The Dan Kennedy Pro Lighting Workshop

Dan Kennedy (top right), his crew and us. What a happy bunch we are. Picture, courtesy of Dan Kennedy.

I recently attended an intensive one-day pro lighting workshop, taught by the fantastic Dan Kennedy, a London-based celebrity and fashion photographer.

The course was held at Shoreditch Studios, London and run from a purpose built photography studio located underneath a railway arch.

I was one of the 12 lucky, keen and eager students ready to learn from Dan and hopefully gain first hand tips and tricks from this successful professional photographer.

A behind the scenes shot of Dan overseaing one of the students as he takes some shots of the talented model Shane.

Along with the other 11 attendees there were Dan’s two PA’s in assistance. Keeping the momentum going as smoothly as possible throughout the day. These girls were brilliant at keeping us all on-time and on-track ensuring a smooth transition and flow from one setup to the next. It allowed all of us a fair chance at directing the models and taking the shots we all wanted to get.

There was a super friendly, knowledgeable and helpful photographers assistant (helping us to dial-in camera and lighting settings), a stylist, hair and makeup artist and three beautiful and talented models; Shane, Julian and Yani. A cameraman was also onsite recording the behind the scenes for future reference.

Dan was super friendly, knowledgeable and approachable. He shared a few of his stories about some of the celebrities he’s photographed over the years. He explained his shooting style, techniques and business philosophy and we all lapped it up.

Another behind the scenes shot of the beautiful model Julian posing for one of the students.

Dan demonstrated and explained how he would set up a shot. From initially creating a mood board/contact sheet of ideas, to the lighting and modifiers he would use and in what circumstances he would use them. Camera, settings, lens choice and finally how he imports, edits and then sends his images off to the clients.

He also spoke to us about the importance of communicating and directing the models/clients and keeping them engaged. Finally he offered some super insights from his photography career to date, where he started, his big breaks, words of wisdom and caution and especially to be prepared to improvise at a moments notice!

Below are a selection of shots taken on the day and I’m super pleased with the end results. If you ever have the opportunity to attend one of Dan’s workshops then I would highly recommend it.

My curated edited pictures of Shane @shanenolan_alive

My shortlisted images of Julian @Julian_Nayiga

My final selection of pictures of Yani @yani.matsunaga

We covered a lot of ground on this very much hands on training day. We used polyboards, backdrops, gobos, lighting, flags and diffusers.

I’ve not properly worked with models before and these three made it so easy. I had a few pre planned poses I wanted to try out but these guys went with the flow so easily it was almost impossible not to get a great shot. They were so easy to get on with and were up for trying all sorts of crazy and wacky poses.

Below are some images taken from behind the scenes.

5 things that got me gingered up this December.

Oh my word, how did we get to December so quickly! The last month has zipped by with such speed it’s difficult be believe in less than a week it will be Christmas! With a hop, skip and a jump we will be fist footing into the new year where we reset the clock and start the whole thing all over again.

Below are a few things that grabbed my attention in the last month that you might find of interest too.

Merry Christmas and see you on the other side for Brexit (ooh, now that’s going to be fun). 

No.1 // Film – They Shall not grow Old – Peter Jackson

The Imperial War Museum and the BBC wanted to use their black and white film archives of the first world war to commemorate the centenary year of the Armistice. Peter Jackson took the original black and white film footage and turned it into a stunning visceral colour documentary – They Shall not grow Old.

. You can view a couple of clips on YouTube where Peter describes how they laboriously turned the black and white footage into colour. You really have to watch it to see what a stunning job they’ve done and then watch the incredible movie afterwards.   


No.2 // Adobe Photoshop action

If you subscribe to Adobe Create Magazine you can get your hands on a fabulous Photoshop action which turns photographs into drawings. From Photoshop artist Nuwan Panditha (BlackNull) comes the Scribble Artist Action Set exclusively to readers of Adobe Create magazine.

The action set applies pen strokes, colours, and background textures to photographs transforming them into unique, custom drawings. 

No.3 // Photographer – Alexey Titarenko

Alexey Titarenko was born in 1962 in Leningrad (now St.Petersburg) and has been taking pictures since he was nine years old. After the collapse of the Soviet Union he produced several series of photographs about the human condition of the Russian people during this time. To illustrate links between the present and the past, he created powerful metaphors by introducing long exposure and intentional camera movement into his amazing and atmospheric street photography. His St. Petersburg body of work from the 1990s won him worldwide recognition. 

No.4 // pottery – Joe Smart & Emily Stephen

Jono Smart and Emily Stephen, are a Scottish based couple who live and work together in two studios on the top floor of a converted Victorian school in East Glasgow. Jono works as a potter and Emily as a woodturner. They open their website shop a number of times throughout the year but you better be quick as the work often sells out within just a few hours. Their work is stunning, simple, classic and elegant and if you want to buy any of their wares you better sign up to the newsletter to be one of the first to know when the next shop opens.


No.5 // Stationery – Present & Correct

Present & Correct has been around since 2009. As well as selling their own unique designs and stationery items, they also source and sell unique and vintage stationery items from around the globe. This is the sweat shop for stationery lovers.

5 things that got me gingered up this November.

Autumn leaves are a falling. The green leaves have relented, exhausted from this summer’s growth and have now given way to the incredible autumnal rainbow of colours. Oranges, flame reds, lime greens, ochres and every shade of brown imaginable now adorn our gutters, car roofs and pavements.

Trick or treat has knocked on October’s final door and run away. Bonfire night has whiz, banged and ooh’d and aah’d in the usual explosive manner. Finally, we commemorated 100 years since the end of WWI.   

With no more celebrations or commemorations on the near horizon, it now looks clear for full speed ahead to the rapidly approaching festive season! I’ve already had my first warm mince pie and mulled wine, my Christmas list is growing by the day and I’m not quite sure how we suddenly arrived so close to Christmas. Every year is the same, the pace seems to suddenly pick up and I never have enough time to do the things I want to. So take heed, take notice, now is the season to plan.  

This now brings me to my five things that have grabbed my attention this past month. I hope you find them as fun and as useful as I did. If you would like to leave any comments, please do at the bottom of the post.

Until the next time – Enjoy.


No.1 // Creative thinking – James Victore

James Victore is an artist and designer who also teaches creativity and personal growth. James recently brought out a great video on how to ‘Feck perfuction’ and improve your creative life and work. You can hear his words of wisdom over on Vimeo where he explains The Five Things You Must Know About Being In Business. Some sage words of wisdom indeed from a master. 

No.2 // Grammar – Grammarly

I heard about Grammarly a while back but for whatever reason never got around to taking it any further until recently. My grammar ain’t the best around here, however, after installing the app it now helps me make sure I produce copy in a clearer, more accurate, and error-free way – fingers crossed.  

No.3 // illustration – Russell Ayto

Russell Ayto is an award-winning children’s book illustrator and author. His books are illustrated with many fun, imaginative and fantastically drawn characters. Russell has a very distinct graphical style to his illustrations which help his books stand out on the shelves. I discovered Russell while searching for children’s picture books for my son and his particular graphical illustrative style certainly grabbed my attention. The first book I bought was Are the Dinosaurs Dead, Dad? which is still my favourite illustrated children’s picture book. It didn’t take me long to discover other books Russell had illustrated, all of which take prime real estate on our bookshelf which include; The Somethingosaur, Captain Flinn and the Pirate Dinosaurs, Dustbin Dad, and Whoops!

No.4 // Photographer – Benedict Redgrove

Benedict Redgrove’s career began in graphic design and you can clearly see this influence in his work with his clean, graphic and refined stylised images. He works for major automotive, aeronautical, technology and media brands and his work is stunning. 

No.5 // Marketing – Seth Godin

Seth Godin is the best selling author (more than 18 best-selling books), entrepreneur, teacher, speaker and THE Man who thinks about the marketing of ideas. He’s brilliant at simplifying complex topics and delivers it with great ease. He conveys and explains in a non BS way his thoughts and ideas. Not much more to say about Seth except that his blog (one of the most popular in the world) and website are a goldmine of inspiration. Now, go start digging and start a ruckus as Seth would say!

5 things that got me gingered up this October

Can you believe we’re almost halfway through October already, where does the time go? Tomorrow, the temperature is supposed to get to a balmy 23 degrees in London – in mid October! I know, crazy right? Anyway, apart from the weather grabbing my attention, below are five creative hot topics that have my curiosity all fired up.

I hope at least a couple of these links will ignite your inquisitiveness nature and you find them as thoughtful and as useful as I did. Until next time, enjoy the late seasonal sunny weather.


No.1 // Typography – Wieden + Kennedy London

A typographic treat for the new Honda Civic  created by Wieden + Kennedy London.


No.2 // Topography – The National Library of Scotland

The National Library of Scotland has a brilliant site where you can view old maps overlaid on current views. You can flip back and fourth seeing in an instant what it used to be like over the years – fascinating.


No.3 // Podcast – Hurry Slowly

Hurry Slowly is a podcast about how you can be more productive, creative, and resilient by simply slowing down.

Now in it’s second season and hosted by the curious mind of Jocelyn K. Glei. It’s a great podcast on ideas for finding more creativity and meaning in our daily lives. There’s some great interviews covering a diverse array of topics that have really made me think about the way I work and spend my time.


No.4 // Newsletter – Dense Discovery

Dense Discovery is a weekly subscription newsletter edited by Kai Brach who is also the publisher of the super duper Offscreen Magazine. Dense Discovery is a curated mix of practical and inspirational links to inspiring technology, design, philosophy, psychology and culture. Some other great links take you to useful apps, tools, and websites,  accessories for the office/home, inspiring art and design projects and some great content covering Thought-provoking things to read, listen and watch.


No.5 // Illustration/illustrator – David Tazzyman

If you have young children and you like collecting some fine art children picture books I can highly recommend the illustrator David Tazzyman. I have a couple of his picture books at home (You can’t take an elephant on a bus and Eleanor’s Eyebrows) and love his loose illustration pen style. His whimsical freestyle approach of the characters in the books are excellent and I love the graphical treatment to the backgrounds. Even if you don’t have kids I’m sure you will appreciate the magnificent illustrations David creates.

Prosecco Boggio Daaaalings at the SWPP!

I recently attended the Society of Wedding and Portrait Photographers (SWPP) annual convention in London. It was a cracking day out and I had a fun filled informative day.


Glyn Dewis

I managed to catch Glynn Dewis and Tigz Rice on The Flash Centre stage. I have seen Glynn a number of times now and he never fails to deliver. He’s a great presenter on stage and demonstrated some very useful lighting techniques which he has become renowned for such as his Rembrandt and the Invisible Black Background lighting techniques.

I have followed Glynn Dewis on social media now for a number of years and he has always had  something useful to share with his audience. Ranging from photoshop, photography, and lighting techniques to finding your own creative style, there is something for everyone!



Tigz Rice

Tigz Rice was also presenting on The Flash Centre stage. I first came across Tigz at one of the Adobe conferences in London where she was helping to host the event. Tigz has gained a photographic and lighting style reputation for her tastefully flattering and elegant boudoir images.



Karl Taylor

Karl Taylor a photographer and educator I recently discovered online. A Hasselblad ambassador, Karl was giving live demos throughout the day on the Hasselblad stand. He was demonstrating lighting techniques with male and female models while using the amazing Hasselblad camera.



Julia Boggio

To Die For, Daaaaaling: How to Sell Luxury by Julia Boggio

Finally, I sat in a Master Class given by Julia Boggio of Boggio Studios entitled To Die For, Daaaaaling: How to Sell Luxury. Julia has been recognised as one of the premier family portrait photographers in the UK for many years, with clients including celebrities, royalty, and billionaires!

In her presentation she talked about her journey as a photographer, building up the business, the Boggio brand and going after the high end luxurious market she was aiming for. She described strategies for marketing, gaining new clients to pricing and networking. She certainly got my attention while I entered the room as she immediately offered me (and everyone else to that matter) a cup of Prosecco from the six bottles she brought with her! Now that’s what you call customer service and a fantastic presentation.

So that was the SWPP London Convention 2018. Just like last year I’m already looking forward to next years event.



Trey Ratcliff – London photo Walk (80 Stays around the world)

A stop motion I created of the evening walk around the park.

I have been following Trey on his blog for a few years now and when the opportunity arose to do a photo walk with him in London I jumped at the chance.

The Shortbread Shed-Trey photo walk 5

I managed to sneak in between the masses and grab a selfie with Trey.

A brief overview on Trey. He was born in the US but now lives with his family in New Zealand. He has gazillions of followers on the web. He was born blind in the right eye and has a degree in Computer Science and Math. You can read all about him and his travels on his blog at He’s best known for his vivid HDR Photography. He’s into meditation and yoga and is a genuinely a really humble, approachable nice chap. He has partnered with a number of companies to produce various products such as Peak Design helping to created amazing camera bags. He has created his own software, presets, apps and organises photo walks all over the world just to call out a few of his many talents.

I have never done a photo walk before so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. None the less I was pretty excited about the prospect. The London walk was to take part in Hyde Park on the north side of the Serpentine lake. The pre-party get-together kicked off at 18.00 and the walk itself was due to start at 19.00, finishing around 21.00. There was an after party at a nearby pub if you were lucky enough to buy a ticket in time, which I had, and was very much looking forward to it.

The Shortbread Shed-Trey photo walk 1

Find the bus and ye shall find Trey. Easier said than done when my mad map reading skills went walk about!

I got to Hyde Park in plenty of time to enjoy the atmosphere and build up to the walk. After a bit of a dodgy start to the weather in the morning and early afternoon, by the time I arrived in London, the clouds and greyness had dissipated leaving a beautiful summers evening. A blue sky, warm and snugly temperature and a beautiful amber glow surrounded the park. However I managed to get off a tube stop too early and completely got disorientated trying to navigate my way by using a combination of a printed off map, a poor GPS signal on my mobile phone and not having a precise location as to where we were all supposed to meet (apart from a message on the site to say look out for a large branded bus with 80 Stays Around the World with Trey Ratcliff plastered over one side). Boy did I get lost, and what reserve time I had to enjoy the build up to the event quickly evaporated as I tried this way and that way to find the starting point! I had one final go and by chance rather than by skill I found the holy grail that was the bus! As soon as I saw the bus I saw the hundreds of other people gathered across the other side of the road milling about and I knew that was where I was supposed to be.

The Shortbread Shed-Trey photo walk 4

The Shortbread Shed-Trey photo walk 3

I’m surprised Trey has a hand left after an incredible meet and great at the start to the photo walk.

Instead of me turning up relaxed and calm, I was knackered, hot and sweaty. Thankfully there were two girls from Air New Zealand (one of the sponsors of the walks) handing out water and chocolate to the gathering crowd. There must have been a good couple of hundred people gathered for the walk. Talk about a diverse  bunch. There were all ages, nationalities, genders, ethnicities etc. It was impressive to witness how popular Trey is over such a diverse and wide ranging audience of following photographers and fans. It was also as impressive to see just how much gear some people had brought with them! I decided to travel light and only brought my favourite pocket travel camera – the Sony RX 100IV to capture the action. I saw one person carrying a tripod, mono-pod a large backpack, at least two DSLR cameras with a 70-200mm and a 24-70mm lens.

The Shortbread Shed-Trey photo walk 10

A final word from Trey as he addresses the eagerly awaiting audience before the off.

There were the usual camera brands on display from Canon and Nikon and I was surprised to see just how many Sony cameras were on show. From the small compact ones like mine to the full frame DSLR versions giving Canon and Nikon a run for their money. I saw a couple of nice Fuji’s and GoPro’s, about one Olympus, a Lomography La Sardine 35mm film camera and a number of video cameras. Accessories wise, there were lots of tripods, mono-pods, cable releases, camera bags/shoulder bags and slings (I noticed some very nice ones from Peak Design and the new models they released late last year and I’m really happy to say that I bought the 30L backpack, charcoal version and am delighted with it). I saw a lot of people were using the Peak Design Capture clips to hold their cameras. The device simply clamps to any strap such as a rucksack arm or belt. There is a quick release plate that screws onto a camera body and then into the clamp. When you need to get to your camera you simply press a quick release button to free your camera ready for action in an instant.

The Shortbread Shed-Trey photo walk 11

Who’s taking a picture of who? I’m taking a picture of them, taking a picture of him.

Trey did an epic meet and great with the large crowd for about an hour and I managed to sneak in there to say a quick hello, press some flesh and grab a selfie for the blog.

Nineteen hundred hours and it was time for the Photo Walk. Trey jumped up onto the back of a custom built adult tricycle and with the help of a microphone and PA system addressed the eagerly awaiting audience.

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The Shortbread Shed-Trey photo walk 14

The Shortbread Shed-Trey photo walk 15

The Shortbread Shed-Trey photo walk 16

The Shortbread Shed-Trey photo walk 17

And we’re off, a merry band of happy snappers making our way around the stunning Serpentine taking pictures as we go.

He was a great presenter and possesses a fantastic voice for speaking giving us an idea of what to expect, what we should do and a bit about himself and his philosophies. Before long we were off on our walk heading north west following the edge of the Serpentine lake. It was fascinating to observe people taking pictures of all sorts of things with a huge variety of lenses and cameras. Every so often we would stop, regroup and Trey would give us a photographic tip, an observation, an insight or a story. It was a lovely walk on a fantastic evening and for two hours we rambled around the park taking pictures until dark.

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We finished our walk with a beautiful sunset.

We finished the walk shortly after nine and the people who weren’t going on to the after party said their farewells and disappeared into the night while the rest of us went on to a small pub a short distance away for the after party.

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The after party in a local pub. A great chance to meet other like minded photographers. Get to chat to Trey and hear him talk about his fantastic photographic journey so far.

I was thirsty and a tad dehydrated after my travels and all my walking so I didn’t need any encouragement to head for the bar. A pint of Guinness and a slice of pizza and my energy levels were back up to normal. Space was tight and cosy as more people arrived and the noise levels and body heat started to rise. It was a great opportunity to meet and say hello to like minded photographers and I had some great conversations with a diverse group of people. Before long Trey made his way to the front of the room beside a large TV screen to talk to us about his background, his photography style and techniques and life philosophies while showing us a selection of his images he had taken over the years.

All in all it was a great event and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Trey was a great host and came across as a genuinely caring, sharing top bloke and photographer. If you ever get a chance to meet him or attend one of his photo walks around the world I would highly recommend it.

Big noses, large foreheads, wrinkled faces and The Invisible Black Backdrop

I recently attended the The Societies of Photographers Convention and Trade show at the Hilton London Metropole.

It was a great day out for learning and seeing lots of cool products and new camera gear on offer.

I attended one of the many great Masterclasses on offer. Lindsay Adler ran one of the Masterclasses titled ‘How to Flatter Anyone!’.

It was a really popular jam packed session, with people arriving late having to stand along the back wall of the room.

Lindsay was a charismatic and dynamic presenter getting through an enormous amount of useful, practical and most importantly actionable advice that I will certainly be putting into practice for my next portrait sessions. She kept the pace up for two hours but to be honest, it really only felt like one hour if that, in an enjoyable and entertaining fashion.

She covered everything on how to photograph and flatter your subjects to help minimise such aspects as pronounced noses, large foreheads, a fuller figure to a slender build, double chins, wrinkles… hang on a minute, that sound a bit like me!

Lindsay also explained how choosing the correct lens, focal length, angle and lighting can all help to make a massive difference to minimising ‘challenging’ features and helping your subject look their very best.

I’m really glad I attended this class, got to see Lindsay and came away with a notebook full of ideas to try out.

Lindsay has a great website showcasing her work and a myriad of great tutorials to help improve your photography check her out at:


Lindsay saying a few words to her enthusiastic audience after her presentation on ‘How to Flatter Anyone!’.



Meeting Glyn Dewis at The Flash Centre stage.
I’m the one in the red jacket receiving a Vulcan like style grip on the shoulder from Glyn! And if I’m not mistaken we both have the shiny head, fuzzy face, good looks gene running through our blood!

I managed to catch another great presenter, Glyn Dewis on The Flash Centre stage giving live lighting demonstrations. He was presenting a brilliant technique he has mastered and dubbed The Invisible Black Backdrop! Basically the technique involves using a flash in a bright ambient environment (inside with bright lights or outside with lots of natural light) to create a black background without having a physical black backdrop behind the subject. Impossible I hear you say. Well, let me tell you, it’s actually a very simple straight forward technique involved and once you see it you won’t believe just how simple, yet incredibly effective it is. Glyn took us through his steps, how to set up the camera, lens and flash and within a few short minutes, a couple of test shots he had it nailed! It was a great demonstration and a technique I will certainly be trying out in the future.


Glyn demonstrating The Invisible Black Black Backdrop.

Glyn is a photographer, educator and author and has a wealth of knowledge, information, tips, tricks and amazing video tutorials on his website and YouTube channel. I’m a regular visitor to his sites and have gained a considerable amount of information from the many photography and Photoshop techniques he has to offer. Why not check him out at the following sites:

The Invisible Black Backdrop



So in-between catching these two great presentations I walked the floors of the trade show. Thankfully my credit card was out of sight as there was a huge amount of toys (camera and lighting gear) I would have loved to have bought. Along with the hardware there were lots of booths catering for wedding and portrait photographers. Showcasing some beautiful albums made in all shapes, sizes and materials to images printed on metal. There was something for everyone and then some. I came away with a fair few number of ideas I would like to try out this year and am really excited to see what projects they will best lend themselves to.

All in all a great day out and next years show is already on the calendar.