My Day Assisting on a Gothic Photoshoot with Keith Morris

For my 3rd Creative Feeding Day, I travelled to the seaside town of Aberystwyth, which luckily hadn’t been submerged or swept away with the recent storms, thank goodness! Saying that, I was hoping for some drama on the promenade for good photo ops like Keith Morris’ stunning photo pictured below but the sea couldn’t have been calmer much to my disappointment. We don’t recommend admiring or photographing the storms because it puts yourself at risk, so please don’t try this at home! Students are evacuated from the seafront residences every year due to the severity of the storms and the risk of flooding, as well as many people each year being injured by debris thrown up or being pulled down into the sea by the strong waves.

I met up with a local legend, photographer Keith Morris, who I have worked with in the past, while I was studying at Aberystwyth University.

Photo by Keith Morris of Storm Henry
Photo by Keith Morris of Storm Henry

Keith has made a name for himself particularly with his photos of the infamous wet and windy storms that batter Aber’s prom which are published in National newspapers. As well as his storm portfolio, he also has an impressive catalogue of stock photography available to buy on www.Alamy.com and his more intimate portraits feature on the Humans of Aberystwyth Facebook page. If you’ve ever heard of Humans of New York, then you will have a pretty good idea of what I’m talking about. The concept is an intriguing collection of photographs of people on the streets accompanied with a short story about an aspect of their lives. I asked Keith about his process for the HoA Facebook page:

I work with a writer…we approach people first and ask them if they’ll give us a few minutes of their time…about 75% of them agree. The writer does the talking, I just make the photos at the end. We approach anyone who looks as though they’re not in a hurry to get away!

Below is an example of what you can find on the Humans of Aberystwyth page.

Humans of Aberystwyth
Photo by Keith Morris

Anyone in Aber who is too lazy to trek down the hill and witness either the beautiful beach sunsets or tempestuous storms checks Keith’s Facebook to get their daily weather report. I asked Keith about his process for taking these sought after storm photos. He told me that he goes out with his camera at high tide when the waves are at their peak so he can capture the raw power, which he does without putting himself at too much risk. He pre-captions and watermarks the photos using an app on his phone that is connected to his camera via wi-fi so he can transfer photos straight from his camera to his phone and instantly upload them to the agency he’s working for that day. This method keeps Keith ahead of his competition and ensures his photos are bought by agencies before anyone else.

Now, enough introduction, it’s time to talk about the shoot I assisted on! Much like my own creative feeding days, the shoot was a project for Keith in order to step away from his usual work and experiment with ideas, techniques, lighting, costumes and poses so that he can be well-prepared for the big jobs. Or more simply put, “just for the hell of it”, as he said. For this shoot, we explored the narrow corridors and spiraling staircases of a historic building that I had surprisingly never been into considering I studied in Aber for 2 years! After entering this building for the first time, I would love to return and take photos another day despite getting a little lost on the way out… It certainly holds a lot of secrets and has a certain air of magic.

Photoshoot_BTS
Left: Photo by Keith Morris

The female model on the shoot wore Keith’s black tutu (yes you read that correctly) and resembled a gothic ballerina striking dramatic poses in the moody lighting.

I thought it might look appropriate to cast shadows like prison bars onto our model because some of the corridors looked reminiscent of an asylum. But unfortunately we didn’t have anything solid enough to cast those shadows down the corridor. We could have used the staircase in the photo below but the air was too clean to have been able to see shadows, so at least I learned from Keith how to achieve that effect, if we had the tools available. Below on the left is the final photograph taken by Keith Morris and the photo on the right is a production still that I took.

 

Photoshoot_BTS_2
Left: Photo by Keith Morris

 

We used two Ice Lights – commonly mistaken for light sabers – and some affordable small stick-on LED lights which are useful to help create unique lighting effects and allowed us to be more portable. Our model loved posing with the Ice Lights, pretending she was a Jedi whilst making “whoosh” noises!

Overall the shoot was a success with plenty of stunning glamour shots of our model and I learned more about lighting and Keith’s process, which I hope will improve my own work. I look forward to returning to Aberystwyth and seeing what other exciting shoots Keith has in store!

 

Keith Morris
Photo by Keith Morris

Emily Roberts, Junior Creative

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