actor Peter Revel Walsh photographed in my studio in Kingston upon Thames

Peter Revel Walsh – actor head shots and portraits

Peter Revel Walsh is a character actor, model and voice over artist with over 20 years experience in the industry. He came to my studio in Kingston upon Thames for some actor head shots and portraits.

I think everyone will agree Peter has a very distinctive look!

My primary aim was to capture some great actor head shots. My secondary aim was to capture a range of “more interesting portraits”. I wanted to take advantage of a variety of lighting styles to either “smooth” Peter’s look to make him more cuddly, or to make him look “less civilised”. We even used a wind Peter Revel Walsh photographed in my studio in Kingston upon Thames actor Peter Revel Walsh photographed in my studio in Kingston upon Thames actor Peter Revel Walsh photographed in my studio in Kingston upon Thames actor Peter Revel Walsh photographed in my studio in Kingston upon Thames actor Peter Revel Walsh photographed in my studio in Kingston upon Thames actor Peter Revel Walsh photographed in my studio in Kingston upon Thames actor Peter Revel Walsh photographed in my studio in Kingston upon Thames actor Peter Revel Walsh photographed in my studio in Kingston upon Thames


rutting season - red deer stag in Richmond Park

Red Deer in Richmond Park

The red deer rutting season is here again!

Every Autumn Richmond Park attracts an influx of photographers who want an opportunity to photograph the red deer in rut. It is easy to understand why. The deer are not really afraid of people so photographers can approach them, to within the reach of a long lens.

Health and safety!

Although the red deer in Richmond Park do allow people to approach them there is always an element of risk. These deer are large and powerful animals, and they can cover large distances very quickly. In the rutting season the stags can be dangerous, and while they do not naturally target humans, they do sometimes attack people who approach too closely.

So it is best to be cautious and keep a safe distance away. The park authorities recommend keeping at least 50m away. But that 50m can quickly disappear when your back is turned!

I recommend that if you want to photograph the red deer in the rutting season, you should always be very aware of your surroundings. These deer can cover ground very quickly are are free to roam in the park wherever they wish.

Subtle family relationships among red deer

I am not an expert on red deer. But what immediately becomes obvious if you spend any time watching them in Richmond Park is that they have a complex social structure. And when you bear in mind that individual deer have lived among the other deer here all their lives, it stands to reason that they all know each other as individuals.

If you want to quickly find out a bit more about red deer this is a good link.

I do not want to anthropomorphise, but many times I have seen what give the impression of real affection between the deer. I have seen it between females and stags, and between individual adult females too. I have previously noted that the relationship of stags with their “harems” seems to be far more subtle than many programs on the telly would suggest.

A pictorial “cautionary tale”

These photographs were taken on 27 September 2019. It may be relevant that the rut is still in it’s early days. The stags aren’t going at things “hammer and tongs” yet.

This story starts with a stag and his “harem”.  Here he is doing some bellowing…

photo of red deer stag in Richmond Park and licking the air…Red deer stag licking the air - rutting season in Richmond Park
What follows is my interpretation, which should be taken with some caution. The stag reacts to some other stags who have been strutting and bellowing (off stage camera left) for some time and he has been provoked into sorting them out. So he leaves his females and walks towards the other stags who are approximately 150 meters away.

On the way he pauses to pound his antlers in the ground and do some urine spraying. Isn’t it good that men don’t behave like this?

red deer stag - rutting behaviour in Richmond Park
He continues on his way…

photo of red deer stag in Richmond Park

I notice that his route seems to be heading directly towards this (photo below) although it is difficult to tell because of the distance between us.

photo of photogapher in Richmond Park. Better look out!

Now what was I saying about the need to be very aware of your environment? But I don’t believe this photographer was in any real danger. The stag has only one thing on his mind, and that is the other stags whose behaviour has been provoking him.
Red deer are not usually aggressive to humans even in the rutting season

I am not the only interested onlooker. Note the presence of flies around the head. These are pretty well constantly buzzing around the deers’ heads;photo of beautiful young red deer stags in Richmond Park
This (below) is my final photo of the first stag. He then goes off to strut up and down with the other stags who attracted his attention in the first place.

red deer bellowing
But meanwhile… look who is approaching all the females that he left behind!
wild red deer stag in Richmond Park
This dude has a serious set of antlers, and he “takes up residency” with the females the other stag just left behind. So “whose” females are they? I suspect he is a very eligible stag because very soon a whole new gaggle of additional females come sauntering over to join him! I can hear them giggling from here.

One thing I have noticed over the years is that the females are not “owned” by any of the stags. They appear to have a lot of freedom to come and go as they please. This surprised me at first because it contrasts with an impression I got from watching wild life documentaries on the telly.

Rutting season for red deer in Richmond Park

I do not know what the next two photos mean. She looks so tiny compared to him. Has there been some kind of misunderstanding?

Rutting season for red deer in Richmond Park


Rutting season for red deer in Richmond Park


Red deer stag doing his wolf impression

Now he is doing his wolf impression. Very good too.

Red deer stag doing his wolf impression
beautiful red deer stag
Technical information

Just for people who are interested;
Camera: Olympus OMD EM-1 Mk II
Lens:  M.Zuiko Digital ED 300mm IS PRO

I am not a professional wild life photographer and I only take wild life photos as a hobby. I bought this combination of camera and lens specifically to provide me with a professional quality long lens. I could not justify the ‘cost’ (in all senses of the word) of buying a professional long telephoto lens for my Nikons. (I use the Nikons and professional Nikon lenses for most of my commercial, family and baby photography).

The advantage of the Olympus kit is that the 300mm lens on a micro four thirds body gives a magnification that is “equivalent” to a 600mm lens on a full frame body. At the same time this setup is a lot smaller and a lot lighter than a 600mm lens on a full frame body.

The disadvantage is that in my opinion the highest ISO at which the EM-1 MkII can take professional quality photos is 800. This opinion is shared by several other Olympus users I have spoken to, but perhaps not everyone.

Most of the above photos were taken at ISO 800.

actor head shot for Kevin Mangar

Actor Head Shots for Kevin Mangar

Actor head shots for character and variety

Kevin Mangar asked me to take some actor head shots (and also some other photos, but I will talk about those another day).  Some of the resulting images are conventional actor head shots, while others are more “portraits”.

Kevin Mangar often lands roles as villains. Do you think he looks the part?

Well do you, punk?

Curiously, immediately after writing the above sentence I googled “Kevin Mangar” and discovered he played a character called “Eastwood” in the film The Take Down.  What an extraordinary co-incidence! (For people who don’t know “well do you punk” is an iconic line spoken by Harry Callaghan, played by Clint Eastwood in his “Dirty Harry” movies. Look at this clip and then this clip).

According to film buff website IMDb Kevin Mangar is also known for roles in Spider Man 2: Another World and Redcon-1.

What is an “actor head shot”?

Actor head shots are intended to give casting directors an idea of what an actor or actress looks like. However Kevin and I didn’t want to just limit ourselves to conventional actor head shots. So Kevin played some roles, and I fiddled with my lights.

Lighting for head shots and portraits

One light

Here are five “head shots”. In the first, I lit Kevin’s head with a single key light located directly above the camera’s line of sight. You can see the reflection of the key light in Kevin’s eyes. The flash was modified by a gridded white beauty dish. Just the one light (technically this kind of lighting is called “butterfly lighting” because the shadow beneath the nose might look a bit like a butterfly. Allegedly.

very simple actor head shot

Three lights

In the next photo the key light is exactly the same, but I have added two additional lights, one on each side of Kevin’s head.  The photographer has to be quite careful where s/he places these lights in order to create the desired effect. I was using two tall slim soft boxes fitted with grids.

Actor head shot of actor Kevin Mangar

Two lights

Kevin’s third “head shot” shows what happens when the key light is turned off, and the two lights on either side are on. This isn’t really an “actor head shot” at all, because you can’t see the detail of Kevin’s face. But the image makes a very atmospheric portrait nevertheless. I think you will agree this lighting creates a sinister mood? So, not really an “actor head shot” but definitely a “portrait”.

sinister portrait of actor Kevin Mangar

Two different lights

For the fourth head shot in this series I moved the key light to one side, a bit higher than Kevin’s head. It is still modified using the same white gridded beauty dish. I have also moved one of the tall gridded softboxes further back behind Kevin, and brought it’s brightness down. These are the only two lights on Kevin in this photo.

Actor head shot of actor Kevin Mangar

Three lights

Next I threw some light onto the black background, making it grey. The purpose of this is to make Kevin’s outline more visible. I call this Kevin’s “Patrick Stewart” picture.

actor head shot of actor Kevin Mangar

I call this Kevin’s “Patrick Stewart” photo. I assume both actors will find this flattering…

A softer look

As I wrote above, Kevin Mangar often gets typecast as villains. He does a “hard man look” very well. But why don’t we bring out his softer side too?

Kevin Mangar - actor head shot Kevin Mangar - actor head shot Kevin Mangar - actor head shot Kevin Mangar - actor head shot Kevin Mangar - actor head shot

Photoshop post production

Just in case anyone is interested;

Photoshop editing was kept to a minimum.  I made a small number of global adjustments to  basic variables like colour balance, the tone curve, clarity, and maybe one or two other of the sliders that adjust the entire image. I also did a very small amount of eye brightening – very subtle. Otherwise Kevin’s head shots and portraits are as the camera captured them.


I thank Kevin Mangar for asking me to take these actor head shots, portraits and other photos (I may write about some of the others later).

British Museum

Visiting the British Museum

Do you know the British Museum allows it’s visitors to take photos of it’s collection?

I treated myself to a “day off” and visited the British Museum

One of the excellent things about the British Museum is that they allow visitors to take photographs. At least in the form of “tourist photos” which is what I was doing. I arrived before the queues had built up, and after going through security and bag search, I was in.

photograph of the British Museum, main entrance

The British Museum’s iconic roof window

This was my first visit to the museum since the iconic roof window was built. So, being a tourist, I took some snaps.British Museum. Photo of the magnificent lobby with it's iconic roof. British Museum. Photo of the magnificent lobby with it's iconic roof.

Walking stone sculpures

I don’t know if the British Museum curators know some of their statues can walk about? I took these photos of “stone sculptures of female deities” from Huaxtec. It was only later I noticed that the deity at the front took a step forwards before I took the second photo! Her movement is a lot more obvious if one can toggle between the photos (rather than scroll).British Museum; photo of stone sculpures of female deities from Huaxtec, Mexico. British Museum; photo of stone sculpures of female deities from Huaxtec, Mexico.

Alien versus Predator

I didn’t read the description of the following, but I think I recognize it as coming from a huge pyramid in an ice cave deep beneath the Arctic somewhere.Photo of artefact in the British Museum. Alien versus Predator? Maybe not. But it looks familiar.

Even deities have bodily functions

Here is a photo of a grumpy female deity doing a dump (I don’t know how the experts know it is a female deity).

Photo of statue in the British Museum - grumpy female deity doing a dump

A real conundrum

The next three photos were taken in succession, and I have no explanation for the pure whiteness of the second photo. Did my camera capture a moment of enlightenment?

British Museum - photo of Buddhist statue accidental photo of enlightenment? British Museum - photo of Buddhist statue

“Head forward and up”…

How not to do the Alexander Method (Buddhist sculpture in the British Museum)

        …or maybe not

(This joke is for followers of the “Alexander Method”)

How not to do the Alexander Method (Buddhist sculpture in the British Museum)

A very subtle self portrait

Can you see me?

British Museum - wrapped blue paper and reflection of the photographer

The nine planets

The British Museum contains many priceless objects of eye watering beauty and craftsmanship. The museum kindly and gently educates us just enough to know what we are looking at. Assuming the information is accurate of course.

For example, just inside the museum’s rear entrance (in Montague Place) you can see statues of the nine planets. These are eyewateringly beautiful sculptures of gods and demons that represent the 9 planets of Indian astronomy, astrology and myth (according to the plaque). As usual, the museum educates with a few well chosen words.

British Museum - photo of one of the "nine planets" of Indian mythology British Museum - the nine planets of Indian astronomy, astrology and myth British Museum - the nine planets of Indian astronomy, astrology and myth

Back into the British Museum’s iconic lobby

Where one can buy some expensive refreshments and rest one’s feet. On the day I visited about 60 or 70 percent of the visitors had an oriental appearance. You can see one of them sleeping in the second photo. He was still there after I finished my refreshments.

British Museum - photo of it's iconic lobby and ceiling

British Museum - photo of it's iconic lobby and ceiling

The British Museum has an excellent collection of Ancient Egypt

Some people look very content when they are dead (stunning craftsmanship).

British Museum - photo of beautiful sarcophagus from Ancient Egypt


Is this evidence that the ancients talked too much?

British Museum - photo of Egyptian Heiroglyphics

The Rosetta Stone at the British Museum

Talking of talking the British Museum also has the Rosetta Stone. It was surrounded by a crush of visitors, so I didn’t take a photo of it. I’ve seen it before anyway (will people recognise this is a joke?) If you want to find out more or see a photo follow the link.

Bah Ram Ewe

I have included this photo because I feel an affinity for it

British Museum - statue of ram figure from Ancient Egypt

Assyrian collection

Another example of extraordinary craftsmanship

Photo of Assyrian Frieze in the British Museum

Detail of the handbag and wrist watch

Photo of Assyrian Frieze in the British Museum - detail showing handbag and wrist watch


A final view before leaving

British Museum

Technical info

For what it is worth these photos were taken using an Olympus OMD EM-1 MkII fitted with a 12mm lens (equivalent to a 24mm lens on a full frame camera). This combination is extremely light and easy to carry around. Worn with a Black Rapid camera strap one doesn’t really notice it at all. I did bring another lens with me, but I didn’t use it.

In my (allegedly humble) opinion all cameras are a compromise (for variables that include but are not limited to price, weight, size, speed of shooting, performance in low light, resolution and image quality, etc, etc)

The EM-1 MKII is quite severely limited by being unable to take professional quality images at any iso higher than 800. But it is extremely light, and it has some excellent lenses. Personally I also don’t like the controls. But it can shoot totally silently… and bla bla.

bubble photo shoot for children

“Bubble Photo Shoot Experience” for Children in Kingston

Fun bubble photo shoot for children

“Bring shy kids out of their bubble”

Loads of fun for kids in a bubble photo shoot!

My studio in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey, provides a fun packed “bubble photo shoot experience” for children. Do you have a camera shy child? Would you like photos of your child playing naturally and care-free?

Bubble photo shoots provide a safe environment for your kids to let their hair down and have some fun while getting their photos taken.

Why book a bubble photo shoot?

These days cameras are ubiquitous. Every mobile phone has a camera. So what can a professional photographer with his own studio offer that a mobile phone can’t?

I would argue quite a lot.

And one thing my studio in Kingston offers is a fun packed “bubble photo shoot experience”. It isn’t just about getting photos at the end, it is also about the experience. If you want photos of your child playing happily, your child needs to be happy and relaxed in front of the camera.

Why not book today? Find out what a professional photographer can do with a dark background, studio flash and a bubble machine? At the end of your shoot we can even add some smoke! (The smoke isn’t really smoke, it is some kind of mist that comes out of a machine, and is meant to be totally safe. The manufacturers state it will not trigger asthma attacks, for example).

Why not make a party of it?

Bubble photo shoots tend to be quite dynamic, and they usually work best if your child brings a friend. Sometimes it works well if a parent is willing to get into the picture! The photos in this blog post show two twins in party dresses playing with the bubbles.

If you want to make a party of it, my studio in Kingston can accommodate a maximum of four children with two accompanying adults. We can plan your childrens’ photo shoot in detail in your pre-shoot consultation (the booking fee includes a pre-shoot consultation).

Do you want some serious photos too?

No worries. During your pre-shoot consultation we can discuss the best way to mix your photo shoot to get some serious photos too. Please note if you are inviting several of your child’s friends it is probably best to book a separate session for the serious photos.

How do I book my bubble photo shoot?

Click here for information about booking your personalised photo shoot experience.

fun bubble photo shoots for children in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey fun bubble photo shoots for children in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey fun bubble photo shoots for children in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey fun bubble photo shoots for children in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey fun bubble photo shoots for children in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey fun bubble photo shoots for children in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey fun bubble photo shoots for children in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey fun bubble photo shoots for children in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey fun bubble photo shoots for children in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey fun bubble photo shoots for children in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey

Supporting parents who lose their babies

Please help raise money for “Petals”

Petals  is a charity that provides free counselling and support to parents who lose a baby.

Child birth for most of us is a time of joy. But a small percentage of parents lose their babies shortly before, during, or after birth. For these unfortunate people what should be a time of expectancy and joy is transformed into a time of unbearable grief and heartache. The pain doesn’t go away.

Just try to imagine it.

In their own words “Petals provides specialised counselling for parents suffering trauma or loss during pregnancy and birth”.

Raising money for Petals

Jonathan Mead is running in the ASICS 10km run in London to raise money for Petals.

In July 2017 Jonathan Mead and his wife Lia Shimada lost their baby Rowan. Here are Jonathan’s own words;

“After Rowan died, we had incredible support from Petals — a small charity that offers specialist counselling for parents who have lost an infant. They walked with us through the aftermath of Rowan’s death, and again through the difficult, frightening experience of Lia’s pregnancy with Brecon. We now want to help this charity, which operates on a limited budget, as they support other families through the frequently hidden, life-shattering experience of baby loss.

“On the 21 July, I will be running the British 10k in central London to raise money for Petals”.

Please visit Jonathan’s “just giving” page to donate

There is happiness too…

I am sure even people who have not experienced it, can imagine that if you have lost your first baby, getting pregnant again will be a time of great anxiety.

I am delighted to say that Jonathan and Lia successfully gave birth to baby Brecon on 9 March 2019.

“Remember My Baby”

What is my involvement in this story?

I first met Jonathan and Lia in the maternity ward of Kingston Hospital on 13 July 2017.

I was there in my capacity as a volunteer photographer for the UK charity “Remember My Baby”.  I was responding to an urgent request for a rememberance photographer. Most of the requests we get are urgent.

I quote from the “Remember My Baby” website;

‘Remember My Baby’ (RMB) is a UK based registered charity which offers a gift of baby remembrance photography to all UK parents experiencing the loss of their baby before, during or shortly after birth.

Our goal is to offer a service of baby remembrance photography to all parents suffering the loss of their baby in every hospital and birth centre across the UK.

I may write about “Remember My Baby” and the work we do one day. But in the meantime please visit Jonathan’s just giving page and donate something to Petals.

Petals makes a real difference to individual suffering human beings

We are all of us constantly bombarded by requests from charities for help. Most are worthy causes and we as individuals can’t support them all. But Petals is a small charity that makes a real difference to individual human beings who need compassion and support right now (yes, even now this story is being repeated in homes and hospitals throughout the country).

I know because I see it.

photo shoot for Rosemary Lloyd, Miss Pure United Kingdom 2019

Photo shoot for Rosemary Lloyd, Miss Pure United Kingdom

Rosemary Lloyd is Miss Pure United Kingdom 2019

Rosemary Lloyd is already “Miss Pure United Kingdom 2019”. But she jetted off to the USA to compete in the “Miss Pure International” pageant.

Rosemary won 8 awards at the “Miss Pure International” pageant!

Rosemary Lloyd has just returned from the United States where she was competing in the “Miss Pure International 2019” pageant, where she won a total of 8 awards;

  1. Miss Congeniality
  2. Academic winner
  3. Print model
  4. Crowned to serve Essay
  5. Be the impact project
  6. Creative writing
  7. Artwork
  8. International Queen 2nd runner up

Knowing Rosemary some of these awards didn’t surprise me. For example “Miss Congeniality”. You can get a good taste of Rosemary’s nature if you watch the video clips she posts on her facebook page.

I was more surprised by the “Crowned to serve” essay, because I happen to know that Rosemary is dyslexic. When I asked Rosemary about this I made a new discovery – Rosemary is a published poet!

I don’t want to write a lot about Rosemary here. Anyone who is interested can easily find interviews with Rosemary Lloyd on the internet.

Rosemary Lloyd’s photo shoot

Rosemary needed some photos for the Miss Pure pageant. I took these photos in my studio last February (2019) but they have been under embargo until recently.Photo shoot for Rosemary Lloyd, Miss Pure United Kingdom 2019 Photo shoot for Rosemary Lloyd, Miss Pure United Kingdom 2019 Photo shoot for Rosemary Lloyd, Miss Pure United Kingdom 2019 Photo shoot for Rosemary Lloyd, Miss Pure United Kingdom 2019 Photo shoot for Rosemary Lloyd, Miss Pure United Kingdom 2019 Photo shoot for Rosemary Lloyd, Miss Pure United Kingdom 2019

The creative team on this photo shoot

Rosemary Lloyd did her own make up.

The designer is Forever Devine.

dog photography in kingston upon thames, surrey

Dog Photography in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey

Dog photography in my studio in Kingston

Dog photography is one of my favourite things. I photograph dogs in my studio, and also on location. Running, playing, or just being in a natural environment. I will even mix sessions so you can have some time in the studio and some time on location.  However if we are going to mix photography in the studio with shooting on location, we will always start in the studio. That is to say, with a clean dog!

Check out the pet and dog photography gallery on my website for some samples.

How can I photograph a dog in a good pose?

That is potentially a problem. Although it does depend a lot on the dog, and the relationship between the dog and it’s owner.

Now if you have four dogs, the problem is raised to the power of four!

Or is it?

The solution is…

The solution is to make a composite image.

From the moment this potential client first told me on the phone that she wanted a photograph of four dogs all together, so she could have a large picture of them to hang on her wall, I knew I was going to take four photographs – one of each dog – and put them together in a composite image. But it is important you plan ahead, and do this the right way. Because it is possible to make life difficult for yourself if you don’t remember a few good principles.

Photographing dog number 1

“Tilley” is elderly in these photos. She tends to hang her head. And like most dogs, she doesn’t find a camera particularly interesting so she is more likely to look anywhere else.  Most dogs tend to look toward their owner (or handler) for guidance. Well, I am guessing it is for guidance. It may be for guidance, or reassurance, or “am I allowed to do this?” So if you want a dog to look towards the camera, it can help to bring the owner close to the camera. But only works if the dog is really well trained to stay put – otherwise the dog will probably just walk up to the camera!

So it is partly a matter of being patient, trying to catch the dog’s attention, and taking photos until you capture some good candidates. It usually doesn’t take very long.

Here are some of the photos I took of Tilley. File file number 8947 is the one I decided to use.

dog photography in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey

Photogaphing dog number 2

Same problem. The dog is interested in everything but the camera.

Of course I have a few squeeky toys. But these usually only attract the dog’s attention for a few moments. So you have to have your hand ready on the shutter.

Image 9036 is the best for my photography in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey

Photographing dog number 3

Dog number 3 was the most energetic of the spaniels. But I wanted to have this dog lying down so I could compose a more pleasing group photo. I did not want all the dogs to be in the same pose – I was aiming for some variety. It was also necessary that all four dogs could be fitted in close to each other without wasting space in the final image. Therefore it seemed a good idea to have this dog lying down in front of the other dogs. Overlapping but not obscuring.

Not rolling on your back though! Silly dog! There are a number of interesting shots here. But my client has a very specific agenda – she wants to buy one picture for the wall that includes all four dogs.

So image 9068 is the one I will use. Notice how I have brought this dog further forward on the studio floor – ie closer to the camera than the other dogs. Thus the camera will be “looking down at” this dog more, in comparison to the other dogs.

Because I have kept the camera in the same place, with all the same settings, this dog will appear to be naturally in front of the first two dogs in the final composite image. I am also using a very deep depth of field so all dogs are sharply in focus, even though some are significantly closer to the camera than others.

dog photography in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey

Photographing dog number 4

Not a spaniel this time.

It is important when photographing several animals for a group composite photo that the image as a whole looks consistent. Therefore I shot with the camera on a tripod. I was using a zoom lens but I did not change the focal length of the lens throughout all the photos. That means dog number 4 is smaller in the frame than the other dogs. He is also the smallest dog. But I resist the temptation to zoom in on him. I want all four dogs to be located in their own positions in the final shot. I also want them to be the correct size relative to each other. For this reason also I leave the camera in the same place, at the same focal length for all the photographs.

I am using a relatively small aperture so I have a deep depth of field. So once again, the final photo will look consistant across all four dogs.  Image 8993 is the one I selected for the final composite photography in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey

So here are the four final images in their “before” and “after” states

Now it is just a question of stitching the photos together. Each dog has his or her own layer in Photoshop. It is also necessary to make some masks (this is not the place to describe any of this).

dog photography in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey

Here are the four individual dog photographs

You just gotta love them! I am sure no dog lover can look at these images without smiling!
dog photography in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey dog photography in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey dog photography in Kingston upon Thames, Surreydog photography in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey

And here is the final composite image

I had to make some masks so I could place the lying down dog in front of the other dogs. Making masks is usually the most time consuming part of making composite images.

dog photography in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey



Would you like to book your own dog photography session?

There are links on my website describing how to book a photo shoot, and other stuff like terms and conditions. I book dog photography sessions just like other photography sessions.

I can photograph your dog, or dogs, in my studio or on location if you prefer actions shots. We can even mix the two together.

If you are bringing your dog to my studio for a photo shoot, please make sure the dog(s) are clean! If it is raining we can dry their paws when they come indoors. There are no parking restrictions in my road, so with luck you won’t have far to walk from your car to my door.

My recommendations for composite dog photography

If you are a photographer and want to try your hand at composites like this one, it helps to bear a few simple principles in mind to make your life easier;

  1. I recommend making sure every dog is photographed in the spot (on the floor) in which s/he will be in the final composite image. Thus the relationship of the camera to each dog is consistent for all the animals. It makes your life easier if a dog “on the back row” is photographed “on the back row”. You might be tempted to take large photos of each dog and stitch them together in Photoshop. And you could do that (especially if you hope to sell individual photos of the dogs). But if you do this, you will have to estimate how large each dog should be in the final image! You might get it wrong, and the owner will notice. If you place each dog “on his/her own spot” for the photography, you won’t have this problem. Because the size of each dog will have been captured correctly in camera.
    Thus, in this example, the spaniel lying down is at the front. I shot him in that position, nearest to the camera. The two spaniels further back were further back on the floor.
    Working this way also guarantees that the shadows look consistent for every dog, because they are all being lit by the same lights.
  2. Use exactly the same lighting and camera settings for every photo. Choose an aperture that allows a deep depth of field, so every dog is sharp no matter where s/he is located on the floor. In this example I was shooting at F14 using a full frame camera.
  3. A plain background definitely makes your job easier when it comes to stitching the photos together.

Shooting a white subject against a white background

When shooting a white subject against a white background it is important to get your exposure correct. It is essential that you avoid overexposure, because this bleaches out all the detail in the highlights. For example, you need to see the texture of the dogs’ hair. It helps if you have some black sheets or boards to the sides of your subject. This reduces the light falling on the sides of the dogs.

Post production

To make the composite, first you need to edit all the images so they are totally consistent with each other. In this example the background has to be the same shade of white. Contrast, saturation and colour balance (etc) are all consistent.

You will need to put each dog on his or her own layer in Photoshop. Masks need to be made where their bodies overlap in the final composite image.

The wee brown dog

The wee brown dog adds a quirky “something”. And he is after all an equal member of the family!

Photography model Yollanda Musa is interviewed by photographer Ian Trayner

Model Yollanda Musa interviewed by Ian Trayner

Yollanda Musa talks candidly about modelling

This post includes a candid interview with photography model Yollanda Musa (at the bottom there is a link to download Yollanda’s “app” which includes a link to a special model portfolio offer from myself).

As a photographer I work with many models

As a professional photographer I deliberately keep my work varied. Most of my work is family photography (ie families, children, maternity, babies and dogs) but I also do commercial photography and some fashion photography.

In the course of my work I meet quite a few models. I don’t think it is possible to generalise about models, but I am somewhat fascinated with what motivates people to become models.  I prefer to be less visible, so I would find being a model very challenging indeed.

I want to do a series of occasional interviews with models who are happy to talk to us. That is to say models who are willing to give us an insight into what their work involves. I am very pleased to say that Yollanda Musa is the first model who has agreed to be interviewed for Circle of Life Photography.

Yollanda Musa is one of my favourite photography models

We all have “favourite people”, and Yollanda Musa is one of mine. We have collaborated on a number of photo shoots. Yollanda is very beautiful (with the caveat that beauty is always in the eye of the beholder) but she is also honest, caring and modest, and she has a very professional work ethic. A successful model’s personality and nature really are just as important (in my opinion) as what they look like.

“Pandora’s Box” photo shoot

I first met Yollanda Musa on a photo shoot organised by Samantha at PortraitX.  Samantha asked me to do an interpretation of the theme “Pandora’s Box”, and the resulting images were published in Secret Eden Magazine. You can read a blog post about the Pandora’s Box photo shoot elsewhere in my blog.

Model Yollanda Musa is interviewed by photographer Ian Trayner

I saw Yollanda’s potential immediately and I invited her to model for me on a photo shoot that was inspired by the film “Battleship” – or more specifically her role was inspired by the character in the film played by Rihanna. Since then Yollanda Musa and I have worked together on a number of photo shoots.

Interview with Yollanda Musa

Yollanda, thank you very much for agreeing to talk to us. My first question is why did you become a model?

My initial interest in modelling came from watching America’s Next Top Model.  This is a reality TV series that gives you an insight into the models personalities, as the models are filmed behind the scenes and in the models house. The models on the show are hard-working, and determined “go getters” just like me. So this really inspired me.

A key moment for me was when the models were asked to face challenges such as cutting their hair. The models’ passion to succeed meant they were willing to take on this challenge.

I have always loved taking on a challenge. For example at school I struggled with maths, so to challenge myself I chose to study an Economics degree, knowing very well that I would have to complete modules with advanced maths. The thought of tackling this challenge excited me and my greatest achievement was attaining a 2:1 degree in Economics.

After graduating in 2014, I decided to also take on the challenge of pursuing a modelling career despite doubts I had about being “too short” and not standing out in a saturated industry.

I was inspired to apply for a UK modelling reality series called Born to Model UK which was similar to America’s Next Top Model and this was one my first proper modelling experience. I was the shortest model on this series and I reached the top 5. I am really proud of this achievement and this was the start of my journey as a petite model.

How has modelling influenced your self confidence, your self esteem, and anything else relevant?

My journey as a model has been about facing challenges and with this my confidence has grown. Public speaking is something I used to hate. I used to hate delivering presentations at university or even answering questions in class. I participated in my first beauty pageant in 2015 and delivered a speech on empowering women through education and enterprise. I really surprised myself by going up on stage and delivering this speech with confidence. My friends and family could not believe this was shy Yolly on stage!

I have also gone on to model swimwear. I decided to do this because I lacked confidence in my body shape growing up. My first experience modelling swimwear was at the Miss Pride of Africa UK beauty pageant in 2015. I did a lot of research to find the right swimwear to match my bodyshape. This was really important as choosing the right swimwear meant I felt comfortable and looked confident on stage.

Do you enjoy doing the modelling? What are the things you like most and dislike most? (your answer may address different kinds of modelling)

I enjoy fitness shoots the most as I have always been passionate about sport and keeping fit.

I did a Battleship movie-inspired shoot with a fitness theme with photographer Ian Trayner. [Ian writes; Yollanda’s role in the photo shoot was inspired by a character played by Rihanna in the film – young, small, feminine and tough. I split this shoot into two blogs posts which you can find here and here] This was my first fitness themed shoot. The results from this shoot were amazing and really highlighted that I was well suited to do fitness shoots. The images really showed off my toned body and I received such positive feedback from people saying I was in great shape and should model for brands like Nike or Adidas. I realised that the modelling industry is actually quite diverse and I found a category of modelling that is well suited for my body shape.

Model Yollanda Musa is interviewed by photographer Ian Trayner



Model Yollanda Musa is interviewed by photographer Ian TraynerMy least favourite thing about modelling is the long waiting hours. In particular at fashion shows where sometimes you arrive at 10am for a show starting at 7pm. Makeup and rehearsals take up the most part of the day. I have learnt to use this time effectively by using this time to network and take behind-the-scenes material for social media.

Model Yollanda Musa photographed by Ian Trayner, photographer in Kingston upon Thames

Can you give us a list of awards and things you have won please?

I was nominated for Petite Model of the Year and Hardworking Star of the Year at DC Hotshots Awards.

I was nominated for Social Media Influencer of the Year at The Black Awards 2018.

I won Miss Hertfordshire 2017 Sports Award.

I won a Woman of Purpose Award in 2017.

I won the Miss Pride of Africa UK 2015 Southern Region Princess title.

I was a finalist in Top Model UK 2016 (Commercial Category).

Why do you enter these pageants etc?

My reasons for entering a pageant are different for each pageant as pageants usually have a mission statement unique to each pageant. I am often motivated to apply for a pageant based on how passionate I am about the mission statement.

Miss Swimsuit UK’s mission statement is to “Be Confident, Be Fun and Be You.” This motivated me to apply as the swimwear pageant encourages women to be confident in being themselves.

[Yollanda has her own blog, Diary of a 5 foot 2 Model where you can read more about her entry into Miss Swimsuit UK, 2019]

I understand that your original sponsor for Miss Swimsuit UK fell through for some reason, and that is why I stepped in at the last minute to sponsor you. I know that some people regard all beauty pageants, and swimsuit competitions in particular, to be degrading to women. But obviously many women want to participate, and presumably do not feel degraded by the process. I would welcome your thoughts on this?

I have never entered a swimwear competition before so this is a new experience for me. So many model castings have requirements for models of a particular height or size which restricts models from entering if they don’t meet those requirements. Miss Swimsuit UK welcomes women of all shapes and sizes as there are no restrictions on height, weight or body type. I find this empowering rather than degrading.

I would like to say a special thank you to my sponsor for this event Ian Trayner. Not only did Ian sponsor me; but we actually had a discussion prior to me submitting my application where Ian gave his expert opinion on my potential as a model and this motivated me to apply. It also helps when I review the swimwear images for the Afrokini swimwear shoot that I did with Ian which were amazing. I believe a strong portfolio has been a key accelerator in my progress.

Miss Swimsuit UK semi-finalist Yollanda Musa, photographed by Ian Trayner

What are your plans for the future? I mean in modelling, but you can expand to include life in general if you want. And how can someone contact you? 

I have a background in business development where I have developed marketing, networking and client management skills and used these skills to develop my modelling career. My goal is to set up a platform to connect business owners in the creative industry and support them with developing these essential business skills.

The best way to contact me is via email

My website is coming soon so keep an eye on

Please do also follow @YollandaMusa on Instagram , Facebook, Youtube, Twitter and Linked In.

And subscribe to my blog to follow my journey as a model Diary of a 5ft 2 Model.

I have experience in marketing and business development so I collaborate with individuals and brands who are looking for promotion, or looking to be connected with other professionals in the industry.

I also provide mentoring for upcoming models. Specifically I have mentored a few models participating in beauty pageants or modelling competitions. [Ian has put together a special photography offer for aspiring models who need some high quality images for their portfolios – see the link to Yollanda Musa’s app below].

I also do hosting, backstage interviews and behind the scenes social media videos such as Instagram, Facebook live and snapchat for events. Get in touch if you need that added feature at your events.

Yollanda, thank you very much for talking to us. I am sure many people will find your experiences very interesting. Personally I am very impressed by the way you are willing to take on things that are difficult!

Download Yollanda Musa’s custom app with a special photography offer!

Ian and Yollanda have brought out “Yollanda Musa’s model app“. You can view it online or you can download it to your phone. Currently the app has;

  1. More photos of Yollanda Musa
  2. Yollanda Musa’s contact information
  3. A link to Yollanda Musa’s blog
  4. A link to a very special photography offer for aspiring models who want high quality images for their portfolios. This is an offer from Ian Trayner at Circle of Life Photography, based in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey.

The first time you open the app on a mobile phone you should be asked if you want to install the app, or just view it online. If you install the app it should update every time you open it (if you are connected to the web). I believe different types of phones handle the code slightly differently from each other.

Model Yollanda Musa is interviewed by photographer Ian Trayner

Commercial swimwear photo shoot

Commercial swimwear photo shoot

Swimwear photo shoot – Afrokini bikini

Our model for this swimwear photo shoot is the beautiful black model Yollanda Musa. She is wearing the “Gugu” style bikini made by swimwear brand “Afrokini“. Afrokini uses African-inspired colours and designs in it’s swimsuits. Hence it was very appropriate to use a black model for this swimwear photo shoot. I have worked with Yollanda Musa several times, and we have a very good professional working relationship.

Make up colour coordination

Make up was by Chesmi Rodrigo. We decided to coordinate the colour of Yollanda’s make up with the mauve colour on her bikini.Make up by Chesmi Rodrigo, photography by Ian Trayner in Kingston, model is Yollanda Musa

Bikini photo shoot for catalogue and promotion

This swimwear photo shoot was done in my studio in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey. The aim was to start by taking fairly “standard” catalogue photographs of a beautiful black model wearing the bikini. And once we had these photos “in the bag”, to capture some more dramatic photographs for promotional purposes.

Shooting a black model in a bikini against a “white” background

I wanted to start by taking fairly standard catalogue style photos against a white background.  However Afrokini already has photos of a model wearing this bikini against a bright white background, and I did not want to repeat those. Therefore, although I used a plain white background in my studio, it appears darker because I did not shine light directly on it. When you use a white background in a photo studio, the degree of darkening is readily controlled by how much light you shine on it in the studio. The darkness of the white background can also be adjusted later in post production, ie on the computer using Photoshop. As a matter of fact I have increased the vignetting in the first photograph below in Photoshop.Beautiful black model Yollanda Musa wearing bikini "Gugu" from Afrokini. Commercial swimwear photo shoot. Photograph by Ian Trayner in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey

How to use light to flatter the female body

I wanted to light my model in a way that is flattering to her body. Yollanda Musa is blessed with a very beautiful body (and face), and I wanted to really show her off. This is something I would naturally do with any client (commercial or private) who hires me for a beauty photo shoot, or a model experience photo shoot.

One of my specialities is lighting the human form to make it look good.

Notice how I have emphasised the beauty of Yollanda’s body by creating highlights and shadows that show her natural three dimensional shape.

Lighting with studio flash

For these first “black model in a bikini” photos (against the white background) I used two studio flash units;

The main (key) light was provided by a gridded soft box to the left of Yollanda (as you look at her) and slightly above her head height. I wanted the light source to be slightly higher than Yollanda’s head, but I also wanted it to shine into her eyes. As a general rule, you want a model’s eyes to be well lit for beauty photography.  Yollanda’s eyes are clearly visible, with a bright highlight. Notice how the highlights and shadows from this key light flatter Yollanda’s body. The soft box was relatively small, and was fitted with a grid. Thus the light is relatively directional. This also avoids excessive spill of light onto the white background.

The second light was a studio flash fitted with a tall gridded soft box. It was positioned behind Yollanda and to the right (as you look at the model). Notice how this helps to further enhance the “three dimensional quality” of Yollanda’s body. It gives a subtle silky sheen to her skin where it reflects off. In the photo above it also provides a slim rim light on her elbow that helps to separate Yollanda’s body from the background.

High heels help with the model’s posture

High heeled shoes are usually flattering – I think we all know this. But it isn’t just at the level of the feet – high heels change the overall posture, weight distribution, and muscular tension in  ways that are flattering. (I am not recommending high heels for any other purpose!)

But we don’t want the shoes to distract the eye away from the clothes

In the full length photo below, notice how Yollanda’s high heels do not distract the eye from the more important parts of the photo. In fact Yollanda’s shoes are almost invisible. From the point of view of the designer, the most important parts of the photo are those that show the clothes. In this case the model’s bikini.

If Yollanda’s shoes were black they would attract the eye (because of the extra contrast against the pale background). If her shoes were white they would look OK against a pale background, but they might be distracting to the eye if we had selected a dark background.

There isn’t a “right” or “wrong” about this. It is a matter of what is appropriate. But overall,  transparent high heels are “a good thing” from the point of view of photographic safety, and versatility.

Beautiful black model Yollanda Musa wearing bikini "Gugu" from Afrokini. Commercial swimwear photo shoot. Photograph by Ian Trayner in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey


The power of dramatic lighting in a bikini photo shoot

Once we had a set of “safe” catalogue shots of our bikini in the bag, we wanted to capture some images that were a bit more dramatic for our swimwear photo shoot.

I decided to create images with a relatively high contrast, using dramatic rear lighting and strong colours. I decided to use “cold” blue and green coloured lights with a pale wig to give an “ice” effect. And I decided to use red lights and a black wig for a “fire” effect.

“Fire and ice” bikini images

“Ice” bikini photos

The key light on Yollanda is provided by a 21 inch beauty dish fitted with a grid. This is one of my favourite lighting modifiers. The key light is white, so as not to change the colours of the bikini – at least the top part.

Yollanda is lit from behind using three speedlights. Two are firing through blue gels, and one is firing through a green gel. I love what the coloured lights do to Yollanda’s hair against the black background, and I love the blue and green rim lights on her body. These help show off the curves of her profile. I have written about using coloured gels with flash photography in a previous blog post.

Beautiful black model Yollanda Musa wearing bikini "Gugu" from Afrokini. Commercial swimwear photo shoot. Photograph by Ian Trayner in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey


Adding coloured mist to our bikini photos

I wanted to add more drama to our swimear photo shoot. I did this by using a water spray to catch and diffuse the coloured lights behind Yollanda.

This is very easy to do. All you need is a cheap spray bottle (such as you use for misting plants) and a means of co-ordinating the spray with firing the camera. I used a remote trigger to fire my camera, and sprayed the spray myself. But you can use an assistant to do the spray if you have one (and don’t have a remote camera trigger). Obviously you need a tripod or other stable support for your camera if the photographer has to do the spraying himself (or herself).

It is important to make sure you don’t spray your lights! If you are short of space you can put clear plastic bags over your flash units.

The water spray settles quite quickly with gravity, so you need to coordinate the spraying and shooting. You will find every shot is different from the one before, and you can play around for a while capturing images that are slightly different from each other. You will find some work much better than others.

If you go on for a while you can end up with a bottle worth of water on the studio floor too (I have a plastic paddling pool I use for catching the water).

Beautiful black model Yollanda Musa wearing bikini "Gugu" from Afrokini. Commercial swimwear photo shoot. Photograph by Ian Trayner in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey

Beautiful black model Yollanda Musa wearing bikini "Gugu" from Afrokini. Commercial swimwear photo shoot. Photograph by Ian Trayner in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey

“Fire” bikini photos

To photograph Yollanda “on fire” I used red gels on the speedlights behind her. These give the curves of her body a lovely red rim light. I added the flames on the computer in post production.

Beautiful black model Yollanda Musa wearing bikini "Gugu" from Afrokini. Commercial swimwear photo shoot. Photograph by Ian Trayner in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey

Accreditation for this swimwear photo shoot

Model: Yollanda Musa (she has a website coming soon I am told)
Make up: Chesmi Rodrigo
Swimsuit: Afrokini (On the website is says their swimwear is “waterproof”. I guess that is true, but it made me chuckle).