I’ve been on a fabulous creative trip in 2009 teaching photography and researching my latest DVD/ Blu-Ray, Speedlight Mastery. The journey has taken me to six cities in Germany, the Meatpacking district of New York, Sienna in Tuscany, Castlefield in Manchester and my beloved Bristol Waterfront. On the way I have shared creative moments and precious times with talented photographers from around the world.
Below are my favourite 50 pictures of 2009. It is a strange notion to choose pictures over a time span. I thought about sharing the following sets: My 50 career best pictures, or my 50 favourite pictures of the last decade, or perhaps 50 favourite pictures of the past year, or 50 best shots of the past month. I went for the past year option.
I wonder how many of my pictures I would have selected for all four sets? It’s worth thinking about this. Ask yourself, Is your photography going in the right direction. This is totally subjective and only your opinion counts. Another list category I thought about was the 10 photographs that charted my photographic career. This would be more of a narrative that discussed each images significance rather than the image itself. A lot of the shots I’d choose in the key career shots set would not make any of the ‘best’ sets listed above. It’s got me thinking so I’ll write about the career milestone shots in the coming months but for now here are my 50 favourite pictures of 2009:
The season started with my big flash in the country workshops. And this frame was one that shone out of the overcast day in the dark woods. Lit with two barefaced Broncolor Mobil heads powered from the same A2R pack.
The same workshop took us to the estuary of the river Severn where I took this frame. Again, it was lit with my fabulous Broncolor Mobil kit.
The same location with a different lighting balance on my Mobil kit produced this file on the next workshop. I shot this on a Phase One 65 megapixel camera.
Big flash in the country became big flood in the country when the heavens opened. Lit with a single Mobil head.
Once the rapeseed was in flower I was set on the idea of creating the 'Strictly Lovegrove' genre. I lit this with two Mobil heads powered from the same pack.
I took this shot in the fabulous city of Cork using zoomed in on camera flash in direct sunlight. I couldn't resist the pull of the three primary colours.
Lit with one Speedlight on a stand in Ashton Court estate in Bristol. Chloe is my angel of the South.
Stina in her yellow ruffled dress that Francesca, my 13 year old daughter has her eye on ;) Lit with a single Speedlight on a stand and zoomed into 105mm
This was taken during the making of the Speedlight Mastery video. Two Speedlights on stands did the trick of lighting Ben.
A low angle viewpoint emphasises the lines in the architecture. I used two Speedlights on stands set in the same configuration as in the picture above.
Two Speedlights once again. I love lighting black surfaces ;)
I love the tones in this image too. Keyed straight into the sun with a single Speedlight.
Manchester has a lot of rivets, and I like that.
A gust of wind made this shot of Paula come alive. It was lit by the Manchester sun.
I took this shot of Natasha on a Pocket Wizard creative day using my Zeiss 21mm lens. I only seem to see and shoot arty pictures with the Zeiss glass :) It was the Honl full CTO gel and the wonderful Ezybox that gave the light it's character.
This Strictly Lovegrove shot was lit with three Broncolor mobil heads plugged into a couple of packs in some disused buildings at a local mine. - Don't step back!
Stina, sequins and wonderful wall art in Bristol. Lit with a single beauty dish fitted to my Broncolor Mobil.
I lit Sarah with a Speedlight fitted with a Honl full CTO gel. The sun popped through to complete the picture.
Here I've got Sarah is in front of a whitewashed shop window. I lit this frame with a Speedlight on camera.
I used my Broncolor ringflash for this frame of Laura on a Street Fashion workshop in Manchester.
This piece of grafiti by an artist who signs his work off with 'Jody' is a familiar backdrop for my portraits. Two Speedlights on stands lit this frame. The colour was provided by Marko using one of his Lightroom Presets.
It's Stina again in that dress. I took this shot for my new video production and I used a couple of Speedlights on stands to light Stina.
Throughout 2008 and 2009 I was running my Evolve training programme and this shot was taken on an Evolve camera skills workshop. Shooting to sell is a vital part of the syllabus and shots like this sell well as big canvases.
I started to tick of my dream photoshoot locations in 2009 with a shooting trip to New York. This frame taken next to Stella McCartney's shop in the new fashion quarter was lit by the sun.
The New York sun in August didn't last long. Thunder clouds rolled in and we were moved along by security straight after taking this shot lit with a Speedlight on a stand.
A new piece of wall art in the meat packing district of New York was a perfect backdrop for this shot lit with two Speedlights.
Rivets make my day. A natural light portrait for a change.
Two Speedlights and a black painted concrete wall in downtown Manhattan and I'm away.
It didn't take long before the rains started in New York. I lit this shot with a pair of Speedlights but used a Honl full blue on the backlight. At least it was warm in August.
A natural light grab shot on our way up to the High Line.
Next it was Tuscany for three Passion On The Streets workshops and a whole lot of fun with friends.
It was a fine line between a murderous pose and a passionate embrace.
This was as close to the theme of 'Passion On The Streets' as we could get. Lit with a pair of Speedlights.
Some of the hills in Sienna were quite steep. Perfect for my kind of shooting. A single Speedlight did the trick here.
There was time for sophistication too as I partnered Chris Hanley teaching 'Cherish The Dress' workshops.
Here's another Cherish shot at the Hilton. Lit with one Speedlight.
And here's another lit with two Speedlights. That's Manchester in the background and we were in Cloud 23, the bar at the famous Hilton tower. We'll be back there at some point in early 2010 that's for sure. So do join us if you have yet to experience a 'Cherish' workshop.
This is another frame I shot for the latest video. It is in the Pitcher and Piano bar in Bristol and I lit Stina with two Speedlights.
It doesn't get any simpler than this. A bean bag and a soft box. It helps of course if you have someone to photograph who is as gorgeous as Lora. This was taken on another Evolve group shoot session.
Another frame featured on my latest video. The strong kick lights give this location shot a very studio feel. Lit with three Speedlights, one in a Ezybox and I also used a Trigrip reflector. The flashes were triggered by Pocket Wizard TTL units.
Another ring flash shot, this time it is in the wings of the Imagist Studio by the Colourama store.
This shot of Holly was shot using a pink gel on the flash head inside the 'Love Cube'. I've sourced a manufacturer for the 'Love Cube' and it should go on sale from the Lovegrove Consulting site in January.
Chloe as a goddess. Shot at a studio lighting workshop against a grey background lit with a gel.
Stina on the same grey background lit with the same gel.
A high key punchy shot of Lora taken on the same grey background as the previous two shots but with a different gel at a higher power setting.
The green in this shot of Sarah is real. It is a green background roll I have in my studio. I use it for black and white shoots as well as a chromakey background.
This wonderful shot of Sarah was taken moments after the one above. There is a bit too much light fall off on the right but I still love the picture.
Here is Sarah in my white corner. As you can see I like it to be shades of grey or sepia in this case.
This is my daughter Francesca shot through my Roger Noons diffusion filter.
And this is another minimalist studio floor shot. This one was taken on a Pentax I was reviewing for Warehouse Express.
Well there you have it. A motley collection with little coherence but fun to shoot. All these pictures remind me of a moment and have earned their place here not on artistic merit but because I like them.
Please feel free to comment. Happy New Year, Damien.