Lighten Up and Shoot Film

First, I would like to thank Mikey for inviting me to tag along, assist and record some behind the scenes footage.  I would also like to thank Bruce for providing me with a couch to crash on while I was in Liverpool, and I want to thank both of them for the great company, conversations, education and entertainment (which mostly consisted of me and Bruce making fun of Mikey).


Nobody could ever really describe me as a “fashion photographer”.  So, when the opportunity arose to hang out for a few days with the great British fashion photographer Bruce Smith, and portrait & travel photographer Michael Thompson (“Mikey” – the fella on the left) from Lighten Up and Shoot, of course, I said yes!

Bruce and I had never met or spoken before, but Mikey and I have been chatting back and forth via Facebook and Skype for a few months.  They are two guys at the top of their game when it comes to photography and lighting, they both know exactly what they want to create, and what they need to do in order to create it.

Assisting other photographers is something I try to do a few times a year.  When the time is available to do so, it’s an invaluable way for a photographer to spend their time.  Even when you’re already fairly confident in your abilities and feel you’re pretty good at what you do, sometimes it’s nice to take a back seat on a shoot, and see the process from a different perspective.  Seeing the challenges that another photographer is confronted with, knowing how you’d try to overcome it it, and seeing how they tackle it, to help either validate your own processes or show you something new that you might not have thought of.

me_assisting_and_anastasiya Above images courtesy of, and Copyright, Michael Thompson – Lighten Up and Shoot

When it comes to photography, it’s all the things you don’t learn in workshops, or can’t find online, I find interesting.  I like watching other photographers work, no matter what genre they shoot, I like hearing their stories, all the real world examples of things that can go wrong on a photo shoot.  The equipment that fails, the essential piece of equipment somebody forgot to pack, the equipment that goes missing, the weather that doesn’t cooperate, the talent or crew that don’t show up, the client that doesn’t pay, and all the other horror stories you occasionally read about on blogs.  It’s the confirmation of my own personal theories and beliefs, or the complete obliteration of them.

For anybody that is serious about photography, you soon realise that no matter how long you’ve been doing it, no matter how much you already know, there is always room to learn some more.  Often, after you’ve been shooting for a good number of years, these things are not so obvious, however, sometimes they leap right out you.

Which finally brings me to my point (or at least to the use of the word “film” in this post’s title).

Mikey’s a pretty successful guy.  He’s been published many times, he’s toured all over the world working for clients or teaching workshops, and his results speak for themselves.  However, Mikey was a relative latecomer to photography, and has lived entirely in the digital realm.  He’s never shot on film (something he let slip on Facebook not too long ago).

the_toysSo, I presented him with a challenge while he was here in the UK;  To shoot his first ever roll of black & white 35mm film.  Not only that, but he’d be doing it on one of the most fundamentally basic SLRs ever made, the Nikkormat FTn, with a 50mm manual focus lens, and to make life just a tiny bit more difficult, there was no battery in the camera, so for all intents and purposes, it has no meter.

Mikey had a little introduction to the kit he’d be using the other night (and when he gets that video online, I’ll edit this post and link it up), how to change what few settings were available, and he fired off a couple of frames during Thursday’s shoot with Anastasiya Kasimova (pictured above) during which I assisted.

As I type this, Mikey is currently in London, and I’m back home in Lancaster, so hopefully he’s stuck with it, and made his way through the roll.  Once he gets around to developing and scanning it, I’ll be sure to edit this post and add some links.