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Elegant Focus – Part 1

December 2, 2013

It may be true that there’s no such thing as bad publicity, but when it comes to publicity shots we’ve all seen some horrors in our time, haven’t we?  So when I decided I needed some new pictures for my website, Facebook page, Twitter account, Preview CD and promotional literature I knew it had to be Gemma Williams behind the camera .

I first met Gemma two years ago when she was photographing a wedding I was singing for at Parkfields Country House.  She took this wonderful, candid shot of me then and I’ve been a fan of her work ever since.

Photographer Gemma Williams' picture of wedding singer Simon Partridge

The choice of venue for the shoot was an easy one too.  Swinfen Hall Hotel is a beautiful eighteenth-century manor house just a few minutes drive from my home city of Lichfield in Staffordshire.

Swinfen Hall Hotel, Lichfield, Staffordshire

Gemma is so much fun to work with, but all the time her brain is whirring away to ensure she gets amazing results.  In the hotel’s ballroom, working with only a couple of flash guns mounted on tripods, she turned this…

Herefordshire photographer Gemma Williams at work

…into this…

Vintage wedding singer Simon Partridge

Weddings singer Simon Partridge

Outside, the hotel terrace provided another great setting.

Simon Partridge on the terrace at Swinfen Hall Hotel

Gazing into the middle distance

Staffordshire wedding venue Swinfen Hall Hotel's terrace

With roman-style goddess statues

When I’d talked to Gemma before the shoot about what photos I hoped to get out of the day I’d mentioned the work of George Hurrell.  If you don’t know the name you’ll certainly know his work.  In the 1930s and 40s Hurrell was the Hollywood photographer and his trademark use of lighting and shadows became the archetype for photographs of that era.  I told Gemma that I would love my own Hurrell shot.

I knew it was a lot to ask.  Hurrell, after all, worked in a studio with a custom lighting rig, numerous assistants and as much time as he needed to get his results.  Could Gemma do the same on location with limited resources?  Of course she could!!  She worked her magic and produced some outstanding pictures that any Hollywood star would be proud of.

One of my George Hurrell shots taken by Gemma Williams

A fun, relaxed, smiling portrait

George Hurrell shot in full colour

I love the way Gemma has used the natural light and my reflection in this shot.

Singer reflected in polished grand piano lid

There were plenty of laughs too…

Messing about during the photo shoot at Swinfen Hall

The results are everything I’d hoped for and more.

Singer posing with vintage microphone

There are far too many fabulous photos to include in one post so I’ll share some more soon.  In the meantime you can see Gemma’s pictures on my website and find out more about her work by visiting


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