Give a man a fish …..

Give a man a fish…

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that I’m getting into wildlife photography. Well, not exactly, although I shot a few rather handsome seals this weekend on the North Sea coastline of Lincolnshire.

No, I’m thinking of the old adage ‘Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime’ because it reminds me of what I try to offer on my training courses. In other words, there is a big difference between teaching people to take a photograph (as so many courses out there do) and teaching them to be photographers.

My training courses don’t provide a photography-by-numbers service: what lens to use, the perfect location, the optimum lighting rig for that single shot. This formulaic approach is too restrictive; it won’t help you to develop expertise, encourage originality or inspire you to go out and create great images. Much more valuable that that is a course that gives you the skills and the understanding.

I don’t just give you the ‘fish’, I show you how to use the fishing rod. If you get what I mean.


looking back, steaming ahead

looking back, steaming ahead

The New Year is a time of reflection – really? Isn’t it more about moving forward? Well, yes. Actually, it’s both. My experience as a trainer over the last four years has laid the foundation for a programme of both well-established and brand new courses for 2015.

My very first studio workshop back in September 2010 was close to home, in Lincoln at Double Red Studio. Since then, the strong partnership forged with Saracen House Studio in Milton Keynes has resulted in many successful workshops and portfolio days; this will continue. To satisfy the needs of folk further north, in 2014 I forged a new alliance with Millwood Studios in Manchester, another fresh and well-appointed facility on the Appleton Photo Training circuit. Others in the pipeline include Orange Studios in North London and York Photo Studio.

Andrew Appleton Photography

The first studio workshop at Double Red.

Andrew Appleton Photography, London

Orange Studios the new home of Andrew Appleton Photography in London.

if it ain’t broke…

2014 took me all over the UK, across the channel to France and Italy and over to South Africa for a second year, training, presenting and meeting too many new and interesting people to mention. Many of you have become familiar faces on my courses, some travelling significant distances, which I take as a huge compliment. It means that the format works and I won’t be changing my approach. Unlike many others, my training courses are designed and structured specifically to educate. I am not a sprinkler of fairy dust! The idea is to provide you with the nuts and bolts: the information you need and a clear explanation of how to use it. When you’ve got all that, you can then try out your new skills in a professional environment with the kit, the models and the technical support that make it work for you. My Portfolio Builder Days provide the ideal opportunity to do just this.

Andrew Appleton Photography

Zara Watson on stage at the 2014 Photo Film Expo in Johannesburg.

Andrew Appleton Photography Portfolio Builder Days Pipewell HAll

The models for PBD1 at Pipewell Hall, left to right: Zara Watson, Fiona York, Artemis Fauna and Amber Tutton

new year, new tours

I am pretty excited about the things I have planned for 2015. Building on The Northern Tour last November with Zara Watson – Night Shooters and One2One tuition in locations from Newcastle to Edinburgh – this year, I will be touring the UK with model, Jen Brook. The first tour will deliver two 3 hour seminars;  the first is ‘Concept-to-Completion’. As the title suggests, it takes you through the entire process of a planned shoot, arming you with what you need to know to give your creative ideas the wings to fly. The second seminar on the tour, ‘Seeing Like a Camera’, will help you to explore the fundamental differences between how the human eye perceives the world and how the camera sees it. Two eyes and a brain v one lens and a sensor; there’s quite a difference. The irony is that you need to know how to operate this highly sophisticated digital device but at the same time you must learn how to compensate for its limitations. Exposure, dynamic range and composition are some of the aspects covered. The ultimate goal? To train you to make the image in your mind a reality on the back of your camera, online and in print.

Andrew Appleton Photography Concept to Completion

Jen Brook and Gemma Bortolozzo in an image that is discussed in ‘Concept to Completion’

dance photography

I am pleased to announce that I am teaming up this Spring with Australian professional dancer and choreographer, Angela Hamilton. Shooting dance well is one of the trickiest gigs and does not rely solely on learning how to light the subject, choice of lens, exposure, camera angles etc. although these are all things that you need to know and will learn on the workshop. That extra magic ingredient comes from gaining an insight into the nature of dance itself and how it should look to create the beautiful, fluid shapes you swoon over. Dance photographers are looking for the shot that just catches the moment and we are lucky enough to have a skilled practitioner in the shape of Angela to help you. I am taking the dance photography workshop to studios across the UK, kicking off with Orange Studios in London on 15th March.

new webcast

In July, I am working with Engage, Donal Doherty’s online training company, to bring you a really comprehensive Concept-to-Completion online workshop. It will take place over three days in front of a live studio audience. You can catch the initial, live broadcast free but the beauty of recording it for the web is that it’s available afterwards if you miss it. The advantage of delivering the training over three days is that you don’t only get to find out how to plan, organise and execute a shoot, you also get the added value of ‘being there’ as it happens with live demonstrations, warts and all. The timescale gives me the opportunity to drill down into every aspect of every stage, identifying and working through the challenges and opportunities as they crop up. I plan to make it a very immersive experience, with the help of the invited audience, so be prepared!

I’ll end with beginners

Recognising that some people haven’t yet discovered the joy of photography, I have designed a 6 week course for beginners to be rolled out across the country. The schedule begins in February and delivery is set to take place in three studios initially, expanding to other locations later in the year.

Useful links

Jen Brook Blog


The Christmas Party & 2014 Awards.

The Christmas Party & 2014 Awards.

Was it just over a week ago that I was on my way back up the M1 from the Christmas Party festivities? Hard to believe but yes. The time has flown but there have been plenty of images posted to remind us of a really very jolly evening which ended (so my wife reminded me) at almost four in the morning.

Image courtesy of Dave Kai Piper.

I’ve been trying to recall my favourite part – and I went steady on the alcohol so there’s no problem remembering – but, even so, I’m not sure I can single out a particular moment. The food was great and so was the company. The disco was well …pretty loud and suitably cheesy. It certainly got people dancing so job done. For me, it was most of all a chance to chat to people – and not all shop talk but a social catch-up too – and relax after a year that has been rather full-on.

I have to just mention the Awards Ceremony of course. Prior to the event, Andrew Griffiths and I scratched our heads to think of categories which would stimulate the creative juices. To assist with this weighty decision, we punted round for suggestions from photographers and models including, naturally, the Saracen House fraternity. After some time on the Messenger hotline, we came to a decision on the final four classes: Best Behind the Scenes, Best Test Shot, Best Photobomb and Best Selfie. The images we received sparked off some superb responses which were variously interesting, entertaining, humorous and revealing (some were all four). Undaunted, Andrew and I put on our judges’ hats (or wigs?) to reach the final decision and lavish prizes were distributed to the applause of the other partygoers.

We thought it only fair to share the winning images with you here.

1.(timer selfie)we_finished_the_shoot_at_last-Laura.Cope.and.francesca.schembre (1)

Behind the Scenes, Runner Up – Laura Cope

Behind the Scenes, Winner – Richard Cork, London Olympics 2012

Best Photobomb, Runner Up – Richard Cork and Bob the cat.

Best Photobomb, Winner – Laura Cope

Best Test Shot, Runner Up – Steve Jones

Best Test Shot, Winner – Mick Stow

Best Selfie, Runner Up – Henry Ransby

Best Selfie, Winner – Dave Welbelove

Special Award, Art Nude Selfie – Dave Wellbelove

Thanks to everyone that took part. See you next year :)

From Italy to Paris – Guest Blog by Helen Lesley

I’m suffering from withdrawal after the glorious (if tiring) road trip and workshop in Italy. As well as a wagon load of washing and dry cleaning, I also brought back ten words in Italian, so I now profess to be practically bilingual. Although… come to think of it, my French is even better so perhaps I should say trilingual. Luckily, I will have the opportunity to brush up on the Francais next week ☺ on Andrew’s Paris Fashion Workshop!

The language of style is universal and my brief for Paris has given me scope to make the most of it so I am rubbing my little hands together in glee.

’Fashion’ is a word open to a number of interpretations and it helps, of course, to have three fabulous models: Amber Tutton, Gemma Huh and Zara Watson. When Andrew first mentioned the workshop, I started to think of how I would go about putting a collection together and this is kind of how my though process developed…

Over the course of the three days in Paris, says Andrew, photographers on the course will have three workshops and four extended opportunities to shoot for their portfolios, including one night shoot. I nod encouragingly/enthusiastically. He outlines the historical and picturesque locations he has planned, drawing partly on ideas from his previous shoots and workshops in the city – Montmartre, The Eiffel Tower, the banks of the Seine and Notre Dame. Now I can visualise the backdrops for the outfits and the models who will be wearing them.

I always try to put myself in the shoes of the students doing the workshop. They have come to learn new skills and polish up their existing camera craft but you can do that anywhere. So, accepting that Paris adds atmosphere, ambiance and that all-important contextual element, my job is to try and add a frisson of excitement through the creative styling and wardrobe decisions I make. And don’t forget that models take their cues from what they are wearing; it influences pose, expression and attitude. I muse over whether we need classic, romantic, funky, sensual, rockin’…? At this point, I add feedback and past experiences from other shoots to the pot. I always like to hear what people thought of a dress, a hairstyle or an overall look.

Getting closer to some concrete decisions. It takes a while.

Now I have some ideas, I ferret around in my wardrobe department for a bit and emerge with possibles. I dig about in the jewellery and throw a few hats, bags and belts around. By this time, more than one room is in use and cats are under strict instruction to avoid certain areas. I often have half an outfit and need to beg, borrow, shop or phone a friend to complete it. I am constantly shopping for future shoots so you can imagine my happy dance when I turn up something I had bought on spec ages ago and had forgotten about. Fortunately, every model I have ever met also has a master’s degree in shopping so, if I’m stuck for an item, they will kindly oblige. Even Andrew, the little rascal, has been known to buy the odd item (as long as it does not involve leaving his computer).

Am I ever going to get to the point? What are our three lovely models going to be wearing this September in Paris? Well, their hair colour and styles are conveniently redhead (long), blonde (shoulder length) and brunette (short) so each has a very different look. Already fabulous! Each day will be devoted to a different fashion style: Casual, Contemporary and Vintage with evening gowns all lined up for the night shoot. Personally, I can’t wait!

Styled by Helen Lesley

Gemma Huh styled by Helen Lesley

Styled by Helen Lesley

Zara Watson styled by Helen Lesley

Styled by Helen Lesley

Amber Tutton styled by Helen Lesley

The stylist view of our big Portfolio Builder Day

A guest blog by Helen Lesley MUA.


Zara – photo Courtesy of Colin Halford

“I’ve got an interesting job for you,” said Andrew, leaning back in his chair. I had been half listening to him up to that point but now I turned and gave him my full attention.

“Hmm?” I waited.

“Four models in period costume to match four classic and vintage cars dating back to 1931.”

Excited? Of course I was! It sounded like fun. It would take more than a delve through the wardrobe department, although I could think of one or two vintage pieces that would love to come out for a bit of a jaunt. I listened, hungry for more information.

WindmillArt secret location… old country house… courtyard garden… orchard… Cadillac… Studebaker… Bentley… Chevrolet Corvette… cream tea, courtesy of Saracen House (not just a studio but purveyors of fab grub)! It all sounded very intriguing and I couldn’t wait to get started. I’ve been involved in many different types of styling with Andrew over the years but this was possibly the most demanding so far in terms of the number of models and changes involved. Hey ho, I love a challenge and immediately began researching the cars and the eras so that I could be as accurate as possible.

The four models Andrew had in mind were all perfect – Zara Watson, Jen Brook, Faith Obae and Raphaella Macnamara. It was essential that each model was able to do her hair and make-up to a high standard as, although I am a qualified MUA, I wouldn’t have much time on the day for lips, grips and the like. Even without all that, I knew I had my work cut out so how lucky did I feel when Andrew said that Elizabeth Keates had agreed to help me! With her theatrical background, I knew she would be a master (mistress?) of the ‘Quick Change’. She also proved to be a wizard (a witch? No, that doesn’t work) with hair.

My quest for vintage clothes took me far and wide but, oddly enough, some of the pieces I used were almost under my nose in the market town if Louth. Riverhead Theatre has a magical wardrobe department where I spent a happy hour or two, emerging triumphant. My lovely like-minded friend, Pam, lent me some original frocks, hats and shoes dating from the ‘30s to the 40s. I sourced an original 1940s’ tea dress and feather hat in exceptional condition from The Frockery. The gorgeous red ball gown (I think Raphaella might have been tempted to pop this in her handbag if it hadn’t been so big!) also came from this little shop of treasures, as did the ‘20s style dress and jacket worn so elegantly by Zara. The wedding gowns were kindly loaned by The Bridal Boutique of Louth and Jen looked radiant in them. Faith’s attire had to reflect the 1990s; so recent it sounds easy. Not so. I ferreted about in my own photographic/theatrical wardrobe for most of her costumes and accessories and it was quite a while before I was satisfied. I particularly loved the cream two piece trouser suit and she said she felt like Diana Ross in the beaded cocktail dress. Everybody happy ☺.

I am a self-confessed control freak where costume is concerned, whether for the stage or the camera so I try to make sure everyone looks the part on the day. Communication beforehand is just as important though and all the models came well-prepared with the make-up and bits and bobs I had asked them to bring. This makes things so much easier but, of course, there were some things that I had planned to do on the day. One of these things was Zara’s hair which needed 20s’ styling and it transformed her into a latter-day diva. Liz is a whizz (no, I think that’s wiz) with hair and when I pointed to Raphaella and said, “A victory roll would look great with the suit”, she just did it. Marvellous!

The day – and even the weather – was lovely. Next stop: Italy. I have put together the wardrobe for the road trip and the Light, Colour and Passion three-day workshop. Quite different and, this time, it’s the whole kit an’caboodle: make-up, hair and wardrobe styling for a range of different shots from fashion to lifestyle. Gemma Bortolozzo and Zara Watson are the perfect complement and both lots of fun to work with. On the back burner, I have the Paris Fashion workshop bubbling away because I will have to hit the ground running when I get back. Zara Watson, Amber Tutton and Gemma Huh to model. Wow! Can’t wait!

Raphaella - photo courtesy of Steve Price

Raphaella – photo courtesy of Steve Price

Behind the Scenes photos courtesy of Andrew Griffiths.


no images were found