Friday, January 13, 2017

Friendly Faces of Mustique

If you are fortunate enough to visit the paradise island of Mustique, there is a pretty good chance that you will see all of these guys: Eddie Boom-Boom, the friendliest taxi driver I have ever met.  I've photographed him about five times, he's got the most interesting face.  Frank Roberts is a poet extraordinaire, and he's got the longest dreadlocks I've ever seen.  See a a larger photo and the poem he wrote for me.  Patrick is the barman at Firefly; "can't touch that Patrick!" If your vehicle breaks down in Mustique, this is the guy who's going to fix it for you.   If you buy any plants, he's the man to see.  If you need fresh fish at the Cotton House or the Firefly, chances are this guy caught it.  Bottom right is Basil Charles, he'll wine, dine, and entertain you.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Bermingham Photography Since 1851

My brother Colin is a portrait photographer in the Liverpool, England area.  A few years ago, he received this letter from a client:  

Along with the letter, was the carte de visite picture below.  This was a very popular tradition in the last century where people had "card-o-mania," exchanging these 6 x 4 pictures amongst their friends.  On the front of the photograph is P. Bermingham Liverpool, on the back is the address and, obviously, no phone number, but the caption "copies may be had at any time."  The address 149 Dale Street was actually on my beat as a police officer when I was in the Liverpool City Police.  I did some research in the Kelly's Directory in Liverpool, which listed all the businesses, and established that there was a portrait photographer by the name of Peter Bermingham, who had a studio at 151 Dale Street.  There was also  a listing for a Peter Bermingham, who worked for the Victoria Portrait Studio at 19 Whitechapel, which is only a few streets away, also on my beat as a police officer.  I visited the sites, and these numbers no longer existed.  Lastly, I also discovered that he was born in 1851, exactly 100 years before I was born!  If anyone has any information in the ancestry about this chap, and I can establish some kind of relationship, I would rather amusingly like to claim in my literature to be "Bermingham Photography since 1851."

This logo for Peter Bermingham's photography business was on the back of the carte de visite.  

I used his logo in my marketing design for a number of years.  Here is an example of it on my display at Tyson's Galleria around 10 years ago:  

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Some Things Never Change

When I started my photography business thirty-four years ago, I developed a reputation for angelic photographs of children barefooted on a white background.  This was incredibly popular, because when you're a child, it's the only time your feet look good in your life.  There is so much body language expressed in the hands and feet.  Just look at this photograph of the Diamond children taken some fifteen years ago, and each has their own definite personality.  You can separate the children and each would stand alone as their individual portrait.  This 'Blues Brothers' skit was great fun to do with them as little children, and when they came many years later, they were so enthusiastic about recreating the image.  Being engaged with your subjects like this is so much fun, and having the opportunity to photograph them over the years like this is one of the most satisfying aspects of being a portrait photographer.  I particularly feel enriched with this happens.  There is nothing more enjoyable than photographing children and watching them grow over the years.  

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Queen's Jubilee

I can remember, as a very small child, that we closed our street down and put tables in the road for the Queen's Coronation party.

We had huge banners across the street and hundreds of Union Jacks on sticks, mountains of cake, and I think this has to be my most vivid memory of early childhood.

I seems amazing that this was sixty years ago, and if you think that she is about to hand it off to Prince Charles, then think again.

I have had several opportunities of photographing Her Majesty. My first was in Bermuda, on the 16 to the 18th of February, 1975, when I worked in the Bermuda Police Photography department.  I was assigned to accompany her for the entire Royal visit.

As she boarded the plane at the end of the trip, I was thoroughly exhausted as she indeed has the most grueling schedule you can imagine.

 I often have wondered how she keeps up that pace.

The accompanying photographs of her with Prince Philip and the Commonwealth Ambassadors were taken during her visit to the United States in 1991.

You also might enjoy this clip from YouTube that shows some interesting behind-the-scenes moments:

I think that one of the main reasons I like the Queen is because she reminds me of my Mum! 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

On Location with Michele and Jack Evans

I photographed DC City Councilman Jack Evans and his wife, Michele, in their Georgetown home for the cover of the Georgetowner Magazine.  I noticed the painting over the mantelpiece perfectly matched Michele's outfit, and Jack had been fitted out with a Hart Schaffner Marx suit from Joseph Abboud's store, "Streets of Georgetown."  There was natural light coming in from the window, but it wasn't enough.  So, I used one 72x36-inch white scrim, and a Photogenic electronic flash, which closely simulated the window light.  The exposure was taken at f8 at 1/15th of a second, the camera on a trip, with ISO of 100.  I particularly liked the softness of the light using this scrim, and it's a very simple setup with a very pleasing result.  

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Tonality, Exposure and Skin Tone

This is a friend of mine, Basil Charles, who owns the famous Basil's Bar in Mustique.  I photographed him on several occasions, and he is a particularly difficult subject because of his very dark skin tone.  Patrick Lichfield said Basil "sucked up the light."  So, how do you photograph someone and still show tonal quality in the photograph?   The other difficulty here is that he is wearing a white outfit.  The key to this was to have him face the source of light so the visage of his face was evenly lit and the side of his face was in shadow, giving a dimensional quality to the image.  The effect worked on the white clothing, as well.  So instead of being completely blown out, you see subtle texture.  I also positioned his head so it was framed by a lighter background.  

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

"A Photographer Fit for a Queen"

Twenty-one years ago this month, I had the wonderful opportunity of photographing the Royal family on their trip to the United States.  I photographed the Queen and her husband, and then-President George Bush and his wife in the library of the British Embassy in Washington, D.C.

I remember being quite nervous, which was compounded by Prince Philip replying "no" to all of my posing suggestions.  I then also asked the Queen if she would like to put her handbag down, and she also said "no."  The Bushes were quite amused by the exchange, but I wished that the ground would open and swallow me up! 

I then said to the Queen, "I am so glad to see that your dress is nicely pressed, because I had a dream a few nights ago that I had to iron it."

They all seemed highly amused by this, and here is the resulting portrait: