Recent work: Amy McPherson in the studio

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I can’t remember how it was that Amy and I were introduced to one another. I know it had something to do with our mutual friend, filmmaker extraordinaire and all-round good egg Ben Warburton, but beyond that the details are lost in the mists of time and Twitter.

Regardless, however we were introduced, I decided to ask Amy to come down to Manchester and shoot with me. After a first, abortive run at putting something together, which failed thanks to a venue letting us down, we got together with Makeup Artist Lynn Docherty at Stockport’s Hallam Mill Studio one weekend to shoot whatever we felt like shooting.

We started out as I often do on most of my shoots — on a plain background. It’s a great way for me to warm up, establish a rapport with my subject, and not have to think about the technical details too much.

Amy’s an actress (as I write this she’s training with the UK’s National Youth Theatre; expect great things in the future from this woman), which made my life a lot easier. I asked her to be intense for me, which gave us a great, simple portrait to start with.

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We moved on to another one of the sets in the studio — a bed which, if we’re honest, had a slightly seedy feeling about it. We’d been inspired by a shoot we’d both seen of Barbara Palvin, and we used that as a jumping-off point. Although this image seems naturally lit, there’s actually a beauty dish to camera left that’s blowing light straight into camera. Because the walls behind me were pale and neutral it created a lovely wrap-around light for Amy.

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Moving outside into the brilliant Stockport sunshine, I wanted to shoot something really contrasty against the blue sky. Amy’s red trousers and shoes were the perfect choice. The skyline isn’t exactly NYC, but beggars can’t be choosy. We relied entirely on the sun for this shot; why do anything else when there’s a huge fiery globe in the sky?

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Back inside, I wanted to continue to use the sunshine, but this time through a window to get something a little bit darker. It’s a simple setup and it’s always effective. If this had been later in the day I might have shot it in colour, but it was still too brilliant outside for that. Black-and-white made for a nice, contrasty image.

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Finally, right before wrapping up, we went back to the white set, putting Amy on the floor and lighting her with a huge octabox. Lynn held a reflector to bounce a little bit of light back into her face, and we ended up with a really striking image.

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I loved shooting with Amy. Once she’s back from the NYT, and we can both find time in our calendars, I’m sure there are more images to shoot. For a start, I owe her some headshots…