A month ago, M Photography NCL met local lad: James Hazell, AKA 'A Showman of The Betting Ring'. We were intrigued when we learned that he was finalising his first book and were delighted when he asked us to be part of his branding journey.
My photograph is now featured on the cover of a newly-released book.
How did this happen, you ask? Just how?! It's a very surreal moment - and I'm still taking it in myself!
...Around a month ago, I received a notification via Facebook. It was somebody asking for a recommendation for a Photographer and my friend Laura was the first to comment with my name.
I'll just note here that I'm generally cautious when it comes to recommendations. That's because of a few reasons:-
Because you really don't know what it is you're being recommended for
You don't know the client... (that's normal, but still, this all adds to the uncertainty of the task ahead)
You wonder whether you're being recommended for the right reasons. (E.g. If someone wants a budget Photographer, that's not me!) ...If a client is asking for something in particular, their needs and expectations must be met - and then some! Am I the person to do that? I want to be - and don't want to let the client down! All of these thoughts are running through my head...
Then - **Ping!**
I receive a message - it's James Hazell. He briefly explained that he was writing a book and needed a Photographer to take a selection of images of him, for the front cover which immediately captured my attention!
I was keen to speak to James over the phone, so we arranged a call. The conversation consisted of James speaking about the vision he had for his book, what he wanted to achieve within the photo shoot itself and general ideas he had surrounding the shoot and future plans for the book...
This was a lot to take in, at first!
- But James had a very clear vision. The main theme that he was eager to portray was a 'life behind the mask' concept, so-to-speak. He would sit on a stool, in front of a mirror, in his 'betting ring' attire and the reflection looking back at him would wear a sorrowful expression. Like two separate worlds...
This is literally my type of thing: Artistic, emotional, personal, creative, considered, meaningful... And - AND - it links to a book... Writing. (I LOVE writing!).
Almost immediately after hearing James' ideas I was engaged in his vision. We got to work that same week. I was mindful that there was a deadline for the images and I didn't want to let him down. I could see he was enthusiastic, driven and confident - and this inspired me!
The photo shoot set up was plain - nothing jazzy - stripped back, bare. As normal (if normal is even a thing) as you can get.
The shoot was taken in James' bedroom, because of the below three main factors:-
It was personal to him
It reflected normality and everyday goings on in James' life - and that's exactly the concept he envisaged for the book
I felt as though James would be himself and comfortable in his surroundings. This would reflect in his shoot and coincide with the content of the genuine nature of storytelling within book itself.
As instructed, I shot James in a range of poses: taken both in his 'Showman' attire and a long-sleeved, plain white top, for the reflection images.
Emeli Sandé was our soundtrack for the photo shoot. I immediately thought of her song 'Clown' when considering the atmosphere of the shoot and the initial concept of the book - what I knew of what James had told me. (The second part of the shoot - the reflection images - needed to show sorrow. The music, I felt, helped provoke James' emotional reflexes).
The sorrowful shot was the challenge. Luckily James was fantastic and he fully embraced his role, which translated into genuine and raw emotion across the images taken...
The editing was the next hurdle.
We decided that a few images needed to be interchanged in order to achieve the right look and feel for the book. This would be the main cover image, so it was integral that we got this right!
James chose from a selection of images, various shots that may (or may not) work as the main image and the reflection image within that.
You can purchase James' book: 'A Showman of The Betting Ring' via any of the two links, below:-
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