Location Portraits London | City Street Portraits

At this time of year the weather is unremittingly dark, wet and gloomy so I tend to become immersed with other aspects of my work, including the annual Societies Convention in mid January where I’m one of the speakers. This heralded more journeys to London for meetings, including a really nice opportunity to catch up with some of my fellow Olympus ambassadors in a more social environment. We stay in touch and chat now and again, but there’s nothing quite like being face to face. To say that we’re all different would be an understatement. There is fantastic diversity from photographer to photographer and the Olympus brand is represented by fashion photographers, wedding photographers, landscape photographers, rock photographers, travel photographers and myself covering animal photography.

Note I say ‘animals’ and not just ‘pets’. Aaagh ….. I encounter endless assumptions that my animal work involves only pet dogs with the odd kitten thrown in. Actually my portraits include living things of every possible kind and I have no desire to limit myself to human beings. Nor do we have to spend thousands on exotic safaris (much as I’d love to go on one) in order to find worthwhile animal subjects. Any creature is fair game for a photograph in my opinion and most animals can look fantastic if photographed carefully and sympathetically. Get yourself down to your local pond, park, or animal sanctuary – I bet you’ll find something just begging to have its picture taken. There are plenty of examples of this if you head over to our pets and area.

Last Thursday afternoon the Olympus players met up at the Olympus Image Space on Bishopsgate in London. Given that we had some decent light for once (accompanied by bloodcurdlingly cold temperatures) it seemed silly not to go out and grab some shots in the company of fashion and architectural photographer Cleveland Aaron. With the help of a willing model, Cleveland showed us some fantastic locations to shoot in. As is de rigueur in London these days, we did get our collars felt by a security guard, but the idea is that you get your shots as quickly as possible before you get chased. This is understandable some of the time, since it can be very difficult to determine where private property starts and council/public places end. Inevitably, there is only one way to find out. We had to work quickly because the light began to fade very fast, forcing us into quite high ISO values.

At the time of writing this I use Micro 4/3 equipment exclusively in my personal and professional work, and I couldn’t be happier. The ability to travel lightly and comfortably, whilst also carrying a full complement of equipment is a luxury many professional photographers will appreciate, if not crave at times. This is evidenced by the increasing numbers of pros turning to small compact mirrorless systems. On this occasion I had my little OMD EM10 in my handbag used with the excellent Olympus 45 f1.8 prime lens. This lens is simply wonderful for portraiture. It’s tiny, lightweight, nicely made, and optically superb.

In old money (35mm terms) the Olympus 45 f1.8 will give you a comparable aperture of something like f3.5 (or around f2.4 in APS-C terms). In other words, quite shallow depth of field (particularly if you frame tightly) and therefore good subject isolation. It’s also a very sharp lens and it’s unbelievably cheap for what you get. In my opinion it’s a ‘must have’ piece of kit for any Micro 4/3 user who enjoys a spot of portraiture or street photography. This lens, and the camera, slips neatly into my handbag and I barely feel the weight. In my DSLR days I wouldn’t even have brought a camera with me, given how much the strain would have spoiled my enjoyment of any given outing.

Incidentally, the Olympus 75mm f1.8 lens is also phenomenal for portraiture if you prefer or need a longer focal length. This lens can be fantastic for street photography for those who aren’t particularly good at taking photos of strangers at close range. I used this lens for the street shots along the embankment.