Max Colson: Tales

Photojournalism MA student at the LCC

Posts Tagged ‘experience

5 more portraits

with 2 comments



Boxer for Oxford University Varsity Team, Oxford vs Cambridge, 18.03.11

I’ve been shooting over the weekend at a couple of boxing fights and a modelling convention (as in minature models, not fashion ones). During the course of the shoots I tried some more portraits. I found I still need a bit more balls to direct the subjects, particularly in angling of the face against the light, but nonetheless I do like these.


Boxer for the Cambridge University Varsity Team, Oxford vs Cambridge, 18.03.11

Boxer for the Cambridge University Varsity Team, Oxford vs Cambridge, 18.03.11

Exhibition Attendent, Southern Expo Festival, 20.03.11

Tattoos, discos, and quite a bit of over-exposure

leave a comment »

Portrait of myself, aged 19 (the disco on the right)

Once in a time long long ago I was a bit younger than I am today and I went and got ‘disco’ tattooed on the side of my torso with a friend of mine. Oooops!

East London’s finest tattoo artist Mr Henry Hate was the man we chose for the job way back in about 2005 and I thought I would go back to his shop ‘Prick’ for my recent portrait assignment. He agreed which was very nice of him. Check out his website here if you want to see some seriously fantastic examples of his work (they are examples of fantastically ‘disco-less’ tattooing I may hasten to add).

ANYWAY. I have to say I had one issue with this shoot and that was over lighting. Not being incredibly experienced in controlling light with portraits, I did find it quite a lot to think about when I’m also trying to maintain a comfortable, flowing conversation with my subject and direct them at the same time. I did get better over the course of the portrait assignment; in all I shot 5 people, and in practicing I gained more experience, but I’m definitely going out to do more portrait sessions so I can really get some real control over this powerful mode of photography. I can see it being real fun once I’ve got all of the technical considerations well and truly under my belt.

As I had decided not to spend a bomb on a off camera flash set up just as yet, I went for the good old natural light with Mr Henry Hate. Unfortunately for this session in my not particularly thinking state I think I made a bit of a rookie error by placing Henry in the middle of some very strong midday sunlight with white paper all around him and didn’t compensate for it properly; in the process I managed to produce a lot of over exposed photos that I’m definitely not putting up! = DOH DOH DOH.

I started to think a bit more sensibly towards the end of the shoot and dealt with the strong sunlight a lot better and cranked out some acceptable shots.

All in all it was not a great start to my portrait assignment but I do think I managed to get some decent headshots, one of which is below:


Henry Hate, owner of 'Prick' tattoos in London

Written by Max Colson

March 12, 2011 at 12:40 pm

Street photos: acting, tourists, and memories of the banlieue

with 2 comments



Couple, Regent's Park


Capturing the spontaneous moment is difficult. It says so on the tin (and if it doesn’t then some poor sod should carve it in with their nails in frustration). I’ve been thinking on the things I should be aware of for next time, and the variables which give a decent chance of a street photograph to happen. I give you:

Max’s Street Photography Suggestions for Max

**Go to places at the times where the people are, don’t wait for them to come to you.

**Try not to look as if you are seriously taking these photos. Try walking around, do whatever —-> squint your eyes and act as if there’s some funny dust in the air slightly near where your subjects are. Do some acting. Just don’t let them know that they are the main subject (unless you want that to be a key part of the photo that is.)

**Try to look unfocused, even if you are on a seriously frustrating LCC course assignment and especially if you are trying to frame kids in your photos —-> (looking rather intense whilst sneakily taking pictures of someone else’s kids AIN’T a good look Max, especially in Britain!)

**Don’t stick out like a sore thumb. Getting the shot is hard enough, so if you don’t feel that you’re blending in then it’s even harder. (Unless you’re Bruce Gilden – but then you think he sits in the ‘different’ box anyway).

You can make yourself less noticeable by tweaking with the following variables:

  • The size of your camera
  • Your dress
  • Your people skills on the day (obviously don’t be confrontational, and if they’re checking you out then smile at them and they will be less likely to think you’re weird)
  • Your acting & movement  (move around a lot, pretend you’re looking at other things – it’s kinda important to make think that you’re not taking a photo of them)
  • The kind of location you’re shooting in

**Location is really key, especially if you are you and are shooting with a large  “HEY GUYS! **WAVE, WAVE** LOOK AT ME, I’M A PHOTOGRAPHER!!” kind of DSLR. Tourist areas great to shoot in because:

  1. Everyone else has a camera the size of yours – they’re less likely to notice that you’re strapped with gear
  2. Everyone is taking photos of each other – this is perfect camouflage for your snapping
  3. Tourist spots are tourist spots because they are usually visually interesting landmarks. These can provide interesting backdrops to your ‘moment’
  4. There are tons of people walking willy nilly about. And they are moving and floating into all kinds of weird and wonderful arrangements in front of your lens.

Oh yeah, the last thing is quite important too – try and not go into areas that you don’t feel safe shooting in. Max, do you remember that time back in the day when you thought you needed to go to the banlieue in Paris in order to get some authentic ‘street’ shots? Thought so :-p  !! There’s enough of the above to stress about as it is without adding anything else onto your brain…

I don’t think this checklist is by any means comprehensive at all, so please feel free to chip in with your comments and experiences if you have any…

Written by Max Colson

February 2, 2011 at 9:25 pm