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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.

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.

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

photo shoot for make up artist Alice Edwards. Model is Gina Godfrey. Photographer is Ian Trayner, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey

Photo shoot for make up artist, Alice Edwards

Photo shoot for make up artist (MUA)

Make up artists (MUAs) need good professional portfolios to showcase their work. This post is about a photo shoot I did for a local make up artist, Alice Edwards.

Alice is a freelance make up artist with 2 years of commercial experience. Currently she is studying for a Bachelors Degree in Production Arts Hair and Make Up at Kingston College, in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey. Alice asked me to take photographs to document a specific make up look she was doing for a college assessment. I have worked with Alice before, and was happy to oblige. My photographs provide a record of her work, and will be included in her professional make up artist portfolio.

I am only including a few of my photographs from this photo shoot in this blog post.

Alice arranged for model Gina Godfrey to help by providing her face.

Alice and I have both worked with Gina before, so we knew we were getting a model who is reliable. In my opinion “reliability” is one of the most important skills a model can possess.

Gina is also blessed with very good skin, and beautiful eyes. So I sort of think Alice was stacking the odds in her favour!

I wanted to provide photographic variety

Taking photographs for the make up artist

My main priority was to make a high quality record of Alice’s skill as a make up artist, that she could use in her portfolio. We would only be taking head shots, so we didn’t have to think about using other props, and a plain background would be suitable.

I needed to photograph the make up in detail, so I had to light my model, Gina, accordingly.

Taking photographs for Gina’s modelling portfolio

But I also wanted to provide some photographic variety for Gina’s modelling portfolio. We wouldn’t have time to make major changes to lighting or location, so I set up some lights that would provide adaptability.

Travelling light (weight) with minimal kit

I also wanted to travel light, so may main kit consisted of two speedlights, a couple of lighting modifiers from Damian McGillicuddy, and the Olympus EM-1 mark2 camera fitted with a 45mm F1.8 lens. Because the Olympus has a micro four thirds chip, a 45mm lens is the equivalent of a 90mm lens on a camera that has a full frame sensor (such as my Nikons). In other words, this prime lens is an ideal lens for flattering portraits. It is also extremely sharp. Incidentally, this is the sharpest lens I have ever used… and Olympus has just brought out a new, better,  45mm F1.2 prime lens. Which costs nearly 5 times as much. Hmmm.

Photographic variety was achieved simply by changing the positions of the lights, and particularly the amount of light cast on the background. The background was a pale grey area of wall. (In fact it was a writing board of some kind I believe). But one can make this appear totally white if it is brightly lit. All the photos I took used the same background. The background appears to be darker in some images because I was controlling how much light fell on it.

setting up the lighting for the background


I used a 21 inch DMLS modifier to provide the main (or key) light on the model, Gina Godfrey. You can just see it (in soft box configuration) on the left in the photo.

I also used a foldable Lastolite reflector to empirically control the brightness (and direction) of the fill light. I used a human light stand to hold this (her name is Alice Edwards).

The resulting images (of which only a few are shown here) provide a series of images that show Alice’s make up, and some additional images that are not useful for showing make up, but provide the model,  Gina Godfrey, more variety for her modelling portfolio.

Photo shoot for make up artist Alice Edwards. Model is Gina Godfrey. Photograph by Ian Trayner, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey. Photo shoot for make up artist Alice Edwards. Model is Gina Godfrey. Photograph by Ian Trayner, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey. Photo shoot for make up artist Alice Edwards. Model is Gina Godfrey. Photograph by Ian Trayner, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey. Photo shoot for make up artist Alice Edwards. Model is Gina Godfrey. Photograph by Ian Trayner, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey.


Using Photoshop to give a natural look – detail

I think even the general public is aware that models can be “over photoshopped” so they end up looking, er… “different”, and even unnatural. My personal preference is to retain a natural look that is flattering, while removing temporary blemishes.

You can still see every pore on her skin, and every fine hair on the model’s face. And she still looks gorgeous. Just naturally gorgeous.

As a photographer, I was particularly pleased that you can’t see Gina’s own eyelashes. That is to say they are completely hidden by the artificial eyelashes that Alice has added.

Sometimes, when artificial eyelashes have been added, you can see the model’s own eyelashes underneath. They often don’t look nice, and have to be removed in post production. For example they may be a different colour, and more curly, than the artificial eyelashes. So a second set of eyelashes, which are a different shape and colour from the main eyelashes – well, it doesn’t look good! I am not a make up artist, and I don’t know why sometimes you can see them, and sometimes you can’t. But you usually have to look closely to notice them.

Photo shoot for make up artist Alice Edwards. Model is Gina Godfrey. Photograph by Ian Trayner, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey.

family photo shoot, photography in Kingston

Family photo shoot in Kingston upon Thames

Would you like your family photo shoot in the studio, or on location?

Why not both?

All my photo shoots, whether they are a family photo shoot, a commercial shoot, or a fashion shoot, are custom designed for my clients.

“Emma’s Diary”

I am primarily a baby and family photographer, and I work in association with “Emma’s Diary“. That means I have special offers for customers who come from Emma’s Diary. It also means I can enter photos of their babies into the “Baby of the Month” competition that is run in association with Emma’s Diary. Each month 5 lucky parents receive £100 Mothercare vouchers, and there is a rather more substantial prize of £5,000 at the end of each year, for the “Baby of the Year”.

Recently I did a photo shoot with a young family who came to me via Emma’s Diary, and they wanted to enter their baby into the “Baby of the Month” competition.

Bespoke family photography

Everyone who books me for a photo shoot is entitled to a “pre-shoot consultation”. This is when I talk through the photo shoot with my client. We talk about what style of photography to use, and what they want to end up with at the end of their photo shoot.These consultations are best done face to face in my photo studio. However (not surprisingly) most pregnant mums, or new mums, prefer to do it over the phone. We can also exchange images by e-mail.

(Many clients don’t really know what they want to end up with, so one of my roles is to talk through the various options).

So… mum and I discussed how to approach this “baby photo shoot”. Very quickly this turned into a “family photo shoot plus baby”.  And shortly after that, it became a “location photo shoot” as well as a “studio photo shoot”. Not bad progress for just a few minutes of chatting.

I love having the luxury of being able to  design my photo shoots in a bespoke manner for individual clients. I am also able to give my customers the time they need to capture the images they want.

Shooting on location

We drove to a location just a few minutes from my studio. The result is some beautiful images of a very photogenic family, in a photogenic location, with a very, very cute baby (he has the most amazing eyes).

Would you like to hire me for your family photo shoot?

Click this link to find out about booking your own  “professional photo shoot“.
family photo shoot on location in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey family photo shoot on location in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey family photo shoot on location in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey family photo shoot on location in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey family photo shoot on location in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey family photo shoot on location in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey


 Health and safety…

I hope you might be amused by this photoshop trickery

family photo shoot in my studio in Kingston upon Thames, Surreyfamily photo shoot in my studio in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey

Rihanna-inspired photo shoot, part 2

Fashion photo shoot inspired by Rihanna

This photo shoot was inspired by a character that Rihanna plays in the film “Battleship“. She plays a small and very feminine “weapons officer”, who is totally at home in a very macho environment. Our “macho environment” is a large warehouse/factory that was originally used for building submarines! Although it is no longer used for that purpose.

Selected images from the photo shoot

I already shared some photos from the first part of this shoot (although I have just added some “behind the scenes” shots taken by Martin Brown to that post). Now I am sharing a few action shots, plus one more portrait of Yollanda’s face. This is because I want to show the quality of Viya La Belle’s make up.

When factory catches fire, Yollanda has to act, and act fast.

Rihanna-inspired photo shoot, Yollanda Musa, Ian Trayner, fashion photo shoot Rihanna-inspired photo shoot, Yollanda Musa, Ian Trayner, fashion photo shootRihanna-inspired photo shoot, Yollanda Musa, Ian Trayner, fashion photo shoot Rihanna-inspired photo shoot, Yollanda Musa, Ian Trayner, fashion photo shoot Rihanna-inspired photo shoot, Yollanda Musa, Ian Trayner, fashion photo shoot Rihanna-inspired photo shoot, Yollanda Musa, Ian Trayner, fashion photo shoot

Photography methods

In order to capture a sense of movement as Yollanda runs, I “dragged the shutter” and panned the camera to create the linearly blurred background. But I also wanted to see Yollanda clearly, so I added some rear sync flash, to freeze her action in the final instant of the exposure.

So, the resulting images of Yollanda running are in effect two images captured in the same exposure, and superimposed on each other. One is a slow exposure using ambient light, and the other is a frozen moment as the flash fires.


Model: Yollanda Musa
Make up: Viya La Belle
Photographer’s assistant: Martin Brown

Behind the scenes photos by Martin Brown

These “behind the scenes” photos were taken by Martin Brown, and I am very grateful to him for allowing me to share them with you.

Rihanna-inspired photo shoot, fashion photo shoot, Martin Brown, Ian Trayner, Yollanda Musa, Viya La Belle Rihanna-inspired photo shoot, fashion photo shoot, Martin Brown, Ian Trayner, Yollanda Musa, Viya La Belle Rihanna-inspired photo shoot, fashion photo shoot, Martin Brown, Ian Trayner, Yollanda Musa, Viya La Belle

Ian Trayner, high key portrait photography

The enduring appeal of high key portrait photography

What is high key portrait photography?

The expression “high key photography” is actually ambiguous. It can mean that the entire photo has a bright, pale look. Or it can mean that the photo uses a pale background, or a bright white backround. It is the latter meaning that I am using here.

Why choose high key portrait photography?

  • Having a plain background helps emphasise the subject, because there is nothing else to distract the eye
  • High key photography is unlikely to “date”, even if the clothes in the picture do!
  • In general, hIgh key photos are “bright” and “cheerful”
  • You need a reasonably skilled photographer to take a good high key portrait. Most high key portraits will have been taken in a professional studio

Tech photo stuff

Why aren’t there any strong shadows on the background? Because the background is lit seperately from the subject, and will probably be lit a bit brighter.

If the light falling on the background is a lot brighter than the light falling on the subject, the background can itself become I light source. A photographer may, or may not, desire this effect. The amount of light that is thrown forward onto the  subject also depends on the distance between the subject and the background. There are lighting tutorials on the web if you want to learn how to do high key portrait photography.

How is it possible to show white clothes against a white background? Because the photographer has used precisely the correct exposure for the clothes. Most fabrics have an uneven texture that gives you variations in brightness. If the amount of light falling on the background is more than that landing on the clothes, the clothes will be slightly pale grey overall. However the eye will still perceive them to be white, because the mind “knows” they are white. Most photographers will use a light meter to measure how much light there is, and adjust it to suit.

Are there different “styles” of high key photography?

Yes indeed. This is a subject I may explore in a future blog post. But for now I will just say that I usually use a main light (falling on the subject) that is stronger than my fill light (falling on my subject). This allows me to use shadows to help show the three dimensional shape of the face.

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