Before Turning The Blog On Himself

Photography blogs are boring and make me want to go on a terrible spree. Welcome to the antidote.

I Did a Thing Episode #1 – Hotline: Miami Shoot

Explanation Behind The Thing Wot I Did

As a massive videogames nerd, I have been greatly anticipating the release of Dennaton Games’ very first title, Hotline: Miami. It was released this Tuesday just passed, the 23rd of October, and I decided to do a shoot themed around it to celebrate.

To provide a bit of background, Hotline:Miami is a dark thriller set in an alternative 80s Miami. The protagonist is a man with a heavy dose of amnesia, who is instructed to do terrible things to members of an organised crime syndicate by a voice leaving messages on his answerphone tape.  He dons a rubber mask, jumps in his DeLorean and commits some atrocities in a variety of locations. The developers have stated they were heavily influenced by the movie Drive and you can see that in the style of the game. I know all you tabloid reading kneejerkers will probably think this sounds like an atrocity that should be banned from the Internet because, hey, games are for kiddies, right? No, not all games are, just like not all films and not all books are child friendly.

I was thinking of using this for my profile picture

Why Did You Spend An Entire Morning Covered In Fake Blood, Wearing A Pig Mask? Would You Consider That A Productive Use Of Your Time?

People often struggle with the idea of whether photography is a hobby or a job to them. We are often reminded that we may be enjoying it as a hobby now, but once it becomes a full-time job, we are at risk of losing our enthusiasm. I think it’s a bit more complicated than that, the explanation of which being an article in itself. For now, let’s just say that personally I find it important to shoot things for the sake of it and not just sit there waiting for another commission to come in: I love photography, so why would I not want to be shooting all the time? I see it as both a job and a hobby: a jobbie, if you will.

Yes. A jobbie.

It’s important to be inspired by non-photographic things. It’s useful to pick up tips from other photographers and there’s no harm in adopting techniques from people you admire, but to ensure you develop your own style I think it’s vital that your work is influenced by non-photographic elements. I was listening to a podcast where Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton from The League of Gentlemen and Psychoville spoke about their influences. They didn’t mention any comedy programmes as influences, citing horror films and horror writing instead. That’s partly why those programmes are so unique in the field of comedy, because they drew from elsewhere and were created around subjects and ideas they love.

That’s what I’ve done here: I first played the game and had a very long chat with the lead artist at a games convention in Germany, where I was working on my long term project documenting a videogame developer and the lives of the people who work there. I fell in love with the game and its style, read about it, liked what I read, and decided to create something inspired by it. I had a dozen ideas that I either tweaked a bit or threw out completely. Eventually, I decided I would create a sort of Old Masters still life style image, except with paraphernalia found in the game. I knew that the developer’s intentions were to portray a certain amount of mystery, stress and insanity around the protagonist who didn’t really know why he was getting these message on his phone and why he was obeying them, so I wanted to add that to the mix, too.

It feels absolutely brilliant to do something just for the sake of it because you think it’ll look cool or be fun to do: it’s refreshing, exciting and adds a real spark to your enthusiasm for photography in between your bread and butter commissions. Sometimes photography IS a job, as much as I hate to admit it, and doing shoots for the sake of it not only allows you the freedom of complete creative control, it also gets you out of a routine you develop with your regular commissioned work, and prevents you from stagnating creatively.

So yes, spending an entire morning covered in fake blood, wearing a pig mask is a productive use of my time. I’m just glad I didn’t have to answer the door to the postman or anything, as he would have probably called the police.

A little marriage tip for you: significant others love it when you add difficult stains to furniture.

Technical Shiz For All You Insufferable Strobist Types

Lighting was fairly simple in the still life images and the portrait – I used a single, large octa camera right to represent the window light of the Old Masters paintings. It was only loosely inspired by that idea, as light in Old Masters still life paintings actually comes from the left, as light from the west was considered divine.

I wanted to keep it close but dim for that soft wraparound with a nice, gradual falloff. I’m in love with this style of lighting and processing at the moment, which will inevitably lead to me doing it far too often.

As for the bloodied mask in the bath, that was excruciatingly simple: a single, small softbox fired directly down at the subject. To be honest, it was mostly down to my bathroom not being the kind of place you can set up studio lights in, on account of it being a bathroom, but I think it’s fine for the job, seeing as bathroom lighting tends to be quite harsh anyway.

Lessons From An Idiot

I had a smashing time making these pictures for the hell of it, and I encourage you to do the same. Pick something non-photographic that you love and create an image based on it or around it. Try it with music – create something that has a feel of a piece of music or an album that you love. Not only is it fun to do, it gets you making pictures in a different way. Take this rambling idiot’s advice and DO AN ART.



7 comments on “I Did a Thing Episode #1 – Hotline: Miami Shoot

  1. jenmcgregor
    October 27, 2012

    Reblogged this on The Scenic Route and commented:
    “Take this rambling idiot’s advice and DO AN ART.”

    I love this rambling idiot’s post and think it’s a great piece of advice. And the photos are stunning. And I totally got the Old Masters thing – when I saw the first one my brain went “oooh, Caravaggio” because my brain is a wanker like that (my husband is nodding in agreement at that statement).

  2. photoblogsareboring
    October 27, 2012

    Glad the Old Masters thing is coming across. I see a lot of attempts at it and it never looks quite right, but I think I’m getting the setup right now.

    It’s inspired an idea for a series of proper Old Masters still life type shots (another project idea to add to the pile) except with modern items. I’m thinking a proper 80s one, with leg warmers, a NES, lots of neon stuff, 80s sweets, frankie say relax t-shirt. That sort of thing.

  3. Danni
    December 12, 2012

    Holy shit, man, amazing photos! You’ve really captured the dark, surreal feeling of the game.

  4. Chris
    December 21, 2012

    Where did you get he mask from?

    • photoblogsareboring
      January 2, 2013

      It was the weirdest thing – I woke up one morning and it was just there, along with some messages on my answerphone. The answerphone message said “Hi, this is ‘Dennis’. Please spend your morning covered in fake blood, photographing this rubber pig mask. Keep it discreet, we don’t want to upset the neighbours. BEEP*”

  5. Pingback: Hotline Miami | Icarus Reviews

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


This entry was posted on October 27, 2012 by and tagged , , , , .

Idiotic Twitter Ramblings

About this man and his words

Gareth Dutton thinks photography blogs are boring. He's trying to write one that isn't and it's going horribly. Still, it's nice to know he's alive and well and hasn't gotten himself lost in some awful place, like a terrible evil well made out of the souls of the departed or something.

If you like looking at photos, you might want to go to

Because there are photos there. That he took. I took. It's me, writing in the third person.

Images from Flickr - The home of baseless praise

%d bloggers like this: