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Hear first hand how MMoS has helped our mentees at:
It's been eleven years since the very first group of mentees arrived at
my studio for the inaugural session of MMoS (Mentor Me on Steroids).
I never dreamt Mentor Me would grow into the continual professional
development programme it is today - helping photographers across the
UK and further afield develop their business, as well as photography
skills. I am so very proud of my magnificent mentees and their
achievements - which they've worked incredibly hard for - that I wanted
to put together a publication, not only celebrate our MMoS family but
to share tips, how-to features and real-life biographies with all of you
From an initial hands-on delivery of education, MMoS has developed
into an in-depth delivery of knowledge, enabling mentees not simply to
replicate what they're taught, for example 'the how', but to understand
the 'why', allowing them to produce professional results in any given
It's a system which has built successful businesses for those who have
taken on board the education and put in the effort and commitment
required to build any successful business. The beauty for me is that we
don't help build a one-size-fits-all franchise, we support mentees to
craft their own individual bespoke business'.
Since 2008, I’m so very proud to have watched 25 mentees achieve
Photographer of the Year status and know I've supported them along
their journey, but it was their hard work which won out. I'm even more
proud to see businesses, start, grow and thrive. One diligent MMoSer
went from startup to 78k in just ten short months. Knowledge isn’t
just power, it's the application of knowledge which builds success; we
provide the knowledge and hopefully the positive environment to
motivate that application.
This may sound odd, but I am genuinely more proud of our MMoS
family’s achievements than of my own endeavours (those who know
me and know how competitive I am will realise just how much MMoS
means to me from that statement). To see mentees start a business,
grow a business, and most of all take control of their own future and
success is an amazing feeling. If it's a sin to be proud, I am that sinner!
So, please...Read the words within these pages, enjoy the pictures and
stories shared and know this is my way of acknowledging those
hard-earned successes and showing my mentees, and you, just how
proud of each and every one of them I am.
Cheers for now
McGillicuddy & Associates
Phoenix House Spring Street Widnes WA8 0NL
Find out more at www.mentormeonsteroids.com
A working commercial and Portrait photographer for over 30 years, Damian shoots all genres from
fashion to footballers, products to politicians and musicians to motorsport. Having amassed over
700 international awards, 12 Photographer of the Year titles, 12 Fellowships, an Honorary
Fellowship and a Double Grand Masters, Damian is also a Grand Master with Double Bar.
Damian's latest achievement is a Fellowship in Photographic Training, the first to be awarded in
the United Kingdom.
Also Olympus UKs Principle Photographer, Educator and European Visionary, Damian is following
in the footsteps of past celebrity photographers. Over the past 10 years Damian McGillicuddy
Photography Training, under the banner of MMoS, has resulted in his mentees achieving multiple
national and international awards, including 25 Photographer of the Year titles as well as Licentiate,
Associate, Fellowship, Master and Grand Master distinctions.
Rewind to January 2018 aged 47, Damian was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award from
the photographic industry, in recognition not only of his achievements but his continued
commitment to the industry and his students.
MMoS Master Associate,
SWPP Grand Master Photographer
SWPP Fellow & Judge MPA Fellow
MMoS Master Associate
SWPP Grand Master Photographer
SWPP Fellow & Judge MPA Fellow
MMoS Master Associate
Guild Master Craftsman & Judge
MMoS Fully Qualified Associate
MMoS Junior Associate
Lilly Von Pink
MMoS Junior Associate
MMoS Junior Associate
MMoS Junior Associate
MMoS Junior Associate
An MMoS Publication
Managing Editor: Damian McGillicuddy
Editor: Angela Adams
Designer: Jamie Morgan
Published by: One Vision Imaging
Fraud, hoaxer, wannabe. Just of a few names that
come to mind, when I consider my photographic
career. It’s so easy to feel like a fraud in an industry
of such immensely talented people. Photography
wasn’t my first choice of job and my family certainly
wasn’t luvvy enough for me to go to art school.
Whilst I loved art classes at school if I wasn’t’ feeling
it that day, then ink, paint or pencil, it just wasn’t
happening. I dreamed of being an Architect and
creating amazing buildings, but instead took the
sensible route of qualifying in geeky stuff like
Computer Sciences and Electronics.
There’s been an entrepreneurial streak in me since
primary school, so whilst completing my engineering
qualifications at night school I worked for a printer
learning about papers, design and how creative
things come together. Shortly after graduating,
I started a new business in electrical engineering.
Fast forward, 17 years and life has a funny way of
reminding you about where your passions really lie.
Lady luck dealt a serious run of challenges, from
losing my mid-range hearing in both ears, needing
two hearing aids, to a relationship breakdown and
business challenges. It made me take a serious look
at what I actually wanted from life.
It’s an amazing and daunting time when you can
literally change anything and everything in your life.
I still had that love of architecture, the appreciation
for good design, and my working life had developed
a keen eye for detail, as often it meant the difference
'If you put enough effort in, you will produce
between life and death.
results.' Wise words handed down from a past
mentor. In 2015, I launched my dog photography
So, in November 2014, I purchased my first
business Hound Dog Photography I didn’t want
professional digital camera, a Nikon D7100. Worlds
the stress of working with people and couldn’t pose
apart from the Nikon FM2, that camera documented
them for toffee. Having grown up around a working
my first travels abroad as a teenager, across Salvador
farm, I had a natural affinity to working with
Dali’s Spain and the magical castles of Carcassonne,
Knowing that I needed to stand out in a busy market
Emboldened with my purchase, I started out
place, I worked hard attending events, promoting my
photographing cityscapes and night scenes of
business and shooting for competitions that would
projects I’d worked on office blocks, power stations,
drive my business further. There was a plan and a
all sorts really. I even enrolled in a local adult
purpose behind everything.
education course, but within weeks, I’d outgrown the
rest of the class and left disgruntled.
Kennel Club Dog Photographer of the Year is the
world’s largest dog photography competition; I knew
Those 17 years of running a small business gave me a
a win of this scale would really push my business
huge range of experiences, but most of all taught me
forward. I put together a plan to shoot breeds that
the need for life-long learning... As an engineer I had
weren’t seen every day, that would stand out. And
to be back in the classroom for a specified number of
hours each year to retain my qualification!
In 2015/16 over 13,800 people from 80 countries
The quest for knowledge became similar to my
entered the Kennel Clubs’ competition. Less than
photography, I read books and attended every
18 months into my new business, I had won Kennel
workshop I could find that interested me and fuelled
Club Dog Photographer of the Year for my portrait of
my love of photography.
two Afghan Hounds. I’d earned a feather to my cap
which opened countless new doors to my business.
From camera club style model shoots, to training with
From photographing for the Metropolitan Police in
fashion, automotive and portrait photographers, I
London, to become a press photographer at Crufts
looked for as many ways as I could to constantly
the UK’s largest dog show.
learn. I travelled the length and breadth of the
the country, like a lunatic, with no real structure,
One of the world’s richest men, American investor,
desperate to use any techniques I was learning to
Warren Buffet has often said you have to surround
develop my own style.
yourself with people in business 'that push you to
ecome better, that have higher goals and higher
I found a professional photographic organisation,
an organisation owned by the members, designed to
support each other. Following a serious dose of
imposter syndrome, I made the leap to become
qualified as a Licentiate.
Our West Midlands Region formed a new team in
2017, volunteering my time and skills, I started to
make waves within the industry. Expanding the circle
of photographers that we met and helped through
our regional meetings.
I wanted to see the industry start to change and
modernise, for too long it had been described as an
old boys club, set in its ways. We put a fresh face to
the Awards and Training Weekend, raising the
bar dramatically, a breath of fresh air for members.
But on home soil, I still wanted changes. With a new
studio in Surrey, there were a whole bunch of new
challenges. I’ve needed to work on my weaker skills
like posing. I also wanted to build a variety of work
to provide a less rollercoaster cash flow. Our fledgling
business had been very weather dependent in
the past and to grow, this had to change.
Continued professional development, or life-long
learning is one of those core beliefs I still hold today.
As soon as you become complacent in business, or
with your skills, someone is there to step in and take
the things you’ve worked hard for.
Joining Mentor Me on Steroids in 2018 was a
natural progression for me, it was time for structured
learning. I have goals and I needed a mentor who
could get me there and had been there before.
If you wanted to train for the Olympics, surely you
would choose a coach that had not only competed
himself, but had also taken countless teams there.
I undertake regular training in business, marketing
and photography skills to constantly perfect my skills
and push my business forward. For me, MMoS, helps
me stay leader of the pack.
Find out more about Jamie at:
By Clive Hall FSWPP
Nowadays I work as a photographer, but my
previous career saw me serve with the Fire Service
for 30 years!
I wanted to tell a fire fighter's story in pictures,
a story which would make the viewer feel they were
walking in the footsteps of these men and woman
who risk all to save others.
What started as a personal project developed into a
panel of images which were fun, but very stressful to
complete, a panel which has since earned me a
Fellowship and Master Craftsman qualification.
Every aspect of my skills as a photographer was
employed to capture these pictures, which are
neither posed nor directed.
I had to think quickly and move fast, utilising the
available natural light and my knowledge of fire
behaviour. At times working in a toxic environment
where temperatures could rise close to a thousand
The concept of my panel is detailed in my Statement
of Intent that follows.
This was read aloud in the qualification room for my
Fellowship and Master Craftsman before my
photographs were presented to the judges:
I’m Clive and welcome to my panel. Before you view,
I’d just like a few minutes of your time to set the background
and explain the context of what you’re about to
I’ve spent 30 years as a front-line operational firefighter.
Not many people will actually see close-up leave alone to
be able to photograph in this very hostile environment.
Here I’m literally shooting on the edge, in extreme
temperatures and in an unbreathable toxic atmosphere,
visibility close to zero.
Leave alone myself but my photographic equipment
was also on the edge of its operating capacity in this
immense heat. Very few people have the knowledge and
technical skills in fire behaviour and photography to enter
this alien world and capture it on camera in this way.
In my experience, a lot is made in the media of the
drama relating to the work of the Fire and Rescue Service
and quite rightly, so because the scenes and machines
are highly visible, bright, colourful and certainly very
But you'll see this panel is entirely different from that.
It's personal, it’s about the people behind the fire kit and
breathing apparatus, and it gives you the opportunity
(emotionally at least) to walk in their footsteps.
This panel is purely documentary because as you see it,
this is as it happened. Not only was this panel challenging
to me in terms of its concept, but it was also
During my 30 years operational service I gained lots of
valuable knowledge relating to firefighting techniques
and also to the chemistry and behaviour of fire in
different situations. I had to use all that experience to be
able to shoot this panel.
I was fortunate that due to my background I was given
permission to access what I needed, taking into account
my own safety and the safety of others. I had to physically
position myself in places that I thought something
would be likely to happen whilst being mindful of the
condition of the smoke levels and the very high heat
levels being radiated.
What have they seen? What have they done?
Was a life saved – or was a life lost?
Firefighters risk their own lives in a highly calculated way
to save a saveable life, but what was the risk they took?
How close to the line was it?
What are the thoughts and feelings they might have at
the time and what might they take with them and live
with when they go home to their families?
To do this effectively took me out of my comfort zone,
which for me is normally portraiture.
In this panel, there is no posing or direction,
no positioning of lighting and using different techniques
to get the best results.
The most difficult technical challenge was, of course, the
lighting. Because this was a live fire situation, I couldn’t
get in the way or direct the crews in any way, shape or
form, their job was to save lives and protect the property
and the last thing they wanted was me using flash or
asking for poses.
I did this by trying to predict where crews would appear
and making good use of any available light source to
effectively light the firefighters as they were working. The
lighting was, therefore, a very dynamic issue and was
constantly changing both as the fire developed and also
as it was extinguished.
Smoke is also very dense and artificial lighting is largely
ineffective as it will bounce off the surface of the smoke
layers. Other things I had to think about were focusing
issues, would the camera focus through very high
temperatures (approximately 800 degrees) would you get
distortion in the recorded picture and would that have
an effect on the quality of the image, of course, the
smoke layers were an issue preventing focusing
I had to use all my knowledge of fire behaviour to judge
the fall of natural light against internal operations and
how that would be affected by the impact of smoke
To me, of equal importance to what I wanted in this
panel, is what I didn't want.
This panel isn't intended to be personal to the casualties
or the owners of the premises. Any fire is always a very
personal disaster for them and their loved ones and I
don't believe it is right to use that in any form. This is
about the firefighters as people and that's why the
images are more close-ups rather than full scenes of
building and fire appliances.
It’s important to consider the environmental and physical
conditions in which the firefighters were working.
Typically, a domestic fire can reach a temperature up to
1000 degrees Fahrenheit, rising to over 1400 degrees if
a flashover occurs. Highly toxic smoke is produced often
including chemicals such as hydrogen cyanides which are
deadly. Death can occur in only 2 breaths. The generic
atmosphere of most fires will not sustain human life.
So, try and place yourself in their shoes. You as a
Firefighter enter an unfamiliar burning building, its
heavily smoke logged and you can’t see. You and your
team-mate immediately make your way by touch and
feel to the point of greatest danger and then work back,
looking for casualties as you go. The atmosphere will fill
with super-heated black dense smoke making visibility
You will search, sometimes on hands and knees feeling
your way around rooms. You still cannot see and have no
knowledge of the layout. Information will come to you by
radio – 'persons reported' (still trapped inside) or
perhaps, 'all persons accounted for'.
Persons reported? You as the firefighter know you have
got to find them.
Perhaps then at that very point you become aware the
structure of the building has become compromised by
the fire, there are signs, sounds and symptoms of
impending structural collapse but there’s a room still left
to search. People are still missing; the evacuation signal
is sounding for you to leave but you know someone is
still trapped in there.
You know that if you can’t get to that person, then no
one else is coming!
Under that pressure, you make your decisions and take
highly calculated risks.
So, what do you do and how does it end?
So now, when you look at those images…what are you
What is that firefighter trying to wash away – sweat, dirt
and grime….Or sights, sounds and memories?
What are they listening for - the sounds of impending
structural collapse or the faint cry of a child?
What are they waiting for with flames behind them -
water, equipment? Or are they listening for sounds of
Who is behind that mask? Is the firefighter male or
female? Does it make a difference? Are you safe with
them? Are they safe?
Is the person being carried in the firefighters' arms
already dead? Is there a pulse? Are they breathing? Can
they be saved? What happens next?
Why is that firefighter kneeling alone? Where has he
crawled from? What is he about to say? What are they
getting ready for? What have they just seen or heard?
What will they find when they step through the door into
the burning building? Are they hurting, emotionally,
physically or both?
Those firefighters you are looking at, and in whose
footsteps you’re walking… Consider what’s behind the
fire kit and the breathing apparatus masks, the people,
those men and women are just like you, just like me!
Clive (pun intended)
Behind the pictures:
I joined Damian McGillicuddy's MMoS programme
four years ago. Both he and Lesley have encouraged
and taught me to develop my skills, correcting issues
and guiding me in practical and technical areas. I've
learnt how to shoot in a dynamic way, looking at all
aspects of a photograph to make an image. Damian's
photographic knowledge is second-to-none and he
shares this freely with us during MMoS.
Lesley McGillicuddy’s compliments this with her skill
in printing and framing beautiful images - she also
runs printing courses sharing her knowledge of
paper, techniques and styles. Lesley has helped me
with both my panels, offering her knowledge skills
and advice on printing to paper types and qualities
to help with the finished look of a photograph. Her
finished images are stunning.
With Damian and MMoS I have now gained
3 Fellowships, 2 Master Craftsman and a Master’s
qualification and I’m so grateful for what he and the
MMoS gang have done for me, don’t get me wrong
you certainly have to work hard.
I would highly recommend MMoS to anyone
interested in developing your skills for a complete
overview of all things photographic from business to
capturing that perfect image.
Find out more about Clive at:
The Fellowship Panel Submission
This is probably my favourite image from last year,
as it has all of the elements that get me really
excited about a project. Great concept, complex
set-up, and a great product to advertise.
The product in question is the FitMitz, essentially a
weighted boxing mitt designed to make workouts
harder. After further discussion, we decided the
background should have an international feel.
The concept was first pitched by the owner of the
company who wanted to show the many different
ways that his new product could be used. We
discussed several ideas and came up with a
back-of-the-napkin plan... We would source a great
location, one with wooden floors, lots of natural light
and use a professional fitness model to show the
product, then overlay as many different movements
as we could.
Initially, I wanted to add motion blur and dragged
shutter effects into the final image but the idea was
discarded after a trial - it just detracted from the
overall look and made it harder to identify the
product. When you’re shooting an advertising
image, the product is king!
The plan was always to shoot somewhere we could
composite in a separate backdrop from my own
personal stock library.
The location we settled upon was a leisure centre in
Manchester, as it had the most amazing high
After some trial and error on the day, I figured out
the best place to shoot from and secured my tripod
to the floor - with lots of Gaffer Tape!
I took my time with deciding where to position the
camera, as once it was in place, it would not move
for the duration of the shoot, this made post-production
of the final image, much easier.
As you can see from the picture right, we marked
the floor with masking tape giving our model precise
positions to aim for during her routine.
I shoot a lot of composites in my commercial work,
so I am aware that cutting out a model from a white
background is much easier than a busy one.
So after getting out backplates (several exposures of
the background), we set up a white paper backdrop
to shoot our model on - this was also instrumental in
cutting down on reflections from our lighting kit.
Let’s talk about lighting... I like to keep things as
simple as possible, especially with this commission,
as we would be shooting lots of different positions
with our model and I wanted to keep the lighting as
consistent as possible for each one.
Marking the scene using gaffer tape
As you can see from the diagram right, I used two
lights which were balanced with the ambient light
from the huge windows.
My key light came from an Elinchrom ELC1000 with
the large silver parabolic umbrella and my rim light
was another ELC1000 with a strip box - giving a nice
even light from head-to-toe, with a good rim light
emulating the light you would expect from the big
All that was left to do now was to shoot. We shot
many different moves, not knowing exactly what the
final make-up of the image would look like.
White backgrounds simplify cut-outs
I made sure we got plenty of options left and right,
as well as central shots.
Reference images were also taken with the white
background, to see how the shadows would fall
naturally. This is something that often lets a
composite down, so I did this to ensure my final
image was realistic with correct lighting patterns.
Planning lighting to match the existing shadows
This is a straight-out-of-camera (SOOC) image,
you can see the lights reflected in the windows and
exactly where the shadows fell.
The editing was actually very straightforward for a
project with this level of complexity. The first step
was to tidy up the backplates, remove all the tape
marks on the floor and cut out the windows.
A straight out of camera image
The green shown here is just a solid colour layer
to check for neat edges. Next, we chose the
background, a cityscape shot from a high-rise
This was chosen to give the impression of the
studio being in a penthouse looking out over the
city, a subtle hint to show the FitMitz as a premium
I then went through our selections, cut the image
out and give each one a full retouch and colour
The next step was layering the assets to create an
image which wasn’t too crowded, but gave a clear
message and showed the versatility of the product.
A clean green layer to show clean edges
I experimented with different amounts of opacity
to create the finished advertisement piece you see
Single images with alternate backdrops were also
produced for different markets.
To sum up, this shoot had the potential to be
seriously complex and a hugely challenging edit,
but thanks to the skills I have picked up during my
6 years under Damian’s mentorship, everything went
Before joining MMoS I was a scientist working in a
lab. To be where I am now, a successful commercial
photographer would have been impossible without
the help of the MMoS family and Damian.
One of the finished toned images
Find out more about Neil at:
Profile with MMoS Member
After a number of years working for other people in the
photography industry, I dreamt of setting up my own and
taking control of my photography and my business.
Attending one of Damian McGillicuddy's lighting
workshops and getting to see a master at work highlighted
the gaps in my knowledge. I had ambition and drive
but felt trapped working for other people.
The prospect of leaving my job, becoming selfemployed
and running my own portrait studio was
daunting, so I made plans to ensure my studio was the
best it could be. Taking that leap without having any
previous experience of running a business is the biggest
challenge I have ever faced!
I joined Mentor Me on Steroid (MMoS), Damian's
continual professional development programme for
photographers, was the first step to getting the guidance
and advice to help me exceed my business plan.
Running your own portrait studio is hard work!
You have to develop a multitude of skills including,
marketing, sales and customer service, not forgetting the
fundamentals of lighting and photographic techniques.
To be honest, I’m a bit of a workaholic and have taken
my business very seriously from day one - making it a
success was very important to me.
My studio now has a large and growing client base and
I'm kept busy with baby and children’s portrait sessions.
Damian taught me to have a number of marketing
strategies in place all the time to get your business seen
and your brand-story heard. I have used this advice to
generate all my clients without spending unnecessarily
With a guiding hand from Damian, the MMoS team and
family, I can really see an improvement, not only my
photography but in my level of confidence too!
I worked incredibly hard and managed to hit the targets I
had set for my 3rd year in business within my first ten
Continual professional development is at the core of
growing my company, and being a part of MMoS is
actually a part of my business plan.
“I took the plunge and opened
my own studio. I was delighted to
exceed my plan, and find
in just 10 months,
I had grossed £78,000”
- Leah Dollimore
Being self-employed can be quite isolating so the
support and guidance from not only the MMoS team but
also my fellow mentees is priceless. I am also fortunate
to have a very supportive family.
I have trained with Baby Whisperers Jocelyn Conway
and Karen Wiltshire, who I consider the industry’s
leading newborn photographers - they're also fellow
The training has not only given me the confidence to
photograph newborns safely and professionally, but it's
also given my clients confidence that I use safe practices
when working with their children and in turn helped
build a good reputation for me and my studio.
My ambition is to work on establishing my own name
and brand in the photographic industry; to work towards
gaining qualified within the photography community is
also something I am planning.
Striving to be original, not copy others and attempt to
use my fine-art education within my work is also a goal.
I’m working hard to build a loyal client base, ones
who are happy to recommend me to their friends and
associates. I believe if a client loves your work and
enjoys their experience at your studio, they will be a
client for life!
More about Leah: www.dollimorephotography.com
More about MMoS: www.mentormeonsteroids.com
MMoS BABY - ALMOST A BABY BUSINESS IN A BOX
Six Intensive sessions designed to build your business
This course is for existing newborn
photographers or those thinking about
becoming one and will include:
We’ve trained some of the industry’s leading
baby photographers including Jocelyn Conway,
Karen Wiltshire and Tracy Willis.
• Basic camera craft
• Studio lighting
• Post production
• Shot planning
• Essential photography kit
Business & Marketing Skills
• Business basics
• Choosing products
• Sales skills
• Setting up your Studio
• Setting up to shoots
• Health & Safety
Creating Your Success
• Picture critique
• Styling your sessions and set creation
• Bumps & Newborns Sessions
• Working with babies and siblings
• Posing and working with parents
• Settling, Soothing, Wrapping,
• Managing parents and baby behaviour
Find out more about MMoS Baby at:
Sometimes you just get a crazy idea in your head!
Initially, you think, that's a little mad. Then you
consider the idea a little more, and the more you
think the more you decide to rise to the challenge.
Photographers often say to me during a conversation,
I'm a natural light photographer, and look little
scared as if I'm going to quiz them on the physics of
flash lighting. Some of the braver ones approach
me with the statement... I just don't understand
supplementary lighting. It was the former, as well as
the latter which made me want to show the world,
that with a little thought, you can put light anywhere
you want it, make it look the way you would like it
to, and with minimal kit.
I love a challenge, so set myself the challenge of
using minimal kit to create this picture. Why? I
wanted to show that employing supplementary
lighting to make a picture isn't anything to be scared
of - when you know how and give it a go. I’m a real
fan of the power and recycling speed offered by the
Modus 600RT, these are my speedlights of choice
when I need to go minimal. And to prove that
supplementary lighting needn't be expensive, I only
used two Modus' in this image... Yes, just two
Just to make it even harder on myself, I chose to go
naked, there wasn't a light modifier in sight - my
flash heads were used bare faced. I needed to show
those afraid of flash lighting, that it's not difficult
(honest) and those who think you need to spend on
expensive kit to create pictures like this one, that
you don't. This image could easily have been
captured by two inexpensive speedlights, the ones
we can buy for less than £30 each.
The truth is very simple, light is well…Just light!
Wherever it comes from, no matter the source, it all
acts the same; light only has a few properties:
brightness, colour, contrast and direction. I love
engineering light and bending it to my will, so if I'm
honest, part of the creation of this image was ego
driven, I really wanted to turn night into day, a real,
let there be light moment! The image was shot as a
bit of fun, while the team and I were relaxing in our
villa, after completing a workshop day in Lanzarote.
The light in Lanzarote is far too bright for a small
speed light to be used as a key light, most of the
time, but at night one speedlight can become king.
I placed my first speedlight in the garden outside my
bedroom door so the light would shine back into the
room. This light was set at full power. I wanted to
create a shaft of light beaming through the door so
was careful to allow enough light to also spill onto
the tree outside, making sure the patio area looked
the same as it does in daylight. Pushing the light
through the closed curtain, supported the illusion I
was trying to create.
Now it has to be said that much of the picture lends
itself not to the lighting but the effort the team put
into the styling and the dynamics of the image.
Camera left (and out of shot ) we have Lilly my
make-up-artist, who was instructed to
simultaneously throw the heavy drape in the air and
jump backwards out of shot, as best she could,
throwing a few leaves at the same time. My better
half and assistant, Lesley, was positioned camera
right. Lesley was instructed to jiggle the curtain and
throw leaves from the garden for all she was worth -
it really is always a team effort.
The single flash placed outside the window, would at
best, semi-silhouette our model Pixie, so we needed
to resolve the issue by adding in another speedlight.
I wanted this light to be low contrast, soft, yet
directional and all out of a tiny barefaced speed
light. To achieve this I need to make the light
bigger. The simplest solution would be to turn the
flash away from the subject. So the speedlight was
aimed behind me, at the point where the wall and
the ceiling meet, to bounce the light back at the
model from a non-central direction to add a little
shape and form to the subject. The speedlights were
set to manual and independently measured by my
hand-held light meter to a 2 to 1 ratio to, keep the
shadows delicate but distinct.
incredible flash duration they have, from around
half-power down, this is where the speedlight's flash
duration really starts to speed up, from high
hundreds to thousandths of a second…
The ratio between lights is the best way to discuss
the difference in power between lights, it is the
relationship between units which creates the effect,
not the actual aperture or F numbers - they are just
labels for reference.
Now, here's a sad truth, if you saw the raw file for
this image everything is static, frozen and as boring
as hell! A little secret about speedlights is the
The upshot being, the creative potential of freezing
motion. To be able to freeze motion is a big thing
and works well when splashing paint or water
droplets, to name just two.
I know his image is about motion, not freezing
motion. I wanted the viewer to feel the motion in
the picture... Of the light beam blowing through the
window disturbing and forceful. To achieve this,
I dragged the shutter, or in other words, lowered the
shutter speed to let in the ambient light.
I did this for two reasons, one more successful than
the other. Firstly, to include some of the ambient
light, the light that is already in the room. This light
had a warming effect due to the lamps having a
warmer colour temperature than the daylight
balanced flash. Secondly, I was hoping to capture a
little movement in the material and leaves, to sell the
idea of motion. In truth that wasn't as successful as I
wanted, it was too random. It was late at night, the
team were tired and instead of cracking the whip in
the hope of eventually getting the perfect capture, I
went back to the vanilla-flavoured freeze and
decided I could add the finishing touches in
post-production, without inconveniencing anybody
layer, to complete the look I wanted. Then erasing
at varying levels of opacity until I had painted in the
effect and look I desired.
I'm not known for my dalliances with Photoshop, I
like to capture the image in-camera. However, the
simple truth is every digital image requires some
manipulation, even if it's just output sharpening.
All I did during editing, was raise the contrast and
saturation slightly, sharpen and add a subtle
vignette. It's the manipulation of motion in-camera,
which makes this image more unique and different
from the norm. There is nothing magical and
long-winded, just a matter of a duplicate layer and a
touch of Photoshop's motion blur filter on the lower
Hopefully, you will now understand how, with a
couple of inexpensive speedlights, you too could
create an image like this. Always remember, in my
humble opinion, it's the concept which makes a
difference and can lift an to the next level… That
said, there's no excuse for poor capture, the
technical aspects need to marry with the concept
'Till next time.
10 IN DEMAND
AFFORDABLE BITE-SIZE TRAINING SESSIONS
From Carrickfergus Camera Club
to Baby Whisperer and Celebrity Photographer
with Jocelyn Conway FSWPP
At 16, I joined the local Camera Club in
Carrickfergus, Northern Ireland. Shortly after, I was
given a part-time job with the local paper - I attended
children’s football matches, took a photo of the
winning team and made a note of all the player's
My career path took me into nursing, I still loved
photography, so set up a darkroom in the nurses
home. In my spare time, I took photos around
Liverpool and in the pubs and clubs... Just for me!
I would give the developed prints, to the subject of
the photo, the following week. Photography
became my main hobby during my years as a nurse
In 2012, I started training with Damian McGillicuddy,
attending his MMoS (Mentor Me on Steroids)
continual professional development programme,
since then my photography has gone from strength
to strength. My first studio opened its doors in July
of that year, which was wonderful, as I'd been
working out of my living room for the previous seven
Nowadays my specialism is newborns, babies,
children and pregnant mums, playing to my
strengths as a nurse and midwife, as I'm trained in
the skills required to safeguard mums-to-be and
2015 saw the opening of my second studio, a larger
space and now I'm on the brink of moving into my
third. My Liverpool studio is successful and the
space big enough to comfortably accommodate
mums, babies and now families too.
I attract lots of first-time mums due to my midwifery
background and I also get a lot of repeat clients. It's
a privilege to watch their families grow... I have one
client who's been coming to my studio every year,
for the last 9 years.
My aim is to give a boutique experience. Clients
often compliment me, saying they feel relaxed and
comfortable during their sessions.
Much of my inspiration comes from paintings, my
favourite painting of all time is, The Death of Nelson
1859-64, by Daniel Maclise (1806-70) which hangs
in the Walker Art Gallery - I visit frequently. There is
so much in that painting, each visit I see something
new in its story. The lighting, the atmosphere and
the feeling the painting evokes are incredibly
I strive in my photography to recreate something of
the great paintings. I try to emulate mood, lighting,
pose and story. It pleases me when clients pass
comment that my photographs look like paintings.
I love to learn, constantly strive to improve and at
times feel nothing is working, artistically, for me.
Then I look back and see what I have accomplished
in just a few years down to Damian's mentoring and
hard work in assisting me and my business move
The thing that drives me is family. My family means
the world to me, so it follows that my client's family
means a lot to me too. Like most, I need to earn
money to pay the bills, that's why I have a business
but that isn't my driving force! It's the desire to give
people something timeless they can treasure for
years to come. A photograph which documents a
slice of their social history... And it's my image
they're looking at. How powerful is that!
I try and keep my work simple and like to photograph
the baby on its own without too many props but I'm
happy to use props which parents have brought with
them. My focus is still on the baby, the same with
maternity, I love the pregnant form and light each
commission beautifully to show mum-to-be and baby
at their best. I love to use gently draped fabrics to
enhance the female figure and enjoy creating beautifully
simple and tasteful nudes. Very much like the
paintings I love to view in galleries.
We need to celebrate how women change and grow
into mothers in just nine months - it's an amazing
Photography has been in my blood from an early
age; my dad gave me a Kodak Instamatic for my 7th
birthday. My first pictures where of the giraffes in
the zoo... I've been hooked ever since!
When I'm not using my camera I'm taking pictures
with my phone and during my career as a midwife I
was an Ultrasonographer - I used an ultrasound
machine to create 3D images of babies!
A peek behind the curtain..
How it was done....
How it was done.. Step by Step
1. Baby in basket, supported on the floor.
Parent very close by as spotter.
2. Baby out of basket, parent holds
basket up, light adjusted to replicate light
Settings: ISO 200, f/4 at 160th sec.
25 mm lens. (50mm equivalent) .
Baby composited into hanging shot in
Find out more about Jocelyn at www.photojos.co.uk
The advent of digital cameras during the late 1990s
reinvigorated my lifelong, on-and-off, interest in
photography. However, over the next decade, I was
mostly interested in photography as a vehicle to
document my children’s life and specifically their
In 2013, I made my third, and first successful,
attempt at a-photo-a-day for a year, project. The
process made me look around each and every day
for something to photograph. Over time, the project
made me want to make beautiful photographs rather
than just taking record shots. In the Spring of 2014,
I discovered the niche which now inspires me - that
niche is flower photography.
I have a black thumb, meaning I've never been able
to keep a plant alive! I always try to have flowers in
the house, however. So I started by photographing
them against different backgrounds, soon after I
ecame inspired by photographers like Kim
Klassen, who added textures in post-production.
I decided to create my own textures to overlay
over my flower photographs.
Painting with acrylics on artists A4 paper was my
chosen medium, I then scanned each texture I
completed to create a jpeg file. Practising the
process of creating textures by layering different
colours using sponges, combs and brushes to get
texture in the paint, became addictive.
I do like variety, so at times I like to process images
to look like detailed botanical drawings, other
times I employ a very narrow depth of field. I find
flowers beautiful at all stages of their lives and
often have a collection of dying blooms waiting to
At the end of 2014 Damian McGillicuddy visited
my local camera club, I liked what I saw and heard,
so started attending some of his training courses.
I was lucky to enough to be able to attend some
of his Big Shoot Experiences in 2015 and 2016,
where a small group of photographers spent a day
on location learning how to create portraits and
Learning lighting from Damian was a revelation...
Out came the flash guns and modifiers enabling me
to illuminate my flowers without having to rely on
natural light. I could create mood and atmosphere
A year or so later I attended an MMoS taster day
and even though I had no desire to run a
photographic business, I was enthralled by the
process and the learning opportunity. I thought to
myself, I’ll do this for a year and I’m sure I’ll learn
However, I couldn’t give up the learning experience
at the end of the year and Damian still has to put
up with me three years later.
My photography skills have visibly increased over
the last few years and many people have
commented to that effect too.
More than that, my vision has developed and now
have much higher standards. I’ve taken an interest
in portraits and learned how to make composite
images too. I still love to photograph flowers, and
six years and two months later, I’m still taking
With the abundance of social media platforms
available to assist you and your business, it’s more
important than ever to be headshot savvy!
Ask yourself what story or image, you're aiming to
portray with the headshot you place on LinkedIn
versus the one you place on Facebook? Put simply,
the picture needs to fit the platform - one size
doesn’t fit all in the world of social media. I’m not
saying this because headshots - or business
portraits, as I like to call them, are a valuable aspect
of my business (and I’m trying to drum up more
trade). I'm sharing this information with you as it can
be of real benefit. For example, a) selling the service
you provide to the marketplace you want work
within i.e. the headshot which will give you and your
client the best chance of engagement, and b)
because you need to educate your clients to understand
what works in a constantly changing business
environment - not only to get them seen but more
importantly, seen in a way which will engage with
their tribe or the tribe they wish to gain as clients.
Learning what's best for each platform isn't difficult,
but thought and consideration for each and every
picture is essential.
I've heard many business people chatting at
networking meetings discussing business portraits
(usually when they think I'm out of earshot).
The common statement is, 'what's the point of a
professional headshot, my phone takes great
pictures', they then laugh and change the topic of
conversation. They don't get it! Why should they,
they've not been educated about how to make a
great first impression with a professionally photographed
business portrait. I never challenge these
conversations but I do take a peek at their profiles
on social media, as I'm really interested to see what
they think is an acceptable picture for their chosen
platform. Sometimes they get it right, however on
balance, the picture chosen is usually inappropriate
i.e. a holiday snap, a picture taken in casual clothing
in their garden or home office and poorly lit pictures
which hide their features.
At the moment, there seems to be a run on pictures
of people participating in their favourite hobby or
sport - great if you are a sports coach! However,
will a picture of you in your hockey kit sell your skills
as an accountant or copywriter?
Analysts tell us we're judgmental creatures and make
decisions within five seconds of looking at a portrait,
or within a minute or two, in a face-to-face meeting.
I simply don't understand why so many people, take
so little care to make a great first impression? The
devil really is in the detail!
When asking a past client why they’d commissioned
me, their response made me smile: ‘I liked your
work, but you looked like a nice person in your
website picture.’ Really? I’d honestly never thought
about this before it was brought to my attention.
As a business owner and the face of your business,
Many clients ask, what's best for marketing, text or
pictures? My reply is usually... Ideally, a little of both.
However, when you click on a web page, are you
drawn to look at the picture first or do you read the
text? In our fast-paced busy lives, we read much
less and our attention spans are shorter. We filter
information in the first few lines of reading, then
decide whether to continue. An appropriate
picture, accompanied by a great tagline, can be
immensely powerful in providing your business with
a professional edge – either by adding impact, wow
factor or simply by drawing attention.
We’re very much an image-driven society, so don’t
lose business by hiding behind text – we’re
inquisitive by nature, and want to put a face to a
name. Fundamentally, people really do buy people!
Let your customers know who they’re doing
business with; don’t underestimate the value of a
If you're a photographer who wants to provide a
business portrait service, do your homework and
educate your clients on why they should commission
Find out more about Angela at:
10 Top Tips for
Better Business Portraits
1. Discuss clothing choices with your client - the
clothing should ideally mirror their occupation or
what they wear for work - avoid patterns and logos
2. Advise clients to bring a hairbrush - it's easier to
get it right in-camera than spend hours editing stray
hairs for a polished end result.
3. People can have a best-side, so photograph your
clients from both sides.
4. Let your clients see their images on the back of
the camera, then work together to create a picture
they like. Don't be afraid to show clients your work!
5. Relax and engage your clients - encourage them
to talk about themselves and take the time to allow
them to feel comfortable (around 80% of my
business portrait clients first sentences start with, I
hate having my photograph taken).
6. Viewpoint is important - ensure you photograph
your clients from the correct height, dependent on
whether your taking a headshot, 3/4 length or full
7. Pay attention to how you frame and compose
your portrait and the lighting pattern you create on
the client's face.
8. Always be aware of background conflict i.e. trees
growing out of heads.
9. Attempt to capture the client's personality if
possible, not just their likeness.
10. Ensure your choice of lens is flattering (85mm+,
if you have the space, as it adds compression to the
Lilly is a key member of the creative team at Phoenix
House, MMoS HQ. Senior Make-up Artist, Stylist and
Personal Assistant to the Damian. Lilly is a star in her
own right, adding to the knowledge bank at HQ, and
this is just a little space to allow here to shine as she
talks about a few of her favourite “Makes” for shoots.
1. When I’m required to make something this big, I
have to think about what is needed, how heavy it is
etc. This rose headdress is fashioned, yet again,
And because I know it would be used for portrait
pictures, I employed a white pallette, meaning I
could force all the colour into the face and make it
pop, so the eye is still drawn to where it needs to
be, rather than the headdress, as it's bright white.
Plus, I know Damian loves white on white so it made
the decision easy.
2. Not all ideas need to be expensive, this
costume was crafted from off-cuts of background
paper. I wanted to recreate the paper dolls, you
may remember from childhood (the ones which
had paper tags to hold the cut-out clothes onto a
cardboard doll). Using backdrop paper meant the
outfit and backdrop colours matched, adding a
unity to the image.
It wasn't the most comfortable costume to wear
but was worth the discomfort for the end result.
3. Whenever possible, I like to let the nerd in
me run free... Loud and proud! For these
costumes I simply couldn't resist a stint at the
sewing machine - I’ve sewn everything from
ballgowns to clown costumes, using materials
such as fabric, paper, vinyl and latex. If you
don’t have the skill or the inclination to sew
there's no shame in buying or having a costume
handmade for you. My mum taught me to sew,
and as they say, ‘you’ve got to use what your
mama gave you!’
My job can involve a lot of travelling . Sometimes
I forget or lose props - it happens! So you
have to improvise - for this image I forgot my
Tricorder (yes, I had made one, for those who
don't know what they are, a Tricorder is a
hand-held device issued by Starfleet used for
sensor scanning and data analysis), so a light
meter took its place and saved the shot.
4. Some pictures call for heavy-duty lifting and a
drill! As did this full set-build. I built an L-shaped
room set complete with dado rail and skirting
boards. Lesley McGillicuddy and I also wallpapered
and painted the set.
The brief was an aged room, old and neglected.
After a trip to the wood store and DIY shop we
spent the week constructing, wallpapering and
painting, then aged the set with cradle paint.
It's not every day you get asked to write about
yourself (and thank goodness for that). I must
admit, when Damian rang and asked me to put
pen to paper, I was pretty blown away he liked
my work enough to want me to write about it.
So, whilst wondering how on earth I was going
to actually start writing, Facebook helpfully
reminded me that it was six years ago this week,
I started my journey on Mentor Me on Steroids.
Wow! It's a whole six years I’ve been making the
long journey up north to Damian’s studio from
Poole, Dorset. Every eight weeks a 500-mile
round trip, that’s some commitment and I’ve
never missed a session! I confess there have
been times when I really didn’t want to get in the
car and spend hours driving, and then to do it all
again the following day to travel back home.
If I’m honest, there have been moments when
I’ve asked myself, is it worth it?
Here’s my journey so far:
Back in 2014, I was a typical mummy-tog.
There’s nothing wrong with that, but I quickly
realized that to earn a living I needed to charge
more than £50 a shoot. So if I was to replace the
salary I’d lost after being made redundant in
2011, I needed to actually learn the principals of
photography and lighting properly. This is where
my journey started with Damian and the team -
secretly I wanted a magic wand or better, some
fairy dust to make my photography amazing
overnight. No fairy dust, magic wand or quick fix
was offered by my mentor... He offered something
much better - knowledge!
Over the past six years, Damian has equipped
me with the knowledge to take my business
forward and produce work I’m proud of.
Knowledge really is power!
I can now think through a scenario and find the
best solution with the equipment available to
me, in my own space. I’m still guilty of searching
for quick fixes and attending other's workshops
with prescriptive set-ups, but the reality is they
don’t work in the real world, unless you understand
the why as well as the how.
Pretty early on in my MMoS journey, I won
Photographer of the year with The Guild and
Runner-up Baby Photographer of the Year with
the SWPP - what a whirlwind year that was.
I even started to believe my own hype (ego is a
strange beast), but the reality was, I was just
starting out and had a really long way to go. It’s
true what they say, you never stop learning!
In 2016, I was runner up in Children's Photographer
of the Year with the SWPP Children’s.
I actually cried when the nomination arrived in
my inbox. The image they had chosen was of
my daughter, Lizzie. I was just bursting with
joy that Lizzie had been nominated.
This January I entered the SWPP 20 x 16 print
competition with a single print, but one I was
pretty proud of because it was so different from
the work I’m best known for. It was awarded a
Merit and displayed in London. I was delighted!
I have been working hard building my maternity
work, both in the studio and on location. My
clients just love the gowns I have for maternity
sessions and choose several for each session. I
love them too but also want to bring a more
fashion-shoot style to my sessions in the studio.
For this, I knew the perfect client, Ashleigh. She
is strong and beautiful, and not a tutu-wearing
kinda gal, I wanted her Bump session to show
this side of her personality.
I used a Paul C Buff, 4 foot, indirect parabolic
umbrella, with a diffuser cover, to create a
butterfly lighting pattern. Camera right, there is
a white wall, reflecting some of the spill back
This is clamshell beauty lighting (image right),
which gives the high-fashion, glossy-magazine
look we wanted for the shoot. I used the 4-foot
parabolic umbrella mentioned above, and a
gridded strip box on a floor stand below.
This look is certainly bringing in the maternity
clients, as no other photographers in my area
are offering high-end maternity portraits. In
fact, I’ve never been busier with bump sessions.
I tend to mix the sessions now so we do a few
with the gowns and a few more beauty style,
my clients love it.
High Fashion Maternity
Clamshell beauty lighting
with a 4’ parabolic.
I still love getting outside for maternity
sessions, living so close to beautiful outdoor
spaces makes it easier but even the local park in
January can look beautiful.
Using the ambient sunset as backlight and a
speedlight in a shoot through brolly, to light the
Powerful maternity shoots
using a Paul C Buff 4’ Indirect
Many of my maternity clients travel large
distances for their session with me. This brings
added pressure to get it right on the day as it’s
our one chance, before my mentoring that
would have filled me with dread. I would have
been terrified that I wouldn’t get the shot they
wanted. Actually, if I’m honest, I would never
have been commissioned by those clients
anyway, but if by some miracle I had, I'd have
bombed big time!
Armed with the knowledge I have learnt over
the years, I feel able to tackle most scenarios
and am now confident enough to control the
situation so I do get the shot.
I guess I’ve answered my own question in
writing about my journey over the last six
Was it worth the effort, the long journey and
days away from home?
Oh yes! It most definitely was.
Exploring the sunset. Maternity session using ambient light,
balance with a speedlight and brollly.
Find out more about Karen at:
At one with nature. Maternity sessions in a local park
using ambient light, balance with a speedlight and brollly.
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PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHIC CO-OPERATIVE
The Photography Co-operative
that shows your dedication to
standards, quality and service
Our mission: To make Most Beautiful Photography the go-to, bespoke quality assured studios throughout the
country. Why? To raise and maintain professionalism and standards for the photography industry, for the
future and to provide clients with a quality experience and product.
Accreditation: Each and every member of Most Beautiful Photography will have a proven track record of
excellent business practice, excellent customer service and an excellent standard of photography and will be
monitored and supported to ensure best practice at all times. Why? We are passionate about our industry
and want Most Beautiful Photography to become a recognised badge of honour, one which stands for quality.
Commitment: Each Most Beautiful Photography member will commit to six face-to-face mentoring sessions
each year where they will be individually mentored in business and photography skills and encouraged to
achieve internal and external qualifications. Why is this different from MMoS? Members have access to
bespoke client promotions and are given the training on how to shoot, promote, deliver and up-sell each
promotional package within their own business.
Most Beautiful Photography is not a shortcut to running a successful photography business.
Success comes from hard work and commitment over time - if you're prepared to commit, so are we!
Additional Member Benefits:
In addition to face-to-face mentoring each member may enjoy: unlimited telephone and online access to
mentoring when required, benefits and discounts from our trade partners, internal prize-winning competitions
to help with motivation and monitor quality, access to Summer School and MMoS networking day.
McGillicuddy & Associates
Phoenix House Spring Street Widnes WA8 0NL
Find out more at www.mentormeonsteroids.com