On Wednesday (15 May 2019) Julia Cleaver (ARPS) visited LBPC to deliver her illustrated “How I Go About my Work” talk.

Julia is a portrait photographer based in the Chilterns and a member of ImageZ Camera Club (in Weston Turville). In her capacity as a CACC Judge, she has presided over a number of LBPC competitions in the past.

More of Julia’s work can be seen at https://www.juliacleaver.com/portfolio

How I Go About my Work (with tips & tricks on lighting, posing and low-cost gear)

An Informal Presentation by Julia Cleaver, ARPS

– Taking a look at some of the things I do to prepare for a shoot

– A look at a selection of commissioned work, self-assignments and a few of my

– Comparing before/after images

– Talking about what went into preparing the images (before, during and after the shoot)

The talk is interspersed with demonstrations of (mainly low-cost) equipment that is basic to use but can make a big difference. She includes a variety of tips and tricks throughout the evening that will appeal to a wide audience from beginners to experienced photographers.

Around two dozen members attended our weekly club evening at LBPC for our visiting lecturer Julia Cleaver. The attendees included new members Ellen and Derek. The light dimmed and the show began …

Julia is a people photographer. She arrived laden with bits and bobs of kit ranging from many inexpensive items to Canon flash units and cameras worth rather more. Julia is also a very able photographer, nimble around her ‘set’, erudite in her response to at least two in-depth questions from our demanding audience, and clearly an expert in her field as an ARPS member and local club judge.

Prior to the lecture, Julia had laid out carefully selected prints showing her extensive fieldwork. Many of these examples can be seen on her extensive web site. She gave us many inspirational ideas during her talk starting with a very cheap facemask, ably modelled by our very able Chairman who was for a time rendered speechless. The point of the exercise was to demonstrate how easy it is to learn about lighting your subject with the aid of some simple tools; in this case a torch and a mask. The Rembrandt Triangle got a mention too!

Planning the Shoot

Julia included her ideas for planning a shoot, developed from her experience with clients but equally applicable to ourselves. This included the use of Mood boards to develop and share ideas and communicate them with the client support team on bigger shoots. Mood boards are undoubtedly helpful in developing a focus during a shoot and ensuring that all aspects under discussion are covered for the client.

Getting the Setup Right

During the shoot, she covered examples of styling and props, posing (chin out guys), and lighting techniques. When children are the subject, Julia cited how getting down to their level is a really good way to approach them, having calmed them down with food and drink beforehand. Perhaps she was talking about the adults? Some men, apparently, can be shy in shoots; particularly fashion shoots, so need appropriate directing too.

We discussed the need to move the lighting or the subject during a shoot to get the angles right. Practice sessions using props or (small?) sculptures can be time well spent to experiment with positioning, angles and lighting.


Julia presented several solutions for improving lighting. She showed how 5 in 1 Reflectors & the use of flash in all weathers can be used to augment lighting. Soft Boxes, reflective & non-reflective umbrellas were demonstrated. Equipment stands were used with S-Brackets for various combinations of softboxes, flashguns and studio light modifiers for more specialised effects.

The demonstration of remote flash triggers included several well-known brands. All are available online. The more powerful radio controlled ones have far greater range than the cheaper line of sight flash repeaters. Your choice depends on both your budget and application. Julia used a number of Manfrotto Lastolite products but other brands are available.


Julia fascinated us with an assortment of backdrops for our models in the field. These included vinyl prints, ‘green screens’ fabric, and other printed fabric. Some of these were used as a backdrop. She then decorated her ‘scene’ with other artefacts; some as added textures.


Dealing with reflective glass is a particularly difficult issue. Julia demonstrated how this can be overcome with an appropriate combination of auxiliary lighting, flash, which is off-the-camera. With carefully selected angles of the shot, this avoids the flash bouncing back from the glass into the lens. This applies to any glass including spectacles!