At the start of the show I was delighted to not only introduce my guest Rahim Mastafa, but also to give a quick mention to my good friend Mark Reierson on his book based on 100 portraits of street strangers titled ‘Excuse me, May I?'. It’s available though Blurb. (Here’s the link). This is amazing project and well worth the purchase price of just 30CAD$. Plus for me, it was an honour to write a few words on the project..
Rahim started taking photographs in his father-in-laws coffee shop. In the shop he had a play area for the kids and offered the opportunity of thing the photographs of the kids to encourage more families to come to the coffee shop. He gave Rahim two weeks to get up to pace with effectively studio lighting and shooting. Rahim studied all he needed to know on You Tube. He charged low so as not to offend any buyer and that is how 'Sugar Box Studios’ started.
He was bitten, and started to photograph everything from flowers, street, and architecture to friends playing golf and finally came round to thinking about shooting body builder's down at the local gym. A few more shoots later and the word was getting around of his photographic ability. Only thing was he had to create a worthwhile and realistic pricing structure!
Marketing and advertising his niche is very important for Rahim. He basically just gets out there and ask's people and using that network if they know of anybody that might what a photo set up. Using social media is vital to show that you are an active photographer. He is constantly on the social networks especially Facebook, at the peek times in the morning or evening when he has realised, people are checking the networks. Posting on social networks doesn’t just have to be the portrait photographs he also posts if anyone needs images with potential ‘props' asking
a what do u think of using this next time. or what if we used this. This is a clever way of opening dialogue with existing or potential customer’s. This has proved to be a successful approach for Rahim and has recently stated the same approach with a different audience via Instagram.
He doesn’t really remember a camera being used regularly in the family apart from the fact he knows his mother had an slr but it was hardly used except for holidays and parties. His first camera was a Sony a55 and then upgraded to the Sony SLT a77 at his own admittance he shoots cheap. He’s not into expensive gear. My caveat is he shoots sensible. In total his equipment including the studio flash-kit, is probably under £700! All his editing is done on Photoshop. Every shoot requires some form of work, exposure, shadow detail and cloning etc etc.
His clients vary from bodybuilders, to gym users and trainers. As you can see from the screen share he produces some outstanding work. We started off showing the Taekwondo shoot. The idea of the shoot was to show movement in what is a very active sport. Using simple flower to emphasise the movement, and the speed lights, it really came off. He shot the images at the back of his house in a back yard which really gives an ideal backdrop to the images. All scened were practiced first and then the vital ingredient, the flower was added by covering the model with the flour as she made her moves Rahim hut the shutter release! Another set we looked at was taken in a gym setting, where the body builder had asked Rahim to shoot the images. This brought a different set of difficulties, of what to and what not to show, what with so many gym machines around. But what he has achieved shows the gym with the client working out rather than a straight obvious studio setup. It again emphasises the shooting skills that Rahim has developed.
Rahim has established a good local network with a humber of quality gyms local to him. He now looks to expand. Maybe to consider turning professional once his exciting TV contract ends next year. This will indeed be a huge step for Rahim. It’s a decision not to be taken lightly and after talking to Rahim I realise that its one he will take his time considering.
His inspiration comes from a lot of photographers too many to mention on Instagram and of course, the tutorial videos of countless presenters on You Tube.
His favourite photographer would be a good friend of his Antti Karppinen. A Finnish award winning portrait photographer.
Until next time : “Leave your camera bag at home”
The all important links…
Photography Live and Uncut with Rahim Mastafa
Rahim on Facebook and Sugar Box studios
Rahim as Sugar box studios on Instagram.
Rahim on Twitter