I went to the shops today to buy toilet paper……………

……killed two birds with one stone and took this self portrait in the kitchen!

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It wasn’t any fun taking this. Wearing that mask felt like someone was pressing a pillow down on my face! No fun at all.

The props, I had lying around. A World War 2 helmet, a cold war era Soviet gas mask, a couple of nasty looking weapons and my trusty old All Saints military coat.

Single light setup, a Godox AD360 in my 120cm octabox (gridded) to camera left and just out of frame.

I had the camera set on 10 second timer, pressed the shutter, grabbed my weapons and hoped for the best! After less than ten shots I’d had enough and wrapped it up. I got one shot that worked and that was enough for me. I’m not planning on getting back into that mask anytime soon!

Be careful out there.

Stay safe.

Andy

I’m a fine art portrait photographer based in Tamworth, Staffordshire. Specialising in creative and styled portraiture, fitness photography, headshots, family portraits and personal branding for you, for actors, for athletes and for business professionals alike.

www.andrewkatsaitisphotography.com

Buy me a coffee at my ko-fi page.

Making those family memories.

Just a quick addendum to my recent blog post…………. https://andrewkatsaitisphotography.wordpress.com/2020/10/28/halloween-photoshoot-ideas-when-youre-locked-down-in-the-middle-of-a-global-health-pandemic/

We had a fabulous Hallowe’en. I hope you did too?

We played games. The kids bobbed for apples. We had a chocolate fondue with strawberries and the biggest marshmallows I’ve ever seen!

I got my picture.

My mission was to make a Hallowe’en portrait……..a family memory to frame and put on the wall.

So the girls had been applying makeup and face paint for a while before I warmed up the lights and the smoke machine. I knew I wasn’t going to have much time…..they were both way too excited and also in the middle of a sugar fuelled frenzy, so I was going to have to work fast.

The room where I shoot at home is small.

It has white walls………yeah!

So how was I going to create some atmosphere and make an image with a spooky feel? One word answer……….GRIDS!!!! Yep I put the grid on my Octabox to try and control the spill and direction of my light. By angling the light across the girls in the crosslight/Rembrandt position I was ensuring that not too much of it was hitting the white wall behind them, rendering it grey in colour.

Here’s the setup.

In the diagram the octabox to camera left has the grid fitted. Unfortunately there was no facility for this in the creator program.

I added in the strip box boomed out behind the girls, angled down on them to backlight the smoke from my little fog machine.

I took a dozen shots (working quickly) and decided on my favourite.

Here’s the SOOC shot……….

They look pretty spooky don’t they?

My personal feeling is that smoky images tend to lend to high contrast. So I opted to go black and white for this one. Edited in Photoshop. I added contrast using the Nik Pro Contrast filter in Colour Efex Pro and further contrast using my favourite Topaz Clarity plugin.

I’m going to write about both of those great plugins in detail in a future post, but for now here’s my finished picture……….

It’s visible in full size on my Flickr, 500px etc. Please do connect with me there (links at the top of the page.)

Hope you enjoyed the post.

Stay safe.

Andy

I’m a fine art portrait photographer based in Tamworth, Staffordshire. Specialising in creative and styled portraiture, fitness photography, headshots, family portraits and personal branding for you, for actors, for athletes and for business professionals alike.

www.andrewkatsaitisphotography.com

Buy me a coffee at my ko-fi page.

The single most important piece of photography advice I wish I’d known earlier.

**YOU’RE NOT AS GOOD AS YOU THINK YOU ARE**

Let that sink in.

It’s a bitch of a thing to come to terms with, but that moment when you do, is the moment that you will grow and become a better photographer.

If you wish to develop as a creative then you will have to accept this difficult premise.

If you think your work is great and you don’t need to improve then you’ve lost the battle. You haven’t lost the war though, I might add……you’re just gonna have to wake up and smell the coffee.

This mindset is known as the Dunning-Kruger effect, a real scientific phenomenon.

The Dunning-Kruger effect is a type of cognitive bias in which people believe that they are more capable than they really are. Essentially, low ability people do not possess the skills needed to recognize their own incompetence

Stupid people don’t know they‘re stupid

Ouch.

Poor self awareness and low cognitive ability leads them to overestimate their own capabilities.

As Charles Darwin wrote in his book The Descent of Man, “Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.”

I’ve been guilty of this…….thinking my work is the dog’s danglers!

I put a photograph out there that I’m delighted with, for all to see……thinking it’s the best thing since sliced bread. Fortunately for me though, I’ve had my epiphany, as it were and when I look back at my work I have a rather deflating tendency to think it’s crap and that I can improve it. This is what I try to do with every single day…….improve, and learn something new. Every new photoshoot, every new edit, every new blog post!

I’m trying.

People say that I’m very trying!

I’m putting that attribute down to the curse of the creative mind and I’m standing by that!

People will blow smoke up your arse all day long if they want to use your services for free/for exposure…..family and friends encourage you (they’re your biggest fan club) but the false sense of security that this can bestow upon you can ultimately become detrimental to your development within the photography industry.

‘Don’t get high on your own supply’ (as the cool kids say.)

If you don’t believe me, ask for a portfolio review from an artist you respect and prepare to face the music. Don’t be disheartened by the critique. Instead take from it, learn from it and act on it.

Don’t get stuck in that rut of being able to do something and then being satisfied with just repeating it time and time again, never to move forward. Develop your skill set. Add new lighting or editing techniques to your repertoire. Perfect the ones that you already know, Your clients deserve it………….and so do you.

So hopefully you found this philosophical post motivational and that it inspires you to move forward.

Now excuse me whilst I go cry into my cornflakes and endeavour to become better at my craft.

Stay safe.

Andy.

www.andrewkatsaitisphotography.com

Buy me a coffee at my ko-fi page.

The top five inexpensive pieces of gear that made the biggest impact on my photography………..

…………………and I’m not talking about the latest camera bodies or the fastest most expensive glass. We’re not even in the same ballpark actually………nowhere near.

Let’s break it down. Cameras and glass aside I’m sure we’ve all had those Eureka moments on our respective photographic journeys where we’ve come to realise ‘how did I ever manage before without this piece of kit?’ Call it an epiphany if you will, but each of these individual items I’m going to list below have had a huge impact on my creative process and really enabled me to grow as an artist.

None of this stuff is going to break the bank……….

First up and probably the single most simple but ultimately effective item on the list……..The tethering cable.

Tethering to the computer during a shoot has literally transformed the way I work. I WILL NEVER LOOK BACK. Forgive the caps but I can’t emphasise enough the value of shooting this way. Working in real time and being able to see the images on the big screen will allow you (and your creative team) to make live adjustments to hair, makeup, posing, lighting and anything else that may go unnoticed on the small LCD display on the back of the camera. My subjects have always appreciated being able to see the images as they are being shot and have the opportunity to see what is working for them and what isn’t, and adjust accordingly.

Type A to Mini-B USB 2.0 Cable is the specification for my Canon Cameras. I have a couple of cheap cables I purchased from Amazon for as little as £6 which do the job perfectly, but if you wanted to buy the industry standard then Tether Tools is the place for you.

https://www.tethertools.com

So yeah……just in case you missed it……..the tethering cable is my number one most useful piece of kit. ‘Try it…….you’ll like it’ (as my mum used to say!)

Next up…………

The C Stand and Boom Arm.

Now light (as I’m sure you already know) works best either from above (it works for the sun) or from the side in a painterly Rembrandt style. I love to light from overhead, either with the beauty dish or an octabox and this beautiful, ugly bit of metal allows me to do just that……probably the best 90 quid I’ve ever spent on grip. I can boom my 22 inch metal beauty dish front and centre of my subject without fear of it dropping down and denting the floor (or my model!) It’s truly a great bit of kit and the boom arm itself also allows for better placement and manoeuvrability of other larger modifiers in the Rembrandt position too. All in all much better choice than a regular light stand, and a LOT more sturdy.

Third on my list…….Sheets of coloured cellophane.

Yep.

These cost me £3.50 for a multicoloured selection. Use them to gel your flashes. Cheap as chips as they say here in England, and very effective.

If you have some coloured gels for your flashes then why not go a step further and add some smoke?

The humble fog machine ranks next as one of my most useful pieces of kit.

Instantly add atmosphere to your studio shots with one of these. Remember to backlight the smoke and have fun!

One tip when using the smoke machine though would be to use it near the end of the shoot……the room can get a little clogged up after a few blasts and you’ll find it increasingly hard to focus until the smoke dissipates, so use sparingly.

Finally, last but not least is my wonderful painterly style cloth backdrop from KateBackdrop.

It features in many of my images for good reason, as I absolutely love it.

I do love to shoot against a storm grey backdrop and blend textures in Photoshop as this gives me a lot of creative scope in post production, but this fantastic and cheap bit of cloth really allows me to get a finished look to my pictures that I really love. I’m sure I will purchase others from the range going forward but for now I’m very happy indeed with this one.

Here’s the link to it on Amazon.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my insights in this article and I’d absolutely love to hear about your own ‘go to’ pieces of kit that you simply can’t do without.

Thanks for reading and please do drop by and connect with me on social media.

Stay safe.

Andy.

I’m a fine art portrait photographer based in Tamworth, Staffordshire. Specialising in creative and styled portraiture, fitness photography, headshots, family portraits and personal branding for you, for actors, for athletes and for business professionals alike.

www.andrewkatsaitisphotography.com

Pray for me

Seems like an appropriate place to begin.

I plan to use this platform to showcase some of my work and also to pay a little forward as to how I achieve these images. I’m a firm believer in collaboration and I love to share ideas and tips.

Please feel free to connect with me here or on my other social media pages if you wish to discuss any commercial requirements or even just to chew the fat on anything related to photography or retouching. The name is Andy (Andrew Katsaitis) and my brand is called Republica.

This is an old image of the lovely Eloise Dulcie. Shot simply against a painted white wall in a small room. Lit with a large octabox positioned to camera left. The textures and painterly styling are all added in Adobe Photoshop CC using a mixture of blending modes and colour look up tables.

I hope you like it.

“Penitence ft Eloise”

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