Matty Graham: Blog en-us (C) Matty Graham [email protected] (Matty Graham) Mon, 16 Mar 2020 07:22:00 GMT Mon, 16 Mar 2020 07:22:00 GMT Matty Graham: Blog 105 120 72 hours in Austria As summer drew to a close, I enjoyed one final warm photo trip as myself and a buddy headed off on a 72 jaunt to Austria and Germany. I had a super tight itinerary to cover a fair amount of ground and shoot multiple locations - some of which had been on my bucket list a very, very long time.

I wanted to fly into Salzburg but the flights didn’t work out so I switched to Munich and drove a very under-powered hire car south into Austria, from the lowlands into the hills. First stop was the insanely beautiful Krimml waterfalls. I could have spent a whole week there shooting the crashing water dropping down the falls, but we had to move on. To keep things affordable, I took a tent, but the air mattress didn’t play ball and I pretty much slept on the hard floor - the things you suffer for photography eh!

Next up was the awesome Grossglockner pass - a high Alpine road that makes you want to stop every 30 seconds for photos. We finished the day taking a toboggan ride down the Alpine slopes.

Our last days saw us leave Salzburg and travel back into Germany to visit the Eagle’s Nest - a location I had wanted to visit since watching Band Of Brothers. The visibility was amazing, offering views way back into Austria. After a trip round Koenigsee, it was time to gun it back to the airport and to home. Almost 72 hours of photo madness, some amazing beer and not much sleep at all!


[email protected] (Matty Graham) Adventure Photography Wed, 14 Nov 2018 19:35:25 GMT
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.


[email protected] (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

[email protected] (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!

[email protected] (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!

[email protected] (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!


[email protected] (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'

[email protected] (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.

[email protected] (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.



[email protected] (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.


[email protected] (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.

[email protected] (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

[email protected] (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.

[email protected] (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.


[email protected] (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.

[email protected] (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!

[email protected] (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.

[email protected] (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.


[email protected] (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!

[email protected] (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!

[email protected] (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:

[email protected] (Matty Graham) Fri, 18 Jan 2013 16:03:09 GMT
Shake and bake While it may look like an oven from the 1970s, you're actually looking at a piece of cutting edge technology. This machine is called a 'shake and bake' and is situated in the top secret headquarters of the Williams Formula One team. The steering wheel in the middle of the machine may give a clue to its purpose. Basically, F1 parts have to be tested to make sure they are safe and the Shake and Bake heats and, well, shakes the component to make sure it can take the pressures that would be recreated during a race.

I photographed a whole bunch of these clever and secret machines for the January issue of GP International and the shoot was not with out its challenges. Lighting the thing was a problem with in itself. I created the illusion that the machine was turned on by hiding a flashgun in the back of the over and fitting it with a red gel to provide the 'heat'. My Lencarta Safari portable flash created the key light. The Safari kit is pretty special. Although it's not that well known as other brands like the Elinchrom Ranger, the battery seems to last forever and holds its charge very well when not in use. To transport my kit around, I opted for my roller bag, which was picked up from eBay for around £40 and can hold a huge amount of kit. Rollers are pretty cool as you could be walking and carrying a lot on a shoot, meaning you'll get tired. Pulling a roller is so much easier so if you have room in your budget then I'd definitely snap one up.

Make sure you pick up GP International to see the full five-page feature.

[email protected] (Matty Graham) Canon Flash Magazines Photoshoots Mon, 10 Dec 2012 18:14:52 GMT
Going for gold

Six months ago I was lucky enough to present a number of magazine concept ideas to the publishing company I work for. One of these ideas was taken to the development stage and evolved into one of the most exciting launches of the year. The result, GP International, is a magazine for Formula One fans who really know their onions. 

Although I'm busy editing my photography magazine, Digital SLR, I was lucky enough to lend my photography skills to the launch issue by snapping a particularly tricky subject – a gold-plated exhaust that was not only on an F1 car driven by Jacques Villeneuve, but also costs more than my car...and my wife's car, put together!

Now, the challenge was to shoot this highly-polished bit of kit without including my reflection in the metal... no one wants to see my ugly mug. The solution was to use a light tent that virtually encompassed the exhaust and also defused the light from two Elinchrom studioflash heads. The light tent worked a treat, providing a pure white backdrop to really let gold lines of the exhaust pop! 

Here's how the final images looked on the pages.
PS: One lucky reader will win the exhaust, so take a look at the website -

[email protected] (Matty Graham) Magazines Photoshoots Fri, 12 Oct 2012 19:15:45 GMT
If you can't stand the heat  

So the brief seemed simple enough, shadow a top local chef and capture the culinary genius on his own turf…which turned out to be a very fine restaurant near Cambridge called The Willow Tree (try the sponge cake, by the way).

Whatever you imagine a restaurant’s kitchen to be like, I can guarantee you they are much, much smaller and I was left with a pickle on which lens to use. What’s more, the action didn’t stop to wait for my decision – sauces were boiling and meat was cooking.

Given the close proximity I was working with, my head said: “stick with a wide angle optic” but with a max aperture of f/4.5 the poor light in the kitchen would have resulted in a high ISO or slow shutter speed. So I went with my gut and pulled out the trusty 50mm f/1.8 – probably the most underrated and consistent lens in my camera bag.

A longer focal length meant I had to be far more careful with my framing, but photography is all about taking the odd risk.

Displayed above is my favourite image from the photoshoot as the chef finished the dish by adding a splash of magic sauce to the plate. When it comes down to it, that’s pretty much what I try and do to my images.  

[email protected] (Matty Graham) Sun, 30 Sep 2012 19:42:05 GMT
Anywhere and everywhere


If there's one bit of advice that has stuck with me it's: "Never miss the opportunity to shoot an image."

Put in to practise, this means taking your camera everywhere with you, batteries charged and memory card formatted, but also taking more formal opportunities when subjects are willing to give up their time. I put this theory into practise recently, while shooting some images for my day job as editor of Digital SLR Magazine. The office where I'm based is clean and tidy, but this doesn't lend itself to interesting images. 

Photographers have to be problem-solvers. When we're met with a brick wall, we need to find a way to climb over it. The solution to my loaction problem was right outside the office door - a little cut-through alley that, even in midday sun, cast enough shadow to allow for an interesting flash set-up (left).

When people ask me how they can improve their images, I pass on the same advice I was given - you have to commit, 100% and be 'that guy who always has the camera'. The day you leave it at home is the day you'll stumble upon the coolest location, with the best light and the only shot you'll bag is on your iPhone.

[email protected] (Matty Graham) Canon Flash Photoshoots Portraits Tue, 11 Sep 2012 20:27:05 GMT
Here comes the bride
Back in the day, certainly when my folks tied the knot, wedding photos were a brief and all too formal affair. The happy couple would get married and arrange themselves outside the church where the photographer would shoot a roll of film of stiff, awkward looking portraits.

These days, things are different - thank god! Wedding photographer can be, and should be, a fun endeavour that gives the couple value for money memories of their most important day. And the fun should always start with an engagement shoot. One of my recent shoots was to snap a bride to brand was arranged by the bride's sister as a gift. The shoot was late afternoon so, although the light was nice and golden, the low angle of the sun was breaking through trees and casting shadows everywhere.

To get around this problem, I busted out my latest toys - my Lencarta Safari portable flash heads. Pumping out around 800W of power, they're more than capable of overpowering the sun, and were just the ticket to light bride to be, Donna. Along with the light, the location worked out to be a great help too - a rustic gazebo with tall pillars framed Donna nicely.

I'd always recommend a pre-wedding shoot, even if it's just with the bride. It's a great chance to practise poses and get your subjects used to the camera - everyone's winner!

[email protected] (Matty Graham) Flash Photoshoots Wedding Fri, 13 Jul 2012 20:37:05 GMT
Back of the net! Client: Photo Pro Magazine
Location: London Road Stadium, Peterborough


Recently I had the opportunity to indulge in not one, but two of my passions - photography and football! As part of a feature for Photo Professional magazine, I was among the first journalists in the UK to get my sweaty hands on the new Canon EOS 5D MkIII.

The 5D Mk3 has been long overdue. Don't get me wrong, the 5D2 is, for most photographers, all the camera you will ever need, but this fantastic bit of kit falls down when it comes to action. A lazy autofocus and an even slower frames per second rate meant that the 5D2 was suitable more for landscape and wedding photographers.

Fast forward to the new mark three and things have changed! A brand new autofocus system has opened this camera up to a whole new sector of potential customers and with the frames per second rate increasing too, the 5D3 is a serious contender for 'togs who may be weighing up swapping their 1D or 7D.

My venue for the test was a Championship football game between Peterborough and West Ham. As it was an evening game, the dodgy floodlights of London Road also tested the low light capabilities of the 5D3 and its vast ISO range.

I won't spoil things, so if you want to read my findings then head down to the shops and buy the latest copy - it's a cracking read! However, I will say that, while the 5D3 is quite a bit more expensive than the 5D2, its performance will blow your mind. I can't sign off without also mentioning that West Ham won the game 2-0!

[email protected] (Matty Graham) Canon Football Sports Sun, 20 May 2012 19:45:05 GMT
The longest day  

Magazine: Zoo
Shoot: Geneva Motor Show
Location: Geneva, Switzerland

If you’re going to go to one car show, make sure it’s the Geneva Motor Show. Put simply, Geneva has all the world premieres, and is hosted in the huge halls of Palexpo near the shores of Lake Geneva.
For such beautiful surroundings, it’s actually a little ironic that Palexpo is connected to the airport, so the only fresh alpine Swiss air you actually breathe when visiting the motor show is a ten-yard stretch of pavement in front of the arrivals lounge.
But fresh air aside, Geneva was as fun as always to shoot because it’s a real feat of endurance.
To do the show in one day, a 4am start is required to fly in from Stansted to Geneva for 10am. Shoot, write and FTP all day and then take the late flight home. My head hit the pillow at 11:59 - a long day indeed.
But the effort was worth it – not only did my coverage get four pages in Zoo magazine, my Lambo image was used on the cover as well.

[email protected] (Matty Graham) Covers Photoshoots Travel Mon, 07 May 2012 20:46:11 GMT