Question of the week – “How do you get your models looking so serene and calm?”

So on monday I opened up the subject of my blog to Facebook. What were people interesting in knowing more about?

“How do you get your models looking so serene and calm?”

The question above was put to me.

I find in all shoots there comes a moment that the model (of any age) has complete trust in you, and you work symbiotically. How does this come about though?

I work with my models/subjects, I direct but not overly – They forget themselves, by this I mean, the self-conciousness ebbs away. We laugh, we experiment, I usually fall over, or drop something. My natural clutz like abilities and readiness to laugh about it, usually disarms , as we work at different speeds.

The direction is very particular, a head tilt, eyes looking over there, chin down, fingers showing. I am always aware of the shape and form, the line of the person, the gaze and it’s impact, but there is also a certain organic feel to the shoot.

There are always planned and specific shots I go for, followed by ones where I will experiment, and go with what is happening. I am aware of the drama behind a picture, so here the picture above, I had Lexi run towards me, then stop suddenly a little in front of me. I press the shutter a moment after she stops. For me the dynamic is still there. Something has happened. There is a certain tension – created by the previous action.

So back to the question – ‘Serene and Calm’
It comes with trust, and the naturalness that comes with almost but not quite forgetting a camera is there. A strange kind of hypnosis if you like. I love these moments of calm, and some of my favourite pieces happen during these moments. There is a silence and stillness there, that is so revealing.

I strive for these, there is such powerful beauty contained with in them.

Glum is the new Black – A new movement in Portraiture.



I find myself thinking back back back to my childhood self.

So, I was small, with short dark hair, and I looked like a boy.

Old men would stop me in shops ( I would have been about 8 ) and call me ‘Sonny’. and tell me to be polite and hold the door open. I was either called ‘Sonny’ or ‘Smiler’. ‘Sonny’ because I looked like a boy – (thanks Mom and Dad for the convenience of the short de rigueur haircut), and ‘Smiler’ because I always had a gap toothed grin or smile. I also had scabby knees and an occasional cheeky/naughty attitude.  Never one of the pretty ones, but then with scabby knees and a gap toothed grin it just wasn’t going to happen. I was painfully aware of this from an early age (having a gorgeous baby sister)  –  It didn’t bother me because I concluded ugliness (read that as quirkiness) was fine because I had that thing called ‘personality’ and ‘it would get me far in life’.


When I was in my teens with longer hair and no longer called ‘Sonny’ or for that matter ‘Smiler’, I would go to parties and clubs, with a well practiced, neutral disinterested look. I remember people (older) saying  – ‘give us a smile – it can’t be that bad’ – Now that always annoyed me, and would take me from a peaceful neutral space to cross in an instant.


SO again I concluded that maybe my smiling habit was a result of truly looking miserable when I was thinking, or dreaming about nothing in-particular. It is because I looked so sad with out trying.


Now I am deviating, but maybe getting onto the heart of this post.

I have a penchant for sad or thoughtful faces – maybe sad is the wrong word to use, but neutral doesn’t work either, and blank really doesn’t cut it. I feel they are so much more telling when taking a portrait of someone. They make me feel something, and hopefully this translates through to the client who has commissioned the portrait. There is beauty there, unforced, natural, thoughtful. A behind the mask look.

The communication is all behind the eyes. Intelligent and thoughtful, no blank stare or crazy photographer smile. Just a moment of thought, focus, concentration and contemplation. 


I like to think that I take a portrait and whilst in the process establish and build a rapport /relationship with my subject. The result being that the photograph (which is after all more commonly nowadays an exercise in pixels ) becomes a portrait, and that one can see behind the smile or the photo-look that people do if they feel selfconcious or uncomfortable.


Sometimes I look at my stream of images and because I am so intent on capturing the neutrality that exposes the character, I look at my images and see a whole lot of glum!


So that where I get to my unique selling point! It was bespoke, emotional, high-end. Now it is capturing the misery of our daily lives, through a series of glum expressions and photographs.

Glum is the new black.

Love to you all on a Tuesday night.

Carolyn x

addendum : I love photographing happiness and natural smiles too! Just attracted to the glum x


Professional Photographer of the Year – Winner Lifestyle

Professional Photographer of the Year - Winner Lifestyle

It’s been a crazy, wonderful, beautiful, busy year, and though it has not reached the end, I feel like I have received the best ever christmas present.

A week ago I was at the Professional Photographer of the Year 2013 awards night, in Cheltenham (Hair straightened, dress on, and a little bit of heel too. Very different to my usual crazy haired through a bush backwards appearance) to be awarded with my winners trophy.

It was a fabulous night, and I have to say now that I felt the standard of work was incredible, and it was a real honour to be included. For me, always the bridesmaid, a perfectionist with a dose (verging on unhealthy) of imposter syndrome, this kind of spotlight is not always a comfortable place to be, but tonight it just wasn’t like that.

I met and talked to such delightful and talented photographers, and people involved in the business. I shared drinks with the glitterati and the paparazzi – well ok, getting carried away here. I talked to people who I admire and who when it comes down to it are just like you and me.

The winning photo for the Lifestyle section is ‘Poppy’ I took it as I was about to go on a shoot. I went upstairs, Poppy was sitting and reading, but the light on her was so beautiful, that I ran down to get my camera (Nikon D800) and already with lens ready (135 2f) I took the picture just as Poppy looked up. The shoot afterwards went well, and it was when I edited the pictures – Poppy’s picture stood out.

I feel fortunate to be able to do what I love, I try to do the very best of jobs
and occasionally it is tough and lonely out there, and it is easy to loose the faith. Lots and lots of great photographers out there all working their socks off, and for me and the need to push forward with business and to look after the family can be a little stressful occasionally. ( I have even got a well hidden bald patch because of it). This award has been timely and I will look onwards and upwards.

So thank you Professional Photographer Magazine for a wonderful evening, and it was great to meet you all. Lovely also to chat to Kate Hopewell Smith, and Catherine Conner, both fabulous and influential people in our business. (and they were particularly fabulous last Thursday).

I am so pleased for Mike Deere, a well deserved overall winner and all round lovely bloke too.

and a big thank you to the lovely Peter Zelewski winner of the 50mm section for taking my picture above.

and mostly

Thank you to Poppy x