lifestyle

My Best Photographs of 2013 by Neil Alexander

What a year that was eh? A new calendar is on the wall and there are my initials next to the date of every cheque I write for the next few weeks. So it's an ideal opportunity for a little reflection.

 Neist Point lighthouse on the Isle of Skye. One half decent morning of light if memory serves and that was it, but what an amazing place. My first trip proper here in 2013 and there's already a return trip in the diary for later this year. Blog post here.

I made around 20,000 images last year, although about a quarter of those were for timelapses. So it's nearer 15K of which a large proportion as always were filed under Trash. That makes it one of my lowest exposure counts to date. However, looking back over the last few years, an exercise I do every January, reinforced what I already felt to be my best year yet. Not necessarily from a business perspective (my financial year unfortunately ends in the middle of the summer) but certainly from a creative point of view. I feel that my work is of a better standard than ever before, which is extremely pleasing. Reflection over my previous years' work feels like I have the opportunity to take a baseball bat to the little demon that likes to pop up over my shoulder every now and then kindly shouting at me "You are crap and everything you're churning out is dirge". It's a very therapeutic exercise. It also provides me with the ability to see at the most elemental level how my direction as a photographer has changed. 

For your information, here are my previous years: 2012, 2011, 2010 & 2009

 

 Click on any of the images for a larger version.

 The Eiffel Tower, Paris. Seems ages ago I was there. It's only actually a couple of months ago. I went partly for the Paris Photo exhibition, which was a little disappointing, but the Parisienne streets and landmarks provided ample inspiration to more than make up for it.

 This was a really fun day out. These guys were headed up catch the ferry to the Isle of Man for a blokes weekend hurtling around the lanes. I joined them as they met up on the M6 and photographed them all the way culminating with this carefully choreographed rolling roadblock so that I could get a photograph of them all together. There's more here.

The finely manicured beach at Deauville in Northern France. This beach is so well maintained it is quite unbelievable. Every morning a team clear up all the debris left from previous day and then two tractors turn over the sand removing any previous sign of human presence whatsoever. Bizarre.

 

 Blea Tarn. A trip to the Lake District that provided a great deal of wind and rain, and very little else.

Boathouse on Wast Water. This image wasn't made in the best of circumstances. There were 2 Search and Rescue Sea Kings searching the lake going round and round in circles for over an hour whilst I was there. It later transpired that they were searching for a diver who didn't reappear after diving to a sunken wreck in England's deepest lake. 

 The Forth Road and Railway Bridges, Edinburgh. After scouting the shot the previous night, a spur of the moment decision saw me dashing to a different location in the hope of making this photograph. The light performed and it worked a treat. Blog post here.

 Technically, this photograph was actually made towards the end of 2012, but it took me some months to finish the composition that I'd initially had in my mind when making the original photograph. There's more details on the Photoshop work that went into this here.

 Spur of the moment decision one weekend to head up to Snowdonia and make some photographs of my wee car. It was cold, really cold. Blog post here.

Bamford edge in the high peeks at dawn. I've headed up here. I should still here in the half light of predawn hoping for some colour in the sky. When that didn't pan out I don't go out a couple of XP 900s and started playing with some of the camera flash. The full SP is here.

 

 Finally, many of these images are available as fine art prints from my print shop.

Castlefield Hotel Lifestyle Shoot by Neil Alexander

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Last week, with some assistance, I put together a lifestyle shoot in the interests of boosting my portfolio, and  I haven't enjoyed myself behind the lens so much for a long time. It was a real buzz to work with such a creative team, and be without the shackles of a written brief, and simply my own vision of what I needed to achieve. Admittedly I did have my moments when I simply, creatively ran out of steam, but fortunately they were only ever short lived.

I felt free as essentially I was the client, and yet I felt awkwardly constrained especially in the edit. We got so many great photographs in comparatively such a short space of time that it was a true testament to putting a good team together. I was quite fortunate in this regard.

I used a virtual PA service to put this together. I'd never used someone like this before, and she likewise. I assumed too much. It wasn't her fault that she didn't know what TF meant or a MUA is. So it took quite a while to put together. Initially I'd planned on shooting two or three different groups of models in various locations around the city over a 48 hour period. Whammo. Nail a knew portfolio whilst I'm firing on all four. I know I can pull of the shots - it's the co-ordination of the whole damn thing that's a killer. I'm sure any Creative who's been in the game for a wee while will understand the trials and tribulations of organising half a dozen people to be at the same place at the same time, all chosen specifically for their skill, and to be bursting at the seems with creativity. It ain't easy. Val did an outstanding job of putting this all together, though I'm not sure whether she's game for another one or not.

It was the team that made these shots, I simply lit them, composed them and clicked the shutter. Without the bounciness of Alex, the sharp wit of Pat, the brilliant hair and make-up by Steph, the stylish input from Pash, and the generosity shown us by Ann at the Castlefield Hotel, I'd never have been able to make these photographs.

So it's now onto the next one. I've another couple of rather cool venues lined up to use this month, so I'm now putting together another team. If you're a model, stylist or make-up artist looking to expand your portfolio then please do drop me a line.

Finally, before I sign off....

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A woman measures chillis in a bowl at Can Cau market, Sapa by Neil Alexander

Last Sunday I had this image appear in the Sunday Times Travel Section, which was a rather pleasant, and slightly unexpected surprise, and I might add with a far better caption!  Check it out here. See more of my images from  Vietnam here.

Have a great weekend.

Neil