Shooting Male Cover Models - a How To Video

Made myself another video, this one with the help of Richard Scrivener.  It's a quick guide to shooting male models for things like magazine covers, and there's lots of info on lighting, posing and all the obvious stuff.  Here you go:


Behind the Scenes on a Men's Fitness Studio Shoot

Just finished putting together this behind the scenes video from a shoot back in May for my good friends at Men's Fitness.  The main challenge in this shoot was in mixing the light from Fluorescent tubes with flash to freeze motion, although hopefully I've gone into enough detail in the video to explain what we did.

I'm getting the hang of putting these together, so hopefully there'll be some more on the way.  I'd like to do them when there's something particular to be learnt from a shoot, rather than just a video that shows what my camera looks like, and some flashes going off!


101 Uses for the Humble Polyboard

I don't often talk technical on this blog, but just the other day it occurred to me that some very essential bits of professional kit get overlooked, simply because they're not high tech, sexy, or expensive.  Nothing could be less high tech, sexy or expensive than the staple of hire studios across the world - the Polyboard.
Easily mistaken for the Monoliths from 2001 - A Space Odyssey, polyboards are very useful, but less likely to lead to the advancement of humanity as a species.  Stanley Kubrick joke there folks - not something you see every day!  

Anyone who's ever shot in a studio will recognise these large polystyrene boards, and anyone with a brain and a basic understanding of physics will recognise that their main role is to act as reflectors, and to bounce light back onto things.  However, this wouldn't be much of a blog post if all I did was point that out, and I'd like to spend a little time highlighting other things they can be used for, since I've been working with them for about 20 years.

The most basic use of polyboards - white side towards subject to bounce light back.  The setup shot on the left was taken just before the costume change, but I can assure you it's the same setup as the shot on the right.
The same setup, viewed from reverse.  It's easy to see from this angle how much light will be bounced around the subject by the white polyboards.

So, first use - bouncing light from the white side of the polyboard.  That's what they were invented for, and probably what they spend most of their time being used for.  It's pretty simple really, place the polyboard where you want to lift the shadows, and away you go.  No need for batteries, cables, wifi, or any maintenance, although they can easily get knocked over by clumsy members of the crew.  

To place them you'll need polyboard stands, and although there are many varieties of these (many studios make their own) they all do the same job - provide a "foot" for the polyboard so it can stand on it's own without needing someone to hold onto it.  You can also get polyboard holders, which are simple claws that attach to a stand at one end, and then grip the polyboard at the other.  

Polyboard stand on the left, polyboard holder on the right.
That brings me neatly onto the next stage of polyboard usage - moving beyond the vertical!  Using polyboard holders, or burly assistants, polyboards can of course be angled to bounce light in from below, or above.  I've also used them on several occasions to create a false ceiling above a subject, and then bounced light off that to create a top light - although I've not got any setup shots to prove it.

Sorry - I couldn't find any setup shots of a polyboard being angled, so you'll have to make do with one of my reflector panels - serves the same purpose, and you get the idea!
Don't limit yourself to just thinking of polyboards as bounce tools either - if you somehow forgot to bring a softbox, brolly or similar diffuser for your light and you need a large soft source, well, just take the light and twat it off the white side of the polyboard.  Job done, one very large soft light.

I very often need to shoot stuff against a white or similar backdrop to be cut out and comped into something else.  Unless I've got lots of flash heads spare to light the background evenly, the easiest way to light a large area smoothly is to employ a pair of polyboards as a "V" board:

A "V" board. 
Aim the open end of the V across your background, and place one at each side.  Bingo, a nice evenly lit background, that also doesn't spill forwards onto your subject.  Using these I can pretty much light a large area very evenly with just 2 heads.  If, for some reason I've got 4 lights handy, I'll put 2 in each side - one high and one low.  

Polyboards can just as easily be used to control the spill of light as they can be to bounce it about the place.  It's been a while (check the film rebates on the photo below!) but I used to use what I called a "Triangle" light from time to time:

Shot sometime in the late 90's.  Be grateful there's no setup shot showing my hairstyle.
With this it's easy to create a full length, directional, soft light - simply open or close the aperture to control how much light you want to spill out.

Now, the sharp eyed amongst you will have noticed that like all objects in the physical world, polyboards have two sides.  Amazing.  If you go to a crap studio, you'll only find double-sided white ones, but any studio worth the hire price will have polyboards that are white one side, and black the other.  The black side is every bit as important as the white one, and on some shoots more so.  I'll state the obvious, but the black side helps to accentuate any shadows, and control the spill of light.

From a recent Men's Fitness shoot.  Note that the studio is all white, so without the placement of black polyboards next to the model, the shadows on his body would be significantly less harsh.
Shooting lots of chiseled blokes like I do, I use the black side very often indeed - if you took a hugely muscular bloke, but then put him in a totally white studio - even a hard light source would still not do a great job of showing off his guns.  Careful placement of the black side can sculpt your models as much as weeks in the gym!

So, white side - more light, black side - less light.  Controlling the spill of light, bouncing high, low, from either side and so on.  That's the obvious side to polyboards, and hopefully it's been useful.  To wrap up, I want to cover a few more esoteric uses for them that either I've used myself, or encountered down the years.

I've used polyboards as mobile pin boards/mood boards:

Behind the scenes on a Men's Health Cover model competition.
I've used them to block light falling in from a window, or to stop up a draught from a door.  I've used half a polyboard to waft smoke from a smoke machine across a set (be careful, waving something 3ft by 3ft can create quite a gust of wind - you may well knock other polyboards over.....).  I've made countless marks on them with either gaffer tape or marker pen to give the subject an imaginary eyeline.  I once cut a hole in one, and stuck my lens through to cut down on the reflections on a shiny subject.  Quite frequently, in my assisting days, we used to create a small stage out of them a few feet from the backdrop, roll out the huge roll of 12ft background paper, seat the model on the staging, and then light from on top with a big softbox like an Octabank.  The effect was often quite subtle, but it would create a horizon line behind the model, and separate the background from them better:

Polyboards used to create staging.  The effect is quite subtle in the ancient scan, but it's more pronounced in the original polaroid.

So, don't neglect such humble, inexpensive tools.  Personally, I've no idea how I'd work in the studio without them, and I often find myself lamenting their absence on location - portable fabric panels are all very well, but they usually need someone to "man" them.  Just look how excited Bertrand got when he found there was a huge stack of polyboards in the studio we were shooting in:

I can't for the life of me remember why we had to get him swinging from the rafters, but he seems very happy to be there.


Non-Linear Learning

 As promised a few days ago, here are some thoughts I recently had about how we learn about photography (in fact most things) and perhaps how we can get a bit better at learning full stop.

Being the navel-gazing, introspective type that I am, I'm always disappearing up my own backside and wallowing in my back catalogue rather than going out and shooting something new.  I had a huge opportunity to do this a few weeks ago when I reclaimed my entire archive of negs and contacts from my parent's loft, and, as I was sorting them out and filing them away, inevitably got tempted to have a good trip down memory lane.

From my first roll of film.  Good Skills.

Besides stirring some amusing memories, looking at lots of my old work really made one thing stand out - my progress as a photographer has been extremely patchy over the 21 plus years I've been doing it seriously.  Some of my early work looks great - it's technically competent, and there's some very strong ideas there.  By comparison, some of the stuff I shot once I was down in London - both during my time as an assistant, and immediately after - is utter, unmitigated rubbish.  Now, you can make the argument that in my assisting days I had very little money, and was trying to shoot my own stuff whilst working as a freelance assistant, but of course the same sort of excuse could easily apply to when I was a complete beginner.  Back then I had very little money, and not a huge amount of time, since I was a full time A-levels student, and yet I still produced some great stuff.

Dunstanburgh Castle, from, I think, 1992 - aged 15

Even worse, some of the stuff I've shot since starting out truly on my own in 2001 has been rank.  It almost seems like I was at times unable to learn certain basic lessons, or that I seemed obsessed with making the same mistakes over and over again.  This bothered me slightly, as, if nothing else, it doesn't bode well for the future!

I've been reading a lot of popular science/psychology stuff lately - think Malcolm Gladwell, Daniel Kahneman, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and the like, and thankfully some of it is sticking.  The simple reason I seemed to make some progress and then stagger back again is because THAT'S ACTUALLY HOW WE LEARN.

We seem to think that our learning develops like this:

Put very simply - as time passes we get measurably and irreversibly better at things.  A nice linear progression from ignorance to mastery.  If, somehow, you're able to actually achieve this is in your life, could you please let us know how you do it?

In my experience, learning a skill is actually much more like this:

 Excuse the crap freehand drawing, but you get the idea! 

We tend to surge forwards at times, make leaps and bounds in one area of our work, but then stumble over other areas.  Or, we seemingly forget basic lessons we should have learnt - shooting stuff that would result in the above featured "quality control" sticker.  Either because we think we're beyond such basics, or that we'll get away with it, or we're in a hurry - the excuse doesn't really matter.

From the start of my final year at college, 1997, during a good "run" of work.
As far as I can tell, being human we'll never truly escape from this bumpy learning curve, despite all the frustrations it may cause us.  I do feel though, that in the past couple of years I've managed to smooth it out somewhat, and not slip back so often.  In convenient list form, here's what I think has helped me:

  1. Above all, accept the fact that you'll make mistakes.  This is only a bad thing if you then proceed to repeat them.  There's the famous saying, attributed to Albert Einstein, that Insanity is: "doing the same thing and expecting different results".  If you keep making mistakes, that's the universe's feedback mechanism telling you you need to change your methods.
  2. Don't let those little setbacks put you off and discourage you from trying again.  You've probably got a huge library of knowledge backing you up, and you simply failed to recall one little bit on this occasion.  I can think of countless times when I was studying at college when I would look at the work of some master photographer or other, go out and try and mimic it, fall very short indeed, and think "what am I doing wrong?"  The reason I'm still going now, is that each time that happened I first of all didn't just give in and pack up for good, but that I tried to work out WHERE I was going wrong, and correct it.
  3. Take a small creative pause when you make a mistake or get stuck on a shoot.  If something's going wrong accept that a photoshoot can contain a lot of very complicated moving parts, any one of which might be misfiring.  Before you throw your hands up in despair, stop and look around you.  The solution to your "mistake" might be very obvious indeed, but in your angst you may not be able to see the wood for the trees.
  4. Spend as much time as you can working on your skillset, your craft skills, your creativity, and looking at the work of those around you whom you admire and want to emulate.  Personally speaking, this has been what's made the biggest difference over the past couple of years.  Perhaps the most useful resource has been starting to use my logbook again after barely touching it since college.  I know I've been promising to shed more light on the way I use logbooks for some time now, but I promise I will get stuff written up in the next month.  As a device for improving your photography they're absolutely critical.
So, next time you look at results you're not happy with, and start cursing yourself for being so stupid, ignorant, what-was-I-thinking-I'm-a-moron, accept that there will be something you can learn from this experience.  Then make sure you learn it.  

Personal Test shoot from the end of 2013


The Four Stages of Photographic Learning

This year I’ve been doing quite a lot of thinking around the subject of learning.  Partly this is because I’m getting old(er), and have now been doing this job for quite some time, which gives me lots of material for introspection and navel gazing. It’s also because I’ve been reading lots of books on psychology, creativity and learning.  Lastly it’s probably because in the first few months of the year I did a bit more teaching than usual, which always prompts me to think about how best people learn, the acquisition of knowledge and so on.

One aspect that occurred to me was to do with how we learn any skill - in my case photography - in a very non-linear way.  That is, we don’t make a steady march of progress from ignorance to complete mastery - there are many setbacks on the way.  I’ll go into this in more depth in a later post.  Another aspect is how photography is split into different areas of skill, and that our progress in some areas is often way ahead of that in others, and that all-round perfection is not only very rare, but takes a very long time to achieve.

The three areas of skill in photography I have defined as Technical and Craft Skills, “Soft” Craft skills, and Insight.  To elaborate on what I mean by these:

  • Technical and Craft skills are pretty self-explanatory.  Camera handling, lighting, photoshop - all the nuts and bolts of how to take pictures that look good, and come out how we want them to.  I’d also lump in with these the more esoteric aspects of the craft, such as working well with your subjects.
  • “Soft” Craft skills are a bit more subtle.  By these I mean creativity and visual language - moving your ideas on from the most basic representation of a subject to something that’s more personal to you.  These skills are much harder to teach, and are neglected by a large number of photographers - both professionals and amateurs.  This is the bit where you develop the “you” that will appeal to viewers beyond just your technical expertise.
  • Insight.  This area is also overlooked by a big chunk of photographers.  It’s my coverall term for “where does your work fit in to the wider world?”  It’s the sort of topic that you spend an arts degree discussing in depth, and the sort of thing that is almost completely overlooked by most amateurs.  Learning what’s gone before, how other people have answered the questions you’re asking, and how you can move the whole thing forward is what insight is all about.  It’s the difference between looking at an Ansel Adams picture, assuming that what makes it great is the fact it was shot on a 10x8” camera in black and white, and then wondering why your 10x8” Black and White pictures look and feel nothing like his, and being able to identify in his work (and others) what it is that makes it special.

The way I see it, these areas of skill develop at different speeds, and across four distinct stages:

Stage 1

Technical Craft        “Soft” Craft            Insight
    0/5                         0/5                      0/5

No understanding of technical aspects, no understanding of creativity and visual language, or how to translate any of this into a final image, no understanding of how other people have achieved their results.  Lots of desire to mimic the masters, lots of trial and error, vast gulf between ambition and reality.

A complete beginner.

Stage 2

Technical Craft        “Soft” Craft            Insight
    2-3/5                      1-2/5                   1-2/5

Techniques improves first, and most rapidly, often from reverse engineering/behind the scenes videos/interviews/learning by rote.  Some learning of soft skills, and insight but usually as a by-product, rather than as a conscious choice.  Gulf between ambition/reality shrinking.

Accomplished Amateur.

Stage 3

Technical Craft        “Soft” Craft            Insight
    4-5/5                      2-3/5                   2-3/5

Approaching technical mastery in some areas, and more development of soft skills as a consequence of simply shooting more and hopefully some introspection, as well as critiques from peers.  Increased insight thanks to experience, the recognition that a master’s work is not just about the technical.  

Many professionals exist at this level for a very long time.

Stage 4

Technical Craft        “Soft” Craft            Insight
    4-5/5                      4-5/5                   4-5/5

Mastery of subject.  Technical knowledge enough to execute a massive range of subjects with polish and precision.  Great depth of personal creative vision, and confidence in same.  Ability to marry the two repeatedly to fulfil clients brief.  Insight enough to know what inspiration to draw from others, what to reject, and where your work fits into the broader visual world.

In my opinion, very few photographers ever get to stage 4 - I certainly haven’t!

Now, for professionals there is also a 4th skill, which I will loosely call “business”.  This covers all those aspects of being a professional that are essential, but not directly related to the actual taking of photographs.  So, production and organisation, book-keeping and chasing invoices, marketing, and generally behaving like a professional.  If your concern is with making a living from photography, never neglect these aspects, as you’ll not last long if you do!

There you go, some food for thought.  More ramblings on learning, experience, skill, and creativity to follow in the coming weeks.


Camera Bag Essentials

This is another "recycled" post that the NYIP didn't end up using.  What? Me? Lazy? Never!  I say, if you've already done the work, why let it go to waste!

The idea behind this post is to concentrate on the less obvious, but vital tools that are in a professional photographers camera bag:

I’m sure everyone expects a professional photographer’s bag to be full to the brim with top of the range camera bodies, fast zoom lenses, and all the latest kit, and I hope mine’s no disappointment in that regard:

My Camera bag - a Lowepro Vertex 200 AW, more than 6 years old, and showing signs of age, but still going strong.

However, whilst these bits are essential to my working life, there are many less obvious bits and pieces in there which are every bit as useful, and many of them are very cheap indeed.  Let me take you on a tour, pocket by pocket, of the vital, but less flashy bits of gear.

First off, in the main body of the bag.  You’ll spot a tube of Glucose tablets, and these are one of the most important bits of kit I carry!  I have the metabolic rate of a gerbil, and due to the nature of working on location, and being at the whim of weather, people’s moods, traffic, and all the other vagaries of professional life, I don’t always get to sit down and eat meals at sensible times.  One of these tablets doesn’t replace a meal, but it stops me going completely mental!

The other life saver is the pair of Black Rapid straps.  I’ve used almost every sort of strap you can imagine over the 20+ years I’ve been shooting, and so far I’ve found these to be not only the most comfortable, but also the most convenient, and they definitely save my back.

Also, if you look closely around the lens hood of the 24-70 f2.8, you’ll see velcro patches.  We’ll come to these later, when we get to the front of the bag, but keep them in mind for now.  In the lid of the bag you’ll find some standard 3.5mm audio cable extension, along with a cheap and cheerful lapel Mic that was about £5 from Amazon.  It’s no match for the Sennheiser wireless mics I use when I’m carrying my full video kit, but it’s a huge advantage over using the built-in mic.  At the top of the lid, along with the polarising filter, there is a white balance card which I generally try and use at the start of each shoot, or when I change lighting situations so I’ve got a neutral tone to refer to.  There are also some antiseptic wipes, which come in very handy on the myriad occasions I scratch or damage myself whilst shooting, or when I’ve simply got filthy hands from mucking about somewhere.

The main pocket - Nikon D4, D800, 24-70 f2.8, 105 f2.8, 50 f1.4, 70-200 f2.8, 16-35 f4, memory cards, Sennheiser Hotshoe Mic, D800 battery grip, SB900 flashgun, glucose tablets!  In detail - velcro around 24-70 hood, audio extension cables and lapel mic, wipes, polariser and whibalance card, and Black Rapid Straps.

In the laptop pocket, when the laptop’s not there (which is most of the time - it only tends to go in there when I’m flying) there are several handy bits.  First off there are some inexpensive rain covers, which whilst they’re no substitute for my posh ThinkTank one, are definitely better than nothing when I have to shoot in inclement conditions.  There’s also a high visibility vest, which besides being the world’s best disguise (put one on, and you’ve automatically got justification for being somewhere...) is occasionally required in certain places I work (along with a hard hat, and safety boots, but I don’t carry them in my normal bag!)  The last thing you’ll find in this pocket are 2 Honl flash snoots, which weigh nothing, and do a very good job of focusing light down into a spot, as well as functioning as impromptu reflectors at a pinch.

 Laptop pocket - visi vest, rain covers (quite dirty!) and Honl snoots.

Close the bag and on the front are 2 long, zipped pockets, which are sub-divided.  On the right I keep 4 sets of AA batteries, 3 of which are rechargeables in clear plastic cases.  These can be picked up from all sorts of places (I got mine from 7dayshop) and do a great job of keeping things organised.  Do remember to top your rechargeables up now and again, as they don’t keep their charge forever!  One of the memory cards in the dedicated slots is an old, almost-too-small-to-be-useful 1GB CF from many years ago, in which I now keep my camera custom settings - very handy to be able to reload these after I’ve done something stupid, or let someone else use my camera.  There’s also a Honl velcro strap, for attaching the snoots, and a home made black flag with velcro super-glued to it.

Top right hand side - AA batteries in cases, memory card with settings, velcro strap and plastic flag.

On the left it gets more complicated.  The top zipped pocket contains business cards (so I’m never without some), earplugs (from sharing too many hotel rooms with people who snore, and working in loud locations) several 8GB memory sticks for delivering jobs on (I’m in the process of getting branded ones made) a Leatherman multi-tool (should be self explanatory) and a few LED keylights with velcro stuck on them.  Remember the velcro round the 24-70mm?  Well, on rare occasions I’ve had to shoot in complete darkness, and even the best camera won’t focus very well under those circumstances.  Stick a few LEDs around the lens hood, and suddenly, you can see perfectly well, and your hands are still free to operate the camera!

 Top left pocket - leatherman, business cards, earplugs, LED lights, 8GB USB 3 memory sticks.

The bottom zipped pocket contains painkillers, antihistamines, and plasters, as I’m clearly an accident prone muppet.  Then there are pens, for obvious reasons, as well as a blower brush and a couple of lens wipes.  I’m not one of these people who believes you should never touch the front of your lenses - I have UV filters on all of them because I work on location, and they frequently get rain, mud and other stuff splattered on them - I need to be able to clean them whilst on location.  I also carry another memory stick, although this one contains my “fact file” a word document that’s got lots of vital info on it - password etc - for when I’m travelling.  The last piece of gear in the bag is a small spiral bound notebook, which despite the ubiquity of smartphones, is still a very handy and fast way of taking notes.

Left hand top - plasters, painkillers and anti-histamines, pens, blower brush, notebook and memory stick.

So there you go, all the non-professional bits in a professional’s bag.  Very few of them cost very much, take up much space or weigh very much, and I’ve had call to use all of them at some point or other.


The Photographer's Car

OK, here’s a post about a vital piece of professional photographic equipment that’s very often overlooked - the Professional Photographer’s Car!  I’m sure I’m not the only professional who has spent quite a bit of time selecting the right vehicle, and then a little more time (and money) to get it functioning in a way that makes my professional career easier.

My 3 main considerations for choosing a car for work are:

  1. A boot big enough to take a lot of stuff, so I’m not always having to put the seats down and have stuff on display.
  2. A car small enough that I can drive around, and park in, central London without too much hassle.
  3. Decent fuel economy, as I do a lot of long distance mileage.

Now, the answer to the first point would often work against the other 2 - it would be very easy to go out and buy an Estate car but it would almost certainly be more thirsty than I would want, and it would be difficult to park and manoeuvre round London.  After a few experiments over the years I think I’ve found the solution.  Ladies and Gentlemen, meet Laurence:

Laurence, or Laurence II to be more precise.  Named after the actor Laurence Fox (check initials on licence plate...) not Lawrence of Arabia - that would be weird.

I’m on my second one of these cars, a Peugeot 3008, and I’m blissfully happy with it - an enormous boot, pretty compact and pleasant to drive, and it averages more than 50 miles per gallon.  Sorted.

Now, with that big problem out of the way, we can start looking at what extra bits I carry and how I make use of the storage space to do shoots, and make my job easier.


First off, the main course - filling the boot with gear.  In this shot you can see a typical load for an average job (although there’s no such thing as an average job in my opinion!)  All of this fits in the boot with room to spare.

 A boot full of gear.  Wherever possible use an assistant to load and unload it....

None of this is rocket science, but obviously put big heavy stuff in first, and on the bottom so it doesn’t crush anything more fragile, and leave vital stuff like the camera bag to hand near the front so it can be grabbed quickly.  I’m probably able to get away with just using the boot about 75% of the time, and only have to put seats down, or lay stuff across the back when I’m carrying backgrounds and the like.

Staying in the boot, there are a few bits and pieces that I’ve added that come in handy.  First off there’s an army issue poncho on the floor of the boot.  This is one of the most versatile pieces of kit I own, it’s been used as a groundsheet, it protects the boot of the car from the daily impact of all the kit, I’ve sheltered kit and people under it many times, and I’ve even slept under it on a handful of occasions when doing shoots with the armed forces.

The boot.  Clockwise from top left - the poncho, compressor etc in storage and on display, first aid kit etc, and the poncho being employed by lazy people on a shoot for Nokia a few years ago.

In the side pockets are a plug-in compressor to pump up the tyres, some cinch straps for securing stuff to the roof racks, and a multi battery charger, and on the opposite side a first aid kit, can of de-icer, and bin bags for emergency waterproofing and keeping things neat and tidy on location.

Back Seats

In one passenger door I keep a smock - and old, very battered windproof warm pullover, and in the other door is a lightweight waterproof.  Of course, if I’m heading out on a location shoot I take the right gear, but once in a while I get caught out by the weather, plus I’ve lent them to less prepared people on many occasions!  Beneath the front seats are two storage bins, the left hand one contains a silver foil space blanket, a change of socks and boxer shorts (in a waterproof bag), and a microfibre towel.  The right hand one holds a fire extinguisher.  It’s not a legal requirement to carry one, but I’ve been caught out once in need of one, though thankfully no-one was hurt!

Smock, waterproof, spare clothes etc, fire extinguisher.

Front Seats

In the “cab” I keep a copy of all important documents (driving licence, insurance etc) a notebook, some pens, spare fuses and so on in the glove compartment.  In the huge centre console, besides my ipod (absolutely essential) there is a pouch full of cables and chargers for various gear, an old satnav that doesn’t get used much anymore, 2 bottles of water, 2 cans of energy drink, and several cereal bars.  This console is chilled when the air con’s on, and it’s a godsend in midsummer!

Glove compartment, pouch of cables, and centre console.

In Use

Now obviously, I don’t end up using all this gear on every shoot, but sometimes I’m able to work right out of the back of the car and employ it as a base of operations.  Generally this happens when it’s lashing down with rain, and there’s nowhere else to go!  Although I’ve no pictures of it in use, I’ve actually made a “car condom” in the past, by taking a roll of clear plastic, and wrapping it around the open doors of the boot to create extra shelter, as well as rigging the poncho out to make a temporary roof.  When working in the wet, one of the most useful habits I’ve developed is to have strict wet and dry areas within the car - once your hands are wet, and your gear is wet, it can very easily spread everywhere.  If you keep a certain area dry, and make liberal use of towels etc, you should limit this effect somewhat, and keep your precious gear, and your sanity intact!

Shooting promotional images for the Men’s Health Survival of the Fittest at Battersea Power Station.  Dean Macey is seen here sheltering from the weather, and stealing the food I keep in the centre console.  Also note plastic bags over the flashes, and everything being recruited to keep gear dry!

I appreciate lots of what I’ve suggested is common sense, and in some cases not very photography specific, but I’ve found that if I extend the same level of planning and care to my car as I do my other equipment it makes for a much easier life on location!