Working on location in Iceland was a challenge but when you have one of the best Cameras for location work then it was not too much of a problem. This article is an interview by Fuji UK about my epic adventure shoot over three weeks in one of the worlds most famous Northern Polar regions
I was invited to shoot the Fine Art Calendar 2019 for the prestigious German biscuit manufacturers, Lambertz, in Iceland – the land of fire and ice. It was a fantastic opportunity to explore the country (something I had long wanted to do for my workshops) and it was a great honour to be invited to shoot for a second time for the brand. The high quality, limited edition calendar entitled ‘PURE’, was Lambertz’s means to express their concerns around global warming, especially in the North Polar Regions. 24 images were required for the calendar, shot over a 14-day period with a multi-national production team of 24 people. The models were mainly Bulgarian but two key models were celebrities: Nena who is a famous German singer, and Rurik Gislason who is a leading Icelandic national football team player who also plays in Germany (pictured below).
For me, the FUJIFILM GFX 50S system was my first camera of choice and really offered me the quality I am familiar with and needed for this challenging shoot. The files were to be enlarged for exhibition quality but also the calendar is A2 size and would need to stand up to close scrutiny not just to the fine art community in Germany but also to the German PR machine. Whatsmore, certain TV programmes and magazines always take a keen interest in this calendar project.
The quality of the images from the GFX 50S, with the image size and the dynamic range, gave me the flexibility to process the final images into works of art. Whilst I am shooting, I am always pushing the camera to its limits, capturing at very high ISO’s and in extreme weather conditions.
The medium format camera was perfect for my style and the ergonomics of the controls meant that I had complete control over the camera. The extreme weather conditions meant that I had to change the exposure very quickly. Some other systems I’ve used in the past haven’t been flexible enough for this quick way of working, with me often losing valuable time going through menus and sub-menus to change the most simple of settings. The GFX 50S was so easy to use, so I felt comfortable using the camera from the get-go.
The art of photography is about light, shape, and form and I like to move quickly to capture the moment. I’m not keen on tripods or shooting tethered – I don’t like anything that holds the creative process back. Here, the GFX 50S really stepped up to the plate and not only offered the best capture and processing but it was also quick and easy to pack away in a backpack and go. I wasn’t hindered by the size as it is very compact for a medium format camera. I found the rear screen preview awesome and rendered pretty much as I saw it, at the moment of shooting. It allowed me to quickly evaluate the light reading, location and overall balance of the images on the fly that I could instantly relay back to the team, lighting, model, and makeup.
As a fashion photographer, I obviously like shooting with a longer lens and a shallow depth of field, to make the subject pop from the background. But in this instance, I didn’t want the beautiful Icelandic backdrop to be too soft; it was important to make the images pop but also include the scenery. So although I had a full lens selection to work with, the main lens I used was the zoom lens GF32-64mmF4. This was my lens of choice as it allowed a quick crop but also it allowed me to be flexible with my composition, whilst still making the most of the model in the scenery, as was my brief. The lenses overall were great, sturdy and bright and performed superbly well in low light and challenging weather conditions.
Every location offered a new set of challenges and I am pretty hands-on when working with the models, so editorially we would shoot an idea and then run with it. However with this shoot, many of the images were static so much more crafting with light, shape, and form was required. The direction was very important to get the idea from initial concept to the capture. Most ideas really changed on the fly as we worked the location and composition into the shot.