Inspired by Helmut Newton from Neil Buchan-Grant


This picture was shot after seeing June Newton’s documentary about her husband Helmut’s working life. I was trying to do something with a bit more narrative and at least some mystery about it. One of the 2 models booked couldn’t make it so I ploughed on with one. I used 2 continuous lights balanced against the sunlight through the door, but in the end I burned most of the fill away as the high contrast seemed to work better. It was a first try at anything like this and I’d like to do more so I’d appreciate your criticism.

Kind Regards

Hi Neil,
I think your lighting is immaculate! Really nice – the shot overall is very good. My only comment is on the direction. I went back to some of Helmut’s work, all of his images (mostly) have an air of mystery or menace or sexual tension. This is the one thing missing in your shot. In my humble opinion just being naked is not enough, she needs to have some sense of anticipation or mystery, a shadow of somebody behind her? She looks too relaxed. Nice work on your web site too! Keep up the good work!

Searching for Santa by John Nixon


A shot of my wife, Charlotte – an artist, in her new studio in the house we’re renovating. Charlotte is standing in the recently-reopened fireplace and is lit by a single speedlight through a white brolly. I’d have repositioned it slightly but Charlotte is not very patient and I only got one chance!

Hi John,
Thanks for sending me your picture. My immediate reaction was “Why didn’t you put the speed light up the chimney?” The shot is OK, but a little bland. If Charlotte is impatient, then in future set up the shot without her, then get her in at the last minute! I know it would have been bit difficult but I am sure it was doable, otherwise the shot as it is, is rather mundane. It’s a lovely fireplace, it would look good in any shot. If it is not too late try setting it up again!

Funny Games by Stuart Scott


Dear Frank,
Here is one of my images from a series I shot titled ‘Funny Games’ for portfolio building purposes – it was a concept that was developed from the film. It was a situational setting with school boy and school girl and I was aiming to achieve tension in the atmosphere, as though maybe the fun and games were getting out of control and there was a dark side to the boy.

The lighting I used was a small soft box on a held beam off to the right and above the boy and a large octabank at the rear and left of camera for fill. It was a friends empty room so I brought all of the furniture and props in myself to create the set. I am a keen photographer and am hoping to get assisting and representation soon.


Hi Stuart,
This is a very nice shot; nicely propped and nicely composed. My personal feeling is it would be nice if the light sources could identified, so the light on him could be coming from a doorway (unseen) to the right of your camera. You could create a shaft of light that looks as though a door has been opened, lighting him. The light on her could come from a ceiling light or lamp. This just makes the shot which is already quite staged a little more “real” – it looks very unnatural for me now. This would add to the tension as well. Also maybe something could have been thrown on the floor or on the chair, unless you meant the room to be totally immaculate. Good work though keep it up!

Julia by Rob Timko


Attached is my favorite image from last year. My wife and I work as a team and we started a long term project where we shoot different people “getting ready” to go out. A few photos each that shows their differences in style and routine, in their own environment. This is Julia. She’s 18 and has been living on her own in her artist studio since she graduated H.S. at the age of 16.

Hi Rob,
Thanks for sending me your picture of Julia. This is one of your best pictures . The shot looks more natural than your usual work. I would suggest that maybe this shot would look even better if you darkened the background down slightly in Photoshop, especially the left side is distracting. You could even add a tone or desaturate the background a bit so that she stands out more. The focus fall off works very well here and maybe you should experiment more with this technique in the future. Nice picture though! Keep up the good work!

Graveyard by Sophie Wiles


Hi Sophie,
I like your choice of colours in this shot , but in this case it would have been nice to have a bit of mist (from a smoke machine) drifting across the background – just to make the graveyard a bit more mysterious. The sun was in an ideal position to backlight the smoke so it may have added good atmosphere to your shot. Next time, try experimenting with the camera height as well to see if this creates a more dramatic shot. The girl’s red cape already stands out, but perhaps try desaturating the colours in the background to emphasise this even more.