The El Toro shoot was named after the location of this restaurant/bar in Sleaford, Lincolnshire. During February 2020, Emily Faulkner had decided to arrange a group shoot for some of us. After working with Emily back in late 2019 for a Christmas shoot and on the streets of Sleaford during winter I asked for space.
It was an easy to place to get to (could even park outside) and arranged for a period when the bar is normally shut – Sunday morning. So we would have a few hours from start to finish.
It’s funny when you go to a new place, it’s pretty exciting looking around in my opinion. You don’t have hours so a cursory glance in the corner of the bar and that was it, I found my spot.
We had talked to Emily about a few ideas and outfits beforehand, one of these being a 1920’s style Gatsby dress. So we would go for the cocktail lounge appeal of that period, as there were a few fascinating backgrounds.
Emily’s dress really suited her and her haircut too, it was a match made in heaven. The short dress in this shot drawing your eyes along the frame.
We worked this area as loved the wooden tables, leather chairs and dark look. Bear in mind this was a dark corner, so used a flash, umbrella and triggers to enhance the look. What was really handy was the cocktail bar used the classic 20’s vibe on their drinks menu, which really suited the theme.
Emily has a gift for modelling, you can see it and her great character is infectious too. I promised her I would get a photo of her smiling, it’s part of my workflow to help us all relax. I often talk rubbish and catch a model off guard and being natural. For me, it’s the real side of the person that I love and although it may not be the “best” photo, it’s important.
One thing I really loved about this place was the staircase, it had a film feel to it from the period too. I kept playing around with the composition of the stairs with Emily’s face and settled on this one.
What can we say about Shannon, well, we can’t stop shooting her! Shannon was another lady who attended the x-church shoot in 2019 and she’s been non-stop since then. The thing is Shannon, is damn hard-working, she ain’t scared of the cold (makes me look like a pussy) and is genuinely a lovely lady.
For Shannon I wanted to use the wooden background of one corner and took a few shots (full length too). But after looking at these on my computer I wasn’t really happy with the way I lit them, too many shadows. So I settled on these few for Shannon, when working in the booths.
It was really nice to capture Shannon in a dress, it was different to prior shoots since most of them were on a winter night!
I should point out Jasmin was a lovely lady who helped out on this shoot too, which is not uncommon in our amateur world. Jasmin was keen to work in any area of the shoot and worked really well. I always admire models who just try and work really well.
We swapped areas and moved to a different themed part and tried a few poses. I was really keen on using the bar to add to our work and tried this shot.
Using the natural light was another change too, swapping settings to compensate was very different. The idea was to go for a homely and comfortable type of look with the cushion as the important element.
When we looked around the main bar I was observing the seating and came across the simple colours. I wanted to see how the colours on the stool would work with her outfit and lighting too. You have to be careful not to include too much in the picture as it could detract from Jasmin.
Hannah Lucy Brennan
Although Hannah is a photographer she is also known for modelling too, so when I noticed the outfit I place her on another different setting.
I wanted to use the colours on the wall to contrast against her dress and think it worked really well. Although there was natural light it wasn’t quite enough to use (so added a little flash).
Shooting on film
I also love to shoot on film too and with my portraiture steadily improving, its an important part of my workflow. Like most modern photographers I have tended to meter on my digital camera and used this as a guide. One thing I have learned is film loves light and works better with more. Some films like Ektar demand it too, to get that saturation you want.
Emily changed into another secretary style persona we had discussed and I was blown away with the results.
For me, the film helps me slow down, concentrate on the look, the composition and the model. As far as lighting is concerned we didn’t have time to mess around metering for every shot. Instead, I used common sense and just kept the lights at the same distance when Emily moved around.
The after shoot
We quickly ran out of time and everyone enjoyed themselves so much they wanted to carry on. So we arranged to try the train station and a few other areas in Sleaford and see what we could do.
I tried a few different looks, but the sun was harsh (midday) so did what I could. My digital batteries had died by now so had to carry on with film only, so switched to Portra 160.
I can’t tell you how great this family of friends are, it’s simply amazing. We have such fun during these shoots and can’t wait for the next one. It’s always tough as we talk online so much to each other, but we all have jobs and families. I suppose it’s a great escape for most of us and why we enjoy it so much.
Here are a few behind the scenes shots from the day, that’s Shaun Johnson on the left and centre. The shot on the right is outside El Toro from my mobile phone so excuse the poor quality. You can see photographers David Hornsby (top left) & Jay Clarke (centre).
The boring bit
All the digital shots were taken on Nikon d200, 28-70mm lens. I used the same Yongnuo flash, Newer triggers + £3 umbrella on both cameras. All film shots were on my Bronica ETRS with 150mm f3.5 lens featuring Kodak Portra 160 + 400 film. Always thankful for Kodak’s contribution.
All images were edited using open source software (Lightzone).
Thanks to Dave at Filmdev as always for developing and scanning my film, always does a superb job.
Keep shooting and see you all soon.
My Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/phlogger_photos/
David Hornsby – https://www.instagram.com/davemhornsby/
Jay Clarke – https://www.instagram.com/jpcphotography1/
Shaun Johnson – https://www.instagram.com/shaun.johnson.710/
- Stu Mckenzie – army, photography +reindeers
- Interview with award winning photographer Gulnara Samoilova
- The Sleaford shoot
- Interview with Sheila Pree Bright – photographic artist
- Interview with fine art photographer Joel Tjintjelaar