Charis Talbot Photography

Uk Portrait Photographer

Yarrr Josephine and John’s Pirate Wedding

Last year I had the pleasure of photographing my friends pirate themed wedding. Josephine and I met many years when we were both models going to an award party type thing and we both spent the evening doing Zoolander impressions and since then we’ve been great friends. I was so touched that she would ask me to shoot their wedding. Being an ex model she had the pick of the photographers so it ended up being one person shot the ceremony, I did the couple portraits and another shot the reception. I absolutely loved their outfits and attention to detail. Jo now works as a make up artist so her make up was on point and she looked amazing. I definitely loved the opportunity to photograph a more unusual wedding! Jo and John have been so supportive and such good friends to me, it was one of the loveliest moments of my life to see them married. Happy anniversary my friends!

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A while ago I worked with a team of my favourite creatives to make a series of pictures based on the Greek Goddess Persephone. I wanted to explore the seasonal aspect of the Greek myth, how she made the world come alive through summer and spring and then when she left for the underworld the world slowly withered and died as her mother Demeter mourned her loss. The pictures are simple beauty shoots using exquisite headpieces from Kathryn Russell. Kitty Kerry did the make up and Tony Arts created the hair styles. I shot them very simply using a ring Light and an open aperture. The black background was intentional to isolate the subject and give it deep shadows and a sense of depth. The model is Jennifer Brown of Tyne Tees


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I used music to inspire me for this shoot namely Ed Harcourt’s ‘Come into my dreamland’ EP


Legend Bridal: Fable and Promise

Last year I had the pleasure of working with Legend Bridal on an editorial shoot. I’d been meaning to edge my way into more Bridal and wedding photography and their designs really appealed to me. I used the Autumn sun to make really warm pretty images but also had some rain and a very stormy sky to contend with. I love the feminine yet quirky dresses and headpieces, they really complimented the models too. My only regret with this shoot is that I didn’t have my 90mm or 50mm 1.4 which I think would have really added to the shoot.

Models are Sophie Nattrass and Jennifer Brown of Tyne Tees Models

Make up by Kitty Kerry Make Up Artist 

Hair by Tony Arts Hair 

Designs by Legend Bridal 

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Bridal Under Where?

A few months ago I did a shoot for Lingerie by Annette for Loved Up Magazine.  We shot at Hotel Du Vin in Newcastle which has been the first time I’ve shot in a hotel. I wanted to make more of the features of the room but I didn’t want to use a wide angle lens that would distort the girls figures so I stuck to using the bed and walls.

Veils and accessories by What Katy Did Next 

Models: Toni and Amber Von Tassell

Hair by Von Tassell Hair

Make up by Kitty Kerry 



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Woodland Bride

I’ve been working really hard adding as much bridal fashion to my portfolio as I can. With these images I wanted to show that I can do bridal shoots but with my own element of creativity and story telling.







I ended up only using a few images from this shoot as I decided to be succinct rather than excessive. I used Frankii Wilde as the model because she has the Sleeping Beauty look about her and Kitty did the Make up as I knew I could trust her to do a very subtle and natural English Rose look. The dress was very kindly loaned by Kathryn Russell whose work is exquisite in it’s detail.

The smoke bombs I used were cheapy plumbers pellets, which are pretty difficult to light but give a nice subtle smoke effect. I didn’t want it to be spooky, I wanted it to be ethereal.

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Donnie’s First Birthday

My lovely Friend Kitty asked me if I could shoot her son Donnie doing a cake smash for his first birthday. Always happy to oblige I did and here are the  photos! Happy Birthday Donnie!

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What the Fudge is Composition and Why Should I Care?

The ability to compose good photographs is something that is hugely looked over these days. We tend to be very formulaic and many beginner photographers don’t know how to analyse or critically approach art because they simply imitate and achieve similar results to the photographer/artist they are emulating and daren’t question it.

Some people are also naturally good at composing images and visual geometry but because they are so quickly proficient they don’t actually think about what they are doing and this leaves them missing out on great potential to do some extraordinary work using golden ratios and complex rules of thirds.

Today I’ll just show you a few very basic ways to deconstruct composition and I’ll do it the traditional way I was taught because it’s probably the easiest and least complicated.

Ok so I’ll use a traditional painting ‘The Daydream’ by Dante Gabriel Rossetti for the example


ok so first of all we look at what is called rule of thirds which is simply the canvas divided up into three parts. The parts don’t necessarily have to be equal in my opinion and especially in Flemish and Dutch masters you have some spectacular mathematically rad rules of thirds.

So here’s some basic dividing into threes

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On the first one admittedly you could lower that top red line. So what we can see is that it’s divided so the subject matter is easy to read by the viewer- the head is in the upper sectors, the hand detail and fancy bits are in the middle and the bottom, although it’s the bottom dress and feet is actually cause for negative space which works to define the subject.

Next you need to look for circles and/or triangles. It sounds bonkers but we, as humans, find these shapes very pleasing and once you realise what a good few angles or curves do for your pictures you can maybe work on more effective poses.  Sometimes it’s a good idea to blur your eyes when looking at pictures to find these shapes like this


Then pick out circles/ovals/curves


It’s like a wonderful primitive sausage creature isn’t it? Notice anything about the clusters and angles?

Next the triangles

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So we have the triangles of the subject matter and then the triangles of the background/negative space. Triangles are interlocking and therefore make structure within the canvas. Although my drawing is crude you can probably pick more out and maybe even try with squares!

Next and finally we have the stick figure/line drawing analysis. Again, we humans are very fond of patterns like spirals and diagonal lines etc so it’s simply blurring your eyes to the image and picking out the main lines in the images


So there you have it. One of the great British Pre-Raphaelite works reduced to a comedic line drawing. Use the pattern though and think about what is going on. You have a few right angles making snake shapes and that’s pivotal. In media and advertising you have the ‘Z’ in that you read the top line of the page and the bottom line  so the journey between the two results in an angle. and in that angle is where the main detail needs to be. So mentally put a ‘Z’ over the painting…. see it now?

But I practice what I preach and here’s my own image, a homage to the painting above subject to similar treatment


Model: Felicity Switch, Circlet from The Floral Quarter 

Ok so rule of thirds

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Wibbly wobbly rules to be sure but there non-the-less


blur it to see …

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A snowman and a Toblerone!

Then the old line drawing


Aye ey It’s a violent diamond!

Anyway, you guys can make your own conclusions on these subjects and maybe now you might go have a gander at some old masters images to train your brain to see composition a bit more clearly and then have a look at your own- it may be that just a simple crop and adjustment here and there could massively improve an image!  I’ll leave you with this quote from Sir Joshua Reynolds

“And to give the utmost force and solidity to your work, some part of the picture should be as light, and some as dark as possible : These two extremes are then to be harmonized and reconciled to each other.”



Photography: 7 Mistakes You Think You Wont Make (But Will)

1. Think you are too good too soon

There’s no denying I’m starting on a controversial one but what the hec let’s get right in shall we? Photography is a wonderful medium because you get instant results, get to play with gadgets and document your life through pictures. For a hobby it’s fab and a good outlet for many people. However, it’s a very broad spectrum and if you’re just starting you have a long way to go. If it’s a hobby then enjoy the ride but if you have plans to be an artiste dahling then it may be a little more bumpy than you first imagined. If you can’t see the journey to world domination stretching out like a desert in front of you then you may need a leeeetle reality check.  Even the most talented artists have to hone their craft. It’s usually studio photography that get’s people into this situation because you take a picture of someone against a white background and suddenly you think you’re Richard Avedon because you’ve seen so many photos with people with white backgrounds that it MUST be exactly like them and therefore just as good. The rest of this point ties in with number 2

2. Be unable to distinguish a snapshot from a final piece 

This point is a real irritant for me. If you’ve ever done an art qualification you know that you have to study your inspiration and influences, then develop them and use various techniques to eventually get a final piece that encompasses everything you set it out to. Now, with photography you get people who are too snap happy and don’t understand that they need to really develop their concept and skills to actually get the image they want. Instead they think it’s great and post it on Facebook with such grandeur as if they were producing a solid gold baby from a diamond womb (cue me cringing).  You have several components needed for a successful image: composition, focus (seriously guys come on), subject, setting (and it’s relationship to the subject*), colours (on camera and post processing) and (optional) editing. So yeah that’s actually quite a lot of stuff you’ve got to do for one successful image. Not looking quite so easy now is it? “B B But” I hear you splutter, red faced and enraged “I have taken pictures that were amazing just by looking” Calm down my dear that’s called a fluke (or that awful phrase “You’ve got a good eye for photography” ) and you can have lots of flukes in a lifetime that may lead to a lovely portfolio of flukes. But your clients might not like it if you don’t successfully fluke for them yanno?

3. Use too little post-processing 

Honestly, I see it all the time: effects done in paint, awful logos and watermarks with dreadful fonts, spots left on models noses, an errant piece of rubbish in a landscape or dust in a product shot and sometimes things just blurry and over/under exposed.

Some purists state that they shouldn’t have to do any post processing because their work is so perfect. Well, I’m sure there are a few masters out there who do fall into this category…but are you sure you do? To me a photograph with out editing is a sketch and a scribble and a bit of post processing turns it into a lovely finished piece. I’m not saying you have to do a lot but a bit of colour correction and a few clean ups here and there can really improve an image. Your colour work will sway your image towards whatever feel you want to portray, so why not add a bit of yellow for happiness? Or maybe a lovely black and white because you don’t want there to be any detraction from the subject.

But yes, you will be victim to too little processing because there are things you just wont see at first or have the ability to do like remove stubble rash from an arm pit, dodge and burn a dramatic sky or turn a sick yellow into a lovely emerald green.

4. Use too much post-processing 

The flipside! Oh I could write another blog post on this subject altogether (have I already? I probably have). Well, when people start to acquire their photoshop skills there is a huge tendency to go overboard like with air brushing skin (*Grinds teeth*), over burning eyes (oh the humanity), Selective colour IE black and white with a colour (*violently bangs head on desk* ) over slimming models, making things orange for no possible reason, HDR (*violently vomits on desk*) and everyone’s favourite…mathematically and physically impossible composite images (where a subject is given a different background). To try and avoid these pitfalls just opt to broaden your abilities as much as possible. So say, for example, you learn how to use frequency separation instead of air brushing and don’t forget to edit the models neck as well so it all blends. Just to make things more realistic. If you really want things to look out-of-this-world then maybe you ought to study as a digital artist and develop brush and painting techniques.

You will over-process simply because it’s so easy to do and it’s so exciting learning a new technique you want to show if off. But do think for a second “Will my peers who are already adept at this laugh me off the boat?”

5. Blindly emulate and adore one popular photographer 

Really quick and simple one here. If I wanted to be a landscape painter and didn’t know where to start would I just study Turner simply because I liked him? Or would I sketch and practice everyday whilst studying techniques of many painters until I found the one that suited me best in skill and taste?  Nowadays there can be so much hype surrounding photographers especially as we are now in “Be your brand” era. It’s made mini celebrities out of many photographers and often justifiably so as these people are genuinely lovely and talented people BUT never curb your persona and artistic agenda just because you think you ought to be more like so and so. It’s so easy to get tied up in your idols work and life though because that’s what you want to have one day isn’t it? A successful business with your art and respect and recognition etc. I’m never going to be the creative mind that **** is nor be as sweet and adorable in youtube videos as ***** and I’ll certainly never be as pretty or social media savvy as ****. You can only be yourself and you have to learn to identify your own strengths and weaknesses (and exploit them for your own celebrity possibly)

6. Use generic subject matter

Every poet who ever lived has written a poem about Spring time and every portrait photographer has done at least one of these shoots:

Fairytales (usually Little Red Riding Hood), fairies, body painting, rock n roll with a bottle of jack Daniels, Smoking, something based on pop culture, Myths and Legends, Ophelia, Projector, Fake skull prop, corsets, decade based sets/outfits that are cheap costumes, bluebell field, rapeseed field, steampunk, goth with a nerf gun, latex on someone it really doesn’t fit, hundreds and thousands as make up, model in the bath with flowers, an awkwardly held animal, fake blood/gore/evil nurse, gamer chick, ‘bondage’ shoot, witches, day of the dead, lace eyelashes, gold leaf, angel/dark angel, comic book characters, abandoned house, model wearing a shirt but no trousers/skirt and knee high socks, a Marilyn Monroe homage, Japanese or Chinese themed, wig themed, poison ivy, anything with fans or feathers or such silliness, Christmas themed, pageant, dance (any kind), fight club/boxing, ‘nerd’, french maid, generic girl with gun, anything with a feather boa.

Don’t worry- I’ve done a few of these (even recently) and goodness knows how many as a model (hey people can pay me to look like a loon) the trick is to, as I’ve said before, develop and plan the idea so that it’s seen in a new light or more beautiful than other times before. We all make this mistake time and time again.

7. Ruin your own public image by writing a blog about photography

Um… oh…well oops!

Honestly though, this blog isn’t intended to be read in a rant voice or anything, more like a mischievous voice if anything. I fully identify and understand the trials and tribulations of starting out in an area with all hopes and dreams only to be overwhelmed by the gravitas of the journey you’ve elected to undertake. And that was only last Wednesday. This is advice that you seldom hear but it is non-the-less true. You will make these mistakes over and over again until one day you see someone else make these mistakes and suddenly you realise that you can recognise and identify them and that’s when you’re on the right track.

If you’re still a bit disgruntled have a picture of some kittens I took at the Shelter the other day


Love me again yet?

*To each action there is an equal and opposite reaction. This is the basis of rocket science and art. You can’t have a subject without a setting and the subjects reaction to the setting within that composition.

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Easy, Breezy Photoshop

So apparently, I’m told, many of my friends and fellow photographers have been checking my blog for tips and hints for photoshop. So I thought it’d probably be time to actually post something. I have so much stuff I haven’t posted that I really should but I thought I’d start with this post.

Ok so what I’m going to do today is do a little walk through of how I edit and what I take into consideration. The important question is never ‘how’ it’s actually ‘why’ because any fool can follow a youtube video until the cows come home but if you have no concept of what is aesthetically pleasing in a portrait or haven’t developed your own style you’ll end up with pancake faces and blurred line (no jokes please)

I would always recommend anyone serious about portraiture and retouching to try doing some real life art classes because then you’ll understand about facial structure, shadows and highlights and colour. Faces are 3d, no one has a flat face unless they are Flat Stanley but he is too busy being posted to Timbuktu (showing my age there ha!)

Ok so without further ado here is my before and after 


Do click for high resolution

So we begin with this image 

This was shot with a ring light using my Pentax K5 and a Tamron 90mm lens at f2.8 at 1/100 sec shutter speed. No make up artist and an early evening shoot in my mum’s living room with a black bed sheet as a back ground… glamorous no?


So from here I look at the pic and envisage what I’m going to do


Red circles are for spot removal or discoloured areas

Yellow is for lightening and colour correction

White is for features that need preserving- in this case freckles.

Black is a guide for contouring using burn tools or in rare cases liquefy

So first of all I use frequency separation (which I will refer to often as FS) which you can type into youtube and immediately find a video explaining. I chose to do this in this instance because the model has discolored areas of skin but doesn’t have badly textured skin.


So Layer is the Low frequency layer and C Copy is the high frequency layer. On the C layer I evened out the skin tone using clone stamp and on C copy layer I used both the healing brush and ptach tool to get rid of fine lines and dry skin flakes (In some cases I have to remove bogies, mustache hairs and mascara gloop)

Layer 1 is a colour layer set to blending mode soft light and 50% opacity which I used to colour the eyes, the eye make up and eyebrows using a soft brush with low opacity. Because we didn’t have a Make-Up artist to do most of my work for me (seriously they are a god send) I used this layer to essentially make the make up look as fabulous as I could.

Layer 2 is a dodge and burn layer also Soft light 50% Grey and I used black and white brushes to make highlights and shadows. I ended up setting it down to 50% because I found it to strong. I prefer things to look subtle especially as you want your retouching to look effortless. If your photoshop techniques are obvious by looking at an image then you need to refine your skills. I used this to high light the cheeks, irises and make up and darken the jaw, cheekbone and lashes.

Next was Dodge and Burn Curves Layers


Again this a technique that some one on youtube can explain much better than me. Unlike the previous dodge and burn work I’ve done during FS this one is for smoothing out smaller details such as little scars whilst preserving more detail which FS usually destroys (the bastard)

Next we move onto the Colour Work



The first layer is a Curves layer set to ‘color’ (If photoshop was British maybe it could be arsed to add the extra U that it is so clearly missing) which brings some vibrancy to the shadows which are were a bit grey. The next layer is a Colour Fill layer in which I’ve used a sandy kinda colour to blend out the red in the image- this is also set to ‘color’ blending mode at 23%

Next is a Hue/Saturation Layer where I brought the master saturation down to -32 because I don’t want it too bright and in-your-face plus the facial expression suits a slightly more somber mood. Then there is a second Hue/Saturation Layer where I’ve taken the red down to -28 to remove any stray red patches and bumped up the yellow saturation to +16 so the hair doesn’t look flat- The model has gorgeous hair and eyes and these are the features we want to pop.

Then there is the ol’ Selective Colour Layer where I’ve added +8 blacks into the reds, -6 yellow into the neutrals and +2 cyan +3 Magenta into the blacks

Then it’s all finished off by another Curves Layer


I used this Top curves layer to lighten the deep shadows but darken the mid-shadows so the face is defined and well contrasted. I like images to have a sense of depth, I want them to retain their dimensions at the very least or use them to define the subject.

But I’m not finished yet. Although it looks good I still wasn’t happy. I wanted just a touch more



I added another Colour Fill layer using a sienna type colour, set it to colour blending mode at 12%. I wanted the photo to be a touch richer and contrast with the models blue eyes. Then to just make those highlights a bit prettier popped another curves layer in and set it to luminosityblending mode at 20% opacity.

I also merged the FS/dodge&burn layers then duplicated and used the liquify tool to sculpt  the neck.

And you have the final picture 


Click for high res

Ta daaaa

With many thanks to the model Laura for letting use her image for this quick tutorial. She was concerned about people seeing her before but no model I ever have looks perfect before they go through photoshop- in fact Laura loks better then a bunch of them. Plus we had no make up artist and she’d just been floofing her hair about with a hair dryer for our previous images so she probably sweated off a lot of foundation.


Editing is much easier with a graphic tablets- I just use a kids bamboo one. It does the trick. 

Although I shot in RAW I didn’t make any adjustments in camera RAW because I would have immediately forgotten what I did for this tutorial. 

Everyone has different ideas of beauty, this image represents what I think looks good and you may not agree with it however any rude comments will not be tolerated. 

Ring lights are amazing. 

This post was brought to you whilst playing the Empire Records soundtrack- don’t forget April 8th is Rex Manning day! 


Hello 2014

So we usher in a New Year and reflect on the past one. That’s usual isn’t it?

In 2013 I made some amazing friends and some good art work, I went to Amsterdam twice and fell in love with my boyfriend (and moved in with him) I took steps towards starting my own business in earnest and will be getting funding from the Princes Trust. I was able to buy a new camera and equipment with an inheritance and worked really hard to improve myself. I saw friends get married, have children and buy houses. Through photography I have spoken to people all over the world and guided and helped people the best that I can.

There are things that made 2013 not so great, the majority of that is the pressure I put on myself to be better than I am. I can’t ever shake this feeling that if you’re not at the top of your game then you are losing at life. So for 2014 I hope:

To get my business up and running

To improve my work in a fine art capacity.

To exhibit and get published more.

To travel.

To lose weight

Here are two images one from the beginning of the year of one from the end. Both of a similar subject with the same model Frankii Wilde




Model: Frankii wilde

Hair: Tony Arts

Necklace: Devine Delinquents



Model: Frankii wilde

MUA: Victoria Holdstock

Harness: Malice

Not technically better than the other probably but it shows taking an idea and developing it.