Wednesday, August 26, 2020

 

 


Some work I shot earlier this year just before lockdown in the UK. This piece is the result of a monumental effort by a whole crew of amazing people who gave up their time to work with me on this during a dismal rainy day in south london - I can't thank them enough. Each one them was crucial to making it happen.

Director and 1st DOP: Greg Funnell

Producer: Scott Harrison-Sargeant (@scott_sarge)

2nd DOP and Steadicam: Jordan Stephens (@jordanstephensdop)

1st AD: Joe Sheffer (@joesheffer)

Runner: Daniel Delikatnyi (@dandeliphoto)

Stylist: Kellie Daggett (@kelliedaggett)

Talent: Rubens Lima (@rubenstlima)

Editing: Avenues Studios (@avenues.studio)

Grading: One White Chair (@onewhitechair)

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Launching a new podcast // The Exposed Negative




For you those of you who enjoy listening to podcasts and have a keen interest in the world of photography you might be interested to know that myself and photographer Tom Barnes have started a new podcast called 'The Exposed Negative'. 

A series of conversations celebrating the multi-faceted photographic industry, aiming to enlighten, entertain and educate the listeners whether they be keen hobbyists, seasoned shooters or simply visually-driven individuals.

If you are interested in having a listen please find us on spotify or itunes and you can follow the podcast and join in thge conversation on instagram or on twitter. Alternatively you can visit the shows website here.

Friday, May 01, 2020

Gear Talk // What's in my Travel Grab Bag


Following on from the post on my Lighting Kit Bag I thought I would also give a little tour of my travel 'Grab Bag'. This bag is something I always travel with when on assignment - it always goes with me and contains many travel essentials that I have put together over the years. Having a bag like this is great because it automatically goes in my suitcase and with it I know straightaway I have a lot of the essentials covered. Now obviously it is more relevant to photographers or people working in a similar industry, but it also has elements that are just useful in standard travel.

If you are interested in purchasing any of  the items mentioned  I've created links to most of them over at my Amazon storefront





So first of all in here I have my:

1. Passport wallet. This obviously goes in my carry on - but I leave it with my travel bag when I’m not transiting. This is RFID wallet and contains obviously my passport.
However it also contains a few other useful things:

Paperclip. The humble paperclip. This isn’t for some kind of OCD need to organise papers, I have this in here for if I need to swap SIM cards - the paperclip allows me to open the port on my phone.

Passport Photos. I always carry spare passport photos as in some countries you may need them if you have to apply for any official paperwork or permits. It useful just to travel with a few spares. I tend to shoot my own in the studio and then print multiples out on 10 x 8 prints - this works out far cheaper than getting them from a booth.

Yellow Fever certificate. Some countries you travel to you need this on entry, especially in Africa or Asia - so it’s always worth keeping it somewhere safe and accessible. I also carry a photocopy of this.

Inoculations history. This document helps you know what you’ve had and when you’ve had it - it will have a date and signature next to each vaccine you’ve had. It’s worth keeping close just so you can check if anything will need topping up before you travel, but also should something happen whilst you are away it is good to know when you last had your tetanus jab etc.

Laminated card with Emergency Contacts. Worth just having numbers written down in a non electronic format. Sometimes I will travel with numbers for local hospitals, contacts, embassy etc; all depends on the risk factor involved in the job.

Travel Insurance card (with your reference and relevant contact numbers)

Frequent Flyer cards - not that I'm any good at this game. I also keep all the numbers saved on my phone for quick access a the gate.

Spare Credit Cards - following on from above it is worth looking into cards the reward you with airmiles.

Business Cards - Just as leave behinds after meetings etc

Copies of your passport - I keep other copies elsewhere, but always useful to have something in case your actual passport goes walkies.

Currencies - I normally always have dollars in my wallet as they are easy to exchange. Best to have new notes and higher denominations. However small bills are always handy for tips etc if you need them.

USB Stick - on this I can store any electronic data I need - so it’s worth password protecting. It's the size of a credit card so pretty ideal.

One other thing I do is to have a coloured sticker on the spine of my passport - this just helps me to spot it in a pile and stops it getting mixed up with others if I’m traveling with colleague or in a team. I can always keep an eye on where it is in a situation where it might get mixed up with others. 

Along with the passport wallet I carry a number of items in the ‘grab bag’ that I find I nearly always need when traveling. 



2. Velcro zip ties - these are just generally really useful things to have and they are reusable and have a multitude of uses.

3. Carabiners - I have standard ones and also a hero clip. The hero clip allows me to hang things off the floor if I need to, but also works as a standard carabiner.

4. Head Torch - I use a Olight H2R. I like this because it can be clipped onto things, has a magnetic bottom, and it also fits in a harness to be used as a head torch - so it doubles up as normal flashlight and a head torch which is ace. It’s USB charged which has its upsides and downsides. 





5. Leatherman - I use the Leatherman Wave because it works with their ‘bit kit’. This gives me all sorts of tools (screwdrivers, allen keys etc) in a small package. I also have a small Ferrocerium rod and a knife steel to sharpen the blade, which all sits in the same pouch. 



6. Cabling - the unfortunate flip side of an increasingly digital world. I always carry spares of everything I might need.

7. 2 x SSD 1TB hard drives - These Samsung T5 1TB Solid State Drives (SSD) are excellent and really small. I carry two so that I can back up the shoot and always have one on me if I go out in the evenings etc. That way I usually have three copies - one on each drive and one on my laptop.


8. Spare camera cleaning kit - cloth and lens pen

9. SD and CF card reader - Back up for my main kit

10. Lighter and matches - I don’t smoke but it’s always worth having a lighter. My one also has tape for visibility (if camping) and also because the tape can be used as a form of tinder. That and it's a good place to store tape.

11. Pain killers - back ache can be a crippling problem when you have a shoot to get on with

12. Cork Ball and Tiger balm - I use these as a prevention and a cure for the above.

13. Electrical Tape - Electrical tape is great because it is small and relatively waterproof. It’s also tough wearing and can be used on electrics, so all round a good compromise.

14. Pegs and Paracord - You never know when you might want to rig up a washing line in your hotel room.

15. Waterproof bag with copy of passport - Is have small Craghoppers waterproof bags that I use for this

16. International Driving License - This is worth looking into as some countries it is required if you are planning to rent or drive a vehicle and it can be an easy thing to overlook.

17. Travel Adapters - I have two, one of which contains USB outputs

18. Camera Chargers - Depending on what camera system I am using. If I travel with the Fujis then I use the battery grip charger as it means I can charge two batteries at a time with one charging kit. 

19. Pro Plus - Very rarely use this, but good to have the option if you need to be alert.

Nytol - If you are going to take uppers you might as well have downers!

20. Chewing Gum- Proven to release stress and probably a good idea after a long flight.

21. Snack bars - No one likes getting the hungry grumps. Often on shoots and assignments this can overrun so having your own supply of your favourite snacks is a good idea to keep you fuelled.

22. Hand Sanitiser and Bio-degradable wet wipes - if you are traveling somewhere remote these are a lifesaver to make you feel a little more human and maintain your personal hygiene which can be very important.

23. Tissues - Good on flights and in 'emergencies'.

24. Emergency Sewing Kit - just worth having, a split pair of trousers isn’t a good look.

25. Spare Phone - I carry a spare cheap (non-smart) mobile phone because the battery last for ages and it will normally work with any local SIM you can find. Also if I am out and about in an area with a high risk of mugging I might not want to be out with my own phone.

26. Bottle Opener - I once got to my hotel and found a bottle of complimentary wine but no opener, I had to use a technique using a shoe and the wall. I probably could have just called down to reception.

27. Envelopes - I like to have these just in case I send postcards, keeps them a little more private!

28. Mosquito bands- keeps the critters away.

29. Q-tips - these are useful for cleaning cameras, especially the viewfinder.

30. Padlocks - useful to have for my camera bags etc - not going to stop someone who is determined but more of a deterrent.

31. Power Gang Plug - Doesn’t quite fit in the bag itself but this is also a useful bit of kit to travel with. I once was working on assignment in the Congo (DRC) and the only power outlet in my room that worked was bizarrely in the bathroom. I had to balance my battery charges on the soap dish!

32. Bungee Cords - Multitude of uses

34. Spare Cash - Stashed cash

35. Spare Batteries - AAA and AA 

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So that is a run down of my kit. If you have any suggestions of things you use or things that would be worth having in the kit, I am keen to hear them. As I mentioned at the top of the article if you are interested in purchasing any of  the items mentioned  I've created links to most of them over at my Amazon storefront.

My hotel bathroom in the DRC - complete with the only working plug placed right under the shower head.






Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Gear Talk // What’s in my Lighting Bag 2020



I have been getting a lot of questions lately about my camera gear and what I use day to day on assignments and to that end I’m going to be doing some blog posts on my kit and various loadouts. 

Today we are going to start with my lighting bag. If you prefer watching a video tutorial then please pop over to my YouTube channel and if you want to pick up any of the kit mentioned I have tried to collate as much as possible into this amazon shop. I also generally post behind the scene images and shots over on my instagram page too if that’s of interest.



I have used the ThinkTank Security rolling bag for the last 12 years. This bag is a beast and although it is battered, it is still going (relatively) strong. I think they are on version 3.0 of this bag, this one is version 1.0 - the original! These are built to last, they have a lifetime warranty and are designed by photographers so they have tonnes of really well thought out features. This one for example has a cable lock built in and zip locks too. The rear section even has backpack straps which are great if you need to lump this bag away from urban areas. If you want to pick them up in the UK Snapperstuff and Fixation are good bets along with the usuals such as Wex Photo and Video.

Inside the bag I tend to transport two or three lights depending on the job. These will either be Profoto B1s' (500W) or Profoto B10s' (250W). Recently I have been packing one Profoto B1 head along with the two B10 heads. What I love about these lights is that they are wireless and they work really well. I have one or two gripes about the B10s' (the tightening knob looks beautiful but it’s lack of any kind of grip can make it tricky to work with sometimes, and the lack of a PC sync port on the heads does mean you are reliant on using triggers)



Also in the bag I have what I call my 'trigger bag’, which as you can guess contain triggers for the lights. I currently use the Profoto Air Remote TTL. I have one of these for my Canon kit and one for my Fujifilm kit. This allows you to control the power of the lights remotely and a number of assigned channels. The only thing is that they don’t tell you is the power of the lights. The Profoto App however works with the B10s' and is actually quite handy (unfortunately it won’t work with the older B1s'). Along with that trigger I carry some cheap radio triggers as a back up. As I mentioned the B10s' can’t work with these because of their lack of PC sync ports but if using a B1 I can fire the B10s' via slave if I needed too. Generally I don’t need these triggers but I have in the past (on at elast one occasion) destroyed my main trigger on set and needed these as backup. 



Other things in this bag include spare pc sync cables, camera trigger cables, spare AAA batteries, velcro zip ties, bungee cords and sharpies. Velcro Zip ties are a godsend! They are reusable and can be used for all manor of things - from keeping cables tidy to holding up backdrops (I’ve held heavy canvas tarpaulins up with these threaded through the tarps eyelets - velcro has amazing strength) 



At the top of the bag I have a small ‘Grip bag’. This is full of spigots and various other grip. The bag itself I believe is a Muji wash bag, but it works well for this as it is made of tough wearing material. It holds all sort of paraphernalia that has proved useful on shoots; croc clips, bungee cords, Super clamps, umbrella clamps, A-clamps, cold shoes etc. Generally when you are lighting on location it’s really important to have grip that will help you manipulate your physical environment to allow you to create the lighting you want. This could be blocking natural light, flagging things, shaping light, rigging your own lights etc - so you really need a good bag of tools to help with that. 


Next up is a small pouch that I try to always have on me especially on big sets. This particular one is by a company called Life Behind Bars and I picked it up in Indonesia whilst working out there. There are plenty of other options - if you search for EDC pouch I’m sure you will find something similar. It contains


  • A Seconic Flashmate L-308S light meter
  • Grey, White and Black Card
  • A sharpie
  • A ThorFire PF02 LED torch
  • A Leatherman Wave with the additional Bit Kit

Tape is important, I have a least two types. Gaffer tape for general stuff and bright orange tape to mark positions or to wrap around the end of a brolly so someone avoids poking their eye out etc. In with these I also have a small Honl 1/8th Grid which can be taped onto the front of a B1 or B10. 



I generally have one or two Manfrotto (001B) Nano stands in the lighting bag too. These are useful for small lights or to hold up flags or reflectors etc. I normally always travel with two other master stands (Manfrotto 1052BAC stacking stands) in a stand bag along with two Profoto brollies. Therefore this gives me four stands to work with. Sometime I will have more, sometimes less, depending on the job.



In the main section I also carry 8x AA and 11x AAA eneloop rechargeable batteries in small plastic cases. These I use for the triggers and walkie talkies if needed. I moved over to rechargeable batteries a few years ago and have never looked back. That said I also have backups of Duracell AA and AAA batteries elsewhere in the case. 




In the inside zippered compartments I have the following:
  • ‘datacolor Spyder Check4 24’ colour checking card for getting a consistent colour reading throughout a shoot.
  • Ear Plugs
  • Mints and Chewing Gum
  • Eye Drops (a photographer is no good with grit in his/her eye)
  • Cleaning Wipes
  • Nano Pads
  • Model Releases
  • Cheat Sheet with a photographers legal rights
  • Model Releases
  • Silica Gel (just in case stuff needs drying out)
  • Spare sealable plastic bags (to be used in conjunction with the silica gel)
  • Basic OpTech USA Waterproof Camera cover


On the front of the bag I store the following
  • 2x black corrugated plastic sheets that I can use as flags - these are 460mm x 310mm in dimension and fit snuggly in the from pocket.
  • Black wrap or cinefoil which I again use to make flags or channel lighting
  • A4 Craft foam in grey and black (again for flags)
  • Rogue Flashbender (this I might use if I have the Profoto A1 head with me as it fits around it like a snoot and can be shaped in various configurations)
  • Whiteboard card and pen which I sometimes use to jot down a diagram with lighting setups. I then can shoot an assistant holding this up to camera in the lighting set up so that I can use it later as reference back at the studio.
  • Tin Foil which can act as a powerful reflector in a pinch

As I mentioned at the start I have listed a lot of these items over at my amazon storefront so if you want to add any of this stuff to your own kit, you shoul dbe able to find most of it there.

Wednesday, June 05, 2019

Advertising Campaign // Shell Rimula




Towards the end of 2018 I was awarded a contract to shoot a campaign across SE Asia for the energy giant Shell. The job involved travelling through six countries, capturing truckers and truck drivers using Shell’s product, Rimula, an engine lubricant. To do this we teamed up with the excellent London-based production company, Foxtrot Papa, and Shell’s then creative agency, Iris. The schedule could have been quite punishing – especially as I was due to be getting married right in the middle of it all! But thankfully Louise Allen, from Foxtrot Papa, is an excellent producer and brought things into line that would have most people tremble and give up. We ended up shooting in Russia, China, South Korea, India, Malaysia and Indonesia. For each country we had to sort visas, source local models and crew, find locations, and work out logistics. Louise managed this all seamlessly. In most locations we had one day for a recce and one or sometimes two days shooting, aiming to build a library of images that Shell could use across local markets. To complete this brief we used local models (often real truck drivers). The trick then was to create realistic and authentic-feeling scenarios across different times of day, in different locations, some urban and some rural. This meant being very clever with locations and creating scenarios where we could get multiple assets with minimal set-up. The shoot as a whole also had to feel consistent across the time frame, geographic and cultural spread. Below I’ve included a selection of final campaign shots and below then some behind-the-scenes snaps.
 
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Behind the scenes shots


Breakfast in a roadside Dhaba, India
Indian village set-up
Drawing a bit of an audience from the local villagers, India
Dawn location, Jaipur, India
Shooting truck to truck, Jaipur, India
Working with Tim as my assistant and right-hand man
Pulling some interesting photo squats whilst shooting in Malaysia
Setting up a location in Indonesia
Shooting into the night in Kuala Lumpar, Malaysia


Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Assignment // Sierra Leone, Sunday Times Magazine

A dugout canoe shot from the Mavic Pro, Bonthe Island and the Sherbro River Delta, Sierra Leone, 03 May, 2018. Photo by Greg Funnell
Jena Bacong collecting oysters, Bonthe Island and the Sherbro River Delta, Sierra Leone, 03 May, 2018. Photo by Greg Funnell
James Green, of the Whitstable Oyster Company, talks with Allieu Bakarr Kamara, 32, about oyster harvesting that Allieu has been running trials on. Sherbro River Delta, Sierra Leone, 04 May 2018. Photo by Greg Funnell
Oyster smoking taking place in the village of Kgnama, Sherbro River Delta, Sierra Leone, 04 May 2018. Photo by Greg Funnell
A poster advertising the Bonthe Oyster festival, Bonthe Island, Sierra Leone, 03 May 2018. Photo by Greg Funnell
Oyster shucking taking place in King Jimmy village, Sherbro River Delta, Sierra Leone, 02 May, 2018. Photo by Greg Funnell
Women buy fish at dawn from a young fisherman who has been out night fishing, Bonthe Island, Sierra Leone, 04 May 2018. Photo by Greg Funnell
Fishing boats on a mudbank at low tide in the Sherbro River Delta, Sierra Leone, 04 May, 2018. Photo by Greg Funnell



Rugiatu (foreground) and Mabinty, collect oysters at low tide on a mudbank in the Sherbro River Delta, Sierra Leone, 04 May 2018. Photo by Greg Funnell
About this time last year I was commissioned by the Sunday Times to go to Sierra Leone. I was hugely excited to get another chance to visit this amazing country having previously been there with ActionAid to document their local development work. On this occasion I was asked to photograph a story on mud oysters of Bonthe Island, in the Sherbro River Delta. To do this I was teamed up with the writer, Michael Hodges, and the head of the Whitstable Oyster Company, James Green, and Dr Francis Murray from Stirling University. James Green had set up an initiative about five years previously to promote education and development of the local Oyster scene in the Sherbro River delta, to see if they could become a source of sustainable food and potentially a local form of income. To do this he had started the Bonthe Island Oyster Festival. Now to say this makes it sound like this was quite a large scale event, but the reality was the Bothe Island is rather remote and it takes a number of hours and a significant boat ride to get there from the capital of Freetown. Once on the island, there is very limited (non-potable) running water, and electricity only when the diesel powered generators are running. 

My room on Bonthe Island for the duration of my stay.
There are very few if any vehicles on the island, most people getting around by walking or bicycle. Every morning at dawn fisherman would return from having spent the night in small wooden dugout canoes. When the tide was out (mainly women) would head out to harvest the mud oysters from the exposed mud banks. This would involve walking in knee deep mud filled with razor sharp oyster shells. Sometimes they would take the dugout canoes and hack the oysters directly off of (and including) the root of the mangrove (a practice that Mr Green and Dr Murray were trying to discourage, as often this would involve destroying the mangrove root and in turn the trees. Once they had dieed back, the riverbanks would become more vulnerable to erosion, much in the same way deforestation elsewhere leads to soil erosion and mudslides.

Collecting oyster on the mudbanks, many of the women would get cuts to feet and ankles that would have a hard time healing.
We spent a number of days on the island, staying in a small two storey building (a rarity on the island). I would get up most mornings and wonder into the local market or villages on my own to make the most of the good dawn light. After a few days of doing this the locals were relatively used to me and I could shoot somewhat uninhibited, I’d often teamed up with one of the local students working with Dr Murray and therefore get to utilise their local knowledge and language skills. I always find it interesting working in these situations, trying to walk the tightrope between being the obvious outsider but striving to make photos that feel very observed, rather than constructed. On this assignment I was shooting with my Fujifilm X setup which included (at the time) the XT2 and the X-Pro 2. The cameras are much smaller than my normal DSLR set-up and they are therefore much less obtrusive and intimidating. Using the electronic shutter they are totally silent; when you are photographing at dawn on an island with no cars and little electricity with just the sounds of the lapping water and the bush, this is surprisingly important. 

Shooting with the trusty Fujifilm X-Pro 2. Weather sealing in these conditions is a bonus.
On this trip I did also decide to use a drone, flying my Mavic Pro (often taking off and landing on two small planks of wood when flying off the mudbanks). This allowed me to get a real sense of the landscape and show the island and the community in context that I simply wouldn’t be able to do any other way. I did feel a sense of guilt however using this as once or twice I felt flying it too far away from where I was might cause some distress to anyone it happened upon - and loud buzzing drone is the antithesis of my softly softly approach and so I tried to use it sparingly. The kids however, as kids do everywhere, loved seeing it fly. 

Couple of the local guys enjoying the drone on its rather meagre improvised landing pad.
The photographs I made ran in the Sunday Times Magazine and for that I have to thank Emily McBean, Russ O'Connell and Leanne Bracey. I take comfort in the thought that when a magazine is willing to send you half way around the world to shoot a tricky assignment it's a mark of trust. I'd also like to thanks James Green for inviting us out on the trip in the first place, Dr Francis Murray for his fascinating input and knowledge along the way, Michael Hodges for being an excellent team mate and traveling companion and of course all the people on Bonthe Island for having us, and looking after us so well. The photos were subsequently picked up and shortlisted in the ‘Photojournalism’ category of the 2019 AOP awards.