The Concept of Expression: Akash DeSilva

The next model I’ve picked to photograph for my photography series is my close friend, Akash DeSilva.

As I continue to raise awareness for mental health, I also aim to inspire and give hope and to also promote positivity.

For this photo-set, just like I did with Hamid, I was able to photograph Akash in the moment, so in this case, I caught him off-guard in some of the photos, with one of the photos I took showing him completely off-guard, even if the photo might suggest he was posing when he did not.

NIKON D3300

iPhone 7

Something's Caught My Attention.
Something’s Caught My Attention.

The photo that stood out for me and created quite a lot of humour, which made Akash laugh, was the photo I uploaded to Instagram from this photo-set: “The Man With the Energy Drink”, as the caption was inspired on the famous painting by Johannes Vermeer, produced in 1665 during the Dutch Golden Age: “Girl With a Pearl Earring”.

It was actually, for me, one of my best photos, and it was received very well on Instagram, keeping in mind that I love to upload sneak previews of the best photos I hand-pick to Instagram from the photo-sets I’ve produced.

Believe it or not, Akash wasn’t posing in this photo, as he didn’t know this photo was produced until I showed him. He was completely off-guard when I took this photo, but it’s true what they say though when it comes to off-guard photographs that they often tend to be the best photographs when the subject isn’t prepared, and in this case, I photographed him with him being unaware, and that’s why this photo, for me, stands out from the rest.

The Man With the Energy Drink
The Man With the Energy Drink.

It’s good to create photos that give off happy memories, but for me, happy memories bring power to photographs, even when you don’t expect them to.

For me, mental health isn’t just close to my heart, but because it’s often something that is brushed under the carpet, I want to bring mental health to the surface by raising awareness through my photography work.

If you feel there are any improvements I can make for next time, I would love to hear your responses and if you liked this photo-set, please feel free to share this photo-set on with everyone you know.

One more thing…never suppress your real emotions, let them go and be open, and you will feel so much better knowing you don’t need to hold back how you really feel.

Alex Smithson

DSLR Used: Nikon D3300

Lens Used: 18 – 55 mm NIKKOR Lens

Date of Photo-Set Produced: Sunday 17th June 2018

Device Used: iPhone 7

The Concept of Expression: Hamid Haq

The next model I have picked to photograph for my photography series is my close friend, Hamid Haq.

With it being almost a year since I last met up with Hamid, it was so good to finally meet up with him again after such a long time, and on a decent day too, as me, Hamid, and a couple of friends paid a visit to Lavender Fields, which is a beautiful place to visit if you’ve got the free time on your hands, and also the best spot for photography.

With this small photo-set, I captured a few off-guard headshots of Hamid, with two headshots where I asked him to pose based on his mood and personality. Considering he’s a natural when it comes to modelling, this gave me the chance to explore his personality through the emotions he presented.

Below are the two photographs I’ve hand-picked from this photo-set which I feel are my two best photos to show in black and white.

Hamid’s modelling presence in this photo-set, to me, is evident, because out of the 7 photos, 5 of the photographs were actually off-guard of him in the moment unaware to me taking these photos,

Hamid has that quality to model any pose because his personality is unique and his emotions shine through in these photos.

The realisation is the emotions behind the expressions he’s made, as he appears confident, but from a perspective where mental health comes in, I can see some of his real emotions even though they may not necessarily be present on the first glance, and the emotions appear to show he may be happy, but in reality, he might be feeling unhappy deep down.

This the emotion I wanted to capture where just because you see him happy or confident here doesn’t necessarily mean he could be feeling the same behind the facial expressions he has made off-guard, including the poses I asked him to make.

Mental health is often ignored, but I want to change that, and I hope that the photo-sets I’ve produced so far, including this photo-set, inspire every single one of you who may be going through a tough time that there’s always hope and light at the end of the tunnel and that you deserve to seek the best help, support and treatment where possible.

Mental health shouldn’t be ignored. It should be acknowledged and everyone should know that we are all different, not the same and that you are always free to express yourself in your own personality.

You are always free to appear how you want to appear, and if anyone judges you, they’re only judging themselves. Dress how you want to dress, be who you want to be and be yourself in a world that expects otherwise. Be yourself.

You’re unique. No one can change that.

If you feel there are any improvements I can make for next time, I would love to hear your responses and if you liked this photo-set, please feel free to share this photo-set on with everyone you know.

Alex Smithson

DSLR Used: Nikon D3300

Lens Used: 18 – 55 mm NIKKOR Lens

Date of Photo-Set Produced: Sunday 17th June 2018

The Concept of Expression: Christian Aranda Montilva

The next model I have picked to photograph for this photography series is my close friend, Christian Aranda Montilva.

For this photoshoot, I wanted to capture Christian’s emotions, but with a realistic approach. In this case, I wanted to make sure I could explore his emotions from a realistic perspective that surrounds mental health.

Mental health is close to my heart considering it’s an area of life that is often overlooked, often ignored and often brushed under the carpet. I aim to make sure this photo-set and the photography series, in general, can capture the emotions of mental health where everyone may feel like they cannot open up, even if they put on an expression where they look happy, but deep down, they feel broken, depressed and worried about opening up about how they really feel in case they’re judged, targeted or even vilified for the real emotions they have underneath the image they’re expected to present, as opposed to the actual image of themselves they want to present.

Christian is a natural when it comes to pulling facial expressions, especially expressions he’s made that are completely off-guard. Most of these photos I produced of him were in the moment when he was off-guard, and even talking to him whilst photographing him at certain segments over the space of two hours gave me the chance to photograph off-guard, off-the-cuff facial expressions I wouldn’t necessarily be able to capture if I asked him to make up a facial expression.

The photo: “Hold Your Head Up High & Believe in Yourself!” stood out for me, as I was able to get Christian to recreate the iconic pose from the 1986 release of True Blue, produced by the Queen of Pop, Madonna, with the iconic photograph being produced by Herb Ritts.

The reason this photo also stood out for me is that it’s like he’s releasing negative energy and embracing the positive energy but in his own way that is unique and different to everyone else.

Hold Your Head Up High & Believe in Yourself!
Hold Your Head Up High & Believe in Yourself!

Christian is very expressive in his personality and considering he was able to be himself in how he appears free from judgment, these, for me, stood out the most in this photo-set, and I also feel this is the most expressive photo-set I’ve produced to date.

Of course, I will continue to improve the whole concept of expressions in every photograph over the course of time, as this will help me to give the photography series a better understanding, so that mental health isn’t just acknowledged, but that no one is allowed to judge someone because of the mental health condition they have.

If you feel there are any improvements I can make for next time, I would love to hear your responses and if you liked this photo-set, please feel free to share this photo-set on with everyone you know.

I want to make sure mental health is acknowledged and I hope that this photography series can raise awareness and give anyone suffering from mental health hope that you don’t need to hide your real emotions, but express them freely, as this will help you to regain your confidence and give you the best stability you want.

Alex Smithson

DSLR Used: Nikon D3300

Lens Used: 18 – 55 mm NIKKOR Lens

Date of Photo-Set Produced: Monday 28th May 2018

New Page!

I have officially published a new page for the photography series: “The Concept of Expression” as I wanted to make sure the photography series gets its own designated page.

The page details a short and brief description of what the photography series is all about and to access the page, you can now click on the drop-down menu to access the page.

The drop-down menus remain the same, and the photo-sets can be accessed as usual, but the menu: “The Concept of Expression” will now link to its own page.

The page will receive some tweaks over the course of the next few months so keep your eyes peeled for more as more photo-sets will be published and the page will receive some updates to better accommodate the photography series, as well as the models I have photographed and the models I will be photographing for the series.

I hope this helps and please feel free to suggest anything I may have missed as this can help me to tweak the page more should there be any further improvements I may need to make.

Alex Smithson

Monthly Roundup: March 2018

What a month it has been!

I didn’t expect to publish more articles this month considering I’ve been busy mostly with work and getting a lot of stuff completed, but this month has been so good considering I’ve been travelling and going out more, and the fact I’ve been able to make the most of the free time this month by going out photographing for my photography series has made these last few weeks special.

I’ll quickly summarise the articles I published over March before this month closes its doors.

1.3.2018 – March got off to a freezing cold start as the Beast from the East impacted the United Kingdom, with Storm Emma impacting the United Kingdom almost immediately after the first ounce of snowfall.

3.3.2018 – Storm Emma impacted the United Kingdom as the Beast from the East reached its end, but the wintry weather didn’t disappear fast enough, and as such, fell on the day I finished my shift to go on annual leave for a week. “Brrrrrr…It’s a Winter Wonderland!” gave me the opportunity to take a snapshot of the winter weather whilst I waited to get the bus home considering I finished earlier than the original time my shift usually ends as my place of work closed early due to the torrential snowstorm.

8.3.2018 – Following the first photography article I published after the start of 2018, which featured my close friend, Wesley Baker (CDN), I photographed my close friend who I’ve known since secondary school, Samuel Cato.

13.3.2018 – Art and colour are full of beautiful abstracts, but it’s the abstraction of abstract art that makes art unique and interesting. “Beautiful Abstraction.” allowed me to talk in more detail about the vibrancy art brings, as well as the time and effort someone has taken to make that art piece a masterpiece.

17.3.2018 – The United Kingdom woke up to a sudden blanketing of snow and as “Snowfall Saturday” suggests, you can probably tell I didn’t expect to wake up to the snow considering the weather was nice, sunny and warm the day before.

18.3.2018 – On Snowdrop Sunday, the Beast from the East decided to blanket the United Kingdom with more snow and freezing cold temperatures.

19.3.2018 Manic Monday sure made the start of the week manic and full of chaos considering anyone like myself getting into work would be a challenge because the roads were a little icy, while the pavements were more or less clear of the snowfall. Manic Monday, which was a record by The Bangles, written by the late music legend, Prince Rogers Nelson, was what inspired me to write this article with the same name.

22.3.2018 – Tuesday 20th and Wednesday 21st March were wonderful days to visit Oxford Street, as the scenery was absolutely beautiful, and considering that it was nice and sunny, I seized the opportunity to photograph the landscape all of yesterday, but one of the stores that grabbed my interest the most was the Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics Store.

The smell of the store as I walked in hit me straight away and it was so welcoming, it smelt like Starburst as I walked into the store, and the fact it spanned three floors full of bath bombs, make-up and even skin care products that smelt so nice meant I was able to produce a really good set of photographs.

They even provided me with a free sample of one of their products after they allowed me to dissolve one of their bath bombs in their sink and as a random act of kindness from one of their members of staff who was intrigued by the photos I showed them yesterday, they gave me a free bath bomb, which made my day so much happier. If you missed the photo-set I produced, click on “The Lush Life of Oxford Street!

After producing the photo-set of my visit to Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics Store, I photographed my close friend, Mikey Andrews, and considering the photo-set of Oxford Street was my best work to date, the photo-set of Mikey Andrews for the photography series: “The Concept of Expression” was also my best work to date considering I was able to produce both photo-sets with much less noise in the photos, which is a first in quite some time considering a few of the photo-sets I’ve produced have been noisy and somewhat grainy.

My trip to Oxford Street ended on a perfect note as I bumped into the Olympic Diver, Tom Daley, and the Oscar-Winning Actor, Dustin Lance Black. If you missed the photo-set I produced featuring my close friend, Mikey Andrews, click here.

March has ended on a perfect note and it’s safe to say that bumping into Tom Daley and Dustin Lance Black has already become the best highlight of my year.

Thank you so much, everyone, for making March such a special month. I’ll try and publish a little more here and there if I get the time, but I’ll still be making sure to try and work on my photography series.

I’ll see you all in April, and stay safe and wrap up warm if the snow potentially hits where you are.

Alex Smithson

The Concept of Expression: Mikey Andrews

Following on from photographing my close friend, Samuel Cato, who I’ve known since secondary school, the next model I have photographed for this photography series is my close friend, Mikey Andrews.

The weather was wonderful in Oxford Street on Wednesday, and given that I visited Oxford Street on Tuesday, it gave me all the time I needed to prepare for Wednesday so I could learn the route to get from Croydon straight to Oxford Circus Station, but luckily, because the weather was wonderful and it was nice and sunny, I was able to produce these photographs with much less noise with more focus.

Mikey Andrews is a fitness coach and is an inspiration, so if you want to see his fitness pages and his website, I’ll provide them at the end of this photo-set.

Below are the photographs I produced featuring my close friend, Mikey Andrews.

I’m so happy with how these photos turned out as they turned out to be much better than I originally expected, and is probably my best photo-set to date since I started the photography series, but I’m so glad to have had the honour to photograph Mikey as he is an inspiration to me, and if you get a chance to see the hard work he’s gone to with his fitness programme, please have a look at his dedication to fitness as he’s inspired me and I’m pretty sure you’ll be inspired too.

If you feel there are any improvements I can make for next time, please feel free to comment below and if you liked this photo-set, please feel free to share this photo-set on with everyone you know.

Alex Smithson

DSLR Used: Nikon D3300

Lens Used: 18 – 55 mm NIKKOR Lens

Mikey Andrews’ Fitness Info

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MikeyAndrews_fitness-653483391502753/

WordPress: https://cyborgfitness.wordpress.com/

The Concept of Expression: Samuel Cato

Following the first photography article I did after the beginning of 2018, which featured my close friend, Wesley Baker (CDN), I have now photographed my close friend who I’ve known since secondary school, Samuel Cato.

Despite the odd spot of rain, mild warmth and a hint of sunny weather, I was able to travel to Sydenham to photograph Sam for this photography series, and I was able to get him to express himself freely as I believe in the idea of being able to express yourself free from judgment, but where he could express himself without conforming to society’s needs, beliefs and expectations, and that getting him to express himself will always be about being equal and diverse without any forms of judgment.

Below are all of the photographs I took yesterday of my close friend, Samuel Cato.

I am so pleased with the end result given that the days are getting brighter and are staying brighter for longer, as the lighting conditions improved and it was nice and sunny after a small spot of rain, but I am really blown away by the end result of these photographs. Of course, I acknowledge the photos may look grainy, but that’s because I wanted to try and capture the essence of the early Spring weather before Spring really kicks in once the Winter season ends.

If there are any improvements you feel I could make, please tell me in the comments, as your feedback will help me improve my photography skills in the future.

Also, if you enjoyed this photo-set, please share this article around with anyone you know.

Alex Smithson

DSLR Used: Nikon D3300

Lens Used: NIKKOR 18 – 55 mm Lens

Date of Photo-Set Produced: Tuesday 6th March 2018

The Concept of Expression / Wesley Baker (CDN)

Kicking off the first photography article of the year, I am delighted to have been given the opportunity to photograph my close friend, Wesley Baker.

With his work being featured in and Croydon, with one of his most notable pieces of artwork being the centrepiece of Croydon Flyover of the hit cartoon, Astro Boy, Wesley’s CDNZine and CDNStore Instagram accounts boom with artistic values and energy, and I’m honoured to have been given the opportunity to photograph him.

Despite the wet and windy weather conditions near Ambassador House, Thornton Heath, I was able to produce a good set of photographs, which can be found below.

I acknowledge the ISO was on the noisiest setting, but that was due to the torrential weather conditions on Saturday. I will be improving on making any future photographs I take less noisy and more focal and masked. At least then, this gives me a chance to learn from and improve on the final outcomes of any photo-sets I produce in the future.

Other than that, I am really pleased with how this photo-set turned out as I was able to get Wesley to do some facial expressions, natural and put-on, as this helped me to understand his personality and charisma through his work.

If you have Instagram, follow Wesley’s Instagram accounts, @cdnzine and @cdn_store and sign up to his mailing list by clicking here.

Also, if you are interested in getting some art installed on your living room walls or anywhere you know or you want to get a fleecy top, support Wesley’s brand by purchasing his branded CDN Shirts and his most current work: “NEVER MIND THE CONCRETE” through his BigCartel store by clicking here.

Please tell me in the comments below your tips on how I can improve my photography sets next time, as this will help me to improve and help me to develop my photography skills better. Also, please share this photo-set with everyone you know and even share it on social media platforms.

Alex Smithson

© Wesley Baker, CDNZine & CDNStore, 2018

© Permission was granted by Wesley Baker to use the CDN logo. Full copyright goes to the respective owners.

Camera Used: Nikon D3300

Lens Used: 18 – 55 mm NIKKOR Lens

The Concept of Expression: Saviyon Thomas & Shaquille Roachford / Beyond the Expression

Going back to the drawing board with the photographs I previously produced that featured my close friends, Saviyon Thomas & Shaquille Roachford, I produced some more photographs that follow on from when I photographed my close friend, the actor and mental health awareness campaigner, Oli Regan, of Saviyon & Shaquille.

As I wanted to make sure these photos had that cut and thrust appeal about them, I went beyond the expression by exploring their personalities a little more in-depth. In this case, I wanted to capture off-the-cuff natural facial expressions that Saviyon & Shaquille made, whilst also capturing the essence of their emotions in their facial expressions.

Saviyon & Shaquille’s facial expressions were really natural, and what I feel made this photo set more interesting was the naturalism of their expressions, as I caught them off-guard without them noticing, that was, until I showed them the photographs, of course. They were really pleased with the end result of these photographs, and I too was impressed.

Below are the photographs I produced, featuring my close friend, Saviyon Thomas.

Saviyon Thomas

Shaquille Roachford

These photographs are a notable improvement in my photography skills, but at a later stage, I will want to experiment with portrait photography more, whilst experimenting further with lighting, including the saturation, contrast and more so.

I will be working on this photography series over the course of 2018 but will be making sure to try and find the time, when I can, to photograph more people. In this case, I will be looking to try and photograph some of my friends so that I can gain confidence more with portrait and landscape photography, whilst working much harder behind the camera.

Please let me know if there are any improvements I can make to my photography skills as this will help me to become better at photographing people in the future, as well as becoming better at photographing landscapes, nature and everything else photography-based in general. I would love to hear your feedback.

Alex Smithson

Photography Collection Produced: Saturday 5th August 2017

Camera Used: Nikon D3300

Welcome to September!

Welcome to September on Mother Nature! As this month is set to be just as busy at the last, it is safe to say I may be publishing not as often as I used to, considering I am making sure to prioritise my time as effectively as possible, given that I have been looking around for jobs, with some good news in mind.

I sent off my CV & Covering Letter late yesterday morning for a photography job, and received a phone call within 24 hours of applying as I’ve been invited to go along for an interview on Wednesday 6th September. It’s a big step for me considering it is my first ever proper job interview and I am nervous to tell you the truth, but hopefully it will go well. This came at such a good time, to be frank, as my dream job is to become a photographer, and hopefully, fingers crossed, if the interview goes well, then I might get the job. At this stage, as I’m preparing myself for the interview next week, I will be making sure to plan the route in advance so that I can get to and from Camden before, during and after my interview. It’s a big step for me so fingers crossed! This does mean I will be inactive a bit more often than usual as I am making sure to be as flexible as possible considering I really want this job.

Meanwhile, over the course of this month, I will try and get some more of the photos I produced last month for the photography series: “The Concept of Expression” published on here, as I have been noticing some of the photography work I have published for this self-produced photography series has gained quite a lot of good traction and feedback on Instagram, and while we’re on the subject of photography work, expect some photos to be edited to black and white to add effect to the original photographs, as I will be experimenting further with some of the photos I choose to edit.

What are your plans for September, everyone? I am keen to find out what you plan to do over the next few weeks. Please feel free to submit your responses below in the comments.

Until then, Welcome to September!

Alex Smithson