This is a series of editorial photographs of the fabulous talent Wayne Meeten at work. Commissioned by a magazine in Toronto the day was spent documenting Wayne in his studio in Devon near Exeter.
The main technical challenge was to overpower the lighting in his fairly bright but flatly lit white walled studio so that I could control the scenes. Wayne had mentioned that he sometimes needed to find ways to generate shadow to help him work and for me I needed to find shadow and contrast.
For the detail working images taken in his larger studio space I placed a large sheet of unbleached muslin along one side of the room and bounced a powerful strobe from it. For a couple of shots this was supplemented by a large sheet of black muslin to provide background separation. This enabled me to light the scene rather than a small area which meant Wayne could work and move freely without dropping out of the light.
A lot of the work that Wayne was doing during the day way on tiny pieces, for the most part he assumed I was setting the lights rather than shooting which helped me get natural the photos I was aiming for. But the work generates unpredictable movements whilst I was focussing on small areas added to the challenge too!
However Wayne caught me out while I was setting the lights by doing some ‘hot work’ in a smaller room in the studio. This was a case of unhook the camera from the laptop, set the Nikon to ‘Auto ISO’ and see what could be done. I guess we could have done some set-up shots but that would have felt like cheating.
I was pleased to try my new optical snoot out for a couple of images, a light that uses lenses to focus on to tiny areas. This enabled me to shine a controlled focused beam of light to the back of the pieces that then reflected back onto Wayne’s hammer and hands. Prior to coming out to the shoot I’d wondered if this would work and it’s definitely a technique I will try again.
In the room that I took the standing shot I placed two strobes in the garden, one to the left firing through the window and one to the right firing through the doorway and another window. A further flash was in the adjoining room to the left. The external strobes had hard reflectors and CTO gels to warm the light; without the studio strobes the frame would have been black which when I showed Wayne I think it’s fair to say he was quite surprised!