Matty Graham: Blog en-us (C) Matty Graham (Matty Graham) Tue, 22 May 2018 21:58:00 GMT Tue, 22 May 2018 21:58:00 GMT Matty Graham: Blog 120 80 Fun in the Faroe Islands Client: Trail Magazine

Camera: Pentax K-1

Okay, so this post is a little late, but I was lucky enough to visit the amazing paradise that is The Faroe Islands. If you’re unfamiliar with this tiny collection of islands, they’re about half-way between Scotland and Iceland - slap bang in the middle of the north Atlantic. Other Nordic countries like Norway and Iceland have experienced a huge boom in popularity in recent years, but the Faroes...well, they remain an unspoilt gem, which made me want to visit even more.

The weather on the Faroes is always pretty sketchy - that’s part of its appeal and you can get snow, sun and rain all in one hour, let alone one day. Although I was shooting all around the islands, my big task was to climb the Faores’ tallest mountain, which is called Slaetarratindur. The usual route is marked out by a well worn track, but some unseasonal and heavy snowfall meant that Plan A went out the window.

Instead, a long, grind slog straight up the slopes was in order. It was all worth it though to shoot from the summit and see the images in the pages of Trail magazine.

If you get the opportunity, definitely visit the Faroes. It’s boasts some of the tallest sea cliffs in the world, has waterfalls that drop straight into the ocean, yet boasts one of the lowest crime rates on earth.


]]> (Matty Graham) magazines photography photoshoots Tue, 22 May 2018 21:56:35 GMT
Fun in the sun Client: Stamford Living

Camera: Ricoh GRII

It's always a great feeling to see one of your images on the front of a cover and my latest to hit the shelves was an image taken at Burghley House in Stamford. This shot wasn't the byproduct of a big photoshoot planned weeks in advance, it was actually just a day out with the kids, but that goes to show that great photo opportunities can come at any time.

Because I was wishing to travel light, I took my 'go-anywhere' camera - the pocket rocket Ricoh GRII. This thin is tiny, yet manages to offer up 16-megapixels - more than enough to produce frames with stunning image quality that rivals bigger DSLR cameras. The RAW files are immense and allow for a lot of editing so the pixels can be polished and produce a stunning final image.

This image was actually taken inside Burghley's Garden Of Surprises, but the biggest surprise is till the image quality of the GRII - I really do love that little camera. Here's to more adventures and more cover images!

Stamford Living magazine

]]> (Matty Graham) magazines mattygraham photography photoshoots Thu, 17 May 2018 10:52:36 GMT
Chairman of the board! Photography can lead you into all sorts of strange places that you wouldn't normally visit. Over recent years, my 'office for the day' has included the cockpit of a police helicopter, a snow-capped mountain in the Arctic Circle and a London sightseeing bus crammed full of dogs! For this commission though, my office for the day turned out to be just that, an office. Actually, to be more precise, it was a boardroom.

I was shooting a portrait of a chairman and it wasn't until I arrived at the location did I discover that the boardroom wasn't as big as you may have expected. What's more, I had a very limited time with the subject, just ten minutes to shoot multiple portraits. This is actually pretty common with jobs of this type. After all, chairman don’t have the time to stand around for pictures, they have business to run!

My creative salvation came in the form of the boardroom table. I noticed straight away that the cool looking (and no doubt expensive) table had a mirrored element in the middle. I sat the chairman at the end of the table, right in the centre to make use of his reflection. One Lencarta strobe fitted to a softbox was used to deliver some soft, but not completely gentle, light.

In post-production, I sharpened up the image for that classic ‘business portrait’ style and the image was published in Automotive Management, which is published by Bauer Media. So, all in all, a good day at a rather plush office… I wonder where the next location will be!

]]> (Matty Graham) Blog Graham Matty MattyGraham editor lighting magazines photographer photography portraits Tue, 14 Mar 2017 13:23:34 GMT
Lofoten in print It's been a good few months since my adventure to the Lofoten Islands in Norway and this has given me a chance to enjoy seeing the content I created used in various magazines and websites. I thought I'd share where the images ended up so here we go...

Trail Magazine:
The UK's finest hill-walking magazine ran a fantastic five-page feature on my adventure to Kvalvika Beach. I always helped their readers with information on planning their own trip by giving details of
Copyright Matty Graham/Bauer MediaCopyright Matty Graham/Bauer MediaCopyright Matty Graham/Bauer Media Copyright Matty Graham/Bauer MediaCopyright Matty Graham/Bauer MediaCopyright Matty Graham/Bauer Media

Copyright Matty Graham/Bauer MediaCopyright Matty Graham/Bauer MediaCopyright Matty Graham/Bauer Media

Digital Photo Magazine:
Countless images of my Lofoten adventure were used inthe magazine, here's just a couple, including the wonderful Hamnoy...

Copyright Matty Graham/Bauer MediaCopyright Matty Graham/Bauer MediaCopyright Matty Graham/Bauer Media
And the mountains around Leknes...

Copyright Matty Graham/Bauer MediaCopyright Matty Graham/Bauer MediaCopyright Matty Graham/Bauer Media

I'm already planning new adventure for the coming months!

]]> (Matty Graham) Lofoten Norway Visit coverage magazines photography Thu, 23 Feb 2017 11:08:50 GMT
Goodbye 2016, hello 2017! For the last day of 2016, I thought I'd pick out my favourite landscape shot from the last 365 days. This year I travelled to Lofoten in the Arctic Circle, so it's perhaps no surprise that my fave image should be from this adventure. 
The irony is that I spent hours and hours planning in advance of the journey and then hours driving around to pre-selected locations to shoot as much as I could. However, this image was taken right outside my accommodation, a delightful wooden hut right on the edge of a fjord. The gentle waves lapped at the wooden staithes of the hut and the colourful sky reflected in the waters creating an eye-popping mirror image. 
I shot until the light faded to black, my lips turned blue and frost formed on my tripod - it was amazing! Proof indeed that the most beautiful sights are just outside your door. 
Have a great New Year everyone!


]]> (Matty Graham) 2016 2017 Graham Lofoten Matty New Norway Year photo Sat, 31 Dec 2016 12:04:19 GMT
The most famous tree in the country

Sycamore Gap in Northumberland is a well know location along Hadrian's Wall, made famous by the Kevin Costner film 'Robin Hood'

]]> (Matty Graham) Northumberland landscape photography Sun, 25 Sep 2016 12:09:55 GMT
Something for the weekend? Client: American Car
Location: Lincolnshire
Kit: Canon 6D, 17-40mm f/4L, Lencarta portable flash

Feels like I've been waiting ages to share this blog post as it was shot last year, but it has finally been published. Anyway, I'm happy to share this fun shoot that does a decent job at showing how important portable flash can be when faced with difficult lighting conditions. 

On the day of the shoot, the forecast was for sun, which of course meant that a heavy blanket of fog rolled in from daybreak and wasn't going anywhere. Colours look flat in that sort of light, so I reverted to my trusted Lencarta portable flash. It cost me around a grand three or four years back and has been money well spent. If you haven't got a huge budget for flash gear, Lencarta kit is certainly worth a second glance.

]]> (Matty Graham) Thu, 12 Mar 2015 21:07:58 GMT
Keep on running Client: Trail Running
Camera: Canon 6D with 24-70 f/2.8 lens


Another day, another shoot. This time around I was shooting for Trail running magazine and, as always, the weather played its part in events. The autumn weather was unpredictable, so it was important to get the shot in the bag as soon as possible. The urgency was compounded as the magazine was literally about to go to press.

When I'm asked to produce a specific image, I always ask for a brief and, even better, a sketch. This is usually prepared by the art editor, and it can really help as this will help produce an image with enough space on the page for headlines and copy.

As you can see from the image and the quick grab of the magazine in print,  there was quite a lot of copy to arrange around our model, Rebecca. As Rebecca is a keen runner, she actually moves at quite a pace so, to aid focusing, I directed her to run parallel to the camera. The model was lit using one off-camera strobe that was modified with the scrim surface of a reflector.

Colours were warmed in post production using Lightroom.



]]> (Matty Graham) Canon Flash Magazines MattyGraham Photography Photoshoots Portraits Mon, 03 Nov 2014 21:37:07 GMT
Learning to fly Most photographers have a favourite spot they return to time and again. Being based on the north Cambridgeshire/south Lincolnshire border, I have to work a little harder to find perfect landscape views. So, when the golden hour rolls around, I often hop over to Rutland (the UK's smallest county) to a pretty spot called Normanton Chapel, on the edge of Rutland Water. I should point out, of no good reason, that I drove through Rutland in eight minutes once, as I hammered it back down the A1 from a job up north. Anyway, I think I've made the point that Rutland is small, but it is very pretty and I reckon I've shot at this location at least 30 times now. 

However, I wanted to share an image from my latest visit that had a little more magic sprinkled across that RGB sensor. I decided late on to head out with the camera. Traffic was bad and when I arrived, I literally sprinter to the water's edge. An elderly man saw me running, bag on back and tripod in hand and yelled out, 'you better be quick'. He was right, the light was already fading, but I managed to set up my camera and tripod in the same rapid manner as Forest Gump sets up his rifle while chatting to Bubba about shrimp.

I had taken maybe two shots when a black spec appeared in the corner of the sky. Getting larger, I saw it was many black specs and the specs soon turned into flapping wings. A squadron of migrating geese were about to fly overhead and this was an opportunity I couldn't miss. However, the camera was set up for a long exposure. I had to guess at the ISO and shutter speed to make sure I didn't turn the birds into a blurred mess, but still captured detail in the sky and foreground. 

I guess every visit to Rutland was paying knowledge into the Experience Bank and that day I made a large withdrawal as the picture world and a once in a lifetime image didn't fly on by.

Hope you like the photo. If you wish, you can buy it by clicking on the cart.


]]> (Matty Graham) Landscapes Photography Sun, 05 Oct 2014 19:52:48 GMT
Eyes in the sky Client: Absolute Photo

Camera: Nikon D4s

The wind is blasting me in the face and I’m happy for the headphone set that is keeping me in contact with the pilot. To my right, the main copter door is open and below is is the River Thames and the Houses of Parliament. I’m in the Met Police helicopter during the golden hour and the capital is rushing below us. How did I end up here?

Rewind to a car journey and I was stuck in traffic. Searching through Twitter I came across the Feed from the Met Police Helicopter - they post amazing pics of London that they snap on the way back from jobs in the sky. A lightbulb popped up above my head: “that could be a cool story”!

So, fast forward a few weeks and there I was, at the police helicopter HQ on the edge of London and I was about to take to the skies. I needed a serious camera for this shoot and it arrived a few days previous in the shape of the Nikon D4s - wow, what a weapon.

Now, I’m not the best with motion - I was nearly sick after a pedalo ride on a beach in Crete once, but I managed to not redecorate the inside of the 8 million pound copter during an hour-long flight that took us over The Emirates and Wembley stadiums, Heathrow, Central London and Canary Wharf.


Hope you enjoy the images and grabs from the feature that was included in the June issue of Absolute Photo.

]]> (Matty Graham) Sun, 29 Jun 2014 20:35:55 GMT
Portraits in a flash Client: Cambridge Edition

Camera: Canon 6D with Sigma 24-70mm


The best route to perfect pictures is to plan a photoshoot down to every last detail. Have the set all ready, batteries all charged-up, additional batteries charged up and be ready to go before your subject even walks on set.



However, the truth is that life rarely runs on time and as a pro photographer, you have to be able to quick on your feet should the moment arise. I had one of these sink or swim moments recently when I was called upon to shoot a team photo for the Cambridge Edition staff - one of our sister titles at Bright Publishing. The title is celebrating its third birthday and the shoot occurred last minute. Not to worry, where there’s a will, there’s a way. 


So the solution was to find an interesting corner of the office and surround the staff around a sofa next to a magazine stand that held copied of the title. The problem was that this nice corner was a little bit cramped and I had very limited options when it came to lighting. Natural light was out of the question, so I opted for my emergency fallback plan - an Elinchrom Rotalux soft box on a BXRi500 hoisted as high as I could get it and angled at 45-degrees down at the gang.


With the camera in manual and set to 1/160sec at f/10 (ISO 100), the shoot was set-up, done and over within ten minutes. Even back-up plans need to be learnt and practiced so ask yourself: what’s your back-up plan?


PS: Happy birthday, Cambridge Edition

]]> (Matty Graham) Wed, 19 Mar 2014 16:24:17 GMT
Fun with Fuji As my day job is a photography magazine editor, I get to test a wide range of gear. From bags and tripods to flashguns and cameras, there aren’t many days when a parcel containing something interesting doesn’t land on my desk.

Recently I had the opportunity to test a fantastic optic for our sister title – the official Fuji magazine, who are ripping up the industry with its X-series camera range. I feel privileged to get hands on with this kit, because a lot of the time I’m one of the first people in the country to try this gear out and that was the case with the XF 23mm lens.

As you can see from the images, the magazine is an interactive digital title, which has been making headlines in the publishing world. Testing the lens was great fun – not only because it’s a genuinely excellent lens, but also because I roped in my favourite model, my lovely daughter.

The XF 23mm is a versatile lens suited to landscapes, architecture and even portraits given the X-series crop factor. Plus, the built quality means that the optic matches the robust nature of the X-series camera.

]]> (Matty Graham) Fuji Photoshoot Photoshoots Tue, 25 Feb 2014 21:58:15 GMT
The power of movement

So, 95% of the time, when line up your subject in front of then lens, they usually freeze, smile and wait for you to click the shutter. While this may deliver sharp images, it may fail to deliver dynamic frames.

One of my latest photoshoots included a subject who can’t stand still because she is paid to mover. Heidi is a professional dancer who is a master of ballet as well as other dancing disciplines. Keen to shoot some new images for her calling card, she contacted me and we arranged a studio shoot.

I’ve also found that the key to getting the best poses out of professional dances is to position them in their natural environment, so after clearing a space, I asked Heidi to run through a few of her dance routines.

Lighting-wise we tried a few set-ups, but I thought the best results came from a black background, which gave a decluttered backdrop to help the view focus solely on our ballerina. To get some separation between model and background I aim one of my flashheads towards the rear of Heidi’s head.

Another key tip for these sorts of shoots is to set the mood. Plug in a iPhone and turn the music up, this will help the dancer feel at home and get into the beat.


]]> (Matty Graham) Canon Flash Freelance Photoshoots Portraits Fri, 07 Feb 2014 15:10:21 GMT
Hometown glory Most of my blogs are follow-ups on commercial or editorial commissions that I undertake as part of my job as a photography magazine editor or other freelance endeavors.


However, from time to time, I love to get out with the camera for a much better reason… simply because I love photography. With two kids (and an energetic dog), I don’t take these personal away days very often, but recently I was lucky enough to take in a whirlwind tour of my hometown.

Although I live in Cambridgeshire, I grew up in south Northumberland, an area of the UK that is teaming with photo opportunities. In the space of a few hours, I’d shoot under the imposing Angel Of The North, framed up the North’s newest landmark, Northumberlandia, and ended the photo tour at an old haunt, St Mary’s Lighthouse. The light didn’t let my down and I was blessed with a stunning sunset.

Matty Graham

If you ever get the chance, and have never been to this area, I’d encourage you to give it a try. If you have a whole day to spare, there are loads more locations to visit – all within a 20-minute drive, and if you venture further, there’s even more to line up in front of your lens.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the photos and normal service will be resumed with more editorial follow-ups soon.

]]> (Matty Graham) Sun, 12 Jan 2014 20:13:23 GMT
Three songs, no flash! Client: Cambridge Edition magazine
Equipment: Canon EOS 6D with 28-135mm lens

Shooting live music from the pits is a strange experience. As the saying goes, you get three songs and you are not allowed to use flash. The rest is up to you!

My latest fix of live music photography was for Cambridge Edition magazine. The band, Mercury prize winners Alt-J, reside in the city so the homecoming gig was of most importance to the publication.

I decided to shoot full-frame with my Canon 6D. I was tempted to get the extra focal length with the 7D, but the 6D can handle high ISO levels much better and you never quite know what the lighting technicians will throw you, so it was better to be safe than sorry. Optically, I was temped to shoot with my 50mm, but as there were multiple members on stage, rather than just one singer, I instead covered my bases with the 28-135mm.


You may think that the ‘three song’ rule is just a cliché, but the venue enforce it with vigour, so I had to work very quickly to get all the shots I needed in what amounted to less than ten minutes of shooting time. Talk about a rush!

I switched from wide views to include the chanting crowd in the frame, with tight crops of the individual members of the band. A few choruses later, it was all over and while the rest of the crowd could enjoy the gig, the photographers were, quite literally, ushered out a side-door into the pouring rain. Rock and roll, man!

]]> (Matty Graham) Canon Magazines MattyGraham Music Photography Photoshoots Fri, 14 Jun 2013 08:55:36 GMT
An out of this world experience  

Over the last ten years I’ve been to some pretty crazy photoshoots. From all-night rally stages where I’ve been driven in a shoddy car at twice the legal speed limit to rubbing shoulders with the world’s top football stars.

However, one of my most recent shoots really spun me out. The venue was London Excel and the event was the MCM Comic Con – basically a gathering of sci-fi fans, but also…much, much more.

The participants are a portrait photographer’s dream. The boys and girls spend months working on their costumes, which range from quite crappy to truly epic.

The place is packed, so I tried to take a more reportage spin on my images and shoot with juxtaposition between the fantasy world these kids would love to live in and the world they are currently stuck in.

I shot mostly with natural light, or with an off-camera flashgun. The halls provide little light, but there was a bright atrium and I also ventured outside to grab some shots. Usually at events, people are taken aback when you ask to take their picture, but these kids are ready and waiting with a pout and a pose.

If you get the opportunity to visit this event, go and put preconceptions to one side. Yes, the halls are full of geeks, but haven’t you heard the news? Geeks are cool.

]]> (Matty Graham) Canon Photoshoots Portraits Mon, 27 May 2013 20:46:00 GMT
Miles of smiles  

Client: Japanese Performance
Location: On a farm, near Yeovil

A few months back, I was given a commission for the excellent Japanese Performance magazine to shoot a feature car for an upcoming issue. I’m based in Cambridgeshire, the car was in deepest darkest Yeovil. To save you a trip to Google Maps, it’s a round trip of 650 miles plus and, what’s more, there was a limited window to get access to our location. This resulted in a crazy early start but, hey, that’s the lot of a photographer.

Once on site, conditions were challenging. The sun was beating down which resulted in harsh shadows. So, the solution was to even up the exposure and combat the directional light with some portable flash. My Lencarta Safari strobes are great in these situations, and really make the paint on these modified cars pop. A grad filter keeps the detail in the sky and the addition of a second flash unit make the background pop too.

When shooting for magazines, it’s important to remember that you need to leave room in the frame for the designers to add a headline, intro and the main copy of the feature. Look at the original images and look at the space on the left of the frame, which has subsequently been filled with text.

A final word on this image – look at the bonnet, you’ll see that it has somehow become transparent and the bare engine can be seen. This is a popular shot for performance tuning magazines and is done by combining two image – one with the bonnet open, one closed. Photoshop takes care of the rest.

It was a tired drive home, thank god for Starbucks.


]]> (Matty Graham) Canon Flash Magazines Photography Photoshoots Wed, 10 Apr 2013 19:49:12 GMT
Covering the day job

My day job is an unusual one - I edit a photography magazine called Digital SLR. Aimed at improving the skills of beginners, we have a fun and vibrant community of readers, but when it comes to magazines there is one page that is much, much more important than all the others... the cover.

Getting the cover right will make those people walking past the shelves pick the magazine in the first place, and they will (hopefully) then be hooked in to flicking through the rest of the content before making a purchase.

For our May issue, we focused a lot of content on macro photography, including a test on macro lenses. But when it came to finding an image to fit on a specific space on our cover, we had to do a lot of searching. In the end, I raided my archives and came up with this shot, taking not on a dedicated macro shoot in the wilds, but down at the local park on a family day out. What's more, this images proves you don't need a pricey macro lens, the photo was taken with my humble 28-135mm.

You can see the full image below, hope you like it!

]]> (Matty Graham) Canon Covers Macro Magazines Photoshoots Fri, 05 Apr 2013 10:55:42 GMT
Getting fresh with flash One of my latest photoshoots was also for one of my strangest clients. A magazine called Get Fresh, which caters for people with an interest in a raw, vegan diet, asked me to shoot a couple of readers who were undertaken a juice diet.

We had little time time to get the shots done, for a variety of reasons, so in the end it came down to five minutes in a cold carpark. And if there's one thing to brighten up a dull car park, it's off-camera flash.

The set up was simple, a camera with a 50mm lens in one hand and a Speedlight (580EX) in the other. Triggered by Hahnel wireless triggers, I shot in manual, really beefing up the effect by using an aperture of f/18. The result is a gritty, but fresh looking portrait!

]]> (Matty Graham) Canon Magazines Photoshoots Mon, 11 Mar 2013 13:57:27 GMT
Back to black Photoshoot: Silhouettes technique project

Publication: Digital SLR magazine - edited by yours truly

Kit: Not much, just my Canon 7D and a Tamron 70-300mm

So, for my day job, I edit Digital SLR magazine. Recently, we decided to cover the easy and fun technique of shooting silhouettes. Essentially, creating a silhouette is a form of underexposure. Instead of correctly exposing the subject, you expose for the background, which should be of interest - a sunset for example.

Shooting silhouettes is the perfect technique for revealing a subject's form. Instead of distracting texture, the viewer focuses on the skeletal frame of the subject so useful things to line up in front of the lens are easily recognisable subjects, such as churches, people or in my case a tree that has been stripped bare by winter.

Luckily for me, the golden hour was king and gave me a lovely orange sunset. My gear set-up was simple, just a 7D and Tamron's affordable 70-300mm lens, which is actually a damn good optic. The longer focal length meant I didn't have to trespass onto the farmer's field where my subject was positioned, so I could shoot, without a tripod as the shutter speed was high, by the side of the road.

The result was a strong silhouette and while we went for an overall image of the tree in the magazine tutorial, I actually preferred the close up of the tree's branches criss-crossing.

Give this technique a go when you next get the chance. It takes seconds and produces great images. To learn more about my mag, visit:

]]> (Matty Graham) Fri, 18 Jan 2013 16:03:09 GMT