Author Archives: Doug

Global Recycling Day

Today is Global Recycling Day (18th March 2021 if you’re reading this on another day) and to commemorate it I have changed my logo to that of the Global Recycling Foundation logo, just for the day (although it could be the shape of things to come – but more about that another time). Here’s a screen grab of what it looks like in case you missed it:

Recycling is a tricky thing to manage as a photographer. In the old days a photographer would buy a camera and some lenses and be set for life – okay there was all that film and polaroid with its associated packaging; and the chemicals needed to process the film; and the travel to and from the lab to have the film processed; the paper and chemicals used for test prints.

My fabulous Mamiya RZ medium format film camera, which still gets the occasional outing.

Nowadays there’s much less use of chemicals and constant single use packaging so it must be much cleaner, right? Well not necessarily – there’s the constant upgrade path that seems to relentlessly empty out photographers bank accounts, as well as require endless manufacturing of electronic devices that are mostly made in the Far East and shipped around the globe. It’s easy to say just stick with the equipment that you already have, but in practice it’s not so straightforward, and I’m not just talking about gear envy and having to have the latest. Because digital cameras are now so intertwined with computers then often the need to upgrade a camera follows on from a computer upgrade, or a software upgrade. The reverse is also true where new cameras will also inevitably mean a software upgrade at the very least. It’s an endless cycle!

So what happens to all those no longer needed or compatible cameras? Well for me Ebay has always been a good source of finding a new owner, and I have managed to sell a number of still very capable cameras to new owners who have hopefully gone on to use them for a lot longer still. I also keep cameras of sentimental value; I have my own very first camera – a fine Russian machine called a Zenit. It is built like a tank and weighs similar! I also have my Dad’s very first camera, given to him by his parents for his 21st birthday over 60 years ago, and I used it as recently as 2018 and it turned out some decent results despite having to guess the focus distance and the exposure!

My very first camera – the fabulous Zenit EM – just don’t drop it on your toes!
My Dad’s 21st birthday present given to him by his parents in 1958 and still working today.
A woman and child seek refuge under a tree in Bushy Park in the rain, shot on my Dad’s 60 year old Werra 35 mm camera.

I am often asked by friends and family if their cupboards full of old cameras (usually a mixture of film and early digital cameras) are of any value, and usually the answer is none at all. Inevitably then they can end up being trashed and there is growing concern about the electronic waste being caused by all these new digital cameras. It’s a difficult problem and I certainly won’t claim to know the solution.

Some old film cameras have a charm to them that makes them reusable even after their photographic life has come to an end. Like most photographers I expect I have a number of old cameras as ornaments around the house.

Old cameras used as ornaments. The camera on the right still works, but the others are untested (at the moment!)
The Kodak Box Brownie, now repurposed as a lamp holder. Photo by Douglas Kurn

Despite the manufacturers tremendous promo photographs I doubt that my current camera will enjoy such an ornamental future…

:DK

Working Through Lockdown

Although I have continued to work throughout the whole coronavirus pandemic (whilst complying with government guidelines), a lot of my clients have been working from home so shooting on location with them has been tricky. Luckily I have been able to use my home and garden to help out as I previously mentioned.

For that shoot I had to photograph a shoe, comp the shoe on to a stock shot of a leg and then repeat for the dorsi flexed or plantar flexed stages of taking a step during walking – can you tell I don’t know what I’m talking about? Luckily I had some experts from my client on hand to advise!

The image was for the front cover of the latest Halo Medical catalogue, which looks like this thanks to the good folk at Remember Creative:

I also had to shoot a rather large outdoor log burner and the client wanted both studio and location shots, so I had to muscle it single handedly in to my house during the first lockdown. Once I had got it in it was then a case of moving around it rather than moving it around as it weighed 75Kgs, but the client was delighted with the final pictures and I was pleased to get it back out of my house without giving myself a hernia.

The CALBQ studio shot. Photo by Douglas Kurn
The CALBQ shot in my home studio or dining room as Mrs Doug likes to call it!
The CALBQ studio shot. Photo by Douglas Kurn
Photo by Douglas Kurn

Luckily the weather was fantastic for the outdoor shots that I took in my garden and I certainly wasn’t in need of any additional heat from the log burner but I had the power of retouching to help me out with the flames.

A behind the scenes shot in the garden.
Photographing the CALBQ on location in my back garden.
The final CALBQ location product shot.
The final image with added flames.

In between lockdowns I was also asked by Halo Medical to attend their factory in Northants as they have been investing heavily in new technology which they wanted to promote. I had previously been to the factory to create some portraits of the craftsmen who hand made some of the shoes, as well as some reportage shots of them at work which they had made into large canvas prints. It was lovely to see the prints still hanging in their reception area and looking great.

This time though things were a little different: I got zapped by a temperature sensor, had to sign a form to say I hadn’t been to any at risk places, had to use hand sanitiser and wear a face mask to enter the building. I’ve also had to resort to wearing my contact lenses on jobs now as masks make it tricky to see.

Douglas Kurn with steamed up glasses
Not great for a photographer!

There were some really interesting machines doing quite intricate stuff, and it was great to see the way the old hand crafting and the new technology worked together.

Halo Medical Technology. Photo by Douglas Kurn
Halo Medical Technology. Photo by Douglas Kurn
Halo Medical Technology. Photo by Douglas Kurn
Halo Medical Technology. Photo by Douglas Kurn
Halo Medical Technology. Photo by Douglas Kurn
Halo Medical Technology. Photo by Douglas Kurn
Halo Medical Technology. Photo by Douglas Kurn
Halo Medical Technology. Photo by Douglas Kurn

If living in lockdown and with the coronavirus pandemic has taught me anything (apart from you can open a screw top bottle with a foil cutter) it is that we need to be resourceful and just get on with it in any way we can.

Oh, and according to Mrs Doug, my home studio is a dining room NOT a permanent feature…

:DK

The M25 Motor Wey

I’m often asked where I find my subjects for some of my personal portraits; the answer is simple – if I see someone interesting I go up and ask them! Take Chas for instance; I have regularly cycled past his long boat on the Wey Navigation just underneath the M25 motorway bridge, and often thought he would probably make a great subject, but the problem was his boat was on the other side of the canal so it was difficult to make contact with him.

Chas’ boat moored on the Wey Navigation under the M25.

Trans-Atlantic Art Dealer

As well as commissioned photography I also sell limited edition prints. I’ve attended various art fairs over the years with mixed success, but the Internet has proved extremely useful for making sales without having to shell out for an expensive stand, pack everything up, hire a van, drive to the fair, unpack everything, hang it up, spend a number of days trying to hawk my wares, and at the end reversing the whole procedure!

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Lockdown:Look Up

How did you spend the Lockdown? I spent it looking up – not in a life affirming, positive way, but quite literally looking up – at the skies above me. Living under the Heathrow flightpath this would normally result in seeing loads of planes, but with air travel severely curtailed there was so much more to see; birds, clouds, helicopters, moons, super moons, and more clouds.

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Portrait Of Britain Winner!

I am very excited to announce that not one but two of my photos have been chosen as Winners in this years Portrait Of Britain competition. The Portrait Of Britain is a photography exhibition run by the British Journal Of Photography which, in their own words, celebrates the rich tapestry of people that make up Great Britain.

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Location Photoshoots In A Pandemic

With the easing of the lockdown and the government advice to return to work but “Stay Alert”, the Association Of Photographers (AOP) have published some best practice guidelines for running a photoshoot with the health and safety of all involved as the main priority. As an accredited member of the AOP I am bound to adhere to the principles of the AOP and to follow their guidance, which will reassure my clients that all my jobs will be undertaken with everything being done to follow the government advice and keep everyone on set safe.

As the government guidelines are revised so will the AOP update their guidance, so I won’t list the guidance here as it may be out of date by the time you are reading this but you can find the latest copy here.

And because the internet is full of pictures of PPE I won’t illustrate this post with any more so here’s a couple of photos of the flowers in my garden taken during the lockdown.

Stay healthy.

:DK

Lockdown Living Room

What does a location photographer do during a major pandemic lockdown? Shifts some furniture and sets up a studio in the living room, that’s what. I even managed to convince Mrs Doug to be my “willing” assistant and help me move the furniture. “Don’t worry darling, the sun’s shining so we can live in the garden most of the time…” I opined, taking my life in my hands.

My lockdown home studio

Luckily I’ve got previous when it comes to doing shoots from home managing to provide table top photography to some of my clients (that’s photography of things that fit on a table top rather than photos of actual table tops – not that it can’t be done), even managing to incorporate some video in to the jobs.

That’s all relatively straightforward, but now I’ve got to work out a way to tell Mrs Doug that there’s some outdoor barbecue equipment on it’s way and we’ve got to turn the garden in to a photoshoot location…

:DK

Printagram 3

To start the decade that will henceforth be known as the “Double Twenties” (or Tweenies as the spell checker tried to enforce on me) I’ve published a new edition of Printagram, my showcase magazine. Avid blog followers (that’s only really me) will notice that some of this edition is based on elements of this blog, but take a look at it any way as it’s well worth a read and is full of pretty pictures, said the publisher, editor, writer and photographer.

You can download the latest issue here, and if that’s not enough you can get issue 1 here and issue 2 here. They’re quite big files as they’re full of images so may take a while depending on the speed of your internet connection. There are some double page spreads so they are best viewed as two page (here’s how).

:DK