Project 2 – Cruel and Tender location project: the Grenfell Tower fire tragedy

Last week in class, Zig our tutor asked us to talk about our ideas for this term’s project. Over the Christmas period, I gave a good thought to the title of our location project and considered a few options. 2 subjects I thought would be worth considering were:

  • tattoo artists and their clients. I have come across quite a few tattooed models in the recent photography meetups I attended and that caught my interest.
  • the Grenfell tower tragedy

I decided to go for the Grenfell tower subject and see how I would get on with it.

Intro: The fire broke out at the Grenfell Tower block, at the Lancaster West Estate on Latimer Road in north Kensington (London) on 14 June 2017.

The building is 24 storeys high

This article in the Guardian and the video that comes with it is worth watching prior to reading the rest of this blog post to remind yourself the scale of the fire


Keen to get started I thought I should try to go to Latimer Road to have a wander around.

I decided to avoid doing chores at home on Friday and instead, after dropping the kids to school and nursery, picked up the bus and then tube to Latimer Road, the closest tube station to Grenfell. If you take the Hammersmith and City Line you can actually see very clearly the burnt tower from the train.


This sight gave me shivers straight away. I stood there for a little while feeling so sad and moved, remembering the images of this building in flames and the pain of a whole community. Continue reading


2 portrait photoshoots that boosted my confidence

After the summer I had several photographic experience that left me doubting more than ever my ability to make it as a photographer: A difficult christening (unpaid work but nonetheless disappointing) where the light proved tricky and the guests were non stop moving, a corporate photoshoot at the Law Society which gave me so much grief with the most challenging lighting ever experienced, the difficulty I met in progressing with my project at College and a photography meetup at Winter wonderland which left me with shots of poor quality lacking sharpness…

Determined to start the new year on a more positive note, I asked one of my mum friends at school whether her stunning cousin (she is a professional model) she would let me take a few photos of her. She was after a few new portraits for her modelling agency in South Africa and accepted straight away. Although the weather was misty and pretty dark, we headed to Richmond Park where I took a good series of portraits of her.

ISO between 800 and 1000. F5.6 -0.33 in manual mode


Continue reading

Project 2 – Still life research (part 1)

One of the task part of our assignment this term is to produce a photo of a still life subject inspired by a classic still life painting.

What is still life?

Still life (plural: still lifes) is a work of art depicting mostly inanimate subject matter, typically commonplace objects are either natural (food, flowers, dead animals, plants, rocks, shells, etc.) or man-made (drinking glasses, books, vases, jewelry, coins, pipes, etc.)..


Still life can be a celebration of material pleasures such as food and wine, or often a warning of the ephemerality of these pleasures and of the brevity of human life (see memento mori).

Continue reading

Project 2 – First bits of research for our painting inspired portrait

Just before the Christmas break we were handed our new assignment for the second term: it is actually 3 assignments in 1 which shall keep up busy for a while!

Task #1:

Build and photograph a still life set-up that will be inspired by a classical painting

Task #2

Portrait – using classical painting as inspiration

Task #3


Cruel and tender


This blog post will concentrate on task #2: Portrait – using classical painting as inspiration

As a youngster, I was privileged that my parents who had a strong interest in the arts took my sisters and I to various museums and art exhibitions. We lived in Paris and were also spoilt for choice. However, in the last few years, my personal interest took me more to see modern art exhibitions, fashion and photography exhibitions. Continue reading

Project 1 – My submission with some final analysis and self-criticism​

Unit 33 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

I am not going to lie: this first term’s assignment has been challenging on many fronts. I love a good challenge but I had not clearly anticipated the many hurdles I would face. This was partly my own mistake: I made a quick decision to embark on a subject without anticipating many aspects and without appreciating the difficulty to convey a message or a meaning.
I also blame my natural enthusiastic nature and a great deal of naivety! But you live, you learn.

The lesson is to start more broadly on a subject, do some research and find out what has been created on the subject and then narrow it down and give your own point of view/interpretation.

From my original idea, I had to readjust the content of my project. I produced a less obvious series of young people who agreed to pose for me (some people I knew and some people I asked in the street and who were total strangers) and share with me their views with regards to religion and social media. I wanted to capture how young people lived their religion in our current society and whether social media had changed the way people lived and shared their beliefs. I was interested in getting photos of young people only but with different background and different religion (if any).

The class helped me to make my final selection based on small prints I brought to College. It was really helpful and actually put together I perked up and felt a bit reassured that my work was not a complete fail.

Under each photo, a little piece of paper will be placed to indicate religion and whether they would share their religious views on social media.

One of the things, however that Zig detected, was that a few of my shots were not so sharp in the eyes, like in this photo:


I was slightly puzzled and disappointed with myself. I use a single point of focus on my camera, always focus on the eyes first, keep my finger on the shutter button and then recompose. From Zig’s analysis, it looks like I may be moving my camera too much when recomposing which is something I am going to have to focus a lot in the next few months especially since I enjoy portraiture so much.

Other initial shots showed some camera shake, I was mortified!

In the end, all I can say is that this project was another learning curve!

In terms of health and safety, I tried to shoot people in locations where it was safe to move around and where there was no traffic like at the bus stop.  When shooting at Roehampton Uni it was by the library etc.


I asked students to give me their agreement for the project and will keep use of the photos only for this project.

The selection of photos I am presenting was taken with my tamron 17-50mm lens and my 50mm one  (I shoot with a cropped sensor camera, a canon 7d mark II). I always try to shoot with the lowest possible ISO to keep image quality but with the grim weather or dusk conditions I had to up my ISO quite a bit on a few occasions.

I did some light editing in camera raw and printed the photos on Lustre paper as I felt it suited more the type of portraits and feel of the whole project. I printed 9 portraits in 8×12 inches format which was a suggestion from Zig and which I was pleased about when they came in the post. I used DSCL and the overall print quality and colours matched my expectations.

Technical info (from left to right)


Photo 1 ISO 1000 f1.8 1/20 Canon 50mm lens

Photo 2 ISO 400 f2.8 1/100 Canon 50mm lens

Photo 3 ISO 320 f4  1/250 Tamron 17-50mm lens


Photo 1 ISO320 f4 1/160 Tamron 17-50mm lens

Photo 2 ISO320 f3.2 1/250 Tamron 17-50mm lens

Photo 3 ISO 500 f4 Tamron 17-50mm lens

Photo 1 ISO 500 f5 1/200 Tamron 17-50mm lens

Photo 2 ISO 500 f5 1/400 Tamron 17-50mm lens

Photo 3 ISO 500 f5.6 1/250 Tamron 17-50mm lens



Project 1 – getting to grip with the project

Unit 33 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

On Saturday I was finally being able to see again the 2 boys I was able to photograph earlier this term. I was really keen to take better shots having learnt a bit from my previous mistakes/unclear vision.

I was able to see Daniel early enough to get a bit of natural light and I think that paid off. I was able to take some pics of him outdoor which was a lot nicer and the colour of his skin in the cloudy weather really contrasted nicely.

The first 3 ones were used using my 50mm lens and I used the lowest possible ISO (400)  with regards to the weather to keep decent image quality. The last 2 were used with my Tamron 17-50mm lens.

The very first image is my favourite as the background works well and I like Daniel’s position too. I felt more confortable this time round and Daniel was really cooperative. We used the prop of the Bible book to give a clearer indication of his religious beliefs.


Right after shooting Daniel I was able to see Wisley for a second session. We were meant to meet in the morning but things had to be postponed later. I rushed to try to get as much natural light as possible but I got to his place the sun was already going down so I upped my ISO and hoped for the best. I was not too keen to use the flash as I preferred to get a more natural feel to the set of images.

ISO1000 for the first image and then and 2000, f1.8 50mm lens (no tripod)

Once again I think the first pic is my favourite one


I will show to Zig our tutor and the rest of the class the other pics I took (which are all in the same line with a few variations) in case there is one that could be better than those I selected.

My time is running out but at least I feel now a bit more confortable with the images I will end up presenting as my final submission.

Project 1 – more portraits of young people

Unit 33 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

I have been working like a mad woman on this project lately. Since we started it’s been constantly on the back of my mind but with the deadline looming, I am feeling both desperate & under pressure. However, I am still determined to finish it off and produce decent images.

I could not take more photos of the 2 young boys I photographed earlier this term as they were both busy last weekend but it looks like I should manage a few more photos next weekend and I have planned things a little bit earlier this time too!

Last Saturday I made my way to Regent’s park to try to get a few more photos of young people from the Muslim community. I had been recommended this mosque by a couple of girls I had met the week before. However, it was a case of ‘no joy’. I did not see anyone of interest in the streets around, there was a no photo within the grounds of the mosque which I understood but when I asked the guy at reception he thought I was a journalist and wanted me to email the person in charge of the media department at the Mosque as she was not in on the day. I fell hugely deflated for the rest of the weekend after that fruitless trip

On Monday I picked up a parcel from a newsagent and saw a guy from the Sikh community and bravely asked him on the spot whether I could take pictures of him but he did not feel comfortable. He advised me to go to Southall where he said I would find lots of potential models. I will see whether I can go out there this weekend. This morning I had to go and run some errands in Hammersmith and thought this could be a good place to find a variety of people from different background and ethnicities. I was grateful that 3 people accepted my request to pose for me right in the middle of this busy part of London. Phew, so pleased I did not come back home with an empty SD card. Here are the best shots from today

The set up I used was ISO 320 and f3.2. I tried to take a little bit more time on this occasion to take shots from various angles and distance to have more of a variety and more choice if any of this portrait was to make the final cut.

Tharsika from Sri Lanka, Roman Catholic. Would share her thoughts and religious beliefs on social media


Calum from Britain, Atheist and does not use social media at all


Yitomg Su from Thailand, Atheist



I need help to find out of to tie up this project and how I could make this work. I look forward to chatting to our tutor Zig and the rest of the class on Thursday.