This weekend I had the pleasure of meeting Rosie – an inspirational 9 year old girl who a few years ago was incredibly poorly with leukemia. After a successful bone marrow transplant she’s now fighting fit and training hard as she prepares to represent Great Britain at the World Transplant Games 2019 in Newcastle and Gateshead during 17-21st August 2019.
My wife has known Rosie’s mum for many years so I’d followed Rosie’s story and was delighted to be able to meet up with Rosie and her mum at the track to take some promotional shots. Athletes at the games need to pay for travel and accommodation amongst other things so I was keen to capture Rosie’s determination and commitment in the shots so they could be used to approach potential sponsors.
Rosie and her family are based in Harrogate so I arranged access at a local track for us to spend an hour for the shoot and we had a great time, albeit on a particularly blustery day – pretty good for getting dynamic hair, not so good for delicate satin shoot through brollies (one of which is going to need a little TLC now). In the end we had to forego attempting to use brollies at all so instead I went with defused direct flash off-camera for a slightly more aggressive lighting approach more akin to the floodlights at the track. As always, it’s important to be able to adapt to the conditions.
Rosie was an absolute superstar. Aside from explaining each shot and giving her direction on where she needed to be I only really gave her one piece of direction and that was that I wanted to make her look ‘badass’. I wanted to see her game face. She delivered in spades.
Aside from a range of lifestyle and action shots I had one specific shot I wanted to create. Initially I’d hoped we could get on the track early on a cold morning so we could communicate the commitment required but we needed to work around track availability so that wasn’t possible. For the following shot I underexposed the ambient light by around 2 stops to give a similar appearance to early morning light, I also used tungsten white balance to give the whole shot a blue tint to give a cold feel to the scene. I then lit Rosie with an orange CTO correction gel to bring the key light falling on Rosie back to something akin to early morning light. I wanted the shot to scream attitude, strength and determination.
It was such a pleasure to spend some time with such an inspirational, strong and fun young lady. I can’t wait to see her bringing her game face to the games. She’s an absolute superstar.
Happy new year to you! I hope you had a fantastic break over Christmas.
Like a lot of people we love to get out for a walk to blow away the cobwebs during the weird limbo period between Christmas and New Year.
We’re really fortunate to live where we do as we have plenty of green spaces to explore. One of our favourites is Newmillerdam, a fantastic country park just down the road with a large central lake surrounded by a 1.5 mile path as well as open woodlands.
The light on this particular day was absolutely beautiful. It came and went in patches and was dappled by the tree canopies giving a wonderful quality to the light as it fell.
We bought Ellis his first ‘proper’ camera for Christmas. When I say ‘proper’ I don’t mean we’re packing him off with a DSLR, rather one that actually takes real photos. Up to now he’s had a little toy wooden camera which he absolutely adores and takes great pleasure in showing you the pictures he’s taken with it by pointing the blank camera back to you enthusiastically while waiting for you to comment on his wonderful work. We felt it was time for him to actually have a picture to show.
I can’t wait to pack him off with my old EOS 7D and start teaching him the joys of the exposure triangle but for now this little digital compact camera is perfect for him and despite his little hands he’s taken to the controls really well. We just have two minor issues…
Firstly he sees me taking photos ALL the time so his natural tendency is to lift the camera to his eye like his daddy. Like most digital compacts nowadays there’s no viewfinder, just a large screen on the back but he still insists on lifting the camera to his eye, meaning he has no view at all of what he’s taking. While blind shooting is an exciting seat of your pants approach to photography he has a little way to go before he’s crafting compositions.
Secondly, as you can see from the photo above, the position of the lens on this camera is such that it’s pretty easy to cover it with your fingers so we have a growing collection of photos of his fingers.
That said, his hit rate is improving and most importantly he LOVES to shoot and he’s taking great joy in looking at the photos he’s taken.
I don’t remember how old I was when I started taking photos. I’d guess about 7 or 8? The trick now of course is to allow him the freedom to enjoy capturing images without going all competitive dad and trying to push my love of photography onto him. He doesn’t need to understand white balance. He doesn’t need to understand when it’s acceptable to push your iso, or when you need to stabilise the camera or introduce artificial light. He doesn’t need to understand which metering mode is most appropriate or take control of his focus point to make sure his subject is as sharp as it can be. He loves to carry his camera and capture images. It’s actual magic and if that little seed leads to a passion further down the line, well… that’s just fine with me.
As well as chatting on the sofa they also filmed a short VT of my wife and I at home with our son Ellis, highlighting some of the day to day routine treatments that living with CF requires.
I was delighted to be able to invite Matilda along to join me in the studio. Tilly is 9 and is one of the 47 subjects in the book. She’s incredibly mature and eloquent for her age. She watches Look North every night and was a little starstruck but they looked after us brilliantly, giving us a guided tour of the control room, editing suites and radio studios amongst other things. I think the highlight for Tilly was hanging out in the make-up room with Harry and Keeley beforehand and having her make-up done. I was less excited to have my make-up added but hey, studio lights and shiny heads aren’t the best combo.
The highlight for me was seeing a selection of the portraits up on the big screen during the intro to the segment, they looked great up there. Another highlight was being sent this adorable picture of Ellis watching the segment at home.
The interview itself all went by in a bit of a blur in all honesty. Having been unable to speak without breaking into coughing fits in the last few days it was a relief to get through it at all. Overall though, I’m incredibly thankful to be given a good chunk of time to focus on the subject of CF to a good-sized audience. The entire purpose of producing this piece of work was to raise awareness of CF and the impact it has on everyday life so it was a fantastic opportunity to do that.
A huge thanks to Olivia, Harry and Keeley for giving us a platform to talk about CF, to Heather and Ellis and of course to Matilda who did a fantastic job of looking after me. She really is a superstar. Who can blame Harry for being a little smitten.
What a pleasure to have you guys on the programme
But Simon Matilda was my favourite
— Harry Gration (@harrylooknorth) December 17, 2018
You can watch our segment here: