Puffins at Bempton Cliffs

I visited Bridlington for the first time last year, and with the same purpose: photographing puffins at Bempton Cliffs! It is not the easiest place where you can do that - because the cliffs are quite steep, and provide an excellent place for puffins to hide, usually in the shadows, making photography almost impossible at times. Why do I choose this place, when there are other places, like Farne Islands in Northumberland or Hermaness and Sumburgh Head, Shetland where you could literally go as close as you want to puffins? 

I really don’t know. I think to me it is also about the way in which I manage to get close to the birds, understanding their behaviour and habits, and, as with human subjects, creating a magic encounter. And this year, I thought, I am more prepared and more confident that I’ll get the results I want. 

ABOVE: We were so close and looked into each other eyes, with the same wonder, curiosity and respect.

ABOVE: We were so close and looked into each other eyes, with the same wonder, curiosity and respect.

My main concern has been to get closer without disturbing, almost trying to become part of the landscape, giving the birds the respect they deserve for allowing me to step into their personal lives, especially since puffins are known to be pretty shy creatures. 

ABOVE: The puffins don’t seem bothered by the sea fog. So why should I be? I continued shooting. 

ABOVE: The puffins don’t seem bothered by the sea fog. So why should I be? I continued shooting. 

There are times when weather is a challenge, too. If it is not rain, then it might be sea fog which engulfs everything around, making focusing difficult, and, indeed, you can’t see anything anymore. But I guess I took this as yet another challenge, and did not stop shooting. Although not very clear, I like the photos of the birds in the mist because of the context they offer, and, oh, well, because they are different. I’ve seen many amazing close-up portraits of puffins, and I took some great ones. Somehow, I still love more the behaviour shots, and I find them also hard to capture. 

ABOVE: ”I don’t just pretend I’m working. I’m really working on a nest situation.” 

ABOVE: ”I don’t just pretend I’m working. I’m really working on a nest situation.” 

As with everything, the more you insist, the better the photos. The light changes, and then, for a few moments, you have exactly what you wanted, and the magic happens. I love this photograph because it preserves the warm glow of the sun, and it also shows the puffin caught in ‘action’. 

ABOVE: Last meal before leaving. 

ABOVE: Last meal before leaving. 

I must admit I would have wanted to do better in photographing the puffins in flight with little fishes in their beaks. It was, however, very problematic, as most of the birds already left, and, there were a few hours when there were no puffins in sight. I must admit I was sad and desperate, at the same time. I knew I should have come weeks before if I wanted to capture the ‘buzz’ of puffin parents coming back to the nest with food for the little ones. However, I managed to get some shots that I am pleased with. 

ABOVE: See you again next year!

ABOVE: See you again next year!

For the second time photographing these amazing birds in such a difficult and challenging location, I think I did okay-ish. I am not a bird photographer by any means and, apart from puffins, I don’t photograph any other birds - at least not with great intent. I read many articles on bird photography and watched a few tutorials.

But probably the most valuable information I found was through practice - things I needed to know about puffins and about my camera and me. The photos are dear testimonies of a special encounter that I cherish until we’ll see again next year. 

 

Online Dating Photography: sunny smiles with Zoe at Chorlton Waterpark

There is a reason why they say a photograph is worth a thousands words. And it is valid in the case of online dating when with a swipe left or right people decide who they are interested in or not. Should we blame them for that? Of course not. Don’t we do the same when we glance at each other in real life, waiting in line at a store, or at a bus stop, or across the room at a party? 

As someone who used online dating myself, and saw many, many bad profile photos, I knew I can help people obtain better and more meaningful photos of themselves for their online profiles. People fall in love instantly and furiously, I’d say, and scientists confirmed it: according to Science Daily, “falling in love only takes about a fifth of a second”.  (Source)

It means we only have a few seconds, if not less, to make an impression on someone or to attract the right person for us. I read all I could read on the subject and after careful planning and detailed communication, I met Zoe at one of her favourite locations - Chorlton Waterpark, on a lovely afternoon for a photo session aimed at updating her online dating profile. 

Zoe is a professional voiceover and copywriter. She writes on her profile: ‘Music and comedy are my favourite things’, and lists Radiohead as one of her favourite bands. Now, if you love Radiohead, you are my friend, my friend!I knew this is going to be a great session, so I planned it with joy and loads of enthusiasm. Zoe was very open towards my ideas, very flexible and keen to experiment. We were lucky to have perfect weather for such photography, with cloudy skies, then a bit of gentle sun, constant change in light that made everything a bit challenging but more interesting as well. I opted for natural poses, allowing Zoe to be herself, and encouraging her to smile more, as I thought her smile is very photogenic!

I intend to make this photo service as client-oriented as possible, with loads of attention to details, in order to express clients’ individuality a bit clearer and naturally, so that they increase their chances of finding the right person for them! I told Zoe about this, and the fact that I want to create portraits that ‘speak volumes’, that are natural and humane and that the right people will fall in love with. I was happy to see she understood what I meant.

Rain started as soon as we stopped our session - so we were extremely lucky! She chose a few photos that she liked and has already used them on her online profiles. 

Left: Screen shot of Zoe’s profile photo before our shooting. Right: two of my favourite photos taken at Chorlton Waterpark. 

Left: Screen shot of Zoe’s profile photo before our shooting. Right: two of my favourite photos taken at Chorlton Waterpark. 

Here is Zoe’s feedback: 

Working with Livia was a fabulous experience for me. Like most people, the idea of having my photo taken filled me with dread, but as soon as I met her, she put me at ease immediately. She let me do my own thing, alongside giving me pointers on how to pose/stand. I can actually say I ended up really enjoying it! I am thrilled with the results too – I now have some profile pics for my dating profiles/social media that I actually like! I was 100% recommend Livia to anyone requiring photographer services – she listens and she delivers!

I am grateful to Zoe for being so generous with her words! She did not mention I struggled a bit with my jokes repertoire, aimed at making her smile more - but I promise I’ll update on that. Apparently, my ad-hoc invented pseudo-start of a joke, ‘Three croissants entered a pub’ can make people smile for a short while, enough to take a shinny, happy photo - but I should do better. 

Here are a few more examples of photos taken during our session: 

If you wish to update your online dating profile with photos like these, get in touch at livialazaruk@gmail.com.

Kodak Ektar

Nothing compares to the joy I feel when seeing high resolution scans from my medium format films. This is what happens when I go shopping with my Mamiya 7II in the bag. Lovely skies asked for some quick shots. Very pleased with the results, although it was nothing planned and the wind was terribly strong. 

+ Wear That Misty Dress Again +

+ So I put the misty dress on and tiptoed in the morning. I woke up the world with every step. +

+ And the closer I got, the deeper the cosmic pulse was echoing inside. +

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+ And I looked at ourselves from the outside. And all the dreams were in bloom. +


+ From the depth of my love, I rose above the love. +


+ I wore the necklace. + 

+ And held your hand. Even if you were not there.

+ The air was heavy. Our breathings pure. +

+ I wore the charm. +

+ I wore the earrings. +

+ I wore the scarf. +

+ I wore the ring. +

+ I burried the pain. +

+ And then we danced ... + 

... and danced + 

+ Until the sun dissolved it all. +

+ Until I could see myself clear and nothing hurt. +

+ Until I found my way back home. +