ProFiles | Holly Wren image

ProFiles | Holly Wren

Holly Wren is a successful commercial photographer, specialising in portraiture, lifestyle and corporate commissions. We chewed the fat with Holly over a coffee in our showroom and talked about her work and why she loves photographing people so much…

Thanks for taking a break from your busy schedule Holly, I know you’ve got a lot on at the moment. Can you tell us when and how you first got interested in photography?

I remember as a child my grandad used to like to take photographs, he showed them to my sisters and me using a projector on a white wall in their spare bedroom, talking us through how and why he took them. Something my dad then became interested in. At the age of 10 my dad bought me an Olympus OM10, of course shooting film then was just standard practice, I remember picking it up from a shop in Chester, I was so excited. I fell in and out of love with taking images from then until after university when I got my first digital SLR, I’d take pictures of flowers to put on my wall, friends thought they were bought postcards, they didn’t believe I’d taken them, which I guess was a compliment in disguise! But it wasn’t until 6 years later at 28 that I decided to take the plunge and went professional. I don’t remember why I loved it, perhaps because it was and is my way of connecting with people, firstly with my grandfather and my dad, and now everyone.

© Holly Wren

I believe you worked in property development before taking up photography professionally. How did that transition come about?

Sometimes, the best things come out of what can seem like terrible circumstances. I was incredibly unhappy in the job I was doing, I didn’t enjoy my work and consequently my life so I decided to re invent myself – let’s say it was a late twenties crisis! When I assessed what I liked doing, photography came out top of the list, so I decided, in a some what rash move, to quit my safe well paid job to work in a shop and set up freelance as a photographer. Until that point, I’d never taken a portrait. Looking back it seems quite insane, but I guess at rock bottom you don’t feel like there’s much to loose. I joined The Prince’s Trust and worked everyday for a year between the shop and setting up my business to catapult myself into a completely unknown industry.

© Holly Wren

And why portraits? Coming out of a property background wouldn’t architectural photography have been a more obvious choice? 

Yes! It would have! However, when I finished working in property I think I’d had my fill of buildings for a while! Portraits or people, were the obvious choice for me, I come alive in company, I feel comfortable meeting strangers and connecting with them. I love people, meeting new people, I’m eternally fascinated by them. Everyone, without exception, has a story, and that’s what keeps me hooked. I really love to get to know my subjects and when you get something out of them, that perhaps they didn’t expect or that they haven’t given before, it’s amazing. Perhaps I’m just have an extreme case of people watching, the camera gives me that bridge to people and cultures that I would otherwise never have the opportunity to meet and learn from.

© Holly Wren

You shoot a lot of personal projects when you’re not shooting for clients. Do you think this helps your commercial work fresh by allowing you to try new techniques ?

Absolutely. Half my work is either project based or test shooting, any down time I have I use to plan and execute personal projects. Commercial work is great, and it pays the rent, but it doesn’t always allow you to express yourself or develop skills and ideas, after all, you’re being paid to produce, not experiment. I find my commercial clients and art buyers are equally, if not more, interested in the projects I’ve shot self funded. It shows initiative, motivation, commitment and enthusiasm for what you do. It keeps my work and ideas moving forward, and although it costs me money, it definitely helps my commercial commissions.  I love photography, pretty much every part of my life involves it. I can’t remember the last trip I took that didn’t involve some sort of photographic element!

© Holly Wren

Any interesting projects that you’re working on at the moment?

Always! I’m busy curating a series I photographed last October during Dia De Los Muertos in Oaxaca, Mexico. It’s being exhibited in a Oaxacan restaurant in  Los Angeles. I’ve had to wait a year to release the images to time it with the festival, which is frustrating but necessary to ensure maximum press coverage. I’m also in the process of planning and shooting a few mini portrait series, one with The Red Arrows, The Fire Brigade and a swim school. Then there’s that top secret Profoto product launch that we’ve been planning for the last few months…

© Holly Wren

Talking of Profoto, I understand you’re a big fan of the location flash systems – B1X and B2’s, yet a lot of your work looks naturally lit. Is this important to you – to keep the lighting uncontrived?

I think all photographers have a style, and so yes, I guess mine is, on the whole, images that look like they’ve been lit with natural light. Unfortunately, in the UK the weather isn’t always so kind, and working environmentally nothing is guaranteed so I like to use the Profoto flash systems to help achieve that. I like flat light, high key shots with a shallow depth of field, but my approach is to light on a ‘need to’ basis – I start with natural light and layer reflectors and flash as needed to achieve my “look”. So you’ll more often than not see me with a large octabox, I’m a soft light enthusiast!

© Holly Wren

Are you a big fan of retouching or do you prefer to try and get it right in camera?

Retouching has it’s place, and the way it’s used is dependent on your style, I love photography that uses composite and heavy retouches, but for my work, that doesn’t fit with my style. I want to make a great image in camera, that becomes an amazing image once finished in edit.  For me, that’s  more important than an average image in camera that’s transformed in post into something unrecognisable.  I like to create images that are natural and seem effortless. Of course, I use retouching to clean up backgrounds, alter levels and saturation, and do some light skin retouching but it’s subtle. I often post my before and after edit images on my blog, to show how little I do – but how effective a small tweak here and there can be. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve heard a derivative of “but you can change/ add/ edit/ remove that in photoshop afterwards right?” And my answer tends to be “Maybe, but why would we if we can get it right now?” I guess that summarises my attitude. Do everything you can in camera to get as close to the finished vision as you can, then rely on some sneaky photoshopping to achieve the rest!

© Holly Wren

Do you have a wish-list of people to photograph? 

Oh yes, of course. I have a real passion for stories and interesting faces, so my wish list would more include indigenous people and tribes rather than western celebrities . Although I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t like to photograph certain celebrities, although they tend to be more stars from childhood or people who have done incredible things – those who are top of their industry, the type of people you could talk to for hours.

What’s in your kit bag?

Nikon! And Profoto. Lucky for me, a new Nikon D850. Then a D810. My favourite lenses are primes, specifically the Nikkor 85mm ƒ/1.4 and 50mm ƒ/1.4, followed closely by the new 70-200mm ƒ/2.8 (it shoots like a prime). I also have the Sigma 105mm ƒ/2.8  and of course the Nikkor 24-70mm ƒ/2.8. I own a set of Profoto B2’s and various soft boxes! My new fave gadget is the Cam Ranger which I use to shoot to my iPad Pro so clients can see the shots as they’re taken.

© Holly Wren

How much do you rely on Fixation for your work?

I imagine the answer to this is a lot on the basis that you know who I am from my voice when I call! I have a basic kit bag, but I often need to rent other lenses for specific briefs or more powerful lights or particular modifiers. I also need various repairs, sensor cleans and to buy new kit. Having a good relationship with a rental shop is vital, and I find that the staff in Fixation are super friendly and helpful. I’ve been coming to you since the beginning of my career, and you’ve always helped and advised me, and never felt like my often stupid or simplistic questions are a burden. I can name a few specific instances where you have gone above and beyond to help me solve problems and ensure I’ve never been left unprepared or without the kit I need.

Holly was talking to Tim Stavrinou

To see more of her work, visit her website and her Instagram feed here

Daniel Kemeys | 10 Days, One Road

Daniel Kemeys | 10 Days, One Road

We have so many regular customers – faces that we’ve known and enjoyed serving over the years, but it’s always nice when new customer catches our eye.

25 year old Daniel Kemeys is a visual effects artists for Framestore and has worked on projects such as Guardians Of The Galaxy 2, The Martian and Suicide Squad. Prior to that he was at MPC and was part of the compositing team that won the VFX Oscar for Disney’s The Jungle Book.

To have such a wealth of experience under his belt at such a young age is impressive enough, but it was Daniel’s short film ’10 Days, One Road’ that caught our eye. Shot in Iceland using a Phantom 4 Drone and a Sony A7R II, the film captures the stunning landscape and diverse weather conditions that Daniel and his girlfriend experienced on their 10 day road trip.

We weren’t the only ones impressed. National Geographic Traveller recently featured it as their video of the week.

10 Days, One Road from Daniel Kemeys on Vimeo.

We caught up with Daniel over a coffee in the Fixation showroom to find out more about his work.

Thanks for taking the time to chat to us Daniel. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

No problem Tim, thanks for having me! Yeah, well my name is Dan, I was born in Wales, studied at the University of South Wales and now I’m currently living in London. I’m a digital Compositor for films, currently knee deep in action working on an exciting Marvel project at Framestore.

How much planning goes into a project like 10 Days, One Road?

Well, it’s a bit of a tough question, a lot of planning goes into where you want to travel especially when road tripping around an island for ten days! Planning ahead and booking was a big factor but there are advantages and disadvantages to planning everything ahead of time. I’d say the most time goes into location research, then you can get a rough idea of what you want to shoot, but it’s all totally down to the moment of when you’re there and weather conditions.

© Daniel Kemeys

Did you shoot many stills to almost provide an ongoing storyboard or were the sequences made up on the fly?

Usually when I’m doing projects I find storyboarding a crucial process… but travel films are totally different, you just shoot what ever you can, get the most content possible and then shuffle through and pick the best bits to put something together at the end. It’s kind of nice, it’s making the most out of what you can’t control. I like that, a true artist comes out when they have to work with what they’ve got. For us, we wanted to capture a narrative and our journey travelling, not just what we saw as this was going to be a diary for us to look back on.

So it was a question of gauging the surroundings and working with the conditions?

Totally, capture everything as much as possible and hope for the best when it comes to footage. Then you need to put in the work to make sure it all fits together and flows, which can be the most difficult part.

© Daniel Kemeys

I’ve read that you particularly wanted the piece to have a filmic look. How did you achieve that?

Yeah, for sure. I’m a big fan of the filmic look and film in general. It’s pretty difficult and expensive to take a film camera on a trip when filming everything is your main objective, so I looked into different grain overlays that I could apply in post, used some lens effects to separate the channels to give the footage some subtle chromatic aberration. Then I looked at the colours you find in film, the punchy contrast and mellow hues were a big factor in my film, nothing was oversaturated.

© Daniel Kemeys

Hana and I had a particular vision for the film already, wanting a strong travel narrative of our experiences. We’d sit down and have a daily review of each version, almost like I would have my work reviewed by my supervisors at work. Basically my girlfriend was my supervisor, haha.

Do you have any more projects like this planned?

Yep, I have a pretty big personal project on the go called “The Forgotten Nation.” I’m super excited to share this one but I have a hefty amount of work ahead of myself. I have a few other projects in the works, 2 particularly large ones off the back of the Iceland film, they’ll be very fun also as we’ve partnered with with some cool brands.

© Daniel Kemeys

You obviously have a passion for cinematography but I understand you’re also a keen stills photographer. Do you often look for ways to combine the two mediums or do you prefer to keep your work separate?

I do like to have fun with both, I usually shoot a mixture of stuff. I really like posters, so I’ll always snap a still but with a cinematic style. I find stills so powerful. The amount you can take from a still image is pretty exciting, especially if it’s continued into moving images. I’m a big fan of thumbnails, especially on Vimeo, I’ll watch something if I like the thumbnail and the typeface used.

I’d say I’m a pretty decent photographer. I’m still learning and growing as a photographer and I like to think of myself as a sponge in all aspects of this industry. I’ve been involved in video for so long now I find it second nature, even though I’m always learning. I’ve always been pretty confident with moving images. I’d really like to push my limits and get a hold on the photography game, learn portraiture, and read some books on photography while travelling and shooting.

© Daniel Kemeys

You’ve been involved in VFX for a few years now. How quickly do you think the industry is changing?

Yep, almost 3 years now as a professional, the industry is changing rapidly, the skill level has risen inside the industry and in the university circuit. It’s a competitive industry. I’m loving my life at the moment as I get to work on the coolest films day in day out and my eye is getting trained for much larger things than just VFX. I find myself having incredibly high standards in all areas of content creation, from photos, film, VFX & design, everything must be beautiful and most importantly, I want everything that I produce to capture a story of some kind.

© Daniel Kemeys

Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?

10 years is a long time. I don’t really like to look that far ahead usually but I’d be a pretty experienced VFX artist by then… if I remain in the industry, I’d either be a VFX supervisor or before I ever get that far I’d depart the VFX industry to peruse my own independent ventures, creating my own films, running my own business… who knows? I don’t see a ceiling, that’s what I love about this journey I’m on, I have many options and I’m open to opportunities.

Gareth Edwards used to be a VFX artist… he directed Star Wars: Rogue One last year… so maybe I’ll direct a Star Wars movie in 10 years, haha!

I know I’ll be doing something cool, which is all I care about in all honesty. You can see more of Daniel’s work on his Vimeo feed here,

Daniel was talking to Tim Stavrinou

Profoto launches world's smallest studio flash image

Profoto launches world’s smallest studio flash

Profoto have today launched the A1 – the world’s smallest studio flash.

Although designed as an on-camera flash, it’s also very effective off-camera as a standalone unit and works seamlessly with other Profoto lights, even with AirTTL and HSS.

The Profoto A1 resembles a speed light and is designed with light shaping capabilities; it has a unique round head with a soft, smooth fall-off that makes it easy to create a natural and beautiful light. It also includes a smart magnetic mount and three dedicated A1 Light Shaping Tools that click on and off quickly and easily – a Dome Diffuser, Wide Lens and Bounce Card. They can be stacked for more creative options. The A1 also offers a built-in LED modeling light that makes it easy to set the light and understand how light and shadows work together.

Power is provided via a dedicated Li-Ion high capacity battery that lasts up to four times longer than AA batteries with no performance fade, and a facility to recharge quickly.


  • Round head with soft, smooth and natural fall off
  • AirTTL and HSS for a beautiful professional image
  • Smart magnetic click-on mount for A1 Light Shaping Tools
  • 5 dedicated A1 Light Shaping Tools available
  • LED modeling light integrated to the head
  • Air Remote built-in
  • Rechargeable and exchangeable Li-Ion battery
  • 1.2s recycling time
  • TTL/Manual switch
  • Built in motor-zoom with hand control
  • Auto focus (AF) assist
  • Large Hi-Res display
  • Support for Canon, Nikon and Sony (to follow)

It’s also extremely easy to use with a large, clean and clear user interface. Like all Profoto products, it’s intuitive and you don’t need to read a long instruction manual to understand how it works. It will be initially available in Nikon and Canon TTL fittings with Sony to follow in the near future.

The Soft Bounce and Gel Holder are sold separately; the Dome Diffuser, Wide Lens and Bounce card are supplied as standard

The A1 will be available from the 26th September and pre-orders can be taken now through our sales department: or 020 7582 3294

Tips & Tricks | Memory card lamp image

Tips & Tricks | Memory card lamp

You’ll have all noticed the little light that blinks every now and then on the back of your DSLR; red on a Canon, green on a Nikon.

It’s there to indicate that the camera is accessing the card, either to write data when shooting or read data when previewing images. Something important to bear in mind though, is that you should never attempt to remove the card or the battery while the light is on.

If you’ve taken a large burst of images and your memory card isn’t particularly fast, you’ll notice the light on while the camera’s buffer writes the data to the card. If this process is interrupted you stand a very good chance of corrupting not only the images the camera is currently writing, but the entire contents of the card! The same principle applies if you remove the battery during the same process.

Nikon cameras have a green lamp


Canon cameras have a red lamp

Yes, there is software available that can access corrupt data, but it’s not a 100% guaranteed operation.

It’s perfectly safe to turn the camera off while the light is on; the camera’s power will actually stay on until the writing process is complete so there’s no danger of losing anything, just don’t get carried away and pop the card out early or remove the battery.

Portrait and commercial photographer Holly Wren tests the Profoto B2

A Case for the Profoto B2

Portrait and commercial photographer Holly Wren tests the Profoto B2.

I should start this review by saying that, B2 or B1X, I’m a huge Profoto fan, and the launch of the B1’s back in 2014 literally changed my life. I exaggerate, but you see my point. So when the B2’s launched a year later in 2015 it was hard to prise the B1’s out of my Profoto obsessed paws. I saw the B2’s as a lesser B1, perhaps a cheaper, inferior B1 with less power (250w as opposed to 500w).

Profoto B2 location kit

Maybe I didn’t like the battery pack, or the wires, or most importantly the stupid on-camera holder thingy that featured heavily in the launch, but the fact is I was wrong. And here’s why.

Specification wise both the B1X and B2 perform with the same signature Profoto functions (with varying abilities on some of the below)

  • HSS (High Speed Sync), allowing you to shoot up to 1/8000 second and wide open in daylight.
  • “Freeze” mode, meaning you can freeze action down at shutter speeds as little as 1/200 second (the function uses flash duration as opposed to shutter speed to stop motion).
  • Wireless triggers that function with TTL (for Nikon, Canon, Olympus and Sony).
  • Compatibility with Profoto’s range of light shaping tools (or modifiers) meaning we can soften and harden the light in over 120 ways.
  • Easy to use interface (you probably won’t even need an instruction manual to get going).
  • And of course, the beautiful and consistent light.

That’s all impressive stuff, and chances are if you are looking to buy a B2 or indeed a B1X these are the compelling reasons to do so. So why choose the B2?

Putting power aside for a second (and that may be the deal breaker for you) the B2 actually gives you the functions of the B1X but with extras. Not specification extras, like, and I’ll say it again, power. But extras that just make these lights a little more user friendly than it’s big brother the B1X.

You see, Profoto are pretty good at location lighting, okay, they’re excellent at it and the B1X is certainly a light to be reckoned with, but my problem with it is, is it truly portable? Like, would I carry it on my back with my camera gear across London portable? And the answer is no. Which is where the B2 wins my heart with its size and portability.

The B2 actually does what it claims to – it’s a portable studio flash. It’s lightweight (just 1.7kg for the battery pack and 0.7kg for the head, as opposed to 3kg of the B1X unit), and it fits in my kit bag alongside my cameras and lenses, meaning that the only extra to carry is a modifier or two, and a stand.

I can take it places without an assistant or a car and the battery pack allows me to plug two heads in, offering me the flexibility of a multiple light set up with very little extra weight or bulk. It’s the kind of light you can take with you “in case” you want or need to use flash, for the times when you don’t know exactly what your location or client has in store.

One could argue also that the head being much smaller and lighter than the B1X makes it easier to handle by an assistant as the weight on the end of the stand is less, given the majority of the weight is in the battery pack, which can be placed on the floor, carried over the shoulder or on a belt (has anyone actually ever done that?!)

The lighter head also means if you’re going solo you can use a more lightweight stand (depending on your modifier) saving yet more trips to the chiropractor. And with modifiers such as grids and the 2′ octa being lightweight and small there is very little needed to create a successful basic set up.

However, the B2 isn’t perfect; it’s battery life isn’t comparable to that of the new B1X. Officially the stats are up to 215 full power flashes which is the equivalent of just over 600 on the B1X. In the real world, in my experience, shooting at around half to full power, with the modeling light on, you’ll probably get an hour or so out of a battery out of the B2, before you need to change it. That said, carrying a spare is essential anyway and charging is quick, at just under an hour, making the battery life a slight inconvenience but not a deal breaker. I should note here how irritating the battery is to change; it’s a faff, not the actual battery, which is easy, but the holding case, which sits a little too snug.

And although the wires aren’t too much of an issue, they do lack length if you want a head raised high up on a stand, so you’ll probably need to buy an extension lead, especially for getting that second light in position.

So, the only real question that remains is power – the B1X at 500w doubles that of the B2 at 250w and so if power really is your requirement, the case for the B2 is redundant.

Although a point worth making here is that although the B1X has double the power, it only equates to around 1 additional stop of light. Technically if you’re prepared to open up, you can deliver almost identical results.

So the question remains, how much power do you need? For me, I hardly ever use the B2’s at full power so they are more than sufficient.

If you want beautiful light, easy handling, portability and multiple heads that can both infill ambient light and overpower the sun, the B2s might just be the light for you. But as with all camera gear, you need to work out how and what you’re shooting before you can decide which product suits your needs best. Which is why it’s especially handy that you can hire before you buy or just rent on demand.

Give the B2’s a go, I promise you won’t regret it.


In the shots below I worked alone to photograph Ayo, on a one light set up, with only the 2’ OCF beauty dish as a modifier, to show what’s possible with minimal kit.

Shot using the B2 to mimic and infill the natural light coming through the window as shown on the left. Using the OCF Beauty dish, the flash blends with natural light.

Profoto B2 lighting example | © Holly WrenNikon D810 | 50mm ƒ/1.4, 1/160 sec, ƒ/4, ISO 400, B2 Power 3.2

Shot using the B2 to create a look of harder light falling onto the image from the right, making the room look darker and creating a higher contrast. Using an OCF Beauty dish and white reflector behind subject.

Profoto B2 lighting example | © Holly Wren
Profoto B2 lighting example | © Holly WrenNikon D810 | 50mm ƒ/1.4, 1/200 sec, ƒ/5, ISO 640, B2 Power 6.0

Shot using a bare head that was positioned on top of the piano close to the subject, with a white reflector behind. Flash is used to create a low key, high contrast image; back black wall is eliminated to focus on Ayo at the Piano.

Profoto B2 lighting example | © Holly Wren

Profoto B2 lighting example | © Holly WrenNikon D810 | 50mm ƒ/1.4, 1/160 sec, ƒ/9, ISO 1250, B2 Power 2.2

Shot using the B2 on its modelling light to illuminate Ayo’s face and give the feeling it’s being lit by the candles on the piano. Natural light used to highlight the arm. B2 placed on piano behind vase. Reflector in front to reflect the natural light back into the image.

Profoto B2 lighting example | © Holly Wren

Profoto B2 lighting example | © Holly WrenNikon D810 | 50mm ƒ/1.4, 1/125 sec, ƒ/3.2, ISO 1250, B2 modelling light

To try the Profoto battery lighting, contact our rental department and take advantage of our special weekend rate.

To see more of Holly’s work, visit her website

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