Learning From The Best

Anyone who knows me well will tell you how strongly I believe in Fate.  And over the past 16yrs that belief has been put to the ultimate test and yet Fate has never let me down.

Just before starting Detheo Photography, and throughout it’s first year I attended many courses, hungry to refine my skills. However, I always came away  feeling unsatisfied.

Looking back I know now why.

As in all professions, people have very different reasons for doing what they do. Throughout my life I have always been driven to jobs that mean something personal to me, and photography is something very personal. My passion to capture those snippets of time, that so powerfully transport you instantly back, has always been my driving force. I  needed to learn the basics, which I did, but the courses always seemed to skim the surface, falling short.  They never catered for the individual, never understood my strengths or try to identify my weaknesses.

Then last year, just by chance, I came across a thread on the SWPP forum, which unbeknown to me, was set to totally change my life. My first 121 training course with John & Liz Denton sent my head spinning. It was the most amazing experience and I shared my feelings in a post that you are welcome to read back on if you like.

So, when I heard that I was going to be given the opportunity to return to Cold Harbour Studios and embark on my second 121 training course with John,  I could not believe it.

And as before, we were joined by two brilliant models. On day one I had the pleasure of working again with Jennifer Dickinson. Jennifer and I met on my first visit. We then caught up at the SWPP Annual Convention 2013 where Jennifer was working with some other photographers. So, it was lovely to see her again on this trip.

On day two, John and I were joined by Katie Louise. It was the first training session Katie had modelled for and I felt very honoured. Her beauty and natural talent are undeniable and she is a great addition to the Denton team.

Straight talking, down to earth, and a true photographic genius, John Denton does what those others in the past forgot to do. Before he teaches anything, he sets out to learn about his pupil. He gets to know who they are, he identifies their strengths and weaknesses and tailors his teachings to help them achieve their fullest potential. As for Liz, she is without a doubt, one amazing woman and the wealth of knowledge she holds is remarkable. Her ability to motivate and guide you through the marketing, branding, advertising etc side of the business leaves people, including myself, feeling so energised.

Photography is so much about who we are as individuals and as such it can be difficult to accept critique. However, I came to trust John & Liz very quickly and a similar sense of humour ensured we connected from the start.

Just like my first visit, this second 121 stripped away all distractions, guided me deeper through my journey of development and taught me to accept responsibility for the barriers I created,  that were holding me back. It was without a shadow of a doubt, a soul searching and eye opening experience.

I have come to hold both John and Liz very dear and feel very fortunate to have met such inspiring people. People I know I will forever call my friends. But how do I thank them for the tremendous influence they have  had on my life? I had plenty of time during my three hour drive home to contemplate this and I realised, there really was only one way. To take everything they had taught me, draw on all the belief they had shown in me and really make Detheo Photography everything I have always wanted it to be. And in turn, I hope one day, they can look back and feel proud that their influence helped form the solid foundations on which Detheo was grown.

(Below are some of the images captured on the second 121 training course at Cold Harbour Studios). 

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Katie 6FramedWM

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Katie 10FramedWM Katie 16FramedWM

Katie 17 (1)FramedWM

The Beauty Of Winter

I believe each season brings its own beauty and Winter definitely did not disappoint this week. Waking up feeling quite unwell, I piled on my layers ready to drop the children off to school, promising to return to my sofa and spend the day recuperating.

However, opening my front door I gasped with amazement at the stunning scene that greeted me. With an average temperature of -7 everything had frozen and turned white. I felt like I was stepping into a new, magical world.

With photography running through my blood I knew there was nothing I wanted more than to come back, grab the camera, my buddy Harvey, and head out.

And so we did. Walking through the beautiful Hertfordshire countryside surrounded by crisp, ice covered foliage I only wished we could have many more days like these because they make fantastic backdrops for photoshoots.

Are You Coming To Play?

I Can See The Light!

When I was a little girl my father would always joke around using his heavily Greek accent to repeat lines from his favourite programs and films. He had many lines and they still have us laughing even now, so many years on. My mother, the more sensible of the two, had one or two lines of her own, her favourite being “always learning, learning all the time!”.  I doubt she ever realised how true those words were, but those few words have inadvertently formed the foundations of my life ever since.

In every aspect of life, I believe there are new things to learn. The world around us has so much information yet many people travel through life almost with their eyes and ears closed. Some do this with no realisation that it is happening, whereas others are more deliberate, believing they have all the knowledge there is to have.

Like all other professions, Photography is a journey of learning, with many years of travel exploring new and wonderful findings. And just when you think you have discovered all there is to be found, there will always something else hiding in wait.

Still very much at the early stages of my journey, I have searched long and hard to find courses that offer the quality and personalisation that I require to forward my skills. So when I recently was alerted to such an opportunity, I could not quite believe it.

However, true it definitely was for last weekend, (from Friday 23rd until Monday 26th November 2012) I packed up my car and drove the three and half hours journey to East Yorkshire to meet John and Liz Denton, from Denton Photography.  It was clear from the beginning that both John and Liz understood my values and my aspirations. They also had done their home work on me and were ready to guide me through the next level of my learning and amongst other things, lighting was one of the main areas we all knew I needed to develop.

The beautiful Jennifer Dickinson on the foggy West Wood, Beverley.

The beautiful Jennifer Dickinson on the foggy West Wood, Beverley.

Saturday morning started with freezing fog that swept over the ground and significantly reduced visibility. Making my way to the studio I wondered what my day would entail. As someone who loves being outside, I should not have feared, as the day turned out to be truly amazing. John embraced the fog and taught me how to work it to my advantage. As did our wonderful model, Jennifer Dickinson, who seemed to love the outdoors as much as we did.

Model Jennifer Dickinson on the foggy West Wood, Beverley.

Model Jennifer Dickinson on the foggy West Wood, Beverley.

Throughout the day we worked with natural light, then mixed this with additional lighting and finally finished off in the studio working with studio lighting.

Jennifer 4

Working with natural light around the grounds of the studio.

Mixing natural light and the speed light create atmosphere.

Mixing natural light and the speed light create atmosphere.

Jennifer 11

Using Studio Lighting.

Using studio lighting.

Using studio lighting.

Sunday promised to be another jam packed day and this time we were joined by the beautiful  Caroline Mary Spalding. Having lost the fog, we just had the flooded roads and freezing cold weather to contend with. Yet nothing seemed to phase us and the stunning shots just kept coming.

Using natural light with the lovely Caroline around the studio.

Using natural light with the lovely Caroline around the studio.

Using natural light around the grounds of the studio.

Using natural light around the grounds of the studio.

With John determined to push me forward, Sunday brought a new feeling of confidence and by the  late afternoon I really began to feel at one with all the new skills I and learnt and the equipment I was surrounded by. But, just as I thought I was getting comfortable, John took me yet again further out of my comfort zone.

Now, I too had done my research and was very aware that my teacher was not just a good photographer. Apart from being a down to earth, shorts wearing funny man, John Denton is actually one of the most skilful and creative photographers I have ever seen and I doubt anyone knows how to use light better than him. He also has a reputation for creating some of the most amazing and artistic nude images ever. So it was no surprise that the final stage of my training involved Caroline ditching her warm winter wear and taking it all back to nature!

Shaping the body with light in the studio.

Shaping the body with light in the studio.

Shaping the body with light in the studio.

Shaping the body with light in the studio.

However, John had indeed not only taught me so much, but took the time to also learn about me. By giving me the opportunity to create images with my own style, John introduced me to a genre of photography I had never really focused much on. To my surprise, and possibly John’s, I took to it like a duck to water.

Of course, I must at this point thank both Jennifer Dickinson and Caroline Mary Spalding who both worked with patience, professionalism and had a great sense of humour, during our time together.

Monday was spent going over all of my images and then a business development session with the inspirational Liz Denton. Liz is the authority on everything business, as well as an amazing photographer in her own right. Her guidance and direction gave clarity to a once hazy area.

So, sadly the weekend was over but the long journey back flew past as my mind raced with what I had learnt, what I had achieved and what I wanted from the future.

The weekend with John and Liz, away from the hustle and bustle of the busy family life I have here, helped me to really focus on who I am and what I see as the future of Detheo Photography.  I  cannot give specifics but I will say the future is definitely looking bright! I feel recharged, enlightened and ready to start moving forward.

I would like to thank John and Liz for their kindness, support and commitment to sharing their passion and skills, and for their continued desire to ensure their teaching is accessible without discrimination.

Always Improving

“Highly Commended” Awarded Image October 2012

 

Whilst always trying to improve, it can sometimes be hard to measure what we have achieved. Each month I enter some of my images into the monthly competition managed by The Societies – an international collection of eight photographic organisations including the Society Of Wedding And Portrait Photographers, with whom we are proud to hold our Licentiate qualification.

October’s competition was as challenging as ever, with fellow photographers from all over the world submitting some amazing images. So it was yet another surprise to find out that the above image received a “Highly Commended” award by the judges.

This will be my third Highly Commended award this year and whilst I am proud of my achievements so far, I am always working hard, building on my skills and hope I will achieve my first Gold award in the not too distant future.

Fingers Crossed For Ellie.

Direct descendants from the Grey Wolf and believed to still retain 99%  of its genetic make-up, todays domestic dog is still very much a pack animal. But more so, with domestication came the ability to develop a bond stronger and more loyal that any other animal.

Sharing your life with a dog is something that will change you forever. It is true that they are a huge commitment, not just financially but emotionally too. But the rewards are immeasurable.

In last my post I introduced you to Sara and Matthew and their three fantastic dogs, Ellie, Pickles and Maggie.  Having emailed Sara to advise her that the images were ready for them to view, I was not surprised when Sara emailed me back. What she had to say however was a shock. In the little time since I had last been with them Ellie had been diagnosed with Cancer.

Whist it touched very close to home for me as we lost our lovely Kaci to cancer, the truth is, whenever they go, in which ever way, loosing them tears through your heart in a way you could never imagine.

I knew immediately that I wanted to return to see them. We had battled with the rain on our last shoot and whilst we did get some great images, we could not get all of the ones we had wanted. Now more than ever that became a priority.

This time the sun was shining and the blue sky was scattered with fluffy white clouds. Ellie, Pickles and Maggie ran to greet me as I arrived ready for another fun session.

Ellie has already had surgery to remove the lump and her specialised medication which is being imported from the USA is due to arrive in the next few days.  Regardless of her recent ordeals, Ellie was her usual self and such a beautiful, loving dog.

In fact, the gang really are a crazy bunch. Whilst Pickles sits gracefully in the shade, Maggie is obssessing over her toy, throwing it at me and then starring, waiting for me to make my move. And Ellie takes this opportunity to rob me of all my treats, as she gets her head firmly wedged into the back hanging from my kit belt.

But they all are so sweet and beautiful and a credit to Sara and Matthew.

Fingers and toes are crossed for Ellie and we hope she makes good progress and definitely look forward to seeing them all again in the future.

Sara, Matthew and the Gang!

 

Having spoken to Sara for over a year now, it was lovely to see her again and finally get to meet her partner, Matthew, and the dogs that they share their beautiful home with.

 

Along with Ellie, the more mature Chocolate Labrador and Pickles, the sweet West Highland Terrier, we had the pleasure of Maggie’s company.

 

Maggie is the crazy working Black Labrador from our previous post, who is jointly owned by Sara and her parents, David & Margaret.

 

Having driven just over two hours, I could not have been met by a more beautiful sight. Matthew and Sara’s home is set in the most wonderful rural setting. A rustic wooden bridge crosses over one of the two picturesque lakes and there beyond lay the entrance to the woods.

 

With such an amazing backdrop, I could not wait to start. However, in true British fashion the rain began to fall just as I switched the car’s engine off. But I had never needed to worry, for both Matthew and Sara were not prepared to let this stop us and remained eager throughout the photoshoot.

 

This was definitely one of the most relaxed sessions I have had and one I truly enjoyed.  I cannot thank Matthew and Sara enough for their enthusiasm and hospitality.



Maggie’s Photoshoot

It was great to finally get to meet Margaret & David Rooney, whose daughter, Sara, had surprised them with one of our gift vouchers for christmas. I had previously met Maggie, the black working labrador at one of the many shows I had attended along with Sara. Margaret had order prints in the past but, whilst we had spoken, we had never met.

Maggie was brilliant and clearly found the whole experience very exciting. Her relationship with David in particular was clear for all to see, however when the training dummy came out thats when she truly came into her own. A descendant  from a lone line of working dogs and with a Field Trials Champion for a father, Maggie was literally “born to work”.

David & Maggie

David, Margaret & Maggie

Maggie & the training dummy.
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