A Fresh Start


Firstly apologies for not having posted this sooner and not being very responsive to people's messages, but in my defence i've been a bit busy and am at a very important point in my life. For the past couple of weeks i have been in training and working for a really great company that i hope i still feel the same about in the next couple of years as i can actually see myself having a future with my current job. When i was younger i absolutely loved the sense of security and routine, it made me efficient and confident but unfortunately it also made me arrogant and while the other kids my age were playing football, tag, jump rope etc... i spent my time reading, doing my multiplication tables and talking with my teachers to see how i can learn more and improve my knowledge of things... in other words i was a teachers Chihuahua!!! It was the same when i first came to england, i tried to keep to myself and also to my studies but little by little i started to change and as i started to go in to higher education, the sense of routine and stable life kind of started to scare me as i had started to improvise and take things as they come instead of mapping my life out before i have even done anything.

Now i have been given an amazing opportunity and i am so very happy to be at a point in my life where i am excited by whats going to happen but i can rest assure that as long as i work hard and keep pushing myself to do better, i can achieve the goals that i set for myself. I love performing and i love photography, but i think above all the thing i love the most is... connecting with people and to me that is the most valuable thing and i am so grateful that i get to be able to balance all of those three things in one job that pushes me to do better, that inspires me to help and inspire others.

Well my point is that life will throw you an obstacle course and you can try to plan what route you are going to take or you can just run through it blind, but if you take a moment look around you and tackle the course section by section and actually enjoy and find away to make the obstacles easier for yourself it no longer becomes an obstacle course but a fascinating maze to explore.

As for the pictures, they are from a recent production titled "She From The Sea" that a very good friend of mine designed. The production is a part of a bigger company which aims to give women who have had a rough journey and have been involved with the justice system a fresh start and a chance to explore a passion weather it is in performance or other aspects. I wish them all the best of luck with their careers and i hope to see more productions in the near future.


Just My Luck!!!!

Sometimes i just want to curl up in a ball and just rock back and forth because just when i think things are going well life throws a spanner in the works, let me explain.... For the past 3 months i have been doing everything i can to try and get a casting by meeting directors/ producers/ designers/ Casting directors etc... i have been waiting, hunting and begging (well not begging) for a casting and NOTHING, absolute ZILCH!!! All would have been well if i wasn't made redundant from my evening job by two very small minded, petty and IDIOTIC managers. Slowly but surely my finances started to dwindle as i desperately tried to get part time work but no luck. Just when i was about to admit defeat and go back to ushering there was a ray of hope, i was offered a really great job with a really great company and so i jumped at the chance. I figured i will work there for hopefully a year and then see weather i want to cary on a career in that company or if i am HEART AND SOUL an actor by returning to the uncertainty of employment!!!

Now that i am ready and looking forward to starting my new job, i get a call from my agent for 2 really great auditions WHICH I CANNOT MAKE!!!!! this was partially my fault as i had forgotten to update them with my availability, but the timing of it COULDN'T BE WORSE!!! if the first audition was a day EARLIER or the second audition a day LATER it would have been alright but 3 DAMN MONTHS of waiting, hunting and begging (well not begging) AND NOW 2 really great auditions come along and I CANT DO IT without jeopardising my new job (which i have been looking forward to starting for over a month now).

If all of that wasn't enough, i think i may have pissed my agent off with my availability, WHICH IS NEVER A GOOD THING!!!!! I have great respect for my agents because they have been very patient with me and they have been getting me seen for a lot of castings, which is seriously making me think... maybe the reasons i am not getting these castings is cause i am not very good as an actor.

Anywho enough about me ranting and raving, lets talk about these images. The pictures you see are from a production of King Lear at Central School of Speech & Drama, by first and second year students. This is the second time i photographed a production of King Lear and this one was an absolute pleasure to photograph as the director gave me freedom to roam wherever i wanted to and if i had missed something we can photograph it later by getting the actors to re do it. I was very impressed with the production (i have yet to read king lear but i will do so hopefully tonight) and the design aspects of it as well, i think all the people involved in the production have something to be proud of because there were times when i was drawn in by whats going on on stage and i almost forgot i had a job to do.

I hope one day i am back performing on stage again like these young talented performers so until then i wish them all the best with their careers and look forward to hearing about them or seeing them in other productions soon.

Self Discovery?


I love theatre, there is just an amazing attraction i have towards it that i just can't explain, i love the fact it is never the same ever again. I am now at a point where i am really learning and discovering who i am, and i know at least that i want theatre to be a big part of my life in one way or another. I love the relationships and friendships you build with your fellow actors during the rehearsals and the run of the show, and you develop a small family with the people you are performing with, and that is something that i don't want to sacrifice because it has given me many fantastic friends whom i respect and really appreciate. Now i have been more of a photographer than an actor but to me that is still alright because it is another great passion of mine and i love that i get to take pictures of my other passion.

The Pictures you are seeing are from a production of "Richard The Third" at Central School of Speech & Drama, by the second year students most of which i recognised from a previous production i photographed which was fantastic... it was called "The Emperor of The Moon". It was a massive challenge to photograph these talented performers as there was quite a lot of seating in the way so i couldn't move around as much as i would have liked and the lowest i could push my ISO down was 1250 but that was for like 40% of the shots, the rest was either 1600 or the dreaded 3200. I would have never ever thought of shooting at ISO 3200 but with really great glass, full frame sensor & some careful nose reduction you can get a VERY USEABLE image but it must be processed very carefully.

Ow and SHOOT RAW!!!! it will save your ass later on in post processing, it will give you the best results out of your images, yea....yea....yea i know, i know.... its a pain to process as the files are huge but would you rather have the best possible results out of your images and a very happy client, or more time to play on Guitar Hero?

i'll leave you to answer that question....


R.E.S.P.E.C.T.


Ok the title will explain itself as you read on so let me start at the beginning.....

I once again had to grab my trusty Lowe Pro bag with all my gear in it and run to Central School of Speech & Drama, and this time i was helping out a friend of Suzi's who i now consider a friend of mine as well, ow and her name is Rachel. Rachel is a costume/set/ Graphic designer and an all round genius when it comes to the world of art and creativity. I of-course once again unaware of what it is that i have to shoot grab most of the gear i think i will need and turn up to see the challenge set for me and this time there was a good enough challenge. The challenge was the seriously low lighting (i am in no way criticising the lighting design as it really helped set the mood and tone of the production) as theatre photographers know this is an absolute pain that we have to work through. So far the human eye is the most advanced lens out there as it can see detail in extreme contrasts and make out shapes in almost pitch black scenarios, this is somewhat of a very TALL order for modern day DSLRs.

The production was King Lear, now i have never read or seen a production of King Lear but from what i saw i really like it. I love shakespeare (when i can understand it), i love the relationship between the characters, the misunderstandings, the supernatural aspects etc... the list goes on, but it takes me at least 3 reads of the same play to get a good grasp of the story and relationships. The lovely rachel grabbed me from reception and got me in to the performance studio and everything was going fine until i snapped two frames and this really frustrating director motions me over and whispers into my ears (yet still in a commanding tone)

"Your shutter is too loud, Make sure if you are going to take a picture, you know exactly what picture you want to take before you press that button, don't just click randomly!!!"

Now i'm a very easy going person and i like most other normal people out there show respect to other professionals when i am working with them, to me that was a HUGE insult because A) i'm going there to help out, B) I've invested money in to USM lenses as they are virtually silent, there is very little i can do about the camera shutter sound since its a REHEARSAL!!!! not a live performance, so i can't justify spending a tone of money on a camera body noise dampener, and C) I didn't walk over to the actors and tell them what lines to cut, where to stand or who to look at as they are saying specific lines so WHAT gives him the right to tell me "don't just click randomly".... like i just press the button for 2 hours and hope for the best!!! IMBECILE!!!!

Ahh..... sorry about the ranting on, i just needed to vent, Rachel and the other creatives did a fantastic job with the production and i wish i hadn't seen the production through a viewfinder and got the chance to sit among the audience and really enjoy it, but no doubt one day i will hunt down a production of King Lear and hopefully be FRONT ROW for the experience.

Thank you for reading.

All is not lost!!!


It is inevitable for a photographer at one point to loose images due to a corrupt card or an accidental erase, i unfortunately had this same problem a couple of days ago after shooting pictures of my former teacher and her current students. As you could have guessed from my previous post i was not very happy about loosing 250 images after having traveled and returned home to edit the pictures. I frantically tried to recover any data i could from the card using every method i knew and after hours of failed attempts i had to admit defeat (Which i ABSOLUTELY hate doing!!!). I of-course i had to inform Louisa (my wonderful teacher) of the situation and try to find a time to re shoot.

I take pride in making sure the quality of my work is as high as it can be and telling a client we have to re-shoot is seriously infuriating as that is unacceptable. Thankfully a wonderful GENIUS of a photographer named Karla Gowlett practically SAVED the day, she suggested this wonderful little gem of a program, hidden in the vastness of the internet which not only recovered the images from the memory card but also pictures from a previous format. This is an absolute MUST have for photographers, especially those who shoot a canon 5D, as there is a very STUPID option to delete all your images, which has always frightened me but i will fear it NO MORE!!!! alas i am now 1 memory card down due to the corruption but at least i have all the images recovered so thank you again KARLA, to those of you who may be interested you should definitely check out her work she is a fantastic photographer (just google her full name and you will find her website) and she did my very first set of head shots when i was a student of the "Thespian way".

Now Just to quickly get back to why i was there at the shoot..... Louisa was one of three wonderful teachers at Sir George Monoux College who really inspired me and really opened up my eyes to the world of art. Before meeting Louisa i had.... erm.... well lets just say i had trouble keeping in tune when singing, but after some really helpful guidance and help from her i was feeling confident and singing in-front of people. I never thought myself to take up dance or physical theatre or even singing until i went to Mounoux and met Sandra, Leanne and Louisa but i am thankful that i did because it has helped to shape me in to the person i am today and will continue to do so i hope. When Louisa sent me a message asking me to take portraits of her and her students for a new Academy she is working on, i was thrilled and so i jumped at the chance. After meeting the students i was blown away with their musical skill as i find it so hard to play the piano, guitar and sax and these kids make it look so easy. I hope they really take their time there to learn as much as they can, because now i wish i was in their shoes to still have that safety net of being at school, but on the other hand i can sleep in late and dont have any course work...... HAHA!!!


The Lesbian Bath House

Yesterday i went to help out a friend of mine with a fashion shoot, i was mainly there to be the assistant and also to advise my friend shall he ask for it or need it. We went to Algate East where the "Studio" was and when we arrived at the time we were told which was 11.30 there was no one to be seen there so after a few phone calls we find out that the client said 11.30 because they didn't want anyone to be late and really wanted to start at 12.00 but annoyingly it was the client that arrived at 12.00, so we decide lets just get on with the day. We finally get in to the studio and..... well.... it was perhaps the WORST ever studio i had seen, it was a disgrace to hold the name STUDIO, there were dirty seamless papers all over the place, wires, props, old broken chairs, and well not a lot of space to work in and oh of course a giant window RIGHT NEXT TO the seamless paper without any way in which to block out the ambient light, and to make matters worse they had ONE trigger for the 5 elinchrome strobes they had which well REFUSED TO FIRE, so i was forced to use my own pocket wizards (which i love by the way) to sort out their idiotic decision to only have one cheap plastic trigger.

After all the technical problems were solved by me and ola we finally started shooting, and we managed to get some really great images for the client and were actually starting to enjoy ourselves. I then had to quickly figure out a way to get the triggers to work because i had to leave to go and take pictures for the poster of my friends new Edinburgh show "The Lesbian Bath House" and i would need all my lighting gear including the pocket wizards. After some technical wizardry and a LOT of luck i managed to get the elinchrom trigger to work. I thanked ola and all the other people involved in that project and quickly made my way to Central School of Speech & Drama where suzi was waiting for
me.

We got in to an experimental lighting room which the students mainly use to work out what things would look like on a scale model before they finalise their designs, and i started to set up my lights, at this point i am a little nervous as i have never shot a large group of people before let alone a large group of gorgeous women, and i get very nervous around gorgeous women as i tend to turn in to a bumbling idiot. After having a talk with suizi and the directors Ben and Nigel i got a good idea of what they were looking for and was quite worried i might not be able to pull it off with just a 430 Exii and a reflective umbrella, but that was all i had so that was what i would have to use!!! The plan was to use the posters of 'THE L WORD" and "DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES" as an inspiration and go for something that is sexy, suggestive or seductive but not overly sexy that it looks pornographic.

The ladies all arrived and to my surprise it was actually the very first time they are all meeting each other, and only minutes later they would have to be half naked and all over each other, which made me realise just how brave actors are because we have a very low sense of inhibition and we make friends very easily in a room full of people we have never met. When we finished the ladies and the directors applauded me but i felt that truly it was them that deserved the applause because its not an easy thing to do and they took direction very well and were all very lovely to work with, i am sure their production will be a roaring success at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and wish all the cast and crew a very bright and successful future.

Being The Industrious Mouse



Today i had a shoot with three young but very talented guys, first up were Gianni & Alex from SuperhumanEnt who will be releasing an album shortly, and straight after them was none other than Samuel Furniss who is an up and coming comedian currently touring the comedy circuit. The location was set and it was in the back roads of Farringdon (not too far away from Tinsletown which have some AMAZING milkshakes, a little on the £££££ side though but still worth it as a once in a while treat). Today i was stepping out of my comfort zone of shooting in doors where i can control lighting as it allows me to start from black and then build lights as i go to get the right look that i want, but as we were shooting outside from 2pm till 6pm with the blazing sun above us i thought to myself I NEED TO GO BACK TO strobist.com or maybe send a prayer to the GOD of lighting that is Joe McNally.


I think it is important to challenge yourself and i think you learn soooo much more when things don't go as you thought they would because it prepares you for a situation that you may encounter in the future and that experience will make you a better photographer and give you something to joke about with whom ever you are photographing (if your subject is alive and can understand you that is). I am a big believer in getting your client/subject comfortable with you from the get go, even before you take out your camera or drop a light stand. The person you are photographing has to feel secure with you and trust you to know what you are doing, and i think this will open up so much more options for you and it will even encourage your client/ subject to suggest some ideas to you.

I watch these Photographic Savants like Joe McNally, David Hobby, Zach Arias, Chase Jarvis, Isak Koval, Patric Demachelier.... the list goes on and i see a potential that i could achieve, if i work hard and always strive to learn more by pushing myself and teaching what i know then maybe one day i will be an inspiration to a young breed of photographers. Like any other photographer i have gear envy but i think the most important lesson i've learned is that TOP quality gear will open up more options for you but having it doesn't mean it will make your pictures better. What will make your pictures better is looking at other photographer's work and deconstructing them to figure out how that picture works and then recreate it but add something of yours (now i don't mean take someone's unique work and call it your own, if you like something then do it, but give credit when it is deserved) . Shoot more especially now in the digital age, because it doesn't cost you anything to process other than time and believe me if you do it right and organise it well enough then it is TWS (Time Well Spent).

(ow by the way i titled this the Industrious Mouse, mainly because i think these guys are gonna be Big in the coming years and i think the pictures i have of them will have great weight then)


Till Next Time

Minyahil