As the weather’s been improving and as I’ve started to have *slightly* more time to do things, I decided I really needed to get out and shoot some more portraits. I’d found a small but cool location in East London that I wanted to try out, and needed just the right person to fill it. That person came in the shape of my friend Hanna (who I have photographed before). It had been a while since we did our last shoot, and she has since changed her hair quite dramatically. These things, coupled with wanting to reshoot her anyway, all seemed to come together perfectly. I floated the idea past her and she seemed keen. After a little to-ing and fro-ing we finally managed to get a date set.

She arrived in London on very warm and sunny Thursday morning, and we headed east to the location, a small, church yard in the heart of the city, chatting and catching up over coffee. Luck seemed to be on our side that day, and as we arrived, the sun was streaming through the trees and arches of the old church and we found a nice, quiet little spot to start shooting. I quickly set up a couple of lights and started firing away. A few tweaks here and there later, and we were already getting some great shots. Here’s a small selection…


Aside from being really photogenic, Hanna is really easy and fun to shoot. She’s really easy going and we always seem to have a lot to chat about which is nice, and means that there are no potentially awkward silences to fill. She’s also really relaxed in front of the camera, and instinctively seems to change and adjust positions and poses with little to no direction needed from me. It’s because of these things that we managed to get so many great shots in the bag in a relatively short space of time.

Once I felt like we’d got everything I wanted from this location, we went off in search of lunch. We both had a hankering for noodles, which surprisingly, was harder craving to fill than expected. It was after 2pm by the time we’d finished and everywhere we found seemed to have been already raided by a hoard of city working locusts. Undeterred, and in no real rush, we wandered over the bridge to the Borough Market area and managed to find somewhere. Once we’d eaten, and with a surplus of time, I suggested heading to another spot I’d wanted to use for a while to do some more shots. Hanna was keen, so we headed off to Vauxhall and on to Battersea Park.

There’s a really amazing looking Pagoda in Battersea Park, and this is what I wanted to use. It had, however, been a couple of years since I’d been there in person, and I have to admit that the distance between it, and Vauxhall station had been somewhat skewed in my memory. I think Hanna began to realise this after we’d been walking for twenty minutes and still didn’t seem to be any nearer to our destination. We stuck to our guns however, and eventually we arrived. Luckily for me, Hanna was suitably impressed and after she’d had a chance to sit with her shoes off for a while as I set up the lights, I think she was glad we made the trek. I certainly was.

I went for a slightly different lighting setup here as there was some really beautiful sunlight hitting the west side of the Pagoda, I set up a couple of bare 580ex-II Speedlights either side and behind Hanna to give some rim light and to try and lift her from the background (I couldn’t really shoot with as wide an aperture as I would have liked due to the ambient sunlight being so bright). I also used my 430ex-II Speedlight with a Lightsphere diffuser to add a bit of fill light onto her face. Again, shooting didn’t take long, but I was very pleased with the outcome.


…And to wrap up the day, I shot some quick portraits the other way (looking back over the park) with a single light in my Westcott Apollo Softbox (followed by a record pack down time so Hanna could get back to Brighton). I like this really simple, but I think very effective setup. I really love the quality of light from the soft box and catch lights that that thing gives!

All told, this was one of the most productive and enjoyable days I’ve had out shooting for a while. I found that my setting up times were getting shorter and was balancing the light a lot more easily which is good. It also felt really nice to get a whole load of shots done, and from a variety of set ups, even if it did mean that editing was a tricky as there was so many shots which I really liked! Huge thanks to Hanna for being so patient with me again and for such an enjoyable day! I feel like a photographic itch has been scratched. For now at least.

Oh, and while I’m here: Hanna, because she is sickeningly intelligent and multi-talented, has written a book (or at least, the first of a series of books). The first of the series ‘Something You Are‘ will be out in December through Peters, Fraser & Dunlop. You should buy it because it will be amazing. That is all.


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