How the studio session went: a shared passion for photography

Recently, I had my first studio photo shoot with my friend, photographer Gareth Reed. Gareth is working on his MA final project and focuses on portrait photography. As for me,  I grew up with photos taken of me at every possible occasion. This time, I could put myself in front of the camera in a completely different environment than before.

On his website, Gareth briefly explains his choice for immortalising people’s portraits. I asked him to develop more on his fascination for this particular type pf photography. He explains what capturing people’s faces through the lens means for him:


For me, it is how photography exposes the extensiveness of human experience, and our past existence. I believe that the one thing that really connects us all together, the one common bond that unites us all is the want to communicate. I love being a part of that community of image makers, documenting the times we live in, and I love just talking and working with people. I have always been drawn to people and have always found it easy to talk to them. I love getting to know people and hearing their stories.



Without knowing when we started to chat in class, Gareth and I shared a common trait – the love for people’s stories.
We only express it differently – I write, and he captures images with a tale of their own.

I inherited the passion for photography from my mother

Despite my preference for word, I always felt fond of images too. And I can blame it on my mother.

As a child, she never missed the opportunity to have new photos taken of the whole family. Dad used a quite efficient method of avoidance: he looked miserable whenever not in the mood. On my last day of the first year in primary school, he looks as if in the front of an execution squad! In his sleek stripy T-shirt and tanned skin, he seems  a sailor stranded on foreign land. Unfortunately, I cannot show you that photo – it probably resides in my parents’ house.

See some of my black and white memories from the 80’s in the video below. After the photo shoot with Gareth,  I vlogged about how I inherited my mum’s passion.

Nowadays my partner, who loves photography and developed great skills himself, always takes images of me which I love. But it feels so easy to open in front of the camera when his loving eye and smile show behind the lens. Feeling great in my own skin lately, since I channel my own creativity better, I wanted to put all of this to work in a more professional environment. You can see the result below.

Photography by Gareth Reed.

Photography by Gareth Reed.

Photography by Gareth Reed.

Photography by Gareth Reed.

What happened during the photo shoot

How did the photo shoot actually go?

It was I who suggested to Gareth I modelled for him. He then booked a studio at Birmingham City University, the Parkside Building. Luckily, our University possesses great facilities which we can take advantage of. Then as we arrived, setting up the studio took about 15 minutes, with help from one staff member. We discussed what colour background I preferred. Of my two choices, we ended up working only with the purple one. I personally think it brought more character.

Then it probably mattered Gareth and I knew each other. It meant we relaxed soon in each other’s presence and tested what works without too much social shyness and fear of appearing ridiculous. Personally, I believe when the model and photographer can create a connection, the images produced will express more of their vision combined.

During the session, Gareth confessed he intends to capture people as they are. Not interested too much in fashion shooting, he enjoys the opportunities created by using different lighting in a studio context. He says:

I enjoy bending and creating light effects to create a variety of dynamic results for the portrait genre.

Tips&tricks – what I learnt while being photographed

My previous interest in photography, and having a partner also interest in this visual art, taught me a few tricks. Probably the first thing Gareth reminded me of was to angle my body to one side. Despite my knowledge of this, it took a few minutes to relax in front of the camera. We overcame this by naturally chatting like the two mates we are.

So what do I do to create better, more flattering images of myself?

  • I angle my body, as well as my head.
    A straight on face and body tend to look larger and less expressive. Photography creates two dimensional images, so we need these pretty simple techniques to bring depth in.

Photography taken by my partner, Adrian, at our one year anniversary.

  • If I do pose body straight on, I create angles by crossing my ankles or just bending my arms below the elbows and leaning them on something (see below).


















  • I learnt which the better side of my face was – the left .
    As you can see, I always angle my head to expose that side rather then the other. When I started growing my hair again, it was the reason for parting it on the left too – to open it up. 
    In the studio, Gareth reacted to this immediately. I tried a right face angle at some point, and he gently said it didn’t work so well. Certain curves on my face don’t flatter when seen from the right.
  • How do I channel an expression? This starts with me knowing and trusting myself.
    When I want to let the positive craziness out, I make a face like the above tongue-out one.
    When I want to express my joyful and loving nature, I bring dear people and positive memories in my mind.
    When I want to show my sweet and mysterious, maybe cheeky, attractive side, I think of my partner.
  • Last but not least important, I experiment and have fun in the process. Thankfully, I learnt it isn’t the end of the world if it doesn’t work. To fail makes for an opportunity to learn!

Far from me pretending I share expert knowledge here. As a person passionate with both visual means of expressing ideas and feelings, and (my favourite) writing, I share what I personally learnt and applied towards positive results.


No Comments

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.