Portraits: Looney Blues Band, Fresneda, Burgos, Castilla y León

Wednesday July 30th, 2014 09:00 AM

Retrato / portrait Fresneda, Burgos, Castilla y Leon, Spain. Photo by James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org

I pinched the idea for this photo from Fiona Adams who took a distinctive photo of the Beatles jumping from a wall on Euston Road, London, in 1963. I’d been leafing through a book of 1960s pop and rock star portraits in the days leading up to this shoot of the Looney Blues Band in the countryside near Fresneda, Burgos Province, Castilla y León.

A simple technique to make photos more interesting is to shoot from a different angle. The trick is not to make the photo look too contrived and this is where the wall comes in. It acts as a simple and natural prop to elevate the band.

This was a shoot for the band’s new poster campaign so I was looking for simple backgrounds upon which text could be superimposed on top without spoiling the elegance of the image. In the above photo there’s enough sky space for the band to put their name and the details of their next concert. There were many vertical shots in this session for the same reason.

Being the romantic that I am I wanted to have the band playing during the sunset. The only problem was that the sun had already set! So I set up two flashes covered with orange gels and positioned them on stands at about the place the sun had been in the sky. Sometimes you have to be a pragmatic romantic!

1407Retrato_Portrait_Band_Burgos_0009Retrato / portrait Fresneda, Burgos, Castilla y Leon, Spain. Photo by James Sturcke | www.sturcke.orgRetrato / portrait Fresneda, Burgos, Castilla y Leon, Spain. Photo by James Sturcke | www.sturcke.orgRetrato / portrait Fresneda, Burgos, Castilla y Leon, Spain. Photo by James Sturcke | www.sturcke.orgRetrato / portrait Fresneda, Burgos, Castilla y Leon, Spain. Photo by James Sturcke | www.sturcke.orgRetrato / portrait Fresneda, Burgos, Castilla y Leon, Spain. Photo by James Sturcke | www.sturcke.orgRetrato / portrait Fresneda, Burgos, Castilla y Leon, Spain. Photo by James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org Retrato / portrait Fresneda, Burgos, Castilla y Leon, Spain. Photo by James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org

Photographing the Wine Battle, Haro, La Rioja, Spain

Monday July 7th, 2014 11:50 AM

Wine Fight / Batalla del Vino, Haro, La Rioja, Spain. Photo by James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org

There’s a phrase in Spanish that I use when describing my style of portrait photography. I say I like photographing people “en su salsa”. It literally means “in their sauce” but figuratively implies that I snap away while they’re doing the things they love, be it cooking, skiing, bike riding or whatever.

The words take on a more literal meaning in these photos of last week’s Wine Battle in Haro, La Rioja, the town’s famous St Peter’s Day festival which is increasingly drawing an international crowd.

Soon after dawn thousands of people hike up Riscos de Bilibio, a hill just outside the northern Spanish town in the heart of the Rioja wine region. The path narrows as you reach the top and is lined by rows of people who throw wine over you. The exact origins of this custom are somewhat fuzzy but it’s nevertheless appropriate that the town that calls itself the Capital of Rioja should have a sensational wine festival.

Professional photographers will often tell you that if you want to feel the image you need to get close to the action and shoot with a wide angle lens. On this occasion that meant getting my oldest camera, wrapping it in plastic bags, crossing my fingers and getting stuck in…

Wine Fight / Batalla del Vino, Haro, La Rioja, Spain. Photo by James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org Wine Fight / Batalla del Vino, Haro, La Rioja, Spain. Photo by James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org Wine Fight / Batalla del Vino, Haro, La Rioja, Spain. Photo by James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org Wine Fight / Batalla del Vino, Haro, La Rioja, Spain. Photo by James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org Wine Fight / Batalla del Vino, Haro, La Rioja, Spain. Photo by James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org Wine Fight / Batalla del Vino, Haro, La Rioja, Spain. Photo by James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org Wine Fight / Batalla del Vino, Haro, La Rioja, Spain. Photo by James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org Wine Fight / Batalla del Vino, Haro, La Rioja, Spain. Photo by James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org Wine Fight / Batalla del Vino, Haro, La Rioja, Spain. Photo by James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org

Wine Fight / Batalla del Vino, Haro, La Rioja, Spain. Photo by James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org

Product and Commercial Pics: Neosens & The Art Company shoes, Quel, Arnedo, La Rioja, Spain

Tuesday June 24th, 2014 01:10 PM

Los zapatos de The Art Company y Neosens, Quel, La Rioja | www.sturcke.org

The Art Company, based in Quel, near Arnedo, La Rioja, is one of the larger manufacturers in northern Spain and sells its classy ranges of shoes all over the world. It specialises in distinctive, high-quality, hand-made shoes. It may be a traditional product but it comes with a modern twist and this forward thinking also applies to the firm’s marketing: It invited nine bloggers from Germany, France and Spain to visit the factory in Quel and try its latest Neosens and Art collections.

The first day of the two-day trip was in Ezcaray, the idea being to show a shoe from La Rioja in one of the region’s prettiest towns. My job as photographer was to provide the bloggers with fashion photos for their websites and also take some reportage images for the company.

The next day we visited the factory in Quel, near Arnedo, in the morning and later the bloggers were given choices of colours, soles, laces and told to design their own pair of Art Company shoes.

Switching between reportage photography, where I don’t intervene with the subject, to fashion photography, where I’m constantly asking models to do this or that, was a great mental exercise for me. The fact there were nine bloggers who all needed quality shots really kept me on my toes!

The bloggers were: Estelle Segura, Chloé Gattison, Anne-Laure Pierre, Kathrin Wittich, Marie Heid, Franzeska Albredt, Cecilia Quintana, Jeffrey Herrero & Aminta.

Los zapatos de The Art Company y Neosens, Quel, La Rioja | www.sturcke.org Los zapatos de The Art Company y Neosens, Quel, La Rioja | www.sturcke.org Los zapatos de The Art Company y Neosens, Quel, La Rioja | www.sturcke.org Los zapatos de The Art Company y Neosens, Quel, La Rioja | www.sturcke.org Los zapatos de The Art Company y Neosens, Quel, La Rioja | www.sturcke.org Los zapatos de The Art Company y Neosens, Quel, La Rioja | www.sturcke.org Los zapatos de The Art Company y Neosens, Quel, La Rioja | www.sturcke.org Los zapatos de The Art Company y Neosens, Quel, La Rioja | www.sturcke.org Los zapatos de The Art Company y Neosens, Quel, La Rioja | www.sturcke.org Los zapatos de The Art Company y Neosens, Quel, La Rioja | www.sturcke.org

Wedding: Black and white photography at La Vieja Bodega restaurant, Casalarreina, La Rioja, Spain

Friday June 13th, 2014 02:26 PM

Boda en La Vieja Bodega, Casalarreina, Haro, La Rioja, Spain. Photo by James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org

Many famous photographers shot many or all of their most evocative images in black and white, Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Capa being among the first two to spring to mind. And not just because they had no other option. Paolo Pellegrin won Photographer of the Year last year with a largely black and white portfolio.

Black and white photography reduces a colourful world to different tones and, in doing so often simplifies a scene. Simple can be better, resulting in more powerful images. Not every photo works better in black and white, far from it, but some certainly do.

The photo above, taken during a wedding at the excellent La Vieja Bodega restaurant, in Casalarreina, near Haro, La Rioja, is a case in point.

I was reminded of this during a two-hour mentoring session this week with the renown British wedding photographer, Jeff Ascough. When I moved to Spain four years ago I always offered my wedding clients the option of black and white photographs. And the offer is still there! If you’re interested, please don’t hesitate to ask!

Boda en La Vieja Bodega, Casalarreina, Haro, La Rioja, Spain. Photo by James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org Boda en La Vieja Bodega, Casalarreina, Haro, La Rioja, Spain. Photo by James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org Boda en La Vieja Bodega, Casalarreina, Haro, La Rioja, Spain. Photo by James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org Boda en La Vieja Bodega, Casalarreina, Haro, La Rioja, Spain. Photo by James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org Boda en La Vieja Bodega, Casalarreina, Haro, La Rioja, Spain. Photo by James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org Boda en La Vieja Bodega, Casalarreina, Haro, La Rioja, Spain. Photo by James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org Boda en La Vieja Bodega, Casalarreina, Haro, La Rioja, Spain. Photo by James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org Boda en La Vieja Bodega, Casalarreina, Haro, La Rioja, Spain. Photo by James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org Boda en La Vieja Bodega, Casalarreina, Haro, La Rioja, Spain. Photo by James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org Boda en La Vieja Bodega, Casalarreina, Haro, La Rioja, Spain. Photo by James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org

Portraits: The Roca Brothers, Celler de Can Roca, World’s Best Restaurant 2013, Girona, Catalonia, Spain

Friday May 23rd, 2014 07:00 AM

Portrait photography Roca brothers, Celler de Can Roca, Girona. The world's best restaurant 2013. Photo by James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org

I had two reoccurring thoughts in the run up to photographing the Roca brothers at their extraordinarily famous restaurant in Girona, Catalunya. The first was: “Don’t screw it up!” The second was: “How can I do something different?”

Celler de Can Roca was ranked the World’s Best Restaurant 2013 by Restaurant Magazine. The three brothers who run it – Joan, Josep and Jordi – are among the most famous chefs on the planet.

Falstaff, an Austrian foodie and high living magazine, were so pleased to get a slot with all three Rocas that they decided to fly over the editor for the interview. I knew they expected me to make some stunning portraits and that I’d have very little time to do them.

Preparation and planning are key here. I read up on the brothers and their rise from humble origins working in their parents’ restaurant, Can Roca, just along the road from El Celler. The oldest brother Juan was regularly portrayed as the responsible one. Jordi, the youngest, the anarchical creative and Josep somewhere in between.

Brotherly camaraderie was key to their success, I read, so I thought hard about how to show these ideas through photos. Above all I wanted to show that despite all their fame they remained grounded and playful.

In the end I had two 10-minute sessions with them. Jordi, the anarchical one, arrived two-hours late for the interview so even he missed the first session inside the restaurant. “Are they game to jump or go on the swings?” I wondered as we started the second session outside. Well, yes they were.

And afterwards Juan told me: “We’ve been photographed all over the place but never on the swings before!” Job done!!

Portrait photography Roca brothers, Celler de Can Roca, Girona. The world's best restaurant 2013. Photo by James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org

Portrait photography Roca brothers, Celler de Can Roca, Girona. The world's best restaurant 2013. Photo by James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org

Portrait photography Roca brothers, Celler de Can Roca, Girona. The world's best restaurant 2013. Photo by James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org

Portrait photography Roca brothers, Celler de Can Roca, Girona. The world's best restaurant 2013. Photo by James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org

Portrait photography Roca brothers, Celler de Can Roca, Girona. The world's best restaurant 2013. Photo by James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org

Portrait photography Roca brothers, Celler de Can Roca, Girona. The world's best restaurant 2013. Photo by James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org

Portrait photography Roca brothers, Celler de Can Roca, Girona. The world's best restaurant 2013. Photo by James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org

Portrait photography Roca brothers, Celler de Can Roca, Girona. The world's best restaurant 2013. Photo by James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org

Portrait photography Roca brothers, Celler de Can Roca, Girona. The world's best restaurant 2013. Photo by James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org

Portrait photography Roca brothers, Celler de Can Roca, Girona. The world's best restaurant 2013. Photo by James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org