Despite the crazy atmosphere of a kitchen, the attention to detailed carried out by Neil's team is second to none which really shows the passion for their trade. Each dish is lovingly prepared and presented with absolute precision in a way that can only be described as art. Every plate that leaves the kitchen really does taste as good as it looks.

The pub itself dates back to 1924, however the actual site of the public house has been a source of hospitality since the 17th century. Under the watchful eye of Neil and Melanie the pub has undergone a recent transformation which sees customers attracted from far afield. I'll have to admit that one perk of this photoshoot was sampling the delights that come out of the Martins Pond kitchen in their recently refurbished dining room. The Sous Vide Beef was quite simply out of this world!

Interested in visiting Martins Pond? Check out their website here. The extensive hand selected wine list and local real ales are a great accompaniment to their menu, especially after you have walked through the beautiful surrounding area.

If you're interested in having your career featured for the "I Am..." series, feel free to get in touch. Thanks to Neil and Andy for taking time out to feature in this project. Look forward to having you on the website once it's launched.

"I Am..." A Studio Manager

Meet Martin, Studio Manager of the Cream Room Recording Studio in Dane End, Hertfordshire. Over the years, the Cream Room Recording Studio has seen it all from solo artists to bands, voice over artists to tribute acts, song writers to film companies and much much more. Martin and his business partner Rob also manage their own independent record label and have some exciting acts starting to breakthrough.

When I was commissioned to shoot some commercial pictures of the recording studio for their newly designed website, I thought it would be a fantastic opportunity for the "I Am..." series to capture Martin in his environment:

Shot using two gridded lights with warming gels, it was great to be part of a working recording studio and seeing where it all happens. Just the amount of buttons on what they refer to as a 'small' mixing desk makes the mind boggle. Naturally, I promised not to touch anything... :)

The Cream Room are actively involved in a project called 'Just Enough For The Real World', a foundation raising awareness on the issues of people trafficking. I've had the pleasure of seeing 'Just Enough For The Real World' perform live in Theatre and would thoroughly recommend you check out the fantastic work this group is doing.

Martin and Rob are likely to be two of the nicest guys you'll ever meet, and despite being commissioned to shoot for two hours, I actually spent most of the day down there. Keep an eye out for the Cream Room's new look website which is due to be launched soon and will feature a whole host of shots from the day.

I have real high hopes for this series, it's early days and already shoots like this reinforce why I wanted to do it, meeting the fantastic people behind the jobs and the intruiging stories they have to tell. It's received an overwhelming response in it's first few days and I have some exciting shoots lined up that I can't wait to share with you all!

The "I Am..." series website will be launched shortly so keep in touch via Twitter or Facebook for updates!

Hitchin Lavender - Purple Haze

Every year Hitchin Lavender open up their field to visitors from all around the country. Hitchin, once known for being one of the major Lavender growing areas in the Country grows five varieties of Lavender; Hidcote, Blue Ice, Rosea, Sawyers and Edelweiss. The fragrant shrub provides a mass of vibrant colour in the landscape and is a dream to photograph for anyone.   Although spontaneity and the ability to adapt to your surroundings is crucial in photography, I can often visualise a photograph before I've taken it. It's for this reason that I dragged my better half out of bed to accompany me on this 4:30am sunrise shoot. The thought of a low lying mist through the lavender lit by a golden sun had me excited (much to Hannah's dismay :))

I've mentioned in previous posts that planning is crucial, and numerous checks to the Met Office were carried out to ensure we wouldn't be met by torrential rain (can't leave anything to chance in England). Conditions were looking good with clear skies and 89% humidity forecasted. Mist should begin to form at 90% so I had my fingers crossed for the photograph I wanted to create. The Photographers Ephemeris iPhone app allowed us to pinpoint the exact direction of the sunrise leaving nothing to chance. Now, onto the result....

As you can see, that's alot of mist and not much of a sunrise. Overnight changes in the forecast meant it was now 97% humidity and at 5:19am when the sun should of bathed us in a golden glow we were left with a cold misty scene. Not to be deterred, we carried on photographing the gorgeous view that we were left with. Turns out, the mist produced a stunning landscape shot as the colour of the lavender was reflected in the sky.

Here's a picture of myself in the Lavender Field, picture courtesy of the wonderful Hannah Couzens. We have plans to return shortly and have another go at the sunrise, but for now i'll be catching up on my sleep! If your interested in visiting or reading more about Hitchin Lavender, please feel free to visit their website by clicking this link. We'd both like to say a huge thank you to Hitchin Lavender for their hospitality and giving us the chance to photograph the landscape.

Photoshoot - Mission Nutrition

I seem to be getting alot more corporate work lately, which is fantastic as no photoshoot is ever the same and gives you the opportunity to meet lots of varied and interesting individuals. Mission Nutrition is the latest of which, and I was contacted by Michelle Lake who offers a hands-on approach to the benefits of healthy living. The brief was to capture some candid shots of Michelle  from the initial customer consultation through to the picking of healthy produce in a local market.

Michelle has just had her website re-vamped by WordsandStuff which incorporates some of the shots we took today. If your interested to find out more, feel free to check out one of the above links.

Events - British Business Champions Launch 2011

The British Business Champions Awards are the only independent national awards programme recognising the success, innovation and talent of British companies across different business sectors.

I was asked to photograph the launch of the East of England Business Champions event at Harpenden House Hotel, and knowing the success it can bring to local businesses I was delighted to cover such an event.

With my better half, Hannah Couzens speaking about the triumphent success of her business in the recent 2010 FSB awards, it was a great opportunity to point the lens at her and not have her duck out of the limelight. Above is a photograph which was published in the Business Monthly magazine, and if your interested in finding out more about the awards, feel free to check out their website.