Jordan Zoe Wellard

Start as you mean to go on. 2015 has got off to a tremendous start with an epic couple of weeks in Mexico with Kristina, promising many pictures to come soon. But just before 2014 drew to a close, one month ago, I had the pleasure of photographing the awesome Jordan Zoe Wellard.

We'd planned on working together for a while. In fact, a few hours after our plans fell through at the beginning of August last year, I ended up in London at a  fine art nude photography workshop with Jordan Ebbitt.

The allure of abandoned locations, however sometimes cliched, drew us in. Jordan, as a keen urban explorer, had promised to introduce me to some of the lesser seen sights of the last few years. My mind was awash with pictures from inspirational photographers; namely Tim Walker and Luke Woodford

My hometown, Milton Keynes, is one of the newest towns in the UK. Only 50 years old or so. Ruined and abandoned buildings are few and far between. We found a few potential places, but ever the prepared, we only found our target a few hours before we'd agreed to meet: Stewartby Brickworks.

Once the world's biggest brickworks, producing over 500 million bricks a year, it is now sadly a shell of its former glory. Ironically bricked and boarded up, surrounded by a somewhat permeable metal fence, only four of the original 23 chimneys and two kilns remain. It still stands to be an impressive sight.

By the time we turned up, it was already a race against the sunset. I'm not saying that's a bad thing, the light was fantastic. I just wish there was more of it. But it was a great chance to put my brand new and gorgeous Nikon D750 to the test, and wow, did it deliver?! I'd only received that beautiful black hunk of Nikon a few days prior, and this was its first rodeo. The quality and dynamic range captured is just spectacular. After 8 years of shooting crop-sensored SLR cameras (Nikon D50 and D7000), my long awaited jump to full-frame was explosive. Sunsets and shadows are captured in such amazing detail...well...you can see for yourself below.

Jordan was amazing to photograph. And an absolute trooper, running around the brickworks and wearing that dress in barely-above-freezing December. Beneath her striking beauty, is an inspiring persona who drives monster trucks and manages international band tours. How cool is she? I can't wait to work with her again soon.

What do you think of Jordan and the brickworks? Leave a comment below!

Kew Gardens

One sunny October afternoon saw my first visit to Kew Gardens in Richmond, London - a modern day eden filled with some positively beautiful plants and buildings. How very British it is. I was joined by Kristina, Nadia and Evie Parazite on this horticultural quest; the latter two being fantastic photographers too.

The sun was low in the sky by the time we arrived, so we didn't have long to explore. Student habits of getting up late on your days off die hard it seems. As summer was already dying well away, typical English greens and browns dominated the park. That didn't stop the oriental displays from looking spectacular, and the great greenhouses from enticing us in for the remainder of golden hour. Even the skeletal greenhouse undergoing renovations stood proudly with its architectural intricacies laid bare. Sadly its locked doors prevented us from exploring further than our faces pressed against the window.

Nevertheless, one tropical greenhouse beckoned and held us in mesmerising captivity for the better part of an hour. The golden sunset light bursting through the walls of glass, filtering through the miniature jungle, was our fix. You see, we photographers are addicted to amazing light. We love it. We need it. And oh the balconies...the staircases...it was just too perfect. Kristina was all too happy to be photographed, as we dodged and ducked out of the way of the rest of the public enjoying the show. I couldn't help but turn my camera on Evie either. I wish we had all day in there. 

Soon the sun dipped beneath the horizon, and my trusty D7000's ISO could go no higher. It was time to run for the exit before they locked us in for the night. If I had my flash, I wouldn't have been too disappointed. I guess I'll have to come back again soon.

A Moment of Vanity

Dating the beautiful model Kristina Nikitina, has caused me to look at myself in another way. I'm used to being behind the camera, safely away from scrutiny in today's image infested world - of which I take my portion of responsibility as a photographer of course. I have the utmost respect for models, and am in awe of the confidence, dedication and patience of putting up with us photographers striving for the perfect image. This was made no more apparent to me, than in a challenge Kristina recently posed.

As a model, she is (and I am) lucky to have a fantastic selection of beautiful and sexy pictures of her. I couldn't be luckier and prouder as a boyfriend. But in the interest of balance, I had nothing to reciprocate when she asked for a 'sexy selfie'. Nothing I was proud of at least. Now, a simple iPhone selfie wouldn't cut it for me. I had to create something I hoped she'd remember.


iPhone picture of the set-up. Nikon D7000 with Sigma 35mm F1.4, tethered to Lightoom 5 on iMac. Camera set at 1/25, f8, ISO160. SB600 triggered by Cactus V5's balanced in ceiling lamp shade.

Behind the Scenes

The next day, I hit the gym. Hard.

Suitably knackered, I set everything up for my turn in front of the camera. I tethered my D7000 to Lightroom 5 on my iMac, with my beautiful Sigma 35mm F1.4 attached. The camera was nearly always set at 1/25, f8, ISO160. 

I balanced my trusty, 7 year old Nikon SB600 with diffuser, just outside the ceiling lamp shade, attached to my Cactus V5 triggers, at approximately 1/16 power.

Sadly my Nikon radio trigger was out of battery, and I didn't fancy running back and forth to press the self-timer. No, that would be the silly part of a grown man posing in his underwear for a mini photoshoot, just so he can impress his girlfriend. Especially when you see some of the poses I tried...

I used the wireless Apple mouse under my foot to trigger the camera, by pressing the tether capture button on screen. This made things heaps easier, and it was incredibly helpful to see on screen just how awful most of the poses, lighting and facial expressions were, immediately after each shot.

After a couple hundred attempts, I was left with a few pictures that didn't make me cringe quite so much. I processed them using Lightroom to remove blemishes, and Alienskin Exposure 6 to desaturate and add a bit of contrast, but that's about it.

So that's it. Me... naked. In every sense of the word.

What's your experience of self-portraits, particularly nude ones?

So there's this girl

So there's this girl... Her name's Kristina. I like her a lot. You may recognise her from a few of my pictures. Somehow, proving that miracles exist, she's now my girlfriend. Let me tell you the story...

I first saw her at the Green Park Gathering, surrounded by dozens of photographers, in a pretty white dress offered up by the amazing photographer Brooke Shaden, whom were all there to meet. I remember being quiet and offering no direction, as my voice was drowned out by some more assertive and visionary photographers anyway. So instead, I found my favourite angles and started shooting as Kristina posed in the dry August grass, and twirled and skipped all over the place. I was hooked on her, but forced myself away to shoot a few other models, before I inevitably found Kristina back in front of my lens. Once the big group photo was taken and everyone was high on inspiration as they chatted, networked and exchanged business cards, I found a chance to talk to her. I remember her beautifully unique accent surprising me, and reeling me in further. As soon as I found out she was Russian, my mind went flying to remember any of the few words I'd learnt a few years ago. You know, so I could impress her. After exchanging emails and Facebook's', she, Ana, Simon, Rachel and I headed in search of drinks...before finding ourselves in a gorgeous dessert shop near Picadilly Circus. She joined me in getting some cake, and we talked for a while before we all ran to our respective trains.

After enthusiastically assuring her she could come, we met again at Let's Get Creative in Cannock a couple of weeks later. It was difficult to tear myself away from laughing and shooting with her. We climbed trees, poured talcum powder over each other and produced some stunning images. And oh my, she made the best pancakes. This girl was just amazing! I had spent the morning trying to wake up, get inspired, and get over my self-doubt in the presence of so many awesome photographers...but as soon as I had Kristina in front of my lens, bam, I was back. She has that effect of me. She motivates. She inspires. When it was my turn to model topless, I made sure she saw. I tell you, seeing the shock on her face when I spoke Russian to her just before we parted ways, was brilliant.

After Cannock, we were talking daily. I'd developed a bit of a crush. We'd already created some beautiful pictures, and were keen to explore London in pursuit of more. So on the 13th September, we met at Green Park pretty much where we first met, and set off on our epic tour of the capital.

As the sun beat through the clouds, we strolled through Green and Hyde Park. We found ourselves at the Royal Academy of Art for the British Art Fair, for which I had two invitations (very graciously sent through from GQ). I hoped this would impress her, and make me seem more cultured. It seemed to work. We took our time through the exhibits, breathing in the atmosphere and inspiration, and occasionally recoiling once we saw some of the attached prices. Who knows, I may survive as an artist after all. By the time we had walked through the entire exhibition, we were already planning our lives as artists. I was starting to feel different - not hunger, I knew I felt that - but just absolutely happy.

 We found a gorgeous bistro serving steak and chicken in Kensington, so settled down for some lunch. I tell you what, it doesn't get much better than steak frites on a gorgeous Saturday afternoon in London, sat across the table from a beautiful girl. Except you can hold the french mustard... That stuff was eye-wateringly hot!

 I've been craving cobbles lately. Well, any kind of character and history really. I don't see a lot of it living in the concrete jungle that is Milton Keynes. But we stumbled across a perfectly quaint side street, and I went nuts. A simple iPhone snap to remember the location, quickly...and inevitably turned into 20 minutes of portraits and twirls in her long blue coat. I'm not sure who looked crazier. Kristina twirling around over and over again, or me, lying in the middle of the road and on the cobbles to try and get the angles I wanted.

We made our way through the beautiful boroughs, and found ourselves at the Tower of London. The sea of 888,246 red metal poppies was a truly stunning... and humbling sight. I couldn't help stopping to take a moment and think about what it meant. We soon ended up next to the Thames admiring the view and taking some selfies, as any good tourist. On the way back from St Katharine's Docks, of course I had her posing in the middle of the road as we crossed it. I hope she realises just how appreciative I am of her putting up with my incessant picture taking!

The sunset was spectacular as we crossed Tower Bridge. Pinks and purples filled every corner of the sky. It was a perfect moment - one we had both been afraid to make the first move during, we later found out. I remember standing there, wishing I could kiss her, but terrified I'd screw up the rest of an otherwise amazing day. Oh how wrong I was. We did get a damn cute selfie out of it though.

We made our way to the Shard as I'd never seen it up close. She was insistent on giving me the best tour of London. Damn it's huge. We rested our weary feet in the nearby Starbucks - she, with a chai latte, and me, with enough chocolate to overdose the Easter Bunny. Our day of shooting was essentially over. But the night was only just beginning, and we still had one more place to visit.

Shoreditch would be our final destination. Yet another slice of London I had yet to experience. The art (some would call it graffiti I guess) covering the walls of Brick Lane was fantastically inspiring. I love the eclecticness, the passion. We walked the length, and ended up in a great little Mojito bar. We wiled away the evening sharing a pitcher and attempting salsa in the small space of the bar. My two left feet from university still prevail. I can't remember the last time I laughed so much. Kristina just blew my mind. I remember looking at my watch far too often, dreading the time I would have to leave to catch the last train home. Einstein got it right.

“Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. That's relativity.” - Albert Einstein

Our laugh and-creativity-overloaded day ended all too soon, as we journeyed back to Euston Station. As we sat on the floor against one of the pillars, I looked at her. As a way of overcoming my childhood shyness, I sometimes find myself throwing myself into situations before I realise I'm doing it. Before I knew it, I had asked her out. What was I saying?! One half of my mind was in complete denial, wondering why I ever thought I had a shot with such an incredible girl. I mean dude, pull yourself together. The other half just kept saying my life's mantra...

If you want it, go get it.

I soon got my answer in the best way imaginable.

We left London feeling on top of the world, and our fingers intertwined. I had explored London, soaked up some culture, devoured a steak, captured some wonderful pictures, developed even greater passion, inspiration and drive to follow my heart... and finally shared a kiss with the most beautiful girl I've ever met.

We've spent every weekend together since. She's helped me move out of my flat, back to my parents house. I've proudly watched her become a British Citizen, arriving with 30 seconds to spare. I've finally visited and photographed around Kew Gardens with her and her amazing friends, all of whom are utterly inspiring too. She's given me the drive, the ambition, and the belief to take myself seriously in my photography. That kick up the arse I've needed (not literally). I'm even learning Russian again. I can't thank her enough already.

So there's this girl...

She's моя маленькая.


Thank you Evie Parazite for the beautiful photo of Kristina and I in front of the Botanical Greenhouses at Kew Gardens. Please, go check out and like/follow her work by clicking here!

Thank you Evie Parazite for the beautiful photo of Kristina and I in front of the Botanical Greenhouses at Kew Gardens. Please, go check out and like/follow her work by clicking here!

Cannock Chase

Models: Kristina Nikitina, Ella Ruth, Michael Savage, Anna Petterle
Photography: Matthew Thompson
Place - Cannock Chase, Staffordshire

Following on from my 'Entangled' post, where I shared two very different, conceptual shots of a naked, entangled Michael in a forest of red, I thought I'd share the full collection from the day.

Kristina, Ella, Michael and Anna were truly outstanding models. Our day in Cannock was one overflowing with creativity, passion and imagination. For the first hour I barely captured a single photo. I was caught up, mesmerised by those surrounding me. I honestly couldn't think. I was watching Sam Goodridge pose Kristina, while David Hyde meticulously planned every frame with Siyana Kasabova, and just transfixed. I won't lie, there was some self doubt. What was I doing here with such amazing photographers and models? Will they judge me if I get everything wrong? Why can't I think of any poses... let alone conceptual scenes?!

I settled down after a while, soaking and slipping my bare feet in the icy stream - wondering how Siyana had been calmly posing in it for so long. Then, I had Kristina in front of me. My brain began to gear up. My camera trigger finger got itchy. I was back. For those of you who follow me on Facebook, you will understand why.

The rest of the day flew by. A picnic fit for kings was laid out by everyone, with home-made culinary classics from all over the world. Ella, Kristina and I defied gravity by climbing some trees in the name of art.

Michael's smoke bombs doused the forest in a beautiful, etherial, intoxicating (for Michael) haze. Ella and I had the same idea at the same time, but captured it in two completely different ways simultaneously. Check out the 12th and 13th images below, and then Ella's gorgeous picture on Flickr. Same scene, same opportunity, two very different looks.

Kristina was prepared with mystical, magical particles that created a wonderland where they lay, transforming the world and its inhabitants into a fantasy fit for C.S. Lewis. Okay, it was talcum powder. And it was awesome. Even I was drafted in to model for a couple of hours, topless, emblazoned with baby powder and adorned with leaves. I can't wait to see the images from Michael, Bristy and David.

We managed to grasp every ounce of the setting sun we could, pushing the ISOs into the glowing clouds. The day ended far sooner than it should have. There was so much more to discover. So much more to create. We all parted ways at Birmingham, after a brief train ride full of cameras and cookies. It days like that I can get used to. The ones where I'm the most inspired. The happiest. The ones where you forget everything about the world, except the one you create, and who you create it with. 

Enjoy the collection below, and I highly recommend you check out some behind-the-scenes pictures in my '#LGCcannock' post, and on my Facebook. If you'd like to join us on the next meet up, leave a comment or drop me a message, and I'll keep you updated. Have a wonderful evening.

A massive thank you to everyone who was there, including Ella Ruth and Michael Savage for organising the event. Please, check out everyone's work and give them a like or follow! Don't forget the check out the behind-the-scenes, and see my conceptual Entangled pictures.

Kristina Nikitina / Siyana Kasabova / Sam Goodridge / Ana Isabel / Anna Petterle / Bristy Chowdhyry / David Hyde / Shaheen Razzaq / Jay Dadlani

#LGCcannock

A lot has happened here in the last few weeks. Much more than I can surmise on this blog in any way that is informative or even interesting. I have a few weeks worth of awesomeness to catch up on and tell you all about, so here's the first one.

A few weeks ago, twelve of us from the Green Park Gathering descended on Cannock Chase, nestled in the heart of Staffordshire. Hosted by the wonderful Ella Ruth and Michael Savage, a beautiful day unfolded. Picnics and food from around the world filled our bellies, helping to ease the warmth back into our toes after we explored the freezing streams. We escaped reality by climbing trees, creating clouds of talcum powder, and releasing smoke bombs. The real world seemed ever so far away as we simply dropped our heavy bags where we saw an awesome scene, and got to work creating the surreal world we as creatives live in.

The ever wonderful Kristina Nikitina, Siyana Kasabova and Anna Petterle were our resident models, with the rest of us taking it in turns to experiment on the other side of each other's cameras. I had the pleasure of stepping in front of the lens for David Hyde, Michael Savage and Bristy Chowdhury. I can't wait to see all the pictures. Check out a few behind-the-scenes of my own below (click any to see full screen).

I love days like this. The ones you think...wish will never end. I swear, every day I *am* a photographer, is some of the best of my life. I cherish every chance to meet such incredible, creative, passionate people who are absolute inspirations, and not to mention just downright lovely.

My final collection from #LGCcannock is in the next blog...so hop on over. You can check out all the pictures of me taken by the others, in this Facebook album... www.bit.ly/myphotographylife

Entangled

Life is about trying new things, isn't it? Break free, take a chance, and just run with it?

That's how I ended up in Cannock Chase last weekend with a bunch of utterly inspiring photographers, for a day of picnics and photos. Some I had met at the Green Park Gathering a few weeks prior, and some I hadn't. All of them were bursting with creativity.

I've missed working on conceptual images. Pictures that make you look twice, scream an emotion, and tell a story. I guess my scientific brain holds me back a bit, questioning why I would bother wrapping a naked guy I had pretty much just met, in red string in the middle of the woods? Who would want to see that? Why? What purpose would it have?

But really, does art need a purpose? Can't art just be appreciated? Allowed to be interpreted by a million different minds (should I be so lucky)? Allow, encourage and spring-load our imaginations to run free, concocting an endless swirl of backstory, emotion and circumstance?

I've been asked what these images mean. At first, I didn't have an answer. What started out as an idea, inevitably and organically morphed into the pictures you see below. The more I look at it, more I see.

I now see the subject is me. I'm stuck...trapped...entangled...by my environment and so many elements and intricacies in my life, holding me back from what I perceive to be safe, warm and...happy. Funnily enough, that shelter would be the chance to produce pictures like this every day.

That's what I see. Do you relate, or do you see something else?

 I hope to build on this reclaimed love with a lot more stories and conceptual styles. Look out for the blog about the Cannock Chase meet up, where I'll throw in a few more. Look out of the #LGCcannock hashtag to find pictures from the other photographers on the day. Fellow Flickrites, don't forget to follow me!

Thank you very much to Michael Savage for modelling, and Bristy Chowdhury for the string.

Green Park Gatherings

See the blog and album of Kristina Nikitina from this event here.

It's days like this that make me want to live in London all the more, and the second time in two weeks where I was on a train within a few hours of finding something awesome is happening. Green Park was set to host a gathering of some of the most creative photographers across the UK - all set in motion by the inspirational Brooke Shaden. I took Rachel along with me for the ride, travelling down straight after I finished my work at the office.

It was surreal being surrounded by so many brilliant artists, and creators of images I had seen go viral. The arrival of Brooke saw hugs with everyone in sight, before settling down to remember why we create and inspire. She revealed some dresses and accessories for any willing models, and instructed us to go wild. 

With nearly a hundred photographers all trying to capture the image they see in their mind, the handful of models had their work cut out for them. But they did an amazing job. Kristina Nikitina was one model that took it all in her stride, posing in front of tens of cameras at once. By lying on the grass to avoid the barrage of lenses behind me, I was able to capture some stunning images as the sun went down. Click here to see Kristina's full album. As Rachel had forgotten her camera, she happily took the opportunity to build on her modelling.

Conversation was flying and business cards were everywhere. It was exhilarating meeting so many talented artists. I even bumped into Oscar May, whom I had met almost exactly two years earlier outside Hyde Park, as we assisted Felix Kunze photograph the London 2012 Olympic Volunteers. I was going to write about everyone who I met, but it would make this post too long...so watch for them in a coming post. But check out this group shot! Can you find me?

Photo by Paul Winstone.

The sun went down all too quickly, pushing the ISOs ever higher. I was finally able to grab my hug, a photo, and a few words about Harry Potter with Brooke before she left for some much needed rest. Rachel, Kristina, Simon McCheung, Ana Isabel, a few others and I went on a hunt for food as all of our stomachs were rumbling. So what did we devour as we perched on a shop window ledge just outside Piccadilly Circus? Cake so rich it could have had a room at the Ritz down the road.

Sadly we all had to rush for our trains before we knew what was happening - one of those evenings you replay in your mind as you sit on the train home, wishing you could go back. It was such a driving, inspiring, humbling and exhausting experience. Thank you everyone! Can't wait for the next one.

Kristina Nikitina

Model: Kristina Nikitina / Photography: Matthew Thompson.

On a gorgeous August evening, photographers from all over the UK descended on Green Park in London. Organised by the inspirational Brooke Shaden, who flew all the way from the USA, we chatted and photographed until the sun went down...and then some of us got cake. 

Thankfully a few kindly offered themselves as models, for the rest of us vulture-like photographers - one of which was Kristina. She was a beautiful model, donning a ripped dress Brooke had brought with her, who wasn't phased in the slightest by twenty-something cameras pointed at her, as she posed in the dry, summer grass. I have my fingers crossed that I'll be able to work with her again soon.

A post about the meetup will be coming in the next few days, including links to all the awesome photographers I met, but I wanted to share the images from this impromptu yet serenely gorgeous collection. I hope you enjoy.

Jordan Ebbitt (nude)

model - Jordan Ebbitt / photography - Matthew Thompson

I found myself on a nude art workshop in London, ten hours after my original shoot plan fell through and I went on a mission to find another model. I've always been interested in the beauty, sensuality and challenge of fine art nude photography, so I couldn't miss out.

Not really knowing what to expect, having never photographed anything like it before, I rocked up at Calumet on Drummond Street. Portrait photographer Rory Lewis led the workshop, with the stunning Jordan Ebbitt modelling for us. The day focussed around lighting and posing, and experimenting with low and high key photography.

I surprised myself with how much I enjoyed low key, shadowy lighting. I always thought of my style as rather bright, colourful and optimistic...but now, well, we'll see. Jordan was phenomenal to work with - throwing out some stunning poses and always knowing exactly what I wanted from my direction. I'd love to work with her again. I have a new found love for the studio too - something I've been thinking about for a while. Its amazing what can be achieved from even one light.

We wrapped up the day with some drinks and dinner at a nearby pub, because thats how its done in London. I desperately want to move there and immerse myself in the buzz. The opportunity to be around people like that every day? Bring it on!

Its so true when they say you never stop learning. It seems a few new paths may have opened up in my photography life. I'm intrigued to find out where they go.

Meu Novo Amigo

I was walking home from work at the beginning of July, when I saw Natacha photographing a gorgeous model in front of my apartment. It's not often I bump into other young fashion photographers, so of course I said hi! Three weeks later, naturally, I have a new Brazilian best friend who is teaching me Portuguese, and I may be travelling to South America next year. I've even modelled for one of her conceptual pieces.

Natacha hasn't been in the UK long, so it's refreshing to see the beauty of England through her eyes, and camera. I've lived in Milton Keynes for 11 years now, yet hadn't explored the fields 2 miles away until last week. Don't you ever do that? Taking home, be it your neighbourhood, city or country for granted? I'll guess so.

Maybe it's time to get out there with your camera again. Take a picnic blanket to lie down in the sun. And some scotch eggs to distract the hunger on your adventure. You really can't beat scotch eggs.

And say hello to that stranger. Especially that one you pass on your way to work or the shops every now and again. You never know what might happen. But most importantly...

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” - Ferris Beuler