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

Celebrating 5 Years of Mother Nature!

It’s hard to believe exactly five years ago today, I started this website.

I remember publishing my first ever amount of photography work during the Summer season on the 6th June 2013, and the photos I produced were all taken on the old Samsung ST200F camera I used to use.

Nature didn’t just fascinate me when it came to photography. It was the beauty of Mother Nature that interested me.

I remember when I first joined WordPress before I started this website that I tried to write reviews on some technology-based products and some albums for two blogs I used to use and both of those blogs never took off, despite trying to keep at being consistent with publishing articles, and initially I gave up hope thinking I would never get my work noticed.

It was only when I asked a friend of mine and a former lecturer who used to teach me at secondary school whether they thought it was a good idea for me to try again, and they did, and I gave publishing articles another go, only this time, I wanted to make sure I could create a website where I wouldn’t just want to be consistent with publishing, but where I could set my creativity and photography skills free.

Fast forward to now, and I never thought I would be able to achieve so much in the space of exactly five years.

It gives me peace of mind knowing I can publish either frequently or now and then, as I’ve kept at publishing on this website and it’s kept me active and has taken me places I thought I would never go.

Having a website is an achievement in itself, but to publish consistently and to keep at it is a lot of hard work, especially if you want everyone to see the work you can produce, as well as pouring your heart and soul into a hobby you love.

Photography, for me, isn’t just a hobby, but feels more like a job, as it’s a visceral and interesting career aspect as you could take a photo, and deep down, that photo has meaning, and for me, because I love photography, I love to make sure my photographs have meaning, where they can be understood from more than one opinion, perspective or point of view rather than the photo be just a photo.

I intend to produce more photography work and I intend to continue raising awareness for mental health, so thank you so much for sticking by, as I shall continue to publish and raise awareness, but for now, I want to propose a toast and celebrate five years of Mother Nature.

Here’s to another five years, and if you’re thinking of starting up your own website, blog or business, WordPress is the best platform to use.

Alex Smithson

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

A Wonderful, Breezy & Sunny Day Out in London.

It was the perfect time for me to travel up to London on the 26th September as the weather was lovely, the scenery was beautiful and on a clear day like this, it was wonderful.

Whilst I was up in London, I used the opportunity wisely to photograph certain areas of London; Borough Market was beautiful, but so was the landscape. To tell you the truth, it’s not the first time I’ve been up to London on my own as I went up to London just a few short weeks before when I was planning my route to get to Camden, which I must say is also beautiful, but the fact that it was nice and sunny gave me the perfect opportunity to seize the moment by photographing certain areas of the landscape, whilst also photographing the Shard.

Honestly, London is absolutely beautiful on a sunny day, and the 26th September was the perfect example of how sunny days should be; warm, breezy, bright and beautiful and that’s why I had a wonderful, breezy and sunny day out in London.

I experimented with the low-light features on my Nikon D3300 DSLR to see how the landscapes and portraits would appear in certain situations if it was light or dark, as this helped me to visualise the landscape differently as if it was daylight one minute and sunset the next.

Below is the full collection of photographs I produced whilst I was up in London.

It was absolutely wonderful, but busy when I went up to London towards the end of September and I was glad to have seized the opportunity to visit London at the peak of Summer.

If you ever get a chance to visit London and Borough Market in the Spring and Summer months, I suggest you do because London and Borough Market are beautiful places, and you’d be crazy to not seize the opportunity to visit London and Borough Market.

If you enjoyed my photography collection of my visit to London and Borough Market, please tell me in the comments. I would love to hear your responses.

Alex Smithson

The Concept of Expression / Oli Regan

Following on from when I photographed my close friends, Saviyon Thomas & Shaquille Roachford, I am honoured to have been given the opportunity to photograph my close friend, the actor and mental health awareness campaigner, Oli Regan, again, but this time for my photography series: “The Concept of Expression”.

As I look to explore the concept of expression in the subjects I photograph, photographing Oli gave me the chance to explore his personality, regardless of the angle, but more importantly, as body language is a consistent boundary for the subject’s facial expression, photographing Oli again gave me the chance to explore his personality through these photo headshots, as well as his persona, so in this case, because he’s an actor, he puts on a serious face, which makes the photos interesting, considering that being serious really makes him stand out.

The serious impression and the modelling approach that Oli has taken to make sure the photographs I have produced look visually eye-catching are out of this world. Whilst I remember, keep an eye out for Oli on the latest EE advert that’s been on TV recently. You don’t want to miss it. To spot him, wait for Stormzy‘s song: “Big for Your Boots“, taken from his album, Gang Signs & Prayer, to come on after Kevin Bacon finishes with the word: “INCOMING!” and you should see Oli on the left-hand-side of the screen skanking to Stormzy’s record. It’s a bloody good advert and you will not be disappointed.

Below are the photos I’ve produced of my close friend, Oli Regan.

I am pleased with the way these photographs turned out, but I won’t lie to you, naming each photograph based on the expression and emotion is quite hard, and the photography work I produced when I was at Croydon College is living proof that naming each photo based on the expression and emotion is harder than it looks.

What I will need to improve on is angling the camera when I photograph any subject, so that rather than photograph the subject the way I would usually photograph them, I would need to put the camera up higher, but with the camera angled down a little so that there is little to no head-space on the portrait photographs. These photographs I have produced are really good as they capture the expressions and emotions I wanted Oli to make, but I will be making sure to improve on certain photography-based areas I may or may not be so good

These photographs I have produced are really good as they capture the expressions and emotions I wanted Oli to make, but I will be making sure to improve on certain photography-based areas I may or may not be so good at so that this gives me a better chance next time.

Other than that, I am actually pleased with the overall outcome from these photographs.

These photos will be in my E-Folio so please make sure to check my E-Folio as I will be updating the E-Folio as often as I can.

If you like these photographs I have produced of my close friend, the mental health awareness campaigner and actor, Oli Regan, please leave your comments below. I would love to hear your response and if there are any further improvements I can make for next time, please let me know. I am open to criticism as this will help me to improve the photographs I take for next time.

Alex Smithson

DSLR Used: Nikon D3300