“I lavish in desire” – Art by Martin Grahame-Dunn & Poetry by Katypoetess

Formally, a study based on the ballad "La Belle Dame sans Merci" now retailed - "I lavish in desire"

Formally, a study based on the ballad “La Belle Dame sans Merci” now retailed – “I lavish in desire”

Recently, I have began a journey of research to use the art and literature of the Pre-Raphaelite era as an inspiration to create pieces of fine art via the medium of photography, in that distinctive painters style. My first reference was to look at certain stanzas in the Keats ballad, written in 1819, “La Belle Dame sans Merci” that in itself is a reworking of the 15th century piece by that name by Alain Chartier. The stanza chosen was:

“I met a lady in the meads,

Full beautiful, a fairy’s child;

Her hair was long, her foot was light,

And her eyes were wild.”

John Keats 1819

So, my Lady and I revisited a location we love, fully laden with a costume (although not in the colours I would have chosen) and props including beautifully crafted armour, and a head garland of white roses, that I had sat and made up the previous evening. The day itself was the third anniversary of us being together and what better way to mark the occasion than by doing something together we both love. Art & Poetry. Waiting for the ’sweet light’ of the day I took sufficient images to create the first test piece for my new collection.

Later that evening having completed the art piece, my Lady, unbeknown to me wrote a beautiful piece of what she has dubbed, ‘Micropoetry’ and Tweeted it to the world. It’s actually a perfect fit for the image and together I believe we have achieved what every artist and his muse desires, a harmony of vision and execution….

“I lavish in desire

for decay around me

in face or flower

cliff rock or body

or the sun setting on

another dying day”

© Katypoetess 2016

With great thanks to the lady and poetess in my life – Katypoetess. Please follow her on Twitter to enjoy more of her ‘Micropoetry’ @Katypoetess. Her first published poetry collection, “Of Lilith and Anthony” is available on Amazon.

© Martin Grahame-Dunn 2016

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Why I love printed images!

Its really not that long ago that it was the norm to have professionally printed, just about every image we took. Indeed since the advent of the photographic process, a print of some kind has always been made. Prints were valued as art, as memories, as legacy and as records. Without prints we would not be able to enjoy the earliest portraiture of Julia Margaret Cameron, a pioneer who loved to ‘hang out’ with the artists of the Pre-Raphaelite movements and who was equally revered as an artist in a new and exciting medium. Books and publications abound illustrating the lives of people, their clothing choices, hairstyles and fashions, some of which are valuable historical documents and others provide sources of amusement and nostalgia. The importance of the printed image has affected every facet of our lives in living memory.

Then came the advent of universally accessible digital imaging and our world has changed, virtually overnight. So, are the warnings of the ‘father of the internet’, Vint Cerf being heeded? He warned of a “digital Dark Age” — a future in which there will be little record of the 21st century. “Old formats of documents that we’ve created or presentations may not be readable by the latest version of the software because backwards compatibility is not always guaranteed”

To me the message is clear as day. If I can’t hold it, stand back from it and admire it on a wall or in a book, I have nothing of any particular value. A ‘real’ artist of any kind, whatever they may say, wishes to leave a legacy. Legacies that are universally accessible and not confined to a PC, Mac, iPad, phone or other digital device. Don’t get me wrong, online services that aid sales in a universal market are an essential component of a modern photographic business but even their aim is to make a print!

"Under the Cross" an artwork illustrating a poem from 'Shadows of Magdalene' © Katypoetess 2016. Printed on Permajet's Mercury Canvas

“Under the Cross” an artwork illustrating a poem from ‘Shadows of Magdalene’ © Katypoetess 2016. Printed on Permajet’s Mercury Canvas

Call me old fashioned, out of date or an industry dinosaur. I don’t care! Having just achieved a pivotal Historical Research Fellowship with the BIPP I had to make my own prints. Not just prints but canvases. I could have gone to my favourite lab, One Vision Imaging (they did print my ‘evidence’ books!) but this control freak sourced superb inkjet products from Permajet (huge thanks to Robin Whetton, Alex Cullen and the team at the Imaging Warehouse) and output everything myself on a pair of printers. Finally, the shop window on the world. My all new Zenfolio website (Adam Edwards, thanks for making this happen) where I gave the design team the task of creating an art gallery site to actually sell prints! Vanity? Legacy? Practicality? Whatever your motive, it’s what we should all be doing – Make a Print!

© Martin Grahame-Dunn 2016

When is an image truly Fine Art?

It’s still alarming that the term ‘Fine Art photography’ continues to be a repository of anything not understood or perceived to be outside the comfort zone of existing, established genres or categories in the photography world. I beg the question “When is an image truly Fine Art?” Surely it cannot simply be a consumable studio portrait with the application of texture on a bland background where we are asked to accept it as ‘art’ solely based on its technique in image manipulation software? When does a landscape cease to be a landscape and become a Constable or a Turner but captured with a camera? It truly has become a minefield often of misinformation.

Quo Vadis Domini - Wither goest thou Lord?

Quo Vadis Domini – Whither goest thou Lord?

Is it not a simple truth that the Renaissance artists only used natural light in the most exquisitely controlled ways. Doesn’t it make you wonder just how much knowledge has been lost in our modern day lives and perhaps why photographers have struggled to be accepted and acknowledged as artists? Have you ever wondered where the mystical and mythical forty five degree lighting angle theory and practice took its rise? Certainly not YouTube and the Internet!

I relish discussions of this nature with family, friends and fellow artists. In one such recent discussion with my partner and co-creative poetess, she put forward the proposition that from her perceptions and experiences a piece of art should contain ‘pharmaceutical elements’ that constitute a perfect combination, resulting in a definitive outcome whose effects are clearly understood. Perhaps in essence, it could be explained as the complexity of the union of elements that are brought together in a work of art. For surely the most powerful art forms illicit emotional and intellectual responses. Food for thought don’t you think?

Martin Grahame-Dunn FBIPP ©2016

To qualify or not to qualify? That is the question!

This is a question I have had to answer on numerous occasions over my many years in the photographic industry and my answer has more or less been the same. Do it for you. Do it for your own professional development. Do it to make yourself a better photographer. I know I cannot put my hand on my heart and say it will make a blind bit of difference to one’s clients as its a hard fact that there is simply not the advertising budget in any single organisations or even collectively to penetrate the market in significant and traditional ways.

Recently, many of my friends and colleagues found out that I was intending to apply for yet another Fellowship. But this one was to be significantly different. The jewel in my crown of personal achievement by being true to myself as an artist. Achieving the first Fellowship of the BIPP in Historical Research for over 20 years has been a true ‘labour of love’ as the single subject has been my partner who is an extremely talented poetess. Before I even considered it as a Fellowship submission, its main aim was to illustrate her second poetry collection entitled “Shadows of Magdalene”.

The Heptagrammaton of Illumination - Inspired by the set of seven paintings by 17th Century Renaissance painter, Jean Nicot

The Heptagrammaton of Illumination – Inspired by the set of seven paintings by 17th Century Renaissance painter, Jean Nicot

Did I need to do this? Yes, absolutely. Because for an image maker who travels the world lecturing, teaching other professional photographers how to create better images I could hardly ethically sit back on my past achievements. I’ve done it for me! No regrets. Where it goes from here is part of my own personal development plan. So, in conclusion, set yourselves personal projects to develop your skills and have them measured by qualification. But, do understand that nothing comes cheap. The training and mentoring you may receive along the way has a cost. As does the production of your submission. It is an investment in ‘YOU’. In future posts I will discuss some of the images and poetry behind my Fine Art collection.

For information on qualifications visit The BIPP and The MPA

Themed Portrait Workshop – The Peak District, Derbyshire – 2 PLACES REMAINING

This intimate, hands on workshop will take you on an exciting journey of creating beautiful themed costume portraits inspired by classic romantic literature, on locations in the stunning Peak District of Derbyshire. With only two places left its a perfect opportunity to expand your knowledge and skills under expert supervision.

An example of a themed costume portrait entitled "Immortal Love". Shot on location in Pembrokeshire as a poetic illustration.

An example of a themed costume portrait entitled “Immortal Love”. Shot on location in Pembrokeshire as a poetic illustration.

“I will instruct you how to see and use beautiful natural light, control it and create visually powerful images that will be transformed from your camera, into photographic art. Using the themes of period romantic literature I will teach you how to pose your subjects, placed within rugged and dramatic locations, to not only complement your subject but to tell your story.”

What you will learn
  • How to plan your shoot and tell your story
  • How to use natural light and shade to create stunning images.
  • How to select backgrounds and environments to bring interest, emotion and drama into your photographic artworks.
  • How to find flattering and interesting perspectives through the art and science of physiognomy.
  • Getting it right in camera.
  • Which lens(es) to choose and why.
  • Effective techniques to create a rapport with your subjects with true storytelling images.
  • How to create a unique portrait experience in your day to day work and look to compliment each subject’s personality and style.
  • How to use wardrobe and posing to bring out the drama and personality of your subjects.
  • How to create ‘Photographic Art’ through creative processing techniques.
What you will need
  • A DSLR with a full battery and empty memory card and a reasonable understanding of how to use your camera and its settings.
  • A laptop to download and edit your images
  • Any lenses or accessories you want to use.
  • A handheld reflector if you have one.
  • An umbrella if it looks like rain.
  • Practical clothes and shoes you can easily move around in.
WHEN – Sunday 24th & Monday 25th July 2016 from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM each day
WHO FOR – Any Photographer or Aspiring Photographic Artist, Painter, Poet or Author wishing to expand their skills
WHERE – Locations in The Peak District National Park, Derbyshire.
WORKSHOP PLACES – are available at only £495.00. Secure yours with a £100 deposit today. Only TWO LEFT!
email at: mgrahamedunn@mac.com

Two Day Literary Themed Photography Workshop – 24th & 25th July 2016

My lady in a Jane Austen themed portrait, shot in a strong, cold wind!

My lady in a Jane Austen themed portrait, shot in a strong, cold wind!

This intimate, hands on two day workshop is limited to just 8 participants. It will take you on an exciting journey of creating beautiful themed costume portraits, inspired by classic romantic literature, on location in the stunning Peak District of Derbyshire.

The workshop will be held on Sunday 24th and Monday 25th July 2016 with a literary classics theme inspired by the authors Jane Eyre and Charlotte Brontë. The imagery will be created with the expert supervision and guidance of internationally acclaimed Photographic Artist and Trainer, Martin Grahame-Dunn. In essence, costumed environmental portraiture where the mastery of light, posing and composition will be developed. 
Martin will instruct you how to see and use natural light, control it and create visually powerful images that will be transformed from your camera, into photographic art. He will teach you how to pose your subjects, in various locations, to not only complement your subject but to tell your story.
This workshop will have a significant impact not only on those who simply love photography and want to explore their creative side, but for all levels of photographers from enthusiasts, amateurs as well as practicing Wedding & Portrait photographers wishing to push their boundaries. For beginners, support will be provided so don’t worry, he will not let anyone feel out of their depth.
What you will learn
  • How to use natural light and shade to create stunning images.
  • How to select backgrounds and environments to bring interest, emotion and drama into your photographic artworks.
  • How to find flattering and interesting perspectives through the art and science of physiognomy.
  • Which lens(es) to choose and why.
  • Effective techniques to create a rapport with your subjects.
  • How to create a unique portrait experience in your day to day work and look to compliment each subject’s personality and style.
  • How to use wardrobe and posing to bring out the drama and personality of your subjects.
  • How to create ‘Photographic Art’ through creative processing techniques.
What you will need
  • A DSLR with a full battery and empty memory card and a basic understanding of how to use your camera and its settings.
  • A laptop to download and edit your images
  • Any lenses or accessories you want to use.
  • A handheld reflector if you have one.
  • An umbrella if it looks like rain.
  • Sensible clothes and shoes you can easily move around in.

Both days will encompass briefings, literary themes to inspire the images, shooting sessions, creative retouching and presentation as well as a wind up group session to discuss the day. It will also include an Album Epoca ‘Event Book’ designed and compiled by Martin Grahame-Dunn containing a selection of images from the day, lighting diagrams and other information. It will also include picnic lunches and refreshments.

Bookings are being taken now with a £100 deposit per person. Contact Martin at mgrahamedunn@mac.com or katehughes.mgd@gmail.com to secure your place.

WHEN – Sunday 24th & Monday 25th July 2016 from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM each day 
WHERE – Hope, The Peak District National Park, Derbyshire.
WORKSHOP PLACE – £495.00

Creative Workshop in the Derbyshire Peaks July 2016 – Places still available!

This “Pride and Prejudice” meets “Wuthering Heights” creative workshop is being held on Sunday 24th and Monday 25th July 2016 and is suitable for just about any photographer wishing to explore their creativity and indulging in it as an art form.

The Old Cottage Hope Valley. Our base for the Two Day Creative Workshop

The Old Cottage Hope Valley. Our base for the Two Day Creative Workshop

There are just 8 places available and the extremely affordable fee of only £495.00 per person will cover all tuition, models in period costumes and a post event produced Album Epoca Event book designed by Martin incorporating some of the best images from the workshop. Picnic lunches and an evening meal on the first day are also included. This will be two days indulging in art through photography and literature. For more information or to secure your unique place either email Martin at mgrahamedunn@mac.com or call 01926 335247 or 07854 249710 very soon. A deposit secures your valuable place!

To look for Hotels and Guest Houses go to http://www.booking.com

Art in Photography Workshop – Derbyshire Peaks 2016

In a previous post I gave notice of an exciting workshop to be held in the summer of 2016 to bring to life the imagery of the literature of Jane Austen and Emily Brontë with stunning costume portraiture in dramatic locations, come rain or shine. I have given much thought to this project and instead of making two, one day workshops I have come to the conclusion that a two day offering would be more beneficial for all.

To give a little background and context it is generally believed that Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” was partly written in the town of Bakewell, which she calls ‘Lambton’ in her novel. Occasional visitor to the Peaks, Charlotte Brontë, author of “Jane Eyre” may have written much of the book in Hathersage. 

Period portrait by Martin Grahame-Dunn

Period portrait by Martin Grahame-Dunn

The Workshop will be held on Sunday 24th July and Monday 25th July 2016 at locations in the Hope Valley area of the Peak District of Derbyshire and suitable for Amateurs and Professionals alike of a creative and artistic disposition wishing to expand their technique or simply indulge a love of photography as an art form.

There are just 8 places available and the fee of only £495.00 per person will cover all tuition, models in period costumes and a post event produced Album Epoca Event book designed by Martin incorporating some of the best images from the workshop. Picnic lunches and an evening meal on the first day are also included. This will be two days indulging in art through photography and literature. For more information or to secure your unique place either email Martin at mgrahamedunn@mac.com or call 07854 249710 very soon.

Creating a Timeless Portrait – Part 1

Martin_GrahameDunn_20130502_010

Planning the best decorative investment you’ll ever make…an investment in yourself and your family’s heritage.

About clothing, colour, tone and style
When more than one person is to appear in the portrait, or when a special stylistic effect is desired, clothing and prop choices can make or break a portrait.

Skin tone considerations
Whether working with light ir dark complexions, the objective is for the face to dominate the portrait. Accordingly, skin highlights must be the lightest or brightest, most intense areas of the portrait. So, when a medium to dark background is used, all subjects photograph best in medium to dark tones, whatever the skin tone.

Clothing for small groups
Couples or small groups should choose simple garments within the same tonal ranges. When subjects appear in a mixture of light and dark tones together, there is a visual confusion – as the light colour comes forward and the dark colours recede. When this happens (e.g.) one person dominates and appears heavier than in reality.

Clothing for families
In a family group, proper clothing consideration is critical. When decorating a home a major consideration is to coordinate the colours and tones of the walls, carpets, drapes and furniture. Similar coordination is necessary when selecting clothing for a group portrait. Choose clothing in the same tonal ranges so that no single member of the family stands out because the clothing is too light or bright as compared to the rest of the group.

Proper clothing selection makes the difference between a portrait that appears to be a group of seemingly unrelated individuals and one in which every member of the family “belongs” to the group. Casual clothing compliments portraits made in outdoor environments.

Creating style and personality
Your goal is to create portraiture as individual as the subjects we photograph. Tools include various styles, techniques and settings that make each portrait a unique artwork.

The Plain Truth?

It is not often that an image maker will be brave enough to show you the ‘before and afters’ together on a shoot but I wanted to simply chat about a subject that vexes me at the moment, particularly in the heat of the raging debates that go on about ‘Wedding PJ’ or ‘Reportage’. In another article I will chat more about what has been recently described to me as ‘Documentary Wedding Photography’. What a superb description that aptly fits the bill!

But today, my burning  subject is one of enhancement and retouching in Wedding and Portrait Photography, primarily for Competitions and ‘Qualifications’.  For a while now I have listened to quite a number of people wittering on about ‘purism’, that is the craft of capturing images in camera only and outputting in whatever form without any ‘treatment’ whatsoever. This is often put as the heart, soul and marrow of being a ‘real’ photographer but I simply cannot and will not subscribe to that belief. And why? Well its simply because in my 35 ‘brief’ years in photography starting in the depths of darkrooms surrounded by a myriad of chemistries, I don’t think I have seen any images that have not been improved with a little help from a skilful printer, tranny dabber (retoucher of transparencies and not something else!), neg retoucher armed with dyes and graphite or latterly the acknowledged digital retouching expert.

From the dawn of imaging photographers have sought to get the best out of their ‘negatives’, the only difference now is we deal with ‘digital negatives’ rather than their celluloid cousins. Even the decision as to the mode of capture affects the end result. Be it the ‘lossy’ method of JPEG to the powerful ‘RAW’ file, each has its own particular attributes. I will certainly do dwell on the RAW vs JPEG debate here but leave that for another rainy day when I’m sat in yet another airport lounge and bored out of my tiny mind. As for the ‘truths’ of Histograms, well, I think I’ll leave that one too. In fact why not have a good chat with my dear friend and colleague Lorenzo Gasperini of Sekonic and Pocket Wizard fame and I’m sure he’ll give you his opinions on that one!

There are some disciplines where only the most minimal form of manipulation is permissible and one in particular is the world of wildlife photography. Levels and curves, dust removal and that is about it! But even that constitutes some level of intervention by the author. The subject rages deepest in the area of social photography but is this area truly about maintaining a degree of truth? After all without the maxim that our sole mission as image makers of people in both Portraiture and Weddings that there is an endless quest for ‘flattery of the subject’, surely we are dead in the water? Do people really want to see themselves as they truly are? How many times have we heard, even in jest, “I don’t suppose you could slim me down a bit and lose some of those lines?”. Well all I can say is thank God for Photoshop, the liquefy tool and ‘Dynamic Skin Softener’ in Nik Color Efex 4.0!!!

Of course ‘enhancement’ need not be drastic and in some instances a simply tidying of the image will suffice. The more inexperienced photographers will often miss those distractions that at time of capture are thrown into the background of perception as there is a natural tendency to be overtaken by the aesthetics of the subject in the foreground. Only when we have time to review our captures do we say, “Oh my! I wish I had seen that carrier bag in the background!” or even worse, “I cannot believe I didn’t move that candlestick! It looks like it is growing out of her head!”. But miss these things we do and just a little simple cloning and patching can easily restore the image with a minimum of fuss. For if we don’t, you can be sure the client will notice it sooner or later. So much for purism then!

Himu on location in Paris

Himu on location in Paris