Conversations with a fellow photographer : part 1

So I feel this might be a slightly different blog post, mainly because it'll be more words than pictures - that doesn't often happen.

But first, a picture…..

That's Libby, she's a pretty fabulous photographer (mostly portraits and weddings)… you can check out her work at or find her on Facebook.
We've been talking online for a while now, having many friends in common and many of the same connections.

As anyone who knows me will confirm, I hate having my photo taken.
I hate 95% of photos taken of me and I barely tolerate the other 5%.

With that in mind I decided to ask Libby a few months back whether she would take my photo. Because you know what, I wanted to see what someone whose images I really respect would do when challenged with an awful and very reluctant subject, me. Also I knew we shoot on similar kit, I like her colour choices, she's fond of super-shallow depth of field, I thought it would be almost like having the photo that I would take of myself….. Libby seemed up for a challenge and threw it back at me also…..

So finally on Sunday afternoon we convened in sunny Blackheath and found ourself a secluded cut-through between the main roads to dance around and take photos. Of course before the cameras even came out of the bags we ended up talking for about an hour, about people we know, photographers we like, camera kit, how to take a decent actor's headshot (something I can't do!) etc etc etc.

But then the project in hand was to make images and I must admit it was harder than most photos I end up taking…. not because Libby was a tricky subject, but because I found myself second-guessing every image. I found myself taking the photo I wanted but then wondering how it would look to another photographer. I know how critical I am of my images, maybe another photographer would be that critical also…. As such I ended up taking photos that were quite diverse, it's amazing how different Libby looks from one shot to the next…. 

This is the kind of shot that I usually like, it's direct and (almost) symmetrical. But it's a little cold possibly?

Much sunnier and friendlier.

I reckon the following image is the best of both worlds… sort of...

One of the things that we discussed, that I think I'm employing even now to this blog post is how when you're making photos of someone who understands exactly why you're doing what you do, it's hard to get away with any bullshit, you can't get away with tricks that you might usually use to get a smile or a certain expression, you can't get away with an image that's just ok!
And I'm still not certain whether I won that battle…. I like these images, but ultimately is it about me liking the images, usually it is - usually I think to myself "Well Claire, you'll always be your harshest critic so if you like the shots then it makes them ok, other people will like them" …. on this my brain has constantly been jumping to "Oh hell, what if she hates them" ... I even re-edited the shots I chose for this post …. that's a hard lesson to understand and one that has to be learnt how to deal with.

And at some point soon there will be some images of me, and although I was going to discuss the experience of being photographed here, I think I will leave it for another post, with some of those images.