Blue sky thinking

As the saying goes, "location, location, location". And it really plays a massive part when it comes to making a backdrop. But timing is equally important, and when you combine the two magic can happen.

I was recently on a shoot in Greenwich, London, and the early morning sun combined with a beautiful roof terrace provided a beautiful backdrop for these images. The pictures essentially made themselves and created a wonderfully colourful scene that I was lucky enough to capture.

Being in the right place at the right time is just as important as having the right gear and the know-how.

Blue sky thinking by Chris Brock
Blue sky thinking by Chris Brock

Charlotte Ritchie for The Source Magazine

Colour can be a powerful thing. It can lift a picture and give it a brightness, not just visually but emotionally too. Bright colours pop, add warmth and can give a shoot a friendly feeling that catches the mood as well as the eye.

That was the case when I was asked to photograph Charlotte Ritchie for The Source Magazine, produced in collaboration with UCAS and the Daily Telegraph. Charlotte is the star of the TV shows Fresh Meat and Call the Midwife, and is really easy to work with.

Amenable, flexible and offering creative input, she really shone in these images, and her skill at playing a role really helped to add to the mood and atmosphere of the day, as well as the final images. Which made this shoot a breeze!

Charlotte Ritchie by Chris Brock
Charlotte Ritchie by Chris Brock
Charlotte Ritchie by Chris Brock
Charlotte Ritchie by Chris Brock
Charlotte Ritchie by Chris Brock
The Source Magazine by Chris Brock

MUA: Carl Stanley
Art Direction: James Bowman
Assistant: Miroslav Jesensky

Joe Wicks the Body Coach in the Sunday Telegraph

An image from my shoot with diet and lifestyle guru Joe Wicks (aka The Body Coach) graced the cover of the Lifestyle supplement in this weekend's Sunday Telegraph, coinciding with the launch of his new television series on Channel 4.

We did this shoot a while ago, and I've got to say it was one of the easiest I've ever done. Not only is Joe great to photograph for obvious reasons, but he's also incredibly enthusiastic. Want him to take his shirt off? No problem. Climb a tree? You got it!

I was so impressed with Joe, who is essentially an incredibly upbeat walking billboard for his 90-day diet and fitness plan, that I signed up. Following his tailor-made plan I suddenly found that I enjoyed exercise and healthy eating so much that I turned his three month plan into a six month plan (I didn't want to stop), and I'm still going. I've lost two stone since I started, and it's given me a real confidence boost.

Ultimately it all boils down to eat healthily and get exercise. But I'm buying what he's selling. 

Anyway, enough about that. Here are some pictures.

Joe Wicks the Body Coach by Chris Brock
Joe Wicks by Chris Brock
Joe Wicks by Chris Brock

When opportunities arise magic happens

A little while ago I was commissioned to photograph leading rug and textile designer Jennifer Manners at her home in London (read about it here). Part of the job was to capture some of her work in situ, in the rooms of her beautiful home.

When I got to her daughter's room I was amazed at just how beautifully Jennifer had designed it. In my mind it really captured the traditional innocence of childhood, and maybe it was the way the light was streaming in through the window, but there was something quite perfect about it. But it was missing one thing - a child!

Fortunately, with it being the summer holidays, Jennifer's daughter was nearby, and one of her friends was visiting. After a quick phone call to her friend's mother to get approval, the two girls dutifully took on their roles and posed for me, and this image happened. 

There's something magical here. The colours used in the room gave the light a candyfloss quality, and with the toys in place it harks back to the chocolate box scenes that only seem to live in jigsaws these days.

This image was completely unplanned, yet everything fell into place. Sometimes you just need to be there at the right time, in the right place, and magic happens.

Innocence of childhood by Chris Brock

How does it look? How does it feel?

When you're learning about image making you're told a lot of things about what makes a great photo. Composition, the rule of thirds, leading lines, even the golden ratio and the Fibonacci Sequence.

But rarely are you asked about how an image makes you feel. Yet, more than any of the so-called laws of photography, a great image isn't based on looks, it's about how it feels. And when you're making an image, and you're looking through the viewfinder, you're not thinking about leading lines, about the dos and don'ts; you're constructing something emotional.

Feeling is a much bigger part of storytelling than "the rules". You can measure light, but you can't quantify it's emotional worth. Try to put an equation on how the sun feels on your face on a warm Autumn afternoon, and you'll fail. Try to decipher the mathematics of a comforting embrace and you'll fall short.

Image making is about feeling just as much as it is about seeing. And that's why I love this portrait that I shot of photographer Gwen Campbell so much. It tells a story. But what that story is is up to you.

Gwen by Chris Brock

Stories are found before they're told

Not all stories take lots of planning. Sometimes they present themselves to you from nowhere. Sometimes they reveal themselves in the posture of your sitter. Or in their clothes. Or in the sparkle in their eyes.

But sometimes you make a story from all the ingredients that are given to you, and that's exactly what happened with this image, that I shot earlier on in the year.

It was a sunny day, and I was out with my camera and lighting gear, doing an ad-hoc photoshoot with fellow photographer Maggie Railton (read about that here). Her son, Jean-Paul, was standing in for my assistant, making sure nothing blew away in the wind. When I'd finishing shooting Maggie, we had a bit of time left so we asked Jean Paul to jump in front of the lens.

Sometimes the whole is great than the sum of its parts, and while it's great to have a blue sky, an intriguing setting, and a volunteer all able to jump into place, the synergy they all created when combined made the story. And the story presents itself in the tension of the scene. The waiting. The backdrop. The sunlight and the atmosphere. The "what went before".

I love the result, and the story it tells.

Jean-Paul by Chris Brock