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POrtrait of a woman staring into the window light taken remotely

Professional portraits taken remotely.

Remote portrait of Emma J Smith

During the latest lockdown I found myself discovering remote photography through following the work of Tim Dunk. Tim’s been exploring & developing this technique of taking professional portraits remotely over the last year. After following his work for a while I researched it & made my long suffering husband let me try it out on him.

The first session we did, we were just at opposite ends of the house from each other. I used the CLOS app as he had an Iphone & if I’m honest the result fascinated me. Just the fact that I had managed to connect to his phone & take over & use the camera in his phone blew my mind !

Excited & encouraged I then decided that I needed to try this out with someone further away. Enter good old ‘Uncle Rod’. My lovely Uncle Rod lives on his own in Lauder, near the Scottish borders. Rodney being a photography enthusiast himself, agreed to let me have a go with his phone. Rodney also had an Iphone, although an older model- IPhone 7

Then there is the whole strapping your phone to a tin of beans thing ……

We spent most of the session giggling like kids at the absurdity of him talking to his phone, while it was strapped to a tin of beans. Rodney went along with my clumsy attempts at directing him remotely & I did get some great & naturally unguarded portraits of him.

Remote black & white portrait of Rodney laughing holding his coffee mug Black & white portrait of Rodney taken remotely.Remote portrait of Rodney working on his modelling laughing

So of course after this ‘success’ I got really excited & decided Scotland wasn’t far enough, next stop was Australia. I persuaded another relative to let me have a go. They were in Sydney, I was in my studio in Reading. Again, success & alot of fun!

What was really surprising me was the apparent quality of the images produced. At this point I wasn’t really experimenting with exposure, or manipulating light or anything. To get a closer look I got some of them printed, they looked pretty good.

Already noticeable though was the amount of fun that came out of these sessions. I mean you can’t help but laugh, when there is someone who you can’t see & they are asking you to move into places around your home that appear to make no sense to you at all. Then there is the whole strapping your phone to a tin of beans thing …… Definitely a giggle trigger !

Next session was with a good friend of mine in her yoga studio. This is where I had a bit of a light bulb moment & started to get a bit bolder with the available light & how I used it. My directions were a bit clearer, I’d got my left from my right sorted & my hand gestures under control. No point with those when your subject can’t see you !

Her studio had some beautiful directional light & her phone was an Android based Google Pix3a I think.

Black & white portrait of a budhist man meditating, taken remotely

Iphone, Samsung, Google & Huawei all produce very different results.

 

Since then I’ve remotely photographed people in the US, Canada, Wales, Europe & met some fantastic people. The results are always unique which makes it so special & I just love how relaxed the people being photographed are. I’ve used a range of phones, Iphone, Samsung, Google & Huawei & they all produce very different results. The software has improved so much from when Tim began to pioneer this technique last year. Now its possible to get full resolution images which are only limited by your smartphone camera. The whole process is done virtually using software & a downloadable app. All you really do need to experience this is WiFi or a connection to 4G, your smartphone & a source of light.

Incredibly because the image is taken from the phone & then uploaded, it’s quality isn’t affected by the strength of the Wifi connectivity. A poor connection just affects the upload speed.  I’ve got to confess it’s quite addictive & my brain keps whirring with creative ideas for the next shoot. Truly it is an exciting innovation, I can’t see it replacing cameras for some time yet, but the possibilities for what you can do with it are geuinely exciting. The files sizes enable editing in Adobe PS or LR which is excellent.

So after experimenting with my own techniques for a few months I thought I should try it myself & get a feeling for how it is to be on the other end of the connection. I decided that  if I was going to book a session, then I should book mine with the guy who inspired me to give it a go in the first place, Mr Tim Dunk ! (Or FaceTim as he is quickly becoming known as).

It’s fair to say that I’m carrying a bit of ‘chub’ accumulated through the lockdown & that my hair hasn’t been near a hairdresser in 6 months. So all in all I’m not enjoying what I see in the mirror right now. At this point you have to sympathise with Tim right ? Not only is he photographing another photographer but a photographer who’s a bit unhappy with her appearance.

Tim was lovely, his manner was funny, but gentle & observant. We did have a laugh & I did get a great insight into how difficult it can be as the model, to follow remote direction. I also got the chance to find out a bit more about where this technique has taken him & some of the work he’s used remote shooting for. I booked the shoot for when we’d have some interesting light to play around with in my cottage & we shot 4/5 different locations & set ups in just over 40 minutes.

Tim’s style of editing is instantly recognisable, quite a vibrant overall finish. Warm & earthy midtones & shadows but almost aqua coloured highlights. Maybe a touch of redscale mimicking in his processing. I really like the bold approach that Tim has deliberately taken & decided to apply this obvious & recognisable finish to his remote shooting work.

 

Portrait of Emma J Smith Remote portrait of Emma J Smith

So far I’ve been lucky to have been invited to photograph an illustrator, two artists, a marketing freelancer, a copywriter, a software engineer, an ergonomics consultant, a musician, a Canadian master of wine, business owners at work & many beautiful people. I spent international womens day 2021 #IWD2021 photographing 2 very different but amazing women in Bristol, remotely from my studio in Reading.

If you’d like to know more please get in touch with me here.

 

If you would like to see more of the portraits I’ve produced using this remote shooting technique then please click here.

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