My first blog on WordPress

Hi, been meaning to do this for a while but never seemed to find the time. Well, in this new Covid-19 world of ours I’ve got all the time in the world now! I’ve been a photographer in Edinburgh since 1990, starting off as a freelance photographer for the Evening News and The Scotsman. Then I was a staffer for a local newspaper for a few years before going back to being a freelance, still working for the newspapers but steadily taking on more corporate jobs until concentrating fully on that sector in 1998.

I’ve been involved in photography since I left school in 1977 and started working as a darkroom technician at Turners photography in Newcastle Upon Tyne. Photography has given me everything over the years and my enthusiasm for the medium is still as strong as ever. I thought it would be nice to give something back. I’ll be posting photos with a little bit of info about them over the next few weeks and hope this can stimulate some conversation since, at the moment, there’s little else we can do.

SIXTY MINUTES (Part 4, the last part of the shoot)

35 minutes into the shoot and I’ve changed from my 35mm lens to my favourite portrait lens, my 85mm F2.

Keeping the same light set up I take some upper torso shots before getting in real close

I’ve always loved portraits with a shallow depth of field, it’s that dreamy quality and the way the eyes grab your attention with nothing else to distract you.

Sticking with the 85mm I’ve moved back now for some more upper torso shots. This is not a commercial shoot so I have more time to experiment and play about with poses and compositions. This next photo illustrates how a small movement can change a photo.

I’ve moved to the right a bit so the side of the bedroom door is in the photo, this change has also allowed more of the window to be seen creating more depth than the previous photo. In a free flowing situation these decisions of composition are made on the spur of the moment, sometimes you don’t have the time to fully realise what you have until post production when you can analyse what you’ve taken in a more relaxed way.

We are 40 minutes into the actual portrait session and I’ve changed the 85mm for my 50mm for the last series of photographs. I tried a few more poses but started to feel I was repeating myself and had achieved everything I’d wanted from the shoot so called it a day at just about 50 minutes of session time and 170 exposures. All that was left was to pack up, thank Nick for his time and head home to process the images.


I now feel I’ve done enough with the Plain background and want to move onto the next stage of the shoot which places Nick in a more natural background. I had noticed his bedroom had a workspace and also some nice light coming through the window so thought that would be a good location to use next.

I really liked the shape of the chair so incorporated it into the composition, only later did I realise it matches the colour of the curtains. I positioned the light (24″soft box) on the left.

I only took 15 shots of this set up, I felt that was enough and that it wasn’t quite working for me so moved Nick to the chair.

For this shot I moved the 24″ soft box to the right and let the window provide the backlight.

Very similar pose to the last shot with some subtle differences. I’ve changed the composition to clean up the clutter on the right hand side of the picture, toned down the light coming through the window and added a 12″ soft box on the left to make up for the reduced backlight coming through the window. I’ve taken about 30 shots with the 35mm lens and now it’s time for another lens change.




So, we are seven minutes into the actual shoot, Nick is starting to relax and I decide to change the set up, asking him to stand so we can work on some more poses.

After taking a few shots I change the lighting again by switching off the fill light again, a very subtle change but it changes the mood of the photograph.

Nick then suggests he change into a different top, this is good as it shows he is actively participating in the shoot with me, two minutes later he’s in front of the camera again, I’ve stayed with the single key light.

I try some more 3/4 length shots then change the pose again moving in for a tighter composition.

This part of the shoot has taken 12 minutes including the clothes change, I’ve taken 36 exposures and now I think it’s time to move onto a more ‘documentary/editorial’ style of photograph.


Sixty minutes, why 60 minutes? Because that’s how long clients usually give you to complete what thy think is a simple task – making them look good. This series takes the reader through a shoot, from walking through the door of the office and meeting the client/sitter. Having a chat with them to establish a bit of a rapport while scouting about for locations to take the photos, setting up the lighting then the actual shoot itself before packing up and leaving. It’s a pretty intense time but I enjoy the challenge.  I started off with a plain grey background set up in the dining room of his house, the key light is on the left with a large fill light directly behind me. We started off with some simple poses, this lets Nick get comfortable with the camera and I can get a feel for how I want the shoot to go

During a shoot I also make subtle changes to the light to create different moods as illustrated in the next two photographs. The first is the original two light set up.

This next shot I switched off the large fill light behind me and let the key light do all the work

The difference is subtle, the key light is getting some light kicking back from the wall on the right, If I’d wanted that side of the face to be darker I could have put up a black sheet to stop the reflection but I was happy with the overall result.

So, we are twenty seven minutes into the photoshoot since I walked through the door, I’ve taken 30 shots in seven minutes, time to move on to the next stage.

If you go down to the woods today!

Innerleithen MTB. Although it’s great fun to get the action shots I wanted to do some portraits of the riders as well. Luckily a bunch of guys stopped for a breather right next to me and were more than willing to have their photographs taken #edinburghphotographer #edinburghphotography #scotlandphotography #scotlandphotographer #sportsphotography #sportsphotographer #portraitphotography #portraitphotographer #innerleithen #scottishborders #mtb #innerleithenmtb #mtblife #mtbuk #mtblifestyle #mtbscotland

Cheers! the start of a Brewery.

Alistair Brown, founder and CEO of Bellfield Brewery.

Leith small businesses project COVID edition. Bellfield Brewery, CEO and co-founder Alistair Brown. Alistair worked in the digital technology industry for 20 years before starting Bellfield Brewery. He founded the brewery after he was diagnosed with coeliac disease (an auto-immune condition caused by sensitivity to gluten) meaning he could no longer drink his favourite beers. He teamed up with a local brewer and Heriot Watt University to develop great tasting beers that everyone could drink (all the beers are also vegan). Bellfield started production in 2016 and opened a popular Taproom next to the brewery in Abbeyhill in 2019.

A grand day out!

Out the other day with friend and fellow photographer Gordon Duncan. Good to wander the streets of Edinburgh on a sunny day and take photographs. I took this in a Stockbridge pub over a cooling beer. A total joy to just use available light instead of flash #edinburghphotographer #edinburghphotography #scotlandphotography #scotlandphotographer #portraitphotography #portraitphotographer #headshot #headshotphotography #headshotphoto

Grant, Covid survivor.

Last November I photographed Professor Grant McIntyre who had survived COVID 19. He spent 128 days in Hospital which included 50 in an induced coma, he had multiple organ failure and many other problems but thanks to the medical team around him and his own determination he came through. When I photographed him he still only had 55% lung capacity but had set goals to get it up to 75% in the next few months. A true survivor #edinburghphotographer #edinburghphotography #scotlandphotography #scotlandphotographer #portraitphotography #portraitphotographer #portraits #editorialphotography #editorialphotographer #covidsurvivor

Sir John Mortimer from the archives.

From the archives. Sir John Mortimer, English barrister, dramatist, screenwriter and author, his best known novels are about a barrister named Horace Rumpole. These kinds of promo photo shoots were taken while the sitter was in town promoting an event of some kind. I would attend with a journalist who would be chatting with the subject. It would take place in a hotel room and sometimes there would be no time to take the sitter somewhere more interesting. Looking at the negs from this shoot I note there are no ‘set up’ shots at the end so we must have ran out of time. Still I got plenty of nice shots during the interview and this is the photograph the paper chose to publish #edinburghphotographer #edinburghphotography #scotlandphotography #scotlandphotographer #portraitphotography #portraitphotographer #headshots #headshotphotographer #headshotphotography

Konrad on an overcast day

Konrad, law student and part time model photographed at St Anthony’s chapel. I’ve been inspired over the lockdown period by revisiting Jane Bown’s work. She started working for the Observer in 1949 and kept taking photographs for the paper for six decades. She worked primarily in black and white mainly using natural light and minimal equipment just an Olympus OM1 and 50mm and 85mm lenses. This photo of Konrad was taken on a dull Edinburgh morning where in the past I would have been tempted to kick a bit of light in with a soft box, glad I didn’t…/archive…/jane-bown #edinburghphotographer #edinburghphotography #scotlandphotography #scotlandphotographer #portraitphotography #portraitphotographer #janebowninspired #janebown