"I Am..." An Olympic Long Jumper

He's at the top of his game, which is a good job when you consider that jumping is his living.

JJ Jegede is one of Britain's elite competing at this years Olympic Games in London with high hopes to take home the gold in the Long Jump event. Twice English Champion and 2012 UK Indoor Champion, if JJ isn't leaping over three minis or twelve brides, he's coaching and mentoring as a personal trainer and speaker.

Being born less than one mile from what is now the Olympic park, and his first passion being athletics, JJ has his sights firmly set on achieving his dreams of a gold medal at his home ground. With an incredible personal best of 8.04 metres in the long jump i'm sure we'll all be cheering him on come the summer. You can check out his personal website here.

I was lucky enough to get in contact with JJ and arrange a photoshoot for the "I Am..." Series. An honour to meet and feature someone at the height of their career, I was out on location all day to grab just five minutes shooting time with JJ because of his hectic schedule.

That in mind, I needed to be quick and organised. Simple three light setup and a good chance to test out my Elinchrom Quadra kit with the Deep Octa. The athletics track was undergoing refurbishment ahead of the this years games, so I wanted to shoot wide open at F2.8 on my 70-200mm lens to minimise any distracting objects and keep the focus on JJ.

Silver reflector inside the octa, no diffusion, two kickers (speedlites @ 1/4 Power, 105mm) and wide open with a Tiffen 77mm VariND filter (set at ND4) we have our first frame in a matter of minutes, job well done.

Really enjoyed my brief time shooting with JJ, and after suggesting a few creative ideas it had us both inspired to do more. Fingers crossed in the summer we'll be able to do a full shoot together, albeit this time with a gold medal around his neck. Rooting for you JJ!

Athletics and photography go hand in hand. If anyone is reading this and is interested in being featured for the "I Am..." series, feel free to get in touch.

"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 Baker

Sunrise, 7am and 4th generation artisan baker Steven Oxford has already been working through the night to prepare Oxford's traditional English breads.

Established in 1911 by Frank Oxford, the Sherborne based bakery recently celebrated its 100th year anniversary. Despite the introduction of modern plant bakeries over the years, Oxford Bakery still prides itself in producing 'real bread', handmade using locally sourced ingredients.

I wanted to ask Steven to star in the "I Am..." Series as I grew up in the local area, eating their freshly baked goods and because I feel they have a great story worth sharing. Little did I know how passionate Steven was, and before long he had taken the time out to show us the in's and out's of baking. Truly gripped by his enthusiasm for the subject, it really hammered home why I want to do this project.

Testimony to their skill and dedication for the industry, Oxfords haven't changed their methods or recipes for over four generations and is what I believe is key to their success.

Ingredients are still combined using the original 1911 dough mixer, before being moulded by skilled hands using techniques that have been passed down between generations. Finally, it is left to "prove" before being cooked in the original Edwardian oven.

With Steven now at the helm of Oxfords Bakery, he's keen to teach and spread the word about 'real bread', running workshops from their bakery near Sherborne. Head on over to their website to find out more.

The original image in this post is my favourite of the shoot and will be featured on the "I Am..." Series website shortly. Shot on a 17-40 F4 L Wide Angle Lens with a Canon 580EXII Speedlite and 1/4 CTO Gel Camera Left in a 38" Softbox. The "rising sun" was courtesy of a Canon 430EX Speedlite with Full CTO Gel outside the window, triggered via PocketWizard Flex's.

A huge thanks to Steven for letting us in their charismatic bakery, a great insight into the history of baking!

"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!

Photoshoot - Matthew Masters, PGA Golfer

Weather always plays a crucial part in the planning of any location shoot. This week has been a game of chance, checking weather reports online and waking up at the crack of dawn to see what loomed overhead. Earlier on in the week had been poor weather conditions, but at 6am this morning and a brief look out the window with a call to my client means I find myself heading to Porters Park Golf Course in Radlett, Hertfordshire. Despite being open 12 months of the year, this course is maintained to the highest of standards and it's easy to see why that at 7am there were already golfers queing to get out on course.  

Matthew Masters is a PGA Teaching Professional. Given that Porters Park is such an idyllic setting, it was a fantastic opportunity to capture some shots of the pro in action. The above image was shot as part of a series, with 2 shots following to show his technique.

Last August I posted a review of the PocketWizard Flex system and this shoot is an example of where they really came into their own. Given that a pro golfer can swing a club at some serious speed, sync speeds of 1/200th won't cut it for the shots I had in mind. In comes the use of their Hypersync function, allowing faster shutter speeds (without the use of high speed sync) resulting in quicker recharge times and a longer battery life. The ability to use faster shutter speeds in an environment like this can provide some striking results such as where Matthew tried to shower me with sand (ISO 160, F3.5, 1/1600th @ 85mm):

Testimony to a great golfer, as despite me asking if it was possible to kick up more sand for the purpose of a dramatic shot, Matthew still managed to pot the ball in one shot! Matthew offers a personal tuition service and is currently undergoing a website revamp, but rather than use stock shots that so many businesses seem to use these days, Matthew wanted a more personal approach with images of himself at his home course:

The 18-hole, 6,362-yard golf course had us spoilt for choices in where to shoot, but with our noble steed for the day we set about making the most of various locations. The weather was ever changing which made for interesting conditions, but we managed to wrap up the 3 hour shoot just before the heavens decided to open.   

Everything worked out as planned in the end, and it was an absolute pleasure to shoot Matthew for his new website. If you are interested in training with Matthew, please feel free to visit his website or facebook page and get in touch.


Take one wine glass, half filled with water (ever the optimist! :)). Place the glass on a table a short distance away from a wall. With different coloured paper/card selotaped to the wall, line the glass up so that it intersects down the centre. Refraction and reflection of the water/glass provides these striking images. This particular attempt has a black and white conversion applied.

Chequers Not initially happy with the outcome of the concept, it was back to the drawing board. Three pieces of vibrantly coloured card was next on the agenda. It was a shame to have them stand alone, hence why the triptych style photograph was produced.

A cocktail of shots if you will....Cranberry and Lemon, Lemon and Lime or Cranberry and Lime?!

Tutti Frutti...

Clicking the photographs will take you to their FlickR page where you can find more information on how they were shot.

Spill The Beans...

These cold and wintery times call for one thing to get yourself ready to face the day...Coffee, and plenty of it! The concept of this image has been in my mind for a couple of days now. Little did I know, that with the help of another very creative mind we were about to make something even better than I had first thought.

Initially I set the shot up on a granite work surface, against a white tiled wall and used a red gel'd speedlight zoomed @ 105mm to create a hot spot on the wall. The coffee cup would be in front, lit by a seperate speedlight and have coffee beans poured into it, spilling everywhere (literally).  The image was sharp, well lit......but it wasn't quite right.

This is where two creative minds are always better than one. It's great to team up with someone who has similar inspiration and drive as yourself to bounce ideas off each other.

The image was too cold, quite literally the opposite of what coffee is. So to warm it up, I wanted a background with a similar tone to the coffee beans. I would then light this with an orange gel'd speedlight to add seperation. With the help of Hannah Couzens we turned her kitchen into a complete and utter mess. I'm sure she'll be finding coffee beans for many weeks to come, and for which i'm sorry! Hannah managed to find this fantastic brown leather box lid, which made for a perfect backdrop.

The above is a setup shot, shown where my strobes were placed. A Canon 580EXII Above Cup and Canon 430EX Zoomed Right of cup with Full CTO Gel. Triggered via Pocketwizards. ISO160 | 200mm | ƒ/7.1 | 1/100th second

The final image is actually a composite of two shots which gave me the beans falling how I wanted. A simple crop to give the desired frame, et voila! Perfect print for a kitchen I think! :)

Kit Bag - Pocketwizards

The Holy Grail of light control. PocketWizard systems are renowned world over, for their ability to trigger off-camera solutions efficiently and effortlessly. When I discovered the new features of the Mini TT1 and Flex TT5 system I had to upgrade from my (still great) ST-E2 Transmitter. They are by no means cheap in comparison to other triggering systems out there on the market, but at the end of the day you get what you pay for.

Built on the new ControlTL platform, the dedicated MiniTTI Transmitter has both E-TTL II and manual power control capability, creating the perfect solution for triggering strobes via radiowaves (meaning no need for line of sight).

It has two main feature upgrades over the original PocketWizard Plus II's, the first of which allows us to use TTL (through the lens metering) with your strobes off camera. The second is "Hypersync", which, by offsetting the hypersync value in the firmware (this value depends on your camera and the strobes you are firing so it will require some testing) you are able to achieve much faster flash sync speeds (without the use of high speed sync). As photographers this means we can now cut ambient light and use wide open apertures in bright sunlight, achieve faster shutter speeds to freeze action and all without draining power or experiencing long recycle times, Hurrah!

Another great little function on these, is the pre-flash boost. Which means the pre-flash is fired upto two stops brighter, allowing the camera to make more sense of the information it receives for TTL. The updateable and customisable firmware also means we can set parameters such as when you automatically want the rear curtain sync to enable, and oppositely when you want high speed sync to enable (if at all). They are backwards compatible, and even fitting a Flex TT5 to your camera body will enable you to remotely fire your camera. All in all, I love these little things and wish i'd bought them sooner. The ST-E2 will still remain in my kitbag, as you can use this in conjunction with the PocketWizards for ratio and AF Assist.

Purchased from Lovegrove Consulting where you can grab a great deal, saving £105 when buying a kit of 2x TT5 transceivers and 1x TT1 transmitter. Did I mention you can also trigger them upto 1200ft away?!