The blog of photographer Kim Ayres

Peaky Blinders Selfie

A new series of the incredibly stylised, beautifully filmed, and ultra-violent "Peaky Blinders" starts tonight on BBC1.

Set in 1920s Birmingham (England), the first 4 series have followed the progress of a local criminal gang as they have grown in power and expanded their territories across the decade under the leadership of Tommy Shelby (played by the incredibly cheek-boned, Cillian Murphy).

At the end of the last series he was elected to Parliament, and apparently this one will begin at the time of the rise of the fascists and Oswald Mosley.

While September looks to be quite busy for me, this last part of August is pretty quiet. And while I should be using this time for catching up on my book-keeping and sorting out my filing systems, it hasn't taken long to start getting an itchy trigger finger and begin to desperately crave a photo shoot.

Quite excited by the prospect of the new series, I thought it would be fun to do a wee "Peaky Blinders " portrait, but no one else in the family was interested.

The only option left was to turn the camera on myself:

Completely lacking Cillian Murphy's cheekbones

We don't have any industrial looking areas in the house, but there is a bit of brick wall at the end of the garden, so I figured that would have to do as a background.

The sun was poking in and out of light cloud and coming more or less at right-angles to where I would be standing, but I wanted to have a little bit of light coming from behind and to one side, to catch the edge of my neck and separate me from the background.

Setting up a reflector next to the shed allowed me to bounce back a bit of the sunlight from the other side. It also had the advantage of catching the jawline, which helps to sculpt the face a bit more.

The trickiest bit of any self portrait is being able to see what the camera is seeing when you're unable to look through the viewfinder. This isn't a problem for mobile phones, but it is for a lot of DSLRs.

However, I was able to tether my camera to my tablet, and rest that on a chair I'd pulled out of the shed, so I could see exactly where the light was falling on my face, and ensure I would be in focus.

This, then, became my improvised studio:

Garden detritus successfully cropped out of the final image

Last year I did a big "Peaky Blinders" style photo shoot with 10 people and a horse, in an old abandoned warehouse, which was a huge amount of fun.

For those who didn't see it and can't be bothered searching back through the blog posts to find it, here's a behind-the-scenes video of that shoot:


Ponita in Real Life said...

Kim, you would totally fit into that show. Great shot! And ingenious way of solving the "looking through the viewfinder" issue.

Kim Ayres said...

Ponita - I'd love to be on a show like that - either as an extra, or as the stills photographer! However, with regard to this pic, I think my style of facial hair is completely out of period...

maurcheen said...

Great picture. And I love the cap. I think my facial hair would also be wrong style for the period.

Kim Ayres said...

Maurcheen - many thanks - cap cost 4 quid in a sale - I couldn't not...

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