Announcing the Photo Hub, Newcastle

A few months back, friend Chris Moody and I, decided to try and put together something that would serve the North East photographic community in various ways.

We were initially lured to the idea of a retail operation combined with a cafe and studio.  So we started running some ideas and more importantly, numbers, and came to the conclusion that this was not feasible or applicable in the current retail market and economic climate.  We threw hundreds of ideas around, but the main idea that stuck was that we wanted it to be a community based project, reacting and adapting to the needs of the local photographic community.

After many discussions and a lot of planning, the Photo Hub was born.  The idea of the Photo Hub was to be constantly moving and incorporating fresh ideas and trends at the drop of a hat.  The Hub was based on online social networking communities.  There are hundreds of photographers who communicate and chat on the various networking sites and the role of the Photo Hub is to bring them together physically.

The aim is to offer support, help, tuition and networking, in a friendly, professional and encouraging environment.  We aim to accommodate photographers who's experience level ranges from beginners all the way through to Professionals and bring them together to chat, have a drink and discuss the various aspects of photography.  Most of all we want the Photo Hub community to dictate and participate in the Hub's future direction.

It all kicked off last Sunday (4th Nov) with our very first event day.  Held at the Star and Shadow cinema in Newcastle, we held an afternoon of talks and activities.  We were also joined by various suppliers who exhibited their goods and demonstrated the latest in photographic gear.  Big thanks to the guys from Lencarta, Direct Digital Imaging (bringing their Phase One cameras with them)  and Intro 2020 for joining us.  Also thanks to Chris Ireland at completecaptureone.com for supplying our raffle prizes.

Thanks to our guest speakers for some very informative workshops and seminars and for a showcase of some truly inspiring images. Shout out to Phil PuntonJohn PictonMontana Lowery and Mark Pinder.It was an excellent afternoon and the feedback we got from the audience was great.

As part of the Photo Hub we will be holding monthly meets (first one TBC) and every six months we will be holding bigger event like the one at the Star and Shadow.

It's all very exciting for everyone involved. If you would like more information on the Photo Hub, then please visit our facebook page.

Lastly, and most importantly, a big thank you to everyone that came and made the afternoon really enjoyable and worth while event.


Challenge yourself and improve your portfolio.

It is easy as a photographer to get stuck into a particular shooting subject, whether it be Landscapes, Macro, Wildlife, etc. Sometimes it is good to mix things up a bit and shoot something that does not fit your usual remit.  In my case I have found myself shooting a lot of fashion, obviously working with a lot of models, which I enjoy very much.  However I enjoy all kinds of people photography and really felt that I could do with a bit more variety within my recent work and also give me a bit of a challenge.After having a good think I concluded that my portfolio needed some regular "Joe Public" types, so I decided to head out and do some street portraiture.  Normally this would be done with a 70-200 to capture unguarded moments etc, but this time I went out with my 50mm and grabbed strangers as they walked past.

This really is a fantastic way to meet people and get some images with a bit of variety.  In a couple of hours I have 8 new faces to add to my collection, and I was really taking it easy.  One of my main issues with standard street stuff is that sometimes the background can be busy and distracting, so on this occasion I took the background out of the equation my finding a wall that I liked and setting myself up there.  I then looked for interesting characters as they walked past and approached them.  The thing is with this sort of thing is to keep it real, don't lie to people and tell them your shooting for a piece in National Geographic. I explained that this was a personal project and that sat well with most people.  I also carried small business cards that I ordered from Moo (mini moos) which were handed to everyone. I also took everyones name and email and promised to send them copies of the images.

For this type of shoot it is best to find a shaded area otherwise you end up with too much contrast,  we were shooting on an overcast day here, but we still had to use a diffuser to block out some sun that poked through the clouds.

It can be a real challenge especially if you lack the confidence to just approach people, but after a few yeses you quickly get into the swing, its well worth it.

Thanks for reading.


Jo on Location

We have been working behind the scenes on a lot of things and putting into practice some exciting developments. Anyway we finally made time to shoot for fun. We really wanted to do something on location, especially in the back streets around our studio.Our poor model for the day was Jo, not someone we had previously shot with but had a pretty good portfolio. Even though it was warmer than the last week it was still very, very cold. The main purpose of the shoot was to test out a new location umbrellabox. Basically this is a compact softbox that opens and shuts like an umbrella, it has a diffused white panel on the front. It is mainly designed for speedlights but it could easily be used in a studio. It has an opening in the bottom to insert a light stand and works well when used with a standard light stand head. Apollo do a great version for around £100, but I have to admit this one was £18.99 of off ebay, on this evidence probably the best £20 I have ever spent. It is really easy to use and produces a nice soft light. The only slight issue I have is that the flash sits to the top of the soft box, so you end up with a hot spot towards the top, but otherwise it is really good.

As mentioned it was quite cold so we worked quickly with some ideas we had formulated.

For these shots I was going for more portraits than fashion or editorial. We found this rough door with peeling paint and really liked the effect.

We then went back to studio and worked the back wall. The white wall produces a nice contrast with the bright orange in Jo's outfit.

I then quickly grabbed a low key shot in the studio.

It was a very cold day and I am still warming up, I might go and grab a cuppa! Thanks for reading.

To see more of my work visit www.darrenobrien.co.uk. Feedback and questions welcome.

Shouth Shields at the weekend

On Sunday we decided to have a little drive out along the Northumberland coast. Normally we head northwards, mainly due to being north of the Tyne, however this time we decided to head the other way. I didn't really have in mind to take any photos, but as a diligent photographer I put my camera in the car.In the end we stopped off by the Marsden Grotto pub. The pub itself is really interesting, built into caves in the cliff, with a really interesting looking lift structure leading down from the top. Unfortunately the drink and food selection doesn't really live up to its surroundings, but I captured a couple of nice images of the exterior.

Now I have to say I am a bit of a hypocrite, I hate HDR images with a real passion. However, I do have to admit that it is quite easy to get caught up in it as the process is quite fun even if the results are not to my tastes.

So here's on I produced from three bracketed, handheld exposures. I would have used a tripod, but I left it in the car.

Thanks for reading, any feedback or questions welcome.


Tyneside Pension Strikes 30/11/2011

On wednesday I was lucky to be invited along by another pro photographer, Mark Pinder (www.markpinderphotography.co.uk), to photograph the Union pension strikes. He had been commisioned by three of the unions to photograph their picket lines and the march and rally.

So a busy day was in store for us as we met at 6:45am. We headed along to the first picket at the civic centre in newcastle, it was still pretty quiet at this point and still dark. It was very cold at this point and the camera felt like ice in my hands. We finished off here and moved on to the other picket lines. It was an interesting and busy morning.

At 11am we had finished all the picket lines and after a quick stop for a bacon sandwich, we headed off to the Gateshead civic centre for the start of the march. It was quite a turn out and the car ark at the civic centre was awash with different collections of colourful flags and banners and lots of noise. It was a good atmosphere and everybody was having a good time it seemed.

The march started and snaked its way through the streets of Gateshead and over the swing bridge towards the final destination of the spillers mill site.

The rally lasted a good couple of hours and there were a few speakers all with their political messages, some of which i did not quite agree with, but thats another story. Finally it all wrapped up about 14:30 and it was time to walk back to the car (still parked in Gateshead!!!) and go for some food.

All in all an interesting day.

Pension Strike-4995

Pension Strike-4996

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Pension Strike-5570

Thanks for viewing.