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Thursday, 29 April 2010

Robin Preston - Photographer

I attended a presentation the other day where the main speaker was professional photographer Robin Preston, who was giving a presentation on a recent 'shoot'  that he has been working on in Las Vegas; a project entitled "The Last Supper"; a 50’s styled project.

Although Robin is a professional photographer he describes himself more as a digital artist, or to use his words, "an image maker". A lot of his work centres around image manipulation, retouching, montages and anything involving creative work using Adobe Photoshop. He has been in the industry around to 28 years and has a lot client’s in the motor industry as well as many others.

Although the presentation was about the project in Las Vegas, he went onto explain the similarities of the 50’s style project  with his own private art project called ‘laboratorium’, where he is exploring sub cultures in Europe, such as the rockabilly movement; and their lifestyle, clothing tattoos and sub cultures within those.

“The Last Supper'” project was the idea of creating “Leonardo da Vinci’s” painting of “The last Supper” but using 13 50’s style pin-up girls in a classical American Diner and shot on good Friday (although technically the last supper would be a Thursday?). Anyway Robin started off the presentation by explaining the business side of photography; how he was able to secure equipment and how he marketed the project to prospective sponsors, by creating a short video detailing the concept.

Once the sponsorship had been secured and the project confirmed Robin talked about the logistics of completing a location shoot in Vegas. Finding the location, securing models, accommodation, equipment , assistants and so on, it made me think of how different jumping on the train to the coast with my SLR and some spare batteries seem so insignificant!

As he was talking he had created a ‘visual narrative’ of slides in an editorial style documenting the timeline of the project, explaining the stages of the shoot. Robin explained that all of the models used were from all over the world and were 50’s and rockabilly enthusiasts and most of them wore their own clothes in the shoot, and not just clothes they dress up for fun, but the clothes they wear in their daily lives!

The presentation continued and he explained about the harsh sunlight in Vegas and the problems that this caused, even inside the diner; creating hard shadows and making it difficult to expose. He explained that it was a ‘tough’ shoot with a lot of models, assistants, equipment, as well as the people who owned the location; and not forgetting the actual taking of the photo and all to be done in one day, as that was the only time he had to do the shoot. Although he didn’t go into specifics of the cost of this project, he explained for many projects he has been involved in could well be into the 10’s of thousands of pounds…just to create 1 photo!

The rest of the presentation was about the following days after this shoot where he attended the “Viva Las Vegas” Rockabilly weekend festival where he continued his study into this fascinating sub culture. There were some really interesting images, I especially liked a lot of the photographs of people’s tattoos; they were a big part of the culture and the art in some of them were so detailed. Another big part of the culture was these amazing custom cars that reminded me of the film “American Graffiti” What I liked about this, was how the cars were framed from unusual angles, but still recognisable as cars. For robin though, his highlight was being able to photograph Chuck Berry who played at the festival.

To conclude, Robin explained that the final image for “The last supper” was going to be printed on a large scale printer and going to be at least 30meters!  Pretty amazing considering that it was from a DSLR!

Anyway I was very fortunate to have seen his presentation and some of his work and I found Robin to be very interesting to listen to. I will no doubt keep an eye on Robin Preston’s blog to watch the progress of his last supper project.

Robin Preston’s work can also be seen at there is some really interesting ‘advertisement’ work some of which you may recognise.

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