by Kevin Murphy Published 01/12/2015
Photographer of the Year 2015, Kevin Murphy cashes his prize in
When I won Photographer of the Year at last year's Convention, one of the prizes was to spend a day with the renowned photographers, Trevor and Faye Yerbury. Getting an opportunity to visit the studio of two of the most recognised faces in The Societies was something I couldn't wait to do, but with busy calendars I had no choice! It was worth the wait though when a suitable date became available on their Hollywood Lighting workshop in their studio just outside Edinburgh.
I'm not going to get into the techniques taught on the workshop - if you are interested in Hollywood lighting (or any of the other courses the Yerburys run: classic studio portaiture, fine art nude, wedding, etc) then I'd highly recommend booking yourself into one of their workshops. Instead, what I'm going to share here are some insights into what it was like to spend a day with the Yerburys, along with some of the images I took on the day.
All of the images were taken on a Fuji XT-1 with the 56mm f1.2 lens (which was nice and compact for my flight over). The photographs were shot using a black and white simulation on the XT1 so that the preview was in monochrome to match the Hollywood style. All images were shot in Raw though, so the colour could be recovered later if needed. The lighting used was a mix of different types of continuous lighting and we used a little studio lighting also.
I've got to confess, I was bit nervous about spending the day with Trevor and Faye. I'd never gotten a chance to attend their talks at the Convention (they sell out so fast), so I'd only ever heard them speak when they were awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award for 2013 at the Convention. That acceptance speech had the entire audience almost spell bound. They are so universally revered within the industry that I didn't know what to expect. I've got to say, they are two of the nicest souls you could meet, Trevor is a gentle giant and Faye is like a welcoming mammy! I couldn't have been made feel more at home.
So, Hollywood lighting aside, here are some things I learned that day....
1. You can be nice and successful! They are not mutually exclusive. Despite being a household name with such an amazing reputation and portfolio, Trevor and Faye are just two down-to-earth people who are passionate about what they do and work hard at it. (The Yerbury studio is pretty much the exact opposite of Gordon Ramsay's kitchen!) Maybe it's a personal thing, but I think there's a preconception that to do well in business you need to be ruthless (and Mr. Nice Guy will never make it). While this may be true in some industries, when it comes to photography and customer experience being nice, down-to-earth, relatable and empathetic are definitely advantages.
2. You don't need a big studio. I was expecting the Yerbury studio to be the equivalent of Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory for photographers - huge open spaces, high ceilings, different rooms for each setup, shelf after shelf of photography gear, Oompa Loompas running around as VALs! I couldn't have been further from reality. The studio is a very modest room, with a standard height ceiling. In fact, here's an insider secret, if you've ever seen an image from Trevor or Faye where the subject is full length then it was taken from outside of the studio through the door!
Despite this, we worked within this small space to create all of the images here. There were times when it was a little crowded - four photographers and a model along with some lighting equipment can fill a room fast - but at no point was the size of the room a restriction on creativity. In fact the restriction probably helps creativity.
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