Richard Boll

Category Archives: Portrait Photography

UK Visual Artist Photographic Portraits 1 of 4: Gavin Turk – artist and sculptor, YBA and Saatchi ‘Sensation’ Exhibitor

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Filed under Artists, Editorial Photography, Editorial Portrait, Environmental Portrait, Fine Art Photography, Gavin Turk, London, Portrait Photography

UK Visual Artist Portrait Series

When I initially developed an interest in photography and started learning about well-known artists and photographers, I appreciated seeing photographic portraits of them in my research. Even though I didn’t know who these people were at the time, an interesting portrait can tell a visual story and open a window into that person’s world. I found it very intriguing and was curious about why that person had been photographed in a particular way. I recently decided that I’d like to continue this rich photographic tradition by taking a series of photographs of well-known visual artists currently working in the UK.

Gavin Turk

The first set of images in this series features Gavin Turk, a British-born, world-renowned international artist, and one of the Young British Artists (YBAs). The YBAs were a group of visual artists who were noted for shock tactics, use of throwaway materials, and often controversial works of art. They attracted considerable media coverage and dominated British art during the ‘Cool Britannia’ scene of the 90s.

Turk’s work deals with issues of authorship, authenticity, and identity. He has pioneered many forms of contemporary British sculpture now taken for granted, including the painted bronze, the waxwork, the recycled art-historical icon, and the use of rubbish in art. Spotted by the art collector Charles Saatchi, he was invited to take part in ‘Sensation’, the highly controversial contemporary art exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts (London) in 1997. Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, this significant exhibition drew a lot of media attention at the time and showcased work by 42 different artists, including Tracey Emin and Damien Hirst.

On the day of the shoot, I spent around three hours at Gavin’s studio in East London. The original concept that I had for this visual artist series was to take a range of photographs with four distinct elements depicting images of the artist and their work: behind-the-scenes studio shots, details referencing their work and processes, the artist at work (where possible) and more formal photographic portraits.

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This image is a reference to Turk’s work on identity and the frequent use of signatures in his work and also mimics a project carried out by the photographer Gjon Mili, who photographed Picasso drawing in the air with a torch. The effect of this portrait was created by taking a long exposure of Gavin writing his name in the air with a torch and then firing a flash to expose the room in which the photograph was taken.

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This double portrait combines two photographic portraits taken in quick succession and references Turk’s artwork: ‘Portrait of something that I’ll never really see’ (1997), a self-portrait of the artist from the neck up with his eyes closed against a blank background.

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These photographs of the interior of Turk’s studio provide an insight into the artist’s work and his influences. I’d like to thank Gavin for being so open to my ideas and generous with his time on the day of the shoot. It was a particular pleasure for me both to meet him and to take portraits of him. It’s also been great to see some of the images I’ve taken being shared on the artists’ website and social media platforms.

Watch this space for features on 3 more visual artists, currently working in the UK that I’ve also photographed, namely Adam Chodzko, Gordon Cheung, and Jake Wood-Evans. Future plans include an exhibition of the complete series of portraits of visual artists working in the UK today.

Discover more about Gavin Turk and his work by visiting his website and read about the controversial 1997 ‘Sensation’ exhibition here. More of my photographic portraiture can be seen here.

 

Corporate headshot photography: Why every business needs fresh and up-to-date professional headshots

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Filed under Corporate Portraiture, headshots, Location Photography, Portrait Photography

How professional headshots reflect and elevate your successful brand.

Professional, high-quality corporate headshot photography is a necessity for any successful, well-established company, to portray an authentic business image that suits your specific brand. These unique portraits should reflect the individual employee being shot and the overall values of the business.
Headshot photographs can be used in a variety of ways:
– They form the first impression of the business and its employees and can be used for marketing, not only on your website but also for LinkedIn profile pictures, press stories, business plans, annual reports, and presentations.
–  To help build a connection with your potential customers, as people are more likely to reach out and make enquiries if they can see the faces of the CEOs and employees behind that company.
– Brand headshots can help to represent certain values and qualities, such as warmth and sincerity, generally giving the impression of your staff being friendly and approachable.
– When new colleagues join and with more people working remotely, it’s a good way to build that connection internally and introduce new faces to the business

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Styles and approaches to headshot photography.

When producing corporate headshot photography, it’s common to shoot either against a completely neutral backdrop or to show the interior of an office space.
The advantage of using a white or grey coloured background is consistency and neat uniformity for each headshot. Every photograph, even if shoots are carried out six months apart, can look entirely uniform. It’s useful on a company page, to reflect the level of organisation and togetherness of a business. If shots are taken within an office interior, often the background will be made deliberately out of focus. You can still see the photograph is taken in an actual office, rather than against a backdrop paper. Your choice comes down to the nature of your company’s building and if it’ll suit the image you want to portray. It’s worth giving this some thought before you choose a particular style.
I’ve helped many clients in the past work out the best style of headshot photographs to suit their brand and company values. We’ve discussed various ideas and options that I’ve used previously and potential suitable locations and styles, to help make this important decision.

A professional photographer can make or break your corporate headshot photography.

Any photographer you commission will bring their own level of expertise, creativity and style to your brand headshots. Many companies that I’ve shot for have set style guides and dress codes, to ensure the same consistent approach is used by multiple photographers around the world. It doesn’t matter if the photos were taken in London, Mumbai or New York, every shot will have the same look, even if photographed on different continents by different photographers.
I photograph people using a wide range of set poses, which means I can shoot them efficiently in a fairly short space of time. Typically, I only get 15 minutes at a time (sometimes as little as 5 minutes) with each person. People don’t have hours to spend having their picture taken and my approach lets them get on with their working day.

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The old adage that everyone has a best side is absolutely true. Rather than spend a great deal of time trying to work this out, I shoot the same series of poses facing to the left and the right. By the time I’ve photographed the whole range, I’ll have about 60 images per person. I delete the off shots, for example, someone blinking, leaving around 40-50 shots to choose from. I prefer to use a portrait lens for headshots which has a particular focal length considered optimal for taking portrait photographs. Flash lighting is also an important element to consider. I always bring at least two professional flash lighting heads with modifiers, such as softboxes or umbrellas. These provide a flattering, soft light and in combination with other lights, create a visually pleasing aesthetic.
Once you’ve chosen your favourite shots, these images will then be optimised and refined digitally in Photoshop. Sometimes, retouching and fine-tuning is needed if people have creases in their shirts or stray hairs, for example. Unwanted objects in interior shots, such as fire exit signs and other distractions in the background can also be removed. The final headshots are as polished and refined as possible, providing a consistent look across a complete set of images.

In summary, successful and well-established businesses will be expected to have a regularly updated set of professional, fully optimised and consistent corporate headshot photography taken by an experienced, technically adept, professional portrait photographer.

Examples of headshot commissions that I’ve carried out for clients including Citibank, The Brunswick Group, Numis Bank, and Octopus Energy can be found here. If your own brand headshots need an update, please feel free to email me at richard@richardbollphotography.com or call +44(0)7812 908229.

 

Portrait Photography: The Day I Photographed Sir David Attenborough

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Filed under Editorial Photography, Fine Art Photography, London, National Portrait Gallery, Portrait Photography

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Sir David Attenborough by Richard Boll/ Commissioned by The National Portrait Gallery, London

In 2007, I had the privilege of taking this photographic portrait of our nation’s favourite, Sir David Attenborough, in London. Of the photographs I took I chose this particular image for the final portrait as I think it captures the calm, thoughtful, and highly intelligent nature of his character. There’s a reflective, meditative element to the portrait that I hope represents him effectively. I’m proud to say that this portrait went on to form part of the permanent collection at the National Portrait Gallery, leaving a fantastic ongoing legacy for my work and professional photography career.
Although some time has passed since that day, I can still vividly remember how I felt at the time. It was an exciting and enjoyable shoot, as Sir David was someone I had always admired and respected. People often ask how I came to take the photograph in the first place and what it was like to meet Sir David.

Joe and The National Portrait Gallery Photographic Prize

It was a lovely, sunny day on Brighton seafront. I spotted Joe, taking his dog for a walk along the promenade past my flat. I thought he looked like a very cool and interesting character and Iasked if I could take some portraits of him. Joe was very happy for his portrait to be taken and gave me a few minutes of his time. We’ve kept in touch and maintained a positive connection over the years since the photograph was taken. I entered this portrait of ‘Joe’ into the prestigious Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize, awarded annually by the National Portrait Gallery. The competition celebrates and promotes the very best in contemporary portrait photography. It was very exciting to be awarded first prize in the competition. I knew I’d been shortlisted but only found out that I’d won on the evening of the prize-giving.

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Prize-winning photographic portrait of Joe on Brighton seafront

Britain’s Greatest Living Cultural Icon

After winning the portrait prize, the National Portrait Gallery arranged a special opportunity for me, to take a photo of the winner of a public vote for ‘Britain’s Greatest Living Cultural Icon’. 10 British icons including the likes of David Bowie and Sir Paul McCartney were shortlisted. The public voted overwhelmingly for Sir David Attenborough, and I’m pleased to say that I also voted for him. Thankfully, he agreed to be photographed after the result of the poll was announced. On the day of the shoot, he was extremely polite and very generous with his time. He patiently allowed me to take several portraits against a couple of different backgrounds.
I’m incredibly proud of the final image and people respond well to it, recognising what I was trying to capture of Sir David’s character and legendary status. There was never any guarantee that the portrait would be accepted for the permanent collection at the National Portrait Gallery which makes me particularly proud that it was sufficiently well-received to be accepted, ensuring a great ongoing legacy for my work.

Sir David Attenborough awarded Knight Grand Cross

Sir David Attenborough needs no introduction, enjoying a very distinguished broadcasting career, spanning the last 60 years when he
first joined the BBC.

Best known for writing and presenting his many acclaimed television documentaries exploring the natural world, including Life on Earth, The Living Planet, and The Blue Planet, he received his first knighthood in 1985 from the Queen.
In recent news, Sir David, now 96 years old, received a ‘second’ knighthood, the even more prestigious Knight Grand Cross from Prince Charles. Attenborough is one of only 120 people with this honour, which was awarded for his services to television broadcasting and
conservation. Let me end with some final words from Sir David himself, “I just wish the world was twice as big and half of it was still unexplored”.

Click here if you’d like to read more about Attenborough and his career, and more of my portrait photography can be seen here. Signed, archival-quality prints of the portrait can be purchased here.